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Around the Tri States: Galesburg structure fire intentional; Prison sentence in drug case

Around The Tri States
Jane Carlson
Tri States Public Radio

A weekly roundup of news from around the region.

Galesburg structure fire deemed intentional

Firefighters responded to a commercial property in the 2000 block of Grand Avenue early Saturday, Nov. 26. The building was engulfed in flames.

The response included all personnel on duty. Firefighters were able to prevent the blaze from spreading to nearby buildings, but the building was a total loss.

The cause of the fire has been determined to be intentional. The fire is still under investigation by Galesburg Police and Fire Investigators.

Prison sentence in western Illinois drug case

A federal judge sentenced a western Illinois man to 10 years in prison for distributing methamphetamine.

Michael Bell, 39, of Quincy pleaded guilty in July.

The federal government said Bell distributed at least 50 grams of meth on August 30, 2021 and again on September 2, 2021.

He also has two prior drug convictions.

The West Central Illinois Task Force, Quincy Police Department, and Illinois State Police investigated the case, which was part of Project Safe Neighborhoods. PSN aims to reduce violent crime and gun violence.

New Hancock County State’s Attorney

Hancock County has a new state’s attorney following the resignation of Rachel Mast.

The Hancock County board voted at a special meeting to appoint Bobi James to the position.

James had served as assistant state’s attorney in the office since 2018.

She will complete the remainder of Mast’s term, which ends in 2024.

Fort Madison to fill open city council seat

There is an opening on the Fort Madison City Council because Second Ward Council Member Tom Schulz resigned after he was elected to the Lee County Board of Supervisors.

Those interested in replacing him should submit a letter of interest, an application, and a short biography to the city clerk at 811 Avenue E or by 4:30 p.m. on December 14.

The position will be filled by appointment during a meeting on December 20.

The person chosen will serve through next November’s elections unless a special election is called for before then.

Contact City Clerk Melissa Blind at 319-372-7700, extension 206, if you have questions about the vacancy.

Western Illinois man sentenced for exploiting children

A western Illinois man is going to prison for using social media to pose as a teenage girl to entice children to send him explicit material.

A federal judge sentenced Tristan Scott Blank of Geneseo to 32 years in prison followed by a life term of supervised release.

Blank pleaded guilty early this year to five counts of sexual exploitation of a child.

Prosecutors said Blank sexually assaulted two children and exploited 21 others. Many were children Blank knew or specifically targeted for exploitation.

The case was part of Project Safe Childhood. The national initiative combats child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Western Avenue closure

Western Avenue through the Western Illinois University campus will be closed Dec. 5-9.

Construction crews are scheduled to put in a water line to serve the new Center for Performing Arts building and surrounding buildings.

Go West will provide alternate bus routes around the affected area. Riders should visit the Go West Facebook page or call dispatch at 309-575-3333 with any questions or concerns.

Tri States Public Radio produced these stories. TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.