Len Wells, News Director


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Headlines for Friday, October 10, 2014

costonIllinois’ Fifth District Court of Appeals has rejected Danny K. Coston’s appeal of his conviction for the August, 2012 slaying of a young Southern Illinois couple. The ruling was issued Thursday afternoon. Coston, 39 of Centerville, Ill. is currently serving a 53 year prison sentence for the shooting deaths of Jacob Wheeler, 22 of Centerville, Ill. and Wheeler’s girlfriend, Jessi Evans, 17 of Norris City, Ill.  Coston’s appellate attorney disputed the trial court’s ruling that his client was not in custody during the first and second of three interviews conducted on August 31, 2012. “The order of the court denying the defendant’s motion to suppress incriminating statements made to the police in three separate interviews is affirmed where the defendant was advised of, and knowingly waived those rights, and his statements were otherwise voluntary.”  White County State’s Attorney Denton Aud said he was pleased with the Appellate Court’s ruling. “The Court’s ruling affirms the investigation by Sheriff Doug Maier, his department, and the Illinois State Police, as well as the decisions made in resolving the case with a result of Coston being sentenced to what amounts to a life sentence for his brutal and heinous acts,” Aud said. “Most importantly, the Court has affirmed justice for Jessi and Jake and their families. All of us should say an extra prayer to God for their comfort at this time as we hold onto our loved ones.”

Peoples National Bank has acquired the former Wendy’s Restaurant property on W. Delaware in Fairfield along with 11 other pieces of property in the area. Plans are underway to construct a 5,000 to 6,000 square foot bank on the property.  Plans for the construction are expected to be completed within the next 30 days. No plans have been announced for the bank’s current multi-story property on S.E. Third Street.

A Georgia truck driver whose vehicle struck and killed an Illinois State Police Trooper in November of 2012 has been placed on probation.  Johnny B. Felton, Jr. of Hinesville, GA has been sentenced to 28 months of probation and was fined $2,500. Trooper Kyle Deatherage was a motorcycle officer. He was struck and killed while making a traffic stop on Interstate 55 near Litchfield.

Over $9,000 worth of items will be auctioned off Saturday evening to benefit the family of Ron Cowles of Grayville. Cowles retired as Grayville’s Utility Manager earlier this year. A few months later, he was diagnosed with Stage IV Cancer. A BBQ dinner and charity auction will run from 5 – 8 this Saturday evening at the American Legion Hall in Grayville.

The Illinois Civil Justice League has released its ratings of judicial candidates ahead of the November 4 General Election. Locally, Fairfield Attorney Mike Molt received a “recommended” rating.  Wabash County State’s Attorney Cassandra Goldman and Second Circuit Judge David Overstreet also received “recommended” ratings.

Fairfield Memorial Hospital and Frontier Community College’s “Run for your Life 5-K” is this Saturday.  Registration is at 7 a.m. at Fairfield Memorial Hospital’s Medical Arts Complex with the race starting at 8 a.m. The course leads participants to Frontier Community College and back to the hospital.

Headlines for Thursday, October 9, 2014

An elderly Sims man faces a charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly using a shotgun to kill his neighbor’s dog. 80-year-old Jackie L. “Jack” Scott is accused of killing a dog belonging to his neighbor, Jamie L. Howard. The incident happened a little before 6:30 Wednesday night.  Scott told police the dog had been in his yard earlier in the day and had “pinned him” against his house. Scott was given a notice to appear in court on the misdemeanor charge.

Two Fairfield men have been jailed on charges they shoplifted hundreds of dollars’ worth of merchandise from the Fairfield Wal-Mart.  Ryan Tibbs, 24 of Fairfield and Jacob Lawrence, 22 of Fairfield have been jailed on preliminary charges of felony retail theft and possession of cannabis. Items allegedly taken during the heist included knives, a cell phone, shotgun shells and underwear.

20-year-old Mitchell L. Jarrell of Mt. Vernon, IL was jailed Wednesday on charges he was driving a Chevy Lumina that had been stolen in Mt. Vernon. Jarrell was also wanted on a Wayne County warrant for Failure to Appear in Court on a Retail Theft charge.

Significant rainfall is in the forecast over the next several days.  Officials with the National Weather Service office in Paducah, KY say that that some areas of the region could see between three and five inches of rainfall between today and the middle of next week.  No severe weather is forecast in association with the approaching systems.

41-year-old Cory Lee Hoffman of Mt. Carmel has been sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of being in possession of a stolen vehicle. The sentence was handed down Wednesday in White County Circuit Court at Carmi. Hoffman drew a concurrent 3 ½ year prison sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated drunk driving – his fourth offense.

Illinois doctors have signed off on Illinois medical marijuana for patients with cancer, severe fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. The department announced Wednesday that about 6,300 Illinois patients have started the process of applying to use the state’s first legal offering of medical marijuana.

Illinois health officials say they are prepared in the event someone within the state’s borders is diagnosed with Ebola. Public Health Director LaMar Hasbrouck says he is in constant communication with the state’s hospitals, clinics and public health departments and they’ve put a plan in place to respond quickly to any potential cases.

The annual HOWLoween Hairball has been set for Saturday, Oct. 25 at the Fairfield Elks Club. The event is staged each year by Animals Requesting Friends. The band, Torn & Frayed is returning for their 11th Hairball performance. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

Headlines for Wednesday, October 8, 2014

bridwellA McLeansboro, Ill. man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges he had unlawful sexual contact with a minor under the age of 13. Stephen K. Bridwell, 21 entered a guilty plea to a class-1 felony charge of Indecent Solicitation of a Child and drew a 15 year prison sentence.  In pleading guilty to a class-2 felony charge of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse of a child, Bridwell drew an additional 3 year prison sentence.  The sentences will be followed by 3 years of parole once he is released from prison. The charges against Bridwell were filed in May of this year following an investigation carried out by Illinois State Police detectives.  In pleading guilty to the charges, Bridwell admitted he had sexual contact with a minor under the age of 13 and that he had sent text messages to the victim discussing sexual conduct.

Best Onbest onee Tire and Service on West Main Street in Fairfield closed its doors abruptly on Tuesday.  The closure came with no advanced notice, as workers were still making appointments for customers as late as Tuesday morning. An “Out of Business” sign was posted on the front door. The sign also informed customers that all warranties will be honored at area Best One locations, including stores at Harrisburg, Marion and Princeton, IN.

High winds uprooted trees and downed a power pole in West Salem Tuesday. Marble size hail was also reported. Straight-line winds knocked down five Ameren power poles in Flora Tuesday, knocking out power to a wide area of Clay County.  More shower and thunderstorm activity is forecast for late tonight and Thursday.

The U.S. Energy Department predicts that it will cost less to stay warm this winter because a repeat of last year’s deep freeze is very unlikely.  The Energy Department’s annual prediction of winter heating costs released Tuesday states that Americans won’t have to crank up the heat as much, so they should pay less for energy.

A federal judge in Benton has ruled a Chicago man accused of mailing threats of beheadings and bombings to Southern Illinois University’s Carbondale campus must remain in custody.  Derrick Dawan Burns faces 8 felony charges related to those threats.  A federal judge in Chicago had previously ruled Burns was eligible for bond.

The Illinois Archery Deer and Archery Fall Turkey seasons are now open and will continue through January 18.  The firearm deer hunting season will close the archery seasons Nov. 21 – 23 and Dec. 4 – 7.  Hunting permits are available over-the-counter from Department of Natural Resources Direct License and Permit Vendors.

Headlines for Tuesday, October 7, 2014

campbellAt 9:14 a.m. this morning, Gibson County Indiana Central Dispatch received a report of a shoplifter at the Pilot Travel Center located on 1042 E. Warrenton Road and US 41. When officers arrived an investigation was conducted and 23 year old Joshua L. Campbell of Mt. Carmel, Illinois, was ultimately taken into custody for Theft. He remains in custody on a $1300 cash bond. Arresting officer was Sgt. Bruce L. Vanoven.

Marble size hail was reported in the West Salem area this morning. A few trees were uprooted and a power pole was snapped from high winds associated with a strong storm this morning.  Widely scattered thunderstorms developed over the area Monday afternoon.  In downtown Fairfield, pea size hail was reported as a strong thunderstorm drifted across the area. In the Mt. Carmel area, nickel size hail was reported. More rain is in the forecast for today and Thursday. No damage was reported from Monday’s storms.

53-year-old David J. Kunce of Fairfield has been jailed on charges of being in possession of meth, driving revoked, DUI and obstructing justice. A Wayne County Sheriff’s deputy stopped Kunce’s vehicle on W. Water at N.W. 7th Street Monday night and discovered he had no valid drivers license.  Officers allege that Kunce tried to throw a metal container into the bed of his truck that contained a quantity of suspected methamphetamine.

The City of Albion is losing three to four million gallons of water per month. Officials believe it could be a metering issue. The Albion City Council voted Monday night to seek bids for new water meters in an effort to correct the problem.

The last day to register to vote in the upcoming General Election is today, Oct. 7.  If you have moved recently, you need to transfer your registration. If you have married or had a name change, you need a new registration.  In-person absentee voting is underway in your local County Clerk’s Office during normal business hours.

Federal prosecutors are seeking a psychiatric examination for a Chicago man who is accused of mailing bomb threats to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.  21-year-old Derrick Burns remains in custody on eight felony charges linked to threatening mailings sent over a year-long span in 2012 and last year.

Conservation police in Illinois say they are seeing an increase in the number of arrests this fall for illegally digging and harvesting ginseng. The illegal practice has been noted recently in the Shawnee National Forest. Wild American ginseng root can be sold on the medicinal herb market for up to $1,000 a pound.

Headlines for Monday, October 6, 2015

19-year-old Thomas Hatcher of Fairfield was jailed Friday on a preliminary charge of aggravated domestic battery.  Hatcher is accused of slapping and choking his 15-year-old girlfriend.  Hatcher was arrested by Fairfield City Police on S.W. 6th Street Friday afternoon.

55-year-old Blair Pollard of Fairfield was arrested Sunday evening on a preliminary charge of domestic battery.  He is accused of shoving his wife off the bed and twisting her arm and a leg. The alleged victim, 61-year-old Barbara J. Pollard did not require medical attention.

27-year-old Alan Dale Stratton of Crossville was injured Saturday afternoon when the motorcycle he was riding ran off of a White County road south of Ill. Rt. 14 and crashed into a ditch.  Stratton was airlifted to a hospital in Evansville following the 12:53 p.m. crash.

34-ytwardoskiear-old Derrick Twardoski of Percy has been sentenced to 53-years in prison after admitting he set a fire last year that killed four children.  The fire, in rural Randolph County, claimed the lives of a set of 5-year-old twins, a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old.  The victims’ parents, a brother and a cousin were able to escape the blaze.


The third annual Fall Foliage Paint Out starts this Wednesday in Fairfield. Artists from around the Midwest will be painting outdoor scenes of the Fairfield area through this Saturday, Oct. 11.  More information about the event is available at www.fairfieldpaintout.com

Headlines for Sunday, October 5, 2014

27-year-old Alan Dale Stratton of Crossville was injured and cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident following a motorcycle wreck Saturday afternoon in White County.  State police say Stratton was riding a motorcycle on White County Road 1950E near Illinois Route 14 when he ran off the roadway and crashed into a ditch.  He was airlifted from the scene to an Evansville hospital for treatment of his injuries.

FNB along with the Community Bankers Association of Illinois has announced this year’s winner of the 2014 Bancvue Scholarship is Janae Garrett of Fairfield.  Garrett was sponsored by Fairfield National Bank and has received an initial check of $1000 and will be eligible to receive $1000 per year for the next three years for her higher education.  She currently attends the Salon Professional Academy in Evansville, IN.  The scholarship is conducted through a blind drawing held during the CBAI Annual Convention in Chicago.

Fairfield Memorial Hospital will be holding a Book Fair on Tuesday from 9 a.m. til 4 p.m. in the hospital’s Medical Arts Complex Community Education Room.  The public is invited to purchase hundreds of new books and gifts at up to seventy percent off.  Twenty percent of proceeds from purchases will be donated to the Fairfield Memorial Hospital Foundation and the Fairfield Memorial Hospital Skilled Care Activities to help fund activities for the residents.

Artists from Illinois and Missouri will be coming to Fairfield later this week to participate in the 3rd Fall Foliage Paint Out.  The event will be held October 8th through 11th with artists painting outdoor scenes in the community through noon this Saturday.  The artists welcome the public to stop by to visit with them as they paint.  The public is also invited to view their works at the Landing on the corner of NE 3rd and Court Street each evening from 6 to 7 p.m.  There will also be a public viewing and art sale Saturday from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Fairfield Memorial Hospital and Frontier Community College is sponsoring a “Run For Your Life 5K” this Saturday.  Registration begins at 7 a.m. with the race at 8.  The course begins at the hospital and runs out to the college and then back to the hospital.   Registration forms can be picked up at the hospital or college or printed off either organizations’ website.  Early registration is encouraged to allow time to order free t-shirts for participants, however late registration will be available Saturday morning until 7:45.

Headlines for Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Fairfield Community High School Homecoming Parade was held Friday afternoon in downtown Fairfield.  The parade lasted about 25 minutes.  The FCHS Senior class won first in the float entries, receiving $100.  Second place and $75 went to the Junior Class, and third place and $50 went to the FCHS FFA.  The Fairfield Mulebackers provided the prize money for the parade winners.  The Homecoming football game was played last night, with Fairfield losing to Eldorado in overtime 60 to 58.

Volunteers for a Progressive Fairfield along with family and friends will be honoring Robert “Poor Ol’ Bob” Medler today with two cookouts scheduled.  A drive-through only porkburger sale will be held on the IGA parking lot, and the second will be at the Darrell Meritt Corner at the corner of 7th and Delaware.  Volunteers for a Progressive Fairfield will be selling ribeyes, chops, chicken, polish sausage and porkburgers starting at 9 a.m.  As requested by the family, all donations received will be forwarded to the Fairfield Park District towards the goal of completing a pathway towards the ball diamonds, which will officially be named the Robert “Poor Ol’ Bob” Medler Pathway to Community Service.

Carmi police are asking for the public’s help in locating two suspects in a retail theft at the Carmi WalMart.  The theft occurred at about 8:30 p.m. on September 18th.  The suspects were last seen driving a white Cadillac, and exited the store with two carts full of merchandise without paying.  Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to call (618) 382-4633.

The annual Bare Haunted School, sponsored by the Sims Village Board, is tonight at the former Sims Grade School from 7:30 until 12:30 Sunday morning.  A non-scary version will run from 6 to 7 p.m.  The cost to enter the haunted school is $5 per person and $2 for the non-haunted school.  After expenses, a donation will be made to the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation in memory of Robert Staton.

President Barack Obama made a visit to Princeton, IN Friday.  The president spent much of the time, according to reports, talking about a recently released upbeat jobs report on Manufacturing Day during a visit to a Gibson County steel company.  The report said the President also talked about the nation’s unemployment rate, now at 5.9 percent, and the addition of nearly 250,000 workers last month according to a Labor Department statistic released Friday.  Reports said the President spoke to a crowd of just over 250.

Headlines for Friday, October 3, 2014


theft 2

The Carmi Police Department is asking for help in identifying two suspects in a retail theft case at WalMart here in Carmi, Illinois. The suspects were driving a white color Cadillac with unknown license information.  The theft occurred at approximately 8:30 pm on 09-18-14.  WalMart did not immediately know the theft had occurred. The suspects exited Walmart with two carts full of merchandise without paying.  A witness followed the vehicle Southbound on Rt1 before losing the suspect vehicle.  Any information on the suspects or their whereabouts should be directed to the Carmi Police Department at 618-382-4633.

It’s Homecoming weekend in Fairfield. The annual FCHS Homecoming Parade will be at 2:30 this afternoon. Bruce Dickey and Billy Rogers will be bringing you all of the highlights on WFIW FM 104.9 as a courtesy of Fairfield National Bank.  The Mules take on Eldorado this evening for the annual Homecoming game.

Volunteers for a Progressive Fairfield will be honoring Robert “poor Ol’ Bob” Medler Saturday with two cookouts. One will be a drive-through porkburger sale on the IGA parking lot. The other will be at the corner of 7th and Delaware.  Money raised will be donated to the Fairfield Park District to fund the completion of a pathway towards the Leo French Park ball diamonds.

A single vehicle crash in Saline County Thursday afternoon has claimed the lives of two Southern Illinois residents. The victims have been identified as Donald R. Childers, 73 and Betty J. Childers, 68, both of Marion.  State Police said Donald Childers swerved to miss a slower vehicle on Ill. Rt. 34 near Womble Road in Saline County when he lost control, ran off the road and hit a tree. Another passenger, 27-year-old David Grace of Marion survived the crash and was taken to a local hospital.

Two Eldorado residents were hurt Thursday in a near head-on crash on Rt. 45 at Gandertown Road in Saline County.  The drivers were identified as William Seth Dunn-Seets and Andrea M. Clark, both 28 of Eldorado.  Police said Dunn-Seets crossed the centerline and struck Clark’s car.

The Cisne FFA Greenhand Quiz Bowl team finished as second place team in an event this week at East Richland High School.  Team members were Karley Dagg, Jonathan Timm, Samantha Robertson, Matthew Billington and Jordan Hosick.

Headlines for Thursday, October 2, 2014

Black_MeganMegan Black (pictured left) has been hired as the Director of Instructional Services at Frontier Community College.  She comes to Frontier from the University of Southern Indiana at Evansville where she served as Assistant Director of Admissions.  She holds a Master of Science in Management Degree from Oakland City University.  Black lives in Barnhill with her husband Robert Black and their son, Graham.

A $500 cash reward is being offered for the arrest of two thieves who broke into Johnson Truck Sales in Norris City this week and stole over 1,000 pounds of No. 1 copper. The theft was captured on surveillance video.  Authorities are now attempting to identify the individuals involved in the heist. State Police Crime Scene specialists have gathered additional evidence from the scene.

Lovins dirt

It’s been well over a year since the City of Albion backed out of a deal to build a new fire station on property donated by Pat Lovins. Contractors tore down the former Lovins Pharmacy building and started foundation work on the new fire station before backing out of the deal. The failed project left a downtown eyesore and no plans to remediate the property.  Well, work finally began this week to restore the property. Albion Mayor Steve McMahel confirms that dirt is now being hauled in to the former Lovins lot. The dirt is coming from construction that is underway at the new fire station at the corner of second and Walnut.  The footers that had been poured at the Lovins site have also been removed.

43-year-old Harold Hull of Centralia has been jailed on charges he vandalized the WW II Memorial at the Iuka Cemetery.  Authorities believe Hull knocked out pieces of the concrete foundation to steal the flag pole for its scrap metal value.

Wabash Telephone and Wabash Independent Networks are hosting a customer appreciation day today in the park at Geff.  Starting at 11 a.m., the co-op will be serving lunch and providing free giveaways. Those attending will also be able to register to win additional prizes.

The Fairfield Community High School Homecoming Parade has been set for 2:30 Friday afternoon.  During the homecoming game, the Fairfield Mulebackers will be selling BBQ nachos at their concession stand. They will also be selling a number of spirit items.

Headlines for Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Rig 2

A meeting has been set for Tuesday, Oct. 21 in Fairfield to discuss the potential for the development of Southeastern Illinois’ vast oil-bearing shale formations. The town-hall style meeting will start at 7 p.m. at Fairfield City Hall.   Several speakers have been lined up for the program, including Brad Richards with the Illinois Oil and Gas Association and Jerry Quindry, a local Environmental Engineer. The group wants to correct the current set of rules overseeing the use of Fracking so that they are actually workable for area oil producers.

Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for Illinois Governor made a campaign stop in Fairfield Tuesday. Rauner told supporters that he favors the use of fracking to unlock Southern Illinois’ vast oil reserves. The election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 4.

The Edwards County Sheriff’s Department is taking applications for the position of Deputy Sheriff beginning Monday, Oct. 13 through Friday, Nov. 14. Application packets can be picked up at the Edwards County Sheriff’s Department in Albion.  Sheriff Darby Boewe is updating the department’s eligibility list.

23-year-old Isaiah D. Tapia of Albion has been jailed on charges he was in possession of ten grams of suspected methamphetamine. Tapia was arrested during a traffic stop earlier this week in Grayville. He faces a felony charge of possession with the intent to deliver methamphetamine.

38-year-old Phillip Sandusky of Carmi has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to a third offense of driving on a revoked license. Sandusky entered the plea and was sentenced Tuesday in White County Circuit Court at Carmi.

Wabash Telephone and WIN will be hosting a customer appreciation day Thursday in the park at Geff.  The event will feature lunch and various giveaways from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

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