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. Read More

Hydro-Gear Makes Changes to Attract Workers

Photo by Keith Stewart Applications engineer Tom Gavin walks down a busy isle at Hydro-Gear Friday, February 6.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Applications engineer Tom Gavin walks down a busy isle at Hydro-Gear Friday, February 6.

February 18, 2015

New hiring practices, training and promotion opportunities

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

Like many manufacturers today, Hydro-Gear in Sullivan is finding it difficult to recruit quality workers. But the Sullivan based company has taken a hard look at its own shortcomings and as a result, recently made internal changes to hiring practices, is applying new training and promotional opportunities, and taken a more active seat at the discussion table when it comes to the perception of manufacturing in today’s day and age, all in an effort to show they mean business when it comes to valuing their workforce.
“Manufacturing is a whole lot different today than when I started in manufacturing 30 years ago,” said Joe Scheiner, Priority Quality Issues Leader at Hydro-Gear. “I want people to see that.”
Hydro-Gear’s roots may be traced back to the 1980s when Sauer-Danfoss located in Ames, Iowa began producing a hydraulic transmission that was paired with an axle assembly at the original equipment manufacturer, be it John Deere or Cub Cadet. Read More

Okaw Valley Aids in Revival of Local Manufacturing Through Education

Photo Courtesy of Agri-Fab Okaw Valley student Dalton Bly is seen welding at Agri-Fab as a part of the new Student Learner Program.

Photo Courtesy of Agri-Fab
Okaw Valley student Dalton Bly is seen welding at Agri-Fab as a part of the new Student Learner Program.

February 11, 2015

No Jobs Left Behind group helps get gears going at OVHS

by Derek Pope
Bethany Reporter

While the school year is heading into its final stretch for many area educators, administrators over at Okaw Valley have decided that it is not too late to reinvent how they teach nontraditional skills to students.
In January, Okaw Valley’s administration released details on their participation in a new initiative aimed at reviving manufacturing in east central Illinois that, at the same time, promises to revitalize how individuals become proficient in trades before entering the workforce. The initiative, being called the Student Learner Program, places students with novice level experience in specific trades, gained through their time at Okaw Valley, into paid internships at local businesses that encompass the trade in which they are interested. Read More

Council Asked to Zone Travel Trailer Area

February 4, 2015

Council Asked to Zone Travel Trailer Area Tuscola’s Cronus plant construction seen as local economic opportunity

by Ariana Cherry
Sullivan/Arthur Reporter

Stepheny McMahon, director of the Sullivan Chamber and Economic Development, addressed the Sullivan City Council in their last regular meeting about the possibility of zoning for a travel trailer area in preparation for the Cronus Plant (Tuscola) construction workers who will be coming to work in September.
McMahon questioned whether the mobile home parks would be interested in allowing campers and fifth wheels to come fill their empty spots.
“I spoke with the regional manager of the trailer parks, and she was interested, whether it be temporary or permanent, if the city would allow it,” said McMahon. Read More

Standerfer’s “Scroll” an Ambitious Endeavor

Photo by RR Best Pictured is the Sullivan Elementary School newspaper staff, from left to right: Connor Golden, Devon Winings, Clayton Schmohe, Wes Standefer, and Ben Bushue.

Photo by RR Best
Pictured is the Sullivan Elementary School newspaper staff, from left to right: Connor Golden, Devon Winings, Clayton Schmohe, Wes Standerfer, and Ben Bushue.

January 28, 2015

Fifth grader starts elementary school newspaper

by Ariana Cherry
Sullivan/Arthur Reporter

Fifth grader Wesley Standerfer isn’t your typical kid.
Just a little over a year ago, he started his very own neighborhood newspaper, the “Shumanville Times.” Living on Shuman farmland inspired him to share the family news to those nearby. He delivered print editions locally, while others requested it by email from as far away as Texas and Washington D.C. At such a young age, he already began to see the potential of the printed word so Standerfer expanded his horizons and took to reporting in the halls of Sullivan Elementary School.
“I had the idea to start the newspaper because I thought that it would be a good idea to educate the students in the school about what was going on in the grades above and below them,” said Standerfer.
Although, the first time around, it didn’t quite come out as expected. Read More

Smiles on Faces Four Hooves at a Time

Photo by RR Best Andrea Ebert is seen with Jasper, one of her two mini therapy horses, during a visit to Aspen Creek in early December.

Photo by RR Best
Andrea Ebert is seen with Jasper, one of her two mini therapy horses, during a visit to Aspen Creek in early December.

January 21, 2015

Mini horses make visits to local residential centers

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

Andrea Ebert describes it as her perfect storm.
The nurse of more than 30 years who also has a master’s degree in gerontology was able to combine her love for people and for horses last fall by way of creating Heartland Mini Horses, an organization she formed out of Taylorville that seeks to provide therapeutic visits to nursing homes and assisted living centers with the help of two hairy little horses: Jasper and Bailey.
At just 32 inches tall, Jasper is a two-year old miniature horse and is joined by eight-month old Bailey who stands an inch shorter, is black-and-white, and acts as Jasper’s sister in the way they will playfully gnaw at one another.
“Anything over 34 inches is pony stage,” explained Ebert. “As far as training them, these horses have to have a great deal of patience. There are times I’ve had Bailey sit for five minutes waiting for someone to touch her.” Read More

Moultrie Moves On 911 Improvements

Photo by Keith Stewart Last month, the county board, acting in their new capacity with recently elected Billy Voyles joining the board, formally agreed to contract with Coles County’s 911 center to make improvements to Moultrie’s emergency phone services. Pictured, from left to right: Billy Voyles, Kevin McReynolds, Roger Glazebrook, Arlene Aschermann, Dave McCabe, county clerk Georgia England, Ron White, Gary Smith, Tim Rose, and Todd Maxedon. McCabe was voted to retain the chairmanship, and White was again chosen as vice-chairman at their reorganization meeting in December.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Last month, the county board, acting in their new capacity with recently elected Billy Voyles joining the board, formally agreed to contract with Coles County’s 911 center to make improvements to Moultrie’s emergency phone services. Pictured, from left to right: Billy Voyles, Kevin McReynolds, Roger Glazebrook, Arlene Aschermann, Dave McCabe, county clerk Georgia England, Ron White, Gary Smith, Tim Rose, and Todd Maxedon. McCabe was voted to retain the chairmanship, and White was again chosen as vice-chairman at their reorganization meeting in December.

January 14, 2015

Committee rejects tax referendum, for now

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

At their final meeting of the year, the county board approved 911 upgrades that will now task Coles County with the ability to tone out or directly page emergency personnel here in Moultrie County.

At their December 11 meeting and acting in their newly elected capacity with former board member and Democrat Ken Johnson replaced by Republican Billy Voyles, the board unanimously approved the more than $45,000 in upgrades that will now allow Coles County’s 911 center CECOM, with whom Moultrie has contracted for 911 services for just over three years, to directly page out the appropriate emergency personnel.

Before these upgrades, CECOM, upon receiving a wireless 911 call, had to contact either the Moultrie sheriff or Sullivan fire department, depending on the nature of the call, and verbally relay the emergency information. The 911 caller would become part of a three-way phone call before CECOM disconnected and let the Moultrie county agency take over. This relaying of information is said to have taken up valuable minutes in paging out emergency responders, minutes that the upgrades look to avoid. Read More

County Consolidates Pay Schedules into One

January 7, 2015

Some employees receive extra check

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

At their November meeting, the county board unanimously approved consolidating the county’s three different payrolls into one, a move that saw an immediate cost, but one that looks to provide a net savings down the road.

Citing cumbersome payroll processing for each of the county’s three payrolls, board chairman Dave McCabe explained that the consolidation will make for more efficiency in the county clerk’s office.

“You may remember some time ago we made the decision to delay the pay period so that we’d have time when someone left the county’s employment to take care of any changes in money we owed them, [or that] they owed us,” said McCabe. “Like most businesses do, you have a delay from your first pay period to reflect those…well, that got to be a little messy because we were just changing new employees so the old employees were under the old plan, and the new employees were under the new plan, and somehow we got a third one in there, and I’m not real sure how that third one got in there, but what it resulted in was Pam (Wittkowski, chief deputy clerk) and Georgia (England, county clerk) were having to calculate three separate payrolls for each pay period. Very time consuming, very confusing, so they worked with our auditor and talked with me a little bit about it and decided we would go to a one week delay for everybody.” Read More

Council Asked to Take a Crack at the Courts

Photo by Keith Stewart A long crack can be seen running through one of the two tennis courts at Wyman Park.

Photo by Keith Stewart
A long crack can be seen running through one of the two tennis courts at Wyman Park.

December 31, 2014

Growing local tennis association calls for need of better facilities

by Ariana Cherry & Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

The Sullivan City Council was addressed by a member of the public in their last regular meeting of the year to see whether rebuilding tennis courts in Wyman Park might be a possibility in the future.
Christopher Dobosz, owner of the Okaw Valley Tennis Association, addressed the council with the current state of the courts and how his tennis association, in growing each of its three years, is in need of newer and more courts to continue the program in Sullivan.
“The tennis program, in our third year, is growing every single year,” said Dobosz. “We’re expanding to other cities and other towns around here. We are also doing Shelbyville, Findlay, Bethany, Tuscola. We’re adding Lovington and Arthur next spring. We also sponsor many other actives in the park and at the tennis courts. We do a Nickelodeon world wide day of fun. We do that and all of these at no charge to children to come and enjoy the park and enjoy the tennis courts. We do lessons. We do play days. We have Jazzercise. I want to make this more than just tennis. It’s education. It’s growing the children. Also, a lot of these people that are coming to these programs, coming to these tournaments, they’re all coming from out of town, so we have a lot of people that are coming in, stopping, spending money at the gas stations and at food places, and it’s really been working well.” Read More

Bending Birthday Traditions for Christmas

Photo by RR Best Nine-year-old Shalyn Hunter decided to instead of capitalize on her Christmas Eve birthday to donate her presents to the local Secret Santa group. Pictured, from left to right, are Sullivan police chief and Secret Santa organizer John Love, Hunter, and fellow Secret Santa organizer Janet Dirks along with a few of the gifts Hunter donated Sunday.

Photo by RR Best
Nine-year-old Shalyn Hunter decided to instead of capitalize on her Christmas Eve birthday to donate her presents to the local Secret Santa group. Pictured, from left to right, are Sullivan police chief and Secret Santa organizer John Love, Hunter, and fellow Secret Santa organizer Janet Dirks along with a few of the gifts Hunter donated Sunday.

December 24, 2014

9-year-old donates gifts to Secret Santa

by Ariana Cherry

Arthur/Sullivan Reporter

For nine year-old gymnist, Shalyn Hunter, she just isn’t flexible with her gymnastics routines-she is also very flexible with what she is doing with her birthday presents this year. In fact, you could say, she was bending the rules when it comes to tradition.

“I wanted other kids that don’t have presents to have presents,” said Hunter.

“She’s always had a soft heart and has been sweet,” her mother Siovhan stated.

Hunter did something quite extraordinary with her birthday gifts this year. With her birthday being on Christmas Eve, she wanted to make a difference in other children’s lives for the holidays. Hunter asked that all her guests bring a gift for both girls and boys in the following age groups: two to four, four to six and six to eight. They hoped to collect at least 12 to 13 gifts total. After her birthday party celebration this past Sunday at the gymnastics academy that was to include plenty of tumbling tricks, they loaded all the gifts and delivered them to the Secret Santa Program in Sullivan. Hunter admitted to feeling a bit like Santa Claus because she, too, was delivering presents to children. Read More