Len Wells, News Director
The mother of a slain 7-year-old Effingham, Ill. girl has been sentenced to jail for obstructing a peace officer. Ciara DeRyke, 26, the mother of Willow Long entered a guilty plea Tuesday to a charge of obstruction of a peace officer and was sentenced to 120 days in the county jail and was placed on 18 months of probation. In pleading guilty, DeRyke admitted she lied to police when she told them on the morning of Sunday, September 8, 2013 that she had seen her daughter alive. She later changed her story, admitting that she hadn’t seen Willow since going out on the previous evening. Prosecutors allege that Ciara’s brother, Justin DeRyke killed Willow Long that night and disposed her body before Ciara returned home.
There will be no sale of alcohol on Sunday at Fairfield service clubs and restaurants. A committee appointed to study the issue made its recommendation at Tuesday’s City Council meeting and said NO to the question. Alderman Jim Griffith said there wasn’t enough public interest in the request to allow Sunday alcohol sales.
Water rates in Fairfield have been increased 10%. The increase was actually approved in 2012, for implementation in April of 2013, but was never enacted. To help pay for the new water treatment plant, Mayor Griswold is proposing a 5% increase in gas and electric rates. The proposal will be discussed at the next city council meeting.
Mayor Griswold has floated the idea of a small sales tax increase to help put the city on more stable financial ground. The matter would have to be put before the people in the form of a referendum. It is not known if the issue can be presented in time for the upcoming March election cycle.
Airplane hangar rental rates are going up at the Fairfield Municipal Airport – the first increase in 18 years. The increase is expected to generate an additional $10,000 a year in income.
With three NO votes, the Fairfield City Council Tuesday night approved donating $4,000 to the Fairfield Retail Merchants Association to help fund on-going promotions and pay for the printing of city maps. NO votes came from Aldermen Morlan, Fletcher and Barbre.
The Frontier Community College Foundation is seeking to acquire the Fairfield movie theater property. The operator of the movie house fell behind on his revolving loan payments, so the city now has control of the property.
Frontier Community College’s College Bowl Team took home Second Place at the NAQT sectional tournament January 25, and team member Clay Hoskins was named the tournament MVP. Pictured left to right are team members: Austin Atteberry, Til Caldwell, Clay Hoskins, Coach Linda Monge, and Sarah Vaughn.
Cynthia L. Steiner, Executor of the Estate of Janet E. Steiner, has followed the wishes of her late Uncle and Aunt, Lester and Janet E. Steiner, who have left significant donations to several local organizations in Fairfield. The couple left $280,868.76 to be split among the Fairfield Memorial Hospital Foundation, Fairfield Public Library, Frontier Community College Foundation, and First United Methodist Church. Each recipient has been awarded $70,217.19.
The Fairfield City Council meets tonight at 6 p.m. A committee is expected to make its recommendation on a request by the Fairfield American Legion to sell alcohol on Sunday. If approved, all service clubs and restaurants in Fairfield that currently hold a liquor license could sell alcoholic drinks on Sunday.
Alyssa Parrott has been hired as the Career Services Coordinator at Frontier Community College in Fairfield. At FCC, the Coordinator is responsible for working with students and alumni as they prepare to transfer to a university or enter the workforce. Parrott will assist students with resumes, interviewing skills, and job searches. Prior to coming to Frontier Community College, Parrott was employed at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Indiana, in the Human Resources department as an Employment Recruiter.
The Illinois Sheriff’s Association will award $53,000 in college scholarships throughout the State of Illinois during the 2014-15 school year. Applications are available at your local sheriff’s department or local high school guidance offices.
The Edwards County Spelling Bee is set for this Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Edwards County Courthouse in Albion. The Wayne County Spelling Bee has been set 7 p.m. for next Monday, Feb. 3 at Fairfield City Hall.
Pictured above are representatives from local organizations accepting donations for their community organization from the late Lester and Janet Steiner Estate. Each group received $70,217.19. Left to right are Marion McDowell, Jr., Treasurer, Frontier Community College Foundation; Charlotte St.Ledger, Executive Director of Fairfield Memorial Hospital Foundation, Cynthia L. Steiner, Independent Executor of the Steiner Estate; Michelle Conard, Director of Fairfield Public Library; and Charlie McDonald, Pastor of First United Methodist Church.
Another Arctic cold front surged through the entire region overnight, bringing bitterly cold temperatures back to the Tri-State. A wind gust of 47 mph was recorded at 10:30 Sunday night as the front swept across the region. Temperatures are forecast to dip into the single digits behind the cold front.
Fairfield First Christian Church pastor Craig Scott returned home this weekend after undergoing more than six months of treatment and rehabilitation for injuries sustained in an accident in Puerto Rico last summer. During Sunday night’s services, Pastor Scott was on hand to greet church members for the first time since he suffered a spinal cord injury on January 22. Scott was on a mission trip with local youth in Puerto Rico when he was injured while body surfing. Since he was away undergoing treatment, volunteers have worked to make his home in Fairfield handicapped accessible.
60-year-old Robert Scott Beesley of Roundup, Montana died Sunday night when the pickup truck he was driving ran off Ill., Rt. 142 in Hamilton County and hit a tree. The accident happened shortly after 11 p.m. Beesley was pronounced dead at the scene.
The brutally cold winter could threaten Illinois’ winter wheat crop. The extreme temperatures could make the crop more susceptible to secondary diseases that could come along in the spring. It’s still too early to tell what winter’s impact may be on the crop.
A decision is expected at Tuesday’s Fairfield City Council meeting on the issue of Sunday liquor sales for local service clubs and restaurants. A three-man committee is expected to make its recommendation to the council.
After temperatures climbed to near 60 Sunday afternoon, a sharp cold front will sweep Arctic air back into the region by Monday morning. Overnight lows will dip to 7 degrees with wind chill values as low as -15. Bitterly cold weather will be around through at least Wednesday.
The founder and owner of Withers Broadcasting, 76-year-old W. Russell “Russ” Withers, died at his home in Mt. Vernon, IL Friday night. Withers owned and operated WROY/WRUL in Carmi, WEBQ in Harrisburg, IL, WMCL in McLeansboro, WREZ in Metropolis, IL, WYNG in Mt. Carmel, IL, WMIX in Mt. Vernon, IL and WISH in Galatia, along with several television stations in Michigan and West Virginia. He began his career in broadcasting as an announcer/salesman in 1961, and served as chairman of the Illinois Broadcasters Association Foundation and was a trustee of the National Association of Broadcasters Political Action Committee at the time of his death.
The Fairfield City Council meets Tuesday night at 6 p.m. The council is expected to address the possibility of allowing Sunday liquor sales, and discuss the Smoke Free Public Places initiative for the city. Also on the agenda is a funding request from the Retail Merchants for activities and city maps, and a proposal to pay for a Utility Loan.
The Allendale Rural Fire Protection District recently installed a new service to improve the rapid response and management of its firefighters. The service is a firefighter response verification and fire department management system to complement existing 911 systems. The technology uses several devices to help provide timely and accurate communication between firefighters when responding to a fire, and includes the use of computers, mobile smart phones, text messaging, GPS and the Internet.
Illinois’ unemployment rate for the month of December was at 8.6, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. They report the rate is the fourth straight month it has declined, and is the lowest level since December 2012. They also report the state has added just over 62,000 jobs compared to a year ago, and said employers in December advertised online for over 215,000 individual job openings, of which 92 percent were for full-time work.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is accepting applications for the state’s Park and Recreational Facility Construction Grant Program. The program provides grants to local governments for construction and improvements to parks and recreation sites in the state, with a maximum grant of $2.5 million for qualifying projects. The applications will be accepted through March 10th. More information is available at www.dnr.illinois.gov/grants or by calling (217) 782-7481.
W. Russell “Russ” Withers, Jr. founder and owner of Withers Broadcasting Companies which owns six television stations and 30 radio stations died Friday night at his home in Mount Vernon, Ill. He was 76. Across Southern Illinois, Withers owned and operated radio stations WROY/WRUL in Carmi, WEBQ in Harrisburg, WMCL in McLeansboro, WREZ in Metropolis, WYNG in Mount Carmel, WMIX in Mount Vernon, Ill. and WISH in Galatia. He also operated television stations in Michigan and West Virginia. Services are pending at the Hughey Funeral Home in Mount Vernon.
The Fairfield City Council meets Tuesday night starting at 6 p.m. During the meeting, the council is expected to discuss the idea of allowing Sunday liquor sales at businesses that have a liquor license. Package liquor stores would be exempt. The council is also scheduled to discuss an initiative that would update and expand the current smoke-free areas in the city, as well as a funding request from the Retail Merchants for activities and new city maps.
23-year-old Ryan Tibbs of Cisne has been sentenced to 180 days in the Wayne County Jail after his probation on a 2012 possession of drug paraphernalia conviction was revoked. Tibbs appeared in Wayne County Circuit Court Thursday on a petition to revoke his probation based on his arrest last May on charges of DUI, driving without insurance and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. Tibbs was given credit for 12 days already served.
21-year-old Dewey F. Desch Jr. and 20-year-old Charlie E. Schnepper both of Fairfield were arrested early Friday morning after allegedly driving their Jeeps through a local farmer’s field, leaving deep ruts. County police were called to the Lakeview bottoms around 1:30 a.m. on a report that two Jeeps were stuck in the mud on the Joseph E. Thoele property. Desch and Schnepper were eventually cited for criminal damage to property and criminal trespass to property.
57-year-old Nancy Hunter of Flat Rock, IL died Friday afternoon in an accident in rural Lawrence County. State police said Hunter was driving her vehicle on a county road about six miles east of Birds, when she cross the centerline and hit a truck head-on, driven by 63-year-old Richard M. Churchwell of Lawrenceville, IL. Police said neither driver was wearing a seat belt. Churchwell was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Evansville, IN following the accident.
The Allendale Rural Fire Protection District recently installed a new service to improve the rapid response and management of its firefighters. The service, called FIRE-QRVS, is a firefighter response verification and fire department management system designed to complement existing 911 dispatch systems. The technology employs the use of computers, mobile smart phones, text messaging, GPS and the Internet to provide more timely and accurate communication between firefighters.
An urgent blood drive has been set for this Saturday at the Fairfield Wal-Mart. An American Red Cross bloodmobile bus will be at the Wal-Mart from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday. All blood types are needed.
An April trial date has been set for a Galatia man accused of violently shaking his 4-month-old daughter last month, leaving her with severe brain damage. 21-year-old Colten Campbell faces a Class-X felony charge of aggravated battery of a child causing permanent injury. During a hearing Thursday, authorities alleged that Campbell shook the child because she was crying while he was trying to play a video game.
Illinois residents affected by the Nov. 17 tornadoes have an extra week to apply for federal disaster aid. The deadline has been extended to Feb. 3. People with storm damage in 15 Southern Illinois counties, including Wayne County, can apply for grants and loans.
Newly approved tuition increases at the University of Illinois mean that four years of college on the flagship campus will top $100,000 for many students. Trustees voted Thursday to raise tuition by 1.7%. They also increased fees and housing costs.
The Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District has named the recipients of three $500 scholarships. The winners are Lea Carter of Fairfield Community High School, Michaela Smith of Wayne City High School and Brandae Gill of Cisne High School.
A Wind Chill Advisory is in effect for today. Wind chill values could fall to minus 15 today as another blast of arctic air invades the Tri-State.
A White County jury deliberated for three hours Wednesday afternoon before finding 31-year-old Candice Brown guilty of two counts of obstruction of justice. Brown is the girlfriend of convicted murderer Danny K. Coston of Centerville, IL. Brown was convicted of lying to police who were investigating the August, 2012 shooting deaths of 22-year-old Jacob Wheeler of Centerville and Wheeler’s girlfriend, Jessi Evans, 17 of Norris City. She told investigators that Coston was with her at home at the time Wheeler and Evans were murdered. Danny Coston is currently serving a 53 year prison sentence for the killings.
33-year-old Robert G. Veach of Carmi was injured Wednesday afternoon when the Chevy Malibu he was driving crossed the center line of Ill. Rt. 1 in southern White County and sideswiped a van. The occupants of the van, 91-year-old Dueard E. Johnson and 85-year-old Dorothy M. Johnson of Broughton escaped injury. Veach was cited for driving suspended and improper lane usage.
A bond of $25,000 cash has been set for two Fairfield men arrested Monday for operating a suspected meth lab at a rental house in Cisne. Anthony M. Garrison, 24 and Jerrod L. Reid, 28 face multiple felony drug-related charges. Reid also faces weapons charges after police seized four firearms from the house, including a sawed off shotgun.
Fire destroyed two homes near Herald Tuesday morning. Fire destroyed the Thomas Horne home then spread to the Gary Jackson residence. Mr. Horne was injured and was taken to Hamilton Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries. The Jackson house was vacant. Firefighters from Norris City and Carmi remained on scene for over five hours.
The obstruction of justice trial of 31-year-old Candice Brown of Centerville resumes today in White County Circuit Court in Carmi. Brown is the girlfriend of convicted murderer Danny K. Coston. Coston is serving a 53 year prison sentence for the August, 2012 shooting deaths of Jacob Wheeler of Centerville and Jessi Evans of Norris City. Brown is accused of lying to police about the whereabouts of Coston on the day of the slayings.
38-year-old Kevin M. Pearce of Norris City died Tuesday morning from injuries suffered earlier this month when the bike he was riding was hit by a car. Pearce had been at Deaconess Hospital since the January 12 accident. The driver of the car that hit Pearce’s bike was James Lee Sturms, 35 of Norris City.
21-year-old David L. Buchanan of Fairfield was arrested Tuesday for DUI. Police were dispatched to a report of a car stuck in the mud behind the Geff School around 2 a.m. Tuesday and arrested Buchanan. A passenger, 19-year-old Tyler Alan Craig was cited for underage drinking.
Martha Heflin, Rena Talbert and Donna Sullivan were reappointed to the Fairfield Memorial Hospital Association Board during the group’s annual meeting this month. Officers elected for the year include Michael St. Ledger, President; Dale Warren, Vice-President and Martha Heflin, Secretary/Treasurer.
Two Fairfield men were arrested Monday after police raided a house in Cisne and seized a suspected meth lab. Anthony M. Garrison, 24 (right) and Jerrod L. Reid, (left) 28 are in the county jail on multiple meth-related charges. Garrison also faces a charge of being in possession of a sawed off shotgun. Reid was also cited for being in possession of ammunition with a revoked Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) Card. Resident Judge Kevin Kakac set bond on each suspect at $25,000 CASH.
LeRoy Moore of rural Fairfield lost two hog houses to fire this morning at his farm in rural Edwards County. Moore was able to get all but two of the pigs out of the houses before they were destroyed. The fire was reported around 9 a.m.,
38-year-old Kevin M. Pearce of Norris City died this morning from injuries sustained in a car-bicycle crash January 12. Pearce was riding his bike on Ill. Rt. 1 north of Norris City when he was hit by a Chevy Malibu driven by 35-year-old James Lee Sturms of Norris City. He died this morning at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville.
The Fairfield Grade School Board met Monday night, setting Center Street Graduation for May 20 at 7 p.m. The last day of classes this year will be May 28. The first day of classes for students this fall will be August 15. The board also voted to re-hire Supt. Diana Zurliene, Center Street Principal Bill Wrenn and Northside Principal Amy Duckworth.
Authorities have released the name of a man killed in a house fire last Friday near Olney. The body of 93-year-old Robert E. “Zeke” Redman, a WW II veteran, was found in the burned out structure. No official cause of the fire has been released at this time.
The Fairfield Coin Club will be awarding two $500 scholarships this year to students planning to attend Frontier Community College. The deadline to apply is March 1. Applications are available on the Frontier Community College website.
Wayne County Golf Course volunteers will have the first of four porkburger sales of the season this Saturday on Main Street in front of the courthouse. Proceeds will help the golf course with ongoing improvement and maintenance projects, including recovery from the damage sustained by last November’s tornado.
A quick shot of light snow is in the forecast for tonight into Tuesday morning. Forecasters say an inch or snow is possible north of a Mount Vernon, Illinois to Owensboro, KY line. Much colder weather is in the forecast later this week.
Illinois lawmakers will return to Springfield later this month. Upcoming issues include what to do about the pending expiration of the temporary income tax, corporate tax incentives and a possible construction bill.
Funeral services have been set for a Benton woman and her son who died Saturday morning when the Jeep they were in ran off Ill. Rt. 37 in Jefferson County and plunged into a creek. 34-year-old Melanie May and her 9-year-old son, Aaron T. May drown in the accident. The driver of the Jeep, 19-year-old Nicholas Rakas was injured. Services for the two victims will be 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Harre Funeral Home in McLeansboro.
26-year-old Joseph A. Decker of Flat Rock was killed Saturday morning when the pickup truck he was driving ran off the Birds Road in Lawrence County and overturned in a ditch.
The White County Farm Bureau recently donated several agriculture-related books to the Carmi Public Library. The donation was part of the organization’s Agriculture Literacy program
This Tuesday from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. is the final opportunity for children Kindergarten through Sixth Grade to register and be evaluated for Upward basketball and cheerleading at Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Fairfield. Over 250 kids signed up over the weekend for the Upward program.