Top local news stories of 2021

by WFCN News
by WFCN News

12/28/2021 | 7:00 p.m.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY - 2021 has been another busy year for local news. As we approach the New Year, it is time to take a look back at some of the most influential local news stories we have covered over the past year.

In no particular order, here is that list...

December "Quad State Tornadoes"

The 2021 "Quad State Tornado Outbreak" of December 10-11 changed the lives of many residents throughout the states of Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, and more. Over 70 lives were lost in the State of Kentucky, with another tornado in Edwardsville, Illinois killing 6 people after an Amazon facility was damaged.

Underground fire at Sugar Camp Mine burns for months

An underground fire at the Sugar Camp Mine in Franklin County put many local employees out of work, forcing operations to be changed over the course of several months. Later, an investigation was started after the company which owns the mine was accused of dumping over 46,000 gallons of possibly hazardous foam to extinguish the blaze.

Three SIU Carbondale students killed in 2021; two murdered

Three students of Southern Illinois University Carbondale lost their lives in 2021; two of them as the result of murder. SIU Freshman Keshanna Jackson was killed in a Carbondale shooting, and student Daniel Fernando Lobo was killed in a shooting in Gurnee, Illinois. Another student, Jacob Jurinek, was one of those killed in the Astroworld Concert Tragedy in Texas.

Walker's Bluff Casino Resort finally breaks ground

After years of planning, the Walker's Bluff Casino Resort officially broke ground in December following approval from the Illinois Gaming Board. The resort is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

Local officer killed while attempting to stop vehicle in Metro East

Brooklyn, Illinois police officer Brian Pierce Jr. tragically died after attempting to stop a fleeing vehicle on a bridge near St. Louis. The suspect responsible for his death was later arrested and charged. Pierce had served with many local police departments, and funeral services were held at John A. Logan College in Carterville.

Bear sighting gets attention from local residents 

Another bear sighting caused quite the stir among Southern Illinois residents over this summer. A large brown bear was reported to be moving through the area, and was spotted throughout several areas in Southern Illinois, including near Rend Lake. The bear is believed to have eventually moved on to Indiana.

Marion coach terminated for alleged "insensitive remark" torwards student

Sara Baker was terminated from her position as Girl's Track Coach at Marion High School after allegedly making an "insensitive" remark towards a student. Some in the community deemed her remark racially motivated, and the school board moved her to a different school in the district.

Southern Illinois Miners baseball team folds

The Southern Illinois Miners baseball team officially folded in October after their owners announced retirement from baseball. Rent One Park was sold, and is expected to be turned into a multi-use venue.

Other stories we followed in 2021

• Suspect shot after attempting to harm officer at Jefferson County Courthouse

• Local hospital employees terminated for not getting COVID-19 vaccine

• Local athletes represent in 2020 Tokyo Olympics

• Local waitress receives global attention for "Happy Birthday" video at Marion Cracker Barrel

• Chlorine leak injures five people at local recycling plant in Hurst

• Wayne County Sheriff's Deputy killed during multi-state crime spree


Rich Herrin; local renowned basketball coach

Ray Fosse; MLB star and sports broadcaster who grew up in Marion

Gene Alexander; local principal and educator known for his "good deeds" around the region

Ron Nesler; founder and longtime owner of Nesler's Polar Whip in Energy

David Bunch; co-owner of Walker's Bluff

- All photos are archived material. Please visit our archives for original links and attributions. A special thank you to everyone who supports local journalism through 2021 and beyond!

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