NEWS

State Briefs 12.10.09

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Preparations being made for sale of Abraham Lincoln Hotel

SPRINGFIELD - The state treasurer’s office reports more than 30 bidding packets have been picked up ahead of Monday’s public auction of the Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center in downtown Springfield.

About 15 potential buyers have walked through the 316-room property, said Scott Burnham, spokesman for state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulis.

“It’s included current hotel owners from all over the country. There’s been some local interest as well,” Burnham said.

The noon sale, which is open to the public, will be conducted as a traditional auction, he added.

“Given the history of the property, we wanted to make it as transparent as possible,” Burnham said. Sheldon Good & Company, a Chicago real-estate firm, will conduct the sale.

The state took over the property in a foreclosure proceeding in 2008 following years of efforts to collect on a state-backed loan to a Springfield investment group that opened the former Ramada Renaissance in 1982.

The State Journal-Register

School bus accident causes road closure

BARTLETT - A school bus carrying four students was stuck in a ditch Wednesday after an accident with another vehicle.

Several other vehicles were stuck in the same ditch, causing the road to close for about 45 minutes. Police did not disclose the origin or destination of the bus involved in the crash.

At 4:18 p.m. Wednesday, the Bartlett Police Department responded to the area of West Bartlett Road and Carlino Drive for a traffic crash. The vehicle crash involved a school bus and a white Pontiac minivan and left the bus stuck in a roadside ditch.

Because of the blocked roadway and weather conditions, police said they closed the road until the cars were removed. The section of road reopened about 6 p.m. No one was injured in the crash, and no citations were issued.

Chicago Suburban Life

Man sentenced to life in prison for sexual assault

SPRINGFIELD - Derrick Alexander had nothing to say to the court before receiving his mandatory life sentence for sexual assault, and neither the judge nor the attorneys added much commentary.

But when the short hearing concluded, Alexander, 44, had been handed eight consecutive natural life sentences, plus 45 years.

Alexander earlier this fall pleaded guilty to 20 criminal counts related to his assault of a 24-year-old woman on March 29, 2008. A similar conviction in 1983 made life in prison his only option.

He admitted on Oct. 15 to 16 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, two counts of home invasion and residential burglary and robbery charges.

Both first assistant state’s attorney John Milhiser and defense attorney Craig Reiser agreed that the only sentence Alexander could receive was natural life.

Circuit Judge Leslie Graves, without elaborating, sentenced Alexander to life terms on each of the aggravated sexual assault charges — eight of the 16 counts merged into the others — plus 45 years for home invasion, 20 years for residential burglary and 10 years for robbery. The latter two crimes merged into the home invasion.

Alexander knocked on the 24-year-old woman’s door about 5 p.m., and when she opened the door a crack, he forced his way in and demanded money. After she gave him all the money she had, he forced the woman into her bedroom where he assaulted her numerous times.

The victim gave police a detailed description of her attacker, and Alexander was arrested within minutes while standing outside a Salvation Army.

The victim used pepper spray in an attempt to fend off Alexander and was hit during the struggle.

Alexander took a sleeping 7-year-old girl from her residence and raped her in a nearby field in 1983, a crime for which he received a 20-year prison sentence.

He was out of prison by 1993, when he was accused of breaking into a 13-year-old girl’s bedroom and attacking her.

State Journal-Register

Route 91 reopened after business fire

DUNLAP - Illinois Route 91 through Dunlap was shut down to traffic as firefighters battled a blaze at a furniture refinishing shop at 303 N. Fourth Street. The road was reopened shortly after 3 p.m.

The fire began shortly after 11 a.m. Flames were shooting out of the top of the building, which housed Lewis' Stripping and Refinishing and two upstairs apartments. Smoke filled the village and could be seen for miles.

'With the wind, it's like taking a bellows to a fire," said Dunlap Fire Chief John Doering.

Owner Kenny Lewis said the fire began as he was using an open flame to thaw water lines that had frozen Thursday. An "overspray" caught nearby chemicals in the shop on fire. Lewis tried to put out the blaze with a water hose, but it grew out of control, spreading through the exhaust vent and into the apartments and roof.

Two residents were home at the time and escaped safely.

The Dunlap Fire Department was called to the scene at 11:10 a.m. and several other area departments arrived to help.

Journal Star