Dispute over land in Mulkeytown continues after years of litigation

Izaak Walton Lake which is around two miles NW of Chirstopher. (WSIL Photo)

MULKEYTOWN, IL –  A fight over land in Franklin County has pitted neighbor against neighbor. For almost three years, the Christopher Izaak Walton Club has fought in court with a farm family in Mulkeytown. According to some club members, the ongoing fight has divided the community.

Winter brings a peaceful quiet to the land owned by the Christopher Izaak Walton Club.

But underneath the calm, a heated battle continues to sow dissension.

“This whole land steal lawsuit has divided families, friends,” says club member Tony Rosales.

Please click on the link below from Evie Allen of WSIL-TV


Colleo Dumpling Dinner tomorrow.

By Steve Dunford 

Tomorrow is chicken and dumpling Sunday at Coello Community Center.  Serving times are between 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Chicken and dumplings, corn, green beans, slaw, drink and dessert included for adults  $8. kids under 12 for $3.  It is all you can eat and there is a seconds bar.  Carry outs are available.

Proceeds go to the betterment of the community.  Please come out and enjoy a good meal at a reasonable price.

Structure fire in Chirstopher

by Steve Dunford 

Christopher, Coello, Buckner, and Zeigler firefighters are responding to a structure fire at 306 N Emma in Christopher.

Please avoid the area.  More information will be provided as it becomes available.


Dispatcher on administrative leave following sexual assault investigation


The Central Dispatch Board. (From WSIL-TV reporter Hannah Gebresialasse’s Twitter page

CHRISTOPHER, IL (Hannah Gebresilasse – WSIL-TV.  Please Click on the link for the full story.  Here is an excerpt below.

Board members of the Central Dispatch of West Franklin County voted Wednesday night to place former Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Hampton on unpaid administrative leave, indefinitely.

Hampton faces charges of criminal sexual assault and custodial sexual misconduct. The felonies stem from an incident in January of 2016. Following the incident, the Franklin County Sheriff placed Hampton on administrative leave and he later resigned then began work at the dispatch center.

Rebecca Whittington serves as general counsel for the West Franklin County Central Dispatch board. She told News 3 Hampton’s position will be held open, but he will not be on staff or payroll.

Coello Chicken and Dumplin’ Dinner Tomorrow

by Steve Dunford

COELLO, IL –  In a second Sunday of the month tradition for over 40 years, the Coello Dumplin’ Gang will be hosting their chicken and dumping dinner at the Coello Community Building.

According to North City (Coello) mayor Curtis Overton, the proceeds go to the improvement of the village.  Currently they are trying to make upgrades to their park.  In the past, proceeds helped purchase a new fire truck.  Also, there is a community wide Christmas party with part of the revenue.

The hours are 11-2, and you can have all the dumplings you can eat, green beans, slaw, drink and dessert for $8.

Area departments fighting field fire in Buckner

by Steve Dunford

BUCKNER, IL –  There is a field fire endangering structures in the 500 block of South Janette Street in Buckner.  Zeigler, Christopher, and Coello Fire Departments are providing mutual aid.

At least through the weekend, there is a danger of field fires.  The current humidity is 41% with a dew point of 50.  With dry vegetation as well, burning is not advised.  To the best of my knowledge there is not any burn bans in effect in any communities.

If any communities issue burn bans, we will share that information as soon as possible.

Street named after long time pillar of the community in Coello

by Steve Dunford

COELLO, IL –  In my adult life, I spent a lot of time around the village of North City (Coello).  I came to be acquainted with Louis (Louie) Thery.

I spoke this morning with mayor Curtis Overton, about naming a street after Louie Thery, who recently passed away on August 3rd.

Over the years it was my assumption that Thery was a long time, full time employee of the Coello water department, in my conversation with Overton most of the work he performed was volunteer, especially when they had a water main break in the village.

Thery served as a long time village trustee, volunteered with the “Dumplin Gang” and did whatever needed to be done in the city.

I also know first hand that he had two great-nephews he thought a lot of, and spent a lot of time watching them come up the athletic ranks at Sesser-Valier.

In my conversation with Overton, he said after his passing, there were some people that suggested a street in town be named after him.  The two residents that lived on the street agreed to the name change, which the street is directly north of the city park.

In our conversation we agreed that Louie was a type of man that had no enemies, would do anything for anyone, and went about his daily business.

After the next “Dumplin Dinner” I will be writing a story on the “Dumplin Gang” and the work they do for the residents of the small Franklin County village.


by Reece Rutland- Rend Lake College Public Information/Sports Information Director

INA, IL – Three decades of service. Three decades of unselfish giving. Verna Mildred “Millie” Caldwell has enthusiastically supported Rend Lake College and its students for a length and breadth that is nearly unparalleled in an already distinguished lineup of supporters.

Millie Caldwell – (All pictures provided by Rend Lake College

Caldwell and her husband Clifton were already community staples outside of their involvement with RLC. For years, the couple operated one of the area’s most successful newspapers, The Christopher Progress. In fact, the Caldwells purchased the two Southern Illinois papers in 1974 (the Progress and the Herrin Spokesman) and ran them for over a decade, eventually selling them in 1987 to the American Publishing Company newspaper chain.

Cliff passed away on Feb. 29, 2004. He was a well-known journalist for 46 years and a member of the Southern Illinois University Editors Hall of Fame. Together, Clif and Millie instituted zoned editions of their weeklies that provided published local news for the communities of Sesser, Zeigler, Royalton, Johnston City and Carterville, as well as the communities included in their names. They had been married for 61 years.

To commemorate Cliff’s legacy, the family banded together to create the Clifton Caldwell Endowment Scholarship for Rend Lake students. The scholarship looks to help a Journalism or Math major in need.

The Foundation was the natural fit; Millie had spent the better part of three decades doing everything she could to aid the RLCF and the students of RLC.

Caldwell has represented the Christopher locality on the RLCF Board since 1982 when she elected at 4th Annual Meeting to bring the board to nine members. She had been an integral part of three capital campaigns. She was a major part of the RLCF Children’s Center campaign and the RLC Music Program Addition and Theatre Renovation. All of that on top of the fact that she has donated toward RLCF scholarships for years.

But, it was never just money either. Both Millie and Cliff gave of their time. The Caldwells actively attended RLCF events throughout the years. He was a frequent player at annual RLCF Golf Tournaments and they regularly attended the RLCF Annual Dinner together. Millie was also frequently at the RLCF Women’s Luncheon and RLCF Scholarship Dinner.

In 2002, Millie was recognized by the Rend Lake College Foundation Board of Directors when the group enthusiastically and unanimously approved her for Emeritus status.

She earned it. Her support of the college through Foundation efforts is, without a doubt, significant. And her length of service to the organization is nearly unmatched. Only three other members hold Emeritus status on the board – Charter Director Howard L. Payne and former Rend Lake College President Mark S. Kern and long-time foundation board member and Sesser businessman George Slankard.

“This honor is reserved for members because of longevity and lasting contributions made to the RLC Foundation,” explained Pat Kern, RLCF consultant and former CEO.

“This status welcomes these selected Board members to the RLCF meetings at any time they wish to attend.”

It’s not the first honor Millie has received for her service.

She also earned the coveted RLCF Presidential Award in 2006. It’s an achievement set aside specifically for RLCF Board members who have displayed exceptional service.

Millie Caldwell (center) accepts the Presidential Award from then RLC President Mark Kern (left). She was joined by her daughter, and RLC Professor Cindy Caldwell (right).

For her numerous scholarship contributions, she has also been presented the RLCF Bronze Seal Award, an achievement also shared by her daughter Cindy.

In fact, the Math component of the Clifton Caldwell Endowment Scholarship stems from Cindy’s willingness to pick up her family’s legacy and continue the giving tradition. She is a Mathematics Professor who joined the Rend Lake College faculty in 2000. She also is a graduate of Rend Lake College (Class of 1980) who worked on the RLC Times student newspaper. The Caldwells also had three sons – Denis, Dave and Douglas.

“Like many of our influencers, Millie and the Caldwell family display a selflessness that has helped the institution become what it is today. We are able to do the things we do thanks to the generosity of people like Millie, people who care about the district’s students and want to see them succeed,” said RLC President Terry Wilkerson.




Overnight house fire in Christopher

WSIL – TV photo

By Steve Dunford

UPDATED – 10:45 a.m.

CHRISTOPHER, IL –  WSIL-TV reported a  house fire that happened overnight in the 300 block of South Thomas street in Christopher.

Christopher fire officials told News 3, they believe it was an exterior electrical panel, but the investigation is still ongoing.

I just spoke with Christopher Fire Chief Ron Learned, and he says loss to the structure was about 25%.  Coello fire department was called for mutual aid.  The financial loss was undetermined.


Buckner High School “Wildcats”


The white building is believed to be Buckner High School which sit next to the grade school which burned a few years ago. (Genealogy Trails website.

NOTE:  I will be sharing links from time to time from the website, Illinois High School Glory Days.  It is a website dedicated to schools that have consolidated in Illinois.

Please click on the link above for several news clippings and photos about Buckner High School.

I am a history buff.  I would like to share stories in the future of some of the consolidated grade schools and one room schoolhouses that use to dot the landscape of Franklin County.

Here are some excerpts about the Buckner Wildcats.

Buckner (population 479) is located in far south-central Illinois in the west-central portion of Franklin County.  Buckner is located on Illinois Route 14 about three miles west of Interstate Route 57.  The Illinois Central Railroad also passes through Buckner and runs parellel with Illinois Route 14.  The city of Benton is located about 4 miles east of Buckner.

It was in 1880 that a post office was erected and the town was named Sofronia.  Soon, however, the town seemed to disapate and the post office was closed.  Eventually a railroad was slated to pass through the town.  The owner of the land that the railroad would pass over was donated by J.L. Buckner on the promise that the railroad complany would name the town Buckner.  Such was the deal and the town was so named in 1914.

Russell Browning provided a lot of information to the website about Buckner, He said the following.”I grew up in the town of Buckner and I did not know, and only the very old people there knew, about the High School.   Nothing was known about teachers, class mates and any other thing until I found one woman, who has passed away now, that gave me access to pictures. Then I did a micro film search of those years and came up with the information.”