You are the owner of this page.
A3 A3
Doug Patton is appointed to Marion council seat vacated by Monty Blue

MARION — Doug Patton, Marion’s newest city commissioner, was sworn in during the council’s regular meeting Monday evening. Patton succeeds Monty Blue.

The first order of business for the council was to accept the resignation of City Commissioner Monty Blue, who was sworn in during a special meeting at 3 p.m. Feb. 8. Commissioner John Goss moved to accept Blue’s resignation, and the motion passed unanimously. Commissioners Jim Webb then made a motion to appoint Doug Patton to fill the open seat. The council’s approval also was unanimous.

Just after Blue was sworn in, he discovered his home is not within Marion city limits when his son applied for a building permit on adjacent property. The discovery meant Blue was not eligible to serve on the city council, so he resigned Friday morning.

Six men expressed interest in the seat, Patton, Blue, Jack Reed, Buddy Sellars, Dennis Ball and Donald Holman. They were interviewed by the council during a special meeting Feb. 5. Mayor Anthony Rinella and Commissioners Angelo Hightower, Goss and Webb unanimously selected Blue to be the next commissioner, after discussion indicating they believed Patton also would be a good choice to fill the seat.

Patton works in land acquisition for Illinois Department of Transportation and served on Marion City Council from 2011 to 2015.

“I will work tirelessly to make our community a better place to live and spend time,” he said during his interview with Marion City Council on Feb. 5.

Patton believes he has developed good skills in negotiation through his job at IDOT that will benefit him on the city council. He also likes to think through decisions before speaking and listens to all sides before making a decision.

He added that anytime the council vote is split, he tries to step back and look at not only his personal feelings, but at how the decision will benefit the whole community. It’s all about compromise and collaboration,” Patton said.

Patton said his biggest accomplishment was working on the Hub Recreation Center project.

“Just because I was head of the project, city spokesman or lead boots on the ground for the project doesn’t mean I get credit for the whole project,” Patton said.

Hightower asked how Patton would rate the current city council.

“I would give them a four (out of five). I think there’s always room for improvement,” Patton said.

The council also passed ordinance 3428 which will amend ordinance 3426 and appoint Patton to head public works.

Illinois university to mark 10-year anniversary of shooting

DEKALB, Ill. — Families are remembering their loved ones 10 years after a shooting at Northern Illinois University that killed five and injured 21.

Students Gayle Dubowski, 20; Catalina Garcia, 20; Daniel Parmenter, 20; Julianna Gehant, 32; and Ryanne Mace, 19, were killed Feb. 14, 2008, when a gunman entered an ocean sciences class and began shooting, The Daily Herald reported.

University spokesman Joe King said since the deaths of the students, more than 1,800 people have donated more than $745,000 to The Forward, Together Forward Scholarship Endowment. The scholarship fund has allowed the university to award $4,000 each to 50 students in the names of the slain students.

Dubowski's parents, Joe and Laurel, said they've relived the sadness of losing their daughter after every mass shooting in the past decade. The couple said they found it difficult but eventually worked through their anger to forgive the gunman.

"By being angry and bitter, you're not hurting anyone but yourself," said Joe, 61.

Maria Christiansen, who was critically injured during the shooting, is now an NIU police officer.

"I didn't know I had been shot until I started feeling the blood, tasting it. I thought I was going to die because it was so hard to breathe," said Christiansen, recalling the shooting.

She was among the first students targeted by the shooter in NIU's Cole Hall.

Christiansen, who had wanted to be a police officer since she was 13, said the shooting "made me who I am."

This week, survivors, parents, students, first responders, school officials and others are planning to gather in honor of the victims.

Only 3 doctors have joined SIU School of Medicine wage-discrimination lawsuit

SPRINGFIELD — Attorneys for Southern Illinois University School of Medicine indicate they will ask a judge to dismiss part of a lawsuit alleging wage discrimination because few female doctors have joined the litigation.

SIU's lawyers noted in a January filing in U.S. District Court in Springfield that attorneys for former SIU surgeon Dr. Sajida Ahad were given permission by the court to inform nearly 130 female doctors on how they could join the "collective action."

Three current and former faculty members at the school have joined the federal lawsuit, which was filed in 2015, the State Journal-Register reported.

"None of this is surprising or a major development for us," said Bryan Wood, Ahad's attorney.

According to Wood, female doctors are busy and haven't looked into the option of joining the case. It alleges that female physicians at SIU were being paid more than $12,200 per year less than male doctors for similar work. Wood says a trial is months away.

SIU officials, who have denied Ahad's allegations in the past, declined to comment.

Ahad, a bariatric surgeon, was employed by SIU and treated patients through its not-for-profit multi-specialty group SIU Medicine from 2008 through 2014.



Ahad, 43, received a base salary of $125,000 from the medical school and $110,903 from SIU Medicine in fiscal 2013, according to court documents. She currently is a faculty member at the University of Iowa.

SIU recently lost an administrative appeal of a U.S. Department of Labor ruling in which an administrative law judge last year ordered SIU to pay Ahad $223,884 plus interest for underpaying her in comparison with her mostly male peers at SIU.

In a related lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court, Allied World Specialty Insurance Co. says SIU Medicine isn't entitled to coverage for legal costs or damages associated with Ahad's lawsuit. Allied contends that SIU Medicine first notified Allied about Ahad's wage cases in April 2017, which was too late to qualify for coverage.

What we're watching in Jackson County Court this week: Updates on suspect in Pravin Varughese death, suspects in Tim Beaty death

MURPHYSBORO — It’s going to be a busy week in Jackson County Circuit court.

There will be five pretrial hearings concerning first-degree murder and attempted murder cases this week, with two on Tuesday and three on Friday. Also on Tuesday, there is a six-count child pornography pretrial hearing.


Starting with Travis Tyler and John Ingram, both 22 and of Cape Girardeau, both charged with first-degree murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm in connection to a shooting incident that took place March 27, 2016, at a house party at 402 W. Walnut St. in Carbondale. Local musician Tim Beaty, who was inside his neighboring home at the time, was killed by a stray bullet in that incident.

Provided photos 

John Ingram, left, and Travis Tyler

According to court documents, several subpoenas have been filed. Both Ingram and Tyler are represented by Bryan Drew of Benton, and Jackson County Assistant State’s Attorney Casey Bloodworth has been handling the prosecution for the state.

Granted there are no more hiccups, a jury trial with Judge Ralph Bloodworth III is scheduled to start on Monday, March 19.

Provided by the Murphysboro Police Department 


Scheduled to be in the same courtroom is Paul Blaney, 67, of Murphysboro.

He has been charged with six counts of child pornography of children younger than 13. In December, authorities executed a search warrant on Blaney’s home and seized evidence of the production and possession of child pornography. Police believe there are victims beyond those identified in the investigation, as the offenses span several years.

A jury trial is also scheduled to start on March 19, according to court records.


Keith Ritcheson

Also in the same courtroom Tuesday will be Keith Ritcheson, 40, of Murphysboro.

He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Brenda and Burl Ritcheson — his parents.

The investigation revealed that he allegedly shot his parents to death in their rural Murphysboro home, where he also lived. Authorities also have said Keith Ritcheson made the initial call to 911.

Like the other cases, it was scheduled for a March 19 jury trial, but a motion to continue was filed Thursday. A judge will most likely rule on the motion Tuesday.


Contributed by Jackson County Jail 

Gaege Bethune

Friday’s court appearances feature potential progress on three murder cases, including Gaege Bethune, 23, of Marion, who is charged in the death of Pravin Varughese, a 19-year-old student who was found dead in the woods behind the Carbondale Buffalo Wild Wings on Feb. 18, 2014, days after he had been reported missing.

Bethune's lawyer, Michael Wepsiec, filed a motion to change the venue for trial, citing extensive media coverage and strong social media influences against his client. The state has filed a motion to deny.

Judge Mark Clarke will rule on the motion during a 1 p.m. hearing.



In court on the same day as Bethune will be Nathan Bowles, 36, of Carbondale.

He is charged with aggravated battery and attempted murder stemming from an August stabbing in the 400 block of East Sycamore Street. Carbondale police have said that Bowles was an acquaintance of the victim and he stabbed the person after an altercation.

Bowles is being defended by Carbondale attorney Christian Baril. Currently, the case is set for a jury trial on March 12.

Provided by Jackson County Jail  


Earlier on Friday there will be a status hearing for Robert Dennis, 27, of Carbondale.

Dennis is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Robin Stief, whose burned remains were found in a wooded area near Piles Fork Creek in Carbondale in August 2016. 

During his most recent hearing, Dennis’ attorney — Robert Bateson — was supposed to give an update on his client’s mental ability to stand trial, but said the doctor still needed to visit Dennis.

Friday’s hearing is expected to include that update from the doctor.

Companies donate overdose-reversal drug to Illinois

AptarGroup and Adapt Pharma have donated thousands of doses of the emergency therapy naloxone hydrochloride, which can reverse respiratory troubles caused by opioid overdoses.

The companies developed a nasal-spray dispenser that administers a 4-milligram dose without assembly, training or needle injection.

The donation was made Thursday at The Chicago Recovery Alliance office. The alliance was given 600 doses. 

The Illinois Department of Public Health will distribute 3,400 doses to Illinois State Police and the Department of Corrections. And 1,000 doses will be distributed to McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition.

Gov. Bruce Rauner accepted the donation with Lt Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti and Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah. Sanguinetti and Shah head the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force that Rauner created December.

— Associated Press