Vespers

Manar says new standards will save lives, prevent heartache

CARLINVILLE – Police in Illinois would have to make a reasonable attempt to find a responsible adult to take custody of anyone under the age of 21 who has been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs under a new law that was prompted by the 2015 death of a Staunton man.

The law, signed Tuesday afternoon at Blackburn College in Carlinville, is called Conor’s Law after Conor Vesper, a 20-year-old Blackburn student from Staunton who died May 23, 2015, following a series of tragic events including his arrest for DUI, followed by his release from the police station alone after he paid a fine, a subsequent car chase with police from multiple agencies and a fatal self-inflicted gunshot.

Vesper’s family has said he was still intoxicated and his judgement impaired when he was released from police custody. They sought help from Senator Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, in passing a law to prevent something similar from happening to other families and their loved ones. Senate Bill 2185, Conor’s Law, passed in the General Assembly earlier this year with bipartisan support after negotiation with police organizations.

“I appreciate that Gov. Rauner saw the merit of this bipartisan legislation and chose to make it the law in Illinois,” said Manar, the Senate sponsor of the measure. “Well over a year of work went into Conor's Law and my only hope is that it prevents other families from experiencing the same heartbreak and anguish the Vespers experienced when they tragically lost their son, Conor. The Vesper family should be commended for their determination.”

Conor’s Law becomes effective June 1, 2018. It requires the Illinois Police Training Board and the Illinois State Police to create model policies for training officers statewide to respond to a person who is arrested while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and for handling the eventual release of that person from custody. In addition, the law provides that if the intoxicated individual is younger than 21, the arresting officer must make a reasonable attempt to contact a responsible adult who is willing to take custody of that person.

Read more: 'Conor's Law' enacted to protect young DUI offenders in Illinois

Manar2016SeniorFairSPRINGFIELD – Area residents are invited to join Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) this month for a series of senior resource fairs throughout his district.

The events are free and open to the public. Senior citizens will be able to ask questions and obtain information from a variety of service and health care providers, state programs and local groups. They also can take advantage of free and discounted health screenings.

Dates and times are as follows:

Tuesday, Sept. 19
10 a.m. to noon
Christian County Senior Citizens, 701 W. Adams St., Taylorville

  • Health screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and pulmonary testing
  • Driver’s license and state ID renewals at the Illinois Secretary of State’s mobile unit
  • Updated information for seniors from the Illinois Secretary of State and the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Details about lowering utility bills from the Citizens Utility Board
  • Determine if the state is holding unclaimed property with the Illinois treasurer’s office
  • Additional representatives available from AARP, the Illinois comptroller, Quad County Home Health, Christian County Department of Public Health, Pana Community Hospital, Taylorville Memorial Hospital and more

Wednesday, Sept. 20
10 a.m. to noon
Decatur-Macon County Senior Center, 1430 N. 22nd St., Decatur

  • Driver’s license and state ID renewals at the Illinois Secretary of State’s mobile unit
  • Health screenings and information from area medical providers
  • Updated information for seniors and veterans from the Illinois Secretary of State and the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Details about lowering utility bills from the Citizens Utility Board
  • Determine if the state is holding unclaimed property with the Illinois treasurer’s office
  • Additional representatives available from AARP, Decatur Memorial Hospital, Decatur Township, Dove Inc., Eagle Ridge, the Illinois attorney general, the Illinois comptroller, the Illinois Department on Aging, St. Mary’s Hospital and more
  • Co-hosted by State Representative Sue Scherer (D-Decatur)

Tuesday, Sept. 26
10 a.m. to noon
Benld Civic Center, 201 E. Center Ave., Benld

  • Driver’s license and state ID renewals at the Illinois Secretary of State’s mobile unit
  • Health screenings from area hospitals and the Macoupin County Public Health Department. (Most health department screenings will be free of charge, but some may require a nominal fee.)
  • Updated information for veterans from the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Details about lowering utility bills from the Citizens Utility Board
  • Determine if the state is holding unclaimed property with the Illinois treasurer’s office
  • Additional representatives available from AARP, Illinois Valley Economic Development Corp., Macoupin County Public Transit and others
  • Staff from Senator Manar’s office available to answer questions about Medicaid, state government operations and more

For more information about any of the senior fairs, call 217-782-0228 or 618-585-4848 or visit SenatorAndyManar.com.

AWMBHSchool 350BUNKER HILL — Dusty Rhodes, a reporter with Illinois Issues and NPR Illinois in Springfield, produced an excellent piece about the nearly five-year fight for school funding reform in Illinois waged by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), State Representative Will Davis (D-Homewood) and others. That battle culminated with legislation that was signed into law Aug. 31 this year.

The opening excerpt from Rhodes' report describes a familiar place that Senator Manar discussed countless times in communities throughout the state while advocating for school funding reform: the art classroom at his children's elementary school in Bunker Hill that originally was a janitor's closet.

 

The new art teacher at Wolf Ridge Elementary seems a bit surprised to find a state senator in her classroom, and a little curious about why he brought a reporter with him.

“This room infuriates me. It infuriates me,” explains Andy Manar.

Over the past five years, he made this art class infamous, mentioning it multiple times in speeches from the Senate floor as he has argued for the state of Illinois to overhaul its school funding system. Manar, a Democrat, is a lifelong resident and former mayor of Bunker Hill. His three children — Abbie, Will and Bennie — now attend Wolf Ridge, the local public elementary school.

But when Manar himself attended this school, back in the 1980s, he never had a class in this particular room, because back then, it was the janitor’s closet.

“I knew as soon as I came in that’s what it was,” says Anne Michalski, the new teacher. Beyond the fact that it’s a fraction of the size of a regular classroom: “There’s no windows. It’s all cinder blocks,” she said. “But you always have to look on the bright side…”

Manar finished her sentence: “...at least we have art.”

But all that is about to change — albeit very slowly — thanks to a new school funding plan that became law last week. On the afternoon we visited Wolf Ridge, Manar had spent the morning on a victory tour of several schools around the state. He and a handful of other lawmakers functioned as the warm-up speakers for Gov. Bruce Rauner. Two days later, the cast expanded for a big show at Ebinger Elementary in Chicago, where Rauner used a dozen different pens to affix his signature to the new law.

Such a series of celebrations, plus the crowd piling onto the bandwagon, hint at the significance of this legislation: It marks the turning point of Illinois’ decades-deep history of inadequate and inequitable school funding. Henceforth, districts will receive state aid based on the needs of their student population. That means schools that serve families living in poverty will get more state dollars than schools where families have stable, comfortable homes. And districts with low property wealth — like Manar’s hometown of Bunker Hill, where the median home price is half the state average — will also get an extra dose of state aid. That’s one reason Manar has been championing this cause longer, louder and harder than any other lawmaker.

 

Read the rest of the Sept. 7 piece and listen to the audio.

(Photo credit: Dusty Rhodes, NPR Illinois)

CHICAGO — Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) joined Gov. Bruce Rauner, Democratic and Republican state lawmakers, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, school officials, school funding reform advocates and others as the governor signed into law Senate Bill 1947, landmark school funding reform legislation that will overhaul Illinois worst-in-the-nation school funding formula.

Click "read more" to view a gallery of photos from the event.

1 AWM Prior to Signing 665

(Pictured: Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), chief sponsor of Senate Bill 1947, Illinois' landmark school funding reform legislation, speaks with guests at a bill-signing ceremony Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, at Ebinger Elementary School in Chicago.)

Read more: Gallery: School funding reform bill signing ceremony

Working Families

 

eNewsletter Signup

eNewsletter Signup
  1. First Name(*)
    Invalid Input
  2. Last Name(*)
    Invalid Input
  3. Your Email(*)
    Please let us know your email address.