Len Wells, News Director
Darrell Meritt is retiring from the benefit porkburger cookout scene after this Saturday. He has staged charitable cookouts in Fairfield since 1982. In honor of Darrell, there will be three simultaneous porkburger cookouts this Saturday. One will be at the Star Station lot, one at Wayne-White Electric, with the third at the Hometown IGA store. All proceeds will be split evenly between Darrell’s three favorite charities – the Scranton Memorial Cancer Fund, Festival of Lights and the Secret Santa Program.
Officials with the Ill. Dept. of Transportation say construction work on Interstates 64 and 57 in the Mt. Vernon area is on schedule and should be completed by early December. Until then, motorists can expect continued lane closures on the south end of the project.
A former Salem Grade School Kindergarten teacher has been placed on 18 months of probation after pleading guilty to charges of DUI and providing alcohol to a minor. 40-year-old Wendy Bunnell was also fined $500. She resigned from her teaching job in Salem earlier this month.
A DEA prescription drug take-back program will be staged this Saturday at Fairfield Memorial Hospital. Residents can drop off unneeded or expired medications at the volunteer desk at Fairfield Memorial Hospital anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. this Saturday.
ARF’s Howloween Hairball is this Saturday at the Fairfield Elks. Advance tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Country Road Realty at 506 W. Main Street in Fairfield. Tickets will be $20 at the door. Happy hour will begin at 7 p.m. The band “Torn and Frayed” will provide music. Cash prizes for various costume categories will be awarded.
Three Fairfield teens face disorderly conduct charges after a suspected gunplay incident Wednesday evening in front of Fairfield Community High School. The teens were wearing ski masks and were armed with what appeared to be semi-automatic handguns. Witnesses told police the three were driving around the high school pointing the guns out of the car windows. Three Fairfield City Police officers located the suspects on Douglas Street and made a “high risk” vehicle stop, complete with guns drawn. Turns out the kids two of them 15 – the other 16 – were armed with air soft guns. They had removed the orange tips on the gun barrels to make them look more realistic. The kids were questioned and released to their parents.
45-year-old Carl F. Gibson of Fairfield has been jailed on a charge of aggravated domestic battery. He is accused of striking his 6-year-old daughter in the face during an argument with his wife. The girl was taken to Fairfield Memorial Hospital for treatment of a bloody nose.
St. Mary’s and South Schools in Mount Carmel were placed on lockdown for a period of time Wednesday afternoon as police searched for two suspects wanted in an assault at the Wabash County courthouse. One was said to be armed with a knife. The suspects, two 17-year-old teens from Kentucky were located and cited for aggravated battery. The victim was 33-year-old Eric L. DeLong of Mt. Carmel. Police said he was “sucker-punched” as he left the courthouse.;
The Illinois State Board of Education is warning local school districts that general aid from the state will likely be less next year. The state’s general aid to districts could drop from 89% to 85%.
An Olney man is among 14 Southern Illinois residents indicted Wednesday on federal charges they deliberately defrauded the federal unemployment insurance program. 31-year-old Gary Cuddy of Olney faces a charge of Embezzling Public Funds. The total amount of overpayments in the 14 cases amounts to $351,005.
Mayor Charles Griswold has declared this Saturday, Oct. 26 as Darrell Meritt Day in Fairfield. After more than 30 years, Darrell is retiring from staging benefit cookouts in Fairfield. Over the years, Darrell and his crew of volunteers have cooked up more than 260,000 porkburgers to raise money for charitable causes. This Saturday, three simultaneous porkburger sales will be staged to benefit Darrell’s three favorite charities – the Scranton Memorial Cancer Fund, the Secret Santa Program and the Festival of Lights. One cookout will be at the old Star Station lot, one will be at Wayne-White Electric with the third at the Fairfield IGA.
Fairfield City Councilmen have approved the addition of a stop sign at the intersection of N.E. Fourth and Court Street. The sign is being added in anticipation of increased traffic once a new security entrance is added to the north side of the Wayne County Courthouse.
Plans are in the works to make Atkinson Forest more accessible to the public. The City of Fairfield is working with the Ill. Dept. of Natural Resources to obtain a long-term lease for the 120 acre site. Improvement plans include the establishment of a flood control lake and the planting of a prairie grass plot. Once fully developed, hiking trails will be re-established and the public will have easier access to the property. The forest will still be off limits to hunters and ATV’s.
The Fairfield City Council approved payment No. 7 to Haier Plumbing Company for work they’ve done to install a raw water intake pump station at the Little Wabash River. The payment amounted to more than $718,000.
After a year and a half legal battle, Attorney Eric Dirnbeck has been sworn in as the Second Judicial Circuit’s newest judge. Dirnbeck defeated his opponent, Kent Renshaw by 42 votes in the 2012 Democratic primary. Renshaw challenged the results, which included a partial recount of votes in Franklin County.
The first-degree murder trial of suspected serial killer Bruce D. Mendenhall for the 2007 slaying of a Wilson County, Tenn. woman has been delayed again. Mendenhall’s attorney is demanding a hearing on the admissibility of physical evidence gathered by police who initially arrested Mendenhall at a Nashville, Tenn. truck stop in July of 2007. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals has already upheld the evidence as admissible, however the trial judge in the Wilson County case has granted Mendenhall leave to appeal the ruling. No new trial date has been set.
Jasper Township Property Tax bills are lower this year because of an error in the Jasper School’s tax levy. What’s missing is a $40,733 bond payment for the recent capital campaign used to build the new gymnasium, cafeteria and classroom additions. According to Jasper School officials, the line item was omitted by the County Clerk’s office. County Clerk Glenda Young says the Jasper School Supt. reviewed the tax levy documents and signed a form stating they were accurate. The Jasper School District will recover the loss of funding in future tax levies, with the tax extension returning to its normal rate in 2015.
The Fairfield Retail Merchants are hosting a Witches Night Out event this Thursday evening from 5 – 8 p.m. Folks are encouraged to dress up to win gift certificates at participating retail merchants. As an example – the Best Witch will receive a $100 gift certificate from Serendipity. Judging will take place at 7 p.m. at the Chamber Office.
The public is invited to the Cisne FFA National Convention reception this Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. The event will be in the Cisne High School cafeteria. Nine members will be honored for their upcoming participation in the National FFA Convention in Louisville, KY.
William West of Albion has been awarded the Earl R. Pottorff Memorial Scholarship. West is enrolled in the Frontier Community College Electrical Distribution Systems program. West is a 1998 graduate of Edwards County High School. The scholarship is for $1,000.
35-year-old Michael A. Lovell of Shawneetown has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges related to two methamphetamine-related arrests over the past two years. Lovell was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court at Benton.
Ray Elliott, Mike Everett, and Terry Powell were 10 under par as a team for 18 holes to win the Wayne County Golf Course’s annual Beef Stew Scramble on Saturday, October 19th. Twenty-seven players made up nine teams in the captain’s pick 3 man scramble format. Taking second with a 62, were Bob Green, Joe Holman, and Don Sutton. Pictured above L-R: Ray Elliot, Terry Powell, Mike Everett.
The South Central Illinois Health Coalition, in Partnership with We Choose Health would like to congratulate New Hope Grade School for their participation in Coordinated School Health and CATCH! New Hope has received $6,800 for equipment, training, and wellness initiatives to enhance their school health and wellness. Congratulations New Hope Grade School!
A Carmi man faces a class-X felony charge of home invasion and a charge of aggravated discharge of a firearm following a gunplay incident Friday night. 42-year-old Jason R. Weasel allegedly fired two rounds from a .44 magnum revolver during an altercation at a home on Church Street in Carmi. One bullet struck a neighbor’s house. The other struck an SUV. No one was hit.
30-year-old Jason R. Pfaff of Wayne City has been arrested on a charge of criminal damage to property. Pfaff is accused of ripping the screen out of a door of a lady’s house on W. Elm Street in Fairfield early Saturday morning. Police said Pfaff was drunk. The victim told police she had never heard of Pfaff and had no idea why he showed up at her residence.
38-year-old Brian K. Bowlby is scheduled to stand trial October 28 on charges he sexually assaulted a 9-year-old Hamilton County girl. Bowlby is already serving a 270 year prison sentence out of Saline County on multiple convictions of predatory criminal sexual assault.
In less than 48 hours, authorities arrested two suspects accused of robbing the Old National Bank in Harrisburg. Casey Allen Heflin, 28 of Boaz, KY was arrested Friday night in Cape Girardeau, MO. His alleged accomplice and cousin, 38-year-old Shawn Thomas Gregory of Harrisburg was arrested Thursday evening. The bank was robbed shortly after 9 a.m. last Thursday. The heist netted the suspects around $4,000.
The Wayne County Shrine Club is sponsoring a “Golf Ball Drop” this Sunday at the Wayne County Golf Course. Numbered golf balls – sold for $10 each – will be dropped from a helicopter hovering over a target. Any ball that hits the target wins. The top prize is $1,000. The majority of the proceeds will be used to support the Shriners Hospital for Children in St. Louis.
42-year-old Jason R. Weasel of Carmi was arrested Friday night following an incident at a Carmi home in which police report shots were fired. Officers were called to 400 South Church Street around 8:40 p.m. An investigation revealed that Weasel had apparently went to the home to confront his 18-year-old daughter and forced his way inside. Weasel was then allegedly drug outside by the home’s occupants, and later went to his truck and grabbed a large handgun. Police said two shots were fired in the general direction of the house, with at least one of the shots striking an SUV and two neighboring houses. Weasel was taken to the jail in Carmi and later treated for a head wound. A report of the incident is expected to be forwarded to White County States Attorney Denton Aud.
The second suspect in last Thursday’s robbery of the Old National Bank in Harrisburg, IL has been captured. 28-year-old Casey Allen Heflin of Boaz, KY, was taken into custody Friday night at a hotel in Cape Girardeau, MO. Saline County officials said Heflin was captured after police received a tip that he was staying at the hotel. Heflin’s alleged accomplice, 38-year-old Shawn Thomas Gregory of Harrisburg, was taken into custody Thursday evening. Both face robbery charges. Police said bank surveillance video showed Heflin armed with a silver handgun when he robbed the bank shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday and got away with about $4000.
Hydrant flushing will resume in Fairfield Monday after water leaks in the city late last week postponed the flushing schedule. The 4th ward hydrants are scheduled to be flushed on Monday and the outlying areas on Tuesday. The water will be safe to drink during the process but could become discolored. Residents with questions can contact the city’s water department at 842-7015 or 842-5016.
Congressman John Shimkus has announced his latest round of office hours later this month to allow constituents to address any concerns they may have about his office or the federal government. A member of Shimkus’ staff will be at the Grayville City Hall at 122 South Court Street on Thursday, October 31st from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Those needing special accomodations should call at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled office hours, and those who can’t attend in person can call his local office at the Harrisburg City Hall at (618) 252-8271.
An Illinois Supreme Court ruling Friday invalidates the state’s so-called Amazon Tax. The tax aims to equalize sales tax collections on Internet purchases from out-of-state companies with those made at area stores. The court ruled the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act preempts the state’s Main Street Fairness Act. The Illinois Department of Revenue is expected to explore the possibility of amending the tax law to address the court’s concerns.
A 16-year-old female from Cisne was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident following a wreck on U.S. Route 45 a half-mile south of county road 1600 East Friday afternoon. State police said the driver was southbound on U.S. Route 45 when she drove over the top of a hill and noticed a school bus stopped in traffic. She was unable to stop for the school bus and left the roadway on the west side, striking a ditch and overturning. The driver and a 16-year-old passenger from Mt. Erie were injured. The passenger was taken to Fairfield Memorial Hospital for treatment of her injuries. The crash was reported just after 3:30 p.m.
Carmi police arrested a Carmi man, 42-year-old Jason R. Weasel, Friday night on preliminary charges of home invasion and aggravated discharge of a firearm. Carmi Police Chief Randy Hamblin says officers were called to 400 South Church Street on a report of shots fired at the residence. Police said based on statements and physical evidence, it appeared Weasel’s 18-year-old daughter was at the residence, and Jason R. Weasel drove to the residence and later pushed his way inside to confront his daughter. Weasel was then allegedly drug outside by the occupants, and Weasel is accused of going to his truck and grabbing a large handgun. Witnesses said two shots were fired in the general direction of the house. It was later determined one of the shots fired went through at least two neighboring homes and an SUV. Jason R. Weasel was taken to the jail in Carmi and later treated for a head wound.
22-year-old Dusty Daniels of Mt. Vernon, IL has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of obstruction of justice in Hamilton County. Daniels entered the plea in Hamilton County Circuit Court in McLeansboro. Hamilton County States Attorney Justin Hood dropped a charge of burglary in return for the guilty plea in the obstruction case. In pleading guility, Daniels admitted that he lied to investigators about a stolen credit card.
The second suspect in an armed robbery of the Old National Bank in Harrisburg, IL Thursday has been captured. 28-year-old Casey Allen Heflin of Boaz, KY, was arrested Friday night at a hotel in Cape Girardeau, MO. His accomplice, 38-year-old Shawn Thomas Gregory of Harrisburg, IL was formally charged Friday with armed robbery with a firearm, a class-X felony, in connection with the armed robbery Thursday morning. Police said video showed Heflin was armed with a silver handgun when he robbed the bank at gunpoint, and got away with approximately $4000.
38-year-old Brian K. Bowlby is scheduled to stand trial in Hamilton County later this month in a second sexual assault case. He is currently serving a 270-year prison term for multiple convictions of predatory criminal sexual assault. In the latest case, Bowlby is accused of sexually assaulting a female who was nine-years-old at the time when he lived in the Hamilton County village of Dale. Prosecutors allege the sexual contact took place over the summer of 2005. In the pending Hamilton County case, States Attorney Justin Hood admitted it appeared there would be no reason to prosecute Bowlby, given the fact he won’t be eligible for parole until the year 2240. Jury selection in the Hamilton County trial is set to begin October 28th.
Motorists in Illinois will be able to legally drive 70 mph on interstates in just over two months, but it is not clear which interstates are covered by the change. A provision allowing certain counties to keep speeds lower is creating confusion. The bill’s primary sponsor, Senator Jim Oberweis, is scheduled to meet with transportation officials next week to clear up any questions about the measure.
The Illinois State Board of Education is telling schools across the state to be “very conservative” when it comes to putting together their budgets for the next school year. They say more state funding cuts may be on the horizon. The state board is warning districts they may only receive 85 percent of the normal state aid payments. This year, districts are receiving around 89 percent of the normal funding.
The Fairfield Community High School Board voted Thursday night to consolidate the jobs of Superintendent and Principal starting the 2014-2015 school year. The jobs will be combined following the retirement of current Supt. David Savage. Board members say the move could save the district as much as $70,000 a year. A committee has been formed to come up with a list of traits and qualities the new principal/superintendent must possess. The vote to consolidate the jobs was unanimous with board member J.C. McDuffee absent.
FCHS board members are questioning why FCHS math scores are so low. Math performance is measured by the PSAE exam. The percentage of FCHS students meeting or exceeding state standards in mathematics stands at 38.8 percent. That is compared to the state average of 51.6%. School officials say that a number of programs have been implemented to address the problem.
The mayor of Bridgeport, Ill. has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges of mail fraud and obstruction of justice. Max R. Schauf, 56 has also been ordered to pay $54,288 in restitution to the city. His co-defendant, Paul R. Kramer of Vincennes, IN has entered a guilty plea to a charge of lying to an FBI agent. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 31.
The Fairfield Lions Club will hold its annual Candy Day event this Saturday, collecting money for various Lions Club programs, including screening units for hearing and vision.
The 11th annual ARF Car, Truck and Bike show is this Sunday on the courthouse square in downtown Fairfield. Registration will be from 9 until noon. Matt Kinney will be serving BBQ and “Deuce” Garrett will provide the music. Proceeds will help ARF end pet overpopulation by offering spay/neuter coupons to low-income pet guardians and feral cat caregivers in Wayne County.
A man armed with a small handgun robbed the Old National Bank in Harrisburg, Ill. this morning. Harrisburg police say the gunmen entered the bank at 9:09 a.m. and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash. No shots were fired and no one was injured.The suspect was described as a white male, between 6’ and 6’2” tall wearing a baseball cap. Weighing between 190 and 220 pounds, the suspect has a goatee, police said. Police report the suspect displayed a silver pistol and demanded money. The robber exited the bank with the stolen loot in a plastic Wal-Mart shopping bag. The bank is located on Rollie Moore Drive in Harrisburg, which is near the Harrisburg Super Wal-Mart store.
The Fairfield Community High School Board meets tonight for their regularly scheduled meeting. On the agenda is a proposal to combine the positions of Superintendent and Principal starting the 2014-2015 school year. Currently, the district is served by Supt. David Savage and Principal Jill Fulkerson.
The Cisne FFA has been presented a $500 donation from Murphy Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods. The donation will be used to help sponsor the upcoming National FFA convention for approximately 70 students.
The Cisne FFA Varsity Quiz Bowl team of Noah Barnard, Noah Conard, Audrey Kelly, Seth Mayes and River Williams finished second among ten teams in the Section 23 Varsity Quiz Bowl held at Wayne City High School. A total of 24 Cisne FFA members also participated in the Leadership Training School.
Illinois is one of six states chosen for a special program to help military veterans make the transition to civilian jobs. The program eases licensing requirements for military medics to become licensed practical nurses or emergency medical technicians and aids ex-military police officers in their quests to join civilian police forces.
Illinois wildlife officials say the number of deer that have died from a viral disease spread by biting gnats has fallen dramatically this year. Through the end of September, officials recorded 403 deer deaths as a result of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease or EHD. That compares to more than 2,000 probable EHD deaths last year.
Gov. Pat Quinn has announced that more than $5 million will be allocated for fixing local infrastructure in Southern Illinois. For Wayne County, over $347,000 has been allocated. In White County, $269,000 has been set aside with $195,000 allocated for Hamilton County.
A Harrisburg high school teacher faces a formal charge of aggravated assault after he allegedly pulled a gun on a woman in the drive-thru of a McDonald’s restaurant in Harrisburg. 61-year-old Larry Luna allegedly became impatient because the woman ahead of him was taking too long to place her order. Luna teaches Spanish at the Harrisburg High School. The incident happened on Sunday. Luna was charged on Tuesday.
Funeral services are pending for widely known commercial fisherman Johnny Farmer of Grayville. Farmer died Tuesday morning from an apparent heart attack. He and his wife Sue Ann operated the Hard Times Fish Market and Farmer’s Fish House Restaurant in Grayville for many years. The Cook Funeral Chapel in Grayville is in charge of the arrangements.
Fairfield Community High School is hosting a college and career fair for students and their parents next Tuesday, Oct. 22 from 1 – 4 in the East Gymnasium of the high school. Representatives from several colleges and universities, trade schools and the military will be on hand to provide information to students.
Registration is underway for ARF’s (Animals Requesting Friends) 11th annual Car, Truck and Bike Show slated for this Sunday on the Wayne County Courthouse Square in downtown Fairfield. Registration will be from 9 until noon Sunday – rain or shine. A pre-registration form can be printed out from ARF’s website – arfcares.org.