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Carnival, music, food, parade set for June 1-3

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Black Diamond Days is approaching

A carnival is coming to town in less than one week, and fun times will definitely be tolerated.

Black Diamond Days, a beloved annual town event thrown in downtown Gillespie, will occupy much of Macoupin Street from Friday, June 1 thru Sunday, June 3. It will feature carnival rides, a parade, games, beer, bands, pageants, and plenty of food.

“We’ll have food… And we moved the beer tent to the south side of Macoupin Street to get it out of the way,” said Tobi Libbra, president of Black Diamond Days for 6 years.

The beer tent this year will be directly in front TwinnCo Real Estate. It was moved because people wanted to bring their kids to see the bands, but didn’t want them under the beer tent. “Now we will have more space and United Community Bank is letting us use their lot for seating,” Libbra said.

The beer tent was moved down by the Civic Center was to bring back tradition, according to the Black Diamond Days Committee. It was supposed to play on with the tradition with the destruction of the Coliseum. The Black Diamond Days Committee will now have double the space they had than the previous location.

“It’s not locked between two buildings, so it will be cooler,” Libbra noted, “It will make the event more family friendly.” It is also convenient because the food court will be on the South end too. The food court was first opened to nonprofit and charity organizations within CUSD #7. According to the Committee, all of these entries were not charged to help raise funds for the community organizations.

Black Diamond Days is Macoupin County’s original festival of coal. It takes place the first weekend in June and always draws a large crowd while providing a fun, safe time for adults and children alike.

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Like last year, the festival will open at 5:30 pm on Friday, June 1. Armbands will run from 6-9pm on Friday and also on Sunday from 5-8pm. The Jr. Miss and Miss Black Diamond Days Pageant will also take place on the opening night at the Gillespie Civic Center, according to Libbra.

The pageant is set to start at 6pm. Music on Friday night is provided by Moonracer and the Jr. Miss and Miss Black Diamond Days will be introduced to the audience at 9:15 at the Grand Stand.

Bright and early Saturday morning, fishing tournament registration will begin at 5:30am. The fishing tournament, sponsored by the Masonic Lodge and Black Diamond Days, will take place at Gillespie Lake starting at 6:00pm.

In town, the one mile fun run/ walk will start at 7:30am while the 5K run starts at 8 o’clock sharp. The town will then have some down time until noon. The festival will reopen at 12 noon and washer registration will begin under the beer tent while dog show registration will start at 12:30 at the North side of the Civic Center.

The fun will really begin at 1 o’clock in the afternoon when the dog show and washer tournament begin. The Patty Bernhardt and Festus Memorial dog show will be in front of the grandstand while the Emra Edwards III washer tournament will take place behind the Civic Center’s parking lot.

Music will start at 3 Saturday afternoon and will be provided by B&B Strings. B&B Strings will play until 6pm. Then the Little Miss & Mini Miners Pageant will be at the Civic Center at that time. To close out Saturday night, Runaway Cherry will play from 8-midnight.

The festival will wrap up on Sunday, June 3. The carnival will open at noon again and the parade will begin at 3:00pm. Awards will be announced immediately following the parade at the judge’s tent. Armbands will run from 5-8pm on Sunday and the Southern Blend will be playing music from 4:30-8:30pm.

As always, there will be plenty of non-carnival events such as booths and music. The Black Diamond Days committee would like to remind everyone that beer is available only in the designated area. “Please drink responsibly and enjoy the festival,” Libbra closed, “City ordinances will be enforced.”

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Court News

Macoupin County Courthouse News

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Cases filed during July 7 through July 13. Visit the “Court News” category under the “Community News” tab for other editions.

FELONIES

Timothy D. Conlee, 29 of Gillespie, is charged with aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer, driving on a suspended license, and reckless driving in connection with a July 6 incident.

Dylan J. Arview, 25 of Benld, is charged with driving under the influence while license revoked or suspending, DUI, driving on a suspended license and driving 15-20 mph above the limit in connection with a July 5 incident.

Bobby L. Walker, 35 of Sorento, is charged with driving revoked/suspended with a DUI, driving on revoked license, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, displayed registration plate, and expired registration in connection with a June 27 incident.

Dustin W. Gooch, 34 of Beecher City, is charged with aggravated fleeing/bodily injury, unlawful display of a title, improper use of registration/title, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, and registration light in connection with a June 17 incident.

MISDEMEANORS

Jordan A. Black, 24 of Gillespie, is charged with battery/causing bodily harm in connection with a July 8 incident.

Dustin R. Stieglitz, 37 of Shipman, is charged with aggravated assault/use of a deadly weapon in connection to a June 29 incident.

Steven A. Kroll, 33 of Eagarville, is charged with resisting a peace officer, fire fighter, or corrections employee in connection with a June 26 incident.

TRAFFIC

David B. Brown, 58 of Virden, is charged with cancelled/revoked/suspended registration in connection with a July 3 incident.

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Jennifer L. Roberts, 47 of Worden, is charged with driving on a suspended license and operating an uninsured motor vehicle in connection with July 5 incident.

Andrew L. Connoyer, 31 of Bethalto, is charged with improper use of registration, driving 15-20 mph above the limit, and no valid registration in connection with July 7 incident.

Megan E. Bertoldi, 37 of Gillespie, is charged with leaving the scene in connection with July 11 incident.

DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE FILED

  • Tasha McQuay versus David McQuay

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Community News

School board disciplines staff member; hires AD and Student Services Coordinator

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In a relatively brief meeting Monday night, the Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education approved a “resolution of remedial warning” against an unidentified district teacher, and hired a new Student Services Coordinator and Athletic Director.

The actions followed an 80-minute executive session during which board members presumably primarily discussed personnel issues. The regular monthly meeting of the board was moved up by one week to fill key positions, such as the Athletic Director and Student Services Coordinator, prior to the start of the school year next month. The district was taken by surprise when former Student Services Coordinator Stephanie Bray and Athletic Director Mike Bertagnolli both announced their retirements within days of each other.

Supt. Shane Owsley said the resolution of remedial warning is a disciplinary action representing “a second strike, so to speak.” Neither the teacher or the nature of the infraction was disclosed in open session.

In other action, the board, voted unanimously to hire Shelsie Timmermeier as the district’s Student Services Coordinator for the 2024-25 school year, stepping into the vacancy created by Bray’s retirement, pending confirmation of certification and a background check. In a separate action, the board also appointed Timmermeier as an assistant high school women’s volleyball coach.

Jeremy Smith was hired, also by a unanimous vote, as the district’s Athletic Director for the 2024-25 school year. In a related matter, Smith’s resignation as middle school head baseball coach was accepted. Additionally, the board posted the coaching position as vacant for the coming school year.

On a motion by Weye Schmidt, seconded by Dennis Tiburzi, the board hired Alex Jasper as a high school social science teacher for the coming school year. The board also voted unanimously to hire Tate Wargo as a first-year, non-tenured physical education instructor, pending confirmation of certification. Both positions were vacated as a result of the sudden resignation of Dalton Barnes in April as head football coach, physical education teacher and social science teacher. 

In related matters, the board also hired Wargo Monday night as an eighth grade boy’s basketball coach, and accepted Jasper’s resignation as a district paraprofessional and posted the position as vacant.

In other personnel action, the board:

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  • Hired Amanda Ewin as a one-on-one aide.
  • Hired Anthony Kravanya as a freshman men’s basketball coach.
  • Appointed Melissa Heigert as a volunteer assistant high school softball coach.

In other action, the board gave routine approval to a list of policies provided by the Illinois State Board of Education. 

Supt. Owsley also provided a brief update on the progress being made on safety projects expected to be completed before the start of the school year, including installation of a new intercom system, a card-reader entry system and shatter-proof protective film on exterior windows.

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Community News

Gillespie Library, United Community Bank to host Fraud and Scam Prevention seminar on July 22

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Gillespie Public Library (Photo by Gillespie Public Library)

Friends of the Gillespie Public Library and United Community Bank are hosting a joint “Fraud and Scam Prevention” seminar at on Monday, July 22 starting at 6 p.m. at the Gillespie Public Library.

The seminar will focus on today’s common scams and frauds, which includes imposter and check scams, money mule fraud and those that target seniors. Presenters will be Jenni Alepra of Gillespie UCB and Kennen Bertolis of Carlinville UCB.

The seminar is open to the public and is free of charge. For additional questions, call the Gillespie Public Library at 217-839-3614.

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