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Daily Herald (Newspaper) - April 29, 2001, Chicago, Illinois Big Picture Northwest Focus Todays guide io events and entertainment Back of Neighbor Rush rallies Chicagos arena football team wins its home opener Sunday April 29 2001 NO 197 Ni INK Eli American Dennis Tito became the first space tourist Saturday Tourism in space becomes a reality BAIKONUR Kazakstan With a thunderous rumble a Russian rocket lifted off Saturday from the barren steppes of Central Asia bearing the space tourist California busi nessman Dennis Tito and two cos on a journey to the interna tional space station Theyll have to wait to dock with the station however until NASA the space shut tle Endeavour to avoid a po traffic jam The rocket rose into the blue skies above the Baikonur cosmodrome blasting out red flames and soon dis appeared above the expanses of Kazakstan Nine minutes later flight controllers announced that the craft had readied orbit It will be at least two days before the Soyuz spaceship reaches the space station and possibly three if needs to extend its stay Computer problems aboard the sta tion have kept Endeavour there longer than expected by preventing astronauts from wrapping up work j with a critical robot arm NASA overcame the computer problems Saturday allowing the ro bot arm operation to be carried out Their work helped clear the way for the shuttle to undock today which would allow the Soyuz to arrive on Monday as planned The crew is ex to be at the station for six days before returning to Earth Titos son Mike also watched the launch awestruck Wow what an adrenalin rush he said If I had a chance I would defi do this NASA urged postponement of Titos ride until another flight in sisting he didnt have enough train ing and could jeopardize the work of the stations crew But Russian said Tito a former rocket engi neer who is paying up to million for the trip received the equivalent of a professional cosmonauts train ing Bookmark page for hyperlinks to more information NASA Russia Aerospace Agency Murder trial with a twist With a bizarre past of credibility problems arid a stunning admission in court Sears the widow of slain Hampshire police Sgt Gregory Sears has given John defense attorney a strategy to beat the murder charge BY CHARLES KEESHAN A daytime soap operas could not have done better Normajean Sears grieving widow of slain Hampshire police Sgt Gregory Sears took lie witness stand last week and faced John the man accused of gunning down her husband June 1 But instead of explaining why she told in Carroccia might be their man Nor ma Jean dropped a bombshell She remem bers nothing about her husbands A breakdown suf Gregory Sears slaying she said left her unable to recall Sears death and the three weeks afterward Her claims generated more skepticism than sympathy among some of the people involved in the case One attorney involved in die case said hed nev er seen anything remote ly like it in 25 years of practicing law and Kane County prosecutors called Norma Jeans revelation very sur prising But to anyone with knowledge of the Ken tucky natives past last Thursdays claims such a shock A detailed examination of public records and interviews with the widows friends family and law enforcement officials inves reveals littered with bizarre and occasionally violent episodes including phony abduction claims and allegations she falsified documents in a failed bid to become a police officer Court records and pretrial testimony in plans to exploit mat checkered past at trial to paint Normajean as the real killer And he will say Normajean had much to gain from Sears murder Yet Kane County prosecutors are adamant they have the right person though they will not say what evidence convinces them Ive told Komie If youve got something that points to her lets see it Well investi DAILY NOLAN Norma Jean Sears stunned onlookers last week when she testified she remembers nothing of the events surrounding the murder of her husband Hampshire police Sgt Gregory Sears But a look into her past indicates that claim should not be surprising gate it But he hasnt And weve looked into her and there wasnt anything there said Kane County sheriffs department Capt Mike Anderson the cases load in Instead it appears prosecutors may pre sent a case alleging lifelong friendship with Sears began to erode in 1999 when the slain police officer fell in love with his future wife I lis relationship with Greg was very im portant to him and he felt left out said the Rev Allen Campbell a Sears family friend and pastor of Marengo United Methodist Church Jean Sears lias not returned phone calls for comment for this story Regardless of which version of this tale rings more true in the end for bom sides Norma Jean is a key figure in the tion surrounding the death of Horn Norma Jean Cook the future Mrs Gregory Sears came from humble roots and never strayed far She was bom in May 1949 the daughter of Odis and Thelma Cook of Sand Gap Ky a tiny town nestled along the western edge of See TWIST on PAGE 10 Why merging school districts is a thorny issue BY TERESA MASK Staff In many education circles consolidation is consid ered a bad word Just ask Illinois legislators who were around in 1985 That was the last time to mandate consolidation or merging elementary and high school districts The suggestion was mel with so much opposition the lawmakers immediately dropped the idea Its a hot topic in Springfield nobody wants to touch Its like the third rail in politics said Sen Wendell Jones a Republican from Palatine But he and others say consolidation has a place even in lie suburban region surrounding Chicago where districts often do not struggle financially Those who support consolidation say it light en the burden on taxpayers who in many suburbs pay taxes into socalled dual systems Dual systems refer to a community school district arrangement in which ele mentary schools and high schools are administered and run separately Residents living in Palatine for instance pay taxes to Palatine Township Elementary District 15 and Palatine Schaumburg High School District 211 The sum of su salaries alone in the two districts is near ly Each district also has more than 12000 stu dents Heidi Biederman executive director of Illinois Large Unit Districts Association said it doesnt make sense for taxpayers in a community to pay for two superintendents two administrative staffs curriculum supervisors and more I often wonder why taxpayers arent outraged in fact at how inefficient we are she said where most legislators are pushing for con solidation high superintendent salaries is not an issue There schools simply are trying to get enough money to educate students Thats why the controversial notion of consolidation has resurfaced offering more financial incentives for dis that consolidate The bills chief sponsor State Rep William Black a Re publican from Danville said the aim is to help downstate districts losing enrollment and poorer districts get on bet tcr financial footing Many are operating in areas with lit tle to no commercial industrial or manufacturing tax help another district would boost the the poorer district Under a unit system one superintendent and admin staff oversees all the students in kindergarten through grade 12 In Elgin District for instance Su Marvin Edwards is paid 166137 to oversee education of nearly 38000 students in the districts 50 I luley of Northwest Tax Watch called the amount of money residents are paying for superintendent salaries too high and rising They are making bigtime dollars I luley said They deserve a good salary but these are exorbitant and bor derline obnoxious Still he wonders about the practicality of merging two such large systems District 211 is the largest high school district in the state and District 15 is among the largest el systems Theres a lot to be said for a Kl 2 system but you take a district like 15 and 211 and it just gets too big said State See DISTRICTS on PAGE 4 How teens feel about their parents and life issues BY TERESA MASK Daily Staff Writer Even though it might not be lar to admit suburban teens are pleased with the job their parents are doing in raising giving them a grade A according to the re sults of USA Weekends Teen Par ents Survey released today Nearly 600 local teens were among the 84000 students nationwide who took the survey last October Those surveyed were in grades six through 12 Three out of four of the young peo ple in the metropolitan re gion of Chicago say their parents arc supportive Some even said their par ents are cooler than those of their peers These guys are really awesome Caroline freitag said of her parents Bob and Kim My par ents are very and ex supportive of all the pos choices that I want to make Freitag an only child and a junior at St Edward Catholic High School in Elgin said shes shuttled by her par ents wherever she needs to be they willingly help with homework and talk with her for hours about various topics We really are a great family Bob Freitag said Weve done alot of great things together including living in Berlin Germany and Saudi Arabia Caroline agrees saying shes cer tain many young people feel the same way she does about her par ents I think a lot of teens have quite a bit of respect for their par ents Caroline said Its not always evident and not always popular to express Ian Riney a freshman at Fenton High School in Bensenville for in stance added a plus sign next to the A on liis form when asked to grade his See SURVEY on PAGE 11 More on the survey See the USA Weekend section to find out more about the teen and parents survey Warmer still Saturday the high 70s Ibis afternoon The sun Is waiting A national energy shortage No Theres energy all around us ripe to be converted into electricity to nm our homes and businesses and fuel to run our trains planes and automobiles Jack says rays are there for the taking Page 15 Going Places The effort lhat the people of Nepal have put into preserving their cultural traditions and nat ural surroundings is what makes their country a worthwhile place to document Check out our photographic lour of Nepal Local Focus woman new Mrs Illinois On Saturday 24 vied for die tide the crown tlic prestige and the Hawaii that come with winning the Mrs Illinois pageant Harringtons Contomo look tills years title at lie Cultural Center in Elgin Here Contorno wears a cos tume of Chicago holi day lights Page 12 Spiritual stop Worshippers filled a Palatine church Saturday 10 Pope III the spiritual leader of more than 10 million Coptic Orthodox Christians worldwide car ry a church con ritual that dales back cen turies Page 3
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