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Ultralight plane crashes
Pilot receives serious but not life-threatening injuries

An ultralight aircraft crashed near the Farmington Regional Airport and new solar farm on Wednesday.

Corporal Juston Wheetley with the Missouri State Highway Patrol said the call came in Wednesday afternoon for the emergency.

“We received a call around 3:40 (p.m.) for a plane crash near the airport,” he said. “When first responders arrived on scene, they described an ultralight aircraft had crashed.”

According to Wheetley, witnesses reported seeing the aircraft flying around the area of the airport and appeared as if the pilot lost control, describing the plane as pitching to the side and going straight down into the ground.

Wheetley also said witnesses reported seeing the pilot, a 46-year-old Farmington man, crawl from the aircraft.

The pilot was airlifted to Mercy St. Louis by Air Evac. Wheetley said it was reported he received serious injuries, but they do not appear to be life-threatening.

“He was alert and conscious at the scene,” Wheetley said.

Also responding were the Farmington Police Department, along with crews from the Farmington Fire Department, Big River Fire and Desloge Fire Department along with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.


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Not too cold for a 'luau'

The Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce held their 38th Annual Bonne Terre Christmas Parade Wednesday night and people lined the streets.

This year’s theme was “Christmas Luau” and the chamber encouraged those participating to bring their furry friends. There were dogs clad in costumes and even a pig. The parade included several floats, cheerleaders, scouting groups, fire departments, many area businesses as well as Santa and Mrs. Claus atop the chamber's float.

Bonne Terre Chamber Executive Director Ron Allen said the annual parade and turnout was amazing despite having to postpone it from Monday to Wednesday due to a chance of bad weather. 

“There was a nice turnout and it was a great day,” said Allen. “It was a little cool, but hey it’s December, it’s supposed to be cool."

Allen said some people dropped out of the parade due to it being postponed but then some others were added. He said they lost seven or eight entries, but they also gained seven or eight entries at the last minute. He said it was a fantastic turnout.

“They thought they had lost the band, but they ended up with the drumline to come in from North County,” said Allen. “We ended up with more than 50 entries. We had 38 check-ins, but that doesn’t include fire departments, ambulances, boy scouts or girl scouts.”

Allen said everybody seemed to be having a good time with this year’s theme and he feels it was an amazing pick.

“The grass skirts and the palm trees were great and you got to see a little bit of everything,” said Allen. “If you missed it, I hate it, because it was really good. People were calling about the rain and I think they were grateful we waited.”

Allen added it was a beautiful and what one would expect for a Christmas parade. It was cool and crisp, but nice and clear.

Allen added Dave Bahr and Brian Boyer took the lead on the parade, but they got a lot of help along the way. He said there are a lot of people to thank, but those two guys make sure everything gets done.

This year was a little different with the winners. The first place winner for best float this year was Bryant Restorations and they won a cash prize of $200. Stems Florist and Walgreens tied for second place and will split the remaining winnings. There was no third place winner.


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Crews battle afternoon fire

Emergency crews were dispatched to a house fire at about 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Farmington Fire Department responded to the call at 506 W. Liberty St. at 3:07 p.m. to a two-story home near the intersection of West Liberty and Potosi Streets.

According to Farmington Fire Chief Todd Mecey, fire damage was confined to two rooms on the first floor of the home. Smoke and heat damage occurred throughout the home.

Mecey said he believes no one was home at the time of the fire. The cause of the fire was ruled to be accidental-electrical.

Traffic was diverted on both Potosi Street and West Liberty Street while crews battled the fire.

Assisting Farmington were the Doe Run and Park Hills Fire Departments. Big River and Desloge Fire Department moved up to the Farmington fire house and were dispatched when the call came in about 40 minutes later for the ultralight airplane crash at the airport.


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Send your Letters to Santa

Christmas is drawing ever nearer, a fact made more and more clear as temperatures continue to fall and holiday spirit continues to rise. For many, there is a seemingly never-ending list of things to get done before Dec. 25 but one stands out as surely the most important: getting your letter delivered to Santa Claus.

The Daily Journal will again be publishing “Letters to Santa,” with area children being encouraged to submit their letters to us before our staff passes the correspondence along to Old St. Nick.

There are several ways for parents to submit their children’s letters, including paper and electronic submission. Parents can either use the form available in the print edition of the Daily Journal, or can send it directly at www.dailyjournalonline.com/letters/santa.

The letters can be dropped off at the front desk of the Park Hills Daily Journal office, located at 1513 St. Joe Drive, at the Democrat News office located at 131 S. Main Street in Fredericktown, at the Farmington Press office at 227 E. Columbia Street or at a special mailbox inside Farmington Schnuck’s.

Letters can also be submitted electronically at the above URL, emailed to hbuikema@dailyjournalonline.com or mailed to:

North Pole, c/o Daily Journal, P.O. Box 9, Park Hills, MO 63601

Letters mailed must be sent by Dec. 8 to be included in “Letters to Santa," while physically delivered letters must be submitted by Dec. 15.

The first series of “Letters to Santa” will appear in the Dec. 16 edition of the Daily Journal and continue on Dec. 19-20, provided there are enough letters.

“Letters to Santa” are printed as originally written by the submitting children, with no spelling corrections or editing from Daily Journal staff.

Whether you know a child who has submitted a letter to Santa or not, be sure to pick up these special editions of the Daily Journal anywhere the newspaper is sold or online at www.dailyjournalonline.com.


Shawnna Robinson, Daily Journal 

Emergency personnel work around the scene of an ultralight aircraft crash on Wednesday. A 46-year-old Farmington man was airlifted to Mercy St. Louis by Air Evac for serious injuries. The injuries are reported to not be life-threatening.


Shawnna Robinson, Daily Journal 

Crews from Farmington Fire Department, Doe Run Fire Department and Park Hills Fire Department respond to a house fire around 3 p.m. Wednesday at a home in the 500 block of West Liberty Street in Farmington. Crews were still on the scene of the fire when the call came in for the ultralight plane crash near the Farmington Regional Airport.

View additional photos at dailyjournalonline.com 


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Burgess faces new charge

An area business man was indicted on a felony charge following a lawsuit on the matter earlier this year.

Matthew Burgess, 33, of Farmington, is being charged with a class A felony of financial exploitation of the elderly.

According to a probable cause statement, on June 14 the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services received a request from St. Francois County Missouri Division of Senior and Disability Services to investigate the financial exploitation of Emma Wessel, an elderly resident of Farmington who recently won a lawsuit against Burgess.

The initial report said Wessel entered into a contractual agreement with Burgess and Zachary Govreau of MB Land Company for the construction of a home in 2016. Wessel paid the full purchase of the home prior to its construction and construction was never completed.

On Sept. 20 an investigation supervisor with the Special Investigation Unit met with Wessel at her residence. During an interview she told the investigator she was the caregiver for her brother, who is a disabled veteran. Because of his medical conditions he was facing the possibility of having to become a resident of an assisted living facility.

Her brother asked if she would be willing to sell her current home to buy or build a home large enough to accommodate the both of them, as well as daily caregivers that would be attending to him. Wessel agreed to do so and the both of them agreed to fund the new home from an annuity held by her brother.

The report said in February 2016 sometime after seeing a model home in the St. Francois County subdivision of the “Highlands” she called the number displayed for the contracting company. After leaving a message she was later contacted by Govreau, a project manager with Journey Home Builders, a division of MB Land Company, and an appointment was scheduled to discuss having them build a home for her in the subdivision.

Govreau told Wessel that the owner of MB Land Company was Burgess, and that his father had been in the construction business locally for many years. Wessel was familiar with the Burgess family name and knew they had a good reputation in the community.

On March 21, 2016, she met with Govreau at MB Land Company’s office located in Farmington and signed a contract for the construction of her new home. At this meeting, per the agreement, she gave Govreau a check for $3,000 as a deposit and the construction was to begin soon thereafter, with an expected completion date of three months.

Total contract cost for the completed home, not including the down payment, was to be $218,547. The home was to be built on Lot 12 off Wolf Creek Drive and the contract said it was owned by MB Land Company and a written purchase agreement was executed.

Wessel told Govreau that she would be paying the full amount at closing and that she would be setting up an escrow account to fund the project. She was told by Govreau that they set up their own account and unless she didn’t trust them, they could handle the funds.

Wessel didn’t think this was unusual and because she was dealing with her brother’s medical issues she thought it would be easier to let them handle the escrow account. On April 20, 2016 she wrote MB Land Company a check for $218,547, which was to fund the escrow account.

Progress on the home was slow and she barely ever saw any workers on the job site. In August 2016 she was becoming very concerned about the project. After voicing her concerns to Govreau she was told a new target “move-in date” would be October 31, 2016.

When the home still wasn’t completed by that date Wessel went to MB Land Company’s office and asked for someone to call her about the project. She received a call from Burgess advising he was giving her his personal word that her home would be done within the next two weeks.

Prior to Wessel making a personal appearance at Burgess’s office Govreau had told her they were waiting on a delivery of cabinets from the local Hoods store to continue completion of the home. Wessel called Hoods and they told her they had not received payment for the cabinets and they would not be delivered until the payment was received.

The next two weeks passed with no communication from either Burgess or Govreau, at which time she contacted an attorney. A civil case was filed against Burgess, Govreau and MB Land Company and as part of the civil proceedings MB Land Company’s bank records were subpoenaed.

Upon receiving the records, it was discovered that MB Land Company’s escrow account was never funded and Wessel’s check was deposited into an MB Land Company business account. All of the money was gone within eight days of her check being deposited.

It was also discovered during the civil proceedings that the property where her home sits did not belong to MB Land Company like it said in the contract. It was actually owned by Silas Properties, LLC and there is a lien on the property through First State Bank of St. Charles.

Silas Properties, LLC is registered through the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office as a limited liability company and lists Burgess as the registered agent.

A review of Burgess’ account revealed that between April 20-29, Burgess and/or Govreau made withdrawals from the account for Bill.com, Capitol One, American Express, Chase, Graham Anderson, Missouri Land Rental, Butterflieds Florist, Matt Burgess, Bret Burgess, Zack Govreau and Jessica Burgess.

None of the transactions were for payment costs associated with the construction of the house, but they were personal expenses of both Burgess and Govreau. By April 29 the balance of the account was $538.88.

As a result of the ongoing civil suit, Wessel was allowed to take possession of the home around Sept. 24 of this year. After assuming ownership, Wessel had to pay an additional $62,845 to local contractors to complete the construction of the home. It has yet to be determined as to the status of the land where the house sits.

Burgess was arrested on the warrant and posted the $100,000 and has since been released from the St. Francois County Jail.

Burgess was charged in September with four class C felonies of receiving stolen property and a class D felony of stealing. Those charges are still pending.