Len Wells, News Director
A Winter Storm Warning continues for the region until 6 a.m. Monday. Forecasters are expecting freezing rain for today, gradually changing to sleet and snow by tonight, with as much as three to six inches of snow and an inch of sleet accumulation possible. Low temperatures could drop to the single digits by Tuesday. Area roadways are expected to become very slick and hazardous today and tonight.
The Fairfield Community High School Varsity Scholastic team was recognized as one of the top 18 Class A teams in the state Saturday at the State Masonic Tournament in Springfield, IL. During the tournament, FCHS played four close battles but eventually lost to University High School in Urbana, Carrolton, Elmwood and Warrensburg-Latham, and also fell to one of the final four teams, Sterling Newman Catholic. Kyle Ellis led the tossup scoring for FCHS, answering 16. FCHS is now 32 and 14 on the year, and will be in action at the Southern Illinois Academic Conference Final Tournament Thursday in Centralia, IL.
Fire destroyed a large portion of Hooper’s Cleaners in Fairfield Saturday morning. Fairfield city and rural firefighters were called to the fire around 7:30 a.m. after a commercial gas dryer caught fire, spreading flames throughout the structure. Levi Hooper and other workers were inside the building when the fire broke out, but all were able to escape without injury. Firemen battled the blaze for over an hour.
A special meeting of the Edwards County Community Unit School Board has been set for this Wednesday night at 6 in the Edwards County K-12 building. Personnel matters and a closed session are on the official agenda. The board is also expected to hire a West Salem Grade School Music and Band instructor, and discuss the UCI-FRAM Group Annual Compliance with possible action.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has proclaimed March as Severe Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois. During the month the Illinois Emergency Management Agency will team with the National Weather Service and local emergency officials to increase awareness of severe weather hazards. As part of the Severe Weather Preparedness Month activities, the statewide tornado drill will be conducted at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the region from 6 a.m. Sunday til 6 a.m. Monday. Forecasters at the National Weather Service expect freezing rain and some sleet to move into the area, beginning as rain tonight. Ice accumulations of up to a half-inch are possible, along with a few inches of snowfall and some sleet before the storm system moves out of the area by early Monday morning. Colder temperatures are expected behind the system, with temperatures possibly dipping into the single digits by Tuesday.
29-year-old Chance W. Young of Fairfield has been sentenced to four years in federal prison after entering a guilty plea to charges of being in possession of several stolen firearms. Young was sentenced Friday on the one-count indictment. In pleading guilty, Young admitted that he broke into a rural Wayne County home in July 2013 and stole several items, including three shotguns and a rifle. Young has also been ordered to serve two years parole following the prison sentence. The case against Young was investigated by the Southern Illinois Drug Task Force and the ATF.
The Southern Illinois School Press Association awarded the Cisne High School 2013 Yearbook, the Echo, the Golden Dozen Award at the journalism conference held at Southern Illinois University on Wednesday. In addition, the staff received third place for coverage and third place for their endsheets. The 2014 Echo staff also earned special awards, including Elizabeth Foley and Amy Sams earning second place for their advertising spread, McKensie Harrison earning first place for Theme Development, and Rebeccah Mugrage receiving first for her feature spread. Audrey Kelly earned second place in the on-site Photography Contest. Honorable mentions went to McKensie Harrison for the yearbook cover design and to Darian Shearer for her feature spread. (Pictured are front, Alyse Barnfield, McKensie Harrison, Darian Shearer. Second row, Kirsten Rodgers, Rebeccah Mugrage, Amy Sams. Third row, Becky Harper, Elizabeth Foley. Back row, Theresa Drake, Summer Wilson, Audrey Kelly)
The Illinois State Police announced Friday that 5000 Concealed Carry License applications have been approved and are ready to be printed and mailed. The department will be mailing the licenses and continue to issue licenses as they are approved on a daily basis. Since the process of providing Concealed Carry licenses began, the state police say over 50,000 applications have been received, with over 800 of those objected. So far, police say none of the objections have been appealed.
February ranked the seventh coldest for Illinois, according to State Climatologist Jim Angel. He says the average temperature was just 19 degrees. Snowfall was also above average, ranging from around five inches in the far-southern areas of the state, to 20 to 25 inches in north-central Illinois.
A Winter Storm Watch has been issued for Saturday through Monday morning. Starting after midnight Saturday, significant ice, snow and sleet accumulations are expected generally north and west of a line from Rockport, IN to New Madrid, MO.
The Fairfield Community High School Varsity Scholastic Team went 3 and 1 in a Southern Illinois Academic Conference Meet Thursday night in Salem. FCHS captured second place in the event by defeating Mt. Vernon, Salem and Murphysboro. They lost to Carbondale. FCHS moves to 32-9 on the year.
Frontier Community College will offer its first Truck Driving class starting March 11. Each student will be required to log 50 hours of behind-the-wheel training. The course will run through May 9. More information about the Truck Driving class is available by contacting Jan Wiles at Frontier Community College.
35-year-old Cory M. Price of Mt. Carmel has been arrested on charges of being in possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and driving suspended. Price was jailed after Mt. Carmel police pulled his car over at 13th and Cherry in Mt. Carmel.
Tickets are now available for the annual Fairfield Chamber of Commerce Banquet. Pollard Realty/Wayne County Abstract will be honored as the Business of the Year. Mayor Chuck Griswold will give the keynote address. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Chamber office. The event will be held at the Community of Christ Family Life Center.
Legislation has been introduced that would lower the state sales tax on Propane sales from 6.25% to 1.25% during the summer months of June 1 through August 31. The legislation comes during one of the most severe propane shortages the state has ever seen, with prices for a gallon of propane rising above $6 in some locations.
The annual Fairfield Chamber of Commerce Banquet has been set for Monday, March 10 at the Community of Christ Church in Fairfield. Pollard Realty/Wayne County Abstract will be honored as the Business of the Year. Mayor Charles Griswold will give the keynote address. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Chamber Office in downtown Fairfield.
People in Illinois could be carrying concealed guns in public legally as early as next week. State Police have put the final touches on the new concealed carry system and are ready to get the permits into people’s hands. People will not be allowed to carry the guns in places like schools, courthouses, bars and businesses that display a “No Guns Allowed” sign in their entryway.
Mark Elliott of Fairfield has been hired as the Coordinator of Instructional Services at Frontier community College. Elliott will be working closely with the Dean of Instruction in developing course schedules and technical programs. Elliott is the son of Marilyn and the late Ed Elliott of rural Fairfield. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from SIU and a Masters from the University of Phoenix.
A bill has been introduced in the Illinois Legislature that would make it legal to hunt bobcats in Illinois. State Rep. Wayne Rosenthal says there are at least 3,000 bobcats living in Southern Illinois. If approved, the bill would allow a hunter with a permit to kill one bobcat a year during a season of Nov. 1 – Feb. 15.
21-year-old Zachary Jordan of Cisne was arrested Tuesday afternoon following an incident at the Fairfield Super Wal-Mart. Police say Jordan and 21-year-old Mitch Belmont of Wayne City encountered each other at the Wal-Mart where a verbal altercation began that turned physical with Jordan allegedly opening a car door and hitting Belmont, and pushing and punching him. Jordan was lodged in the Wayne County Jail pending a bond hearing. Neither Jordan or Belmont required medical treatment.
27-year-old Matthew L. Rusler of Fairfield was jailed Tuesday afternoon on charges of driving revoked or suspended, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. Bond was set at $575 cash.
At last night’s Fairfield City Council meeting, Mayor Chuck Griswold presented a comparison of Fairfield’s utility rates compared to other communities. Griswold said Fairfield’s gas and electric rates are among the lowest among area communities, and with the third lowest water rates, makes Fairfield’s utility rates “very competitive”. A proposed deferred payment plan was presented that would allow customers to sign up for the plan for one bill per year, allowing them to pay half of the bill, with the remainder put on a loan and divided into three monthly installments with a 20 percent interest charge assessed on the remaining balance. The council decided to defer the proposal after some discussion was raised about the legality of the 20 percent interest rate.
38-year-old Jeffrey W. Money of Norris City was jailed Monday on two warrants out of White and Perry counties. The White County warrant was for failure to appear on DUI and illegal transportation of alcohol charges with bond set at $2500 cash, while the Perry county warrant was for driving revoked, with bond set at $700 cash.
Jeff Abbott and Joyce Batteron, both of Mt. Carmel, IL were jailed Monday night following an incident in the 100 block of Pecan Avenue in Mt. Carmel, IL. Abbott is accused of taking a baseball bat and damaging a pickup truck, while Batterton is accused of attacking Felicia L. Donnals of Mt. Carmel, IL and allegedly biting off a portion of her ear. Abbottt was charged with criminal damage to property and criminal damage to state-supported property after police say he banged his head on a squad car as he was being taken into custody, damaging the trunk area. Batterton was charged with aggravated battery.
The 68th annual Illinois Oil and Gas Association convention and trade show has been set for Thursday and Friday, March 6th and 7th in Evansville, IN. A crowd of over 900 is expected at this year’s event, and IOGA officials report the exhibitors area has been expanded to include nearly 100 oil and gas industry representatives. The keynote address will be presented by Dr. John Felmy, chief economist with the American Petorleum Institute.
The Wayne County Farm Bureau is offering its members a chance to obtain their certification to carry a concealed firearm in Illinois. The two-day training course will be offered Wednesday, March 5th and Thursday, March 6th in the meeting room of the Wayne County Farm Bureau. Range testing will be held at the Fairfield Gun Club. The course will run from 9 a.m. til 6 p.m. both days. Pre-registration is required, and can be done by calling the Farm Bureau at 842-3342 or in person at 301 East Court Street in Fairfield. There is a maximum capacity for the class, and a $70 fee for the course.
59-year-old Randy C. King of Fairfield entered a guilty plea Monday to two class-2 felony charges of being in possession of child pornography charges and is scheduled to be sentenced April 21st. King entered the plea before Circuit Judge Tom Dinn. In return for the guilty plea, the state’s attorney dropped three class-X felony charges. King was arrested last September following an investigation by agents of the Illinois Attorney General’s office. King was returned to the Wayne County Jail following Monday’s hearing. He faces up to seven years in prison on each conviction.
57-year-old Charles W. Wallace of Xenia was lodged in the Wayne County Jail Monday night on a Wayne County warrant for delivery of a controlled substance. County police made the arrest, with bond set at $4000 cash.
38-year-old Jeffrey W. Money of Norris City was jailed Monday night on two warrants out of White and Perry counties. The White County warrant was for failure to appear on DUI and illegal transportation of alcohol charges, while the Perry County warrant was for failure to appear on a driving revoked charge. Total bond was set at $3370 cash.
Jeff Abbott and Joyce Batterton, both of Mt. Carmel, IL were jailed Monday night following an incident in the 100 block of Pecan Avenue in Mt. Carmel, IL. Police were called to the location on a report of a man damaging a pickup with a baseball bat, and upon arrival, located Abbott and Felicia L. Donnals of Mt. Carmel, IL outside the residence, with Donnals bleeding from the ear. Donnals told police that she and Abbott had went to the residence to purchase synthetic cannibis and were later told to leave. As they were leaving, Batterton, one of the home’s owners, allegedly came outside with a baseball bat and attacked Donnals, with Batterton allegedly biting off a portion of Donnals’ ear. Abbott is then accused of taking the bat and damaging the pickup, and as police were taking him into custody, Abbott began banging his head on the squad car, damaging the trunk area. Abbott was jailed on charges of criminal damage to property, while Batterton was charged with aggravated battery.
32-year-old Josiah Seth Stover of Carmi entered a guilty plea Monday to an aggravated battery charge and has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison, plus one year of parole after he is released from jail. Stover was arrested on the charge in May of last year and had been free on $2500 bond pending Monday’s sentencing. A charge of domestic battery was dropped in return for the guilty plea.
Saline County authorities are searching for 24-year-old Matthew W. Boyd of Harrisburg, IL. (pictured left) after he escaped from the Saline County Courthouse in Harrisburg, IL Monday. Boyd had entered the courthouse around 10 a.m. and broke free from courthouse security as he was being taken into custody on charges of failure to appear on previous charges of burglary and theft. Boys is 5’4″ weighing 143 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes, and was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt with black sleeves. Anyone with information on Boyd’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Saline County Sheriff’s Department at (618) 252-8661.
The Fairfield City Council meets tonight at 6 p.m. Discussion is expected on the city’s Utility Payment Plan. Several residents expressed their disapproval with high utility bills last month. The council is also expected to compare the city’s gas and electric rates with surrounding communities, and compare the city’s natural gas prices vs. propane during tonight’s meeting.
Minor flooding is expected to continue along the Little Wabash at Clay City and the Wabash River at Mt. Carmel, IL. At Clay City the river is falling and should be below flood stage of 18 feet by Wednesday. The Wabash River at Mt. Carmel, IL is forecast to crest more than three feet above flood stage by Monday, and at New Harmony, a crest of about two feet above flood stage is expected Wednesday morning.
59-year-old Randy C. King of Fairfield entered a guilty plea Monday to two class-2 felony charges of being in possession of child pornography. Sentencing has been set for April 21. King entered the negotiated guilty plea Monday afternoon before Circuit Judge Tom Dinn. In return for the guilty plea, the state’s attorney dropped three Class-X felony charges against King. Judge Dinn ordered a pre-sentencing investigation and advised King that the sentences on the two separate charges will have to be served consecutively. King was arrested in September of last year as a result of an investigation by agents of the Illinois Attorney General’s office.
Due to recent rainfall and snow melt, area rivers are on the rise. The Wabash at Mount Carmel is forecast to crest more than three feet above flood stage by Sunday.
An Olney man is being held in the White County jail on home repair fraud cases dating back to 2006. In Wayne County Circuit Court last week, home repair fraud charges against Lawrence Meyer were dropped by the state’s attorney. However, $2,140 bond posted in his 2006 case was assigned to a local victim – Ruth Ann Young. Meyer is currently being held in jail on an Edwards County home repair fraud charge from 2007. Meyer is expected to appear in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing in Edwards County Circuit Court.
The FCHS Math Team had a very successful day at a meet Saturday on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. Several FCHS Mathletes will advance to state competition.
The City of Fairfield’s utility payment plan is expected to be discussed at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Fairfield City Council. The issue arose earlier this month after a number of residents expressed difficulties in paying higher than normal heating bills brought about by the harsh winter.
An autopsy has revealed a Southern Illinois University student found dead in a wooded area last week likely died of exposure to the cold. 19-year-old Parvin Varughese had been missing for a week. He was a criminal justice major at SIU.
A member of State Rep. David Reis’ office will be at Fairfield City Hall this Wednesday from 2:30 – 3:30. He will also be at the Carmi City Hall Council Chambers from 9 – 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Fairfield Community High School had a very successful day Saturday at the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics regional at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL. Several teams and individuals brought home hardware, with many advancing to state competition. Those advancing to state competition included the geometry written team, the Freshman/Sophomore 2-Person team and the Freshman/Sophomore 8-Person team. Individually, Senior Cody Simpson placed second in the PreCalculus competition, Junior Samantha Ochs placed second in the Algebra II competition and junior Dakota Young placed third. The three also advance to state competition. Four other teams for FCHS placed second on Saturday.
Flooding is expected to continue through mid-week on the Little Wabash River at Clay City and until further notice on the Wabash River at Mt. Carmel, IL. The Little Wabash at Clay City was at 19.2 feet Saturday night, and expected to crest at 20.5 feet early Monday morning. Flood stage is 18 feet. The Wabash at Mt. Carmel, IL stood at 15.6 feet Saturday night, with a crest of 23.2 feet expected Monday morning. Flood stage at Mt. Carmel, IL is 19 feet.
The Fairfield City Council meets Tuesday night starting at 6 p.m. During the meeting the council is expected to award bids for the sale of the old Red & White store sign, the sale of a grader and mosquito chemicals for the coming summer. Also on the agenda is the next payment to the contractor building the city’s new water treatment plant, amounting to nearly $200,000. Discussion is also expected on the city’s smoke-free policy, and a comparison of Fairfield’s gas and electric rates with surrounding towns.
State Representative David Reis has announced his latest round of traveling office hours. A member of his staff will be at the Carmi City Hall on Wednesday from 9 to 10 a.m., at the Mt. Carmel City Hall from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and at Fairfield City Hall from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Residents are welcome to address any concerns they may have about government. Residents can also call his office at (618) 392-0108 or stop by his office in Olney at 219 East Main Street to address any concerns they may have.
All four Republican candidates running for Illinois Governor agree that the state’s prison system is overcrowded and action is needed to address what they believe is a public safety hazard. Three of the candidates, including State Treasurer Dan Rutherford and State Senators Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard said in a report that they would consider reopening the super-maximum security lockup at Tamms in southern Illinois to help with the overcrowding. The facility was closed by Governor Pat Quinn in 2012, along with the Dwight women’s maximum-security prison in upstate Illinois.
Flood warnings have gone up for the Little Wabash River at Clay City and the Wabash River at Mt. Carmel, IL due to recent rain and snow melt. The Little Wabash at Clay City was at 19.4 feet this morning, a foot and a half above flood stage, with a crest of 20.5 feet expected Monday. The Wabash River at Mt. Carmel, IL was at 15 feet this morning and forecast to climb to 23.2 feet by Monday afternoon, more than four feet over flood stage. Dry weather is currently in the forecast through the end of next week.
32-year-old Nicholas I. Pinkerton of Sturgis, KY was arrested Thursday night after leading police on a high-speed chase through southern Illinois in a stolen pickup truck. Jefferson County Sheriff’s police began pursuing Pinkerton on Illinois Route 15 after spotting a 2009 Chevrolet pickup that had been reported stolen from Nashville, IL in Washington County. Wayne City Police Chief Anson Fenton and County Deputy Lee Rankin cornered Pinkerton on a county road just off Starvation Curve. Pinkerton faces numerous charges in Wayne and Washington counties, as well as Sturgis, KY in connection with the chase. Police said Pinkerton told them as he was being arrested that he “had killed several people, including Spiderman.”
During this week’s meeting of the North Wayne District school board, the board accepted the Intent to Retire resignations from Cary Pond, Elizabeth Pond and Lisa Fearn at the end of the Fiscal Year 2017. The board approved setting graduation dates for Saturday, May 17th at 2 p.m. for Cisne High School and Friday, May 16th at 7 p.m. for Cisne Middle School. Nikki Basnett was hired as the Title I aide at Johnsonville and Mt. Erie schools, replacing Debra Collier, and Rick Dennison was hired as a special education aide at Mt. Erie school for the remainder of the current school year.
47-year-old Sammy R. Kehrer of Mt. Vernon, IL has been formally charged with three counts of First-Degree Murder in the stabbing death of 37-year-old Eric Houser of Mt. Vernon, IL outside the Mt. Vernon Gun and Sportsman’s Club on Tuesday. Bond on Kehrer was set at $3 million, according to Jefferson County States Attorney Douglas Hoffman. Hoffman alleges that Houser and Kehrer got into a physical altercation that ended with Kehrer fatally stabbing Houser in the chest.
A report from Springfield, IL says all four Republican candidates for Illinois Governor agree that the state’s prison system is overcrowded that action is needed to address what they say is a public safety hazard. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, one of the candidates, was quoted as saying the population in the correctional facilities is “dramatically overcrowded” and said “there are 49,000 inmates in a system designed for 32,000.” The Republican candidates include State Senators Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, along with venture capitalist Bruce Rauner and Rutherford.
A Sturgis, Ky. Man who led police on a high-speed chase across Southern Illinois Thursday night in a stolen pickup truck has been jailed. Nicholas I. Pinkerton, 32 told police after his arrest that he “had killed several people, including Spiderman.” Jefferson County, Ill. Sheriff’s Police began pursuing Pinkerton on Ill. Rt. 15 after spotting a 2009 Chevrolet 2500 pickup truck that had been reported stolen in the Washington County, Ill. community of Nashville. Wayne City Police Chief Anson Fenton and County Deputy Lee Rankin eventually cornered Pinkerton on a county road just off Starvation Curve. Pinkerton faces numerous charges in Wayne and Washington Counties as well as Sturgis, KY. Police stated that Pinkerton was “either under the influence of drugs or was mentally disturbed.”
A line of severe storms moved through the region Thursday night, triggering tornado warnings for parts of Wayne and Edwards Counties. While funnel clouds were spotted by trained weather observers, no major damage was reported.
43-year-old David Michael Chargaulf of Evansville was injured Thursday night when high winds blew his semi over on Interstate-64 in rural White County. Chargaulf was headed eastbound shortly after 6 p.m. when a gust of wind blew his Freightliner semi over at the 128 mile marker. He was taken to Fairfield Memorial Hospital. Eastbound traffic was re-routed for much of Thursday evening because of the wreck.
The Fairfield Community High School Board has set graduation for Sunday, May 18 at 2 p.m. The ceremonies will be held in the FCHS Gym. The board also appointed Jenna Montgomery as a volunteer girls’ softball coach and re-employed the spring coaches for next school year.
The Jasper Grade School Board has set graduation services for Thursday, May 15 in the Jasper gymnasium. The board also accepted the resignation of Beth Meeks as bookkeeper and treasurer this July after 40 years of service to the district.
A proposal to ban smoking on public college campuses is advancing in the Illinois Legislature. The bill would ban smoking on all properties belonging to state-supported colleges and universities starting July 1. The measure passed out of a House committee and now goes to the full House for further debate.