Editor's note: This year seemed to prompt just as many changes as last year within the Chillicothe community. We tend to shy away from giving rankings to news stories as they are subjective, but this year there was no doubt as to what the biggest story that affects all of the Chillicothe area: Rescue 33. We also will highlight some of the top stories by month as well. As always, we hope you enjoy looking back through the year with us. Sports items will be addressed in the summer at the end of this school year.
— Marianne Gillespie, editor, Chillicothe Times-Bulletin
1. Rescue 33 loses license, residents paying per call
Chillicothe's most revered non-profit group came into the spotlight as Ambulance Rescue 33 lost its license to run an ambulance service.
Begun as neighbors helping neighbors when a medical emergency arose without asking for any pay for a trip to the hospital, the service experienced problems in recent years with finding enough volunteers to man a 24/7 schedule. Additionally, if enough volunteers could not be found, the squad began paying some of its members to keep them from seeking other work, leading to needing to raise more money to pay for service. Response times also were cited by the governing authorities. Residents never paid per call for the service, which was a culture shock for some residents after Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois was asked to serve as the ambulance provider. Rescue 33 is still working to get a new license.
Here is a brief timeline of important events as they appeared in the issues of the Chillicothe Times-Bulletin:
• Aug. 15: Rescue 33 notified the public of its 90-day probation placed by the Peoria Area EMS System, mainly due to staffing problems and response times.
• Aug. 22: City officials hold a special meeting shortly before the deadline to get on the November ballot a tax referendum line to levy a tax of up to .25 percent for "ambulance service."
• Sept. 12: The Rescue 33 tones went silent Sept. 4 after the squad was placed on permanent suspension. Residents still attended the Labor Day Breakfast at the Chilli Bowl and signed petitions on Rescue 33's behalf.
• Sept. 19: Citizens vented at a Tea Party Patriots sponsored meeting where Rescue 33's plight was discussed in greater detail. Along with other officials, state Rep. Dave Leitch, R-Peoria, attended the meeting to lend assistance.
• Oct. 10: The PAEMS Review Board upheld the permanent suspension of the squad after Rescue 33 issued a challenge.
• Oct. 17: Rescue 33 officials announced they would not appeal the review board's decision any higher and they would concentrate on creating a new plan of operations.
• Oct. 31: Funds that could be generated from the city's tax referendum on the November ballot were not part of Rescue 33's plans. The squad deemed the referendum not fair since others than city of Chillicothe residents used the service.
Page 2 of 2 - • Nov. 14: The city's tax referendum was narrowly defeated — 1,270 votes to 1,228 votes. Mayor Troy Childers said the squad "killed" the vote.
• Dec. 19: AMT Executive Director Andrew Rand sends a letter to Rescue 33 President Ron Hedden giving notice that AMT planned to become Chillicothe's permanent ambulance service provider. Rescue 33 had rejected an offer by AMT to combine services in a form of partnership.
2. Racist IVC Grey Ghost?
The IVC Grey Ghost mascot became the source of controversy after the Chillicothe Independent wrote a news story about comments stemming from Facebook on how some residents did not like the location of the statue in the city median on Walnut Street. Spiraling out of control, issues raised about the mascot included racism and satanism. No one gave credence to those claims. The council did have a larger audience at its last meeting in March and adjourned to IVC High School after taking care of some of its business in council chambers. It may have been the first time the council adjourned in council chambers and reconvened in another location.
3. Businesses sponsor free Friday night movie
More than 60 area businesses collaborated with the Chillicothe Optimist Club's Town Theatre to sponsor a free Friday night movie every week in 2012. Residents were treated to a free movie on a first-come, first served basis for as many as could fit in the bigger auditorium with 150 seats.
4. Changing of the chief
After almost three decades of the same police chief over the Chillicothe Police Department, a changing of the guard occurred in February. Chillicothe resident Scott Mettille, 36, became the city's police chief. He was the deputy chief of the Peoria Heights Police Department. Former police chief Steve Maurer resigned after being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
5. Teacher arrested
A first-year Mossville teacher, Kayla M. Trueblood, 22, was arrested Dec. 3 on aggravated criminal sex abuse. She allegedly had sexual contact with a 16-year-old boy within the IVC school district. He was not one of her pupils, however. A preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 3. She resigned from her position with the school district.