Benton police make arrests

On June 10th, 2021 at approximately 12:21 a.m. Benton Police observed a suspicious male suspect in the 1100 block of North Main Street.

Upon investigation, police arrested Grey Abbott, age 43, of Benton for unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, unlawful possession of methamphetamine, and resisting a peace officer. Abbott also had an active White County warrant for domestic battery. Abbott was charged and transported to the Franklin County Jail for further processing.

On June 11th, 2021 at approximately 6p.m., Benton Police arrested Joshua L. Watkins, age 37, of Benton on an active Franklin County warrant for failure to appear for driving while license suspended. Watkins was transported to the Franklin County Jail for further processing.

Search underway for Southern Illinois man accused of sexual assault of a child

Local authorities are seeking the public’s help in locating a 36-year-old accused of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.

Here’s a link to the story at the Southern Illinoisan.

Missing Marion man identified as body found at Motel Marion demolition site

MARION – Marion Police have confirmed the identity of the the man found dead Tuesday at the demolition site of Motel Marion as Russell W. Bozarth, of Marion.

Here’s a link to the story in the Southern Illinoisan.

IHSA Sports Open Up Further As State Moves To Phase 5

The state of Illinois moved to Phase 5 as a part of the Restore Illinois pandemic relief plan on June 11, 2021. As a result of the move to Phase 5, many IHSA sports and activities have greater autonomy in scheduling, as well as in hosting fans. Some highlights of the move to Phase 5 include…

All IHSA sports can now schedule contests/meets with and against any other high school in the state, as well as with out-of-state opponents.
There are no longer any spectator limitations. All IHSA host venues, indoor and outdoor, may host fans at 100% capacity.
Masks are no longer required for student-athletes, coaches, and officials in low- and medium-risk outdoor sports.

In order to help with social distancing and limit gatherings, the IHSA is utilizing digital ticketing at all remaining Super-Sectional and State Final venues for the remainder of the 2021 school year. GoFan is the official digital ticketing partner of the IHSA. Fans can purchase Super-Sectional and State Final tickets via the GoFan app or at

The IHSA Girls and Boys Track & Field State Finals will employ Eastern Illinois University’s internal digital ticketing platform. State track & field tickets are available for purchase by clicking here.

More information can be found on the IHSA’s COVID-19 resource page.

RLC Board meets, takes action on numerous items

The Rend Lake College Board of Trustees will seek bids for a Communications Tower.

During its monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 8, the board learned that the current communications signal is not adequate enough to reach the entire campus, which could pose a security threat. The purchase and installation of this new system will improve internal communications for the Security and Physical Plant Departments.

Range Hood System purchased for RL Café
The board ratified the award for the purchase and installation of the Range Hood System for the RL Café. The winning bid was Heartland Mechanical Contractors in Murphysboro for $64,978.

Odum named Coordinator of Industry & Apprenticeships
Permission was granted to ratify the transfer of Academic Advisor Tonya Odum to Coordinator of Industry Training & Apprenticeships, effective June 1. In light of the recent transfer of Angelina Mabrey, who served as the Apprenticeship Coordinator, the transfer is in the best interest of the college, according to administrative rationale.

Fitts promoted to Director of Apprenticeships & CTE Support
Permission was granted to expand the duties and revise the job description of Joy Fitts from CTE Support Specialist to Director of Apprenticeships & CTE Support, effective June 1. To better fit the needs of the college, this position is being created to build upon current duties and to efficiently use college resources, according to administrative rationale.

Confer promoted to Director of RLCF Children’s Center
Permission was granted to transfer Chrissy Confer from Lead Childcare Provider to Director of RLC Foundation Children’s Center, effective June 16. In light of the recent resignation of Brooke May, the transfer is in the best interest of the college, according to administrative rationale.

Braden promoted to Assistant Director of Student Records
Permission was granted to expand the duties and revise the job description of Summer Braden from Student Records Specialist to Assistant Director of Student Records, effective July 1. To better fit the needs of the college, this position is being created to build upon current duties and to efficiently use college resources, according to administrative rationale.

Phillips moves to Director of Auxiliary Services
Permission was granted to expand the duties and revise the job description of Corey Phillips from Director of Rend Lake College MarketPlace to Director of Auxiliary Services, effective July 1. To better fit the needs of the college, this position is being created to build upon current duties and to efficiently use college resources, according to administrative rationale.

New Curriculum coming
The college will add five new online courses — Restaurant Management, Principles of Cost Control, Principles of Effective Speaking, Accelerated Learning Program and Stress Management.

Fund transfers
The board approved the transfer of $2,481,000 from the Education Fund to the Working Cash fund. The transfer makes whole an earlier transfer that the college had made previously and was to have been repaid within the fiscal year.

The board also agreed to transfer up to $3.4 million from the Working Cash Fund to the Education Fund. The transaction is necessary due to the timing of receipts expected from the State of Illinois for various grant payments that may be delayed. The amount will be transferred back to the Working Cash Fund upon receipt of the expected state monies.

In other business, the board
· Approved a second reading revising policies in regards to background checks for potential and current employees.
· Approved an engagement letter for Kemper CPA Group, LLP, to provide audit and tax return preparation for the 2021 fiscal year, effective July 1.
· Approved the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Statement for the Mary and George Slankard Learning Resource Center, effective June 8.
· Approved revisions to increase hourly pay for some part-time positions, effective July 1.
· Created stipend positions for a College Bowl Coach and a Debate & Speech Team Coach and increased other stipends, effective July 1.
· Accepted the resignation of Brooke May, director of the RLC Foundation Children’s Center, effective May 20.
· Accepted the resignation of Jamie Cambron, lead childcare provider at the RLCF Children’s Center, effective June 30.
· Approved the Resource Allocation Management Plan for fiscal year 2023. The RAMP will soon be available online at
· Approved the salaries for fiscal year 2022.

Mark Your Calendars
Mental Health 101 with Lindsey Adams, Tuesday, June 15, virtual, TBD.
RLC Sponsored Family Night, Wednesday, June 30, Aquatic Zoo, Mt. Vernon, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Paramedic Program Accreditation Site Visit, Thursday through Friday, July 8-9, virtual.
Warrior Days Workshop, Wednesday, July 28, Rend Lake College campus, 9:30 a.m. to noon.
Warrior Days Workshop, Wednesday, August 4, Rend Lake College campus, 9:30 a.m. to noon.
RLC Sponsored Back-to-School Night for High School Students, Wednesday, August 4, Aquatic Zoo, Mt. Vernon, TBD.
Warrior Days Workshop, Saturday, August 14, Rend Lake College campus, 9:30 a.m. to noon.
Annual RLC Foundation Golf Outing, Thursday, September 9, Rend Lake Golf Course, noon shotgun start.
Fun Fest, Wednesday, September 15, Rend Lake College Ina campus, noon to 3 p.m.
Auto Show, Rend Lake College Ina campus.
RLCF Annual Scholarship Dinner, Thursday, October 21, Benton Civic Center, 6 to 8 p.m.

11-year-old girl among 60 shot over weekend in Chicago

An 11-year-old girl was shot in the lower back Sunday night in the West Pullman neighborhood on Chicago’s Far South Side, police said, among at least 60 people shot over the weekend in Chicago, six of them fatally.

Here’s a link to the story at the Chicago Tribune.

We have found the promised land … and there’s pie!

SESSER, Ill. — Rend Lake College Culinary Arts alumna Hannah Hill has set up her own shop, the Milk & Honey Bakehouse in Sesser, where she runs a one-woman dessert operation that is satisfying sweet-tooth cravings throughout southern Illinois.

Hill graduated with an Occupational Certificate of Baking and Pastry Arts in 2017. She said her time at the college was her first in a professional kitchen. The small class size with Chefs Robert Wilson and Jeff Fairbanks was the perfect recipe for success. It was an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream.

“I’ve loved baking and cooking my whole life,” Hill said. “It’s what I have enjoyed. I got to just drink in all the information that I could. It was one of the most fun years of my life.”
Hill knew she wanted to own her own business, and she knew she wanted to give back to the southern Illinois community that helped shape who she is today. The opportunity to open her own bake shop came six months ago, after the kitchen job she had was put on hold because of COVID. A couple of weeks later, Hill was able to find an available kitchen to rent and start up her dream business.

Hannah Hill bakes an assortment of pies and other desserts at her business, the Milk and Honey Bakehouse, located in Sesser.

The Milk & Honey Bakehouse has an array of made-from-scratch treats, but pie is the specialty. Customers can pre-order their desserts 24 hours in advance through her website [LINK “her website”] so that she is able to serve as many as possible.

Hill said her signature pie is the Honey Pie, a salted pretzel crust custard creation that includes a dollop of the sweet stuff that she tries to put in every one of her recipes.
The Sesser community has been very welcoming, and the buzz about her business has been spreading.

“I couldn’t have asked for more,” she said.

Hill said pie is the kind of dessert that brings up joy and also conjures up their own memories.

“I’ve always liked pie,” Hill said. “People around here love pie, and everyone around here has eaten pie at some point. And everyone thinks about their grandma’s pie. They know what they expect a pie to be, and I try to make that standard but everyone’s a little bit different.”

On the weekends, Hill has busied herself, setting up shop at various events and growing her clientele. Her booths have been set up at the Route 51 Farmhouse Market in DuQuoin, the Locust Street Historical Fair in Centralia, and the Magpie Market Days in Marion. Her future plans are to increase her business-to-business sales, and summer events like these help her make those connections.

“Events are my favorite part about doing this,” she said. “I get to meet other business owners, broaden my outreach and meet new customers. It’s pushed me out of my comfort zone, for sure, but they are always fun.”

Hannah Hill sets up her booth for her business, Milk and Honey Bakehoue, during a recent event.

Hill, who grew up in DuQuoin, said southern Illinois has a unique food culture and she feels honored to be a part of it.

“I think the food culture here is vastly underrated,” she said. “That is something they taught us in culinary school, how much of a diversity in food there is around here, but it is also high quality. So I think you could find some really great stuff here and I wanted to be a part of that food culture.”

Hill said hard work is important in the restaurant business, and those who are willing to put in the time will be rewarded.

“That’s where you have to start,” she said. “If you are willing to put in the work, be dedicated and be reliable. If you are good under pressure, you are not going to have any problem. You are going to be valuable.”

Check out all of Hill’s sweet specialties online at

Hundreds gather as Street Machine Nationals return to Du Quoin

DU QUOIN – There’s no place like home.

That’s the feeling hundreds of automotive enthusiasts had as they gathered for the Continental Tire Street Machine Nationals this weekend at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds, the event’s home turf.

Here’s the link to the story at the Southern Illinoisan.

GOP message: Pritzker has a trust problem

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Republicans may have been shut out on the key issues this spring, but they did find a unifying theme as the party tries to make its case against Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who’s up for reelection next year.
Here’s a link to the story.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs into law new maps for Illinois legislature, state Supreme Court

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who as a candidate vowed to veto any partisan redistricting plan for the legislature, signed into law Friday new partisan-drawn districts for the General Assembly and state Supreme Court designed to maintain his party’s control in Illinois.

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News