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Len Wells, News Director

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1215 4-23-14

Headlines for Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Fairfield City Police Department is being cut by two officers.  Mayor Chuck Griswold says he does not plan to replace Chief Brad Winter upon his retirement.  Another senior officer is set to retire this year, and that position will not be filled as well.  Mayor Griswold has named Keith Colclasure as the department’s new chief and Silas Eckelberry as the Assistant Chief. The new appointments will take effect on May 13.

drop box

The lobby of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department now houses a permanent medicine disposal box.  The box can be found just inside the main entrance to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department in Fairfield. The medicine disposal box will serve as a safe, year-round drop off site for unwanted medications. The installation of the box coincides with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Drug Take Back Day, scheduled for this Saturday, April 26. Pictured from left to right: Courtney Yost, Community and Economic Development Educator-University of Illinois Extension; Doug Anderson, Wayne County Farm Bureau Manager; Frank Buchanan, Wayne County Farm Bureau Director; Mike Everett, Wayne County Sheriff; and Zackary Harrell, Director of Prevention Services and Marketing for Southeastern Illinois Counseling Center.

A plan to increase rural water rates by 5% has been tabled until at least January of next year.  The proposal was ditched after city officials learned some rural water departments could purchase their bulk water at a lower price from the Carlyle Water System.

Russ Gerlack of Wayne City has been hired as head basketball coach at Edwards County.  He will begin his duties this fall.  And, Assistant Principal Kris Duncan has been named Principal at Edwards County High School.  Duncan replaces Andy Julian who announced has resigned effective the end of the current school year.

Dennis M. Bailey of Albion has been sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison after pleading guilty to a class-2 felony charge of burglary.  The sentence was handed down Tuesday in Edwards County Circuit Court.

morels cropped

The brutal winter may have killed off some of Illinois’ fruit crop, but it is expected to produce a phenomenal morel mushroom crop.  Tom Nauman with Morel Mania says the lengthy snow cover and deep freeze the past winter should produce a bumper crop of mushrooms this spring.

Headlines for Tuesday, April 22, 2014

King, Randy edited60-year-old Randy King of Fairfield was sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to two charges of being in possession of child pornography.  King has been held in the Wayne County jail since his arrest last September when agents executed a search warrant at his home and seized the suspect’s computers and hard drives. In addition to prison time, King will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Judge Tom Dinn also ordered King to pay over $3,400 in fines and costs. Witnesses testified that child porn was being downloaded on King’s computer as investigators raided his home.

A Wayne County Grand Jury has indicted 31-year-old Brandon A. Smith of Cisne on charges of aggravated unlawful restraint and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance – psychedelic mushrooms.  Smith is accused of tying up an alleged confidential informant and threatening him with a knife. Smith’s bond has been set at $15,000 cash. Smith is also awaiting trial in an unrelated case where he is accused of battering his girlfriend.




It was bound to happen…..Someone overnight poured a concentrated soap solution into the fountain at Wasson Park at the east edge of downtown Fairfield.  The result – a mountain of suds.

Three people were seriously injured Monday afternoon when a tire blew out on a pickup truck on I-57 in Franklin County. The driver, 76-year-old Dewitt H. Smith of Johnston City was hurt, along with passengers, Robert J. Lewis, 31 of Mount Vernon and Carole L. Smith, 74 of Johnston City.  Carole Smith was ejected from the wreckage and sustained critical injuries. Northbound I-57 was closed to traffic for over an hour.

Two Evansville men have been arrested in connection with a string of car burglaries in Mount Carmel.  The suspects are Daniel L. Mims, 20 and 26-year-old Michael A. Johnson.

Area residents are encouraged to celebrate Earth Day by supporting Animals Requesting Friends’ Recycling Program.  Empty ink and toner cartridges and old cell phones, laptops and iPods can be dropped off at Rides Mass Transit in Fairfield for recycling.

Headlines for Monday, April 21, 2014

Five people were injured Sunday afternoon in a near head-on crash on Ill. Rt. 1 in Gallatin County. Both drivers, Trenton Duncan, 26 of Carrier Mills and John Porter, 63 of LaSalle, Ill. were injured, along with one passenger in Porter’s truck and two passengers in Duncan’s truck.  Trenton Duncan’s Ford Escape crossed the centerline, striking Porter’s pickup truck. The crash happened shortly after 1:30 Sunday afternoon.

Kraft Foods is recalling 96,000 pounds of its Oscar Mayer wieners because they may mistakenly contain cheese.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said Sunday that packages of Kraft’s Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners may instead contain the company’s Classic Cheese Dogs.

Illinois’ medical marijuana rules should be completed within the next 90 days.  Several changes in the law have already been made, including lowering the fees to participate in the program.  The fee has been reduced from $100 to $50.

The Wayne County Coalition against Drug Abuse is sponsoring a Prescription Drug Take Back program this Saturday.  Individuals may drop off unused or out-of-date prescription drugs at Fairfield Memorial Hospital from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. this Saturday.  Weather permitting; the event will take place along Dr. Scranton Memorial Drive in front of the hospital.

Illinois State Police officials have announced several enforcement details in the region for the month of May.  Wayne, White and Saline counties will be targeted for seat belt enforcement and speeding details. Safety belt enforcement zones will likely be set up during the month.

Headlines for Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chris Wise picFairfield’s newest firefighter, Chris Wise, has graduated from fire academy training and will be on duty soon.  Fire Chief Mike Pottorff said Wise graduated from seven weeks of intense training at the Illinois Fire Service Institute in Champaign, IL, and must complete another week of Hazardous Materials training before beginning his duties with the Fairfield Fire Department.  Chief Pottorff also said that Wise was chosen by his instructors for the Color Guard during the graduation ceremony.  He’s the son of Jeff and Charlotte Wise of Fairfield.


Illinois State Police District 19 Commander, Captain Kelly Hodge, has announced his troopers will be participaing in several enforcement efforts during May, looking out for drunk drivers and those violating seat-belt laws and other traffic violations.  Troopers will be conducting Special Traffic Enforcement Patrols in Wayne, White and Saline counties, Occupant Restraint Enforcement patrols in Wayne and White counties, and Alcohol Countermesure Enforcement patrols in Edwards, Wabash and Saline counties.

Fairfield Memorial Hospital’s Skilled Care Unit has been named on the 2014 Best Nursing Homes list by the Illinois Health Care Association for being among the country’s “Best Nursing Homes” by U.S. News & World Report.    The hospital’s skilled care unit was given an overall five-star rating for the third year running.  IHCA Executive Director David Voepel said there are 167 skilled care facilities in the state of Illinois.

37-year-old Steven Everett of Wheeler, IL was cited for DUI, unlawful operation of an ATV on a roadway, improper lane usage, operating an uninsured vehicle and driving revoked following an ATV accident in rural Jasper County late Saturday afternoon.  State police said Everett was operating the ATV on a county road when he lost control of the vehicle, causing it to hit a gas meter and overturn.  Everett was taken to Carle Hospital in Champaign, IL with major injuries.

A report from Springfield says Illinois prisons will be using an effective but costly new drug to treat inmates with hepatitis C, therapy which could cost tens of millions of dollars.  The Illinois Department of Corrections has approved using the drug Sovaldi, which studies have shown has a 95 percent cure rate, but costs as much as $61,000 for a single treatment.  Corrections officials have estimated there are as many as 150 inmates in each of the state’s 25 prisons who gave the blood-borne infection, which is commonly linked to sharing needles.  Corrections officials said treatment would be on a case-by-case basis.

Headlines for Friday, April 18, 2014

Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey recorded a small earthquake Thursday night near Benton in Franklin County.  The magnitude 2.7 tremor was centered nine miles east/northeast of Benton at 10:02 Thursday night.  The quake originated from a fairly shallow depth of .1 mile. The last major earthquake was a 5.2 earthquake on April 18, 2008 and was centered near West Salem.

30-year-old Branden L. Cline of Fairfield was arrested Thursday night on charges of violating an order of protection and domestic battery.  Cline is accused of spitting in Ashley Cline’s face. The alleged incident happened at the home of Ashley Cline’s mother on W. Douglas Street.

The annual Fairfield Lions Club Easter Egg Hunt has been set for this Saturday at Leo French Park in Fairfield. The event has been set for 1 p.m.

Illinois officials say a strip club tax has generated less than 40% of the money that was expected when the surcharge was approved. The so-called “pole tax” raised about $380,000 last year – far less than the predicted $1 million.  The money is earmarked for rape crisis centers.

A proposed gambling expansion in Illinois leaves out Fairmount Race Track.  Other race tracks across the state would be allowed to have slot machines under the plan.  Officials say they excluded Fairmount because of public safety issues in the E. St. Louis area. They also wanted to make sure that the Casino Queen wouldn’t lose money.

Headlines for Thursday, April 17, 2014

colcsilasFairfield City Police Chief Brad Winter has announced his retirement.  Mayor Chuck Griswold has appointed Det. Sgt. Keith Colclasure (left) as the new chief.  Sgt. Silas Eckelberry (right) will become the new assistant chief.  Current Assistant Chief Cameron Simpson will return to patrol duties.  Chief Winter is retiring after 25 years of service to the city.  The appointments will take effect when the City Council approves the appointments on May 13. Keith Colclasure is the son of the late Fairfield Police Chief Leon Colclasure and the great-grandson of former Fairfield officer Clarence Colclasure.

Brown - cropped31-year-old Candice Brown has been sentenced to jail for her role in the August, 2012 slaying of a young Southern Illinois couple. Brown, the girlfriend of Danny K. Coston was sentenced Wednesday on a convictionof obstruction of justice.  Following a jury trial in January, Brown was found guilty of lying to Sheriff Doug Maier about the whereabouts of Danny Brown on the night that Jacob Wheeler of Centerville and Jessi Evans of Norris City were murdered. Judge Barry Vaughn sentenced Brown to 60 days in the county jail, 30 months of probation and ordered her to complete 100 hours of community service and pay $1,000 in various fines and costs. Danny Coston is currently serving a 53 year sentence for the double homicide.

Mt. Carmel firefighters were called to a fire at the Oakview Heights Nursing Home Wednesday night.  An electrical outlet overheated and burst into flames. No one was injured. The nursing home sustained minor damage.

The highest beef prices since 1987 are hitting the pocketbooks of shoppers. A dwindling number of cattle and growing export demand has tightened the supply of beef and caused the cost of fresh beef to rise to $5.28 a pound.


Frontier Community College students Emily McKibben and Sarah Vaughn have been named to the Phi Theta Kappa All-Illinois Academic Team.  They received special recognition at a ceremony last week in Springfield. Pictured left to right:  Eric Resor, FCC Academic Advisor and PTK Beta Alpha Lambda Chapter Advisor; McKibben, Vaughn, and Jan Wiles, Assistant Dean of Student Services.

The Fairfield Community High School Varsity Scholastic Team has qualified for a national competition in Washington D.C. In their efforts to raise money for the event, the team is sponsoring the 13th annual Mind Bowl Trivia Night at FCHS on Friday, April 25.  The cost to enter is $50 per team.

Headlines for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The public library in Albion and the Frontier Community College library have been issued $5,000 grants through the Illinois Secretary of State’s “Back to the Books” program.  A $4,000 grant was issued to the Norris City Memorial Library.

Health officials are investigating a report of food poisoning in Mount Vernon.  The food-borne illness apparently came from Kreiger’s Sports Grill in Mount Vernon.  Of the 90 people who dined at their buffet on Sunday, April 6, 21 became ill. The Jefferson County Health Department is investigating.

Officials with the Illinois Department of Transportation are adding extra safety precautions to work zones around the state after the speed limit was increased on rural Interstates.  Extra signs, along with speed indicators are being added to work zones.

The Fairfield Business and Professional Women’s Foundation is accepting applications for Wayne County high school senior girls and mature women returning to college. Each scholarship will be valued at $2,000.  Senior applications are available in the high school guidance office. Mature women scholarship applications are available on the Frontier community College web-site.

The Fairfield Agriculture Education Department is opening their greenhouse for a pre-Easter plant sale today.  The greenhouse will be open from 8 – 5 today.  A wide variety of vegetable plants, flowers and hanging baskets will be available to the public.

Headlines for Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Freeze Warning is in effect from 1 a.m. – 9 a.m. Wednesday. Temperatures Wednesday morning are forecast to dip to as low as 27. New early season vegetation could be damaged or killed.

60-year-old Bernice D. Cole of Fairfield was arrested Sunday morning on an Effingham County Failure to Appear warrant.  City Police encountered Cole after her car missed a T-intersection and ran into Maple Hill Cemetery.  The vehicle knocked over two tombstones before striking a tree. Cole was not hurt.

The Jasper School Athletic Association has donated $17,925 for the installation of four retractable basketball goals for the school’s gymnasium.  The goals will be installed over the summer.

Illinois gas station owners are speaking out against a proposal to add a four cent per gallon tax on gasoline to fund infrastructure improvements. Funding for the state’s 5-year capital construction program runs out this year. The state gas tax hasn’t been increased since 1990.

McLean Implement officials have announced that their company has entered into an agreement with Precision Drone of Noblesville, IN to provide helicopter-style drones for agricultural use. The drones will produce images and data that can assist in the monitoring of crops to improve yields.

The Fairfield Business and Professional Women’s Foundation is accepting applications for a $2,000 scholarship.  The scholarship application is open to high school senior girls and mature women returning to college. More information is available from Thea Gain or Jane Huffman.

Headlines for Monday, April 14, 2014

The National Weather Service has issued a “Freeze Watch” from late Tuesday night through Wednesday morning.  Temperatures are forecast to dip to as low as 28 in many areas of the region.  With little or no wind expected, widespread frost cannot be ruled out.

The aggravated criminal sexual abuse trial of suspended White County jailer Phillip Lowery ended in a mistrial Friday night. Special prosecutor Michael Valentine says it will be up to the victim’s family if a second trial will take place.  Valentine says he is willing to re-try the case; but only if the victim and her family are willing to go through the stress of another trial.

Michael Bonan of Illinois Avenue in Fairfield reports to local police that someone entered his home Friday afternoon and stole two rings. No value was listed on the loss.

26-year-old Shawn E. Webb of Fairfield has been sentenced to 4 years in prison after pleading guilty in Clay County Circuit Court to a charge of being in possession of pseudoephedrine – an ingredient in the manufacture of meth.

DuQuoin-based inmates have been helping restock sandbags for area levees.  Non-violent offenders have filled about 12,000 sandbags.  The sandbags will be available to anyone requesting them and can be accessed through your local emergency management agency.

A prescription drug take-back program has been set for Saturday, April 26 in Wayne County.  Individuals will be able to drop off un-used and outdated prescription medication at Fairfield Memorial Hospital between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturday the 26th.

Headlines for Sunday, April 13, 2014

The trial of suspended White County jailer, 38-year-old Phillip Lowery, ended in a mistrial late Friday night after the jury was deadlocked following nearly 12 hours of deliberations.  Lowery stood trial on a class-2 felony charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.  Lowery was accused of fondling a four-year-old girl.  The case against him began to unfold in June of 2012 when the alleged victim’s mother was scrolling through some photos on her cell phone and pointed out a picture of the suspect.  The girl told her mother that Lowery had made her fondle him.  Lowery’s trial was delayed earlier this year after allegations surfaced that one of his co-workers, Melissa L. Kittinger, a 911 dispatcher for the White County Sheriff’s Department, had contacted potential jurors in the case.  Kittinger was charged with unlawful communications with a juror and is free on $1500 bond.

The Cisne FFA Livestock team finished as the 3rd place team in Section 23 competition held this past week at the Richland County Fairgrounds in Olney.  115 students from 13 schools competed at the event.  The team is made up of Noah Barnard, Emily Benca, Jayden Brown, Marissa Byars, Bryan Bailey, Kirsten Rodgers, Russell Hilliard, Samantha Brookman, Jared Taylor and Justin Gill.  Barnard earned 4th place overall individually and Benca finished 6th overall.

The Little Wabash River at Carmi and the Wabash River at New Harmony has crested, and both are beginning a slow fall.  At Carmi the Little Wabash River should fall to around 32 feet Monday.  Flood stage is 27 feet.  The Wabash at New Harmony should fall below its flood stage of 15 feet by next Sunday.  Some more rain is possible in the area tonight and into Monday, and again on Friday.

Illinois has no areas in drought for the first time since last August, but reports say the rains have not helped with spring planting chores.  The rains of the past few weeks have helped with soil moisture and the flow of streams, but have put spring planting on hold.  The average precipitation for the past week was 50 percent above normal, with nearly 20 percent of the state’s topsoil rated as saturated.  The 30-day forecast is indicating above-normal rainfall and below-normal temperatures, the same conditions that led to delayed planting last spring.

An Associated Press story says Illinois is slated to receive $22 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife for fish and wildlife conservation efforts in the state.  The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says they’ll use the money to fund current projects, including research on deer and catfish.  The report said deer in Illinois have been found to have diseases affecting population for the past 12 years, and the state has been making efforts to limit the spread of the diseases.  The state is also monitoring the sustainability of catfish in the Wabash River.

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