Local News

covid warning

Marion County added to COVID-19 warning list     

Marion and Wayne Counties have both been added to the COVID-19 warning list after their positivity rate jumped above eight percent.  Clinton, Effingham, and Washington County are repeating for another week.

Marion County Health Department Administrator Melissa Mallow says making the weekly warning list does not result in any new sanctions, but is a signal to the department to pick up education efforts and work with residents to ‘do the right thing’ to protect themselves and others.

Marion County’s positivity rate is now at 8.5-percent.   Clinton County is at 17.6-percent.   Washington County’s positivity is 11-percent.   The Wayne County rate is 15.7-percent.   Effingham County’s rate is 11.4-percent.

There are 24 counties on this week’s warning list.  Most are in a belt across the South Central part of the state from Missouri to Indiana.  Others in the region to make the list are Bond County, Cumberland County, Edwards County, Jasper County, Lawrence County, Madison County, St. Clair County, Shelby County, Williamson County, Wabash County, and Union County.  The county metrics are updated weekly, from the Sunday-Saturday of the prior week.

Area counties not on the warning list are Jefferson County which has a 5.9-percent rate.   Fayette County is at 6.9-percent.   Clay County’s rate is 4.2-percent.

State Public Health Officials say while reasons for counties reaching a warning level varies, some of the common factors for an increase in cases and outbreaks associated with university and college parties as well as college sports teams, large gatherings and events, bars and clubs, weddings and funerals, long-term care facilities, correctional centers, manufacturing plants, schools, and cases among the community at large.  General transmission of the virus in the community is also increasing.

Public health officials are observing people not social distancing, gathering in large groups, and not using face coverings.  Some communities lack access to convenient testing before people become symptomatic.  In some counties, local law enforcement and states’ attorneys are not enforcing important mitigation measures like social distancing and the wearing of face coverings.  Additionally, some people refuse to participate in contact tracing and are not providing information on close contacts or answering the phone.


Centralia “pushes” new fire truck into service

The Centralia Fire Department held a push in ceremony Thursday evening for its new pumper truck.

The pumper truck was a demo model that was used briefly at the Daytona Speedway.

Fire Chief John Lynch says by not custom ordering they were able to purchase the truck for 439,000, a $292,000 savings over having a custom built truck. He says the new pumper is “just the way we need it” with a few minor additions that could be added next year.

“This is step 2 of hopefully of our 3 step process of replacing trucks.  Just like the ladder truck, this was a much needed apparatus for us.  We are down to 2 pumpers and one of those is 27 years old.  Hopefully at the beginning of the year, if all goes right we can get the 3rd truck ordered and get ourselves back in really good shape.  We appreciate the council seeing the need and the city manager helping me to accomplish the goal of replacing trucks and equipment.”

Lynch says this truck will be a first response unit for fire and rescue calls. Mayor Herb Williams is pleased to see the addition.

“Insurances that go down because we have the right equipment to protect our citizens, homes, businesses and so forth.  So for the council and myself we are happy to move forward.”

City Manager Lowell Crow noted city residents will be asked during the November elections to approve an additional sales tax to make public safety improvements.

“Point five percent tax increase you are going to be voting on is for public safety and to upgrade the equipment and make sure those departments are properly financed.  That is what that sales tax increase is designed for.  It will help pay for these trucks plus the next one we want to buy so it’s a great opportunity for us.”

Crow thanked the Community Trust Bank for making the purchase of the new areal and pumper truck possible through a lease purchase agreement. Members of the fire department were joined by community leaders in “pushing” the new truck into the downtown station. Unlike old times when the tradition began, this truck was too heavy to push without the fire truck’s engine to help power it into the station.


(Photo’s by Pat Hodges)

Salem Grade Bob Cat Logo

Salem Grade School board told everyone adopting to hybrid attendance plan

The Salem Grade School Board Thursday night heard from the Superintendent and building administrators that everyone is working together to make the hybrid attendance plan being used this year to be as successful as possible.

Superintendent Dr. Leslie Foppe commended everyone in getting school open and adopting a schedule were students attend in person two days a week and do remote learning the other three days.

“It’s a huge change for our students, our kids, and the parents.  This is new for all of us.  We have to work together and have patience.  If we see anything we need to improve on we will.  If the teachers need to tweak anything they are doing that.  And we are giving them all they need to be successful.”

Foppe says they are currently trying to determine how far students are behind following the spring remote learning that concentrated on review.

“We’re benchmark testing.  We are seeing where the gaps are.  We are seeing where kids are deficient and falling behind.  And we knew it would be there.  They’ve been out, even though we did our remote packets and remote learning, everybody is facing that.  So that will give us a focus on what we need to work on.”

Foppe says they are also having to deal with COVID-19. There are currently 64 students and six staff on quarantine along with seven positive cases among students and faculty. Foppe reports fortunately none of the cases exposed students at school, but they are being very careful. She reports students who are
quarantined are placed on full remote learning until they are cleared to come back to school.

Franklin Park Principal Tyler Lux told the board kids are engaged and they realize grades are now real and this is a legitimate school year.

Hawthorn Principal Mary Adams joined Lux and the assistant principals in praising the teachers in going above and beyond to make the Google Classroom platform work for the students.

Adams says they are getting better each day. He also noted not a single problem with getting kids to wear masks. Adams says kindergarten students have also done extremely well without having parent support in taking them to the classroom or having an open house before school to get used to the new surroundings.

Board member Lynette Dye who is working with her grandchild said she was impressed with the lessons being developed for remote learning and also commended the parents for their efforts to keep their children on track.

The board was told under a change in the federal school lunch program, all students regardless of income can receive free breakfast and lunch through December. The meals are also being made available on any school day students are on remote learning.

Farina teen arrested for aggravated battery at Bryan Park basketball court

An 18-year-old Farina man has been arrested for aggravated battery after allegedly fighting a 15-year-old Salem juvenile boy at the Bryan Park basketball court Thursday night.

Salem Police say information developed in the case indicates Diego Barradas of South Walnut allegedly came to Bryan Park with the intent to fight the juvenile.

Both were still in the park when police arrived. Barradas was taken to the Marion County Jail. Police say the juvenile did not require hospital treatment.

Marion County Jail

Police Beat for Friday, September 18th, 2020

A 31-year-old Centralia man has been arrested on an outstanding Marion County felony warrant for failure to appear on a possession of a controlled substance charge.

Centralia Police say Quinton Upchurch of Gragg Street was taken into custody during a traffic stop. He was taken to the Marion County Jail where he is being held in lieu of $50,000 bond.


‘Cheer’ star Jerry Harris arrested on child porn charges

CHICAGO (AP) — “Cheer” star Jerry Harris has been arrested on charges of felony production of child pornography. In a federal complaint filed in Chicago, the U.S. Attorney’s office alleges that Harris solicited pornographic images over a period of more than a year.

The arrest of Harris comes days after twin Texas boys filed a lawsuit alleging that the 21-year-old sent them sexually explicit photographs of himself and cornered one of them in a bathroom and begged for oral sex.

Harris was a breakout star of the Netflix documentary series that followed the cheerleading team from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, as it sought a national title.

National News

Reward for wanted gunman who shot two LA sheriff’s deputies grows to $675k

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Smoke from West Coast wildfires travels to Europe

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DOJ mulled federal charges against Portland city officials over response to unrest

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New York City public middle, high schools delay in-person learning until October

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Why slow-moving hurricanes like Sally are especially dangerous

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