Redbirds dominate Carmi-White County


A smothering defense allowed the West Frankfort Redbirds to break a close game open Tuesday night. The Redbirds scored a 58-42victory over visiting Carmi-White County.

The game opened slowly as neither team scored until the halfway point of the first quarter. At the end of the first eight minutes, the score was tied 8-8.

At the halfway point, the Redbirds and Bulldogs had battled closely with the Redbirds taking an intermission lead of 19-16.

The Redbirds forced turnovers in the third quarter and kept Carmi-White County out of their comfortable shooting zones. Eric Dixon’s team became their own worst enemy as the game dragged on. They shot three-point shots freely, rarely connecting. and, in doing so went away from offensive rebounding which had produced results in the first half.

In quarter three, the Redbirds got balanced, scoring Braxton Koehl with 7 points and Trenton Easley had 6 in the frame. By quarter’s end, the ‘Birds had opened a 38-26 lead and had captured the momentum.

The fourth quarter saw the Redbirds open the lead even further, enroute to the 16 point win.

And, with that win, Dan Dewerff’s team ran their record to 2-5 for the season. Scoring for the Redbirds included:  Trenton Easley and Christian Dunning with 15 points each, Nick Korolenko had 10,,Braxton Koehl had 9, Keller, and Maller had 4 points apiece, and Fort had a single free throw.
The Redbirds and Carmi-White County each had 20 rebounds.
Carmi-White County came from behind to win the JV game 51-45 after the Redbirds had opened up a fourth quarter lead.
The Redbirds now prepare for visiting Benton on Friday night. This was a game scheduled to begin the 2012-13 basketball season until Benton requested a reschedule. The junior varsity game begins at 6 p.m. Friday, and the varsity game approximately 7:45 p.m.

West Frankfort high rise still fighting bed bugs


“I hate to bring this up …” Franklin County Housing Authority Director Monica Stewart sighed and said Monday night at the authority board’s final meeting of the year. Stewart had to report that the authority is still fighting bed bugs in the Anna Gray High Rise building in West Frankfort.

Last week, 17 units in the building were inspected, and six of them came back positive for the pests.

The theory for the continuing problems is that residents are violating instructions not to remove anything from their apartments, and are spreading the insects. Stewart told the board there is a prep list of things that an infected apartment’s inhabitants must do before the housing authority will come in to treat the bugs, but these things are not always done. And that makes the costly treatments less effective.

Each professional bedbug treatment costs the housing authority $1,800, and none of that amount can be passed on to the tenant. Some tenants have had as many as four bedbug treatments.

The Board has now adopted a policy that would allow it to evict tenants who do not comply with the bed bug prep list.

Stewart also outlined a new collections policy for past-due accounts. Currently, the Housing Authority utilizes the services of Merchants Credit, a local collection agency.

Beginning in  2013, the housing authority will participate in a state program that will allow it to garnish state income tax refunds to collect past-due funds. There is an appeals process, which Director Stewart said the Authority will be briefed on this week.

“We have about 350 accounts, and we want to start this process before income tax season,” she said.

In other Board actions:
  • Bids were accepted for purchase on 80 new electric ranges.
  • Bids were accepted for bathroom renovations at Kuca High Rise, replacing standard equipment dating back to 1968 in some cases.
  • Accepted a bid with Housing Authority insurance group for vehicle, property, and general liability insurance. This represents a change of carrier from previously used ARMA insurance. With the new insurer, a $23,000 savings is projected. And, property insurance jumps up from the current $25 million dollars insured to $68 million dollars, which is the appraised worth of the county property owned by FCHA.
  • The Board approved a total of $29,207 in “write offs” as uncollectable debts left by tenants. In 2012, 189 people moved from Housing Authority premises, and 89 left debts.

Sex offender arrested at event for area children


West Frankfort Police confirm that a man was arrested at 11:40 a.m. Saturday at an annual Christmas charity event. Police Chief Jeff Tharp said that an anonymous tip summoned officers to the annual West Frankfort Elks Club Christmas party for local children.

Taken into custody was convicted sexual predator Roger Walters Jr. According to witnesses, Walters was quietly removed from the gathering, and handcuffed away from the party and out of view of the children attending.

Tharp says that Walters will be charged with Violation of the Child Sex Offender Registry Act.  Among the provisions of the law is one that prohibits a registered sex offender from knowingly being present at a facility providing services exclusively directed at children under age 18. Tharp said officers spoke with Elks officials who said the party was advertised for and specifically catered to children.

Walters was taken to the Franklin County Jail.

Tigers hand Redbirds big loss


General George Custer got a warmer reception at Little Bighorn than the Redbirds received Friday night at Herrin. Entering the game, both teams had won only once. Pre-game talk among the fans was a close game was expected. Then, reality set in. Final score: Herrin 73-West Frankfort 35.

A relentless trapping zone defense forced the Redbirds into three consecutive turnovers to begin the game. Still, early, the Redbirds held it close as Herrin struggled offensively. In fact, Nick Korolenko’s jumper tied the game at a bucket apiece three minutes into the contest.

However, Herrin corrected their offensive mistakes – and the ‘Birds never did. At the end of the first quarter Herrin held a commanding 17-2 lead. Still, there was hope. A week ago, Irvin Lukens’ club held a huge lead over Benton. But, the Rangers came back to win that game in overtime. The Redbirds would not be as lucky. Mistakes continued to haunt the “Birds into the second quarter and by half Herrin’s lead had ballooned to 38-8 .

In the second quarter, the ‘Birds offense did show some signs of a slight pulse. That continued in the third quarter.  Quarter Three was the most productive quarter of basketball for West Frankfort  Friday night. The Redbirds put 17 points on the Memorial Gym scoreboard in that frame. This was in part aided by two three-point shots from sophomore Braxton Koehl and a pair of buckets by sophomore Christian Dunning.

But, by then, the Redbirds also had quit defending the lane,and were giving up easy buckets off drives and entry passes. Herrin’s Jeril Pirtle used that quarter to knife his way through the porous defense for 9 third quarter points. teammate Justin Lukens had 8 in the quarter as Herrin substituted freely. Both teams finished the long ago decided game with bench personnel.

Herrin was led by the 26 points from Justin Lukens, son of the Herrin varsity basketball coach, Irv Lukens. Justin Lukens had quarters of 9,9 and 7 points, sitting out much of the fourth quarter. Pirtle ended up with 15 points for the game. No other Tiger scored more than 6 points.

Christian Dunning was the lone Redbird in double figures with 14 points. Korolenko had 7 points. Koehl had the two three-point shots mentioned earlier for a total of 6, senior Trenton Easley had 3 points, Drew Maller and Zack Fort had 2 points apiece and Gage Williams had a free throw for a single point.

The major statistic in the game was turnovers. Herrin committed 8 for the game. West Frankfort had 23 turnovers, as they were helpless against Herrin zone defenses and extended court pressure. The inability to even get shots attempted negated any hope of a comeback  for Dan Dewerff’s team.

The win improves Herrin to 2-5, 1-1 in conference play for the season. And, the Redbirds fell to 1-5, 0-2 in the Ohio Division of the River-to-River Conference. If there is any good news for the ‘Birds it is that they have time to regroup. Saturday night is an idle night for the Redbirds- a chance to forget one of those inevitable nights in the gym when nothing seems to go right – which happens to most every team.
Herrin easily won the junior-varsity contest, keeping the JVs winless with a 54-26 victory.
Next up for the Redbirds is a visit from Carmi-White County. That game will be Tuesday night, with the JV game set to begin at 6 p.m.

West Frankfort settles union grievances


City officials have announced that four grievances filed by Laborers Local 773, which represents West Frankfort’s Street Department workers, have been settled.

Street Commissioner Tara Fasol-Chambers detailed the settlements at the conclusion of this week’s West Frankfort City Council meeting.

In the first grievance, union workers said they were required to use their personal cell phones for work purposes, and requested $40 per month reimbursement from the city for the use of their phones. The union also requested 16 months of back pay for the phone use. In the settlement, the city will pay for eight months in arrears – $320 each for four street department employees. The city has purchased prepaid phones for the workers to be used for work purposes going forward. In addition, street department employees have been instructed to limit personal cell phone use to emergencies only while on the clock. The city was already paying for cell phones for the Street Department superintendent and foreman.

The second grievance related to a change in the time the lunch hour is given. Fasol-Chambers said employees had typically taken lunch at 9 a.m. The workers’ shift starts at 7 a.m., and by the time equipment is started and moved to a particular work site, it is often 7:30 or 7: 45, which does not allow much time for morning work projects before lunch, so the lunch hour had been moved to 11 a.m. The union dropped the grievance, and employees will take lunch at 11 a.m.

The third and fourth grievances were related to disciplinary actions taken with a particular street department employee. The city has agreed that a written record of verbal warnings regarding threatening language used and tardiness would be removed from the employee’s file. The city will issue a memo to all city employees reminding them that they are required to arrive prior to their scheduled start time and call in to their supervisor if an emergency warrants a late arrival.

Fasol-Chambers said that the city had also agreed with the union on a more open policy of communication.

“Everyone trying to work better together in the future might resolve some of these issues before they get to the grievance stage,” she said.


2013 W.F. City Lake stickers on sale now


Car stickers to access the West Frankfort City Lake in 2013 are on sale now at city hall.

The stickers, which cost $30, allow access to the lake and its property for boating, hunting and fishing. A second sticker for a family’s second car can be bought for an additional $5.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting. Commissioner Ed Blades pointed out that since the 2012 stickers expire at the end of the year, and the city planned to put new stickers on sale in the New Year, there could be a period of time when people had not obtained a new sticker and would be “illegal” using the lake property.

Blades suggested a 30-day grace period when stickers would not be enforced at the beginning of the year. The council instructed Police Chief Jeff Tharp to allow that, but also decided to put the stickers on sale immediately.

W.F. Chamber of Commerce to meet


The final meeting of the calendar year for the West Frankfort  Chamber of Commerce will be held Wednesday afternoon. The meeting begins at noon, at Bella’s on East Main Street. All members, guests and interested parties are invited to attend.

As part of the agenda, new officers will be recognized, and the retiring officers thanked for their service. Plans for the annual meeting will be discussed, and results from the rib sale will be presented to the Board.

Extra work needed on Benton Industrial Park II project


An engineering mistake is adding additional work – and additional cost – to the road construction project underway at Benton Industrial Park II.

Benton Mayor Gary Kraft briefed the city council during its regular meeting Monday night on an engineering oversight that will require an additional $35,000 to relocated and encase some oil well lines during road construction at the project.

Officials broke ground in September on the $3 million undertaking, which includes the widening and resurfacing of portions of Central Street, Sugar Creek Road and Petroff Road, as well as an extension of Skylane Drive. Grants from the federal Economic Development Agency and Illinois Department of Transportation are providing about 90 percent of the funds for the project.

Kraft said the engineer who won the bid for the project overlooked the oil well lines, which have been in the ground since approximately 1980. Since they were there first, the project will have to pay for them to be moved, he said.

Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Development Commission officials are submitting a change order to the EDA to deal with the line relocation and encasement. City officials expressed hope that the EDA would come up with the additional funds.

If the EDA does not come through with the additional funds, city officials acknowledged they will have to come from somewhere.

“Without them [the oil well lines] being moved, the road can’t be completed,” said Benton City Attorney Tom Malkovich. Commissioners authorized Malkovich to negotiate and agreement between the company that owns the lines, Continental Resources Inc., and the city, so that work can progress.

In other action, the Benton City Council:

  • Approved wastewater treatment plant purchase orders of $3,371.58 for testing materials required by the EPA and $2,550 for balancer replacement.
  • Discussed donating two wastewater treatment plant vehicles to the city of Rosiclaire. The vehicles – a 1990 dump truck and a 1992 pick-up truck – are not in use. “They are salvage to us,” Kraft said. Rosiclaire officials had expressed a need for vehicles and said the city was willing to fix them if they were in disrepair. Benton officials are going to invite Rosiclaire officials to come look at the vehicles and decide if they want them. The matter was tabled until that visit takes place.
  • Approved a payment of $67,503.44 for Jeff Wiggs Excavating for water main replacement at Grand and Reed streets.
  • Authorized the city’s police department to spend a $570 holiday donation received from Fred’s Super Dollar on its Shop with a Cop program, which provides Christmas gifts for children in need.
  • Authorized the city’s fire department to spend $250 of its $570 holiday donation from Fred’s Super Dollar to purchase toys for the Toys for Tots program. The remaining $320 of the donation will also be donated to Toys for Tots as a cash donation.
  • Approved city payroll of $93,328.85.
  • Approved the annual tax levy ordinance.
  • Briefly discussed creating a liquor license for the Benton Bowl. Commissioners are researching how liquor licenses work at other area bowling alleys, and plan to take up the issue at the next regular council meeting on Dec. 27. (Click here to read our previous story about the liquor license request.)
  • Approved the rescheduling of the council’s next regular meeting to 7 p.m. Dec. 27, so that it does not conflict with Christmas Eve.
  • Continued the meeting until 8:30 a.m. Friday, when the council will pay city bills.




Benton Police make trespassing arrest


Benton Police have arrested a Johnston City man after reports of a disturbance.

On Monday, police were called to the 800 block of North Frisco Street.

There, they arrested Robert Roeder, 37, of Johnston City, charging him with criminal trespass on railroad property.

Benton Police arrest woman in retail theft


Benton Police have arrested a Johnston City woman in a theft at a downtown clothing store.

On Monday, police were dispatched to Peek-A-Boo clothing store, 504 Public Square, to investigate retail theft at the store.

Kendra Whitecotton, 26, of Johnston City was arrested and taken to Franklin County Jail for further processing.

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