One Injured in Fire That Destroyed Junction City Home Sunday Afternoon

November 30, 2015 Comments off

Fire engulfs Steve and Rita McClaren home at 2636 Old U.S. 51 just north of the south entrance to Junction City Sunday afternoon.

One person received minor injuries in a Sunday afternoon fire that destroyed the Steven and Rita McClaren home at 2636 Old U.S. 51 just north of the south entrance to Junction City.   

Sandoval Fire Chief Chad Parson says the fire began when a teenage resident was attempting to start a fire in the wood burning stove in the living room near the center of the first floor of the home.  Lighter fluid had been placed on the wood, causing a flash fire.  The flash scared the girl and caused her to drop the rest of the can of the lighter fluid on the floor helping the fire spread.   

By the time Sandoval Firemen arrived flames were shooting from both floors and all areas of the home.  

The girl was able to get out of the house, but was taken to SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Centralia for treatment of apparent minor burns to her hands and arms.  Others in the house escaped without injury.   

Odin and Centralia Fire Protection Districts were called for mutual aide assistance at the scene, while Patoka Firemen stood by at the Sandoval Fire Station in the event of another fire.  

Parson says they had plenty of water to fight the fire from both on the trucks and from nearby hydrants, but the head start the fire had kept them from saving much of the home.  A portion of the roof collapsed and some of the walls are also partially down.  

Parson says the family of four was not able to salvage any of their possessions.  The Red Cross was called to assist the family.   The State Fire Marshal’s office was called to investigate the fire because there was an injury.  

Firemen first received the call at 1:34 Sunday afternoon and were on the scene for five hours.  

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Task force Looks to Shrink Illinois Government

November 30, 2015 Comments off

CHICAGO (AP) – Gov. Bruce Rauner has repeatedly pledged to save taxpayers money by eliminating some of Illinois’ nearly 7,000 units of government.

Now a task force the Republican governor named to put that idea in motion is preparing its final recommendations. 

Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, the commission’s chairwoman, says its suggestions could make government more efficient and effective if the Legislature and Rauner choose to implement them. They include letting voters decide whether a unit of government should be eliminated.

Sanguinetti says: “At the end of the day the savings are going to be huge.”  

But some commission members say the year-long process is being tainted by a push to include anti-union provisions that are among Rauner’s top priorities. They say politics could prevent progress on yet another issue before Illinois lawmakers.

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Report: Scott Air Force Base Considered for New Spy Agency Office Since 2005

November 30, 2015 Comments off

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AP) – A newspaper report says proposed plans to move a federal spy agency’s regional headquarters from St. Louis to Illinois’ Scott Air Force Base have been around for over a decade.

Southwestern Illinois and Missouri are competing to house the project. 

The Belleville News Democrat reports 2005 minutes from a meeting of top Pentagon leaders show they considered the Illinois option for moving the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. 

Michael Wynne is a base official who also previously was U.S. Air Force secretary. He says he recalled just one site being discussed when a council met at the Pentagon in May 2005.

Illinois’ St. Clair County has offered up hundreds in its bid to house the project. Three sites in the St. Louis area are under consideration.  

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Chicago Announces Expansion of Police Body-Camera Program

November 30, 2015 Comments off

CHICAGO (AP) – Chicago says it’s expanding a program to provide police officers with body cameras.

The announcement Sunday from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office follows the release last week of a squad-car video showing an officer fatally shooting teenager Laquan McDonald. The officer wasn’t wearing a body camera. 

Chicago will expand the program into six more police districts in 2016. Emanuel says in a statement that the expansion into one-third of the city will “strengthen the fabric of trust” between officers and residents. The statement doesn’t mention McDonald or demonstrations in recent days calling for police reforms.

Chicago’s pilot body-camera program began in January. Just 30 cameras are currently being tested. Sunday’s statement says the expansion will be paid for with a $1.1 million federal grant and $1.1 million in matching city funds.

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Three Rescued From Car in High Water in Rural Odin

November 29, 2015 Comments off

Odin Firemen with a boat from the Centralia City Fire Department work to make their way to three men stranded in a car that ran into the floodwaters of Crooked Creek Saturday night. Photo by Mitchell Schultheis.

Three people were removed from a car that plunged into high water early Saturday night on Westline Road in the Crooked Creek Bottoms south of Odin.  

Odin Fire Chief Greg Smith says the driver apparently didn’t see the water on the road until it was too late after coming over the bridge.     

The driver, Chris Wessling of Taylorville, and passengers Devin Stokes and Kyle Moore of Sandoval, all climbed out of the car onto the window sills and eventually onto the roof as the water level rose.  

Odin Firemen borrowed a boat from the Centralia City Fire Department and were able to get the boat near the car where the two passengers were brought back to dry land.  Wessling ended up walking through the knee deep water to the dry pavement.   All three refused medical treatment from EMT’s on the scene.   

The car was towed out of the water.  

Water levels are over the roads in the Crooked Creek Bottoms and on Brickhill Road below the Raccoon Lake dam following heavy rains on Friday.   

The Centralia Water Plant recorded 2.36 inches of rain from the storm, with one gate open 4 and a half feet on Saturday to get rid of excess water as the lake level rose to two inches below the spillway by Saturday morning.  The Salem Water Plant recorded 2.27 inches of rain.  The Alma Weather Station recorded 2.19 inches of rain.   

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Mt. Vernon Man Killed In Hamilton County Wreck

November 29, 2015 Comments off

A 23-year-old Mt. Vernon man has died in a single vehicle crash late Thursday night in rural McLeansboro.    

The Hamilton County Coroner’s office reports Zachery Tomshack was westbound on Illinois Route 142 when he ran off the right side of the road, overcorrected, came back onto the highway and then skidded sideways and overturned.   Tomshack was pronounced dead on the scene.  

Two passengers in the vehicle, a male and female, were both taken to Hamilton County Memorial Hospital for treatment.  Their names have not been released.  

Police reports on the crash are incomplete.  

The crash occurred at 10:30 Thursday night.  

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Centralia Apartment Building Ordered Vacated Until Electrical Problems Are Checked

November 28, 2015 Comments off

Centralia Firemen quickly put out electrical fire at 12 unit apartment building at 320 South Cherry Friday afternoon. The building was ordered evacuated until electrical concerns with the building could be checked. Photo by Mitchell Schultheis.

A Centralia City Firefighter helps suck smoke out of an apartment building at 320 South Cherry following a Friday afternoon fire. Photo by Mitchell Schultheis.

Centralia City Firemen have ordered a 12 unit apartment building at 320 South Cherry not to be occupied until an electrician can check out electrical problems.   

Fire Captain John Lynch said the decision came Friday afternoon after the third electrical fire occurred in the building since September.   The blaze was quickly put out, with only a small amount of damage.  Lynch says the apartment building will not be allowed to be occupied again until an electrician provides certification there is no fire danger from the wiring or repairs are made.  

The Friday fire began in the exhaust fan of Apartment 1 and had spread through the attic along the electrical wires to an exhaust fan in Apartment 2.  No one was home in either apartment, but another resident smelled smoke and called the fire department.   Firemen forced open the doors to both apartment units to reach the fire that was confined to the attic area.  

Lynch says once the ceiling was opened up, flames from the fire were visible.  Only a small amount of water was used to knock down the fire, limiting damage to an estimated $5,000.  

There were no injuries.  

The Centralia Police Department assisted the fire department in evacuating the building.  The Red Cross was called to assist the occupants of the nine occupied units of the building.  

One additional shift of firefighters was called to help put out the fire.   The fire call came in at 3:49 Friday afternoon, with firemen on the scene about an hour and a half.   

The building is owned by Cecilia Ross of Centralia.  

In September one of the fires caused an estimated $20,000 damage after an electrical outlet where a refrigerator was plugged in caught fire in an unoccupied unit.  The other fire in September did not cause any significant damage.      

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