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Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - September 16, 1999, Alton, Illinois SERVING THE RIVER BEND SINCE 1836 THE TELEGRA HEAD to HEAD-ACAIN imlcSwiri 55 home runt after 146 games Swta I 59 I home runs • after 146 games * Tsias tragedy Gunman cpensfire in church Paged OieOUtlOGh ■S0ms3C,'<::rti;ie.-S Sunny with •Clinic takes a miidoMtions. icomprehensive I ^74; low 49 jaj^iioach Page 1)6 I Page DI Vol. 164, No. 244 — 50 centsThursday, September 16,1999 www.thetelegraph.comFire destroys Worden houseFamily safe, but ‘we tost everything’ By SANFORD J. SCHMIDT Telegraph staff writer WORDEN — A mysterious house fire broke out Wednesday afternoon, leaving a family looking for a home. -We lost everything, dogs and all," said homeowner Phil Strader, 49, of 8806 Dyer Drive. “I just woke up and found out the place was on fire," said Strader, who works the midnight shi(t at Granite City Steel Division of National Steel. The fire quickly engulfed the house, the ■ See FIRE, Page A9 The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN Owner Phil Strader, left, watches as a Worden firefighter moves In on the raging Inferno that consumed his house, barn, garage and truck Wednesday at 8806 Dyer Drive north of Worden. At right, another firefighter, working near Strader’s burning truck, directs water on the house in a futile attempt to save it. More photos on Page CB. Ex-teacher held in sex abuse case freed on hardship basis By DENNIS GRUBAUGH Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE -Former high school teacher Jonathan B. Becker was released from the Madison County Jail on a hardship basis Wednesday. A Madison County Circuit Court judge agreed to a defense attorney’s request to modify the six-month sentence that Becker received Sept. 2 for a charge stemming from an affair with a 17-year-old female student at Edwardsville High School. Becker, 32, of Glen Carbon, must complete the remaining five months of his sentence at the end of the 30-month probationary period that was to follow the jail stay. Circuit Judge Edward C. Ferguson said. Becker has served only ll days. He entered jail Sept. 5 and was expected to be incarcerated a minimum of 86 days. That would have been 90 days, or half of his six-month sentence, minus four days he spent in jail before his sentencing. Defense attorney John Rekowski of Collinsville said the timing of the sentence was hurting Becker’s family finan cially. “He needs to be out now,” Rekowski said. “This is posing a hardship to his family.” Rekowski’s court motion ^said that Becker has several immediate job prospects that may not be available later. It did not say what kinds of jobs. Becker, a 10-year social studies teacher at the high school, was the sole support of his wife and their two children, ages 4 and 6, Rekowski said. He resigned from his teaching job before going to jail and had to give up his ■ See TEACHER, Page A9GoodJV: Momliiir Board to hire engineer for new county garage Area/Illinois .A3-10 Bi^iietin Board .A7 Classifieds  C6 Comics  D5 Editorial A4 Horoscope  D5 Nation&world .CS,7 Obituaries  AS Abbott, Anderson, Comer, Davis, Magurany, Meyers, Molloy, Phillips, Ritter, Saupe, Schwartz, Wagner Television  C4 By SANFORD J. SCHMIDT Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE - The Madison County Board voted Wednesday to spend up to $310,000 on engineering for a new multimillion dollar county highway garage. The vote was unanimous and without debate. The Highway and Buildings committees of the board approved the recommendation. The committees voted Thursday in favor of a resolution to hire AAI Campbell of Collinsville to do engineering and design. The resolution would also set aside up to $310,000 for the firm’s services. The Madison County Board has discussed replacing the existing building with a new one at a cost of between $3.5 million and $4 million, but the resolution on the engineering firm was the first official vote on the project. Officials said they would expect that members who voted in favor of hiring the architect would be in favor of the building project, so it appears the project will go through without opposition. The engineering firm is expected to come up with exact cost estimates, said building administrator Marty Siglock. He said that once the firm comes up with a design, the board will seek bids on the project and then commit construction money. The building is to be paid ■ See GARAGE, Page A9 Weather brings out Expo crowds By ANGELA MUELLER Telegraph staff writer ALTON — Members of the Alton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1308 raised the colors Wednesday evening, and the gathered crowd joined in “The Star-Spangled Banner” and The Pledge of Allegiance to mark the official opening of the 25th annual Alton Expo at Riverfront Park. “I can’t believe this is the 25th time the Expo has been here,” Alderman Phil Hanrahan, 2nd Ward, told the grcup gathered for the opening ceremony. “We are certainly lucky with the weather, and I’m sure it will be a good turnout.” Dick Connell, co-chairman of publicity for the Expo, said he believed the crowd Wednesday night was the largest ever for the first night of games, rides, food and fun. “Due to the weather, we’ve had more people attend the opening night than ever before. With the weather forecast for the next few days, the crowd should hold up.” Many parents with their children mingled among the attractions Wednesday night, which was Family Night. Those attending chose from food offerings such as shish kebabs, fried tacos, corn dogs, hamburgers, funnel cake and cotton candy. They browsed through arts and crafts tents and booths of vendors selling a variety of The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN Devona Yates, an employee of the Catholic children’s Home in Alton, cooks barbecued turkey legs Wednesday night at the home’s food stand as the annual Alton Expo kicked off in Riverfront Park. items. Lisa and Charlie Hays of Godfrey were attending the Expo with their 5-year-oId son, 3-year-old daughter and 4-year-old nephew. After an hour, they had ridden the Ferris wheel, watched the children ride a small roller coaster and were waiting in line for the children to play in a moonwalk. “The kids are really excited about it,” Charlie Hays said. “Ifs good, cheap entertainment for them.” “I’ve been an Altonian all my life, and I never miss an Expo,” Lisa Hays said. On the other side of the park, Meagan Hanlon of Alton and her 16-month-old daughter were enjoying the music of Bobby Powell’s Riverbend Jamboree Band. “I’m not really much for country music, but she loves it,” Hanlon said about her daughter. “Anywhere there’s music, she’ll dance.” Hanlon said she had attended many Expos and believed this year’s event was an improvement over past years. “I think this one is better,” ■ See EXPO, Page A9 ;