Len Wells, News Director


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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.

Headlines for Monday, October 13, 2014


The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman Oklahoma has placed Wayne, White and nearby counties under a tornado watch until midnight tonight  The greatest thread for strong to severe storms, including the possibility of a tornado will be mid to late afternoon across Southern Illinois.  The threat will shift later in the evening to the east. Strong straight line winds, downbursts and isolated tornadoes are the greatest threat with this approaching system.  Heavy rainfall is also possible across much of the region this afternoon and evening.


Retired Fairfield Community High School teacher and coach Rick Book died this morning at a hospital in Sun City, AZ. Mr. Book (pictured left) had been a longtime PE instructor and coached football, track and wrestling. Funeral services for Rick Book are pending at the Johnson & Vaughn Funeral Home in Fairfield.




lockeminderTwo additional arrests have been made in connection with the weekend escape of two inmates from the White County jail in Carmi.  Brandy J. Minder, 32 of Carmi (right)  and Wayne County native, Jason Locke, 34 of Carmi (left) face a charge of obstruction of justice.  The two allegedly assisted 26-year-old Donald Currier of Golden Gate and Robert Mead, 32 of Johnston City after they broke out of the White County Jail early Saturday morning. Currier and Mead were captured Saturday evening at a house in rural Saline County and have been returned to the White County jail in Carmi.

43-year-old Lewis L. Tuggle of Evansville was arrested Sunday morning after he tried to flee from Mt. Carmel City Police w

ho were trying to stop him for running a stop sign at 9th and Cherry Street. Tuggle was cited for drunk driving, fleeing and eluding and illegal transportation of alcohol. Police say they recovered three firearms and 350 rounds of ammo from his car.

20-year-old Eldon S. Boyd of Illinois Ave. in Fairfield was arrested Saturday night on a charge of battery. Boyd is accused of grabbing and shoving 23-year-old Samantha A. Davis of Lawrenceville during an argument.

The Fairfield Coin Club held its 44th annual Show and Auction Sunday. Colton Simpson of Fairfield and Kailee Sabin of Xenia were presented $500 scholarships. Both will be attending Frontier Community College. Paul and Becky Turner were named as Lifetime Members of the Coin Club.

Entrants are being sought for the annual Fairfield Veterans Day Parade. Desert Storm Veterans will be honored during this year’s parade, which has been set for 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8.  To sign up for the parade, call organizer Clifford Reever at 516-3111.

Headlines for Sunday, October 12, 2014

currierRobert MeadTwo escapees from the White County jail in Carmi were captured Saturday evening at a house off Raleigh Road in rural Saline County. 26-year-old Donald Currier of Golden Gate and 32-year-old Robert M. Mead of Johnston City escaped through the roof of the jail at 1:37 Saturday morning. Currier suffered an ankle injury jumping from the jail roof. Police tracked the escapee’s movements to a house in Carmi, then a house in Eldorado and eventually to a house off the Raleigh Road. Both men resisted arrest, police said. Illinois State Police, U.S. Marshals, the Southern Illinois Task Force and local sheriff’s deputies and city police assisted in the capture of the fugitives.

minderlockeTwo suspects have been jailed for allegedly aiding Robert Mead and Donald Currier in their efforts to elude law enforcement after their jail escape. Wayne County native Jason Locke, 34 (pictured right) and Brandy J. Minder, 32 of Carmi (pictured left)  have been jailed on a charge of obstruction of justice.


wantedIllinois State Police are asking for help from the public in locating a 45-year-old Paducah, KY woman who was last seen on Wednesday with her husband, Clifford Williams, Sr. in Ullin, Illinois in deep Southern Illinois.  Sylvia Tipler was reported missing by her family on Friday.  Williams is currently wanted on a Pulaski County warrant for kidnapping and should be considered armed and dangerous.

Fairfield Aldermen will get an update Tuesday evening on the city’s efforts to land a medical marijuana cultivation center in Fairfield.  If approved by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the Wellness Group of Chicago will build the cultivation center on property south of town near the sewer plant.

Tickets are on sale now for ARF’s annual HOWLoween Hairball. The event will take place Saturday evening, Oct. 25 at the Fairfield Elks Club. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door.  The band Torn and Frayed is returning for their 11th Hairball performance at 8 p.m.

Headlines for Saturday, October 11, 2014

 Robert MeadWhite County Sheriff Dougcurrier Maier says two inmates were missing from the White County Jail this morning.  26-year-old Donald Currier of Golden Gate (right) and 32-year-old Robert M. Mead of Johnston City, IL  (left) were missing from the jail following a head count at breakfast this morning.  Outside video showed the suspects left at 1:37 a.m.  A hole was discovered in the ceiling and roof of the jail.  Sheriff’s departments in Wayne, Edwards and Williamson counties have been notified for assistance.  Anyone with information on the suspects whereabouts is asked to contact the White County Sheriff’s Department.

Illinois’ Fifth District Court of Appeals has rejected 39-year-old Danny K. Coston’s appeal of his conviction for the August 2012 slaying of 22-year-old Jacob Wheeler of Centerville, IL and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Jessi Evans of Norris City.  Coston’s appellate attorney disputed the trial court’s ruling that his client was not in custody during the first and second of three interviews conducted on August 31, 2012.  Coston avoided a jury trial by opting for a stipulated bench trial in August of last year before Judge Thomas Foster.  Coston is currently serving a 53-year prison sentence for the killings at the Stateville Correctional Center near Joliet, IL.  He will be eligible for parole in the year 2063, when he is 87 years old.

The Fairfield City Council is set to meet Tuesday night in regular session.  Approval is expected to be given for street closings for this year’s Christmas Parade.  The council is also expected to set the dates for Trick or Treating in the city this year, and be updated on the process of starting up the operation of medical cannabis by the Wellness Group.  The meeting begins at 6 p.m.

The Fairfield Dairy Queen restaurant is among several in the Tri-State that have been affected by a recent data breach, according to company officials.  A statement released this week said the company had confirmed that the payment systems at some of its stores had been “infected with the widely-reported Backoff malware that is targeting retailers across the country”.  The malware impacted payment card data that contained customers names, addresses and expiration dates.  Dairy Queen said customers who think their cards were compromised should contact their card issuers

The Fairfield Park District has announced it has received a donation of $40,000 from the Bernard and Naomi Podolsky Charitable Trust to help with expansion of the district’s recreational facilities.  Plans call for around $25,000 of the money to be used to allow the district to expand its all-weather walking trails at Leo French Park in memory of Bernard and Naomi Podolsky.  The city of Fairfield and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources have also held discussions about the development of “The Forest Primeval” in cooperation with the district and the Podolsky family north of the Atkinson Subdivision.

A benefit dinner for Ron Cowles and family will be held tonight at the James H. Helm American Legion Hall in Grayville from 5 to 8 p.m. with a live auction beginning at 6 p.m.  Proceeds will benefit the family of Ron Cowles, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, and worked for the City of Grayville for 20 years, also serving as the City of Grayville Utility Manager.  A special account for donations has been set up at Tri-County Bank in Grayville, and checks can be made to the Ron Cowles Benefit Fund.

Headlines for Friday, October 10, 2014

costonIllinois’ Fifth District Court of Appeals has rejected Danny K. Coston’s appeal of his conviction for the August, 2012 slaying of a young Southern Illinois couple. The ruling was issued Thursday afternoon. Coston, 39 of Centerville, Ill. is currently serving a 53 year prison sentence for the shooting deaths of Jacob Wheeler, 22 of Centerville, Ill. and Wheeler’s girlfriend, Jessi Evans, 17 of Norris City, Ill.  Coston’s appellate attorney disputed the trial court’s ruling that his client was not in custody during the first and second of three interviews conducted on August 31, 2012. “The order of the court denying the defendant’s motion to suppress incriminating statements made to the police in three separate interviews is affirmed where the defendant was advised of, and knowingly waived those rights, and his statements were otherwise voluntary.”  White County State’s Attorney Denton Aud said he was pleased with the Appellate Court’s ruling. “The Court’s ruling affirms the investigation by Sheriff Doug Maier, his department, and the Illinois State Police, as well as the decisions made in resolving the case with a result of Coston being sentenced to what amounts to a life sentence for his brutal and heinous acts,” Aud said. “Most importantly, the Court has affirmed justice for Jessi and Jake and their families. All of us should say an extra prayer to God for their comfort at this time as we hold onto our loved ones.”

Peoples National Bank has acquired the former Wendy’s Restaurant property on W. Delaware in Fairfield along with 11 other pieces of property in the area. Plans are underway to construct a 5,000 to 6,000 square foot bank on the property.  Plans for the construction are expected to be completed within the next 30 days. No plans have been announced for the bank’s current multi-story property on S.E. Third Street.

A Georgia truck driver whose vehicle struck and killed an Illinois State Police Trooper in November of 2012 has been placed on probation.  Johnny B. Felton, Jr. of Hinesville, GA has been sentenced to 28 months of probation and was fined $2,500. Trooper Kyle Deatherage was a motorcycle officer. He was struck and killed while making a traffic stop on Interstate 55 near Litchfield.

Over $9,000 worth of items will be auctioned off Saturday evening to benefit the family of Ron Cowles of Grayville. Cowles retired as Grayville’s Utility Manager earlier this year. A few months later, he was diagnosed with Stage IV Cancer. A BBQ dinner and charity auction will run from 5 – 8 this Saturday evening at the American Legion Hall in Grayville.

The Illinois Civil Justice League has released its ratings of judicial candidates ahead of the November 4 General Election. Locally, Fairfield Attorney Mike Molt received a “recommended” rating.  Wabash County State’s Attorney Cassandra Goldman and Second Circuit Judge David Overstreet also received “recommended” ratings.

Fairfield Memorial Hospital and Frontier Community College’s “Run for your Life 5-K” is this Saturday.  Registration is at 7 a.m. at Fairfield Memorial Hospital’s Medical Arts Complex with the race starting at 8 a.m. The course leads participants to Frontier Community College and back to the hospital.

Headlines for Thursday, October 9, 2014

An elderly Sims man faces a charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly using a shotgun to kill his neighbor’s dog. 80-year-old Jackie L. “Jack” Scott is accused of killing a dog belonging to his neighbor, Jamie L. Howard. The incident happened a little before 6:30 Wednesday night.  Scott told police the dog had been in his yard earlier in the day and had “pinned him” against his house. Scott was given a notice to appear in court on the misdemeanor charge.

Two Fairfield men have been jailed on charges they shoplifted hundreds of dollars’ worth of merchandise from the Fairfield Wal-Mart.  Ryan Tibbs, 24 of Fairfield and Jacob Lawrence, 22 of Fairfield have been jailed on preliminary charges of felony retail theft and possession of cannabis. Items allegedly taken during the heist included knives, a cell phone, shotgun shells and underwear.

20-year-old Mitchell L. Jarrell of Mt. Vernon, IL was jailed Wednesday on charges he was driving a Chevy Lumina that had been stolen in Mt. Vernon. Jarrell was also wanted on a Wayne County warrant for Failure to Appear in Court on a Retail Theft charge.

Significant rainfall is in the forecast over the next several days.  Officials with the National Weather Service office in Paducah, KY say that that some areas of the region could see between three and five inches of rainfall between today and the middle of next week.  No severe weather is forecast in association with the approaching systems.

41-year-old Cory Lee Hoffman of Mt. Carmel has been sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of being in possession of a stolen vehicle. The sentence was handed down Wednesday in White County Circuit Court at Carmi. Hoffman drew a concurrent 3 ½ year prison sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated drunk driving – his fourth offense.

Illinois doctors have signed off on Illinois medical marijuana for patients with cancer, severe fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. The department announced Wednesday that about 6,300 Illinois patients have started the process of applying to use the state’s first legal offering of medical marijuana.

Illinois health officials say they are prepared in the event someone within the state’s borders is diagnosed with Ebola. Public Health Director LaMar Hasbrouck says he is in constant communication with the state’s hospitals, clinics and public health departments and they’ve put a plan in place to respond quickly to any potential cases.

The annual HOWLoween Hairball has been set for Saturday, Oct. 25 at the Fairfield Elks Club. The event is staged each year by Animals Requesting Friends. The band, Torn & Frayed is returning for their 11th Hairball performance. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

Headlines for Wednesday, October 8, 2014

bridwellA McLeansboro, Ill. man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges he had unlawful sexual contact with a minor under the age of 13. Stephen K. Bridwell, 21 entered a guilty plea to a class-1 felony charge of Indecent Solicitation of a Child and drew a 15 year prison sentence.  In pleading guilty to a class-2 felony charge of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse of a child, Bridwell drew an additional 3 year prison sentence.  The sentences will be followed by 3 years of parole once he is released from prison. The charges against Bridwell were filed in May of this year following an investigation carried out by Illinois State Police detectives.  In pleading guilty to the charges, Bridwell admitted he had sexual contact with a minor under the age of 13 and that he had sent text messages to the victim discussing sexual conduct.

Best Onbest onee Tire and Service on West Main Street in Fairfield closed its doors abruptly on Tuesday.  The closure came with no advanced notice, as workers were still making appointments for customers as late as Tuesday morning. An “Out of Business” sign was posted on the front door. The sign also informed customers that all warranties will be honored at area Best One locations, including stores at Harrisburg, Marion and Princeton, IN.

High winds uprooted trees and downed a power pole in West Salem Tuesday. Marble size hail was also reported. Straight-line winds knocked down five Ameren power poles in Flora Tuesday, knocking out power to a wide area of Clay County.  More shower and thunderstorm activity is forecast for late tonight and Thursday.

The U.S. Energy Department predicts that it will cost less to stay warm this winter because a repeat of last year’s deep freeze is very unlikely.  The Energy Department’s annual prediction of winter heating costs released Tuesday states that Americans won’t have to crank up the heat as much, so they should pay less for energy.

A federal judge in Benton has ruled a Chicago man accused of mailing threats of beheadings and bombings to Southern Illinois University’s Carbondale campus must remain in custody.  Derrick Dawan Burns faces 8 felony charges related to those threats.  A federal judge in Chicago had previously ruled Burns was eligible for bond.

The Illinois Archery Deer and Archery Fall Turkey seasons are now open and will continue through January 18.  The firearm deer hunting season will close the archery seasons Nov. 21 – 23 and Dec. 4 – 7.  Hunting permits are available over-the-counter from Department of Natural Resources Direct License and Permit Vendors.

Headlines for Tuesday, October 7, 2014

campbellAt 9:14 a.m. this morning, Gibson County Indiana Central Dispatch received a report of a shoplifter at the Pilot Travel Center located on 1042 E. Warrenton Road and US 41. When officers arrived an investigation was conducted and 23 year old Joshua L. Campbell of Mt. Carmel, Illinois, was ultimately taken into custody for Theft. He remains in custody on a $1300 cash bond. Arresting officer was Sgt. Bruce L. Vanoven.

Marble size hail was reported in the West Salem area this morning. A few trees were uprooted and a power pole was snapped from high winds associated with a strong storm this morning.  Widely scattered thunderstorms developed over the area Monday afternoon.  In downtown Fairfield, pea size hail was reported as a strong thunderstorm drifted across the area. In the Mt. Carmel area, nickel size hail was reported. More rain is in the forecast for today and Thursday. No damage was reported from Monday’s storms.

53-year-old David J. Kunce of Fairfield has been jailed on charges of being in possession of meth, driving revoked, DUI and obstructing justice. A Wayne County Sheriff’s deputy stopped Kunce’s vehicle on W. Water at N.W. 7th Street Monday night and discovered he had no valid drivers license.  Officers allege that Kunce tried to throw a metal container into the bed of his truck that contained a quantity of suspected methamphetamine.

The City of Albion is losing three to four million gallons of water per month. Officials believe it could be a metering issue. The Albion City Council voted Monday night to seek bids for new water meters in an effort to correct the problem.

The last day to register to vote in the upcoming General Election is today, Oct. 7.  If you have moved recently, you need to transfer your registration. If you have married or had a name change, you need a new registration.  In-person absentee voting is underway in your local County Clerk’s Office during normal business hours.

Federal prosecutors are seeking a psychiatric examination for a Chicago man who is accused of mailing bomb threats to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.  21-year-old Derrick Burns remains in custody on eight felony charges linked to threatening mailings sent over a year-long span in 2012 and last year.

Conservation police in Illinois say they are seeing an increase in the number of arrests this fall for illegally digging and harvesting ginseng. The illegal practice has been noted recently in the Shawnee National Forest. Wild American ginseng root can be sold on the medicinal herb market for up to $1,000 a pound.

Headlines for Monday, October 6, 2015

19-year-old Thomas Hatcher of Fairfield was jailed Friday on a preliminary charge of aggravated domestic battery.  Hatcher is accused of slapping and choking his 15-year-old girlfriend.  Hatcher was arrested by Fairfield City Police on S.W. 6th Street Friday afternoon.

55-year-old Blair Pollard of Fairfield was arrested Sunday evening on a preliminary charge of domestic battery.  He is accused of shoving his wife off the bed and twisting her arm and a leg. The alleged victim, 61-year-old Barbara J. Pollard did not require medical attention.

27-year-old Alan Dale Stratton of Crossville was injured Saturday afternoon when the motorcycle he was riding ran off of a White County road south of Ill. Rt. 14 and crashed into a ditch.  Stratton was airlifted to a hospital in Evansville following the 12:53 p.m. crash.

34-ytwardoskiear-old Derrick Twardoski of Percy has been sentenced to 53-years in prison after admitting he set a fire last year that killed four children.  The fire, in rural Randolph County, claimed the lives of a set of 5-year-old twins, a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old.  The victims’ parents, a brother and a cousin were able to escape the blaze.


The third annual Fall Foliage Paint Out starts this Wednesday in Fairfield. Artists from around the Midwest will be painting outdoor scenes of the Fairfield area through this Saturday, Oct. 11.  More information about the event is available at www.fairfieldpaintout.com

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