Headlines for Friday, July 16th

The Wayne City School Board unanimously passed a reopening draft recommending, but not requiring masks be worn for the upcoming year. Per federal law, they will be required for anyone, staff or student, using school transportation. Remote learning will only be available for those in quarantine who have not been vaccinated.

Two people were sentenced in Wayne County Circuit Court yesterday via Zoom. 46-year-old Fairfield resident Christopher M. Black pleaded guilty to a count of violation of an order of protection, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced to one year conditional discharge and time served. 50-year-old Carlyle resident Stephen D. Whitaker, Sr., pleaded guilty to a count of domestic battery, also a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced to one year probation. The two were also ordered to pay fines and court costs.

54-year-old Mill Shoals resident Sherman D. Griswold was arrested by Wayne County deputies yesterday afternoon on a Wayne County warrant for leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury and driving with a suspended license. He was held in the Wayne County Jail, pending the posting of $7,520 bond.

Ag producers and landowners in Illinois can apply for the Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands signup until August 20th. The USDA updated signup options this year to provide greater incentives for producers and increased the program’s conservation and climate benefits, including establishing a minimum rental rate of $15 per acre, benefitting 1,300 counties.

White County Farm Bureau members are invited to its annual Appreciation Lunch Tuesday. The pork chop meal will be served from 11 to 1 in the Floral Hall at the White County Fairgrounds in Carmi. Members can pick up their Centennial History Booklet at the event, and those who RSVP by calling 382-8512 will be eligible for door prizes.

The Illinois Department of Revenue is sending out thousands of tax refunds to people who received unemployment benefits. Spokesperson Maura Kownacki says quite a few people will receive an automatic refund, thanks to a provision of the American Rescue Plan Act. About 3,300 people who filed paper returns will need to submit an amended return to get the refund, and the state will notify those who are impacted.

The Fairfield Community High School Board of Education met last night and unanimously approved a tentative Return to School Plan, including a recommendation saying masks can be worn but will not be required. The school had yet to receive guidance about athletics or quarantine procedures. In personnel moves, Justin Townsend was named Athletic Director, replacing Bobby Wells, who will assume additional administrative duties. Fall coaches were unanimously rehired, as well, and a list can be found in the following document: FCHS-Fall-2021-Coaches

Fairfield Memorial Hospital says a new Orthopedic Surgical Clinic will begin seeing patients August 2nd in the FMH Medical Arts Complex Suite E in Fairfield. The team will see patients in that location until their new offices in the hospital expansion addition are completed, and appointments can be made by calling 847-4282. Services to be offered include, but not limited to: total knee replacement, total hip replacement, total shoulder replacement, shoulder arthroscopic procedures, pediatric fracture fixation, carpal tunnel release, management of diabetic foot wounds, joint injections, casting/splinting of non-operative fractures, and a variety of foot and ankle/lower extremity procedures. FMH invites the public to attend a Meet and Greet for the Blanks on Wednesday (July 21) from 4 to 6 in the Medical Arts Complex Education Room. Light refreshments will be served, and promotional gifts will be given to attendees. As a reminder, due to IDPH and CDC regulations for healthcare organizations, attendees will be required to wear face coverings and go through a screening station.

The Wayne County Fair wraps up this weekend, and, with 4-H awards and the livestock auction in the books, only grandstand events and the carnival rides remain. Tonight’s event is the rodeo at 7, and Fair President Gary Carter says it will be a new event this year with bronco riding and mutton busting, but no calf roping. Tomorrow’s event will be the popular demolition derby, also set to begin at 7.

Illinois Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Paul Schimpf says the state is in need of a Parent’s Bill of Rights. He says parents, not the government, should have the final authority and responsibility to make decisions concerning their child. He also says he has concerns about proposals to close coal plants by 2035, as he thinks that would lead to rolling blackouts without significantly impacting the climate.

The Hamilton County Health Department announced 10 new cases of COVID-19 since Monday, bringing its total to 832; two people were hospitalized, and 11 were in isolation. Jefferson County added seven cases yesterday. The state Department of Public Health announced 861 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths. Statewide totals sat at 1,399,270 cases and 23,350 deaths. The Southern Region had a seven-day positivity rate of 6.3 percent on the 12th, up from 5.4 percent on the 11th. According to dph.illinios.gov, as of yesterday afternoon, Wayne County’s positivity rate from July 1st through the 12th was 3.1 percent with 254 total tests. Edwards County had a rate of 14 percent with 93 tests.

Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed a package of new reform laws aimed at protecting the most vulnerable people in the Illinois Justice System. He says the state is now the first in the nation to ban police from using deception when interrogating young people. Other laws signed by the governor provide more protections for participants in restorative justice programs and create a resentencing task force to study ways to reduce the Illinois prison population.

Amtrak resumes full service next week. Service level had been cut in half during the pandemic, but they will resume normal operations Monday, per Illinois Department of Transportation Spokesperson Paul Wappel. Routes include three daily roundtrips from Chicago to Carbondale, five between Chicago and St. Louis, and two between Chicago and Quincy.

River stages as of this morning:  the Little Wabash east of Fairfield stands at 21.69 feet, above the 17 ft. flood stage. Meanwhile, the Skillet Fork at Wayne City has a reading of 6.57 feet (flood stage is 15 ft.). The Little Wabash below Clay City is at 19.49 feet (flood stage is 18 ft.). Bonpas Creek at Browns reads 2.47 feet, and the Little Wabash at Main Street in Carmi reads 17.63 feet. The Wabash River at Mt. Carmel sits at 11.31 feet.

Today’s crude oil price is $64.75, down $1.50 from yesterday. The August crude oil price is $71.58, down $0.22 from yesterday morning.