WJBD - Local News

WJBD Radio



Salem Police Canine Officer Dustin Duncan with partner 'Freddie' outside his specially equipped canine squad car.

Salem's new canine officer Dustin Duncan with his partner 'Freddie'.

The Salem Police Department has a new member....Freddie.  The department's first canine in ten years has been assigned his own badge number as he takes to the streets of Salem this week with Officer Dustin Duncan.  Duncan has just returned from six weeks of training with the dog at Top Dogs Police K9 Kennel in Evansville, Indiana.   He says the dog is trained in narcotic detection, suspect apprehension, tracking and article searches.  Duncan pushed for the canine unit.

"I presented it to the chief and some other people and I said we could seize a million dollars tomorrow and that dog would pay for itself."  

He added, "The dogs ability to find and track a missing person and maybe ultimately save someone's life is irreplaceable.  To have that capability and availability of that dog, there's no other way to do that."

And Duncan says 'Freddie' will give the Salem Police Department new tools to fight drugs.

"Exterior sniffs of vehicles if that situation presents itself and all the criteria is met.  We don't have to go to a judge or the prosecutor to request a warrant to enter the vehicle and such."  

Duncan says, "We can actually do an exterior sniff of the vehicle and through training and different things we can tell when a dog gives a positive alert on that vehicle for the odor of narcotics."

Duncan says the training is completed through lots of repetition.  

Salem Police Chief Sean Reynolds made adding the canine one of his top priorities when becoming chief.

"Ultimately it's not just having a good dog, but it's having a good handler.  I will say that Captain John Haller, retired from Edwardsville PD who's in charge of the Top Dogs Training Academy, gave very high praise of officer Duncan.  Said specifically if he was putting together a team of officers, he would want officer Duncan on that team."  

Reynolds added, "You get that kind of praise from someone in his capacity that's saying a lot.  I think the community will be very proud of the dog, the handler and the results."

Reynolds believes the city's drug fund, which is fueled by drug seizures, will now be able to pay the entire $27,500 cost of the dog, training, and other expenses.  

Duncan will work a flexible schedule, putting the dog on the street at various times of the day.  When not on duty, Freddie will live in a kennel at Duncan's home. 

The Salem Recreation Board held an informal meeting Monday night to discuss the possibility of the YMCA coming in to Salem to help run recreational programs that have been run by the city for years.  Executive Director Dominic Santomassimo spoke with the board about a number of things from procedures, goals, to core values in an effort to combine the Recreation Director's position left by retiring Sherri Daniels and the current Marion County YMCA Program Director Jed Casburn.

City Manager Bill Gruen and Santomassimo have been in talks for some time about combining the positions and splitting the cost incurred for Casburn's services.  Santomassimo emphasized that sports is what the YMCA does well, and this agreement, if approved, would allow the city to free up resources for other important items.

"The YMCA has founded several sports so working with youth and running sports is kind of our bread and butter.  So I think we can come bring some of that expertise.  And rather than try to do city do these programs and the Y doing these programs, if we can just create a synergy it would allow the city to spend it's time on some of the issues that it has."      

Santomassimo added that the YMCA was not interested in bringing in people from outside the area to run these programs and would like to have local volunteers help lead the way in the various programs.    

The aforementioned agreement would be a one-year agreement at first with the YMCA also taking over the operation of the Salem Aquatics Center, something the city approached the YMCA about.  Gruen explained that after the one-year agreement, the YMCA would take on a more leadership role, but still have the input from city appointed representatives to their Board of Managers to help implement policy and oversight.  

"The YMCA is here, and they do recreational programming by nature.  We don't necessarily need two organizations, the YMCA and the city be responsible for offering programming in the city."

Gruen added, "If we can set this up the way that we've envisioned, its that we maintain the level of service that we've established through the city... youth soccer, men's softball, Christmas in my Hometown, Family Day in the park....all those things we still want to exist and we want the YMCA to implement."

The recreation board expressed their interest in pursuing the agreement following review of their policies and by-laws that Santomassimo said he would be forwarding on to them soon.  

The agreement would still need to be approved by the City Council, but before that Gruen wants to hold a public hearing for input and to have questions and concerns expressed by the community answered by Santomassimo.  That hearing will be scheduled at a later date.

Motorists can expect to see extra police patrols on Illinois roads over the Thanksgiving Holiday.

The beefed up enforcement will include hundreds of seatbelt safety checks and more cops on the roads looking for drunk drivers. Illinois Department of Transportation spokesperson Gianna Urgo says this can be a deadly time of year.

"During last year's Thanksgiving holiday travel period 15 people died in traffic crashes on Illinois roads and 840 were injured.  The goal for this Thanksgiving is simple, reducing those numbers by encouraging every motorist to buckle up and drive sober."

Urgo says this is a push to keep traffic fatalities down as 2015 comes to a close. So far this year, 881 people have died on illinois roads.  That is about five percent more than last year.

Centralia High School Superintendent Chuck Lane is now pushing for the new football stadium building to be completed in time for track season.  He reports work is once again underway on the building now that the football season is over.

"It's basically punch list items.  However we do have a couple of large ones.  There's an issue with some of the drywall not being mold resistant.  Obviously for a school we have to have that righted."  

He added, "Some of the drains in some of the rooms are a little bit high and needed to be grinded down and the floors still need to be sealed.  Those are the main ones that are gonna take the most length of time.  There are several other minor things that they can get done fairly quickly."

Lane believes the contractor never read the specifications of the project.  The building was originally supposed to be completed by late summer in time for football season.

The Centralia High School Board passed its annual levy.  It is 1.81 percent higher than last year's property tax collections, but Lane expects to see an actual increase of around one percent.  He notes the levy is actually smaller than the one approved last year.  

The board was told there was no audit findings.  

The Centralia High School Christmas Concert will be at seven pm on December 10th.  

In personnel news, the board hired Ernie Johnson as fulltime custodian and Todd Bauer as head baseball coach. 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Rare coins, a 10-ounce bar of gold and vintage baseball cards are among the thousands of items of unclaimed property that will soon be available for purchase from the Illinois treasurer's office.

The five-day online auction begins Monday, but prospective buyers can preview the 8,000 items for sale at www.illinoistreasurer.gov 

The state treasurer is the custodian of unclaimed property such as forgotten safe deposit boxes and lost bank accounts.  Auction items have been in the state's possession for at least 10 years. Proceeds from the sale are held until the rightful owners are identified.

Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs' office says the auction items are collectively worth $70,000.  The sale includes a 1967 Mickey Mantle Topps baseball card and a 1966 Sandy Koufax Topps card. 

Welcome to Our New Website

Same WJBD but with more content than ever before. We will have more features up and running in no time.

Follow Us At


This Site logo