Trio of Passavant Employees Honored by IL National Guard

Three Passavant Area Hospital employees are being honored by the Illinois National Guard.

Jessica Ford, Karoline Myers, and Shannon Watson were presented with the Patriot Award from the Employer Support division of the National Guard and Reserve in October.

According to an announcement by Passavant today, the Patriot Award is given to a supervisor or manager who makes a special effort to support a working National Guard member including, flexible scheduling, time off before and after deployment, care for families, and, if necessary, leaves of absence.

Tamera Norton, who is a registered nurse in the Passavant transitional care unit made the nominations.

Norton is a sergeant in the Army National Guard, serving as a combat medic for 16 years, including one deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

She is assigned to the Headquarters Company 766th Brigade Engineer Battalion in Decatur and was activated to support state efforts in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Norton says it means a great deal to her that Memorial Health System has leaders who are willing to work with every aspect of the changes associated with activation for duty in the National Guard.

Jessica Ford is Norton’s nursing supervisor in the transitional care unit, and Karoline Myers coordinates scheduling in Nursing Administration. At the time the award was presented, Shannon Watson coordinated scheduling in Human Resources.

Norton says the team of Passavant employees provided a seamless transition that made this particular time less stressful, so she feels it important to recognize those who not only support our soldiers but those who support our communities in the background.

Myers says of Morton, that being willing to jump right in and take an active role in a pandemic is so heroic, and Tamera is always there, ready and willing to serve. She says she is always willing to help and be flexible with Tamera, however, needed.

Ford says it’s an honor to work with Norton, commenting that she shows such great pride in her work, both here at Passavant and with the National Guard.

Winchester Schools Continue Remote Learning for Second Week

Winchester Schools remain in remote learning this week.

Winchester Community School District No. 1 announced Saturday all classes will remain in remote learning this week.

The school district went into full remote learning on Tuesday, January 12th, due to ongoing cases of COVID-19 and continuing quarantines.

On Wednesday the district announced an additional positive case was confirmed in an elementary school staff member, following Monday’s closure announcement when it was confirmed two staff members and three students had active cases of the virus.

Winchester school officials say all close contacts have been notified and informed of the quarantine period.

Winchester schools is also reminding district parents and students there is no school today in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Hot Pockets Recalling Pepperoni Pockets

If you are a parent of teenagers you might want to check your freezer,

Over 762,000 pounds of pepperoni pizza Hot Pockets have been recalled over concerns they could contain pieces of glass and hard plastic.

The recall includes the 54-ounce carton packages containing 12 “Nestlé “Hot Pockets Brand Sandwiches: Premium Pepperoni made with Pork, Chicken & Beef Pizza Garlic Buttery Crust.”

The affected products have a “best before” date of February 2022, and lot codes 0318544624, 0319544614, 0320544614, and 0321544614.

Nestlé Prepared Foods, the parent company said it received complaints about contaminated materials being inside the frozen sandwiches. According to the USDA , one report of an oral injury has been reported after someone ate one of the pepperoni Hot Pockets.

The affected products were produced and shipped to stores nationwide in November 2020. The USDA advises those who own some of these Hot Pockets should not consume them. Instead, they should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Barrett, Pulley Named to Passavant Board of Directors

The Passavant Area Hospital Board of Directors has two new members.

The Passavant Area Hospital Board of Governors recently elected Chris Barrett and Polly Pulley to serve four-year terms on the Board of Directors.

Barrett is division president and senior lender at Petefish, Skiles & Co. Bank in Virginia, Illinois. A native of Chandlerville, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Western Illinois University in Macomb in 2007. He is a graduate of the Community Bankers School in Bloomington and the Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wisconsin. Prior to joining Petefish, Skiles & Co. Bank in 2008, Barrett worked for First Bankers Trust Co. in Macomb and Quincy.

Barrett and his wife, Trista, reside in Virginia. They are the parents of two children, Chase and Jenelle. Barrett also serves as treasurer for the city of Virginia.

Pulley is the pastor of Spirit of Faith Church in Jacksonville and serves as the director of the Spirit of Faith Soup Kitchen. A Chicago native, she came to Jacksonville in 1993. Pulley is mother of a son and grandmother to four grandchildren.

Doug Awe and Kelly Staake were also reelected to serve another term on the board. Awe is the former owner of Arends-Awe Inc. and currently works for Sloan Implement.

Staake is the vice president and chief financial officer at The Farmers State Bank and Trust Company in Jacksonville.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the election and annual business of the Board of Governors was completed via mail.

The Passavant Board of Directors comprises 16 members, who are elected by the Board of Governors. The Board of Governors comprises representatives from 114 churches in the Passavant service area.

COVID Mitigations Relaxed, Still No Indoor Dining

Three of the state’s 11 designated regions are now able to lift a few COVID-19 mitigations, but no indoor dining is allowed yet.

Governor J.B. Pritzker announced today during a virtual COVID-19 update, certain areas of the state can begin to relax COVID mitigation restrictions. He says due to declining numbers, Regions 1, 2, and 5 are dropping from Tier 3 mitigations, the strictest COVID rules, to Tier 2.

Some examples of loosened mitigations in Tier 2 include the return of group fitness classes, the return of lower risk youth and recreational sports, and the reopening of cultural institutions like museums at 25% capacity.”

The Regions moving back to Tier 2 include counties in Northern, North-Central and Southern Illinois. Pritzker says most of the state’s other Regions are on track to move to Tier 2 in the coming days.

Region 3 which encompasses all of the WLDS WEAI listening area, remains under Tier 3 mitigations.

Currently Region 3, has recorded 11 consecutive days under the 12% positivity threshold, currently sitting at 6.5%, and had 8 consecutive days over the 20% threshold for ICU bed availability.

However the availability of medical and surgical beds dipped under the 20% threshold, three day rolling average, keeping our area in a higher level of risk according to IDPH guidelines.

Even those Regions moving to Tier 2 will still not be able to open bars and restaurants to indoor dining however. Previously a Region would need to move out of the Tier mitigation system all together to resume indoor service.

Pritzker said today, due to improving numbers, the mitigation system has been adjusted, with bars and restaurants able to open up for indoor service with limited capacity, once they reach Tier 1.

The trajectory of data in each Region has given Dr. Ezike and IDPH some confidence that a careful and limited reopening of bars and restaurants in Regions that have attained Tier 1 will not lead to a resurgence. So they have altered Tier 1 to allow inddor service in the hospitality industry.

627B (:21) Pritzker 2

A Region moving to Tier 1 would see the cap loosened to allow up to 25 people in gatherings. Bars and restaurants allowed in Tier 1 to reopen to indoor service could have a max of 25 people or 25% capacity per room and no more than four people at each table.

JPD Seeking Help to Identify Suspect in Overnight Theft

Crime Stoppers of Morgan, Scott & Cass Counties are requesting assistance in Identifying the White Male pictured.

The Jacksonville Police Department wishes to speak to him in regards to a theft from a motor vehicle that occurred in the overnight hours of January 14 in the 1000 block of South Clay.

The white male is described as being approximately 6 feet tall and of medium build. He was wearing dark overalls with a bright yellow/black plaid shirt, black hat and gloves.

The police are asking that anyone who has information concerning this incident or any other crimes within the three-county area submit a tip online by going to and clicking the leave a tip button on the home page or calling Crimestoppers at 243-7300.

Crime Stoppers says if your tip leads to an arrest you are eligible for a cash payout.

Tips may also be submitted by texting 274637 (CRIMES). The first word of the text tip must be “payout”.

Bond Set for Wives Connected to Schofield Murder

Bond has been set for two women charged in connection to the murder of a rural Murrayville man.

29 year old Sara M. Schofield of New Berlin and 36 year old Laura C. Acree of Gobbler Road in Murrayville appeared in Morgan County Court Thursday where they were both charged with concealment of a homicidal death and obstructing justice in the investigation of the murder of Schofiled’s husband, 32 year old Robert Schofield.

The other defendant, Laura Acree is the wife of Robert Schofield’s accused murderer, 35 year old Kenneth J. Acree of rural Murrayville.

Robert Schofield’s body was found buried in a field just off of Gobblers Road between Murrayville and Nortonville on October 8th, 2020 after he had gone missing four days earlier on his way home from work.

Kenneth Acree was arrested on October 9th on charges of first degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death.

Bond for Sara Schofield and Laura Acree was set at $10,000 for each defendant yesterday. The two wives were also given a special condition by the court not to have contact with each other.

Morgan County State’s Attorney Gray Noll told the Jacksonville Journal Courier Thursday that it is not unusual for there to be a no-contact order between defendants.

Both women were arrested Thursday morning in connection to the murder. Both have posted bond and were released.

Scott County Tentatively Scheduling COVID Vaccine Clinic

The Scott County Health Department is tentatively scheduling a COVID vaccine clinic.

Health Department officials say pending the department receives it’s next shipment, vaccinations will be scheduled for residents aged 65 and older, as well as those who are at high risk.

The Scott County Health Department is asking that anyone in Scott who has not called to be included on the list should do so by calling the office at 217-742-8203.

Health Department officials say due to the limited amount of vaccine available at this time, immunizations can only be given to those who have registered, there will be no walk in vaccinations at this time.

JBS Seeking Tax Reduction

The largest taxpayer in Cass County is intending to seek a property tax reduction.

Cass County Board Chairman Mike Barnett said during the board’s regular meeting on Monday, he was in formed by a phone call Saturday that JBS intends to file an appeal on it’s annual real estate tax bill. According to a report by the Cass County Star Gazette.

JBS, which is also Cass County’s largest employer, is said to be seeking a nearly 50 percent reduction in their real estate tax bill, which would result in an approximate $250,000 loss in revenue for the county.

According to the Gazette report, Barnett informed the board that the long term impact of such a reduction could be difficult to determine, citing the possibility that JBS could be preparing to launch a multi-million dollar expansion.

Barnett said if such a construction project were taken on by the meat packing corporation, future assessment of the new expansion could reduce the impact of the initial revenue loss.

Barnett said for now he will be contacting each of the governmental taxing bodies that will be hardest hit by the reduction in revenue going forward, which includes both the Beardstown Township and the City of Beardstown, as well as the Beardstown School, Sanitary and Park Districts.

Barnett says while reaching out to the taxing bodies, he will inquire as to if any wishes to join the county in seeking an independent appraisal of the hog slaughtering plant for consideration.

Wives of Murrayville Murder Victim and Accused Murderer Arrested

The wives of both a murder victim and his accused murderer are behind bars in Morgan County at this hour.

Additional arrests were made this morning in the ongoing homicide investigation surrounding the October death of 32 year old Robert Schofield.

On October 8th, Schofield’s body was discovered buried in a field off Gobbler Road in rural Murrayville, after a four day search when he left work at Nestlie in Jacksonville on Sunday October 4th and then disappeared.

One day later, 35 year old Kenneth J. Acree of rural Murrayville was arrested on charges of first degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death.

The wives of both Schofield and Acree were arrested today in connection to murder.

29 year old Sara M. Schofield of New Berlin was booked into the Morgan County Jail at 8:38 am, and 36 year old Laura C. Acree of Gobbler Road in Murrayville was later booked in at 11:35 am, according to a Morgan County Jail Press release. Both women have been charged with concealment of a homicidal death and obstructing justice.

According to a report by the Jacksonville Journal Courier, both Schofield and Acree are accused of concealing Robert Schofield’s death by providing false information to investigators about the details of his death and of his wherabouts as well as other false information pertaining to the homicide investigation.

The women each face anywhere from one to five years in prison if convicted on the felony charges. Concealment of a homicidal death carries a two to five year penalty, and obstructing justice carries one to three years.

On October 12th, Morgan County Coroner Marcy Patterson confirmed Robert Schofield died from multiple gunshot wounds. Kenneth Acree was arraigned in Morgan County Court on October 13th. Acree plead not guilty on three counts of first degree murder and one count of concealment of a homicidal death.

In October, WLDS news reported that according to a Facebook Page attached to Kenneth Acree’s name, he and Robert Schofield are allegedly cousins.