Local News

Shelby County Sheriff's Office Cleared Of Allegations Of Theft, Misconduct, And Fraud

An investigation has cleared the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office of allegations of fraud, theft, and official misconduct.  According to the Office of the Attorney General, State of Illinois, Public Integrity Bureau, the allegations do not constitute a criminal offense and they do not support any criminal charges.

 

The Illinois Attorney General’s Office was appointed by the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court as a special prosecutor to review and possibly prosecute allegations of fraud, theft, and misconduct levied by the Shelby County Treasurer in December of 2019.  An investigation showed theft of funds through the payroll system for the Sheriff’s Office as well as an alleged illegal sale of seized firearms.  The ISP DCI Zone 5 conducted the investigation. 

 

The company 20/20 Forensic Accounting was retained by Shelby County to conduct a payroll audit of the Office from January 2015 to July 2020. During the audit, the firm would review payroll records, bank accounts, collective bargaining agreements, and bank statements for the county and the Sheriff’s Office.  The audit showed that $326,315 was overpaid to employees and 332,598 was underpaid to employees.  The final results were a net underpayment of $6,283. The audit finds were shared and reviewed by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.  

 

All firearms that have been related to this incident and investigation have been accounted for and secured within the office according to Shelby County Sheriff Brian McReynolds. 

Shelbyville High School Moves High School Graduation Inside for Saturday Night

Officials at Shelbyville High School have announced that due to possible inclement weather, they are moving the Saturday night graduation ceremony from the high school football field, to the high school gym.  The ceremony will still begin at 7pm, and be broadcast live on WSVZ Cruisin' 98.3.  

Shelbyville's high school graduation ceremony will include remarks from the salutatorian and valedectorian, as well as music from the Shelbyville High School band directed by Charity Astrouski.

Again, Shelbyville's high school graduation has been moved to the high school gym Saturday night with the same start time 7pm, and will be broadcast live on WSVZ Cruisin' 98.3.

Taylorville Superintendent Outlines Plans For Sports Complex and Fine Arts Facility

Taylorville School Board approved a plan to build a Fine Arts and Sports Complex Facility.

 

Superintendent Dr. Chris Dougherty says this plan has been in the works for a while. 

The plan calls for a field house with two courts and an auditorium with around 400 seats. 

The district is in a good spot to take this project on – dubbed “Project A Plus.” The “plus” comes in a situation where the district is able to raise more money than needed for the original scheme. 

Touring examples of facilities and fundraising are the next steps. 

Dr. Dougherty appeared as a guest on the WTIM Morning Show.

Navigator Pledges To Do More In Regards To CO2 Project

Navigator and Tenaska’s Heartland Greenway Carbon Capture and Storage project hit a roadblock. 

 

Chief Operating Officer David Giles says Christian County’s moratorium on approving zoning ordinances won’t stop the project. 

The moratorium provides Navigator an opportunity to work on providing more information. 

According to Giles, there is a lot of misinformation floating around in regards to the project. Most recently, Navigator has heard rumors about how this project could impact the aquifer. Giles says it’s just not the case. 

Navigator points those skeptical to peer-reviewed research from private entities. 

Learn more at heartlandgreenway.com. Giles appeared as a guest on the WTIM Morning Show.

Heartland Greenway Releases Statement on Moratorium

Heartland Greenway has released a statement on the moratorium vote in Christian County last night. Jim Prescott of Heartland Greenway says, "We appreciate that County Board members want to have all of the information they need before taking any action in the future.  As we’ve shared with them, Heartland Greenway is not ready to start construction and we haven’t filed for state or federal permits, which will take 18 to 24 months to obtain. We recognize the County Board, landowners, and Christian County residents have important questions about Heartland Greenway, and we are committed to answering all of them, and to ensure that the county has the information it needs to make an informed decision about this project. We also are committed to working with the County Board to develop a fact-based zoning framework that is fair, feasible, and leads to a prosperous future for Christian County that encourages economic development."

Three People Arrested In Taylorville On Drug Charges And Child Endangerment

Three people have been arrested in Taylorville after an investigation led to a search warrant on Tuesday. Police received complaints from citizens about narcotics traffic on the 400 block of East Adams Street.  During the investigation, TPD learned that the persons of interest in the residence could be armed and there were children inside.  Taylorville Police Chief Dwayne Wheeler says that the Emergency Response Team formulated plans days earlier in a way that they could enter the residence in a safe manner. The warrant was executed after hours of surveillance Tuesday evening. 

 

Three people were arrested in the residence.  Thomas Painter was arrested for armed violence, delivery of a controlled substance 5-15 grams, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver 15-100 grams, child endangerment, and unlawful use of a residence. Marissa Tennant was arrested for armed violence possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver 15-100 grams, child endangerment, and unlawful use of a residence. Alexis Rosa was arrested for delivery of a controlled substance for 5-15 grams and child endangerment.

 

 

Chief Wheeler thanked the ERT for their hard work and dedication.  He hopes that the citizens in the area feel safer and thanked Christian County State’s Attorney Wes Poggenpohl for the dedication to the investigation.

 

Chief Wheeler also thanked Kincaid and Assumption Police for their assistance in the execution of the warrant and all of the agencies of the Community Action Team for their continued support.

Shelbyville Students Of The Month For May Recognized

The WSVZ and Family Drug-Shelbyville Students of the Month for May 2022 were presented with their awards recently. Congratulations to McKenna Kull, Katelyne Donald, Kynlee Summers, and Rope Hatfield,

From L to R Senior McKenna Kull, Junior Katelyne Donald, Sophomore Kynlee Summers, Freshman Rope Hatfield, and Family Drug Representative Bridgette Depew.

Pana Students Of The Month Recognized For May 2022

Peoples Bank and Trust and 94.3 WMKR are proud to present the Pana High School April 2022. Students of the Month for the month of May are Logan Roberts, Siarra Hammond, Chloe Bland, and Noah Gorenz. 

L -R: SENIOR LOGAN ROBERTS; JUNIOR(NOT PICTURED) SIARRA HAMMOND; SOPHOMORE CHLOE BLAND; FRESHMAN NOAH GORENZ

Taylorville Students Of The Month Recognized For May

Peoples Bank and Trust along with WTIM The Big 870 AM and 96.1 FM are proud to announce the Taylorville Students of the Month for May. Congratulations to Jack McGrath, Kaden Parini, Jessi Wright, and Trace Helton

 

L-R:  PEOPLES BANK AND TRUST REPRESENTATIVE  SARAH VANHUSS; SENIOR JACK MCGRATH; JUNIOR KADEN PARINI; SOPHOMORE JESSI WRIGHT; FRESHMAN TRACE HELTON 

State Treasurer's Office Helping Farmers With Ag Capital

Farmers are often focused on what their crop is doing now. 

 

State Treasurer Michael Frerichs wants farmers to think about the future with the Ag Invest program.

Frerichs says this program has come a long way from when it first started and now offers direct financial assistance.

The low interest rate allows farmers to make more off their loan-based investment. 

This is to help current farmers, of course. It is also about the next generation of farmers. 

Learn more at illinoistreasurer.gov. Frerichs appeared as a guest on the WTIM Morning Show.

Rep. Rodney Davis Continues To Hammer Support For Ukraine

U.S. Representative Rodney Davis voted yes on the National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2021. 

 

A portion of that resolution sends military aid to Ukraine to help fight Russia. Rep. Davis says that Ukraine must have the aid. 

The bipartisan effort stands out to Rep. Davis. Over 80 percent of legislators voted yes. 

The biggest reason why Rep. Davis believes Ukraine should receive aid has to do with democracy. 

Ultimately, many are concerned Russia will not stop with Ukraine. That includes Rep. Davis.

Learn more at rodneydavis.house.gov. Rep. Davis appeared as a guest on the WTIM Morning Show.

Safe Passage Coordinator Keeping Eye On Fentanyl In Community

While methamphetamine is a common cause of drug addiction in central Illinois, Taylorville Safe Passage coordinator Denise Evans is focused on fentanyl. 

Evans says that the opioid can be used in medical settings to treat extreme pain. However, when it is on the streets she says it can be deadly and very addictive. 

Obviously, avoiding drugs is the best course of action, but Evans says if you’re going to use then at-home drug test kits can save lives. 

Safe Passage is there for anybody who needs help. All they have to do is ask. Evans says Safe Passage is focused on mental health of users. 

Learn more on the Safe Passage of Taylorville Facebook page. Evans appeared as a guest on the WTIM Morning Show. 

Moratorium Passes on Christian County CO2 Project

The Christian County board met for their monthly board meeting and one of the bigger discussions centered around a proposed six-month moratorium that would put a halt on any vote on the CO2 Carbon Sequestration project for 6 months. Board member, Ray Koonce, said the moratorium would be good for both sides.

 

 

Koonce continued by stressing that this would be a good way for Tenaska Heartland Greenway to have time to show how safe this project would be. Chairman Matt Wells added his thoughts, including a letter that he received from a local attorney asking that the moratorium be passed or some rules are put down. He also asked States Attorney Wes Poggenpohl his thoughts on the moratorium and whether or not the board could pass it without the ZBA. 

 

 

Chairman Wells says he is concerned about safety, but also is worried that the moratorium is “just kicking the can down the road.”

 

 

Wells says the next step is for the Zoning Board of Appeals to have a meeting and make a recommendation to the board. 

 

 

The motion for the moratorium passed overwhelmingly. Everyone voted yes for it except Matt Wells and  Dale Livingston. Heartland Greenway has released the following statement following the moratorium vote. "We appreciate that County Board members want to have all of the information they need before taking any action in the future.  As we’ve shared with them, Heartland Greenway is not ready to start construction and we haven’t filed for state or federal permits, which will take 18 to 24 months to obtain. We recognize the County Board, landowners, and Christian County residents have important questions about Heartland Greenway, and we are committed to answering all of them, and to ensure that the county has the information it needs to make an informed decision about this project. We also are committed to working with the County Board to develop a fact-based zoning framework that is fair, feasible, and leads to a prosperous future for Christian County that encourages economic development."

 

In other board news, the board approved new windows for the courthouse, a split on the roles for Vince Harris who will shift away from animal control and focus more on waste management, and Gary Merker was added as a new member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. The board was also informed that the audit for the county went very well. ARPA funds for problem-solving were approved along with some other ARPA spending bills.  The next county board meeting is set for June 21st. 

Taylorville School Board Adopts Plan For Fine Arts and Sports Complex

Taylorville School Board approved a plan for the proposed Fine Arts and Sports Complex at Taylorville Highschool at their monthly meeting Tuesday evening.

 

Board Member Rick Bryan praises the approval.

The board tabled a motion to approve the purchase of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade ELA Curriculum until the curriculum committee could review it.

 

Superintendent Doctor Chris Dougherty says the curriculum isn't new. However, board member Jennifer Dammerman says curriculum committee members didn't feel comfortable approving it without time to review.

The board also approved Wendy Dulakis as Treasurer for the 2022-23 school year. 

The board also approved the purchase of the CTI building, reviewed the budget, presented a list of over 170 graduating seniors, and heard from Dr. Dougherty.

The board also adopted the regular meeting schedule for the upcoming school year. 

 

The next scheduled board meeting is Tuesday, June 28th. 

WTIM 70th Anniversary Video Now on WTIMTV

The WTIM 70th Anniversary video, first premiered on May 6 during the 115th Greater Taylorville Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet, is now available to watch on WTIM's youtube channel, WTIMTV.

 

Click HERE to watch this 37 minutes of history featuring local people connected to WTIM, and a very special high school football game finish.

 

The video was produced by Neil Hohenstein and Addison Vocks, from countless assets provided them over nearly a year, by WTIM.

 

 

Great Western Popcorn Factory Catches Fire Monday Evening

Assumption Fire responded to a popcorn factory fire Monday night around 9:48 PM. The fire occurred at the Great Western popcorn factory.  When Assumption Fire arrived, there were flames with heavy smoke coming from two buildings. 

 

Mutual aid was requested from Moweaqua, Stonington, Taylorville, Pana, Edinburg, Nokomis, Owanaco, and Blue Mound for manpower, tankers, and other equipment.  Assumption Ambulance, Christian County Sheriff's Office, and the State Fire Marshal were all on the scene as well. An excavator was brought and the fire was under control with the last unit leaving around 3:30 AM.  

Taylorville School Board To Meet This Evening

The Taylorville School Board is set to meet this evening at 6 PM for their monthly school board meeting. After hearing from visitors and receiving communications, the board will approve the consent agenda, minutes, claims, treasurer’s report, and consideration of personnel. The board will also consider and potentially approve some trips for the FFA. 

 

Under old business, the board will go over a recap of the strategic planning focus, and talk about schemes for the building committee. The board will discuss purchasing the CTI Building, as CTI themselves are moving. The board will announce and accept some donated property for some building trades homes and consider and approve quotes for the purchase of 6,7, and 8th Grade ELA Curriculum.

 

Under new business, the board will review a budget amendment, adopt the 2022-2023 School Board Meeting Dates, and appoint Wendy Dulakis as treasurer for the 2022-2023 school year. The board will announce the first reading of the ISBE Press Policy updates, a list of seniors for graduation, the adoption of district fees, the discipline codebook (no changes are expected), and the consideration of the consolidated district plan.

 

There will be a Superintendent’s report and a possible closed session. Stay tuned to Regional Radio News for a recap on the meeting at the conclusion of today’s event.

Christian County TRIAD Informing Community Of Scams

One of the main focuses of the Christian County TRIAD program is preventing scams. 

 

Officer Kirsten Bollinger says many scammers target the elderly because they are the generation of trust and security. 

Officer Bollinger has advice for when you think a scammer is contacting you. 

Scammers have become quite good at playing on your emotions.

Officer Bollinger says you should contact the police department if you are the victim of a scam. 

Officer Bollinger appeared as a guest on the WTIM Morning Show.

Taylorville Choir Students Recognized

Taylorville Choir Students received several awards at their year-end Honors Concert which was held on Thursday, May 12th. Jaylee Smith was recognized as an outstanding 7th and 8th grade choir member.  Ella Hohenstein was recognized as an outstanding 7th and 8th-grade musician. Izzy Miller was recognized as an outstanding THS Mixed Choir Member. Savannah Sorrells was recognized as an outstanding THS Mixed Choir Musician. Gage Matthews was recognized as an outstanding THS Concert Choir Member and Olivia Enlow was awarded as an outstanding THS Concert Choir Musician.

 

Taylorville Music Director Keith Chase also informed Regional Radio News that Gage Matthews was announced as the recipient of the prestigious National School Choral Award. Congratulations to the winners. 

CCYMCA Hosting Golf Outing In June

Christian County YMCA hosting it’s annual golf outing June 10th. 

 

Associate Executive Andrea Bach says it’s for a great cause. 

Bach says the Y is still looking for sponsors. 

All sorts of great prizes available, too. 

Registration is $85 and covers your fee and so much more. 

Learn more at ccymca.org. Bach appeared as a guest on the WTIM Morning Show.

Pana Students Recognized With Scholarship FROM TCCU

Two students from Pana were highlighted during TCCU’s Scholarship promotion. Eight Seniors total were recognized including two from Taylorville, Hillsboro, Litchfield, and Pana High Schools. The Pana Students recognized were Jaxon Rhoades and Hayden Roeder. Rhoades is set to attend school at SIU-Edwardsville to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  Roeder will attend Lakeland College for an associate's degree and then pursue a bachelor's degree in Sociology at a 4-year university. 

 

TCCU President, Will Perkins, wished all of the winner's congratulations and thanked the many businesses who participated.  Perkins says in Pana alone, 2,220 ballots were filled out, resulting in a total of 9,349 votes cast. 17 businesses participated in Pana and it cost $10 for each vote. 

 

Any graduating senior at the four high schools who planned to continue their education were eligible to participate Pana businesses that participated included: A1 Furniture Wholesale, Anarchy, Countryside Campers, Cutz ‘n Curls, Eleven 11, Hair Razors, Holthaus Appliances, Locked & Loaded, Nohren’s Hardware, Outdoor Power Source, Pana Bowl, Pana Save-A-Lot, Pizza Man, Rack Attack Archery, Spring Garden Restaurant, Station 502 Pub/Pizza and SuperStarz Tanning. 

 

Registration for the 2022-23 Scholarship Program will begin in August, following the resumption of classes at the high schools. Students will be able to register through Friday, October 14th.  To register students can simply provide TCCU with their name and photo and a signed Parental Permission slip. The students’ photos will be used on promotional posters.  Anyone who has a student-or who knows a student that will be a senior for the 2022-2023 school year and who plans to continue their education, is encouraged to make sure that student registers with the new school year. 

 

For more information on the program and information about TCCU and the many services that it offers can view www.TCCU.org or call Taylorville at 217-824-9658 or in Pana at 217-562-2516.

 

 

 

Winner Announced For Illinois Sheriffs' Association Scholarship

The Christian County Sheriff’s Office announced the winner of their Illinois Sheriffs’ Association Academic Scholarships. Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp announced that Alexis Kent of Taylorville was the recipient of the scholarship. Sheriff Kettelkamp says that Kent was selected from a number of highly qualified applicants in the Christian County area. He thanked everyone for applying and says that Illinois Sheriffs consider this scholarship program to be an investment in the future as well as a strong signal of their respect and support for education.  

 

112 scholarships were awarded by the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association throughout the state of Illinois to students pursuing higher education during the 2022/2023 year.

Taylorville City Council Meets; Approves Potential Cannabis Dispensary

The Taylorville City Council met on Monday evening and cannabis was the big discussion of the evening.  No one has come forward saying they want to build a dispensary in Taylorville, and there are no plans for building one in the future, but with nearby cities including Pana voting on it, it was on the agenda this evening to be discussed. After a public hearing was held, the planning commission reported to the board that they had voted against recommending the allowance of an adult use cannabis dispensing organization. Since the planning commission voted against adding one, the board would need a 2/3rds vote to pass the ordinance. 

 

Many Alderman and Taylorville Mayor Bruce Barry said that it was a money thing and if it came back that the city wasn’t getting the money that was projected, this would be addressed in the future. Alderman Chris Skultety, who voted no on the ordinance, felt that the projections for Taylorville for cannabis were higher than what they should be.

 

 

Alderman Skultety and Alderman Kathy Driskell (who voted no) called it a slippery slope. Mayor Barry said he wasn’t elected to legislate morality and that it started from home. Alderman Skultety says 

 

 

Mayor Barry says he would have never legalized marijuana but he says that marijuana may be whats best for Taylorville when it comes to cash flow. Mayor Barry says he doesn’t feel Taylorville will get an establishment, but he feels we have to leave that door open. Alderman Jim Olive who voted yes on the ordinance says that the talk of marijuana is not new, nor is it just a local conversation.

 

 

Both cannabis motions passed with Aldermen Megan Bryant, Larry Budd, Jim Olive, Doug Wilson, Jeremy Brown and Mayor Barry all voting yes. Aldermen Steve Dorchinecz, Kathy Driskell, and Chris Skultety voting no. 

 

In other board news, Taylorville High School Wrestling Athlete Gage Rusher was praised as youth of the month.  The board approved a special events permit for the Taylorville Blackhorse Veterans for May 27th and 28th. The board received clarification on the ARPA funds for the employee retention bonus. The board approved new computers for the Taylorville squad cars.  The Mayor also gave his updates including a thank you for the support of the Skateboard park.

 

 

To hear the complete audio from this entire meeting, see below.

 

 

The next city council meeting is set for June 6th. 

FBI Seeking Information On Suspected Arson; Award Being Offered

The FBI is seeking information in an arson incident in Harvel.  On April 21st around midnight, someone gained access to an excavator owned by Vance and Associates and used it to destroy a trailer and a sandblaster.  The subject or subjects than set fire to the excavator and a semi-tractor trailer.  This incident resulted in several hundred thousand dollars in damage. A reward is being offered of up to $10,000 for any information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for the arson. 

 

If you have any information on this incident, you are encouraged to call the FBI Springfield Office at 217-522-9675 or email them at springfield@fbi.gov or contact the Macoupin/Montgomery County Crimestoppers at 800-352-0136. 

 

 

 

 

ISP Investigating Highway Crash

The Illinois State Police are investigating a multiple vehicle personal injury traffic crash that occurred on Interstate 55 southbound near milepost 91. Three vehicles were traveling southbound on Interstate 55 near milepost 91 in Sangamon County.  

 

21-year-old Li’Derick Franklin of St. Charles, Missouri and his passenger 23-year-old Demetrius Sims from St. Louis, Missouri was in the left lane. David Buckhart, a 75-year-old male from Whitefish, Montana, was in the middle lane, and 49 year old Erika Palsen of Divernon, Illinois was in the right lane.

 

Franklin attempted to conduct a lane change into the center lane. Buckhart swerved out of the way, striking Palsen’s vehicle.  All three vehicles collided.  Franklin’s vehicle traveled off the left side of the roadway striking several yellow crash barriers. Buckhart was able to safely stop his vehicle on the right shoulder.  

 

Palsen’s vehicle traveled off the right side of the roadway, struck a metal guardrail, and overturned onto the passenger side, injuring Palsen’s passenger—59-year-old Phillip Palsen of Divernon.  Both Palsen’s were transported by ambulance to an area hospital with minor injuries. No other drivers reported any injuries.  

 

Franklin was cited for improper lane usage. 

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