Helmich Honored With Meal, New Service Weapon Donation

A local police officer was honored with a ceremony and meal yesterday for his heroic work in the line of duty.

Steven Helmich was presented a certificate by Glock on Thursday to purchase a new service weapon and given a donated meal by Mission BBQ in Springfield at the South Jacksonville Police Department.

Helmich is still recovering from being shot in the line of duty on March 26th as he and other officers attempted to take Daniel Payne of Tennessee into custody in rural Brown County after a three-county chase. Payne remains held at the Schuyler County Jail on attempted murder charges. He’s next due in Brown County Circuit Court on June 1st.

Helmich, who has been with Chapin Police since 2016 and its chief since January, was hit in his abdomen and upper left thigh during an exchange of gunfire with Payne. Helmich currently is walking with the aid of a cane, but says he’s steadily beginning to recuperate to full strength: “I still have a long road to recovery, but I do have physical therapy three times a week. I still have a lot of appointments with surgeons and doctors, but progress is being made. God has really blessed me with being healthy already, so it’s kind of helped with the recovery. I’m just taking it one day at a time.”

Helmich plans to be back to work some time in mid to late Fall.

A photo of Helmich’s Certificate to purchase a Glock handgun, like the one depicted, for a new service weapon.

Unfortunately, Helmich’s service weapon from March, which was his own personal weapon, is currently in the hands of the Illinois State Police forensics lab and may remain there for quite some time. Glock USA heard through the grapevine that he would need a new service weapon to return to work, and according to Glock District Manager Dustin Clark, they employed a program to help him get a new one: “We try to help fallen officers, officers that have been in officer-involved shootings. The State Police Crime lab takes their firearm for investigation. Chief Helmich, that was his own, personal firearm that he bought for duty use. With him being out and coming back to work, not having something like that, we wanted to help. This is a program where Glock appreciates his continued support of our product, but also, we appreciate his service to the community so we are just trying to do something to give back to him for that service.”

Helmich says the donations from the local and state police lodges and the Village of South Jacksonville and Village of Meredosia along with the ceremony was extremely humbling: “I moved away for a long time with the military. I moved back a few years ago. Jacksonville is my hometown. Morgan County is my hometown area and most of my family is here. The support that we have here just really shows why I moved back to the Morgan County area, why I serve the community, and why I am so grateful for everyone here. I am just very humbled by the show of support for law enforcement in general and certainly for me. I am just grateful to be here and grateful to be alive.”

Helmich was joined at the small event yesterday by members of the Village of South Jacksonville, Village of Chapin, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department, the Chapin & South Jacksonville Police Departments, and several close friends and family.

Federal Wiretaps’ Release Shows Madigan Knew of Secret Payments to Disgraced Aide

Transcripts of a 2018 federal wiretap of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan shows that he knew about a plan to arrange secret payments to a disgraced aid implicated in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Madigan has always denied any involvement in the scheme in which Madigan’s lieutenant Michael McClain of Quincy allegedly arranged a group of lobbyists to make monthly payments to Kevin Quinn who had been ousted over his treatment of former Madigan worker Alaina Hampton.

Court documents show that a telephone call between Madigan and McClain on August 29th, 2018 show McClain telling his boss that he had put together a group of people willing to make monthly payments to Quinn until Quinn could find a job.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the call was referenced in a sworn affidavit by an FBI agent on May 13th, 2019 as federal agents sought a search warrant for McClain’s home in Quincy. A redacted version of the 136-page affidavit was unsealed Friday in federal court in Springfield.

The affidavit also sets out phone conversations that McClain had with several other lobbyists he attempted to enlist in the payments to Quinn.

The release of the wiretaps are the most detailed about the federal government’s dragnet into Madigan’s operations to date. McClain and Madigan were charged earlier this year in federal court for racketeering among other charges. McClain faces a separate indictment with three others on federal bribery charges, which is set to go to trial in September.

Greene County Courthouse To Receive Facility Updates Ahead of Audit

Updates to the Greene County Courthouse are coming. Circuit Clerk Shirley Thornton notified the Greene County Board that the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts would be conducting audits of the courthouse at some point this summer to ensure compliance with the the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Greene County Sheriff Rob McMillen, who is in charge of the facilities at the courthouse, says a number of updates need to be completed soon. McMillen says that one of the changes that will be have to be made is to the location of the Lactation Room: “We did have a room that was used for that, but the requirement for that room now, the current room will not work. It cannot be in a restroom. It wasn’t in a restroom in the beginning. It has to have a sink facility in that room, a table, a chair, and of course be accessible to a handicapped person, and have an electrical outlet. We have a room that we have been using that met all those requirements, but it doesn’t have a sink in it so now we have to either move the room or install plumbing. I think we are going to have to make a new room for that.”

McMillen says the plumbing and widening of a doorway to the room that is in the upstairs of the courthouse will make it an easy move.

The other item that McMillen says will need to be changed is that both single occupancy restrooms will have to be changed to gender neutral and have diaper changing stations installed in both. He says the changing of signs and installing the changing stations should occur within the next few weeks.

McMillen believes his office’s budget will be able to absorb the extra costs for the updates: “These things were not budgeted for this year, but the cost is very minimal. The most expensive cost is revamping a room and making it the Lactating Room because it doesn’t currently have any plumbing. We are probably talking about $2,500 or so to get that room put together. We may be able to absorb the costs of getting the courthouse into compliance all of those laws within our budget this year. I just didn’t have those things planned on for spending it this year. If I had known it was coming up, I would have probably thrown some extra money in the budget to cover the costs. I think we can probably cover those and get the updates done.”

McMillen says he is also on a search for a personnel member in the courthouse to become the courthouse’s Disability Coordinator. He says he would prefer it would be someone inside the courthouse that could be the point person for any needs the comes up for disabled community members. He says that the position shouldn’t take up too much time and that the person should be available during the courthouse’s business hours.

The Richardsonian Romanesque Revival-style building was built in 1891-1892. The architect of the building, Henry Elliott of Chicago, also designed the courthouses in Edgar, Pike, and Jersey Counties which were all built around the same time. The cost of building the courthouse, the third in the county’s history, was built by contractor Frederick W. Menke of Quincy for a cost of $40,321.

Cass County Woman Dies in Fall in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado

A Cass County woman has died after a fall in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado on Thursday.

Park authorities told local media that the body of 21 year old Lydia Davidsmeier of Virginia, Illinois was recovered at Adams Falls along the East Inlet Trail on the west side of the park. Grand County, Colorado and Grand Lake, Colorado emergency services aided the National Park Service in the recovery.

According to a press release from the National Park Service on Thursday, visitors should be careful near streams, rivers, and waterfalls, where rocks can be slippery and currents can be powerful due to Spring runoff. Park Public Affairs Officer Kyle Patterson said it was the third fatality in the park this year.

Two Injured in Rural Scott County Semi vs. SUV Crash

Two people were injured in a two-vehicle crash in rural Scott County this morning.

The Illinois State Police report that a 2012 gray Chevy Traverse driven by 57 year old Lucinda Chapman of Roodhouse was traveling westbound on Moore Road at the intersection of Hillview Road, approximately 4 miles southwest of Winchester at around 9:20AM this morning.

At the same time, a 1999 orange and black International Truck Tractor Semi-Trailer driven by 55 year old Terry L. Evans of Roodhouse was traveling northbound on Hillview Road at Moore Road.

Illinois State Police say that Chapman’s vehicle pulled into traffic southbound on Hillview Road directly in front of Evans’ semi. The semi struck the Chevy Traverse before it overturned. Both Chapman and Evans were transported to an area hospital by EMS with injuries.

Illinois State Police say that the crash is still under investigation and no citations have been issued at this time.

Mt. Sterling Man Indicted on Federal Drug Charges

A Mt. Sterling man recently was indicted on federal drug charges.

Muddy River News reports that 58 year old Thomas L. Langan of rural Mt. Sterling was indicted last Tuesday, May 10th by the U.S. State’s Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois on five counts of selling and distribution of a controlled substance known to be methamphetamine.

According to federal court records, the offenses were allegedly committed between January 10th and February 1st in Brown County.

Muddy River News reports that the West Central Illinois Drug Task Force, in conjunction with a SWAT team with the Illinois State Police and sworn personnel from the Brown County Sheriff’s Department executed a search warrant on Feb. 1 at Langan’s residence in rural Mt. Sterling and discovered and seized more than 15 grams of methamphetamine along with other drug paraphernalia that would indicate the alleged sales and distribution of the drug.

According to Brown County Circuit Court records, Brown County State’s Attorney Michael Hill filed an action of civil asset forfeiture pursuant to the provisions of the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act and the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. According to the contents of the court record, the Illinois State Police have seized Langan’s mobile home, approximately two acres of real estate, along with $4,402 believed to facilitate the illegal sales and delivery of the seized methamphetamine. The items were declared forfeited to the ISP by court action on April 11th according to court records.

Langan’s original cases in Brown County court have been dismissed per the federal charges on Monday last week. He has been removed from the custody of the Schuyler County Jail and has been placed into federal custody.

Langan’s federal jury trial has been scheduled to begin in Springfield on July 5th. His next appearance is a pre-trial hearing on June 23rd.

Davis Gets Endorsement From Local Sheriffs

A candidate for the newly drawn 15th Congressional District has picked up endorsements from some current and former local sheriffs.

18 current and former central Illinois county sheriffs announced their endorsement of Rodney Davis’ campaign for Congress in the 15th District. The sheriffs’ endorsement follows the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police endorsement of Davis last week.

On the list of those endorsing Davis are:

Calhoun County Sheriff Bill Heffington, Menard County Sheriff Mark Oller, Morgan County Sheriff Mike Carmody, Pike County Sheriff David Greenwood, Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell, and Former Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson.

Davis is running against Mary Miller of Oakland in the June Republican primary.

Former Jacksonville Resident’s Death Being Investigated in Sangamon County

The Sangamon County Coroner’s Office is investigating the death of an inmate at the Sangamon County Jail.

23 year old Dylan Schlieper-Clark of Springfield and formerly of Jacksonville allegedly fell ill on April 14th at the jail and was transported by EMS to Springfield Memorial Hospital where he died three days later.

According to Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon, preliminary autopsy findings suggested there was no evidence of significant injury or trauma. Allmon says he’s still awaiting the results of toxicology tests and tissue analysis in hopes of determining the cause of death.

Schlieper-Clark was being held at the jail awaiting trial for an August 2021 charge of unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle, according to Sangamon County Court records.

WMAY says that after media inquiries, Allmon publicly disclosed the death. Schlieper-Clark’s death was announced back in April by Williamson Funeral Home in Jacksonville.

Yohn Says He’s Ready For June Trial Date As Pro Se Defendant

A Springfield man defending himself in Adams County Court against charges of home invasion and sexual assault says he’s ready to go to trial next month.

Muddy River News reports that 35 year old Bradley Yohn of Springfield told Judge Roger Thomson Wednesday he was ready to proceed to trial on June 21st.

Yohn is defending himself Pro Se against charges of carjacking and home invasion in Adams County filed in November 2021. He appeared in Adams County Circuit Court on Wednesday afternoon for a pre-trial hearing.

Thomson also asked if Yohn had received a copy of discovery in the case from the Adams County State’s Attorney’s Office. According to Muddy River News, Yohn contended that the contents of the discovery was incomplete and that he had not received pieces of information from dismissed Public Defender John Citro.

Yohn claimed that Citro had a screenshot of a media outlet producing libel about him pertaining to the case. Yohn says that he wishes to use the information to file for a change of venue.

Yohn also further had questions about the state’s list of witnesses, information about officers investigating his cases, and chain of custody of evidence to be presented at trial.

Thomson explained to Yohn that he must file written motions for information he wants and that he needs to personally contact Citro about anything he wants from him pertaining to his case.

If motions from Yohn are not filed, the case will begin with jury selection and a trial on the June 21st date.

Meyer Honored at Blackburn College Commencement

Blackburn College recently recognized a Greenfield native with multiple awards at it Commencement this past Saturday.

The graduation honored 86 in its Class of 2022 for its 153rd Commencement.

The Blackburn Alumni Association presented its Outstanding Graduate Award to two individuals this year, with a co-winner being Political Science major Blake Meyer of Greenfield.

Meyer was also awarded the Political Science Prize for being the graduating majoring in political science or public administration with the highest academic average.

Meyer was also awarded the Senators Vince and Deanna Demuzio Award in Leadership Studies. That award recognizes the graduate majoring in political science or the leadership program who demonstrates strong leadership potential, has mentored others, and has strong spoken and written communication skills.

Meyer was a 2018 graduate of Greenfield High School.