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Local News Archives for 2024-03

Major Fire in Carlinville, Now Scene of a Rekindle

Fire Departments have scrambled back to the scene of a major Easter Morning fire in Carlinville after rekindling before 4 p.m. today.   Here are the details of the earlier fire that drew a large number of departments for mutual aid.


Carlinville Fire Department along with mutual aid resources from
Macoupin, Montgomery and Sangamon Counties are presently engaged in
fire suppression activities at an industrial site north of Carlinville. The
address of the fire is 14855 University Street.
The initial call for response was placed to Macoupin County 9-1-1 at 3:55
Chief Jess McKee of Carlinville Fire Department established defensive fire
operations and begin requesting mutual aid resources. Carlinville Fire
Officers and officers from neighboring departments have assisted Chief
McKee in managing the large number of resources and multiple exposures
on the large complex.
Departments from: Girard, Virden, Staunton, Litchfield, Bunker Hill,
Northwestern, Auburn, Raymond, Mt Olive, Unit 7, Farmersville-
Waggoner, Nokomis Area Fire Protection District, Medora, Witt, Gillespie
and Greenfield are on the scene providing water tenders, ladder trucks or
There have been no confirmed injuries at the scene.
The public is discouraged from coming to the scene and further updates
will be issued throughout the day.

Newkirk Resigns from Litchfield Council

The Litchfield City Council could not vote yet on potential action against City Economic Development Director Tonya Flannery but that didn’t prevent a significant departure from Corwin Hall. Alderman Dan Newkirk’s chair was empty when Mayor Steve Dougherty dropped the gavel to open last night’s meeting. That won’t change as the legendary former Litchfield High coach has decided to step down from his Ward 2 seat. Newkirk joined the board back in May of 2022 to fill the seat vacated by Mark Brown. Newkirk was elected to fill the remaining two years of Brown’s term in last April’s election. Mayor Steve Dougherty will appoint a successor but the City Council would have to confirm the choice.  We reached out to former Alderman Newkirk and he is not commenting on his departure at this point.  

Election Returns In: Leetham Wins, Folkerts Defeated, Golf Carts Rejected in Litchfield and Denby Tops Field of Three, Bond Co Public Safety Tax Shot Down

The votes are in from the Illinois Primary.


In Montgomery County, turnout nudged just above 20%.  The winner in a battle of police chiefs seeking the office of Montgomery County Coroner went to incumbent Randy Leetham.  The Hillsboro Police Chief beat Nokomis Chief Talon Burton, collecting 79% of the vote. 


Republican District 2 County Board Member Kenneth Folkerts was ousted from the board, as Keith Hancock racked up 62 percent of the vote. 


Incumbent State Reps Blaine Wilhour and Brad Halbrook easily defeated challengers within the borders of Montgomery County.  Wilhour also easily went on to victory within Bond County.  Districtwide numbers for both candidates indicate they'll coast to victory.


The Litchfield advisory referendum on golf cart and UTV use on city streets was rejected by voters with 56.5 percent against and 43.5 percent in favor.  


Bond County voters slammed the door on a public safety tax with nearly 70% of voters voting against the sales tax proposal.


There was one major race in Macoupin County as Thomas Denby grabbed two-thirds of the vote in a Republican three way race for Judge in the 7th Judicial Circuit.   Jonathan Verticchio had 23 percent of the vote and Aaron Bellm 13 percent of the vote.


In a stormy contest for Madison County Board Chairman, County Treasurer Chris Slusser defeated incumbent Chairman Kurt Prenzler collecting 62% of the vote. 



Winners of St. Isidore Friend of Agriculture and Special Recognition Honors Announced by HSHS St. Francis Hospital Foundation

The HSHS St. Francis Hospital Foundation has announced the winners of two special awards in local agriculture.


The Special Recognition award is not presented annually, rather
when the HSHS St. Francis Foundation’s Agricultural Committee seeks
to recognize an organization or person who is furthering the well-being
of our community through service, stewardship, or philanthropy. Past
honorees have included Litchfield Family Practice Center, the Arthur L.
Fogelman Trust, and the W. Darrell Kilton Foundation. Today we honor
the James A. and Owen M. Duff Memorial Trust.
James Allen Duff, a revered figure in our agricultural landscape,
left an indelible mark upon our community before his passing
on October 29, 2013. Born on April 25, 1921, to Fred Russel and
Florence Edith (White) Duff, James was a son of the soil, deeply rooted
in the farming traditions of Litchfield. His journey began at Litchfield
High School, where he received his education before embarking on a
lifelong commitment to farming alongside his brother, Owen Duff.
Beyond his agricultural pursuits, James was a pillar of the
community, dedicated to the well-being of Litchfield and its residents.
He found solace and purpose in his membership at the First Baptist
Church in Litchfield and his active involvement in the Montgomery

County Farm Bureau. Though he remained unmarried, his devotion to
his family, his land, and his community knew no bounds.
In testament to his generosity and foresight, James outlined in his
will his desire to establish the James A. Duff and Owen M. Duff
Memorial Trust Fund, entrusting the stewardship of his estate to the
Bank & Trust Company's trust department in Litchfield. This trust was
designated to support charitable endeavors within North and South
Litchfield Townships, with a particular emphasis on educational
initiatives within the Litchfield school district.
The scope of James' and Owens' philanthropy extended far beyond
educational pursuits, encompassing the enhancement of local amenities
such as the Litchfield Carnegie Library, the development of Lake Lou
Yaeger Park, and the beautification of the city itself. His vision for the
improvement and expansion of recreational and cultural facilities within
Litchfield serves as a testament to his commitment to fostering a vibrant
and flourishing community.

As we gather to honor James and Owen Duff and the enduring
legacy of their benevolence, we do so with gratitude. The Duff Brother's 
unwavering dedication to the betterment of our community serves as an
inspiration to us all.
At this time I would ask Denise DeLaCruz, Trust Officer, and
Trisha Bradley, Assistant Trust Officer at the Bank & Trust to come
forward to accept the award.


Today’s recipient of our St. Isidore award has been a farmer for 80
years in South Litchfield, beginning with 13 horses when he was just 8
years old. The family homestead was a creek bottom farm planted with
30 acres of corn, 10 acres of oats and 10 acres of hay. For livestock there
were cattle, chickens and pigs. They did their own butchering and
milked the cows for their own us while selling the cream and eggs.

The corncrib held 1000 bushels with the land yielding 35 bushel
per acre of corn. There was no weed killer or fertilizer. They utilized
check row planting and hand hoeing to control weeds.

The only son of his parents, Otto and Lorene Lay, Ross Lay
graduated from Litchfield High School in 1955. He had one younger
sister, Betty Hittmeier, now deceased. Ross and his wife, Mary, are the
parents of two children, Lisa Heyen and Daniel Lay and have two
grandchildren, Eric and Tyler Heyen, and five great-grandchildren:
Oliver, Eleanor, Rory, Clark and Sadie Heyen.

Ross bought a farm near WSMI where his family lived for the next
60 years. Ross now farms about 1000 acres in primarily South

Litchfield. Ross credits Lynn Back and his family who he has farmed
with over 45 years. Ross noted Lynn knows fabrication and the two men
enjoy modifying farm equipment, taking pride in the fact that they don’t
buy new, they modify what they have.

Mindful of conservation practices, Ross favors deep tilling which
he says turns the clock back a million years, bringing clay up to mix
with the silt. Deep plowing tills 30 inches deep, rather than the normal
six to eight inches. He also advocates for making dry dams which lets
the water out slowly onto grass which helps prevent erosion.

As for farming advise, Ross recalls his Dad always telling him that
you need to have a little piece of bottom land to help offset the drought.

Civic-wise, Ross is President of Litchfield Farmers Grain, and
served on the Montgomery County farmland assessment committee, the
Hart Cemetery Board and the Montgomery Service Board. He has been
a 4-H leader and in high school Ross achieved the State Farmer degree
in FFA.

At this time I would ask Ross to come forward to receive the
HSHS St. Francis Hospital Foundation’s St. Isidore Friend of
Agriculture Award.


Breaking News. Nokomis Police Investigating Apparent Murder-Suicide at Dollar General

Nokomis Police are investigating a Friday night murder-suicide at the Dollar General store, the former Kroger, at 415 North Spruce.   Police Chief Talon Burton tells us, just before closing time in the moments before 10 pm last night (Saturday 3/15), a 22-year-old woman, an employee of the store was shot and killed by a 47-year-old Nokomis man described as her estranged boyfriend.    He died after being transported to HSHS St. John's Hospital in Springfield.  Nokomis Police are continuing their investigation.  

I-55 Work Resumes near Farmersville

Work on the Interstate 55 Farmersville interchange has resumed. Last year,  the Illinois Department of Transportation started a 9.5-mile resurfacing project on Interstate 55 in Montgomery County.  The remaining work includes resurfacing the approaches to the bridge over I-55 and repainting. Lane closures using drums and spotters can be expected on both I-55 and County Highway 17 (Mine Street). A temporary closure of the I-55 southbound on-ramp may occur during weekdays. Officials said the project, when completed, will make the road more durable and provide a more comfortable ride for drivers. It also includes preserving and protecting the structure. The project is expected to be completed by mid-April. Drivers are told to expect delays and are urged to pay close attention to changed conditions and signs in the work zones, obey the posted speed limits, refrain from using cell phones and be alert for workers and equipment. 

Macoupin and Montgomery County Health Survey Launched by HSHS St Francis Hospital

HSHS St. Francis Hospital, Montgomery County Health Department and Macoupin County Public Health Department are asking residents of Montgomery and Macoupin counties to complete a short survey about health issues in their communities. The brief survey will be used to guide community health efforts for the next three years. 


“Our organizations share a common goal of providing resources to the communities and individuals we serve,” said Alex Schneider, HSHS community health outreach specialist. "We look forward to hearing directly from our community so we can work in partnership with them to address identified needs.”  


Residents of Montgomery or Macoupin counties can take the survey at ( through April 5. Hard copies will be available at the Montgomery County Health Department and the Macoupin County Health Department. Responses are anonymous. 


Non-profit hospitals like St. Francis are required by the Affordable Care Act to conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) every three years to identify specific health priorities within the county where those hospitals are located. Hospitals work with other local health care organizations and health departments to collect this data and use it to develop a Community Health Implementation Plan to address the selected priorities. 


Following the survey and other information gathering, the hospital and health departments will determine which health priorities they should address over the next three years and how to implement those priorities. The completed CHNA report with identified health priorities will be available by the end of June 2024. 


Six other hospitals in Hospital Sisters Health System are also conducting health needs assessments at this time. They are HSHS St. John’s Hospital for Sangamon County, HSHS St. Mary's Hospital for Macon County, HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital for Effingham and Jasper counties, HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Breese for Clinton County, HSHS Holy Family Hospital for Bond County, and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Highland for Madison County. 

Montgomery County Farm Bureau Announces Nutrient Stewardship Field Day Tour

When you talk about successful farming in Montgomery County, it all starts from the ground up. The Montgomery County Farm Bureau is hosting its Nutrient Stewardship Field Day on Wednesday, March 20th from 9am to 1pm. The event will be held rain or shine. The Nutrient Stewardship Field Day will feature a tour of local cover cropped fields and you can learn about best cover crop management practices. You can join the tour at the Montgomery County Farm Bureau office on the square at 102 North Main in Hillsboro or join the tour at the Reynolds Farm at 20-275 Irving Road in Nokomis. The Farm Bureau check in time is 9am, 9:30 at the Reynolds Farm. Field Visits will begin at 9:45. At 11am, the buses will return to the farm. Lunch will be provided with additional presentations from Kris Reynolds, Midwest Director of American Farmland Trust, David Kleinschmidt, owner of Progressive Agronomy Consultant, Montgomery Soil and Water Conversation with a talk about the Lake Hillsboro Watershed planning effort, Julie Hewitt executive director of NREC and Raelynn Parmely, Environmental Program Manager for the Illinois Farm Bureau. RSVP by Friday, March 15th by calling the Montgomery County Farm Bureau at (217)-532-6171. 


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