News from around Illinois, as reported by GateHouse newspapers.
CENTRAL ILLINOIS Judge given lane-change warning PERU -- Police said they stopped LaSalle County Circuit Judge Cynthia Raccuglia on Wednesday for a lane use violation after receiving a complaint a woman might be driving while impaired. "We sent officers to investigate the traffic complaint, and the driver turned out to be Cynthia Raccuglia," said Police Chief Doug Bernabei. Responding to a published report that an officer detected a moderate odor of alcohol, Bernabei said, "She was not impaired while driving. There was no need for her to take a Breathalyzer test." He said she was stopped at about 12:30 a.m. near her home and given a verbal warning for a lane-use violation. "There is no need for further action," he said. In 1998, Raccuglia was charged with driving under the influence and improper lane usage. In early 1999, she pleaded guilty in LaSalle County court to an amended charge of reckless driving. She was sentenced to one year of conditional discharge and ordered to pay $750 in fines and court costs. She also was ordered to complete a DUI evaluation and alcohol counseling and treatment, each of which was successfully completed. In June 1999, the Judicial Inquiry Board filed two misconduct charges alleging Raccuglia lied and tried to influence police during her 1998 arrest. She denied all the allegations, and the board concluded in 2001 the evidence did not establish that she intended to use her office to influence the investigating officers. She did receive a reprimand from the Illinois Courts Commission. Journal Star, Peoria Mid-year raises given to ISU professors NORMAL -- Mid-year salary increases will be given to 434 Illinois State University full and associate professors as part of President Al Bowman's Salary Enhancement Program. The increases range from .5 to 8.5 percent. They begin with January's pay period, affecting professors from all six academic colleges and Milner Library. Bowman unveiled the program in September 2005. Since then, more than $2.4 million has been added to faculty and staff members’ salaries in addition to merit-based raises associated with each fiscal year. In 2005, salaries for full professors lagged 14 percent behind comparison group averages. Today it is about 10 percent. "Through the Salary Enhancement Program, we continue to make progress on my top priority of improving faculty and staff member salaries," Bowman said in a statement. "Although the numbers are smaller, there are still pockets of employees within the civil service and administrative/professional classifications whose salaries are below peer group averages, and we will continue to address those needs as funds become available." Journal Star, Peoria Eagle watchers to take to shoreline Saturday PEKIN -- Eagle enthusiasts will flock to the Illinois River on Saturday to view the national bird. The Eagle Census Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to noon at sites along the Illinois River in Tazewell County. This is the eighth year for the event, which is part of the National Eagle Census count, said Pekin Main Street Executive Director Leigh Ann Matthews. Festivalgoers may take free bus tours to sites where telescopes have been set up at spots where the birds have been spotted over the past few weeks. The bus tours will leave from the upper parking lot at Riverfront Park throughout the morning. Tour guides will be on the buses to answer questions and distribute handouts. Matthews said the Illinois River is a ripe hunting ground for the majestic birds because the barge traffic keeps the waterway from freezing over. Eagles feed on fish and carrion. The greatest concentration of eagles in Illinois are along the Illinois River from Pekin to Havana because the river is kept open and clear of ice for barges. In addition, the river's water continues to become cleaner. Participants should dress warmly and bring spotting scopes, binoculars and cameras for best viewing of the eagles. Pekin Daily Times Police investigate Peterson spotting in Peoria PEORIA -- Once again the search for a missing Bolingbrook woman has headed south to Peoria after an anonymous caller left a voicemail stating she spotted Stacy Peterson near a downtown Peoria homeless shelter. Andy King, executive director of Dream Center Peoria, said his secretary received a phone call about two days ago from Illinois State Police asking if Peterson was living or had been seen near the YWCA's shelter and transitional housing. King said Thursday night that, so far, no one has seen her, and there was no record of her at the shelter. Local law enforcement agencies said Thursday they were unaware of the alleged sighting. Joel Brodsky, lawyer of Peterson's husband, Drew, said the message was left on Drew Peterson's office phone and stated, "I did see Stacy again on January 2nd. I saw her at 3:15 in the afternoon. I didn't speak to her again. When I saw her I stepped back, I walked over near her, looked her straight in the face, and I walked off." Stacy Peterson, 23, vanished Oct. 28 from Bolingbrook, a Chicago suburb, while on her way to meet her sister. Drew Peterson also received a letter, dated Nov. 12 and carrying a Peoria postmark, that stated his wife was seen in a Peoria Kroger store. State police have named the former Bolingbrook police sergeant a suspect in her disappearance. Journal Star, Peoria University retains rights of admission, discipline toward jailed students PEORIA -- Three Bradley University students now serving six-month jail sentences for a botched fireworks prank that killed their friend and fellow classmate may be allowed back into the college. Whether they will, however, is up to Bradley's admissions department, university President Joanne Glasser said Wednesday, adding the trio also could face disciplinary measures, subject to Bradley's Code of Conduct. Glasser said such disciplinary proceedings were "reserved" after Sheridan "Danny" Dahlquist, 19, died in an August house fire because "there was so much confusion and ambiguity at the lack of real facts as to who did what. ... We did not want to give the perception or appearance that was either going to help or hinder the (court) process," said Glasser, an attorney by education. Bradley students David Crady, 20, Ryan Johnson, 22, Nicholas Mentgen, 22, and Illinois Central College student Daniel Cox, 20, all pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter on Thursday for the Aug. 12 incident. The three Bradley men, however, must reapply. Any student not enrolled full time for one semester must reapply to the school, Glasser said. Bradley does not have a policy precluding anyone charged or convicted of a felony from being admitted. Crady, Johnson and Mentgen were on Bradley's soccer team with Dahlquist. Bradley soccer coach Jim DeRose didn't declare the players officially out of the program but indicated the team is proceeding without them, as it did through its 2007 Elite Eight campaign. Journal Star, Peoria Chicken wings, yogurt, mustard among items swiped from delivery truck SPRINGFIELD -- A food service delivery driver was surprised this morning when he walked out to check on his truck and found boxes of food being tossed from the cargo area into a shopping cart. The incident happened in the parking lot of the Quest Inn. The victim, who works for U.S. Food Service in Fishers, Ind., said he was staying overnight at the motel and he went outside about 3:15 a.m. to check on the refrigeration of his truck, which was parked on the east side of the building. He walked up to find a red shopping cart and some boxes sitting at the back of the truck. He continued walking toward the truck and saw boxes being thrown from the inside of the trailer into the cart. Not knowing who was inside, the man went back into the motel and called police. When officers arrived, they found the overhead door was down and latched. It was unknown how the burglars managed to open the door. In all, thieves stole about $1,800 worth of food that was to be delivered to various businesses in Springfield. The menu of stolen items included: * 130 pounds of prime rib roast * A case of crab meat * 160 pounds of chicken wings * Assortment of cheese products * 40 pounds of chicken breasts * 50 pounds of ham * A dozen yogurt cups * 500 mustard packets State Journal-Register Fire breaks out at site of water main break SPRINGFIELD -- A city-owned service truck was damaged Friday morning when an acetylene tank hose caught fire while workers were repairing a water line along MacArthur Boulevard near Lenox Avenue. The fire was reported about 2:30 a.m. as an explosion of a tank of acetylene, which is used for welding. However, firefighters determined that actually a hose leading to the tank was on fire. Officials believe the tank was leaking gas - possibly the result of a broken hose or line - and the gas ignited, causing the fire. Workers at the site all were underground at the time, and no one was injured. Firefighters extinguished the fire, and then were able to shut off the valves to the tank. They were at the scene almost 90 minutes. A police report described the truck as a 2005 Chevrolet. A hose reel was destroyed and some truck paint was damaged. The service truck was carrying a variety of tools, parts, generator and other equipment needed to repair a water line valve that ruptured Thursday afternoon. State Journal-Register Firefighters hospitalized after battling flames in sub-zero weather LINCOLN -- Frigid temperatures sent two firefighters to the hospital Thursday as they fought a morning fire at a two-story farmhouse near Beason. Logan County Emergency Management Agency Director Dan Fulscher said Beason Fire Chief James Hubrich and Lincoln Rural firefighter Seth Thomas were both treated at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital for symptoms related to exposure to bitter cold temperatures. Both men were released from the hospital after being treated. The wind chill at the time of the alarm was 16 below zero at the Logan County Airport. “I know the firefighters worked valiantly,” Fulscher said. “What a brutal day to fight a fire.” The fire destroyed the home of Tony and Rene Barr. Fulscher said the family was back at the residence going through the remains of their home, which was insured. Firefighters were able to save the family’s German shepherd by breaking out a window in the basement. Firefighters from Lincoln city and rural departments as well as fire crews from Beason, Atlanta, Waynesville, Clinton, Chestnut and Mount Pulaski responded to the scene in the sub-zero temperature. The McLean County EMA also offered a hand. Firefighters used emergency vehicles as warming stations, taking brief breaks from the cold. Neighbors and McDonald’s from Lincoln contributed coffee and other beverages to emergency responders. The Lincoln Courier SOUTHERN ILLINOIS Oil field worker's body found An investigation was launched into the death of an oil field worker whose body was discovered early Friday morning on a catwalk between two storage tanks near Old Ben Mine 24 west of Benton. A co-worker found the body of Kenneth Reiger, 34, of McLeansboro around 12:17 a.m. Friday. According to authorities, the co-worker had gone to the scene after Reiger's wife became alarmed when the man was late returning home. Reiger was an employee of TMZ Oil Treating, according to Franklin County Sheriff Bill Wilson. “His wife talked to him on the telephone around 7 p.m., and he told her about a strong gas smell,” West City Fire Chief Jim Reed said. The co-worker found Reiger's truck, with its motor running and lights on, near the tank battery on the west side of the old mine property, located about one-half mile north of Petroff Road. A search of the immediate area resulted in the eventual discovery of the man's body lying on the elevated catwalk, some 20 to 25 feet above the ground. There was a strong chemical odor in the immediate area, the co-worker said. Emergency personnel, including the Franklin County Sheriff's Department, the West City Fire Department and Mercy Regional Emergency Health Services, were called to the scene, Reed said. He said that when firemen arrived there was a definite smell of hydrogen sulfide, a “fairly deadly” gas. Reed likened the gas smell to that associated with rotten eggs. Firemen had to don a special breathing apparatus to work in the area, Reed said. The chief said it took four firemen about 30 minutes to remove Reiger's body from the catwalk. Benton Evening News Sting operation backfires HARRISBURG -- Three Harrisburg men are facing charges in what authorities contend was a sting operation that backfired. Richard H. Abney, 39, was formally charged Jan. 23 with unlawful sale of a firearm, and David H. Ealy, 23, was charged on the same day with possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Abney was arrested 9:15 p.m. Jan. 23. Ealy was arrested 10:50 p.m. Jan. 24 and is also charged with possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia. Leland Curtis Wollesen allegedly was operating a swap-shop out of his Raymond Street residence and making pawn agreements without a pawnbroker's license, Illinois State Police Agent Rick White said. Abney, who owns a pawn shop, became upset about the possible damage Wollesen could be doing to his business, so evidence indicates he gave a High Standard model 11 .22 caliber LR revolver to Ealy to pawn at Wollesen's business, White said. Ealy has a prior conviction for burglary and cannot possess a firearm, according to formal charges filed Jan. 23. The incidents took place on Dec. 13, formal charges indicate. Abney and Ealy face more serious charges in the cases than Wollesen - unlawful sale of a firearm is a Class 4 felony punishable by up to 1 to 3 years in the Department of Corrections and a fine up to $25,000. Unlawful possession of a weapon is a Class 3 felony punishable by two to five years in prison and a fine up to $25,000. Wollesen, charged with operating a pawn shop without a license, is charged with a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a up to a $1,500 fine and six months in the county jail. Harrisburg Daily Register 56 get IEMA training HARRISBURG -- Had there been a disaster in the Harrisburg Town and Country Lions Club this week, there was no shortage of chiefs available to take charge. There were 56 students in the building Wednesday and Thursday from fire departments, law enforcement, U.S. Forest Service, emergency management agencies and health departments. Officials of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency were training the emergency workers on the National Incident Management System Incident Command 300 course required in a national mandate in 2005 of the Bush administration. NIMS is intended as a standard of organization all emergency agency use in order to manage an incident most effectively. The class is set up to train using once-in-a-lifetime scenarios like train wrecks or earthquakes. Workers can also apply their training to more common incidents. The training was sponsored by SCEMA and the Gallatin County Emergency Management Agency. Eldorado Daily Journal Fees for Shawnee National Forest? HARRISBURG -- Michael Scott, a school teacher at Anna-Jonesboro High School, urged Saline County Board members to consider a resolution opposing user fees in the Shawnee National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service has a draft proposal that would impose fees for use of certain sites, such as $5 per carload at Garden of the Gods, or $5 per day or $50 per year to enter the forest on horseback, Scott said. A few people mow at trail heads and pick up trash voluntarily at public sites now, Scott said. The Forest Service has claimed there are no funds available for such things, but it does not appear the Forest Service will use the funds wisely, he contended. He asked board members to look over the resolution and consider passing it at a future meeting. However, a representative of another group asked the board to take a wait-and-see approach. Jeff Jones of the Saline County Tourism Bureau -- also the county highway engineer -- said it might be better if board members wait and see how the Forest Service plans to spend the revenue before taking a position. Jones is not a proponent of the fees yet, but he is not sure knee-jerk opposition is the best policy. The headquarters for the Shawnee National Forest is in Harrisburg. Harrisburg Daily Register NORTHERN ILLINOIS 24 years for Red Bull heist DUPAGE COUNTY -- A 31-year-old former Glen Ellyn resident who pleaded guilty to robbing two delivery trucks at gunpoint was sentenced Tuesday to 24 years in state prison. Samer Bader hijacked a truck from Power Distributing, an Elmhurst beverage distributor, on March 6, 2006, outside a Sam’s Club in Woodridge as the driver made a delivery of Red Bull energy drinks, authorities said. About three weeks later, on March 24, Bader and William Moctezuma, 27, of Chicago confronted the same truck driver at gunpoint outside the company’s Elmhurst warehouse, 185 Industrial Drive. The pair stole more cases of the energy drink along with a company truck. Altogether Bader stole more than 800 cases of Red Bull worth about $50,000, authorities said. Bader was arrested March 30, 2006, in New York City. He had plane tickets to leave the country at the time of his arrest. He pleaded guilty in September to armed robbery, aggravated kidnapping and vehicular hijacking. Moctezuma pleaded guilty Dec. 12 to armed robbery with a firearm and is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 11 for sentencing. In a case of life imitating art — or perhaps the other way around — Bader produced a film directed by his brother Malik that tells the story of an elusive Chicago their named Kaspar Carr. “Street Thief” premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival in New York a few weeks after Bader’s arrest. The film, shot it documentary style, drew speculation over whether it portrayed actual crimes. Chicago Suburban Troubled night-spot condemned ROCKFORD -- A building that housed a nightclub has been condemned by the city for multiple fire and electrical safety hazards. The property is the location of Colicm, where a brawl broke out near closing time Jan. 20. The fight damaged furniture and caused several injuries, and police continue to investigate reports of shots being fired. Among the violations are deficiencies in the sprinkler system and insufficient exits in case of an evacuation. The building cannot reopen until the violations are corrected. Earlier this week, the bar’s liquor license was pulled by Mayor Larry Morrissey, who is also the city’s liquor commissioner. According to city officials, the license was never transferred to the bar’s new owners when it changed hands earlier this year. Rockford Register Star