Metro East Area News Briefs

Chronicle Media

Runners celebrate participating in the 2017 SIUE’s Cougars Unleashed Homecoming Run. Registration for this year’s run is open.  (Photo courtesy of SIUE)

Registration open for SIUE Cougars homecoming run

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will host its third annual Cougars Unleashed Homecoming Run on Saturday, Sept. 29, with proceeds benefiting SIUE Alumni Association Scholarships for deserving students. Community members, students and alumni are encouraged to participate.

Hosted by the SIUE Alumni Association, Cougars Unleashed will feature 10K and 5K routes winding through the beautiful SIUE campus, with participants taking their mark at 9 a.m. and 9:15 a.m., respectively. A one-mile fun-run will begin at 9:20 a.m. All races will start and end at Birger Hall on campus.

The 5K race costs $30 and the 10K is $40. SIUE alumni get a $5 registration discount, and SIUE students can register for any race for $5. To register, visit

“The SIUE Alumni Association supports academic excellence through student scholarships,” said Cathy Taylor, director of Constituent Relations and Special Projects for the SIUE Foundation. “Each year, more than $30,000 in scholarships are awarded to incoming and current SIUE students. The proceeds of the Cougars Unleashed Homecoming Run will allow us to help even more deserving SIUE students.”

After the run, participants are invited to stay for family entertainment and a world-famous Chris Cakes pancake breakfast. Breakfast is included in the race entry fee. Individuals not running can still purchase breakfast tickets on the day of the race.

For more information, or to become a sponsor or volunteer, contact Nick Niemerg at or 618-650-3630.

East St. Louis Fund offers $2 million to boost business

The City of East St. Louis and New York City-based National Development Council (NDC) have formally launched their new Grow East St. Louis Fund (GESLF) — a public-private partnership offering up to $2 million in flexible loans for local small businesses expansion.

The GESLF effectively brings to East St. Louis the Grow America Fund (GAF), a national small business lending program, which since 1992 has been used to facilitate business growth and job creation in 37 financially underserved across the nation; including areas of New York, Seattle and Cleveland, according to the NDC.

Working In conjunction with community partners, the NDC — one of the nation’s oldest and most established community development lenders — specializes in custom-tailored, long-term, fixed-rate loans for minority- and female-owned business, designed to minimize monthly payments to maximize cash flow.

The council’s financing packages are designed to provide: longer terms, (with repayment schedules up to 25 years to allows smaller monthly payments); larger loans (generally $100,000 to over $2 million), lower down payments, lower interest rates and better structure (matching the term of the loan to the life of the assets being financed; ensuring debt service does not exceed available cash flow).

That allows small businesses owners to preserve equity and reserve cash flow for other business needs; thereby maximizing growth potential and employment growth or retention, according to Dan Marsh, CEO of NDC.

Approved GESLF loan funds may be used for:

  • Working capital – Repayable over 10 years,
  • Machinery and equipment -Repayable over 10 years,
  • Real estate acquisitions and or renovation of owner-occupied businesses – Repayable over 25 years,
  • Tenant improvements – Repayable over the life of the lease, or
  • Refinancing of existing debts.

Loan amounts will be subject to underwriting guidelines and loan fund availability.

The new GESLF was established by East St. Louis City Council his summer with a $500,000 equity investment, to be leveraged against NDC and SBA funds. In some communities, the NDC has been able to secure underwriting for its programs through major banks.

“In every community where we work, there are successful business owners who are ready to expand but do not have access to necessary capital to grow their businesses, particularly those owned by women and minorities,” said Marsh.

“We will use the Grow America Fund to expand the footprint of businesses within East St. Louis,” said Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks. “The City of East St. Louis is committed to those in our business community that have and continue to invest in this city.”

For additional information see or call the East St. Louis Community Development Department at 618-482-6665.

Open House set on transportation plan

The East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWG) will accept public comment on its Draft Fiscal Year 2019-22 Transportation Improvement Plan and related Air Quality Conformity Determination and Documentation (AQCD) document, Thursday, Sept. 13, 4:30. to 6:30 p.m. at the Fairview Heights City Hall, 10025 Bunkum Road.

In all, the plan outlines more than 400 transportation infrastructure and public transportation projects, across the St. Louis, which have been proposed for funding through various federal programs over the coming four years.

The plan includes 114 projects in Metro East, at a total cost of $138.7 million.

Bi-State Development, which provides bus and Metro Link light rail service in St. Clair County, is proposing 105 projects at a total cost of $569.8 million.

The Madison County Transit District has proposed 24 projects at a total cost of $50.4 million. The program includes 11 reprogrammed projects and 13 new projects.

The Fairview Heights meeting will be the second of six scheduled by the EWG around the St. Louis region to accept comment on the plan.

Comments can also be submitted through the EWG website ( A live chat on the plan will be conducted on the website on Sept. 27, from noon to 1 p.m.

The public comment period runs through Oct. 5.

Alton to get firefighter training unit

Lewis and Clark (L&C) Community College and the Alton Fire Department have teamed up to secure an Assistance for Firefighters Grant (AFG) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to purchase a mobile firefighter trainer.

Most large urban fire departments now have permanent training facilities, which allow firefighters to practice responses to various emergency situations — from blazes in multi-level structures to auto fires. However, such training facilities are still relatively rare among small fire departments.

Custom-built mobile training units —about the size of an over-the-road truck trailer — can allow offer smaller departments a way to hold formal firefighter drills, AFG literature notes.  However, even they can be expensive.

Alton’s new trainer will be acquired at no cost to the city, according to a joint statement from the college and municipality.

The federal grant, totaling $227,273, will cover 90 percent of the mobile firefighter trainer. The Lewis and Clark Community College Foundation — a non-profit which supports the college and its students through scholarships, awards, and other assistance — will cover the 10-percent matching share of $22,727.

In return, the college will have use of the unit for its fire science training program.

The national AFG grant program is highly competitive, notes Alton Fire Chief and L&C Fire Science Coordinator Bernie Sebold; two previous grant applications were denied.

“With regard to firefighter training, this is the best thing that has happened in years,” Seebold said.

International law effort nets local child porn conviction

A 35-year-old Kell, Ill. man was sentenced in East St. Louis federal court, Sept. 5, to 25 years in prison for possession of prepubescent child pornography, enticement of a minor, and penalties for being a registered sex offender.

Shawn Lyberger had previously pleaded guilty to a three-count superseding indictment charging him for inducing a 10-year-old boy to engage in sex acts over webcam in 2015 and possession of child pornography depicting young minors, found during a search of his residence in 2016.

He has a prior federal conviction for possession of child pornography in Missouri.

In addition to his 300- month prison term, Lyberger was also sentenced to a lifetime term of supervised release.

The sentencing hearing was the culmination of an investigation conducted by the Lyon, France-based International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), officials from the United Kingdom, the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, the Woodland, California, Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.



–Metro East Area News Briefs–