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Rotary hears from State Rep. Wayne Rosenthal

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“The State is broke”

The Area Rotary met in a regular meeting on Tuesday, January 24th at Toni’s Restaurant in Benld. Wayne Rosenthal, the 98th district representative for the State of Illinois, updated the Rotary on what is going on at the state level and answered all of the questions thrown at him by numerous Rotarians.

Rosenthal, who resides in Morrisonville, attempted to keep it short until questions exploded from the fifteen people in the audience. Getting elected just last year, republican Rosenthal has not spent much time in the general assembly.

To start the discussion, Wayne started on a soft note and explained to everyone that the state is broke. “I do not expect that to change any time soon,” Rosenthal started, “Last year our budget was pretty tight and this year we are still 4-8 billion dollars behind in paying our bills.” The State of Illinois expects another 4-6 billion dollars worth of bills and no more revenue, according to comptroller Topinka.

He went on to say that he expects the House to craft a budget on projected revenues as done for the 2011 year. “If we would have been doing that the last 10 years, we would not be in this mess we are currently in,” Rosenthal said as he chuckled.

Pensions could be brought up again, according to Rosenthal, because the plan is to make the pensions sustainable in the future for all state workers, teachers, and everyone else concerned. “We need to make sure they are there, but figure out how we are going to fund them,” Wayne explained, “It is an ongoing battle.” He went on to say he anticipates changes with the teachers union and he believes the teachers should represent themselves in the argument because “it isn’t right for legislatures to dictate how it is going to be without proper representation from the IEA and IFT.”

Wayne explained further of why there is no money in the pension fund. New legislation is introduced and, regardless of what it is, it is hard to vote against it and say it is not true when the facts are there and it is true. Legislators don’t think about paying for it before hand and just assume the general fund will cover these programs whether it be for the elderly or the veterans. Then, at the end of the year, the general fund is out of money. “Now what?” Wayne questioned, “They borrow from the pension funds and after they consistently did that, the pension fund is broke. Now, those guys are gone and the problem lies with us.”

After being questioned how to stop the Chicago influence, Wayne answered the best way would be to continue have people from downstate represented. Speaker Madigan has majority of the control, Rosenthal explained, and Madigan basically controls the agenda. During the last session, Wayne explained he was sitting in the back of the chambers and was wondering why the talk of paying bills was never brought up. The reason why the bills weren’t brought up was because the meeting is speaker driven and the only discussion items are from Madigan.

“The State of Illinois is controlled by only two or three individuals,” Rosenthal established, “They are President Cullerton, Speaker Madigan, and the governor.” Those three just control the whole thing and Wayne has no clue how the state will get out of it.

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“So we will continue to be the second most corrupt State in the U.S.,” questioned an individual from the audience. “I mean, yes. I don’t know what we can do to get out of it,” Wayne responded hesitatingly, “Everyone heard we got downgraded on our bond rating again. One of the things discussed in Springfield is: as long as we can borrow money, we aren’t broke.” Rosenthal went on to say this shocked him, but explained that is how it is viewed up there.


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Rosenthal went on to say that Illinois has the worst bond rating out of all the states. “We are down to almost nothing,” he explained, “And back to the old picture, their feeling is if we can sell bonds – we are not broke. They just don’t get it.”

He then went on to explain that Illinois lies in heart of the United States and has great resources to our advantage. “We just need to get the government out of our way and start taking advantage of the resources we are bless with. Then we can create jobs and put people back to work!”

Another problem Rosenthal explained about the government is there is a big line separating how we grew up and the folks in Chicago grew up. “We look around and prefer to take care of ourself without the government. We would survive very well and be very efficient while they [leaders from Chicago] look around and see big buildings while living in the rat race. They see the corporations and want them to pay for everything, but they don’t realize that the people are different when they come down here.”

The biggest disconnection Rosenthal sees is: the State thinks if the rates are raised it equates to more revenue. He went on to explain that it is not always the case and is not necessarily true. If we gain money, we lose jobs because people exit the state. “Until we can create a better business environment and attract businesses, we will not gain the revenue to pay for the programs we want and desire,” Wayne pushed, “We cannot make enough cuts right now.” The state would not have enough money even if the people were taxed to death, according to Wayne.

The problem is a trickle down thing that affects counties and municipalities. “Every place you go, water systems are in need of repair or sewer systems are in need of repair,” Rosenthal explained. The state does not have any money to help the villages or cities repair these problems because “we are essentially broke.”

Rosenthal went on to explain that the governor, Pat Quinn, cut 9% on each departments budgets. The question now stuck with Rosenthal is what do you do now? “One of things I have done and the first piece of legislation that was passed was the baths salts last year,” Rosenthal stated, “And we have found that the synthetic drugs are just changed a tiny bit and pushed back on the market.” Rosenthal said he has talked to Larry Pfeiffer, who is the ROE for the 98th district, and Wayne is going to continue to pass legislation to ban synthetic drugs.

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In the spring session, he expects concealed carry to be brought up again. That State Sportsman Caucus told NRA if the lawsuit does not get settled in Chicago, the State will pass some type of legislation that will exempt Cook County or the City of Chicago and “[I] would be pretty optimistic that we would pass concealed carry that way.”

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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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