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Jack Burns speaks to Rotary

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Burns is currently a command sergeant major in the 108th Sustainment Brigade in the National Guard.

The Area Rotary met in a regular meeting on Tuesday, November 1st at Toni’s Restaurant in Benld. Joe Tieman, Assistant Superintendent of CUSD #7, introduced Jack Burns to the Rotary after the luncheon.

Mr. Burns has spent over 25 years in the school district, according to Tieman. Mr. Burns is a high school teacher where he teaches social studies, geography, college level world history, and mechanical drafting. Along with his years of dedication to education, Jack has done “an outstanding job in the sports arena.” Jack is the head coach of girls track and also an assistant football coach.

“Prior to our new track, Jack won conference and county championships,” Mr. Tieman noted, “This says a lot about his coaching ability, since we did not even have a track at the time.” Along with all these things, Mr. Burns also is the chairperson of the safe schools committee at CUSD #7. According to Tieman, Mr. Burns was very instrumental in establishing a “state-of-the-art school security plan.”

Above all others engagements, Mr. Burns is currently a command sergeant major in the 108th Sustainment Brigade in the National Guard and that is the main reason he was called on to speak at Tuesday’s luncheon.

Jack opened his speech by reminding the Rotarians about upcoming Veteran’s Day, November 11, and gave insight that it was once called Armistice Day until Eisenhower changed it in the 1950’s. “Veteran’s Day recognizes all soldiers who have served while Memorial Day honors soldiers that have gave their life,” Jack said.

Being a history teacher at Gillespie High School, Mr. Burns plays an active role in commemorating Veteran’s Day. On Veteran’s Day, Ms. Olson organizes a flag ceremony with the local VFW for the students. “In my history classes, I teach the kids about these two holidays [Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day],” Jack explained, “And at the end of the school year around Memorial Day, I take my students to Benld Cemetary and mark the graves with flags.” The students get to count this project as community service, according to Burns.

Jack went on to explain a new scholarship program which was introduced by Vicki DeWitt. DeWitt approached the school last year about a grant funded through the World War II Veterans of Illinois. To apply, the student is to interview a WWII Veteran and then edit/create a video of the interview. Many other stipulations apply. GHS took part in this scholarship fund for the first time last year and tied for first while receiving second place and numerous other honorable mentions.

The Illinois National Guard, which Burns plays a pivotal role in, contains over 10,000 soldiers. “A lot of people do not understand how military is broken down,” Burns explained, “There are 44 armories in Illinois.” Anyone of those armories can have between 40-400 soldiers. In Illinois, there are 5 major commands, according to Burns. “I have 2,500 soldiers in my brigade and I go to over 14 armories,” Jack said.

Burns explains how David Dickie received his medal of honor.

“Illinois has played a major role in the last 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Burns explained, “Many soldiers have deployed from Illinois.”

As a command sergeant major, Burns has done two tours in the war. His first tour was in Germany and his greatest enemy was German beer. “Trying to keep my soldiers out of trouble was my biggest task,” Burns said as he laughed. The second tour was in Iraq, where he was there for 18 months.

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On a higher level, Burns went on to explain two local medal of honor winners. Both of the local medal of honor winners are buried in the Gillespie Cemetery. “This is the highest medal you can receive in the military,” Burns said.

The medal of honor was started during the Civil War. The two local soldiers who received this prestigious medal are Patrick Pentzer and David Dickie.

In closing, Jack explained how the two locals received their medals. Pentzer was a Captain in Company C, 97th Illinois Infantry. Pentzer was among the first to enter the enemy’s entrenchments, he received the surrender of a Confederate general officer and his headquarters flag.

Dickie on the other hand, was a Captain, in Battery M, 15th New York Heavy Artillery. Dickie refused to leave the field, remaining in command after being wounded by a piece of shell, and led his command in the assault on the enemy’s works on the following day.

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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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