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Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - December 16, 1999, Alton, Illinois SERVING THE RIVER REND SINCE 1836 The Telegraph/MARGIE M. BARNES At left, Julie Mehring is greeted by her mother, Martha Bechtel, as she gets off the elevator before her trial Wednesday at the Madison County Courthouse. Above, Mehring’s fiance, Andrew Hill of Columbia, left, carries a sign reading ‘Let Mom Come Home For Christmas,' during a protest Wednesday in front of the courthouse in Edwardsville. II Landmark restaurant is getting new owners Alton native returns to buy Midtown By LINDA N. WELLER Telegraph staff writer ALTON — Gerald Van Diver grew up two blocks from the Midtown Restaurant and Lounge, shining shoes and washing windows at the eatery when he was IO years old. Although    he    has a Minneapolis-based career in technology, Van Diver is coming back to his roots as one of the new owners of the longtime fixture at the corner of Central Avenue and Seventh Street. “I’ve been around Midtown Restaurant all my life,” Van Diver said. “I perceive Midtown as the “Cheers of the Midwest” — it takes all of five seconds to meet a friend here if you want one,” said Van Diver, 51, in reference to a bar in the former television situation comedy. Van Diver and business partner Jason Mortvedt, 44, of Blue Earth, Minn., bought the restaurant and its catering business, 1026 E. Seventh St., Dec. I from Bob and Dorothy Metzger. The two work for Pronet Technologies, which has several locations but is based in Minneapolis. One of the features the men plan to add is a barber chair in the current side corner entrance, where they will offer shoe shines. That entrance will be closed. “Once a week ITI be shining shoes,” Van Diver said, just like he did as a boy. “We wanted to get into the restaurant business with a friendly face, great food and bring corporate clients in,” Van Diver said. “I’m really excited to be part of one of the most popular restaurants in town.” Van Diver said the men negotiated with the Metzgers for 11/2 years to buy the restaurant, which was not for sale at the time. The Metzgers were not available for an interview Wednesday. While the shoe shines may ■ See RESTAURANT, Page A9 Good Morning -*■ Area/Illinois........A3,8 Bulletin Board........A6 Business............B4 Classifieds ..........C5 Comics .............C4 Editorial.............A4 Horoscope ..........C4 Nation/world........A10 Obituaries...........A5 Barnett, Burk, Carter, Cobetto, Ervin, Johnson, Lacey, Scyoc Scoreboard..........B2 Stocks..............B5 Television ...........C3 The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN South Roxana Fire Chief Jim Eich, top, oversees the investigation of the fire that destroyed Debbie’s Market in South Roxana late Sunday night. Evidence shows burglar set fire at popular market By KERRY SMITH Telegraph staff writer SOUTH ROXANA - A weekend fire that gutted Debbie’s Market initially was believed to be accidental, but authorities said Wednesday they have solid evidence to indicate it was an attempted burglary and subsequent arson. South Roxana Police Chief Dennis Carpenter said interviews of potential suspects began Wednesday, but he stressed that the list of possi- amhis store was a town landmark, and J. we’re working hard to find out who is responsible for its destruction.” Dennis Carpenter South Roxana police chief ble aggravated burglary and arson suspects does not include Kenny and Debbie Beasley, owners of the mar ket. “Kenny and Debbie Beasley are definitely not suspects in this case,” Carpenter said. The arsonist, Carpenter I See FIRE, Page A9 Teacher’s death rated accident; Husband ‘jokingly’ pointed gun at her, coroner’s jury told By DENNIS GRUBAUGH Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE - A coroner’s jury has ruled the Oct. IO shooting death of Judith A. Ernst, 48, an accident. Her husband, Harold Ernst, was “jokingly” pointing a rifle at Judith Ernst when it discharged and killed her during a family photo session in New Douglas, a Madison County sheriff’s detective told a coroner’s jury Wednesday. Prosecutors now will be given the case to decide whether to take it before a ■ See DEATH, Page A9 CONSTRUCTION SERVOS, INC. II iKH, I'lfia [{AF I'1 Prep wrestling Alton battles SWC foes The outlook Mostly cloudy and seasonable. High 40; low 29 Page C8 Checking his list Santa answers some naughty and nice queries Page hi vol. 164, No. 335 - 50 cents Thursday, December 16, 1999 www.thetelegraph.comMom freed for Christmas But judge orders her to return to jail in visitation dispute By DENNIS GRUBAUGH Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE — A mother jailed in a bitter grandparent visitation rights dispute is being released long enough to celebrate Christmas with the child at the heart of the battle. However, the only way Julie Mehring, 27, of Columbia, will stay out of jail long-term is to comply with court-ordered visitation for the child's paternal grandmother, Madison County Associate Judge Barbara Crowder said at a hearing Wednesday. Mehring today begins her 29th day in Madison County Jail. Crowder found her in indirect civil contempt of court and sent her to jail Nov. 17 for refusing a previous order grant- ■ See MOM, Page A9 * .*s I I ;

Clippings and Obituaries for the Alton Telegraph