Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - November 7, 1999, Alton, Illinois
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Vol. Ifi4. No. 296
The River Bend Since 1836
November 7, 1999 $1.51
Judge Keshner dies at 61
By STEVE WHITWORTH
Telegraph city editor
GODFREY - Madison County Circuit Judge J Lawrence Keshner, one of the area’s most respected jurists, died Saturday of a sudden illness. He was 61.
Friends of the family said Keshner apparently became ill at his Godfrey home early Saturday. He was believed to have suffered a massive stroke. He was taken to Saint Louis University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 4:25 p.rn
News of Keshner’s death shocked his many friends in the legal and governmental communities, some of whom had spoken with him as recently as Friday.
“I’m personally just absolutely stunned and saddened by it," said Madison County State’s Attorney
ou couldn’t ask for a finer human being in the justice sys-
tem than Judge Larry Keshner.”
Madison County state’s attorney
William Haine. “You couldn’t ask for a finer human being in the justice system than Judge Larry Keshner.”
Keshner, who served as an assistant state’s attorney when Haine first was elected to the office,
became a judge in 1989
“He turned out to be one of the fined! judges who ever sat on the bench in Madison County." Haine said “There wasn’t anyone with more of a sense of what was right.
“He was unfailingly gracious and kind to everyone Even if one didn’t agree with him at one time or another, he just remained a symbol of
■ See KESHNER, Page A9
Crowd protests ‘Alton ll’ chargesDemonstrators charge racism in prosecution
By BARBARA M. COPE
Telegraph staff writer
ALTON — Demonstrators gathered Saturday in Downtown Alton to protest what they said was the racist spirit of the charges faced by the “Alton ll” prisoners in last year’s fatal beating of Richard Skelton.
The protesters said the. charges against the 12 young men, all of whom are black, were too severe, and they complained that no part of the blame has been laid on Skelton, who was white, for his role in the night’s melee. Racism, they said, is the core reason the men, two of whom have been convicted, are facing charges at all.
The charges stem from the August 1998 beating in which up to 20 people attacked Skelton, who suffered a fatal heart attack after the beating. Defendants have said Skelton, who was from Wood River, incited the mob by shouting racial slurs during the confrontation on Seventh Street in Alton.
Pearl Burnett, the godmother of convicted “Alton ll” member Glenn Taylor, spoke about her outrage at the sen
handed down for him and Taiwan
Davis, the -
only other youth to be tried so far. Skelton, she said, was the one who brought his own mob with him as he sought the return of a stolen television. To convict, she said, prosecutors cut deals with witnesses that encouraged them to lie.
“They should pick up the
The Telegraph/RUSS SMITH
The Rev. Cleo Willis calls on supporters to boycott the Atlon Belie Casino Saturday as a protest of the charges against a group of Alton males in the deaths of Richard Skelton last summer. The demonstration began at Lincoln-Douglas Square.
ones that brought the mob,”
Burnett said. “They just picked up a bunch of boys sitting there and put them in jail for felony murder and mob action for
One protester engaged in a heated discussion with Kelly Skelton, daughter of t en ce Richard Skelton, before the demonstration began.
20 to 60 years. The prosecutors made a deal with Richard Young, and he got up there and lied on the witness stand.” “The Skeltons came into their neighborhood to take back a TV. They should have called the police to do that. If they had done that, we wouldn’t be here today,” said Albe Terrell, a protester who engaged in a heated discussion
■ See CROWD, Page A9
I ne leiegrapn/nuoo oivuin
Kelly Skelton, right, daughter of Richard Skelton, argues with Allie Terrell of Alton at the demonstration at the Lincoln-Douglas Square.
Pilots help dreams of children soar
Young Eagles thrill to first flight
By TONY D. MASINELLI
For The Telegraph
BETHALTO - Soaring high above the River Bend, eight pilots made dreams come true Saturday for more than 70 children who wanted to experience the thrill of flying.
Young Eagles Chapter 864 sponsored the event, which was held by St. Louis Regional Airport in Behtalto. Langa Air donated the use of one aircraft and fuel. Private pilots, who volunteered their time and absorbed the cost of making several 20-minute flights,
made the other seven available.
“It’s just great to take these kids up and see their faces,” said Mike Kleihege, one of the pilots. “I always wanted to fly, since I was five or six, but I had to wait until I was 22 because nothing like this was available. So ifs great being able to do this now.”
Kleihege has participated in two other Young Eagles events, each time flying several groups of wide-eyed youngsters in his Cessna 182
■ See SOAR, Page A9
The Telegraph/RUSS SMITH
Ken Felte, a pilot from Belleville, took children on their first airplane trip at the Young Eagles Rally Saturday at St. Louis Regional Airport in Bethalto. Showing off their Young Eagles certificates are the Williams siblings, from left, Scott, 9, Mary, 3, and Melissa, 11, the children of Diane and David Williams of Waterloo.Class sizes down at EA-WR HighTruancy up, Report Card shows
By ANGELA MUELLER
Telegraph staff writer
WOOD RIVER - Students in the East Alton-Wood River Community High School District were taught in smaller classes last year, the district’s Illinois School Report Card shows.
But the same document shows more students were chronically truant in 1998-1999 than in the year before. And, the district’s graduation rate fell about 5 percent, putting the district even further below the state graduation average.
The report card is compiled by the Illinois State Board of Education.
The average class size at EA-WR during the 1998-1999 school year was 20.8 students, a slight decrease from the 1997-1998
■ See CLASS, Page A9