Metro East Area News Briefs

Chronicle Media

SIUE public health faculty members Drs. Michelle Cathorall and Alice Ma

SIUE faculty and students make aid trip to Puerto Rico

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville undergraduates and two public health faculty will travel to Puerto Rico to aid in recovery efforts after the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Maria.

The travel study service trip will take place in Yabucoa from Dec. 11-23. Students studying public health, psychology and more will spend five days working with All Hands and Hearts, a nonprofit that partners with local communities to respond to disasters.

“Students will have the opportunity to be immersed in a different culture, while giving back to a community in need and gaining practical experience as it relates to emergency preparedness and response,” said Dr. Michelle Cathorall, P.H., M.P.H., assistant professor and program director of public health in the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior’s Department of Applied Health. 

Leading the students on the trip will be Cathorall and Dr. Alice Ma, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of public health.

Students will help community members and other volunteers rebuild the community by cleaning up debris, salvaging items and disposing of unusable debris, and mucking out homes as necessary. Students may also help repair homes and schools, learning while working with community members.

State special prosecutor to probe corruption allegations

Associate Judge Jerry E. Crisel, of the Second Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois, Sept. 13, charged an Illinois Attorney General’s Office special prosecutor with investing alleged public corruption in Madison County — including reported attempts to impede a county-level investigation.

County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons contends evidence of corruption was uncovered after an independent Madison County Public Corruption Task Force, established in late 2017, took several computers and numerous records from the Madison County Administration Building last January.

Evidence obtained in the raids was filed by Gibbons’ office in the Madison County division of the Illinois Third Judicial Circuit; however the case removed to the Second Judicial Circuit, based in Mount Vernon, on order of Madison County Chief Judge David Hylla ordered it.

The case was referred to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office after Judge Crisel, responding to a suit filed by Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler, County Administrator Doug Hulme and Information Technology Director Rob Dorman, and ruled that Gibbons could not both prosecute the case and represent county officials — a statutory duty of state’s attorney.

Last week’s order provides the new special prosecutor broad authority to investigate corruption in the county, including any incidents occurring since the initial raid.

The court order authorizes the special prosecutor to “investigate and prosecute state crimes committed in the course of, and with the intent to, interfere with, the special prosecutor’s investigation and/or prosecution, including, but not limited to, perjury, obstructing justice, communicating with, intimidation of, or harassment of jurors and/or witnesses, and the destruction of evidence, and to conduct appeals arising out of this mater being investigated and/or prosecuted.”

Public meeting on watershed plan set for Sept. 25   

The HeartLands Conservancy and Madison County will hold an open house event to inform the public about the Canteen-Cahokia Creek Watershed Plan on Tuesday, Sept. 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Maryville Community Center.

The Canteen-Cahokia Creek Watershed Plan strategically addresses stormwater-related issues in the area that drains to Canteen Creek and Cahokia Creek in Madison and St. Clair counties, and provides voluntary recommendations for water quality protection and flood mitigation efforts.

During the event, the draft plan will be available for review and display boards will highlight the plan’s key elements. Representatives from HeartLands Conservancy and Madison County will be on hand to answer questions and gather input from attendees on related issues such as flooding, erosion, and water quality.

The open house event is intended to attract people from within the Canteen-Cahokia Creek watershed, which includes all or parts of the following municipalities: Caseyville, Collinsville, Edwardsville, Fairview Heights, Glen Carbon, Hartford, Maryville, Pontoon Beach, South Roxana, and Troy.

In 2016, the Illinois EPA awarded HeartLands Conservancy a $500,000 grant to implement a similar plan in the Upper Silver Creek Watershed Plan in Madison County.

HeartLands is also leading the creation of the Indian-Cahokia Creek and American Bottom watershed plans in Madison County, and recently completed the Lower Silver Creek Watershed Plan in St. Clair County.

An open house for the Indian-Cahokia Creek Watershed Plan, the watershed adjacent to the north, will be held in October.

For more information about the Canteen-Cahokia Creek Watershed Plan, please contact Janet Buchanan at HeartLands Conservancy at 618-566-4451 ext .25 or email .

 For updates on this project and information about other HeartLands Conservancy activities, visit

Portion of O’Fallon’s Elm Street now Habitat Way

O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach and the City Council recognized Habitat for Humanity by renaming Elm Street in the Carson/Behrens area “Habitat Way”.

“Habitat for Humanity, in cooperation with the community and future homeowner, has built four homes in the area around Carson and Behrens Streets,” said Roach. “Renaming Elm Street as Habitat Way is the least we can do to show our respect for this great organization and the work they do.”

Prior to the renaming, there were two Elm streets in O’Fallon. Elm Street, off South Walnut Street has not been renamed.

Longtime advocate for older adults named honored

The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA), inducted Swansea resident Eugene Verdu in the state Senior Hall of Fame during a Sept. 14 ceremony at the Programs and Services for Older Persons (PSOP) Resource Center at Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC).

The hall’s 2018 inductee in the Community Service Category, Verdu was instrumental in creating the SWIC PSOP, the St. Clair County Office on Aging Senior Volunteer Program, the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens and the IDoA.

He was a 1971, 1981, 1995 and 2005 delegate to White House Conferences on Aging and has been appointed to numerous boards and commissions including the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), National Council on Aging, and National Council of Senior Citizens. Additionally, he assisted in organizing the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens and provided immense leadership in the creation of our own Illinois Department on Aging in 1973.

The Senior Illinoisans Hall of Fame was created by the Illinois General Assembly in 1994 to honor Illinois residents ages 65 and older for their personal achievements in four separate categories. Verdu is one of the four inductees for 2018.

East St. Louis partners with organizations for block party 

The City of East St. Louis has partnered with St. Louis Area Foodbank and Molina Healthcare to sponsor an East St. Louis Block Party from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 19, on the Corner of Ninth Street and St. Clair Avenue, East St. Louis.

During this Block Party, East St. Louisans and those from surrounding communities will have access to free fresh produce, back to school supplies, SNAP assistance, dental and healthcare screenings and more.

Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks said this collaboration is another method of bringing the community together, developing strong relations, and assisting in providing needed services for the residents.

Melanie Hager, Illinois Agency Relations coordinator, stated, “The St. Louis Area Foodbank is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of individuals and families throughout our service territory in Illinois. We are excited to partner with the City of East St. Louis to provide food, resources, and an opportunity to connect with the community.”’



–Metro East Area News Briefs–