Headlines for Thursday, February 18th

The Illinois Eastern Community College Board of Trustees met Tuesday and approved the employment of Amanda Kotch as Coordinator of International Students, Athletics, and Student Activity at Frontier Community College, effective today. Trustees also gave notice of intent to renew the contracts of Chancellor Dr. Ryan Gower and its four college presidents, including FCC President Dr. Jay Edgren.

54-year-old Salem resident Besnik Mehmedi was cited for driving too fast for conditions after a Monday afternoon accident at the intersection of East Main and Northeast Second streets in Fairfield. Police say he was unable to stop and struck a vehicle driven by 41-year-old Charles Wilson, causing him to hit a concrete light pole and periodic light pole.

Fairfield police arrested 36-year-old Fairfield resident Tracey L. Glad yesterday morning on a charge of driving under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs. Glad was transported to the Wayne County Jail and held, pending the posting of $320 bond.

36-year-old Flora resident Cody L. Cook was arrested last Wednesday by Clay County deputies on a charge of possession of stolen property. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a burglary to a residence in late November and a second burglary in mid-December, and the arrest was made after an investigation to the matter. Cook was taken to the Clay County Jail and was released after posting $1,500 bond.

December and January were mild, but that obviously hasn’t been the case for this month. Brian Pierce, with the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities, says there are signs warmer temperatures are on the horizon, as a buckle in the jet stream could flatten out toward the end of the month. That would bring temperatures above freezing. Meteorological winter runs December through February.

Wayne City schools will have remote learning today and a remote planning day for staff only tomorrow. Edwards County schools, FCHS, Fairfield 112, New Hope, Jasper, Geff, and North Wayne schools are remote learning today, as well. Albion and West Salem Senior Centers are open for home-delivered and pick-up meals; The Grayville Center is closed through tomorrow, and Fairfield’s is open for in-town delivery only.

Fairfield Memorial Hospital says it will soon be able to offer appointment-only COVID vaccinations for people in Phase 1B. Anyone interested in scheduling an appointment with FMH can call 599-0134, 599-5766, 599-0235, or 599-0160 between 8 and 4 weekdays. Slots for their first round of vaccinations have been filled, but people can call to be put on a stand-by list for when more doses arrive, or if anyone cancels. People don’t have to be a Horizon Healthcare patient to be vaccinated, and FMH appreciates patience and understanding during high-volume call times.

The Wayne County Health Department will hold a drive-through COVID vaccination clinic this Saturday from 8:30 to 11 a.m. The Wayne County Fairgrounds will again be used as a staging area, and people shouldn’t go directly to the department. The clinic is for all Phase 1B individuals; people under 65 with underlying health conditions will join Phase 1B on the 25th and do not yet qualify for this clinic. WCHD-COVID-Advisory-vaccination-clinic-for-1b-02-20-21

The Wabash County Health Department announced three new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing its total to 1,245. No new cases were announced in Edwards County on coronavirus.illinois.gov, and Wayne County did not release an update. The state Department of Public Health announced 1,795 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 yesterday and 23 additional deaths. Statewide totals sat at 1,166,717 cases and 20,057 deaths. The Southern Region had a positivity rate of 2.7 percent on February 14th, down from 2.9 percent on the 13th.

Early voting for the Consolidated Election begins in one week. In the first installment of our Candidate Series on the Community Connection, Fairfield Mayoral Candidate Mike Dreith said his previous roles in higher education, including as President at Frontier Community College, would help him in city government. He also identified several key issues like eliminating the city’s drainage issues, possibly by restoring the lake at Lakeside.

The Village of Cisne asks its residents to set their thermostats below 68 degrees if possible. It also asks they use alternative heating sources like electric heaters if available. Businesses should also turn thermostats down if possible. Officials say more pipelines are instituting restrictions, as storage levels are low, so people should do everything they can to reduce natural gas consumption immediately. If action is taken quickly, the financial impact could be minimized or entirely eliminated. Cisne officials say this is an unprecedented event in the natural gas business, but people just have to make it through the next few days.

Governor J.B. Pritzker has proposed a more than $41 billion budget for the next fiscal year. It doesn’t raise taxes, but does rely on federal relief, and it also spends less than last year, institutes a hiring freeze, fully funds state government pensions, and closes some corporate tax breaks. The governor says federal relief money should also go toward small business grants, and he urges lawmakers to pass ethics reforms and pledge $60 million to help the Illinois Department of Employment Security speed up benefit claims processing.

River stages as of this morning:  the Little Wabash east of Fairfield stands at 9.01 feet, below the 17 ft. flood stage. Meanwhile, the Skillet Fork at Wayne City has a reading of 5.49 feet (flood stage is 15 ft.). The Little Wabash below Clay City is at 7.22 feet (flood stage is 18 ft.). Bonpas Creek at Browns reads 2.62 feet, and the Little Wabash at Main Street in Carmi reads 8.57 feet. The Wabash River at Mt. Carmel sits at 5.14 feet.

Today’s crude oil price is $54.25, up $1.25 from yesterday. The March crude oil price is $61.53, up $1.03 from yesterday morning.