Len Wells, News Director
There’s been a twist in the search for Megan Nichols, a 16-year-old Fairfield girl who has been missing from her West Center Street home since July 3. City Police Chief Keith Colclasure reports that as the investigation progressed, it was discovered that Megan’s biological father, 35-year-old John David Jackson Nichols (pictured left) was an out of compliance sex offender in the State of Illinois. Nichols was convicted in 1998 and last registered with the Fairfield City Police Department in February of 1999. Working with Oklahoma authorities and the U.S. Marshal Service, John David Nichols was located in Tulsa, OK and taken into custody July 29 on a Wayne County warrant for failure to register as a sex offender. “U.S. Marshals interviewed John David Nichols and it was determined that he did not know the whereabouts of Megan,” said Chief Colclasure. “John David Nichols has been charged in Oklahoma for Failure to register as a Sex Offender and has waived extradition back to Wayne County for local charges.” Chief Colclasure added that the City Police Department and assisting agencies continue to investigate all tips provided concerning the whereabouts of Megan. “At this time, interviews and evidence lead authorities to believe Megan left the residence of her own free will,” Colclasure said.
A pickup truck crashed into the front doors of the Fairfield Masonic Lodge this morning. Pictured above are Fairfield Firemen and other emergency workers who responded to the crash a little before 7 o’clock this morning. The truck was driven by Aaron Meloy of Cisne. City Police report Meloy’s truck ran a red light and struck a car driven by 41-year-old Nicole Kline of Fairfield. Kline was hurt and taken to Fairfield Memorial Hospital. Meloy was ticketed for running a red light.
23-year-old Tory D. Ward of Mount Carmel was arrested Monday by Gibson County, Indiana authorities on a drug charge. At about 7:15 Monday afternoon, a deputy pulled Ward’s 2004 PT Cruiser over for speeding on U.S. Highway 41 in Fort Branch. Approaching the vehicle, the deputy smelled marijuana. The deputy retrieved two baggies of suspected marijuana from the back seat and a large amount of cash and more marijuana. Ward was taken to the Gibson County jail where he was booked on a charge of being in possession of marijuana with a prior conviction. His bond was $650 cash. He was also wanted on an unrelated warrant out of Vanderburgh County, IN.
16-year-old Megan Nichols has been missing for more than a month now. She was last seen at her West Douglas Street Home on the night of July 3. According to Megan’s mother, Kathy Jo Hutchcraft, a $2,000 reward has been established for her safe return. Anyone with information about Megan Nichols’ whereabouts should call the Fairfield City Police Department at 842-2151. Fairfield City Police, along with other area law enforcement agencies continue to followup on leads as they are received.
61-year-old Cheryl R. Shaffer of Rosiclare died Wednesday when the car she was driving collided with a semi head-on on Ill. Rt. 34 in southern Saline County. The driver of the semi, 41-year-old James N. Certain of Equality was not injured. The crash happened shortly before 6 a.m. Wednesday.
26-year-old Justin Neaveill of Evansville has been sentenced to 5 ½ years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of being in possession of a stolen vehicle in White County. It has been recommended that Neaveill serve his time in the state’s impact incarceration program, more commonly known as Boot Camp. The sentence was handed down Wednesday in White County Circuit Court at Carmi.
The University of Illinois has suspended study-abroad programs in Sierra Leone and plans extra screening for students arriving from West Africa in response to the recent outbreak of Ebola. Officials at the U of I say that all new international students will be screened for communicable disease.
The Cisne Reunion continues this evening with the Miss and Little Miss Pageant at 7 this evening. New this year will be a Tiny Tot Pageant. The celebration continues through Saturday. The big Cisne Reunion Parade has been set for 4 o’clock Saturday afternoon.
A protective order has been agreed to in the sexual exploitation case of former FCHS teacher and coach Timothy C. Going of Fairfield. The names of Going’s alleged victims will not be released to anyone not associated with the case in a professional manner. Court documents will only refer to the alleged victims by the initials of their first and last names. Going’s federal trial has been set for Sept. 30 in U.S. District Court at E. St. Louis. Going remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial.
No foul play is suspected in the death of 50-year-old Timothy Brown of Phillipstown. White County Coroner Chris Marsh says Brown died Monday from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
52-year-old Sharon K. Withrow of Fairfield was arrested Tuesday afternoon on a preliminary charge of retail theft. Police say surveillance video at Bullard’s Produce in Fairfield captured Withrow stealing a bottle of peppermint extract.
Each month, Fairfield Memorial Hospital honors an employee who has exemplified outstanding patient care and customer service. In July, Tyra Winkler, CNA, was named Fairfield Memorial Hospital’s Employee of the Month. As a Certified Nurse Assistant on FMH’s Med/Surg unit, Tyra continually strives to ensure her patients receive the best care during their stay. Tyra is described by her peers as being very caring and is always willing to help patients, visitors, and coworkers with a smile on her face. She is mindful of the care she gives her patients and is very respectful of her coworkers. Tyra is always extra attentive to make certain not only are the patients cared for, but also that the patient’s loved ones have what they need. She is always willing to assist not only the coworkers within her department, but also the other departments when in need.
The 2014 Cisne Reunion opens tonight at 6 p.m. with opening ceremonies and the announcement of the 2014 Cisne Reunion Parade Marshall. Christian Music will be featured tonight starting at 6:30. The annual parade will be at 4 p.m. Saturday.
The Cisne Fire Department’s Food Stand will be open from 4 – 10 Wednesday thru Friday during the Cisne Reunion and 10 a.m. til 10 p.m. on Saturday. The menu includes Walleye Fish Plate, Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwiches, burgers, fries and drinks. Proceeds will be used to help fund equipment purchases, the Junior Fireman Program and the National Fire Prevention Week school program and a $500 scholarship.
Heavy rains that developed mid-morning Tuesday forced the delay of the monthly storm siren tests in Fairfield. City Police Chief Keith Colclasure said a “silent test” of the siren system was carried out to ensure the devices are operating correctly. Heavy rainfall caused some intersections to become flooded. A more complete test of the siren system will be carried out later this month.
Albion City Council members voted Monday night to amend the city’s ordinance regarding the placement of mobile homes in town. Under the new ordinance, no mobile home older than five years can be moved into town. The ordinance does not affect existing mobile homes.
Former Fairfield Community High School math teacher and cross country coach, Timothy C. Going is scheduled to appear in Federal Court this morning for a bail hearing. Going faces two federal counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of possession of child pornography.
26-year-old Dustin Grant of Carmi was sentenced Monday to four years in prison after entering a guilty plea to charges he was in possession of a stolen vehicle – a class-2 felony. In return for the guilty plea, the state dropped lesser charges of theft and possession of drug paraphernalia.
35-year-old Jason Digby of Carmi has been sentenced to two years in prison after entering a guilty plea to a charge of theft – a class-4 felony. Digby will have to serve another year of parole once he gets out of prison.
A 68-year-old Belleville man accused of inserting sewing needles into packaged meat has been ordered jailed without bond pending trial. Ronald Avers worked at the Shop ‘n Save in Belleville. He told police he did it “just for the hell of it.”
Richard Lankford, retired president of WRAY Radio in Princeton, IN died over the weekend. A native of Mount Carmel, Lankford spent more than 61 years calling area basketball, football and baseball games.
John M. Beahringer, 51 of Bluford was arrested by Wayne City police Chief Anson Fenton on DUI charges and a warrant out of Madison County. The traffic stop was made shortly after midnight Sunday morning. After allegedly giving police a false name, officers eventually identified the driver as John Beahringer who was wanted out of Madison County, IL on charges of residential burglary. Bond on the Madison County warrant was $80,000. Beahringer was also cited for aggravated drunk driving and obstruction of justice for allegedly giving police a false name.
A Wayne City man faces drug charges following a traffic stop for speeding Saturday afternoon. William D.Crimmins, 36 was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over for speeding. A further investigation revealed Crimmins allegedly passed a suspicious plastic bag to the driver as the vehicle stop was being made. After questioning both occupants of the vehicle, Wayne County Sheriff’s Police recovered two baggies containing suspected methamphetamine. Crimmins was taken to the Wayne County jail where he was booked on preliminary charges of being in possession of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of methamphetamine with the intent to deliver. Also recovered during the traffic stop was $250 cash from a cigarette pack.
Illinois lags far behind Indiana when it comes to issuing oil and gas drilling permits. Although Indiana has only a handful of counties that produce oil and gas; more than 300 permits were issued there last year. In sharp contrast, Illinois currently has a backlog of 672 drilling permit applications. The waiting list for a permit in Illinois is now more than 45 days. Additionally, it has been more than 400 days since the Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Act was signed into law. Producers are still waiting for the rules to be written by Dept. of Natural Resources officials so the practice can be implemented.
Two area State Troopers were honored last week during the agency’s 37th annual awards ceremony. A lifesaving medal was awarded to Sgt. Craig Demaret of Fairfield. Sgt. Demaret serves on the Illinois State Polce SWAT Team. Trooper Matthew D. Haywood, a native of Grayville, was honored for his patrol-level performance in District 19.
Bill Plater, the man known as Cactus Pete on WSIL TV died Friday night. He was 86. Plater played Cactus Pete for 16 years and also performed as Ruffles the Clown and the Cartoon Man. Plater started his career in television in 1953 after serving as a counter-intelligence officer in the Korean War.
Thieves have broken into the Subway restaurant in Albion. The intruders pried open a back door to gain entrance. Albion police are asking local business owners to check their surveillance video equipment to see if the intruders tried to enter other buildings over the weekend.
A new state law eliminates the registration fee for owners of all-terrain vehicles who only use them on private property. The measure also cuts the fees for some ATV’s used in local and state parks.
A detention hearing for former Fairfield Community High School math teacher and cross-country coach Timothy Going is set for Monday morning in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis. Going is awaiting trial on three counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of possession of child pornography. He has been ordered held in the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s service until Monday’s hearing. In federal court, a final pretrial hearing in the case is set for September 22th and a trial on September 30th.
Albion authorities are investigating a break-in at the Subway Sandwich Restaurant in downtown Albion. The break-in was discovered around 7:30 Saturday morning when employees reported for work. It was not immediately known what was taken in the heist. An Illinois State Police Crime Scene agent was brought in to gather forensic evidence that may have been left behind. The burglar entered the store by prying open a back door.
Governor Pat Quinn announced Friday the completion of a nearly $100 million, four-year project to install over 1000 new miles of high-speed, fiber optic broadband infrastructure across 55 Illinois counties, including Clay, Richland and Lawrence counties. The project was funded by a $62 million competitive award from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and allows the new network to directly connect community colleges, universities, libraries, health facilities, K-12 schools and public safety agencies.
Late registration for Center Street and Northside grade schools will take place Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. til noon and on Monday and Tuesday, August 11th and 12th from 8 a.m. til 2 p.m. in the main office of the school the child will be attending. For more information, parents can call Center Streeet at 842-2967 or Northside at 842-6501.
Area farmers should start receiving notices soon updating them on their current base acres, yields, and 2009-2012 planting history. The written updates are an important part of preparing producers for the new safety net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill. Producers are encouraged to bring the notices to any scheduled appointments with the local FSA county office to ensure they have information to discuss program options. More information is available at www.usda.gov/farmbill
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced Friday the completion of a nearly $100 million, four-year project to install over 1000 new miles of high-speed fiber optic broadband infrastructure across 55 Illinois counties. Among the counties included are Clay, Lawrence, and Richland. The project created nearly 700 jobs expanding access to high-speed broadband services for schools, libraries, hospitals and Internet providers throughout Illinois. The project was funded by a $62 million competitive award from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was made possible by a $24 million commitment from the Illinois Jobs Now capital program and nearly $10 million in other university, local and private resources.
33-year-old Daryl G. Nenninger of Lawrenceville, IL pled guilty Friday in Federal District Court to a charge of failing to register as a sex offender, and faces up to ten years in prison when he is sentened on November 20th. Nenninger traveled to Mexico on December 11th of last year after registering as a sex offender, and was arrested there on March 28th of this year. He remains in custody pending the November 20th sentencing date.
28-year-old Dustin L. Turner of Noble, IL was injured late Thursday night when the off-road motorcycle he was operating was hit by a van on Illinois Route 250 in Richland County. State police said 34-year-old Steven L. Atwood of Noble, IL was attempting to turn into his private drive and didn’t see Turner’s unit, which had no operating lights, causing Atwood to hit Turner’s motorcycle head-on. Turner was airlifted to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, IN following the crash. Police cited him for operating an ATV on a highway, operating an uninsured vehicle and driving without lights when required.
55-year-old Norman Risley of Sesser, IL has been sentenced to two years probation after pleading guilty to a reduced weapons charge. Published reports say Risley was sentenced Thursday in Franklin County and had been found with several firearms and explosives when he was arrested in December 2012 as investigators seized explosive materials and devices in his home, which included blasting caps.
The Illinois State Police hosted its 37th annual Awards Ceremony Friday, paying tribute to acts of heroism and professionalism displayed by 92 men and women who were honored during the event. Among those honored as Officer of the Year Nominees were Trooper Matthew D. Haywood from District 19, headquartered at Carmi for patrol duties, and Luke O. Lay from DuQuoin Communications covering districts 12, 13, 19 and 22 as a Telecommunicator of the Year nominee. The Purple Heart was awarded posthumously to Trooper James M. Sauter, who died in 2013 when he was struck and killed while on duty on I-294 in northern Illinois.
Gov. Pat Quinn has announced $17.9 million for several road projects in Southern Illinois. Locally, $690,000 has been released for pavement marking work on Interstate 64 through Wayne County. In Edwards County, $162,000 has been released to patch and resurface Ill. Rt. 130 north of Grayville for 1/3 of a mile.
23-year-old Kurtis D. Harvey of Mt. Carmel was arrested Thursday on drug charges following a vehicle stop by Gibson County, Ind. police. Harvey was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over on U.S. Highway 41 in Gibson County. A deputy noticed Harvey reaching for something in the back seat during the traffic stop. A search of the vehicle revealed a package of hypodermic needles behind the driver’s seat. Harvey was taken to the county jail in Princeton where he was booked on a preliminary charge of being in possession of a syringe. Total bond – $1,500.
Bill Young with the Jasper Waterworks Corporation is asking for the public’s help in locating a water main leak. Anyone with information is asked to call 516-3332.
A Honda TRX-420 4-wheeler stolen from the Roger Stocke residence near Enfield July 16 has been recovered in Dubois County, Indiana. A suspect who lives in Evansville allegedly stole the 4-wheeler and sold it to an individual in Dubois County, Indiana. Information about the suspect has been forwarded to the White County State’s Attorney for the filing of charges.
A semi was destroyed by fire Thursday afternoon on Interstate 64 in rural Jefferson County. Lonnie C. Burton, 41 of Florida was driving eastbound at the 63 mile marker when he discovered a tire had caught fire. The flames spread quickly, destroying the tractor and trailer. Burton was not injured.
Mt. Carmel’s Tyra Buss has been named the 2014 National High School Coaches Association Senior National Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year. Buss, a Parade All-American, was named Illinois’ Ms. Basketball in 2013 and 2014. She will be attending Indiana University this fall.
Fairfield National Bank is updating its brand with a new logo. Fairfield National Bank, along with its branches – Tri-County Banking Center in Grayville and Bean Capital Banking Center in Wayne City will begin advertising as FNB. In addition to updating the look, FNB will begin offering new products including financial tools and enhanced security features.
Eight hikers missing in the Shawnee National Forest Wednesday night have been found. The group; including an adult male, four adult females and three children got lost while hiking in northwest Pope County near Burden Falls and Bell Smith Springs. The group was found around 8:45 Wednesday night.
Wayne County Sheriff’s Police are investigating an alleged aggravated battery case. Derek M. Halbin, 26 of Bluford tells police that he was severely beaten after arriving at a late night weekend party. He suffered a head injury and broken nose and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Police say they have a suspect, but no arrests have been made at this time.
Illinois authorities have released the name of a man who shot and wounded a police officer near Pana Tuesday night before being killed by SWAT team members during an exchange of gunfire. The victim is 25-year-old Josh Edwards of Pana. The wounded Pana officer – not identified by authorities – is listed in stable condition at an area hospital.
Federal authorities are investigating after a pipe bomb was found outside a downtown Springfield restaurant. A Secretary of State Police bomb squad used a high-powered water cannon to disable the 7-in-long pipe filled with explosives.
Harrisburg police report two strong-arm robberies in the past few days. A suspect knocked a worker down at the Ponderosa Steak House and stole her money bag. The Harrisburg Dominos Pizza Restaurant has also been targeted. Neither employee suffered serious injuries.
31-year-old Roger L. Spoonemore of Carmi was seriously injured Monday when a dog he was attempting to discipline turned on him and bit his hand. Spoonemore lost a thumb in the attack and was airlifted to a regional hospital for surgery.
Illinois Department of Public Health officials report that West Nile Virus has been found in mosquito samples taken from the Washington County community of Ashley. The number of positive tests statewide is down considerably this year, most likely because of the cool, wet summer weather.
Former Albion resident, Tony Brake will be riding in the 35th annual Pan Mass Challenge in Massachusetts this weekend to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Tony lost his brother, Tim Brake to cancer last week.
Edwards County Treasurer Cindy Hocking says Real Estate tax bills will be arriving in area mailboxes the week of August 11. Due dates have been set for Wednesday, Sept. 17 and Wednesday, Oct. 22. The total extension for Edwards County Real Estate taxes is $5.1 million.
Registration for Fairfield Community High School students will be from 1 – 6 today and 10 – 2 Thursday. Registration will take place in the FCHS Study Hall.
A September 30 trial date has been set for former Fairfield Community High School math teacher and cross country coach Timothy C. Going. Going appeared in U.S. District Court at E. St. Louis Monday where he entered a not guilty plea during arraignment on three counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of being in possession of child pornography. A detention hearing has been set for August 5 to determine whether or not Going should be held without bond pending trial.
20-year-old Zachary R. Wheeler of Fairfield has been arrested on a Franklin County warrant charging him with three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, one count of indecent solicitation of a minor and one count of grooming. Wheeler is being held under $75,000 bond pending trial.
An Eldorado couple arrested last week following a kidnapping investigation appeared in a Missouri courtroom Monday. Courtney Godwin entered a guilty plea to charges of motor vehicle tampering and possession of drug paraphernalia. She drew a ten day jail sentence. Her boyfriend, Sonny Pilgrim is being held on charges of resisting arrest and vehicle tampering and is due in court August 7. Courtney Godwin told police she was not kidnapped – claiming she left Eldorado willingly with her boyfriend.
Starting this Thursday and continuing through approximately August 7, Hawkins Drive and Dorris Drive in Fairfield will be open to local traffic only. The two streets are being resurfaced.
The 18th annual White County Crop Tour has been set for Wednesday, August 20. Participants will be assigned to one of the ten townships in the county to gather data from 10 different locations in each township. To participate, call the White County Farm Bureau office at 382-8512.