Headlines for Friday, January 14th

The Greater Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce says it is accepting nominations for the annual Business of the Year and Community Service awards through February 4th. Nominations can be made by calling the Chamber at 842-6116, writing it at 121 East Main Street, through the Fairfield IL Chamber of Commerce Facebook page, emailing chamber@fairfieldilcitygov.us, or in person at the Chamber office. The Annual Chamber Dinner is scheduled for March 1st.

71-year-old Equality resident Larry Grabis was killed in a single-vehicle accident Wednesday night on Illinois 142 in Saline County. State police say he was traveling southeast near Willow Lake Road in a 2014 Volkswagen Passat, left the roadway, traveled through a field, and struck a row of trees. The Saline County Coroner pronounced him deceased on-scene, and the ISP says no further information is available at this time.

19-year-old Albion resident Jaxin W. Lee was sentenced to prison Monday in White County Circuit Court. Judge T. Scott Webb sentenced him to three years in the IDOC on a Class 4 felony count of domestic battery, to be followed by four years mandatory supervised release. He had probation revoked in the case before the new sentence was issued. Public Defender Brian Shinkle represented Lee.

The Office of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White says driver’s services facilities will remain closed for one more week. Spokesperson Henry Haupt says the decision was made out of an abundance of caution as the pandemic continues. Facilities are now set to reopen on either the 24th or 25th, depending on their normal operating schedule.

Illinois’ Second Judicial Circuit says Melissa A. Morgan was recently elected as its Chief Judge for a two-year term, which began January 1st. She was elected by her fellow circuit judges and succeeds the Honorable Thomas J. Tedeschi, Franklin County Circuit Judge, who concluded his tenure as Chief Judge on December 31st.

Republican Tom Demmer has announced a run for State Treasurer. Democrat incumbent Mike Frerichs says, as a member of the House, Demmer voted against financial reforms he supported, including bills forcing life insurance companies to pay death benefits. Frerichs has announced he will seek reelection, and Demmer attacked him for supporting income tax hikes.

The Wayne County Board met last night and opened the meeting with a moment of silence in honor of Deputy Sean Riley. County Highway Engineer Dennis Seidel told board members preliminary paperwork and engineering studies should begin soon to change the intersection at Enterprise Road and Route 161 to a four-way stop. Rebuild Illinois funds will be used for the project, and he anticipates it to get started in late summer. Chairman Amy Pollard also said a plaque honoring Deputy Sean Riley would be placed in the courthouse, and Sheriff Chris Otey thanked board members and county officeholders, along with the public at large, for their support.

The Fairfield Park Board met last night and discussed its splash pad possibilities. Board President Jay Fyie said, since the fall, the district has had about $30,000 in donations come in for the project, even without an official fundraising effort, and he also said the baby pool would likely not be in operation this summer due to concrete issues. Board member Linda Monge has checked on grant possibilities through the county, though not many options presented themselves, but she said she will check with the county Farm Bureau and the Greater Wabash Regional Planning Commission, as well. Meanwhile, the board will continue discussions with Olney and Robinson regarding their proposed and completed splash pads to potentially emulate their process and progress. Monge also plans to begin getting a list of community members interested in joining a committee for the work.

The Wayne County Farm Bureau and FNB will sponsor the 2022 Farm Finance Forum next Friday at the Fairfield First Christian Church. Registration and refreshments will begin at 8:30, and County Farm Bureau Manager Doug Anderson says speakers will kick off at 9. People should RSVP by the end of business today by calling 842-3342 or by going to waynecfb.com/forum. The event is free and open to the public, and the RSVP is merely to get an accurate headcount for a lunch catered by Matt Kinney.

According to the CDC, Wayne County has had 250 COVID-19 cases from the 6th through the 12th, along with six new hospitalizations. Edwards County had 72 cases and no hospitalizations, and Wabash County had 218 cases and six hospitalizations. Hamilton and White counties had 215 and 95 new cases, respectively. All counties were deemed high in community transmission, and the CDC recommends everyone wear a mask in public, indoor settings. As a reminder, local health departments are no longer to issue case numbers, as Illinois has centralized its COVID reporting. The state Department of Public Health announced 37,048 new cases yesterday and 142 additional deaths. Statewide totals sat at 2,560,001 cases and 28,946 deaths. The Southern Region had a seven-day positivity rate of 15.6 percent on the 10th, up from 15.3 percent on the 9th.

The American Red Cross says it is undergoing a national blood crisis, with the worst blood shortage it has seen in over a decade. Recently, it has seen a supply of less than one day of critical blood types and has had to limit blood product distribution to hospitals. Anyone who donates by February will be eligible for a chance to see the Super Bowl live. The next drive in the area will be at the White County Farm Bureau on Monday. More information on that and other drives can be found at redcrossblood.org.

Last year was warmer and wetter than normal in Illinois, according to State Climatologist Trent Ford. The average temperature was 53.7 degrees, making it the 10th warmest year on record in the state. 2021 was the 37th wettest year on record, and the state recorded a preliminary total of about 80 tornados, up from the normal yearly average of about 60.

River stages as of this morning:  the Little Wabash east of Fairfield stands at 17.06 feet, above the 17 ft. flood stage. Meanwhile, the Skillet Fork at Wayne City has a reading of 5.64 feet (flood stage is 15 ft.). The Little Wabash below Clay City is at 8.20 feet (flood stage is 18 ft.). Bonpas Creek at Browns reads 4.04 feet, and the Little Wabash at Main Street in Carmi reads 19.20 feet. The Wabash River at Mt. Carmel sits at 13.48 feet.

Today’s crude oil price is $75.00, down $0.75 from yesterday. The February crude oil price is $82.51, down $0.02 from yesterday morning.