Railroad crossing repairs continue in West Frankfort

Union Pacific crews work on the railroad crossing at St. Louis Street in West Frankfort.

Union Pacific crews work on the railroad crossing at St. Louis Street in West Frankfort.

Union Pacific crews are in West Frankfort this week working on two particularly rough railroad crossings.

Workers completed half of the work on St. Louis Street Monday and will continue work at that intersection Tuesday, as well as begin work on the Cleveland Street crossing.

West Frankfort Street Commissioner Tara Fasol-Chambers said the work consists of raising the track and putting fill underneath to keep it raised to the same level as the road.

Fasol-Chambers said she she believes the Main Street railroad crossing also needs repairs. She has asked the Illinois Department of Transportation to make that request of Union Pacific, as IDOT makes the decision when to close Main Street, rather than the city.

Work should be completed Tuesday, but may stretch into Wednesday as rain is in the forecast.


Former WF Cardinal Weaver reportedly dies


Hall of Fame baseball manager Earl Weaver has reportedly died. The Baltimore Sun is reporting the death of the fiery 82 year old Oriole manager. No official statement has been released to our knowledge.

Local baseball fans will recall Weaver fondly from seeing him play- or hearing stories- when he was a member of the West Franfrot Cardinals. That minor league team was an affilitiate of the St.Louis Cardinals . They played their games in a wooden ballpark located where the National Guard Armory is now located in West Frankfort.

Carterville wins over WF at MWC

The West Frankfort Redbirds and Carterville Lions faced off Friday night for a spot in the MidWinter Classic title game.

The West Frankfort Redbirds and Carterville Lions faced off Friday night for a spot in the MidWinter Classic title game.


Christian Dunning shoots from the lane in the second quarter.

Christian Dunning shoots from the lane in the second quarter.

Carterville Lions Coach Scott Burzynski admitted after the game that teams that shoot 33 percent from the field rarely win games.

He also admitted that when his team did, they were fortunate enough to still win. However, the head coach did quickly credit his players for making the plays at the end of the game to have a chance to win. Carterville parlayed a Lucas Hunter corner shot to a win over the West Frankfort Redbirds 47-45.

The win propelled the Lions to Saturday night’s title game against Goreville. Both the Lions and Blackcats won their respective pools. The two teams played earlier with Goreville winning.

The West Frankfort Redbirds established their game plan early, and took advantage of Carterville’s cold shooting from the field.
After one quarter the Redbirds led 9-2. However, as ineffective as they were shooting the basketball in the first quarter, the Lions were as exact in the second frame. In fact, both teams simply traded places. It was the Redbirds who struggled with their first basket of the second frame coming at the 4:02 mark. That was a Christian Dunning turn around shot in the lane. At the half, Carterville led 18-15.
The third quarter belonged to the Redbirds. A pair of 3-point shots from sophomore Braxston Koehl and sophomore Dunning paced the home team. A third shot was mistakenly announced as a Redbird 3-pointer, but changed at the scorers table to the 2-point shot the referees had called on the floor. After three quarters,the ‘Birds  led 34-29.
Carterville's Lucas Hunter takes the game-winning shot from the corner.

Carterville’s Lucas Hunter takes the game-winning shot from the corner.

The fourth quarter  saw both teams turn in big plays, one after the other.  Carterville started their run early when they were down by seven points. Matt Galik and Blake Watson drained 3-point shots in the fourth quarter’s first four minutes. Galik’s trey pulled the Lions to within two points with 3:20 left in the game. At that time,the score 41-39.

The game was tied at 42 as the clock hit 1:30 remaining. Carterville’s comeback was aided by some key Redbird turnovers late in the game. A tie up on a rebound gave the Lions the ball underneath their own goal with the possession arrow favoring them. With :53 seconds left, Lucas Hunter hit a free throw to tie the game at 45.
That set the scene for the Lions receiving the winning shot from the left corner by Hunter.
As the ball exited the basket, the clock showed a tenth of a second. Officials informed the scorers bench that time had been officially called with 2.1 seconds left in the game. The Redbirds inbounded at the far end of the floor and manuevered to the top of the opponents key before Koehl tossed up a heave toward the goal. It was slightly off to the left, and there would be no Redbird miracle win this night.
Scoring for the Redbirds: Koehl 18, Dunning 17, Easley 5, Williams 2, Keller 1,  Fort 1, Maller 1.
Carterville was led by the 13 of Blake Watson.
With the loss, the Redbirds fall to 6-11 for the season. It snapped the first two win streak of the year for Dan Dewerff’s squad. West Frankfort will play for Third Place tonight against Herrin, in the 7 p.m. game of the MWC.


Lady Redbirds fall to Herrin at MWC


The West Frankfort Lady Redbirds had obviously set their goal to battle Herrin in the opener of the 2013 Mid-Winter Classic. And, they met that goal. However, their horn to horn effort fell just short as Herrin scored a 46-34 win that did not belie how close the game was for much of the contest. After one quarter, Herrin led the Lady Redbirds 12-10. The lead was 21-15 by intermission.

In the second half the Redbirds lost ground in the third quarter as they could not get their shots to fall, outscored in quarter three 13-4. But, in the final stanza, Matt Hampleman’s team made a comeback run out-pointing the Lady Tigers 15-12.

West Frankfort was led by the 11 points of Calvert, Wilce had 9, Stewart 6, Sailiez,4 Summers 2, melvin 2 and Williams 2 points.

This was the opening game for both teams in the tournament. Both teams are off until Tuesday night as Monday’s games are on the boys side of the tournament.

West Frankfort Police arrest violent suspect


On Thursday at 7:27 p.m., West Frankfort Police received a report of a violent altercation between a man and a woman, on a parking lot behind Boomerang’s tavern.

A citizen called 911 to report the incident. The caller also provided a vehicle description and direction of travel.

Officers located the vehicle and made a stop in the 1000 block of east Main Street. The suspect fled the vehicle and was tackled by a Police officer half a block away.

Virgil O. Hammersly

According to Chief Jeff Tharp’s press release, Virgil O. Hammersly then tried to render the officer unconscious by choking. A second responding officer used a taser on Hammersly to subdue him.

Hammersly was taken to the Franklin County jail and charged with aggravated battery to a Police officer, resisting arrest and driving on a revoked license.

Information from the report has been forwarded to the office of Franklin County State’s Attorney Evan Owens for review.

W.F. City Council to meet on electric aggregation


The West Frankfort City Council will meet at City Hall at 10 a.m. Thursday.

The meeting is a continuation of Tuesday night’s regular meeting. Mayor Tom Jordan asked commissioners to continue the meeting until Thursday, because he was participating in a conference call on Wednesday regarding electric aggregation.

At today’s meeting, Jordan is expected to report on the call and ask for council action on choosing an electricity supplier.

West Frankfort voters approved electric aggregation in November. The process allows the city to buy electricity for residents on the competitive energy market. (If you still have questions about electric aggregation, check out our Q&A on the subject here: How electric aggregation really works.)

After an energy supplier is selected, residents will be notified of the new supplier and rate, and will be given time to “opt out” of the program and stay with Ameren if they desire.

W.F. railroad crossing work to commence later this month


Union Pacific Railroad crews will be in West Frankfort later this month to make repairs to railroad crossings at Cleveland and St. Louis streets. The work will begin Jan. 21, according to Street Commissioner Tara Fasol-Chambers.

Fasol-Chambers told the West Frankfort City Council that the work will result in the roads being blocked for five hours on that date, unless the weather prevents the work from being done then.

At the first city council meeting of the year Tuesday night, commissioners also discussed the next steps in the electric aggregation process. West Frankfort has joined with eight other Southern Illinois cities to buy electricity as a larger group. Bids for the electricity are expected today, and Mayor Tom Jordan will be participating in a conference call about them with the mayors of the other cities involved. The council continued its meeting to 10 a.m. Thursday to hear from Jordan about the bids.

In other action, commissioners:

  • Approved the payment of city bills totaling $144,762.07.
  • Approved a payment to Larry Grimm Auto for $2,145 for tire and brake work on one of the city’s ambulances.
  • Approved a payment of $2,900 for roof repairs at the city’s Public Service Building. Commissioner Jerry Harkins said the repairs fixed some leaks in the roof that were occurring around the building’s heating and air conditioning units.
  • Agreed to spend $2,026 to replace 2 front tires on one of the city’s backhoes and 2 front and 2 rear tires on a second backhoe. The low bid was from Hammer’s Tires in West Frankfort.
  • Approved a building permit for Brandon Smith, who wants to add a 22×24 office addition to the former dance studio on East Main Street that he is converting into an auto body shop.
  • Fire and Police Commissioner Jerry Harkins commended the West Frankfort Police Department and Chief Jeff Tharp for the active shooter training the department conducted recently at Frankfort Community High School.
  • Commissioner Tara Fasol-Chambers reported that progress is being made on a project to extend sidewalks for three blocks on Ninth Street where children walk to Central Junior High School and Frankfort Intermediate School. The owners of the final home that must grant an easement for the sidewalk have been located. Fasol-Chambers said they are amenable to the project, and she is working with City Attorney Mike Riva to wrap up easement paperwork. The next step in the process will be leveling the area out – a big undertaking, she said.
  • Commissioners discussed the condition of the former Ken Gray Museum in the Heights. Fasol-Chambers, who lives near the building, said that the recent snow and rain seems to have taken a further toll on it. The front of the brick building bows out toward Main Street. City Codes Inspector Ed Hammonds told commissioners that he had been in contact with the building’s owner, and would talk with him again about the building’s condition. Fasol-Chambers expressed concern that the building would fall into Main Street at some point. Hammonds quipped, “It’s not going to fall; it’s going to explode.”
  • Mayor Tom Jordan said work with the school board on a proposed land swap in the city is ongoing. The city will be scheduling public hearings about the land swap soon.


Murphysboro defeats Redbirds on the mat


Murphysboro won the first four varsity matches and then was able to hang on for a 40-35 win over the Redbirds in Ohio Division wrestling Tuesday night. The Redbirds were held off the board until Maneese won in the 132 pound division by pin. Both Restivo brothers and Keegan Gardner then won consecutive matches to pull the Redbirds closer. Many of the following matches were split, with the Red Devils able to capture the win.

Other winners for the ‘Birds included:Riddle,Smith and Gaspar.

Massac County defeats Lady Redbirds


A slight second half advantage propelled the Massac County Lady Patriots to a 45-35 win over the visiting West Frankfort Lady Redbirds Tuesday night.

A 2-point halftime advantage was lengthened by 4 points in each the third and fourth quarters to give the Lady Patriots home team the Ohio Division win.

Scoring for the Redbirds Kiarha Wilce had 21 points for the bulk of the Redbird total, Calvert,Williams and Summers had 4 each in the loss.

Massac County was led by Bailey’s 14 points.

Much of the game was decided from behind the arc, with the Redbirds hitting 4 of the 3 point shots, and Massac County answering with 9.

At intermission, Matt Hampleman’s team trailed 21-19.  Massac outscored the ‘Birds 9-5 in the third quarter and 15-11 in the fourth to pull out a narrow conference win.

Redbirds dominate Hamilton County

Redbird senior Trenton Easley goes up for a shot under heavy guard.


Playing four strong quarters of varsity basketball, the West Frankfort Redbirds soundly defeated the Hamilton County Foxes Tuesday night, 59-43.

Gage Williams blocks a shot.

The Redbirds scored the first 4 points of the game. Then, they saw HamCo score the next four. The Redbirds then regained the momentum putting up 13 unanswered points to end the quarter with a 17-4 advantage. The game would only get slightly closer than that with the home team holding a double digit lead for most of the contest. The game was also not close when the halftime horn sounded with the ‘Birds up 24-10 as they received an ovation from the home crowd on their way to the locker room.

In the second half, the Foxes made a few runs to cut the lead under double digits. The last time Hamilton County saw a single number disadvantage was when Levi Lueke hit a short jumper with 6:27 left in the game to cut the Redbird lead to 40-32. The Birds scored the next 8 points of the game. In the second half run, Gage Williams electrified the crowd when he cruised in for a one-handed dunk.

The game was a very physical game with West Frankfort going to the free throw line 29 times, and Hamilton County 18 times. The hard play drew ire from both sides of the gym, with one Fox fan receiving an early exit.

Scoring for West Frankfort included: Trenton Easley with 21 points, Williams and Koehl with 15, Dunning 8, and Sisk 2. Easley had both West Frankfort 3-pont shots,and both proved instrumental in halting Hamco rallies.

Both teams are now 4-9 for the season. The Redbirds get back to Ohio Division action Friday night, at Murphysboro.

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News