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Benld Council approves union contract, offers condemned properties for sale

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Elyse Schoen and Lindsay Minor discussing the Safe Passage program with the council.

Members of the Benld City Council on Monday night approved a three-year contract with the Laborers Union covering the city’s three maintenance workers and voted to offer for sale three properties on Central Avenue that are or soon will be in the city’s possession.

Without taking formal action, the council also agreed to make Benld City Hall the 23rd access point in Macoupin and Montgomery counties for the Macoupin County Public Health Department’s “Safe Passage” program, designed to provide easy access to substance abuse intervention.

The council unanimously approved the union contract on a motion by Ald. John Balzraine, seconded by Ald. Mickey Robinson. The new contract includes provision for annual raises of three percent over the three-year life of the contract, plus a uniform allowance. Provisions for a longevity pay increase after 15 years and 20 days of paid vacation after 20 years are applicable to only one of the three maintenance workers who has been employed more than 20 years.

Mayor Jim Kelly said negotiations for the new contract went quickly and smoothly. “There weren’t a lot of demands,” he said.

The city’s negotiating committee included Ald. Balzraine, Ald. Jerry Saracco and City Clerk Terri Koyne.

PROPERTIES UP FOR BID

Following a 35-minute executive session with City Attorney Rick Verticchio, the council voted to advertise for bids for the sale of properties located at 223 Central Avenue, 202 Central Avenue, 204 Central Avenue, and 301 West Central Avenue. The 223 Central Avenue location was once the site of First National Bank of Benld. The two-story brick building was recently razed and cleared on an emergency basis after being found to be structurally unsound. Verticchio said 223 Central Avenue is owned by the city by virtue of court order, and deeds for the other two properties will be in the city’s hands as of March 28. He recommended listing all three properties for sale in the same advertisement to save money.

Verticchio also reported on the status of a number of cases the city has pending regarding nuisance properties. He said a Macoupin County Circuit Court judge entered an order earlier Monday authorizing the city to abate nuisances at 402 and 404 South Seventh Street. The city inspector is expected to inspect the property on April 1 at 207 South Fifth Street to determine whether or not the owner has abated a nuisance as directed. A case against property in the 200 block of South Sixth Street was dismissed after the city agreed the owner had corrected ordinance violations at that location.

An evidentiary hearing is set for April 15 in a complaint against the owner of the property at 111 South Fourth Street, according to Verticchio. Mayor Kelly said the owner had cleaned up debris at the residence, but the owner or her children brought back more debris including old tires. “I will talk to her and explain that she has to get it cleaned up and keep it that way or we will see her in court on the 15th,” Kelly said.

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Verticchio said the owner of a commercial building at 208 Central Avenue filed a response to a city complaint alleging that he had the building’s roof repaired. He said he would schedule a hearing to determine if the roof actually has been repaired since the council’s position is “all roofs have to be maintained, especially on commercial buildings, because otherwise we end up having to do something with them.”

On a motion by Balzraine, the council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution declaring property at 512 South First Street a public nuisance.

Mayor Kelly reported he would look into renting a track hoe city maintenance workers can use to demolish and remove a burned out house.

CITYWIDE CLEAN-UP DAY

Mayor Kelly announced that the annual city-wide clean-up day has been set for Saturday, May 7. On that day, trash haulers will patrol streets and pick up refuse placed on the curb by city residents. Batteries, tires, electronic equipment, construction debris and toxins are prohibited. Discarded furniture, old appliances and other trash are welcome.

Kelly said it is a perfect opportunity for residents potentially facing ordinance violations for accumulations of trash to get rid of refuse at no cost.

Trash haulers will pick up trash piles measuring a maximum of four feet by eight feet by six feet tall. “That’s a lot of junk,” Kelly commented.

The city plans to mail letters to residents known to have accumulations of trash prior to the clean-up day to advise them of the upcoming opportunity.

CITY LOT SALES

The council approved an intergovernmental agreement to accept the Illinois Valley Economic Development Corp.’s offer to buy six city-owned lots behind the existing IVEDC facility on Central Avenue for $2,000 per lot. The agency plans to use the property to expand its services and install a turn-around for its Meals on Wheels program.

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Ald. Balzraine said furniture has been removed from the Civic Center, along with photos of local military veterans mounted on the Center’s walls, in advance of a major renovation project. The photos, which were installed during the city’s centennial celebration, have been placed in folders and transferred to the city library where they will be available to patrons and researchers. The renovation project is being underwritten by former Benld resident Rick DeStefane.

In a related matter, the council voted to declare as surplus property several items of furnishings and equipment from the Civic Center, Police Department and City Hall. Arrangements to offer surplus items for sale will be made at a later date.

Balzraine also reported that a city resident who wanted to remain anonymous had agreed to donate $1,000 toward the purchase of new chairs for the Civic Center.

SAFE PASSAGE PROGRAM

After hearing a brief presentation from Macoupin County Health Department Recovery Care Coordinators Elyse Schoen and Lindsay Minor, the council informally agreed to make the City of Benld the 23rd access point for the two-county Safe Passage program. With treatment centers in Gillespie and Litchfield, the Safe Passage program is designed to provide recovery services to persons with substance abuse issues.

“Somebody can walk into any of these access points and say they need help, no questions asked,” Minor said. “We will then refer them to recovery services, whether that is one of our programs or someone else.”

Safe Passage is a grant-funded program operating under the umbrella of the Macoupin County Public Health Department, she said. “Our goal is to cover all of Macoupin and Montgomery counties.”

Schoen said substance abuse is a prevalent issue in the area. “We hope to stop the cycle of substance abuse and arrest, substance abuse and arrest,” according to Schoen.

The treatment program accepts all insurance coverage. If an individual has no insurance, the program offers treatment on a sliding scale based on income. If a person has no income, the treatment is free. Persons without insurance are counseled on programs to get themselves medical coverage.

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“We want to inform everyone we can about what we do,” Schoen said. “The more people who know about us, the better, and the more people we can serve.”

Brochures and referral cards will be available at city hall for persons with substance abuse issues to access the program.

NEW WATER METERS, NEW LAGOON TESTER

On a motion by Ald. Saracco, seconded by Ald. Robinson, the council voted unanimously to spend $70,166.75 in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars to upgrade water meters throughout the city. The new system will enable the city to use remote reading to read all residential meters, improving efficiency.

Council members also voted to spend $3,298.97 for a probe meter to monitor effluent at the city sewage lagoon. The electronic meter will send test results directly to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to comply with reporting regulations. Mayor Kelly said the new equipment will preclude workers from having to take physical samples for transport to a laboratory. The system will improve accuracy resulting in chemical changes that can occur from the time the sample is taken and the time it is tested, Kelly said, benefitting the city when specific tests are borderline in regard to meeting state standards. The city currently pays about $2,500 annually in lab fees for lagoon sample testing.

In a related matter, Ald. Saracco reported the city should receive forms on April 1 to disclose to federal authorities how it plans to spend ARPA funds the city has received. The form is due back by April 30. Saracco asked that the City Clerk and City Treasurer complete the form, noting the disclosure does not have to be detailed at this time. Municipalities can generalize about expected expenditures at this time and provide specific details after the expenditures are approved.

BOND INCREASE FOR MAYOR

The council voted unanimously to increase the bond limit for the Mayor to $250,000 in anticipation of expenditures expected in conjunction with a grant-funded sewer improvement project. Last month, the council approved an identical bond increase for the City Clerk. Mayor Kelly said Monday night that his bond also needed to be increased since checks written from the grant fund account will require two signatures. The Illinois Municipal League will insure both bonds for a total cost of $1,250.

DISCRETIONARY EXPENDITURES

After a brief discussion, Ald. Balzraine withdrew his motion to increase the ceiling for discretionary expenditures authorized by committee chairs to $2,000. The current spending limit for committee chairs is $500. Expenditures exceeding $500 must be approved by the full council, prompting committee chairs to sometimes conduct straw polls of council members to ensure specific expenditures will be approved during the council’s regular meetings.

Ald. Jim Tilashalski objected, saying the higher discretionary spending rule could lead to budgetary issues.

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“If each committee is allowed to spend $2,000 a month, we have six committees,” Tilashalski said. “Multiply that by 12 months and that’s $240,000.”

Balzraine, however, said his intent was not to authorize routine expenditures of $2,000 every month but to provide more flexibility in approving emergency purchases when they arise. City Clerk Koyne said expenditures are further restricted by the annual appropriation ordinance. She used a hypothetical purchase of a new water heater at the city park if the existing unit was found to be defective as an example of an emergency purchase that would exceed $500.

City Attorney Verticchio said committee chairs actually can approve purchases in excess of $500 for emergency repairs and maintenance.

“Say you authorize the purchase of something from a merchant and the merchant sells it to the city,” Verticchio said. “The bill comes to the city council and council refuses to pay the bill. In that case, the merchant is going to sue and he’s going to win because you owe him the money. My suggestion is if you have anything that is an emergency, that you go ahead and do it and then approve the bill at the next council meeting.”

Balzraine said he was satisfied with that explanation and withdrew his motion.

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Community News

School district apparently eyeing food management service

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Bill Fritcher representing Opaa! Food Management said they provide both hot and cold entrees, and schools can tailor offerings to meet their needs and budgets.

Representatives of a food management company pitched their vision for reshaping school lunch and breakfast offerings at Community Unit School District 7 schools during Monday night’s regular monthly meeting of the Board of Education. Later, however, the head cook at BenGil Elementary School expressed doubts about what the company promised to deliver. “They make it sound like it’s all a gravy train,” said Jackie McKinney. “It’s not.”

No action followed a 20-minute presentation by Bill Fritcher, Business Development Associate, and Angie Eden, a food service worker, from Opaa! Food Management, Inc., Chesterfield, Mo. There was no clear indication whether the board or district administration is leaning toward contracting with the company.

Founded in 1978, Opaa! Provides food management services to more than 800 schools in 250 school districts spread out over seven states. The company serves 21 schools in Illinois, including the nearby Staunton, Litchfield, Jersey and Nokomis school districts. The company claims a 97 percent retention rate among its client schools.

Fritcher, a former administrator in the Neoga school district, said the company emphasizes home-cooked foods made from scratch. Opaa! provides both hot and cold entrees, and schools can tailor offerings to meet their needs and budgets. Hot entrees include items such as roast turkey, meatloaf, cheeseburgers, pizzas and spaghetti. The company also serves a variety of cold sub sandwiches. Again, depending upon the details of its contract with a school district, the company can provide a salad bar, along with fresh fruit.

Breakfast offerings can include hot or cold cereal, waffles, biscuits and gravy, and breakfast burritos. Some client schools offer a “breakfast on the go” option where students can grab a breakfast item during the mid-morning hours of the school day. As part of its service, Opaa! would provide an all-day “Gulp Station” with dispensers of lemonade, iced tea and water.

“There’s a lot of local control over menu items,” Fritcher said. “If a school doesn’t want us serving coffee to students, we don’t serve coffee.”

Fritcher said the school district would continue to set pricing for school lunches and breakfasts, collect payments and control the revenue stream. The district also would continue to own food service equipment and facilities. At a minimum, Opaa! would place it’s own employee as a food service manager, but other food service workers can be either Opaa! employees or employees of the school district. In either case, the school district would have final say over who is allowed to work in the school district.

“You’d have control of who is working in the school and is around your kids,” Fritcher said.

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According to Fritcher, the company emphasizes presentation.

 “We want the food to look good so kids will eat it,” he said. “We strive to make it enjoyable for the kids.”

Client schools submit photos of daily offerings to the home office for approval, Eden said. As an example, she cited an instance when she submitted a photo from Neoga that included broccoli as a side item. The home office said the broccoli looked too brown and demanded it be replaced with fresher produce.

Fritcher said the company employees an executive chef to create recipes and standards for food served to students. The chef has created a number of streaming videos used to train on site staff.

Key to the operation is a computer program for food management. Eden said the program monitors what food the district has in the freezer and pantry, and adjust menus to best utilize resources on hand. The program also provides a portal parents and students can access to see weekly menus.

A food management contract would be subject to state bidding requirements, according to Fritcher. To start the process, the district would create a Request for Proposals to solicit bids. If Opaa! Is the successful bidder, the company would offer a five-year fixed price agreement, renewable on an annual basis. Either party would be able to end the contract upon a 90-day notice.

During a public comment period, McKinney alleged Opaa!’s promises have not matched reality in nearby school districts. The head cook at Litchfield, she pointed out, quit soon after Opaa! took over. Pizzas and some other food items, she said, do not match the company’s claims.

“We were told this is not about the money, it’s about the choices,” she said. “If you want more options, someone needs to tell us.”

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McKinney said she has been employed by the district in food services since 2002. The proposal to hire an outside food management company, she said, comes as “a slap in the face.”

McKinney predicted problems if the district contracts with Opaa!, particularly in the elementary school.

“I don’t see how our kindergarteners are going to be able to carry their own tray and serve themselves,” she said. “They’re going to drop their trays. We get our kids through the serving line in five minutes so they have time to sit down and eat. When they have to make their own tray, how long do you think that’s going to take?”

McKinney also predicted issues with food sanitation when young children with runny noses and/or dirty hands are expected to serve themselves from the food line.

During a public comment period, Jackie McKinney, head cook at BenGil Elementary, alleged Opaa!’s promises have not matched reality in nearby school districts.

McKinney said an outside company cannot be expected to know local students like local food service workers know them.

“I watch for a little boy who comes through my line every day because I know he doesn’t get food at home like he does here,” she said. “We’re here for the kids and I don’t think these people are.”

In a somewhat related matter which could facilitate transitioning to an outside food service, the board accepted with “regret” the retirements of head high school/middle school cook Penny Feeley and GHS/GMS cook Janice Hammann, both effective on June 30.

PERSONNEL

The board took action on a number of personnel issues following an executive session of about one hour.

In separate actions, the board voted unanimously to rehire the following fourth-year teachers and grant them tenure for the 2024-25 school year: Nikki Jenner, Katie Lievers, Alex Newton, Pete Visintin and Jacob West.

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The following non-tenured staff were hired for the 2024-25 school year: school nurse Rachel Bouillon, fifth grade teacher Radeana Gentzyel, speech pathologist Kaylee Collins, special education teacher Jaiden Braundmeier, kindergarten teacher Jessica Yeager, fist grade teacher Sydney Owsley, band teacher Brad Taulbee, chorus teacher Ben McCullough, Tim Biggs, special education teacher Cory Bonstead, and Dalton Barnes.

On a motion by Peyton Bernot, seconded by Mark Hayes, the board rehired the following tenured teachers for 2024-25: Lorraine Strutner, Jody Dunn, Melissa Bussmann, Tracy Hostettler, Darrick Urban, Kara Saracco, Kelly Lyons, Holly Nejmanowski, Jennifer Parker, Anastasia Hobaugh, Cate Plovich, Amy Price, Nickie Barrett, Jessi Luketich, Mindy Savant, Karissa Smith, Beth Sees, Valerie Jubelt, Carrie Scott, Dana Tieman, Marcia Johns, Colleen Favre, Celia Jubelt, Jamie Schmidt, Nancy Schmidt, Lori Emmons, Vanessa Barrett, Amy Geddes, Lisa Ballinger, Amber Allan, Kim Henderson, Christina Blevins, Chase Peterson, Jessica Kelly, Tammy Garde, Nate Heinrich’s, Casey Edgerton, Kyle Lamar, Stephanie Wilson, Elizabeth Thackery, Shanna Conner, Matthew Browner, Jeremy Smith, Rachelle Prough, Jarrod Herron, Jill Stole, Korben Clark, Kayla Wills, Nikki Browner, Kevin McNichols, Katie Orange, Robert Macias, Casey Sholtis, Jennifer Brown, Jeff Nelhs, Mark Goldasich, Troy Barker, Michelle Smith, Holley McFarland, Michael Bertagnolli, Mary Schuette, Nichole Stoecker, Amy Goldasich, David Edgerton, Ashlee Gibbs, Stuart Ringer, Kelly Bully, Whitney Page and Stephanie Bray.

The board accepted “with regret” the retirement of BenGil Elementary teacher Dana Tieman, effective at the end of the 2027-28 school year. The board also accepted “with regret” the resignation for purposes of retirement of GMS paraprofessional  Ella May Roemer, effective at the end of the 2024 fiscal year, and posted the position as vacant.

Board members accepted the resignation of high school paraprofessional Darian Gill, and posted the position as vacant. The board also accepted Gill’s resignation at the GHS/GMS cheerleading coach and posted that position as vacant.

Board members unanimously agreed to post vacancies for the following summer school positions: high school math, English and drivers’ education; middle school math, English and science; and six elementary positions. Additionally, the board posted two summer school food service positions.

The board accepted “with regret” the resignation of long-time GHS head women’s basketball coach Kevin Gray, and posted the position as vacant. The board also accepted the resignation of Korbin Clark as GMS seventh-grade basketball coach and posted the position as vacant.

The board voted unanimously to appoint Elizabeth Eaker as a volunteer assistant dance coach, pending verification of certification and a background check. In separate actions, the board agreed to appoint Foley Seferi and James Bryant a volunteer assistant high school football coaches, pending verification of certification and a background check. 

By a unanimous vote, the board accepted the resignation of district custodian Owen Parker, and posted the position as vacant. The board also voted to post vacancies for two full-route bus drivers for the 2024-25 school year, and hired Billie Bowles as a substitute bus driver, pending verification of certification and a background check.

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REPAVING

The board awarded a $62,524 contract to DeLaurent Construction Co., Inc., Wilsonville, to repave five district parking lots. DeLaurent was the low bidder for the project. The contract will be paid from proceeds of a $1.6 million alternate revenue bond sale for capital projects.

Supt. Shane Owsley reported that he is starting to gather estimates for other upcoming projects to be underwritten with bond revenue, including a project to refinish the high school gym floor, a project to reline the all-weather track and a major HVAC project.

SURPLUS WEIGHT ROOM EQUIPMENT

On Owsley’s recommendation, the board accepted a list of surplus weight room equipment and agreed to offer the equipment for sale via sealed bids. The equipment, which includes stationary bikes, running machines, free weights, benches, dumbbells and racks, was replaced with new equipment as part of a recently completed project to renovate and re-equip the weight room.

EARLY GRADUATION REQUESTS

During a District Focus segment, the board recognized high school women’s basketball coach Kevin Gray, who is retiring after a career of 16 seasons. Kevin is pictured with his wife, Elaine.

On a motion by Bill Carter, seconded by Weye Schmidt, the board unanimously approved early graduation requests for Maria Alger, Eliana Barrios-Madison, Owen Baugh, Gage Bonds, Abby Carter, John Q. Halterman, Eva Hidden, Felicia Lambert, Emma Luckshis, Ashley Markulakis, McKenna Montoro, Kaden Reiffer, Abigail Sharp, Jayden Stangle, Cooper Wentler, Ashton Whitlow and Avery Young. The students will be allowed to graduate at the end of their eleventh year of high school at the end of the current school year, provided all graduation requirements have been met.

DISTRICT FOCUS

During a District Focus segment, the board recognized high school women’s basketball coach Kevin Gray, who is retiring after a career of 16 seasons. High School Principal Jill Rosentreter noted that Gray led this year’s team to the Sectional Tournament in Beardstown after winning their first regional championship since 2012. The team also won its first County Tournament since 2002, and celebrated 26 wins—the most ever.

During the Carlinville Rotary’s All-Star Game, Gray was named Rotary’s Coach of the Year.

“On behalf of CUSD 7 and all you former players, we express much gratitude for your many years of service, dedication, leadership, wisdom and professional demeanor on and off the court,” Rosentreter told Gray.

Also during the District Focus, a group of fifth graders told the board about their recent field trip to Busch Stadium, where they learned about practical math applications and other subjects.

OTHER ACTION

In other action, the board:

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  • Gave final approval to the 2024-25 school calendar, calling for the first day of school attendance on Aug. 14 with the last day of school set for May 29, or earlier if no emergency days are used.
  • Approved a schedule of board meeting dates for the coming year. The board will meet in executive session at 6 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month with the open session beginning at 7 p.m. The December meeting is set one week earlier on Dec. 16 to avoid conflict with the winter break.
  • Awarded the annual bid to supply fuel to low bidder M & M Service Co., Carlinville.
  • Voted to renew the district’s annual membership in the Illinois High School Association.
  • Rescheduled the April board meeting from Monday, April 22, to Tuesday, April 23, to avoid a conflict.

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Police News

Gillespie Police Report: March 17-23, 2024

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SUNDAY, MARCH 17, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Elm Street in reference to criminal damage to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of Biddle Street in reference to child abuse.

An officer was dispatched to the 800 block of East Walnut Street in reference to criminal trespass to property.

An officer was dispatched to Madison Street and Wilson Street in reference to suspicious activity.

An officer was dispatched to the 800 block of East Chestnut Street in Benld in reference to a well-being check.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to a civil issue.

An officer was out in the 400 block of North 7th Street in Benld in reference to a security check. 

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MONDAY, MARCH 18, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of Abba Street in reference to a domestic dispute.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of LJ Avenue in reference to a domestic battery. Regan M. Treadway, 22, of Hillsboro was arrested for domestic battery.

Gillespie Police Department assisted the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department with a criminal investigation.

An officer was dispatched to the 900 block of South Madison Street in reference to criminal damage to property.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of East Burton Street in reference to an ordinance issue of illegal burning. Charles H. Daubman, 62, of Gillespie was issued a citation for illegal burning.

An officer was dispatched to the 800 block of Harding Avenue in East Gillespie in reference to a noise complaint.

An officer during normal patrol in the 100 block of South 7th Street in Benld noticed a trunk open on a vehicle. The officer made contact with the owners and they secured the trunk after checking it.

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An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of North 4th Street in Benld in reference to a suspicious person.

An officer was dispatched to Gillespie Police Department to speak with a male in reference to illegal dumping.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of West Hickory in reference to a civil standby.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of South 2nd Street in Benld in reference to a well-being check.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of West Easton Street in reference to a civil standby.

The School Resource Officer called in requesting assistance in reference to a female student that had left the school.

TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 800 block of Madison Street in reference to criminal damage to property.

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An officer was dispatched to Route 4 by the nursing home to check on a person on a bike with no lights.

An officer was dispatched to Maple Street and Route 138 in Benld in reference to a suspicious vehicle.

An officer was dispatched to the 400 block of East Spruce Street in reference to a suspicious vehicle.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of Gillespie Street in reference to juvenile issues.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of East Walnut Street in reference to a dog at large.

An officer was dispatched to a business in the 300 block of North Macoupin Street in reference to an animal complaint.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20, 2024

An officer initiated a traffic stop at Central Avenue and 2nd Street in Benld. Logan G. Lawson, 22, of Roodhouse was issued a citation for speeding.

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An officer initiated a traffic stop in the 200 block of North Hard Road in Mt. Clare. David E. Schmidt, 46, of Staunton was issued citations for speeding, expired registration, and operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of East Spruce Street in reference to illegal parking.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of South Jersey Street in reference to an open line 911 call.

An officer initiated a traffic stop at Broadway Street and LJ Avenue. Candace N. Carlen, 36, of New Douglas was issued a citation for speeding.

An officer spoke with a male at Gillespie Police Department in reference to a theft in the 200 block of West Oak Street.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of North 7th Street in Benld in reference to a suspicious noise.

An officer was dispatched to West Dorsey Street and South Kentucky Street in Benld in reference to a suspicious person.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of East Walnut Street in reference to suspicious activity.

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An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of East Elm Street in reference to reckless driving.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of Biddle Street in reference to a medical assist.

An officer initiated a traffic stop at Central Avenue and Main Street in Benld. Esha V. Bhatt, 30, of Edwardsville was issued a citation for speeding.

An officer initiated a traffic stop at Central Avenue and Main Street in Benld. Nicole L Richey, 34, of Wilsonville was issued a citation for speeding and expired registration.

THURSDAY, MARCH 21, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of South 4th Street in Benld in reference to a suspicious person.

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of 9th Street in Benld in reference to a suicidal subject

An officer was out with a suspicious person at Main Street and Spruce Street in Benld.

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An officer initiated a traffic stop at Macoupin Street and Elm Street. Walter L. Vester, 29, of Gillespie was arrested on a Glenn Carbon warrant for larceny.

An officer initiated a traffic stop at Broadway Street and LJ Avenue. Jordan L. Jett, 23, of Hillsboro was issued a citation for speeding.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of Litchfield Road in East Gillespie in reference to aggravated assault. Levi T. Kroll, 34, of Carlinville was arrested for aggravated assault, criminal damage to property, and operation of a vehicle with suspended registration.

An officer was dispatched to the 600 block of North 5th Street in Benld in reference to a theft.

An officer was dispatched to LJ Avenue where multiple vehicles were parked in a no-parking zone. After multiple announcements asking them to move, two vehicles remained and received citations. Jeromy J Moore, 47, of Greenfield and Matthew E. Raffety, 52, of Bunker Hill were issued citations for parking in a no-parking zone.

An officer was dispatched to the 700 block of East Walnut Street in reference to a domestic battery. Mitchela P. Zbornak, 34, of Gillespie was arrested for domestic battery.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of West Wilson Street in reference to a suspicious vehicle.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of South Macoupin Street in reference to a juvenile issue.

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An officer was dispatched to the 800 block of Madison Street in reference to an animal complaint.

An officer was dispatched to the 100 block of West Oak Street in reference to an ordinance issue for illegal burning.

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of West Oak Street in reference to a possible burglary.

The School Resource Officer called in reckless driving in the high school parking lot.

FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 2024

An officer was dispatched to a business in the 900 block of Springfield Road in East Gillespie in reference to retail theft and criminal trespass.

An officer was dispatched to Illinois Street and Kentucky Street in Benld in reference to a loud vehicle.

An officer was dispatched to a business in the 500 block of East Elm Street in reference to a suspicious person. 

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SATURDAY, MARCH 23, 2024

An officer was dispatched to the 300 block of East Oak Street in reference to a well-being check.

An officer was dispatched to the 500 block of East Chestnut Street in reference to a 911 hang-up call.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of East Oak for a 911 untraceable call the officers checked the area and were unable to find an emergency.

An officer was dispatched to the 200 block of South Illinois Street in Benld in reference to a medical assist.

An officer was dispatched to down wires at Dorsey Road and 1st Street in Mt. Clare. Ameren was contacted to remove the wiring.

All subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Community News

Denby wins judicial nomination in three-way race; Trump, Biden top choices for Macoupin voters

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Carlinville attorney Thomas Denby easily sailed to victory in a three-way race to be nominated as the Republican candidate for Resident Seventh Judicial Circuit Court Judge in Macoupin County in Tuesday’s Primary Election balloting.

Denby captured 63.26 percent of the Republican vote, easily besting Jonathan Verticchio’s 23.46 percent and Aaron Bellm’s 13.28 percent. In terms of raw vote numbers, Denby landed 2,534 votes to Verticchio’s 940 votes and Bellm’s 532 votes.

There were no judicial candidates for the race on the Democrat side of the ballot.

As a result of Tuesday’s election, Denby is likely to step into the office being vacated Resident Circuit Judge Kenneth Deihl, who was first elected as a Democrat in 2006, when he narrowly defeated Republican nominee Kevin Polo. It’s unclear whether or not the Democrat Central Committee can legally name a candidate to run against Denby in the General Election this fall, meaning Denby is the likely successor to Deihl.

There were no surprises locally in the Presidential races. Macoupin Democrats favored incumbent Joe Biden with 89.62 percent of the vote, while Republicans cast 83.39 percent of their votes for former President Donald Trump.

Although no longer a candidate, Nikki Haley gained 12.18 percent of the Republican vote. Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie and Ryan Brinkley each took less than three percent of the Republican vote. On the Democrat side, Biden’s support was eroded by 10.28 percent of the vote shared by Dean Phillips, Marianne Williamson and Frank Lozada.

A total of 5,741 voters cast votes in the Macoupin Primary, representing 18.67 percent of the county’s 30,757 registered voters. That could indicate a softening of interest in the Biden/Trump rematch. In 2016, when Trump and Hilary Clinton were nominated, a stunning 45.82 percent of Macoupin’s voters cast ballots in the primary election. Four years later, 23.54 percent of the county’s voters participated in the primary, despite restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the Republican nomination for U.S. Congressional Representative for the 13th District, Joshua Loyd took 57.28 percent of the Macoupin vote, compared with 42.72 percent for Thomas Clatterback. The Congressional vote mirrored voting district-wide in which Loyd took the nomination with 55.9 percent of the total vote. Loyd will take on freshman Representative Nikki Budzinski on the Democrat side, who ran unopposed for the nomination.

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A number of county races were unopposed. On the Democrat side, incumbent Jordan Garrison took 1,387 votes for State’s Attorney, while incumbent Coroner Anthony Kravanya took 1,471 Democrat votes. On the Republican side Amy J. Ashby took 3,448 votes to be nominated for Circuit Clerk. Ashby becomes the likely successor to Democrat Lee Ross who is stepping down.

Though not likely, both parties could name candidates to run for county offices in November. Otherwise Garrison, Kravanya and Ashby will run unopposed for the General Election. A win by Ashby would make her the second Republican constitutional officer in the Courthouse. Two years ago, County Treasurer Amber McGartland became the first Republican elected to a Courthouse office since A.C. “Julie” Bartulis served as Treasurer in the 1960s.

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