Headlines for Thursday, January 14th

The Wayne Fire Protection District responded to a fire at the Knapp Citgo building southeast of Wayne City yesterday afternoon. It is believed the fire started from an electrical problem, and the interior of the building and its roof sustained some fire and water damage. No injuries were reported, and the station is closed today.

31-year-old Fairfield resident Joey L. Deckard was arrested yesterday on a charge of domestic battery. He is accused of throwing multiple items at a woman, punching her, and hitting her face. Deckard was arrested without incident and was booked in the Wayne County Jail, where he awaits an appearance before a judge to set bond.

The Wayne County Board will meet tonight at 7 in the upstairs courtroom of the Wayne County Courthouse. It is scheduled to fill the board vacancies of the resigned Shirley MacDavid and for districts that had no candidates in the November election by nomination from party chairpersons. It is also scheduled to enter executive session at 7:30 to discuss personnel.

The Fairfield Park Board will meet tonight at 6. After a report from Park Superintendent Chris Jenkins, the board is scheduled to hear from Dustin Smith of Concrete Evolutions regarding a pool deck bid. Smith has been on the agenda for three months in a row but was unable to attend the previous two meetings. The board is also scheduled to open bids for a golf course mower.

Fairfield Memorial Hospital has released its weekly expansion update. Drywall work for framing on the third floor was nearly finished this week, and spray fireproofing is ongoing on the second floor. Weather permitting, the drywall contractor should continue with interior stud framing on the second floor next week, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing contractors will continue on their third floor projects, as well.

The Illinois General Assembly passed a criminal justice omnibus yesterday morning that would end cash bail in 2023, mandate all agencies have body cameras by 2025, and allow people in custody to have three phone calls within three hours of being taken into custody. The portion of the bill that ended qualified immunity for police was removed, though a task force looking into the issue will be formed.

The Wayne County Health Department announced nine new confirmed cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing its total to 1,340; 98 cases were active, including two hospitalizations. Edwards County reported 22 new cases from last Thursday to yesterday and one death. It had 466 cases, with 32 active, and seven COVID-related deaths. Hamilton County reported six new cases yesterday and its 17th COVID-related death. The state Department of Public Health announced 5,862 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 yesterday and 97 additional deaths. Statewide totals sat at 1,046,030 cases and 17,840 deaths. 1-13-2021-WCHD-New-COVID-19-and-Probable-Case-Press-Release

Regions of Illinois successfully containing the coronavirus may be able to ease up on restrictions tomorrow. The entire state has been under Tier 3 mitigations since late November, but, should the Southern Region maintain ICU bed availability over 20 percent for another day, it will meet the metrics needed to go back to Tier 2 mitigations. Metrics needed to move back to Tier 2 include a positivity rate under 12 percent for three straight days, greater than 20 percent availability for ICU and hospital bed availability for three straight days, and declining COVID hospitalization in seven of the past 10 days.

The Fairfield Public School District 112 Board of Education met Monday night and approved a resolution providing for the issuance of working cash bonds. This was the final step in a two-month process; current outstanding bonds were refinanced, and new bonds were sold off for a total of $2.5 million in working cash bonds. The board also voted to make a $350 donation to the Junior Achievement Program.

Michael Madigan is no longer the Speaker of the Illinois House and Representative Chris Welch made history yesterday as the first Black person elected to the post. Madigan had served in the role for 36 of the past 38 years, but Welch won the post over House Minority Leader Jim Durkin by a 70-44 vote. Madigan thanked members of the House Democratic Caucus for their faith in him over the years, and he said he is confident Illinois remains in good hands.

In addition to the naming of a new speaker, a new Illinois General Assembly was sworn in yesterday afternoon. Senate President Don Harmon says lawmakers have a lot of work to do with the pandemic continuing and the state facing a massive budget deficit. Democrats hold a supermajority in both the Senate and the House, and Republicans say they want to improve the business climate in Illinois and get government spending under control.

River stages as of this morning:  the Little Wabash east of Fairfield stands at 8.37 feet, below the 17 ft. flood stage. Meanwhile, the Skillet Fork at Wayne City has a reading of 5.45 feet (flood stage is 15 ft.). The Little Wabash below Clay City is at 6.65 feet (flood stage is 18 ft.). Bonpas Creek at Browns reads 2.23 feet, and the Little Wabash at Main Street in Carmi reads 6.59 feet. The Wabash River at Mt. Carmel sits at 7.10 feet.

Today’s crude oil price is $46.00, down $0.25 from yesterday. The February crude oil price is $52.81, down $0.60 from yesterday morning.