Headlines for Thursday, August 13th

There has been work at the new Casey’s location in downtown Fairfield, but city officials have not received any official release that construction at the new site is underway. Their assumption is the work is simply a response to flooding complaints from neighboring businesses, though Mayor Brent Maguire said earlier this week that Casey’s still intended to build in the future.

“The Growing Season,” a biography of Wayne County’s Sarah Frey, has been released by Ballantine Books and is available on Amazon. Frey penned the story documenting her rise from poverty to become the CEO of her family’s business, and the effort has earned favorable reviews from some of the giants of the publishing world, including The New York Times.

Jim Morris was sworn in as Fire Chief at the McLeansboro City Council meeting on Tuesday. He replaces LeRoy Browning, who had served in the position since 2003. The council also heard an update on the city’s water tower project. Work is reportedly over halfway finished, and the council approved the latest payments required for the project.

Illinois State Police responded to a motorcycle accident in Harrisburg last night. 44-year-old Jason D. Reynolds reportedly struck a ditch and overturned, causing him to be ejected from the vehicle. State police say he was transported to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced the Illinois Department of Human Services has extended its deadline for Illinoisans to apply for nutrition benefits to August 31st. Eligible residents can receive food benefits totaling $342 per eligible student under the Illinois Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program. More information on the program may be found at https://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=124142.

School begins tomorrow for Fairfield Public School District 112. Superintendent Dr. Scott England says new thermal imaging thermometers have been installed to quickly monitor all people who enter the schools, and he says meals will not be available for distance learners tomorrow. However, meals should be available for pickup in subsequent weeks.

The Edwards County Health Office announced one new case of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the county’s total to 27. 10 cases were active and in isolation at home. Hamilton County announced three new cases to reach 38 total with six active, including one hospitalization. No new cases were announced in Wayne County yesterday. The state Department of Public Health announced 1,645 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday afternoon and 16 additional deaths. Statewide totals sat at 198,593 cases and 7,672 deaths. The preliminary statewide positivity rate for August 5th-11th was 4.1 percent. The Southern Region’s rate was 7.3 percent on August 9th.

The Wayne County Board will meet tonight at 7 in the upstairs courtroom of the Wayne County Courthouse. The Wayne County Housing Authority is set to ask for the appointment of Dixie Locke as commissioner, and it will also hear a request for a Resolution of Support from the Greater Wabash Regional Planning Commission.

The Fairfield Park Board will meet tonight at 6. After a report from Park Superintendent Chris Jenkins and a financial report, the board will move to its only item of listed business, which deals with repairs to the tennis courts in Fairfield.

Illinois Farm Bureau Senior Economist Mike Doherty says low interest rates are likely to keep farmland values and cash rents relatively constant for the near future. Last week, the National Agricultural Statistics Service at USDA released its land values 2020 summary; it said Illinois cropland averaged $7,300 per acre, which is the same as one year ago.

The state is awarding the first round of Business Interruption Grants. $46 million in BIG grants were released to more than 2,600 businesses, including salons, gyms, and restaurants. They ranged from $10,000 to $20,000 and can be used for things like payroll, utilities, equipment, and PEE for employees. More grants are expected to be awarded in subsequent rounds, and more information may be found at dceo.illinois.gov.

A partnership between Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the State of Illinois will provide about 1,500 students more than two million dollars in emergency relief due to financial hardships caused by the pandemic. Each of the students will receive about $1,400 through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, and the funds can be used to pay past-due bursar accounts, or for technology needs or other unexpected costs resulting from the pandemic.

River stages as of this morning:  the Little Wabash east of Fairfield stands at 22.22 feet, above the 17 ft. flood stage. Meanwhile, the Skillet Fork at Wayne City has a reading of 6.60 feet (flood stage is 15 ft.). The Little Wabash below Clay City is at 8.37 feet (flood stage is 18 ft.). Bonpas Creek at Browns reads 2.02 feet, and the Little Wabash at Main Street in Carmi reads 21.11 feet. The Wabash River at Mt. Carmel sits at 5.45 feet.

Today’s crude oil price is $35.75, up $1.25 from yesterday. The September crude oil price is $42.56, up $0.58 from yesterday morning.