Headlines for Monday, January 17th

Jefferson County Coroner Roger Hayse says 18-year-old Ashley Cheatham and her 14-month-old son were killed as a result of a fire at a home in Mt. Vernon yesterday morning. The boy’s father, Cody Pauling, was burned attempting to reach the other two, and he was eventually transferred to a burn center in Springfield.

The Fairfield Public School District 112 Board of Education will meet tonight at 6 in the Center Street Boardroom. The board is anticipated to hear an update on its Superintendent Search to open reports; in December, it was told compiled results from a community survey regarding the position would be presented tonight.

The American Red Cross and Fairfield Community of Christ Church held a blood drive on Wednesday, sponsored by American Legion Post 176 and Zurliene Enterprises. The Red Cross collected 77 units of blood, above the projected goal of 75. Due to staff shortages, the waits were longer than usual, and the Red Cross thanks all donors for their patience and understanding at the drive.

Chicago officials have reportedly handed out at least 32 citations to businesses failing to enforce the city’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements. An order requiring people to show proof of vaccination in many places took effect on January 3rd; some citations were for failing to develop a written policy on performing the vaccination card checks and enforcing it.

The Illinois Eastern Community College Adult Education program is offering GED classes in a variety of locations as the spring semester begins. Classes are being held at all four IECC locations, as well as in Flora, Albion, Newton, and Lawrenceville. Program Director Angel Maguire says they are also looking to begin a class in Crossville and in the Clay City area. Classes began last Monday, but she says anyone interested in enrolling can do so at any time by calling 847-9160.

The Edwards County Board of Education will meet tonight at 7 in the K-12 Band Room. Members are set to hold a public hearing to hear testimony on a proposed e-learning plan to open the meeting, and action on approving the plan is possible as a matter of old business. In new business, the board is set to discuss maintenance projects, with action possible.

The Albion City Council will meet Wednesday at 7 at City Hall in a Special Meeting. Aldermen will discuss the possible construction of a water filtration plant, as mentioned in the regular meeting earlier this month; they are also scheduled to discuss the press outlet used by the city to update the public, as The Navigator is no longer in operation. Votes are possible on both items, and the meeting is open to the public.

Even as Illinois is in the midst of another surge in COVID-19 cases, the Illinois State Board of Education has cut the recommended quarantine time for teachers and students. Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, isolation and quarantine periods in schools have been cut from 10 to five days, and the change applies to all public and non-public schools serving students in Pre-K through 12th grades. Additionally, students and staff who test positive must continue to wear a mask around other for five additional days after returning to school.

According to the CDC, as of Friday afternoon, 6,170 people in Wayne County were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or 38.1 percent of its population, including 47 percent of people over 18 and 67.6 percent of people over 65. 39.7 percent of fully vaccinated people had been boosted. 37.8 percent of Edwards County residents were fully vaccinated, including nearly 47 percent of those over 18 and 71.6 percent of those over 65. 39.5 percent of vaccinated people had been boosted.

People who received Social Security benefits in 2021 will need an SSA-1099 form this year to show how much they received from Social Security, as well as any voluntary tax withholding. The agency’s Jack Myers says people should get the form in the mail this month. People will not receive the form if they received only Supplemental Security Income benefits in 2021.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has announced a nationwide settlement with one of the largest student lenders in the country. Navient has agreed to pay $1.85 billion over allegations it, previously operating as Sallie Mae, steered student-borrowers to predatory loans for tuition at for-profit colleges. Illinois’s share tops $145 million, with more than 18,000 borrowers set to receive payouts of about $260. Another five thousand will have their debt cancelled.

River stages as of this morning:  the Little Wabash east of Fairfield stands at 10.00 feet, below the 17 ft. flood stage. Meanwhile, the Skillet Fork at Wayne City has a reading of 5.51 feet (flood stage is 15 ft.). The Little Wabash below Clay City is at 7.40 feet (flood stage is 18 ft.). Bonpas Creek at Browns reads 3.09 feet, and the Little Wabash at Main Street in Carmi reads 11.42 feet. The Wabash River at Mt. Carmel sits at 11.46 feet.

Today’s crude oil price is $76.75, up $1.75 from Friday. The February crude oil price is $83.87, up $1.36 from Friday morning.