Steve’s Ramblings: One phone call caused havoc for a lot of people today

by Steve Dunford

This morning, I realized the callinh for this stage of my life is to be a “newsman.”  I have always been a news, weather, and sports hound, but English was my weak academic area in school, so journalism was not a high priority life choice for me.  I have a long way to go, but I see improvement in my writing everyday.

I had a rough night physically.  When I woke up this morning and looked at the clock and it said 9:21, I went into a panic.  Half asleep still, I get online.  The first few posts were about a bomb threat at the Franklin County Courthouse.

I began to piece a few things together.   When there is an emergency situation like this, the first source I go to is WSIL-TV’s website.  There was nothing as of yet.  I troll around and piece some information together.   I call the newsroom at Channel 3 and share the information that I have.  I was talking to Kevin Hunspberger, and he then said we have crews heading to Marion and Benton.  He told me there is something going on at the Williamson County Courthouse as well.

I began to piece information from other sources.  One of the biggest surprises since I have started this is how media sources talk among ourselves.  One of my favorite all time movies is Anchorman.  I figured it would be like Ron Burgundy and Wes Mantooth trying to beat the other to the scene.   Soon I will enter my third year of covering high school basketball.  I was also amazed how much coaches talk among themselves.

During any type of emergency situation, there is a lot of adrenaline flowing in me.  When there is loss of life, the sadness will crash upon you after all the information is shared .  I have covered a few bomb threats now, and after the adrenaline wears off, I am flaming mad.

It was not as bad as the stormy Sunday night a few months ago the idiot called in a bomb threat at Franklin Hospital  a few months ago, but when anytime taxpayer resources and manpower or wasted on stupidity, it gets under my skin.  I know idiot and stupid are words that are not politically correct by some, but I have never had an accusation of being PC in my lifetime.

In situations like today, there is a greater than a 99% chance it is a hoax.  The times when the chance is less than one percent is why you have to take things seriously.

Until the seriousness of the other allegations that were brought against the one that called the threats into Sesser-Valier School,  I was thinking it would be someone that wanted to get out of going to school, work or in this instance today court.

The employees of every county office in two counties was affected today.  From comments on social media, it sounds like both counties had court today.

Police, fire and EMS from several departments were tied up.  The resources that were unnecessarily used went all the way up to the department of defense.  There were several individuals that were tired from working a wreck on I 57 last night.   What if there was another accident, a major fire, or some other type of emergency in the county?  Resources would have been tied up by one caller’s needless nonsense.

When the local economy hurts, we all hurt.  Consider the teller that works at Peoples National Bank that might have lost a few hours pay.  What about the local businessmen and his employees that runs an antique shop on the square and his employees?  What about the waitress at one of the three restaurants on the square that might have lost needed tip money today for their family?

I am sure businesses suffered in a few block perimeter of the square because of this.  To the caller, or the ones on social media that made smart comments or hit the ha ha button on the posts, I have a sense of humor, and it is a warped one at times.  I don’t think it is very funny.  As one of the administrators of’s Facebook page, that is a quick way to do a disappearing act.

I just hope the caller knows what type of fear he or she caused.  I have pinch hit in the classroom over my life to supplement my income from a full time job, or there have been times even that was my only source of income.  I have never been through a bomb threat in a leadership position, but I have been through severe weather events and lockdowns in the classroom.

You might be saying Steve, today it was adults.  As a supervisor in past positions, I have been trough severe weather events and two minor fires in my places of employment.  After the building was evacuated, I checked my employee roster over and over to make sure everyone was out.  It is stressful to say the least.

When I found out the call was a 911 that came into the West Frankfort Police Department that caused the evacuations, I was thinking to myself, unbelievable.  Then I thought of when the late Paul Harvey told a story about someone who held up a bank, and wrote the note on one of his deposit slips.

If it was someone that wanted to miss court today, I was thinking the charges you will be facing now will be much steeper.

This was one that I had to get off my chest.  There was going to be some ramblings today on a different subject.  You will have the opportunity to read them in a few days.  It has been a busy day so far for me, and I have a long way to go.  I have nine coaches to contact and some other things to do as well.

Thank you all for placing confidence in me as a source of information in events like today.






Guest Editorial: Bryant Urges Governor to Veto HB 40

by Terri Bryant, State Representative, 115th District (R-Murphysboro)

Toward the end of last April, as the budget impasse was dragging through its second full year, I rose on the House floor to voice my total opposition to a bill that would vastly expand access to elective, taxpayer-funded abortions. The bill in question was HB 40, sponsored by Democrat State Representative Sara Feigenholtz of Chicago. During a more than hour-long debate on the bill, many of my House Republican colleagues joined me in speaking forcefully against the bill. We cited our faith in God, our love and compassion for the unborn, and the potential burdensome financial cost to the taxpayers of the State of Illinois as our main reasons for opposing the bill.

My opposition to HB 40 also goes to the core of my faith. I believe a life begins at conception and no one has a right to take that life. The sponsors of HB 40 routinely introduce legislation and support bills to use Medicaid dollars to help the most vulnerable among us. The same value set that drives those votes does not square with using Medicaid dollars to terminate the lives of the weakest, most helpless, and vulnerable of those among us, the unborn.

Under questioning from House Republicans on the House Floor that day, Representative Feigenholtz confirmed that HB 40 does in fact seek to expand the use of Medicaid to pay for elective abortions. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) has estimated that if the bill is signed into law, it could result in an extra $60 million of Medicaid spending to cover the costs related to abortive procedures per year. This added cost would come at a time when Illinois has its first budget in more than two and a half years, and while we currently still have $16 billion in unpaid bills.

The bill’s sponsor also admitted that the measure allows women to choose abortions for any reason, during any stage of pregnancy. If they happened to be a Medicaid recipient or a State employee covered under the state’s group health insurance plan, that would mean HB 40 would make taxpayer funded abortions available on demand. The sponsor also admitted that the bill would allow for taxpayer funding of partial birth abortions as well.  I cannot in good conscience support this attempt to expand Illinois taxpayers’ already heavy financial burden to fund this barbaric practice.

Despite our objections, HB 40 passed both the House and Senate. During that time, a spokesperson for Governor Rauner publicly declared that the Governor intended to veto the bill. After that statement was made, an immediate hold was placed on the bill by the Senate sponsor.
On Monday of this week, State Senator Don Harmon released the parliamentary hold that had been placed on HB 40. The bill has now been sent to the Governor. The Governor has 60 days to either sign the bill or veto it.

I have implored Governor Rauner to veto HB 40 in its entirety. He had previously assured me and my House Republican colleagues that oppose the bill that he would in fact veto the measure. The purpose of this editorial is to both educate the people of my district on the moral and financial pitfalls of HB 40, and to once again publicly call on Governor Rauner to issue a total and complete veto of this bill.

Steve’s Ramblings: Let some Franklin County men lead us by example

by Steve Dunford

From the West Frankfort Fellowship of Christian Athletes Facebook page.


This morning I wanted to say something, and prayed very hard about how to say it.  I know I posted a near identical picture on Saturday from Tabor Field last year, but this one from Johnson Field is, more timely than ever.

If I ever get carpal tunnel it probably will not be sitting at the keyboard.  It will be from my behavior on Sunday afternoons.  Yesterday, I had plans of flipping from the Steelers-Bears, Cardinals-Pirates, and the NASCAR race.

When I read on the crawl on NBC Sports Network, stating  the Steelers stayed in the locker room, I had a sick feeling in my stomach.  I watched one drive of their game.  Immediately that was the last.  It could be the last time I watch a drive in the National Football League.

Pittsburgh OT Alejandro Villanueva in the tunnel at Soldier Field yesterday, was the only Steeler on the field for the National Anthem. (AP photo)

God bless Army Veteran Alejandro Villanueva of the Pittsburg Steelers, for going out of the locker room and standing in the tunnel for the National Anthem.

I was going to see what the Packers did, it was the locking arms on the sideline.  I am done with them too.  Until some things change, Football only exists on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

Watching the NFL on fall and winter Sunday afternoons is something that I have spent over 40 years doing.  This is coming from someone when they were about in the third grade, that I was only allowed to wear my Terry Bradshaw jersey to school only once a week.  My mom was afraid the other mothers and teachers would talk that it was not washed.  That Christmas I had my picture taken in our laundry room with a Nerf football rolling out of the pocket.

We are a nation that is divided like never before in all areas.  I am a conservative without apology.  With the way we are fighting each other, we are playing into the hands of North Korea and our other enemies.

We are a nation of free speech, yes.  What gripes me is the lack of respect that is shown.  These are men that have the opportunity to make seven figures for an average player, and eight for a superstar, a game 16 Sunday’s a week not counting the playoffs and preseason to play a game.

There is very few families in this country that in their ancestory, that some where down the line, that someone has not given their life for this country.  Mine is James Dunford, who would have been my great uncle.  He was shot down and gave his life in World War II.

It is with great pride the American Legion post in Thompsonville is named after him.  Men will travel from all over Southern Illinois to join the post, because it does not have a bar.

What offends me is the men like my great uncle, and the men and women that friends of mine that have served, showing disrespect for a flag that blood was shed for them to have an unimaginable life style to play a game.

After the game Saturday I was tallying up stats etc., and I missed the men, and yes they showed they were men and not boys praying on the field again this year.

It is an honor each for me to write about each young man that took the field, as I cover both Benton and West Frankfort.  I wish that I can make more trips to Benton, but there will be a day that I will.

I had a few ask me at church last night that what I thought.  I said Benton played their best game of the year, and it just was not the Redbirds day.  I also said when you play a lot of sophomores and juniors at the skill positions, there will be growing pains.  I said if both teams played ten times, they would likely be 5-5 each.

Yes it is a big time rivalry.  Things were a little chippy at times, there were personal fouls each way.  That is just part of competition.

Kneeling for the National Anthem only divides, kneeling in prayer heals.

Being on our knees and having an almighty God be merciful on us will heal the divide, will heal the anger, and will heal the broken hearts of individuals.

I know the term “snowflake” gets passed around a lot.  There are sometimes an old geezer “get off my lawn” mentality rises up in me at times.  I said in my last column, this generation is special because of their hunger and thirst for spiritual things.

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)

I said earlier these were men.  As I am on the 50 side of 40 now, in my eyes high school kids now look like 12 year olds, from what I saw ten years ago. never understood over the years how grandparents could pinch the cheeks of teenagers and call them their babies.  As days go by, I more than understand now.  There might be a day that I look at my grandchildren through a 70 year old’s eyes and see them as a baby.

Men has tried to figure out answers and solutions to problems over the years.  We need to all take the example of between 50-100 Franklin County teenagers.  Here is the answer to all of life’s problems:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)










The Benton-West Frankfort rivalry from mostly an outsiders point of view

by Steve Dunford

When I was wondering what to say here, I thought of both teams with the some of the coaching staff on the outside, kneeling and having prayer after last year’s game at Tabor Field.

I have watched this rivalry from the outside most of my life.  Since I moved to West Frankfort, this will be the third Benton -West Frankfort football game that I will be as an “insider”.

I thought of this picture a lot this week.  I was thinking if only a few that are no longer in the area could see this picture.  I was in a group of pastors eating breakfast when I pastored the Logan Baptist Church.  Mainly it was pastors  from outside of the area, and a few locals were asking everyone to pray that either Benton and West Frankfort consolidate or be in different conferences, because the rivalries “were hampering the Great Commission.”

I spoke up and I did not use a lot of tact and said,  You all just don’t understand high school sports in this region.  It would be foolish for schools six miles apart to quit playing each other.  It is a hundred year old rivalry.  On top of that there have been aged old rivalries there from back in the South Seven days with Harrisburg and Herrin.

Someone them mumbled, sports is your God, but I had a lot of the naysayers listening.  I just hope 15 years later one of those that suggested their prayer request could see both teams kneeling at the 50 yard line, after Benton pulled out a nail biter last year.

In Franklin County there are three rivalries still alive.  Christopher/Sesser-Valier, Thompsonville/Galatia and the grand daddy of them all Benton/West Frankfort.

For several years now, which is starting to be called rivalry week across Southern Illinois now C-Z-R and S-V-W-W would play on Friday night, and Benton and West Frankfort play on Saturday.  I have partaken of watching all four teams in that weekend.

Pinckneyville and DuQuoin, Eldorado and Hamilton County, and Carmi-White County and Fairfield also meet on this weekend.

I still call this the Turkey Day game that both teams forfeited their chance to go to the IHSA playoffs for years to play on Thanksgiving.  Correct me if I am wrong, but the game ended in the 1980’s I believe.

I was always fascinated with the Turkey game.  I only had the opportunity to see the second half from Tabor Field once.  I would always have a radio on in my Grandpa’s den listening to it.  Sometimes I would flip between Ron Head and Art Smith.

Over time I settled listening at the time to Ron Head and his color man Bobby Blondi on, what was then, WQRX.  Over time I became fascinated with the Rangers.  (I just hope I get a udeman Stevie for mentioning Ron Head.)

There was one year in high school though I hung around West Frankfort a lot, because a girl was involved.  Most of the time though,  though the high school years, I would talk smack between the two.  My buddies and I would sat on the side that we thought were the favorites.  If an upset was brewing, we would switch sides at half time.

Even after I moved to the west side of the county, I would try to go to as many Benton/WF games in football and basketball as I could.

Rivalries, as a whole, are not as intense as they used to be.  When rival teams would meet there was some tension.  The record books could be thrown out, and they flat out did not like the opposition.  Things would get quite chippy at times.

I would always here the old timers say when there was a T’ville/Galatia game there was always a special train that ran that night.  When one team arrived at the depot, the other one was waiting on them to fight.

I have heard it was from the IHSA, or that it was an agreement between both schools, but I can remember when Galatia and Thompsonville started playing again in the late 70’s.  Crab Orchard took their place in the meantime and with Galatia, Thompsonville and Crab Orchard in the same conference things get interesting at times.

I have heard people over the years say that if two old men would play checkers, one from Benton and one from West Frankfort, it would draw a crowd.  I also heard the expression that if two tom cats, one from Benton and one from West Frankfort fought in 18 bottoms, there would be a crowd as well.

Over the years I never heard the late voice of the Redbirds, Bruce A. Fasol, utter the word Benton out of his mouth.  It was the team six miles to the north.

Tomorrow, as I used to in High School, I will be stirring it up a little bit both ways.  There was a lot of mouthing going on last year about having a Thompsonville shirt on, and a Christopher hat.

You will see me in a T’ville shirt again tomorrow.  I might just stick the Christopher hat on too.  I have less motivation though, since the kiddo graduated.

There were rumors the plate was being passed in the visitors bleachers last year to buy me a Redbird shirt.  Dave Severin also said I needed some Benton stuff.  I told him that he could go down the road two blocks and give me some if he wanted me to have some that bad.  He decided then I could go without the maroon things.  I did walk away with a Dave Severin for State Representative shirt.

A former Redbird, and now Benton girls basketball coach Andy Sloan grilled me an awesome cheeseburger last year.  Someone sent some polish sausage to the press box to Travis Severin and Justin Wyant, and I ended up swiping some.  They were very good as well  I need to sample some WF tailgate food to see whose is the best.  By the way, I will be sitting in my usual spot, top row,  north of the press box.

The mouthing and bantering back in forth is all in fun.  Politics, the Cubs-Cardinals, and a high school sports rivalry is nothing to lose friends over.

The reasons rivalries are not as intense anymore?  The lines are blurred.  From social media a lot of kids from other towns have made lasting friendships with each other.  Second, with travel ball, some of the kids are team mates in other sports.

In the county, I feel Sesser-Valier and Waltonville co-oping in a lot of sports as well as Christopher and Z-R, the rivalries between these schools have died down.

Also, this generation coming up is special.  They are a lot better kids than my generation.  That is why after a very hard fought football game, they could kneel and give all honor and praise to Jesus Christ together at the 50 yard line.




Coach Jerry Kill: One of my heroes in life

by Steve Dunford

I have struggled whether or not to write this or not.  I am going to get a little personal here.

If there was not Jerry Kill, I am confident that McAndrew Stadium would have succumbed to the wrecking ball.  Not because Saluki Stadium was built, it would have been SIU would have dropped football.

Coach Kill on the sidelines during his tenure at SIU.

During his nine year tenure, I kept a very close eye on Saluki Football.  I went to at least one game a year.  It was great to see the program at the top of the heap of the Gateway Conference (now the Missouri Valley football conference) as well as being one of the top programs in division 1-AA.  (I still call it that)

He is my hero not because of his rise from Emporia State, to Southern Illinois, then he landed his first D1 job at Northern Illinois then Minnesota, went to the athletic office at Kansas State, and now he is back in the Big 10 as Rutgers offensive coordinator.

As an alumnus, I take pride in the coaches that have advanced in their coaching careers after leaving Southern Illinois.  I root for Purdue in basketball because of Matt Painter.  It is still a sore spot after the Fighting Illini fired Bruce Webber.  I now root for K-State.

I shared his impressive résumé of his coaching career.  The reason why he is my hero?  We both suffer from seizures, only a different type.

He is diagnosed with epilepsy.  For a few years they thought I had it.  My seizures are migraine induced, from the result of a moderate stroke I had back in 2010.

Talking with a lot of men over the years, they tell me there is a time their heart gets softer.  This usually occurs after a mid life crisis, which I believe all men go through at a certain extent.

This could also be from all of the things that I have gone through neurologically, but I tear up at the drop of a hat.  On my walk here other day, I came up on a kitten that was ran over.  It brought tears to my eye immediately.  There was no one around in the houses I came up on.

The day he had his last seizure on the sidelines, I noticed it on the crawl below, as I was working on the website, and when the crowd would get loud, I would stop and watch a few plays.  I am secure in my manhood to admit it made me cry.

His latest seizure is not like anything in the past, and he was calling plays from the sidelines.  Here is a link from New Jersey Online with the story.

I have only shared this with my pastor Lloyd Whittaker and his wife Karen one Sunday night after church.   At one time they held season tickets for SIU football and basketball.  We got on the subject of when Coach Kill had the first seizure on the sidelines against ISU.  It was a blowout and they left early.  As soon as they got to their vehicle, they heard Mike Reis tell about it and the longtime voice of the Salukis was shook up.

I told them this story that night and I have not shared it with anyone else.

There was one Saturday afternoon, I was feeling very rough and just got out of the hospital.  I was feeling sorry for myself.  I was watching a Minnesota game on the Big 10 Network.  It hit me if Coach Kill can go on you can to.

That was one event in several that had me change my mindset.  I lost a vision for my life.  I thought this is it.  My life is going to consist of the only thing I can be is a couch potato watching TV.

The day my license was pulled I thought life was over.  I have adjusted.  I shared this in another column a few months ago.

Anything you face, the Apostle Paul said his (Jesus) grace is sufficient.  If you do not have a vision for the future, you are living and not existing.

I am going to share a couple of verses that talk about vision

Proverbs 29:18  Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (KJV)

Have you a vision, do not deter form what the truths are in God’s word.  This is were true happiness comes from, following God’s plan for your life.

When you have a vision write it down,

Habakkuk 2:2  And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

You know who will be reading that vision, it is you.  I have wrote several down on yellow legal pads at first.

Here are a couple visions that I have.  First, is to have short podcasts that I would put online interviewing local coaches, which is a need around here.  The only coaches that are interviewed in the county on a weekly basis are Ron Winemiller and Bob Pankey.  It would not be a show, it is something that will be posted online 24-7.

The next is one day I plan on writing a book.  When you are limited on what you  accomplish, it robs you of your manhood.  It is something that is impossible to totally understand if you have not been there.

The basis of the book will be encouragement not to give up and don’t let it destroy you.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.

The turn around in my life started that afternoon by seeing Coach Kill on the sidelines.  That is the reason he is one of my heroes in life.







Steve’s Ramblings: The spin about the kid mowing the Rose Garden leaves me SMH

by Steve Dunford

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes 11-years-old Frank Giaccio as he cuts the Rose Garden grass at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 15, 2017. Frank, who wrote a letter to Trump offering to mow the White House lawn, was invited to work for a day at the White House along the National Park Service staff. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Last Friday Frank Giaccio, and 11 year-old kid, wrote a letter to President Donald Trump asking to mow his yard.  The president took him up on the offer, and he cut the Rose Garden with a push mower, spending the morning with the US Park Service grounds crew at the white house.

Frank also was provided with an extra special treat, the President came out while he was mowing the grass and gave him a high five when he finished.

In Frank’s letter he told President trump how he admired his skills as a businessman, how he started his own business mowing yards in the neighborhood, and how one day he aspires to become a Navy Seal.

Frank told a reporter from the Fox Business Channel “it was the best day of his life.”  On the other end of the spectrum, the Huffington Post said at least “he offered the kid a high five.” 

Yes it would have been the best day of his kid’s life.  I would take it a high honor to be able to cut the White House lawn.

I was in about three conversations about this on Friday, and I said there would be someone in the left who will be screaming Child Labor and how the president will be pushing it.

I get home from a walk this afternoon.  I have over 100 news outlets in my Facebook feed.  That is the best way for me to consolidate what is happening from here in Franklin County all across the world.

The first thing I notice is a story shared from FoxNews, where a former New York Times labor columnist wrote the very same thing that I was shooting off my smart mouth about.

This was not an issue of child labor.  Donald Trump is not going to order fifth graders to go work in factories.  This is a picture of a kid who has some ingenuity to make some extra money.  Kids his age has mowed lawns for extra money.  It was something I did as a kid as well too.

I had a few yards I mowed at his age.  I started picking up hay between my 7th and 8th grade year.  I remember my mom saying she was not going to pay a penny over $50 for basketball shoes.  Well I bought a $90 pair, chipping in $40 of my own money.

I look back thinking that was a lot of wampum for basketball shoes in 1983.  I wonder how much Big Baller Brands would have been in the economy back then.  That is irrelevant.  First I would not spend $500 on a pair of shoes if I was a millionaire.  Second, I would not want to contribute to anything that LaVar Ball is peddling.

There were some days working sun up to sun down that I would make close to $100 a day.  That summer at the originally named “Thompsonville Festival” I had a good idea of taking a hundred dollar bill, wrapping it around a bunch of ones, and flashing my wallet to all the girls, well, I wasn’t the only newly become teenager that had that idea.

Frank is learning a lesson cutting a few neighbors lawns in the subdivision that will carry on for the rest of his life.  He is learning responsibility at a young age, as well as a work ethic that will carry on for life.

The ones screaming child labor, well they need to be teaching their children how to shovel or use a snow blower, because they are producing snowflakes.

Since we are on the meteorology topic, it is the same type of mindset saying that Mother Nature is spreading its fury on red states with hurricanes and wildfires.  When Los Angles was threatened with wildfires, and SanFrancisco began to experience triple digit heat, the reasoning switched to global warming.

I sat down at the keyboard yesterday before church and was going to write a fiery editorial about the griping in high school sports.  There seemed like there was a lot of it going on this weekend on Social Media.

In my “extensive research,” I even went to the “social media sewer” Topix.   There were a lot of back in my day posts, on one extreme, to Johnny and Suzie are being mistreated by their coach on the other.

I am not going to linger on high school sports too long.  I just remember a quote by former Cardinal pitcher/current broadcaster Ricky Horton on a Fellowship for Christian Athletes video.  He was asked about the friction in high school sports between parents and coaches.  He said, In High School you have to earn your uniform instead of your parents pay for a spot on the team.”  That might not be exact, but the statement stuck with me.

Frank, keep what you are doing and you will go far in life.

While writing this, I was given an idea of a young man who is a lineman on West Frankfort’s football team, who worked midnight shift at Pepsi during two a day’s over the summer.

And for me, well I used SMH in the title to prove that a fat bald guy approaching 50 has one or two hip bones in his body, that is not made out of titanium…yet.




Steve’s Ramblings: The day I was a racehorse

by Steve Dunford

Let me start by saying this, I am going to give you an update on my health.  I am doing well.  Since I have made some changes to my diet, and it is not the typical changes that you would think.  It involves eating cashews and guacamole.  I am improving each day.  Thank you for your prayers.

The only thing is, I have been sleeping a lot.   I used to get five hours and I am good to go.  The last two mornings when I look at the clock it is past 9:30, and I have been sleeping though my alarm.  Some people think I am weird, but I hate sleeping in.  This morning I said to myself, it is what my body needs.

Before I start updating the website, I usually post a couple things on social media.  I call it my asdfjkl;, like we used to do back in the day, when it was typing class and not keyboarding.

I was going to say this in a social media post, but with all the riots in St. Louis, Kim John Un making his threats, and people in Texas and Florida still suffering from the effects of a hurricane, I hope being a narcissist will bring a smile to your face.

When I was at Taylor Field last night, it brought back some memories to something that happened when I was a freshman in high school.

Lets put it this way, I was not built like a distance runner.  I hated to run.  When Long time Mt Vernon HS coach Doug Creel took over as head coach of Thompsonville High School, when he was right out of college. baseball was dropped and cross country and track was picked up.  The only reason I ran cross country was to play basketball.

I had a “stellar” baseball career going at T’ville.  I made an emergency appearance as an 8th grader in a fall baseball game, which the fall season was not sanctioned by the IHSA.  I ended up with a “career” batting average of 1.000 and an ERA 0.00, and picked up a save with the score 21-18 in the seventh place game of an eight team tournament.

I was a junk pitcher.  I learned to throw a breaking ball and a knuckle ball throwing a rubber baseball or tennis ball up against the garage growing up.  I had some nasty stuff, but my fastball was in the low 60’s.  I would have been good one time through the order, then I would have been rocked.

During cross county in the fall I was in the back of the pack, then worked my way up to the middle.  Our cross country/track coach was also a kid, long time SIC women’s coach, as well as long time boys coach of the Carrier Mills Wildcats, Mark Motsinger.  For all you runners at FCHS, all of the wild stories that “Hamp” tells you about his cross country career are true.  Hopefully I can provide Tim Glodich some pics one day.

We had two of the best runners in Southern Illinois, Jody Kilburn and Sean King.  They both ran the mile, and made an awesome relay time with two guys sandwiched in the middle.  If you were part of that, speak up.

The Hampleman brothers had a lock on my events, in junior high the shot put and the discus.  So let me explain something about running track in a HS of 100.  You put your best runners and athletes in their best four events.  You fill in the blanks with the rest, and pray for the best.

We had a meet at Taylor field, when the track was still cinder.  It was us, Z-R, NCOE and a few GEC schools.

To the GEC schools, a track meet was a fun day in which they did not have a baseball game.  At the time NCOE had about 300 in their enrollment, so they had enough kids to support a baseball and track program.  It was the first year that Enfield consolidated with the.

I was one of those fill in the blank guys, running the 3,200 that day.  I remember when I was walking to my lane, some kid from Z-R looked at my 6′ 0″ 195 pound frame said this event is for runners.  He said few choice words then said something about lapping me.  When I went to Rend Lake, I got to know a lot of guys from Zeigler pretty well.  I never saw this kid again.

For the first mile I was in the middle of the pack, then the last mile I dominated.  I won it with a time of 12:10.  It not a time to write home about, but it was good enough for first place.

When I won I was hearing how fat I was making some of my team mates wallets.  There were increments as low as a dollar and as high as twenty bucks.  Some wagers were made at the start and some where after I pulled out for the lead.

I always wondered who bet twenty dollars on me took me at 20-1 odds.  I know there might have been some IHSA sanctions if someone would have reported on the friendly wagers.

During that era, there were a lot of bets made on high school sporting events, but they were 600 feet underground. Cash was exchanged at times, but sometimes the loser was greased, or they drug their wives into it saying they would bring homemade pies.

Could I do that today, absolutely not.  My accomplishment last night was walking up to the pressbox without sucking too much air.

I was a racehorse on that cold April day in 1985.   You have a great weekend and I hope I brought a smile to your face today.


Steve’s Ramblings: Churches Need to Have Top Notch Security in Place

by Steve Dunford

This is something that I did not plan on writing until I read a story about a lady, Carolyn New, who was murdered in Somerset Kentucky inside of a church.  The killer has been charged with first degree murder.  The found the suspect across the state line in Tennessee, driving her car.

When I read this story, it brought back the ladies who were seriously injured down at a Baptist church in Anna a few years ago.  I am going to share some stories, of events that happened,

When I was a kid back in the 1970’s, churches were able to keep their doors unlocked.  I think now he might be in prison for life, but there was an individual every time he was out would burn churches down in Franklin County.

The second time, he burned down Whittington and Frisco Baptist Churches.  The third time he tried to burn down Plasters Grove Free Will Baptist Church, between Thompsonville and Akin, don’t quote me on this but he attempted, or was successful burning down some churches outside of Franklin County.

I am going to use this church as the cover.  A good friend of mine Crystal Osburn was out there during the eclipse.  I used this picture on the website and it had over 4,000 hits.

My aunt and uncle have been heavily involved in the church nearly all my life.  My aunt went out one Saturday to turn the heat on.  The building was filled with smoke.  A fire was set near the mourners bench.  They turned the ceiling fans on and it put the fire out.

The first church that I remember the arsonist attacked was the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, northeast of Thompsonville.  This was one of the churches that believed in keeping their doors unlocked.  I remember going to the scene of the fire in 1975.  My dad was a volunteer fireman for T’ville at the time.  As a five year old kid I remember thinking who would burn down God’s house.  It is ironic, but about 18 years later, it was the first church I pastored.

I was in college when this incident happened.  I was sitting on the back row of Thompsonville First Baptist church.  We had a drifter that was hanging around T’ville at the time.  Our pastor, Caroll Toler was preaching.  The drifter came in and had his hands underneath his shirt.  To this day I knew he had a gun.  Some of the men, including this college kid went to jump up.  He sat down on the first row, them began to leave.  Several of us escorted him out.  A few men was right behind him ready to tackle him in case he pulled something.

Churches are targets, especially country churches, of thievery and vandalism.  The second church I pastored, the East Fork Baptist Church between West Frankfort and Thompsonville Because of past vandalism had to put bars on the doors.

I show up at church one Sunday morning and the sound system was gone.  I tried call the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the phone was gone.  The thieves tried pawning it all off, and that is how they were arrested.  One of them, I was very surprised who they were.

I was surprised they did not take the AC unit.  This is something thieves will take at churches.  It is sad someone takes a unit that cost at least $2,000 dollars, and scrap it for $50.  I feel all churches should fence theirs up, and put a lock on the fence.

The other three churches I have pastored, did not have anything stolen, but had at least one incident of a shady character coming in the church.

The Chicago Dioses of the Catholic Church has banned weapons inside their services.  It is sad but I feel that if someone has a conceal-carry license, I would welcome the idea they be strapped on at church.

My dad pastored the Rescue Free Will Baptist Church between Whittington and Ewing in three different stints.  The first time I was around ten years old.  There was a member of the church who was a state trooper, the late Don Eubanks.

He would attend services on Sunday when he was on duty.  If he was needed the dispatcher in DuQuoin would call the church.  There were a few people who grumbled about him carrying his gun in the church, but the majority, including me as a kid, would think he is a cop, and that goes with the territory.

If someone has to be in a church during the week, lock yourself in.  If it is a larger church that has staff during the week, have an intercom system and security cameras at the door, like most schools do.

It is a sad reality, in our society today, that Churches need to have security in place.  I am amazed when I publish the report each week that sheriff Don Jones sends me, and how many people weekly are arrested in Franklin County on meth charges.

When I was pastor of the Logan Baptist Church the first time I ever heard of meth, was from one of the sweet little old ladies in the church that I was visiting.  She was talking about her neighbors a few doors down that were  cooking some new type of dope.  A few days later, I heard that individual was guilty of selling a new drug methamphetamines.

Meth is so addictive someone will do anything to get their fix.  That is why you see $50 air conditioners sold as scrap iron.  Also, meth destroys one conscience.  That is why we all need to be diligent, especially at God’s house.

There have been people that have told me in the past that a Christian should not own a weapon.  I go to this passage of scripture every time I hear it.  This is what Jesus told his disciples;

Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. (Luke 22:36)

Men carried a money bag back then, and it was referred as a purse.  Lets put it this way, in 2017 I would not be caught dead carrying a purse.   Jesus told them that having a sword was more important than having their outer garment, in which today you see a lot of bath robes in church plays.  My interpretation is the sword was to protect them in modern terms if someone tried to steal your wallet, as well as having a gun in case someone tried to harm yourself, or most of all your wife and children.

When I lost my drivers license due to seizures, I became ineligible for a FOID card, which I totally agree with.  When that day comes again, I will keep a 9MM underneath my bead and underneath the seat of my car.  At this time, if you try to break in, the best I can do is whop you over the head with a crowbar I keep handy.  I will also consider getting a conceal/carry license.

I hope what I said about church security made you think, and look at updating the security plan in your church.  It is a sad reality we face in the time we live in.

Franklin County was launched five years ago today

by Steve Dunford

One of the best ways that I can find out what is happening in the world and getting links to potential stories is to troll social media.  I only do Facebook and Twitter.  I am on Instagram, and still don’t know how.  I don’t plan on getting a snap chat account.  I want to make inroads with people, and not scare them away with my selfies.

I always go through the memories part.  I came across this post about an hour ago.  It was when Jim Muir launched this website.  Here is a link to the initial story that was ran on this webpage.  Click on the link below to read this.

Welcome to

I can tell you exactly where I was when I read this post.  I was sitting in what was an office/den that I had.  I was watching Cardinal Baseball on a portable TV and was scrolling trough Facebook.

Five years later, I had no idea that I would be working on this website, let alone a member of the media.

My life has changed drastically since that time.  I lost my drivers license because of health issues.  I live alone.  I live in West Frankfort now.

I know I butcher the English language bad at times, but when I look back at things that I have written from the day I started until now, I have came a long way.

I was a C English student in College.  I had to take the ACT four times in High School for two reasons.  First I was trying to get a 25 to become an Illinois State Scholar.  Second to get my English score high enough to avoid taking remedial English at Rend Lake College.

I never had one journalism class in my life, but I hope that over the nine months that I have worked on the site, is to give you the news and information that you the people of Franklin County need to know in your everyday lives.

I know the owner-publisher Jim Muir went into this field at mid life as well.  He did what most people did in Franklin County at the time after high school, or shortly after, went to work in the coal mines.

When Old Ben 21 shut down, Jim reinvented himself, and through taking some courses at Rend Lake College became a long time award winning member in print and broadcast media.

There are days that I wonder how I am going to keep the website full, and there are days that I am like where do I begin.  Today, is one of those where do I begin days, and I love every minute of it.

I might not drive, but at one stage or another, I have had ties with nearly every community in this county.  There is not a back road in the county that I have not traveled.

I want to give recognition to who recognition is due, and want to know what is going on in each of your communities.  You can contact me by sending me a message on Facebook. e-mail me at, call me at 937-0253, or send me a text at 513-1274.

To continue and improve, we will need some more sponsors of this site.  An aggressive advertising campaign will be launched soon, with possibly an account executive that will be added.  The website has over 5,000 followers on its Facebook page, and an average of 25,000 households, on any given week, will be reached in Franklin and the surrounding counties.

At this time, this website is the only daily publication in Franklin County.

The sky is the limit for potential growth.  I want to thank all of you whether reader or advertiser, for the past, current, and future success of this website.

I also want to thank you all for over the last nine months in the confidence you have placed in me for giving you accurate news to the best of my ability, especially in the crisis and emergency situations that we as the people of Franklin County have faced over the last nine months.

As a reader, and over the last few months as a news/sports reporter it has been an excellent five years, again thank you.



Why every Illinois politician should read Blagojevich’s words

Patti Blagojevich, left, wife of ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, her daughters Annie, center, and Amy listen their attorney speaking at the federal courthouse Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016 in Chicago after U.S. District Judge James Zagel resentenced Blagojevich’s to his original 14-year term. An appeals court threw out some of his convictions related to his alleged attempt to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat. Zagel ignored pleas for leniency from Blagojevich’s wife and daughters in making the ruling. (AP Photo/Tae-Gyun Kim)

CHICAGO, IL –  (Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune.  Please click on the link for the full article.  Here is an excerpt below.)

There was a time when Rod Blagojevich spent thousands of dollars on Oxxford suits and baby blue silk neckties. And there was a time more recently when he gave four postage stamps to a fellow prisoner in exchange for ironing his prison uniform.

The old life of Blagojevich. The new life of Blagojevich. In his first set of interviews since his incarceration more than five years ago, the defrocked governor — and his wife, Patti — talked to Chicago Magazine’s David Bernstein about life in prison and the struggles of keeping their family connected. It’s a story less about the optimistic Blagojevich who exercises and reads and works on his case, and more about the impact of his corruption convictions on those closest to him. What’s palpable is the worst price he pays for his federal felonies. Not the enduring shame. Not his lost potential. But his relationship with his family, especially his daughters.

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News