Winters Bring Song and Fine Art to Downtown Arthur

Photo Mike Brothers Arthur gallery owners Joan and Jerry Winters pose in front of a mural of their former home in Carmel, Calif.  along with store pets Monet and Manet.

Photo Mike Brothers
Arthur gallery owners Joan and Jerry Winters pose in front of a mural of their former home in Carmel, Calif. along with store pets Monet and Manet.

•November 25, 2015•

By Ariana Cherry
for the News Progress

The small, yet busy, little town  of Arthur has gained another piece of magic in its downtown area.

Alongside the Amish businesses just down the street from the old-fashioned soda fountain at Dicks Pharmacy, Winters Fine Art Gallery offers original pieces of beautiful artwork.  The quaintness and spirit of the small community caught the hearts of the new gallery owners on a visit here.

“We came back to visit family. Someone invited us to Yoder’s, and we thought this looked like a nice village to have a shop in. We love the people. This is something we’ve always wanted to do,” said Joan Winters, one of the owners of Winters Fine Art Gallery.

It seemed to be by chance that Joan and her husband Jerry came here, as they actually lived in Carmel, California for 50 years where they ran a similar art gallery. Not only did they have a gallery across the United States but they also had one out of the country that was in Vezelay, France. The couple still own a home there where they visit from time to time.  Now the two live in Decatur where Joan’s daughter lives. She has a niece who lives in Bloomington, Indiana so having a business in this area made sense to be closer to family.

The Winters are both artists themselves and come from artistic backgrounds. Joan spent the majority of her childhood surrounded by art. Her mother was an artist and painted right up until she passed away at 94.

“She didn’t want any publicity or her tranquility disturbed,” noted Joan. “Art was in my blood. My mom was a painter and Dad was a musician,” she said.

Jerry grew up around the entertainment business. His father was one of the original band members of the “Red Nickels and Five Pennies.” He performed with many well-known bands. Jerry carried on the entertainment tradition by going on tour and performing in USO Shows with Bob Hope.  Read More

Reaching Out, One Treat at a Time

Photo by Keith Stewart Pictured is Devon Flesor Story, part-owner of Flesor’s Candy Kitchen, which is located in Tuscola. She along with her staff will be selling a variety of candies, some new, in Sullivan come November 21 as a fundraiser for the Moultrie County Food Pantry.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Pictured is Devon Flesor Story, part-owner of Flesor’s Candy Kitchen, which is located in Tuscola. She along with her staff will be selling a variety of candies, some new, in Sullivan come November 21 as a fundraiser for the Moultrie County Food Pantry.

Annual candy sale back with more surprises on Nov. 21

•November 18, 2015•

by Keith Stewart
for the News Progress

For the last three years, on one day in November, a candy sale takes place in Sullivan.

And what a difference it makes.

In the days leading up to that one day Devon Flesor Story, part owner of Flesor’s Candy Kitchen in Tuscola, along with her staff, begins making dozens of different treats ahead, for her biggest sale of the year.

But it’s not all about the money.

The sale, which donates 20 percent of its total proceeds from the day to the Moultrie County Food Pantry, has provided thousands of needed dollars this time of year since first beginning in 2012.

“We are excited about the Sullivan sale, as always, because it’s a great fundraiser for their pantry,” said Flesor Story. “But we’re also looking forward to it because it allows us to talk directly to our more immediate customers in the area. We get to gauge their reactions to some of the new products that we’re going to be offering, and that will be great.”

And what is perhaps just as unique about the sale’s ability to help fund a good cause is its display of new candies each year.

An expo of sorts, the sale, in the past, has debuted such custom sweets as Sullivan toffee and the “Sullie”–similar to a Turtle, but with peanuts instead of pecans.

And this year is no different.

“We’re doing an autumn box that has some new cremes in it that we haven’t made before,” said Flesor Story. “We’re making a hazelnut creme with a hazelnut in the middle, so that when you bite into it, you get into the nut; it’s kind of fun. We’re doing pumpkin cremes and other fun, new flavors, too.”

The sale will also have new barks for purchase but will also return favorites such as the chocolate turkeys, Sullivan toffee, and carmel apples.

“We’ll still have all of our tried and true stuff,” said Flesor Story. “We’ll have Paul’s Pecan Favorites, which is our version of the Turtle. We’ll have our carmel apples that people in Sullivan seem to crave. We’ll also have our chocolate turkeys for Thanksgiving and lots of fudges and lots of brittles.”
Read More

Making Dads Jump From Their Skin

Photo by Mike Brothers Setting the graveyard nook are (from left) Quinton Cunningham, Chris Crabtree and Cody Board. After two nights of ghoulish fun, the whole thing is removed.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Setting the graveyard nook are (from left) Quinton Cunningham, Chris Crabtree and Cody Board. After two nights of ghoulish fun, the whole thing is removed.

A 12 year tradition

•November 4, 2015•

By Mike Brothers

It’s been 12 years since Chris Crabtree’s kids thought they were too old to trick or treat.

That’s when they started converting the front yard of the family home on Harrison Street into the haunted graveyard.

It was open 6-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30 and 31 in conjunction with Sullivan trick or treating times.

Open to any and everyone who is willing to test their terror capacity, the Crabtree project gets bigger every year.

“We started out with the ticket booth and four sections that came out to the street,” Crabtree said of the first year, emphasizing the dogwood tree has always been at the center.

Chris and his band of family and friendly volunteers spend weeks building the giant black plastic enclosure.

“This is the sixth year we have totally enclosed the rooms,” he explained,  pointing out his mom Connie Bordher would be at the entrance handing out candy as she has every year.

Crabtree said they handed out about 300 treat bags which brings the two night total of visitors to about 500.

There are up to 14 volunteers needed to man the various fright stations within the black plastic shrouded lawn. Read More

National Award for Sullivan Alum

Photo by RR Best Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best stays connected to Sullivan.

Photo by RR Best
Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best stays connected to Sullivan.

•November 4, 2015•

by Stu D. Baker
for the News Progress

Kathy Best received the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) at the annual meeting held in Austin, Tex.

Best, daughter of the late News Progress publishers Robert and Marion Best, helped lead The Seattle Times to three Pulitzer Prizes.

She is a 1975 graduate of Sullivan High School and spent her life around the small town newspaper business operated by her parents.

After attending Southern Illinois University and University of Illinois in Springfield, professional life has sent Best to metro newspapers in St. Louis, Baltimore and Seattle, but the Sullivan influence is always there.

“I never lose sight of the fact that the people we write about could be our neighbors,” Best said. “Mom and Dad would be at the grocery store or a local restaurant and someone whose story was in the paper would be sitting across the room.”

“You have to always be fair and remember we are writing about human beings.”

Best has traveled the world but has remained connected to Sullivan.

Class of 75 alum Diane Sandrisser Pearl remembers Kathy’s “Best” laugh and smile as just like her mother Marion’s.

“Kathy Best is many things; an encouraging and faithful friend, forever full of small town integrity, laser-focused to make community and people better, thick-skinned beyond strong (must be the red hair), and balances a fiery spirit with freedom of speech. Kathy has always known her meaning in life was finding her gift in journalism. We are all blessed; she selflessly gives that gift away everyday with 110% passion no matter what. Congratulations on another amazing achievement!” Read More

Local Driver Hits the Monster Jam Circuit

Driver Brianna Mahon

Driver Brianna Mahon

There is  a Need for Speed 

•October 28, 2015•

By Mike Brothers

When Brianna Mahon graduated from Sullivan High School in 2008, her need for speed had already taken over the teenage honor student’s life.

Professional MotoCross racing dominated her weekends then, but today she’s getting into bigger machines.

Mahon is a mild-mannered hair dresser working from her rustic shop at the intersection of Main Street and Highway 128 in Dalton City during the week. When the weekend comes, she gets behind the wheel of the Monster Jam Truck Scooby Doo in nationwide events.

Monster Jam competitions are held in large venue stadiums all over the United States and select countries around the world.

The huge 1500 horsepower machines with fiberglass bodies made to look like any cartoon character or figure imaginable negotiate custom made courses in arenas that include jumps, car crushing, racing and freestyle competitions.

The World Finals for Monster Trucks is held in Las Vegas, and Mahon was just completing her first competition season when she got invited.

As Monster Truck Rookie of the Year, Mahon competed in the famous Medusa truck during the World Finals.

She explained that drivers are trained in all trucks. “Scooby is my main ride, but when I went to Belgium, I competed in El Toro Loco and placed.”  Read More

Oktoberfest Enjoys Good Crowd on Brisk Weekend

Photos courtesty Heather Casteel Grand Champion- Moultrie County Dive Team, head cook Roger Farley with Amanda Farley.

Photos courtesty Heather Casteel
Grand Champion- Moultrie County Dive Team, head cook Roger Farley with Amanda Farley.

Variety of Events

•October 21, 2015•

By Stu D. Baker
NP Reporter

The Sullivan Chamber Economic Development put together another successful Ocktoberfest on the Square in Sullivan this past weekend.

In spite of crisp temperatures the crowd was enthusiastic.

“It was a great weekend. It was a little chilly at night, but the tent was warm, and it didn’t seem to stop people from coming out,” event coordinator Laurrie Minor said.  “We had some great food, craft and service vendors for the festivalgoers to enjoy. “

Oktoberfest 5K Run/Walk & Punkin Run

Overall winner in the Octoberfest 5K run/walk and punkin run was Crystal Ashby with a time of 24:53. Read More

Habitat House Completed by Care A Vanners

Photo by Mike Brothers Hope Street Habitat for Humanity home in Sullivan is number 26 and was turned over to owner Nikki Bassett on October 16. Participating in the ceremony were: Pastor Dan Fultz, Moultrie County Habitat Board members, Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vanners; Bassett  and children Jordan, Jade and Maddux; family and friends.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Hope Street Habitat for Humanity home in Sullivan is number 26 and was turned over to owner Nikki Bassett on October 16. Participating in the ceremony were: Pastor Dan Fultz, Moultrie County Habitat Board members, Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vanners; Bassett and children Jordan, Jade and Maddux; family and friends.

Six Week Experiment

•October 21, 2015•

By Mike Brothers

When the Moultrie County Habitat for Humanity handed the keys to new owner Nikki Bassett on Friday, October 16 the house on Hope Lane in Sullivan was jammed with people.

This was the 26th house for Habitat and a first for Habitat for Humanity Care-A- Vanners. Care-A-Vanner project coordinator Bob Gillespie and crews rotating on two week schedules built the house from ground to completion in six weeks.

Gary Smith, local Habitat board president, recalled year-long local builds in the beginning of the program. Smith thanked a long list of contributors including 40 Care -A-Vanner volunteers who spent the past six weeks working around subcontractors on a tight schedule.

The local churches and other volunteers fed the group during the six week project through an effort coordinated by Pastor Paul McGhghy. Faith Lutheran Church was campground host at Faith Resort where the Habitat volunteers parked their recreational vehicles during the build. Read More

Sullivan American Legion Gets a Little Brighter

Photo Submitted Front from left: Shelly Eddington, Larry Preston, Mike Keown, Aaron York, Deb Conlin; (second row) Mike Grose, Charlie Bragg, Chuy Gandarilla, Paula Stone, Kevin Weuve; (back row) Don Butler, Mark Conlin and Jerry Krebs.

Photo Submitted
Front from left: Shelly Eddington, Larry Preston, Mike Keown, Aaron York, Deb Conlin; (second row) Mike Grose, Charlie Bragg, Chuy Gandarilla, Paula Stone, Kevin Weuve; (back row) Don Butler, Mark Conlin and Jerry Krebs.

Home Depot Grant Helps

•October 14, 2015•

By Mike Brothers

Sullivan American Legion Post 68 is a brighter place after this week.

With funding from a $9500 Home Depot Foundation grant and a lot of volunteer hours the Legion has all new T-8 Energy Star lighting, a new ceiling and new carpeting in the lounge.

It didn’t come easy as Mike Keown explained.

About a year ago a member noticed the Home Depot grant program information in the American Legion magazine.

“This building is 20 years old, and we were hoping the grant would help us get a new HVAC system,” Keown began, noting he contacted the Mattoon Home Depot store in November 2014.

Shelly Eddington is the Home Depot volunteer coordinator at Mattoon and helped get the process started.

“This was our first grant application for the veterans program,” she began, explaining the HVAC request was beyond the scope of the operation.

However, she and Keown started exploring what was available: replacing carpet that was a safety hazard in the lounge area, new energy efficient lighting and the suspended ceiling all qualified.

That’s when the American Legion board started concentrating on completing the 10 page application. Read More

Wolf Creek Becomes Medieval Battle Ground

Photo by RR Best Battleground fights with foam protected weapons allow the medieval warriors to score points and advance to the next level much like popular video games.

Photo by RR Best
Battleground fights with foam protected weapons allow the medieval warriors to score points and advance to the next level much like popular video games.

•September 30, 2015•

People from all over the country were going medieval on each other at Wolf Creek State Park the weekend of Sept. 17-20.

For the past six years AMTGARD, a medieval combat and role playing organization has staged fantasy combat events at Wolf Creek.

This year’s Keep on the Borderlands theme included the battle for Ravenloff and the ultimate tournament prize — the Hammer of God Cup.

Best described as a video game stuck in the real world about 750 participated in this year’s event at Wolf Creek. There are AMTGARD chapters in all 50 states with medieval role players coming from as far as Alaska and Florida to participate in Windsor.

Over the course of the weekend Ravenloff castle was built and was defended. Groups of 12 fighters face off with foam covered swords and other medieval weapons fighting for points.

Points may be earned by completing objectives-like taking over the castle or through achievements.

Judged by the Reeves (referees) and event coordinators teams may earn points by utilizing good or interesting ways to achieve their objective. Bonus points stem from good sportsmanship during a battle.
Read More

Planters Gain Attention

Photo by Mike Brothers Planters recognized. Pictured from left: Mayor Ann Short; Tina Krigbaum, designer and owner of My Garden; Richard Glazebrook and Susan Rauch of the SCED Restoration and Enhancement committee and Stepheny McMahon of Sullivan Chamber and Economic Development. SCED committee members not pictured are Michelle Hauser, Cindy Richardson, Lori Kirk and Shonn Hild.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Planters recognized. Pictured from left: Mayor Ann Short; Tina Krigbaum, designer and owner of My Garden; Richard Glazebrook and Susan Rauch of the SCED Restoration and Enhancement committee and Stepheny McMahon of Sullivan Chamber and Economic Development. SCED committee members not pictured are Michelle Hauser, Cindy Richardson, Lori Kirk and Shonn Hild.

An idea that blossomed

•September 23, 2015•

It began as a project by the Restoration and Enhancement Committee this year and recently drew the attention of a local botanist.

Roger Kirkwood, retired director of Lake of the Woods Botanical Gardens in Mahomet, not only noticed the planters located around the square in Sullivan but wrote Sullivan mayor Ann Short.

“What a pleasant and unexpected surprise,” Kirkwood began his letter. “Immediately attention getting, these planters are obviously well designed and well maintained. What an inviting and enchanting new aspect to downtown!”

Some 16 new planters were placed around the square with the existing planters moved to parking lots and still maintained by the city.

Stepheny McMahon explained the committee is part of the Sullivan Chamber and Economic Development and purchased the planters, trees and shrubs early this year. The city of Sullivan provided the soil and all the flowers as well as regular maintenance of the planters. Tina Krigbaum of My Garden designed the arrangements and completed all the plantings.