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Sound & Light Videography Speak to Rotary about Coliesum Documentary

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Despite a devastating fire that brought to an end the 90-year history of the Coliseum Ballroom in Benld, Jim Marcacci and Bruce Logsdon of Sound and Light Videography plan to complete the video documentary they were working on when the fire broke out last month. The partners showed a 14-minute preview of the documentary to members of the Benld Area Rotary Club on Tuesday during the club’s regular meeting at Toni’s Family Restaurant in Benld.

Marcacci, a former Gillespie High School Teacher, and Logsdon, a former Litchfield teacher now living in Springfield, were close to putting the finishing touches on the documentary when word reached them that the Coliseum was burning. Logsdon was out of state and Marcacci was recording a wedding in Springfield. Neither was able to get to the scene while the building was burning. Marcacci visited the site the next day to film the remains of the building and the procession of cars and people passing by the smoldering ruins.

“It looked like a funeral procession,” Marcacci said. Tracking down sources to interview, photos and snippets of film to produce the documentary, Logsdon said, was a difficult process. “If it was complicated before, it’s even more complicated now,” he said. “Fortunately we had shot about 80 percent of the interior footage we needed.”

But there are some aspects of the Coliseum’s interior that escaped the camera, only to be consumed by the flames. “Jim had found the infamous wall behind the stage,” he said. The wall bore the signatures of many of the performers who had played on the Coliseum Ballroom’s stage. “It was deteriorated, but it was still there.”

The pair also found shower stalls in the basement that were used by the ‘working girls’ to freshen up between customers. Marcacci said the two men have completed most of the interviews they need for the project, but are still hoping to land interviews with Bo Diddely, Fats Domino and Chuck BerryÐall of whom played at the Coliseum. Berry, who still performs occasionally in St. Louis has a reputation for demanding cash for interviews with him.

“If he wants $500, we’ll get it somehow,” Logsdon said. Originally planned as a celebration of the Coliseum’s storied past, the documentary is now taking on aspects of a memorium. Several years ago, Logsdon said, the two men decided to pursue the project when they were driving by the building on the way to Staunton one day. Logsdon was filming at the time, capturing a sequence during which the Coliseum looms into view as the car passes by. “I told Jim that if we’re going to do this, we need to get serious about and get it done, because someday it’s going to burn down,” Logsdon recalled.

The revamped version of the documentary now opens with the footage Logsdon shot a couple of years ago, and image dissolves into what remains of the Coliseum today. The pair also has obtained footage of the fire itself to use in the production. But the bulk of the film will be devoted to the Coliseum’s history and the performers who played their in its heydey. The 14-minute teaser Marcacci and Logsdon screened on Tuesday is available for viewing on YouTube.com.

After the fire, Marcacci said the number of “hits” on the YouTube video increased dramatically. Marcacci said watching the procession of cars and talking to people on Sunday after the fire “was a defining moment” for him that exemplified what the Coliseum meant to thousands of people throughout the Midwest.

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Before the fire, Marcacci had made arrangements to interview an 81-year-old musician from Granite City who performed with three different bands that played the Coliseum between 1947 and 1957. The plan was to film the interview inside the Coliseum, but the fire dashed those plans.”I really felt sorry for him,” Marcacci said. “He wanted to see it one last time. The last time he was there was in 1957. He almost had tears in his eyes.”

The pair also found a taped interview with former owner Joyce Tarro, who was murdered in the 1970s. Portions for the interview will find their way into the finished film. Logsdon said the finished doumentary will differ from most documentary projects in that it is not about a person or an event. “It’s about a building,” he said. “It’s a building that is part of the collective memory.”

Despite the setback, Logsdon and Marcacci said they plan to finish the documentary before Christmas. They hope to produce about 2,000 copies, which will retail for about $25 each. The finished piece will run 60 to 90 minutes. Of course, initial plans to premier the film at the Coliseum have had to be scrapped. “Like everyone, we grieved when it burned,” Logsdon said. “It will never be rebuilt and it shouldn’t be. It was more than just a dance hall. I think she went out in a blaze of glory and thatÕs how it should be.”

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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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