Zoos Now Allowed Inside Moultrie

Photo by RR Best The Moultrie County Board held its monthly meeting last Thursday in what became a packed courtroom anxious to speak their thoughts about allowing zoos to set up shop in the county. The board eventually voted and approved by a count of 8-1 an amendment that would allow just that.

Photo by RR Best
The Moultrie County Board held its monthly meeting last Thursday in what became a packed courtroom anxious to speak their thoughts about allowing zoos to set up shop in the county. The board eventually voted and approved by a count of 8-1 an amendment that would allow just that.

Ordinance amended Thursday to allow for wildlife parks

April 15, 2015

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

Moving their monthly meeting to a third floor courtroom Thursday to allow for more members of the public to attend, the Moultrie County Board approved by a vote of 8-1 to amend the zoning ordinance to allow for zoos and wildlife parks in the county.
The board’s decision followed more than 45 minutes of public comment, 30 of which were from Urbana attorney Kent Follmer, who is representing 17 landowners opposed to, not only the zoning amendment, but also a specific wildlife project that has been proposed in the county, but that wasn’t up for consideration.
Known as the Aikman Wildlife Adventure, the park would initially span 45 acres and 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. The park would be located one mile west of the Great Pumpkin Patch southwest of Arthur.
Follmer’s presentation to the board Thursday included objections from the Moultrie County Farm Bureau and local veterinarian Dr. DeWayne Richter.
The Bureau, in a letter to the county board, expressed its stance, saying, “The Moultrie County Farm Bureau opposes production farmland taken out of production for non-agricultural use.”
This was a point that has been and continues to be echoed by Follmer when arguing the intent of the agricultural zoning ordinance and citing its preamble which in part outlines its goal as to “promote and protect the public health, safety and general welfare by separating incompatible nonagricultural uses from potentially incompatible agricultural uses…” Read More

Cause Undetermined in Vehicle Fire Investigation

Photo by RR Best Sullivan fire captain Chris Wright looks at the remains of a vehicle fire that spread to a garage Wednesday afternoon.

Photo by RR Best
Sullivan fire captain Chris Wright looks at the remains of a vehicle fire that spread to a garage Wednesday afternoon.

Fire spreads to garage of triplex

April 15, 2015

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

A garage belonging to a three-apartment structure suffered damage Wednesday, April 8 from a parked vehicle that previously caught fire.
According to Sullivan Fire Captain Chris Wright, a vehicle belonging to Cynthia Fleming caught fire Wednesday afternoon after being parked and idle for approximately an hour. The vehicle was in close proximity to a garage door belonging to a triplex, which caught fire but did not spread beyond the garage.
Fleming added that she only discovered the fire after a neighbor notified her. A phone call was received by the Sullivan Fire Department at 3:23 p.m., but according to Wright, on-duty personnel were out on two simultaneous ambulance calls, requiring duty crew to come from home. Read More

Aiming High for Food for Golf Day

Fundraiser for the Moultrie County Food Pantry April 24

April 8, 2015

by Ariana Cherry
Arthur/Sullivan Reporter

Golfers at the Sullivan Country Club won’t be “puttering around” when it comes to donating food for the Moultrie County Food Pantry later this month. In fact, they will be having their own kind of drive–one that will be aiming for more than just a hole-in-one or under-par as the community will have a chance to enjoy a few rounds of golf while helping donate to a good cause.
“This has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said the Sullivan Country Club golf pro Andy Wagner. “I know from personal experiences that there are a lot of unexpected things in life and things get tough so I thought what a great opportunity to help the food pantry so they can help others who are in need. Our community really stands together and helps when called upon. Both the Country Club and I feel this is a way for us to contribute.” Read More

OV Debuts Tentative End of Year Budget

Public hearing to be held in May before vote

April 1, 2015

by Derek Pope
Bethany Reporter

Coming out of school board meetings in February and March, Okaw Valley’s administration has been focused on rolling out a tentative end-of-year budget that, according to superintendent Kent Stauder, would largely act as “the start of next year’s budget.” The process has not been without some difficulties though, Stauder explained to school board members during their most recent meeting. Since Governor Bruce Rauner took office in January of this year, school districts have faced numerous financial uncertainties in the wake of his efforts to make good on campaign promises of drastically cutting the state budget. Read More

Yost Pleads Not Guilty to First Degree Murder

Requests trial by jury

April 1, 2015

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

A man accused of murdering a Sullivan woman pled not guilty Monday morning and requested a trial by jury.
Michael Yost, 40, of Sullivan, appeared before the Hon. Judge Dan Flannell Monday morning along with public defender Bradford Rau. Yost was to appear that afternoon for his preliminary hearing of which he instead waived.
Yost was found unresponsive on March 4 inside a Graham Street apartment along with Sheri L. Randall, 43, also of Sullivan. Randall was pronounced dead by Moultrie County Coroner Lynn Reed. A preliminary autopsy the following day concluded that Randall had died as a result of multiple stab wounds on the abdomen. Yost had also been found with stab wounds, but which appeared to emergency personnel to have been self-inflicted. After being transported to St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur and released six days later, Yost was promptly arrested and brought up on four counts of first degree murder. Read More

Sullivan City Council Approves Wayward Signage for Hamilton, Jefferson Streets

April 1, 2015

by Ariana Cherry
Arthur/Sullivan Reporter

Members of the Sullivan City Council met briefly at their final meeting of March to discuss the addition of wayward signage throughout areas in Sullivan to direct visitors to dining/shopping areas, The Little Theatre on the Square, the public pool, and the Welcome Center. The Sullivan Chamber of Economic Development proposed that two signs be installed on Hamilton Street (Route 32) that would direct people east on towards the downtown square – one northbound and one southbound. An additional two signs to be placed on Jackson Street (Route 121) that would direct people south on Washington Street to the downtown square, one eastbound and one westbound were also proposed. Hamilton street signs would display “The Welcome Center,” and the Jefferson Street signs would display “The Public Pool.” Read More

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