Headlines for Wednesday, January 12th

The Wayne County Farm Bureau is accepting applications for its Community Impact Program. Proposals will be accepted through March 1. The submitting organization or individual must be based in Wayne County or have operations in the county. Grant requests should range from $250 – $2,500. Grant awards will be announced around March 15th, with project completion to occur by August 15th.

Wayne County deputies have released details on a single-vehicle crash that occurred Thursday morning between Geff and Johnsonville. At approximately 8:15, deputies say 32-year-old Cisne resident Tristan N. Williams was eastbound in a 2011 Chevy. He lost control on a snow-covered county roadway, ran off the road, hit an embankment, crossed the road, and hit another embankment. North Wayne EMS responded, and Williams was taken to Fairfield Memorial Hospital. A tow truck was called to the scene, and the vehicle sustained over $1,500 damage.

21-year-old Clay City resident Kylee B. Robertson was sentenced yesterday in Wayne County Circuit Court. She pleaded guilty to a Class 4 felony count of possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to 24 months special section probation plus time served. Two other counts were dismissed per her plea, and Robertson was ordered to complete 30 hours of public service work. She was also ordered to pay $2,426 in fines and court costs.

31-year-old James Dierkes, a former Illinois State Police Trooper, pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal sexual assault yesterday in Fayette County Court. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, to be served at 85 percent. He was charged in two separate cases accusing him of incidents while he worked at Okaw Area Vocational Center in Vandalia in 2016. He later left that district to join the ISP and was fired upon being charged.

Meteorologist Jim Rasor says milder temperatures will dominate the middle portion of this week as the area continues to see weather fluctuations. Temperatures could hit 50-plus today. He says the swings are likely to continue in the near future, but the end of January could be a bit cooler. February predictions continue to vary.

The Fairfield City Council met last night and unanimously approved a change in fees for video gaming machines in Fairfield. Under prior law, municipalities could charge a maximum license fee of $25 per machine per year, but a recent update in the law allows them to charge $250 per machine. The licensing period was also changed to coincide with the City’s fiscal year. The council heard concerns from Sheila Titzer regarding the appointments of Police Chief Richie Fulkerson and Assistant Chief Keith Colclasure, and Alderman Gary Moore questioned Chief Fulkerson’s fulfillment of residency requirements to hold his job. Aldermen entered executive session after discussing the matter, but no action was taken.

Mayor Mike Dreith recognized Gayla Grote last night with his quarterly SMILE Award. He says the Grotes decorate their home for the holidays, bringing in hundreds of visitors to the City. Last Halloween, they hosted over 2,000 Trick-or-Treaters, and he says the family is an example of how a single home can transform a community.

In his report at last night’s meeting, Mayor Dreith said the county Humane Society sent out a new contract in December but did not give notice they wanted out of the existing contract, which pays them $1,500 per month. The new proposal asked for $3,100 per month and maintained the Society would not deal with biting dogs or come after business hours on weekdays or on weekends. The mayor consulted with the police committee chair, contacted the Society Representative, and sent notice this week the City is ending the contract.

The Wayne County Health Department is reminding the public of changes to contact tracing and COVID-19 case reporting. Effective tomorrow, all cases will be sent to the IDPH Surge Center to help automate the information provided so people have quick access to it. As of December 28th, all cases receive an automated message informing them of quarantine and isolation information. The center will prioritize cases and calls, but, if people don’t receive a call, it doesn’t mean they don’t need to quarantine or isolate. People should follow current recommendations, and they can be found at https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/confirmed-or-possible-covid-19.html Contact-Tracing-Centralization-Press-Release-1-2022-Wayne-County

The Egyptian Health Department reported 32 new cases of COVID-19 in White County yesterday morning, bringing its total to 3,667. Jefferson County reported 70. The state Department of Public Health announced 28,110 new cases yesterday and 92 additional deaths. Statewide totals sat at 2,488,380 cases and 28,660 deaths. The Southern Region had a seven-day positivity rate of 15 percent on the 8th, up from 14.7 percent on the 7th.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall spoke at the Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting in Chicago to close out 2021, and he gave the keynote address at the national meeting in Atlanta on Sunday, highlighting efforts to improve rural broadband. He also spoke on protecting the future of farms and ranches. The AFBF Annual Meeting wraps up today.

A University of Illinois Extension project helps small businesses offer a smoking cessation program to employees. The “Be A Quitter” effort comes at no cost to employers or workers, and it includes live-chat coaching with tobacco treatment experts and nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches, gum, and lozenges. More information can be found at go.illinois.edu/beaquitter.

River stages as of this morning:  the Little Wabash east of Fairfield stands at 20.09 feet, above the 17 ft. flood stage. Meanwhile, the Skillet Fork at Wayne City has a reading of 5.73 feet (flood stage is 15 ft.). The Little Wabash below Clay City is at 9.23 feet (flood stage is 18 ft.). Bonpas Creek at Browns reads 7.61 feet, and the Little Wabash at Main Street in Carmi reads 22.57 feet. The Wabash River at Mt. Carmel sits at 15.03 feet.

Today’s crude oil price is $74.25, up $3.00 from yesterday. The February crude oil price is $81.92, up $2.69 from yesterday morning.