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 p01 brewingSteam rises out of a boil kettle during the brewing process at Recess Brewing in Edwardsville. Inside is approximately 185 gallons of wort (sugary, pre-fermented liquid). The boil kettle is the third vessel of Recess’ three-vessel brewhouse. All of them are for five barrels each. (Photo courtesy Matt Flach)By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
    Southwestern Illinois entrepreneurs are brewing up a storm, hoping to quench a thirsty public.
    In the past five years, at least nine microbrewery or beer-making operations have been launched with varying degrees of success in Metro East. They range from a basement brewer, selling his product for consumption at area taps, to a bottler who made a living producing soda before converting a significant portion of the operation to the craft brew market.
    Some of the businesses began as brewery/restaurant combinations. At least one encourages customers to bring food with them.
    In general there is a lot of character and a love of beer, and most of it has bubbled to the surface in the past three years.
    “The area is just catching up with the trend that’s been going on for years on the coasts. We were pretty much a wasteland during the first two or three expansion trends in the rest of the country,” said Joe Billhartz, who has long worked in the beer business in Southern Illinois. Today, after years in sales for both retailers and distributors, he runs his own beer-line cleaning business. He caters to a growing trade and knows most of the local players.
    He’ll also tell you that brewing is no sure bet.
    “When something becomes popular, everyone wants to get in on the bandwagon. But there have been at least three major shake-up cycles (since the nation trend began), contracting the numbers of breweries, and when they expanded again, a lot of brewers were weeded out,” Billhartz said.
    Central to success is having a good business plan, knowing the market and not underestimating the financial commitment. That same logic applies to most new businesses, he said.
    “A whole lot of brewers think they can make it commercially, and a whole lot who tried, didn’t,” he said.

p01 mustangCiqala, a rescued mustang. (Photo courtesy Legendary Mustang Sanctuary)By DENNIS GRUBAUGH

    ALHAMBRA — Wild horses can’t keep Kathy and Shawn Lewis from pursuing their passion.
    But lack of a good horse trailer might.
    The couple is hopeful that the generosity of businesses and animal lovers across Southern Illinois  will come through for them on June 13, when they hold a benefit fund-raiser for the Legendary Mustang Sanctuary, the eight-year-old nonprofit rescue they run on their Alhambra property.
    Country singer Moe Bandy will perform at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City. Tickets for the 2 p.m. concert are priced at $20 and $40 (the latter including admission to the VIP tent).  The speedway is donating use of the facility and the concert is being staged through Ron Young’s Nashville Productions.
    Sponsorship packages for the benefit concert are $500 and $1,000. A special $2,000 package includes naming one of the newly rescued wild mustang horses and seeing it through the adoption process. The package is created to be interactive and designed to be of particular interest to businesses and animal lovers.  
    People are already getting involved. On May 23, St. Louis Regional Airport in Bethalto is planning an event in which the Southern Illinois Mustang Car Club will do a cruise in and a couple of sanctuary resident horses will be present.
    The 35-acre Alhambra site is the only licensed and certified rescue operation east of the Mississippi River. The next closest is in Colorado. Those two sanctuaries are the only two in the country that adopt out the animals.
    The Lewises are passionate about the plight of the horses, which they say have been relocated by the government to holding facilities with less than ideal conditions, because of their competition for natural grazing land also needed by cattlemen. Animals that cannot be adopted out after moves to three different government locations are eventually sold off to the highest bidder, “headed for their final destination,” the couple says.

    Illinois is not getting its fair share of federal funds and Congressman Bill Foster, D-Illinois, intends to prove it.
    In February, he and Scott Garrett, R-N.J., introduced the Payer State Transparency Act of 2015. The bill would require the Office of Management and Budget, in conjunction with the Council of Economic Advisors and the Treasury Department, to produce annual assessments of net economic effect on individual states of all federal spending programs and compare these figures against a model of state tax burdens developed by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
    According to Foster, $20 billion leaves Illinois in a typical year and doesn’t come back because Illinois is a “Payer State” that pays $1.36 in federal taxes for every dollar of federal spending returned to the state. Foster cited figures compiled by the Pew Charitable Trust, showing that Illinois receives the third-smallest amount of federal spending per-capita in the country.
    The Payer State Transparency Act of 2015 would help shed light on this problem, Foster said, by collecting accurate, up to date data on the scope of the problem with a yearly “Payer State Report” that shows the effect of legislation on the state-by-state balance of payments.
     “As a businessman who co-founded a manufacturing company, I understand the financial drag that federal Payer State policies put on companies that are committed to keeping good jobs here,” said Foster. “As the representative of Illinois’ 11th District in the U.S. Congress, I recognize the burden it places on middle-class families, and the tragic underinvestment in physical and human capital driven by the fact that Illinois is a Payer State. I’ve introduced the Payer State Transparency Act to develop a clear picture of how big this problem really is and to find ways to make sure Illinois taxpayers are getting their fair share.”

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Growth boosts Northeast and West Coast presence for one of nation’s leading asbestos litigation firms

    Simmons Hanly Conroy, a national complex litigation firm headquartered in Alton, Ill., and one of the country’s leading mesothelioma law firms, is pleased to announce that it has expanded its mesothelioma practices in the Northeast and California with the addition of three highly experienced asbestos litigators.
    Edward Braniff joins the firm’s New York office as a shareholder and as Northeast Asbestos Litigation Manager. In addition, the firm also welcomes Daniel P. Blouin as a shareholder in New York and Brent Zadorozny as an attorney based in the firm’s El Segundo, Calif., office. The three attorneys all previously practiced law at Weitz & Luxenberg P.C.
    Simmons Hanly Conroy represents more families impacted by mesothelioma – an aggressive form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure – and files more mesothelioma cases every year than any other law firm in the country.
    “We welcome Ed and Daniel to our New York office, where they will spearhead the expansion of our mesothelioma litigation practice in the entire Northeast region,” said Michael J. Angelides, managing shareholder of the firm. “Although we have filed many asbestos-related claims for our clients in areas including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Ed and Daniel will be the firm’s first mesothelioma attorneys based in New York. With decades of experience in asbestos and pharmaceutical products liability litigation, they will add significant depth to our firm.”
    “Brent will help us to bolster our services to clients throughout California,” Angelides added. “Brent has more than 25 years of experience as a trial lawyer and an extensive background handling asbestos and mesothelioma matters, as well as non-asbestos injury litigation. “
    Simmons Hanly Conroy acquired its New York office in June 2014 through the merger of Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd LLC, a national litigation firm with asbestos among its main focus areas, and Hanly Conroy Bierstein Sheridan Fisher & Hayes LLP, a leading national firm in mass tort and complex litigation.
    Braniff joins the firm from Weitz & Luxenberg’s New York office, where he most recently focused his practice on Zoloft drug birth defects litigation. He currently serves on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for the Zoloft multi-district litigation. Braniff has extensive trial experience representing individuals and families affected by mesothelioma and asbestos exposure. His broad experience also includes pharmaceutical litigation involving Accutane (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease), Actos (bladder cancer and heart failure), Fosamax (femur and hip fractures), Hydroxycut (liver injury and kidney failure), Yaz (cardiovascular injuries), Vioxx (cardiovascular injuries and stroke) and Bextra/Celebrex (cardiovascular injuries), as well as Cochlear ear implant injuries. Previously, Braniff served with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in New York. He earned his law degree from St. John’s University School of Law and holds a Bachelor of Arts from Bucknell University.
    Blouin, who also was most recently with Weitz & Luxenberg in New York, focuses his practice on asbestos litigation on behalf of victims of mesothelioma and lung cancer, and their families. Most notably, in 2013 he obtained a $190 million verdict as compensation for the mesothelioma his clients, who were tradesmen, developed decades after coming into contact with asbestos. The verdict was the largest consolidated asbestos verdict in New York history. In addition, the $60 million that two of the plaintiffs received were among the largest individual sums ever awarded in a New York asbestos case. Blouin holds a law degree from Brooklyn Law School and also has a B.A. from Georgetown University.  
    Zadorozny joins the firm from Weitz & Luxenberg’s Los Angeles office. He concentrates his practice on asbestos and personal injury cases. His experience includes an $8.7 million asbestos trial verdict in Los Angeles Superior Court, as well as successful arbitration of various matters in non-U.S. jurisdictions including Sweden and the Bahamas. Zadorozny earned his law degree from Seattle University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Washington State University.
    In the area of asbestos and mesothelioma litigation, Simmons Hanly Conroy has an established track record of recovering billions of dollars for exposure victims, including the largest-ever U.S. asbestos verdict ($250 million) for a single plaintiff in the United States, in 2003. The firm also is the leader among law firms for supporting the mesothelioma community, contributing more than $20 million to cancer research, and is a major corporate contributor overall to the cause. Simmons Hanly Conroy helps to fund the Simmons Cancer Institute at Southern Illinois University and spearheads the annual Miles for Meso 5K race and fun run/walk. In addition, the firm supported efforts to designate Sept. 26 as National Mesothelioma Awareness Day.
    About Simmons Hanly Conroy, LLC
    Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC is one of the nation’s largest mass tort law firms and has recovered more than $5 billion in verdicts and settlements for plaintiffs. Primary areas of litigation include asbestos and mesothelioma, pharmaceutical, consumer protection, environmental and personal injury. The firm’s attorneys have been appointed to leadership in numerous national multidistrict litigations, including Bextra/Celebrex, Yaz and Toyota Unintended Acceleration. The firm also represents small and mid-size corporations, inventors and entrepreneurs in matters involving intellectual property infringement and business litigation. Offices are located in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Alton, Ill. Read more at www.simmonsfirm.com.