Len Wells, News Director


images_banners_listentolocalnews1215 10-23-14

Headlines for Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fire heavily damaged a mobile home on North First Street in Fairfield Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters were called to 1007 North First Street shortly before 1 p.m.  Police said the last known occupant of the home was Billy Smith.  No one was hurt. The structure sustained heavy damage. Two kittens were rescued from the structure. The blaze is being investigated by a State Fire Marshal Arson Investigator.

Two Fairfield men were arrested Wednesday afternoon for domestic battery.  22-year-old Clayton A. Robertson and his estranged partner, 23-year-old Joseph B. Smith are accused of getting into a fight in their yard around 2:30 Wednesday afternoon.   Both men have been jailed on charges of domestic battery.

A California man arrested in Fairfield last April has entered a guilty plea on federal charges related to being in possession of methamphetamine and a handgun.  36-year-old Thomas Gregory Lilley of Fontana, CA was arrested by Wayne County Sheriff’s deputies who discovered a Walther 7.65 handgun and 15.1 grams of methamphetamine in Lilley’s car. Sentencing has been set for Feb. 18, 2015.

33-year-old Ryan Earl Bess of Ridgway has entered a guilty plea to federal charges he was growing a large amount of marijuana.  Bess was caught growing more than 100 marijuana plants at a location in rural Gallatin County. Sentencing has been set for Feb. 11, 2015.

The former Best One Tire business on W. Main Street in Fairfield will have a new tenant soon.  Powless Auto Sales and Repair will be moving into the structure soon.  Best One Tire closed abruptly earlier this month. The owners have given no reason for the closure.

Headlines for Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A crowd estimated to be around 400 gathered at the First Christian Church in Fairfield Tuesday evening for the second of three scheduled pro-fracking meetings. The town-hall meetings are being staged by a group called Opportunities in Land.  One of the keynote speakers Tuesday night was Rod Taylor, an Indianapolis attorney and native of Wayne County who filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of a number of Wayne County landowners over delays in the issuance of drilling and fracking permits in Southern Illinois. Another key speaker was oil producer Wayne Woolsey.  Woolsey told the crowd that his tests of oil-rich shale formations in the area resemble those discovered in North Dakota which triggered a huge oil boom.

Fairfield has lost another business. The Wagon Wheel Diner has closed its doors and is now for sale.  Located in the 900 block of W. Delaware, the new owners had transformed the former Elvira’s 909 into the diner.  The “For Sale” signs went up this week.

45-year-old Tracy J. Wilhite of Fairfield was arrested Tuesday evening on charges of theft, burglary and possession of a controlled substance. Wilhite is accused of stealing a bottle of pain pills from her mother’s home on Broadway Street in Fairfield.

39-year-old Jason L. Hart of Spring Street in Fairfield was arrested Tuesday afternoon after he allegedly threw a cell phone at his wife, Elizabeth, striking her in the chest.  Jason Hart was jailed on preliminary charges of domestic battery and interfering with the reporting of a domestic battery complaint.

A load of frozen pizzas was destroyed Tuesday when a semi caught fire on Interstate 57 near the rest area south of Salem.  The semi driver, Gabriel Torres of Alabama got out of the burning cab without injury

Headlines for Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Residents interested in the development of oil-rich shale formations in Southern Illinois will gather this evening in Fairfield for a town hall meeting. Local environmental engineer Jerry Quindry will be one of the featured speakers. Quindry will discuss the handling of environmental concerns surrounding the use of high volume, high pressure hydraulic fracturing to stimulate shale formations.  The meeting starts at 7 tonight at the First Christian Church in Fairfield.

Demolition is underway at the old Wendy’s Restaurant in Fairfield.  Peoples National bank purchased the building along with 11 other pieces of property to make way for a new bank.  Once demolition is completed, Peoples National Bank will own essentially 3/4ths of the block.

The Fairfield Grade School Board met Monday night, approving a statement of intent regarding the use of a one percent sales tax to support school construction and maintenance.  If approved by the voters on Nov. 4, the sales tax revenue would actually result in lower property taxes for Wayne County landowners.

The Edwards County Community Unit School board met Monday night, voting to hire Edward Jones and Associates to service bonds being issued to complete a number of life, health, safety projects within the district.

An “express lane” will be established this Thursday and Friday at the Wayne County courthouse for local residents to pay their Real Estate Taxes. Those paying by check will not be required to pass through the new security entrance and go to the Treasurer’s office to pay their bills. The first installment will be due this Friday, Oct. 24.

Headlines for Monday, October 20, 2014

BayleyFrankFrank Bayley, the co-founder of the Hucks convenience store chain and Big John Superstores, died Saturday. He was 86. A U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War, Bayley and business partner Bob Martin opened the first Hucks Convenience Store in Grayville, Illinois in 1974. Bob Martin died in 1998. The convenience store chain since has grown to 113 stores in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri with over 1,500 employees. In addition to the Hucks and Big John Superstores, Bayley was also involved in LB Ford in Carmi and Flora, Illinois. Services for Frank Bayley will be 10 a.m. Thursday at the First Presbyterian Church in Carmi. Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Wednesday at the church.

A large crowd is expected Tuesday evening for a pro-fracking meeting in Fairfield.  OIL (Opportunities in Land) is staging the meeting at the First Christian Church in Fairfield at 7 p.m.  Attorney Rod Taylor will be one of the keynote speakers at the meeting.  Taylor, a native of Cisne, filed suit last week on behalf of a number of Wayne County landowners over the Illinois Department of Natural Resources refusal to issue drilling and fracking permits in Illinois.

Nine members of the Cisne FFA will be honored this Sunday for their upcoming participation in the 87th National FFA Convention in Louisville, KY.  The public is invited to attend the reception at 2 p.m. in the Cisne High School Cafeteria. Those being honored are Rebeccah Mugrage, Mitchell Levi, Dustin Atteberry, Cassie Billington, Shania Hedrick, Katlyn Maloy, Mikayla Massie, Lucretia Mills and Emily Sams.

Fairfield Community High School’s Guidance Department is hosting a College and Career Fair for students and parents this Tuesday from 1 – 4 in the East Gym of the high school.  All area students and parents are invited to attend.

The first installment of Wayne County Real Estate Taxes will be due this Friday. An express lane will be open Thursday and Friday in the lobby of the courthouse for those who do not wish to pass through the new security entrance. The second installment of Edwards County Real Estate Taxes will be due this Wednesday.

Tickets are available for Animals Requesting Friends’ annual HOWLoween Hairball slated for tis Saturday evening at the Fairfield Elks Club. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door.  Tickets are available at Country Roads Realty, Kincaids Home Décor Department or at the Elks.

Headlines for Sunday, October 19, 2014

The first installment of Wayne County’s real estate taxes is due this Friday.  Treasurer Donna Vaughan says an express lane will be set up at the Wayne County Courthouse this Thursday and Friday for those who wish to pay their taxes by check and don’t want to go through the security entrance.  Those paying by cash will have to go into the Treasurer’s office.  The drop box on the west side of the courthouse is also available for payment.  Those with question can call Treasurer Vaughn’s office at 842-5087.

The second installment of Edwards County real estate taxes is due this Wednesday.  Treasurer Cindy Hocking says as of early last week, 73 percent of the nearly $5.2 million extension had been collected.  Payments postmarked with an October 22nd date will be accepted as on-time.  Payments can also be made by using the drop box, online with a credit card, or in person at Treasurer Hocking’s office.

Two Ina residents were killed late Friday night in a house explosion.  According to reports, Jefferson County Coroner Eddie Joe Marks identified the victims as 87-year-old Byford Campbell and 87-year-old Wastina Campbell.  Autopsies were scheduled to be performed today.  A neighbor said the explosion caused the house to fall off its foundation.  Firefighters reported much of the house was in flames and a natural gas line was spewing flames upon arrival.  The State Fire Marshal’s Office is looking into the cause of the explosion and fire.

An Opportunity in Land meeting will be held Tuesday night at 7 at the First Christian Church in Fairfield.  The meeting was moved to the church from City Hall due to an expected large crowd.  Speakers for the meeting include Cisne native and Indianapolis-based attorney Rod Taylor.  He’s representing several Wayne County landowners that have filed a lawsuit against Governor Pat Quinn and Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller over delays in issuing permits for horizontal hydraulic fracturing.

23-year-old Brianne G. Martin of Effingham, IL was killed Friday afternoon in an accident on I-57 in Effingham County.  State police said 60-year-old John H. Adams of Bluff, IL was driving a semi in the left lane of I-57 at the 168 mile marker at a slow rate of speed, and came to a stop as he was trying to enter the median lane crossover of the interstate.  Martin was traveling behind Adams’ semi and hit in the left rear passenger side.  Martin was pronounced dead at the scene.  Adams was cited for driving with unsafe equipment.

Illinois’ unemployment rate fell in September for the 7th straight month, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, to 6.6 percent.  The IDES also said that employers in the state created 19,300 jobs according to preliminary data released Friday by the IDES and Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The unemployment rate has dropped 2.5 percent from a year ago, and is at the lowest rate since June 2008.  The unemployment rate identifies those who are out of work and are actively seeking employment.

Headlines for Saturday, October 18, 2014

An O.IL (Opportunity in Land) county hall meeting has been set for this Tuesday night at 7 p.m.  The meeting was originally set to be held at Fairfield City Hall, but has been moved to the First Christian Church.  Cisne native and Indianapolis-based attorney Rod Taylor will be one of the speakers.  Taylor is representing a number of Wayne County landowners that have filed a lawsuit against Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller for delaying issuing permits for horizontal hydraulic fracturing, claiming the delays are unconstitutional.  O.IL is a group of citizens supporting shale development.  Fairfield Mayor Chuck Griswold will give the welcome at Tuesday’s meeting.

The Fairfield Community High School varsity scholastic team began their regular season this week with a 2 and 3 record at a conference meet in Centralia.  FCHS recorded wins over Mt. Vernon and Hamilton County, and lost to Marion on the final question and to Herrin in overtime, and also lost to Centralia.  Alex Brake led the tossup scoring for FCHS, answering 10.  FCHS will be in action again November 13th at Hamilton County.

Wayne County Treasurer Donna Vaughan is reminding taxpayers that the first installment due date for real estate taxes is this Friday, October 24th.  Vaughan says an express lane will be set up in the lobby of the Wayne County Courthouse for those paying by check and do not wish to go through the security entrance.  Those paying by cash will have to go into the Treasurer’s office.  The drop box on the west side of the courthouse will also be available.  Those with questions can call Vaughan’s office at 842-5087.

A water leak was reported Friday in the Lakeview Subdivision, affecting residents on or near Woodland Drive, York Drive and Florence Drive.  Once the leak is fixed and water service restored, affected residents will need to boil any water to be used for human consumption until further notice.

The Wayne County Democratic Party Dinner is set for this evening at the Geff Ruritan Building.  The event will start at 5 p.m.  Lieutenant Governor candidate Paul Vallas will be the keynote speaker.  Tickets are $10 each and will be available at the door.

Headlines for Friday, October 17, 2014

A former Fairfield man was arrested for DUI Thursday night after the 2006 Chevy Trailblazer he was driving went out of control and crashed into the Briarwood Inn Motel on the city’s west side.  52-year-old Robert L. Gooch of San Juan Pueblo, NM refused any field sobriety tests at the scene and was booked into the county jail on a charge of DUI. His blood alcohol level was .362 – more than four times the legal limit for DUI in Illinois. No one was injured.

bassettA Wayne County man sentenced to die in the electric chair for his involvement in a deadly prison riot in 1965 that left three guards dead has been set free.  75-year-old William Earl Bassett has been released on parole after serving 50 years of a 300 year sentence for murder. He and two other inmates had originally been sentenced to death. After the death penalty was ruled unconstitutional in 1972 by the U.S. Supreme Court, death row was cleared out. The death penalty was reinstated in 1976. By then, Basset was re-sentenced. The riot happened on Nov. 23, 1965,

volley for cure deal

The Wabash County Health Department’s Breast Cancer Risk Reduction Project has received a donation from the Edwards County volleyball team to assist in providing risk education activities in Wayne, White, Wabash, Edwards and Lawrence Counties.  The money was raised through the “Dig Pink” volleyball game when Edwards County Lady Lions hosted the Fairfield Lady Mules.

The Wayne County Democratic Party dinner has been set for 5 o’clock this Saturday at the Geff Ruritan building.   Paul Vallas, the Democratic Candidate for Lt. Gov. will be the keynote speaker.  Tickets are $10 at the door.  Randy Mason is catering the meal.

Volunteers for a Progressive Fairfield are honoring Poor Ol’ Bob Medler this Saturday with a cookout on the Wayne County Courthouse square. Ronnie Vaughan and his crew will be cooking up fish and serving BBQ. Serving will begin at 10:30.  Money raised will be donated to the Fairfield Park District in memory of Bob Medler.

Headlines for Thursday, October 16, 2014

Clark Ewing

Nine-year-old Clark Ewing of Fairfield was honored Thursday by being named a Junior Wayne County Sheriff’s Deputy.  Clark, the son of Lawrence Ewing of Fairfield is scheduled for surgery later this week for a brain tumor. Clark told Chief Deputy Andy Milner that he has always wanted to be a police officer.   Pictured with Junior Deputy Clark Ewing is his grandfather Alvin Ewing, Chief Deputy Andy Milner and Deputy Denny Lane standing in front of “his squad”.

After the state’s Joint Commission on Administrative Rules announced it will put off its recommendations on fracking rules until after the November 4 election, a number of Wayne County landowners filed suit.  A total of 13 local landowners have filed suit against Governor Pat Quinn and Marc Miller, the director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The plaintiffs claim their constitutional rights are being violated by the IDNR’s refusal to issue drilling and fracking permits.  The practice of high volume, high pressure hydraulic fracturing was authorized by the State Legislature more than a year ago.

33-year-old Robert L. Spoonemoor of Carmi has been sentenced to 7 years in prison after pleading guilty to a class-2 felony charge of bringing a controlled substance into a penal institution.  White County State’s Attorney Denton Aud has recommended that Spoonemoor serve his time in the Department of Corrections’ Boot Camp.

23-year-old Levi A. Williams of Enfield has been sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty in White County Circuit Court to a charge of aggravated battery.  Williams has also been recommended for Boot Camp.


Grayville High School’s Anatomy I and II students, along with their instructor, Leah Sample, recently visited Wabash Valley College for a tour of Dr. Todd Gill’s cadaver lab. Dr. Gill was pleased to allow the students and the instructor this excellent opportunity to assist them with their teaching of Anatomy.

Illinois farmers know they’ve got a bumper corn crop on their hands, but wet weather has slowed the harvest.  As of last Sunday, just 35% of the state’s corn crop had been harvested.  Only 29% of the soybeans have been combined.

Frontier Community College is hosting a Community Job Fair today from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the Workforce Development building.  The Job Fair is designed to give Frontier students and the general public an opportunity to meet face-to-face with potential employers in a large setting and learn about possible job openings. Computers will also be available for individuals to complete online job applications.

Headlines for Wednesday, October 15, 2014

nite rig

Thirteen Wayne County landowners have filed a class action lawsuit seeking damages from Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Marc Miller, the Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The plaintiffs allege their Constitutional rights have been violated because the IDNR has failed to issue drilling and fracking permits to developers seeking to unlock energy reserves from the New Albany Shale formation.  The suit was filed this morning in Wayne County Circuit Court by Indianapolis attorney Rod Taylor.

The City of Fairfield has purchased a “used” pickup truck for the water department.  The 2014 vehicle with only 30 miles on it cost $33,000.  Aldermen approved spending an additional $13,500 to put a utility bed on the vehicle.

The City of Fairfield has secured a default judgment and demolition order for a dilapidated house at 305 N.E. 7th Street in Fairfield.  The house is expected to be brought down later today.

Trick or Treat dates have been set for Fairfield.  Trick or Treating will be allowed on Thursday and Friday, October 30 and 31 from 5 – 8 p.m.

34-year-old Lawrence G. Winstead of Evansville has been sentenced to 7 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges he delivered crack cocaine to a confidential source in White County.  White County State’s Attorney Denton Aud added that Winstead has been ordered to pay fines, fees and court costs totaling $3,000.

A Federal Grand Jury in Benton has returned a felony indictment against 50-year-old Alvin L. “Buddy” Ewing, II for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.  Police seized a Bushmaster .223 rifle from Ewing during a traffic stop.

Headlines for Tuesday, October 14, 2014

An elderly Edwards County, Ill. man was seriously injured Tuesday morning when he was mauled by a bull. Edwards County Sheriff Darby Boewe identified the victim as Loren Webb, 78 of 220 County Road 510 E Albion. The sheriff said Webb was working with cattle in a pen when he was pinned against a structure by a bull.  Edwards County Ambulance Service personnel transported Webb to a landing zone at the Edwards County High School in Albion where he was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Evansville. The incident happened around 10:15 Tuesday morning.

A federal grand jury in Benton has returned an indictment against a Fairfield for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The indictment charges 50-year-old Alvin L. “Buddy” Ewing, II with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.   The government has also filed a firearms forfeiture allegation in the case. In the indictment, Ewing is accused of being in possession of a Bushmaster Model XM 15-E2S .223 caliber rifle.  It was unlawful for Ewing to have the rifle because he has been convicted of three or more “violent felonies” or “serious drug offenses”. Federal officials are also seeking to forfeit Ewing’s gun as part of their case against him.

A thin line of strong thunderstorms moved through the Wayne County shortly before 5 o’clock Monday evening.  Most of the region had been placed under a tornado watch until midnight last night.  No damage or injuries were reported from the storms.  Heavy rain accompanied the storms.

westwaterPenolepe K. Westwater is Fairfield’s newest attorney.  Westwater began her duties Monday as an associate in the Law Office of Mike Molt. Most recently, she had been an associate in the Law Office of Morris Lane Harvey in Mt. Vernon. A native of the Champaign/Urbana area, she obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and her law degree from the University of Wisconsin. Westwater started her law career in a Chicago law firm focusing on securities litigation and helping clients with compliance and other corporate issues. Attorney Westwater is married and has two children – 4 and 10.


ahrensFormer District 19  State Police Commander Lt. David Ahrens died Sunday.  He was 72.  Lt. Ahrens retired from the Illinois State Police after 32 years of service.  Before becoming commander of the State Police Post at Carmi, he had served in District 5 Joliet, District 11 in Collinsville and District 11-A at Litchfield.  Lt. Ahrens was also a veteran of the Vietnam War, having served four years in the U.S. Air Force. Services for Lt. David Ahrens will be 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 16 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Shawneetown. Visitation will be 4 – 7 Wednesday evening at the church.  The Vickery Funeral Home of Ridgway is in charge of the arrangements.


One of Southern Illinois University’s starting basketball players has been suspended.  Point guard Tyler Smithpeters, a native of Harrisburg has been suspended for violating the university code of conduct. Smithpeters is not allowed to attend class or even be on campus.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner has released his 2013 federal and state income tax returns. Rauner and his wife Diana earned nearly $61 million last year. He paid $17 million in state and federal taxes and gave a little more than $5 million to charity.

Champaign police are seeking the public’s help in solving five attacks that happened this past weekend on the University of Illinois campus.  The victims told police that they were attacked by a group of men. In each case, the victims were knocked down, kicked in the head and body while they were on the ground.  The suspects were in blue sedan or SUV.

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