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Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - September 9, 1999, Alton, Illinois SERVING THE RIVER BEND SINCE 1836 THE HMD to HEAD-AGAIN *<. lift Mark McGwire 54 home runs after 141 games SammvVSosa 58 home runs after 139 games WM A OU J _ r "J J The outlook ; fine fining sunny to partly visitors can .JI w lr,?1?1'6 ^52 i Retz atnew \ I Alton eatery v Page D6 ;    Page DI ' Vol. 164, No. 237 —50 cents Thursday, September 9,1999 www.thetelegraph.com City ignored own safety rules By DENNIS GRUBAUGH Telegraph staff writer GRANITE CITY - Alton city leaders say they ignored their own fireworks safety ordinance before a deadly riverfront explosion in 1997 because they felt the pyrotechnics show was taking place outside city limits. Mayor Don Sandidge, Fire Mayor, fire chief testify about fatal fireworks Chief Donald Dugan and others testified Wednesday in Madison County Circuit Court during the first day of a civil trial involving the deaths of three Chicago area men during the city’s Riverfront Blast July 3,1997. The city and the show’s producer, Fireworks Partners of Crown Point, Ind., are being sued for negligence by the families of the men, who died when a fireworks shell misfired and set off a chain reaction on a barge during the annual fireworks display. One of the men burned to death; the other two drowned in the Mississippi River. The location of the barge as well as the type of barge used were the prime focus Wednesday. In a conversation between them before the event, Sandidge and Dugan both said they concluded that the barge would be outside the city’s jurisdiction. Therefore, they chose not to have the fire chief inspect it before the show, as called for by the ordinance. Had the barge been inspected, a number of violations would have been found, said attorney Peter Berg, one of four representing the families. Among the problems were no personal flotation devices and no fire extinguishing equipment. ■ See RULES, Page A11 The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN Workers from Mahoney Asphalt Paving in Alton place a temporary ramp for driveway access of a resident at the corner of West Corbin and North Kingdom streets in Bethalto Wednesday as part of the ongoing West Corbin Street project. Bethalto road project moving along By BETHANY BEHRHORST Telegraph staff writer BETHALTO — For nearly three weeks, residents along West Corbin Street in Bethalto have enjoyed temporary driveways during road construction, which began in mid-April. Village officials said they are certain the first phase of the Federal Aid Urban Project will reach completion before the holidays. Some residents expressed discontentment with the project, which left some without driveways for nearly four months. Residents were forced to walk several blocks in some cases to get to their homes. Other inconveniences, as well as safety issues, raised some concern for those in the village. “Unfortunately, you have to tear down roads to put new ones in,” Mayor Steve Bryant said. “Anytime there is construction, it’s dirty, it’s nasty, it’s ugly and it’s been an inconvenience for some people,” Bryant said. “It’s never pleasant to be involved in a road construction project, but I think once the project is complete, it will be worth it. It’s not an overnight project.” Bryant said he is hopeful the first phase of the project, stretching from Old Bethalto Road to David Street, will be finished before the onset of cold, icy weather. He said Thiems Construction has extended the effort to complete the project in a timely manner. Construction on storm sew ers along David Street and Albers Lane is under way. Bryant said the section of the road will be closed through November and December. Residents who live between David Street and Albers Lane will have to park their cars on side streets until temporary driveways can be put in place. One-third of the work along West Corbin still needs to be finished. But Bryant said Thiems is making good progress. Area/Illinois .A3-10 Bulletin Board .A8 Business  DI Classifieds ----07 Comics  D5 Editorial.......A4 Horoscope  D5 Nation&world    .A12 Obituaries  A5 Armstead, Dawdy, Gorham, Jarrett, Kilmer, Northcutt, Phelps, Renfrow, Stepp Scoreboard ... .B2 Stocks ........D2 Television  C4 Alton rounding up junk vehicles By LINDA N. WELLER Telegraph staff writer ALTON — It was raining old cars Wednesday for Fred’s Towing and Officer Al Womack of the Alton Police traffic division. * Every variety of “tank,” junker and semi-decent car that had seen its last spin on the highway got hooked up to one of the city’s contract towing company’s trucks and hauled off. “We’ve been out all morning,” Womack said. “It’s a lot of work but I think it will pay off in the long run. We are getting derelict cars off the streets and yards. The majority of people are very happy with it.” Womack said that Fred’s, 2320 Washington Ave., towed 13 such clunkers Wednesday morning in the east part of Alton. He expected five more vehicles from the west side of town to be taken to Fred’s lot during the afternoon. The service is free. With calls pouring in, Womack said he was not sure how many old tanks would be hauled away today and Friday during his car cleanup blitz, “Operation Abandoned Vehicles.” Rob Dubio, one of the co-owners of Fred’s, said he dedicated his entire day to the city towing project. “It’s not overwhelming us; it’s a good way to do it,” he said of the citywide cleanup. Dubio said he is happy to participate in the cleanup effort, besides being profitable for his company. “I feel good about it,” Dubio said. “It is a_ thing that is needed. The city fathers are try-* ing to clean up, but it’s been hard because they couldn’t tow without a title. People have walked away from their cars because it would take more money to get them running than the cars are worth.” Womack’s effort targets unsightly abandoned vehicles that are left on streets or private property, some with lost titles. Some owners never registered the cars when they bought them, and police find it is difficult or impossible to determine who owns the vehicles. “Some of the calls have been from landlords where people have left them when they moved out,” Womack said. “They are from all over Alton.” Besides detracting from the appearance of the city, Womack said the vehicles are safety hazards, particularly when they are jacked up or balanced on cinder blocks and left for months or years in yards, driveways and streets. Some of the cars are irreparable. ■ See JUNK, Page A11 Council OKs later tavern closing hours By LINDA N. WELLER Telegraph staff writer ALTON — In an overflowing City Council chambers Wednesday, aldermen decided by a slim vote of 4-3 that the city’s taverns should be able to serve alcohol later into the morning hours. The extended hours will go into effect in about two weeks, said Jim Schrempf, the city’s corporate counsel. Tavern owners who buy special permits costing $375 will be able to serve alcohol until 2 a m. on weekdays and 3 a m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The ordinance does not change the hours packaged liquor can be sold ; those sales are curtailed at I a m. every night. More than 50 proponents and opponents of the proposed change in the city’s liquor ordinance crowded into the chambers and adjoining conference room. Three representatives addressed aldermen, two of whom presented petitions containing hundreds of citizens’ names to bolster their arguments. “Around 12:30 a m., most of the patrons start to part to Godfrey,” said Michael Holliday Jr. of Alton, president of the Young Democrats of Madison County. “In this movement of individuals from one establishment to another, it puts our local establishments in a no-win situation if the current liquor hour of closing is to remain at I a m. I feel this resolution to extend the drinking hours needs to pass." Attorney John Sholar said he was speaking on behalf of 41 Class A and D liquor license holders who favor the later hours. Sholar, who said he had 2,489 signatures on pro late-hours petitions, said hospitality businesses need to stay open late to compete with the Alton Belle Casino’s later hours. “We merely ask that we be allowed to compete on a level playing field,” Sholar said. ■ See HOURS, Page A11 Heading across town ■ £'“v life £ rn bl* ii. -....... • > ROAD CLOSED M <*• * m . . I..—,-.I-.........    I,    ■■    ...Ml.- The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN Construction was continuing Wednesday on phase one of a project to raise and widen a section of 20th Street from Piasa to Madison Street in Alton, completing a cross-town highway. The road will be raised to above the height of the sewer manhole access, white cone in center, to eliminate the dangerous steep angle of the current road. ;

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