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Attic fire damages complex

Firefighters responded to a 7:50 a.m. call on Monday reporting smoke at a unit in the St. Francois Heights Apartments, located at 1100 N. St. Joe Drive in Park Hills.

"Maintenance personnel received a call between 6 and 6:30 a.m. from the downstairs apartment for a water leak," said Capt. Brad Weiss of the Park Hills Fire Department. "When he went upstairs to investigate and opened the unoccupied apartment - he found it was full of smoke.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, they discovered a smoke-filled apartment, but no active fire.

"We immediately went through the room with a thermal imaging camera and located a fire in the attic," Weiss said. "We were able to put the fire out within about 15 minutes. It appears to have been an electrical fire.

"The fire marshal said he didn't want to investigate since it wasn't suspicious. We removed ceiling in the kitchen and bathroom areas. We extinguished about a 3-foot by 3-foot fire in the attic."

Weiss reported there were no injuries due to the apartments being evacuated.

"The person who lived in that apartment was not home at the time and I was unable to speak with her," he said. "The apartment below it suffered minimal fire damage, but the upper apartment had some water damage, however, they were contacting a restoration company to come in and start doing cleanup."

Assisting Park Hills on the scene were the Leadington, Desloge, Big River and Farmington Fire Departments.

Firefighters also responded to a shed fire in the 300 block of Lancewood Drive at 3 a.m. Monday. Two sheds were completely destroyed while two others were damaged. 

First hall of fame class includes 45

After a junior varsity game between North County and Potosi and before the night’s homecoming coronation, North County administrators, faculty, players, parents and friends paid respect to distinguished alumni and past faculty in the first-ever induction ceremony into the North County Hall of Fame.

Athletic Director Chad Mills presented each inductee with a certificate while the individual’s accomplishments were read aloud. Among the inductees were longtime coaches, professional football players, fallen heroes, community leaders, businessmen and many more. Not every inductee could attend. 

Forty-five total individuals were inducted into the hall of fame, being selected by a committee from the communities of both Bonne Terre and Desloge. Photos of the inductees now hang in the North County High School Auditorium.

After the initial class, school officials plan on inducting four new individuals each year, two from the athletic department and two from the district at large. Nominations are accepted year-round for the hall of fame, with the cutoff for the year being Aug. 1.

Nominations forms can be found on the district website under the athletic department and can be submitted to Chad Mills at or by mail at 7151 Raider Road, Bonne Terre, MO 63628.

This year’s North County Hall of Fame Inductees include the 1997 State Champion Baseball Team, the 1997 State Champion Track Team, the 2003 State Champion Baseball Team, Dave Blunt, Bonnie Bradley, C.E. Brightwell, Dr. Craig Brown, Cody Compton, Will Compton, Michael Deason, Taylor Decker, Lisa (McKay) Eaton, Jim Edgar, Shawn Edgar, Rose (Edwards) Fulton, Dave Gibson, Derek Gibson, Matt Haug, Bill Hill, Adam Howard, Randy Hubbard, Harold Huff, Barbara (Allen) Jones, P.J. Jones, Bill Martin, Jeromy McDowell, Brandon McIntyre, Aaron Moser, Dr. Ken Owen, Steve Pasternak, Ed Ragsdale, Greg Ragsdale, Bob Rickus, Dr. Jennifer (Williams) Riney, Dan Schunks, Dan Smith, Jack Stegall, Josh Sutton, Bobby “Pete” Tiefanaur, Josten Wampler, Ron Whittier, Jeff Wilfong, Stacy (Tiefanaur) Wilfong, Jason Winckel and Howard Wood.

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Commissioners OK county roadway report

St. Francois County Highway Department Administrator Wendell Jarvis presented the department's annual report to the county commission at its Jan. 23 meeting held on the third floor of the courthouse annex in Farmington.

Jarvis went over a number of potential projects he hopes to see completed in the coming year, as well as others finished last year.

"In District 1 we're looking at overlaying Cartee Road, Randolph Road, Martin Road and Busiek," he said. "Saying this, you know these projects are going to have to be bid out for overlay, so it depends on (where) these jobs come in at on the bids. These are projects that [supervisors] John [Gross], Clay [Copeland] and myself have gone out and looked at, and this is what we recommend that needs to be fixed in District 1.

"Then you have the VarVera Road low water replacement. You've got the Busiek Road project, which will widen it. Right now, that's a total of $567,400. But like I said, the projects have to be bid, so when they come into bid we'll get a true number there."

Jarvis pointed out that getting to all the projects on the list depends on something no one has any control over — the weather.

"When you're dealing with the weather and we're still not through winter, we might have a road issue that goes to crumbling or breaking up on us that we'll have to tend to," he said. "If we do, then one of these projects here might have to be set aside."

Jarvis next discussed proposed projects in District 2.

"We have Rouggly Road, overlaying it," he said. "It's got several pipes that need to be replaced on it. It does have an area that we could put some box covers, 3 by 10, on them. Davis Crossing is going to be an overlay and Old Cadet Road will be an overlay."

Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher asked Jarvis, "These 3 by 10 boxes, these are not precast by us?"

He replied, "No, they won't be by us. They'll be precast that we will bid out as well."

Jarvis moved to road and bridge projects completed in 2017.

"As you see, we've done Crossover Ridge, Moonlight Drive, Old Vandergriff Road, Watson Road, Mitchell Road, Wallen Road, Raider Road, Old Irondale Road and Brickey Road," he said. "That was all overlays.

"And then, there at the bottom, we did Possum Hollow low-water crossing, Lambeth and Hillsboro Road. They were two projects that was damaged by vehicles. They knocked the headwall off and caused some issues with culverts, so we had to go in there and — while we were in there, instead of repairing — we upgraded. We had the opportunity to do a little more."

Jarvis also noted that one of the larger projects accomplished last year was the relocation to new quarters at 1640 East Woodlawn Drive.

"Because of that, we weren't able to do as many projects as we would have liked," he said.

Jarvis next went over several additional items in the report.

"If you'll go back to the bridges, this is the act of notifying you gentlemen of deficient bridges, if you will," he said. "You'll notice that there's a couple of bridges that's got like a 3-ton weight limit. That's actually Kings Road and that's an area where we went in and made available a place to turnaround and not have to cross that bridge. As of right now I think we're OK with that weight limit.

"Then you go up to the 5-ton weight limit and you'll see that's actually inside the city limits of Iron Mountain Lake. It has to show on our report that the bridge [at the dam] is in our county, but it's not the county's responsibility to maintain. If the city of Iron Mountain would ever happen to replace that, then we could capture the funds off it, which would be great."

The commissioners unanimously approved the report as presented.

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UPDATED: One seriously injured, two moderately injured after pursuit

Three people were injured in a one-vehicle crash Monday afternoon following a police pursuit from Jefferson County to Washington County.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the crash occurred when Aaron Wilson, 21, of Potosi, was driving his Chevrolet Impala northbound on Highway 47 at Click Road too fast while approaching a curve. The vehicle went off the left edge of the road, overturned and became engulfed in flames.

Wilson was wearing his seat belt and was taken to St. Anthony’s Medical Center with moderate injuries. His passengers were not wearing their seat belts. Jessica Weens, 28, of Festus, was airlifted by Air Evac to Mercy Hospital-St. Louis with serious injuries and Dylan Greer, 26, of De Soto, was taken to St. Anthony’s Medical Center by Washington County Ambulance with moderate injuries.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Spokesperson Cpl. Juston Wheetley said the patrol has determined De Soto Police Department was in pursuit with the vehicle and they were on Highway 47 just north of Route H.

“The driver lost control on the curve, went off the roadway and overturned,” Wheetley said. “The frontseat passenger and the backseat passenger were both ejected. The driver was the only one wearing a seat belt and when the vehicle came to rest, the driver exited on his own. The vehicle then caught fire.”

“They are trying to get the VIN (vehicle identification number) on the vehicle right now,” said Wheetley. “Since the vehicle burnt up they are having a hard time trying to identify it and it’s holding up the report.”

Wheetley added the trooper investigating the crash told him they were traveling at a speed high enough that they weren’t safely able to negotiate the curve.

In an interview Monday afternoon, Washington County Sheriff Zach Jacobsen said his office was contacted by dispatch at 1 p.m. in regard to assisting another agency.

“Information was relayed that the De Soto Police Department was following a vehicle ... just following it, not chasing it ... southbound on Highway 21,” Jacobsen said. “They were requesting one of our deputies to respond and stop the vehicle, from what I understand.”

Jacobsen said as they were responding to the original call to assist, at 1:10 p.m. they were dispatched to a motor vehicle accident with injuries and fire.

“The De Soto dispatch said the officer was just following, not chasing,” said Jacobsen. “When we got called to the wreck it involved the same car and De Soto PD was behind it. It was crashed and there were three critically injured people. I believe one woman and two men.”

He said they handed the investigation over to the Missouri State Highway Patrol concerning the crash and at the time they were receiving conflicting information as to whether or not De Soto Police were chasing them.

“We were not engaged in any pursuit activities or any type of enforcement activities,” said Jacobsen. “We simply responded to the original call of stopping the car for them and then it was upgraded to an accident with injuries. My deputy on the scene said one of them is very critical.”

Wheetley said he wasn’t sure if the patrol was going to have any charges against the driver, but De Soto will. 

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Sheriff’s dept. warns of scam

The St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department is warning the public about a scam after several area residents called voicing their concerns.

St. Francois County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Lt. Greg Armstrong said they received several inquiries on Thursday from area residents who were contacted by phone by someone claiming to be a deputy with the sheriff’s department.

“The caller explains to the person they called that they ‘failed to show up for jury duty’ and they need to report to the sheriff’s office immediately and pay a $500 fine or be arrested and jailed,” Armstrong explained. “The phone number appears as though the call is originating from a local number.”

Armstrong said at some point in the conversation the caller will tell the person to go to Walgreen’s and purchase a Green Dot Card in order to pay the fine.

“The public needs to be aware that these calls are not originating from this agency, and are most definitely a scam,” said Armstrong. “Our office would never call and demand that a fine be paid by phone using a money transfer card or by any other means for that matter. The public is urged to hang up on the caller and not give any personal information or confirm any personal information that the caller may already know.”

He said they have had scams like this in the past and it pops up every once in a while. These scammers will spoof a number so it looks like it’s a local number.

“I also had a few calls this week of people getting calls supposedly from the IRS and they owe a tax bill,” Armstrong said. “They want them to get a gift card or a Green Dot Card to pay it immediately or the police will come arrest them.”

Armstrong said these scams make their rounds through the area and fortunately they aren’t spoofing their number specifically this time, but they have done that in the past.

“The reports I received yesterday are coming from a 573 number and the calls are not originating with us,” Armstrong stressed. “That is not how we do business here. Although we deliver the notices for jury duty, if they show up, fine, but if they don’t, the court deals with it. We don’t call people and say you failed to appear to and you have to pay a fine.”

Armstrong said it appears they are targeting all ages and people need to be aware that this is a scam. He said if anyone receives a call like this just hang up and if they continue to call, block their number.

“Definitely don’t give them any personal information, even if they know a little bit of information don’t confirm it,” Armstrong said. “Don’t give them any person identifiers, Social Security number, date of birth, bank account numbers or anything financial related. Most definitely don’t send them money or get them a prepaid card.

He added people who are targeted can report it to their local police department, but most likely the calls aren’t even originating in this country, so there won’t be much they can do about it. The best thing anyone can do is hang up and not take the call.