State Briefs 11/20/09
Checks from ‘Shoppers Lottery’ fake, Kroger says
PEORIA – Fraudulent checks are being sent to Kroger customers claiming those customers are winners of a “Shoppers Lottery.”
There is no such lottery. The checks are fake. Upset customers have been bringing the checks to Kroger stores when they are rejected by commercial banks. The checks are forgeries made from legitimate Kroger checks, have a Sherman Oaks return address and show a JP Morgan Chase bank account in New York.
Kroger customers who believe they may be the victim of this scam should contact (800) 576-4377 for instructions.
Peoria Journal Star
Birthday part postponed for 4-year-old Beason massacre survivor
GERMANTOWN HILLS – A birthday party planned for Tabitha Gee on Monday has been postponed, according to the state police.
The 4-year-old girl survived a brutal attack at her Beason home that left five members of her family dead.
Troopers with Illinois State Police, District 8, based in Germantown Hills, stood guard at Tabitha’s hospital room at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and had planned to host a birthday party for her Monday.
Lt. Jeffrey L. Smith, in a news release, stated, “District 8 would like to thank everyone for the recent interest shown for young Tabitha Gee. Due to issues beyond our control, the birthday party scheduled for Tabitha on Monday ... has been postponed.
“The Illinois State Police family would like to thank the area citizens for the gifts, cards, and kind words the district has received. Please be assured that all cards and gifts will be forwarded to Tabitha and her foster family,” Smith stated.
Peoria Journal Star
Bass fishing champs to be in ESPN The Magazine
WEST FRANKFORT – The winners of the first high school bass fishing tournament in the United States will be featured in an upcoming issue of ESPN The Magazine.
Frankfort Community High School juniors Kaleb Gardner and Dylan Vaughn beat 53 other Illinois teams last spring in the inaugural Illinois High School Association State Bass Fishing Championship. The tournament was the first of its kind in the country.
Gardner and Vaughn were contacted this fall by ESPN reporters. The two were interviewed and did a photo shoot at Lake of Egypt.
The story and photos will appear in the December issue of ESPN Rise Magazine, a special edition of ESPN The Magazine dedicated to high school athletes.
West Frankfort Daily American
Grant will fund mentoring for children of inmates
ROCKFORD – The Patriots’ Gateway Center in Rockford recently received a $240,000 grant for the Mentoring Children of Prisoners program, one of six such grants in Illinois.
The program, through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is designed to be a support system for children 4 to 18 who have a parent who is incarcerated.
In her 20 years of working with troubled youth and high school dropouts, program manager Dorothy Felton said, a common factor has been the absence of at least one parent in their home.
Felton said up to 80 percent of the kids she works with come from single-guardian homes, some because one or even both of the child’s parents are in jail or prison.
Children are chosen for the program through an application process and interview with both the child and guardian. Children must be between the ages of 4 and 18 and live in Winnebago County.
The children are then matched with mentors who can fit their needs. People who are chosen as mentors must volunteer at least four hours a month and be at least 18 years old.
The goal is to begin the program in January after mentors have been screened and trained, Felton said.
Rockford Register Star
Police chase suspect through Wal-Mart
HARRISBURG – This time of year, seeing police at Wal-Mart usually means Shop With a Cop. Thursday, it meant run from a cop.
Harrisburg officers Michael Riden and Terry Sisky arrested Robert James Velazquez, 40, of Harrisburg, after a foot chase Thursday through the Harrisburg Wal-Mart. He remains held at the Saline County Detention Center on a charge of failure to appear.
Police had been looking for Velazquez most of Thursday morning, Chief Bob Smith said. They had received several reports about his whereabouts, but Velazquez kept giving them the slip.
Around 3 p.m. officers learned he may be at Wal-Mart. Riden and Sisky arrived at the store just as Velazquez was coming out the door. Velazquez ran back inside when he saw the officers, Smith said. Riden and Sisky called for assistance and ran into the store after him.
Sisky and Riden were eventually able to corner Velazquez in the store, Smith said, but not before alarming some customers.
Harrisburg Daily Register
Biofuel company looking at Freeport site
FREEPORT – A Minnesota biofuels company that has drawn national interest for producing clean diesel fuel from a variety of agriculture products is seriously considering construction of a $15 million facility at Mill Race Industrial Park just outside Freeport.
Ric Larson, President of BioCat Fuels, LLC, confirmed that the company is in the final stages of selecting a site to build a processing plant that would produce six million gallons of biodiesel fuel each year.
BioCat has talked to officials representing Stephenson County and the Northern Illinois Development Alliance (NIDA) regarding the purchase of property at Mill Race Industrial Park. The company would be the first to build at the 140-acre industrial park, located south of U.S. Route 20, immediately east of the Freeport city limits.
Larson cited the proximity to Chicago, the presence of rail at the park, easy access to freeways, and existing zoning at the site as key factors supporting the company’s consideration of Stephenson County.
BioCat has attracted the interest of scientists, venture capitalists, and government officials for its process of manufacturing diesel fuel. The “Mcgyan” process, which has a federal patent pending, uses a “continuous flow” to produce diesel fuel without waste effluent and without consuming any water. The process can use a wide variety of agriculture products or yellow grease, the residual oil from cooking fried foods.
Construction at Mill Race would represent the first commercial-size plant for BioCat. Larson said he expects the facility will offer 15 to 17 jobs, paying a starting wage well above the state-mandated minimum hourly rate.
State senator fights off robber
PEORIA – State Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, disarmed a robber inside his business Thursday night and forced the suspect to flee, police said in a news release Friday.
Koehler had given the armed robber an undisclosed amount of money, but the struggle started when he refused to hand over his cell phone. The senator was not injured.
The incident occurred about 9 p.m. on Thursday at Peoria Bread Company, which Koehler owns.
Koehler was approached by a gunman who demanded money. Then when the robber demanded Koehler’s cell phone, the senator refused and the struggle ensued. During the struggle, Koehler was able to disarm the man, who ran.
Peoria Police Officer Doug Burgess said Friday police had a person of interest in the case, but no arrest has been made.
Peoria Journal Star