State Briefs 2/11/10

Starbuck customers keep payment chain going for hours

SPRINGFIELD – Maybe it was an attempt at cheering up fellow motorists on another chilly day. Maybe people were just feeling good because the sun was shining and spring is just around the corner.

In any event, the good vibes were flowing at the drive-up window of a Springfield Starbucks on Wednesday.

About 7:30 a.m., an unknown customer paid for the coffee of the occupants of the vehicle behind her. By noon, the trend had been going uninterrupted all morning, according to manager Paul Rahn.

One after another, drivers arrived at the window and learned that the person in front of them had paid for their order. And, in turn, each new driver would offer to pay for the order behind them.

Employees of the Starbucks said the trend continued until about 2:30 p.m. By then, 172 drivers had paid for the people behind them.

State Journal-Register

Report: Former HFS official engaged in ‘decadent’ behavior

SPRINGFIELD – A former top-ranking official in the state Department of Healthcare and Family Services engaged in “decadent” behavior, didn’t show up for work and used her state computer for viewing pornography and other personal activity, according to a report released by the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission.

In addition to chronicling allegations against former DHFS chief of staff Tamara Hoffman, who was fired in November, the Governor’s Office of Executive Inspector General criticized HFS director Barry Maram for failing to properly supervise Hoffman, who was based in Chicago but frequently misbehaved while in Springfield, according to the commission.

The report on Hoffman’s alleged misbehavior and Maram’s alleged indifference originated with the executive inspector general, but was edited, then released by the ethics commission. The report is heavily redacted. Chad Fornoff, commission director, said Wednesday that some of the redacted material is salacious and would appeal to prurient interests.

Hoffman, 50, a state employee for about 20 years, was paid $97,944 a year, according to records in the comptroller’s office.

State Journal-Register

Two students arrested after unloaded guns found at school

ROCKTON — Two Hononegah High School students were arrested after a pair of unloaded guns were found Wednesday at the school.

Rockton police arrested the students, ages 14 and 15, on Wednesday, according to a news release from the department. Two handguns were found at the high school Wednesday, according to the release.

The students were charged with unlawful use of weapons and are being held at the Winnebago County Juvenile Detention Center.

School and police officials and the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office are still investigating the incident. School officials have issued few details of the incident; police on Wednesday referred all questions to the district.

School officials said the guns were found early Wednesday morning. Parents received notification that afternoon via the district’s automated emergency notification system.

Rockford Register Star

Man catches house on fire, dies of unrelated heart attack

PEKIN — A man using a radiant heat gun to thaw a door in his home caught the door on fire Wednesday morning and later died of what authorities say was an unrelated heart attack.

Pekin firefighters were called at 10:05 a.m. to a residence, where they found the fire in an upstairs area, said Pekin Fire Chief Kurt Nelson.

The man, who had a history of heart problems, had a heart attack during the firefighters' response and was transported to Pekin Hospital. He died there in what is being considered a natural death.

Pekin Daily Times