UPDATE: Sullivan Teacher Dies After Being Struck by Vehicle

Christina Sanders, 30, pronounced dead Thursday

July 3, 2015

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com
A Sullivan elementary school teacher was pronounced dead Thursday evening after being struck by a vehicle Tuesday.

According to the Moultrie County sheriff's department, Christina Sanders, 30, of Sullivan was pronounced dead at Carle Hospital at 5:33 p.m. Thursday.

Shortly before 7:13 p.m. Tuesday, Sanders was struck by an automobile while jogging along county road 850E just north of the Bruce-Findlay road according to the sheriff’s department.
The release further adds that the automobile was being driven by Kali Forsyth, 18, of Sullivan. Read More

Aikman Wildlife Pulls Special Use Permit

Organizers now looking for another site

July 1, 2015

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

A special use permit filed in May for a zoo near Arthur has been withdrawn.
According to the Moultrie County planning and zoning officer Jan Haegan, James Aikman’s application for a special use permit for his wildlife park was withdrawn Monday afternoon.
Shortly thereafter, a post on the Facebook page Aikman Wildlife Adventure, which James Aikman confirmed as the project’s official page, explained the decision to withdrawal the application, citing the last zoning board of appeals meeting, which concluded with its members not recommending a permit for the zoo.
“The last meeting made it very apparent by the objectors that no matter what we do, nothing will ever be good enough,” read the post. Read More

The Bakery is Back

Photo by RR Best JoBeth Risley is seen boxing up fresh glazed doughnuts early Friday morning. After first opening last Thursday, the Sullivan Bakery has sold out of its goods every day since.

Photo by RR Best
JoBeth Risley is seen boxing up fresh glazed doughnuts early Friday morning. After first opening last Thursday, the Sullivan Bakery has sold out of its goods every day since.

By heavy demand, a Sullivan favorite re-emerges

June 24, 2015

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

Last Thursday just before 3:45 a.m. Drew Zbinden walked a block west to 112 East Harrison and began making doughnuts.
But not just any ordinary doughnuts.
Sullivan Bakery doughnuts–and 40 dozen of them.
The bakery then flipped round its open sign at 5:30 a.m.
Two hours later, all 480 of the cake and round yeast-raised rings, 96 of which were glazed, were gone.
Not to worry right? The bakery still had cookies, brownies, and six dozen muffins.
Gone.
In fact, if you walked into the newly opened bakery Thursday after 9 a.m., it appeared as though they hadn’t opened at all as their three pastry cases sat empty.
Still unbeknownst to the public the mad rush earlier that morning, patron after willing patron continued to come to the bakery in anticipation of a morning pastry.
“You’re only about three hours too late,” said Jerry Risley, Drew’s father and part owner.
“How about 5:30 a.m. tomorrow?” said JoBeth Risley, Drew’s mother (also part owner).
“We’re sold out,” said Zbinden to another customer. “Sorry.” Read More

Hypnotized by “Hairspray”

Photo by Keith Stewart Pictured is Sara Reinecke as Tracy Turnblad, the teenage girl who has aspirations to make it on to the Corny Collins Show.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Pictured is Sara Reinecke as Tracy Turnblad, the teenage girl who has aspirations to make it on to the Corny Collins Show.

June 17, 2015

By Dan Hagen
NP Theatre Critic

The dress rehearsal for the Little Theatre’s second show of the season reminded me just how well Hairspray works as a musical.
The John Waters story about outsiders (persecuted for their pounds and pigmentation) who are trying to get inside a local TV dance program in 1964 provides a perfect excuse for dance after dance. You realize that the large cast must be exhausted by the end of director Kevin Long’s brisk, high-energy show, although their smiles never show it.
Colorful costumes by Sherri Milo are shown off to good effect against a terrific set by Noel Rennerfeldt.
From the moment Tracy Turnblad (Sara Reinecke) emerges from her dramatically vertical bed to sing the life-affirming anthem Good Morning Baltimore, the comic book colors of the set catch and please the eye. I particularly enjoyed the big vari-colored light panels surrounding the stage and the angled, Seuss-like buildings.
Double kudos go to Lee Ann Payne as actor and choreographer. The Equity performer (Reno in 2014’s Anything Goes) brings stage presence and assurance to the role of mean mom Velma Von Tussle, glorying like Cruella De Vil in the memory of her triumph as Miss Baltimore Crabs. Read More

County Board Okays Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda

While a formality, board’s approval marks support for Governor’s reforms

June 10, 2015

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

At their regular meeting last month, the Moultrie county board unanimously approved Governor Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda”, also known as the “Local Government Empowerment and Reform” resolution.
In what is only a show of support with no binding action, the nine-member board gave their approval of the call for reforms that the Illinois governor has been pushing now since he entered office, including those dealing with workers compensation, property tax freezes, term limits, prevailing wage, and empowerment zones or right-to-work areas where union membership and dues would be voluntary and that could be established by referendum or by a governing body’s ordinance or resolution. These zones have been labeled as anti-union by critics. Read More

“Mary Poppins” Starts Off Family Friendly Theatre Season

Photo by Keith Stewart Mary Poppins, played by Effingham native Colleen Johnson has descended on Sullivan this week and may be seen at the Little Theatre on the Square beginning June 3 through the 14th.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Mary Poppins, played by Effingham native Colleen Johnson has descended on Sullivan this week and may be seen at the Little Theatre on the Square beginning June 3 through the 14th.

Will run through June 14

•June 3, 2015•

By Dan Hagen
NP Theatre Critic

One night in Australia in 1909, with rain swelling a nearby creek, 10-year-old Helen Goff’s widowed mother told the girl to take care of her two younger siblings. Mother was going to drown herself, she explained. And then she walked out into the storm.
Terrified, Helen gathered the children on the rug in front of the fire and made up a story about a magical flying horse — a perfect symbol of escape — to distract them. Unsuccessful in her suicide attempt, Helen’s mother returned later, but her daughter never trusted her again.
Helen grew up to wear trousers, engage in various unorthodox relationships and become an author. She changed her name to P.L. Travers and wrote famous stories about a no-nonsense, supernatural protector of children whose parents had failed them.
Which makes sense, doesn’t it?
And now you can see that character soar — literally — across the Little Theatre stage as the first offering in Executive Director John Stephens’ most family-friendly season yet.
Mary Poppins, directed and choreographed by Amber Mak, is a musical drawn from both the original stories and the famous Disney film. Read More

Supreme Court Confirms 90-Day Suspension for Sullivan Attorney

Robert V. Elder to begin suspension June 4

May 27, 2015

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

After more than a year of inquiries and hearings re-
garding allegations of misconduct, a Sullivan attorney has been handed a 90-day suspension from the practice of law.
Robert Vernon Elder, 73, of Sullivan will officially begin his suspension from the practice of law in Illinois beginning June 4 for a period of 90 days after being found guilty of misconduct involving a probate matter.
The complaint against Elder, which was first filed by the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois (ARDC) on March 3, 2014, alleged that Elder engaged in a conflict of interest “by assisting” his client Pam Baskette of Sullivan in “selling the decedent’s residence to a friend…”
The complaint further alleged that Elder did not inform Baskette of the conflict of interest, which included withholding the name of the friend and buyer, who the ARDC notes is Ron Houchin, or that the friend owed several thousand dollars to Elder, or that Elder and Houchin had at one time been business associates. Additionally, the complaint held that Elder did not disclose to Baskette that he himself would use funds from his wife’s bank account to purchase the property or that his wife would hold the mortgage on it. Furthermore, because of the misconduct, the probate estate, which was described as “extremely small”, remained open an extended amount of time. Read More

Sullivan Applies for $450,000 CDAP Grant

Plans to improve sewer system on northwest side

May 20, 2015

by Ariana Cherry
Arthur/Sullivan Reporter

Before the regular meeting of the Sullivan city council last Monday evening, a public hearing concerning a grant from the State Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program for which it intends to apply was held.
It is funded by Title I of the Federal Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. If the city is approved for the grant, the funds will be used to improve the sanitary sewer system in the northwest part of town. Most of the work would be done throughout the neighborhoods rather than the sewer plant. The total amount that has been requested is $450,000. It wasn’t until October of last year when the city discovered that it hadn’t been approved for this same grant for which they had applied previously. The city is assuming that there will be a similar time frame this year. Last year, Sullivan received an unrelated CDAP (Community Development Assistance Program) Grant of $100,000 to fix the sewer system on Monroe Street. Read More

Okaw Valley District Looking into Possibility of Closing Elementary School

With state funding cuts, board discusses proactive vision for future

May 13, 2015

by Joash Tiarks
Bethany Reporter

At a special meeting May 4, after the culmination of more than an hour of discussion, the Okaw Valley School Board assigned superintendent Kent Stauder what amounts to a mini research project, some of which will deal with the possibility of closing the elementary school in Bethany.
Guest speaker Larry Dirks, Director of Field Services with the Illinois Association of School Boards, kicked off the meeting with a small presentation related to the district’s goals and objectives. Every few years the board reviews and updates their ‘Goals and Objectives” document, available on the okawvalley.org website, which is essentially a strategic plan for the coming years. Dirks’ presentation was aimed at giving the board tools to clarify and give focus to the objectives laid out in the document, outlining measurable steps toward their completion. This would help to give more clear direction as well as evaluate what progress has been made.
This is not the first time the veteran board has faced this process. The consensus among the board members was to remain proactive, with a long term plan, rather than try to react to whatever the state may or may not do.
“I don’t want to see us forced into anything,” board member Brooke Bartimus said. “I want to see us having a vision”. Read More

Building a Total Loss in Sunday Afternoon Fire

Photo by RR Best Local firefighters work to extinguish a blaze that fully engulfed a building and two vehicles at the Kaskaskia Biological Station west of Allenville Sunday afternoon.

Photo by RR Best
Local firefighters work to extinguish a blaze that fully engulfed a building and two vehicles at the Kaskaskia Biological Station west of Allenville Sunday afternoon.

Biological station near Allenville suffers damage

May 6, 2015

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

A fire that occurred Sunday afternoon resulted in the total loss of a garage-type structure, a camper, and two vehicles parked nearby.
According to Sullivan fire captain Larry Edwards, his department received an emergency call at around 2:02 p.m. Sunday of a fire located at the Kaskaskia Biological Station west of Allenville, also more commonly known locally as Fish Hook. Sullivan personnel arrived at approximately 2:18 p.m. and observed a garage-type structure that had been converted into a conference/break room fully engulfed, in addition to two parked vehicles and a camper. Read More