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Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - October 8, 1999, Alton, Illinois SERVING THE RIVER BEND SINCE 1836RAPH Duller colors m Drought I Football j Southwestern to may drain j take on EA-WR beauty    v Page Bl Page Cl i The Outlook    j    Baxter's "    Showers    and    thun-    j    Store has derstorms. High i costumes near 75; low near 57 j galore Page D8 :    Page    DI Vol. 164, No. 265 - 50 cents Friday, October 8, 1999 www.thetelegraph.com Guilts Jury returns second-degree murder verdict in gang case By DENNIS GRUBAUGH Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE — Jurors convicted an Alton man of second-degree murder Thursday night, siding with his stance that he was defending himself from likely harm when he fatally shot a rival gang member almost eight months ago. The Madison County Circuit Court panel deliberated five hours before finding Michael F. Gomez, 18, guilty in the death of Alden E. Berry, 23, a former Alton resident who was killed Feb. 21 during a house party in the 1000 Mott of Elliott Street. By avoiding the first-degree murder verdict sought by the state, Gomez also will avoid a long prison stretch. The sentence for second-degree murder is four to 20 years, and he till have to serve no more than half that time under the law *0n the other hand, a first-degtee murder verdict would have meant a I See GUILTY, Page A9 The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN Houses in Alton, such as this one in the 1000 block of George Street, are ranked among the best buys in the St. Louis metropolitan area’s real estate market. Playing in the pumpkin patch The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN Melissa Pipkin, 1, of Dorsey gives one of the larger pjmpkins at the Losch Farms Market on Hedge Road in rural Roxana a feel Thursday wide on a field trip with her day care center, Creative Beginnings in Hamel. Business is peking up at the popular farm, where many buy pumpkins each fall or treat their youngsers to Pumpkin Town. Homes are hot properties throughout the River Bend By KERRY SMITH Telegraph staff writer ALTON — If Alton were in a metropolitan region all its own, it likely would rank as one of the best values in the country when it comes to home-buying. Erie Voyles, vice president of economic development for the River Bend Growth Association, said more than 225 new homes were built in Alton during the past year. There’s a notable'increase in the purchase of older homes by those who can afford to make them livable again. “It’s all supply and demand,” Voyles said. “We’re seeing older homes in Alton that have been vacant for 15 years or more being purchased and renovated. There’s new supply coming into the local (housing) market all the time.” A boost in new and existing home purchases points to a solid economy across the River Bend Home Values Increase Average home value 5 years ago Average home value now Alton $45,232 $61,404 Bethalto 76,862 89,213 East Alton 59,570 59,047 Godfrey 84,091 102,114 Hartford 40,088 40,159 Roxana 39,260 45,544 So. Roxana 33,792 44,925 Wood River 45,879 51,486 Source: Greater Gateway Association of Realtors River Bend, Voyles said. Nine out of IO River Bend communities have seen an increase in their average home value over the past five years. Illinois Department of Employment Security statistics agree. Private sector job growth increased 2.66 percent since 1994, and the civilian labor force grew by 3.79 percent — from 277,600 persons to 288,125 persons over the same period. “Statistics show us that St. Louis, as a metropolitan area, is considered to be the third-most inexpensive place to live nationwide,” Voyles I See HOMES, Page A9 SIUE officials will seek additional funds for Cougar Village renovations BY DEBORAH L. BATES Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE - University officials will request as much as $4 million in additional funding for renovations to student housing, SIUE Chancellor David Werner said Thursday. Werner said Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will need additional funding for Cougar Village Apartments because of asbestos and structural damage that was discovered after renovations began. The additional funding will be requested at the SIU Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 14 at the Carbondale campus. The project originally was budgeted for $20 million. Werner said SIUE officials still are working on the details of how much more funding the university will need to complete the project, but he anticipates between $3.5 and $4 million. “We would have hoped to have done it for less,” Werner said. University officials knew there was some asbestos in the buildings before work began; however, they discovered more than they already knew about. Werner said there also were some apartments in which the ceiling and floor that separate the apartments has deteriorated internally and needs repair. “It’s definitely worth it to make the apartments usable for the next 25 years,” he said. The original plan was to work on the renovations in the summer of 1999 and the sum- I See SIUE, Page A9 JSGood r*i ming Area & Illinois A3 6-7 Bulletin Board................A8 Business   DI Classifieds.....................CS Comics..........................C2 Editorial.........................A4 Horoscope....................C2 Nation & World............A10 Obituaries.....................A5 Dowdy, Haase, Knackstedt, Lankford, Sawyer, Stanley, Turman, Wagener, Yenne Scoreboard....................B2 Stocks.........................D2-4 Auditor to deduct himself from position Frandsen will decline another term, may return to County Board By SANFORD J. SCHMIDT Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE - Madison County Auditor Jack Frandsen said Thursday he will decline to run tor another term in that office, but he hinted he may run for the County Board again. Frandsen, 71, of Alhambra, said he would support his current deputy, Pete Fields, who previcusly served as auditor for IO years. Frandsen said he did not want to go into all the details of why he will not run again; he said he wants to concentrate for now on putting together a county budget. He said Fields is expected to make a tormai announcement soon. Fields has taken out nominating petitions. “He’s got the experience, and he’s a good, honest public servant,” Frandsen said. “The taxpayers would be blessed to have him.” Frandsen hinted he might run again for his old District 3 County Board seat. “We’ll have to see who else runs,” he said. So far, J.H. “Jim” Augustine of Livingston, William Meyer of Hamel and John Fleming of Worden have taken out petitions. County Board member Rick Faccin of Alton also has taken out election petitions for the auditor’s post but has not made an announcement about his intentions. Frandsen’s appointment as auditor last November touched off controversy when it became public that his retirement pay will rise from the $7,822 he would have received as a County Board member to $52,522. Frandsen said he did not take the job to get the higher pension. “I turned the appointment down for several weeks. Only after other elected officials and professional people talked me into it did I accept it,” he said. He said he voted against the pension program that made the higher benefits possible. A copy of the minutes of the 1997 meeting at which the I See AUDITOR, Page A9 Th© Telegraph/RUSS SMITH Jack Frandsen of Alhambra has decided not to run for re-election as Madison County auditor next year. ;

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