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WSMI News

Armed Robbery at Litchfield's Hampton Inn

Litchfield Police are investigating a Friday afternon armed robbery that occurred at the Hampton Inn. Just after 1:30 pm, poice received a report of an armed robbery at 11 Thunderbird Circle. Police learned a black male subject entered the business and checked out with cash after displaying a handgun with an extended magazine. The suspect had face and neck tatoos and was wearing a red/pink and white horizontally striped shirt with blue and white blue jeans, a red stocking cap and white tennis shoes. He fled the scene in a light tan or grey mid size SUV and was last spotted on Route 16 moving west from Corvette Drive. Litchfield Police were assisted by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Illinois State Police and the Illinois Secretary of State Police. There are no reports of injuries.  


Route 185 Closure Returns for Mining Related Repairs

On Tuesday Morning (May 16), Route 185 will close between Hillsboro and Coffeen for repairs from mining in the area.  It's expected to reopen June 16th.  A detour will be established.   Only local traffic will be allowed between Montgomery County Road 900N and Coffeen Road.  


Last Victim Killed in "May Day" Dust Storm Crashes Identified

The Montgomery County Coroners office and the Illinois State Police (ISP) are releasing the final name of the seven vicitms killed in the May Day Dust Storm crashes on I55 between Farmersville and Divernon. It’s now official that none of the victims lost were from Mid Illinois. The last victim identified is 58-year-old. Otto Medina-Salazar,  from Carthage, MO A Wisconsin woman, couples from Champaign and Suburban Chicago and a resident of the North St. Louis County town of Florissant were identified previously.


Back to Business Grant Webinar Set for Wednesday

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jason Plummer is working to help local businesses receive recovery funding through a state grant program implemented to help those greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plummer is partnering with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to host a Back to Business online webinar on Wednesday, May 3 at 10:30 a.m. to assist businesses with the application process, and to answer any questions related to eligibility. Representatives from DCEO will be on hand to provide information and to guide business owners.

“This is an important program that could provide a boost to struggling small businesses,” said Plummer. “I want to make sure our local businesses know about these grants and are able to take part in the program.”

The Back to Business program’s new round of grants has $175 million available to provide to qualifying restaurants, hotels, and creative arts organizations. All applicants will receive a grant as long as they meet eligibility requirements and submit proper documentation and attestations required by the program.

To participate in the webinar, registration is required to RSVP@sgop.ilga.gov. Attendees must include their name as well as their business name, address, and phone number. Upon RSVP, participants will receive a link to the online webinar.

WHAT: Back to Business Grant Webinar

WHO: Eligible Business Owners

WHEN: Wednesday, May 3, 2023

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

WHERE: Virtual. Zoom link will be provided upon registration

Applications for the Back to Business program are due Wednesday, May 10. More information on the program can be found here.


Breaking. Six Dead in Dust Storm Sparked Crashes on I-55 North of Farmersville

State Police confirm multiple people are dead after a dust storm struck Interstate 55, triggering a nightmare chain reaction crash and/or series of crashes between Farmersville and Divernon. Again, authorities say avoid the area for the foreseeable future. -State Police believe two tractor-trailers caught on fire. Between 40-50 passenger cars were also involved. 30 people were taken to hospitals, a spokesperson for the Illinois State Police said. The interstate is closed from the Raymond/Route 48 mile marker 63, which is in Montgomery County, to mile marker 80, the DIvernon exit in Sangamon County. 10 medical helicopters werre requested to the area. At least 37 ambulances were dispatched from Montgomery, Macoupin, Sangamon, and Christian Counties. Panhandle School District sent school buses to get stranded motorists stuck on the highway.


Hillsboro Manhunt Ends in Arrest After Domestic Incident

On Wednesday April 26, 2023 approximately 9:46am Hillsboro Police Department along with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office responded to a domestic on Hiltop Dr. in Hillsboro. Officers arrived and learned the grandmother at the residence had been stabbed in the head with scissors. Officers entered the residence to attempt to locate the suspect. Montgomery County Sheriff’s K9 “Flex” was used to search portions of the residence. The suspect was not located inside the residence. K9 “Flex” and a team of officers began tracking the suspect from scene into the wooded area near the residence. Due to the close proximity of Hillsboro High School, administrative staff was notified of the situation. Hillsboro Area Ambulance transported the female for treatment and she was later released. Additional police staff was called in for duty to assist in the manhunt. Montgomery County EMA was contact for the use of their drone to assist in searching the wooded area. Officers were stationed around HHS and Hillsboro Area Hospital for security. The initial search did not result in locating the suspect. A second attempt was initiated and the K9 team began an area search for the suspect in the woods behind HHS and Hillsboro Area Hospital. Subsequently a Hillsboro Police Officer located the suspect walking on the railroad track near the intersection of E. Tremont St and Railroad St approximately 11:45am. Tobey A. Wright 24 of Hillsboro was taken into custody. Wright was transported to Montgomery County Jail where he was booked into jail on charges of Attempted Murder, Aggravated Domestic Battery, and Interfering with Report of Domestic Violence. 


I-55 was shut down in both directions between mile markers 52 and 60 (Route 16 and 108 exits) early this morning after a messy wreck involving a semi and a dump truck.   State Police report the driver of tractor trailer rear ended a dump truck at mile marker 56, between the Carlinville and Litchfield/Gillespie exits.  The impact caused both vehicles to veer left into the median where the dump truck rolled over on its side.  The tractor trailer caught fire in the cab area.  Both drivers were transported to the hospital with minor injuries.  The Litchfield Fire Department reported a semi-tractor fully involved and the dump truck spilled on the roadway.  Due to water supply issues, Raymond-Harvel FPD was requested mutual aid for an engine and a tender. Approximately 6000 gallons of water were used to bring the fire under control . The semi-trailer was heavily involved in fire as well and the contents werewacked tightly together in the trailer making it difficult for fire crews to reach the seat of the fire. The fire was brought under control after close to 3 hours and Raymond fire units were cleared from the scene. All of LFD units were cleared except for 802 which remained on scene to aid in the dismantling of the trailer and fully extinguishing the contents before it was removed from the interstate.  The Litchfield Fire Dept reminds drivers on the interstate to keep their focus on the roadway in front of them, especially at night, and to be cognizant of surrounding vehicles and the possibility of disabled vehicles in the roadway or on the shoulder. Highway speeds do not leave sufficient time to react to an accident or slow-moving vehicle. Be sure to leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you to ensure there is ample time make a defensive move in the event something should happen. 

 


Deadline Approaching for Veteran Names to be Added to Litchfield, Hillsboro Memorials

Montgomery County Recorder Sandy Leitheiser reminds war veterans with ties to Litchfield and surrounding area as well as Hillsboro area veterans within the boundaries of the Hillsboro School District have until Friday, May 12 th to have their names added to the respective memorials in time for Memorial Day.  So far, Michael Christopher Simpson and Howard D. Odle are scheduled to be added to the Litchfield Veterans Memorial.  Two names have been submitted to date for Hillsboro: Gary Dean Lamb, Sr. and Cecil E. Bourland. Names should be submitted to the Recorder’s office located on the 1 st floor of the Historic Courthouse in Hillsboro by May 12 th to add them to the Memorial stones by Memorial Day, 2023. Those with questions about the Litchfield Veterans Memorial are encouraged to call Litchfield Area Veterans Memorial Committee representative Ray Kellenberger at 217-324-5796 or email him at rdk436@yahoo.com. Anyone with questions about the Hillsboro Veterans Memorial is encouraged to call Committee Representative Willie Cobetto at (217) 556-0040. 


Dean of the Montgomery County Board Passes Away

A lifetime of service has come to close in Nokomis.  A fixture on the Montgomery County Board, Gene Miles, has passed away at the age of 81.     Miles spent 8 years on the Nokomis City Council before joining the County Board for 16 years.  He also was the owner and operator of Miles Ford in Nokomis up until last decade.  Services are set for Saturday at St. Louis Catholic Church in Nokomis. 


Montgomery County EMA and the Witt Volunteer FIre Department among others have handled an anhydrous ammonia leak in Irving. The situation is contained but odors remain because of lack of wind and low humidity and respiratory sensitive residents should call 911 if they encounter any issues. More from Montgomery County EMA's Joe Gsparich. https://soundcloud.com/shawn-balint/anhydrous-ammonia-leak-in-irving-appears-contained-odor-lingers


Interim Label is Gone for Hillsboro Area Hospital CEO

Both sides have taken a test drive and Hillsboro Area Hospital officials have decided that interim CEO Michael Alexander shouldn’t be a rental. Alexander, who has had the task of filling the shoes of 29-year CEO Rex Brown, has been appointed by the H-A-H Board of Directors as the permanent CEO, effective April 17th. Alexander came to Hillsboro with more than three decades of senior executive experience for critical access and larger hospitals across the country. Board of Directors Chairman Earl Flack says “We are pleased that Mike will be joining the Hillsboro Area Hospital team as the CEO as we enter a new chapter of leadership,” said Earl Flack, HAH Board Chairman. “Mike quickly demonstrated both his leadership and engagement within the hospital, and we look forward to working with him in continuing to serve the healthcare needs of our community.”  

 


Illinois Dept of Corrections Holding Hiring Event

The Illinois Department of Corrections is in hiring mode.  If you've ever thought of pursuing a paycheck from Graham, Taylorville or Vandalia Correctional Centers, or elsewhere, a Friday event could be the pathway.  The IDOC will hold a hiring event Friday from 10 to 2 at the Salvation Army Center at 1600 ClearLake, just east of Downtown Springfield.    IDOC is looking for Corrections Guards, Nurses, Wardens, Office Associates, Social Workers and more.


Fatal Crash on Route 29 Claims Life of Pana Man

ILLINOIS STATE POLICE INVESTIGATE

FATAL TRAFFIC CRASH 

 

The Following Preliminary Information is Being Released by Illinois State Police Troop 6

  

WHAT:                       Two Vehicle Fatal Traffic Crash

  

WHERE:                     Illinois Route 29 between East 900 North Road and North 1900 East Road, near Owaneco, Christian County

 

WHEN:                        April 1, 2023 at approximately 5:20 p.m.                    

  

VEHICLES:                Unit 1 – 2003 Black Dodge Caravan

                                    Unit 2 – 2020 White Ford Eco Sport

                                   

DRIVERS:                   Unit 1 – Scott McDonald, 50-year-old male from Pana, IL

                                    Unit 2 – Susie Brun, 64-year-old female from Assumption, IL

 

PASSENGER:             Unit 2 – Karen Lacefield, 49-year-old female from Minier, IL

                                   

PRELIMINARY:        The preliminary investigation indicates the following:  Unit 1 was traveling north on Illinois Route 29 at the above location and time. Unit 2 was traveling south at the same location. Unit 1 driver attempted to pass another vehicle and struck Unit 2 head-on.

 

                                    Unit 1 driver was pronounced deceased on scene. The driver and passenger of Unit 2 were transported to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries.                                 

This crash is still under investigation and no further information is available.

 

All subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


Lets get this out there for your information and personal decision making for this afternoon and tonight.

NWS has issued  a High Risk Event for this afternoon and ESPECIALLY EARLY EVENING. The last time this was issued in Illinois, the result was a long track tornado that affected Washington, IL (EF3/EF4). The main damages could come from high winds, LONG TRACK Tornadoes and large hail.  It's been over two years since there has a high risk event warning in the country.  

The main event of importance will come from the second wave at 6-8PM. This wave could produce long track tornadoes

The main area that could be affected is from I55 to I57.

The storms will be moving between 60-70MPH So warnings will be issued quickly and you will have to ACT QUICKLY!!! Monitor your phones closely and if you hear the siren act quickly to get to a safe area in a basement or interior room.

The NWS, IEMA and your local emergency management agencies are taking this very seriously and you should as well
 


Litchfield Man Struck and Killed by Train

A tragic scene Monday as witnesses look on. A Litchfield man is dead after being struck by a train early Monday afternoon.  At approximately 12:51 p.m., the Montgomery County 911 system received a report of a pedestrian struck by a train.  

The Litchfield Fire Department and Police Department were dispatched and immediately responded to the east set of tracks on Sargent Street.  

Upon the arrival of First Responders, it was determined the pedestrian had suffered a fatal injury and the Montgomery County Coroner's Office was contacted.  

Witnesses, on scene, advised they observed a male subject cross the tracks on a bicycle. Witnesses indicated they believed the subjects hat had fallen off and that the subject stopped and dismounted his bicycle and attempted to retrieve the hat and in the process was struck by the train.  

Contact was made with Norfolk Southern Railroad and they are assisting with the, on- going, investigation.  

The subject was identified as 59-year-old Billy J. Malloy of Litchfield.  


The Litchfield Chamber of Commerce has announced this year’s award winners, who will be honored at the Chamber Banquet March 31st.  The Citizen of the Year is Jon Magnuson of Beacon Church.  He’s had a lot to say about the struggles with  mental health and addiction and has been a fierce advocate for those seeking a glimmer of hope.  Madison Park Elementary Kindergarten teacher Penny Niemann is the educator of the year.  Gudgel Ranch Salooon is the rising star winner.  Cody Younker a force to be reckoned with in Litchfield Wrestling will receive the special recognition honor and the business of the year is United Builders.   Find out more about tickets here:  https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07ej58oa1oa55b2ffe&oseq=&c=&ch=


Body Recovered from Old Lake Hillsboro

At approximately 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, Montgomery County 911 received a call of a suspected body near 781 City Lake Road in Old Lake Hillsboro. The Hillsboro Police Department, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, and Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police responded, and requested the services of the Hillsboro Volunteer Fire Department Dive and Rescue Team for a body recovery, and also the Montgomery County Coroner's Office. A body was recovered and identified as Robert Miles Harris, 56, of Hillsboro. Harris was pronounced deceased at the scene by Montgomery County Coroner Randy Leetham at 10:20 a.m. A search warrant for a nearby vehicle was obtained through the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office. The warrant was obtained and executed; and a note was recovered from inside the vehicle. There were no indications of a criminal element involved with the death. A forensic autopsy has been scheduled for Friday, March 3, and the investigation continues by the Montgomery County Coroner's Office and the Hillsboro Police Department.


On February 13, 2023 at approximately 9:30AM Hillsboro Police Department received a complaint of Retail Theft located at Casey's General Store 200 S. Hamilton St. While police gathered initial information it was learned the suspect had climbed the side of the building and was on the roof of the store. Extra assistance was requested; Montgomery County Sheriff's Office and Litchfield Police assisted. Hillsboro Area Ambulance Service was asked to respond and stage near the scene. Hillsboro Fire Department was requested for equipment. The male subject was taken into custody and was lowered to the ground using Fire Department personnel and equipment. The male subject was transported to Hillsboro Area Hospital by the ambulance for treatment. Later the same afternoon approximately 12:15PM the male subject attempted to flee the hospital and started a physical altercation with a Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy and Hillsboro Police Officers. During the altercation the male grabbed the Deputy's duty weapon and attempted to remove it from its holster. Officers successful secured the male subject, Trent A Wikoff 30 of Shiprock, NM. The Deputy and suspect were treated for minor injuries at the hospital. Wikoff was transported to the Montgomery County Jail where he was booked in on charges of Aggravated Battery to Peace Officers, Resisting / Obstructing a Peace Officer, and Retail Theft. 


Snowflake Hunt Ends Early at Bremer, Attraction Will be Closed Sunday and Monday

We are sorry to announce that the Snowflake Search at Bremer Sanctuary will be ending at sundown on Saturday, February 11th.  The property will be conducting prescribed prairie and timber burns on Sunday and Monday and the snowflake clues will be removed. We will announce the winner on Sunday afternoon. Please also note that the sanctuary property will  be closed to the public on Sunday (12th) and Monday (13th).


Breaking. Incident at Graham Correctional Center Sends Multiple People to the Hospital

Update: AFSCME 31 spokesman Anders Lindall reports 18 Graham Correctional Center employees are being treated for exposure to a foreign agent, they believe all of them are in stable condition. They're awaiting confirmation on the identity of the foreign agent in question.

Hillsboro Area Hospital has provided care to patients that have been transported from Graham Correctional Center. Hillsboro Area Hospital received 8 patients. All patients are currently in stable condition and will continue to be monitored as needed. The initial 911 page was sent out around 2:38 PM, and this is an ongoing situation. Hillsboro Area Hospital implemented our mass influx plan. All transported individuals were provided immediate care including decontamination. The Hillsboro Hospital Administrative Team would like to thank our team members, Local EMS, Law Enforcement Officers, and County EMA for quick assistance.

 

An incident this (Wednesday) afternoon at Graham Correctional Center that appears has sent multiple people to HSHS St. Francis and Hillsboro Hospitals. The Illinois Department of Corrections is only saying "The matter is being investigated. There is no further information at this point.".      Police were asked to bring considerable Narcan to the scene for an apparent overdose or exposure with fentanyl scenario.  There's no word on the condition of inamtes or guards or a number impacted at this point.  Hillsboro Area Hospital told the public that they are dealing with a high call volume and have asked for patience.    


RFD