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From left to right: Miss Illinois County Fair Queen Summer Robbins, First Runner-Up Charli Decker, Miss Marion County Fair 2013 Lacey Honaker, Newly Crowned Marion County Fair Queen 2014 Morgan Belcher, Second Runner-Up Becky Black, and Miss Congeniality Emily Downs.


Marion County has a new 2014 County Fair Queen, and it's Morgan Belcher of Vernon.

The stands were packed for the Marion County Fair Queen Pageant, where nine girls competed to win the crown of outgoing 2013 Fair Queen Lacey Honaker.

The girls competed in individual interview, swimwear, and evening wear competition in front of a panel of judges to determine who would get to wear the crown, and while each girl was impressive, it was Morgan Belcher who came out wearing the sash and crown.

"I'm overcome with happiness, this has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. I feel very blessed" said Belcher after she was crowned.

Describing herself as a "relaxed" girl who "goes with the flow", Belcher is the 20 year old Daughter of Greg Belcher and Denise Forehand. She graduated from Kaskaskia College in the Spring and plans to transfer to Greenville College to major in Elementary Education in the Fall.

First Runner Up was Charli Decker of Salem, Second Runner Up was Becky Black of Salem, and the Miss Congeniality Award went to Emily Downs, also of Salem.

The audience included visiting fair queens from Clinton, Effingham, Monroe, Richland, Clay, Fayette, Jasper, and Perry Counties, and most notably Miss Illinois County Fair Queen herself, Summer Robbins of Coffeen in Montgomery County. Robbins says Belcher will be a fantastic ambassador for Marion County.

"She's a beautiful person" said Robbins, "Inside and out."

The fair continues this week with the Rodeo on Wednesday, the Drew Baldridge concert on Thursday, the Demolition Derby on Friday, the NTPA tractor pull on Saturday and the Horse Pull on Sunday afternoon.


Salem Has Interim Police Chief

Salem has an interim police chief.  

Sergeant Susan Miller will hold the position until a new chief is hired to replace retired Police Chief Ron Campo who left the position as of four Monday afternoon.  City Manager Bill Gruen says August 22nd is the deadline for applicants to apply for the chief's position.  He wants to move quickly to review the resumes and make a decision on a permanent chief. Miller will be a candidate and has been recommended by Campo to be his replacement.  

Miller has been instructed to not make any major changes during the interim period and will concentrate on everyday management. She will also be involved in getting the city's new animal pound ready to open.  

Miller adds being the first female interim police chief to a long list of firsts for the department.  She was the first female police officer when she began her law enforcement career at the Salem Police Department in June 1996.  She was also the department's first community resource officer and administrative sergeant.   

Police work runs in her family.  She is the daughter of retired Centralia Police Lieutenant Bruce Humphrey and is married to retired state trooper Greg Miller.     


Those bone shaking, car rattling trips on Illinois Route 161 near the Interstate 57 interchange may soon come to an end.  

State Senator Kyle McCarter has announced the Illinois Department of Transportation will open bids on the project on Friday, August 1st.  The estimated cost of resurfacing the nearly 1.5-miles of Route 161 from west of Interstate 57 to Illinois Route 37 is expected to cost about $900,000.  Once the bids are opened, it usual takes about 45 days before contracts are awarded.   

The pavement has fallen into serious disrepair over the past few years and several attempts at patching have left the road with a very rough surface. 


4H Show Winners Announced

The Marion County 4-H members continued their 4-H shows at the Marion County Fair on Monday evening with the 4-H Rabbit, 4-H Poultry, and 4-H Crops Shows.

Here are the winners: 
 
Rabbit:

  • Grand Champion Market Pen - Katie Shumate of Kinmundy
  • Reserve Grand Champion Market Pen - Travis Nattier of Patoka
  • Grand Champion Rabbit - Katie Shumate
  • Reserve Champion Rabbit - Cassie Bailey of Salem
  • Senior Showmanship - Summer Purcell of Alma
  • Reserve Senior Showmanship - Hannah Garner of Patoka
  • Junior Showmanship - Olivia Ranaud of Walnut Hill
  • Reserve Junior Showmanship - Makayla Karrick of Patoka
 Poultry:
  • Grand Champion Poultry - Jacob Hanks of Iuka
  • Reserve Grand Champion Poultry - River Altom of Centralia
  • Grand Champion Market Pen - Adrianna Gillett of Kinmundy
  • Reserve Champion Market Pen - Olivia Wilkins of Iuka
  • Senior Showmanship - Wyatt Reich of Dix
  •  Junior Showmanship - Rachel Neubauer of Kell

Crops:
  •  Senior Champion - Blake Hayes of Kell
  •  Intermediate Champion - Jacob Hanks of Iuka
  •  Junior Champion - Blaze Courson of Kinmundy
  •  State Fair Delegates - Blake Hayes of Kell and Jonathan McConnaughhay of Iuka
 
Marion County 4-H activities continue this evening the 4-H Carcass Show at Farina Locker Service in Farina at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening will be a big evening for Marion County 4-H livestock exhibitors as the Youth Livestock Auction will begin at 6 p.m.


Washington County has its first indication West Nile virus is in the area.  A mosquito sample taken on July 22nd in Ashley has tested positive for the virus.  

The number of positive tests statewide is down considerably this year, most likely as a result of the cool, wet summer weather.  

Illinois Department of Public Health Spokesman Melaney Arnold says a year ago 4 percent of the mosquitoes trapped in counties around the state carried West Nile. At this point in 2012 that figure was 14 percent. But this year it's just 1 percent.

University of Illinois Extension Entomologist Phil Nixon says there are plenty of mosquitoes around. But most aren't the Culex mosquitoes that transmit the virus.  But a run of hot, dry weather that favors Culex could increase their numbers.

The drought of 2012 is believed to have led to the high populations.






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