Len Wells, News Director
The National Weather Service is keeping its eye on a developing system that could bring wintry precipitation to the region towards the end of the week. A system is expected to evolve in the nation’s mid-section as arctic air invades the Tri-State. The best chance for wintry weather will be Thursday night into Friday evening. Stay tuned to WFIW for more information.
The 70 MPH speed limit will soon be posted on rural Illinois Interstate highways. Barring any significant weather events, the Illinois Department of Transportation says it hopes to have new speed limit signs up by Jan. 17.
The Gathering of the Juggalos will no longer be held in Hardin County. The Insane Clown Posse event has been held at the Hog Rock Campground at Cave-In-Rock since 2007. Officials have not said where the event will be held. The event has produced a number of problems over the years, including fights, overdoses and even deaths.
The Festival of Lights opens tonight at Leo French Park. The hours will be from 5:30 – 8:30. The light display is a project of the Volunteers for a Progressive Fairfield.
The annual Fairfield Kiwanis Club Christmas Parade has been set for this Saturday, Dec. 7. The parade will begin at 5 p.m.
The Fairfield City Band will perform a Christmas program this evening at the First Christian Church in Fairfield. The free concert begins at 6 p.m.
The Volunteers for a Progressive Fairfield Festival of Lights is set to open Sunday at Leo French Park. The hours will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. with workers from Fairfield National Bank the hosts Sunday night. Donations will be accepted at the gate with proceeds going towards expenses related to replacing the lights and paying the utility bill. Mark Curtis of Albion will be offering carriage rides for a fee.
Illinois State Police plan to conduct roadside safety checks in various areas of the state in December. In our area, state police at the District 13 post in DuQuoin plan to conduct checks in Williamson County during December, as well as Alcohol Countermeasure Enforcement, or ACE, patrols, and nighttime enforcement patrols. Officers will be watching for motorists driving drunk and violating various traffic laws to help keep roadways safe.
A 7th person has died as a result of the tornadoes that struck central and southern Illinois on November 17th. Reports from Peoria say 82-year-old Rosamund Allison died Thursday at a local hospital from injuries sustained when an EF4 tornado hit Washington, IL causing extensive damage. Relatives said Allison was hurt when winds pulled her from her home and dropped debris on top of her.
Illinois lawmakers are set to return to Springfield on Tuesday and vote on a plan to solve the state’s $100 billion pension crisis. A report said the plan, if approved, would save $160 billion over 30 years and allow the state’s pension system to be fully funded by 2044. The retirement age for workers age 45 and younger would be increased on a sliding scale, and annual cost-of-living increases of three percent would be replaced. The new system would also result in smaller annual adjustments for the highest earners.
Young people in Illinois who have passed a hunter safety course can begin applying to hunt wild turkeys on private land across Illinois next spring. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says it is accepting applications from youth under the age of 16 to hunt on a private Illinois Recreational Access Program site. 25 counties in Illinois have the private sites. Successful applicants will be notified where their hunting site is located and given a permit to hunt on the specified property. The youth turkey hunting season begins in late March of next year.
Huge crowds were reported Thursday night at the Fairfield Super Wal-Mart as the big box store got an early jump on Black Friday shopping. Crowds lined up more than an hour before the store opened at 6 p.m. to take advantage of many advertised specials. Local Fairfield merchants have already launched their holiday shopping season with an open house earlier this month. Local retailers continue to offer many Christmas shopping specials.
The Fairfield Kiwanis Club sponsored Christmas Parade has been set for Saturday, December 7. The parade is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. While the deadline to register an entry for the parade has passed, more information about the event is available from Phyllis Hilliard at her State Farm Insurance Office in Fairfield.
Officials with the Illinois Department of Corrections have announced that an inmate who walked away from the Robinson Corrections Center in late August will now be charged with escape. 30-year-old Jared Carter walked away from a grass cutting detail. He was serving a ten year sentence for residential burglary out of Bond County when he escaped.
A training session on the recently updated Illinois Model Domestic Violence Protocol was held recently at the Windsor Oaks Inn at Grayville. Among those involved in the training were Fairfield Police Chief Brad Winter and Gwen Basinger, an Illinois State Police Detective.
The second firearm deer hunting season opens next weekend, Dec. 5 – 8. During the first firearm season, Nov. 22 – 24, hunters bagged 55,708 whitetail deer – down sharply from the same time period last year. Hunters in Wayne County took 1,037 deer during the first season – a drop of 151 from last year.
Hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 55,708 whitetail deer during the opening weekend of the firearm deer season last weekend. The harvest numbers are down sharply from the same time period last year when 72,111 deer were taken. Poor weather conditions contributed to lower hunter success last weekend. Hunters in Wayne County killed a total of 1,037 deer, down from last year’s total of 1,188.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Department is investigating who might be responsible for shooting several cows in a pasture owned by David Meador near the Foxville and Kell Roads. Three cows were found shot to death on Sunday. Several others had been shot and had to be put down. The loss is expected to top $6,000.
Three Indiana residents have been nabbed for allegedly stealing scrap metal at the Quinn Hunley property north of West Salem. The suspects have been identified as Jason Willemsen, 24 and Sean Detty, 27 of Evansville and Kaitlyn Murray, 26 of Newburgh, IN. Edwards County authorities made the arrests a little after 6 Wednesday morning.
Jessica L. Smith, 27 of Carmi has been sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty to a class-2 felony charge of theft. She will also have to pay court costs and restitution to the victims in White County.
The Fairfield City Band will perform a holiday program this Sunday, Dec. 1 at the First Christian Church in Fairfield. The concert is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. and will be under the direction of David Kosmatka. The concert is free and open to the public.
Fairfield Property Taxes are going up. Mayor Charles Griswold told councilmen Tuesday night about a proposed property tax increase of 22.1%. If approved by the council, the tax levy will go from last year’s total of $589,075 to $719,245. The money is needed to fund the local fire and police pension fund, which is currently $6 million in the hole. A public hearing on the proposed tax increase has been set for 5:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at city hall.
The Federal Government has declared several Southern Illinois counties disaster areas following a series of tornadoes that hit the area on Nov. 17. Wayne, Wabash and Jasper Counties are among the counties included in the disaster designation.
Former Wayne County State’s Attorney Kevin Kakac took the oath of office Tuesday afternoon, taking over as the Resident Judge of Wayne County. Outgoing Circuit Judge Joe Harrison administered the oath of office. Kakac will serve the unexpired year of Judge Harrison’s term of office. The ceremony was attended by Judge Kakac’s family and friends, as well as Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier and several other judges of the Second Judicial Circuit. Judge Kakac begins his duties on the bench next Monday.
Mount Carmel attorney William C. Hudson announced today that he is seeking the Republican nomination for Wabash County Circuit Judge. The position became open following the announcement Tuesday that after 21 years on the bench, Resident Wabash County Judge Stephen Sawyer is retiring at the end of this year. The primary election is on March 18 of next year. Hudson began his law practice with George W.Woodcock, eventually becoming a partner at Woodcock and Hudson, and is currently practicing with his wife, Shannon Hudson, who is also an attorney at Hudson Law Office. He is also serving his second six year term as a trustee on the Illinois Eastern Community College Board of Trustees.
A Wayne City, Ill. man has been indicted on charges he had unlawful sexual contact with a female relative under the age of 16. Randy E. Stilley, 35 was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon at his home and lodged in the Wayne County jail at Fairfield under $50,000 bond. A Wayne County Grand Jury returned the indictment on Friday. Late Tuesday afternoon, Hamilton County State’s Attorney Justin Hood also filed sexual assault charges against Stilley. Bond in the Hamilton County case has been set at $75,000.
After 21 years on the bench, Wabash County Resident Judge Stephen Sawyer has announced he is retiring at the end of the year. His term of office does not expire until December 1 of 2014. Judge Sawyer, 60 of Mount Carmel, Ill. was appointed to the post of Associate Judge in 1992. He served as an Associate Judge until being elected to the position for a six year term in 2008. Prior to becoming a judge, Sawyer served as Wabash County State’s Attorney from 1980 until 1992. Since October of 2011, Sawyer has served as Chief Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit. It is not known at this time if a judge will be appointed to serve the remaining one year of Sawyer’s term of office.
Wayne County was on the very northern edge of a developing storm system Monday that will cause considerable travel problems this week. Monday afternoon, light snow fell across the region, with a dusting of accumulation in many areas. Forecasters are calling for wind chills to drop into the single digits Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Any winter precip will stay far off to our east and south, but could still impact travel in these areas.
State Police continue their investigation into a Saturday night traffic crash on Thrill Hills in rural Hamilton County that left five people dead. The driver of the SUV that crashed – 49-year-old Darrell Delong of Collinsville – is the only survivor of the crash and remains at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville.
White County Sheriff Doug Maier reports a vehicle stolen Nov. 8 from James Taylor has been recovered in Morehead, KY. The vehicle, a 2010 Mustang was being driven by 55-year-old Julie Myers of Wellsburg, VA. Local charges of vehicle theft are expected to be filed by State’s Attorney Denton Aud.
At this month’s meeting of the North Wayne School Board, Adam Ellis was hired as Cisne High School head baseball coach. Kenny Collier was also hired as a Cisne High School teacher to fill a leave of absence.
Five people were killed Saturday night in a single vehicle crash in rural Hamilton County. A Chevy Trailblazer ran off Anderson School road and overturned several times, ejecting four passengers. The dead have been identified as Robert L. Parker, 49, Lori S. Parker, 42 and Tammy A. Delong, 35 all of Collinsville, 16-year-old Katelynn Fancher of Collinsville and Diana N. Wright, 23 of McLeansboro. The sole survivor of the crash is 49-year-old Darrell G. Delong of Collinsville. State Police say Darrell Delong was the driver. The accident – reported to police shortly before 10:30 Saturday night – remains under investigation. Darrell Delong was taken to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville. Katelynn Fancher died at 12:26 Sunday afternoon at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville.
The Fairfield Community High School Varsity Scholastic Team placed fourth in the annual Kickoff Tournament in Carbondale Saturday. FCHS finished with a 3 – 3 record on the day.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is investigating a potential fundraising scam tied to tornado relief efforts in the state. An unregistered out-of-state firm has allegedly been soliciting donations for victims of the Nov. 17 tornado outbreak in Illinois. Madigan suggests you research organizations heading up recovery efforts before making a donation.
Donald V. Stevens, 40 of Lawrenceville was arrested Friday on a charge of disorderly conduct after he allegedly exposed himself in the Family Dollar Store in Mt. Carmel. Witnesses told police that Stevens walked through the store flashing several customers.
Unemployment in Illinois continues to fall. The jobless rate has fallen to 8.9% after the state added nearly 26,000 jobs in September and October. The biggest gains were in the professional and business services and leisure and hospitality segments.
The Fairfield Community High School Varsity Scholastic Team placed 4th in the annual Illinois High School Scholastic Bowl Coaches Association Kickoff Tournament in Carbondale, IL Saturday. FCHS went 3 and 3 on the day, with wins over Johnston City, Cairo and the Caterville B team. They lost to the Carbondale A and B teams. Kyle Ellis led the tossup scoring for FCHS, answering 41 tossups.
The next meeting of the Fairfield City Council is this Tuesday night. Items on the agenda include an update on the city’s sweeping and snow removal plans, and an ordinance to reduce the speed limit in an alley. Also listed is the sale of property on Route 45 South, and an ordinance concerning establishing a billing and collection policy for city invoices.
The first half of the Illinois firearm deer hunting season comes to a close tonight. The second half of the season will run from Thursday, December 5th through Sunday, December 8th. Around 180,000 deer were taken last year during both firearm hunting seasons and the bow hunting season. That number is expected to be about the same this season.
Illinois added nearly 26,000 jobs in September and October, according to Greg Rivara with the Illinois Department of Employment Security. It is the largest two-month gain since May of 2010. The state unemployment rate is currently around 8.9 percent. Most of the job gains were reported to be in the professional and business services and leisure and hospitality sectors.
The Illinois State Board of Education has redrawn the map of regional education offices to meet a deadline set by the Legislature. A new state law required the board to cut the number of regions from 44 to 35. In southern Illinois, several regions were adjusted. Wayne County is now included in a district that is made up of Edwards, White, Hamilton, Wabash, Saline, Gallatin, Hardin and Pope counties. The new regional education offices will take effect July 1, 2015.
After all the bills were paid and late donations tallied up, an official total has been released from a series of cookouts and an auction held recently in honor of local volunteer Darrell Meritt. The events raised $7,961. The money has been shared equally among Darrell’s three favorite charities – the Scranton Memorial Cancer Fund, the Volunteers for a Progressive Fairifeld’s Festival of Lights and the Secret Santa Program. Each charity has been presented a check in the amount of $2,653.
The annual firearm deer hunting season is underway across Illinois and runs through Sunday. A second season picks up again for another four days between Dec. 5 and Dec. 8. Statewide, the number of deer taken last year in both firearm and bow season was around 180,000.
Fairfield Retail Merchants will be conducting their annual Christmas Open House this Sunday. Local retailers will be offering special sale pricing as well as refreshments and door prizes.
At least 1,500 homes were damaged or destroyed in last Sunday’s series of tornadoes. National Weather Service Officials now say that as many as 22 twisters touched down across the state, claiming 6 lives. An EF-2 twister touched down in Sims and left a path of damage to the north side of Fairfield.
Unemployment in Illinois continues to fall. Nearly 26,000 jobs were added in September and October. The biggest job gains were seen in the professional and business services and leisure and hospitality sectors.
A retirement reception for Judge Joe Harrison will be held today at Foundation Hall on the campus of Frontier Community College. The reception for Judge Harrison is open to the public and will run from 1 – 3:30. A program is scheduled to begin at 2:15 this afternoon. Judge Harrison has officially retired after 17 years on the bench. The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed former Wayne County State’s Attorney Kevin Kakac to serve the remaining year of Harrison’s term of office.
Wildlife biologists will examine the remains of a cougar found on a farm near Morrison in rural Whiteside County in an effort to learn more about the animal’s recent history and origin. The big cat, weighing over 100 pounds and nearly 6 ft. long, was killed Wednesday by a Conservation Police Officer after it was discovered in a concrete tunnel beneath a corn crib.
Frontier Community College President Dr. Tim Taylor is leaving next spring. The departure was confirmed Thursday by Illinois Eastern Community College District CEO Terry Bruce. Dr. Taylor has been at Frontier since 2008. CEO Bruce praised Dr. Taylor for his accomplishments over the past five years, including the implementation of a sports program and many improvements to the Frontier Campus. He is expected to leave next May.
29-year-old Sonny D. Southall of McLeansboro faces up to ten years in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges he was a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Southall was charged after police found him in possession of a loaded .9 mm handgun in White County.
Wayne County Golf Course is holding a volunteer work day from 8 until noon on Saturday to clean up debris from last Sunday’s tornado. The effort will be focused on the pro shop, club house and cart shed.