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Len Wells, News Director

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715 4-20-14

Headlines for Monday, March 10, 2014

Melissa Kittinger IIA White County Sheriff’s Department 911 dispatcher has posted $1,500 cash bond and has been released from custody on charges she had unlawful contact with a potential juror in the pending sexual abuse trial of a fellow correctional officer.  35-year-old Melissa L. Kittinger of Carmi was arrested Friday on the class-4 felony.  Kittinger is accused of communicating with a juror in the pending sex abuse trial of 40-year-old Phillip L. Lowery of Carmi. The alleged jury misconduct resulted in Lowery’s trial being postponed.

18-year-old Deandre Smith of Sims was arrested Saturday for being in possession of drug paraphernalia.  Fairfield City Police made the arrest following a traffic stop.  A 17-year-old passenger was cited for being in possession of marijuana.

chrisChris Mitchell of Carmi has been presented the Lifetime Achievement Award during the annual meeting of the Illinois Oil and Gas Association. Mitchell serves as president and geologist for George Mitchell Drilling Company of Carmi.  Three generations of the Mitchell family now operate the business – George N. Mitchell, Chris Mitchell and Chris’s son, Ryan.  The honor was presented during the 68th annual meeting of IOGA at the Old National Events Center in Evansville.

The taxpayers of Illinois will pay three attorneys up to $200 an hour to represent Illinois treasurer Dan Rutherford in a civil lawsuit filed by a former employee.  Rutherford, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Illinois Governor, is accused of sexually harassing a former employee and making him do campaign work on state time.

Grace Sullivan, longtime Frontier Community College Foundation member has donated a diagnostic simulator to the Frontier Automotive Technology program.  The Auto Tech program is a 2-year associate degree program and now in its tenth year at the college.

Headlines for Sunday, March 9, 2014

The next meeting of the Fairfield City Council is Tuesday night at 6 at City Hall.  The next payment to the contractor building the city’s River Intake and Raw Water Pump Station, in the amount of $607,928 is expected to be approved.  Other items for discussion include security cameras at City Hall, this summer’s City Band program, and discussion of a Chronic Complainer Policy.

Campbell Energy of Carmi, IL was named this year’s Wildcatter of the Year during the annual meeting of the Illinois Oil & Gas Association, held at the Old National Events Center in Evansville, IN.  Brad Richards, Executive Vice President of the IOGA, said that Campbell Energy has brought literally millions of dollars of revenue into White County through their ongoing oil production efforts.  The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Chris Mitchell, President and Geologist of George N. Mitchell Drilling Company of Carmi.  Over 1000 people attended this year’s convention, making it one of the biggest events in the organization’s history.

21-year-old Christopher M. Horton of Highland, IL has been sentenced to 90 years in federal prison on convictions of six counts of Production of Child Pornography.  Horton had worked as a martial arts instructor at a studio in Belleville, IL where he sexually abused three students, ages six, six, and ten and video-recorded the acts on his cell phone.  Federal prosecutors also said that Horton attempted to engage a seven-year-old in a sex act and also attempted to record the attempt on his cell phone.  Police seized Horton’s phone and discovered 57 video files containing child pornography that were created from May 1, 2012 through February 9, 2013.  Horton still faces pending charges of predatory criminal sexual assault in Madison and St. Clair counties.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with the Illinois Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, is postponing implementation of the Illinois Off-Highway Vehicle Usage Stamp until further notice, to give the Illinois General Assembly more time to consider changes to the law that would exempt certain users.  The stamp was scheduled to be effective April 1st.  Once it is put into use, the stamp will be $15, plus a 50 cent issuance fee to the point-of-sale vendor.

The Illinois State Treasurer’s Office will offer over 14,000 pieces of unclaimed property for sale in an online auction Monday, March 17th and continuing through 10 a.m. Friday, March 21st.  The pieces are for sale due to the owners not coming forward to claim them in over five years.  The items for sale include a 1947 Mexican peso, gold charm necklaces, and a diamond and aquamarine engagement-and-wedding-ring set.

Headlines for Saturday, March 8, 2014

Luke Burnett 230-year-old Luke L. Burnett of Crossville was arrested Friday after he took delivery of a package of suspected methamphetamine at his home.  White County Sheriff Doug Maier said agents of the Southern Illinois Drug Task Force were alerted Wednesday by Indiana State Police that two packages containing suspected drugs were located at a postal delivery service in Evansville, IN.  An Illinois State Police Swat Team surrounded Burnett’s home on Friday, with one of the officers posing as a delivery person.  Burnett was arrested as he was signing for the package.  He faces a charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine.

21-year-old Christopher M. Horton of Highland, IL has been sentenced to 90 years in federal prison on convictions of six counts of production of child pornography.  Horton had worked as a martial arts instructor in a studio in Belleville, IL where he sexually abused three students, ages six, six, and ten and video-recorded the acts on his cell phone.  Horton still faces several counts of predatory criminal sexual assault in Madison and St. Clair counties in southern Illinois.  Those charges are still pending.

The Fairfield City Council meets Tuesday night at 6 p.m.  The next payment to the contractor building the city’s River Intake and Raw Water Pump Station is expected to be approved, in the amount of $607,928.  The council is also expected to talk about dangers that follow spring flooding, and discuss security cameras at City Hall.  Other items on the agenda include this summer’s City Band program and discussion of a Chronic Complainer Policy.

Frontier Community College is hosting a Job Fair on Tuesday, April 8th, from 1 to 6 p.m. in the Workforce Development Building.  The Job Fair is designed to give Frontier students and alumni and the general public a chance to meet face-to-face with potential employers in a large setting and learn about possible job openings.  Businesses can register for the event by contacting Mark Elliott at the college at 842-3711.  There is no fee.

Daylight Saving Time begins this weekend.  Residents are reminded to set their clocks FORWARD one hour when they go to bed tonight.  The time change officially occurs at 2 a.m. Sunday.  Standard time will return on Sunday, November 2nd.  Residents are also encouraged to use the time change weekend as a reminder to check the batteries in their smoke detectors, weather radios and carbon monoxide detectors.

Headlines for Friday, March 7, 2014

rotary picFairfield Mayor Chuck Griswold gave Fairfield Rotarians a “State of the City” address Thursday, noting that the city is starting to turn around financially.  Griswold said the city is starting to build some modest cash reserves.  The City Council was presented a balanced budget last May.   Griswold was elected Mayor of Fairfield last April.  Rotarian Dave Land arranged for the program. Pictured is Fairfield Mayor Chuck Griswold (left) and Rotarian Dave Land (right).

The Fairfield Community High School Varsity Scholastic Team claimed second in the consolation portion of the Southern Illinois Academic Conference this week.  FCHS went 1 and 2 on the evening.  FCHS moves to 33 and 16 on the year.

25-year-old Brittney Bush of McLeansboro has been placed on two years of probation after pleading guilty in Wayne County Circuit Court Wednesday to a charge of battery.  Bush had originally been charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse for allegedly having unlawful sexual contact with a juvenile.  The felony sex charge was dropped.

A fifth lawsuit has been filed by state employees challenging Illinois’ new pension law.  Employees at the University of Illinois and Parkland Community College filed suits Thursday.  The employees claim the new pension law violates the state’s constitution.

More than 14,000 pieces of unclaimed property will be put up for sale in an online auction this month.  The items are being sold by Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford.  The pieces are for sale because owners haven’t come forward to claim them in more than five years. More information about the online auction is available on the state treasurer’s website.

Headlines for Thursday, March 6, 2014

GARRISON, ANTHONY M24-year-old Anthony M. Garrison of Fairfield has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges he was in possession of a sawed-off shotgun.  Garrison was originally arrested on Jan. 20 when Wayne County Sheriff’s deputies raided a house in Cisne and seized a suspected meth lab.  Police report seizing a 12 gauge Mossberg shotgun with a 15 ½ inch barrel during the raid. Garrison and his co-defendant, Jerrod L. Reid, 38 of Fairfield still face local charges related to the manufacture of meth.


jordanAn Allendale, Ill. woman was arrested early this morning by Indiana State Police following a traffic crash in Princeton, IN.  Indiana State Police report that 38-year-old Nancy Jordan’s Cadillac had struck a utility pole at Water and Race Streets in Princeton around 12:20 this morning.  As officers attempted to a field sobriety test, Jordan allegedly became uncooperative and pulled away from Trooper Paul Stlolz as he tried to handcuff her. She was subsequently taken into custody and tested .20 on a Breathalyzer.  Jordan faces charges of drunk driving, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.

State police have released more information about a 5-car pileup on I-57 Tuesday that resulted in the closure of the northbound lanes of the Interstate for 7 hours Tuesday.  A State Trooper in an unmarked SUV was involved in the chain reaction crash.  His vehicle caught fire upon impact. Passing motorists pulled the trooper from the burning vehicle.  Authorities have not released the identity of the trooper. An investigation into how the accident happened and who was at fault is continuing.

22-year-old Cody McVaigh of rural Bluford has been indicted by a Wayne County Grand Jury on charges he had unlawful sexual contact with a juvenile female. McVaigh is being held in the Wayne County jail under $150,000 bond on a charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency has released over $707,000 to the City of Carmi for the acquisition and demolition of 22 homes and 7 flood prone vacant lots located in the Little Wabash River floodplain. Most of the property lies in the flood prone area of east Carmi.

The annual Wayne County Flea Market is set for this Saturday in the Floral Hall at the Wayne County Fairgrounds.  The market will run fom7 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Gift bags will be given to the first 100 to attend the event.

Headlines for Wednesday, March 5, 2014

32-year-old Qyntyn T. Dunn of Fairfield was arrested Tuesday night on a preliminary charge of aggravated domestic battery.  Dunn is accused of threatening his mother, 56-year-old Gayle L. Lindley with a large machete-like knife.  Police responded to the call shortly after 9:30 Tuesday night. No one was injured.

An Illinois State Trooper driving an unmarked cruiser was injured Tuesday afternoon in a multi-vehicle pileup on Interstate 57 near the Jefferson-Franklin County line.  The crash involved the trooper’s car, a Fed-X truck and a pickup truck towing a trailer.  Two motorists were taken from the scene with non-life threatening injuries. The Interstate was shut down for several hours.  An accident reconstruction officer has joined the investigation.

18-year-old Brandon Trost of Albion has been sentenced to four years in prison after his probation on convictions of burglary and possession of a stolen vehicle were revoked.  Trost was sentenced Tuesday in Edwards County Circuit Court.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is telling Illinois county clerks that they have the right to immediately issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  A state law legalizing same-sex marriage takes effect June 1, but a federal judge in Chicago ruled that Illinois’ original ban was unconstitutional.

The University of Illinois Extension is looking for candidates for the position of Extension Program Coordinator for Wayne County.  Interested applicants should apply online at www.jobs.illinois.edu.  The deadline to apply is March 17.

Headlines for Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Wayne-White Electric board of directors recently approved a new budget and work plan that includes no rate increases this year for residential customers.  The only rate increases in 2014 will be for irrigation accounts and four other select accounts from the second year of a rate phase-in plan adopted in 2013.  Officials say that 99% of Wayne-White consumers will see no rate increase this year.

porter mugSuspected bad check artist, 59-year-old Charles E. Porter has been arrested after being on the run for nearly ten years.  In Wayne County, Porter was charged in 2004 with using an alias and a bogus check to buy more than $10,000 worth of cattle from Cattlemen’s Livestock at Wayne County.  Porter was arrested recently in Barren County, Kentucky where he was wanted for escape and for being a persistent felony offender.

A Saline County suspect who broke free from court security officers last month and ran from the courthouse has been captured.  24-year-old Michael W. Boyd of Harrisburg was taken into custody Monday night in Harrisburg.  He had been on the run since February 24.

FCC Bowl

The Frontier Community College academic team competed in the NAQT Community College national tournament held over the weekend in Atlanta, Georgia.  The competition was held at the downtown Atlanta Hilton.  Only 24 teams from a possible 65 eligible teams were invited to participate in the tournament.  Eligible teams must have competed in an NAQT sectional tournament.  All first place sectional teams received a bid to the tournament, and second place sectional teams were compared to all others in the nation and the highest rated teams rounded out the field of 24.  Frontier had qualified at the NAQT sectional held on the campus of Lincoln Land College in Springfield in January. The tournament format was a round robin, with 20 minute games or 24 questions, whichever came first.  Fairfield played eleven rounds, and finished with a 5-6 record.  The teams that Fairfield defeated included:  Chipola B of Marianna, Florida; Valencia B of Orlando, Florida; Snead State of Boaz, Alabama; Bevill-Fayette of Fayette, Alabama; and Faulkner State of Bay Minette, Alabama.  The overall winner of the national NAQT community college tournament was Valencia A of Orlando, Florida.

The 68th annual Illinois Oil and Gas Association convention and trade show opens this Thursday at the Old National Events Plaza in Evansville.  The Wildcatter of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient will be named during the two-day event.

The Fairfield Police Association will host its 13th annual 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament on March 22 for Junior High boys and girls and March 29th for the Men’s Open.  Entry forms are available at the Fairfield City Police Department.   The entry fee is $50 per team of three or four players.

Headlines for Monday, March 3, 2014

pearceNavy crossWWII hero and prominent White County horseman Harry Phil Pearce died Friday. He was 91.  At the age of 22, Second Lt. Pearce was awarded the Navy Cross for his acts of heroism at Okinawa.  The Presidential Citation stated that his actions saved the lives of at least 12 men.  Pearce was called back to active duty during the Korean War and retired from the Marine Corps as a full Colonel.  Services will be 10 a.m. Thursday at the Big Prairie United Methodist Church south of Epworth.  Right photo is Pearce receiving the prestigious Navy Cross.


feather fire

Ken Feather was injured Friday when fire swept through his garage near Wayne City.  Feather suffered burns to his face, neck, ears and hands as he attempted to remove three vintage cars from the burning garage.  Feather is recovering at home after receiving treatment for his burns at Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon.

hooper fire

A commercial gas dryer caught fire Saturday morning, destroying a large portion of Hooper’s Cleaners in Fairfield.  Fairfield City and Fairfield Rural Firemen battled the fire for over an hour. The workers inside the cleaners were able to escape unharmed.

Fairfield High School Varsity Scholastic Team traveled to Springfield Saturday for the State Masonic Tournament. FCHS was recognized as one of the top 18 Class-A teams in the State.   FCHS falls to 32 and 14 on the year.

37-year-old Christopher L. Neville of Mt. Carmel was arrested Friday for domestic battery.  He is accused of head-butting a family member during an altercation at his home.  Neville was jailed pending the filing of formal charges and setting of bond.

Headlines for Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Winter Storm Warning continues for the region until 6 a.m. Monday.  Forecasters are expecting freezing rain for today, gradually changing to sleet and snow by tonight, with as much as three to six inches of snow and an inch of sleet accumulation possible.  Low temperatures could drop to the single digits by Tuesday.  Area roadways are expected to become very slick and hazardous today and tonight.

The Fairfield Community High School Varsity Scholastic team was recognized as one of the top 18 Class A teams in the state Saturday at the State Masonic Tournament in Springfield, IL.  During the tournament, FCHS played four close battles but eventually lost to University High School in Urbana, Carrolton, Elmwood and Warrensburg-Latham, and also fell to one of the final four teams, Sterling Newman Catholic.  Kyle Ellis led the tossup scoring for FCHS, answering 16.  FCHS is now 32 and 14 on the year, and will be in action at the Southern Illinois Academic Conference Final Tournament Thursday in Centralia, IL.

Fire destroyed a large portion of Hooper’s Cleaners in Fairfield Saturday morning.  Fairfield city and rural firefighters were called to the fire around 7:30 a.m. after a commercial gas dryer caught fire, spreading flames throughout the structure.  Levi Hooper and other workers were inside the building when the fire broke out, but all were able to escape without injury.  Firemen battled the blaze for over an hour.

A special meeting of the Edwards County Community Unit School Board has been set for this Wednesday night at 6 in the Edwards County K-12 building.  Personnel matters and a closed session are on the official agenda.  The board is also expected to hire a West Salem Grade School Music and Band instructor, and discuss the UCI-FRAM Group Annual Compliance with possible action.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has proclaimed March as Severe Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois.  During the month the Illinois Emergency Management Agency will team with the National Weather Service and local emergency officials to increase awareness of severe weather hazards.  As part of the Severe Weather Preparedness Month activities, the statewide tornado drill will be conducted at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Headlines for Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the region from 6 a.m. Sunday til 6 a.m. Monday.  Forecasters at the National Weather Service expect freezing rain and some sleet to move into the area, beginning as rain tonight.  Ice accumulations of up to a half-inch are possible, along with a few inches of snowfall and some sleet before the storm system moves out of the area by early Monday morning.  Colder temperatures are expected behind the system, with temperatures possibly dipping into the single digits by Tuesday.

29-year-old Chance W. Young of Fairfield has been sentenced to four years in federal prison after entering a guilty plea to charges of being in possession of several stolen firearms.  Young was sentenced Friday on the one-count indictment.  In pleading guilty, Young admitted that he broke into a rural Wayne County home in July 2013 and stole several items, including three shotguns and a rifle.  Young has also been ordered to serve two years parole following the prison sentence.  The case against Young was investigated by the Southern Illinois Drug Task Force and the ATF.

Cisne High Yearbook awardsThe Southern Illinois School Press Association awarded the Cisne High School 2013 Yearbook, the Echo, the Golden Dozen Award at the journalism conference held at Southern Illinois University on Wednesday.  In addition, the staff received third place for coverage and third place for their endsheets.  The 2014 Echo staff also earned special awards, including Elizabeth Foley and Amy Sams earning second place for their advertising spread, McKensie Harrison earning first place for Theme Development, and Rebeccah Mugrage receiving first for her feature spread.  Audrey Kelly earned second place in the on-site Photography Contest.  Honorable mentions went to McKensie Harrison for the yearbook cover design and to Darian Shearer for her feature spread. (Pictured are front, Alyse Barnfield, McKensie Harrison, Darian Shearer. Second row, Kirsten Rodgers, Rebeccah Mugrage, Amy Sams. Third row, Becky Harper, Elizabeth Foley.  Back row, Theresa Drake, Summer Wilson, Audrey Kelly)

The Illinois State Police announced Friday that 5000 Concealed Carry License applications have been approved and are ready to be printed and mailed.  The department will be mailing the licenses and continue to issue licenses as they are approved on a daily basis.   Since the process of providing Concealed Carry licenses began, the state police say over 50,000 applications have been received, with over 800 of those objected.  So far, police say none of the objections have been appealed.

February ranked the seventh coldest for Illinois, according to State Climatologist Jim Angel.  He says the average temperature was just 19 degrees.  Snowfall was also above average, ranging from around five inches in the far-southern areas of the state, to 20 to 25 inches in north-central Illinois.

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