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IVEDC give insight to Area Rotary

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Frank Schwab, director of IVEDC, explains that the corporation is involved in 4 counties.

The Area Rotary met in a regular meeting on Tuesday, October 18th at Toni’s Restaurant in Benld.  Two key note speakers addressed the Rotary after the luncheon.  Frank Schwab,  the director of Illinois Valley Economic Development Corporation, informed the Rotary of the community action agency and then introduced Joe Broers to explain the heating assist programs.

The Illinois Valley Economic Development Corporation, which was established in 1966, is a private, non-profit, equal opportunity corporation and is the official “community action agency.” IVEDC’s administrative office is located in Gillespie with satellite offices in Carrollton, Hardin, and Jerseyville. The ultimate authority of the corporation is vested in its governing board, which is composed of the representatives from the public, private, and client sector.

Schwab explained the Illinois Valley Economic Development Corporation which serves Macoupin, Green, Jersey, and Calhoun counties. The corporation operates numerous programs and services and is provided by “mostly federal funding.” 75% of the funding is from the federal government and the other 25% is from the state, according to Schwab.

The Corporation focused mainly on the heating assist program during the weekly Rotary meeting. One program is called ‘The Low Income Heating Assist Program,’ which is again funded by both federal and state dollars. The program serves over 5,000 families a year. 50% of the families that are enrolled in the program are elderly families and 25% of the families have some type of disability. “The average payment has been around $500 per household,” Schwab explained.

LIHEAP was designed to help low income eligible households meet the rising cost of home energy by providing financial assistance in the form of direct payments to the household’s energy vendor or the household. For the months of September and October, the LIHEAP program exclusively serves the elderly.”Every year we see new people and certain people who are unemployed,” Schwab went on to say before Joe Broers explained the other energy assist programs.

Broers, who is the project director, discussed the programs that are available to qualified citizens of the four counties IVEDC serves. The low income energy assist program (LIHEAP) has been available for communities for over 20 years. “It provides a way to offset energy costs,” Broers said. Every year we redetermine the amount distributed based on the residents’ current bill.

IVEDC can set up a payment for nearly any company the customer is doing business with. “About 45% of our customers use Ameren,” Broers said, “But we can set a plan with anything, even propane.” Broers said IVEDC can even provide assistance that use fuel/oil or even wood vendors. The idea is to help local households offset their heating bills by providing assistance.

IVEDC also offers a weatherization program which is exclusively designed to help low-income residents save fuel and money, while increasing the comfort of their homes. Repairs are completed by qualified contractors by the agency. There is no charge to participants for material or labor. The weatherization program assesses the home’s heating system to assure it is safe and in good working order. An experienced contractor will clean, tune, repair, retrofit, or replace the heating system. Energy and cost sving measures include replacing light bulbs with energy efficient ones.

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“To enroll in this program, the household owner fills out an application and then we go out and assess the house. If the house is in need of repair and the applicant qualifies, we run it through our computer program to get a work order. From there, we assign the work order to a contractor and then get it approved through the household owner,” Frank Schwab said of the weatherization program.

Joe Broers stated he notices families go without eating and without medication to just pay their utility bill.

IVEDC uses 10 different heating and air contractors and 3 different architectural contractors. According to Schwab, the federal funding is decreasing, but there are still 250-300 houses being repaired each year.

“Our goal is to make the person who applies for help responsible for their energy bill,” Broers said. IVEDC does this by establishing the householder as the responsible party and sets them up as the account holder. IVEDC sets up a percentage of income payment plan (PIPP) for low-income households with burdensome energy bills. PIPP helps families make regular, modest, monthly payments.

PIPP households pay 6% of their monthly income towards their utility bills while PIPP provides households up to $150 a month for utilities. PIPP is a program that is strictly sanctioned to Ameren customers and is set up on a yearly basis, as Broers mentioned most families just need help during certain times and not on a regular basis.

“We notice families that go without eating and even without medicine, just so they can pay for utilities,” Broers stated, “This is why this program was created.” If the customer is not an Ameren customer, they have to use the standard direct payment program since PIPP is strictly for Ameren customers. The direct payment program is a set amount they will receive and not based on percentages.

Broers went on to explain what IVEDC does when a family wants to enroll in a program. First, IVEDC connects with Ameren and looks at the household to see what their budget billing amount is and then the corporation establishes their percentage of income amount based on their income amount. IVEDC is strictly based on the income the family earns and strictly watches the families billing from year to year to see if the payments are consistent.

“Our main goal is energy conservation, so families don’t abuse our program,” Broers went on to state. We want to provide the families with a leveled payment amount that is affordable so families do not have to worry if they can afford next month’s bill or not, IVEDC said.

Anyone interested in applying can apply after November 1, unless you are a senior or disabled citizen or your family has under 5 people and then you can sign up at anytime. To enroll in PIPP, LIHEAP or any other utility assistance program contact CEDA at: 877-411-9276.

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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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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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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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