Friday Aug 28
Pinckneyville Post

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By Jeff Smyth

I have empathy for Pinckneyville Mayor Robert Spencer on a personal level. Roughly three months after he was elected to his first seat in public office, he faced a scandal when it was discovered that an employee had allegedly been embezzling city funds for about four years.

Tonya D. Morgan, who worked at the city clerk’s office, was arraigned August 6 on a Class 1 felony charge of theft of between $10,000 and $100,000. Bail was set at $50,000 and she posted $5,000 bond.

Suspicion of impropriety was raised about a month prior and the Illinois State Police were called in to investigate. The city hired CPA Pat Kattenbraker to conduct an internal audit. Spencer promised during those early stages that he would hold a press conference to discuss matters once the investigation and audit were completed. It was an encouraging message to a wary public which believes such things are often swept under the rug.

The Perry County States Attorney David Stanton filed charges August 7 against former city of Pinckneyville employee Tonya D. Morgan for allegedly embezzling between $10,000 and $100,000 in city funds. Morgan voluntarily turned herself in. Bail for the Class One felony was set at $50,000 with Morgan posting a $5,000 bond.


Pinckneyville Mayor Robert Spencer promised to hold a press conference to address the theft, but remains non-committal as to when it will occur. As of August 7, he said he was awaiting a move by the state’s attorney’s office. Even with formal charges now filed, he continues to remain silent. Spencer would not confirm that an exact amount of what was taken had been determined, nor would he release a copy of the investigation report issued by the Illinois State Police. (story developing).

Wyatt (on trike) and Darren haul a broken bicycle off for repairs.

By Jeff Smyth

Another fire, another cry from those who believe a town “landmark” was lost and another reminder that the old buildings that remain on what is left of the Pinckneyville square either need to be razed or refurbished.

It is fortunate that the fire that gutted what was called “The Cunningham Building” in the wee hours of June 16 didn’t injure or kill anyone. It has been reported that at least six people were in the building at the time it started.  We are also thankful that the brave firemen who fought the blaze were unscathed unlike the time when the Opera House burned down and we lost one.

The Friends of Pyramid State Park unveiled its new logo and committed to working on several projects to help promote and improve the park including raising money for the  construction of an all-purpose building, providing water to north campground and creating a website.

Chrissy Hagene, a Pinckneyville Community High School graduate and current graphic design student at Rend Lake College, created the artwork for the non-profit organization. It features three trees configured in the form of a pyramid.

A 40-foot by 40-foot all-purpose building will be located in the Denmark section of the park and available for groups representing the many organization that utilize the park, as well as the general public, to use for outings.

(Editor’s Note: The Post is profiling the two candidates running for mayor. The order in which they appear was selected randomly.)

By Jeff Smyth

Pinckneyville Post

Fran Thomas rattles off four reasons why voters should elect her mayor of Pinckneyville. The first three – she doesn’t have an ax to grind, doesn’t have a chip on her shoulder and doesn’t have any family to hire – are not so subtle references to the practices of past administrations and even some current candidates. That should play well with voters who long ago became fed up with the insider’s game of running the city. It is the fourth, however, that seems most compelling.

“I probably know more about the city than anyone else in Pinckneyville,” Thomas said. “I know what the people sitting at the table can do and what they can’t do.”

Thomas’s credentials back her up. At 32 years, she is the longest serving city clerk in the history of the town. She worked under seven mayors.

(The Post is profiling the city’s mayoral candidates. The order in which they appear was done randomly.)

By Jeff Smyth

Pinckneyville Post

Robert Spencer doesn’t refer to himself as a consensus builder, but the way he describes approaching his career, and his reason for running for mayor of Pinckneyville, it is easy to see that he is.

“I believe in serving the people,” he said. “We need to work as a group to make Pinckneyville the best it can be.”

By Jeff Smyth

I was going to describe the city of Pinckneyville’s beautification initiative as “putting lipstick on a pig”, but why drag the swine community into it other than to say that, at some levels, the project stinks to hog heaven.

The city council appropriated $350,000 from its Business District Fund to erect decorative street lamps around the Square and along Walnut Street south from Water Street. The lights will cost about $320,000. There will also be a Victorian-style pedestal clock, chiming in at $24,000, placed at the southeast corner of the Square on a portion of the Murphy-Wall State Bank parking lot.

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