Candy Cane Lane storage building a total loss in early morning fire

West Frankfort fire fighters look for hot spots after an early morning fire consumed a storage building at Candy Cane Lane.


West Frankfort firefighters were called to a storage building fire early Thursday morning on Candy Cane Lane. The building was owned by the extensive Christmas display’s founder Tim Murphy. It was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived, and was a total loss.

Murphy told that among the items destroyed in the blaze was his own personal scooter, and his late fathers truck, which he kept in the building. Numerous other items also were kept inside.

“Normally my own truck would have been inside, but not last night,” he said.

And the building served as a storage area for the hundreds of Christmas display items now out in Murphy’s yard for the holiday season.

The West Frankfort Fire Department responded with numerous apparatus including the rig which allowed them to shoot water down on the pole barn structure. The aerial ladder provided that capability and other units were there in support, along with the WFFD ambulance.

 All that remained of the building was rubble, which firefighters continued to probe in the eight o’clock hour for hot spots.
The cause of the fire is not know at this early stage, but remains under investigation.
Murphy himself seems convinced of the cause.
“Someone set it,” he immediately replied when asked. There was also a previous fire in the same building a few months prior to this morning’s fire.
Candy Cane Lane, which grew out of Murphy’s elaborate home displays decades ago into a multi-block drive-through affair that draws thousands each Christmas season, has been the scene of numerous acts of vandalism this year. The wooden displays have been spray-painted and moved, and display items and floodlights have been stolen. will continue to follow this story and update as the fire’s cause is investigated.

John A. Logan angel tree helps 300 area children

JALC Student Senate member Ty Nance of Carterville and Adrienne Barkley Giffin, Director of Student Activities and Cultural Events, showcase donated Christmas presents that are to be distributed to 166 children in Southern Illinois thanks to the generosity of Logan students, employees and the general public. (Logan Media Services photo)

BY JOHN D. HOMAN, Logan Media Services

Another Angel Tree project coordinated by the Student Senate at John A. Logan College is in the books. And thanks to the generosity of students, college employees and the general public, 300 children in Southern Illinois enjoyed a brighter Christmas.

Adrienne Barkley Giffin, Director of Student Activities and Cultural Events at Logan, said representatives with the Neighbor to Neighbor and Adolescent Health Center agencies in Williamson and Jackson counties collected the donated gifts for 166 children.

Barkley and Student Senate members then spent $4,800 in donated cash to purchase gifts for another 134 children in the region for a total of 300 children served.

“That comes out to about $36 per child,” Barkley Giffin said. “Of course, we’d always like to do more, but every little bit helps.”

Barkley Giffin said the project touches lives in ways more than one can imagine.

“Just last week, we had a Logan student and three of her best friends, who are attending other colleges, decide they would pool their money, and instead of spending it on each other for gifts, would adopt a little girl from the Angel Tree and got everything on her list. They then bought the gifts together and wrapped them together. That was really sweet.”

Barkley Giffin said students have bills to pay, including tuition, books and fees, yet still think of others who are less fortunate.

“Even during Finals Week…to take the time to participate in Angel special.”

There was another instance of a woman who recently attended the Holiday Hop musical on campus and picked a child’s name from the Angel Tree.

“She said the Angel Tree is a blessing to her because she and her husband lost their daughter last spring and this was a way for them to take the time and money they were going to spend on their daughter for Christmas and apply it to this other child. It helps them deal with their grief during this holiday season.”

Barkley Giffin said some JALC employees help teach their own children about the joy of giving through projects like Angel Tree.

“It’s a way of teaching young people about a need in the communities in which they live,” she said. “It’s really amazing the response their children have, too. I know of one child who saved all of her allowance money throughout the year to spend on another child. Children are very generous. And so are our Logan employees. A lot of people have stopped me in the hall the last few weeks and asked me how they can help. It’s something fun for them to do. I also want to stress that this project is not just about the gifts. It’s about letting these kids know that they are worthwhile and are cared about.”

Deadline approaching to sign up for Benton talent show

Benton Public Library is planning its first Christmas teen talent show next week, and if you want to participate, now is the time to sign up.

Teens are asked to sign up at the library by Friday, Dec. 7.

“We’re hoping for a variety of performers, from musicians to poets and anything in between, as long as it has a holiday theme,” said library director Erin Steinsultz.

The Christmas talent show will be at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at the library.

Hilltoppers 4-H Club plans community service project in W.F.

The Hilltoppers 4-H Club will be serving the community this weekend by ringing the Salvation Army Bell at the West Frankfort K-mart store.

The kids in the club will also be singing Christmas carols around the kettle.

Christmas concert planned at Benton church

Nashville, Tennessee, pianist and comedian Brian Hanson will be in concert Monday, Dec. 17 at the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 302 South Main, Benton.  Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the concert starting at 7:00 p.m. 
Through the vehicles of beautiful piano music, audience participation and a great sense of humor, Brian’s concerts are a unique blend of traditional Christmas favorites from the past and present, Christmas sing-a-longs, and lots of laughs along the way.  You won’t want to miss this special evening.
A love offering will be taken.
For further information call the church at (618) 438-5841.

Angel Tree now up in Christopher awaiting gifts from public

 The Christopher Area Betterment Association’s “Angel Tree” project is asking for help from residents to provide gifts for deserving children this Christmas.

The tree is set up in the lobby of the Banterra Bank of Christopher, 506 N. Victor. To participate, you choose an ornament from the tree, which includes a child’s gender, age and other details to help you shop for gifts to brighten up his or her Christmas.

Gifts should be wrapped and taken back to the bank by Friday, Nov. 30, or to the Jaycees building at 106 S. Thomas St., Christopher on Monday, Dec. 3.

For more information about the Christopher Angel Tree program, call Banterra Bank’s Susie Williams at (618) 724-9416.

Sesser-Valier school asks for Christmas donations for students

For several years, the Sesser-Valier School staff members have donated their time and money to sponsor deserving students and their younger siblings at Christmastime.

This year, the school’s Students Assistance Program Team is reaching out to the community for help. Individuals and businesses wishing to donate can shop for gifts for the children they sponsor or donate funds so that the SAP Team may shop. A wish list from the children is provided, and the average amount spent on each child is $60.

All children in the program remain anonymous.

To donate, call Tracy Masters at (618) 625-5101, Ext. 120, or Kerri Henry at (618) 625-5105, Ext. 103. Monetary donations may also be mailed to S-V Unit Dist. 196 Christmas Fund, 4626 State Highway 154, Sesser, IL 62884.

West Frankfort crews hang holiday decorations

Roger Stanley supervises as Jimmy Edwards and Jeff Woolard hang decorations with the help of Kent Earnheart and Foreman Larry Presley operating the backhoe.

On Tuesday, West Frankfort Street Department crews began the task of hanging Holiday decorations throughout the downtown area. The city took over the decoration duties from the Chamber of Commerce earlier this year.

Volunteers had traditionally put up the decorations early on a Saturday morning. Workers are expected to meet this Saturday as well – if needed.

“The Street Department is trying to help volunteer efforts by getting an early start, this year,” said Street Dept. Commissioner Tara Chambers. “Our city has owed such debt to those who turn out on a traditionally cold morning to work hard so that others may experience the lighted scene down Main Street.”

— Bruce A. Fasol

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News