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City of Benld hires Frensko, Weller to fill office positions

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Benld terminates police contract with Mt. Olive

The council listens as Alderman Bernot explains the codification bids.

The council listens as Alderman Bernot explains the codification bids.

In a regular board meeting on Monday, August 12, the City of Benld filled the city comptroller position previously vacant after Vicki Ferratto resigned due to health reasons. Gina Frensko tentatively filled the position as the City of Benld was without any help for nearly two weeks.

After helping the city in a bind, the board recommending hiring Gina Frensko to fill the full time comptroller position. “She came in here and worked her tail off,” Mayor Gloria Sidar explained. “She has become quite knowledgeable how to run the office and after interviewing 20 people, I recommend hiring Gina Frensko to the full time position.” The board hired Frensko 5-0.

The board also posted an assistant comptroller position to help out in the office 2 to 3 days each week. For that vacancy, Mayor Sidar recommended hiring Katina Weller for the job. The board approved Weller 6-0.

Police News

Benld has been in negotiation with the City of Gillespie to provide police dispatching services for the City of Benld. Benld currently has a contract with Mt. Olive until September 30. The council has tentatively planned to switch with Gillespie, but has not made any formal approvals at this time. The council did approve 6-0 to terminate their contract with Mt. Olive effective September 30 when the contract is over.

Brian Frensko reported the City of Benld was approved for the police car grant, but Mayor Gloria Sidar said the city would not order a new car until they have the check “in hand”.

Library Board

Mayor Gloria reported James Taylor will be leaving the library board in September when his term is up. Gloria recommended appointing Cyrelda “Cookie” Dobrino to the vacancy upon Taylor leaving the board. The motion was approved 6-0.

Post Office Update

Jim Kelly said Mrs. Betts expects the post office to be open “real soon.” Kelly said she wouldn’t give a date just in case something would go wrong, but USPS is working on signage for the new office currently and should be ready to open their doors after the signs come in. Kelly said there hasn’t been any word about employees or hiring employees at this time.

Italian American Club Project

Jerry Saracco with the Italian American Club greeted the council asking if there was anything in particular the city would like to see done. “Every year after Italian American Days, we look around town to break down projects we can help with,” Saracco said. Driving through town, he mentioned there were either no street signs, street signs that are down, or street signs you can’t read.

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Saracco said they are considering doing the street signs, cost prohibited. He mentioned it may take the club 3-4 years to get them all done due to funding, but the next meeting for the Italian American Club is in October so he wanted a few ideas for the meeting. He mentioned he had no idea where to start on getting pricing for the signs. Mayor Sidar explained she has all the figures as she submitted a bid for the project early this year. She said she would hand everything over to him.

Jerry Saracco explains the Italian American Club is looking into replacing the street signs.

Jerry Saracco explains the Italian American Club is looking into replacing the street signs.

The council agreed street signs were a huge issue, but suggested sidewalks along Central Avenue. Some on the council explained the sidewalks were a safety issue. Jim Kelly explained he would like to see the street signs done as the city has a lot of ditch work to do and that may interfere with sidewalk work. The council came to an agreement they would suggest street sign work to the Italian American Club.

New Business

Build Benld has purchased stepping-stones portraying EMT, police, and firefighters. They want to level the stones with the ground around Memorial Park in Benld pending the board’s approval. The group would like to have the stones in by September 11. The board said they can install the stones if they bury the time capsule as well. “All of that is in the office, but I want the time capsule buried before that date or on that date,” Mayor Sidar explained. The council approved Build Benld’s request 6-0.

The board approved an advertisement in the Coal Country Time’s special edition commemorating the grand opening of the new elementary school. The board approved an advertisement of $75 for the special edition with a vote of 6-0.

Committee Reports

Mayor Sidar took care of the city property report saying one of the air conditioners for the Civic Center froze up. The city has three air conditioners cooling the civic center. The city had Turney come and look at it, but the city is looking at other companies to submit a bid as well. “I want to know how many air conditioners we need to cool the civic center, I want to know if we can go without one unit, and I want to know how old the units are,” Mayor Sidar explained.

Jim Kelly reported the insurance company is in the process of investigating the lift station control panel damage to determine exactly how much damage was done in the vandalism. Kelly also explained the water meters are being installed quickly, but there is only one route left.

Codification

Alderman Peyton Bernot reported back to the city council about codification for the ordinance book. Bernot obtained two bids, one from the Illinois Codification Services out of St. Clair County and one from General Code out of Michigan. General Code of Michigan quoted the City of Benld $11,900 with an electronic searchable copy, but they do not do zoning.

Illinois Codification Services does do zoning, but does not include a searchable electronic cd-rom for the computer. They came in with a bid of $5,800 with anymore than 400 pages costing $13 per page. Illinois Codification Services prints 10 full books with a CD-ROM to put on a website.

Bernot recommended going with Illinois Codification Services as the city has not codified their ordinance book since 1997. The business will also update the ordinance book after each year at a cost of $13 per page.

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“That book is a mess,” Mayor Gloria said. “We have stuff in there we don’t have and there is stuff we need that isn’t in there,” Bernot added. The City of Benld budgeted $10,000 for the codification project, so the bid came in way under budget. The council approved the codification 6-0.

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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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