Sunday, December 25, 1994

Alton Telegraph

Location: Alton, Illinois

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Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - December 25, 1994, Alton, Illinois elegk.vph Partly cloudy High 50, Low 38 Weather, D-8 SUNDAY INDEX: Ann Landers............B-2 Area/Illinois..... A-4,5 Bulletin Board.......  A-8 Classifieds.............  D-3 Editorial  ..........A-6 Sunday A.M.............B-l Nation/world............ A-3 Obituaries................A-9 Sports.....................Cl Stocks.....................C-6 Vol. 159    16 Sections No. 346    178 Pages ALTON, ILLINOIS ,1994 $1.50 Hospitals’ Christmas gift: picking up the tab By MAUREEN HEGARTY Telegraph staff writer_______ An East Alton man’s heart is empty this Christmas after losing his wife to cancer, but a holiday gift from a hospital has at least cased his mind. His wife died in August then he contracted pneumonia in November while struggling to pay medi cal bills from his wife’s three-month illness on Social Security income. On Thursday, he got a letter from Alton Memorial Hospital stating the hospital will pay the remaining $344 on the bill, which would have taken more than half of his monthly Social Security check. “I don’t plan to have a Christmas around here” without his wife, said the 70-ycar-old man, who asked not to be named. ‘‘But it makes me feel better that I can forget about the bill.” Every Christmas, Alton Memorial’s board of directors chooses people struggling with hospital bills and gives them a present by paying off the bills with money from a trust hind established by one of the hospital’s founders. This Christmas, the hospital paid off $300,000 in bills for people. ‘‘This goes back years ago when most hospitals did not have charity programs,” patient financial services supervisor Mary Ann Huber said. "We ""□See HOSPITAL, Page A-2 Tree of Lights short of $185,000 goal Telegraph staff report_____ ALTON — The bells have stopped ringing, but contributions continue to roll into the Salvation Army Tree of Lights. Kettle collections ended Saturday, and so far the campaign has raised an estimated $172,000, leaving the fund-raiser about $13,000 short of its $185,000 goal. Salvation Army Maj. Gary Van Hoesen said he is confident the goal will be reached this week when late mail contributions are received. “It depends on the mail-ins, and we usually get $10,000 or so that trickles in the last week. Everything is running comparable to last year. If we’re going to reach our goal, it will be through the mail-in contributions. “We’re real optimistic we’ll make it” Last year, the campaign raised $177,000, exceeding its goal by $11,000. This year’s campaign is finishing strong, with about $41,000 arriving since Tuesday. An estimated $64,900 was raised this year by bell ringers, Van Hoesen said. “I think we had a real good volunteer effort*by the bell ringers,” he said, adding that they also helped boost mail-in contributions. “When you see a group from a church or some other organization or individual ringing, it also reminds people to deliver their mail-in donations. “A lot of people will put what they’re mailing in the kettle. We find a lot of our return envelopes in the kettles.” Money raised in the Tree of Lights campaign goes to help needy people at Christmas and □ See LIGHTS, Page A-2 Edwardsville man found dead from stab wound By MARY BRASE Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE - Authorities are investigating the death of a city man found stabbed in the chest in his bathroom. Jackie T. Staggs, 46, of the 1200 block of Madison Avenue, may have been dead several days before relatives broke into his home and found the body about 9 a.m. Saturday, authorities said. “An initial pathologist’s report indicates a self-inflicted knife wound,” Police Sgt. Don Lask said. Police originally had treated the case as a suspicious death, but preliminary investigations found nothing inconsistent with the medical examiner’s preliminary findings, Lask said. “The investigation will ndt be officially closed or finalized until a coroner’s inquest is scheduled,” he said. Madison County Coroner Dallas Burke said police found a large kitchen knife at the scene but no other signs of violence. Staggs had one apparent wound in the chest and may have died several days ago, she said. An autopsy was performed Saturday. Police said Staggs lived alone and had no telephone. His nephew found the body after breaking into the home through a □ See DEAD, Page A-2 LCCC to offer education via cable By TERRY HILLIG Telegraph staff writer__ GODFREY - Educational offerings from colleges and universities throughout the country will be presented on Lewis and Clark Community College’s cable television channel when it begins around-the-clock operation next month. Area viewers will be able to pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees or take short or non credit courses via Mind Extension University, an education network broadcast nationally on satellite and cable systems. “They really were the best match for us,” said Mike Dreith, LCCC associate dean of liberal arts and business. Mind Extension provides an alternative to the educational offerings of public television station KETC in St. Louis, he said. The network features upper- level and graduate-level courses. Only people with at least 30 hours of college credit can enter degree programs, which may attract shift workers or others who find it difficult to attend classes, Dreith said. Students enroll and order books by mail. Papers and assignments may be faxed, mailed or e-mailed via a Mind Extension computer bulletin board. Additional help is avail able for those who need it, and examinations are administered by local proctors. Degree programs include education and human development, management and nursing. Noncredit courses include French, German, Spanish, personal finance and money management and computer literacy. Students receive credits ___ __ _______ Call to 911 gives family a special holiday present By MARY BRASE Telegraph staff writer The Layton family of Edwardsville will celebrate a special Christmas today, never hoping for more than a recent gift of life. Nine-month-old Elizabeth, the family’s youngest daughter, almost died before reaching her first Christmas when she fell over in the bathtub Tuesday and lapsed into unconsciousness. ‘.‘All I could think was oh God, I lost her. And it’s my fault because I left her alone,” the child’s mother, Cheryl Layton said. “It was like a very bad nightmare.” Layton, 27, said the near tragedy began about ll a.m. when she decided to put Eliza- The Telegraph/MARGIE M. BARNES beth 0 an( J *\ er . 2 ^J year '° 1 ^ sis * Kevin and Cheryl Layton of Edwardsville will have a special Rachel in the tub for a holiday today with their children Rachel, 2te, and Elizabeth, 9 bath The S irls were sittin S months, who is celebrating her first Christmas after nearly -together playing in the water drowning last week.    when Layton remembered she needed clothing from a bedroom. “I wanted to get the clothes ready because I was going to take a bath, too,” she said. After Layton walked to the next room, her husband, Kevin, came in and began talking as she gathered clothes. It seemed like only a moment before she heard the matter-of-fact voice of her older daughter calling from the bathroom. “Mooominieeee, sistie fell over in the water,” Layton heard Rachel sav. Cheryl Layton said she went back to the bathroom expecting to find nothing more serious than two girls splashing, but Elizabeth, who is strong enough to sit up and pull up, was lying face down in the water. “She was all blue and limp and wasn’t responding,” Lay- □ See 911, Page A-2 Christmas rush Creatures stirring all through the stores in last-minute blitz By MARY BRASE Telegraph staff writer_____ On the day before Christmas, last-minute shoppers were still in the trenches. “Every year I tell myself I’m not going to do this, but here I am on the day before Christmas,” Tim Baze, 38, said. Baze, of Alton, was filling his bag with gifts for his wife at Kmart, 2851 E. Homer Adams Parkway, Alton. “The tiny bottles (of perfume) are the big sellers. They’re great stocking stuffers because they’re inexpensive,” said cashier Heather Fay, 19, of Alton. She operated a separate cash register in the perfume section so customers did not have to wait to check out. “We opened at 7 (a.m.), but business really picked up by IO (a.m.). All the cashiers are working,” she said. Customer service worker Chris Frye, 18, of Alton, who was wheeling out dollies loaded with Kmart gun cabinets — a big seller for men — said most people waited longer than they should to finish Christmas shopping. “They always have to pick up that last-minute item, but I love it when it’s busy with all these people,” he said. Alton Square officials were so busy Saturday, a customer service representative said she could not find anyone with the time to talk to a reporter. “The crowds are great. That’s all I can say,” she said. The mild weather sent at least one man who thought he was finished back to Kmart for two boxes of clay targets. “It’s going to be such a nice Christmas day, we can shoot some of these at my grandmother’s house,” the Alton resident said, declining to give his name as he loaded the boxes in the back of a pickup truck. “Every year I have to go out and pick up at least one last-minute item. I never get by early.” Eddie and Betty Geske of Godfrey had one more stop at the grocery store Saturday before ending their shopping ritual. “It’s been quite a rat race this year, but we’re just about done, and I’ve just about had it,” Eddie Geske said. “On Christmas I’m going to sit in the chair and let all the children and grandchildren come to me.” Fruitcakes were big sellers at the Alton Schnucks, where Saturday shoppers were grabbing them at $9.95 each. “The rum and brandy make them really good,” said Norma May of Edwardsville, a veteran food demonstrator offering samples in the main aisle. “This is a typical Christmas Eve, but it’s busier than last year. People wait until the last minute, and they buy the fruitcake.” Marlissa Clark, 5, of Alton, was too young to know how far behind she was. She wanted a doll but never got around to telling Santa or making a list. GS eeRU ShTPage A-2 The Telegraph/MARGIE M. BARNES HOG holiday Ron Meyer of the Alton chapter of the Harley-Davidson Owners Group loads one of 63 refurbished bicycles he and fellow members gave to needy families Saturday at First Baptist Church in Rosewood Heights. HOG is sponsored by Ted’s Motorcycle World, 4103 Humbert Road, Alton.