One injured in McLeansboro Street fire.

by Steve Dunford 

WSIL photo

WSIL photo

BENTON, IL-  Local firefighters have been busy over the last few hours.

Benton FD was called to the 500 block of North McLeansboro Street.  A MABAS box alarm was toned, and West City, West Frankfort, Ewing-Northern, Sesser, and Christopher responded for mutual aid.

A passerby notice smoke and the resident was pulled out of the residence.  The initial call said there was entrapment.  The resident is being treated for serious burns.

A representative from the Benton Fire Department said there is an undetermined amount of loss.


Total loss in a structure fire on Gossett road in rural WF

by Steve Dunford

WSIL photo

WSIL photo

WEST FRANKFORT, IL – West Frankfort fireman were dispatched to Gossett road to a house fire yesterday afternoon around 1:30.  A large explosion was reported

A MABAS box alarm was pulled for mutual aid.  Fire departments from Benton, Zeigler, Ewing Northern, Carterville and Johnston City responded.

A representative from the West Frankfort Fire Department, stated that it was a 40 x 40 structure with an attached garage.  It was a total loss.  The amount of the loss can not be assessed because they were unsure of the value of the contents.

I need to put an editorial content here.  There were posts on social media that was spreading a local business was on fire yesterday.  Please do not post anything like that unless you now it is a fact.

I will wait until something is confirmed by authorities unless it is a life threatening situation before reporting.



American Coal lays off miners

by Steve Dunford 

GALATIA, IL – There has been a layoff at American Coal Company’s New Future Mine near Galatia. Unconfirmed reports say the layoff is around 300 miners, with several living in Franklin County.

A representative from American Coal made the following statement, “The American Coal Company (“AmCoal”) confirms that it has been forced to reduce its scheduled operations and manpower, at its New Future Mine, as a result of recently encountered adverse mining conditions.”

“AmCoal is reviewing all of its current options with respect to this operation.”

We will keep you informed of any more developments regarding this story, and prayers are going up for the miners and their families who were laid off.   



Stormy week ahead

by Steve Dunford 

This is for Sunday, April 30.  Confidence from the SPC must be high, issuing this seven days out.  (NOAA image)

This is for Sunday, April 30. Confidence from the SPC must be high, issuing this seven days out. (NOAA image)

First of all, enjoy today and tomorrow.  It is going to be picture perfect with highs in the 70’s.

There is going to be a stormy pattern setting up starting on Wednesday.  The weather service has Southern Illinois under a marginal risk of severe weather (Level 1 of 5) for Southern Illinois.  We are going to keep an eye on it because Southeast Missouri is under a slight risk (level 2 of 5).

Dr. Greg Forbes of the Weather Channel has the TORCON level for Southern Illinois listed as 2 to 3 with scattered severe weather.  That means there is a 20 to 30 percent chance of a tornado warning being issued within 50 miles of the areas he outlines.

One thing that grabbed my attention for Wednesday afternoon is the National Weatjer Service in Paducah was alerting Storm Spotters for the possibility of Severe Weather for Wednesday.  I keep my spotter certification up and participate in online seminars still with the National Weather Service.  They sent out the email last night.  Alerting that far in advance is unusual.  Wednesday is worth keeping your eye out for.

Thursday is going to be cooler with a slight chance of showers.

Our next weather maker will come in on Friday as there is a good chance of thunderstorms coming into Friday afternoon into the evening hours.  The confidence level to forecast anything severe is still low because it is still too early to tell.

The weather is causing local high school athletic directors scrambling to reschedule high school baseball and softball games and track meets.  I know there will be rivalry games between Benton and West Frankfort in baseball and softball that has been rescheduled already that is on the slate Friday.

Saturday is supposed to be stormy as well.  The confidence for severe weather is to far out to tell.

Sunday the Storm Prediction Center has outlined an area that the southern seven counties are in for a chance to see some severe weather. (graphic above)  Even though the confidence at this time is 15 percent, it is what a slight risk would be if it is three days out.

This grabbed my attention in a hurry this morning.  If the SPC issues the chance for severe weather this far out, their confidence level must be high.

I will provide daily updates on the developing situation.


Town meeting scheduled for Monday in Benton

Southern Illinoisan image

Southern Illinoisan image

BENTON, IL (Holly Kee – Benton Evening News – Please click on this link for the full story. Here is an Excerpt) An informational letter sent to Benton residents last week has resulted in a flood of phone calls to city hall. According to City Clerk Brook Craig, the letter outlined program details including an “opt out” for the city’s electric municipal aggregation program. “We’ve been flooded with calls,” Craig said. “We just decided to let the guy in charge answer the questions.” The city will hold a town hall meeting beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, April 24 at Benton City Hall.

West Frankfort Grocer Celebrates 50 Years Serving the Community

Gazette phto

Gazette phto

WEST FRANKFORT, IL (Haley Elam -West Frankfort/Benton Gazette – Please click to read the full story. Here is an excerpt) Local business owner, Don McCord has faithfully served the community of West Frankfort for the past five decades. McCord said he worked at the grocery store “Sparks” beginning in 1967, before he and his wife, Sue, purchased the business and established the well-known “McCord’s Market” in 1974. Working alongside him all this time have been his wife, son, sister, nephew and daughter-in-law. “We take great pride in our store,” McCord says. This day and age competing with “big chain” businesses can sometimes be trying for a small town store. McCord confidently expresses, “Small is not always bad. It is more convenient for people to find things.”

State Senator Dale Fowler: Week in review

Press Release from State Senator Dale Fowler (R – Harrisburg) 

Legislators used the two week in-district work period to catch up on constituent communications, hold meetings, and attend community forums, according to State Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg).

The two-week period marks the final time that lawmakers will have a significant amount of days back in their district before the regularly scheduled May 31 adjournment.

Senator Fowler noted that he spent several days down in Cairo as a result of the April 10 announcement by the federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that they would be requiring residents to move from the Elmwood and McBride Complexes.

During Fowler’s repeated visits, he met with constituents and local leaders concerning the quick five-month time frame for vacating the premises, set forth by the federal government.

The Senator is part of a local working group looking at housing options for a portion of the affected constituents.

A number of legislative tours were part of his two weeks back in-district, among the visits were: a factory tour of Aisin of America in Marion, the Rea Clinic in Christopher, the Autism Project on SIU’s Campus, Shawnee Christian Nursing Center and Shawnee Community College.

Senator Fowler also took part in more than two dozen smaller meetings throughout the district and in his’ Harrisburg district office. On April 20, the Senator joined fellow Southern Illinois Senator Paul Schimpf for an SIU forum which allowed community members an opportunity to meet the two new lawmakers.

After nearly 100 days in office, Senator Fowler noted that Illinois continues to face many challenges because of the two-year budgetary impasse, but he remains optimistic that a solution will come.

The Illinois Senate returns to session on April 25 and Senator Fowler’s final public event for the two weeks will be a Southern Illinois Coal Forum to be held in Murphysboro.

Relay race to use rural southern Illinois roads this weekend

Southern Illinois River to river relayULLIN, IL (Krystle Callais, WPSD TV Click to read the full story. Here is an excerpt.) Illinois State Police are warning drivers to be on alert for a relay race being held on some southern Illinois roads this weekend. The River to River Relay is being held this Saturday, April 22. The relay race will have teams run from McGee Hill in LaRue Pine Hills on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River through the Shawnee National Forest to the finish at the Ohio River in Golconda. This race goes through Union, Johnson, and Pope County.

Franklin County jail faces overcrowding

Franklin County JailBENTON, IL (Brandon Richard, WSIL TV – Please click on the link to read the full story and watch the accompanying video. Here is an excerpt) Franklin County Sheriff Don Jones says the county jail faces a big problem: overcrowding. “We’re either at capacity, near capacity or overcapacity almost all the time now,” said Jones. He said one factor is most inmates can’t afford to bond out, and must sit in jail until their court cases are over. But he says the biggest challenge, by far, inmates who suffer from mental illness.

New Illinois $15 minimum wage bill reopens wage fight

SPRINGFIELD, IL – (Alexia Elejadle-Ruiz Chicago Tribune. Please click on the link to read the full story. Here is an excerpt) A new bill to raise the Illinois minimum wage to $15 an hour is expected to be introduced in the state House this week as Democratic representatives revive a push they had largely abandoned over the past several years. State Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, who plans to be the lead sponsor of the legislation, hopes Illinois follows the lead of California and New York, which last year approved laws to advance toward $15 amid growing support across the country for boosting the incomes of the lowest-paid workers. Seventeen other states began this year with minimum wage hikes of varying degrees.

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News