Metro East Area News Briefs

Chronicle Media

Volunteers from local Lowe’s Home Improvement stores worked alongside Lewis & Clark Community College YouthBuild students June 20 as a part of the Central Avenue Beautification Project in Alton. (Photo by Laura Inlow, Lewis & Clark Community College Media Services Manager)

Volunteers from local Lowe’s Home Improvement stores worked alongside Lewis & Clark Community College YouthBuild students June 20 as a part of the Central Avenue Beautification Project in Alton. (Photo by Laura Inlow, Lewis & Clark Community College Media Services Manager)

Group alleges “straw man” contributions to congressional candidate

The Washington, D.C. –based Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) is accusing a Metro-East law firm of violating federal campaign contribution limits by using low-level employees to funnel an illegal $16,200 donation to a Democratic congressional candidate.

In a June 28 filing with the Federal Election Commission, the group charges partners in the Swansea law office of Tom Keefe Jr. directed three secretaries, a legal assistants and a receptionists at the firm to each make a maximum $2,700 contribution to the campaign of C.J. Baricevic, who is running for the House of Representatives in Illinois’ 12th Congressional District. The complaint alleges the law firm partners then reimbursed the employees for the contributions, thereby circumventing federal statutes regarding the total amount of contributions that can be made to a congressional candidate by a donor over the course of an election cycle, and also violating laws regarding the accurate reporting of campaign donors.  Baricevic and his campaign organization, “Friends of C.J.”, are also named in the complaint for allegedly knowingly accepting the illegally large contribution.  A spokesperson for the campaign on dismissed the complaint as a politically motivated move by a Republican-funded attack group.

$10 billion tobacco suit comes to an end

A $10 billion civil suit against tobacco giant Philip Morris USA, initially filed in Madison County Circuit Court, was snuffed out for the final time June 20 as the United States Supreme Court declined to review the case.  

Plaintiffs in the case of Price vs. Philip Morris Inc. alleged the tobacco company deceived smokers by marketing its Marlboro Lights and Cambridge Lights cigarette lines as suggesting the “light cigarettes” were better for the health of smokers than conventional cigarettes.  Filed in 2000, the suit sought a partial return of the purchase price of the cigarettes to smokers.  

Following a three-month trial in 2003, Madison County Circuit Court Judge Nicholas Byron imposed a $10.1 billion judgment, which the tobacco company appealed.  The Illinois Supreme Court overturned that judgment in 2005 and reaffirmed its decision in 2015. The request for review by the U.S. Supreme Court was the latest in a series of actions by plaintiffs’ attorneys to revive the case.

Two area agencies win FEMA grants

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded more than $1.2 million in grants to fire departments and municipalities in Illinois, including two in the Metro-East.  

The Monroe County Ambulance Service will receive a $31,746 grant, with the Godfrey Fire Protection District to receive $23,572. The funding was provided through the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. The grant money is o be used for operations and safety.

New Cahokia police chief named

The Cahokia Village Board has appointed David Landmann the new chief of the village’s police department. Dennis Plew has been named the department’s new assistant chief.

Both are veteran Cahokia police officers with 30 years of law enforcement experience between them, according to Mayor Curtis McCall Jr.  

Landemann had been a patrolman with the department while Plew was a lieutenant. The promotions come following the retirement last month of former chief Larry Purcell.

Chefs offer local cuisine at conservation benefit dinner

Six prominent Metro-East chefs will volunteer their services during the HeartLands Conservancy’s 7th Annual Field to Fork benefit dinner on Saturday, July 2, at Bellecourt Manor in Belleville.  

Billed as an “Exquisite Culinary Experience in Local Cuisine” in Southwestern Illinois, the Field to Fork benefit offers a six-course meal prepared from ingredients locally grown and sourced, often the day of and just days prior to the event.   

“Field to Fork is a wonderful way to come together to support land conservation in Southwestern Illinois.  We celebrate our area’s rich agricultural heritage, the work of regional chefs to produce locally sourced food, and most importantly, efforts we take daily to protect our valuable natural and agricultural resources,” said Judith Nelson, president and CEO of HeartLands Conservancy.   

Each preparing one of the courses for this year’s dinner will be: Tim Faltus of Bellecourt Manor, Jenny Cleveland of Cleveland-Heath, Jesse Mendica of Olive + Oak, Ben Rudis of Pastaria, David Sandusky of Beast Craft BBQ, and Josh Charles of Element.   

Josh Galliano of Companion Bakery will serve as special guest speaker for the event.   

Tickets for pre-purchase are now available and reservations are required.  Tickets for members of HeartLands Conservancy are $70 per person, $500 per table.  Nonmember ticket prices are $90 per person or $650 per table. Tables seat eight.

For more information see, or contact Kim O’Bryan at (618) 566-4451,Ext. 10 or

Beautification effort launched in historic Alton neighborhood

Students from Lewis and Clark Community College’s (L&C) Building Futures YouthBuild program have launched their Central Avenue Beautification Project in Alton.  Under the long-term initiative, students will help identify the repair and beautification needs of private and commercial properties, at no cost to homeowners.

The YouthBuild program, which guides students ages 16-24 through GED preparation to bridge courses in preparation for college, is housed at L&C’s Scott Bibb Center, located at 5th Street and Central Avenue.  

The project area extends from the Central Avenue circle to East 4th Street and Central, where plans include the installation of a pocket park. The work is to impact at least 60 homes, with an estimated total of $30,000 in grants and donations.

Lowe’s Home Improvement stores in Alton and Glen Carbon are donating a total of $5,000 and 15 volunteer work hours.

The program began June 20-21 with painting, fence repair and deck staining at several homes near the 1500 block of Central.

–Metro East Area News Briefs–