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JC Board discusses coroner vehicle use
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MOUNT VERNON — The Jefferson County Board discussed personal use of a county vehicle by Jefferson County Coroner Roger Hayse during its regular board meeting on Monday.

The issue was brought forth by county board member Jeff Nowland. According to Sentinel archives, Nowland had previously raised concerns regarding Hayse’s personal use of the vehicle noting concerns such as liability.

Nowland said that he has since done more research and that there is a governing body that investigates these matters.

“This has been my soapbox since I have been on the board with the personal use of the vehicle,” Nowland said. “So I guess moving forward I would make my formal complaint on the personal use of the vehicle.”

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard informed Nowland that proper procedure to filing a complaint is to bring all relevant documentation and file the complaint at the sheriff’s office. Nowland said that his stance is if there was an incident where a person is injured or killed the county could be liable.

“I think it needs to stop on the outside chance that something does happen,” Nowland said.

Board member Wayne Hicks said that with every one of the county employees that has a county vehicle, the county has insurance to protect them.

“Nobody wants to have an accident, but if it does we are protected by our liability insurance,” Hicks said.

Hayse said that he has spoken with insurance companies on the issue of liability.

“You have to cover the vehicle liability by minimum state standards and it does protect the driver and any passenger in the vehicle from medical expenses,” Hayse said. “If it is my fault and I have my family member in there, it is my fault. If the county board decides they are not going to (be) liable for my family member, then I have talked to my health insurance agent, who says they will be covered for medical expenses in an under insured vehicle. The way I look at it is there is no liability on personal use of it or having a family member in it.”

During a prior board meeting, Nowland informed the board about Hayse using the vehicle to pull a trailer to mow ball fields in Woodlawn. Hayse was advised by the board to not use the vehicle in that manner and he said he no longer would.

“I did admit to driving that vehicle and pulling the mower up to the ball fields. I did it to help the ball field out. It is not a mowing business, I don’t make money from anybody else mowing yards,” Hayse said. “I used it to go up there to mow the fields that I have been mowing for 12/14 years. I volunteered it for four/five years, they reimbursed for the gas after that and then they send us an invoice we want to pay you. Basically I got $50 a week to mow their fields, it takes three/four hours.”

Hayse said that his thought was that if he got a coroner call while mowing he could detach the trailer and respond to the call immediately.

“I can understand where some people think it is for personal gain, $50 a week, that is fine,” Hayse said. “I understand that part, I told you that has ceased, that will not ever happen again. So now when I go up there to mow or do something with the ball fields, I will either drive my personal Ranger or the lawnmower up there, but I am out of pocket now, I can’t respond to calls, so a deputy will be on call during that time period.”

Hayse also raised an issue with the county revisiting the subject after in January they voted with one in favor and 10 against for restricting the coroner’s use of the vehicle.

“Again I think it should be a dead issue, I don’t know, that is up to you guys,” Hayse said.

Nowland said that he is not an investigator and that he would make a formal complaint and allow the investigator to look into the matter further.

Many people visited Roadhouse Harley-Davidson Saturday morning for an Amateur Cornhole Tournament, as part of a Community and Customer Appreciation Party hosted by Roadhouse and the Greater Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce. Both organizations thanked sponsoring and participating businesses and indicated that they hope to hold another event next year.

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New Cedarhurst exhibit inspired by indigenous art
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Editor’s note: This is part three of a four-part series highlighting the upcoming exhibits at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts. This story will focus on “Between Heaven & Earth: The Painted Objects of Dennis Ringering” in the Beal Grand Corridor Gallery at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts.

MOUNT VERNON — Inspired by indigenous North American societies, Artist Dennis Ringering looks to showcase a respect for the ancient art depicted in petroglyphs.

“Between Heaven & Earth: The Painted Objects of Dennis Ringering” is on display from now until Jan. 2 in the Beal Grand Corridor Gallery at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts.

According to information provided by Cedarhurst, petroglyphs were carved thousands of years ago by indigenous North American societies. Petroglyphs (engraved) or pictographs (painted) were depictions of animals, plants, people and spirits whose meanings or functions we do not know today. Likely it was a kind of spiritual communication with the natural world. With these petroglyph images, our ancestors created relationships connecting themselves to the land, plant life, and animals. The ancient petroglyphs marked sacred spaces between heaven and earth. Rusty Freeman, director of visual arts for Cedarhurst, said that Ringering’s art is beautiful to see in person.

“It is just interesting to find an artist who is really creating a whole body of work that was looking at these ancient cultures,” Freeman said.

Freeman said that while we don’t know what the intentions of the petroglyphs were, there are many guesses as to their true purposes such as communicating feelings and thoughts.

“They are very mysterious, they are open to the imagination and that leaves us with a wonderful mythological perspective,” Freeman said. “These petroglyphs are still studied today, but it is very unlikely we will know exactly what was motivating these societies to create this.”

The fragility of petroglyphs drives the art-making of Dennis Ringering. Ringering’s art is not an exact copy, but inspired by the petroglyphs. His respect has grown over decades of study of the ancient art. Ringering’s art reminds us that we used to have direct and intimate connections with the animals, plants, and land. Ringering preserves this ancient wisdom, the press release states.

“That fragility is something that Dennis is able to capture the spirit of and put them into a symbolic painting that people could have in their homes,” Freeman said.

Ringering is a Professor Emeritus of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville where he taught art for 31 years. He thanked Freeman and Cedarhurst for reaching out to him for this exhibit. He said that his exhibit has both his older work and newer work to compare and contrast.

“Thinking of my former students and other artists I know in the St. Louis area, I put in some pieces that were older pieces on paper to compare/contrast with the newer work which is on wood, because perhaps they appreciate the difference in the way the pieces were made,” Ringering said. “I have always been interested in symbols, so I started the research on the petroglyphs and pictographs of the southwest in the early ‘90s.”

A Gallery Talk with Freeman is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, at Cedarhurst. Other exhibits that are also on display include: “A Walk in the Woods: Photographs from the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge” in the Beck Family Center Gallery, the “Shrode Photography Competition Exhibition” in the Regenhardt Gallery at the Shrode Art Center and “Object Navigation: The Art of Michael Dinges and Matthew Boonstra” in the New Semantics Gallery. For more information, people may call (618) 242-1236 or visit www.cedarhurst.org.

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Downtown MV Trick or Treat set for Wednesday
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MOUNT VERNON — Nearly 40 businesses and organizations are expected to participate in this year’s Downtown Mount Vernon Trick-or-Treat celebration which takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

For the event, children and their parents or guardians can visit local businesses while in costume and receive candy. The event is sponsored by the Downtown Mount Vernon Development Corporation (DMDC).

“It looks great,” said Event Coordinator Melynda Breeze of this year’s celebration. “We’re very excited with all of the businesses that are choosing to donate their time for the children of the area.”

This is the sixth year of the Downtown Mount Vernon Trick-or-Treat. The event was held last year but due to COVID-19, all the candy tables had to be outside and masks (not just Halloween masks) were required. This year will return to the normal layout of the event. Some candy tables will still be outdoors but some will be inside the businesses.

“This is a great opportunity for downtown and we’re excited to have everyone come out,” said DMDC Executive Director Brian Harland. “Hopefully, the weather will be nice and we can have a great turnout.”

Participating businesses and groups this year include: The Granada, Sissy’s General Store, Tony Wielt — State Farm, King City Property Brokers, DMDC Office, Kingdom Seed Ministries, Jefferson County Little League (at courthouse), Sheila Burge — Edward Jones, King City Books, La Fuente, Studio B, Daydream Boutique, Easton’s Flowers, Tailored Pets, Parkway Shoes, Elks, Caritas Family Solutions, Centre Stage Studios, Wellco LLC, Laced ‘N Grace, First United Methodist Church, Cedarhurst, Byrd-Watson, WMIX, Mount Vernon Professional Firefighters, Central Christian Church, Jefferson Fire Protection District, Jagger’s, Peoples National Bank, C.E. Brehm Memorial Public Library, American Legion, Swole Stop, United Medical Response, Mount Vernon Airport, Continental Tire the Americas, Midland Farm and Land, and Rebecca Reinhardt — Attorney

While most of the businesses taking part are located downtown, some are from outside the downtown but will have booths set up downtown for the event. Parking will be available at Central Christian Church and First United Methodist Church.

“In addition to the Ninth Street area, we also have several businesses on the east side and the west side,” Breeze said. “And the official list can be found on the DMDC Facebook page.”

Also for the event, firefighters with Mount Vernon Fire Department and Jefferson Fire Protection District will have fire trucks on display, and for the second year in a row Mount Vernon Airport will have a real airplane on display for the public across the street from the old DMDC building at 809 Main St.

Brehm Library is also part of the trick-or-treat celebration and will be giving away books to kids in costume through their Books for Treats program.

In a typical year, the Downtown Mount Vernon Trick-or-Treat celebration draws roughly 1,200 people, Sentinel archives state. The event has proven to be a popular local tradition, organizers say.

“The Downtown Trick-or-Treat event is a fun time for kids and a great way to get people to visit our downtown businesses and to see how much we offer downtown,” said Mount Vernon Tourism Director Angela Schrum.

For more information, contact the local DMDC office at 242-6866.

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Local man arrested in gun incident
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MOUNT VERNON — A 43-year-old Mount Vernon man was arrested Sunday after allegedly displaying a gun, driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a vehicle accident.

Terence Bryant, the defendant, was taken into custody and booked on preliminary charges of DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, and possession of a firearm by a felon. Formal charges are set to be filed before Bryant’s first advisement hearing today (Tuesday), said Jefferson County State’s Attorney Sean Featherstun.

According to a Mount Vernon Police Department news release, MVPD officers responded at 5:15 p.m. Sunday to the area of South 18th Street and Conger Avenue for a report of a man allegedly shooting a gun.

A Mount Vernon officer arrived on scene and allegedly saw Bryant waving a gun in the air while standing in the roadway. The officer ordered Bryant to drop the gun and Bryant allegedly discarded the gun behind him on the street. The defendant then allegedly fled in a vehicle he was standing next to, the news release states.

The police officer recovered the firearm from the street and began to try and locate Bryant and alert other officers to his route of travel. A short time later, Bryant allegedly lost control of his vehicle at South 17th Street and Herbert Street where he rolled the vehicle over off the roadway and allegedly fled on foot. Bryant’s vehicle was the only one involved in the accident.

Bryant was located in the 1300 block of South 18th Street and taken into custody without incident. The investigation into the discharge of the firearm is still ongoing, the release states.

No injuries were reported in connection with this incident, said Mount Vernon Assistant Police Chief Robert Brands.

“It was an extremely dangerous situation with an individual in public, waving a gun around and being confronted by an officer,” Brands said. “It could have easily went into a tragic direction and I’m glad that this ended in a safe manner and the officer had a quick response and was able to keep this individual from harming others.”

Further charges are anticipated once the full investigation is complete, the release states.

Those with information related to this incident are asked to call the Mount Vernon Police Department at (618) 242-2131.

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Education grant deadline approaches
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MOUNT VERNON — The deadline for this year’s Classroom Empowerment Grant offered by Tri-County Electric Cooperative Inc. and Touchstone Energy is coming up on Nov. 5.

Teachers and administrators of students in kindergarten through grade 12 can apply for one of eight $500 grant opportunities so long as the school serves children that use Tri-County service.

Mount Vernon Township High School teacher Mark Drennan received one of these grants approximately three years ago and would like another chance at the grant. Drennan’s students learn about electricity, and this year’s idea for a project involves mobile boards with which students can practice troubleshooting shorts in circuitry.

Drennan uses similar boards for labs, but with additional boards, the class would spend less time wiring the circuitry themselves. The boards would also be set up so they could be changed, he said, and fixing the bugs in the new board circuitry would give students a better working understanding.

“When (the students know how) to wire things up right, then we’ll go back and test them on their troubleshooting. So, they will have, I’ll say, a 90% idea of what’s going on before they start taking things apart. That’s my whole intent,” Drennan said.

According to Drennan, similar projects have cost around $2,000, and that money has to come out of the school’s budget.

“If Tri-County offers a grant, you need to take advantage of it,” he said.

Drennan has been teaching “Intro to Electricity” for seven years, and the previous grant was for the same class. He described getting the idea for the boards from SkillsUSA after seeing the way the organization had walls, with lots of circuits from the breaker box upward, at one of the state conventions.

“I thought, ‘man, that’s what we need to do,’” Drennan said.

Lynn Hutchison oversees the grant application process for the Mount Vernon area, and said applications get traded with other cooperatives in different areas for review to keep the selection process unbiased. Hutchison said the projects don’t have to be specific, just goal-oriented, and the ones that affect the most students are usually selected as the winners.

For more information on the grant or to apply, visit https://tricountycoop.com/touchstonegrants.

Hutchison said that educators from all sorts of backgrounds apply for various reasons; a school in Nashville applied in order to get robots, for example.

“I love seeing all the project ideas that people have. We have a very creative group of teachers and educators in the community, so that’s the fun part,” Hutchison said.