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Food drive 'a win for the community'

CENTRALIA — The Centralia Youth Commission and the Gaetti Sports Academy have teamed up to bring some holiday cheer to the community.

The two entities took part in a friendly food drive competition during the first half of November, and on Friday, items collected during the drive were transported to two local food pantries.

Community Development and Planning and Zoning Director Gayla Harting, the city’s advisory staff to the youth commission, said the organization’s youth and adult commissioners were tasked with securing food donations. Cash donations were also accepted and were used to purchase additional food.

In similar fashion, the coaches and kids at the sports academy spent early November spreading the word and seeking contributions.

In the end, Harting said, the commission and GSA each collected enough food to fill the bed of a pickup truck.

“We decided to call it a tie between the two of us and a win for the community,” she said.

Organizers transported one truckload of food to the Wamac Missionary Baptist Church food bank and the other to the Centralia Community Benevolent Association food pantry on Friday.

“They’re always very helpful every year with their contributions,” said CCBA General Manager Marc Profancik. “It serves a lot of hungry people and is very much appreciated.”

Organizers thanked employees from the City of Centralia’s public property department for their assistance with the drive.

Businesses interested in participating in the food drive challenge next year are encouraged to contact Harting.

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Lewis sentenced on armed robbery charge

SALEM — A Salem woman has been sentenced to more than two decades in prison in connection with the robbery of a local fast food restaurant.

Following witness testimony and a statement of allocution from the defendant, Judge Mark Stedelin sentenced Christina N. Lewis, 41, on Friday to 23 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections on a Class X felony count of armed robbery without a firearm. The prison term will be followed by 18 months’ mandatory supervised release.

During an Oct. 4 appearance, Lewis entered a partially negotiated plea to the offense, under which she would ask for no less than 15 years’ imprisonment at sentencing and prosecutors would request no more than 25 years. A second Class X felony count, armed robbery with a firearm, was dismissed under the plea agreement.

Lewis has been represented in the case by Public Defender Craig Griffin.

Lewis was arrested outside of the Salem Wendy’s in October 2021 after she reportedly attempted to rob the restaurant at gunpoint, Salem police said at the time of the incident.

“We received a 911 call ... from a female who stated that she believed Wendy’s was being robbed,” said Salem’s then-police chief, Sean Reynolds. “The employee had observed the manager being followed by a person who had a gun in their hand, so she exited the store and called 911 to report the suspected robbery.”

According to Reynolds, there was an officer nearby, and they were able to arrive on scene quickly to check out the report. Upon arrival, the officer made contact with the suspect, later identified as Lewis, after observing her walking along the back side of the building.

“He ordered her to stop, and on the second command she did stop and he secured her and placed her into custody,” said Reynolds.

A subsequent search of Lewis reportedly found a loaded handgun and cash believed to have been taken during the robbery.

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Two sentenced on meth charges in Clinton County

CARLYLE — Two Centralia residents have each been sentenced to more than a decade in prison on meth-related charges.

According to court records, Joshua N. Phelps, 46, pleaded guilty in Clinton County Court on Nov. 7 to a Class X felony count of possession of 100 to 400 grams of methamphetamine. Phelps was sentenced to 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, with credit for 112 days already served; his prison term will be followed by an 18-month period of mandatory supervised release.

Three other felony counts against Phelps — Class X offenses alleging delivery of 100 to 400 grams of meth and manufacture or delivery of 15 to 100 grams of fentanyl, as well as a Class 4 felony count of possession of a controlled substance — were dismissed under the plea agreement.

Co-defendant Brandon C. McMullin, 36, last Wednesday also pleaded guilty to possessing 100 to 400 grams of meth. As with Phelps, counts against McMullin alleging meth delivery, manufacture or delivery of fentanyl and possession of a controlled substance were dismissed. McMullin also received a 15-year IDOC sentence, to be followed by 18 months’ mandatory supervised release.

Phelps and McMullin were both formally charged on July 27. Phelps has been represented by Public Defender Stewart Freeman, according to court records, while McMullin has been represented by attorney Wesley Gozia.