PTO Provides Much-Needed Funds for SES

Photo  furnished Pie in the Face was done for Box Top Collection at Sullivan Elementary School.  The students are Rhyder Pierce on the left and Liam Donovan on the right.  The teachers are Melissa Haegen on the left, Micah Heddins in the middle, and Kurt Friese on the right.  Students got to play the “Pie in the Face” game as a reward for collecting box tops in December.

Photo furnished
Pie in the Face was done for Box Top Collection at Sullivan Elementary School.  The students are Rhyder Pierce on the left and Liam Donovan on the right.  The teachers are Melissa Haegen on the left, Micah Heddins in the middle, and Kurt Friese on the right.  Students got to play the “Pie in the Face” game as a reward for collecting box tops in December.

•May 4, 2016•

The continued underfunding of schools in Illinois is no secret. For years now, the state of Illinois has balked on fully funding its schools as promised. As a result of these difficult times caused by budgetary constraint, schools have been forced to turn to outside sources to help fund activities. Fortunately, the Sullivan PTO has stepped up its efforts to provide opportunities for the students of Sullivan Elementary School.

PTO is an integral part of the elementary school. They help fund varying activities, including but not limited, to assemblies, field trips, and tickets for all students to see a play at the Little Theatre on the Square. The PTO also gives teachers money to spend in the classroom for supplies, as well as different apps for use with iPads and other technological resources that are used to supplement instruction. Numerous fundraising activities take place throughout the year, such as “Art to Remember” and Box Top collection. The PTO provides great incentives for students to bring in box tops (which may be exchanged for money to be spent in the classroom). One example occurred earlier in the year when students who turned in box tops got a chance to hit their teachers or the principal in the face with a pie. Read More

Around the Corner

Astoria shotThe Astoria Company Store—Handmade Products Right Before Your Eyes

•April 13, 2016•

By Kennedy D. Nolen
For the News Progress

This April you may finally see the Astoria Company Store create their products right as they make them.

The Astoria Company in Sullivan is a tiny company doing a big thing, said one of the owners Timmy Valentine. The store, which originally opened about 13 years ago as a fundraising company, sells an extensive variety of handmade products such as lotions, soaps, scrubs, and its well-known bamboo charcoal face mask. The company has now been located in an old inn since 2013 on 204 E. Jackson Street. Creators at Astoria take advantage of local ingredients such as honey and soy by using them to make products.  Read More

Annual Illinois Relief Sale Continues to Help Those in Need

Mennonite Sale quilt

Photos Submitted One of the hand-stitched quilts that will be auctioned off at this year’s event.

•March 2, 2016•

The Illinois Mennonite Relief Sale Board is working diligently in preparation for the annual two day relief sale that attracts people of all faiths and denominations for a common cause: Providing relief for the needy.

For Peoria and all surrounding communities March signals the traditional Illinois Mennonite Relief Sale.    This year marks the 58th Annual Illinois Sale to be held at Interstate Center in Bloomington on March 18-19.

This family festival is not only a special event filled with food, fun, and fellowship, but also a time for achieving the purpose of helping the needy at home and abroad.

Twenty percent of the net proceeds of the sale help local charities by providing food for the less fortunate.  Some of these agencies are the Peoria Salvation Army, Peoria Rescue Mission,  Midwest Food Bank, Bloomington Home Sweet Home Mission, and other local food pantries.

Eighty percent of the net proceeds are channeled through Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches.  Its purpose is to share God’s love and compassion by providing food assistance, clothing, medicine, material resources, and financial to the needy in 60 countries of the world, including America.   Read More

Eighth Annual Valentine’s Day Poetry Contest Draws Record Crowd

Photo courtesy Kathi Shackles Four generations of poetry lovers attended Valentine luncheon. Left to right are: Nadene Cochran, Jane Adcock, Lesa Young, and Jessica Young.

Photo courtesy Kathi Shackles
Four generations of poetry lovers attended Valentine luncheon. Left to right are: Nadene Cochran, Jane Adcock, Lesa Young, and Jessica Young.

Courtyard Estates Hosts

•February 17, 2016•

By Ariana Cherry
For the News Progress

The 100 Valentine’s Day Luncheon and Poetry Contest attendees know a thing or two about love-after-all, from their years of experience.

Experiences were shared at the annual gathering held at Courtyard Estates in Sullivan Friday, February 12.

A verse from Harry McCorkle’s poem, “Memories,” spoke measures of wisdom. “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

The luncheon has developed into quite the social event in the last eight years. The idea originally was started by Sullivan resident, Linda Spencer who formerly was employed with Mid Illinois Senior Services through Experience Works. Sadly, she was unable to attend this year because of health issues.

“This is the first time we have had to turn people away. We had 100 seats,” stated Deb Groendal , the director of Mid Illinois Senior Center. “It just keeps getting bigger and bigger each year,” she added. ‘Not only has the event drawn more people, but the poetic talent just keeps getting better and more creative.” Judges Kathy Shackles, Holly Allendorf, Alicia Moyer and Ariana Cherry all would agree. “It definitely was harder to choose winners this year,” said Allendorf. Read More

Invisible Completes Mirror Images 27th Season

Photo Submitted Curtin Call For Invisible cast: Addy Diener delivered a special message last Friday night thanking Rebecca Lawson, on the far right, for helping them with this year’s Mirror Images production of Invisible.

Photo Submitted
Curtin Call For Invisible cast: Addy Diener delivered a special message last Friday night thanking Rebecca Lawson, on the far right, for helping them with this year’s Mirror Images production of Invisible.

•February 3, 2016•

By Kennedy D. Nolen
For the News Progress

Students who are part of ‘Mirror Images’ of Sullivan High School performed the much awaited show ‘Invisible’ at the Little Theatre January 29.

Vernon, played by Jona Workman, is the new kid in school. Frequently moving makes him feel more invisible with each new school.

Mitch has terrible anxiety and panic attacks so badly he cannot even talk to the girl on whom he has a crush.

Alex is the school bully. His home life is rough so he takes his anger out on others. Also, there is the athletic and pretty girl Nicole. She is dating a guy, Gavin, who is somewhat controlling. Sybil, the sweet, smart girl, is best friends with the school’s party girl Avery. Avery has a terrible habit of drinking, driving and using her phone in the process.

Cyrus has voices in his head, and Sapphire has an eating disorder.

He learns everyone in the school has invisible or not-so-invisible problems.

After a couple days go by, Vernon makes friends with Gavin, and they begin to hang out frequently. As Gavin is driving Vernon, Avery is also out driving drunk and talking on the phone with Sybil. She blows a stop sign and hits the car occupied by Gavin and Vernon.

A cameo appearance at the crash by Larry Edwards of the Sullivan Fire Department helped reality hit home for the audience. Vernon was pronounced dead, and Gavin and Avery both had injuries.  Read More

Mirror Images’ 27th Annual Show: ‘Invisible’ Comes to Little Theatre

•January 27, 2016•

By Kennedy D. Nolen
For the News Progress

Becky Lawson and her Mirror Images group will present a play entitled ‘Invisible’ to the community this Friday, Jan. 29 at the Little Theatre on the Square. The 45 students, freshmen-seniors, spent the months of Oct. and Nov. writing the perfect script for this year’s play offered to the schools and community.

Lawson, who has been at SHS for 28 years, has helped edit the script for the 27th Mirror Images play she has directed. Over the years, the program has purchased plays, but the group thought it would be fun to write their own script. Not only was the script written by the students, but three students in particular wrote two original songs with lyrics. Lawson said, “The songs are awesome.” After months of writing, revising, and practicing, the group is proud to present this play to their peers and the community.

A brief synopsis without spoilers is this:  Read More

Sullivan Chamber of Commerce Brings New Dreams to the Community

Photo Submitted Laurrie Minor (left) and Stepheny McMahon (right) are happy to share new ideas for the town of Sullivan in 2016.

Photo Submitted
Laurrie Minor (left) and Stepheny McMahon (right) are happy to share new ideas for the town of Sullivan in 2016.

•January 27, 2016•

By Kennedy D. Nolen
For the News Progress

As the New Year is upon us, the Sullivan Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development shares their new plans and dreams for the town of Sullivan. Laurrie Minor, chamber administrator, and Stepheny McMahon, director, said they will not only continue their usual events and work from the previous years but will be happy to present fresh ideas to the community throughout 2016.

The Chamber’s annual dinner will be held to discuss an important concept: ‘One Town, One Million Dreams’ Jan. 29 at First United Methodist Church in Sullivan.

McMahon says this idea was given to her by a friend in Marshall who went to eighth grade classrooms, engaging students in workshops where their dreams  and goals were discussed.

The Chamber hopes to encourage the kids as well as the rest of the community to share their dreams with each other as a form of support and connecting people.

“Once someone shares an idea, others may relate to it, and the support can motivate one to meet the goal,” McMahon said.

Both Minor and McMahon have started creating their own dream lists and sharing ideas with each other. Read More

Looking back at the News Progress in 2015

•January 6, 2016•

File Photo Andrea Ebert and Jasper brought mini horse therapy to an Aspen Creek visit.

File Photo
Andrea Ebert and Jasper brought mini horse therapy to an Aspen Creek visit.

• January 7, 2015 

The Okaw Valley Timberwolves used a surging third quarter performance to pull away from Stewardson-Strawsburg and ultimately win 67-53.

The ALAH Knights dominated the Windsor Blue Devils 71-33 during the Tri County Holiday Tournament.

Lady Redskins have strong finish beating Mattoon 59-49.

Lady Timberwolves get 63-32 win over Decatur Christian.

The French family has spent 20 years randomly selecting Lovington Grade School students to receive four bicycles.

A $200,000 loss in state aid prompts Sullivan District 300 to increase its tax levy by 6.73 percent.

Moultrie County Board votes to consolidate payroll schedules from three to one. Read More

Christmas Season is the Reason for Glow on Lincoln Street

Photo by Mike Brothers News Progress Holiday Decorating Contest winner for Sullivan is the Wilma Wiley home at 420 Lincoln Street.

Photo by Mike Brothers
News Progress Holiday Decorating Contest winner for Sullivan is the Wilma Wiley home at 420 Lincoln Street.

•December 23, 2015•

There is a glow in the 400 block of Lincoln Street in Sullivan and the Christmas season is the reason.

Clark W. Griswold watch out, Miles Wiley is on a Christmas decorating mission in Sullivan.

Not unlike the National Lampoon Christmas Vacation movie’s obsessive holiday decorator, Miles’ mission is to squeeze as much Christmas as possible onto his grandmother Wilma Wiley’s  Lincoln Street lawn.

He is a  14-year-old student, whom his teacher refers to as Clark, and Miles has been in the decorating game since he was five.

“The first year I had two lighted reindeer, a couple of wooden reindeer, Santa and candy cane path markers,” Miles began, noting the path markers are all that remain of the first year.”

Each year the yard fills with more seasonal decorations, some donated by neighbors, some discovered by family members and some found online.

“We added that manger scene this year,” Wiley said, noting they drove to Alton to pick it up, and it wasn’t nearly as large as he had hoped.

One of the oldest pieces of the collection is a lighted Santa that was Miles’ mother’s.

“Wind is always an issue so the first year we had the Santa standing out in the yard, and he blew down,” Wiley said, noting one of the lights burned a hole is his tummy, but he has remained on duty ever since regardless of injury. Read More

Jingle Bell Jive

 A Musical Journey

Photo by Dan Hagen John Stephens and Therese Kincade take center stage backed by 27 performers.

Photo by Dan Hagen
John Stephens and Therese Kincade take center stage backed by 27 performers.

•December 16, 2015•

By Dan Hagen
For the News Progress

The Little Theatre adds a fresh treat to traditional holiday fare in the person of Decatur’s Julie McClarey, an undefeated National Ragtime Piano Playing Award winner three years running.

A large video screen above the stage catches McClarey’s almost hypnotic fingers flashing on the keyboards as she plays Celebration of Joy and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and, in the second act of the show, The Bell Carol and Oh, Holy Night. She enlivens her performance by crowd-pleasing virtuoso stunts such as playing with her hands behind her back.

The rest of the Little Theatre’s Jingle Bell Jive holiday show spotlights the home team as the Little Theatre’s Executive Producer John Stephens and Associate Artistic Director Therese Kincade take center stage backed by 27 other performers and directed by Jesse Sharp. Stephens, Kincade and Sharp also wrote the show.

The set features a tiered stage with varicolored holiday-lighted steps that are echoed in lights surrounding the stage. The happy-feet choreography, and there’s a lot of it, is by Megan Farley and Lexie Dorsett Sharp, and the ever-changing colorful costumes — gold lamé gowns giving way to prancing reindeer hats — are by Stephens.

It’s funny how this holiday tends to gravitate toward different eras in different regions. In England it’s the Dickensian 19th century, and here it seems to be the 1940s, perhaps because of the inherent poignance of family holidays haunted by a world war. True to form, the show opens with the chorus boys and girls performing the big band era’s Glenn Miller hit In the Mood, then shifts swiftly into a little of We Need a Little Christmas, from the musical Mame, as Stephens and Kincade step on stage.

Brisk and breezy, the show’s 22 songs are linked by scripted patter and thankfully unburdened by story. Stephens follows up with The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, then Nick Carroll, Christopher Timson, Galloway Stevens, Michael Ferraro and Clint Hromsco perform White Christmas. Read More