Metro-East Area News Briefs

Chronicle Media

United State Steel Corporation’s Granite City Works.(Photo courtesy of US Steel)

Public input sought for Madison Comprehensive Plan update

Public input is being sought for the first updating of the Madison County Comprehensive Plan since 2000.  The comprehensive plan provides a general outline for development in the county’s unincorporated areas.

Madison County Planning & Development officials say comprehensive plans should generally be updated every 10 1 years. They also note that Madison County has seen rapid development seen in unincorporated areas over recent years.

While the comprehensive plan influences how unincorporated areas of the county can be developed, it is not tantamount to zoning, county officials emphasize.

The update process is expected to take two years.  The first six-to-nine months will involve a review of existing conditions, identifying growth issues, meeting with stakeholders, and developing policy alternatives.

Next year, county planners will initiate a comprehensive public engagement effort, explore issues and recommendations, and complete a draft of the plan.  The final six-to-nine months of the process will consist of the review and adoption phase of the plan.

County residents are being asked to take part in an online survey, to provide guidance as the process unfolds.

The survey takes around 10 minutes to complete and can be found at

For more information on the planning process, go to

Illinois, St. Clair County partner for liquor inspection program

In a bid to improve efficiency, the state of Illinois and St. Clair County have joined forces to launch the new St. Clair County Liquor Inspection Pilot Program.  Under the program, the St. Clair County Health Department has begun providing Illinois Standard Liquor Inspections, on behalf of the state, for liquor license holders in all incorporated and unincorporated areas in the eastern three quarters of the county.

Utilizing existing state resources, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) is providing financial assistance and training for designated local inspectors.

While county health department personnel will provide the routine inspection required periodically of liquor license holders, liquor licenses will still be issued by the State of Illinois, notes department spokesperson Sharon Valentine. Establishments located in incorporated areas of the county must still secure liquor licenses from their village or municipality before applying for a state license, she adds.

State officials will continue to provide liquor inspection in the American Bottoms communities of Alorton, Brooklyn, Cahokia, Centreville, East St Louis, Fairmont City, Madison, Sauget and Washington Park, which are served by the East Side Health District, rather than the county health department.

The St. Clair County Health Department personnel began conducting inspections for the 425 liquor license holders in their jurisdiction following the completion of ILCC training in July and will continue to provide inspections through June 30, 2018 when the pilot program concludes.

Inspections cover “areas of local concern,” such as health and sanitation, license and insurance verifications, and deceptive practices, according to an ILCC statement.

Under the terms of the program, local officials are required to report their findings to the state liquor control commission, which may take adjudicative action if warranted.     

Several similar programs have been launched in some other areas of the state, according to Valentine.

For more information, see the Illinois Liquor Control Commission website (

Tentative settlement set in steel mill emission suit

A Madison County circuit court judge has approved a $4.26 million preliminary settlement in a class action pollution lawsuit filed by neighbors of United State Steel Corporation’s Granite City Works.

Real estate owners and residents claim they were adversely affected by harmful airborne emissions released by the U.S. Steel mill, as well as the adjacent coke plant owned and operated by SunCoke Energy, Inc. and Gateway Energy & Coke Company, LLC. SunCoke produces a raw material which U.S. Steel uses to manufacture steel.

Judge William A. Mudge of the Third Judicial Circuit granted preliminary approval of the settlement in the putative class action case on Aug. 28. The lawsuit was filed on Nov. 10, 2014, A hearing for final approval of the settlement is scheduled for Feb. 16, 2018.

The suit claims the industrial plants negligently failed to capture emissions and failed to store and properly transport coke.

“During their operations, SunCoke and U.S. Steel regularly released into the atmosphere substantial amounts of particles that leave a silty deposit on neighbors’ properties and cars — sometimes even getting inside their homes,” notes a statement from the Alton law firm of Simmons Hanly Conroy, which represents plaintiffs in the case.

“…surrounding residents experienced annoyance and discomfort, including an inability to fully utilize and enjoy their homes,” the law firm’s statement continues.

Named as lead plaintiffs in the case are Granite City residents Peggy Keltner, Jerome and Beverly Johnson and Melinda Duniphan.

However, the settlement class includes anyone who occupied property in a pre-determined geographical area around the plant from Nov. 10, 2009, to the present.

Potential class members can call (844) 798-3651 toll-free for information on the settlement area.

In 2013, SunCoke agreed to settle a separate claim filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and paid a penalty of $1.995 million, plus contributed $225,000 to the St. Louis Lead Prevention Coalition. The alleged violation concerned excessive bypass venting of hot coking gases directly to the atmosphere, resulting in excess SO2 and particulate matter emissions from the facilities’ waste heat and main stacks, in violation of applicable EPA permit limits.

Alton, Jacksonville newspapers sold

New York-based Hearst Newspapers has purchased two Metro East area daily newspapers — The Alton Telegraph and Jacksonville Journal-Courier —from Civitas Media LLC. Of Davidson, NC. With the acquisition, Hearst now owns three of the four major dailies published in the Metro East region.  The company already owns the Edwardsville Intelligencer. In all, Hearst owns 24 daily newspapers and 64 weeklies across the U.S.


–Metro-East Area News Briefs–