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Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - March 14, 1999, Alton, Illinois 8 $3171 Coupons and special offers I inside most editions ■ Sports On Ola Ice r Blues beat Oilers 64 Page B-l On tile reboundMovers and shakers revitalize Wood River Page D-l W M EKLS*DKAI -S Truly big rigFord prepares to launch biggest SUY yetPageC-l OutlookDecreasing clouds. High 39; low 35Page D-l2 Good:*; Morning Area/Illinois .A-3-10 Bulletin Board .A-7 Business D-1 Classifieds C-3 Editorial ......A-4 Horoscope D-9 Nation/world . .A-12 Obituaries A-6 Anderson, Archer, Bird, Caldwell, Landreth, McBride, Morss, Roberson, Robison, Taylor Scoreboard B-2 Stocks........D-2 Weather D-12 11 APH Vol. 164, No. 58 Serving the River Bend Since 1836 March 14,1999    $1.50 Thefts spur rise in crime Alton records 7% hike ^    -1M* By LINDA N. WELLER Telegraph staff writer ALTON — The city saw a rise in crime of 7 percent last year, with property crimes such as theft accounting for the bulk of the increase. “That area really killed us” Alton police Lt. William Fitzgerald said of the theft category, which rose from 1,319 in 1997 to 1,501 in 1998. Besides general thefts, retail thefts and items taken during vehicle burglaries are included in that category. Alton police Capt. Rick McCain said the numbers jump from crime sprees, such as when juveniles break into a string of cars in one night. The statistics also go up when the young offenders are arrested and admit to breakins that vehicle owners hadn’t reported to police, he said. Overall. Alton crimes numbered 2,348 in 1998, up from 2,195 in 1997. There were 2,433 crimes reported in Alton in 1996 and.2,336 in 1995, according to Alton police. Those numbers reflect a 9.8 Criminal    Aggravated    Burglaries, sexual    assault    home Murder assault Robbery and battery invasions Retail thefts,    Motor thefts.    vehicle vehicle burglary    theft    Arson 1998 4 35 48 161 450 1,501 129 20 1997 4 31 70 155 417 1,319 171 28 1996 3 34 49 148 513 1,504 158 24 Total crimes percent change Crime rates per 100,000 1998 2,348 +7% 1998 7,439 1997 2,195 -9.8% 1997 6,954 • 1996 2,433 4.15% 1995 2,336 Source: Alton Police Department percent decrease in crimes reported from 1996 to 1997; and a 4.15 percent increase from 1995 to 1996. The crime rate per 100,000 was 6,954 in 1997 and 7,439 in 1998. The Alton statistics were forwarded to the Illinois State Police and will be released ■ See CRIME, Page A-11 The Telegraph/RUSS SMITH Nick Schaper, 10, of Godfrey, uses a tamper to restrict flames from spreading too far Saturday at the annual Heartland Prairie burn at the north end of Gordon Moore Park. Nick, along with his mother, Julie Jeffries of Godfrey, was one of 62 volunteers with the burn, sponsored by The Nature Institute. ‘Red buffalo’ roars in Moore park Youths pitch in for prairie fire to burn off vegetation By SANFORD J. SCHMIDT Telegraph staff writer ALTON — American Indians called a prairie fire “the roar of the red buffalo,” but the roar at Saturday’s prairie burn at Gordon Moore Park was slightly subdued. “It burned a lot more slowly this year,” organizer Mark Hall, of the Nature Institute, said. “This year it took 20 to 30 minutes, but sometimes it takes only IO minutes.” American Indians called prairie fires “the red buffalo” because the roar of the flames across the prairie sounded like hundreds of buffalo stampeding, Nature Institute volunteer Lydia Martin said. About 50 volunteers, including several Alton High School biology students, gathered at the Heartland Prairie on the north side of Gordon Moore Park Saturday morning to burn off the dead vegetation. The fire simulates what nature did before the white man came. Fires started by lightning burned off huge chunks of prairie grass to make way for new grass each year. The fires were a factor that gave the prairies their unique character. “If we left it go for five years, you’d be surprised how many ■ See PARK, Page A-11For sake of animalsAlton officers setting a new standard EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first of a three-part series about animal safety. By REBECCA HOPKINS Telegraph staff writer ALTON — An animal control officer is vital to handling the many stray animals on streets, playgrounds and alleyways. Alton officers Mike Parsons and James Greer make up the department and have taken pride in improving the standards and safety in their domain. “We took something nobody else wanted to do and made something of it,” Parsons said. “We are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week Between May and September we get several calls every night from the police department for legitimate complaints." The two have made great progress in improving conditions of the pound. They have also made strides in keeping records and documentation of cruelty toward and neglect of animals and attacks by vicious dogs. “At this point, the way our pound is kept, the city of Alton could adopt dogs here,” Parsons said. “I perceive us as being so good at what we do that we educate the public and expand our role.” Both said their job warrants training they have been unable to take that would make them more proficient and effective in their jobs. Each is often sent alone into situations where he must capture a vicious animal, domesticated or not, with little training on how to protect himself. When they are called into situations involving violent behavior by dog owners or complaining neighbors, they have literally feared for their lives. “We have the power to investigate cases (of ■ See ANIMALS, Page A-11 MRF exhibit stirs up some fond memories The Telegraph/RUSS SMITH Lyle Ward, concert director of the Mississippi River Festival for most of its nine years, with an exhibit of memorabilia from the festival on display at the Morris Center University Gallery at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. By SANFORD J. SCHMIDT Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE — It was perhaps ironic that two of the earliest visitors to the new Mississippi River Festival Retrospective Exhibit at SIUE were business majors when the festival was in its heyday. Steve Madson, 44, and Al Pauli, 37, both of Edwardsville, were browsing around the collection of photos, clothing and trinkets Saturday at the exhibit at the Morris Center University Gallery at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. An opening reception for the exhibit is set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the gallery in Delyte Morris University Center. Madson and Pauli were student workers at the MRF and got to meet some of the stars that shone at the outdoor festival from 1969 to 1978. “It was the greatest student job you could have,” said Madson, now a sales representative. The festival was often jammed with beaded, bearded, fringed, booted hippies who looked like anything but future business people. But Madson and Pauli also have fond memories of meeting stars like Mary Travers, Arb Guthrie and Jerry Garcia. “It’s a fantastic exhibit and long overdue,” Pauli said. His fondest memory is of Jerry Garcia, the late leader of the legendary Grateful Dead. ■ See MRF. 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