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MPACT’D Presents Safe Driving Day

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State Attorney Jordan Garrison speaks to students about traffic laws and court procedure.

MPACT’D hosted a safe driving day March 18th at GHS where the students learned about the consequences of irresponsible driving. MPACT’D, Miners Preparing And Caring for Teen Driving, is headed by Mrs. Jennifer Brown (driver’s education teacher) and Ms. Mary Kirk along with students Sydney Koniak (senior) and Abbie Cline (junior). MPACT’D’s mission is to promote safe driving in our community.

Patterson Friese attempts to walk with an intoxicated simulator.

The purpose for this event was to inform and encourage our students to make and become aware of the results of their decisions behind the wheel. The event featured  two classroom sessions with featured speakers, which included State Attorney Jordan Garrison, Kathy White from IDOT, FFA teacher Rick Spencer, and Lieutenant William Wheeler (retired GPD officer). The second half of the day students listened to a presentation. It was entitled “Ashley’s Story” and was presented by Dave Kaeb, first EMT to arrive on the scene, and her parents: Cathy Waddell and Rudy Waddell. Ashley was a fifteen year old from Tremont, IL. Her and two others were involved in a high speed single car collision that ended their 3 lives. The presentation has been presented over 75 times, to over 32,000 people.

The group was formed in the 2007-2008 school year through Operation Teen Safe Driving sponsored by IDOT, Allstate and Ford Driving Skills for Life.

The group has been successful in creating a safe driving program that encompasses the entire community. In the last four years, MPACT’D has received over $13,000 in grant money to fund their initiative. Those grant monies were used to create programs that included a mock crash,  a mock court trial, road to reality, community safety days, elementary safety promotions, as well as various informational days for GHS. The group has been recognized as a top school in the State of Illinois as well as has received national recognition through Operation Teen Safe Driving.

You can become a fan of MPACT’D on Facebook as well as request speaking engagements or request help for an event.

Cathy White from IDOT speaks to students about the top 10 distractions while driving.

“As a driver education teacher, sponsor, and member of this community – I believe it is my calling to impart in our students atmosphere of positive driving choices and the impact that their choices affect their tomorrow. I have personally felt the loss that come with poor driving decisions. I do not wish that pain and hurt that comes with that loss for anyone. Through encouraging our students to be safe drivers, we not only create a better community but also a safer community.” – Mrs. Jennifer Brown (Advisor)

FFA Teacher, Rick Spencer, demonstrates tractor and farm safety.

“Always wear your seatbelt and never text and drive! Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction. 18% of fatalities are from a cell phone in distraction-related crashes.” – Sydney Koniak (Co-Advisor)

“This day has truly inspired me to drive safer and be a better driver.” – Dylan Frillman

“The safe driving day made me realize you may not be the irresponsible driver, but the other drivers on the road could be or the person you are riding with – those are the people you have to be cautious about. Like Ashley Waddell, she had no decision but yet her life was ended from a simple bad decision from the person she was riding with.” – Adam Wagner

Cathy & Rudy Waddell and EMT Dave Kaeb present "Ashley's Story."

The Oldsmobile Alero that Ashley was riding in on September 28, 2005.

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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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