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Wednesday, May 14, 2008 04:00 pm

Cap City

Untitled Document ROCK IN A HARD PLACE James ‘Rock’ Haley, who recently turned 71, should be relaxing and enjoying his golden years — but instead he’s had to return to work to afford the medicine his wife, Edna, needs for a rare muscle disease. Although the couple’s only income up until now has been Rock’s monthly Social Security payment, Edna was told that she doesn’t qualify for the state’s Medicaid program, and her application for federal Supplemental Security Income assistance has been rejected more than four times [see R.L. Nave, “A pound of cure,” March 15, 2007]. The Haleys — and others in similar situations across the state — saw a glint of hope last year when Gov. Rod Blagojevich unveiled a plan to insure all Illinoisans, but optimism vanished as lawmakers, business groups, and, most recently, the courts blocked the proposed expansion. Edna and Rock have enlisted the help of a Metro East legal firm that specializes in Social Security and disability claims. In the meantime, Rock is still looking for a good deal on a used truck or van so he can take on odd jobs around Springfield this summer. Unfortunately, Rock isn’t being rewarded for his perseverance. Since he’s returned to the workforce, he says, the amount of money he and Edna receive in state and federal government assistance — including his Social Security benefits — has been reduced. Rock doesn’t see any other way around working: “Until something comes up, I don’t have any choice.”

SHOP TALK Step into any neighborhood barber or beauty shop on a Saturday morning and you’d think you’d stumbled onto the set of a rapid-fire talking-head TV program — or Thanksgiving dinner at the Cap City household. You name it, they’re shouting about it — politics, religion, last night’s game-winning play, last night’s forgettable blind date. Because no topic is off limits, salons are the perfect venues for disseminating information about personal and community health, says Ann Locke, health-initiatives coordinator for the Springfield Urban League.
“You have a captive audience,” Locke says, noting that clients spend anywhere between one and three hours at a time in the stylist’s chair. Earlier this month, the Urban League and Illinois Department of Public Health trained Springfield beauticians and barbers from a dozen local salons on the basics on cervical and prostate cancer. The most recent data from the IDPH show that in Sangamon County 718 men have prostate cancer (42,739 statewide) and 38 women have cervical cancer (3,154 in Illinois). Because trust lies at the center of all stylist-client relationships, Locke says, hair-care professionals are in a prime position to encourage customers to get screened. Ora Whiteside, a Springfield barbershop owner who attended the training, says he eventually overcame his reluctance to undergo a prostate exam. He’s now offering a simple — and ironic — bit of advice to his younger colleagues: “Get off your butts and get tested.”

BOYZ WILL BE BOYZ A Springfield business owner — recognized internationally as a leader in the adult-entertainment industry — became the target of unsolicited local interest this week thanks to a heated St. Louis political race. Steve Shay founded and still owns Citiboyz (www.citiboyz.com), a gay-pornography franchise that has quietly operated out of a residence in the 2100 block of South Walnut Street since 1998. But the business no longer is flying under the radar now that Michael Colona, a St. Louis attorney and Citiboyz’ custodian of records, has entered the contest for a seat in the Missouri House of Representatives, and his political opponents are investigating his ties to porn. Shay wasn’t interested in talking about his business or the controversy, but he tells Cap City: “It’s really unfair what they’re trying to do to Mike, and we’re just going to stay out of it.”
As Citiboyz’ custodian of records, Colona ensures that the company meets state and federal requirements and prohibits minors from getting access to its material. Colona says his work is a nonissue, especially because these types of businesses are constitutionally protected as long as they follow the law. “It shouldn’t be a big deal,” Colona says. “As an attorney, I believe in the First Amendment, and the activities these companies are engaging in are legal activities.”
Colona says that Citiboyz treats its employees with respect and dignity, and he’s disappointed that the Springfield company was forced into the spotlight.
THINGS THAT GO BOOM Was it an act of terrorism? A conspiracy on the part of the city of Springfield? Nope, says Exponent: The Nov. 10 power plant explosion was strictly the sum of the plant’s malfunctioning parts. The Maryland-based company, responsible for the investigation of the grounding of the Exxon Valdez and the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, released its findings on the Dallman 31 explosion last week. After months of research, the company found that the turbine exploded after the two sets of valves — one responsible for isolating the flow of steam to the turbine and the other responsible for controlling the flow of steam through the turbine and for regulating generator output — failed. The heightened acceleration of the turbine shaft and resulting factors caused a release of hydrogen and then an explosion in the turbine room. The blast knocked out part of the wall and then spread fire to adjacent transformers.
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