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Local News Archives for 2017-12

Organ Tissue Donors

Legislation allowing 16 and 17 year olds to register for the state's First Person Consent Organ/Tissue Donor Registry when they receive their driver's license or identification card will take effect on January 1, 2018.

Under current law, an individual must be at least 18 years old to join the Registry. The legislation amends the Illinois Anatomical Gift Act allowing 16 and 17 year olds to join the registry.

By joining the First Person Consent Organ/Tissue Donor Registry, 16 and 17 year olds will be giving consent to donate their organs and tissue at the time of their death with only the single limitation that the procurement organizations (Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Network and Mid-America Transplant) must make a reasonable effort to contact a parent or guardian to ensure they approve of the donation. The parent or guardian will then have the opportunity to overturn the child's decision. Once the 16 or 17 year old turns 18, that decision would be considered legally binding without limitation.

Bremer Sanctuary to Host New Year's Day Walk

The stewards of Bremer Sanctuary in Hillsboro are inviting the public to their annual New Year's Day walk, no matter the weather.

According to a press release from the sanctuary, the timber and portions of the prairie have been recently burned as part of the restoration and conservation practice, and the volunteers will spend time describing the efforts.

In previous years, the walks have trudged along the Timber Trail. Participants will cross a newly constructed covered bridge, cross a dam at Turtle Pond and head for the construction area. Major construction of the ammonia pipeline is completed with the pipe in the ground and covered. All that remains is for the company in charge of construction to repair the worksite.

The walk will give the public a first look at the scope of the work that has been taking place since late summer. It will last around an hour and a half, and following the walk, a hot soup lunch will be served at the barn.

Bremer Sanctuary is the Hickory Hills Chapter of the Illinois Audubon Society, located a half mile north of the Montgomery County Courthouse.

EQIP Funds for Macoupin County

State Conservationist Ivan Dozier is announcing the U. S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service will offer funding in Macoupin County for the Upper Macoupin Creek Watershed using the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. NRCS has partnered with American Farmland Trust to help local producers address natural resource concerns, namely degraded water quality and soil erosion. The project is to improve water quality in portions of Macoupin County's Upper Macoupin Creek Watershed. Producers can apply for both technical and financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to install practices such as drainage water management, denitrifying bioreactors, saturated buffers, cover crops, nutrient management techniques and no-till systems.

NRCS RCPP funding will be available to Macoupin County Producers with land located in the Upper Macoupin Creek Watershed. To take advantage of this special conservation funding opportunity, interested and eligible producers should submit an application by the cutoff dates of January 19 and March 16, 2018.

To apply, eligible producers should contact the NRCS Carlinville Field Office. The Phone number is 217-854-2626 ext. 3.

State Owes Nokomis School District $39,000 for FY 17

Nokomis School Superintendent Scott Doerr told the school board last Tuesday evening that the state still owes the district money from Fiscal Year 2017.

According to Dr. Doerr, the state owes almost $39,000 for a Pre-K payment and the Healthy Communities grant. The total amount owed for Fiscal Year 2018 is reaching nearly $174,000 in all mandated categorical payments and Pre-K with the second quarter payments due on Sunday, December 31.

Dr. Doerr said he does not anticipate that the payments will be received before the end of the calendar year. He added that the district has finally started receiving General State Aid-Personnel payments as flow-through from Mid-State, which should come monthly at this point.

The board also approved a resolution transferring funds from the School Facility Occupation Tax Fund to the Bond and Interest Fund. The resolution also abates a portion of the taxes levied to pay debt services on the general obligation school bonds.

The next Nokomis School Board Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 16, at 7:30 p.m.

Extension Trip to Chicago Flower and Garden Show

The University of Illinois Extension will host a charter bus trip to the Chicago Flower and Garden Show at Navy Pier, on Friday, March 16, 2018.

The 2018 Chicago Flower and Garden Show will feature display gardens and vignettes showcasing roses, tulips, edibles and small spaces, water features and urban design.

Garen Gourmet cooking demonstrations, a public photography competition, Potting Parties and the popular Kids' Activity Garden will return, along with the show's all-new Get Growing Educational Presentation Series, featuring interactive how-to performances, workships and seminars led by regional and national industry experts and authors.

Register online for the "Chicago Flower Show Bus Trip 2018" at University of Illinois Extension - Macoupin, Christian, and Jersey Counties.

The fee is $60 per person and includes show admission and charter bus transportation. The motorcoach will depart from the Carlinville Plaza at 5:30am with additional pickup points in Farmersville and Auburn as needed, and a dinner stop at Panera Bread in Bloomington.

The Extension website

Livingston Woman Dies from Injuries Suffered in Accident

A Livingston woman has died from injuries she suffered in a ten-vehicle accident on Interstate 55 Friday afternoon.

Pauline McKinney, 62, died Monday at 6:34 p.m. She had been airlifted from the scene of the crash to St. Louis University Hospital. Two other motorists were also airlifted from the scene to St. Louis area hospitals, and their conditions are listed as serious at this time.

According to the State Police, a 53-year old Lewistown man was driving a semi north near Edwardsville when he briefly took his eyes off the road to retrieve a bottle of tea, causing his truck to strike the rear of a passenger vehicle slowed by construction. The collision caused a chain reaction involving eight additional vehicles.

In addition to the three people that were airlifted to hospitals, seven other passengers were taken to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries.

The accident remains under investigation by the state police. It was the second accident in as many days and third in less than a month happening on the Interstate between mileposts 23 and 33.

Benld 11 Year Old Dies

A young Benld resident has died from injuries sustained in a UTV accident Sunday night in rural Plainview.

According to Macoupin County Sheriff Shawn Kahl, he was notified by the St. Louis Medical Examiner that 11 year old Madyson Loftis was pronounced dead Tuesday morning at 3:47am in the St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Madyson Loftis was a passenger in a UTV that rolled over on Walker Road one and a half miles north of Rt. 16 on Sunday shortly after 6:00pm. She was airlifted by ARCH helicopter to the hospital following the accident.

Also airlifted from the scene to St. Louis Children's Hospital was an eight year old male. According to Sheriff Kahl the boy has since been released from the hospital.

The initial accident investigation revealed that 5 people were on the 800 Polaris Ranger/UTV. The vehicle was being driven by a 12 year old male and passengers were 44 year old Donald Ruyle of rural Plainview, a four year old male, Madyson Loftis and a 8 year old male.
reportedly the 12 year od was driving south on Walker Road when the UTV's front tire went into a deep wash out. The vehicle went out of control and rolled down a steep slope.

Besides the two children transported to St. Louis Children's Hospital, no one else was injured.

The accident remains under investigation.

3 Seriously Injured in I-55 Accident Friday

Three people suffered life-threatening injuries after an accident on Interstate 55 Friday afternoon involving ten vehicles.

According to the preliminary investigation, a 53-year old Lewistown man was driving a semi north near Edwardsville when he briefly took his eyes off the road to retrieve a bottle of tea, causing his truck to strike the rear of a passenger vehicle. The collision caused a chain reaction involving eight additional vehicles.

Seven passengers were transported to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries, and three passengers were taken by helicopter to Saint Louis area hospitals with life-threatening injuries.

The accident occurred at 1:43 p.m. Friday. The northbound lanes were closed for several hours while the scene was being cleared.

The accident remains under investigation by the state police. This was the second accident in as many days and third in less than a month happening on Interstate 55 between mileposts 23 and 33.

FSA Committee Election

John P. Nolan County Executive Director for the Macoupin County Farm Service Agency (FSA) office reports that Keith W. Woods of Carlinville was re-elected to a three-year term for Local Administrative Area number 2 on the Macoupin County Farm Service Agency Committee effective January 1, 2018.

Woods has servced on the Macoupin County FSA Committee the previous six year. The Macoupin County FSA staff and County FSA Committee express their gratitude to all producers and landowners who participated in the local election process.

Drivers Extricated from Semis After I-55 Accident

Two semi drivers had to be extricated from their vehicles after an accident Thursday evening on Interstate 55 near Hamel.

According to a St. Louis TV station, police said the accident occurred around 8:30 p.m. Thursday near mile marker 33 in the southbound lanes of the interstate. One of the drivers was taken to a hospital by helicopter with non-life threatening injuries.

The accident involving the two semis occurred approximately five miles north of where a semi driver plowed into several cars two days before Thanksgiving claiming the lives of four people, including two Staunton sisters and an Alhambra woman.

The accident remains under investigation. WSMI News will continue to update this story as more information is made available.

Hillsboro Approves Payment for First Phase of East Street Improvement

At the their meeting Tuesday evening, the Hillsboro City Council approved paying a portion of the East Street Improvement project to Stutz Excavating.

Public Improvements Commissioner Don Downs said part of the Motor Fuel Tax Fund was allocated for $57,499.99, and that even though it may sound strange, it's money that the city has to pay and work that has to be done. Mayor Brian Sullivan said the payment is not anywhere near the full amount that is due, but that the city needs to pay the money now and close the first phase out. The motion passed, 3-0.

The council also adopted an ordinance prohibiting harassment for city employees. Mayor Sullivan said the measure was not in response to any complaint that had been filed, but rather comes as a requirement by the state, who has mandated municipalities pass this policy by January 15. That motion also passed, 3-0.

The council adopted the annual tax levy ordinance for the Fiscal Year ending on April 30, 2018. According to Finance Commissioner Katie Duncan, the amount levied for the fiscal year is $858,736. She said that is $2,514 lower than last year, which is a one percent difference.

Commissioner Duncan also said that $78,749 will be levied for the library, which is an increase of $3,749, or five percent. Mayor Sullivan said part of the reason for the increase is because the library board currently has two buildings to maintain.

Commissioner Downs proposed purchasing a ten foot snow pusher for the street department, which would cost $3,695. He said that the pusher would hopefully help the city clean up the downtown area quickly, and would not leave excess snow on the sides of the streets. He added that it would fit on the city's backhoe. The council approved the purchase, 3-0.

Due to the Christmas holiday, the second December meeting has been canceled, and the next Hillsboro City Council Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 9, at 7 p.m.

Rural Methodist 150th

The Rural Methodist Church will have a Celebration Service Sunday, December 17 starting at 10:00am honoring 150 years of existence. The church was organized in June of 1867.

The service will include musical performances appropriate for the Christmas season, tributes to the history of the church and a message from the District Superintendent Rev. Nic Showalter.

The Church is located one mile north of IL Rt. 108 on the Standard City Road.

Master Gardener Course in Carlinville

The University of Illinois Extension office has announced that it will offer the 2018 Master Gardener Course in Carlinville this year.

The first session begins on January 23, 2018 at the U of I Extension office in the Carlinville Plaza. Classes are 9am until 4pm and continure weekly on Tuesdays through April 10, except one session will be held on February 22.

Participants can expect to cover topics like basic botany, soils, vegetables, small fruits, tree fruits, trees and shrubs, insects, plant diseases and diagnosis and weed management.

Volunteers receive 60 hours of instruction on horiculture from Extension educators and specialists. Interns are expected to provide 60 hours of volunteer service in the two years following graduation.

Cost is $175, including the Master Gardener training manual. Download an application from the Extension websit or request a form by calling 217-854-9604. Applications are due by December 20.

Online Master Gardener training is also avialable for 2018 with the application deadline being Friday, December 15. The cost for online training is $300 which includes the training manual.

St. Francis Hospital Sees Increase in Flu Patients

Flu season is here and St. Francis Hospital Chief Nursing Officer John Peipert says they have seen an increase in patients with symptoms.

Flu symptoms include fever, aches, weakness, chest discomfort and cough. He said the outbreak has been particularly bad among teenagers and higher than expected within the school age population. The Litchfield School District canceled school last Thursday and Friday because of the outbreak.

Peipert stressed that during the flu season, it is important that individuals stay home if at all possible and limit contact with elderly, newborns and pregnant women. The hospital is asking individuals to limit visits to patients in the hospital unless absolutely necessary.

Universal precautions to help prevent the spread of infection include washing your hands often with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds and using a towel to turn off the faucet.

Peipert also encourages people to use disinfectant wipes on surfaces such as faucets, toilets, door knobs and counter tops often to help get rid of germs, and follow the Centers for Disease Control recommendation to stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone to reduce the risk of exposing others.

For more information about the flu such as preventive steps, symptoms or caring for someone who is sick, check out the CDC website at

Carlinville Fire

A man was found dead following a fire Sunday morning in Carlinville.

The Carlinville Fire and Police Departments responded to the scene of the fire at 204 Chiles Street at 6:53am. After the fire was extinguished a body was found inside of the residence.

According to Macoupin County Coroner, Brad Targhetta, the deceased man is 62 year old Clarence Turner. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:40am.

An autopsy has been scheduled and the cause of the death will be determined after the tests and reports become available.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Springfield Woman Dies

A Springfield woman has died from injuries sustained in a two vehicle accident that occured Tuesday, December 5 between Auburn and Chatham.

According to Cinda Edwards, Sangamon County Coroner, 73 year old Irinda Gregory died at 2:47pm Wednesday in Memorial Medical Center.

Illinois State police reported the accident happened around 5:10pm on Tuesday on Rt. 4 when a vehicle driven by 65 year old Teresa Gray of Virden crossed over the centerline and struck the Gregory vehicle.

A correction to the orginal report was made by Coroner Edwards who stated a four year old child orginally reported in the Gregory vehicle as actually in the Gray vehicle.

Teresa Gray and the 4 year old were both transported to area hospitals.

Hillsboro Man Arrested After Alleged Stabbing in Downtown Apartment

A Hillsboro man was arrested Thursday after allegedly stabbing a man in a downtown apartment.

Brendon Flack, 18, was taken to the Montgomery County Jail on preliminary charges of aggravated battery after allegedly stabbing a man in an apartment above a downtown business around 11:35 a.m. Thursday.

Hillsboro Police Chief Randy Leetham said after the incident, the victim ran down the stairs and into a neighboring store with a stab wound to the head. After Hillsboro Police and Hillsboro Area Ambulance arrived at the scene, Flack was taken into custody on School Street without incident. The victim was taken to Hillsboro Area Hospital where he was treated and released.

The incident remains under investigation. Assisting at the scene were the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office and Taylor Springs Police Department, and assisting with the investigation is the State Police Crime Scene Unit.

Blackburn Holiday Music Performances

Blackburn College will offer opportunities to celebrate the holidays with upcoming music performances.

The Christmas at Blackburn: A Festival of Lessons and Carols concert will be held at 8:00pm this Sunday, December 10 in Hudson Hall's Clegg Chapel. This annual Christmas concert tradition features music by the Blackburn College Choir and the Blackburn Voices ensemble.

The Blackburn College Band will present its Winter Band Concert on Monday, December 11 at 7:00pm in Bothwell Auditorium.

Both events are free and open to the public.

ROE #3 To Offer Session for Potential Substitute Teachers

On December 12, Regional Office of Education Number Three will offer an informational meeting for potential substitute teachers at Lincoln Land Community College in Taylorville.

"School districts in the area are struggling to find substitute teachers," said Regional Superintendent Julie Wollerman, adding that the districts seek highly qualified individuals who would like to fill these positions.

According to Assistant Regional Superintendent Annette Hartlieb, participants will learn not only the requirements to become a substitute teacher but also the expectations of most schools for their subs. She added that the district scheduled this session in hopes of attracting college graduates and others who may not have considered this as an option before.

To register for the session, contact Annette Hartlieb at 618-283-5011 or email her at While the session is free, pre-registration is required.

The session will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. in room 1207 and is free of charge and open to anyone interested in learning more about the requirements to become a substitute teacher. Regional Office of Education Number Three serves schools in Montgomery, Bond, Christian, Effingham and Fayette counties.

Police Release Name of Driver That Crashed Semi, Killing 4

Police have released the name of the driver who was behind the wheel of a semi that crashed into seven vehicles on Interstate 55 November 21, killing four and injuring several others.

According to State Police Trooper Calvin Dye, Jr., the truck driver was Mohamed Jama of Greeley, Colorado. As of Saturday, no citations have been issued to the 53-year old man. State police are reviewing the driver's medical records, toxicology, commercial driver log books and the truck.

On November 21, Jama's semi crashed into seven vehicles that were slowed or stopped for road construction in the southbound lanes of the interstate near Hamel. Dye told the Belleville News-Democrat that Jama's semi allegedly hit the vehicles with no attempt to stop.

The crash killed Staunton sisters Hailey Bertels, 20, and Madisen Bertels, 17, as well as 20-year old Tori Carroll of Alhambra and 19-year old Vivian Vu of Joplin, Missouri.

The incident remains under investigation by the state police.

Sensory Friendly Film Showings

The Autism Support Connection and Eisentraut Theatres will present a "Sensory Friendly Film" at 2 locations at 1:00pm Saturday, December 9, at the Orpheum Theatre in Hillsboro and Marvel Theatre in Carlinville.

The is month's feature will be the new Sony Pictures Animations film, "The Star".

Sensory Friendly movie events are open to all families who have a loved one with special needs and are unable to attend a regular viewing due to sensory issues. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Families are allowed to bring in their own glutten free, casein free snacks.

The Autism Support Connection will be covering the price of admission for the movie event.

Fourth Person Dies from Injuries Suffered in I-55 Accident

A fourth person has died from injuries suffered in an automobile crash on Interstate 55 last week.

Tori Carroll of Alhambra was pronounced dead at 1:37 p.m. Thursday by Saint Louis University Hospital medical staff. She was the front seat passenger inside a vehicle that was the first of six vehicles to be struck by a semi in the southbound lanes of the interstate near Hamel last week. Other occupants of the vehicle included Hailey Bertels, 20, and Madison Bertels, 17, both of Staunton, who were pronounced dead at the scene.

Carroll, 20, joins both Bertels sisters and Vivian Vu, 19, of Joplin, Missouri, as victims who have died as a result of injuries suffered in the crash.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the state police. The driver of a semi allegedly struck several slowed vehicles at highway speed on the interstate last Tuesday evening. The vehicles were slowed for construction work. Ten others were injured in the crash.

WSMI News will continue to update this story as more information is made available.

Timber Sale Caution

Illinois forest landowners stand to be paid record-high prices for the mature forest trees and logs on farm and forest holdings, thanks to outstanding market prices for hardwood logs and lumber. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Forest Resources is urging forest landowners to consult with a professional forester before agreeing to sell.

"Many landowners don't realize the full market value of their forest trees and because of it, they are often paid only 10 to 30 cents on the dollar. Some of them are never paid at all, " according to Paul Deizman, IDNR Forest Inventory, Utilization and Marketing manager. "Though most timber buyers, logging companies, and other forest operators doing business in Illinois are legitimate, some unscrupulous operators may try to take advantage of landowners, especially during times of high timber prices. Bad deals are ofter initiated directly with unsuspecting landowners at their front door, by mail, or by attractive advertising."

IDNR foresters want forest landowners to do some homework and exercise caution before agreeing to any timeber offer. The IDNR maintains a "Call Before You Cut" toll-free hotline through which landowners can discuss timber and forest management with IDNR Division of Forest Resources personnel, who are available to offer the best advice on how to proceed when selling timber. The hotline number is 1-888-244-1706.


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