Central High administrator hailed for heroism during shooting

Central High administrator hailed for heroism during shooting

CHAMPAIGN — An assistant principal who went into the line of fire to protect students on Dec. 12 during and following a shooting after a Central basketball game received a standing ovation at Monday's Unit 4 school board meeting.

Champaign police Sgt. Brandon Thomas presented a special commendation to Central High School Assistant Principal Bryan Yacko for his heroism.

"As you are well aware, the basketball game at the school was followed by several shots being fired from off the property in the direction of the school. Three people were struck by gunfire, but their injuries were not life-threatening," Thomas said.

"Mr. Yacko's actions at the time of the shooting were nothing short of heroic. As shots rang out, another officer and I quickly realized that we were in the line of fire. Our immediate reactions were to unholster our service weapons and begin searching for the individual or individuals responsible for the gunfire.

"As I called on the police radio for assistance, I saw Mr. Yacko proceeding further into danger to assist others. Mr. Yacko began shouting instructions while physically and verbally directing those potential victims back to the relative safety of the school building and out of the line of fire. Mr. Yacko did so without hesitation, without concern for his own safety and with the clear intention of protecting the innocent."

Thomas said Yacko displayed "selfless service in the face of extreme danger."

"I have no doubt that Mr. Yacko's actions saved lives and spared many potential victims from harm. I am awestruck by his bravery. Mr. Yacko's dedication to save those exposed to extreme danger on that fateful night cannot be overstated.

"He embodies the spirit of a hero and the soul of a paladin."

After Thomas hugged the assistant principal, those assembled applauded as Yacko shook hands with every member of the board of education.

In other business, work crews will soon begin removing asbestos from five buildings acquired for the expansion of Central High School, including a mansion cited by preservation activists as historic.

The Champaign school board voted 7-0 Monday night to award a $178,372 contract to Mattoon-based KAM Services to abate asbestos from five recently acquired properties near the school.

Those buildings include:

— The Burnham Mansion at 603 W. Church St.

— A house at 607 W. Church St., directly west of the Burnham Mansion.

— A house at 201 N. Lynn St.

— A house at 203 N. Lynn St.

— A house at 606 W. Park St.

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. Asbestos has been linked to the loss of lung function that often progresses to disability and death. It has also been identified as a cause of lung cancer and mesothelioma.

The asbestos abatement team will be responsible for disposing of asbestos in floor tiles, floor tile mastic, linoleum and boiler gaskets in the structures.

The Burnham Mansion was one of three buildings that Preservation and Conservation Association members tried to protect by seeking historic landmark status. But those efforts were shot down by the Champaign City Council on Dec. 5.

The Captain Edward Bailey residence and the McKinley Memorial YMCA building were not included in this round of asbestos removal work.

— The board voted 7-0 to appoint Mark Roessler and Sandra Roesler as capital projects managers for the projects associated with the November 2016 school referendum.

"I have been in the local construction business pretty much my whole career," Roessler said. "I am very excited about the opportunity and looking forward to starting in a few weeks."

"This is a great opportunity for me following my experience as an engineer and my experience serving," said Roesler, who is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

— The board voted 7-0 to approve an agreement with BLDD Architects to provide architectural services for the South Side Elementary School project,

— Open houses on the two high school building projects will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the libraries at both Central and Centennial high schools.

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