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Len Wells, News Director

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715 4-20-14

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.

Headlines for Thursday, March 20, 2014

farmer check II

Local farmer Lyndsey Edmison has directed a $2,500 donation to the North Wayne Community Unit School District #200. Funded by America’s Farmers Grow Communities, the donation will help the schools purchase technology, including iPads, Chromebooks, printers, and laptops. The donation will also help purchase classroom supplies and fund field trips for students. Pictured above left to right – Lindsey Edmison, Dustin Curtsinger, Joyce Carson, Janice Brashear, Donna Williams

22-Deryke mugshotyear-old Justin D. DeRyke of Watson, Ill. has been sentenced to natural life in prison for the Sept. 8, 2013 stabbing death of his 7-year-old niece Willow Long.  Earlier this week, DeRyke changed his plea to guilty during a pre-trial hearing in Effingham County Circuit Court and was sentenced. DeRyke has been held in the Effingham County jail under $5 million bond since his arrest on Sept. 9. DeRyke had originally maintained that he stabbed his niece “to put her out of her misery” after she fell onto a brush pile, causing a stick to pierce her neck. No evidence was found to support DeRyke’s account of the death.

49-year-old Jon A. Boles of Fairfield was arrested on warrant Wednesday evening for failure to register as a sex offender and for moving into a house within a school zone.  Boles has been lodged in the Wayne County jail under $2,500 cash bond.

Residents of Albion, Cisne, Norris City, Bridgeport and several other Southern Illinois communities will soon see lower electricity rates. The communities approved a power aggregation referendum during Tuesday’s election. The measure will allow the communities to be shopped in bulk to four of the country’s largest electricity suppliers for a better power rate.

Ed Patton has been hired as a full-time temporary lineman instructor at Frontier Community College.  Patton was hired to teach Frontier’s Electrical Distribution Program following the unexpected death of instructor Steve Rafferty of Mt. Carmel.

Wayne County Golf Course will conduct a volunteer work day this Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon to prepare for the official opening the new golf season on April 1.  Workers should bring gloves, rakes and shovels for picking up tree branches and sticks.

Headlines for Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fairfield City Attorney Michael Molt has defeated incumbent Circuit Judge Kevin Kakac in the Republican Primary.  Molt defeated Kakac by 115 votes.  David Harrison finished third, John Robison fourth with David Williams last. County Clerk Glenda Young says voter turnout amounted to 31%.

In Hamilton County, the field has been set for the November General Election for Sheriff.  Robert Crow defeated Kenny Shreve to advance on the Democratic side. Robert Miller defeated his challenger Mike Stover to meet Crow in November. Incumbent Sheriff Greg Brenner is not seeking re-election.

By a slim margin, voters in Hamilton County approved a one percent sales tax for the construction and repair of school buildings.  The measure passed by a vote of 1,333 to 1,188.  The tax will not apply to groceries or farm equipment and will bring in as much as $300,000 a year.

In Wabash County, incumbent Sheriff Joe Keeling was defeated Tuesday in the Republican Primary by one of his deputies, J. Derek Morgan.  Morgan moves in the November Election where he will face Democrat sheriff’s deputy D. Ray Etzkorn.

Edwards County State’s Attorney Mike Valentine reports two defendants being sentenced to prison Tuesday.  Robert W. Pritchard, 18 of Albion has been sentenced to 6 years in prison after pleading guilty to residential burglary.  Dana L. Perry, 43 of Edwards County drew a 4 year sentence for burglary.

U.S. Rt. 45 two miles north of Norris City will be closed to all traffic starting this Friday.  Illinois Department of Transportation officials say the road will likely remain closed through the weekend, re-opening on Monday.

Headlines for Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Illinois’ General Primary Election is today. Polls will remain open until 7 o’clock this evening.  Locally, voters will be choosing the Republican nominee for Wayne County Circuit Judge.  Five candidates are seeking their party’s nod.  Resident Judge Kevin Kakac is being challenged by David Williams, Mike Molt, John Robison and David Harrison.

The Edwards County School Board voted Monday night to leave the Little Illini Conference. The district plans to petition to join the Black Diamond Conference.   The board also discussed the possibility of adding a 1 percent sales tax to raise money for the district.  The issue could be placed before the voters as early as this November.

The Fairfield Grade School Board voted Monday evening to re-employ all tenured and non-tenured certified staff, granting tenure to David Kosmatka.  Supt. Dianna Zurliene also reported that 34 students have advanced to the state science fair at SIU.

38-year-old Billy Joe Allen of Carmi was sentenced Monday to 5 years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of aggravated drunk driving.  Allen drew a concurrent 5 year sentence for felony domestic battery.

ff rural train

Fairfield Rural Fire Department hosted a large vehicle extrication class last Saturday at the Barnhill Township building.  Instructors from the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute presented the class.  Fire departments from throughout Southern Illinois participated in the training exercise.

Headlines for Monday, March 17, 2014

18-year-old Reno E. Casanova of Fairfield was arrested Saturday after he tried to run from police who pulled his scooter over on Elm Street.  Police had to use a Taser on Casanova to subdue him.  He was taken to the Wayne County jail and booked on charges of drunk driving, driving suspended and resisting arrest. Police say they found nine cans of Coors Light in his backpack.

52-year-old Jack A. Windle of Fairfield was arrested Saturday evening for domestic battery and resisting arrest. Windle is accused of knocking his wife out of a chair and onto the floor.  Cheryl Windle, 52 was not injured. The incident was reported to police shortly after 6 p.m.


Fairfield Elks Lodge # 1631 donated to the Upward Basketball and Upward Soccer Programs. $775 ea. Pictured above are Edith Harl and Rick White.

humane kids

Jasper School instructor Kathy Land took her fifth grade class on a field trip to the Wayne County Humane Society. The trip was to happen months ago as the students took a vote between several options on what to do for Christmas. Bad weather changed the plans many times. Students had several choices and one was to buy gifts for each other but buying dog and cat food and taking it to the humane society was their choice. Pictured is a portion of the food brought to the shelter by the children during their visit.

The FCHS Varsity Scholastic Bowl team competed in the IHSA Sectional Scholastic Bowl Saturday, finishing the day with one win and two losses.  FCHS defeated Newton, but fell to Cumberland Marshall.  FCHS ends the season with a record of 37-18.

Voter turnout is expected to be higher than normal in Wayne County Tuesday because of the race for Circuit Judge in the Republican Primary.  Resident Judge Kevin Kakac is seeking his party’s nomination and is being challenged by David Williams, Mike Molt, John Robison and David Harrison.  No Democrats are running in Tuesday’s Primary.

FCHS will host its winter sports awards night tonight at the New Beginnings Church.  A meal will be served for athletes and coaches starting at 6:30 p.m.  Athletes from boys and girls basketball, wrestling and cheerleading will be recognized.

Headlines for Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the area through late tonight.  Forecasters at the National Weather Service expect any rain in the area this morning to change over to a mix of sleet, freezing rain and eventually some light snow by afternoon, with accumulations expected to be under an inch.  The precipitation should end by early this evening, with colder temperatures in the lower 20s expected by Monday morning.  Warmer weather should return by the middle of the week, with highs into the 60s by Thursday and Friday.

The Fairfield Community High School Varsity Scholastic Bowl team competed in the IHSA Sectional Scholastic Bowl at Cumberland on Saturday.  FCHS defeated Newton 220-100 but lost to Marshall 110-120 and state-ranked Cumberland 90-240.  Kyle Ellis led the tossup scoring for FCHS, answering 15.  FCHS finishes their season with a 37-18 record.  They will be competing in a national tournament in Washington, D.C. at the end of May.

Tuesday is the Primary Election in Illinois.  In Wayne County, the main race will be for the Republican nomination for Wayne County Circuit Judge.  Five candidates are running to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Resident Circuit Judge Joe Harrison.  The five running are Circuit Judge Kevin Kakac who was appointed to fill the Harrison vacancy until the November General Election, Wayne County State’s Attorney David Williams, Fairfield Attorney Mike Molt and private attorneys John Robison and David Harrison, the son of retiring Judge Joe Harrison.  There are no Democrats seeking the judicial position.

Published reports indicate a body found Friday afternoon in Pike County, IN has been identified as that of a missing Illinois woman.  Officials said the body of Kathryn McGill was found on top of corn stalk debris early Friday afternoon near a creek that empties into the White River.  The body was found by a resident that owns property nearby, and was found at the site of a missing person investigation that started December 29th.  The cause of death was ruled as a drowning, the report said.

Wayne County’s unemployment for the month of January was 9.5 percent, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, down from 10.1 percent a year ago.  Edwards County’s rate was 9.9 percent, also down from 10.1 percent a year ago.  Franklin County had the highest unemployment rate in southern Illinois for January, at 13.3 percent, while Washington County had the lowest, at 7.3 percent.  The IDES said unemployment declined in all southern Illinois counties for January, and that the bitter cold and snow contributed to a decline in construction employment.

Headlines for Saturday, March 15, 2014

Another chance of wintry precipitation is in the forecast for the region late Sunday and Sunday night.  Forecasters at the National Weather Service say a low pressure system will move south of the area Sunday, bringing rain into the area tonight.  As temperatures fall Sunday afternoon, the rain could mix with and change to snow or a wintry mix before ending Sunday night.  Snow and sleet accumulations of an inch or two are possible.

The Fairfield Community High School Board’s monthly meeting will be held this Thursday night at 7 p.m. in the FCHS Study Hall.  Items on the agenda include renewing the district’s membership in the Illinois High School Association for the next school year.  Items focusing on students include a report from the school’s science teachers, an art grant, and hearing the latest about the cast from the school play, “The Awesome 80′s Prom”.

Unemployment for January remained just below ten percent for area counties, according to the latest numbers from the Illinois Department of Employment Security.  Wayne County’s rate for January was 9.5 percent, down from 10.1 percent a year ago.  Edwards County’s rate for January was 9.9 percent, down from 10.1 percent a year ago.   The IDES says the bitter cold and snow in January resulted in a significant decrease in construction employment and also affected employment in other industries.

Fairfield National Bank recently awarded a $500 donation to the Fairfield Community High School Technology Department.  The money will be used towards registration costs for the 2014 Greater St. Louis Regional Botball Tournament, set for Saturday, April 12th at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.  Eleven FCHS students will participate in this year’s event.  During the event, students will build computer-run robots to perform various tasks assigned by the tournament judges.

Fairfield Memorial Hospital has been awarded a grant of $5000 by the South East Illinois Area Health Education Center.  The grant will be used to enhance the hospital’s Working On Wellness program.  The purpose of the program is to improve employee health by decreasing the risk of chronic disease.  The program will offer programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and raise awareness of one’s general health condition.

Headlines for Friday, March 14, 2014

51-year-old Susan Shelton of Fairfield was injured Thursday evening when a pickup truck ran into the back of her Jeep Cherokee on U.S. Rt. 45 near County Road 1200 N.  She was slowing to turn into a private drive when she was hit.  The driver of the truck has been identified as Vernon Tegeler, 59 of Teutopolis.  Shelton was taken to Fairfield Memorial Hospital following the 6:42 p.m. accident.


Fairfield National Bank recently awarded a $500 donation to the Fairfield Community High School Technology Program.  The money will be used for registration costs for the 2014 Greater St. Louis Regional Botball Tournament April 12.  A group of 11 FCHS students will participate in this year’s event. Pictured left to right are students Ian Baumgardner, Jacob DeJarnatt, Holden August, Reece Everett, Scott Merkle, Fairfield National Bank Marketing Committee Representative, Colin McDuffee, and Michael Mitchell.  Not pictured are Don Grimes, Brogan Lavine, Wilson Lackey, Yanis Hermann, and Andrew Carter.

Fairfield Memorial Hospital has been awarded a $5,000 grant from the Southeastern Illinois Area Health Education Center. The money will be used to enhance the hospital’s employee wellness program.  The hospital currently has over 250 employees.

Wayne City High School’s Red Ribbon Team has launched its Operation Teen Safe Driving Campaign, promoting seat belt usage and safe driving.  Wayne City is one of only a few schools in the state selected to participate in the program.

The incoming president of Southern Illinois University will have to pay $250,000 if leaves his new post within 3 ½ years. The clause was added to incoming president Randy Dunn’s contract after he bailed out of his contract with Youngstown State University after only 7 months on the job to take the SUI position.  The $250,000 would cover the cost of another presidential search.

Headlines for Thursday, March 13, 2014

rafferty clippedSteve Rafferty, lead instructor for the Frontier Community College Electrical Distribution Program has died.   Rafferty, 49, died Wednesday morning from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Mt. Carmel. Wabash County Coroner Larry Hodgson said Rafferty’s body was found at about 10:50 Wednesday morning.  While no foul play is suspected in Mr. Rafferty’s death, an autopsy was conducted.  Mount Carmel City Police, Coroner Hodgson and Illinois State Police investigated the death.  Rafferty worked 16 years as a journeyman lineman for Mount Carmel Public Utility before joining the staff at Frontier Community College in August of 2008.  Funeral services are pending at the Short-Cunningham Funeral Home in Mount Carmel.

Voters in Hamilton County will decide next week if they want to raise sales taxes to support their schools.  If approved, the measure would impose a one percent increase on sales tax. The increase would not apply to groceries, farm equipment or cars.

29-year-old Josiah Griffin of Carmi has been sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of escape.  Griffin was sentenced Wednesday in White County Circuit Court.  The sentence will be served consecutively to a sentence he is currently serving for aggravated domestic battery.

The Mt. Erie Ruritan Club recently celebrated its 45th anniversary during a Spring Awards Banquet.  Ruritan National Director Grover Burkett presented a 45 year certificate to Mt. Erie Ruritan President Rita Woods and Robert Walker, representing the local club.

Fairfield FFA members had a successful night last night at the District 5 Science Fair in Benton.  Leah Carter placed first overall and Katie Liston placed 2nd overall in the event. Also participating for Fairfield was Mercedes Grote.

Officers with the Illinois Conservation Police are investigating a significant poaching incident at Carlyle Lake. Someone illegally shot and killed more than 30 ducks. Several other ducks were crippled by the poacher.  The ducks killed included several northern pintails and mallards.

A 20-year-old rural Kell man died Wednesday from an apparent electrocution in the garage of his home.  The Marion County Coroner says Dalton Osterman was working alone on some sort of “electrical experiment” when he was fatally shocked.

Headlines for Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Shawneetown truck driver died Tuesday morning when the semi he was driving burst into flames after a tire from a passing truck crashed into his vehicle. William Herschel Rigsby, 61 of Shawneetown was driving a 2014 Western Star truck tractor/semi southbound on U.S. Rt. 45 just north of Washington Road in rural Gallatin County when a tire from a northbound semi came off the driver’s side rear tandem and struck his truck. Upon impact, Rigbsby’s truck became engulfed in flames. Rigsby’s truck then left the west side of the roadway and struck a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Gallatin County Coroner Tony Cox.

A plan is being considered to close a section of Leroy Street that runs between the Fairfield Tennis Courts.  If approved, a shelter house would be erected between the two courts.  Clinton Legg presented the proposal to the Fairfield City Council Tuesday night.  If approved, the local Rotary Club would help finance the project.

Fairfield Mayor Chuck Griswold wants to install security cameras at City Hall.  The move is being considered after city employees have had to endure foul and abusive language from consumers angered by their high utility bills this winter.

Mayor Chuck Griswold cast the tie breaking vote on a new municipal policy targeting “chronic complainers”.  Under the new policy, customers deemed to be “chronic complainers” will be notified that they will not be permitted to call or meet with city employees, but rather must express their concerns in writing to the mayor.   He will in turn respond to their concerns either by telephone or in writing.

2014 Envirothon team

Congratulations to the Cisne FFA Envirothon team of (pictured left to right) Chynna Byars, Noah Conard, River Williams, Seth Mayes, and Donovan Lee on finishing as the second place Overall Team and the Wayne County Champion Team at the Land Use Council 13 Envirothon held March 11, 2014, at the Rolland Lewis Park in Mt.Vernon. Other Cisne participants were Justin Gill, Dylan Mayes, Darach McInnis, Kailee Sabin, and Meg Sitzes. The natural resources event includes tests on Aquatics, Forestry, Soils, Wildlife, and a current events topic. The group now advances to the state competition in Monticello.

$7,000 has been approved for the annual City Band program.  The City Band will perform concerts on the courthouse square every Thursday evening in June and one concert on Thursday, July 3.

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