Stories planned for the Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, issue

Posted: Dec. 6, 2012 8:28 am Updated: Dec. 6, 2012 1:15 pm

A.M. Edition


UNITED WAY: John Letts' smile was a dead giveaway. Even before Letts announced the outcome of this year's United Way of Adams County annual campaign, it was obvious the goal had been reached. Letts, the campaign chairman and president of John Wood Community College, revealed that a projected $1.183 million was raised during a campaign celebration Wednesday night at the Town & Country Inn and Suites in Quincy. That was more than $45,000 beyond this year's campaign goal of $1.138 million.

VETO SESSION: When an Illinois House failed to override his veto of funding for four corrections facilities, Gov. Pat Quinn proclaimed it a victory for his budget trimming plans.

FISCAL CLIFF: There's growing support for the idea of raising taxes for the highest-income Americans as President Obama wants, an Associated Press-GfK poll indicates. Overall, however, people say they prefer cutting government services to raising taxes to curb federal deficits. But where to cut? There's reluctance to trim Social Security, Medicare and military programs.



MCLEOD COLUMN: Consumer confidence is up. Black Friday sales hit a high. The housing market is rebounding. You're finally seeing dollar signs. This is going to be your year. You're going to get a raise, recoup your savings, build up your business. But those dollar signs in your eyes could become your undoing. And even worse, if your boss is seeing similar dollar signs, it could become the undoing of your entire company. Research reveals that when leaders overemphasize profit, it actually erodes employee morale and drives customers away.

OBIT-BRUBECK: Jazz legend Dave Brubeck, who helped define genre's rhythms in 1950s and ‘60s, dies at 91.



LEAP FROG: Blessing Hospital receives national recognition from the Leapfrog Group. This is the first time an Illinois hospital has been ranked as one of the country's top rural hospitals.

SARAH's PLACE: First Christian Church explains why they've designed a home specifically designated for people to die. This new ministry allows those on hospice to have an alternative to dying in the home or in a hospital.

LAVERN WAGNER: Lavern Wagner, who built the Quincy College music department into a nationally recognized program and was recognized by generations of students and co-workers as a mentor, died Tuesday at age 86.

ABUNDANCE EXCHANGE: Victoria Taylor says the concept of the Abundance Exchange is a simple one. "It's about making a difference in someone's life," she said. Taylor is the coordinator of the fourth Abundance Exchange, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Oakley-Lindsay Center. Community members are invited to come and take what they need -- with certain limitations -- from the donations. The event is sponsored by the Unity of Quincy church, pastored by the Rev. Ron Fritts. "It's always wonderful to see the community get involved and come together for this," Fritts said. "We're expecting between 1,000 and 1,500 to take part."

QUINCY WATER: The city of Quincy continues to battle rumors that its water is unsafe for it residents, as bad smell and taste of the water continues. The battle came to a head Wednesday, when a posting on Facebook claimed a child had become severely ill from the drinking the city's water. Utilities Director David Kent said the city has not been contacted by any agencies about an illness caused by the water.

GOOD NEWS CASE 26: Medical problems have dealt quite a blow to James and Becky over the years. James is disabled and Becky is trying to help support the family by doing part-time work. She is going to school and attempting to find full-time work with no luck. They have a 4-year-old son, Joel, who has some medical problems. The family is struggling to pay its bills and behind on the mortgage. The family, whose names have been changed, is Case No. 26 in the 24th annual Good News of Christmas campaign.

CONCERT: Festive Sounds Family Concert Saturday at Morrison Theater.

TOY TOWN: Army Toy Town drive Saturday at JWCC.

GIFT WRAPPING: Alpha Chapter offers gift wrapping again at the Quincy Mall starting Saturday.

CRIME OF THE WEEK: Weekly installment for Quincy Regional Crime Stoppers.



GRAMMY NOMINATIONS: Six different artists each snagged six nominations, including fun., Frank Ocean, Mumford & Sons and Kanye West.

DISABILITY CLAIMS: The Social Security Administration expands its fast-tracking of disability claims by people who contract serious illnesses such as cancer, early onset Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's disease -- claims that could take months or years to approve in the past. While providing faster benefits to people with serious disabilities, the program also is designed to ease the workload of an agency that has been swamped by disability claims since the recession. With a A list of the 200 diseases and conditions that are part of the program.

DEATH PENALTY-OBESE INMATES: At 450 pounds, death row inmate Ronald Post is so fat that his executioners won't be able to find veins in his arms and legs, his lawyers say. They say the execution gurney may not even be sturdy enough to hold him. Post is seeking to stave off lethal injection by arguing that any attempt to put him to death would amount to cruel and unusual punishment. The state of Ohio says it can be done humanely.

HOMELAND SECURITY SPENDING: The Homeland Security Department paid for an underwater robot in a Midwest city with no major rivers or lakes nearby, a mobile toilet in Fort Worth and a fish tank in a small Texas town, according to a new congressional report. It highlights what it describes as wasteful spending of tax money intended for counterterrorism purposes.

CENSUS-IMMIGRATION: New census data released affirms a clear and sustained drop in illegal immigration, ending more than a decade of increases. The number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. dropped to an estimated 11.1 million last year from a peak of 12 million in 2007, part of an overall waning of Hispanic immigration. For the first time since 1910, Hispanic immigration last year was topped by immigrants from Asia.

EGYPT: Egypt descends into political turmoil over the constitution drafted by Islamist allies of President Mohammed Morsi, and at least 126 people are wounded as supporters and opponents battle each other with firebombs, rocks and sticks outside the presidential palace. Three more presidential aides resign and a key opponent likens Morsi's rule to that of ousted authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.

WEST POINT-PROSELYTIZING PROTEST: A West Point cadet quitting five months before graduation says he could no longer bear a culture of mandatory prayers and disrespect for non-religious cadets. Blake Page's stand echoes sentiments made by soldiers and airmen at other military installations, and he risked having to repay the government thousands of dollars for his education when he resigned. But Page also tells The Associated Press that his inability to become an officer, which was due to a mental illness diagnosis, is a factor in what's become the latest outcry over the prevalence of religion in the military.

EARTH AT NIGHT: New stunning nighttime views of Earth unveiled showing city lights, wildfires, auroras.

PHILIPPINES-TYPHOON: Stunned parents searching for missing children examine a row of mud-stained bodies after a powerful typhoon kills hundreds of people in the Philippines.

WORDS OF THE YEAR: Thanks to the election, socialism and capitalism are forever wed as Merriam-Webster's most looked-up words of 2012.

BRIEFLY: Proponents for abortion coverage for military women press to end restrictions; Democrats: Obama plans Congress for about $50 billion more for Sandy storm recovery; Appeals court considers challenge to Obama recess appointments; Senate Democrats block Republicans from bringing up immigration bill; Serbia's ambassador to NATO was joking with colleagues in a multistory parking garage at Brussels Airport when he strolled to a barrier, climbed over and flung himself to his death on the ground below; US, Japan, South Korea to seek Security Council action if North Korea launches rocket; The killing of 17 people, including the two negotiators trying to resolve the occupation of a politician's land, set the spark for the outster of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo; Cargo ship sinks in North Sea following collision; 4 crew members dead, 7 still missing; The daughter of a man pushed in front of a subway train and photographed a split-second before his death says after a suspect is arrested that it "would have been great" if someone had helped her father up, but "what's done is done"; Governor signs voter-approved measure legalizing same-sex marriage, opening the floodgates to marriage licenses at midnight and the first weddings on Monday; Fire damages 12 homes near New Jersey oceanfront, still reeling from Sandy.



CULVER TECHNOLOGY: Culver-Stockton College is being recognized nationally for its efforts to be on the cutting edge of technology. U.S. News and World Report has ranked C-SC as the 53rd most-connected campus in the country. The school scored higher than any other school in Missouri, Illinois or Iowa and is ranked among the top 4 percent among schools that submitted connectivity data for the rankings.

UNITY SUPERINTENDENT: The Unity School Board hired Brian Kurt from El Paso, Ill., as its next superintendent at a meeting Wednesday night.

FIRE GRANTS: State Sen. John Sullivan notifies fire departments of grant opportunities.

ILLINOIS PENSION PROPOSAL: Rank-and-file lawmakers frustrated by slow progress and finger-pointing are offering their own solution to Illinois' multibillion-dollar pension crisis, saying lawmakers must take a new approach to the problem before the state is sent into "financial oblivion." The proposal by Rep. Elaine Nekritz attempts to break the logjam on the issue with a smaller, bipartisan group, but the ideas it put forward to fix a $95 billion funding gap drew unfavorable comments from Senate Democrats.

ILLINOIS LAWMAKER-GUN CHARGE: A veteran Illinois state senator was arrested Wednesday after allegedly trying to board a flight from Chicago to Washington with a gun and ammunition in a carry-on bag, authorities said. Sen. Donne Trotter, a Chicago Democrat who recently announced he would run to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in the U.S. House, was carrying an unloaded .25-caliber Beretta handgun and a magazine clip with six bullets when he tried to board a flight at O'Hare International Airport, according to Chicago police. Trotter, who is part the Illinois Senate's Democratic leadership, was charged with a felony. The gun and clip were found in an outside zippered pocket of Trotter's garment bag during routine X-ray screening, according to a Chicago police report.

DROUGHT-RIVER SHIPPING: A revised Mississippi River forecast is offering a bit of a reprieve for shippers, showing the water level isn't dropping as quickly as feared. Still, at least two large barge companies are already reducing their loads over concerns about the river's depth. Months of drought have left the Mississippi near historic low levels, a problem worsened last month when the Corps of Engineers reduced the outflow from an upper Missouri River dam, lessening the amount of water that drains into the Mississippi where the rivers converge near St. Louis.

JEFFERSON TOMBSTONE: A marble slab from the original tombstone of former President Thomas Jefferson, which has been stored for nearly 130 years at the University of Missouri-Columbia, will be sent to a laboratory that serves the Smithsonian Institution for restoration work, university officials said. Jefferson's original tombstone was at his Virginia home of Monticello, but it was shipped to Missouri by Jefferson's family in the 19th century because of concerns about vandalism from souvenir seekers. The tombstone was dedicated in 1885 at the University of Missouri, which was the first public university in the Louisiana Purchase Territory.

BRIEFLY: Authorities in southern Illinois say they've located skeletal remains with five Russian rubles in the pocket of the person's sweatpants; A suburban Chicago restaurant has given away about 10,000 Twinkies; The Illinois Commerce Commission has agreed to let Commonwealth Edison delay the rollout of so-called "smart" meters; The city of Champaign is in the market for some new fire trucks and just about anyone could end up with old ones -- if they submit the highest bid; Illinois authorities are warning Chicago area residents about a scam in which people are impersonating utility employees in an attempt to get customers to pay them; U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois says several communities in the state will share more than $21 million in grant funding through three programs administered by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development; Generous donors have started dropping golden coins into Salvation Army red kettles this holiday season; United Airlines says a failed electrical generator is the reason one of its new Boeing 787s made an emergency landing in New Orleans; A Tennessee man had a winning $4.2 million Missouri Lotto ticket for more than a week without knowing he hit the jackpot, then waited nearly two more weeks before telling anyone about it.



HQBD WINDOW CONTEST: The Historic Quincy Business District will take on a seasonal look in coming days thanks to a new downtown Christmas window decorating contest. 8" DW

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: The government reports on the number of people who applied for first-time unemployment benefits last week.

SWEETENER FACILITY-HEARING: A central Missouri judge will allow media to have cameras, audio and video recording during court appearances by the former head of an artificial sweetener company now facing charges of theft and securities fraud.

FORECLOSURE SALES: Sales of U.S. homes facing foreclosure increased sharply in the third quarter, edging out sales of bank-owned homes, a reflection of stepped up efforts by lenders this year to avoid foreclosing on homes with mortgages gone unpaid. Even so, foreclosure-related sales made about the same share of all home sales during the July-to-September period, according to foreclosure tracker RealtyTrac Inc.

BRIEFLY: The federal government is looking for office space to house about 1,000 workers in downtown Kansas City; The European Central Bank is unlikely to offer any further help for Europe's sagging economy on Thursday after already lowering interest rates to record lows and calming the region's debt crisis with its plan to buy the bonds of heavily indebted governments; Citigroup is cutting 11,000 jobs worldwide and closing bank branches, a bold early move by new CEO Michael Corbat; Another Starbucks may soon pop up around the corner, with the world's biggest coffee company planning to add at least 1,500 cafes in the U.S. over the next five years; Los Angeles, Long Beach ports reopen after workers end crippling 8-day strike; A key revenue measurement for Walgreen Co. came in lower than Wall Street expected once again last month, as the introduction of generic drugs continued to squeeze revenue for the nation's largest drugstore chain.



WIERSCHEM PLEA: A Quincy man will avoid jail time on a child pornography charge if the judge agrees to the parameters set forth in a plea agreement. Earl F. Wierschem Jr., 46, pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to indecent solicitation of a child as part of a plea agreement between Adams County Assistant State's Attorney Anita Rodriguez and Denny Woodworth, who is Wierschem's lawyer. The amended charge is a Class 4 felony, which would carry a sentence of between one and three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, one year of parole and a fine up to $25,000. Under the agreement, Wierschem would receive probation and couldn't be sentenced to more than 60 days of home confinement. All other terms and conditions of the sentence are up to Judge William Mays. Wierschem will have to register as a sex offender.

EYLER PLEA AND GO: A Quincy man was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to a methamphetamine charge on Wednesday. Robert W. Eyler, 43, was eligible for an extended sentence of between two and 10 years on the Class 3 felony charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, less than five grams. By agreeing to the plea agreement, Eyler avoided a longer jail term.

ONE-CAR CRASH: One-car accident Wednesday in Monroe County injured a Centralia, Mo. driver.

MARION COUNTY FIRE: A Marion County home is a total loss after an afternoon fire Wednesday.

ON THE RECORD: List of people who have committed some misdeeds.

MISSING COUSINS-IOWA: Hunters find two bodies believed to be two children who disappeared while riding bikes in July.

COLORADO SHOOTING: University emails show theater shooting suspect had brief romance but few friends.

GUNNED DOWN: Police: Ga. woman, 65, gunned down after her car, motorized wheelchair bump at gas station.

SHERIFF ACCUSED-MARIJUANA: A former Illinois sheriff illegally hoarded antidepressants as he awaited resentencing in a drug and foiled murder-for-hire case, demonstrating his continued disregard for the law and underlining the need for a harsh sentence, a federal prosecutor said. Illinois State Police tests of the pills found Oct. 30 in former Gallatin County Sheriff Raymond Martin's cell in southern Illinois' Williamson County jail showed them to be three antidepressants, federal prosecutor James Cutchin wrote in a court filing Tuesday. Federal inmates are forbidden from having prescription medications in their cells.

BARISTA SLAYING-SUICIDE: A security video showing the abduction of an Alaska barista is unnerving on its own, but it only hints at the horror ahead for the 18-year-old woman. Samantha Koenig was sexually assaulted and strangled after she was kidnapped from a coffee stand, her body left in a shed for two weeks while her killer went on a cruise from New Orleans. After he returned, Israel Keyes photographed her for a ransom note and then dismembered her body. Those details were released by the FBI two days after Keyes was found dead in his jail cell in an apparent suicide. It's the most comprehensive account of a crime at the hands of a man who confessed to the slaying and told authorities he killed at least seven other people across the country over the past decade.

FOILED MURDER PLOT: A former barge worker has admitted his role in a foiled plot to abduct, extort and electrocute a wealthy man in a scheme investigators say borrowed elements from a television show and sought to blame the killing on the intended victim's cat. Brett Nash, 46, of Pontoon Beach, Mo., pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to a felony count of solicitation of a violent crime. Four other counts, including two murder-for-hire ones, are to be dropped.

BRIEFLY: A federal judge has set a new date for the delayed trial of an influential Chicago-area politician on tax charges; A former employee at a Southern Illinois hospital has been convicted of stealing personal information from patients and using it to open credit cards in their names; A suburban Chicago man who was convicted of trying to run over a Chicago police officer in his car has been sentenced to 23 years in state prison; The puppy dragged along an interstate highway in St. Louis is making good progress in his recovery. Meanwhile, the reward for the capture of the person responsible for the crime has doubled to $5,000; The Morgan County Sheriff's Office has identified an elderly couple who were found dead in their home.



NYE PARTY: will be ringing in 2013 with good music and food at One Restaurant, 600 Hampshire in downtown Quincy, during "NYE 2013: The New Year's Eve Party Everyone's Talking About."



CONFIDENCE KILLER: The QU women's basketball team suffers a 72-66 loss to Harris-Stowe and is off to its worst start since the 1997-98 season in which the Lady Hawks went 0-27.

STURDY WALZ: Offseason commitment to getting stronger is making junior guard Riley Walz more of a factor for the QND boys basketball team.

IDENTITY ALL HER OWN: West Hancock's Madison Harmon may not be recognizable as her twin brother, Paxton, but her leadership is vital to the Titans' success.