Celebrate World Kidney Day

•March 8, 2017•

Decatur Memorial Hospital will host a free educational seminar on World Kidney Day, Thursday, March 9, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the DMH classrooms. Pediatric Kidney Specialist, Nazia Kulsum-Mecci, MD, from SIU Medicine will be the featured guest speaker.

Mohammed Dawood, MD, Mohammad Hasnain, MD, and M. Mustansar Qureshi, MD, all kidney specialists from the DMH Medical Group, will also be on hand at the event. Refreshments will be served and seating is limited. Call 217-876-2850 to register, or visit dmhcares.com/events.

Menus 3-8-2017

Senior Peace Meal
For additional information or for reservations, please call 1-800-543-1770

Monday, March 13 - Sausage patty or links, egg, bacon & cheddar scramble, fruit juice, whole grain blueberry muffin, warm fruit strudel bites.
Tuesday, March 14 - Country beef stew w/potatoes, carrots & onions, Mexi corn, roll, cherry pie.
Wednesday, March 15 - Shepherd’s pie w/vegetables, broccoli, warm biscuits, Mandarin oranges.
Thursday, March 16 - Fried chicken, mashed potatoes w/gravy, seasoned peas, Texas toast, fresh fruit.
Friday, March 17 -  Tuna noodle casserole, Harvard beets, warm black-eyed pea salad, whole grain wheat, pineapple pistachio dessert.

Sullivan Pre-School Breakfast

Monday, March 13 - Warm apple, Ritz crackers, milk.
Tuesday, March 14 - French toast, apple juice, milk.
Wednesday, March 15 - Cereal, apple juice, milk.
Thursday, March 16 - Granola bars, apple juice, milk.
Friday, March 17 -  Donuts, apple juice, milk.

Sullivan Pre-School Lunch

Monday, March 13 - Ravioli, lettuce salad, Mandarin oranges, garlic bread, milk.
Tuesday, March 14 - Chicken nuggets, french fries, peaches, bread & butte, milk.
Wednesday, March 15 - Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, pineapple, rolls, milk.
Thursday, March 16 - Sloppy Joe on bun, green beans, pears, milk.
Friday, March 17 -  Fish sticks, mixed vegetables, mixed fruit, bread & butter, milk.

Warmest February

•March 8, 2017•

All those days with temperatures in the 60s and 70s have paid off: February was the warmest February on record for Illinois, according to State Climatologist Jim Angel at University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey.

The statewide average temperature for February was 40.5 degrees, 9.6 degrees above normal, beating the old record of 40.0 degrees set back in 1998.

February was dry too. The statewide average precipitation for February was 0.7 inches, 1.36 inches below normal and the ninth driest February on record.

Red Cross Blood Drive

•March 8, 2017•

The American Red Cross and  Sullivan Legion Post 68 will host a blood drive  noon-6 p.m. March 14th at the American Legion.

Blood supplies are at a critical low level right now so every donation is important.

For every unit donated a possible three people can be helped. Those coming in and donating (or attempt to donate) will receive a $5 Amazon gift card. Walk-ins are welcome, but having an appointment ensures proper Red Cross staffing and decreases wait time.

Call Jeri Davis at 273 9456 for an appointment or go to redcrossblood.org to make an appointment.

Lovington Man Shoots Himself

•March 8, 2017•

Moultrie County Sheriff’s department was called to a Lovington residence on Friday evening where a 30 year old man had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Sheriff Chris Sims reported the man was staying in his parents’ house while they were on a trip. When they arrived home on Friday, he was discovered in the basement of the home.

Celebrating Guy

Photo by David Mobley/Courtesy of Booth Library Special Collections, Eastern Illinois University. Pictured is Guy Little, Jr. in costume as Scrooge’s nephew in “A Christmas Carol” from 1968.

Photo by David Mobley/Courtesy of Booth Library Special Collections, Eastern Illinois University.
Pictured is Guy Little, Jr. in costume as Scrooge’s nephew in “A Christmas Carol” from 1968.

Sullivan icon turns 80

by Joash Tiarks
Reporting in Sullivan

“Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone.”

- Carousel, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’

 

A successful Broadway musical production and its poetic lyrics may not relate all that easily to the daily life of your average central Illinois resident, being far removed from the lights
and bustle of New York.
However, your average resident of Sullivan, Ill. could likely recall fun times with friends over food and drinks at Jibby’s restaurant, formerly just off the square from the county courthouse. At first glance a connection between Broadway productions in New York and Jibby’s in Sullivan might be hard to make. But that is before taking into account the life and work of Guy S. Little, who turned 80 this month, and his love for the theater.
Born in 1935 to a local farm manager and a former high school English teacher, Guy attended his first stage performance at age five when his mother Inis who herself directed high school plays out of a love for the theater, took him to the Lincoln Theatre in Decatur to see ‘The Merry Widow.’
“I was hooked, enthralled,” declared Little. “From that moment I knew what I wanted to do.”
This turned out to be no passing infatuation.
Guy would wholeheartedly pursue his passion for the stage from Sullivan to New York and New Jersey, to Miami, back across the midwest and out to Arizona, eventually owning a theater and a playhouse here in central Illinois. In addition he produced shows and managed theaters in Milwaukee and Phoenix and in numerous theatrical tours across the country, hosting hundreds of Broadway and Hollywood stars along the way.
Family legend tells of of how he produced his first play, ‘Hansel and Gretel’, at the age of nine with a set of marionette puppets in the backyard; of his wild night ride from New York to New Jersey with James Dean and the few days they roomed together while working in summer stock shows on the east coast as a teen on summer break from high school. 
“He was very reserved and kept mostly to himself,” Guy remembers, “but he drove like a maniac!”
These experiences, intertwined with years of piano, vocal, and language lessons from local patron Winifred Titus Sentel in that formative time, developed and matured into a deep love of musical theater. This led him to attend the University of Miami for their unique combined theater and music program where, as a result of Sentel’s training, his previous experience, and his unique and powerful high tenor voice, he was able to secure a full scholarship for the three years it took him to complete his degree.
Ready to take on the world, Guy spent some time off Broadway in New York then returned to central Illinois in 1957, cultivating a dream of running a musical theater himself. Even for someone with his credentials and experience, being in his early 20’s, Guy found only closed doors. He caught a break when the owner of the Grand Theatre in Sullivan, a silent movie house at the time, closed the doors in favor of his nearby drive-in theatre. A lease was agreed upon for that first summer, and Guy produced nine musicals in 10 weeks, thus marking the first ever “Summer of Musicals” in Sullivan.

Photo by David Mobley/Courtesy of Booth Library Special Collections, Eastern Illinois University. Pictured is the Little Theatre on the Square in April 1973. The  first show was “Goodbye Charlie,” starring JoAnne Worley.

Photo by David Mobley/Courtesy of Booth Library Special Collections, Eastern Illinois University.
Pictured is the Little Theatre on the Square in April 1973. The first show was “Goodbye Charlie,” starring JoAnne Worley.

The dream was becoming tangible, but it was only possible with the incredible support of Guy’s family. In addition to financial backing, Guy Sr. worked as the business manager and his mother Inis as box office manager for the theatre. Guy’s then-wife, Jerili, whom he had met while studying in Miami, starred in at least eight shows over the years and filled numerous other supporting roles. Their two children Vanessa and Sean also got in on the act, literally.
“I was quite active. I sang and danced; I did posters for the theatre,” Vanessa remembers. “It was an unusual upbringing, very creative, very musical.”
“We both spent time on the stage as children.” added Sean. “It was a remarkable education...interfacing with such a variety of people... it taught me to be tolerant of others, to be personable.”
But the real test would be longevity.
Guy later shared in an interview for the WILL program ‘Illinois Pioneers’, with Mark Leonard, that he wanted his creation to last for 40 years. And in 1963, with five seasons of shows under his belt, that dream was one step closer to fruition when Guy and his family purchased the Grand outright. He then changed the name to The Little Theatre On The Square, not after the size of the building, but after his family name, of course. Over the next 15 years Guy would produce an average of 12 shows a year, bringing in nearly 150 stars and hundreds more apprentices, all descending on Sullivan.
Today’s generation might not readily recognize these famous names from this bygone era, names such as Betty Grable, Pat O’Brien, Robert Conrad, Mickey Rooney, Leonard Nimoy, or Margaret Hamilton to name but a few;
however, most would likely recognize the face and character of ‘Spock’ from the original Star Trek, played by Nimoy, as well as the Wizard of Oz’s iconic ‘Wicked Witch of the West’, which Hamilton played. Yet these and many others came at Guy’s request to perform for the masses on the ‘Little’ stage in rural Illinois.

Photo by David Mobley/Courtesy of Booth Library Special Collections, Eastern Illinois University. Pictured is Guy LIttle, Jr. in front of the theatre with Jack Haskell (left) star of “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” in July, 1967.

Photo by David Mobley/Courtesy of Booth Library Special Collections, Eastern Illinois University.
Pictured is Guy LIttle, Jr. in front of the theatre with Jack Haskell (left) star of “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” in July, 1967.

At the time, The Little Theatre On The Square was the the only professional theater (with Actors’ Equity Association contracts) between Chicago and St. Louis, between Indianapolis and Kansas City.
The late and then local bar owner Julio “Jibby” Florini, according to Guy, was originally very skeptical of the idea.
“It’ll never work,” Little recalls Florini saying emphatically. Years later, after his simple establishment was transformed into the popular restaurant known throughout the region for many years as Jibby’s, he changed his tune: “Guy, you made me a rich man!”
But Florini’s place was not the only business on the scene to prosper.
Bob and Marion Best, whose family currently owns and runs the News•Progress, were living on the east coast in the early 60’s, looking to purchase and invest in a small town newspaper. Indecision reigned until one evening Jack Haskell, a TV actor and singer, appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, explaining how he would be going to Sullivan, Ill. for the summer to star in the musical ‘Brigadoon’ at The Little Theatre on the Square.
“My mom (Marion) had said that wherever we were to go, there needed to be culture,” explained daughter Kathy Best, currently Editor in Chief of the Seattle

Photo by David Mobley/Courtesy of Booth Library Special Collections, Eastern Illinois University. Pictured is Guy LIttle, Jr. in costume with Gisele MacKenzie (right)during the production of “Here Today” in 1971.

Photo by David Mobley/Courtesy of Booth Library Special Collections, Eastern Illinois University.
Pictured is Guy LIttle, Jr. in costume with Gisele MacKenzie (right)during the production of “Here Today” in 1971.

Times. “The fact that there was a theater in Sullivan was why my family ended up there.”
“Guy S. Little Jr. put Sullivan on the map,” said Sean, a statement echoed by Best.
“It’s a small town that has been written about regionally, even internationally,” she said. “It’s not just an average small town.”
“Guy was doing great shows, and he was able to bring in the stars for added spotlight,” said current executive director and producer at The Little Theatre John Stephens. “The theatre is a vital part of the community.”
The theatre did go dark one season in 1980, and the following year the non-profit group Friends of the Little Theatre, took over and leased the building from Guy. Since then, the non-profit reorganized in the early 90s, becoming known as the The Little Theatre on the Square Inc. and purchased the building. Since the non-profit took over, shows have continued to be produced, leading up to this year’s upcoming 58th season.
Time does not allow for a chronicle of the numerous ways Sullivan has benefited from the realization of Guy’s passion and dream. The Little Theatre on the Square has been bringing patrons and actors to Sullivan for decades from neighboring towns, neighboring states, and even from neighboring countries, as in the case of

Submitted by Jason Probus Pictured is Guy LIttle, Jr. celebrating his 80th birthday at an open house Friday, February 13.

Submitted by Jason Probus
Pictured is Guy LIttle, Jr. celebrating his 80th birthday at an open house Friday, February 13.

Aniko Ferrel Palmer of Canada, wife of actor Peter Palmer.
“Guy is a genius in his own right,” said Lee York, music director at the Little Theatre from 1962-68 and current resident of Tuscola, “an entrepreneur before the word was popular.”
“Guy changed Sullivan, Ill.”, added York. “He brought people in from all over.
“He really helped the economy; you can’t overstate the impact,” said Sean.
“Everyone (of that generation) would have stories to tell of meeting people associated with the theatre,” added Best.
In fitting recognition, Guy received the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sullivan Chamber and Economic Development(SCED) in 2013 for his indelible impact in this town his family has called home for generations. Stepheny McMahon, director of the SCED stated at the ceremony, “When Guy started the theatre, he had a personal goal that it last for 40 years. Now 55 years later, the Little Theatre on the Square is still producing world class productions for audiences of all ages.”
“I am very proud and very honored,” Guy shared of the event.

Photo by David Mobley/Courtesy of Booth Library Special Collections, Eastern Illinois University. Guy Little in the Little Theatre auditorium, 1971.

Photo by David Mobley/Courtesy of Booth Library Special Collections, Eastern Illinois University.
Guy Little in the Little Theatre auditorium, 1971.

In addition to his theater in Sullivan, Little also had the Piccolo Playhouse in Joliet, Ill., produced for nine years at the Melody Top Theatre in Milwaukee, Wis., and managed the Sombrero Playhouse in Phoenix, Ariz., along with numerous tours throughout the midwest and along the east coast.
“I have done it all,” Guy recollects. “I’ve been around the block a bit.”
Guy is still a regular attender at the Little Theatre in Sullivan, purchasing season tickets each year for every opening performance, often for the closing matinee as well.
“Front row, center stage,” he insists, “so I can see everything that’s going on.
“I still love the theatre very, very much,” he emphasized, “I am just not up to the demands of being involved.”
After all his varied exposure, Guy settled back in his family home, which he cleverly named The Little House on the Prairie, successfully running a small bed and breakfast for 13 years, until declining health made it impossible to continue. This house is now a veritable temple to the performing arts, filled with innumerable photos and memorabilia of a life lived on and around the stage, as near to Broadway as one could get in central Illinois. Now somewhat stooped with age, battling time and illness, Guy still regularly corresponds with many of the stars he befriended through the years.  And though celebrating his 80th birthday earlier this month, he still readily breaks into song with his commanding tenor voice, ringing out with the stanzas of beloved songs ingrained in the soul of this visionary artist.

“...omma the most happy fella, In the whole Napa Valley, In the whole Napa Valley, The most happy fella, that’s me!”
(from the song ‘The Most Happy Fella’ in the musical of the same name, by Frank Loesser).

Rau Appointed Circuit Judge

•March 1, 2017•

Justice Rita B. Garman and the Illinois Supreme Court have announced the appointment of Bradford A. Rau, Sr. as a Resident Circuit Judge in the Sixth Judicial Circuit.

Rau was appointed to fill the vacancy created when Judge Dan L. Flannell retired January 13, 2017.

The appointment of Rau takes effect April 1, 2017 and will conclude December 3, 2018 when the vacancy will be filled by the winner of the November 2018 general election.

“Mr. Rau was ranked as exceptionally well-qualified by my judicial screening committee,” Justice Garman said. “He has been a longtime attorney and is well experienced in both the civil and criminal areas. He is keenly aware of the responsibilities that come with the job.”

Justice Garman recommended the appointment to the full court following a review of applicants by a seven-person screening committee consisting of four non-lawyers and three lawyers who reside in  the Sixth Judicial Circuit. The non-lawyer members were Dr. Glen Dust, retired University of Illinois  President Robert Easter, Linda Carlton-Huber, and Prof. Linda Parrish. The lawyer members of the committee were the Hon. Arnold Blockman (Ret.), John Phipps, and Suzanne Jennings Wells.

Rau, who has more than 30 years of legal experience, has worked in private practice for the last 20  years, most recently as the owner of Rau, Elder & Associates since 2011. Rau previously served as an Assistant State’s Attorney in the Macon County State’s Attorney’s Office from 1987 to 1997.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1980 and his Juris Doctor  from the Washington University School of Law in 1983.

Rau and his wife Jill reside in Sullivan and have three children.

The Sixth Judicial Circuit is comprised of Champaign, DeWitt, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt counties.

Attention Candidates

•March 1, 2017•

The Moultrie County News Progress will run a candidate preview section on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.

Candidates may submit a photo, biography and reason for running. This is a free story and photo for candidates participating in the April 4 consolidated election.

Candidates interested in participating may send information to mbrothers@newsprogress.com or call 728-7381 for more information.

This is also an excellent opportunity to finalize advertising for the remaining weeks prior to election.

Lovington Kindergarten Pre-Registration

•March 1, 2017•

Preregistration of kindergarten students for the 2017-2018 school year will be held noon-6 p.m. Tuesday, March 7 in the Lovington Grade School office.

Any student who will be five years of age by September 1, 2017 and resides in the Lovington Grade School District is encouraged to attend. Parents are asked to bring the child’s birth certificate to preregistration.

Children in the Lovington preschool program this year need not attend, but the form sent home with your child should be returned to the office.

Voter Registration Deadline

•March 1, 2017•

Moultrie County Clerk Georgia England would like to remind residents of Moultrie County that the deadline to register to vote or transfer/change registration for the upcoming April 4 Consolidated Election is Tuesday, March 7. Residents may register to vote at the County Clerk’s office in the Moultrie County Courthouse, second floor in Sullivan from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Registration is also available at all Moultrie County libraries and with a precinct committee person.

Requirements for registration are:

• Must be a U.S. Citizen.

• Must be at least 18 years of age by election day.

• Must have been a resident of the precinct at least 30 days prior to election day.

• Two forms of identification, one showing registrant’s current address.

Have you moved or changed your name?

A few circumstances in which a person would need to reregister, or change registration are: (1) A person has married or changed their name. (2) A person has moved to Moultrie County from another jurisdiction [county]. (3) A person has moved within the county, even if it is next door, a transfer of registration is required.

Not sure that you are registered?

Call and check with the county clerk’s office at 728-4389, or go online at www.elections.il.gov and go to the link called “Registration and Polling Place Information”.