Benton businesses rally around 10-year-old diagnosed with cancer

BENTON — Benton rallies around a ten-year-old girl diagnosed with a rare and deadly form of brain cancer.

A doctor diagnosed Makanda Williams with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG, and because there’s no cure or even a good treatment, her family has to go to Mexico for an experimental procedure.

Makanda Williams – File Photo

Makanda Williams hurt herself on a slide in May during a school field trip. When she went to the hospital, doctors found a tumor on her brain stem, starting a long journey for the child.

“I’ve been kind of scared sometimes and I mostly like to forget about it like I don’t have cancer,” Williams said. “I like to run around with just my brother and sister and just forget about the cancer.

Please click to read the full story and the video from Joe Ragusa of WSIL-TV

Rangers escape West Frankfort with a win by the skin of their teeth

By Steve Dunford 

WEST FRANKFORT – Looking at the records, you would think the Benton Rangers would be heavily favorites in tonight’s game with the West Frakfort Redbirds.

It is Benton and West Frankfort though.  I have always said that if two stray tom cats. one from Benton and one from WF would get in a fight in 18 Bottoms, it would draw a crowd.

The only blemish on the Rangers record is an overtime loss to Anna-Jonesboro in the season opener at the Goreville Invitational.  The Redbirds came into the game with a goose egg in the win column.

The Rangers made the six-mile trip home tonight pulling out a 49-45 win over their arch rivals in a nip and tuck contest.

Keagan Thrash at the FT line for the Redbirds. He had a game high 16 points last night.

The Redbirds jump out to an early 6-0  lead. In the first play of the game, the Redbirds pound it in to Bradlee Croslin, C.J. Johnaon hits the back in of two free throws, and Keagan Thrash steps out from behind the arc to hit a 22 footer on the wing.

Benton goes on a tear from behind the arc.  Hamilton Page started it, then Cade Thomas, then Parker Williams and finally Carson Lewis to put Benton up 12-8.

The Redbirds began chipping away.  At the :24 second mark of the quarter Brett Bonenberger scored the first points in the paint to put the Rangers up at the end of the first quarter 14-11.  Bonenberger gave Coah Ron Winemiller some big minutes in the post.

In the second frame the threes keep coming Gerhig Wynn got in on the fun then Willams agian, sandwiched in between another bucket on the post by Boenberger.  At that Point the Rangers were up 23-13 and looked like they were in command.

The teams began to trade buckets and Coach Winemiller calls a time out just under the two minute mark.  He and assistant coach Wade Thomas go back into their Foxes days and burn clock the rest of the first half.  The teams go to the locker rooms with Benton up  28-23.

Benton kept a five to seven point lead thorugh most of the third quarter, then West Frankfort came with a late rally to cut it to one, and Cade Thomas hit a buzzer beater to put West Frankfort 35-33 at the end of the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter both teams traded jabs.  Brett Boneberger steps out and hits a three to make it 38-35.   The Redbirds end up going up to take their first and only lead of the night on a steal from Kyle Hammers which he goes coast to coast.

Stepping up big in the fouth quarter for the Redbirds is Bradlee Croslin.  He had six of his 12 points in the final stanza.  I don’t have the rebound stats yet, but I would not be surpised if he had a double double.   Defensively, he pushed Parker Williams to get most of his ponts behind the arc.

By far it was the best game I have watched Croslin play.  “He played a tremendous game.  He is not satisfied where he is at.  He gives me maximum effort every time out.”  Redbird coach Kevin Toney said after last night’s game.

In the maroon, Gehrig Wynn was ice at the free throw line down the stretch was going 6/6, and making it a two posession game twice   “He was who we wanted there. Our four seniors (Page, Williams, Thomas as well) that have have been seeing varsity minutes since sophmores were big tonight.” Coach Winemiller siad.

“When you come in here (WF) it is always a fight.  I came down here and watched them play Eldorado, and knew we were going to have our hands full. We held Johnson to five points tonight with him averaging 18 or 19.  This is a very good 0-6 basketball team.  Coroslin and Thrash are a handful down low.”  We were up ten a couple times and they kept fighting back.” Coach Winemiller said in his post game comments.

The Rangers travel to Nashville tonight to face the 4-2 Hornets at the Assembly Hall.  Long time sucessful girls coach Wayne Harre is now at the helm of the boys’ program after Brad Weathers retired.

Nashville has been on a roll in their last three games.  They beat A-J 61-36, Waterloo Gibault 37-21 and beat Sparta 52-16 (not a misprint) last night.

The Rangers have been road warriors this week.   “We will be heading up there with our third road game this week, and all three are tough places to play.  Bultman and the Parker Brothers are loads.  I am a little concerned about our legs.” Coach Ron Winemiller said.

The kids were receptive in practice all week.  “Their effort has been there.  I could not ask for anymore.  It is a matter of correction of  basketball skills.  When we get that first one (win) it will be huge for us.”  Coach Kevin Toney said after last night’s win.

Todd Tripp’s Goreville Blackcats (4-2) are coming to Max Morris gym this evening.  Their backcourt of Peyton Massey and Braden Webb has been banged up all year.  “I don’t know whether Webb is healthy, but he makes them go.  If he is,  the dribble drive pennetration could cause us problems.”

The “sixth man: showed up big for the Redbirds tonight

It has been nearly two weeks since Goreville has played.  The gap in their schedule was great timing so they can lick their wounds.

The Redbirds had their sixth man last night.  There was a near full boisterous student section last night. They all were in their pajamas.  I said they all looked like they were going Black Friday Shopping at Walmart.  I heard several variations of the theme.

Box Score

BENTON (49)  Williams 3 2 1-2 13, Page 2 1 4-6 11, Wynn 0 1 6-6 9, Bonnenberger 2 1 0-1 7, Thomas 1 1 0-1 5,  Lewis 0 1 0-0 3, Morris 0 0 1-2 1

WEST FRANKFORT (45)  Thrash 3 3 1-2 16, Croslin 6 0 0-1 12, Hammers 4 0 1-1 9, Johnson 2 0 1-2 5, Wolfe 1 0 1-2 3, B. Russell 0 0 0-0 0, J Russell 0 0 0-0 0, Melvin 0 0 0-0 0

Score by Quarters

BENTON (7-1)(2-0)  14 – 14 – 7 – 14  –  49

WEST FRANKFORT (0-6)(0-2)  11 – 12 – 9 – 13 – 45







Local businesses band together to support ‘Shop with a Cop’

BENTON – On Friday, Dec. 15 dozens of local children will get the chance to go Christmas shopping with some of Benton’s finest.


William McPherson – Gazette Photo

Lewis Barnhart, the Owner at S & S Mufflers & Tires stopped by Fred’s on Tuesday to make a monetary donation to the program. Barnhart and Fred’s manager Linda Sanders discussed how much it meant to them to see the community involvement in such a worthy project. Sanders shared several stories from past years of local children in need being helped by the generosity of Benton Police Officers.

Please click on the link below to read the full story from William McPherson of the Benton Gazette.

Rangers move to 5-1 with Ohio Division win over Herrin

By Jim Muir

 BENTON — Cade Thomas scored 22 points and the Benton defense held Herrin to eight second half points as the Rangers opened SIRR Ohio Division play Friday night with a 47-27 victory over Herrin.

A large and enthusiastic crowd was on hand at Rich Herrin Gym for the home-opener and the first game in the tough Ohio Division. After both teams played to a 12-12 first quarter score, Benton began the second frame with back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers – two by Gehrig Wynn and one by Mason Morris to open up a nine point lead at 21-12. Benton led 26-19 at halftime.

“Overall I was pleased with the way we played,” said Benton Coach Ron Winemiller. “I thought Cade played well and the three 3-pointers in a row was a big turning point. I thought we settled in and really guarded them in the second half.”

The victory moved Benton to 5-1 on the season with a tough week of basketball in front of them. The Rangers are on the road for the next three games, traveling to Carmi-White County on Tuesday and then head back to Ohio Division play on Friday night with a road game against cross-county rival West Frankfort. Benton will close out the busy week by traveling to Nashville on Saturday night to face the always-tough Hornets.

“This is a very big week for us,” said Winemiller. “All three are tough places to play but if we can guard like we did tonight we are going to have a chance in most games we play.”

Along with Thomas’ 22 points, Wynn also double figures with 11 points, followed by sophomore Carson Lewis with seven points, Parker Williams with four points and Morris with three. Brandon Anthony led Herrin with 13 points.

Pairings were released this week for the Duster Thomas Hoops Classic in Pinckneyville. The tournament is a 12-team pool format with four pools with three teams in each pool.  The tournament runs two days, Dec. 29 and Dec. 30. The Rangers are in Pool B with Greenville and Cissna Park. Benton will face Cissna Park on Dec. 29 at 3:30 p.m. in the Auxiliary Gym and then that night face Greeenville in an 8:30 p.m. contest at Duster Thomas Gymnasium. Game times for December 30 are determined by each team’s record on the opening day. Teams in Pool A are Pinckneyville, Jerseyville and Olney, Pool C is Wesclin, Carterville and Trico and Pool D is Jerseyville, Du Quoin and Elverado.











Benton Police make three arrests over the weekend

BENTON, IL- On December 1st, 2017 Benton Police were dispatched to the 100 block of Virginia Street in reference to a criminal trespass complaint.
Upon investigating, police arrested Jennifer R. Shelton, age 28, of Benton for criminal trespass. Shelton was transported to the Franklin County Jail for further processing.

On December 1st, 2017 Benton Police were dispatched to the 800 block of Highland Street in reference to a domestic disturbance.
Upon investigating, police arrested Brandon Rodriguez, age 30, of Ellenboro, NC for domestic battery. Rodriguez was charged and transported to the Franklin County Jail for further processing.

On December 2nd, 2017 Benton Police were dispatched to the 400 block of Lickliter Street in reference to a domestic disturbance.
Upon investigating, police arrested Zachary Odam, age 30, of Benton for domestic battery and unlawful restraint.
Odam was charged and transported to the Franklin County Jail for further processing.

Rangers go 4-1 at Goreville, finish in second place

By Jim Muir

Prior to the start of the 6th Annual Goreville Invitational Tournament Benton Coach Ron Winemiller said the opening night game between his Rangers and Anna-Jonesboro “could be the championship game.” After a full week of action at the GIT the Benton coach looks like a prophet.

The Rangers dropped the Monday night contest with the Wildcats 68-66 in overtime on a last second shot by Jake Parr. And from that point on the Rangers and Wildcats both ran the table leaving A-J with a 5-0 mark and the championship and the Rangers in second place at 4-1.

“Overall it was a good week of basketball,” said Winemiller. “We learned a little bit about who we are as a team.”

With a 4-1 mark in 2017 the Rangers are now 18-2 at Goreville during the past four years.

The Rangers were sluggish in a 51-38 victory over Hamilton County on Friday night but were hitting on all cylinders in two lopsided victories on Saturday. Benton hammered Johnston City 59-20 in a 10 a.m. contest on Saturday. Johnston City trailed 13-10 at the end of one and then managed only 10 points total over the remaining three quarters.

The Rangers put 12 players in the scoring column with Hamilton Page leading the way with 11. Also in double figures was Mason Morris with 10, followed by Gehrig Wynn and Carson Lewis with eight each, Parker Williams with seven, Cade Thomas with four and Mason Wills, Braxton Lutz, Noah Kays, Brad Hammond and Brett Bonenberger with two each. Eldon Owens added a free throw for one point.

In the finale on Saturday Benton faced the host Goreville Blackcats with second place on the line. Benton led 18-11 after one quarter and then went on a 21-3 run in the second quarter to open up a 41-23 halftime lead.

“We did a good job of stringing some stops together and having some good offensive possessions,” Winemiller said. “I felt our rebounding was the key. We were able to finish the possession by getting some rebounds and then we got out in transition and made some easy baskets.

Benton was led in scoring with 20 points by senior Gehrig Wynn and 15 by Hamilton Page. Cade Thomas added nine points, followed by Parker Williams and Mason Morris with eight points each. Sophomore Carson Lewis added five points, Brett Bonenberger added 3 points and Noah Kays and Joey Craig had two points each.

The GIT All-Tournament team consisted of Ross Pinnon and Sheldon McGrath from Anna-Jonesboro, Cade Thomas, Parker Williams and Gehrig Wynn from Benton, Tanner Dunn and Braden Webb from Goreville, Matt Rubenacker from Hamilton County and Chase Selby from Johnston City.

The Rangers return to regular season play in the home opener and the kick off to the SIRR Ohio Division when they host the Herrin Tigers on Friday, December 8.




Structure fire around Lake Benton

By Steve Dunford 

BENTON –  According to the website Southern Illinois Fire incidents, there is a two story structure fire on Mundell Lane around the area of Lake Benton.

It is a MABAS box alarm, with West Frankfort and Ewing Northern providing mutual aid.

Cristopher has been toned for a change of quarters.

Further updates will be posted as they become available.

Rangers rebound from loss with lopsided win over Hardin County

By Jim Muir

Ask any basketball coach and they will tell you the best thing for their team after a tough loss is to get back on the court as quickly as possible. In the case of the Benton Rangers on Tuesday ‘as quickly as possible’ translates to approximately 17 hours.

The Rangers wasted little time shaking off the loss and rolled to a 61-21 victory over an outmanned Hardin County team in the first game on night two of the 6th Annual Goreville Invitational Tournament.

The Rangers were defeated Monday night in overtime when Zach Parr of Anna-Jonesboro hit a difficult last-second shot to give his team a 67-65 win and a disappointing season-opening loss for the Rangers. The Benton team rolled out of Goreville at 11 p.m. Monday night and returned for the early game and a 5:30 p.m. start on Tuesday.

Benton shook the loss aside early and jumped out to a quick 13-7 first quarter lead, extended its advantage to 26-11 at halftime and then blew the game wide open with a 30-4 onslaught in the third quarter to take a 56-16 lead into the final frame that was played with a continuous clock.

Benton Coach Ron Winemiller said he was happy to get the first win of the season and was also pleased with the way his team responded after the tough Monday night loss. Winemiller said he is looking forward to getting back in the gym the next two evenings.

“Right now we’re just trying to see who we are as a team,” said the Benton coach. “So, I will be happy to get to practice the next two evenings to work on getting better as a team. It will be a tough weekend with three games in a 24-hour span.”

Everybody saw action for the Rangers in the lopsided win and nine players hit the scoring column, led by Gehrig Wynn with 15. Also in double figures was Parker Williams with 12 and Mason Morris with 11. Rounding out the scoring Hamilton Page and Carson Lewis added six each, Cade Thomas scored four, Joey Craig, Mason Wills and Brett Bonenberger each scored two points.

“It was a great chance to see everybody in a game situation,” said Winemiller.

The win moves the Rangers to 1-1 overall and 1-1in the round-robin format at the GIT. All six teams are off on Wednesday and Thursday and play will resume on Friday with three games and then six games on Saturday. The Rangers face Hamilton County in a 7 p.m. game on Friday and play Johnston City at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning before squaring off in the tournament finale at 8:30 p.m. against the host Goreville Blackcats.

Akin Grade School-Ag in the Classroom Annual Thanksgiving Feast


AKIN, IL – Akin Grade school holds an annual Thanksgiving feast Day each year. Each year Mrs. Shannon  Bennett, Kindergarten teacher at Akin, invites the Franklin County Ag in the Classroom Coordinator, Melissa Lamczyk, into the classroom to prepare her students for the day.

Mrs. Bennett and Mrs. Walker, 1st grade teacher, help their students in making their feast day attire. Mrs. Lamczyk discusses with the students how the Native Americans hunted for their food and how they not only ate the meat, but also how the hides and bones were used clothing, tools and jewelry.

Mrs. Lamczyk also talks about how they used other resources from their environment that to make their items.  The students thought of different items that could be used for dyes for clothing, like berries and nuts and other items nature provides.

Mrs. Lamczyk dyes a variety of different shaped noodles each year for the students to make necklaces. She cuts strands of craft lace and attaches a metal ring at one end.  Pairs of students are given a bowlful of noodles to make their necklaces, then each student gets to choose a dyed manicotti noodle to slide onto the center of the necklace. The teachers then help place a latch on the other end of the necklace.  Each students’ initials are placed on a noodle near the latch and the students wear the necklace for a picture.

The teachers collect the necklaces and keep them until the feast day.  The teachers have students decorate paper sacks for vests and Mrs. Bennett brings in real turkey feathers for the students to use for their headdress. The students then wear the attire for feast day.

Many of the 1st grade students and students from previous years say they still have their necklaces. Students sometimes make patterns with the noodles, but also need to use their fine motor skills and listening skills in making their necklaces. Students are mimicking the Native American attire and learning about history at the same time while having their Thanksgiving Feast.

Macedonia man arrested on failure to appear charges

BENTON, IL – On November 13th, 2017, Benton Police arrested Caleb N. Forby, age 24, of Macedonia on an active Franklin County warrant for failure to appear.

Forby was transported to the Franklin County Jail for further processing.