Metro East news briefs

O’Fallon-based nonprofit AgeSmart Community Resources, which  provides services for older adults and the disabled. (Photo courtesy of AgSmart)

Faith in Action comes to East St. Louis 

Live Free — a campaign of the California-based Faith in Action network of faith-based communities — has expanded to East St. Louis.

Led by executive director Larita Rice-Barnes, the new East St. Louis Live Free chapter drew several dozen to its March 10 awareness-raising meeting on this month’s U.S. Census and last month’s Illinois primary election.

The first in a planned series of open, online video conferences — known as Community Wellness Checks — April 2, centered largely on the COVID-19 pandemic, with a presentation from the East Side Health District.

A second teleconference, this week, is to focus on Illinois Senate Bill 1966, which would tighten laws for gun ownership and purchasing.

With remote learning programs being implemented by Metro East school districts, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group is launching a supplemental online learning program for area youngsters.

The online learning program, developed in cooperation with St. Louis-based Global Impacts Now, covers a range of topics from language arts and career paths to cultural heritage and topics of local interest, according to Rice-Barnes.

Established in 1972, the nonpartisan Faith in Action Network develops broad-based “church-community coalitions” around a range of issues, from gun violence and criminal justice reform to immigration issues, according to the organization’s website.

With offices in California and Washington, D.C., the organization currently has 44 affiliated federations and eight statewide networks in 150 cities and 22 states, according to the site.

Organizers are now hoping to recruit Metro East churches for their efforts.

Faith in Action’s decade-old Live Free project focuses largely on gun violence and incarceration issues, with chapters in 18 states.

The new East St. Louis affiliate is the first for either Faith in Action or Live Free in the St. Louis area.

The nonpartisan organization works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns throughout 46 local and state federations.

The California-based organization shares its names, but is not affiliated with existing “Faith in Action” groups in Collinsville, Edwardsville, and Granite City — all of which are affiliates of the O’Fallon-based nonprofit AgeSmart Community Resources, which  provides services for older adults and the disabled.

For additional information see or


Illinois input sought for regional pandemic survey

Input from Metro East businesses is sought for COVID-19 Regional Impact Survey, now being conducted online at St. Louis Regional Chamber.

“The Regional Chamber has launched an anonymous survey for regional businesses to help inform support organizations and better coordinate and deliver specific and targeted resources for companies affected by COVID-19,” according to chamber spokesperson.

Initial results from almost 200 respondents show the top three coronavirus-related concerns among businesses to be (in descending order):

  • Availability of cleaning supplies and necessities for place of employment,
  • Adverse impacts to supply chains or customer demand,
  • Financial liquidity/access to credit (tie), and
  • Concern over staff layoffs (tie)

Responses will be accepted through May 1 at

Comprehensive COVID-19 resource sites offered

A new St. Louis Community Builder’s STL Response COVID-19 Resource Dashboard ( is now offering compendiums of coronavirus-related resources, media coverage, and social media posts from across the region, all up-dated daily.

The site is maintained by the University of Missouri St. Louis and the St. Louis Regional Data Alliance    developed by the Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis.

Focused more specifically on the needs of business is the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce COVID-19 webpage, with a regularly updated “COVID-19 Situation Summary,” ”Coronavirus Toolkit” and travel advisories (

Information for Prairie State businesses —including the Illinois State Small Business Emergency Relief Fund — can be found on Madison County Community Development’s COVID-19 Economic Development Resources webpage (

Linked on all of those sites, for the general public, are the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency (SCCEMA) Facebook page and Madison County’s new Coronavirus Resources page (

The Madison County Health Department also posts advisories on its Facebook page ( and on Twitter (@MadisonCHD).

Police adopt tiered enforcement plans

Following a shelter-in-place order, issued Gov. J.B. Pritzker in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Illinois State Police District 11 Headquarters in Collinsville has announced a formal, six-step enforcement process.

Responding to initial reports of sizable crowds or other infractions, involving a given person or location, state troopers are only to provide information about order.

Repeat offenses are to be met with:

▪ Verbal or written notice to comply,

▪ Possible sanction from regulatory authorities that may oversee non-essential activity,

▪ Civil liability,

▪ Court ordered closure or quarantine, and finally,

▪ Criminal charges.

Belleville Police Chief Bill Clay last week issued a similar enforcement policy:

▪ First response: Education: Information group of the executive order.

▪ Second response: Written warning: Issue warning to the group that has over 10 people.

▪ Third response: Complete police report: This report will be forwarded to the proper authority and could result in possible sanctions by regulatory authorities; civil liability; and court-ordered closure or quarantine.

▪ Fourth response: Arrest/citation: The patrol commander or police chief will be consulted before a citation is issued.


Restaurant take-out guides offered

Amid mandated restaurant dining area closings, the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau’s Metro East Eats website ( allows anyone who is hungry to search for an appropriate eatery by location, restaurant type, or keyword.

A comprehensive menu-style listing of restaurants, offering curb-side service (or at least take-out), in the northern half of the Metro East area, is provided on the organization’s Restaurant Updates page (

The guides cover restaurants in Alton, Godfrey, Collinsville, Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Troy, Bethalto, East Alton, Hartford, Wood River, Jerseyville, Calhoun County,Litchfield, Hillsboro, Nokomis, Carrollton, Bunker Hill, Girard, Mt. Olive, Staunton, Gillespie, Carlinville, Prairietown, Maryville, St. Jacob and Virden.