State Briefs 9/22/08

Man who fled courthouse waives extradition

ROCKFORD — A man who fled in May, moments before a Winnebago County jury returned a guilty verdict against him for a 2001 murder, has waived extradition in Arizona and will return to Rockford in the coming weeks.

Brian S. Johnson, 39, is scheduled to appear before Judge Ron White on Oct. 3 in the Winnebago County Justice Center.

An extradition hearing was conducted last week in Arizona where Johnson is being held after he was arrested by Mexico authorities Sept. 10.

Johnson, who was out of jail on bond pending the conclusion of his trial, was found guilty of killing 30-year-old Britton Tullock in 2001. A jury trial was conducted in May.

Attorneys were planning to sentence Johnson in absentia earlier this month, but the proceeding was canceled after prosecutors received word that Johnson was found in Mexico.

Johnson faces a sentencing range of 20 to 60 years in prison.

Rockford Register Star

Councilman wants to know why city trucks were used for Bush visit

PEORIA – At-large City Councilman Gary Sandberg will request an explanation Tuesday by city staff members as to why taxpayers footed the bill for having about 30 city trucks used as barriers during President George W. Bush's visit to Peoria in July.

Sandberg, the longest serving member of the council, also said Friday he will request to see "all of those who attended" the president's July 25 visit to Angus Weaver Farm in support of state Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, who is running for the 18th Congressional District House seat.

On Sept. 9, Sandberg requested a cost breakdown of city expenses incurred during Bush's visit to Weaver Farm.

In a council communication issued Wednesday, the costs were shown to be $13,195, of which $12,868 was for police overtime. An additional $1,700 was spent on the overtime costs of the Peoria County Sheriff's Department.

Sandberg, however, said figures did not include information he sought - the Public Works Department's costs.

David Barber, the director of the Public Works Department, said that information should have been included, although he said no overtime costs were incurred by his department during Bush's visit.

He said 30 city trucks were used as barriers during the event because concrete barriers could not be erected or installed in time for it.

Journal Star, Peoria

Carl Sandburg College to go to four-day weeks

GALESBURG – Beginning in January, students at Carl Sandburg College will be part of a new environmentally friendly initiative reducing the number of class days in a week from five to four.

The schedule change, which will be implemented college-wide and applies to most programs, is meant to help students save money on fuel and reduce carbon emissions. Faculty and staff members still will have five-day work weeks.

The measure passed the Faculty Assembly earlier this week with little opposition.

Some community colleges, including Brevard Community College in Cocoa, Fla., have already made the move, not only saving students money on extra trips, but also conserving thousands of dollars in electricity costs by shutting buildings down for a day.

Those potential savings are not on the horizon for CSC, said Mark Pflieger, dean of occupational programs, because “we’re going to have to keep the college open.

“It’s a community center as much as it is a college. It’s just not feasible to close down.”

Classes — with a few exceptions — generally will be Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays for 75 minutes each. The new schedule, Pflieger said, isn’t going to influence the way faculty members used to teaching Tuesdays and Thursdays operate.

Galesburg Register-Mail

Search continues for woman who disappeared in April

SPRINGFIELD – Detectives are continuing to investigate the disappearance of a local woman who went missing nearly six months ago.

Michelle “Shelly” Miles Bianco, 43, was last seen April 5 and has not been heard from since. Her family is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to her recovery.

Sangamon County sheriff’s detectives are investigating the disappearance. Capt. Tom Hendrickson on Friday said it still is considered an open missing-persons case.

Bianco lived in the Lincoln Place Mobile Home Park off Old Route 36 and last was heard from while she was at her cousin’s home on South Grand Avenue East in Springfield.

She is described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall and 110 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes. At the time of her disappearance, she was believed to be wearing blue jeans, a blue sweater and possibly a blue coat.

State Journal-Register