Headlines for Friday, August 7th

The U.S. Census Bureau has announced it will end all counting efforts for the 2020 Census on September 30th, a month sooner than it had previously announced. As of Tuesday, Wayne County’s self-response rate was 63.6 percent, compared to a rate of 71.9 percent in 2010. The Census may be completed online at 2020census.gov.

55-year-old Fairfield resident Sheila Vaughn was taken to an area hospital after a three-car crash east of Centralia yesterday. Police say 35-year-old Cory Norville crashed into the rear of Vaughn’s car, pushing her into the rear of another car that had stopped on State Route 161 for a turn. Norville was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

Illinois State Police District 19 troopers will conduct an Alcohol Countermeasure Enforcement patrol in Wayne County this month. The project is funded through IDOT. State Police say alcohol and drug impairment is a factor in more than 30 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in Illinois, and there is one alcohol-related traffic fatality every 53 minutes in the United States.

The United Way of South Central Illinois and the City of Fairfield will host a mobile market tomorrow from 10 a.m. to noon on Northeast Third Street by the courthouse. People should enter from East Court Street, stay in their vehicles, and exit onto East Main. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact City Hall at 842-3871.

Energy utility company ComEd has pleaded not guilty to bribery at an arraignment. The plea doesn’t mean ComEd is now saying it did nothing wrong after agreeing to deferred prosecution. That agreement required ComEd to admit wrongdoing, pay a $200 million fine, and cooperate with investigators in an influence-peddling scheme that also implicated Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who has not faced any charges.

The Wayne County Health Department announced two new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the county’s total to 57. 21 cases were active, and two people were hospitalized. Hamilton County announced three new cases yesterday to reach 33 total, and 16 cases were isolating at home. No new cases were announced in Edwards or Marion counties. The state Department of Public Health announced 1,953 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday and 21 additional deaths. Statewide totals sat at 188,424 cases and 7,594 deaths. The positivity rate for the Southern Region of the state was 6.8 percent on August 3rd, the first time it has been below seven percent since July 30th.

Fairfield Mayor Brent Maguire says he will resign as mayor on August 23rd to take a criminal justice teaching position at Oakland City University. He says he is proud of several accomplishments in recent years, including the recent plan for utility rate changes for the city. He also says his replacement would benefit from some form of administrative help.

Grace Milligan and Kyra Wheeler were named Miss and Little Miss Cisne 2020 at the Cisne Reunion last night. Six people entered the Miss Cisne Pageant, and three entered the Little Miss Pageant. The reunion continues tonight with the country music group Borderline taking the stage at 7, and the reunion will conclude tomorrow.

Grace Milligan, daughter of Lee and Emily Milligan of Cisne, and Kyra Wheeler, daughter of Nick and Whitney of Mt Erie

The 101st Annual Bone Gap Chowder will be held tomorrow at the Bone Gap Chowder Grounds. Serving will start at 4 p.m., and, due to COVID-19, this year’s event will be drive-through only. The cost will be $18 per gallon, and people should not bring their own containers. A food-grade container and lid will be provided, and personal containers will not be filled.

The state has found more than 120,000 cases of the unemployment benefit fraud that is plaguing the nation, and Governor J.B. Pritzker says the scheme is likely tied to a prior data breach. Some people have received a debit card with unemployment benefits they never applied for, and the governor says such cards should not be activated. Instead, they should be reported to the Illinois Department of Employment Security at ides.illinois.gov.

Farmer sentiment in July was virtually unchanged from June, according to the latest data from the Ag Economy Barometer. The overall measure read 118, compared to 117 in June, but farmers did become more optimistic about their current farming operations. The barometer is released each month and involves a survey of 400 U.S. ag producers. It is compiled by Purdue University and the CME Group.

River stages as of this morning:  the Little Wabash east of Fairfield stands at 23.96 feet, above the 17 ft. flood stage. Meanwhile, the Skillet Fork at Wayne City has a reading of 6.37 feet (flood stage is 15 ft.). The Little Wabash below Clay City is at 20.09 feet (flood stage is 18 ft.). Bonpas Creek at Browns reads 1.79 feet, and the Little Wabash at Main Street in Carmi reads 20.85 feet. The Wabash River at Mt. Carmel sits at 10.89 feet.

Today’s crude oil price is $35.00, down $0.25 from yesterday. The September crude oil price is $41.83, up $0.11 from yesterday morning.