Headlines for Wednesday, October 14th

24-year-old Brodey I. Murbarger had his first appearance in Wayne County Circuit Court yesterday. He was advised of the charges against him, including three counts of first-degree murder, one count of concealment of a homicidal death, and two counts of home invasion; Heidi Hoffee was appointed as his public defender. Arraignment has been scheduled for 9 a.m. on October 27th.

26-year-old Trask C. Smith and 28-year-old Cody R. McKinney were booked in the Wayne County Jail recently. Smith was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, and McKinney was arrested on a Wayne County failure to appear warrant for burglary and possession of meth. They were held in the jail, pending the posting of their respective bonds.

A third crew of linemen personnel from Wayne-White Electric Cooperative has successfully returned home from Louisiana. Travis Schilling, Todd Robertson, Colton Johnson, and Craig Rennier spend nearly two weeks continuing the efforts to restore electricity to thousands of homes and businesses that were still without power from Hurricane Laura in late August. Wayne-White has sent a total of 20 different employees to the area over the past few months.

From left: Travis Schilling, Todd Robertson, Colton Johnson, and Craig Rennier

After a recent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, self-response and field data collection operations for the 2020 Census will conclude tomorrow. Officials said in a release that well over 99.9 percent of housing units have been accounted for. Internet self-response on 2020census.gov will be available until 11:59 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time, or 4:59 a.m. Central Time.

Wayne County Treasurer Donna Masterson reminds the public October 30th is the due date for the first installment of property taxes. Due to social distancing requirement, she asks people to consider remote payment options, such as the drop box on the west side of the courthouse or US Mail. A tax payment postmarked on the due date will be considered on-time.

The Fairfield Coin Club held its annual meeting Sunday and awarded two $500 scholarships to Frontier Community College to Blake Haile and Kateland Hunt. The scholarships and show book this year were dedicated in honor of James Isle, who has been a club member since 1973. Chase Young was the winner of this year’s penny stacking contest.

From left: Blake Haile, Kateland Hunt, James Isle, Roberta Marshel

The Fairfield City Council met last night and approved a special exception for an R-2 Zone, allowing an older mobile home on Clarence Avenue to be replaced with a newer one. A public hearing was also held regarding the annexation of the Wayne County Fairgrounds, which would allow the city’s two TIF districts to touch. No action was taken on the latter hearing.

In other council business, fines for nuisances on private property were increased to a minimum of $75. Interim Mayor Gary Moore also announced the Veterans Day Parade had received approval from the state, opening the possibility for a Christmas Parade. Mayor Moore said he had reached out to civic groups and hopes to find a sponsor.

ABC is reportedly working on a prime-time network television adaptation of Wayne County native Sarah Frey’s book, The Growing Season. Frey says she has maintained co-executive producer status, and she says work has been underway behind-the-scenes for some time. She hopes to have a Pilot in January, and, if picked up, the show could be on air in 12 to 18 months.

The Wayne County Health Department announced five new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the county’s total to 391; 77 cases were active, including seven hospitalizations. The state’s Southern Region had its positivity rate hit eight percent for the first time on October 10th; three straight days at or above the eight percent threshold would result in additional mitigation efforts. Edwards and Wabash counties announced three new cases each, Clay County added eight and announced three deaths with another two under investigation, and Jefferson and Marion counties added nine cases each. The state Department of Public Health announced 2,851 new cases of COVID-19 and 29 additional deaths. Statewide totals sat at 324,743 cases and 9,026 deaths.

Dry weather again gave farmers plenty of time in the fields; according to the latest statewide crop report, nearly the entire week was suitable for fieldwork, with most areas seeing very little rain. 95 percent of corn was mature, and 45 percent had been harvested. 95 percent of soybeans were dropping leaves, and 56 percent had been harvested. 46 percent of winter wheat had been planted, and average statewide topsoil moisture declined to nine percent very short, 36 percent short, 54 percent adequate, and one percent surplus.

39-year-old Mt. Vernon resident Charles Whipps was reportedly killed after a two-vehicle crash on Interstate 57 Monday night. Reports indicate he struck the rear of a vehicle driven by 25-year-old Samantha Marshall and overturned in the median. No injuries were reported in Marshall’s vehicle, and no charges were filed.

River stages as of this morning:  the Little Wabash east of Fairfield stands at 3.99 feet, below the 17 ft. flood stage. Meanwhile, the Skillet Fork at Wayne City has a reading of 4.87 feet (flood stage is 15 ft.). The Little Wabash below Clay City is at 3.90 feet (flood stage is 18 ft.). Bonpas Creek at Browns reads 0.65 feet, and the Little Wabash at Main Street in Carmi reads 3.19 feet. The Wabash River at Mt. Carmel sits at 2.44 feet.

Today’s crude oil price is $33.25, up $0.75 from yesterday. The November crude oil price is $40.02, up $0.41 from yesterday morning.