Sesser-Valier Students attend assembly on internet safety

Illinois State Trooper Joey Watson conducts an assembly for all Sesser-Valier students from grades 3-12 on the dangers of surfing the internet. There will be a similar session in the spring for parents. (Photo provided)

A decade of giving – Sesser business giving back to community

By Jim Muir

Very quietly during the past decade the Double R Bar in Sesser has given back to the community in a big and lasting way.

This weekend – January 6, 2018 – will mark the 10th Anniversary of the Willard & Brandon Dame Hunt that will take place at Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park. Since its inception the annual event has raised more than $75,000 that has been donated to fund scholarships for Sesser-Valier High School students and to provide much-needed help to local people facing difficult medical conditions.

Charles Pool, manager of the bar, said the annual hunt has ‘grown by leaps and bounds’ in both money raised and participants. Pool said the amazing thing is that the event has not been highly publicized or promoted.

Double R Bar manager Charles Pool, left, presents a check to former Sesser-Valier High School student Luke Thompson from money raised through the annual Willard & Brandon Dame Hunt.
(Photo provided)

“This little bar has been a part of the community for a long, long time,” Pool said. “This event is just a way for us to give something back. The bar keeps none of the money raised.”

The day of the hunt will be a jam-packed marathon for the many volunteers who donate their time and resources and will include three meals – the Double R kicks the event off with a hearty breakfast prior to the hunt. All the hunters involved each pay $30 to participate. After the ‘before-daylight’ breakfast at Double R the hunt is held and then lunch is served again at the bar. Gutzler said vendors from throughout Southern Illinois donate items to be raffled off during the daylong event, including three new guns this year. Pool said each year the hunt draws 60-80 hunters. Other sponsors donate money and items that are auctioned during the daylong event.

Willard Dame and his son Brandon loved to hunt and loved the outdoors and the camaraderie with fellow hunters that go along with the sport. But tragedy struck the Dame family on December 28, 1994 when 16-year-old Brandon was critically injured in a two-car crash south of Sesser. He died the following day in a Cape Girardeau hospital. Willard died on January 26, 2007 at the relatively young age of 59.

And it’s that knowledge that spurred Double R co-owner Randy Gutzler to initiate the annual event to honor the memory of father and son while at the same time helping a local student through a scholarship fund.

Gutzler said the ‘why’ involved with the start of the yearly hunt is two-fold.

“Willard loved to hunt and Brandon started hunting with him when he was really young,” said Gutzler. “We think this is a good way to keep their memory alive and also help a deserving student continue their education.”

Pool said a portion of the money raised is donated each year to the Sesser-Valier High School Outdoorsman Club – a group that has received statewide recognition for its annual handicap deer hunt and other community-oriented programs. In recent years, Pool said, money has also been donated to local residents fighting mounting medical and travel expenses from cancer.

‘We’ve also donated more than $5,000 to St. Judes Children’s Hospital,” said Pool. “We have also helped three or four people right here in Sesser who were battling cancer.”

Chrissie (Dame) Vickers, Willard’s daughter and Brandon’s sister, gave high marks for the effort by Gutzler and Pool and the host of people that help to make the event a success. Despite his youth Vickers said her brother was an avid hunter and was also proud of his association with the popular Outdoorsman Club at S-V High School.

“I think it’s tremendous what they have accomplished with this event,” said Vickers. “As the years go by this is a way to keep my dad and my brother’s memory alive and at the same time help a young person with their education.”

She recalled that the November deer season of 1994 – only a few weeks before her brother was fatally injured – found Brandon torn about a tough decision.

“He loved the Outdoorsman Club and the handicapped deer hunt,” said Vickers. “He wanted to go to that but he really wanted to hunt with my dad. In the end he went with my dad to hunt and it was the last time they hunted together.”

Gutzler said there are certain criteria that must be met each year to qualify for the scholarship.

“The scholarship must go to a member of the Outdoorsman Club and also to a student that has a financial need,” said Gutzler. “And the scholarship has to go through Rend Lake College.”

Gutzler said he believes the event will continue to grow each year.

“We’re happy to do it each year,” said Gutzler. “To raise more than $75,000 in a little bar in a little town is a pretty good sum of money and of course it all goes for a great cause.”


Lady Devils run record to 15-0 with win over Christopher

By Jim Muir

The Sesser-Valier-Waltonville Lady Devils ran their record to 15-0 Tuesday night with a lopsided 71-35 victory over Christopher in Black Diamond Conference West action.

Sisters Sami and Jaice McCowen combined for 33 points and eight 3-pointers in the victory. Sami McCowen, a junior, netted 22 points, hitting five treys while younger sister Jaice, a sophomore, added 11 points and three 3-pointers. In all, the Lady Devils hit 11 3-pointers in the contest.

S-V-W jumped out to a 19-7 first quarter lead and then outscored the Lady Bearcats 23-12 in the second frame to coast to a commanding 42-19 halftime advantage.

S-V-W Coach Rick Metcalf had high praise for the McCowen sisters and their offensive showing.

“They really got us out of the gate offensively,” said the longtime coach. “We shot the ball extremely well as a team.”

Metcalf said Sami McCowen continues to improve in all aspects of the game.

“She (Sami) is one of the top point guards in the Southern Illinois,” said Metcalf. “She is getting better every game, and she is just a junior.”

Rounding out the scoring for the Lady Red Devils, Paige Tucker and Peyton Wilderman had eight points each, Brooke Wilderman added five points, Carlie Page and Jaycee Garner scored four points each, Jada Hale added three points and Ella Zahm, Adrianna Fedderke and Hannah Miller all scored two points each.

The Lady Bearcats were led in scoring by Jayla Williams with nine points, followed by Courtney Hoppers and Andrea Miller with six points each. Rounding out the scoring Kassie O’Bryan had four points, Lauren Kent added three points, Khortnee Kerkemeyer, Shianne Dejear and Savannah Sherman had two points and Carly Freehill added one point.

The Lady Bearcats are back in action on Thursday January 4 when they will host Zeigler-Royalton in a BDC match while the Lady Red Devils will travel to Vienna on the same night.






50 Influencers of Rend Lake College: Randall Crocker Leading into the Future

By Reece Rutland 

NOTE:  This is a series that featured the Rend Lake College Board as a whole.  I decided to break it down individually.  Today, Randall Crocker of Sesser will be featured. sd

Randall Crocker is a two-time board of trustees member, having served from 1997-2009 before being reappointed to the board in 2013 to fill a vacant seat. In 2015, he was elected to an additional four-year term on the board.

“We are glad to welcome Randall back to our board. He brings plenty of experience from his earlier service, and he continues to be a strong supporter of Rend Lake College,” said President Wilkerson at the time of the appointment.

Crocker is a long-time member and chair of the Franklin County Board and owns and operates Crocker Insurance Agency in Sesser with his son Brett.

“I’m very pleased with the way the college is being run. I don’t have any specific goals in mind, but I want to support the administration, because I think they’re doing a great job,” said Crocker.

A former RLC student himself, Crocker is now tied for fourth-longest tenured trustee. He will have sat on the board for a total of 18 years when he completes his current term. Only Marvin Scott (35 years), Dr. Richard Simpson (23 years) and Dr. Allan Patton (22 years) have served longer. David Edmison also served as a trustee for 18 years.

Red Devils win fourth straight with road win over Vienna

By Jim Muir

The Sesser-Valier Red Devils put four players in double figures and picked up a 75-55 Black Diamond Conference road victory over Vienna in Tuesday night prep action.

Tyler Winchester led the way for S-V and picked up game scoring honors with 21 points. The Red Devils jumped out to a double-digit first quarter lead 20-10 and maintained that through the second frame as both teams tallied 16 points in the second quarter. S-V led 36-26 at the intermission.

Red Devils’ Coach Shane Garner said he felt his team missed opportunities early to put the game away.

“It was a back and forth game,” said Garner. “We got hot early but never could put them away. We got a little undisciplined in our approach that cost us opportunities to extend our lead. But, hats off to Vienna, they played extremely hard.”

The Red Devils outscored Vienna 39-29 over the final two quarter to notch the 20-point win. The win closed out the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule for the Red Devils who will be in action again on Dec. 26 in their own holiday tournament.

“We have won four in a row and we’re playing better and getting healthy,” said Garner. “We’re looking to getting some rest and we’re looking forward to the holiday tournament.”

Following Winchester in double figures was a trifecta of Gunters — Lukas, Eli and Josh — who scored 13, 13 and 12 points respectively. Rounding out the scoring for the Red Devils was Addison Page, who narrowly missed double figures with nine points, Preston Launius with five points and Peyton Rock with two points.

Dohacke led Vienna with 19 points.


Arrests made in connection with Iron Horse Burglary

SESSER – The Sesser police department has made arrests in connection with the burglary at the Iron horse that occurred on 12/10/17. The suspects in custody are juveniles and their names will not be released.

Police chief Ryan White would like to thank the public for the tips we received and the officers for their outstanding police work, collecting evidence and conducting interviews.

The alleged individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Lady Devils move to 10-0 with BDC win over Christopher

By Jim Muir

The Sesser-Valier-Waltonville Lady Devils kept their unbeaten string intact last night as they eked out a hard-fought 62-57 road victory over the Christopher Lady Bearcats.

The win moves S-V-W to 10-0 overall (4-0 in the Black Diamond West). The Lady Bearcats fell to 5-3 overall and 1-2 in conference play.

The game was a see-saw affair with no enjoying a lead bigger than the final margin of victory by the Lady Devils. Christopher jumped out to an 18-16 first quarter lead but the Lady Devils rallied back to outscore the Lady Cats 16-9 in the second frame to take a 32-27 halftime advantage. Christopher fought back and pulled to within one point at 43-42 before the Lady Devils outpointed the host school 19-15 in the fourth quarter to grab the victory and remain undefeated on the season.

“It was an awesome game,” said S-V-W Coach Rick Metcalf. “It was one of those games where our offense kind of disappeared and our shots weren’t falling. Hats off to Christopher, they had a lot to do with that. I thought both teams played well. It was a very nice win for us on the road.”

The game was actually won at the free throw line for the Lady Devils where they connected on 19-23 (83 percent) free tosses. The Lady Bearcats actually notched one more field goal than S-V-W but connected on 13-25 (52 percent) free throws.

“We are shooting 79 percent from the line as a time through 10 games,” said Metcalf. “That is excellent at any level.”

Despite the loss Christopher Coach Seiger Shurtz had high praise for his team’s effort.

“We played a really good game,” Shurtz said. “We were solid in a lot of areas. We came to compete and we had ourselves in a position to win the game. Free throws and a couple missed opportunities down the stretch were the difference in the game. I’m proud of the way we competed and hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come.”

S-V-W was led by Sami McCowen with 18 points, including 8-8 from the free throw line. Paige Tucker and Jada Hale added 10 points each and Adrianna Fedderke came off the bench with nine points. The play of Fedderke did not miss the eye of Metcalf.

“Fed (Fedderke) gave us a big lift off the bench with nine points,” said Metcalf. “And I thought Sami (McCowen) and Paige (Tucker) played outstanding.”

Rounding out the S-V-W scoring, Carlie Page added six points, Brooke Wilderman scored six points and Jaice McCowen scored four points.

Game scoring honors went to Christopher’s Courtney Hoppers who scored 20 points, followed by Jayla Willilams with 12, Maya Hewitt with nine points, Kassie O’Bryan with six points and Lauren Kent with three points.

Christopher is back in action on Monday, December 11 when they host Webber Township in a non-conference matchup. S-V-W returns to the hardcourt on December 13 when they host Trico.


Sesser-Valier/Waltonville   16 16 11  19 —  62

Christopher                            18   9  13  15 —  55


SVW (62) S. McCowen 4 8-8 18, B. Wilderman 1 304 5, Tucker 3 4-6 10, Page 3 0-0 6, Hale 3 2-2 10, J. McCowen 1 1-2 4, Fedderke 4 1-1 9

Team Totals: 19 19-23 62


Christopher (57) Williams 4 4-4 12, Henson 2 0-0 5, Hewitt 4 1-4 9, Miller 0 0-3 0, Hoppers 6 8-14 20, O’Bryan 3 0-0 6, Kent 1 0-0 3

Team Totals: 20 13-25 57


Sesser-Valier-Waltonville girls move to 9-0 with lopsided win over Johnston City

By Jim Muir

The Sesser-Valier-Waltonville Lady Devils ran their record to 9-0 Monday night with a 77-33 Black Diamond Conference West victory over Johnston City.

The Lady Devils raced out to an 18-6 first quarter lead and then put the game away in the second frame by outscoring Johnston City 31-8 to take a commanding 49-14 halftime lead.

S-V-W Coach Rick Metcalf went to his bench early and often in the lopsided contest with all 13 players seeing action in the first half.

“We shot the ball extremely well tonight,” said Metcalf. “I thought we shot particularly well from behind the arc.”

The Lady Devils hit 10 3-pointers in the road win, led by sophomore Jaice McCowen, who had four 3-pointers. McCowen led her team in scoring with 15 on the night.

Also scoring in double figures for the Lady Devils was Jada Hale with 14, including a pair of 3-pointers.

“I thought Jada and Jaice both played extremely well tonight,” Metcalf said. “We’re getting balanced scoring and that’s a big part of the success we’re having right now.”

Through nine games the Lady Devils have had seven different players lead the team in scoring. Rounding out the scoring from Monday’s win, Paige Tucker also had double figures with 12 points, Sami McCowen added nine points, Carlie Page added seven points, Peyton Wilderman scored six points, Ella Zahm had four points and Brooke Wilderman, Anna Kistner, Rylee Breeze, Jaycee Garner and Adrianna Fedderke all had two points.

The Lady Devils are back in action on Thursday night in a key conference matchup when they face Route 148 rival Christopher in a road game.


Red Devils drop 56-48 decision to Du Quoin

By Jim Muir

The Sesser-Valier Red Devils dropped a hard-fought 56-48 decision to the host Indians in Friday night hoops from the Du Quoin Tip-Off Classic.

Coach Shane Garner said turnovers were instrumental in the loss on Friday night.

“Turnovers were an issue on Monday against Cairo and they were again tonight,” said Garner. “I though we clicked early and executed very well. In the end they were able to put together some runs and we weren’t.”

Du Quoin led 19-16 at the end of one quarter and extended the lead to 34-27 at halftime.

Garner said rebounding was also a key to the loss.

“They really dominated us on the glass,” said Garner. “We would force them into missing a shot and then we couldn’t capitalize and get a rebound and gave them second chance opportunities.”

The Red Devils were led in scoring by Tyler Winchester with 19, the lone S-V player in double figures. Also scoring for the Red Devils was Preston Launius and Peyton Rock with nine points each, followed by Lukas Gunter with 8, Addison Page with 2 and Josh Gunter with one point.

The loss dropped S-V to 0-2 on the young season and 0-2 heading into a tough day of action on Saturday in the round robin tournament. The Red Devils face Carmi-White County at 12 noon and then will come back at 6 p.m. to meet Massac County.



S-V-W Lady Devils improve to 7-0 with road win at Woodlawn

By Jim Muir

WOODLAWN – The Sesser-Valier-Waltonville Lady Devils improved to 7-0 Wednesday night with a close 34-31 victory at Woodlawn.

Both teams got off to a slow start offensively with S-V-W trailing 6-3 at the end of the opening quarter.

“Our offense was stagnant all night,” said S-V-W Coach Rick Metcalf. “Our defense was really good all night that’s what got us by and got us the win.”

The Lady Devils put together a good second quarter outscoring Woodlawn by double digits 14-4 to take a 17-10 halftime advantage. The second frame actually was the difference in the game as Woodlawn outscored S-V-W 21-17 in the second half but still fell short.

“We hit some clutch free throws down the stretch that really contributed to the win,” Metcalf said. “I thought Sami McCowen and Paige Tucker both had outstanding games for us tonight.”

Tucker and McCowen led the Lady Devils in scoring with 14 and 8 points respectively. Sophomore Carlie Page added seven points, Jada Hale and Jaycee Garner scored two each and Jaice McCowen added one point.

Metcalf said he is pleasantly surprised to be heading into December with an unblemished mark.

“We have played really well as a team, “said the longtime coach. “We have had six different leading scorers in seven games and that is great balance.”

The Lady Devils are back in action on Saturday afternoon when they will host Chester in a Black Diamond Conference West matchup. The JV game will begin at 1 p.m.


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