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Council honors retired Centralia firefighter

CENTRALIA — The Centralia City Council on Monday recognized a longtime member of the Centralia Fire Department upon his retirement.

The council honored CFD Lt. Robert D. Smith Jr., who joined the department on Aug. 28, 1995, and retired March 5. Mayor Bryan Kuder presented Smith with a plaque in recognition of his service to the city.

“Thank you, again, from the citizens of Centralia for all your service,” said Kuder.

Smith briefly addressed the council, speaking highly of his time with the fire department.

“I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been an honor and a privilege to work for the city, and it’s just the greatest job in the world,” he said. “I’ve been treated well ... and I’m going to walk out of here healthy, so I think that’s a bonus.”

In other fire department-related action, the council approved a resolution accepting a grant from the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal for small equipment. The $23,664 in grant funding will cover 100% of the cost of six sets of turnout gear for the CFD, according to City Manager W. Kory Smith.

“I’d like to congratulate the fire department on helping write the grant, especially with (Assistant City Manager Derek Sherman’s) help,” he said. “This is pretty exciting for them.”

In other business, the council approved:

  • A resolution waiving bidding requirements and accepting a proposal from Brentwood Industries, Inc. for wastewater treatment plant clarifier maintenance in the amount of $187,600.
  • A resolution approving an agreement with Volkert, Inc., for Phase III engineering services pertaining to Gragg Street road improvements.
  • A bid of $110,218 from T&L Contracting, Inc. for sidewalk and street restoration on North Poplar Street, from Rhodes Street to East McCord Street.
  • A bid of $58,500 from Parks Industries, LLC — the lower of two bids received — for a dump truck for public works and water department use.
  • A bid of $143,400 from Quad County Ready Mix Corp. for concrete materials (1,200 cubic yards of Class SI Portland cement) for 2023 public works maintenance.
  • Bids from Kall Trucking for aggregate materials for 2023 public works maintenance. Kall submitted the lower of two bids for CA-6 ($65,250) and CA7/CA11 ($32,400).
  • A bid of $62,400 from General Contractors, Inc. for bituminous materials (600 tons of bituminous patching mix) for 2023 public works maintenance.
  • A resolution directing the demolition or repair of dilapidated buildings at the following locations: 862 E. Broadway, 903 Howard, 903 N. Beech St., 335 N. Walnut St., 201 N. Walnut St., 1001 Dover St., 524 S. Elm St., 614 S. Elm St., 528 S. Maple St., 515 W. Sixth St., 932 Cormick St., 737 N. Poplar St., 529 S. Sycamore St. and 1021 S. Elm St.
  • Ordinances declaring the following properties as surplus and authorizing the city manager to solicit bids for their sale: 215 W. Third St., 908 N. Elm St., 614 and 614 1/2 S. Pine St., 615 N. Lincoln Blvd. and 825 E. Rexford Ave.
  • An ordinance approving the conveyance of property at 330 Melrose to Centralia High School.
  • A request from the Southern Illinois All-Stars Fishing Club for the use of Centralia Lake for tournaments. The club requested to use the lake every Tuesday evening, beginning April 4 and ending Sept. 5, as well as three Saturdays: March 25, May 20 and July 29.

The council also approved a request from Crooked Creek Winery Downtown for the closure and use of streets and sidewalks for events. The winery requested permission to block off a portion of Broadway from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each Sunday from July 9 through Aug. 20 to accommodate the events as well as setup and cleanup.

Zoe Dodd smiles after receiving a certificate in recognition of her academic achievements during Monday’s Rotary Scholastic Honors program at Centralia High School.

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Sale to benefit CHS Marching Showcase

CENTRALIA — A special yard sale event this weekend will help support the Centralia High School Marching Showcase.

The sale will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 18, in the gymnasium of the CHS Annex building. Admission is $2; children under 5 years old will be admitted free of charge.

Sandi Sipe, CHS Color Guard director, said that as of Monday, 22 people had reserved 10-foot by 10-foot booths in the gym to sell items. The event will be somewhat like a community-wide yard sale, she explained, “but all in one place.”

In addition to the sales, a raffle will be held for tickets to an upcoming St. Louis Cardinals game. A 50/50 drawing is also planned.

“There will be vendors as well,” said Sipe, “but it is primarily a gigantic yard sale.”

Proceeds from the yard sale will assist the CHS Marching Showcase with expenses related to the program. Donations will be accepted at the event.

“This is ... to be able to take care of fees and (everything) that comes with marching,” said Sipe. “It just helps keep us going, so we can continue to represent Centralia with the band.”

As of Monday, there were still a few spaces available to those who want to sell items. Those interested in participating in the sale can contact Sipe at 618-660-0270.

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Fire agencies respond to Waltonville grain bin fire

WALTONVILLE — Fire districts, EMS and other first responding agencies were on the scene of a grain bin fire Monday morning.

Waltonville Fire Protection District Captain Shane Williams confirmed that at around 10 a.m. Monday a call was received of a grain bin fire at the Gateway FS grain facility, located at 314 Hirons St. in Waltonville.

“There was some work performed here on Friday trying to get the grain out of the bin and (we) believe it caused a small fire inside the bin,” Williams said, later adding, “Initially there were a couple thousand gallons of water from what I was told put into the bin to try and knock it down. As of (early Monday afternoon), there is no smoke or anything coming from the bin at this time, however the condition of the grain quality inside the bin and whatnot we are taking that into account to see how much bigger it (the fire) can get once air gets to it.”

As of Monday afternoon, Williams said that the agencies were working to get the grain out of the bin to assess what was still burning and what was not burning.

“The problem is that the bin is about three quarters full and it is burning down at the bottom,” Williams said.

As for the condition of the grain, Williams said that as of Monday afternoon the extent of the damage is unknown.

“At this time it is unknown, right now there is an access hole cut in the top of the bin and that is as far as we have been in right now,” Williams said.

Williams said no one was trapped in the grain bin during the incident and as of Monday afternoon no injuries related to the fire have been reported. The Salem Fire Protection District responded to the scene with grain bin rescue equipment and the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) assisted with a drone. Other fire departments/districts that assisted with the response included Ashley, Benton, Centralia, Coello, Christopher, Ewing Northern, Jefferson County EMA, Jefferson Fire, Kell, Mount Vernon, Odin, Sesser, Wayne, Woodlawn and Valier. The American Red Cross also responded to the scene.

The exact cause of the fire is not known at this time and is being investigated.

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Illinois Treasurer Opens 2023 Photo Contest

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs is encouraging young Illinois photographers to submit photos for the 2023 Cream of the Crop Photo Contest, which offers students a creative way to share their vision of agriculture in our state.

According to a state press release, the treasurer’s office will accept electronic submissions for the contest starting March 22, and the entry deadline is June 12.

“Let’s seek photographs to showcase why Illinois is a leader in the agricultural industry with its rich soil, diversity in products, and millions of acres of farmland,” Frerichs said. “We want to encourage students to grab their cameras, get out, and explore the beauty Illinois has to offer.”

The treasurer’s office is accepting electronic submissions for the Cream of the Crop Photo Contest at Top photographs will be chosen in three age-based categories: ages 8-10, 11-14 and 15-18. Each student may submit up to two photos by June 12, 2023.

Now in its 11th year, the photo contest offers Illinois students an opportunity to showcase their most innovative or scenic pictures that depict their vision of agriculture in our state. More than 500 students have participated in the contest since it debuted in 2013, and they have submitted nearly 1,000 photos.

The “Cream of the Crop Photo Contest” is part of the Illinois State Treasurer’s Ag Invest program. Winning photos will be featured in Ag Invest marketing material and next year’s Cream of the Crop calendar, as well as at the 2023 Illinois State Fair.

Ag Invest is one of the nation’s largest agricultural linked deposit programs, celebrating 40 years in 2023. It helps hundreds of Illinois farmers and agriculture professionals. The treasurer’s office, through Ag Invest, partners with eligible financial institutions to offer farmers and ag businesses annual and long-term, low-interest loans which can be used for operating costs, equipment purchases, construction-related expenses and livestock purchases.

To read the rules, terms, and legal conditions associated with this contest, visit or contact Teri Whitfield at (217) 900-0075.

As Illinois State Treasurer, Frerichs is the state’s Chief Investment and Banking Officer and actively manages approximately $52 billion. The portfolio includes $26 billion in state funds, $17 billion in retirement and college savings plans and $9 billion on behalf of local and state governments. Frerichs’ office protects consumers by safeguarding more than $3.5 billion in unclaimed property, encouraging savings plans for college or trade school, increasing financial education among all ages, assisting people with disabilities to save without losing government benefits, and removing barriers to a secure retirement. The Treasurer’s Office pre-dates Illinois’ incorporation in 1818. Voters in 1848 chose to make it an elected office, the press release states.