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South Central Grade School has been selected as one of only a dozen rural schools across the country for a federal literacy grant.  Principal Kerry Herdes and teacher Misty Ford recently returned from an expense paid trip to Washington D.C. to learn about the program.

"The education grant is financed by the federal government and it's going to provide a lot of valuable resources--put books in the hands of our kids and add staff development," said Herdes.

Herdes says the grant is for the pre-kindergarten to third grade levels.   He expects the grant to be for two years.   It could be available as soon as next school year.  The dollar amount has not yet been announced.  

Mulberry Grove is receiving the same grant.  

The Bond-Effingham-Fayette County Regional Office of Education submitted the school district's for consideration.

A 19-year-old Centralia man already facing federal burglary and weapons charges has now been indicted on the same charges by a Federal Grand Jury.  

The four count federal indictment against Dakota Moss is for the November 29th burglary of the Buchheit of Centralia Farm and Home Supply Store and stealing 30 guns.  The charges are for stealing firearms from a federal licensed firearm dealer, possession of stolen firearms, being a felon in possession of firearms and with carry and use of a firearm during a crime of violence.  

Centralia Police and agents from the ATF identified the suspects soon after the burglary and have recovered 37 of the 39 stolen guns.  Anyone with knowledge of the remaining stolen firearms or the ammunition is encouraged to call law enforcement.    

Moss and a juvenile are accused of entering the Buchheit store on three occasions the night of the burglary and reportedly had plans to shoot anyone who interrupted the burglary, including police.

The Centralia High School Alumni Association has a new way for alumni and donors to help out with projects at the school. An ongoing capital fund has been opened that will allow donors to pitch in for various projects at the school. Principal Reid Shipley told the board that the money would be used mostly for "extras".

"We would like to help with the extras. That's where we're coming from with the alumni association. Additional things that just may not have been included, or were left out," said Shipley.

Shipley emphasized that the projects won't just be used for sports. Any project at the high school could benefit from the capital fund, ranging from new shelves in the library to new tennis courts.

Alumni received a letter this week, detailing the new initiative. Board member Mike Sutherland assured those in attendance that the fund was not started because of a deficiency in the school's football field project fund, which is actually coming in under budget.

Donation information can be found online at www.chsalumniassociation.org.

One of the four candidates for Mayor of Salem has dropped out of the race.  

Mark Decker says when he first considered running for mayor he fully believed he could devote the necessary attention both to Salem to his duties in state government, as a staffer for Representative John Cavaletto.  

Decker said since that time, he has become busier than anticipated as a new administration prepares to take office in Springfield and now foresees only an escalation of those responsibilities.  

Decker notes working for economic development and a safe, vibrant community is no laughing matter.  He calls it an honor and obligation that takes a committed and serious person to be the number one ambassador and advocate for the community.  Decker adds no mayor with Salem's best interests in mind would put himself in a position to shortchange his duties.  

Consequently, he has regretfully withdrawn as a candidate for Mayor of Salem.  Decker says he will continue to serve his hometown as a member of the Salem Zoning Board of Appeals, by doing volunteer work with the upcoming Lincoln Day Dinner and through various community activities.  

The race for Salem's top seat is now three way: Rex Barbee, Joe Hotze, and Sarah Boyles will be on your ballot for the April 7th election.

Centralia High School's Tax Levy for the year 2015 is one of the lowest in school history.

"We're asking for 0.99%...it's not so much that we don't need the money, we just know we aren't going to get it," said Centralia Superintendent Chuck Lane.

The 0.99% tax levy is due to a decrease of about $90,000 in the levy for the schools Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. Other funds had slight increases. The levy is well below the 5% threshold that would require a truth in taxation hearing. The levy was passed, after a month of public display, at a Thursday Board Meeting.

11 students at the school were approved for early graduation during the meeting, having met graduation requirements.

The board accepted resignation letters from Social Studies Teacher Sarah Gordon and assistant bowling coach Yancy Goodin. They employed Chase Alcorn as volunteer assistant boy's basketball coach.

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