Governor encourages new IDOC cadets to focus on safety, believe in second chances

Delivers Keynote Address at IDOC Graduation Ceremony

Note:  Please check the Facebook page for a picture of one of the cadets, Jade Clark of Buckner -sd

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Bruce Rauner welcomed new correctional cadets to the state’s ranks today. He was the keynote speaker at a graduation ceremony, which included the first class of cadets for the Murphysboro Life Skills Re-Entry Center.

“We’re excited to have the new cadets joining us as we shift our approach to corrections,” Gov. Rauner said. “We’re focusing on the whole person, not just punishment, as offenders prepare for release back into society. We’re helping them believe they are better than the crimes they’ve committed and that they can be productive citizens when they walk out these doors.”

The Murphysboro Life Skills Re-entry Center is the second of its kind to open under Gov. Rauner’s leadership. The first, which is located in Kewanee, Illinois, opened in February 2017. More than 60 offenders have been released from the Kewanee facility in the past year, none have returned to prison.

The Life Skills Re-Entry Centers focus on teaching skills that will help offenders be successful once they’re released – such as how to manage a bank account, write a resume, communicate effectively with others, and prepare for job interviews. The Murphysboro facility will accept its first group of offenders in April.

A total of 190 cadets graduated from the Illinois Department of Corrections today, wrapping up six-weeks of coursework and on-the-job training.  During their time at the Academy, they learned how to understand and communicate with offenders on the mental health caseload and how to maintain composure in crisis situations.

Rauner has made criminal justice reform a priority.  Under his direction, the IDOC incorporated cutting edge staff training into its curriculum and offers ongoing courses aimed at creating safe working environments at all IDOC facilities.

Just weeks after taking office, Gov. Rauner announced his goal to reduce the prison population by 25% by the year 2025. IDOC Director John Baldwin says they’re already more than halfway to the goal.

“We’ve safely reduced the prison population by about 15% in the past three years,” Baldwin said. “Life is about second chances. We’re creating opportunities that enhance safety in our facilities and set offenders on a path toward success. We’re excited to have all of our new cadets join us on this mission.”

The Illinois Department of Corrections held two graduating ceremonies today, one at its Springfield headquarters and another at the Murphysboro Life Skills Re-entry Center, where Gov. Rauner delivered the keynote address.

More than 2,900 new IDOC cadets have been added to the ranks since Gov. Rauner took office. The new cadets will start at facilities across the state on Monday.

Video of the event can be found here.

Approximately 90 tickets remain for the championship game of the Z-R Class 1A Regional

By Steve Dunford 

ZEIGLER – I just spoke with Zeigler-Royalton Athletic Director Jeremy May, and 90 general admission tickets remain for the championship game between Sesser-Valier and Woodlawn.

The school will set up cameras where the game can be streamed inside the school when the gym reaches full capacity.

The doors will open at 4:45 p.m. with the Country Financial Three Point Showdown starting at 5:00 p.m.


City of Zeigler Water Interruption

ZEIGLER, – Franklin County Emergency Management agency reports that  water service in the City of Zeigler will be interrupted for approx. 3-4 hours due to a water line break. A Boil water order has been issued for when service is restored.

I just checked with Zeigler-Royalton School, and they will not be dismissing early.  The interruption does not affect the school.  -sd


People’s National Bank providing scholarships to Z-R seniors

ZEIGLER – Peoples National Bank has provided financial services to Southern Illinois since 1909. In keeping with the tradition of community service and commitment to the education of future civic and business leaders, Peoples National Bank has established an educational scholarship to assist high school graduates in continuing their education at a university, college, trade or vocational school. Each recipient of the Peoples National Bank scholarship will receive a $500 scholarship.

All Z-R  seniors with the Peoples National Bank scholarship application attached! Please review it, take note of the eligibility requirements, and APPLY if you are eligible!

Guidance counselor Matt Morgan is  currently in the process of confirming and finalizing the local scholarship list and will have those applications out in the coming weeks.

ILLINOIS LEGENDS: Zeigler, Illinois – A Breath Away From Being the Nation’s Capitol

ZEIGLER – Nestled away in the rolling hills of the Franklin County area of southern Illinois lays the forgotten town that in 1904 was only a breath away from being the nation’s capitol. It was here that in 1901 a Chicago multi-millionaire named Levi Zeigler Leiter, and his son Joseph brought the family fortune and began building a small empire. After buying 8000 acres of land, Joseph began sinking the coal mine that would become the original headquarters for the nationally known Zeigler Coal Company. 

Arial shot of Zeigler (Legends of America photo)

Leiter was so sure that his mine would be the largest and the most modern, he used champagne instead of water to mix the cornerstone concrete with. For good measure he threw in a couple expensive diamond rings and his gold watch into the mix. Engraved in the cornerstone was the date of 2004, because Leiter claimed his mine modernization would be a hundred years ahead of its time.

Please click on the link below from  Raymond D. Null of Legends of America.

Village of Royalton under a boil water order

ROYALTON – The village of Royalton has issued a boil water order.

As of December 25th at 3:45pm, South Main Street from South 4th Street to South 6th Street are all affected areas.

This order stands until further notice.

Z-R falls to Vienna in BDC West action last night

By Steve Dunford 

ZEIGLER – “The difficulties and struggles of today are but the price we must pay for the accomplishments and victories of tomorrow.”  I swiped this from Zeigler-Royalton coach Matt Morgan this morning off of Social Media.

When you are in a rebuilding mode, victories come in quarters and halves not in full games.  The Tornadoes put together a good first quarter against Goreville on Tuesday night.  They put together a good one against Vienna last night as well, down 14-13.

Zeigler-Royalton athletes serving their community by providing senior citizens a Christmas dinner

I have well documented in the past the things the communities have accomplished through their Coaches vs. Cancer endeavors.

Here is another way the young men and women at Z-R high school serve.  They provide a Christmas dinner for the senior citizens of the community.  (I swiped a picture off of Coach Morgan as well.)

I do not buy into the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality.  We still keep score for a reason.  Anyone with a competitive bone in their body has the goal to beat you in whatever you are competing at.

I wholeheartedly believe that high schools sports are an extension of the classroom.  Character of young men and women that suit up for the Tornadoes was shown this morning.

I have said several times, and will say it again in the future, the Tornadoes play harder than any team in Southern Illinois.  It might be two years down the road, but they will reap the benefits.

Nolan Dancke had a game high 13 and Gabe Snell added 12 points as the Vienna Eagles left with a 57-32 victory last night.

Cole Sanders led the way for Z-R with 10 points on the night, and Gannon Dollins added seven.

Vienna improves to (4-3)(1-1) on the season.  They step out of the BDC and host the Pope County Pirates, a team that is one of the surprises out of the GEC which is 5-4 on the season.

Zeigler-Royalton falls to (0-6)(0-2)  They are idle until the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament.  Parings are set to come out early next week.

Box Score

VIENNA (57)  N.  Dancke 2 6-7 13, Breeden 1 0-0 2, Roper 1 0-0 2, Ross 1 0-0 3, Naese 2 0-0 5, Snell 4 4-4 12, Casey 2 0-0 5, B Dancke 1 2-2 4, Hutchinson 1 0-0 2, Bynro 3 0-0 6, Kuhn 1 1-2 3

ZEIGLER-ROYALTON (32)  Mills 1 0-0 5, Eldridge 0 2-4 2, Sanders 5 0-1 10, Dollins 3 1-5 7, Meadows 0 2-5 2, Bisallion 0 3-4 3, Imhoff 1 1-3 3

Score By Quarters

VIENNA (4-3)(1-1)  13 – 15 – 14 – 15  – 57

ZEIGLER-ROYALTON (0-6)(0-2)  12 – 9 – 5 – 6  – 32

DuQuoin man arrested on sex charges near Zeigler

ZEIGLER, IL – On November 5th, 2017 at the Diesel Mud Ranch which is located west of Zeigler and south of ll. Rt. 149. The incident is alleged to have occurred during the evening hours and the alleged victims; two adult females, reported the crime.

The investigation has resulted in the arrest of Toby E. Dearmond age 39 of DuQuoin. Dearmond is being held in the Franklin County Jail on two counts of criminal sexual abuse. Both are class 4 felonies. The investigation is ongoing and more arrests and charges are possible.

Several departments called to a large house fire in Royalton last night

Photo from West City Fire Department


by Steve Dunford

ROYALTON, IL –  Royalton, Zeigler, Hurst, Williamson County, West Frankfort, and Christopher firefighters, along with the West City Rehab Unit, and MABAS 45 air supply unit were toned to a large structure fire, at 202 S. Mannering Street in Royalton.

Royalton Fire Chief Mike Hooker told WSIL-TV, that crews left around 2:30 a.m. Monday, but were called back a few hours later when the house rekindled. Heavy equipment had to be used to help firefighters put out hot spots.

The house is considered a total loss.

Any information in regards to fundraising etc., please pass along.



Upward Bound students treated to a little magic

by Reece Rutland

INA, IL  – The Upward Bound program at Rend Lake College celebrated its students with a little magic at the annual Upward Bound Banquet, held RLC’s James “Hummer” Waugh Gymnasium.

This year’s Harry Potter-themed event recognized dozens of local students for their involvement in the academic year program, as well as the summer program. The academic year program focuses on achievement in the classroom, team building, and goal setting activities. The summer program is more intensive with five weeks of classes on the Ina campus. Some students also take part in trips throughout the year and others enroll in RLC credit courses.

During the awards aspect of the banquet, students received certificates for participation in the Upward Bound program and the summer program during the 2016-17 year, for earning straight As, for perfect attendance, for receiving RLC college credit, and many others.

The RLC Upward Bound program is a federally funded college preparatory program designed to provide academic support, personal and career counseling, and cultural and social enrichment to high school participants who have the academic ability to be successful in college. Services are provided at no cost to the student. To learn more about the Upward Bound program, contact Stallman at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1366 or

Reece Rutland is a Public Information Specialist and Sports Information Director for Rend Lake College



Zeigler-Royalton High School Participants
Front row, from left: Hannah Absher, Brie Bates, Erin Eldridge, Gabby Dover, Lacey Grammer, Dawson Thomas. Back row, from left, Payce Morgan, Draven Witt, Brandon Bates, Chase Bates, Dakota Emery.
( Photos by Reece Rutland – RLC Public Information)


Benton High School Participants
Front row, from left: Kendra-jo Sanders, Diamond Anderson, Brandie Anderson. Back row, from left: Desiree Phillips, Alexis Jones, Honey Harvill, Hailey Bryan, Andrew Blackman, Karli Slomka.


Hamilton County High School Participants
Front row, from left: Kennedy Moles, Alex Farthing, Emilie Green, Summer Matthews. Back row, from left: Samantha Alverth, Noah Colclasure, Cheyenne Powers, Alesse Strumpher, Kelcie Green, Elizabeth Isaacs.


Mt. Vernon Township High School Participants
Front row, from left: Asia Huggins, Jay King, Jasmine Howard, Caleb Isaacs. Back row, from left, Lance White, Casey White, Madison Waters, Ally Vuichard, Lexy McKinney, Hailey Mays.



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