Len Wells, News Director
The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has affirmed the federal life sentence of former Gallatin County Sheriff, 52-year-old Raymond M. Martin. Martin was convicted in September 2010 of all 15 counts brought against him by a federal grand jury stemming from his distribution of marijuana while in office, carrying a firearm during his drug trafficking crime, and trying to have two witnesses against him in the drug case killed. In the order, the Seventh Circuit rejected any argument that the life sentences were unreasonable, noting that the court offered an “exhaustive explanation for the need to impose such harsh punishment”. Martin is currently serving his sentence at a federal prison in Tuscon, AZ.
35-year-old Angela Seavers of Ridgeway, IL has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to charges she conspired with others to manufacture methamphetamine. In pleading guilty, Seavers admitted to conspiring with 25-year-old Dustin J. Lowe of Ridgeway, IL to illegally manufacturing meth. Lowe pled guilty to the charge last December and is set for sentencing April 3rd. Seavers has been in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since her bond was revoked in September.
36-year-old Jamie L. Hughey of Mt. Vernon, IL is among 19 southern Illinois residents that have been indicted on methamphetamine-related charges as the result of an ongoing federal investigation. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois Stephen R. Wigginton made the announcement Friday. The other suspects are from Thompsonville, Marion, West Frankfort, Johnston City, DuQuoin, Hurst, Elizabethtown and Carterville. Wigginton said that investigations into meth activity in Franklin, Pope and Williamson counties have led to the arrest of 90 suspects and that their investigation is continuing.
The state of Illinois has appealed the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s denial of the state’s request for aid to local governments after deadly tornadoes in November. State officials said the Illinois Emergency Management Agency filed the appeal on Thursday. At least seven people were killed statewide and hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed as a result of the outbreak.
More details have come out on the man accusing Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford of misconduct. A resignation letter has apparently surfaced and is published on the “Illinois Review” website. In it, the former employee calls himself a whistleblower, and claims he was forced to do work for Rutherford’s campaign while he was being paid by the state. He also claims he was a victim of sexual assault and should have had proper protections. Rutherford made a stop in Fairfield last month during his campaign.
The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has affirmed the federal life sentence of former Gallatin County Sheriff Raymond M. Martin. Martin, 52, was convicted in September of 2010 following an eight day jury trial of all 15 counts brought against him by a Federal Grand Jury stemming from his distribution of marijuana while in office, carrying a firearm during his drug trafficking crime, and trying to have two witnesses against him in the drug case killed. In the order, the Seventh Circuit rejected any argument that the life sentences were unreasonable, noting that the district court offered an “exhaustive explanation for the need to impose such harsh punishment”. The Court further noted that the district court found in re-imposing the life sentences that “Martin’s case was one of the most severe it had ever seen and explained that, as a sheriff, Martin’s betrayal of the public trust and the people that he was elected to serve was unforgivable.” The Court also noted Martin’s lack of remorse and refusal to accept responsibility for his crimes, as evidenced by his plotting to have witnesses murdered. Martin is currently serving his life sentence at a federal prison in Tucson, Arizona.
35-year-old Randy E. Stilley of Wayne City has been sentenced to 5 years in prison after pleading guilty in Hamilton County to charges he had unlawful sexual contact with a female relative. Stilley (pictured left) is also awaiting trial in Wayne County on a charge of aggravated criminal sexual assault. His bond in Wayne County is $50,000.
A Wayne County Grand Jury has indicted 26-year-old Tiffany N. Marsh of Fairfield on a felony charge of theft. Marsh is accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from the Davis Countrymark Convenience Store in Fairfield. Fairfield City Police investigated the case. Marsh (pictured left) was arrested Thursday and booked at the county jail pending the posting of $1,500 cash bond.
The State of Illinois has appealed the FEMA agency’s denial of the state’s request for aid to local government after last November’s deadly tornadoes. The appeal includes a request for $21.4 million for disaster-related expenses to 9 counties affected by the twister. Wayne County is included in the request.
The annual Gathering of the Juggalos will no longer be held at Cave-In-Rock. The five-day festival is moving to a small town in Missouri. While the event drew tens of thousands of people, it also developed a reputation for drug use, fights, arrests and the deaths of some fans.
CANCELLED ! Fairfield First Christian Church will host its Big Lunch this Saturday with serving from 11 – 1 p.m. The menu will feature ham and beans, cornbread, coleslaw and pineapple cake.
MAYOR GRISWOLD OPEN LETTER TO FAIRFIELD RESIDENTS
February 6, 2014
To the residents of the city of Fairfield:
This week a group of vocal citizens has expressed concern about their most recent utility bills, some in positive ways and others not so positive. Because there has been a lot of misinformation being presented as facts, I feel that it is necessary to set the record straight.
Here are the indisputable facts that can be verified:
First, the last rate increase on both gas and electricity was on March 1, 2011. This means that the city of Fairfield has not increased its margin on both of these utilities in almost three years.
Second, in the last 12 months, the city’s cost for gas has gone up less than two percent, while our cost for electricity has gone up less than seven percent. Even though these increases have been passed along, we did not make any more money by doing this. In fact, the city’s margin is less now than it was almost three years ago because of the increased cost of wages, health insurance, liability insurance, and many others expenses we incur.
Finally, in December 2013, 25 of 31 days were colder than in December 2012, and in January 2014, 19 of 31 days were colder than in January 2013. In addition, temperatures fell below freezing on 29 of 31 days in January 2014 and below 20 degrees on 19 of 31 days. There was a new record low of -8 on January 6, with below zero temperatures on three different days. We have had some of the coldest weather in 25 years in the January just ended.
A review of the utility bills of some of the more outspoken Facebook protesters revealed that in several cases, their usage of gas and/or electricity had doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled, which naturally resulted in higher utility bills. It is hard to understand how they find the city responsible for this.
Another of the protesters no longer lives in Fairfield but still owes on his last city utility bill, and still another had almost identical combined usage and charges for gas and electricity on his February bill as on his January bill. Again, it is hard to understand why they’re angry at the city.
On the other hand, many of our customers have been encouraging when they come to City Hall to pay their bills, and others have expressed gratitude through phone calls and emails that they have city water, electricity, and gas rather than propane. One person even brought us cookies. All of us at City Hall very much appreciate these kind words and actions.
We will continue to serve all our citizens to the best of our ability, and we are grateful to those of you who recognize that. To the others who have made false accusations against the city’s government, we simply remind you that we can’t control the weather.
Finally, I emphasize that my door is always open to all citizens for meaningful discussions. Please feel free to express your concerns to me so I can deal with them directly rather than first bringing them to the attention of out-of-town media, thus delaying resolution to your problems. This week an unnecessary picket brought unwelcome attention to a matter that was clearly beyond the city of Fairfield’s control, as Mother Nature answers to no one.
Chuck Griswold, Mayor
29-year-old Aaron J. Reckelhoff of Evansville was seriously injured Wednesday when the truck he was driving ran off of I-64 in western Wayne County and struck a tree. He was taken to St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital in Mount Vernon following the 7:45 a.m. crash.
St. Louis-based Baldwin Technology, Inc. has acquired Web Printing Controls in Fairfield. Officials with Baldwin report the 35 employees at Web Printing will be retained. Baldwin Technology is a portfolio company of Fosyth Capital Investors of St. Louis.
CVS Caremark will no longer sell tobacco products at its more than 7,600 drugstores nationwide. Officials say they will phase out cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco by Oct. 1.
29-year-old Ashley Uze of Harrisburg has been sentenced to one year in prison on a conviction of deceptive practice. White County State’s Attorney Denton Aud reports Uze entered the plea Wednesday. She will also have to serve a year of parole once she is out of prison.
Frontier Community College’s Student Nurses’ Association will sponsor a blood drive next Monday, Feb. 10 from 12:30 – 4:30 p.m. The Red Cross Bus will be parked in front of the Classroom West building.
Amber Lane has been named the Employee of the Year at Fairfield Memorial Hospital. Lane works in the hospital’s diagnostic imaging department. She lives in Fairfield and has been employed at Fairfield Memorial Hospital for six years and currently works as a Technologist in the Diagnostic Imaging Department.
Most area roads are snow and ice covered, slick and hazardous this morning, following a winter storm that moved across the Tri-State Tuesday evening. A period of sleet and freezing rain on top of a few inches of snow has created travel problems throughout the region. Another chance of snow is in the forecast for Friday evening and Saturday.
A portion of Interstate 57 in Jefferson County was closed to traffic Tuesday evening after a truck slammed into the back of a police car. The accident touched off other accidents, including two semis colliding. No injuries were reported.
Officials with the Belleville Diocese report the closing of five rural parishes. Locally, St. Francis Xavier in St. Francisville and Immaculate Conception in Bridgeport are slated for closure.
Mt. Vernon Police Chief Chris Mendenhall is retiring. Mendenhall has been on the Mt. Vernon Police Department for the past 31 years, the last 16 as chief. The Assistant Chief will take command of the department after Mendenhall’s retirement on Feb. 14 until a new chief is selected.
Frontier Community College is hosting FAFSA Completion Nights on Feb. 13 and 27. FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Anyone who anticipates the need for financial aid for college will need to complete the FAFSA. The FAFSA nights at Frontier will be from 4 – 7 Feb. 13 and 27th in the Workforce Development Center.
A “Winter Storm Warning” has been issued for all of Southern Illinois from noon today until 6 a.m. Wednesday. Moderate to heavy snow is expected to develop north of a line from Vienna to Evansville. Forecasters are calling for 5 or more inches of snow, making travel difficult. Where icing occurs, tree limbs and power lines could be impacted.
The IECC Adult Education Program held a GED Graduation January 31 at Frontier Community College in Fairfield. The program set a record with 18 students participating and a crowd of 125 family and friends in attendance. IECC offers free 8-week GED Prep classes in Wayne, Clay, Edwards, Lawrence, Jasper, Richland, Crawford, and Wabash counties and hosts the GED exam each month on the Frontier campus. Pictured left to right are: (row 1) Paige Hudson, Flora; Tawnya Davis, Flora; Yvonne Valencia, Noble; Dakota Simpson, Fairfield; Kayti Carter, Fairfield (row 2) Hunter Gillaspie, Oblong; Trinetta Baskerville, West Salem; Edith Wickey, Geff; Jason Savage, Mill Shoals; Alisha Bullard, Mt.Vernon; Takisha Perry, Fairfield (row 3) Trey Wampler, Albion; Eric Shelby, Flora; Kenneth Simpson, Fairfield; Tim Murphy, Flora; Anthony Tronsdale, Louisville; Jamey Johnson, Mt. Vernon; Don Newcombe Jr., Junction, IL
The Wayne County Spelling Bee Champion is Tyler Hooper, an eighth grade student at Center Street Grade School. His parents are Richard and Amy Hooper. Runner-up is Josh Combs, a seventh grader at Jasper Grade School. He is the son of Steve Combs and Michelle Combs. The Wayne County Spelling Bee was held last night (Mon) in Fairfield’s City Hall. Jasper Grade School sponsors the Bee. Pictured left to right are Josh Combs, Dr. David Mills/Jasper Superintendent, and Tyler Hooper.
32-year-old Holly M. Esterland of Fairfield has been arrested on a charge of felony theft. Esterland is accused of writing hundreds of dollars’ worth of unauthorized checks on the account of an elderly Wayne County woman. Her bond was set at $15,000.
28-year-old Brandon S. Skelton of McLeansboro has been jailed on a charge of being in possession of child pornography. The alleged contraband was found on Skelton’s cell phone. According to police, he passed his phone around to friends to help him raise money for bond on an unrelated theft case. One of those friends spotted the alleged child porn and alerted police.
Jefferson County Crimestoppers is offering a cash reward for information leading to the arrest of Darrain Donell Bowdry, alias “Ricco”. Bowdry is wanted for aggravated discharge of a firearm and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Bowdry is asked to contact the Mt. Vernon Police Department.
A Wayne County Grand Jury has returned indictments against two Fairfield men accused of unlawful delivery of drugs. In unrelated cases, Shawn E. Webb, 25 and Shannon L. Cone, 26 were jailed over the weekend. Shawn Webb faces formal charges of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance and unlawful delivery of methamphetamine. Wayne County Circuit Judge Kevin Kakac set bond at $150,000. Shannon L Cone has been formally charged with Unlawful Delivery of Cannabis and Delivery of a controlled Substance. Judge Kakac also set Cone’s Bond at $150,000.
Former Fairfield businessman and one of the city’s most active volunteers, Bob Medler died Saturday night at St. Mary’s Hospital in Evansville. He was 58. Medler suffered an apparent heart attack while driving Friday morning near Maple Hill Cemetery. His vehicle crossed E. Delaware and struck Chris Miller’s home. Medler had previously operated Poor Ol’ Bob’s Getting’ Place in downtown Fairfield. After closing the business, he went to work in ad sales for the Navigator Journal Newspaper in Grayville. Services are pending at Johnson & Vaughn Funeral Home in Fairfield.
The Fairfield Community High School Varsity Scholastic Team captured second place in the Eastern Illinois University Honors Tournament Saturday. FCHS claimed wins over Windsor, Marshall, Neoga, Casey-Westfield and Charleston. They fell to Salem and Cumberland. The team moves to 23-8 on the year.
Angie Bird of Fairfield and Brandi Melloy of Albion have been named recipients of the 7th annual Debra Jean Withrow Scholarship, an annual scholarship that is awarded to local nursing students enrolled in the IECC Nursing Program at Frontier Community College. Each will receive a $500 award. Pictured left to right: Theresa Marcotte, RN, MSN, FCC Nursing Faculty/Department Head; recipients Angie Bird and Brandi Melloy; and Dr. Jervaise McDaniel, Associate Dean of Adult and Continuing Education.
Brandi Anderson of Wayne City and Brittni Miller of Geff have been awarded the Clemence Elizabeth Cox Scholarship. The $500 scholarships are awarded semi-annually to second-level nursing students. Both recipients will complete their Associates Degree in Nursing in May, 2014. Pictured left to right are: Jerry Cox, scholarship recipients Brittni Miller and Brandi Anderson, Nursing Faculty and Dept. Head Theresa Marcotte, MSN, RN; and Dr. Jervaise McDaniel, Associate Dean of Adult and Continuing Education.
Gov. Pat Quinn is making it easier for low-income residents to buy propane to heat their homes. Participants in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will be eligible for an additional $1,000 to help buy propane for heat.
A few rounds of wintry weather are possible in the region this week. A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued from noon today until 3 a.m. Monday. Forecasters say some parts of the area could see a little snow this afternoon, with heavier amounts likely to our south, where a couple of inches is possible. A few slick spots developed on some streets and roadways overnight in Fairfield as temperatures dropped below freezing. Another round of wintry weather is possible on Tuesday, which could result in a mix for the area, and another round of snow is possible Friday and Saturday.
The Fairfield Community High School Varsity Scholastic Team captures second place in the Eastern Illinois University Honors Tournament on Saturday, with senior Kyle Ellis named to the All-Tournament team. FCHS claimed wins over Windsor, Marshall, Neoga, Casey-Westfield, and Charleston and fell to Salem and Cumberland. Kyle Ellis led the tossup scoring with 31. FCHS is now 23 and 8 on the year, and will be in action again February 15th at home in the Masonic Sectional.
The Edwards County High School board is set to meet in special session this Thursday night at 6 p.m. Action is expected on amending the school calendar reflecting the district’s proposal to modify a school holiday. Approval is also expected to be given for the Edwards County High School baseball and softball camp. Personnel matters include the hiring of an Auto/Ag Mechanics instructor for the coming school year.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is making it easier for low-income state residents to get propane to heat their homes. Quinn announced Friday that participants in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program will be eligible for an additional $1000 to help buy propane for heat. The announcement is part of a group of wide-ranging measures designed to get propane into the state as quickly as possible after prices for the fuel doubled because of recent shortages.
Wayne County’s unemployment for December was 8.7 percent, the same as December of 2012. Edwards County’s December rate was 9.1 percent, up from 8.8 in December of 2012. The IDES said labor market conditions were stable at the end of last year, and that unemployment rates moderately increased in southern Illinois compared to a year ago.
In Edwards County Circuit Court Friday, 55-year-old James H. Catt was sentenced to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections on a conviction of domestic battery. He was also ordered to serve four years mandatory supervised release following his prison sentence. The offense occurred, according to court records, on April 14th of last year. Catt was given credit for two days spent in jail following his arrest, and was ordered to pay court costs.
38-year-old Troy J. Brittingham of Cave In Rock, IL was injured late Friday morning in an accident involving a semi and a grain truck in Hamilton County. State police said a semi driven by 33-year-old Bryan A. Henderson of McLeansboro was northbound on Illinois Route 142 approaching the intersection with Hamilton County road 1000 North preparing to make a turn onto county road 1000 North. Brittingham was traveling northbound in the right lane, and as Henderson was turning right onto county road 1000 North, the right front corner of Henderson’s grain truck hit the left rear wheel of of the semi hauling propane. The collision caused the propane truck to overturn on its side. Brittingham was taken to Hamilton Memorial Hospital in McLeansboro where he was treated and released.
47-year-old Kirk E. Mason of Grayville has been formally charged with possession of a firearm without a FOID card, a Class 3 felony, reckless discharge of a firearm, a Class 4 felony, and domestic battery, a Class A misdemeanor, in connection with an incident last weekend in which he is accused of barricading himself inside his home. He is also accused of firing a pistol during the standoff, endangering Rhonda K. Gibson. The incident happened last Sunday Bond on Mason was set at $7500 cash.
Wayne County’s unemployment for December was 8.7 percent, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The figure is unchanged from December of 2012. Edwards County’s December rate was 9.1 percent, up from 8.8 percent in December of 2012. The IDES said unemployment rates “moderately increased” throughout southern Illinois compared to a year ago, with labor market conditions stable at the end of last year.
Baldwin Technology Co. Inc., a portfolio company of Forsyth Capital Investors, has purchased Fairfield-based Web Printing Controls Co. Inc., a manufacturer of realtime closed loop automation equipment. The acquisition closed January 17th. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Web Printing’s 35 associates will be retained by Baldwin.
The Fairfield Community High School varsity scholastic team went 3 – 0 in a Southern Illinois Academic Conference meet Thursday night in Mount Vernon. Fairfield defeated Murphysboro, Herrin and Centralia. FCHS moves to 17 – 6 on the year.
34-year-old Terry A. Owen of Fairfield was arrested Thursday on a preliminary charge of domestic battery. Owen is accused of striking his wife, 28-year-old Ashley M. Owen during an altercation at the couple’s home on E. Johnson Street.
White County Sheriff Doug Maier is warning area residents about a new telephone scam involving a home security system firm. The scam artists are telling residents that the sheriff has contracted with them to install a free home security system. Sheriff Maier says he has no contract with any security firm, adding that the callers are nothing but scam artists.
Sen. Dick Durbin is urging regulators to investigate a deadly crash in Illinois this week that involved a truck driver who is accused of remaining at the wheel of a truck for more than 35 hours with less than 4 hours of rest. The accident killed an Illinois Tollway worker and critically injured a trooper.
Two Republican candidates for statewide office are dipping into their own pockets to finance their campaigns. Candidate for Governor Bruce Rauner has kicked in a million dollars of his own money to run for office. State Senator Jim Oberweis has loaned himself a half million dollars for his U.S. Senate campaign.
Allison Knackmuhs is the winner of this year’s Edwards County Spelling Bee. She is an Albion 7th grader and daughter of Steve and Carol Knackmuhs. Runner-up is Emily Nead, also a 7th grader at Albion Grade School. Her parents are Laura and Morris Nead. The Wayne County Spelling Bee is Monday evening at Fairfield City Hall. Pictured left to right above are Emily Nead and Allison Knackmuhs.
Lincoln Elementary School in Marion will use a $1.2 million grant to build an above ground “safe room”. The structure will accommodate 600 people during tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. The school district already has a similar room at the Adams Grade School near Creal Springs.
Some of Illinois’ largest public labor unions have filed suit challenging the state’s new pension reform law. The lawsuit argues the pension bill approved by the Legislature violates a clause in the state constitution that states pension benefits may not be “diminished or impaired”.
Wayne County Golf Course volunteers will be grilling pork burgers and pork chops this Saturday on Main Street in front of the Wayne County Courthouse. Proceeds will help the golf course with ongoing maintenance projects, including recovery from damage caused by the November, 2013 tornado.
Tom Ulrich, world-renowned wildlife photographer is returning to Fairfield in March. Ulrich will be in Fairfield Thursday and Friday, March 20, 21 at the First Christian Church in Fairfield. Ulrich’s show will feature photos from his travels throughout 2013, including the birds of Florida, the bird migration of South Texas, National Parks of the west and the Eastern Mediterranean.