State Briefs 8/19/08

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

West Nile found in Shawneetown

ELDORADO – Health officials found mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus in Shawneetown Aug. 15, the first finding of the virus in southeastern Illinois this year.

The only other Southern Illinois finding was in Jackson County earlier in the summer.

Egyptian Public and Mental Health Department Environmental Health Practitioners have been testing culex mosquitoes caught in traps since May 19. The mosquitoes contract the disease by biting infected birds and spread it to humans through biting. Usually people infected have no symptoms of illness, but statistically two out of 10 may experience fever, headache and body aches, according to a release from EHD.

In some, especially those over 60, the disease can be fatal.

Two women, one in Montgomery County and one in Kane County, have contracted West Nile Virus this year, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

EHD officials recommend emptying all standing water on property to reduce mosquito breeding grounds, ensuring window and door screens are in good condition, using insect repellent with DEET when outdoors, limiting outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when the mosquitoes are most active and wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors.

EHD asks people to report any findings of potential moquito breeding sites that might be treated with larvacide or sick or dying crows, blue jays, robins or other perching birds to the department at 273-3326.

Eldorado Daily Register

Farmer killed in tractor accident

NEW BURNSIDE – A rural New Burnside farmer was killed in a tractor accident Saturday afternoon.

George J. Dick, 75, was mowing his back pasture on Walnut Grove Road between Stonefort and New Burnside, fell from the tractor and the tractor continued forward over his body, according to family members.

"Mom called at 4:30 p.m. to tell us he was under the tractor and she needed help," Dick's stepdaughter, Mabyn Sims, said.

Dick was pronounced dead at Heartland Regional Medical Center.

"They believe he was possibly having a heart attack and fell off the tractor. The cap was off his nitrous pills in his pants," Sims said.

Dick was a horse enthusiast and loved the outdoors. He had retired from Oscar Mayer and spent his retirement years on the farm, on the trail and with family.

George is survived by his wife, Helen, a daughter, five stepchildren, two grandchildren and 11 stepgrandchildren.

Funeral services are 11 a.m. Wednesday at First United Methodist Church in Carrier Mills.

Harrisburg Daily Register

Automated system may make it harder for kids to skip school

PEORIA — An automated system meant to alert families of students in District 150 about emergencies may also make it more difficult for kids to get away with skipping school.

Bryan Chumbley, research director for the district, said the new "Family Access" system, which will allow district staff members to quickly communicate with parents with weather-related announcements or other emergencies, should be in place by Sept. 2.

The system will also be used on a daily basis, Chumbley said at a District 150 board meeting Monday night.

By 11 a.m., all of the morning calls should be made, he said.

There will also be calls made to parents of high school students in the evenings to let parents know which periods their children missed, he said.

Chumbley said family members must sign up before receiving calls.

Journal Star, Peoria

Man pleads guilty in toddler’s death

ROCKFORD — A 23-year-old Rockford man charged in the 2005 death of his girlfriend’s toddler son has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

Savonte Brown entered a guilty plea Wednesday. Judge Rosemary Collins sentenced Brown to 25 years in prison, followed by three years of mandatory supervised release. In accordance with truth-in-sentencing laws, Brown will serve his entire sentence.

Skylar Martin, 2, was killed in August 2005. Brown was charged in the death nearly two years later, after forensic analysis of the multiple blunt-force trauma wounds that caused his death.

During the course of the investigation into Martin’s death, police learned that Brown battered Martin in a separate incident that occurred in May 2005.

Brown was living with Martin’s mother at the time of Martin’s death. The mother was not charged.

Rockford Register Star