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Damondros Jones

A 21 year old Mt. Vernon man pled guilty to a 2011 murder in Jefferson County Court on Friday.

Damondros Q. James will spend the next 20 to 60 years in prison, following the plea. He admitted involvement in the shooting death of Charles Ellis in May of 2011. Because the charge is First Degree Murder, he will be required to serve 100% of his sentence.

As a part of his plea agreement, James agreed to testify at the trials of his co-defendents, Demandre Black, Mark Taylor, and Christopher Wells. Wells has also pled guilty.

A Mt. Vernon man is dead after his car collided with a semi-truck on State Route 127 in Washington County, near Nashville.

Washington County Coroner Mark Styninger pronounced 52 year old George O. Philips dead on the scene at 7:16 Friday morning, about 10 minutes after the accident that took his life.

Phillips was on his way to work, just blocks away at Republic of Tea, when his vehicle crossed the center line and struck the semi-truck head-on near Enterprise Avenue and Mockingbird Road.  

Illinois State Police are still investigating the accident.

Salem High School students will be able to complete the necessary class work starting next year to be qualified to take the certified nursing assistant test.  Superintendent Brad Detering presented the proposed course change along with several others at the Thursday night school board meeting.

"The medical terminology class is a prerequisite into the Nursing Assistant class, [through] which students can obtain dual credit through Kaskaskia, and possibly get their state certificate," said Detering.

Detering says there will also be changes in english classes qualifying for dual credit through Kaskaskia College.  

"Dual credit courses are only going to be offered at the senior level, in the honors classes. Students who have been going through the regular track will have the ability to move into the honors track depending on their ACT scores or their Access-Compass Test, administered through KC," said Detering.

Detering says that change was made because there are fewer teachers in the English department accredited to teach dual credit as a result of recent retirements.   He notes all teachers are currently on overload as the district holds off on replacing an English teacher until future school finances become more clear.  

The board passed it's annual tax levy.  It is 4.9-percent higher than this year's collections, but Detering expects to only get 2.85-percent more due to tax caps.  He reports that would generate about $88,000 in new revenue and would cost the owner of a $90,000 home about $5.31 more a year.

Attendance in November was at nearly 95%.  Principal John Boles feels the new policy allowing freshmen and sophomores to skip semester exams if they have perfect attendance is having the desired effect of improving attendance.   

Several groups were commended for their work to assist the less fortunate this holiday season.  The Peer Helpers and Student Council raised $1,600 and Salem FFA $1,200 to purchase and wrap gifts for those they assisted through the Adopt a Family program.  The Volunteer Club gave make overs to students selected from the feeder grade schools.  

The board accepted the the resignation of athletic and media center secretary Joann Dawson effective December 23rd.  Julie Kohrig was hired to take her place.  The board accepted the resignation of Julie Phillips as a special education aide.  Angie Cannon was hired to replace her.  

The Bleachers, under construction during the fall.

The bleachers are up at Centralia High School's new football stadium on the High School Campus.

Superintendent Chuck Lane updated the school board on the progress with the new iteration of Evers Field. The final price of the bleachers came in at around $576,000 of the district's $2 million budget. Ground has yet to be broken on the locker room/office/concession stand building, which is expected to come in under budget.

"We projected it to come in at $1.2 million, [our architect] said it would come in at $1.4 million, and it came in at $1 million and 80 thousand," said Lane.

After the purchase of the lights, which will cost about $213,000 with more than half covered by a state lighting grant, Lane hopes there will be enough money in the budget to erect a fence around the stadium.

A few corrections need to be made to the bleachers, but they should be ready in time for Track Season.

Derek Nardone

Another man is in jail following the latest in a slew of raids on suspected methamphetamine manufacturers in Mt. Vernon. 

43 year old Derek Nardone of 23rd Street in Mt. Vernon was arrested after a search warrant was executed on his residence. Mt. Vernon Police and deputies from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department found methamphetamine was being manufactured inside of Nardone's home.

Nardone was arrested and housed at the Jefferson County Justice Center with bond to be set on charges of Unlawful Disposal of Meth Manufacturing Waste, Meth Manufacturing, and Possession of Drug Equipment.

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