Copper caper knocked out
Hopkins Park phone service
BY ROBERT THEMER
Patrick Fritz, owner of Area Material Inc., of
1000 N. Washington Ave., Kankakee, received a
$650 reward from AT&T on Monday for helping
apprehend a man suspected of stealing more
than half a mile of copper telephone lines and
disrupting phone service to Hopkins Park.
Several recent thefts similar to this prompted
the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Office to send a
“scrap alert” to local yards.
Fritz saw this alert and called sheriff’s police,
providing them with the name and contact infor-
mation of a man who recently sold him a load
of copper telephone cables.
The seller was questioned by police and
charged with stealing copper telephone cables
on four separate occasions in March and April
AT&T also thanked the sheriff’s department
for its investigations and alerts to scrap dealers,
with “special appreciation to Kankakee County
Sheriff’s Officer Todd Huntley for his hard work
and diligent effort to curb copper theft in the
Hopkins Park area.”
“Copper thefts are a very serious matter,” said
Dean Yaeger, AT&T’s director of asset protection
in Illinois. The thefts are not just against AT&T,
but put people in potential jeopardy during emer-
gencies if their phone service is interrupted, he
Yaeger also pointed out that such thefts are a
serious crime, punishable by law.
“We hope that this reward will encourage oth-
ers to be as alert as Mr. Fritz and to pay close
attention to any suspicious people who appear
to be working on, or trying to cut down AT&T
network cables or poles,” he said.
Suspicious activity should be reported to
local law enforcement agencies or to AT&T at
Residents say warning
system was silent
during monthly tests
BY JON KRENEK
Michelle Chappell should be
the first one in her Heiland
Road neighborhood to know if a
tornado is coming — she has a
tornado siren in her front yard.
But for the past two months
she’s been the only one making
Chappell said the siren didn’t
sound when Kankakee County
did its regular monthly test at
10 a.m. on the first Tuesday
in April or May as it should
have. Both times, she called
the Kankakee County sheriff’s
police to complain.
“It’s kind of hard to miss it,
and I’m a stay-at-home mom,”
Chappell said. “I have to cover
my baby’s ears when it goes
off, and I didn’t have to cover
With the death and destruc-
tion left behind by Monday’s
massive tornado in Moore,
Okla., which claimed the lives
of 24 people — including nine
children — tornado protection
has become a national topic.
Ken McCabe, Kankakee County
sheriff’s police chief deputy,
said Chappell is doing exactly
what law enforcement officials
are hoping all residents will do
“If nobody calls us we have
no way of knowing their sirens
aren’t working,” McCabe said.
The Daily Journal was unable
to determine if the siren is
working or not as Chappell and
Kankakee County officials dis-
agreed. But the county ultimate-
ly agreed to check it again.
Chappell’s cousin, Brianna
Purnell, another Heiland Road
resident, contacted the newspa-
per Tuesday after the Oklahoma
tornado made national news to
share the pair’s concerns. The
storm Monday evening robbed
Purnell of her sleep as memo-
ries of the July 2010 tornado
that ripped through Dwight and
moved all the way to Pembroke
Township spun in her head.
“You think about waking up
to turn on the radio or to go
outside,” Purnell said. “We’re
kind of hoping someone will
give them a wake-up call to go
and fix it.”
Zinanni said repair crews
worked on the Heiland Road
siren on April 8 after residents
complained. That means it
didn’t sound at the monthly
test on April 3 but should have
sounded on May 7. Chappell said
When The Daily Journal
informed him of Chappell’s
complaint, Zinanni said the
maintenance company would be
contacted to recheck it.
“The last test, no one called
so we figured it was working,”
Zinanni said. “We will call the
company again to test it again.
It’s the only thing we can do. We
can’t do a full county test.”
Kankakee County Emergency
Management Agency Director
Dave Zinanni said villages and
townships are responsible pri-
marily for maintaining tornado
sirens, but the county often
steps in. He said the siren on
top of St. Anne’s water tower
also was repaired recently on
May 8 and should be working
But he said the best line of
defense against tornadoes are
weather radios with severe
weather warnings triggered by
the National Oceanic and Atmo-
spheric Administration. Theywill
sound whenever severe weather
is forecast and provide details as
to the hazards involved.
The outdoor sirens — adopted
originally as air-raid warning
systems during World War II —
are not the best option for keep-
ing families safe, Zinanni said.
“We don’t want people to rely
on these,” Zinanni said. “They’re
only supposed to be for outdoor,
and are not considered an indoor
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Ryan to pen tell-all book?
Former governor, secretary of state, long-
time Kankakee area legislator, pharmacist
and nowreleased federal pris-
oner George Ryan is about to
add another job title to his
Chicago Sun-Times colum-
nist Michael Sneed reported
today that Ryan is writing
a book. It’s something to
occupy his time while on
house arrest, and, according
to his son, Homer, his dad is
shopping for a publisher.
“It’s going to be a no holds barred book
and he is planning to tell it like it is,” he told
Sneed. “I think it’s safe to say a few former
top state leaders might be a little worried.”
Sneed’s report also noted that the fledgling
author carries a tape recorder and makes
frequent notes when he remembers a stories
from his 40 years in politics. She also noted
that the family is still enjoying having Dad
and Grandpa back home.
“We’re going to the grocery store right now
to get some stuff for the grill and get ready for
all 29 of us going to Dad’s house for Memorial
Day,” Homer said in the Sun-Times’ story.
— Dennis Yohnka
Superintendent steps up retirement
Kankakee schools Superintendent Colleen
Legge announced Monday she’s resigning one
year earlier than expected.
“I’ve struggled with this
the entire year,” Legge said.
“I kept putting it off. I finally
said to myself that the time
Legge, 63, the school
chief since February 2009,
announced in January that
she would be stepping down
after another full
school year. But on
Tuesday she said
the time just seemed
“This has been a
great place for me.
I love Kankakee. This is a good school dis-
trict, and it has a staff that cares about its
children,” she said. “You can’t teach a child
if you don’t care about that child.”
Where the district goes from here is
unknown. Newly elected school board Presi-
dent Barbara Wells said Legge’s announce-
ment came as a surprise. And it’s highly
doubtful, Wells said, that a new permanent
superintendent will be in place by the start
of the 2013-14 school year.
— Lee Provost
Student charged with distributing
drug that sent 4 to hospital
A 16-year-old Bradley-Bourbonnais Com-
munity High School student has been
charged with bringing his classmates a
synthetic hallucinogenic drug similar to
LSD, after an incident last week that sent
four students to the hospital.
Bradley police aren’t releasing the stu-
dent’s name because he is being charged as
On Friday, four students were taken to the
hospital after taking the synthetic drug at
school, Bradley Police Chief Steve Coy said.
At least six students are believed to have
The drug is similar to LSD, Coy said, but
testing had not confirmed the actual chemi-
cal makeup of the substance.
The students were treated and released,
and the incident remains under investiga-
tion by the school’s resource officer, Coy
BBCHS officials declined to comment on
the incident Friday and could not be reached
by phone Tuesday afternoon.
— Nicole Leonhardt
Map of sirens nA3
Nervous minutes, cold meals
for former locals devastated
by Oklahoma tornado nA3
Tornado warning tips
- 8attery-powered NOAAweather Padlos are the best llne of defense
agalnst tornadoes. They sound alerts whenever severe weather ls
forecast and are avallable at most retall electronlcs stores. Por more
lnformatlon go to www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr.
- The Kankakee County Text Alert System sends out severe weather
alerts and llnks to any cellular telephone for free. To slgn up, go to
www.kankakeecountysherln.com and cllck on the llnk for the Kanka-
kee County Text Alert System.
- Kankakee County tests tornado slrens on the ñrst Tuesday of every
month. |f your local slrens do not functlon properly, call the county
at 8l5-802-7l72 to make a report.
- Por more lnformatlon about preparlng for tornado emergencles go
David Gossett, left, and Chuck
The Daily Journal/Scott Anderson
Brianna Purnell, with her two sons, Ethan and Sean, said the tornado siren
along Heiland Road, shown behind them, isn’t working.
The Daily Journal/Scott Anderson
Patrick Fritz, of Area Material Inc. in Kankakee.
Scrap owner helps solve theft of phone lines