Metro East Area News Briefs

Chronicle Media

Main Street in downtown Alton.  The city has been selected to be featured on the online reality show “The Small Business Revolution — Main Street.”

Alton revels following reality show win

Alton civic leaders hope to learn this week details of a $500,000 business re-development project planned for their city by the producers of a web-based reality show.

“The Small Business Revolution — Main Street” host Amanda Brinkman announced, Feb. 27, that Alton, along with six still-be-chosen area small businesses, had been selected in an online vote to work with the program’s team of marketing and management experts on the half-million-dollar revitalization effort.

Entering its third season as a streaming series on YouTube and Hulu, Small Business Revolution — Main Street spotlights the plight of historically-significant-but-declining small towns and demonstrates turnaround strategies based on state-of-the-art technology and marketing practices.

The total of $500,000 in technology updates and other improvements will be shared by the city government and the half-dozen soon-to-be named businesses, which are to be selected from among 20 nominees located within a mile-and-a-half of the city.

Alton triumphed over Amesbury, Mass.; Bastrop, Texas; Martinez, Calif.; and Siloam Springs, Ark. in final voting conducted Feb. 13-20 through the program’s website (

City official over recent weeks encouraged Riverbend residents to vote for Alton in the online balloting. Final vote totals have yet to be posted on the show’s website.

Alton-area leaders also hope to learn this month the shooting schedule for the eight-episode series featuring their city.

The episodes are scheduled to run beginning in November.

Prenzler expects widening investigation

Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler says he expects a new Public Corruption Task Force, appointed by State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons, to continue and expand the scope of its ongoing enquiry into county operations over the coming days – in part as the result of new information he recently provided investigators.

In a post last month on the county website, Chairman Prenzler reports that during January, “I voluntarily met with a member of the Task Force. I didn’t take a lawyer with me, and I answered all questions. In this meeting, I assisted the Task Force by bringing two new cases of public corruption to their attention.”

“During the weeks ahead, I will bring several more significant cases of public corruption to the Task Force,” he continued.

Task force members raided the offices of several county officials on Jan. 10; seizing records and computers. They returned to seize additional items on Jan. 30.

A grand jury has reportedly begun looking into allegations of corruption at the county courthouse; however, no indictments have yet been issues. The Madison County Board’s Freedom of Information Act officer, Andrew P. Esping, was subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury last month.

In his statement on the county website, Board Chairman Prenzler notes that he has reported two “major” public corruption schemes in the past.

In 2013, Fred Bathon, the county’s longtime treasurer, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison after Prenzler turned over evidence that Bathon had defrauded 7,000 taxpayers out more than $4 million through rigging of the county’s tax auctions over a four-year period.

“Another (case) involved over-charging more than $2 million. This took place over a 10-year period of time, and, as far as I know, has never been investigated,” Board Chairman Prenzler said in his statement last month.

Grocery carts of food were the result of a friendly competition between Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) International Honor Society in Education and the Delta Sigma Pi, Professional Business Fraternity in the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus. (From left) Sierra Hyman, KDP co-president and Makenzi Fee, Community Service vice president of Delta Sigma Pi. (Photo courtesy of SIUE)

Students come to the aid of Bethalto shelter

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville collected more than 400 food items in a donation competition for the Community Hope Center in Bethalto.

The Lambda Theta Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) International Honor Society in Education and the Delta Sigma Pi, Professional Business Fraternity delivered the donation to the homeless shelter on Feb. 10.

“Makenzi Fee, Community Service vice president of Delta Sigma Pi, and I became aware of the need for food items at the Community Hope Center, particularly boxed nonperishable items,” said Sierra Hyman, a senior elementary education major and KDP co-president with Kalli Hentis, a senior studying speech-language pathologist.

“Christmas is generally a big time for donations, but we wanted to make sure food was well-stocked at the Center for the months after,” Hyman continued. “We wanted to make a big impact, and we thought teaming up organizations would be a great way to do so.”

“In the end, it doesn’t matter who won,” she said. “It’s all about putting food on the table for our local families in need.”

Barbara Martin, Ed.D. is the KDP faculty advisor.

KDP is an international society whose membership is 1.2 million and is limited to the top 20 percent of those entering the field of education, according to Martin. The student organization was founded in 1911 and was one of the first discipline-specific honor societies. SIUE’s Lambda Theta Chapter started in 1967. The chapter has approximately 80 members, who must maintain a grade point average minimum of 3.0.

Native landscaping workshop set for March 16

The nonprofit Missouri Prairie Foundation’s “Grow Native!” travelling native plant marketing and education program is coming for a third time to Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, March 16.

The half-day native landscaping workshop offers expert presenters on landscaping solutions for private and public land that address multiple objectives—aesthetic enhancement as well as habitat for pollinators, songbirds, and other valued wildlife.

The program is appropriate for home gardeners, landcare and conservation professionals, city planners and related professionals, and other landscape enthusiasts

Scheduled speakers include longtime area sustainability champion Jean Ponzi; Guy Sternberg, owner and manager of Starhill Forest Arboretum (which holds one of the most extensive oak living reference collections in North America); Bellefontaine Cemetery horticulture supervisor Kyle Cheesborough; National Great Rivers Research and Education Center terrestrial ecologist Lyle Guyon; naturalist Charlie Pitts; and Madison County resource conservationist Eleanor Schumacher.

The keynote speaker will be Western Nursery & Landscape Association board member Jennifer Schamber.

The workshop will be held Friday, March 16 from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A breakfast buffet will be provided. CEUs will be available for Landscape Architects and Illinois Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists.

Tickets are $35 or $20 for students with valid ID. Register at call (888) 843-6739 or send a message to


–Metro East Area News Briefs–