Headlines for Friday, January 8th

A law enforcement coalition of the Illinois Sheriff’s Association, Chiefs of Police, Fraternal Order of Police, and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 have issued a statement opposing a proposed House Bill calling for sweeping and unfunded police reform. The coalition says it wants to make the profession more transparent and accountable, but the proposed bill is not the way to make the changes. A copy of the coalition’s statement and a 15-point plan of its own can be found in the following file: LE-Coalition-fact-sheet-for-MEMBERS-FINAL-1-4-2021

39-year-old Jason C. Hatrak was taken to Fairfield Memorial Hospital yesterday and issued a notice to appear in court for a charge of criminal damage to property over $500. He is accused of leaving his vehicle in the middle of a county highway due to a lack of gas, causing an accident, and kicking the door of a Cisne resident’s vehicle.

Illinois State Police District 19 has released its activity and enforcement figures for the calendar year 2020. The district recorded 14,012 incidents in the year, and it issued 3,378 citations and 4,721 written warnings for the “Fatal Four” violations of speeding, DUI, failure to wear a seatbelt, and distracted driving. Troopers investigated 395 crashes and seven fatal crashes.

The Fairfield Lions Club plans to collect Christmas lights that no longer work tomorrow from 9 to noon at the west side of the Fairfield First United Methodist Church. It will also accept donations of eyeglasses, hearing aids, empty ink cartridges, cell phones, soda tabs, and keys. Items will be recycled, with proceeds used to help fund programs across the state.

Wayne County Board Chairman Bruce Reeves says the county hasn’t heard the cost of purchasing the old People’s National Bank building for use by the county; with Andrew Gifford also seeking to use the property for a hotel and business center, the bank is weighing its options for sale. Reeves says the courthouse faces drainage and storage problems, and, whether it pays to remediate the courthouse or move, the county must take action soon.

The Wayne County Health Department announced one new confirmed case of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing its total to 1,281; 112 cases were active, including three hospitalizations. No new cases were reported for Edwards County on coronavirus.illinois.gov. Hamilton County announced 23 new cases and one death, and it said 15 of the cases were connected to a long-term care facility. The state Department of Public Health announced 8,757 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 yesterday and 176 additional deaths. Statewide totals sat at 1,008,045 cases and 17,272 deaths. The Southern Region had a positivity rate of 11.2 percent on January 4th, down from 11.5 percent on the 3rd. 1-7-2021-WCHD-New-COVID-19-and-Probable-Case-Press-Release

The murder cases for Olney residents Rick Meador, Tara Haws, and Dale Boatman, Jr., have reportedly been delayed. Meador is accused of fatally shooting 19-year-old Kyle Johnson in September, and his pre-trial conference was continued to March 18th. Haws and Boatman also face charges connected to the incident and are scheduled for conferences on February 4th.

The Fairfield FFA Alumni will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 14th, in the Fairfield Community High School Agriculture Shop. Alumni are scheduled to discuss their annual scholarship fundraiser and FFA events. Members at the meeting will be asked to wear face coverings, and social distancing will be observed.

State Representatives Ann Williams, Stephanie Kifowit, and Kathleen Willis are expected to challenge Mike Madigan for the position of Speaker of the House in the Illinois General Assembly. Democrats will have 73 votes in the 102nd General Assembly, and Madigan needs 60 to be reelected speaker; at least 19 Democrats have publicly said they will not support him for another term. Madigan has served as House Speaker for all but two years since 1983.

House Republicans have offered a plan to draw new legislative districts in Illinois. Boundaries will be set across the state this year based on 2020 Census Data, and Republican representatives say they want an independent commission to be charged with the task instead of lawmakers. That commission would be made up of 11 members, and seven would have to approve the new map. Public hearings would be held before and after the map is drawn to keep the process transparent.

Governor Pritzker says the state is expanding assistance to child care providers for low-income families. He says an additional $20 million will be used to cover all eligible days of payments for the child care assistance program through February, regardless of attendance numbers. More details can be found on the Illinois Department of Human Services website.

River stages as of this morning:  the Little Wabash east of Fairfield stands at 20.20 feet, above the 17 ft. flood stage. Meanwhile, the Skillet Fork at Wayne City has a reading of 5.81 feet (flood stage is 15 ft.). The Little Wabash below Clay City is at 8.80 feet (flood stage is 18 ft.). Bonpas Creek at Browns reads 2.92 feet, and the Little Wabash at Main Street in Carmi reads 18.05 feet. The Wabash River at Mt. Carmel sits at 12.39 feet.

Today’s crude oil price is $43.75, unchanged from yesterday. The February crude oil price is $51.06, down $0.03 from yesterday morning.