Len Wells, News Director
A Collinsville, Ill. man has entered a guilty to charges he was driving drunk the night he was hill jumping in rural Hamilton County, Ill., causing the deaths of five people. In Hamilton County Circuit Court in McLeansboro Wednesday morning, Darrell G. DeLong, 50 entered an open guilty plea to a single Class-2 felony charge of aggravated drunk driving causing a death. Hamilton County State’s Attorney Justin Hood says the plea agreement calls for a sentencing cap of 20 years in prison. Sentencing has been set for August 19 at 1:30 p.m. In pleading guilty, DeLong admitted he was under the influence of alcohol on the night of Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013. The 2002 Chevy Trailblazer that DeLong was driving to hill jump rolled several times after speeding down a local country road known as “Thrill Hills”. DeLong was the only survivor of the crash, which claimed the lives of his wife, Tammy A. DeLong, 35, Tammy’s daughter, Katelyn Fancher, 16, Robert L. Parker, 49 and his wife, Loris S. Parker, 42, all of Collinsville, IL and Diana N. Wright, 23 of McLeansboro. All of the victims, except Katelynn Fancher were pronounced dead at the scene. Fancher died the following afternoon at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville.
With one NO vote, the Fairfield City Council Tuesday night approved a formal resolution in support of a Chicago-based firm’s plans to establish a medical marijuana grow operation on city-owned property. The formal resolution bears the approval of Mayor Chuck Griswold, the City Council and Police Chief Keith Colclasure. If approved by the State of Illinois, The Wellness Group will establish a medical marijuana grow operation on property near the city’s sewer plant south of town.
The search continues for a missing Fairfield teen, last seen on Thursday, July 3. City Police Chief Keith Colclasure says numerous leads have been received regarding the disappearance of 15-year-old Megan Nichols, but all have been dead ends. Chief Colclasure says that information is being received daily about the girl’s possible whereabouts and are vigorously investigated. A prayer vigil is being held in front of the girl’s home on Center Street each evening at 7 p.m. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Megan Nichols is asked to phone the Fairfield City Police Department at 842-2151 or simply dial 911.
Bids are being sought to remove vegetation from Johnson Creek and Fairground Creek in Fairfield. Documents spelling out the scope of work are available at City Hall. Only vegetation that would impede the flow of water will be removed.
Lutteral Backhoe Service of Flora submitted the low bid for the construction of a commercial entrance to the Woolsey-Clark industrial site south of Fairfield. Lutteral’s bid was for $84,917.
Mayor Chuck Griswold has appointed a committee to come up with recommendations on how to effectively enforce the rules banning shepherd’s hooks and other monument decorations at Maple Hill Cemetery. “Over decorating” of tombstones is causing lengthy delays in weed-eating efforts at the cemetery.
High winds from a line of very heavy thunderstorms raked southern Illinois Monday afternoon. A large tree fell on the Raymond Knight residence at 250 S. First St. in Albion. The home was destroyed. Six utility poles were broken in the Geff area. Numerous power lines and transformers were knocked down in Golden Gate. No injuries were reported. Above photo courtesy Mark Curtis.
Mark Wells has been hired as a dispatcher for the Fairfield City Police Department. Wells is a former employee of WFIW. After leaving broadcasting, he became a dispatcher for the city police and then joined the Illinois State Police. His last assignment was as a State Police dispatcher at the post in DuQuoin.
The Albion City Council met Monday night. Aldermen approved a budget for the coming fiscal year. The budget amounts to $2.6 million.
32-year-old Melinda Clifford of Carmi has been sentenced to one year in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of domestic battery – a class-4 felony. After prison, she will have to serve another four years of parole.
59-year-old Michael L. Benns of Benton received major injuries Monday afternoon when the Harley Davidson motorcycle he was riding collided with a pickup truck on Ill. Rt. 13 near Shawneetown. The truck driver, Danny Combs, 52 of Shawneetown was not hurt.
Winners have been named in WFIW’s Business of the Day promotion. Winning $200 that can be spent at any single business of the day sponsor is Mildred Masterson of Fairfield. Winner of $100 is Anita Winter of Ellery. Third place of $50 goes to Sue Maculavics of Geff.
At this time, no foul play is suspected in the disappearance of 15-year-old Megan Nichols of Fairfield. Nichols has been missing since last Thursday, July 3. City Police say they are actively searching for Nichols. Police have been following up on reported sightings of the teen as well as comments posted on social media websites. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Megan Nichols is asked to call the Fairfield City Police.
32-year-old Kathleen Ann James of Carmi was seriously injured Sunday morning when the car she was driving ran off Rt. 1 at Commerce Street in Grayville and hit a tree. She was airlifted to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville following the 6:41 a.m. accident. James told police that she fell asleep at the wheel.
23-year-old Ethan Cummins of Prairieville, LA was injured Sunday when the pickup truck he was driving ran off the Bridgeport Blacktop and hit a sign post. Cummins was airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Evansville following the 2:37 a.m. accident.
35-year-old Carol Barnard of Fairfield was arrested Saturday on a charge of domestic battery. She is accused of striking her husband, 36-year-old Eric Barnard during a disturbance Saturday afternoon.
Jason A. Locke, 33 of Fairfield was arrested Sunday afternoon for driving revoked. Locke was spotted riding an ATV on S.W. 7th Street. He was also cited for unlawful operation of an ATV on a city street.
40-year-old Phillip M. Youngblood of 703 Kerney St. in Carmi was arrested Friday for battery and criminal damage to property. Youngblood is accused of striking John Roberts at his home on Silver St. in Grayville and damaging his home. Edwards County Sheriff’s Police made the arrest.
The search continues today for a missing Fairfield teen. 15-year-old Megan Nichols of Fairfield has been missing for over three days now. Fairfield City Police are asking for help from the public in locating Megan. Megan is described as 5’ 6” tall, weighing 111 pounds. She has blond hair and hazel eyes. If you have any information about Megan Nichols whereabouts you are asked to call the Fairfield City Police Department at 842-2151, or simply dial 911. At this time, there is no indication of foul play involved in Megan’s disappearance – however, family members and friends have begun the process of posting missing person flyers around town seeking information about her whereabouts.
Cisne FFA members Janaye Barnfield and Russell Hilliard had a successful day of competition at the Section 23 FFA Livestock Fair held Saturday at the Richland County Fairgrounds in Olney. Barnfield showed the Champion female in the goat division. Hilliard was awarded Champion Market Goat, Champion Buck and the Goat Showmanship Award.
Wabash Area Development will begin making appointments Monday for the Summer Energy Assistance Program. The program will run until July 23 or until funding is depleted. Contact your local WADI office for more information.
Illinois State Senator Chapin Rose says he will introduce a bill next spring to legalize the sale of fireworks in Illinois. Rose says the sale of fireworks in Illinois would generate as much as $12 million a year in retail sales tax revenues.
Grand Ol’ Opry star Leona Williams will be the headline act at the annual Pork Day USA celebration next weekend in Albion. The celebration opens Friday night and continues through Saturday. Leona Williams will perform at 7:30 Saturday evening.
A huge crowd enjoyed this year’s Fourth of July fireworks show at Southwest Park in Fairfield. Those attending enjoyed a great show, clear skies and cool weather.
A Harrisburg woman was seriously injured Friday evening in a single vehicle crash in Saline County. 27-year-old Stephanie L. Walker of Harrisburg was a passenger in a 2013 GMC Acadia that ran off Ill. Rt. 145 near Butler Road and landed in a ditch. Walker was airlifted to an Evansville Hospital for treatment of major injuries. The driver, 24-year-old Kyle Day of Carrier Mills was not hurt.
The Fairfield City Council meets Tuesday night. Aldermen are expected to seek bids for a contractor to clear the brush from Johnson Creek and Fairgrounds Creek through Fairfield. The council is also expected to approve a contract to build an entrance to the Woolsey Operating Company off Rt. 45 south of Fairfield.
The Illinois Agriculture Reporting Service has listed the condition of the entire state’s corn crop at 80% “good to excellent.” Much of the region’s corn crop has already started silking. Needed rain is in the forecast for next week.
The annual Pork Day USA celebration opens next Friday night in Albion. Activities will continue through Saturday. The annual parade will be at 10 a.m. Saturday. The featured entertainment this year will be Grand Ol’ Opry Star Leona Williams performing at 7:30 Saturday night. New activities this year include Laser Tag, a mechanical bull and a climbing wall.
Fairfield City Police are investigating an apparent stabbing at the Dallas Broz residence on S.W. 6th Street last night. A witness told police that Broz was stabbed by his girlfriend. Broz was taken to Fairfield Memorial Hospital for treatments of lacerations to his back and head. Broz has refused to tell police who stabbed him or give any further details about the incident.
35-year-old Darla M. Graham of Harrisburg was seriously injured Thursday night when the car she was driving missed the T-intersection on Ill. Rt. 141 and U.S. Rt. 45 in Gallatin County. Her car went airborne, hit several trees and came to rest down an embankment. Graham was airlifted to a hospital in Evansville. An 11-year-old passenger was also injured. The crash happened shortly before 6:30 Thursday evening.
31-year-old Bradley K. Rogers of McLeansboro has been sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of unlawful disposal of methamphetamine waste. Rogers was arrested after police on routine patrol smelled ether coming from a trash can in front of his house.
Randy Pulliam of Benton has been sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty in Hamilton County Circuit Court to two felony charges of driving revoked. The charges stemmed from separate traffic accidents in Hamilton County.
Five employees at the Menard State Prison at Chester were injured Thursday during an altercation in the kitchen area. All four were treated and released at a local hospital. The prison is now on lockdown.
The Fairfield Municipal fireworks display is set for dusk tonight at Southwest Park in Fairfield. The annual patriotic City Band concert was held Thursday night.
Fairfield City Police are investigating an alleged home invasion that happened Wednesday. The victim has been identified as Ryan D. Thomason, 23 of Fairfield. The alleged suspect is Andy Bailey, 22 of Cisne. Details of the incident were not immediately available.
43-year-old Shelly L. Wodicker of rural Fairfield was arrested Wednesday evening on a charge of DUI-drugs. City police responded to a report of a woman slumped over the wheel of her vehicle in the 600 block of South First Street at about 6:10 Wednesday evening. Wodicker was cited for DUI-drugs and for being in possession of a controlled substance – prescription drugs.
29-year-old Robert L. Shurn of Alton, IL was injured Wednesday afternoon when the semi he was driving failed to negotiate a turn onto I-64 from U.S. Rt. 45 south of Fairfield. Shurn was injured when the semi overturned. He was taken to Fairfield Memorial Hospital. Shurn was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and operating in violation of his drivers’ license restrictions.
Arraignment has been for July 11 in St. Clair County in the unlawful videotaping case of suspended Fairfield Community High School teacher Timothy C. Going. Going is accused of placing a hidden camera in a Super-8 Motel room in Fairview Heights to videotape an underage Fairfield girl and her adult attendant. The incident happened last November.
The last concert of the Fairfield City Band concert season is tonight on the Wayne County Courthouse lawn. The performance will begin at 7 p.m. The New Hope School Band is sponsoring a porkburger sale from 5 – 7 this evening ahead of the concert. The school is raising money to go perform at Disney World.
Federal prosecutors have filed charges against Fairfield Community High School math instructor and cross-country coach Timothy C. Going. A review of computer equipment seized from Going’s Fairfield home revealed he was in possession of numerous images of child porn – specifically images of girls under the age of 12 engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The alleged child porn was believed to have been downloaded from the Internet. Going is scheduled to make his first appearance on the federal charges on July 21 in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis.
Work is underway in the replacement of the roof over the Edwards County Fairgrounds grandstands. The roof collapsed last December following a long period of sleet, freezing rain and as much as 13 inches of snow. Lear Construction Company of Albion is doing the work.
All of Southern Illinois was placed under a severe thunderstorm watch until 10 o’clock Tuesday night. Locally, there was plenty of thunder and lightning, but not a lot of rain. Heavy rain and storms were reported in Saline County.
41-year-old Roger D. Groves of Fairfield has been sentenced to four years in prison on a conviction of unlawful possession of marijuana. The judge gave him credit for 67 days spent in the county jail awaiting trial.
Illinois residents will be allowed to register to vote on Election Day this fall. Governor Pat Quinn has signed a law aimed at streamlining the registration and early voting process. The state’s next election will be on November 4.
28-year-old Rasheik Moore of Fairfield was arrested early this morning after he allegedly tried to stab a woman during an altercation in the street near the intersection of Wayne Street and Illinois Avenue. The alleged victim, 20-year-old Tessie Bonin told police that Moore lunged at her with a lock-blade knife with a 7 inch blade. She was not injured. Moore has been booked on a preliminary charge of aggravated assault. The incident happened around 1 o’clock this morning.
20-year-old Jeffrey Alldredge of Fairfield was arrested Monday on a charge of retail theft. Alldredge is accused of trying to steal about four pounds of ground beef from the Fairfield Hometown IGA store by stuffing the package down the front of his pants.
Three people are dead in a three-car crash in Williamson County. State Police have not released the victims’ names pending notification of relatives. The crash happened on Ill. Rt. 13 at Cambria Road and involved a Porsche 911, a Toyota and a Pontiac. The Porshe wound up in Crab Orchard Lake. Police say speed contributed to the severity of the crash. The crash happened around 9:30 Monday night.
A Mt. Vernon man has been arrested on a charge of aggravated arson after allegedly setting a fire that heavily damaged Rend Lake Boat Storage on Friday. Alec McLaughlin has been charged in the case. Jefferson County Fire Chief Robert Beal suffered first-degree burns fighting the fire.
Thieves are targeting air conditioning units in White County. Sheriff Doug Maier reports that a central air conditioning unit was stolen from a home near Grayville and another in Norris City. It appears the units were targeted for their scrap metal value.
A Boaz, KY man has entered a guilty plea to charges he robbed the Old National Bank branch facility in Harrisburg last October. 28-year-old Casey Allen Heflin was out on parole from a previous bank robbery conviction when he was arrested. Federal prosecutors said Heflin was armed with a loaded derringer-type weapon when he held up the bank and made off with $4,197. Sentencing has been set for Sept. 24.
A guard at the Shawnee Correctional Center in Vienna was seriously injured Friday after being attacked by an inmate. The guard suffered a broken jaw and required 12 stiches to close his wounds. The inmate has been identified as Willie Carter (pictured) The injured guard was not identified. Carter has been transferred to the Menard State Prison at Chester.
Hamilton Memorial Hospital board member Frank Zachman, Jr. was honored last week during the hospital’s regularly scheduled board meeting. Zachman is leaving the board after 18 years of service. During his tenure, he served as the hospital board’s president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.
Flow testing of Fairfield fire hydrants will be conducted today. The process could cause a discoloration of water and a dip in pressure. The testing is being carried out by the Fairfield Fire Department and Water Department.
You can forget term limits for Illinois lawmakers – at least for now. A judge has ruled that signature-driven ballot measures calling for legislative term limits and a new political redistricting process cannot appear on the November ballot. The judge said the measures didn’t meet constitutional requirements to make it on the ballot.