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Business: Progress and Prosperity


Many business and industrial parks are located in the River Bend including Raifort Commerce Park, Lewis & Clark EnviroTech Park, Bethalto Business Park, St. Louis Regional Airport Business Park, and Alton Center Business Park.

American Water consolidated their national customer service office to Alton Center Business Park in 2001 and is one of the area’s major employers.

Millers First Insurance Companies
In May 1877, Captain David R. Sparks, a successful flour miller from Alton, called 12 other millers together to propose a mutual insurance organization. Thus, Millers Mutual Fire Insurance Association of Illinois was chartered on September 20, 1877. That same company, now Millers First Insurance Company, remains an Illinois domiciled insurance company. It is part of Millers First Insurance Companies, which includes Millers Classified Insurance Company, D.R. Sparks Insurance Services, Inc. (dba: Affiliated Insurance Specialists) and Insurance Specialists, Inc.

St. Louis Regional Airport

Personal auto, homeowners, personal umbrella liability and dwelling fire property and casualty coverages are issued for Millers First Insurance Companies policyholders in Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin and Iowa. Policyholders and prospects can receive claims or policy service by phone, the Internet or through an Affiliated Insurance Specialists agent. In addition, Millers accommodates other insurance needs, such as life, health and commercial exposures, through their business partner, Affiliated Insurance Specialists, an independent agency system. Millers First employees work to protect and serve its policyholders from the headquarters in Alton.

St. Louis Regional Airport
The St. Louis Regional Airport provides aeronautical services for private, corporate, and military aviation needs. It is located at the intersection of two primary state highways; within two minutes of the new Interstate 255 expansion; within twenty minutes of downtown St. Louis; and within a half hour of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. St. Louis Regional Airport maintains safety and certification standards in accordance with Federal Aviation Regulations Part 139. This includes fulltime airport rescue and firefighting response, precision and non-precision instrument approaches, and dual runways. The airport can accommodate any aircraft that has ever been built. Aviation services include two full-service FBOs, a flight academy, and FAA certified repair stations. The airport also hosts business parks for aeronautical and non-aeronautical tenants. Over 600 acres are available for development.

The Telegraph
The history of The Telegraph dates to January 15, 1836, when the weekly Alton Telegraph was founded by Richard M. Treadway and Lawson A. Parks. In April of that same year, Samuel G. Bailey was admitted to the publishing firm.

On September 8, 1836, abolitionist Elijah P. Lovejoy founded the Alton Observer. Lovejoy angered many pro-slavery citizens with his newspaper’s stand against slavery.

On November 7, 1837, an enraged pro-slavery mob attacked Lovejoy’s press, destroying it and murdering him. The dismantled press was thrown into the Mississippi River. In December of that year, publication of the Alton Observer resumed in Cincinnati with the papers sent to Alton.


The Alton Telegraph was one of a number of newspapers in the city that continued publication in the years after Lovejoy’s murder. The newspaper changed ownership several times and it became the Alton Telegraph & Democratic Review in 1841. In 1850-51, the paper became a tri-weekly publication. The next year, the paper became a daily. In 1853, the name was changed to the Alton Telegraph & Madison County Record.

The paper’s subscription lists were sold to the Alton Daily Courier in 1855, and the paper continued to publish under that name until January 20, 1861, when publication of the Alton Daily Telegraph resumed in the building formerly occupied by the Daily Courier.

In 1889, John A. Cousley took charge of the newspaper and changed the name to the Alton Evening Telegraph. Paul B. Cousley joined the staff four years later. Over the years, the paper consolidated with several other publications, changing its name to the Alton Telegraph in 1977.

The Cousley family continued its involvement with the newspaper into the 1980s. In 1985, Alton Telegraph Printing Co. merged with Sunrise Industries, a St. Louis holding company whose parent was Ingersoll Publications Inc. Sunrise acquired the Cousley family’s interest in the paper, ending 95 years of the family’s ownership and control of the paper through four generations.

Ingersoll installed a new press and added a Sunday edition in 1988, changing the paper’s name to The Telegraph. In 1990, the paper was acquired by the Journal-Register Co., which converted it to a morning edition in 1994.

Freedom Communications Inc. bought the newspaper and took control on October 25, 2000, and is the current owner of The Telegraph. Freedom, based in Irvine, California, has a long-standing tradition in newspaper ownership, being founded by libertarian R.C. Hoiles.

The Telegraph has an audited daily circulation of 26,130 and a Sunday circulation of 27,092. It covers news in Madison, Jersey, Macoupin, Greene and Calhoun counties. The newspaper’s main office is located at 111 E. Broadway in Alton and it has bureaus in Edwardsville and Jerseyville.

In recent years, The Telegraph has racked up numerous awards. It was the 2001 General Excellence winner in the Illinois Press Association competition and took second in that competition in 2002. It took first place in the Southern Illinois Editorial Association General Excellence contest in 2002. Besides publishing its daily newspaper, The Telegraph also produces a biweekly entertainment section called 24Seven and a monthly family and parenting section called PB&J. The Telegraph’s website, is updated with new information daily and with breaking news as appropriate. Anyone wanting to subscribe to The Telegraph should call 618-463-2511.

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