Local News

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Rural Kell man pulls his burning SUV into Salem Fire Department front-drive 

The Salem Fire Protection District firefighters were toned to a fire at the fire station Tuesday afternoon when a rural Kell man noticed his SUV was on fire while traveling northbound on South Broadway in the downtown area.

John Hanna of Knabe Road pulled onto the front drive on the fire station.   When he couldn’t immediately find a fireman, he called 911 to report that his SUV was burning.

The engineer at the station and others responded.   The fire had to be put out with a hose from one of the pumper trucks.   The SUV was destroyed in the fire.

I-57 logo

No one was injured when truck pulling trailer overturns on I-57  

No one was injured Tuesday morning when a pickup truck pulling a trailer containing three vehicles overturned on southbound I-57 five miles south of the Salem exit.

Salem Fire Protection District officials say the driver, Ziad Samir Shahnak,  was out of the vehicle walking around upon their arrival.   The truck is owned by Summit Auto Towing of Toledo, Ohio.

State Police handled the crash, but reports are not yet complete.


Centralia man arrested on drug delivery charge    

A 30-year-old Centralia man has been arrested for manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance after Centralia Police witnessed him allegedly complete a hand to hand drug transaction in public view.

Donald Hemmings of Wabash Avenue was taken into custody a few minutes later after Centralia Police initiated a traffic stop.  At that time it was determined that Hemmings had just sold the highly dangerous drug, Fentanyl.   The incident occurred on the 400 block of West Noleman Street.

Centralia Police Chief Greg Dodson says the covert investigation of street trafficking was set up in response to complaints.

Hemmings had previously been arrested by the Centralia Police Department on July  2nd and charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver, when he was found in possession of 11.2 grams of methamphetamine.

Dodson says public trafficking of illicit drugs are a high priority for the Centralia Police Department.  He notes these transactions diminish the sense of public safety when these type of crimes are committed flagrantly, in plain view of the public.

Hemmings was taken to the Marion County Jail and is expected to be formally charged on Wednesday in Marion County Court.

Keith Markwardt

2020 Marion County Fair is canceled

The 2020 Marion County Fair has been canceled.

The fair board Monday night wrestled with the issues they faced in trying to still have the fair, with a large majority eventually agreeing there were too many risks.

Fair Board President Doug Telford says he checked with other fairs, vendors, and the Marion County Health Department before making the recommendation the fair be canceled.

“The loss of revenue we could have during the fair.  The fact that the insurance was very vague on whether we would be covered.  As of right now, our local health department says we are in Phase 4.  The crowd would be a situation, the carnival cannot get here at this time so we decided to cancel the fair and have a better one in 2021.”

Telford says regardless of what decision the board made, some events had already been canceled by others.

“We had already lost the queen pageant and junior miss, the talent show, the NTPA Tractor Pull.  They have already canceled those evening events so all we had was a few days left.”

Telford noted if they didn’t cancel soon there was a chance they couldn’t get out of remaining contracts without a penalty. He says it was a very hard pill to swallow, especially for fair board members who had served and built the fair over decades of work.

St. Peter Prairie Days canceled for 2020

The St. Peter Village Board has announced the cancellation of the 45th annual Prairie Days in the village park in August.

The board says due to the current circumstances and liability responsibility with their insurance, they are sad to report the decision was made to cancel at Monday night’s board meeting.

They promise it will be back next year bigger than ever. This is the first time Prairie Days has been canceled since it started in 1976.


Manager of Salem Animal Control Facility concerned about influx of out of town animals

The Manager of the Salem Animal Control Facility is concerned about attempts to bring out of town animals to the shelter.

Stephanie Rakers is pleased with the operation of the shelter which has been able to send 85 animals out to rescue groups for adoption since the beginning of the year. But she fears the shelter could get overrun especially with cutbacks being considered at the Centralia Animal Control facility and Clinton County animal control being out of operation temporarily due to the firing of its animal control

“We are seeing a lot of walk-ins and taking a lot of calls for animals that are very clearly are not in the jurisdiction of the city of Salem.  I feel like this is going to be an increasing problem we are going to be facing.  Because we are doing so many good things people are wanting us to come in and rescue and adopt out animals that are clearly not our responsibility.”

Rakers says feral cats are the major issue and she has not found any interest from area vets to do a catch, spay/neuter, and release program that has worked well in other areas.

City Manager Rex Barbee notes tax dollars fund the Salem Animal Control facility and some policies probably need to be adopted.

“I feel very strongly that we want to be a low-kill.  Some of the animals that have come to us have been injured and we can’t really do anything about that.  So we would prefer not to include those in some of the statistics but we have to.  At this point in time we are reaching out for suggestions on how we can handle it.”

The city council took no action Monday night.

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