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Len Wells, News Director

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Headlines for Saturday, August 23, 2014

Members of the union representing Airtex Products workers in Fairfield will gather Sunday afternoon to vote on another contract offer.  The ratification meeting has been set for 2 p.m. Sunday in the Center Street Gym.  Last weekend, members voted down the company’s first contract offer, but agreed to continue working as negotiations moved forward.  The number of union employees at Airtex has dropped sharply over the past few years, with the UAW Local 543 currently representing about 240 rank and file members.

The personal belongings of former Mt. Carmel, IL businessman Kevin C. Williams will be put up for auction next Saturday, August 30th to help satisfy a $1.8 million federal court judgment.  Williams is currently serving a ten-year federal prison sentence for stealing over $2 million from an elderly Wabash County woman’s trust account.  The auction will be held at the Mabel H. Courter 4-H Center at the north edge of Mt. Carmel, IL starting at 9 a.m.

The Fairfield City Council is set to meet in regular session this Tuesday night at 6 p.m.  During the meeting, the council is expected to seek bids for a new mower for the Cemetery Department, and award bids for a trailer for the Water Distribution Department.  Also on Tuesday’s agenda is an airport proposal for the purchase of office furniture and supplies, and an engineering estimate for the restoration of a bridge on Andrews Drive.

Wayne County’s unemployment rate for July was 7.4 percent, while Edwards County’s rate was 7.5 percent.  The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Friday that all southern Illinois counties reported lower unemployment compared to a year ago, and that all but Franklin, Alexander, Pulaski, Hardin and Pope counties had July unemployment rates below ten percent.

Toyota announced Friday it plans to hire 300 new workers and invest $100 million over the next two years to increase production of its Highlander sport utility vehicle at its Princeton, IN facility.  Production is expected to increase by 30,000 vehicles per year with the additions.  Reports say the news comes following Toyota’s 2012 announcement that it would increase Highlander production by 50,000 annually, bringing production to 180,000 a year.  A report said that Toyota sold about 90,000 Highlanders between January and July of this year, an increase of 16 percent from the same period last year.


Headlines for Friday, August 22, 2014

Members of United Auto Workers Local 543 will gather Sunday to consider ratification of a new contract with Airtex Products in Fairfield. The ratification meeting has been set for 2 p.m. Sunday in the Center Street Gym.  Last weekend, members voted down the company’s first contract offer but agreed to stay on the job as contract negotiations continued.

The Edwards County corn yield survey has been completed. The average yield has been put at 157.42 bushels per acre. The highest yield was noted in French Creek Twp. At 168.77 bushels per acre.

Gov. Pat Quinn has announced a $3.2 million highway paving project for White County.  Nearly 15 miles of Ill. Rt. 1 between Grayville and Carmi will be resurfaced and patched.  Howell Paving, Inc. of Mattoon was the low bidder for the project.

Illinois State Police Trooper Jason Blessing, a Fairfield native is being hailed as a hero for his efforts in rescuing a motorist from floodwaters in Hamilton County last Sunday.  Without regard for his own safety, Trooper Blessing tied a rope around his waist and swam out to the submerged vehicle and rescued 54-year-old Allen L. Klein of McLeansboro.  Trooper Blessing also pulled a passerby to safety that had stopped to help in the rescue, but experienced difficulty swimming.  Mr. Klein is expected to make a full recovery.

At this month’s meeting of the Jasper School Board, members hired Riann Zurliene as a Paraprofessional.  The board also named Aaron Basnett as the school’s Pee Wee Basketball Coach.  The annual Jasper School Open House has been set for Tuesday, Sept. 2 from 6 – 7 p.m.


Headlines for Thursday, August 21, 2014

As much as five inches of rain fell in northern Wayne County overnight, causing some brief flash flooding conditions.  Officials report one car became stranded in high water on U.S. Rt. 45 near the Wayne-Clay County line.  No one was injured.  A flash flood warning was issued for Clay County early this morning.

A heat advisory has been issued for all of Southern Illinois until 7 o’clock Saturday night.  As high pressure aloft builds across the nation’s midsection, afternoon temperatures will heat up through the 90’s  With high humidity levels, heat index values could climb to around 105 this weekend.

robertson IISaline County authorities, along with an Illinois State Police SWAT Team raided a rural Eldorado man’s home Tuesday night, seizing a meth lab, guns and over $18,000 cash. 44-year-old Joseph H. Robertson has been jailed on preliminary charges of aggravated meth manufacturing, possession of meth and possession of cannabis. Police also seized a .38 caliber handgun, a .410 shotgun and a quantity of prescription medications.

Thieves made off with an oilfield injection pump from an oil lease operated by Kevin Miller of Noble. The Tulsa-brand pump was blue in color and had a reported value of $1,600

2014 Mens League Champs and 2nd place

Pictured above left to right – the 2014 Wayne County Golf Course Men’s League Champion’s Kent Vinson and Jay Fyie; 2nd place team Chad Hinkle and Kerry Meritt.

Megan Black has been employed as Director of Instructional Services at Frontier Community College.  Lori Noe has been employed as Coordinator of Financial Aid at FCC and Justin Wiles has submitted his resignation as Student Support Services Coordinator. The personnel matters were handled during this month’s meeting of the IECC Board of Trustees.


Headlines for Wednesday, August 20, 2014

49-yeDelong croppedar-old Darrel Delong of Collinsville has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for a traffic crash last November that killed five people, including his wife.  Delong was driving with a blood alcohol level of .14 the night he was hill jumping in rural Hamilton County. The crash claimed the lives of his wife Tammy; Tammy’s daughter, Katelyn Fancher, Robert and Lori Parker all of Collinsville and Diana Wright of McLeansboro.   The crash happened Nov. 23 of last year on a Hamilton County road called “Thrill Hills”.

Posey County, Indiana commissioners voted Tuesday to accept ownership of the New Harmony Bridge. The Wabash River span has been closed to all traffic since May of 2012.  Posey County officials say they plan to seek funding to conduct a thorough inspection of the bridge with hopes of reopening the structure after repairs are made.

White County Bridge Commission member Jim Clark has tendered his resignation effective this Thursday.  Another member, Mike “Spud” Egbert says he will resign as soon as the bridge is deeded over to Posey County officials.  Once Clark and Egbert resign, the three-man commission, which also includes Dr. David Rice of New Harmony will no longer exist.

Ruby Yoder of Johnsonville reports a significant theft from property she owns. Thieves made off with two chain saws, a concrete saw, a hole saw and a finish nail gun.  No value was listed on the loss.

Fairfield Community High School will host an open house this Friday from 4:30 – 5:30.  Classrooms will be open to the public and parents are encouraged to come and meet the teachers.  At 5 p.m., the FCHS Mulebackers will be selling BBQ sandwiches, chips and a drink for $5.  Meet the Mules will begin at 6 p.m. in the Gym. The fall sports teams will be introduced.


Headlines for Tuesday, August 19, 2014

 

New harmony bridge

The three-man Posey County Commissioners voted today to take possession of the New Harmony Bridge.  The bridge, operated by the White County Bridge Commission, has been closed since May of 2012 when engineers determined it was unsafe for any and all traffic.  What Posey County officials plan to do with the bridge is not clear at this time.  However, as a governmental entity, Posey County officials will be free to seek state and federal funding to fix, demolish or replace the bridge.

The annual Wayne County Corn and Soybean Yield Tour has been set for next Monday, August 25.  The record crop yield came in 2004 with 164 bushels per acre for corn and 46 bushels per acre for soybeans.   Last year’s yield was 154 bushels per acre for corn and 41.14 bushels for soybeans.  This year’s harvest is expected to be excellent.

The Edwards County Community Unit School Board met Monday night. Members learned the district’s financial status has improved over the past year. The latest numbers show a deficit of $262,000 compared to $$600,000 last year.

Illinois Department of Public Health officials say the first human case of West Nile Virus for this year has been reported. A woman in the Chicago area in her 70’s became ill in July.  Last year, there were 117 cases of West Nile. Cases of West Nile in birds or mosquito batches have been found in 32 counties so far this year.

A Mount Erie man was overcome by exhaust fumes from a 4-wheeler Monday morning. 38-year-old Jamie Wilkins was taken first to Fairfield Memorial Hospital and later transferred to a hospital in St. Louis for advanced care.

Attendance at the Illinois State Fair is down.  Fair organizers say rainy weather is to blame for an 11 percent drop.  Rain forced the cancellation of seven events, including the fair parade on opening day.


Headlines for Monday, August 18, 2014

38-year-old Jamie Wilkins of Mount Erie was critically injured this morning when he was apparently overcome by fumes while working on a 4-wheeler in a small garage.  Wilkins was taken to Fairfield Memorial Hospital and later airlifted to a hospital in St. Louis in critical condition.

50-year-old Donna Pollard of Maunie escaped serious injuries Sunday morning when the Jeep she was driving was struck by a train at the intersection of Main and Pumphrey Streets in Maunie. Pollard was shaken up but refused medical attention.

Members of the union representing workers at Airtex Products in Fairfield voted Sunday not to ratify the company’s latest contract offer. A union spokesman said that talks with the company will continue and that employees will remain on the job as negotiations continue.  United Auto Workers Local 543 represents approximately 240 workers at Airtex.

Illinois State Police rescued a McLeansboro man after his car ran into floodwaters on Ill. Rt. 14 in rural Hamilton County Sunday.  54-year-old Allen Klein collapsed after being pulled through the back window of his submerged Dodge Avenger.  He was subsequently taken to a hospital in Evansville.

tubbsFormer Fairfield mayor and city alderman Harold Tubbs died Saturday when a converted bus he was driving ran off a Gibson County highway and struck a tree. He was 72.  Mr. Tubbs  (pictured) was working for Frey Produce at the time of the accident, driving a bus that was converted to haul melons from farm fields in Indiana to a processing center.

Posey County Indiana Commissioners are expected to vote Tuesday on whether to take over operation of the New Harmony Bridge.  The Wabash River span has been closed since May of 2012. Jim Clark, a member of the White County Bridge Commission says he doubts seriously that Posey County will accept the bridge.

repubs

The White County Republican’s Breakfast this past Saturday was a huge success.  The Republican candidates, Denton Aud, Pamela Armstrong and Doug Maier, greeted and served the large turn out.  The next White County Republican’s meeting will be at 7:00pm, Monday, August 25th at the GOP headquarters on Main Street.

 Smoking will be banned indoors and out on all Illinois public college and university campuses starting next summer under legislation signed Sunday by Gov. Pat Quinn.  The governor also signed a bill requiring that e-cigarettes be displayed the same as regular cigarettes and be sold from behind the counter or in an age restricted area.

Headlines for Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tubbs wreck edited

Former Fairfield Mayor and City Alderman Harold Tubbs died Saturday in a traffic crash in rural Gibson County, Indiana.  Tubbs, 72 was driving a bus for Frey Produce at the time of the accident.  He was near the intersection of Indiana State Rod 165 and County Road 700 S when the bus ran off the road. Tubbs apparently overcorrected, crossing both lanes of traffic before striking a tree.  Mr. Tubbs was pronounced dead at the scene. (Photo courtesy Gibson County Sheriff’s Department)

50-year-old David Brassard of Carmi died Saturday morning when fire swept through his mobile home on South 8th Street.  Officials said the blaze broke out around 5:30 Saturday morning.  White County Coroner Chris Marsh and Carmi City Police are investigating the fatal blaze.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms moved through the region overnight, prompting a flood warning to be issued for Hamilton County until noon today, after more than two inches of rain was recorded.  Hamilton County officials reported several roads in the county were underwater and impassible, including parts of Route 14 near McLeansboro.  More rain is in the forecast for the area today and tonight.  Here at the studios of WFIW/WOKZ,  two inches of rain has been recorded, as of 8 a.m.

16-year-old Dorian L. Reeves of Centralia, IL was cited for improper lane usage and driving without insurance following a wreck Saturday night on U.S. Route 51 near Walnut Hill Road in Centralia, IL.  State police said Reeves was westbound on Route 51 and lost control of the vehicle, causing it to leave the roadway and hit an embankment, overturning on its top.  Reeves and a passenger, 16-year-old Tyria A. Billberry of Centralia, IL were taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Centralia, IL for treatment of their injuries.

Frontier Community College will be holding evening registration Monday through Thursday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on the campus at Student Services.  Evening registration continues August 25th through 28th in Student Services and the Bookstore for textbook pickups.  Fall semester begins on Thursday, August 21st.  More information is available by calling the college at 842-3711.

The 6th annual Wayne County Antique Tractor Drive is set for Labor Day, Monday, September 1st.  The route will begin and end at the Crop Production Services plant in Johnsonville with check-in at 9 a.m. and a planned departure time of 10 a.m.    Participants will have lunch at the Skillet Fork Grill in Orchardville.  Registration is $30 per tractor, and lunch is included with the registration fee.  Lunch for non-drivers will be $10 and they are encouraged to contact the Wayne County Farm Bureau to RSVP their attendance.


Headlines for Saturday, August 16, 2014

A rural Edwards County farmer became entangled in a feed auger Friday afternoon on the Stumpy Hill Hog Farm south of Albion.  The victim was identified as Keith Roosevelt, one of the owners of the farm.  His foot was somehow drawn into the device.  Roosevelt was extricated from the device with help from the Edwards County Ambulance Service, Albion Police and the Edwards County Sheriff’s Department, and flown to an Evansville, IN hospital for treatment of major injuries.

For the second time in less than a week, Saline County Sheriff Keith Brown reports a fall at the Garden of the Gods recreational area Friday morning.  50-year-old Hines Basse of Laatzen, Germany, fell about 15 feet to a ledge near a rock formation known as the Devil’s Smokestack.  Authorities received the call for help around 10:30 a.m.  Basse suffered injuries to an ankle, knee and leg and was airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Evansville, IN.

White County Sheriff Doug Maier says his office was asked to search an area in southern White County near Dogtown Thursday as part of an investigation into the disappearance of 30-year-old Joelle Lockwood of Evansville, IN.  A heavily wooded area was searched in connection with property owned by a person of interest in the Lockwood disappearance.  Sheriff Maier said nothing was found Thursday as a result of the search.  Lockwood disappeared July 9th near Pigeon Creek.  At the time of her disappearance police said they had no evidence to suggest foul play.  Lockwood was described as 5’3″ and weighing around 125 pounds, and possibly driving a silver Chevy Malibu with Indiana license plate 2111 TYC.

Officials with “Citizens for Reopening the Harmony Way Bridge” say they have been informed that three Posey County Commissioners will vote next week on whether to take over ownership of the bridge, which has been closed for over two years.  The meeting and expected vote will take place Tuesday morning at 9 at the Hovey House in Mt. Vernon, IN.  A member of the citizens group says over 3000 signatures have been gathered on petitions signed in White and Posey counties supporting the effort to reopen the bridge.  It was reported that businesses on both sides of the river has lost anywhere from ten to 30 percent of their revenue since the bridge closed in May of 2012.

Carmi-based Elastec American Marine could likely play a role in helping curb the spread of the Ebola outbreak in Africa.  Elastec Sales Manager Jeremy Pretch says he’s been fielding questions about the company’s MediBurn device as a weapon in the fight to curb the spread of Ebola.  MediBurn is a diesel-fueled incinerator for the disposal of infectious and pathological waste in remote locations.  Elastec has manufactured over 600 of the devices since their inception, and have been used on every continent except Antarctica.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says he’s directing state lottery officials to end the contract with Northstar Lottery Group, the firm hired to run the state’s lottery.  The move comes after Northstar has fallen nearly a half-billion dollars short of the revenues it promised to raise for the state over the past three years.  The contract requires the company to make up the difference between revenue projections and actual profits, but so far that hasn’t happened because, the company claims, the past three years numbers have not been audited.


Headlines for Friday, August 15, 2014

lockwoodPolice in White County, Ill. were asked to search a remote wooded area near Dogtown as part of the investigation into the disappearance of 30-year-old Joelle Lockwood of Evansville. Sheriff Doug Maier says his office received a request for assistance from the Evansville Police Department Thursday to search a heavily wooded area near Dogtown in connection with property owned by a person of interest in the Lockwood disappearance. The location is along the Wabash River south of Maunie, in southern White County. Sheriff Maier reports nothing was found as a result of the search. Joelle Lockwood was last seen on July 9 walking near Pigeon Creek. At the time of her disappearance, police said they had no evidence to suggest that foul play was involved in the case. Lockwood is described as 5’ 3” tall and weighing around 125 pounds.  She has brown hair and eyes. According to Evansville police, she might be driving a silver Chevy Malibu with Indiana license plate 2111 TYC.

A Johnston City teen was seriously injured early this morning when the pickup truck he was driving ran off Ill. Rt. 14 in rural Hamilton County, hit several culverts and overturned. 18-year-old Derek Smith was airlifted to an area hospital for treatment of serious injuries. A passenger in his truck, 18-year-old Andy Vaughan of Carmi fled the scene on foot and is being sought by police. Derek Smith was cited for DUI following the 12:01 a.m. crash.  Vaughan later checked in at an area hospital for treatment of his injuries.

39-year-old Jason L. Hart of Spring Street in Fairfield was arrested Thursday night on a charge of domestic battery.  Hart is accused of assaulting his wife, 25-year-old Elizabeth J. Hart during an argument. He is accused of pulling her hair and striking her on the neck.  Police responded to the call at 7:30 Thursday night.

A McLeansboro man remains hospitalized after being beaten with an aluminum ball bat. 35-year-old George Weingartner suffered major injuries when he was allegedly beaten by 36-year-old Terry Morgan of McLeansboro.  Morgan has been jailed under $100,000 bond on a charge of aggravated battery.

Farmers are expected to harvest a record-breaking corn crop this year, surpassing earlier expectations of the USDA.  The nation’s corn harvest is expected to hit 14 billion bushels. The soybean crop is expected to set a new record as well at 3.8 billion bushels.  Local corn and soybean crops are said to be in excellent condition.

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation aimed at improving emergency response in rural areas of Illinois. The law allows ambulance providers in rural areas to be upgraded to the highest emergency medical technician license of any person staffing that ambulance. Current law restricts an ambulance to a set level of emergency care regardless of the qualifications of those staffing it.  Sponsors of the law say the change allows more kinds of life-saving procedures to be performed in the ambulance.


Headlines for Thursday, August 14, 2014

Johnson, BruceMore than a year after being formally charged, a trial date has been set for former Wayne-White Electric financial officer Bruce D. Johnson. Johnson, 50, of Wayne City is accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from the co-op and faces two class-3 felony charges of theft.  A January 20, 2015 trial date has been set.  Johnson remains free after posting $5,000 cash bond in July of last year.

A Tamaroa truck driver was injured Wednesday when his truck load of hot asphalt overturned at a construction site on Interstate 64 in Jefferson County.  State Police reported the truck was on uneven pavement when it tipped over, spilling its load of hot asphalt.  State Police did not release the identity of the 53-year-old driver.

For the first time since the fatal accident in 2007, former Illinois State Police trooper Matt Mitchell has publicly apologized for the Interstate 64 crash that killed 18-year-old Jessica Uhl and her 13-year-old sister, Kelli.  Mitchell was back at the Illinois Secretary of State’s office in Centralia this week trying – for the fifth time – to get his drivers’ license back.  The Secretary of State’s office has 90 days to make a decision on Mitchell’s request.

Another rash of telephone scams is targeting area consumers. The latest one comes from a group claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service. These scammers are asking victims for personal and financial information.  The IRS has identified over 1,100 victims who have lost around $5 million in the scams.  IRS officials say they will never ask for debit, credit or prepaid card information over the phone.

The annual Elm River Chowder has been set for Saturday, August 30. Volunteers are asked to show up around 7 a.m. to help cut up vegetables.  Thirty cast iron kettles will be placed over wood fires to produce approximately 900 gallons of chowder. Serving will begin around 12:30 in the afternoon.  Bluegrass music will also be featured.


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