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.

FBI seized more than $47,000 in property from former Zeigler treasurer


ZEIGLER, IL – (Brandon Richard, WSIL-TV.  Please click on the link above for the full story.  Here is an excerpt below.)

A new FBI document details the value of property agents seized from the home of former Zeigler treasurer Ryan Thorpe.

Thorpe is accused of stealing more than $315,000 from the City of Zeigler over four years.

News 3 obtained a legal notice from the FBI, listing the value of the property seized.

It includes almost two dozen shotguns, pistols and rifles, worth more than $11,200; two off-road vehicles, valued at about $22,000; a trailer worth $6,700; and a motorcycle worth about $7,500.

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.

Former Zeiger treasurer Ryan Thorpe indicted for fraud and embezzlement


ZEIGLER, IL – (Please click on the link above for the full story and court documents on WSIL-TV’s website here are the charges below)

Thorpe is charged with three counts of wire fraud and two counts of embezzlement.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 yeas in prison.

Each count of embezzlement carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.


Plans to build medical clinic in Zeigler are on hold


WSIL photo

ZEIGLER, IL – (Evie Allen, WSIL-TV.  Please click from the link above for the full story and video.  Here is an excerpt below.)

With the City of Zeigler’s finances under scrutiny, some wonder if it has played a part in slowing down plans for a new medical clinic.

Mayor Dennis Mitchell told News 3, money for the clinic is still there, but other problems have halted plans, for now.

The dream for and old bank building in Zeigler to become a medical center, is now on hold.

Making the total cost around $525,000. Mitchell also said the “Morthland Foundation” had a part in the lease agreement.

Representatives with the Morthland Foundation told News 3, they still hope to move forward with the clinic as well.


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 stallmanl@rlc.edu

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.



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.

Zeigler Finance Commissioner accused of using “strong and threatening language


ZEIGLER, IL – (Andrew Feather, WSIL-TV.  Please click on the link to watch the video and read the full story here is an excerpt below.)

Ryan Thorpe was fired Tuesday night after an auditor’s report showed more than 200 thousand dollars missing from city accounts over the last 27 months, but he wasn’t the only city council member named in the audit.

As citizens demanded answers from Finance Commissioner Jim Flood, Tuesday’s special council meeting turned into a full-fledged shouting match.

This comes after an auditor’s report shows Flood would use “strong and threatening language” against female staff in city hall to pressure them into signing blank checks.

Some staff also say Flood would threaten people’s jobs if he didn’t get his way.

City attorney Rebecca Whittington calls it “bullying”.





Document shows Zeigler employee altered bank statements


ZEIGLER, IL – (Andrew Feather, WSIL-TV.  Please click on the link for the full story.  Here is an excerpt.)

A new document obtained as part of an ongoing FBI investigation into City of Zeigler finances could reveal how money turned up missing from city accounts.

It also outlines potential mismanagement by city leaders.

The FBI raided City Hall and city treasurer Ryan Thorpe’s house last month and placed Thorpe on unpaid administrative leave.

Now, a new 22-page report from City Attorney Rebecca Whittington outlines an internal review, which shows city checks made out to an employee, and not to approved vendors.

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News