State Briefs 8/18/08

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Tropical storm may affect AirTran flights to Florida

BLOOMINGTON – Based on forecasts for Tropical Storm Fay by the National Hurricane Center, AirTran Airways announced Monday it’s offering passengers flying to parts of Florida an opportunity to change their flights without a penalty.

AirTran has daily flights out of the Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington to Atlanta where connections are made on AirTran flight to parts of Florida.

The company said passengers with flights booked to or from Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Miami, Sarasota/Bradenton, Tampa or West Palm Beach after 4 p.m. Monday or at any time on Tuesday, can change their ticket to travel anytime through Saturday — based on space availability — without change fees or fare adjustments.

Passengers holding reservations for travel to/from the Florida destinations scheduled for Monday and Tuesday should check www.airtran.com under “Flight Status” for updates or call (800) 247-8726.

Journal Star, Peoria

Continuance granted for man accused of kidnapping

GALESBURG – A continuance has been granted in the case of a man accused of kidnapping and aggravated criminal sexual assault.

Dominique McClendon, 20, is expected to hire private counsel by Aug. 25. The new attorney will need additional time to get familiar with the case. McClendon’s aunt told the court she works out of state and has not had an opportunity to hire a private attorney for her nephew.

According to police, McClendon abducted a 17-year-old woman near Knox and Henderson streets at about 6:30 p.m. May 4. The victim told police she entered his car in fear of her life after McClendon told her he had a gun.

The said she was forced to perform sexual acts on McClendon twice, once near Lake Bracken and once near Abingdon.

The victim said she vomited inside the car hoping to leave some evidence behind in case McClendon killed her. She said she learned to do that from watching the “CSI” television series.

The woman was dropped off near St. Augustine later that evening, and she flagged down a passing motorist.

McClendon remains in jail on a $15,000 bond. A pretrial conference is scheduled at 9 a.m. on Oct. 6.

Galesburg Register-Mail

Small businesses, non-profits eligible for utility rate assistance

SPRINGFIELD – Small business and not-for-profit customers of Ameren utilities in Illinois are eligible for up to $5,000 in “hardship” assistance through a $2 million rate-relief program announced by the company Monday.

A small business is classified as a business with 50 or fewer employees. Not-for-profits include schools, churches, senior centers and other service organizations. Applications will be accepted through Sept. 26 for customers of AmerenCIPS, AmerenCILCO and AmerenIP who have purchased electricity from the companies since Jan. 1, 2007.

Businesses and organizations must demonstrate how higher power bills have been a hardship. The program is part of a rate-relief program approved last year by the Illinois General Assembly. The Energy Assistance Foundation will process applications and handle the funds.

Applications can be completed on the Ameren Web site, www.ameren.com, or by calling the Ameren utility that supplied the power, (800) 232-2477 for AmerenCIPS and AmerenCILCO, or (800) 363-6805 for AmerenIP.

State Journal-Register

Fights break out at state fair

SPRINGFIELD – A relatively calm Illinois State Fair ended Sunday night in a series of near-riotous fighting at Peoria Road and Sangamon Avenue.

State police, county deputies and Springfield police were called to the fairgrounds shortly before 10 p.m. after hearing reports of fighting at a parking lot. That fight, according to deputies, was followed by a large group of people gathering at nearby Thornton’s and Walgreen’s parking lots.

Two arrests were made.

A group of children was arguing when authorities stepped in at the gas station, according to Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Bill Cearlock. The group moved over to Walgreen’s, where they continued fighting and loitering. Officers used pepper spray to disperse the group, Cearlock said. Then, police were informed a group of about 50 people were fighting outside Vic’s Pizza.

Officers and deputies responded, but that group had left by the time they arrived.

No weapons were used during the fighting. Although police were told there was a man with a gun near the grandstand, that could not be confirmed.

State Journal-Register