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.

Students earn high marks at WYSE Academic Challenge

INA – Over 150 students from 10 area high schools competed in the 2018 Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) Academic Challenge Regional in the last two weeks. Eight of the schools met on Rend Lake College’s campus on Wednesday, Feb. 7 to participate; however, due to weather, two other schools held make-up events on later dates.

During the WYSE Academic Challenge, schools with similar enrollment compete against one another in divisions. Christopher High School, Wayne City High School, Zeigler-Royalton High School, Sesser-Valier High School, Waltonville High School, and Webber Township High School make up Division 300. Division 700 consists of Benton Consolidated High School, Pinckneyville Community High School, and Hamilton County Senior High School. The lone Division 1500 school is Mt. Vernon Township High School.

Each student who competes in the WYSE Academic Challenge completes two exams in pre-selected subjects. They can choose from biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering graphics, English, math, or physics. Below are the regional results, followed by team photos. Students who qualify for the WYSE Sectional will compete at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Wednesday, March 14. The Illinois State Finals will be held April 16-19 at the I-Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign.


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.

Zeigler may not be able to recoup all the money allegedly stolen by former treasurer

The FBI raiding Ziegler City Treasurer Ryan Thorpe’s home in August. Photo Taken by William McPerson of the West Frankfort Gazette.

ZEIGLER –   Months after the FBI raided Zeigler City Hall and city treasurer Ryan Thorpe was indicted for embezzling funds from the city, Zeigler Mayor Dennis Mitchell said the city may not be getting all the money back.

After the story broke in October that Thorpe was charged in federal court with stealing $315,890.94 from the city between Jan. 1, 2013, and Aug. 31, 2017, Mitchell said he was confident the city would recoup the damages, with its insurance policies that cover crime and with the bond taken out on Thorpe every year.

Thorpe pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and is scheduled for a federal jury trial at 9 a.m. Feb. 26.

The following was an excerpt taken from a story by Isaac Smith of the Southern Illinoisan.

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.

Structure fire in Chirstopher

by Steve Dunford 

Christopher, Coello, Buckner, and Zeigler firefighters are responding to a structure fire at 306 N Emma in Christopher.

Please avoid the area.  More information will be provided as it becomes available.


West Frankfort…Zeigler firefighters responding to field fire

by Steve Dunford 

ZEIGLER, IL –  At 11:20 a.m., Zeigler and West Frankfort firefighters responded to a field fire at the intersection of State Route 149 and Dry Road.  This is just east of the Zeigler city limits.

Further updates will be provided as they become available.


Former Zeigler City Treasurer Ryan Thorpe pleads not guilty

BENTON, IL – (Brittany Jacob, KFVS-TV.  Please click on the link for the full story.  Here is an excerpt below.)

Brittany Jacob – KFVS Photo

The former Treasurer for the city of Zeigler, Illinois has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of wire fraud and embezzlement, in U.S. District Court this morning.

A grand jury indicted Ryan Thorpe, 44, of Zeigler on three counts of wire fraud and two counts of embezzlement from a local government.

His pre-trial is scheduled for December 12 and his trial is scheduled for Dec. 26.
Thorpe is accused of embezzling more than $300,000 from the city.

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News