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Local News

  • Prison workers' union supports study of early-release program

    A hostage situation, the third in recent history, offers continuing proof that Illinois needs to address staffing shortages at state prisons, according to a union official at Vandalia Correctional Center.

    On Monday, an inmate at Pinckneyville Correctional Center held a 62-year-old prison employee hostage. The hostage situation was resolved when that inmate, who was serving a sentence for aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping, was fatally shot.

    This kidnapping followed sexual assaults of prison workers by inmates at Jacksonville and Dwight prisons.

  • New law prohibits texting while driving

    A state law that was enacted several years ago prohibits teens from talking on cell phones while driving. A new law that goes into effect on Jan. 1 further addresses the use of phones and other devices while driving, and this one affects drivers of all ages.

    Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law in August two Illinois House bills pertaining to cell phones and computers.

    One law bans motorists from text messaging while driving. More specifically, motorists may not read, compose or send text messages, instant messages or e-mails while moving in traffic.

  • Donations sought for CEFS Food Pantry

    For many low-income families, the Christmas holiday season is a tough time of year.

    This year, it’s particularly difficult – with many families facing seasonal layoffs or job losses.

    Many of those families have used the services of the CEFS food pantry, leaving the food supplies precariously low.

  • Statehouse's Christmas Open House is Saturday

    Rooms illuminated by candlelight will highlight the annual Christmas Open House from 4:30-6:30 p.m. this Saturday at the Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site, the oldest remaining Capitol building in Illinois.

    The Statehouse where Abraham Lincoln served as a state representative from 1836-39 will be trimmed with 1800s decorations, including fresh greenery, fruits and nuts.

    Statehouse staff and volunteers in period clothing will greet visitors and be available to answer questions. Period recorder music will be provided by Baroque Folk.

  • Dispute over firing of St. Elmo chief continues

    The division created by the mayor’s firing of the police chief has risen to the level that the St. Elmo City Council is unable to conduct regular business.

    Various area media outlets reported that the council’s regular December meeting came to an early end when three of the city’s aldermen walked out of the meeting in protest of Mayor Larry Tish’s decision not to reopen discussions on the firing of Ken Thomason.

  • Council approves 8.57-percent water rate hike

    Over the displeasure of two aldermen, the Vandalia City Council on Monday approved an 8.57-percent increase in water rates as a way of helping the city’s ailing water and sewer funds.

    That increase is on top of the 7.19-percent water rate increase approved by the council in September.

    In presenting the latest increase, City Administrator Jimmy Morani explained that the rate hike was being proposed as a way of generating funds that the city did not receive as a result of council action in 2007.

  • City grants Motown a 7-month extension

    Two months after the deadline passed for Motown Technology & Sports Facility Inc. to provide proof of financing for a $300-million sports and entertainment complex in Vandalia, the Vandalia City Council gave the group seven more months to provide that proof.

    The council approved that extension in a 6-1 vote after hearing that Motown has received a letter of intent for the financing of a $300-million sports and entertainment facility that would be built on the city’s west side.

  • City grants Motown 7-month extension

    Two months after the deadline passed for Motown Technology to provide proof of financing for a $300-million sports and entertainment complex in Vandalia, the Vandalia City Council gave the group seven more months to provide that proof.

    The council approved that extension in a 6-1 vote after hearing that Motown has received a letter of intent for the financing of that project.

  • City spending cuts laid out

    A Vandalia City Council committee last week supported revisions to this fiscal year’s budget, and agreed to pass on to the full council a recommendation for a second water rate increase in three months.

    However, the council ­– after meeting in closed session for about an hour – ­voted not to endorse a suggestion for furlough days for city employees.

  • FCH Board puts operator on notice

    After hearing a plea for financial relief from the chairman of the board of the company that operates the hospital, the Fayette County Hospital District Board on Monday agreed to return to that company more than $74,000 each month for five months.

    That $74,000 represents the amount that the operator, Heartland Health System Inc., is obligated to pay the district board each month under its operating agreement. Under the conditions agreed to on Monday, Heartland will use that money to help pay for the non-reimbursed charity care it provides to FCH patients.