Moultrie County Jail Serves Big Savings

Photo by Mike Brothers
New ovens can accommodate 42 meals that exceed required inmate nutritional levels. Chief Deputy Gary Carroll shows one of the variety of prepared dinners served in-house at the Moultrie County Jail.

•January 11, 2017•

Moultrie County jail inmates are eating better in 2017 while saving taxpayer dollars at the same time.

Moultrie County sheriff Chris Sims started in house food service at the jail that could save $30,000 in annual food service costs for the jail’s inmate population. “Meal costs from outside vendors was running about $3.50 each, and we had a difficult time coordinating deliveries so inmates received warm food,” chief deputy Gary Carroll said of the outside caterers who had served the population in the past.

“Housing inmates for federal marshals created complaints about portions and quality,” Sheriff Sims recalled, noting the federal inmate population is important income for the county.

Tiger Correctional Services based in Jonesboro, Ark. provided vending services to Moultrie County Jail and were expanding the prepared food service operation to smaller correctional facilities.

“This worked out great for what we needed to do,” said Sims, emphasizing serving the inmate population in-house with this program requires no additional county jail staff. Read More

New City Offices, Council Moves Meetings

•January 4, 2017•

By Ariana Cherry
for the News Progress

Sullivan City Council meetings are moving to the Elizabeth Titus Library and new offices are replacing the city council chambers at city hall.

Discussions explored renovating the first and second floors with the council  settling on first floor office space.

A quote from Standerfer Bros. Gen. Contractors of Sullivan to renovate the present council room into two offices was solicited. Standerfer Bros bid includes installing new walls, floors, adding two new doors and repair the ceiling.

The quote to convert the council chambers into two offices was $9,547.

The cost of new flooring and new trim will be an additional $9,820.00.  Read More

Family Tradition Reflects Giving Season

Photo by Mike Brothers Bicycle Gifts for Lovington Kids: Two bicycles were given to two Lovington elementary students Dec. 21. One boy and one girl student were selected randomly from all students enrolled. Pictured above: Winner Layna Kapp, Amanda Scroggins with son Lincoln in front, Joc French with daughter Kenzie Frye in front, winner Hunter Carnahan, and Sebastian Eckart (back). The French family has presented gift bicycles for more than 25 years, a tradition begun by Joc’s parents Mark and Tammy French.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Bicycle Gifts for Lovington Kids: Two bicycles were given to two Lovington elementary students Dec. 21. One boy and one girl student were selected randomly from all students enrolled. Pictured above: Winner Layna Kapp, Amanda Scroggins with son Lincoln in front, Joc French with daughter Kenzie Frye in front, winner Hunter Carnahan, and Sebastian Eckart (back). The French family has presented gift bicycles for more than 25 years, a tradition begun by Joc’s parents Mark and Tammy French.

•December 28, 2016•

By Mike Brothers

“Our parents have always made sure we knew the real meaning of Christmas, and I am glad my brother carries on the tradition,” Amanda Scroggins.

The spirit of Christmas giving lives on with the French family, as they gave two bicycles to Lovington elementary students for Christmas.

Joc French is a Lovington alumnus who continues a tradition started by his parents more than 25 years ago. On Wednesday, Dec. 21 the French family tradition continued at the school he once attended.

“When this started, it was meant to help make sure every child has gifts on Christmas just as his children did,” Joc said of parents Mark and Tammy French, who desired to share the season of giving.

“I will continue this tradition as long as our good Lord Jesus Christ will allow.”

All the students from Lovington Elementary School were placed in a container with one boy’s name and one girl’s name chosen.

Seventh graders Layna Kapp and sixth grader Hunter Carnahan were 2016 winners of the two bicycles. Read More

Early Christmas for Two Sullivan Families

Photo by Mike Brothers Moultrie County Habitat for Humanity made the holidays happier for two families last week. Above from left: Abbie and Keegan O’Connell were surprised at Eastview Terrace with a congratulatory balloon bouquet from Habitat representatives president Gary Smith, Cheryl Thomas and Dee Ann Daily.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Moultrie County Habitat for Humanity made the holidays happier for two families last week. Above from left: Abbie and Keegan O’Connell were surprised at Eastview Terrace with a congratulatory balloon bouquet from Habitat representatives president Gary Smith, Cheryl Thomas and Dee Ann Daily.

•December 21, 2016•

Christmas came early for two Sullivan families thanks to Moultrie County Habitat for Humanity.

On December 14 members of the Habitat board surprised Abbie O’Connell with a balloon congratulatory arrangement at her Eastside Terrace workplace. She and husband Keegan were selected for the Habitat rehab project which could be ready in February.

From there Habitat’s band of Christmas elves went to the Moultrie County Courthouse. There the group hid in the back room until Paige Schoonover was brought up from the basement for the surprise announcement.

“I knew last Friday and was afraid I couldn’t keep the secret,” circuit clerk Cindy Braden said of the officewide conspiracy to keep the good news from Schoonover until the official announcement. They celebrated the occasion with sparkling apple juice.

To time this unique two house announcement for the holidays took some advanced planning on the part of the local Habitat for Humanity selection board. Read More

Schools Struggle Without Regular State Funding

•December 14, 2016•

By Mike Brothers

School funding approved by the state before the election has yet to produce results in Sullivan.

Superintendent Brad Tuttle explained Sullivan Unit #300 has not yet received a categorical payment from the state.

“If the state makes one payment instead of the three it committed to, it is going to hurt the district,” Tuttle said, noting the September voucher is still pending comptroller payment.

“It is unfortunate our state is inconsistent to the point we can’t count on it,” he continued, noting the consequence could be a loss of $500,000 in state aid.

The school board adopted a .40537 levy in an attempt to raise an additional $209,130 in local taxes. Read More

Risley Fills Commissioner Vacancy

•December 7, 2016•

By Ariana Cherry
for the News Progress

After returning from their closed session meeting, Sullivan City Council voted to have Jerry Risley fill the position as the street commissioner after Ken Johnson stepped down recently.

Risley begins serving as commissioner December 12 after a new resolution has been passed. He serves until the next election in April 2017.

Mayor Ann Short shared a letter with council members that stated Clem Uptmor would be retiring from his position as director at Elizabeth Titus Memorial Library. Michelle Nolen, who has been the children’s librarian, will be the new director starting January 1, 2017.

Other news that was discussed or acted upon:

(at the two previous November meetings) Read More

New City Administrator is a Familiar Face

Photo by Mike Brothers Sullivan City Adminstrator Dan L. Flannell assumes new duties after retiring as Chief Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit in January.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Sullivan City Adminstrator Dan L. Flannell assumes new duties after retiring as Chief Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit in January.

•November 30, 2016•

By Mike Brothers

When Dan Flannell becomes Sullivan city administrator January 16, 2017 he leaves a 28 year career as Moultrie County Circuit Judge to walk across the street for a new challenge.

On November 21 the Sullivan City Council ended a long search for a city administrator when they chose retiring Judge Flannell to coordinate the city’s day to day operations.

“I knew when I stepped down from the bench, I didn’t want to retire,” Flannell said, noting when he learned of the city’s search for an administrator in the spring it interested him.

Appointed Chief Judge of the Sixth Circuit in 2012, following the illness of Judge John Shonkwiller in Piatt County, Flannell found himself enjoying the administrative duties involved in balancing court operations in rural counties such as Moultrie and Douglas as well as two metro centers in Champaign and Decatur.

Thinking the city administrator position might be a unique match for his skills, he applied and was considered along with other professional applicants.

“I know there were several applicants, and I am grateful to the city council for choosing me,” he said.

“I realize it’s a lot different than being a judge, but I intend to start learning as much as possible.” Read More

Sullivan Chief Served a Giving Community

Photo furnished Chief John Love accepts appreciation plaque from Mayor Ann Short at a recent city council meeting. Chief Love begins retirement November 23 after serving the city of Sullivan for 28 years.

Photo furnished
Chief John Love accepts appreciation plaque from Mayor Ann Short at a recent city council meeting. Chief Love begins retirement November 23 after serving the city of Sullivan for 28 years.

•November 23, 2016•

By Mike Brothers

When Sullivan Chief of Police John Love became a patrolman in 1985, he knew local police could have a greater purpose in the community.

As Chief Love looks toward retirement Nov. 23 after 28 years on the force, it’s with mixed emotions.

“It’s kind of funny, but I know I’m going to miss those weekend calls at home and people stopping me at the local restaurant to discuss a problem,” Love said of the years he has served the community.

For the past 10 years Chief Love, with the backing of the Sullivan City Council, has been able to maintain a professional police force that is well-equipped.

“Jim Waggoner will be a good chief who I have total confidence in,” Love said of his replacement. “With the help of Mayor Short and the city we have a well-equipped professional staff force, and I look forward to that continuing.” Read More

Veterans Paid the Price for Our Freedoms

Photo by Mike Brothers Veterans Honored on November 11 included keynote speaker retired Marine Major Lynn Lowder. Lowder was presented a personalized Marine Corp emblem from students as a token of their appreciation for his service. Pictured to the right of Major Lowder is Career English senior Trey Garriott while veterans look on during the Sullivan High School ceremony.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Veterans Honored on November 11 included keynote speaker retired Marine Major Lynn Lowder. Lowder was presented a personalized Marine Corp emblem from students as a token of their appreciation for his service. Pictured to the right of Major Lowder is Career English senior Trey Garriott while veterans look on during the Sullivan High School ceremony.

•November 16, 2016•

Sullivan schools participated in Veterans Day observations Friday, Nov. 11 with the American Legion Post 68 Honor Guard presenting the colors followed by recognition of veterans during programs at each school.

Sullivan High School’s Career English class hosted recognition of local veterans through song, dance and the reflections of veterans before students who were gathered in the gymnasium.

Keynote speaker 1964 Sullivan High School graduate attorney and retired Marine Major Lynn Lowder is a decorated Vietnam platoon leader, who continues to advocate for veterans through his non-profit 1 Vet at a Time organization.

As a volunteer Lowder left college and went to Vietnam as a second lieutenant Marine specialist in the First Force Reconnaissance Company in 1967. Dropped into the enemy infested jungles of Vietnam by ropes from helicopters, the  FFRC encountered some of the brutalist fighting of the war.

Lowder earned the Silver Star for valor, Bronze Star, Navy Commendation Medal and a Purple Heart, and his message to the high school school audience centered on the price of freedom.

“Veterans took the time out of life to serve at considerable risk to protect our freedom,” Lowder began, explaining not only the veteran but his family was included in the sacrifice. “We owe them our gratitude everyday for letting us live in a country that is free.” Read More

Photo furnished First harvest of soybeans for the OVHS Corp of Engineers cooperative agricultural and environmental studies program is sold with the proceeds helping the school’s FFA and other community projects.

Photo furnished
First harvest of soybeans for the OVHS Corp of Engineers cooperative agricultural and environmental studies program is sold with the proceeds helping the school’s FFA and other community projects.

OVHS Students Reap Benefits of Corp Coop

By Derek Pope
for the News Progress

Okaw Valley School District drew a lot of attention earlier this year when it announced a first-of-its-kind agricultural program built on a partnership with the local division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

It allowed OVHS students to participate firsthand in the cultivation of crops and conservation efforts around Lake Shelbyville.

By the time of that announcement students had already contributed nearly 900 volunteer hours aiding the USACE and since then have dedicated many more. But last week the fruits of their labor paid off—Okaw Valley students harvested a 40-acre soybean plot to which they had tended since it was planted in June.

The cultivation project was overseen by Okaw Valley’s agriculture teacher Wes Wise and was accomplished through the efforts of five high school students and numerous businesses throughout the area.  Read More