“Tiny House” on the market

High School Construction Trades Class Completes Year-long Project

 Press Release from Regional Office of Education- District #21

Photos courtesy of ROE #21

Drivers navigating the Benton Public Square this past week or so may have noticed, not only the renovations to the former Campbell’s Furniture building, now home to several county offices, but also a rather charming structure on display on its east parking lot. The “Tiny House”, described as a fully-functioning house in condensed form, is a product of the first-ever multi-school district Construction Trades class, which included students from Benton, Christopher, and Sesser-Valier High Schools.

“Some creative thinking on the part of our Board of Control led us to be able to offer this class for students who have an interest in the building trades,” said George Hopkins, Jr., Director of the Franklin County Regional (Vocational) Delivery System. “The ‘Tiny House’ project allowed them to get a lot of hands-on experience in carpentry and construction, and we now hope to sell the building through a closed-bid procedure, the proceeds of which will be used for next year’s class projects.”

Hopkins pointed out that a minimum bid will be established, which basically will cover the cost of materials, and anyone interested in placing a bid is encouraged to pick up an informational bid sheet at the Regional Office of Education #21, now located in the new county office facility (Campbell’s Building).

Some people are familiar with the “tiny house” concept through the popular HGTV prime time series that has highlighted the potential uses of such a basic, mobile, structure.

“I am aware that some folks have utilized these houses at lakes and hunting areas,” Hopkins commented. “The TV show has spawned a growing interest in having amenities of home—heating, air-conditioning, kitchen, etc., without extravagant square footage.  Our students even included an outside deck on their project.  It’s a neat little place!”

Hopkins points out that it took a village, so to speak, to make this program and Tiny House construction a reality.

“A lot of people in the community…Kenny Hutchens, Doug Nolen, Jerry Randolph, and Ron House, who provided us a facility to build, all helped us pull this off.  Without their assistance, we’d have never met our deadline,” the Director said.

Additionally, a $30,000 donation from philanthropist Robert Burton, a West Frankfort native who is CEO of Cenveo, Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut, took the Construction Trades class from planning stage to actuality.

“Mr. Burton’s generous donation a year or so ago, that provided us with a mobile construction lab and all tools necessary for the project, made this program a reality in Franklin County, and we are indebted to him,” Hopkins said.

After its stint on the Public Square, the Tiny House is now located at Benton High School, near the superintendent’s office, until its sale in the next week or two.  Tours of the Tiny House will be conducted on Wednesday, May 24 and Thursday, May 25, 2017, from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. so those interested in submitting a bid can view the property being sold.    

Two Sesser residents arrested for stealing from Consol


(From WSIL-TV.  Please click on the link for the full story above.  Here is an excerpt below.

SCHELLER, IL — After a lengthy investigation, two people are in jail for stealing from a local coal mine.

Robert and Jennifer Gifford, of Sesser, were arrested late last week for stealing from Consolidated Coal Company on Emerson City Road in Scheller.

Benton, Sesser, and Freeman Spur receive DECO grants


FRANKLIN COUNTY, IL (WSIL -TV Please click on the link for the full story.  Here is an excerpt.

WSIL — Seven Southern Illinois towns will split nearly $3 million in grant money to help spruce up their communities.

The Department of Economic Opportunity grants will go to the following towns:

  • Benton
  • Cambria
  • Creal Springs
  • Freeman Spur
  • Marion
  • Sesser
  • Spillertown.

Rend Lake college graduates from Franklin County

ReAnne Palmer- RLC Public information 


Rend Lake College officials want to congratulate the Class of 2017 for another successful year. The 50th Annual RLC Commencement was held Saturday, May 13 in James “Hummer” Waugh Gymnasium. A total of 633 graduates were conferred 681 Associate Degrees and 454 Occupational Certificates for a total of 1,135 degrees and certificates. Bob Carlock, retired vice president of finance and administration at RLC, was the keynote speaker.

BENTON – Gary Allan, Michael Allan, Alison Anthis, Ashley K. Atkins, Alissa Bain, Leigha Bain, Deryck Bates, Jonathon Carson Batts, Kelly L. Bishop, Brandtlee Abram Brown, Brandi Nicole Cairns, Cali M. Carney, Aubrionna Casey, Joseph James Clinton, Kaleigh Cole, Mariann R. Cook, Lindsey Marie Cox, Zoie Paige Crain, Bria Leigh Curry, Pari Morgan Davis, Mackenzi Dollins, Heather Crystal Drew, Chason Lee Dunford, Rachel Raquel Easton, Curtis Alan Eubanks, Emeri-Jean Allyce Farnam, Connor Foltz, Samantha Franklin, David Bradley Garrett Jr., Sadie Hall, Abbigail E. Hart, Kelsey Morgan Head, Nicholas Sebastian Hoffman, Katelyn J. Houghland, Sarah E. Hubbard, Laura Katherine Jamerson, Emmy-Leigh Jay, Robin Nicole Johnson, Caleb James Kearney, Christine Keppler-Clayton, Amy Kovarik, Molly LaRae McGuire, Matthew Krug, Dakotah Micheal Lampley, Leanne Ledbetter, Shelby Lewis, Alaina Lynch, Dionna Grace Martin, Jayme Martinez, Janie Marie McMurray, Mallorie Melvin, Darian O’Brien Menees, Brandon Meyer, Kenneth A. Miner, Lindell Ray Minor, Virginia Morgan, Devon Jean Morris, Lorie Jane Nalley, Ashley Odom, Samantha R. Orrill, Ben Pankey, Gabriel Price, Joshua Price, Tarron Pulliam, Presley Robbins, Naylin Ronchetto, Charles Schram, Jenna McKay Shadowens, Andrea Linda-Marie Shaw, Kerrie Smith, Dylan Snyder, Kassie N. Spencer, Whitney Summers, John David Sweet, Nathan Watkins, Allee Nicole Wellen, John R. Wilder IV, Jacob Young

BUCKNER – Alyx Michaela Starkweather

CHRISTOPHER – Andrew David Benard, Jacob Ross Burkitt, Michael Taylor Calloni, Julie Y. Faling, Austin Frey, Zoie Danielle Frey, Amanda Gant, Nicole D. Howell, Jacob Allen Jablonski, Trevor Johnson, Kailey Kerkemeyer, Brittany N. Lowery, Camryn Joan Maloney, Erica Lynn Maple, Micah Motsinger, Kayla Parrish, Adam Jay Porter, Annabelle Lea Shukites, Jacob W. Underwood

COELLO – Joseph N. Shaw

EWING – Jaylyn Cozart, Delta Dawn Hermann, Ike Hutchcraft, Wade M. Hutchens, Kacee Leann Roberts

LOGAN – Dakota Casey, Nicole Marie Mullins

MACEDONIA – Bailey Jo Hiestand, Terrence Anthony Richard Marshall, Anthony L. Page, Danielle Rena Richardson, Martin John Ward

MULKEYTOWN – Brianna Bowlin, Ryan Andrew Curry, Allanna C Garrison, Michael T. Hoffman, Cameron Jones, Tara Chantell Law, Loghan Danielle Matyi, John Rapp, Christopher Richard, Breanna Faye Whitley, Cindra F. Wroblewski

ORIENT – Brittany Segatto

ROYALTON – Meghan Marie Clark, Kassandra Jones, Brandon Stubblefield, Stephan Threewitt, Austin D. Walker

SESSER – Ashly Lynn Brown, Reginald Joseph Eubanks, Johnathon Leonard Galloway, Cody Hamm, Blaine Leslie, Nicholas David Marlo  Caleb I. Mays, David Nelson, Brianna Joyce Risley, Kyle Andrew Robinson, Monica Lynn Scott, Skylyn DeVonne L. Simpson, Luke William Thompson, Matthew D. Wallinger, Kieran S. White

THOMPSONVILLE – Maleissa Anne Baney, Charlene Boyd, Chelsey Lynn Bundy, Kayla Follmer, Brady German, Cecily Ann Heusner, Austin Kerley, Austin Michael Kessler, David K. Payne, Kenzie Nichole Rizor, Kyle J. Shimkus, Kenise Rashelle Smith, Damien Sky Wilburn

VALIER – Sophi Rai Johnson, Bailee Lynn Jones, Jamie Jones, Courtney D. Smith

WEST CITY – Amanda Frankart

WEST FRANKFORT – Alexa L. Beavers, John Fenton Bowers, Shannon Browning, Jared Lee Eastwood, Garrett Karoski, Makenzie Kondoudis, Brittany Nicole Long, Alexis Rae Newell, Charles Saunders, Amber Marie Sloan, Kailee Spears, Adam Wiggins, Bryce Timothy Wiley, Kathryn Nichole Wise

WHITTINGTON – Dakota J. Head, Tabitha Hopkins, Noah Jones, Nathan Scott MacDonald, Jennifer Young

ZEIGLER – Breanna Renee Davis, Bailey Schimpf


Pre-K Graduation sends off one dozen RLCF Children’s Center students

by ReAnne Palmer:  Rend Lake College Pubic Information 

The RLCFCC Class of 2017 is, FRONT ROW, FROM LEFT, Gia McPhearson (Benton), Layla Thompson (Sesser), Cloe Allen (Bonnie), Lennon Shively (Mt. Vernon), and Brystol Bilderbeck (McLeansboro); MIDDLE ROW, Branson Rankin (Ina), Cole Carpenter (Waltonville), Gabriel Hays (Ina), Jansen Suhling (Ina), Breckin Suhling (Ina), Crosby Cox (Benton), and Aydyn Skidmore (Mt. Vernon).
(ReAnne Palmer / RLC Public Information)

The Rend Lake College Foundation Children’s Center (RLCFCC) graduated 12 students from the Pre-K class last Friday in the RLC Theatre. In addition to receiving their diplomas, the dozen students also sang the alphabet song and watched a slideshow from their last year at the RLCFCC.

Opening the ceremony, RLCFCC Director Brooke May welcomed family and friends, and thanked them for their support over the last year. She said, “Once you come to the RLC Foundation Children’s Center, you are always family. Our doors are always open, and we invite you to come back for a visit.”

Pre-K Teacher Rene Crouse also thanked those in attendance and provided encouraging words for her students entering kindergarten next year. She said, “It’s been my pleasure to watch these 12 amazing little people grow and learn over the past year. They’ve worked very hard to prepare for kindergarten and I know they’re going to do great next year.”

Former student and speaker Mackenzie Smith

Mackenzie Smith of Goreville, a 2004 RLCFCC Pre-K graduate and former resident of Benton, also addressed the audience and spoke of her five years at the center. In fact, Smith’s impression of the RLCFCC has lasted throughout her life and is one reason she will attend Murray State University this fall to major in Early Childhood Education.

“In my years here, I had some of the richest learning experiences of my life. The Rend Lake College Foundation Children’s Center is the brightest example of expanding educational horizons and portraying excellence in action,” said Smith. “There is no better educational foundation than right here. Not only did my teachers care and help make me smarter, but they made my heart bigger. This center is so important to me because, at this early age, brains are like sponges, ready to soak up all you have to offer, and are ready to foster a love for school like I did early on.”

Graduates and their families alongside RLC faculty and staff enjoyed a reception following the graduation ceremony in the RLCFCC’s new addition, the Skill Development Room.

More photos can be found on RLC’s Flickr page.

Twenty-six Sesser-Valier seniors attend RLC College Signing Day

ReAnne Palmer – Rend Lake College Public Information 

Pictured is, FRONT ROW, FROM LEFT, Ashley Laskowski, Sadie Payne, Mallory Newbury, Kendra Green-Shurtz, Cheyenne Smith, and Mady Senior; MIDDLE ROW, Lexi Nutt, Heidi Carroll, Abbi Hall, Taylor Frank, Hannah Garascia, Chelsea Krominga, Kennedy Cloe, Tanner Bailey, and Logan Petro; BACK ROW, Dakota Bowen, Alexa Joiner, Morgan Stagner, Josh Vaughan, Parker Robbins, Mariah Eader, Tara Brown, Dakota Miller, Charles Farmer, Kenny Eubanks, and Aaron Summers. (ReAnne Palmer / RLC Public Information)

Pictured is, FRONT ROW, FROM LEFT, Ashley Laskowski, Sadie Payne, Mallory Newbury, Kendra Green-Shurtz, Cheyenne Smith, and Mady Senior; MIDDLE ROW, Lexi Nutt, Heidi Carroll, Abbi Hall, Taylor Frank, Hannah Garascia, Chelsea Krominga, Kennedy Cloe, Tanner Bailey, and Logan Petro; BACK ROW, Dakota Bowen, Alexa Joiner, Morgan Stagner, Josh Vaughan, Parker Robbins, Mariah Eader, Tara Brown, Dakota Miller, Charles Farmer, Kenny Eubanks, and Aaron Summers.
(ReAnne Palmer / RLC Public Information)

Registration for Summer 2017 is going on now for all students with classes starting the week of June 5-9. Fall 2017 registration for sophomores began Monday, April 3 by appointment. For incoming students, Fall 2017 enrollment appointments began Monday, April 17. The Fall semester begins the week of August 14-18. To get an appointment, contact Academic Advising at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1266.

According to the U. S. Department of Education, college graduates typically earn more and are less likely to face unemployment than those with a high school diploma. Over the course of a lifetime, the average worker with a postsecondary degree will earn approximately $1 million more than a worker without a postsecondary education. In fact, by 2020, an estimated two-thirds of job openings will require postsecondary education or training.

RLC is a comprehensive community college located in Ina in Southern Illinois. Rend Lake College offers more than 100 associate degree and occupational certificate programs, preparing students for transfer to a four-year university or direct entry into the workforce. In addition, RLC offers personal interest classes, continuing education, business & industry training, computer workshops and much more. To learn more about RLC, visit www.rlc.edu/journey.

Sesser’s Brian Dorris takes seat on RLC board of trustees

by ReAnne Palmer, Rend Lake College Public Information 

Brian Dorris - (RLC photo_

Brian Dorris – (RLC photo_

Sesser’s Brian N. Dorris took his seat as the newest Rend Lake College Board of Trustees member tonight during the monthly meeting. The lifelong Southern Illinois resident is eager to begin his six-year term with the college, and said his interest started many years ago as a student in the business program.

“I’ve always been interested in Rend Lake College and helping it continue to be a good community college for our area,” said Dorris. “I don’t necessarily [have expectations for the term, but] I want to keep the college on the right track.”

Dorris attended RLC from 1987-89, transferring to Southern Illinois University Carbondale where he received a Bachelor in Business Administration. Currently, Dorris is a Project Manager for Sierra Bravo Contractors, LLC and owns his own trucking company, Dorris Trucking, both located in Sesser.

He is filling a seat left vacant in January when former board member Rick Marlow stepped down in order to return to teaching architecture at RLC on a part-time basis. For the three months in between, the seat was temporarily filled by former trustee and chair Hunt Bonan, who served on the RLC board from 1997-2009.

Trustees John T. Kabat and Randall R. Rubenacker were also reelected last month to six-year terms on the board. They join current trustees Dr. David Asbery, Eric Black, Randall Crocker, Larry Manning, and new Student Trustee Grace Pytlinski, seated during the April board meeting.

After Dorris was seated, the new Board of Trustees elected officers and made appointments. Randall R. Rubenacker was elected Board Chairman, Larry Manning was elected Board Vice Chairman and was appointed as the Illinois Community College Trustee Association Representative, and Eric Black was elected Board Secretary. Angie Kistner, RLC Vice President of Finance and Administration, was appointed Treasurer. All votes and appointments were unanimous.

Deacon Michael Rowland Ministers at Parishes in Christopher, Sesser and Benton

rowland-webFRANKLIN COUNTY, IL (Liz Quirin, Belleville Messenger – Please click on the link to leave the full story. Here is an excerpt) Deacon Michael Rowland wears many hats as he ministers at St. Andrew Parish in Christopher and the partner parishes of St. Mary in Sesser and St. Joseph in Benton. Not a cradle Catholic, he said people suggested Catholics were, to say the least, unusual in their beliefs. When he went to high school, he began to meet some of these “unusual” people, and he found them to be “completely normal.” Intrigued, he said he bought a copy of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” and began investigating the faith.

Sesser First Baptist Church pastor appointed to SBC post

by Steve Dunford 

Brother Tom DeWitt with his wife Naomi.

Brother Tom DeWitt with his wife Naomi.

SESSER, IL-  Tom Dewitt, pastor of the Sesser First Baptist Church. has been appointed to the committee on committees in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Here is the announcement by Southern Baptist President Steve Gaines in a press release.  This also explains the function of the committee:

Appointments to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Committee on Committees have been announced by SBC President Steve Gaines, pastor of Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.

The Committee on Committees will assemble in Phoenix just prior to the SBC’s June 13-14 annual meeting to nominate members of the Committee on Nominations who, in 2018, will nominate trustees for the boards of SBC entities.

The Committee on Committees has 68 members, two from each of the 34 states and regions qualified for representation on boards of SBC entities.

Gaines has named Randy Davis, president & executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board in Brentwood, to serve as chairman of this year’s Committee on Committees.

Bro. Tom had this to say about his appointment     “I am just honored to serve and be a part of advancing God’s kingdom through the SBC.”

Here is a personal note I would like to add.  I attended Sesser First Baptist for about a year.  Bro. Tom has a servants heart for the Lord.  He is a great preacher and pastor.

Ashmore, Buchanan re-elected mayors of Sesser and Valier yesterday

In the results of the Franklin County Consolidated Election yesterday,  incumbent Sesser Mayor Jason Ashmore was elected to serve another four years in a landslide over his challenger Glen Gulley.  Ashmore of the Citizens Welfare Party had 559 votes to the challenger Glenn Gulley who had 121 votes.

The Citizens Welfare Party also won all the Ward races in the city  In Ward 1 Dana Laur defeated Barry Ramey 88 to 49,  In Ward 2, Richard Lee Miller defeated Jeff Harmon 172 to 97, and in Ward 3, Alan Wayne Shannon defeated Edie Hawk 172 to 64.

Martin Buchanan has been elected to another term as village president of Valier.  Buchanan has held the post since the 1960’s.  He is the longest standing mayor in the state other than to Marion mayor Robert Butler.  Buchanan received 180 votes to his challenger Joe Canup 131.  Gale Burzynski, Michael Moyers and Bruce McMurray were elected to the Valier village board.  Burzynski was the top vote getter with 193 votes, Moyers 171, McMurray 152,  In defeat Harl Ray Lewis received 147 votes and Clarence Gulley 127.

Ron House was elected West City Villiage President, as he received 124 votes to Mike Reed’s 76.  Bruce Watkins was elected to full an unexpired term on the town board as he was elected over Steve Mumbower 113-85.

Angela Kay McDowell was elected mayor of the village of Ewing over Eric Haney 42-36.

Donald Storey was elected Benton City Commissioner defeating Melvin Dixon 654-383.

In the City of Christopher, Katrina Claxton defeated Michael Deaton 278-178 for treasurer, and in Ward 3, Brian Hargis defeated Marshall Johnson.

In the Village of Buckner, there were two ties that happened on the village trustee racevilli.  Ray Rozhon and Rick Hefner finished in the top slot with 47 votes.  Robert Klingel and Herbert Krumrey had 23 for the third spot on the board.  I will keep you updated on the tie breaking procedures.

For the North City “Coello”  village board Louis Thery, Mark Moschiono and James Allen will be seated on the next board.  Thery was the top vote getter with 102 votes, Moschino 87, Allen 82, and Mark Parke 63.

Numbers from the races in Royalton and any other Six-Mile township race will be posted when they become available.

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News