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Len Wells, News Director

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1215 4-19-14

Headlines for Sunday, March 30, 2014

Edwards County officials continue to investigate an apparent suicide in West Salem.  The body of 38-year-old Charlie Stuessel was found around 7:30 Friday night in the garage of his home.  Invetigators said Stuessel and his estranged wife had been arguing much of the day Friday, and at some point, Mr. Steussel apparently went to the garage of his home and shot himself with a shotgun.  Edwards County Coroner Mark Curts, the Edwards County Sheriff’s Department and Illinois State Police Crime Scene officials are investigating the death.  Foul play is not suspected.

Wayne and Edwards counties had slightly lower unemployment rates for February compared to a year ago, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.  Wayne County’s rate was 9.8 percent, while Edwards County’s rate was 10.5 percent.  The IDES said most southern Illinois counties had lower unemployment for February compared to a year ago.  The winter weather affected construction work and payrolls, as well as employment in the Retail Trade and Lesiure-Hospitality sectors.  Area unemployment rates for February ranged from 13.3 percent in Franklin county to 7.5 percent in Washington and Moultrie counties.

Frontier Community College in Fairfield is hosting a Job Fair on Tuesday, April 8th from 1 to 6 p.m. in the college’s Workforce Development Building.  The event is designed to give students, alumni and the general public a chance to meet with potential employers in a large setting and learn about possible job openings.  More information is available by contacting Mark Elliott at the college at 842-3711.

The application deadline for the Wabash Valley Association Scholarship has been extended to Monday, April 7th for students planning to attend Frontier Community College this fall.  To qualify for the $1000 cash scholarship, students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average, reside in the IECC district and be enrolled or accepted for fall enrollment in a degree-seeking program at Frontier.  Students must also submit a one-page essay regarding their concerns and thoughts for conservation in the Wabash Valley area.  More information is available by calling the college at 842-3711.

Congressman John Shimkus is co-sponsoring legislation that would expand the prohibition on inaccurate caller identification.  The practice is known as “spoofing” and attempts to trick call recipients.  The law currently bans the practice of spoofing on calls originating in the United States.  The proposed legislation would expand the ban to include calls originating outside the U.S. if the recipient is within the U.S.  The legislation is pending in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Headlines for Saturday, March 29, 2014

Center Street won this year’s Wayne County Scholastic Bowl, held at Frontier Community College in Fairfield.  Center Street defeated Cisne 235 to 155 to win the event.  Cisne defeated Wayne City, lost to Center Street and defeated New Hope in the semi-final round to reach the championship, while Center Street defeated Geff and New Hope earlier in the day to reach the championship.  Six teams competed in this year’s event.  They were Center Street, Cisne, Geff, Jasper, New Hope and Wayne City.  The competition was held in the West Classroom Building at Frontier Community College.

Edwards County officials are investigating an apparent suicide in West Salem.  The body of 38-year-old Charlie Stuessel was found around 7:30 Friday night in the garage of his home.  According to investigators, Stuesseel and his estranged wife had been arguing much of the day Friday, and at some point, Mr. Steussel apparently went into the garage of his home and shot himself with a shotgun.  Edwards County Coroner Mark Curtis, the Edwards County Sheriff’s Department and Illinois State Police Crime Scene officials are investigating the death.  No foul play is suspected, however an autopsy is scheduled for this afternoon (Saturday).

Two teens were injured and taken to Fairfield Memorial Hospital Friday night following an accident in rural Wayne County.  State police said a 16-year-old female juvenile from Fairfield was southbound on county road 1800E just north of county road 200N when a deer entered the roadway.  The driver swerved to the right, causing the vehicle to leave the roadway and hit a ditch before overturning.  The driver and a female juvenile passenger were taken to Fairfield Memorial Hospital following the 9:45 p.m. accident.  Police did not identify those involved due to their ages.  No tickets were issued.

Work is progressing on an upgrade and addition to Times Square Mall in Mt. Vernon, IL.  The west wing of the mall will soon be home to three new businesses, Hobby Lobby, Ross Dress for Less and Big Lots.  The $11 million project is employing around 60 workers, which includes major upgrades to the interior and exterior of the mall.  Construction began last August but has been hampered by winter weather.  The project is expected to be completed by early June.

Wayne County’s unemployment rate for February was 9.8 percent, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, down from 10.2 percent a year ago.  Edwards County reported a February rate of 10.5 percent, down slightly from 10.6 percent a year ago.  Franklin County had the highest February unemployment rate in southern Illinois at 13.3 percent, while Washington and Moultrie counties had the lowest at 7.5 percent.   The IDES said winter weather caused declines in construction work and payrolls, and also affected employment in the Retail Trade and Leisure-Hospitality sectors.

19-year-old Alice G. Fine of Chicago, IL and 20-year-old Daniel A. Groering of Evanston, IL were arrested early Friday morning after allegedly blocking a roadway in Harrisburg and refusing to move.  Officers were called to a report of several people and vehicles blocking Rocky Branch Road around 5:50 Friday morning.  Both face preliminary charges of obstructing traffic peddling, obstructing or delaying, and obstructing or resisting a peace officer.  Both are being held in the Saline County Detention Center.

Headlines for Friday, March 28, 2014

sauterIllinois State Police have launched a statewide enforcement operation targeting commercial motor vehicles.  Operation Sauter is a special enforcement operation dedicated to fallen Trooper James Sauter who was killed in the line of duty March 28 of last year when his patrol car was hit by a semi on I-294.  All Illinois State Police sworn personnel have been assigned to the special 24 hour detail.

An annual report finds that Woodford County in Central Illinois is the healthiest county in the state, with Alexander County in the far southern tip of the state ranking last.  Wayne County ranks 47th with White County ranking 74th.

An $11 million construction project is underway at Times Square Mall in Mt. Vernon.  Work continues on the construction of three new businesses – Hobby Lobby, Big Lots and Ross Dress for Less.  The shops should be finished by early June.

Illinois e-book readers are set to receive payments this week from a court settlement with five major publishers. The publishers conspired with Apple, Inc. to drive up the price of e-books by $3.

A proposal to impose a 3% surcharge on incomes of $1 million or more has been sent to the Illinois House floor for debate. The proposal passed the House Revenue and Finance Committee by a vote of 6 -4.  If enacted, the tax would bring in about $1 billion a year for elementary and secondary education.

The 26th annual Wayne Co. Scholastic Bowl is today at Frontier Community College. The championship matches begin at 6:30 and will be aired on WFIW FM – 104.9.

Headlines for Thursday, March 27, 2014

westallHelen Marie Westall has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after admitting she hired a Mount Carmel man to murder 78-year-old Robert Westall.  Tyler McQueen stabbed Mr. Westall to death at his United Methodist Village apartment in Lawrenceville.  McQueen is currently serving a 50 year sentence for his role in the slaying. Westall entered a guilty plea to the charges last January and was sentenced Tuesday.

56-year-old Arthur L. Barton of Fairfield was jailed Wednesday afternoon on a charge of domestic battery. Barton is accused of shoving his sister, 35-year-old Amy L. Moore during an argument at the Fairfield High Rise.

The Democratic candidate for sheriff of Johnson County has died. Jay Merchant, a longtime Illinois Department of Corrections employee was found unresponsive at his home. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital in Marion.  Merchant ran unopposed in last week’s primary election.

Two Fairfield men have been jailed after county police raided their mobile home and found an operating meth lab.  Jeffrey M. Alldredge, 20 and Bobby C. Powell, 22, have been jailed on multiple charges related to the alleged manufacture and possession of methamphetamine.

Gov. Pat Quinn wants to make the state’s “temporary” income tax increase permanent to prevent extreme and radical budget cuts.  In his budget address Wednesday, Quinn also said he wanted to give homeowners a $500 annual property tax refund.

About 800 elderly prisoners could have a shot at getting out of prison early.  A proposal in Springfield suggests that inmates over 50 years old who have been locked up for more than 25 years should be released.

Headlines for Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Fairfield City Council is considering a measure that would require landlords to pay the utility bills of renters who skip town without settling up their account.  The proposal has been met with much resistance from owners of rental property.  A committee has been appointed to study the issue.  Members of the rental property community have been asked to be part of the discussion.

cornett croppedIllinois State Police are seeking help from the public in locating 26-year-old Arnold Samuel Cornett of Stonefort, IL.  Cornett escaped from a trooper last Monday night after being arrested on an Albany County, Wyoming warrant.  The suspect fled on foot following a traffic stop at Main and Poplar Streets in Harrisburg.  Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Arnold Samuel Cornett should contact your local law enforcement agency.


Municipal officials are investigating problems with new fire hydrants installed as part of the city’s new water treatment facility.  City councilmen learned Tuesday night that all of the hydrants between the new treatment plant and the Little Wabash River are unusable because of low water pressure.

A scheduled 5% rate increase on rural water districts has been postponed until at least the first quarter of next year.  Mayor Chuck Griswold noted that at least one rural water district holds a significant amount of debt. Adding a 5% rate increase would have placed that district in a negative cash flow position.

The Fairfield City Council said NO to a request from the Fairfield Public Library for a $2,000 donation to fund their annual summer reading program. The council also nixed a request to vacate a portion of Leroy Avenue between the municipal tennis courts to allow for the construction of a shelter house.

Two members of the Fairfield Fire and Police Commission have resigned. Dr. David Mills resigned after moving out of the city.  And, the commission’s secretary, Norma Bunting has retired after 25 years of service.

Headlines for Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shores Builders, Inc. of Centralia has been approved as the contractor to build a new fire station for the City of Albion. Shores’ bid was $892,000 – far above the architect’s estimate of $625,000.  The original low bidder for the project, Johannes Construction of Centralia has withdrawn their bid for the project.  Shores Builders was approved for the project during a special meeting of the Albion City Council Monday night.

everettFairfield Memorial Hospital has donated $1,500 in scholarship funds to Reece Everett, son of Mike and Charlotte Everett, to help cover tuition fees to attend a Leadership Summit on Medicine and Healthcare at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, this summer. Reece was nominated to attend the Summit through the FCHS guidance office based upon his academic record, leadership potential and interest in the field of medicine.  By attending the Leadership Summit on Medicine and Healthcare, Reece will be taking advantage of a unique opportunity to explore and connect with the field of medicine.

29-year-old James Denham of Broughton has been sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to charges he burglarized Tom’s Right Priced Foods in McLeansboro, stealing $800 worth of cigarettes.  His co-defendant, Charles Morgan drew a 4 year sentence in the case.  Denham was sentenced to a concurrent 5 year sentence for stealing car parts from a McLeansboro resident.

Mount Carmel Police are asking for help from the public in solving a rash of car burglaries.  In the early morning hours Sunday, thieves entered more than 40 cars in Mt. Carmel, stealing mainly electronic equipment such as MP3 players, GPS systems and IPads. A $300 reward is being offered through the Mt. Carmel Crimestoppers program. The number to call if you have information about these burglaries is 262-HALT.

phyllisAfter 30 years of service to the region, State Farm Insurance Agent Phyllis Hilliard is retiring.  A special retirement open house has been set for 9 – 5 today at the Phyllis Hilliard State Farm Office located at 521 West Main Street in Fairfield.  Folks are invited to drop by and enjoy cookies and punch, wish Phyllis a happy retirement and meet the new State Farm Agent, Carrie Rice. After retirement, Phyllis plans to do some traveling and volunteer work in Fairfield.  A native of Grayville, Phyllis says she has no plans to leave Fairfield.

Headlines for Monday, March 24, 2014

Illinois lawmakers are getting involved in an effort to find out why the deer harvest numbers were so low during the 2013-2014 season.  Rep. Jerry Costello says he will meet with officials with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to discuss the issue. The recent deer harvest was 148,500, down from 181,000 the previous year.

Hunters in Illinois are preparing for the start of the spring wild turkey season.  The season in Southern Illinois starts April 7. Last year, more than 14,000 wild turkeys were taken during the spring season.

blythe croppedFairfield’s First United Methodist Church is getting a new pastor.  Rev. Donna Blythe, who has served four years at Sunfield United Methodist Church in DuQuoin will begin her new appointment in July. Rev. Blythe and her husband, Tom, and two grandchildren will reside in the church’s parsonage on Southeast Fourth Street.  Tom is retired. The current pastor of Fairfield’s First United Methodist Church, Charlie McDonald, has not yet been appointed.

28-year-old Levi M. Glick of Princeton, IN has entered a guilty plea to federal charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.  Police found Glick in possession of a .357 revolver during a traffic stop in Mount Carmel on July 8.  He will be sentenced June 19 in U.S. District Court at Benton.

The Fairfield City Council meets Tuesday night.  A proposal to increase water rates for rural districts will be discussed. Aldermen will also discuss the issue of adding security cameras at City Hall.

Headlines for Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Fairfield City Council meets Tuesday night starting at 6 p.m.  The main items on the agenda include a rate increase for rural water districts, as well as providing utilities for renters.  The council is also expected to address the issue of security cameras at City Hall, and hear a committee report on closing Leroy Street.

Some Illinois lawmakers want to know why the deer harvest numbers for the state’s latest deer hunting season was so much lower than previous years and whether action is needed to increase the deer population.  State Representative Jerry Costello said members of the Legislature’s downstate caucus met with Department of Natural Resources managers to discuss the issue.  The 2013-2014 deer harvest amounted to just over 148,000 compared to nearly 181,000 the previous season.  Costello said the DNR told lawmakers that the state may have overshot an earlier management goal for bringing down deer numbers due to overpopulation.  Biologists say season regulations and permit quotas can be adjusted to allow deer population growth in 41 Illinois counties, including Marion and Jefferson counties.

39-year-old Mark Troehler of Herrin, IL has been sentenced to two months in federal prison for defrauding a bank out of $80,000.  Published reports said Troehler was also ordered to serve two months home confinement and three years supervised release after pleading guilty to submitting false lien waivers to a Marion bank after he had taken out a construction loan.

Frontier Community College in Fairfield is accepting sealed bids through Thursday on a computer custom built by students in the Information Systems Support associated degree program.  Bids can be dropped off at the college’s Learning Resource Center Monday through Thursday until 8 p.m. or sent by mail to #2 Frontier Drive in Fairfield.  The estimated value of the computer is $700.  More information is available by calling 842-3711.

San Antonio-based Valero Renewable Fuels announced Friday it has purchased the ethanol plant in Mt. Vernon, IN that has set idle.  Reports indicate the company is a subsidiary of Valero Energy Corp., an international manufacturer and marketer of transportation fuels, other petrochemical products and power.  Along with the Mt. Vernon, IN facility Valero’s holdings are said include 11 corn ethanol plants in seven midwestern states and 16 petroleum refineries across the U.S.  The move could bring around 65 jobs to the Mt. Vernon, IN facility.

Headlines for Saturday, March 22, 2014

47-year-old Samuel L. Clark of St. Francisville, IL died Friday afternoon when he lost control of his vehicle on the Route 161 extension just east of county road 615 East in northern Wayne County, skidded off the roadway and hit a culvert before becoming airborne and overturning.  Clark was ejected from the wreckage and was pronounced dead at the scene by Wayne County Coroner Jimmy Taylor.  An Illinois State Police Crash Reconstruction Officer has been assigned to the investigation.

A suspected “quick change artist” from Cincinnati, OH was jailed on charges he scammed several southern Illinois businesses out of hundreds of dollars, including the Countrymark Convenience Store in Fairfield.  60-year-old Jay V. Jackson is accused of scamming the store out of $180 last July, and is wanted for similar thefts in Richland, White and Effingham counties.  Fairfield Police Chief Brad Winter said Jackson is also a suspect in other cases in Missouri and Kansas.  Jackson was transferred from the Franklin County, IN jail to the White County Jail at Carmi on Thursday.

At this week’s meeting of the North Wayne school board, several non-tenured teachers were rehired for the coming school year.  They include Jessica Hinckley, Beth Shamhart, Adam Ellis, Sue Pixley, Todd Burroughs, Katie Peugh, Sarah Sudkamp, Chynna Keyser, Christal Lewis and Darla Ginglesberger.  Heather Oldendorf was rehired for next school year and placed on tenure, and Coutrney Daugherty was hired to fill the business teacher vacancy at Cisne High School.  The board also honorably dismissed two non-certified instructors at the end of the current school year, Glenna Michael as Pre-K Parent Coordinator and Rick Dennison as an individual special education aide.

27-year-old Dustin Lee Kieffer of Mt. Carmel, IL was hurt Thursday night when his car crashed into Timberlake Furniture in Keensburg.  Wabash County Sheriff Joe Keeling said Kieffer was northbound on Wabash County road 900 North when he lost control of the vehicle, hit a utility pole and crashed into the furniture building.  Kieffer was taken to Wabash General Hospital in Mt. Carmel, IL and later transferred to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, IN.  Sheriff Keeling said “alcohol is suspected” as a contributing factor in the accident.

Frontier Community College is accepting sealed bids through this Thursday, March 27th, for a computer custom-built by students enrolled in the Information Systems Support associate degree program.  Bidding should start at $200 with the computer to be sold to the highest bidder.  The computer has a tower only with no monitor.  Sealed bids can be dropped off at the Learning Resource Center Monday through Thursday until 8 p.m. or by mail at #2 Frontier Drive in Fairfield.  More information is available by calling 842-3711.

Headlines for Friday, March 21, 2014

jay jacksonA suspected “quick change artist” from Cincinnati, Ohio has been jailed on charges he scammed a number of Southern Illinois businesses out of hundreds of dollars. Jay V. Jackson, 60 was transferred from the Franklin County, Indiana jail to the White County jail at Carmi on Thursday.  Fairfield City Police Chief Brad Winter says Jackson is suspected of scamming the Countrymark Convenience Store in Fairfield out of $180 last July, and is wanted for similar thefts in Effingham, Richland and White Counties.  Chief Winter added that Jackson is also a suspect in other cases in Missouri and Kansas. Illinois State Police are investigating the Southern Illinois cases. Jackson became a suspect after police reviewed surveillance video from a Carmi convenience store that showed Jackson allegedly practicing his “quick change” scam on a clerk.

A Mount Carmel, Ill. man was badly injured Thursday night when his car crashed into a furniture store in Keensburg, Ill. Dustin Lee Kieffer, 27 was driving a 2004 Toyota Camry north on Wabash County 900 N when he lost control around 10:45 p.m., struck a utility pole then crashed into Timberlake Furniture.  Kieffer was injured and taken by ambulance to Wabash General Hospital in Mt. Carmel and later airlifted to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville. There were no passengers in his car. Wabash County Sheriff Joe Keeling stated that “alcohol is suspected” as a contributing factor in the accident, which remains under investigation. Heavy damage was reported to Timberlake Furniture and Kieffer’s Toyota.

williams chrissy

Family members believe the body of Chrissy Williams has been found inside a red SUV pulled from the Ohio River at Rosiclare Thursday afternoon. Williams, 39 has been missing since Dec. 2.  An autopsy is scheduled for later today.  Illinois State Police and Hardin County Sheriff’s Department officials have released no details about the discovery. A vessel equipped with a sonar device located the vehicle near a boat ramp at Rosiclare. Williams was last seen around 9 p.m. on Dec. 2 leaving the home of a friend in Rosiclare.

Fairfield Community High School senior Kyle Ellis has been named to the Illinois High School Scholastic Bowl Coaches Association All-State First Team.  The honor recognizes the top ten scholastic bowl players across the state of Illinois in Class-A.  Kyle is the son of Randy and Cindy Ellis.

Wayne County Sheriff Mike Everett is warning area residents about a new phone scam that’s going around.   Someone claiming to be with the FBI has been calling residents offering free home surveillance equipment.  Sheriff Everett warns residents that there is no such program offered by the FBI.

Thieves have targeted a machine shed owned by Jason T. Draper of rural Carmi.  Draper reports seven tractor weights and two batteries were taken.

The Illinois Supreme Court has declared the state’s decades-old eavesdropping law unconstitutional.  The 1961 law made it a felony for someone to produce an audio recording of a conversation unless all parties agree. The high court stated the law violates the free speech and due process protections of the U.S. and Illinois constitutions.

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