In My Opinion


By Caroline Porter

1989-90 were big news years.

In October of 1989 I became a correspondent for the Quad-City Times. In my early fifties, I was a new, but not young, reporter. The news of my first 15 months of reporting, the same year as the Zephyr began, was constant and fascinating. I have taken a look at my stories from that period of time.

October 1989, the trial starts for three people charged with brutally beating a pizza deliveryman, Robert Engle of Wataga. Two people pled guilty to attempted murder and armed robbery. The third, James Watson, said he did not participate in the brutal attack but was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Engle spent two months in the hospital and months in therapy.

November 1989. Butler workers strike for second time in history – beleaguered and controversial steelworker’s union president Peggy Glavas

leads the charge.

November 1989 -Voters voted down the first of several of referendums for Carl Sandburg College. Dr. Jack Fuller, president of the college said before the second referendum in April of 1991, "We’ve got six to 12 months to do something or we’re done." The referendum didn’t pass. Fuller moved and Donald Crist became president and Tom Schmidt became VP for Business Services. Now Schmidt is president of the very successful community college.

December 1989. Seventeen-year-old Dennis Wilbur was found guilty but mentally ill and received a 60-year sentence for stabbing to death his 43-year-old female neighbor. He committed the crime at age 15 and was tried as an adult.

December 1989 -East Moline native and Knox College graduate William Colby argued a landmark right-to-die case before the U.S. Supreme Court. He accepted the pro bono case at the request of the American Civil Liberties Union, representing Lester and Joyce Cruzan of Missouri, who wanted the feeding tubes removed from the their 31 year old daughter, Nancy, who had been comatose since a 1983 auto accident and doctors said she had no chance of recovery.

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Missouri Supreme Court decision, not to allow Cruzan’s parents to remove the feeding tube. Not giving up, Colby found two co-workers of Nancy Cruzan who testified unequivocally that she had told them she would never want to live in that kind of state. He brought the case back to a lower Missouri court and they were given permission to remove the tube. It was removed December 14, 1990 and she died 12 days later, the day before Christmas

1989-90. In one of the lovelier stories, a daughter and husband of Paula Chandler Vance of East Moline were charged with hiring a hit man to kill her. Vance had been separated from her husband for about 6 months. Morton Chandler, Aledo and Walter Foster, Rio, pled guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit murder and received seven years in prison. Daughter Heidi Chandler, 21, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, six months of home detention, four years probation and fined $2,000. Her mother testified Heidi had also hit her and threatened her with a knife.

Accused of murdering one friend and raping the other, Frederick Cole, in a trial that lasted from March through May 1990, was acquitted of both charges. There was only one witness for the prosecution, the woman who claimed to have been raped and testified she saw Cole kill the victim. He testified the sex was consensual and she was the murderer. An angry States Attorney, Ray Kimbell, did not pursue other suspects.

1988-1994, The William Reinbold murder trial, for the beating death of a woman in a Farmington laundromat. Because her body was found in Knox County, the trial was conducted here but the prosecutor was the Fulton County State's Attorney, Joan Scott. The murder happened in 1988 and the trial did not begin until Jan. of 1991. Reinbold was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison, then the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the sentence and a new trial was held in 1994. The Knox County board hired Joan Scott to retry the case and he still got life in prison. Reinbold had a history of attacks against women.

April 1990. Two brothers, aged 10 and 9, were severely burned when they trespassed into McCabe Scrap Iron in downtown Galesburg and caused an explosion and fire. As of June, Caper Brown was still being treated at Shriners Burn Institute in Galveston, Texas. Joel was back at school by mid-May.

July 1990. The private Galesburg Public Schools foundation announced a $2.5 million fund drive for construction of an auxiliary gymnasium and swimming pool located adjacent to the high school. Doug Mustain was president of the foundation and Carol Lind was the executive director in charge of the fund-raising. The complex included two full sized gyms, a six-lane swimming pool, wrestling room, staff offices and a reception area with a trophy display. The building was opened in the summer of 1993.

August 1990. Fifty-nine year old Gross Galesburg Co. announced plans for a $600,000 expansion that would add 20 jobs. The company is a division of Carr Hartt Inc. and primary products are various types of laminated and flocked sweatshirts

September 1990. Knoxville teachers strike for 11 days and finally reach an agreement for first year teachers to get a two year contract, with pay raises of 6.6 percent the first year and 6.25 percent the second year.

December 1990. Maytag gets one million dollar state grant. (Hardly news)

WITTEK! The name of the hose clamp company that announced its arrival in Galesburg in late 1990 brings tears to the eyes of local officials and former employees. Job applications were handed to four thousand job seekers in 10 hours at Wittek. The City of Galesburg gave Wittek $300,000 from Build Illinois Funds, earmarked for the development of Hawthorne Center. The Economic Development Council promised $50,000. In only a few years, Carmen Vienna, CEO, bilked employees and everyone else and fled for Brazil. The plant closed down.

Other notable headlines:

"Knox College breaks ground on new fieldhouse."

"Galesburg man pleads guilty to incident at sheriff’s home."

"Challenger calls for drugs tests." (The race for sheriff between Deputy Ron Poyner and incumbent Mark Shearer was anything but dull. Out of 18,967 votes, Shearer won by 59.)

"Knox scholars discuss Persian Gulf developments." (Some things never change.)

Congratulations to Norm Winick for his persistence and talent in producing the Zephyr week after week for 15 years.

Caroline Porter is a freelance writer from Galesburg who can be reached at Other columns are online at