Retiree Health Benefits to Remain the Same

Dependents’ costs questioned

March 25, 2015

by Ariana Cherry
Arthur/Sullivan Reporter

Discussions got heated when the question of health insurance coverage for retired employees came up during the regular meeting of the Sullivan City Council March 9.
Currently, all present employees pay 10 percent of the premium costs for their dependents (if they have any).
But in the city handbook, there is a clause stating that any employee who was employed with the city on July, 25, 1988 would have “comparable” health insurance paid for after retirement.
In 2013, when the city agreed to a new police union contract, one of the stipulations was that employees would begin paying a percentage of their dependents’ costs. Read More

State Behind on Transportation and Special Education Payments

ALAH district still in the black, for now

March 18, 2015

by Ariana Cherry
Arthur/Sullivan Reporter

Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond superintendent Kenny Schwengel informed the board at its regular meeting last Wednesday that the state was behind on several payments to the transportation and special education funds. The transportation fund has been prorated at 71 percent and on top of that has received just one payment of $126,000. The amount includes one regular payment and a special education payment for Arthur-Lovington and Atwood-Hammond. Payments are still being made to Atwood-Hammond since the state was previously behind on them.
The district has received only one of the four payments that were expected. In the special education fund, only $85,800 of the $246,500 have been received. According to Schwengel, there has been some speculation that only two payments will be received in both the transportation and special education funds. Read More

Lovington Gives Go-Ahead for Income Survey

March 11, 2015

Will show if village qualifies for grant money to help complete second phase of drainage project

by Florence Hallford
Lovington Reporter

As spring approaches with rain and melting snow, the board heard guests Kelly Lockhart and Kevin McReynolds from the Coles County Regional Planning and Development Commission (CCRP) speak on the potential to get phase two of the drainage project completed.

The phase two area is east of highway 121. Lockhart and McReynolds requested that they begin an income survey of the area where the work would take place to see whether 50 percent of residents are listed at the poverty level. If so, Lockhart and McReynolds would proceed with a grant application, that if awarded, would earn the village of Lovington $450,000 for the project. The village, however, would be required to put in $150,000. Read More

Other name released in Sullivan Homicide

Thursday, March 5• 11:13 a.m.

Man who was injured undergoes surgery
by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com
An Illinois State Police spokesman told the News•Progress Thursday morning that the an individual who was transported by ambulance to St. Mary’s Hospital Wednesday morning following the discovery of an apparent homicide has undergone surgery and is now being held for observation.
Lieutenant Greg Lindemulder also confirmed that the man that was transported was a Michael Yost. Read More

Drainage, and Farmland, and Zoning, Oh My!

March 4, 2015

County will have to amend ordinance before zoo can apply

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

The three-member county planning and zoning committee met Friday afternoon and unanimously approved amending the zoning ordinance to allow for zoo operations in the county.
The amendment comes after the county received a permit application for a zoo from the State Bank of Arthur on January 16. After issues were raised about the permit not including the names of those with the actual vested interest, an amended application was then filed by James Aikman, a loan officer with the bank on February 13, requesting the same permit, but the application could not be processed because the county zoning ordinance does not contain any language or permissions allowing for a zoo.
Aikman’s proposal is for an initial 45-acre wildlife park that would include both a drive-through area where patrons could feed animals and a walk-through that would be similar to a zoo but with much larger habitats. There would also be a 7,000 squared foot walk-through aviary featuring different species of birds that patrons could feed.
But according to a formal protest letter filed with the county clerk’s office last Wednesday by Urbana attorney Kent Follmer representing 17 nearby landowners, 66 percent of those who own land adjacent to the proposed zoo oppose both the application for the special use permit as well as the current amendment that planning and zoning officer Jan Haegan has developed. Of the 17 clients Follmer is representing, seven do not own land adjacent to the proposed zoo site. Read More

A Zoo In Moultrie County?

Photo by Keith Stewart A small boy eyes a 1:220th scale of the proposed Aikman Wildlife Park at the Arthur Outdoor Expo last month. There, Arthur resident James Aikman and his staff presented his proposed zoo to the public.

Photo by Keith Stewart
A small boy eyes a 1:220th scale of the proposed Aikman Wildlife Park at the Arthur Outdoor Expo last month. There, Arthur resident James Aikman and his staff presented his proposed zoo to the public.

March 4, 2015

Arthur loan officer pursues dream from God

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

After the first dream about owning his own wildlife park, James Aikman, an Arthur resident, woke up and told his wife Kelsey.
“On the night of October 21, 2013, I had a dream of my wife and I basically owning and running this wildlife drive-through park, so that next morning I told my wife about it, and she looked at me like I was crazy,” recalled Aikman to a full room during an economic luncheon at TnT Pizzeria February 19. “Our first son was going to be born in less than a month. She said, ‘We’ve got that coming up; this is not the time to be talking about this at all.’”
Listening to what has often been described as the wiser sex, Aikman let the notion go.
That is, until that night.
Aikman then says he had the exact same dream, a sign that this was not something to be taken lightly.
“I completely agreed with her and thought it was the end of it. That night I had the exact same dream again, and so I told my wife about it and said, ‘I don’t know why, but I really feel like this is from God.’ And she said, ‘If it’s really from God, he’ll find a way to make it happen.’” Read More

Lovington Revitalization Discussed

March 4, 2015

by Florence Hallford
Lovington Reporter

A small group of Lovington residents gathered in the basement of the First Christian Church February 24 to discuss the possibility of introducing new programs and activities for the children of Lovington.
The group included Pastor Al Rennert, Roger Walker, Norma Woolridge, and Nicole Brodnansky. Resident Victoria Goacher presented information to the group along with community organizer Mike Crews with the Illinois Coalition for Community Services (ICCS). Goacher then presented the information to the board at the Lovington Village Board meeting Monday night.
ICCS began in 1985 in underserved and low-income communities in Illinois. Since its inception, ICCS has helped more than 1,000 communities with a mission to empower people to change their communities with education, advocacy and grassroots organizing. It is a private non-profit grassroots organization with the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty through community based programs. Goacher called Crews after seeing the success of a food program through friend Sandra Hiser in Niantic and seeing a need to pull the community together to bring a better future to the children of Lovington.
Crews recommended beginning with a summer food program. Read More

Bethany Village Council Again Pushes Video Gaming Vote Back

March 4, 2015

Final approval of ordinance tabled for at least a year
by Derek Pope
Bethany Reporter

Last month, and without much fanfare, Bethany’s village council came to the consensus that they would not vote one way or another on the legalization of video gambling in Bethany for at least another year.
The decision was executed by legislatively “tabling” the vote or, in other words, taking no action on the issue and placing it on the council’s agenda at a later date. The decision, though not opposed by some members of the council, would effectively block video gaming machines from showing up in Bethany for the foreseeable future despite the passage of an ordinance last year aimed at doing the opposite.
It was in January of 2014 that the board approved by a 3-2 vote a motion amending the section of the liquor ordinance that then prohibited gambling and gaming terminals to instead, in the future, allow them.
The legislative move was possible because all ordinances must receive legal review of their wording, and a final approval of that wording, before going into effect, which the amendment to the liquor ordinance has yet to receive. If the amendment were to fail at this point, it would simply go back to the village’s legal council for rewording—a process that board members clarified would be superfluous to their final decision. Read More

Electric Customers Awarded $200 Credit On Bill

March 4, 2015

Settlement refunds Sullivan more than $150,000
by Ariana Cherry
Sullivan/Arthur Reporter

Commissioner Mike Kirk announced at the city council’s last regular meeting that all electric customers who were billable on December 31 of last year will be receiving a $200 credit on their next utility bill.
The $200 credit is a result from an appeal that IMEA (Illinois Municipal Electric Agency) had filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in which they had protested a rate hike. Ameren had increased the wholesale distribution in 2011, which had been passed onto Sullivan and its customers.
Customers saw this rate increase because the city of Sullivan electric department purchases its power from the IMEA (which represents 33 communities that purchase blocks of electricity through a long term power supply agreement with Ameren/Dynegy).The appeal was settled in favor of the IMEA, and a refund was issued by Ameren to the IMEA in October 2014. Read More

Charleston Woman Involved in Fatal Wreck Friday Morning Between Bethany and Sullivan

Photo by RR Best Emergency personnel are seen next to a 2015 Mazda passenger car  belonging to Amanda Kent of Charleston, who was pronounced dead at the scene after her vehicle was struck while parked on the shoulder of Illinois Route 121 Friday morning. In the background is the 2006 Cadillac SUV that was driven by Ame Shelton of Decatur that collided with Kent.

Photo by RR Best
Emergency personnel are seen next to a 2015 Mazda passenger car belonging to Amanda Kent of Charleston, who was pronounced dead at the scene after her vehicle was struck while parked on the shoulder of Illinois Route 121 Friday morning. In the background is the 2006 Cadillac SUV that was driven by Ame Shelton of Decatur that collided with Kent.

February 27, 2015

Vehicle struck after pulling over onto shoulder
by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

 

According to the Moultrie County Sheriff and Coroner's Offices, a 26 year-old Charleston woman was killed after her vehicle was struck between Sullivan and Bethany Friday morning.
At 7 a.m. Friday the Moultrie County Sheriff’s Office received a phone report of a two vehicle crash on Illinois Route 121 approximately two miles west of Sullivan. Read More