LOCAL NEWS

Local News

February 16, 2011 Local & Area News

(OLNEY)  Southerly winds will pump unseasonably warm and moist air into the Midwest today thru the end of this work week, producing a lot of clouds & a few weak upper level disturbances that could drop some light rain, although most of us will stay dry – then a little cooler for the weekend – listen for updates.

(NEWTON)  Governor Pat Quinn is set to scale back a $13 billion budget deficit when he gives his budget address later today in Springfield – he’s expected to talk about borrowing & bonds, job creation, protecting the state’s most vulnerable people, & budget cuts – it’s Quinn’s first budget address since elected Governor.

(OLNEY)  The 2010 Census data reveals more than 12.8 million people call Illinois home, that’s up 3.3% from the last Census in 2000 – the northern third of the state is the most populated, while Springfield is the largest in the downstate area – the data shows an increase in the number of minorities in the state as well.

(NEWTON)  Hundreds of homeschool advocates crowded the state capitol yesterday, expressing anger over a measure that may force parents to register their children as students with the state – lawmakers say mandatory registration will help gauge student performance & allow the state to assist students that are struggling – there’s currently no way to show student progress for homeschooled children in Illinois.

(OLNEY)  Sheriff Andy Hires has released his department’s activity report for the month of January – a total of 428 complaints were called in – Deputies responded to 11 domestic disputes, 12 burglaries or thefts, and 22 traffic accidents – there were 56 arrests, with 33 warnings issued and 81 warrants processed – the jail processed 61 prisoners with the fine revenue coming in at $11,262 – the Richland Memorial Ambulance Service made 124 runs in January – the Sheriff’s Department received a total of 196 emergency 9-1-1 calls.

(NEWTON)  Sheriff Ed Francis has announced his office will be awarding a $500 scholarship to a student in Jasper County who plans to pursue higher education this academic year – applications are now available at the Sheriff’s Office in Newton, online at www.ilsheriff.org, or at the NCHS financial aid office – all the required paperwork must be turned in by March 11th, three weeks from this Friday – the Illinois Sheriff’s Association will be awarding over $53,000 in college scholarships throughout the state this year.

(OLNEY)  The Richland County Highway Department has placed several of its county-maintained roads under the 10 ton weight limit until further notice – these roads are posted with the “10 ton” weight limit signs – for township road information, contact the respective Road Commissioner : at this time all Olney Township roads are under a 5 ton weight limit & all Preston Township roads are under a 10 ton weight limit, both until further notice : all roads with restricted weight limits are posted with weight limit signs.

REMINDERS
    The St Joseph School will host a fundraising “spaghetti dinner” this Sunday at the Olney VFW, with serving from 11:00 til 1:30 – tickets at the door – proceeds to the 7th & 8th grade trip to Washington DC
    The Effingham County EMA will host a “free” weather spotter class tomorrow in Effingham – the class will take less than three hours to complete – call the EMA offices in Effingham for details
    The ERES 3rd graders will perform their music program tomorrow in the ERES dining hall : students in the classes of Mrs. Erwin, Mrs. Hearn, & Mr. Taylor at 10:00 in the morning : students in the classes of Mrs. Gardener, Mrs. McVicker, & Mrs. Stafford at 2:15 in the afternoon : all are invited
    The next area blood drive is today at the Community Center in Robinson, from 1:00 until 6:00 – all types of blood are very much in need, plus all donors get a “rock & roll” t-shirt this month

February 15, 2011 Local & Area News

(OLNEY)  A high pressure ridge has moved east of the nation’s mid-section and will allow a southerly wind flow, which will bring in warmer air to our region – then a weak upper level disturbance will move thru the area with some patchy drizzle or light rain tomorrow thru Thursday night – stay tuned for weather updates.

(NEWTON)  Illinois State Police Director Jonathan Monken has received a new appointment as Director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency – therefore Interim Director of IEMA, Joseph Klinger, will step back into his old role as Assistant Director – and moving in as Interim Director of the State Police is Patrick Keen – a new State Police Director could be named as early as next month, pending confirmation.

(OLNEY)  Saving the state $12 million a year may seem small in comparison to the massive backlog, but State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is proposing his office merge with the State Comptroller’s office to form the “Comptroller of the Treasury Office” – because it would change the state constitution, the plan would need three-fifths approval from the General Assembly, plus approval from statewide voters in 2012.

(NEWTON)  A lot of questions remain in our State’s Capital as Governor Pat Quinn prepares to deliver his 2011 budget proposals to the General Assembly – with the recently approved tax hikes approved by the Lame Duck Legislature, many expect another round of various cuts from Departments throughout Illinois.

(OLNEY)  The Olney City Council met last night – the Council : agreed to increase the number of full-time firefighter positions from 3 to 4 : also agreed to hire two full-time firefighters, one as a replacement due to retirement & another as a new position : agreed to raise the Olney Fire Chief’s salary effective March 1st : approved a resolution on the Angel of Hope Children’s Garden agreement : accepted the bid of $10,800 from Schrey Systems for the Olney City Hall window replacement project : approved a request from the Olney FFA & the FFA Alumni to construct a new “Welcome to Olney” sign to be placed on Consolidated Grain & Barge property along South Route 130 : the Council’s next regular meeting is February 28th.

(NEWTON)  The Jasper County School District will conduct its annual Preschool Screening for 3 to 5 year old children February 22nd thru 25th, that’s a Tuesday thru Friday, starting one week from today – times will vary each day as the free screenings will help identify children who may need assistance before they start school – the local Head Start program will also be on hand to accept applications, plus additional free screenings by the Birth-to-Three program will be available as well – the screenings will be conducted at the First Baptist Church in Newton – parents or guardians can still call and make an appointment.

(OLNEY)  A meeting of the Joint Review Board will be this afternoon at 4:30 in the Olney City Council Chambers, at Olney City Hall – the purpose of the meeting is to review the State Route 130 Corridor Redevelopment Plan & Project, and to make a recommendation to the Olney City Council – all are invited.

(NEWTON)  Beginning this month, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will contact farmers & ranchers across the nation to conduct the Agricultural Resource Management Survey, which will provide accurate, real-world data that’ll help shape the policies, programs, & issues that affect farmers all over the country – nearly 35,000 producers across America, including 1,745 in Illinois, will be contacted to share their data on operating expenditures, production costs, & household characteristics, with all details to remain confidential – the information will be available online and in print on August 2nd later this year.

(OLNEY)  The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Richland County has its only fundraiser of the year coming up the last two weekends of February at the Olney Bowling Center – teams of five are needed to get pledges & then bowl with a t-shirt, pizza, & drink provided – plus plenty of prizes – call the BBBS office at 392-3863.

REMINDERS
    The St Joseph Church in Olney will host its annual “salad bar luncheon” this Friday from 11:00 til 1:30 in the St Joe Cafeteria – also homemade items for sale – $5 tickets at area banks and the parish office
    The next NCHS “post prom” meeting will be this Thursday night at 6:00 in the Newton Community High School Library – all junior parents and other volunteers are encouraged to attend this meeting
    The next area blood drive will be tomorrow at the Community Center in Robinson, from 1:00 until 6:00 – all types of blood are very much in need, plus all donors get a “rock & roll” t-shirt this month
    A Jasper County Relay For Life committee / team meeting will be held this evening at the Central Christian Church in Newton, starting at 5:30 – all team leaders & committee members are asked to attend
    The Newton Public Library will start another “weight loss competition” today, on this February 15th – to get more information or to signup a 5-person team, call the Library now at 783-8141 – that’s 783-8141
    In Richland County : a 10 ton weight limit is in effect until further notice for all Preston Township roads : a 5 ton weight limit is in effect until further notice for all Olney Township roads : for the other townships in Richland County, contact the respective Road Commissioner – watch for weight limit signs on all roads

February 14, 2011 Local & Area News

(OLNEY)  As a weak cold front moved thru the Midwest overnight, it’s cooler air in place thru tonight, but a southerly wind flow will kick back in by tomorrow night with warmer air returning by midweek thru the end of the work week – maybe some light rain by on Wednesday & Thursday – listen for updates.

(NEWTON)  Illinois’ gas prices are slightly above the national average – Triple-A reports regular prices at the pump average $3.25 a gallon across the state, while the national average is at $3.13 per gallon – that’s about 50 cents above the average this time a year ago – check the prices online at www.GasPrices.com.

(OLNEY)  Despite leaks of possible cuts to the Department of Human Services, Governor Quinn’s office is being tight-lipped about his financial plans for the state – while the recent tax hike is expected add billions of dollars to the state’s bank account, many programs are expected to be cut & trimmed back to save more.

(NEWTON)  In his Week In Review Report, State Senator John O. Jones says tomorrow's annual budget address from the Governor should be one of information as lawmakers look forward to receiving more details on fiscal proposals from the state's executive office – some are interested to see if the Governor will advance the budget cuts & reforms which they believe Illinois needs to reduce the state's massive deficit – last week, Senate lawmakers were busy introducing bills to meet last Thursday's deadline – the Senate wrapped up last week bidding farewell to a long-time colleague, retiring Senator Brad Burzynski, who has served the 35th Legislative District since 1993 – he was known as a respected advocate of education.

(OLNEY)  The Olney Police Department is investigating several reports over the past few days where suspects have entered vacant residences, some of which have been rental properties – once inside, the thieves stripped the structures of all copper wiring and/or copper piping – at least two of the properties had forced entries – while the investigation continues, the Olney Police Department encourages all property owners to keep an extra eye on such properties & report any suspicious activity to the Police Department.

(OLNEY)  The Olney Fire Department was called out three times over the weekend :
*  at 5:29 Friday evening to a structure fire at 1030 West Main Street – the firemen found the home fully engulfed in flames – there was no one at home at the time of the fire – the house suffered heavy fire damage on the north end, plus heavy heat & smoke damage throughout – the fire is considered suspicious in nature & the local & state investigation continues – mutual aid was provided from the Noble-Wakefield Firemen
*  at 9:11 Friday night to a vehicle fire at the intersection of  Route 130 & Millers Grove Lane – the engine area was fully involved in fire when the firemen arrived – no injuries – on the scene for less than an hour
*  at 7:05 Saturday morning to a reported semi-truck fire in Olney – turned out to be overheated brakes on the semi’s trailer – no real damage & no injuries – the firemen were on the scene for less than an hour

(OLNEY)  A weekend traffic accident in Crawford County has resulted in several tickets for an Olney driver – the Illinois State Police say 26 year old Jessie Payne was northbound on a county road south of Oblong Saturday afternoon when his vehicle crossed the centerline & hit a southbound vehicle head-on – Payne was ticketed for DUI, for illegal transportation of alcohol, improper lane usage, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, not wearing a seatbelt, driving an uninsured vehicle, & driving on a revoked license – Payne & the other driver, 53 year old Terry Ruddell of Oblong, along with passengers were taken to Crawford Memorial Hospital with injuries – the investigation is continuing by local & state authorities.

(NEWTON)  The East Central Illinois Development Corporation is now soliciting nominations for the 2011 Recognition Awards – while Eastern Illinois University & Lake Land College help co-sponsor the Business Ethics & Social Involvement Awards, the ECIDC will award the Lifetime Achievement Award & it's newest honor, the Outstanding Leadership in Community & Economic Development Award – nominations may be submitted for any person or entity in activities in the ECIDC 11-county region including Jasper, Crawford, Clark, Coles, Cumberland, Effingham, Christian, Shelby, Douglas, Edgar, & Moultrie – the entry deadline is March 7th, five weeks from yesterday – for more information, go online at www.ecidc.com.

(NEWTON)  The public is encouraged to stop by the Newton IGA and vote by donating money in the jar of the "My Favorite Valentine Contest" entries – sponsored by the Newton Junior Women's Club, all the funds raised will be used to support a local cause – the voting will end on this Valentine's Day, on this Monday.

REMINDERS
    The Claremont-BonPas Fire Department has a fundraising breakfast set for this coming Saturday at the Claremont Community Club, with serving from 6:30 until 12 noon – tickets at the door – all are invited
    A Jasper County Relay For Life committee / team meeting will be held tomorrow evening at the Central Christian Church in Newton, starting at 5:30 – all team leaders & committee members are asked to attend
    The Newton Public Library will start another “weight loss competition” tomorrow on February 15th – to get more information or to signup a 5-person team, call the Library now at 783-8141 – that’s 783-8141
    It's a "walk & roll" fundraiser today thru tonight as the Grave Evangelical Church will has a community fundraiser at Monical's Pizza – proceeds go to the local fight against cancer – fill out forms when ordering
    There are two municipal meetings on tap tonight : the Noble Village Board meets tonight at 7:00 at Village Hall in Noble : the Olney City Council meets tonight at 7:30 at the Olney City Hall
    The 10 ton weight limit on all Preston Township roads is in effect until further notice – a 5 ton weight limit on all Olney Township roads is in effect until further notice – for the other townships in Richland County, contact the respective Road Commissioner – watch for weight limit signs on all rural roads
   

 

February 12, 2011 Local & Area News

(OLNEY)  Our Midwestern weather conditions will remain dry this weekend although a few clouds will move overhead, plus a warming trend continues thru tomorrow and into the first of next week – a weak front will move thru by next midweek with little temperature change & no precip – stay tuned for updates.

(NEWTON)  In state news – the Illinois Senate unanimously approved a plan this past Thursday to reassert its authority on the executive branch – if passed in the State House, the bill would tighten regulations regarding unconfirmed gubernatorial appointees, requiring the Governor to resubmit nominations for all existing appointees who have served past their term – it’s estimated that more than 500 appointees are now serving positions in Illinois government without confirmation – under the State Constitution, the Senate is required to confirm gubernatorial appointees within 60 session days after notified by the Governor.

(OLNEY)  The Olney Police Department is investigating several reports over the past few days where suspects have entered vacant residences, some of which have been rental properties – once inside, the thieves stripped the structures of all copper wiring and/or copper piping – at least two of the properties had forced entries – while the investigation continues, the Olney Police Department encourages all property owners to keep an extra eye on such properties & report any suspicious activity to the Police Department.

(OLNEY)  Ameren Illinois is still warning downstate consumers about a telephone scam continuing to circulate – someone is apparently calling electric customers, claiming the residents are past due on their electric or gas accounts, then the caller goes on to threaten to cut off electric service unless the customer provides the caller with credit card or personal checking account information – Ameren reminds all of its electric & gas customers that it never calls, asking residents for personal information – all customers are reminded to never give out credit card or personal checking information to anyone over the phone.

(NEWTON)  The public is encouraged to stop by the Newton IGA and vote by donating money in the jar of the "My Favorite Valentine Contest" entries – sponsored by the Newton Junior Women's Club, all the funds raised will be used to support a local cause – the voting will continue thru Valentine's Day, next Monday.

REMINDERS
    It's a "walk & roll" fundraiser next Monday, on Valentine's Day, as the Grave Evangelical Church will have a community night at Monical's Pizza - proceeds go to the local fight against cancer
    The Rotary Trivia Marathon is tomorrow afternoon at The Holiday, starting at 2:00, with registration at 1:30 – teams of four will compete for fun & prizes at a cost of $10 per person – call 393-2153
    The 11th annual Old Post Bluegrass Jam is coming to Vincennes University tomorrow – it’s free & all are invited – acoustic musicians jamming from 9:00 til 4:00, Illinois time, in the Beckes Student Union
    The next area blood drive is tomorrow morning at the St Joseph Catholic Church, from 8:00 until 12 noon – all eligible and/or first-time donors are encouraged to get out & give blood – all types are needed
    The St Joseph School in Olney will host a pancake breakfast tomorrow morning from 8:00 til 11:30 in the school cafeteria – proceeds to benefit the 7th & 8th grade trip to Washington, DC – tickets at the door
    The Historic Sailor Springs Foundation has a "country breakfast" with door prizes this morning, from 8:00 til 10:00, in the Old Ruritan Building – $5 tickets at the door and carryouts will be available
    A fundraising breakfast is this morning at the Senior Center in downtown Olney with serving from 7:30 til 10:00 – all donations at the door to support senior programming in Richland County
    The White Squirrel Saddle Club has a fundraising “pancake & sausage” breakfast this morning, with serving from 7:00 til 11:00, at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Olney – tickets on sale at the door
    The 10 ton weight limit on all Preston Township roads takes effect at 12 noon today & remains in effect until further notice – for the other townships in the county, contact the respective Road Commissioner

February 11, 2011 Local & Area News

(OLNEY)  As a southerly wind flow increases, bringing in warmer air, a high pressure ridge will keep us dry now thru a good portion of next week – plus our temperatures will increase into the 50s by the end of next week – a weak upper level disturbance with snow will stay way to our north – listen for updates.

(NEWTON)  Parents who violate child visitation orders could have their driver’s license suspended, pay a fine of $500, or even face jail time – that’s if the bill makes it thru the General Assembly & is signed into law by the Governor – currently, the violation is treated as a petty crime without much enforcement – the group “Illinois Fathers” are proposing the graduated penalty system similar to those that don’t pay child support.

(OLNEY)  The free healthcare could be over for state retirees in Illinois – a legislative panel in Springfield is commissioning a study to help build an “income-based formula” – officials say the state is providing health benefits to 84,000 retirees, more than 90% of whom pay no premiums – those who do pay contribute a total of $11.9 million, which is barely making a dent in the state’s $473 million healthcare expense fund.

(NEWTON)  Some lawmakers say taxpayers are footing the bills of university officials for country club memberships & lavish apartments, despite the fact that the public officials are earning six-figure salaries – a new report shows nearly 1,200 public employees earning more than Governor Quinn while tuition costs are annually increasing with the tight economy – a new proposal calls for a two-year freeze on college tuitions.

(NEWTON)  The Jasper County Board met last night – the Board : agreed to have a Worker’s Comp training program for the county’s department heads dealing with various requirements : agreed to purchase two mower tractors from Newton Farm Pride at an estimated cost of  $80,070 : agreed to purchase lap top computers for the Ambulance Service at a cost of $6,000 : noted the grant approval for EJ Water to move a water well field : noted that two Sheriff Department dispatchers will soon retire with replacements needed : also heard various other committee reports with no action : the Board’s next regular monthly meeting will be March 10th.

(OLNEY)  The Richland County Board met last night – the Board : agreed to extend the Intergovernmental Agreement between the County & the Village of Noble : on a 5 to 1 vote, will pursue a grant to pay for 75% of a new squad car, whereas the County would pay for the remaining 25% cost : approved a Liquor License request from Berryville Vineyards : agreed to join the Greater Wabash Regional Planning Commission at a cost of $5,169 for the next year : approved contracts for the County Highway Department's rock & gravel bid lettings : heard about the Illinois Public Works Mutual Aid Network where for $250 per year the county would receive surrounding county & municipal assistance in the event of an emergency or disaster : also noted the next regular meeting for the 9-1-1 ETS Board is next Thursday, the 17th : the Board's next regular meeting is March 10th.

(NEWTON)  Looking at last week’s USDA Illinois Farm Report : the total number of cattle & calves in Illinois on January 1st was 1.1 million head, 6% below last year's total, the lowest cattle inventory on record for Illinois – while beef cow inventory was down 10% from a year ago, the total count of milk cows were down 3% : the total number of sheep & lambs in Illinois was 12% below last year – the breeding inventory dropped 15% from a year ago, while the market inventory stayed even : the January index prices received by farmers for all crops was 170% of the base – crop prices increased for all commodities, based on a five year period.

(OLNEY)  City of Olney officials remind all residents that city crews are out picking up ice storm debris throughout today – citizens are urged pile their brush & tree limbs next to their city street and call the Olney City Hall during regular office hours – crews will pickup & haul off the piles thru the rest of today.

(NEWTON)  The 2011 Taste of Jasper County is tonight at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Newton, from 5:00 until 8:00 – sponsored by the Jasper County Chamber of Commerce, it’s an opportunity to help bring attention to all the great products & services available in Jasper County – everyone is welcome to by and check it out, the annual Taste of Jasper County – for more, call or stop by the Jasper County Chamber of Commerce office.

(NEWTON)  The public is encouraged to stop by the Newton IGA and vote by donating money in the jar of the "My Favorite Valentine Contest" entries – sponsored by the Newton Junior Women's Club, all the funds raised will be used to support a local cause – the voting will continue thru Valentine's Day, next Monday.

(NEWTON)  Time is running out to get tickets for tomorrow night’s second annual "Valentines Dinner & Show" at the Sunrise Youth Center & Community Building in Newton – the night includes a dinner catered by Hartrich's of Jasper County beginning at 6:00, then a 7:30 show featuring Scott Wattles & the Blue Suede Crew with tributes to Elvis Presley, plus Johnny & June Cash – the $20 tickets can be purchased from any Park Board member, by e-mailing at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or by calling at 618-783-2199 and leaving a message – all proceeds will benefit the Jasper County Boys & Girls Park – get your tickets now & help the park.

(WILLOW HILL)  Officials in Willow Hill have now lifted that “boil water” order that had been in effect since midweek last week, due to the transfer of water caused by the power outage – so again, that “boil water” order in effect for all Willow Hill water customers has now been lifted – the water is back to normal.

REMINDERS
    It's a "walk & roll" fundraiser next Monday, on Valentine's Day, as the Grave Evangelical Church will have a community night at Monical's Pizza - proceeds go to the local fight against cancer
    The Rotary Trivia Marathon is this Sunday afternoon at The Holiday, starting at 2:00, with registration at 1:30 – teams of four will compete for fun & prizes at a cost of $10 per person – call 393-2153
    A fundraising breakfast is tomorrow morning at the Senior Center in downtown Olney with serving from 7:30 til 10:00 – all donations at the door to support senior programming in Richland County
    The 10 ton weight limit on all Preston Township roads will take effect at 12 noon tomorrow and remain in effect until further notice – for the other townships, contact the respective Road Commissioners
    The Newton VFW will host another Friday night “fish fry” this evening with serving from 4:00 until 7:00 – tickets on sale at the door with carryouts available for young & old alike – proceeds for local projects
    It’s another “taco night” fundraiser at the Olney VFW tonight with serving from 5:30 til 7:30 or until sold out – carryouts available – a 50/50 drawing will be donated to the “walk & roll” event – all are invited
    The NWTF’s Richland County Longspurs Chapter has its annual Hunting Heritage Banquet tonight at the Olney American Legion – doors open at 6:00 with food, prizes, & an auction – for tickets, call 393-2137
    The next area blood drive is today at Newton Community High School, from 8:30 until 2:00 – all types of blood are very much needed to help replenish the dwindling Midwestern supply – let’s give blood