Route 148 to be closed in Chirstopher next week

CARBONDALE – The Illinois Department of Transportation would like to alert motorists traveling on Illinois 148 in Christopher, Illinois in Franklin County of an upcoming ROAD CLOSURE.

Beginning Monday, December 11, 2017 at 8:00 A.M., IL 148 between 6th Street and 9th Street in Christopher will be closed. This closure is necessary to facilitate the repair of a drainage structure. The road is expected to be open by 5:00 P. M. on Wednesday, December 20, 2017.

Motorists should use the marked detour or seek an alternate route.

Message boards and signs will be in place to alert traffic of the closure.

For IDOT District 9 updates on twitter, follow us at

Christopher boys and girls both pick up wins over Cobden

By Jim Muir

CHRISTOPHER – Christopher boys and girls had a good day on Saturday as both notched non-conference victories over visiting Cobden.

In girls action the Lady Bearcats picked up a hard-fought 56-49 win to move to 5-2 overall this season. Both teams tallied 11 points in the first quarter and the Lady Bearcats eked ahead 26-23 at the intermission. Cobden outscored the Lady ‘Cats 12-11 in the third quarter to pull within two heading into the final stanza. A 19-14 surge by Christopher in the final quarter secured the win.

Christopher placed three players in double figures led by Courtney Hoppers with 16, followed by Kassie O’Bryan with 12 and Jayla Williams with 11. Rounding out the scoring Kaitlyn Hewitt had nine points, Andrea Miller with four points and Carley Young and Lauren Kent with two points each. Flamm led the Lady Appleknockers with 15 points.

The Lady Cats are back in action on Thursday, Dec. 7 when they face the Sesser-Valier-Waltonville Lady Devils in a key Black Diamond Conference West matchup.

In the boy’s contest Christopher was paced by the 33-point effort of Bradley Young and improved to 4-0 overall on the young season.

The Bearcats jumped out to a nine point first quarter lead at 23-14 and then increased the margin to double digits at halftime, 39-25. Along with Young’s 33 points, Gabriel Motsinger also tallied double figures with 15 points, followed by Dalton Saeger and Jared Curry with nine points each, Bryce Pratt with six point and Daniel Flowers with one point. Clayton Eck led Cobden with 23 points.

The Bearcats are back in action on Tuesday, Dec. 5 when they travel to Jefferson County to take on the always-tough Woodlawn Cardinals in a non-conference matchup.


Students, leaders share stage at 2017 RLC Criminal Justice Scholarship Roundup

MT. VERNON, IL – The future of local law enforcement and some of their most ardent supporters gathered in Mt. Vernon this week for the sixth annual Rend Lake College Criminal Justice Program’s Roundup for Scholarships event.

Every year, the fundraiser brings in approximately $3,000 – enough for at least six students to receive financial help for classes in the criminal justice program. This year, the six students who received those scholarships were on hand to meet with members of local law enforcement who took the opportunity to share words of wisdom and encouragement.


Jefferson County State’s Attorney Sean Featherstun, center, presents a $1,000 donation to the Rend Lake College Criminal Justice Scholarship Fund. There to receive the gift was RLC Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Ron Meet, left, and RLC President Terry Wilkerson, right.  (Reece Rutland, Rend Lake College public information)

Jefferson County State’s Attorney Sean Featherstun started the event off with a bang when he presented the criminal justice scholarship fund with a $1,000 donation out of the State’s Attorney’s Drug Forfeiture Fund.

“We seize money from drug dealers and hold on to it until we can find something positive to do with it. So, tonight we are here to donate this money to the scholarship fund. This is our opportunity to take money from the bad guys and use it to fight against them,” said Featherstun.

Dave Severin, State Representative for the 117th District, shared his message of gratitude and encouraged the students to remain local to help build Southern Illinois up.

“You are the future of Southern Illinois. I’m so glad to be here this evening to not only congratulate you but also to challenge you to go get an education or start your own business, have a family and stay in Southern Illinois,” Severin expressed.

Mt. Vernon Police Chief Chris Deichman echoed those thoughts.

“I would like to commend all these students on your chosen path. You’ve taken a great first step. Like Representative Severin made mention, I would challenge you as well to stay right here. Stay local. When we are recruiting, we are looking for folks who came from our local community colleges. What we have found in our department, the ones that have worked their way up and are now leaders in the department are local. So, when we are looking for new officers we like to look right here in our own back yard. Those people tend to love the community and stick around,” Deichman expressed.

Deichman also told the students that they were getting started with their careers by taking advantage of Rend Lake College. The chief shared his experience of being a RLC criminal justice student and how that helped him along the path that he is on today.

Jefferson County Sheriff Travis Allen, a fellow RLC criminal justice graduate, agreed wholeheartedly.
“Rend Lake gave me a great base where I was able to go on to graduate school. I believe all of that is because of the college and the Foundation, providing me the support and tools I needed. We have something in our backyard that we should take advantage of, and that’s Rend Lake College. You will not find a more intelligent and better prepared man than Ron Meek,” said Allen.

Two of the student scholarship recipients also took the opportunity to speak.

Six criminal justice students were on hand at the 2017 Roundup for Scholarships event. From left, Jordan Pike (McLeansboro), Alan Fox (Tamaroa), Anthony Amato (Ina), Jena Holden (Christopher), Associate Professor Ron Meek and Chelsey Bundy (Thompsonville). Not pictured was Amanda Queen (Reece Rutland – Rend Lake College Public Information.)

Chelsey Bundy (Thompsonville) has already begun working as a full-time officer with the Sesser Police Department while continuing her education. She hopes to use this opportunity to go on and earn her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

“I just want to thank everyone for coming tonight. It’s been an honor to receive a scholarship this year. It’s helped me out a lot. We all know college is expensive. Thank you professor Meek for being a great instructor and making class interesting and leading us all in the right direction,” Bundy stated.
Fellow scholarship recipient Alan Fox (Tamaroa) had nothing but praise for the program.

“I have personally learned more about criminal justice than I ever could have imagined over the past year and a half. Professor Meek is a great teacher. All of the teachers in the program are great and very knowledgeable,” Fox said.

Rend Lake College President Terry Wilkerson and Foundation CEO Kay Zibby-Damron also took a turn at the podium to thank the students for attending RLC and to encourage them to become quality representatives of the Criminal Justice Program as well as the college.

Ron Meek, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, closed the night by thanking all the supporters of the program and making two announcements of his own.

“I just want to take a moment to thank the college, local law enforcement and the community for their support of the program. Because, without them, we wouldn’t have the success that we enjoy. We are always trying to come up with new things to keep our program on the cutting edge of the field. This year, I’m pleased to announce that in January we are starting a new class called Law Enforcement Scenarios. It will be a whole semester of spending one class period learning about a topic and then the next class period of actually roleplaying that scenario out,” said Meek. “A lot of our local law enforcement has come to me and expressed a need for scenario-based training. So, we are working towards addressing that need.”

“Also, with the president of the college’s support and the cooperation of local law enforcement, we are about to get Illinois to move the part-time Police Academy from Carbondale to Rend Lake College Starting in January. So, we are going to be the site for Southern Illinois part-time, police training program.”

To learn more about RLC’s Criminal Justice program, visit, or contact Meek at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1239 or


Buckner Fire-Rescue hosting several activities on Halloween Night

BUCKNER, IL- This year at Halloween the Buckner Fire Department will once again have its doors open for our area trick or treaters, on Halloween night from 5:00 until 9:00pm. We will have candy and fire prevention materials to hand out for the kids. We will also be grilling out and having free hot dogs, chips, and drinks. Kids will have the chance to participate in “Touch a Truck” where they will be allowed to explore in one of our fire engines!

And finally we will be having our first annual “Its the Great Pumpkin Buckner Fire” pumpkin decorating contest. All kids 18 and under will have the oppourtunity to bring in a painted and or carved pumpkin to be judged by very distinguished panel of pumpkin experts, and have the chance to win a sweet prize package! One boy and one girl will win a certificate with the oppourtunity to get a chauffeured ride to school in one of our engines! Talk about making your friends jealous!!!
We are also pleased to announce, that this year we will be participating in the “Teal Pumpkin Project.”

The Teal Pumpkin project is a simple way to identify to parents and their children, that we will have non-allergen candy and prizes available for children with food allergies. The department will have teal pumpkins on display to identify our trick or treat spot as a “safe” place to get safe treats and prizes.

Food allergies are a life-altering and potentially life-threatening disease, and a growing public health issue. In the U.S., one in 13 children has a food allergy – that’s roughly two in every classroom. For these children, even a tiny amount of their allergen has the potential to cause a severe reaction.

Virtually any food can cause a reaction. Many popular Halloween candies contain nuts, milk, egg, soy or wheat, which are some of the most common allergens in children and adults. Additionally, many miniature or fun-size versions of candy items contain different ingredients than their full-size counterparts and some miniature candy items may not have labels, so it is difficult for parents to determine whether these items are safe for their child with food allergies.

Non-food treats provide a safe, fun alternative for children with food allergies and other conditions for whom candy may present a problem.

There are many kids that don’t get to experience the fun of Trick or treating due to this illness. 

We care about all the kids in all communities. They are our future.

The cool thing is…. you, the person reading this… can participate as well.

For more information where you can learn the facts about food allergies and the Teal Pumpkin project, please visit any or all of the following websites.

www. foodallergy. org

www. tealpumpkinproject. org     
  or  you may like The Teal Pumpkin Project on Facebook

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.

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.

Local fire departments were busy Sunday evening

by Steve Dunford


Several area fire departments responded to a house fire last night at the corner of Horrell Ave. and St Louis St. in West Frankfort. (Zeigler Fire Department photo)

In a six hour stretch between 6:00 pm and around midnight, area fire departments were busy handling several calls.

Just right at 6:00 p.m. West Frankfort Firefighters were paged to the intersection of St. Louis Street and Horrell Avenue (Deering Road)  to a structure fire.  Departments from West City, Benton, Zeigler, Johnston City and Abbott EMS provided mutual aid.

Between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Royalton firefighters were toned to a pole barn fire on Washington Street.  Zeigler firefighters were leaving West Frankfort when the were called for mutual aid.  The structure was a total loss.  Christopher provided station coverage for Zeigler.

At 10:55 p.m., Benton firefighters were called to a single vehicle accident  and fire on East Main Street in front of the new Dollar General with injuries.

At 11;45 p.m.. West City firefighters were called to a three vehicle accident with injuries at the intersection of Route 14 and Central Street (in front of Walmart.)

I might be mistaken, but I am nearly positive that  Benton and West City provided mutual aid for each other during the wrecks.  Buckner Fire and Rescue also provided station coverage for West City.



Zeigler and Christopher firefighters called to a vehicle fire on State Route 148

ZEIGLER – Zeigler and Christopher firefighters responded to a vehicle fire on State Route 148 between the two towns this afternoon. (Zeigler Fire Department FB page with photo submitted by Kim McCullom

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





Information about the heat…updated list of cooling centers

by Steve Dunford

The Heat Advisory is still in effect until Sunday.  I would not be surprised if the National Weather Service ups it to an Excessive Heat Warning.  The NWS in St. Louis has had one for two days.

Here are some area temperatures and heat indexes across the region

  • Mt. Vernon 96 degrees/heat index 109
  • Marion 95 degrees/ heat index 103
  • Carbondale 93 degrees/ heat index 103

Here is an updated list of cooling centers across the county:


City Hall

Fire Department

Township Community Building

West Frankfort:

Police Department


City Hall – Please use the police department entrance.


First Baptist Church will be having the lunch program between 11am till 1pm.  Kids 18 and under ear free.  Adults it is $3.00


Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News