12/30/2010 11:30:00 AM 2010 in review Sheriff ballot battle fires up summer
Editor's note: This the third of four articles compiled and with additional reporting by Tom Compton, reviewing 2010's local news.
The weather wasn't the only thing heating up in Crawford County in mid-summer.
On July 2, it was reported that a hearing would be held on objections to petitions filed by would-be independent sheriff's candidate David W. Devin. Objections were filed against 270 of the 656 names on Devin's petitions. Objections included signatures being illegible, not being witnessed and not having addresses or having addresses from outside the county.
The court battle over Devin's right to be on the ballot would continue into September.
Also in July, Highland Church of Christ broke ground on an expansion and remodeling project, including a new 500-seat auditorium, adult classrooms, a coffee service and kitchen, as well as a new youth area. The current education building would be remodeled to better serve the needs of children, birth through grade five and the current auditorium would become a chapel designed for weddings and other special services.
Farmers were looking for a break in the heat to help Crawford County's corn and soybeans. Except for July 1, when the temperature was a relatively cool 79, daytime highs in the 80s and 90s were the norm for at least six weeks.
At the July 13 city council meeting, Robinson aldermen narrowly voted down yet another proposal from Main Street Pub to play host to a beer garden on city property.
After the council previously voted to not allow a beer garden on a publicly-owned parking lot behind the pub, Eric and Sherry Erickson asked the council to consider an ordinance allowing the pub to obtain a one-day special-use permit to have a beer garden at a city festival. They suggested serving beer and food, as well as sponsoring live entertainment, at the City Park either during a city festival or as a stand-alone event.
Corey Lee Hayes, 23, Bridgeport, died of an apparent drug overdose in Crawford County Jail after being arrested. Hayes was arrested by Crawford County Sheriff's Department following a traffic stop July 23 for possession of methamphetamine manufacturing materials.
Arrested at the same time on the same charges was Joshua L. Gowen, 25, Palestine. Sheriff Todd Liston said a working meth lab was found in their vehicle. Further investigation led deputies to a home in rural Palestine, where a second working meth lab was discovered. Kristopher N. Bailey, 21, Palestine, was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of meth manufacturing materials.
On July 24, Crawford County fair kicked off with the queen pageant. Lauren Midgett, 20, Robinson, was crowned Miss Crawford County 2010.
Whooping cough appeared to be making a comeback in neighboring Lawrence County, but it had been more than a year since the last case was reported in Crawford County. But with the right vaccine, the dreaded childhood disease can be kept away, according to the Crawford County Health Department.
4-H livestock auction sales topped more than $82,000 this year. "We had a fabulous week," said Hope Dennis of the U of I Extension Office. "We could not have asked for better support from Crawford County."
Depending on where in the county a field was, the crops in it may have been doing great the first week of August. "Storms have been spotty," Conservationist John Pearse said.
A new discount store was scheduled to open in Oblong. Dollar General, on the west edge of the village, planned to open its doors for business. Judy White was named to manage the new store.
During the second week of August, the U.S. Department of Energy dropped its long-running plans to build a futuristic power plant in Mattoon and said it would instead use the site for the storage of carbon dioxide produced by another power plant across the state. The decision to radically change the so-called FutureGen project appeared to take many of those who were involved with it by surprise.
Officials ruled that sheriff candidate David W. Devin would be able to remain on the Nov. 2 general election ballot. The Crawford County Electoral Board ruled the candidate had sufficient valid signatures on his candidacy petitions to qualify.
Crawford County lost another rural church. The congregation of the Annapolis United Methodist Church voted to leave the 77-year-old church building and consolidate with the Kirk Chapel United Methodist Church. Rather than leaving the building abandoned it was decided to sell off the contents, usable fixtures and land at auction, then tear down the building.
In late August, area schools attempted to set budgets despite the uncertainty of the state's ability to reimburse them. "In my 15 years as superintendent this is the toughest budget I have ever put together," said Hutsonville Unit 1 Superintendent Roger Eddy. "The target keeps moving." If the state made all of its payments on time, Eddy estimated the budget will be around $50,000 in the black come June 30, but he admitted it was a guess. "It is as close as we can make it," Eddy told his board.
On Aug. 18 a federal jury convicted former governor Rod Blagojevich on just one count - lying to the FBI - and deadlocked on 23 others. Prosecutors pledged to retry him as soon as possible.
The Crawford County Forest Preserve opened to the public with a youth fishing rodeo and to the general public thereafter. A grand opening was scheduled later.
After a six-month investigation, the Illinois Attorney General decided the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges board violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act during a February closed session.
The Palestine Outer West Market Church of Christ church began collecting peanut butter for kids in Haiti at the Labor Day celebration as part of the Waves of Mercy mission to Haiti.
The month brought a close to the summer with the annual Labor Day celebration in Palestine. It featured bulls and bikes as bullriders vied for a $20,000 prize during the two-day Bullbash on the Wabash. 2009 Bullbash champion Davey Dyke would return to the Pioneer City Arena to defend his title. "I don't know if Palestine is my lucky place, but I am coming to find out," he said. Palestine's annual Labor Day parade featured 134 entries, leading everyone to Leaverton Park for an afternoon of "motocross extreme."
A federal grant helped improve the Palestine ethanol plant's efficiency. LincolnLand Agri-Energy LLC was awarded $712,500 through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The funds were made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the United States Department of Energy.
Voters would decide in November if the Robinson Township Fire Protection District and the city's fire department should be consolidated into one fire protection district. For 45 years, the two entities worked separately under a unique arrangement. After more than a year of consideration, Robinson aldermen voted to combine the district and city fire services in an effort to save thousands of dollars.
Oblong police took a bite out of crime when they arrested Justin Krick, 25, Oblong, trying to rob Harmon's Healthmart Drug Store. Police, along with Crawford County Sheriff's deputies and K-9 Officer Benny responding to an automatic alarm, discovered a person may have gained entrance into the building through an upper window and the roof. Benny discovered and detained Krick, who was treated for bite injuries before being taken to Crawford County Jail.
No rain and dry conditions prompt Sheriff Todd Liston to impose a county burn ban. Farmers were asked to disk around their cut fields or have a tractor and disc available in case fields caught fire.
On Sept. 8, a flagger working for an Illinois Department of Transportation contractor died after being struck by a grain truck south of Flat Rock. Wayne Petersen, 34, Orland Park, died from his injuries at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana. A second effort to keep David Devin off the November ballot was dismissed by Judge Mark Stanley, Carmi, Under the old law, the objectors had 10 days to file for judicial review. Under a revision that took affect July 7, the number of days was cut in half. The petition for review was filed the 10th day, five days after the deadline.
The death of a local author was investigated as a possible suicide. Jennifer Rardin, 45, Robinson, was pronounced dead July 20 by Crawford County Coroner Earl Deckard. Rardin, an Evansville native who grew up in Casey, was the author of the Jaz Parks series of books. The books tell of the adventures of a CIA operative and her partner, a 300-year-old vampire.
On Sept. 25 the Crawford County Forest Preserve celebrated its grand opening with food, music and a guided tour. The preserve property was donated to the county by Dr. Gus and Eula Schmidt in 1991 so it could be used for public recreational purposes. The doctor has since died and his wife turned possession of the land over to the county in 2008.
The Village of Hutsonville had a library again. The Robinson Public Library District Board agreed to lease a downtown building as a branch library. The building, owned by Mike and Julie Kraemer, is at the corner of Main and Clover streets.
The Heath Harvest Festival and Palestine Wine and Arts Festival closed out the month with cars, candy, wine and Elvis.
Coming Monday: October, November and December highlights.