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Former Newton County, IN bank president indicted

The former bank president of a Newton County facility is facing charges of defrauding his former workplace out of more than $6 million.

46-year-old Mark Warne of Brook faces 14-counts in the indictment. Ten counts are for bank fraud and four for identity theft.

The indictment, filed in federal court, is alleging Warne used a scheme to defraud the Community State Bank while he was president.

Prosecutors claim Warne concealed fraudulent loans from the bank's Board of Directors by falsifying records of board meetings.

94.1 WGFA

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Wind turbines help fuel Milford school building project >

Wind energy in the news --- high-voltage lines will boost wind farms in the Midwest, an Illinois jail is hoping to use wind turbine for power, and the Milford school building project in Iroquois County gains revenue from wind turbines.

NIPSCO is involved in constructing two high-voltage power lines that reports say could be key links to shipping electricity from Midwest wind farms to East Coast markets.

Construction should begin in early spring on a 100-mile line from Reynolds, in White County, to Topeka in LaGrange County.

Officials in a northern Illinois county hope to install a 120-foot wind turbine in an effort to cut electricity costs by 40 – 70 percent.

Stephenson County Sheriff Dave Snyders and jail administrator Dean Schroeder have partnered with Highland Community College's Wind Turbine Technology department on the project. The jail spends about $108,000 annually on electricity. Officials say the turbine could save $65,000 a year.

And -- the Iroquois County school district (MAPS 124) finds a good chunk of its $17.5 million construction project is aided by a wind farm in the district's eastern section.

School Board President Mary Ronna said the wind farm has been very, very beneficial. "It's been a boon for the school district and the area of the county; I have good feelings about the benefits the turbines have given us."

The school board supporters back the wind farm. They point to governmental bodies like park districts, the library board, and road & bridge projects that have gained revenues for improvements – without chasing taxpayers for more money.

MAPS Superintendent Dale Hastings says that additional wind farm revenue is a proven-boost for economic gains.

"Other school districts have shown great strides with projects like wind farms and economic developments from retail sales taxes," Hastings said. "Those districts and counties have forward-thinking people that see the benefits. They're not asking people to increase taxes, they're actually reducing them by using other sources."

94.1 WGFA

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15-year prison term for Cissna Park DUI offender

An 8-time DUI offender was sentenced to a 15-year prison term Thursday in Iroquois Circuit Court.  60-year-old Rodney Hamrick of Cissna Park was convicted by an Iroquois County jury last October for aggravated driving under the influence.  Judge Gordon Lustfeldt imposed the sentence.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant State's Attorney Kara Macz.  Hamrick was represented by attorney Ron Boyer.

The case stems from Hamrick's 2009 arrest when he ran through a construction zone near Cissna Park, damaging equipment and puting work crews at serious risk of injury. Construction crews were among those who testified for the state during the trial.

Hamrick fled the area after posting bond in the case. He was absent for six years, until he was arrested at his mother's home in Cissna Park.  During his absence, Hamrick also had DUI cases against him in Indiana and Kentucky.  

Hamrick was facing between 6-30 years due to his extensive record.  The state requested the court impose a 20-year term.

94.1 WGFA



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Pembroke Township man accused of rape

Bond is set at $150,000 for a Pembroke Township man arrested for the rape of an underage relative.

42-year-old Willie Nichols Jr. is accused of impregnating the relative. He was arrested by a U.S. Marshal's Service Task Force and Kankakee Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group agents. Sheriff's police in Kankakee County assisted.
Nichols is charged with two counts of criminal sexual assault.

The alleged assault took place two years ago.

94.1 WGFA

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Earl Park house fire sparked by explosion

Electrical service in Earl Park, Indiana is back on today (Friday) after what was reported as an 'explosion' last night left about one-third of the town without power.

Four fire departments answered a call around 8:30 pm to a house fire at 4th and Locust Streets. Initial reports indicated a transformer blew out. Firemen found the house in flames. Neighboring properties were spared any damage.

The exact cause was unknown. Firemen were monitoring the site overnight.

The four departments responding Earl Park, Boswell, Fowler and Kentland.

94.1 WGFA