Alex Keown
Freelance Journalist and Communications Specialist
News Publications
I've been fortunate to write for a number of news agencies throughout my career. Below is a sample of various types of reporting from those organizations.




Valley View Board OKs More than 400 Layoffs for Teachers, Support Staff,
Bolingbrook Reporter, April 17, 2012

More than 400 Valley View School District faculty and staff members will receive pink slips at the end of the school year.
On Monday night, the District 365-U Board of Education approved a plan to lay off all 266 first through fourth-year teachers and another 164 first- through fifth-year educational support personnel due to budget constraints, changes to curriculum and a projected drop in enrollment next school year.

Bolingbrook Council OKs Street Repair, Makes Room for Chick-fil-A, Bolingbrook Reporter, May 10, 2012

The Bolingbrook Village Board Tuesday night unanimously approved expenditures of $1.9 million for multiple street repair projects throughout town.
Starting next month, roadwork will begin across the village, including re-striping of pavement, sidewalk repair, pothole and pavement repair and a street resurfacing project.

Wilde Field Night Games a No-Go With D202 Board, Lisle Reporter, Oct. 16, 2012

The third time will not be the charm for a proposal to erect stadium lights at Wilde
Field.
This week, the Lisle Community Unit School District 202 Board of Education overwhelmingly voted
to oppose a plan to allow lights at the Lisle Junior High School field. Board members cited parking
concerns and future costs in the 6-1 decision. Board member Kari Altpeter was the lone supporter
of the lights proposal.




Teachers Union Says it Will Sue Over CPS Plan to Boost Class Size, Chicago Current, June 7, 2010

The Chicago Teachers Union says it will file a lawsuit tomorrow to prevent Chicago Public Schools from expanding class sizes by 20 percent.
Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, CTU President Marilyn Stewart said raising class sizes in Chicago
elementary schools from the current maximum of 28 to 35 will destroy public education in Chicago.
High schools could see their maximum size jump from 32 to 35 students.

Teachers Union Candidates Campaign Down to the Wire, Chicago Current, June 10, 2010

The candidates for president of Chicago Teachers Union continued to jockey for position as the clock edged closer to tomorrow’s runoff election.
Only 500 votes separated incumbent Marilyn Stewart and challenger Karen Lewis, president of a CTU caucus, following the May election, which forced this week’s runoff.

Teachers Union Still Counting Votes in Runoff Election, Chicago Current, June 11, 2010

After weeks of rallying supporters and lobbying Chicago educators, the votes have been cast in the runoff election for president of Chicago Teachers Union.
Thousands of teachers and support staff cast ballots today at schools across Chicago. Rosemarie Genova, spokesperson for CTU, says she does not expect all the votes to be counted until the wee hours of Saturday. As soon as the votes are tallied the results will be announced on the union's Web site.


Strike Averted for Funeral Home Workers, Chicago Current, July 1, 2010

Following two days of negotiations, Teamsters Local 727 and Service Corporation International agreed to a new contract for employees of 17 Chicago-area funeral homes.
Union officials had threatened to strike if a deal wasn't reached by the time the old contract expired yesterday. The new three-year contract preserves employee pensions and health and welfare benefits; however neither side offered specifics to the contract.







Wesselman Killer May Have Kept Trophy
, Wheaton Patch, July 21, 2011


When Wesselman was murdered July 21, 1985, she was wearing the ring, which had a small chip in the pearl, on her left hand. But, when her body was discovered the next day, the ring was nowhere to be found. Detectives believe her killer kept the ring as a memento, however they're not discounting that the ring is no longer in the killer's possession.

Village Links Golf Course Makes Money but Food Service a Consistent Loser
, Glen Ellyn Patch, Nov. 22, 2011

The food service division at the Village Links of Glen Ellyn loses thousands of dollars each year, which is subsidized by surpluses created over time by other operations at the course. Since 2006 food service operations have lost $156,065, according to village budget information.

Village President Mark Pfefferman said one of the economic development goals adopted by the village board earlier this year was to reverse the trend of revenue loss at the Village Links, particularly in food services. At a minimum the board would like to see food services break even, he said.

“Food service could at least stop losing money and we could gain some if we could become a destination eatery,” Pfefferman said.

How Do Other Municipal-Owned Courses Run Food Service Programs?, Nov. 22, 2011

Part of the Village Links of Glen Ellyn $3.9 million Master Plan to renovate and update offerings at the course includes expanding food service operations, despite having lost $156,065 since 2006. Some village leaders suggested privatizing food service operations at the course, but Recreation Director Matt Pekarek does not believe that is the best plan. Pekarek maintains that golfers at the course lose out on enhanced customer service if food is handled by a third party.

Musician Uses His Song to Express Dissatisfaction with Illinois Politics, Wheaton Patch, August 3, 2011

Jim Gwynn has always loved words.

He loves the way they fit together, not only to provide information but to convey passion and emotion. When he was about 14 he began to pen poetry to express and channel his emotions. Within a few years, he discovered that music combined with his words created a stronger statement.

“Music is a vehicle to make the words sound good,” Gwynn said last week over a cup of coffee.

State's Attorney Sends Deadbeat Dads a Special Valentine's Message, Elmhurst Patch, Feb. 15, 2011

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin marked Valentine's Day not with sending candies and flowers, but by deploying teams of investigators and sheriff’s deputies to round up deadbeat dads.

Berlin announced Operation Love, an effort to apprehend some of the biggest deadbeat dads in DuPage County. The operation is a joint effort between Berlin’s office and the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office, targeting 42 deadbeats who owe more than $2 million in unpaid child support.

Despite Positive Job Growth, Many Locals Still Unemployed or Underemployed, Burr Ridge Patch, July 8, 2011 

When the real estate market crashed in 2008, Youngberg, 45, was forced to switch careers and chart a new professional course. She began working for an Allstate call center in Woodridge, but that only lasted until 2010 when her department’s responsibilities were switched to a call center in North Carolina. Youngberg, who has a BA in Business Administration, was not in a position to move with the job, so she was forced to look elsewhere. She has since been working with an independent insurance agent, but only part-time. To supplement lost wages she works at a Wal-Mart in Glen Ellyn as well as working as a playground monitor at her children’s school in Wheaton. “It’s awful out there. Right now my resume is in so many places I lost count,” she said.

“I get calls from some employers, but they are only offering just above minimum wage and are all the way up in Lincolnshire.”

Riding to Remember the Patriots of Patriots Day, Wheaton Patch, Sept. 5, 2011

Rupp was 13 years old that fateful fall morning when Islamic terrorists hijacked passenger jets and turned them into missiles aimed at key economic and govenmental targets. For many Americans, Rupp included, the horror of that day left an indelible scar on the collective psyche. As a decade has slipped by, Rupp wanted to make sure people remembered not only the tragedy of that day, but also the stories of heroism.

Republican Senators Tout Budget Proposals, Glen Ellyn Patch, March 25, 2011

“There’s going to be pain… but we’re willing to make the tough decisions,” Pankau said.

But any pain from the Republican proposals would come only if the Democratic majority allows them to come to the floor. The Republican senators readily admitted they face a steep battle in the legislature, where their party is in the minority. However, they said some of their proposals are piquing the interests of colleagues across the political aisle.

If those proposals are heard, Sandack said special interest groups will line up to fight many of the suggested cuts.

Honoring the Fallen: Wheaton Soldier Receives Medal of Honor, Wheaton Patch, Oct. 6, 2010

Principled. Heroic. Valorous.

Those were words frequently used Wednesday morning to describe the life of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Miller at a memorial Mass and prayer service at St. Michael's Parish and School in Wheaton. Miller, a Special Forces weapons specialist, graduated from the St. Michael's in 1998. Miller went on to Wheaton North High School where he was captain of the gymnastics team before spending a year at the University of Iowa. Still angered over the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Miller joined the Army in 2003. Within a year he became a Green Beret.

In 2008 Miller was part of a strike team sent to knock out a Taliban—controlled base in the mountains of Afghanistan. In the middle of a firefight, Miller engaged the enemy and made himself a target while ordering his men to find cover. Military records indicate Miller killed 16 of the enemy and wounded another 30 before he succumbed to enemy fire, but not before saving his 22 comrades. Miller was 24.

Medal of Honor Finds Final Home at Monroe Middle School, Wheaton Patch, May 27, 2011

James Howard Monroe’s Medal of Honor found its final resting place at Monroe Middle School, named for the soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War.

Over 1,000 students and residents turned out Friday to pay tribute to a Wheaton son who fell in battle over 40 years ago. Michelle Gattas, Monroe’s niece and most recent holder of the medal, said she hoped the medal’s permanent display at the school will serve to inspire the students and the community of Wheaton.

Booster Clubs Play Big Role at East High School, St. Charles Patch, June 14, 2011

There are also incidents of East High School coaches receiving outside payments as well as questionable fund-raising practices surrounding a high-tech scoreboard at the same school.

Schlomann said he is hoping an independent audit of the athletic program at East High School, set to be completed June 17, will yield some answers. The school’s sports program has been the subject of scrutiny after allegations of hazing and bullying arose. A review of the program also confirmed an elaborate fund-raising effort by various sports booster clubs.

                             

Peeps Show, Wilmington Star, April 13, 2004

Did you ever read the J.R.R. Tolkien novels or watch the films while munching on Peeps? And if so, did you ever wonder how the marshmallow candies and Tolkien's Middle Earth could be combined? Well if you have, then "The Lord of the Peeps" is for you.

N.C. Family's Thespian Peeps are a Hit Online, USA Today, April 13, 2004

Did you ever read the J.R.R. Tolkien novels or watch the films while munching on Peeps? And if so, did you ever wonder how the marshmallow candies and Tolkien's Middle Earth could be combined? Well if you have, then "The Lord of the Peeps" is for you.

Mass Grave Discovered at Bentonville Battleground, NCCivilWar.com, Feb. 9, 2007

Archaeologists from Wake Forest University and the state of North Carolina believe they have discovered a mass grave of Confederate soldiers at Bentonville Battleground in Johnston County.

Google Joins Wilson in Political Fight, NCPIRG, July 2, 2007

The company that provides the world's largest Internet search engine has sided with Wilson and North Carolina's other municipalities in a political fight over a bill that would limit a municipality's ability to provide Internet and other communications services to its citizens.

Race is Critical Factor in Death Penalty Cases, North Carolina Coalition for a Moratorium, Feb. 2, 2007

A black man is more likely to be given the death penalty than a white man, a panel of law professors said Monday afternoon.

Speaking to a crowd of about 100 at a luncheon sponsored by N.C. Policy Watch and N.C. Coalition for a Moratorium of the state's death penalty, the panelists said statistics show that a black man is more likely to be sentenced to die for killing a white man, than a white man is for killing a black man.

Bombadil Plays Benefit Concert April 18, 2012

Wilson native Daniel Michalak will bring the eclectic folk-rock sounds of Bombadil to benefit The
SPOT at the Boykin Center April 26.
This will be the second time Michalak and his band, which formed at Duke University in 2006,
have played in Wilson. Several years ago they played their first gig at the Whirligig Festival.

Adam Growe Brings Show to Town April 20, 2012

How many holes are there in a 10-pin bowling ball?
Not sure? The answer is three.
Which land did Puff The Magic Dragon live in?
Sing the song to yourself and you’ll remember the answer is Honalee.
Try one more. What was the original name given to Mickey Mouse?
It was Mortimer Mouse, who later became a different character in the Disney universe.
Did you know the answers to these trivia questions?
If you did, then head out to the Boykin Center April 27 to enjoy the comic styling of trivia guru Adam
Growe’s comedy and quiz show. In addition to laughter, you just might take home some money.