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

Okaw Valley Students Connect with Trading Cards

Photo by Ellen Ferrera-Dick OVHS students Destiny Underwood, Cameron Nickerson, Savannah Gibbons, Kelly McGill and Chloe Wirey check out the trading cards that will help them contact students from around the world and around the area.

Photo by Ellen Ferrera-Dick
OVHS students Destiny Underwood, Cameron Nickerson, Savannah Gibbons, Kelly McGill and Chloe Wirey check out the trading cards that will help them contact students from around the world and around the area.

•November 2, 2016•

By Ellen Ferrera-Dick
For the News Progress

Did your grandmother, perhaps, have an old scrapbook filled with colorful, little trading cards? Collecting them in this manner was a popular activity by the turn of the century.

Today, the trading cards are having a renaissance in the art classes of Jeni Yantis at Okaw Valley High School in Bethany.

“I follow the blogs of other teachers - it’s a way to exchange project ideas, and I found this other teacher who created the trading card idea,” Yantis explained. “She then started exchanging her students’ work. I really liked the idea of artwork here in Bethany being shared with other students all over the world.”

And that’s where the original artwork from Bethany is headed-all over the world.

Measuring barely two inches by three inches- about the size of sports trading cards, the brightly colored and multi-topic creations are designed by art students and are drawn in ink, pencil, crayon, acrylic paint, gel pen or whatever strikes their fancy.

Once created, a group of 100 cards are sent to another teacher who sends them out to other schools all over the world.  Read More

Yost Gets 75 Years for Randall Murder

Victim Statements Show Impact on Family

•October 26, 2016•

By Mike Brothers

All the kids are afraid,” were the words of Sheri Randall’s nine year old son Donovan read by grandfather Terry Standerfer in open court prior to Michael S. Yost’s  sentencing Oct. 21.

Yost was sentenced to 75 years in prison for the death of Randall. First degree murder requires an offender to serve 100% of the sentence. He will be 117 years old when the sentence is completed.

Judge Dan L. Flannell explained Randall’s brutal 2015 murder reflected the boy’s concerns and indicated the death affected the community. Donovan’s statement was taken by Moultrie County Dove and presented as part of the Victim’s Impact testimony prior to sentencing.

Standerfer continued to read from Donovan Collins’ statement, looking directly at Michael Yost repeatedly. The letter revealed the boy feels unsafe and fearful, he cannot trust anyone and his classmates at school are afraid. Read More

75 Years in Prison

Yost is Gone

•October 21, 2016•

Michael S. Yost was sentenced to 75 years in prison by the Hon. Judge Dan L. Flannell in Moultrie County Circuit Court Friday, Oct. 21.

He was taken to the Dept. of Corrections facility in Hillsboro from Sullivan.

Yost was found guilty of the March 2015 murder of Sheri Randall, 43.

First degree murder requires Yost to serve the full 75 years of the sentence. He will be 117 years old when his sentence is completed.

Jeremy Richey was the prosecutor for Moultrie County. Public Defender Brad Rau represented Yost.

State Board Tests Moultrie

Photo by Mike Brothers Board of Elections Supervisor Kyle Thomas and County Clerk Georgia England during the State Board election equipment testing in Moultrie County last week.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Board of Elections Supervisor Kyle Thomas and County Clerk Georgia England during the State Board election equipment testing in Moultrie County last week.

•October 19, 2016•

Moultrie County’s new Unisyn election equipment was given an A+ during testing by the Illinois Board of Elections, October 13.

Three representatives of the Board of Elections chose Moultrie County for a random check and pretest of the election voting and tabulation system.

“We pretest all the equipment  for function, touch screen accuracy and calibration,” B of E evaluator Bruce Brown, said of the testing process.

Moultrie County replaced its 25 year old voting system with the new Unisyn system in the spring. Liberty Systems LLC, handles software support for Moultrie County, and Ken Gibson noted the confidence in the Unisyn system has grown and Liberty Systems has added Clark and Macon counties to service this election. Read More

SHS Alumni Initiate Memorable Teacher Honor

Photo by Mike Brothers Sullivan High School Alumni Who’s Who Award winner Norma Piper (Class of ’57) emotionally accepts the honor from Cindy Bruce (Class of ’65) at the annual banquet October 8.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Sullivan High School Alumni Who’s Who Award winner Norma Piper (Class of ’57) emotionally accepts the honor from Cindy Bruce (Class of ’65) at the annual banquet October 8.

•October 12, 2016•

J. Harold Jones helped Sullivan High School students understand math for 26 years.

Sullivan High School alumni honored Jones with the first Most Memorable Teacher award.

Before presenting daughters Nancy Davis and Kathy Kelly with certificates, alumni Ralph Kirk shared an understanding of how the man with an initial as a first name did more than help students with math problems.

Kirk explained that Jones touched and cared for students while staying involved with family, church, county government and various volunteer organizations. Named Illinois teacher of the year in 1964, James Harold Jones graduated from Eastern in 1937 and received his masters from U of I in 1941.

“He had a way of making complicated things simple,” Kirk recalled of the math teacher who was selected overwhelmingly for the first Most Memorable Teacher honor.

Cindy Bruce, SHS class of 1965, presented the Who’s Who Award to 1957 graduate Norma Piper.  Read More

New Director for Sullivan’s Mid-Illinois Senior Services

Photo by Kennedy Nolen Mid-Illinois Senior Services Director Kathi Shackles

Photo by Kennedy Nolen
Mid-Illinois Senior Services Director Kathi Shackles

•October 5, 2016•

By Kennedy D. Nolen
For the News Progress

The board of members at the Mid-Illinois Senior Services and Community Center chose Kathi Shackles to be the new director, after 12 years of employment at the center.

“I was excited and honored to be chosen,” Shackles said.

The senior center offers advocacy for seniors, Medicare/Medicaid counseling, legal aid, transportation, and is also a site for Peace Meals hosted by Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center.

About 10 to 15 people come in for Peace Meals each day, Shackles said.

Usually if the schools are closed in the winter for snow days, the senior center is too. This means the Peace Meal is cancelled as well, and TNT Pizzeria has hosted the meals in the past on days where the center is not open.

Shackles is available to answer insurance questions, find clients new insurance companies and will even file official complaints if need be. Help is also offered to those needing guidance navigating the Medicare/Medicaid websites.

As director, Shackles must now deal with the fiscal and financial side of the organization. She said she has a bigger responsibility, but loves the challenge. Read More