Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - September 15, 1999, Alton, Illinois SERVING THE RIVER BEND SINCE 1836 THE r E L Eft R APH I W' * HAD to HEA! a- AGAIN _ZJ Sosa horn* runs after 144 games Hurricane Floyd Residents prepare for largest ana most powerful storm ever Pages Alti, D6,7 Tie outlook Mostly sunny with pleasant conditions; High near 74, low around 52 Page DR ; Nice return j Aja Martin of i ARS returns a I shot against i Marquette Paged Vol. 164, No. 243 — 50 cents Wednesday, September 15,1999 www.thetelegraph.com Settlement in fireworks suit By DENNIS GRUBAUGH Telegraph staff writer GRANITE CITY - The families of the three men who died in a 1997 fireworks tragedy on the Alton riverfront have reached large, confidential settlements with the city of Alton and a fireworks production company, attorneys in the Families agree to ‘substantial amount’ case said Tuesday. The agreements were reached among attorneys Tuesday afternoon in Madison County Circuit Court, after jurors had been dismissed for the day. Jurors were expecting to return to hear closing arguments today, which would have been the eighth day of the trial. Attorneys would not reveal the settlement figures, but one of them acknowledged “it was a substantial amount” for his client. Plaintiff lawyers earlier had said they intended to seek a multimillion-dollar verdict from the jury. The city is covered by its municipal insurance policy, but its co-defendants may have to pay out of pocket The insurance company for Fireworks Partners and owner Andrew James went to federal court to successfully challenge its coverage of the fireworks show, according to a plaintiff’s lawyer, Bill Gavin of Belleville. The Madison County case ■ See SUIT, Page A15 Panel seeks solutions to cemetery woes By DEBORAH L. BATES Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE - Illinois State Comptroller Daniel W. Hynes heard complaints about deteriorating cemeteries Tuesday from several state residents, who had papers in hand and photographs for proof. “The idea is to allow this to be a fact-finding opportunity so that next year we can put state legislation together to correct these problems,” Hynes said during Tuesday’s hearing in Edwardsville, the fourth in a series of hearings he is conducting throughout Illinois. Hynes; state Sen. Evelyn Bowles, D-Edwardsville; state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville; and state Rep. Steve Davis, D-Bethalto heard from about 12 people or groups who wanted to make their cases known. Hynes said'those who spoke helped him to understand the problem. Madison County State’s Attorney Bill Haine made a suggestion for consistent contracts throughout the industry. “What the law should require is precision in the document,” Haine said. He suggested a clear and uniform contract that is “one-sided” for those in mourning to understand. Hynes identified another problem as a lack of funding for the cemeteries. “The real work lies ahead for us. Funding may be necessary from the state,” he said. “We need to see if the state will make the cemeteries a priority.” The lack of funding was a common problem expressed by those in attendance. Matthew Wright and his wife, Dawn, were among the speakers at the hearings. They spoke against the Greenwood Cemetery in Fairview Heights and said their family has contacted the caretaker to no avail. There are broken headstones and other headstones that have sunk beneath ground level, Dawn Wright said. Rena Van Tine, director of cemetery care for the Office of Comptroller, said the owner of Greenwood Cemetery would not return her calls. The caretaker for the cemetery told Van Tine that the cemetery does not have the funds to manage the upkeep of the grounds. “When they do cut the grass, they mow over the floral arrangements,” Dawn Wright said. Matthew Wright said that when he requested a headstone, “All he did was dump concrete on H See CEMETERY, Page A15 Expo tonight The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN An employee of Luehrs’ Ideal Rides Inc. in Carbondale is reflected in the mirror on the merry-go-round Tuesday as he finishes assembling the ride in Alton's Riverfront Park for the annual Alton Expo, which opens tonight. Victim of fiery crash served community J By KERRY SMITH Telegraph staff writer ALTON — Monday morning’s fiery chain collision along Interstate 270 claimed the life of an Alton man known as a dedicated father, husband, co-worker and community advocate. Mike Trout, 41, was sitting behind the wheel of his red Honda waiting for westbound traffic to ease near Graham Road when his was the first of 16 vehicles hit by a tractor-trailer rig out of control. The accident occurred about 7:25 a m. and erupted into a major explosion and fire, killing three people and seriously injuring six others. Polly Trout will remember her husband of 17 years as the willing volunteer parent for their 8-year-old daughter, Rachel’s, school field trips. “It was Mr Trout and all the moms,” she said “Mike loved Rachel very much. When she wanted to learn the violin, he took up Suzuki (instruction) with her.” An avid reader, Trout found time to delve into books, to teach and even to keep up with home improvement projects, his wife said. Trout “Mike had an excellent voice and could sing arias,” Polly Trout said. “He was feisty. He definitely made the most of every minute of his life.” One of Trout’s Boeing co-workers, Kathy Holmes, said Trout would be remembered for his sense of humor. Trout and Holmes worked alongside each other as systems analysts for the final three of Trout’s 20 years at the company. Trout will also be remembered for his leadership in Boeing’s March of Dimes campaigns. “He was really smart, very helpful and he had a great sense of humor,” Holmes said. “Mike was well-liked by everyone who knew him and worked with him. You could always count on Mike to keep everyone smiling. And in addition to being a wonderful co-worker, Mike was a great dad. He went to violin lessons, dance recitals and band with his daughter.” Trout was heavily involved with booking the ■ See CRASH, Page A15 Area/Illinois .A3-13 Bulletin Board .A7 Classifieds ...CIO Comics .......C7 Editorial.......A4 Nation/world ...A13,14,16 Obituaries A5 Baister, DeSherlia, Evers, Goforth, Gorman, Gusewelle, Haneroff, Henderson, Hubbert, Johnson, Molloy, Ritter, Trout, Wagner, Weule Television C9 Coffers for Bev Farm strikers swell with $260,000 in donations By LINDA N. WELLER Telegraph staff writer GODFREY — Nine weeks after AFSCME Council 31 members struck Beverly Farm Foundation, the local’s strike fund coffers are being fortified by $260,000. Council 31’s executive board unanimously voted Sept. 9 to transfer $200,000 to the strike fund. Also last week, the council’s retiree chapter authorized a donation of $10,000 and AFSCME International President Gerald McEntee contributed another $50,000 to the fund. McEntee previously had donated $50,000 to the effort. “This addition of over a quarter million dollars to the strike fund will ensure that Beverly Farm strikers will continue to receive their weekly strike benefit for as long as it takes to win a fair contract,” said Buddy Maupin, AFSCME regional director. Maupin said the latest influx of funding will sustain the 80-90 strikers through the middle of January. He admitted, though, that the additional donations have both good and bad aspects. “The bad thing is the workers have to stay on strike to win just wages,” Maupin said. “The good thing is we certainly could use that money in a lot of different ways, such as organizing workers in nonunion work places. This has the noblest of purposes. We are sustaining the striking workers of Beverly Farm. W r e are keeping a commitment to them. We said we would meet their needs and we are doing it. ” The strike fund money is used to pay strike benefits of $160 per week per worker who puts in the required hours on the picket line; tor the strikers’ medical insurance premiums; and to stock a local pantry that provides food tor striking workers. AFSCME went on strike July 9 after nearly a year of unsuccessful negotiations with Beverly Farm management to come H See COFFERS, Page A15 The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN Beverly Farm Foundation employee Mable Cation gives a thumbs up to passersby as they honk in support of the picket line she was walking Tuesday afternoon with fellow employee Lavada Nored on Humbert Road in Godfrey.