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Alton Telegraph: Friday, July 29, 1994 - Page 1

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   Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - July 29, 1994, Alton, Illinois                                 mmm  INOEX:  Ann Landers........B-4  Area/Illinois...A-5,8,9  Bulletin Board.....A-4  Business.............B-7  Classifieds...........C-7  Editorial............A-10  Fun Page..........  B-3  Lifestyles............B-l  Nation/world. A-3;C-7  Obituaries.........A-11  Sports  ..........C-1  Stocks................B-8  Television...........B-4  Vol. 159    4    Sections  No. 195    44    Pages  ALTON, ILLINOIS  Lassie comes home again  Lifestyles, See B-1  A man with power  Business, See B-7  The  Players may strike out August 12  Sports, See C-1  Telegraph  Sunny  High 84, Low 64  Weather, C-12  JULY 29,1994  State study may save Douglass School  By JASON HILLERY  Telegraph staff writer  ALTON — The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency may pluck the old Douglass School building from the demolition list and place it on the National Register of Historic Places.  The agency has blocked use of Community Development Block  Grant money or state money for demolition of the building at 917 Market St until officials can complete a study to see if it qualifies for the National Register.  The agency intervened after being contacted by Alton resident Stephan Walker, who has waged an effort to halt the planned demolition of the 97-  year-old building named after 19th century civil rights activist Frederick Douglass.  “Based on information we have received and talks we’ve had with Walker, we’ve said the building may have enough historical significance to be placed on the National Register,” said Anne Haaker, IHPA deputy state  historic preservation officer. “The review is required before any state funds can be used.”  She said the study should be completed in the next few weeks.  Madison County Community Development Agency Director Cheryl Jouett confirmed Thursday that the grant to pay for the  planned $12,900 demolition has been placed on hold until the state'can research the issue.  Walker, who has been working to save the vacant building for the past several weeks, has secured an architect to examine the building and is trying to line up investors. St. Louis architect Jack Luer’s preliminary evalua  tion concluded it would be feasible to renovate the building.  City officials had planned to award a demolition contract Wednesday, but the resolution called for use of Community Development money.  Second Ward Alderman Phil Hanrahan said Thursday he  □ See DOUGLASS, Page A-2  West Alton: A city of two tales  Alton ready to dive in to Floodfest  By JACK M. FARMER  Telegraph staff writer_  ALTON — Just as he was at this time last year, Mayor Bob Towse will be all wet Saturday on Third Street. But this time he’ll be smiling.  Instead of being knee-deep in floodwater, Towse may be completely submerged as the top attraction in the celebrity dunking tank at Floodfest ’94.  Organizers are expecting at least 2,000 people, including about 50 National Guard troops, to commemorate the historic Great Flood of’93 and celebrate the area’s comeback by eating, drinking and playing from ll a.m. until I a.m. Sunday.  “We’re so thrilled,” organizer Dianne Burton said. “In the same spirit of cooperation in which we fought the flood, we’re putting on the party. It will be great”  Vehicle traffic will be blocked □ See FLOODFEST, Page A-2  Rebirth, devastation bloom side by side  By MARY BRASE  Telegraph staff writer  IIM  WEST ALTON, Mo. - Tangles of pink and white petunias are blooming wild along Leona Ellebracht’s driveway this summer, a gift of the Great Flood of ’93.  Ellebracht, 66, who lives along Missouri Highway 94 between the two landmark railroad viaducts, welcomed the petunias and replanted flags, day lilies and perennials to fill backyard flower beds left barren by the flood.  The floodwaters apparently washed the wild petunia seeds, along with fertile soil, into the yard.  “We had to cut down two giant red oaks in the back yard, but the persimmon tree came back,” she said, almost grateful for any sliver of shade.  Her husband, Neal’s, stand  ° O  One year later  The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN  Weeds have virtually taken over condemned homes at the end of Main Street in West Alton, Mo., since last year’s devastating flood. Some families have reclaimed and repaired their homes while others have accepted federal buyouts.  of sweet corn, pumpkins and tomatoes is flourishing behind the refurbished house on ground that seems to get better every year, she said.  But last year’s record flood left behind other scars, along with soil that turns the garden to  □ See TALES, Page A-12  County hops aboard MetroLink tax hike in Missouri  By JACK M. FARMER  Telegraph staff writer____  Madison County officials are trying to get in line for an extension of the MetroLink light rail system.  The Madison County Transit District’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday to endorse quarter-cent sales tax proposals on ballots Tues  day in St. Louis and St. Louis County. The tax hikes, listed as Proposition M, would generate about $36 million a year to cover operating deficits for Bi-State Development Agency, which operates MetroLink.  With the tax hikes, the federal government would provide $4 for transit expansion for every  dollar St. Louis city and county contribute, and that would help expand the light rail line into six other corridors. Federal fending could total $1.5 billion in 25 years, according to Bi-State.  The tax would have no direct effect on Madison County, but backing the entire project now is vital to the system’s eventual extension into the county,  transit Board Chairman Nelson Hagnauer said.  “The benefits from that tax will affect everyone in the St. Louis metropolitan area,” district Director Jerry Kane said. “As far as Madison County goes, any potential MetroLink extension will be based on the success of the heart of the system in  □ See METROLINK, PageA-2  Ruling cuts short mysterious drive to halve board  By JOE CARROLL  Telegraph staff writer  EDWARDSVILLE - An elusive grass-roots campaign tQ cut the County Board in half appears likely to fail because of constitutional constraints, State’s Attorney William Haine said.  For the last two months, several County Board members have said petitions were circulating in their districts calling for a referendum to cut the 29-member board in half.  Who is behind the petition drive has remained a mystery, with some elected officials saying they heard the backers were from Granite City and others saying East Alton.  Haine said he decided to research the legality of reducing the number of board districts by referendum because of requests from concerned board members.  “The question of reducing the County Board is not open to the voters by petition. The state Constitution leaves that decision solely to the County Board itself,” Haine said Thursday. He cited a 1988 Illinois Supreme Court decision striking down a  similar referendum drive in Peoria County.  “The Supreme Court interpreted the state Constitution to say that the voters have no power over the size of the board. The board reserves that power.” Counties arp not governed by the same statute that allows city councils and village boards to be reduced by referendum, he said.  Voters in Alton cut the 14-member City Council in half in a November 1992 referendum. The organizer of the petition drive, John Vollmer, was later elected 1st Ward alderman.  Granite City voters followed suit with a petition drive and referendum of their own that successfully cut their City Council in half earlier this year.  Joe McGinness Sr., a former Granite City Democratic precinct committeeman and the organizer of the Granite City petition drive, is piloting a referendum to replace the County Board chairman with a county executive elected by a county-wide vote.  McGinness said he does not know anything about the effort to cut the County Board.  The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN  Blew it  A tuba player in the Suncoast Sound drum corps from Clearwater, Fla., shows disappointment at the conclusion of his corps’ competition in Wednesday’s Alton Drum and Brass Review. Suncoast Sound finished last.  Furloughed convict on the run with electronic monitor  By MAUREEN HEGARTY and SUSAN MCCAIN  Telegraph staff writers_  ALTON — The hunt is on for a convicted robber who walked away from home wearing his electronic monitoring device.  Trent Lamarr Robinson, 21, is believed to have bolted about three hours after being furloughed to get his affairs in order before going to prison.  Robinson, who lives in the IOO block of East lith Street in Alton, was granted a five-day furlough after pleading guilty to robbery, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and obstructing justice.  Associate Judge J. Lawrence Keshner granted the furlough Wednesday with the stipulation that he wear an electronic monitor and remain in his house. Robinson is scheduled to return to the county jail Monday to start his five-year prison term.  “He asked for furlough to get his affairs in order since he had been in jail so long. I thought with the electronic monitoring there would be sufficient safeguards,” Keshner said.  He granted the furlough over objections of Assistant State’s Attorney Craig Jensen, who  could not be reached Thursday for comment.  Electronic monitoring requires prisoners to wear an electronic ankle bracelet and remain within a certain area. A transmitter hooked up to the prisoner’s telephone will sound an alarm if the prisoner goes outside the defined boundary. Robinson was supposed to stay at his home.  “The alarm telling us he was out of range sounded about 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, which is about three hours after we put the bracelet on him,” probation supervisor Bob Astorian said.  Probation officials called Robinson’s home immediately, and a man on the telephone claimed to be Robinson.  “The officer felt it might be an imposter, so it was checked out, and he was found missing,” Astorian said. “And the judge had the warrant issued by 8 p.m.”  Police officers recovered most of the electronic monitoring equipment at Robinson’s house Thursday.  “We do not have him in custody yet, but our officers are looking for him,” Alton police Lt. William Fitzgerald said.  □ See CONVICT, PageA*   

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