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Stay safe and leave fireworks to the professionals on July 4th holiday

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Approximately 1/4 of all injured persons suffered multiple injuries due to fireworks

Springfield, Ill- The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) remind organizations and individuals to leave the fireworks displays to licensed, trained professionals this Fourth of July season.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fireworks started an estimated 12,264 fires in 2021, including 2,082 structure fires, 316 vehicle fires, and 9,866 outside and other fires. These fires caused 29 civilian injuries and $59 million in direct property damage. These fires are not only caused by commercial/consumer fireworks, but also by unregulated novelty fireworks that are sometimes purchased at local supermarkets.

In addition to fireworks, novelties such as sparklers, snappers, and poppers are dangerous. Sparklers account for the greatest number of fireworks injuries, and often to the youngest victims. Sparklers burn in excess of 1,200 degrees – hot enough to melt many metals and turn steel glowing red.  An instantaneous touch of this will cause a burn and may result in permanent damage or scarring.

“Fireworks and the 4th of July go hand-in-hand, but if not used properly or by professionals they can cause serious injuries such as burns, dismemberments, amputations, or worse, an accidental death. Consider using other items such as glow sticks or silly string to celebrate the holiday or simply attend a professional display,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal James A. Rivera.

During the July 2023 seasonal reporting period, 34 hospitals and facilities reported a total of 108 injuries to the OSFM. There were no fatalities reported during the 2023 reporting period. The reported injuries were related to a wide variety of fireworks with “Mortars” (47%) listed as the most frequent type of fireworks or pyrotechnic effect involved in injury. This was followed by Roman Candles (13%), Firecrackers (11%), and Bottle Rockets (10%). Nearly 50% of all injuries affected hands (21%), torso (13%), and eyes (14%). Lacerations were the leading type of injury at 21% followed by second degree burns at 20%. Abrasions accounted for 15% of the injuries and first degree burns at 13%. Dismemberment/amputation injuries decreased to 10 as compared to 20 in 2022.

IDNR reminds those who are sponsoring fireworks displays in Illinois to be sure their fireworks vendor has the required state licenses and certificates issued by the IDNR and the OSFM prior to their fireworks show.

The Illinois Explosives Act requires that anyone who purchases, possesses, uses, transfers, stores or disposes of explosives, including display fireworks, must have an explosives license and explosives storage certificate issued by the IDNR. Licensing and storage requirements administered by the IDNR do not apply to Consumer Fireworks (classified as 1.4 explosives).

Approved consumer fireworks are regulated by the OSFM and are permitted only in villages, counties and municipalities that have passed ordinances allowing such displays. Consumer fireworks may be purchased and displayed only by adults who have obtained permits from their local jurisdiction. Hand-held fireworks – including firecrackers, roman candles, and bottle rockets or any consumer firework with an unreliable trajectory are not approved for sale or use in Illinois. A complete list of approved and prohibited consumer fireworks can be found at:

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https://sfm.illinois.gov/content/dam/soi/en/web/sfm/sfmdocuments/documents/firepreventiondocs/pyfi-approvedprohibitedfireworks.pdf

“The last thing anyone wants during the Fourth of July is a fireworks-related accident that leads to life-altering injuries or even death,” said IDNR Director Natalie Phelps Finnie. “Understand the rules and play it safe.”

The Illinois Explosives Act is administered by the IDNR Office of Mines and Minerals, Explosives and Aggregate Division. This Division is staffed by trained and experienced blasting specialists located throughout Illinois. In addition to requiring comprehensive licensing, training and examination for individuals, the law requires that unattended display fireworks and explosives must be stored in an explosives magazine, storage facility or container that is inspected and certified by IDNR.

IDNR currently has 2,206 individuals licensed for the use of explosives in Illinois, of which approximately 742 are specifically for the use of display fireworks. There are 740 certified explosives storage magazines in Illinois, which contain nearly 41 million pounds of explosives. Of those storage magazines, 99 are certified specifically for the storage of display fireworks.

Anyone possessing, using, transferring, or purchasing display fireworks without a valid IDNR individual explosives license or storage certificate is violating Illinois law and could incur penalties. A violation of the Illinois Explosives Act can be a Class 3 felony, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In addition, IDNR can assess administrative fines for violations involving display fireworks and other explosives.

Emergency responders are reminded to contact IDNR and the OSFM immediately with reports of personal injury or property damage resulting from the use of explosives, including display fireworks.

Go online for more information on the IDNR explosives regulatory program or for more information concerning the OSFM pyrotechnics regulatory program.

To report an explosives incident or accident concerning display fireworks, the public should contact IDNR Office of Mines and Minerals, Explosives and Aggregate Division at 217-782-9976 and the OSFM at 217-785-0969.

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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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