State Briefs 2/28/08
Public television station saved from extinction by donors
PEORIA - Thanks to 6,400 central Illinois contributors, WTVP-TV, Channel 47, stays on the air.
On Tuesday night, the public television station still needed $11,000 to satisfy its creditors, according to CEO and president Chet Tomczyk. On Wednesday morning, station officials headed to Chicago Title with the cash to close the deal before the Feb. 28 deadline.
“I kid you not, this morning, from the Save Our Station campaign, $11,000 came in,” Tomczyk said Wednesday. “. . . So we decided to do this a day early.”
WTVP went public with its financial crisis in early December. At that point, it owed $6.9 million on a $10.3 million loan for new equipment and a move to the riverfront. Interest was still accruing, and the station had used up its cash reserves to buy more time to find the money.
The station paid $5.25 million on a final debt of $7.2 million. The station now has a $2 million mortgage, which includes $1.25 million from National City Bank and $750,000 from the Illinois Facilities Fund. It paid $1.6 million cash from pledges and matching funds. And it has a $1.65 million bridge loan for additional pledges, including $200,000
from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Bank of America and Commerce Bank wrote off the remainder, which was nearly $2 million.
Journal Star, Peoria
Inventor sues Apple over touchscreen patents
ROCKFORD – An inventor has sued Apple Inc., claiming that he holds patents that the company is infringing on by using touchscreens in its popular iPhone and iPod touch products.
John Martin, owner of Arachnid Inc. in Loves Park and Martin Automatic Inc. in Rockford, filed the lawsuit Feb. 15 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Martin’s patent is for an electronic game device for airplanes or cruise ships that could be switched between a video gambling machine and an innocuous video game as the vehicle traveled in and out of jurisdictions with legalized gambling. But the infringement lawsuit hinges on Martin’s touchscreen interface for the device.
Martin’s patent describes a fingertip-operated touchscreen that enlarges buttons when the user presses them and selects buttons only when the fingertip is removed from the surface. Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch are controlled by fingertip inputs.
The lawsuit does not specify how much money Martin is seeking in damages, but the amount will be “no less than a reasonable royalty,” according to court papers.
“We’ve talked to (Apple),” Martin said. “So far the talk is friendly, and I hope to get the thing settled before we have to go to court.”
Over the years, Martin’s inventions have spurred a few patent disputes. He’s wrangled over patents to a dart-game scoring system and a music-downloading jukebox. He holds 44 patents, including for a printing press innovation that launched a 250-plus employee company and for an electronic dartboard that created the soft tip darts phenomenon in bars across the country.
Apple has not yet responded to the suit in court.
Rockford Register Star
College learns project costs
CANTON - Spoon River College trustees struck a cautiously optimistic tone Wednesday night after learning firm prices for several major capital projects.
In all, the college is looking at an approximately $18 million bill for construction projects in Rushville, Havana, Macomb and Canton.
“I think I’m in too much shock to have questions,” board Chairman Henry Dare joked after a presentation in which the figures were revealed.
The main project, a multi-use center slated for development in Canton, would cost between $13.3 million and $14.5 million. It would include basketball courts with retractable seating, a concession area, locker rooms, art gallery, a 500-seat theater and an entrepreneurship center.
The board has not yet decided where that multi-use center would be built, but Spoon River economic development executive director Mark Rothert made a case Wednesday to bring it to the former International Harvester site in downtown Canton.
“Fifty years ago, Spoon River College put down its roots in downtown Canton,” Rothert said. “Now we have an opportunity for the future as the college can again serve as a catalyst for downtown Canton at the International Harvester site.”
The other facilities in Rushville, Havana and Macomb would cost far less.
The 4,608-square-foot building planned for the college’s Rushville campus would cost close to $900,000.
Havana’s new construction, at 5,867 square feet, would cost a little more than $1 million.
A first phase of construction for a new Macomb building, at 15,000 square feet, would cost closer to $2.3 million.
The prices for the Rushville, Havana and Macomb construction projects are with a performance contractor, meaning those prices will be firm and the contractor will put out bids.
Journal Star, Peoria
Maryville program director let go after criminal record comes to light
DURAND – Keith Jones, program director at Maryville Academy for Young Women, had an “exemplary work record,” Executive Director Catherine Ryan said, crediting him with turning his life around and sharing his checkered past with the troubled girls at the rural group home.
But “he’s got some background that we learned about from a difficult time in his life,” she said in the next breath. “It’s sad that the past from 15 years ago now prevents him from working with the children.”
Nina Aliprandi, Maryville’s division director, will now serve as acting director.
“Mr. Jones reported to her, so she knows the children and their families very well,” Ryan said.
A schedule for replacing Jones was not given.
Jones took a personal leave from his job last week during Ryan’s investigation into his past. His criminal record was brought to Ryan’s attention earlier this month.
Jones was arrested in 1997 and convicted in 1998 for having a gun during a sports-related function at Lewis Lemon Global Academy in Rockford. The conviction was a felony weapons offense, which under Illinois law precludes employment at state-licensed child-care facilities.
Maryville has headquarters in Des Plaines and offers mental health, family support and youth development services. The agency has an annual operating budget of about $45 million, according to Maryville’s Web site.
Rockford Register Star