Back to School Prayer Rally in West Frankfort

from Marcia Raubach

WEST FRANKFORT, IL – As the 2017-2018 school year begins, there will be a community wide non-denominational “Back to School Prayer Rally”, at 7 pm, Thursday, August 24 at First Christian Church, 1001 South Cherry St. in West Frankfort.

All are invited to attend to lift up, support and pray for our schools, administrators, teachers, support staff, families and most importantly our children. Meeting and praying together demonstrates community strength, support, care and concern as the new school year begins. Those attending will certainly walk away touched and empowered by this most inspirational evening.

For many, the “Back to School Prayer Rally” has become as much a part of each new school year’s tradition as shopping for supplies and new clothes. We may never know how many lives were touched and strengthened by the community coming together in support of all our schools. The first prayer rally was held in 2006. As former First Christian Church minister Gene Fox so eloquently stated at the first rally, “Remember, the last word in community is UNITY. We invite all to UNITE with us to pray for our children and schools”.

Minister will be praying throughout the evening as well as special music being offered by the First Christian Church Praise Band. Representatives from the local First Priority Christian High School Club will also speak as well as West Frankfort Mayor Tom Jordan. We hope that every school and congregation in the school district will be represented.

For more information contact: First Christian Church in West Frankfort 618-932-6360.


Retail outlets with eclipse glasses in stock

by Steve Dunford

The following list does not guarantee the quality, or if no longer in stock. is not liable for any malfunction of the glasses.

Franklin County


Casey’s (East Main Street Location)

Heartland office supply – free with a can good donation

Benton Gazette

Walmart is sold out and they do not anticipate receiving any more


Hometown Shirts and Graphics

Bowlin’s Foodland






Mom’s Milk

West Frankfort Gazette

West Frankfort Public Library (Free to patrons with a library card)

Perry County


Walmart – They have a limited supply

Available tonight from 7:30-9:00 p.m. at the Alder Planetarium Mobile Crew Show at the St. Nicholas Hotel

Williamson County





Franklin County businesses are prepared for the eclipse

by Steve Dunford

Several emergency officials has labeled the Interstate 57. US 51, Illinois 13 corridor in Jackson, Williamson, Perry, and Franklin Counties, for having heavy traffic and an influx of tourists coming to see the total eclipse,  which the path will cut right through Southern Illinois on Monday.  Estimated totals will say hundreds of thousands will ascend on Little Egypt.

Carbondale McDonalds at University Place Shopping Center, that has was purchased by Moreland/Bishop enterprises.  Their corporate office is in West Frankfort  (File photo)

Moreland-Bishop enterprises, based out of West Frankfort, owns a chain of McDonald’s restaurants across Southern Illinois, including two that the company recently required in Carbondale in February.   They also own stores in, Benton-West City, West Frankfort, Johnston City, Herrin, Carterville and two in Marion, in the four county area that will experience the extra tourists.

Late last week, I spoke with John Moreland, who with his wife Mary, and daughter Stephanie who has been long time owners of the franchises.  In the conversation he told me that coupled with the eclipse, SIU students will be allowed to move in the dorms on Thursday, as classes start next Tuesday.

He said this is unprecedented, but they are going to have extra staff, shuffled from other stores.  Management has been meeting for months to prepare for this weekend.   Their suppliers are prepared to make extra runs to the stores if necessary.

Moreland was concerned about the weather, and people might go elsewhere   At the time, The Weather Channel, predicted showers and thunderstorms for Southern Illinois on Monday in their 15 day forecast.  The storm system forecasters had their eye on will hit the region on Saturday.

He said, “No matter what, there will be people here,” citing that most hotels in Jackson and Williamson counties were requiring at least a three night stay.

To deal with communication issues, he said all of the company cars are General Motors vehicles, and they will rely on OnStar if local cell services go down.

Moreland told me their family will be guests to several friends and relatives during that time, coming from as far away as Texas.

Moreland gave me a story suggestion, follow up with businesses and officials to see what went right, and what went wrong.

“We are preparing for a typical fourth of July Weekend.”  says Bob Brothers, Store Manager of Benton-West City Walmart.  He says the reason being with the campgrounds are full at Rend Lake during that time and he expects a similar bump in sales.

Brothers said the store will be well stocked, and nearly every register will be going for the weekend.  They put emphasis on extra camping supplies and emergency management supplies,  such as batteries and generators, in case the power grid would be overloaded.

He says some sales will be determined by how heavy the traffic is on Interstate 57, barring whether people will exit to avoid the congestion.

Brothers also said they are sold out of eclipse glasses, and do not expect to get any more in.

Karen Freeman of Benton KOA says there are no vacancies for camping spots.  It has been that way over a year now.  “Several are staying five and six days and making a vacation out of it, Freeman said.”

Trudy Phillips, Store Manager of Sesser Casey’s, says at this time they will not have any extra staffing.  The store just received more eclipse glasses in stock though.

West Frankfort man killed in single vehicle accident near Akin


Press Release From Don Jones, Franklin County Sheriff

On August 14th at 9:22 a.m., Franklin County Deputies responded to a single vehicle crash on North Thompsonville Road, just south of Knob Prairie Road.  (This would be just south of the railroad trestles).

A 2012 Nissan Rogue driven by Treber Lenich, 19, of West Frankfort, was south bound on North Thompsonville Road, when it traveled off the roadway on the west side and struck an embankment.  The vehicle caught fire in the engine compartment and was extinguished from passers by with a fire extinguisher.

The driver was apparently killed on impact, and was pronounced dead at the scene by Franklin County Coroner, Marty Leffler’s office.

Abbott EMS and Cave-Eastern Fire Protection District also responded.  Lenich was believed to be on his way home from work at a local coal mine.  The crash is still under investigation.




City Council Donates $5,000 to Park District Basketball Court Project

Jim McPhail, park board president, accepts a check from the West Frankfort City Council for $5,000 for refurbishing the basketball courts at the park. (William McPherson, Gazette photo.)

WEST FRANKFORT, IL (William McPherson, West Frankfort Gazette.  Please click on the link for the full story.  Here is an excerpt below.

The City of West Frankfort approved a donation to the West Frankfort Park District for the refurbishing of the dilapidated basketball courts.

“I went out there after you were here, and those basketball goals are the ones I played on in 1966 or before. And the council, we kind of collectively talked about this and suggested that the city donate $5,000 from our youth fund—for those of you that don’t know we take half of the money we get for gaming and put it into an account for the youth of West Frankfort. I can’t think of a more worthy cause than to give $5,000 to the park district,” added West Frankfort Mayor Tom Jordan.

Family Friendly Eclipse Event Coming to West Frankfort

WEST FRANKFORT, IL – (William McPherson, West Frankfort Gazette.  Please click on the link above for the full story.  Please read an excerpt below.)

The mission group at Trinity United Methodist Church and the West Frankfort Chamber of Commerce are teaming up to host a family friendly eclipse event for Franklin County.

Connie Howard of Trinity UMC, and Kathy Sikora, of the West Frankfort Chamber of Commerce, are both helping to organize and promote the event. The event will feature, “crafts, vendors, food, fun, and education,” added Howard. The purpose of the event is to provide a family friendly alternative to some of the other eclipse events in Southern Illinois, and to offer a fun close-to-home community event for Franklin County residents.

The eclipse, which will last approximately two minutes, will only be about thirty seconds shorter in West Frankfort than at the big viewing areas around Carbondale and Makanda, Howard added. Considering the amount of traffic, and that this will be a family friendly eclipse event, that’s a good trade off, Sikora said

No alcoholic beverages will be permitted on the premises. For those interested in taking part in the eclipse event as a vendor, please send Howard an email at


Former Logan Grade School Students Donate Bench in Honor of Beloved Third Grade Teacher

William McPherson, WF Gazette photo.

WEST FRANKFORT, IL – (William McPherson, West Frankfort Gazette.  Please click on the link for the full story.  Here is an excerpt below.)

Students of the late Zella Boner Spani presented a memorial bench to the Frankfort Historical Museum in her honor last Wednesday.

Donors to the memorial bench included Theresa Julian, Marla Julian Boyer, David Lawrence, Janice Hill Adkins, Andy Brown, Rusty McClain, Gayla Rogers Mondino, and Marian Rotramel Smith.

Museum director and fellow teacher Sylvia Tharp, who worked with Spani, were also on hand for the dedication along with several other friends of the museum.

West Frankfort Student Represents Rural Electric Co-Ops in Washington D.C

Olivia Weeks of West Frankfort and Miranda Miller of Galatia, pose for a picture with State Representative Dave Severin and State Senator Dale Fowler during a special Youth Day event in Spring Field prior to their week-long trip to Washington D.C. sponsored by the SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative. (Gazette photo)

WEST FRANKFORT, IL (William McPherson, West Frankfort Gazette.  Please click on the link for the full story.  Here is an excerpt below.)

FCHS student Olivia Weeks was selected for a big honor earlier this year as she and a select group of students were chosen to represent our state’s rural communities in our nation’s capital.

Weeks, along with Galatia’s Miranda Miller represented SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative, Inc. in Washington, D.C., during the annual “Youth to Washington” Tour this past June. This annual event has been sponsored by the electric and telephone cooperatives of Illinois since the late 1950s, and serves as an introduction for rural youth to the democratic government and the cooperative business model.

During the trip, Weeks and 65 other students from rural Illinois met with Congressman Mike Bost. The Illinois students joined more than 1,660 of their peers from across the country from 44 additional states. Besides the Capitol, they also visited Gettysburg, Arlington National Cemetery, the Washington National Cathedral, several Smithsonian Museums, the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the World War II Memorial, memorials to Presidents Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington and Roosevelt, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, the Newseum and a number of other historical sites. Prior to the D.C. trip they also met with State Representative Dave Severin and Senator Dale Folwer in Springfield as part of a special Youth Day event.

West Frankfort native waited 40 years to enter Israel

WEST FRANKFORT, IL – (Tim Hastings, West Frankfort Gazette.  Please click the link above for the full story.  Here is an excerpt below.)

Nathan Lewis – WF Gazette Photo

An 83-year-old West Frankfort native, who has lived in Israel for more than 40 years, said he knew from age eight his life’s purpose had something to do with the nation many consider to be the Promised Land.

“When I was a child I heard my mother and my aunt talk about our possible Jewish ancestry,” Lewis said. “I wasn’t paying particular attention and I have no proof that it is true.” Lewis told his story last week seated in a comfortable chair in the living room of his childhood home on South Day Street in West Frankfort. He has been in the U.S. for several months for medical treatments and hopes to return to Jerusalem in September.

“As a child anything that pertained to Israel—books, magazine, or speakers—tugged at me,”Lewis said.  “I knew from eight-years-old I had a call to Israel. I just knew that God’s presence was in me somehow. I knew that somehow my destiny was connected with Israel.”

Volunteers paint a West Frankfort children’s shelter

WEST FRANKFORT, IL – (Andrew Feather, WSIL-TV.  Please click on the link for the full story and video.  Here is an excerpt below.)

WSIL-TV photo

Dozens of people spent their Saturday decorating a children’s shelter in West Frankfort to make it a more welcoming place.

A group of volunteers painted walls of the Night’s Shield Children’s Center, which houses about 25 abused and neglected children, in an effort to bring a little bit of brightness into the lives of its residents.

Organizers said they hope paintings and bright colors will help take their minds off of what’s going on in the outside world.