Metro-East Area News Briefs

Chronicle Media

Alton Steel is getting a plant upgrade.
(Photo courtesy of Alton Steel Incorporated)

Alton Steel announces $4.7 million expansion

In what executives describe as the start of a new era for their company, Alton Steel, Inc. has announced plans for a $4.75 million plant upgrade that will allow the firm to produce steel coil.

Steel coil is used in a variety of applications such as refrigeration.

Alton Steel currently produces only rolled steel bar which must then be shaped into coil or other finished forms by customers.

Company officials their bar-in-coil manufacturing capability will allow Alton Steel to better serve existing customers as well as new clients who require steel coiled steel for their products.

The firm’s new Garrett coiler will provide customers a wide size range of coiled bar, from 0.750-inch through 1.812-inch diameter, with coil weights of approximately 5,000 pounds. It can produce coil of virtually any length, company officials add.

The new steel coiler will be installed in an existing building on the company’s property at 5 Cut St.

The expansion will not interfere with the company’s production of hot-rolled, cut-to-length steel bars, the spokespersons emphasized in a July 31 press release.

The plant upgrade is expected to be completed in first quarter of 2018.

GOP novice to challenge Sen. Clayborne

Republican Tanya Hildenbrand is launching a campaign to challenge incumbent Democrat James Clayborne in the 57th Illinois State Senate District.

Hildenbrand, an Air Force reservist and intelligence analyst, has a degree from the University of Iowa law school as well as a 28-year military career — having also served in the Army National Guard and Air National Guard.

A counter terrorism expert, Hildenbrand has been deployed to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Turkey, England and Guantanamo Bay, and has worked in the Pentagon. She describes herself as new to politics. She moved to Metro East from Washington, D.C. in 2008.

Clayborne, also an attorney, has served Illinois Senate Majority Leader — the second highest officer in the state’s Upper House — since 2009 and has represented the 57th District since 1995.

Both reside in Belleville.

No other candidates have yet announced plans to run in the March 2018 primaries in the district.

The district includes most of St. Clair County and part of Madison County.

Associate seeks retiring judge’s seat in Third Circuit

With longtime Third Judicial Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder announcing plans to retire in December 2018, Associate Judge Sarah Smith last week announced her bid to replace Crowder on the Madison County bench.

Smith, in 2015, was chosen over 49 applicants to become an associate judge in the circuit.  She presides over child support accountability court, the domestic violence accountability court, and handled divorce and family cases.

She earned her law degree while serving in the U.S. Army and was certified as a military judge by the Army’s Judge Advocate General.

Crowder was appointed an associate judge in the circuit in 1999 and has chaired the court’s Family Violence Prevention Council since that time.  She was elected a circuit judge in 2006 and won retention in 2012.

An Edwardsville native, Smith launched her campaign as a Democratic candidate for the Madison County Court last week with a rally at the Wildey Theatre, attended by Crowder.

The Third Judicial Circuit covers Bond and most of Madison County. Although the court system in both counties is administered generally by the Chief Judge of the Circuit, the circuit court in each county functions separately. The circuit court in Madison County is staffed by eight circuit judges and 12 associate circuit judges.

Telephone company trucks to carry defibrillators

Ameren Illinois is equipping nearly 240 company trucks — including 50 in the Metro East area — with automated external defibrillators (AED) in an effort to enhance employee safety.

“There are inherent dangers in keeping the lights on and the natural gas flowing, so first and foremost, this is a step we are taking to ensure the health and safety of our field personnel,” said Ameren Illinois Chairman and President Richard Mark. “These AEDs will provide our co-workers with an accessible tool that they can use in an emergency situation.”

Ameren Illinois field workers are already trained in first aid, CPR and AED operation, the company says.

Employees who suffer cardiac arrest at work have only a 5 percent to 7 percent chance of survival when an AED is not available and defibrillation is not possible until emergency medical personnel arrive, according to the American Heart Association.

In contrast, the survival rate one year after cardiac arrest for those who receive immediate defibrillation is 60 percent.

The new AEDs on each truck are specially design for ease of use during emergencies, according to Ameren Illinois Director of Safety Karen Boulanger.

Employees who suffer heart problems while in remote rural areas of the Ameren service area may be at greatest risk, the company notes.

“They even provide verbal instructions, walking our employees step-by-step through what is generally an incredibly stressful situation,” said Boulanger.

Businesses restoring Fairmont City playground

A team of Metro East businesses are undertaking a $100,000 restoration of the deteriorated, decades-old Kinder Park playground in Fairmont City. The Fairview Heights construction-management company IMPACT Strategies and its subcontractors are providing a new 20 x 16-foot wooden pavilion and related components, including a concrete pad and sidewalks to the structure.

Construction crews have spent the past several weeks framing the pavilion, setting trusses, sheeting the soffits and ceiling, and installing the electric service and lights. The structure will be painted and a standing seam metal roof installed in the coming week.

Donating time or materials to the project are: Architectural Sheet Metal, United Ironworkers, Lowry Electric American Exterior-Interior Services, Inc. Gillihan Concrete, PM Leach Painting, Ox2 Engineers, Clinton Seamless Guttering, Rehkemper & Son, Braddock Architectural Services, LLC, and Hackmann Lumber.

The project was organized by Illinois Representative Jay Hoffman and Curtis Francois, owner of Gateway Motorsports Park.


–Metro-East Area News Briefs–