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New publication covers history of Macoupin County Boys track meet

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Will Benefit Gillespie High School Track Team

A new publication covers the long and rich history of the Macoupin County Boys Track Meet with narrative, anecdotes, photos, and lists of winners from one of the oldest county sports meets in the state of Illinois.

The Macoupin County Boys Track Meet: Milestones and Memories, vol. 1 offers a fast-moving, easy-to-read 84-page overview of the first 75 years of the meet, which originated in 1904.

This first of three planned volumes takes a look at the top teams and top performers of the meet, including some of their careers after their high school days. Some of the greatest individual performers in any sport in Macoupin County have been stars of the county track meet, which began as a four-team affair in 1904 and, as more schools participated, became one of the most popular social events in Macoupin County.

Coming by car, train, and on foot, the meets routinely drew as many as 3,000 fans in the 1910s and 1920s and were front-page news in most county newspapers.  The level of competition only grew, and by the 1960s and 1970s, the top student-athletes in the county were still on display every spring at the county meet, which grew and evolved with the decades.  A list of individual winners in each discipline is also included.

Some of the many Gillespie track stars covered in the publication include Jerry Grandone, Frank Chappell, John Gregory, Hank Carter, Frank Harris, Steve Benich, Alan Rolando, Scott & Bob Wyatt, Rick Tarro, Bob Craddick, Frank Ruyle, Dave Griffel, Kurtiss Cooper, and Vince Pacewic.  Gillespie has a long and rich track tradition, including the 1976 county champion team that is arguably the greatest track squad in Macoupin County history. The 1976 team captured thirteen disciplines at the county meet and rolled up 107 points.

Benld High School’s track program and stars are also covered in the publication, including Bob Basso, Steve Baima, Jack Robertson, Steve & Joe Novotny, John Lukachik, Wesley Granger, Emil Zarr, Al Bertagnolli, Adolph “Chief” Tenikat, Albert Wargo, Terry Wargo, and George Contratto. Benld captured six county team titles between 1926-47.

All copies of Milestones and Memories are being given to the track teams of Macoupin County, which will sell them for their own fund-raising. The full proceeds of any purchase of a booklet will support the hometown track squad. The cost of each booklet is $10.

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A second volume is planned to cover the boys’ meet from 1979 to the present, while a third volume will analyze the Macoupin County girls’ meet, which began in 1973.  When complete, each of those will also benefit the track programs of Macoupin County schools.

The project was the conception of Dave Jokisch, who led the Carlinville High School boys track team to a record twenty-one county titles in a twenty-seven year coaching career that concluded with an IHSA state title in 1996.   He contacted Tom Emery, an acclaimed writer and researcher from Carlinville, as well as the late Andy Easton, the well-respected former Carlinville and Gillespie coach in multiple sports.   Emery handled the writing and research, while Easton’s records are used.

“This was an extremely enjoyable project,” said Emery, who has created sixteen book and booklet titles. “The Macoupin County meet is one of the oldest and most respected sports meets in the state of Illinois, and has produced countless top athletes. There are a lot of stories to tell, and we wanted to capture as many of them as possible. We’re also happy to be able to support the track teams of the high schools in Macoupin County with the sales of this project.”

In Gillespie, sales of the publication are being handled by Gillespie athletic director and boys’ track coach Mike Bertagnolli. All sales in Gillespie will benefit the Gillespie High School track program. For more information, contact Bertagnolli at 217-839-2114 or mbertagnolli@cusd7.org.

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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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