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Len Wells, News Director

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1215 4-23-14

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.

Headlines for Tuesday, March 11, 2014

maxine croppedLongtime Wayne County educator and local volunteer Maxine Talbert received the Community Service AwardMonday night at the annual Fairfield Chamber of Commerce Banquet.  The business of the year, Pollard Realty/Wayne County Abstract was honored as business of the year.  Fairfield Mayor Chuck Griswold gave the keynote address. The event was held at the Community of Christ Family Life Center in Fairfield.

44-year-old Brian A. Hunter of Lexington, KY was injured Monday when the semi he was driving ran off the Cisne curve and overturned. He was taken to Fairfield Memorial Hospital following the 12:12 a.m. crash.  State Police cited him for improper lane usage.


Fairfield Community High School won the IHSA Regional tournament Monday.  FCHS went 3-0 on the evening to capture first place. Fairfield defeated Lawrenceville, Clay City and Cisne.  FCHS improves to 36-16 on the year and advances to the Cumberland Sectional on Saturday.  Pictured above left to right – Breyaniah Noble, Abigail Trotter, Chelsie Walker. Back Row: Coach Tammy Austin, Alex Brake, Kyle Ellis, Brodey Murbarger, Ian Baumgardner, Trevor Guthrie.

Shelby HutchcraftShelby Hutchcraft has been named Employee of the Month at Fairfield Memorial Hospital.  Shelby is assigned to the Housekeeping Department at the hospital.  The announcement was made Monday by Kim Heisner, Fairfield Memorial Hospital Housekeeping Director.

Plans are being finalized for the annual Pork Day USA Celebration in Albion.  This year’s event will be on Saturday, July 12.  This year’s event will feature music by Mike Porter, Marsha Banning and the Panther Creek Band, Dennis Stroughmatt with Swing-N-Country and Ron Williams. The headline act will be Grand Ole Opry Star Leona Williams.

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.

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