Len Wells, News Director
Illinois State Police District 19 Commander, Captain Kelly Hodge, announced Friday that troopers will be participating in several enforcement efforts within the District 19 counties during May. Police will be conducting Special Traffic Enforcement Patrols in Wayne, White and Saline counties, concentrating on drivers not wearing their seat belts and other driving offenses. Troopers will be conducting Occupant Restraint Enforcement patrols in Wayne and White counties, targeting an area with saturation patrols focusing on traffic violations and compliance with seat-belt laws. Troopers will be conducting Alcohol Countermeasure Enforcement patrols in Edwards, Wabash and Saline counties, focusing on violations related to impaired driving and illegal transportation of alcohol and other drugs.
A report from Springfield says most school districts in Illinois would see cuts in their funding if the state’s temporary tax increase is rolled back as scheduled, according to a document being circulated as part of a Democrat campaign to preserve the tax hike and a push to update the state’s school funding formula. The document included what would be a total of $450 million in general state aid cuts to the state’s 860 school districts. Republicans quickly disputed the numbers, saying savings could be found elsewhere and that the extent of the cuts needed are larger than what is being touted. Senate Democrats say the state will have a $3 billion budget gap next year, with about $1.6 billion of that due to the temporary income tax increase approved in 2011, that is scheduled to be rolled back in January.
Another top administrator with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ office that regulates coal mining and other energy interests, the latest official to leave the agency in the past two months. Published reports Friday say Tony Mayville was dismissed from his position as supervisor of mine safety enforcement. Mayville indicated the reason for the dismissal was his unsuccessful run for an Illinois House seat without getting clearance from the IDNR chief and mishandled campaign donations from a coal company. An IDNR spokesman called the dismissal a private personnel matter.
The medical marijuana rule in Illinois should be ready to go within the next 90 days. Project coordinator Bob Morgan said several changes have been made since the rules were first proposed, including lowering the fees to participate in the program. The public has 45 days to make comments and suggestions at MCPP.illinois.gov The rules will go before a legislative committee for final approval after the comment period. The state is only testing the program for now, which will remain on the books for four years before being evaluated to see if the program is being abused.
The Fairfield Community High School Varsity Scholastic Team is sponsoring the 13th annual Mind Bowl Trivia Night this Friday, April 25th at 6:30 p.m. in the library at FCHS. The event is being held to raise money for the team’s national competition in Washington D.C. Cost to enter the mind bowl is $50 per team, and groups can sponsor a “ghost” team by donating $50. Varsity team members going to Washington D.C. include Chelsie Walker, Abigail Trotter, Breyaniah Noble, Trevor Guthrie, Kyle Ellis and Adam Brake.
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.
Fairfield 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.
31-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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A mistrial has been declared in the sexual abuse trial of suspended White County jailer, 38-year-old Phillip Lowery. More than ten hours of deliberations resulted in a hung jury. Lowery was on trial for one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse after allegedly fondling a four-year-old girl in his Carmi home on repeated occasions between April and December of 2010. Lowery was placed on administrative leave from the White County Jail after Sheriff Doug Maier learned of the allegations.
A crest is expected this weekend on the Little Wabash River at Carmi and the Wabash River at New Harmony. At Carmi the Little Wabash should crest at 33.3 feet this afternoon, more than six feet above flood stage. At New Harmony the Wabash River should crest at 20 feet Sunday morning, five feet over flood stage. More rain, possibly some heavy rain, is in the forecast for Sunday night and into Monday.
The Cisne FFA Livestock team of Noah Barnard, Emily Benca, Jayden Brown, Marissa Byars, Bryan Bailey, Kirsten Rodgers, Russell Hilliard, Samantha Brookman, Jared Taylor, and Justin Gill finished as the 3rd place team in Section 23 competition held Thursday at the Richland County Fairgrounds in Olney. Barnard earned 4th place overall as an individual and Benca finished 6th overall. One hundred fifteen students from thirteen schools competed.
Legislation that would ban police departments from issuing quotas on tickets has been approved in the Illinois Senate. The bill prevents any law enforcement agency from requiring officers to write a certain number of traffic citations within a specific time period. The measure was approved Thursday by a vote of 57 to 1, and now goes to the Illinois House.
A bill designed to allow so-called “home kitchen operators” to continue baking and selling homemade goods without interference by county health departments passed unanimously in the Illinois House Thursday. The bill was inspired by the plight of 11-year-old Chloe Stirling of Troy, IL, whose at-home cupcake business was shut down by the Madison County Health Department last year. The bill now moves to the Illinois Senate for approval.
The Wayne County Golf Course will be offering free golf, including a cart and lunch, today during its Membership Drive Open House. Guests and potential new members who play will be entered into a drawing for a free individual or family membership. Grilled pork chops and porkburgers will be served from 11 a.m. til 1 p.m. 2013 members will be eligible for a $100 cash bounty for each new member successfully recruited for the 2014 season.
Closing arguments and jury deliberations are slated today today in the criminal sexual abuse trial of suspended White County jailer Phillip Lowery. Lowery is accused of having unlawful sexual contact with a 4-year-old girl. Edwards County State’s Attorney Michael Valentine is the special prosecutor in the case.
The recipient of this year’s Lucille Batson Memorial Scholarship at Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel is Mitchell McVaigh. Mitchell is a graduate of Edwards County High School. He is the son of Deb and Howard Maidlow of Mount Carmel.
The Wayne County Course is offering free golf including cart and lunch Saturday during its Membership Drive Open House. Guests and potential new members who play golf at the open house will be entered into a drawing for a free individual or family membership. A free meal will also be served from 11 – 1.
A bill designed to allow so called “home kitchen operators” to continue baking and selling homemade goods without interference by county health departments passed unanimously in the Illinois House Thursday. The bill was inspired by the plight of 11-year-old Chloe Stirling of Troy, Ill. whose at-home cupcake business was shut down by Madison County Health Department officials last year.
The first “Farmers Market” in Fairfield is this Saturday at City Hall. Saturday’s market will be held in the council chambers of city hall from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
The aggravated criminal sexual abuse trial of a suspended White County jailer enters its third day today in White County Circuit Court at Carmi. Phillip Lowery is accused of having unlawful sexual contact with a 4-year-old Carmi girl. White County Sheriff Doug Maier placed Lowery on administrative leave after learning about the allegations. The case is being prosecuted by Michael Valentine, the Edwards County State’s Attorney.
Fairfield City Police are investigating a rash of vandalism in downtown Fairfield. Someone used a black Sharpie to write vulgar messages on the back doors of several downtown businesses. Anyone with information should call the local Crimestoppers Hotline at 842-9777.
A new law has been introduced in the Illinois Legislature that targets synthetic marijuana, also known as K-2. The law, if passed, would prohibit the possession, sale, or delivery of any substance when the person knows or should have reason to know is intended for use to induce intoxication. Current law requires the suspected K-2 be analyzed at a lab before any charges can be filed.
A Farmer’s Market will be held at Fairfield City Hall this Saturday. Mayor Chuck Griswold says the market will be held in the City Council chambers from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Illinois residents are being urged to closely monitor their bank and credit card accounts daily and report any unauthorized charges. The Illinois Attorney General reports that hackers have been gaining unauthorized access to bank accounts and illegally withdrawing money from ATMS. Incidents of the illegal ATM withdrawals are on the rise, the Attorney General warns.