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







Council Approves Resolution for Crosswalk Grant

WEST FRANKFORT – At last Tuesday’s West Frankfort Council meeting, the council voted to approve a resolution to support Crosswalk’s community development block grant application.

With this vote, the West Frankfort Crosswalk Community Action Agency got a little closer last week to being able to help some local families in need with some vital home renovations such as siding, roofing, proper insulation and other health and safety related repairs.

West Frankfort Mayor Tom Jordan added that the council was always happy to give their support to the grant process. Jordan said he is thankful for the investment in West Frankfort and in the region.

Please click on the link below for the story from the West Frankfort Gazette.


Harrisburg blows out West Frankfort in SIRR Ohio opener

By Steve Dunford 

HARRISBURG – With the Rebdirds making a trip to Davenport gym for their SIRR Ohio division opener, I knew it would be an uphill battle.

The Bulldogs raced out to a 45-29 half time lead and never looked back, as they defeated West Frankfort 87-56 last night.

Isaiah Saulsbury had a game high 29 for Harrisburg last night. Dalton Lambert 13, Jordan Bartok 12, Carson Burtis was the fourth Bulldog in double figures with ten points on the night.

C.J. Johnson led West Frankfort with 22 points on the night, Kyle Hammers added 15, and Keagan Thrash added nine.

The Bulldogs improve to 5-1 on the season.  They have a late afternoon contest with the Meridian Bobcats.

The Redbirds are 0-5 on the season.  They have a two game home stand next weekend.  On Friday, they host that team the late Bruce Fasol used to call, “the team six miles to the north”

Satuday they host Todd Tripp’s Goreville Blackcats.

Box Score

HARRISBURG (87)  Burtis 4 0-0 10, Drue 3 1-2 7, Saulsbury 11 2-5 29, Lambert 4 4-6 13, Bartok 5 2-2 12, Gibbs 0 3-4 3, Sigler 1 1-1 3, Storms 1 1-2 3 Sanders 3 1-2 7

WEST FRANKFOT (56)  Wolfe 2 0-1 4, Russell 1 0-0 2, Johnson 8 3-4 22, Hammers 7 0-0 15, Woolard 1 0-0 2, Thrash 3 3-5 9, House 0 2-2 2

Score by Quarters

HARRISBURG (5-1)(1-0)  27 – 18 – 22 – 20   -87

WEST FRANKFORT (0-5)(0-1)  12 – 17 – 14- 13-   56


Sewer Payments Approved at Council Meeting

WEST FRANKFORT –  The West Frankfort City Council convened on Nov. 28 for their regularly scheduled city council meeting where several payments were made regarding sewer projects in and around the city.

Among the other items of note voted on at the meeting was approval of a partial pay estimate, number 19, to Midwest Petroleum and Excavating in the amount of $305,079.13. Brown and Roberts Engineer Matt Tosh said this was the next to last “major payment” to be made for the West Frankfort Sewer Treatment Plant Retrofit Project. Another sewer treatment plant project payment was made to Brown and Roberts in the amount of $24,238.50 for engineering services rendered on the project.

Please click on the link below for the full story from William McPherson from the West Frankfort Gazette.


Candy Cane Lane opens this evening

By Steve Dunford 

WEST FRANKFORT – Since its inception in 1988, Candy Cane Lane has been a regional Christmas tradition, for people of Southern Illinois and surrounding states.

From the City of West Frankfort Website

This was started by retired Frankfort Community High School Art Teacher and Volleyball Coach Tim Murphy.  It was a display at his home, with characters made by his art students over the years.

Since then path of lights sprawls over six city blocks, with the entrance on the 600 block of E Main Street just past FCHS.

I was able to speak with Murphy before Thanksgiving.  He said, “With the weekend of December 1st upcoming, opening it a couple of days early will help me get the bugs out of things.”  

He also said,  “Several have asked me to open it on Thanksgiving Weekend.  It seems now that we skip over Thanksgiving and go right into Christmas.  I would like to reserve this for Chirstmas”

In the few days leading up to Christmas, there will be horse drawn carriage rides along the path.   I will be posting about them at a later date.

The weekends get quite busy.  The West Frankfort  Redbirds host the Benton Rangers and Goreville Blackcats, on the weekend of the 15th-16th.  This is something to keep in mind in planning your trip.

Murphy also made the suggestion in walking the lane, for a different experience.


Severin Honors the City of Orient for Its 100th Birthday


ORIENT, IL – Monday night, State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) presented a House Certificate to Orient city officials honoring the city’s 100th birthday. Rep. Severin presented the certificate to Orient’s Mayor Pete Witkewiz at city hall prior to the City Council’s monthly meeting.

“It is incredible to think that Orient, Illinois is celebrating its 100th birthday,” Rep. Severin said. “The small Southern Illinois town has been a great addition to Franklin County over the years and it has been an honor for me to represent its constituents in the General Assembly.

The City of Orient was incorporated on September 11th 1917. It was formed in connection to Orient #1 coal mine which at its peak production was the top producing coal mine in the world. Mayor Witkewiz expressed gratitude for the recognition the city received from Rep. Severin.

“It was very thoughtful of the Representative to honor the City of Orient for its land mark birthday” Mayor Witkewiz said, “It is a small town but we are very proud of the long history our small community has had in Southern Illinois.”

West Frankfort…Zeigler firefighters responding to field fire

by Steve Dunford 

ZEIGLER, IL –  At 11:20 a.m., Zeigler and West Frankfort firefighters responded to a field fire at the intersection of State Route 149 and Dry Road.  This is just east of the Zeigler city limits.

Further updates will be provided as they become available.


Charlie Daniels Band guitarist shares memories of life in music, growing up in West Frankfort


Bruce Ray Brown an FCHS grad from the class of ’73 has enjoyed a long career in music, playing for nearly three decades with Charlie Daniels, and also producing music for the hit television shows Duck Dynasty and Hell on Wheels. (William McPherson-West Frankfort Gazette)

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

For nearly thirty years, when country music superstar Charlie Daniels has stepped out on stage to play his biggest hits, West Frankfort’s own Bruce Ray Brown has been right there with him.

Brown, a noted guitar player who has also released a solo album as well as produced music for numerous television shows and popular films, is an FCHS graduate from the class of 1973.

“When I was in high school I played with some local bands. I started when I was around 15 when I was a sophomore and then also continued on as a junior.”

Around that time Brown played in a horn band called ‘Sidetrak Plus’ out of Herrin which specialized in jazz music and all the standards.

Redbird LB worked midnight shift during two-a-days

by Steve Dunford 

WEST FRANKFORT, IL  –  I had this idea to write this story when the 11 year old kid mowed the Rose Garden for President Donald Trump.  “That’s the real future of the country right there — we’re lucky,” the president said. “Maybe he’ll be president someday.”

Shane #56 with his Father Kenneth Veil and his mother Schannone Steinberger (Thank You Jade Novak)

When this story became viral, I thought of Shane Richardson-Veil.  He is a backup linebacker for the West Frankfort Redbirds, and plays on special teams.  During two a day practices at the start of the season, he was putting in up to 12 hour shifts, working midnights at Pepsi-Mid America.

“It was tough. I would have been lucky to slept 10 hours in a five day period and hardly slept in three days,”  Shane said.  His teammates Brandyn Kahl and Tyler Broy told me basically the same thing, “He is one of the hardest workers on the team.  During that stretch he did not miss a practice, and was always on time.”

It was Senior Night and Black Out Cancer night, last Friday at Johnson Field.  Shane was in there the majority of the second half in a 49-8 win over Massac County last Friday night.  One one drive, he had two tackles and nearly a sack.

Other media sources well documented the game Friday night.  There will be times that you will see me “go off the beaten path,” especially in a blowout.

Shane #56 in action against Massac County (Thank you Caryn Novak)

Players like Shane are the heartbeat of a program.  He has a big part of what happens during the week to get the team ready for Friday night.   “Shane is a good kid that works hard both at practice and at work.  He always gives a 100% to the WF Redbird Football Team.  We are glad to have him on the team, and that he is able to balance his school, athletics, and work.”, said West Frankfort Coach Brian Beery.

For the second year in a row the Redbirds are one of the surprise teams in Southern Illinois.

I know from first hand experience how hard he works, because he lives across the alley from me.  I had the privilege of sharing Thanksgiving with him, as well as his mother Schannone, brother Nicky, and mutual friends Dale and Kim Justice, with their son Spencer Metro.

Richardson-Veil (center) as an Honor Flight Escort this week. (Swiped from a proud mama)

Shane is also a wrestler for the Redbirds.  He had a season ending injury last year with a broken leg.

Shane has one project before he becomes an Eagle Scout.  He had the pleasure of serving as an escort on the Honor Flight this week.

He plans to major in History in college and become a coach.  (A man after my own heart)

Athletics is the extension of the classroom.  The discipline it takes to play a sport or an instrument in the band will carry through your life.  Shane has a very bright future.





City Approves Mach1 for Liquor License, Discusses Expanding Number of Pour Licenses for Video Gaming


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

Randy Mires of Mach1 was approved for a Class A pour license at a recent West Frankfort City Council meeting.

The planned Mach1 development was contingent on getting this approval Jordan said, because they need the liquor license in order to set up video gaming. This is why, Jordan said, the pour license was being approved so early before any construction was set to begin.

Mayor Tom Jordan said that Mires has been trying to bring a gas station to West Frankfort for the past three years. The West Frankfort Mach1 will be built on the ground which formerly was the West Frankfort Pizza Hut located near the Outlet Mall and I-57 interstate exit, and will also have a space at the current home of the Special Occasions bridal shop—who will in turn be bringing their business into the Outlet Mall, Jordan said.