ChampCo Board Rietz

Della Perrone/for The News-Gazette at the 2019 Champaign County Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration event at the Vineyard Church in Urbana on January 18, 2019 Champaign County States Attorney, Julia Rietz (center) with Urbana Interim Chief of Police Bryant Seraphin (left) and Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb at the Champaign County Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration.Della Perrone/for The News-Gazette at the 2019 Champaign County Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration event at the Vineyard Church in Urbana on January 18, 2019 Champaign County States Attorney, Julia Rietz (center) with Urbana Interim Chief of Police Bryant Seraphin (left) and Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb at the Champaign County Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration.

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State’s attorney assisted in two recent cases

State’s attorney assisted in two recent cases

By TIM MITCHELL

tmitchel@news-gazette.com

URBANA — When James Wood Jr. of Champaign died in June from a traumatic brain injury, his last wishes were to donate his kidney to his fiance, Rantoul resident Kacie Fisher, a dialysis patient who has had kidney failure, a stroke and bariatric surgery.

In another county or in another time, that wish might have been denied — because the man’s body parts might be needed for evidence in judicial proceedings, whether the cause of death was accidental or not.

But thanks to intervention by Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz, Mr. Wood’s kidney was allowed to be transplanted into Fisher’s body.

Rietz worked with the coroner’s office and Champaign Police Department to allow the organ donation to take place.

Rietz said the integrity of the investigation could be preserved even with the donation.

Today, Fisher is free of dialysis treatments for the first time in years.

Rietz was presented with a glass vase from the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network at Tuesday’s Champaign County Board meeting to recognize her ongoing efforts to facilitate organ donations.

Gift of Hope is a not-for-profit organization that provides organ and tissue donation services with donor family services and public education.

Rietz also intervened to help organ donation take place in a second case this summer.

When an infant girl died in mid-June of traumatic brain injuries, her family wanted to be able to donate some of the child’s organs for people who needed them.

Once again, Rietz worked with the Champaign Police Department, coroner’s office and local medical professionals.

That time, six organs from the little girl were donated to different children.

“Everyone involved in those investigations wants to make sure that justice is served,” Rietz said. “When we have an opportunity to create some good out of these kinds of tragedies, it is important to do that.”

“We are recognizing her for supporting organ tissue donations in Champaign County,” Gift of Hope External Relations Coordinator Gina Martin said. “She works with us in collaboration to help families with donations, especially in difficult cases such as homicides.”

Martin said that 300 Illinois residents die each year waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant.

“If we can save some lives, all the better,” Rietz said.

In other business, the county board’s Committee of the Whole voted 15-2 to recommended salary hikes for the county’s nonbargaining employees.

Under the resolution, all nonbargaining employees (excluding employees of the Regional Planning Commission) will receive a 3.1 percent across-the-board wage increase, effective on Jan. 1.

Salary ranges for non-bargaining employees will go up 3 percent on the same date.

Meanwhile, nonbargaining employees will contribute 15 percent of the cost of the single plan premium for heath insurance, with the county contributing $75 per month to the cost of dependent coverage.

Finance Committee Chair Jim Goss requested a forensic audit of the county treasurer’s office, citing a lack of reports from that office.

County Board Chairman Giraldo Rosales paid tribute to longtime county board member Ralph Langenheim, who passed away on Aug. 3.

“We didn’t agree all the time, but we are going to miss him greatly,” Rosales said.

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