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Two die in Homer house fire

An early-morning house fire in Homer (IL) Thursday killed two men and seriously injured a husband and wife.
The victims are identified as 25-year-old Ricky Tester and 41-year-old Zach Highfill.

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup said they were living in the single-story house at 307 W. Crittenden Street with Tester's younger brother and his wife.

Homer Fire Chief Don Happ reported the call for help came about 3:25 am. Tim Hester and his wife, Aubrey (Tester) ran across the street to a neighbor's house, waking them to call for help.

Fire Chief Happ lives a few houses away. He was first on the scene. Some 30 firefighters from Homer, Ogden-Royal, St. Joseph-Stanton and Sidney, were on the scene.

Firefighters had the blaze under control in about an hour.

Ricky Tester was found near the front door. Mr. Highfill was found in the bathtub.

Initial thoughts are that the tragedy may have been caused by fire left burning in the fireplace. Happ said the Illinois State Fire Marshal's office is investigating.

Chief Happ said it's unknown if they had a smoke detector.

The chief said one dog died in the fire and two others survived.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Indiana man’s trip to Wyoming comes up short

Police in Jasper County, Indiana say a southern Indiana man is jailed in Rensselaer. 41-year-old Russell Maddex was arrested trying to get to Wyoming to see his girlfriend in a series of stolen vehicles.

Maddex told investigators he was recently released from a southern Indiana prison at Westville and was living in a halfway house at Jeffersonville. He was expelled from there before trying to get to Wyoming.

A theft in progress call to a Remington (IN) truck stop led to a police chase on I-65. Maddex told police his plan was to steal vehicles along the way until he made it to Wyoming.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Momence Police report attempted carjacking

Momence police arrested a man after he attempted to steal a woman's purse and her car Monday. 32-year-old John Guthrie of Bourbonnais was charged with robbery and possession of a controlled substance.

In Kankakee County Court, bond was set at $50,000.

A Momence Police press release stated a woman flagged down an officer just before 2 am. She said she had closed a business and was getting into her vehicle when Guthrie approached her, grabbed her purse and pulled her from her vehicle in an attempt to steal it.

Guthrie fled and was found by police in an alley in the 100 block of East Washington Avenue.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Watseka Unit 9 contemplates not using Woodland Elementary building

The possibility of not using the Woodland Elementary School building next year has stirred comment and discussion. Now – the Unit Nine school board is making it known that a special committee is leaning toward having 4th grade students housed at the Wanda Kendall school in Watseka; while 2nd, 3rd and 5th graders be housed at the Glenn Raymond School in Watseka.

Superintendent Kenny Lee has informed the school board that the special committee has worked long and hard on looking at building utilization within the district.

Maintenance issues and flood damage in recent years at the Woodland school has stirred talk of not using the Woodland building. No formal action was taken.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Kankakee City Council says ‘No’ to Cornerstone Services… problem with the tax base

Cornerstone Services Inc., a nonprofit organization, was denied a conditional use permit by the Kankakee City Council Tuesday. The Council voted 13-0 against Cornerstone, the No vote focusing on the fact the organization – because of nonprofit status – does not pay property taxes.

Fifth-Ward Alderman Tyler Tall tells the Daily-Journal "it's a problem with the tax base, not the organization."

Cornerstone already operates nine properties in Kankakee and does not pay property taxes on any of them, according to the Journal. Cornerstone operates the group homes for the developmentally disabled. This particular location is in the Indian Meadows subdivision – on the far west side of the city.

The necessary conditional use permit is because the subdivision is along Route 113 and zoned single-family dwelling.

Mayor Nina Epstein and other aldermen pointed out, this about paying property taxes – when one property doesn't pay, others have to pick up that cost.

But then comes the issue of the Fair Housing Act – is it a violation ? The D-J reports Cornerstone president and CEO Ben Stortz is questioning discrimination against a certain class of citizens.

94.1 WGFA