Scary Bus Ride

Photo by RR Best
Scary Bus Ride
Thirty-five passengers on a Teutopolis school bus took an unexpected detour on the way to a ball game Friday. At 3:19 p.m. the bus was struck on the driver’s side by a van driven by Scarlett McKenzie, 36, of Mattoon and turned over on its passenger side blocking Route 32 at the Bruce-Findlay road intersection. Moultrie County Sheriff Chris Sims reported the bus contained the Teutopolis basketball team, cheerleaders and coaches. Five students were taken to Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. McKenzie was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur and kept for observation. She was ticketed by MCSD for driving under the influence of alcohol and failure to yield. After her hospital release on Monday she was transported to Moultrie County Jail pending further charges from the states attorney. Robert Bothwell of Teutopolis was the driver of the bus. In addition to MCSD, Sullivan police and fire departments, Illinois State Police, plus ambulances from Sullivan, Lovington, Mattoon, Bethany, Windsor, Findlay and Arthur responded to the scene. Walker Wrecker Service uprighted the bus and towed it away. Traffic was detoured through Sullivan 66, Inc. (Howy’s) parking lot. Students were treated by area EMTs west of the parking lot. Sullivan school district dispatched a bus to transport the Teutopolis students. Surrounding school district administrators were on hand to offer assistance as well.

Rotary Honors Community Servant Jim Bales

Photo by Mike Brothers
Gerry Wood (left) presents Jim Bales with the Sullivan Rotary Club’s annual Vocational Service Award during the January 31 meeting held at TnT Pizzeria in Sullivan.

•February 8, 2017•

Sullivan Rotary Club presented its annual Vocational Service Award to Jim Bales during the January 31 meeting at TnT Pizzeria.

Selection committee representative Gerry Wood pointed out that Bales inspired and mentored youth while teaching at Sullivan High School and operating Jim’s Pizza in the 1960s and 70s.

“As a business teacher he taught many local business owners the basics while explaining the importance of ethics,” Wood began.

He went on to point out that as a physical education teacher and coach Bales continued teaching the same values that continue to guide him. Read More

Grit & Glory – Traversing the Panama Canal

Photo by Joe Pound
At the Farewell Panama party the Sullivan Eleven lined up with the rest of the tour group and with four native women dressed in Pollera, native dress of the culture. The elaborate dresses take up to a year to make and are adorned with thousands of dollars in jewelry.

•February 1, 2017•

By Jose Libra
for the News Progress

Along with about a dozen friends from Sullivan, we just returned from five warm, sunny days touring this remarkable civil engineering project and its environs in the Republic of Panama.

The preplanned trip was organized and led by Road Scholar guides, beginning with our landing in the skyscraper crowded Panama City, the capital of the country.

Led by Don Schmidgall of Sullivan our group benefited from his energy and attention to detail, making the trip easy and fascinating. Highlights included history of the canal, size and scope of this project, traversing by ship the entire canal, perfect weather in the 90’s, our two tour guides, the new bridge over the Canal being built at Colon, riding high in the top cabin of the tour boat, the railroad trip back to Panama City from Colon, wonderful breeze along the canal trip, the rainforest, delicious food and the farewell dinner and dancers.

Our local tour guides from Road Scholar were “Archie” and “Rey”, both Panamanian citizens. Both of them were a joy and taught us a great deal about the history and reality of this central part of Panama. Read More

Sullivan’s Healthcom Reaches Out to Help Others

Photo furnished
Last year Healthcom celebrated 25 years of growth in Sullivan with a selfie. As the needs of senior citizens grow, so grows the staff at Healthcom.

•January 25, 2017•

By Kennedy Nolen
for the News Progress

The business was born in the small town of Sullivan in 1992 and has helped thousands ever since: Healthcom.

The founder Ralph Kirk said his idea for Healthcom all began when his aunt in Chicago had a stroke. He said she fell on the floor and lay there for three days until she passed.

At the time, Kirk worked in a hospital, and all he thought was, “Why in the world can we not do something to help people in these situations?”

Healthcom is a company that provides seniors and those with disabilities with health services at the push of a button to help them live comfortably at home. Kirk said the business partners with hospitals and home care services in all 50 states, and they rescue 1,500 to 2,000 people per month. That is nearly 25,000 a year! Read More

Enhanced 911 Ready for Test

•January 18, 2017•

By Mike Brothers

Coles-Moultrie 911 coordinator Bernie Buttram reported at the January 4 Moultrie County Public Health and Safety Committee meeting that a few landline connections are holding up the initial test for the new Emergency 911 system.

Designed to pinpoint emergency call locations for all Coles and Moultrie counties, Buttram explained the enhanced system was prepared for testing February 1, 2017.

He explained INdigital Telecom, which coordinates E911 in Indiana, is coordinating the effort for Coles and Moultrie to get emergency 911 in operation. Some delay occurred when Consolidated Communications, the original coordinator for landline service, backed off the project. INdigital took over with  the initial test moved from December 2016 to February 2017.

Moultrie County board member Kevin McReynolds and Sullivan firefighter Larry Edwards, who have been involved in the 911 program since it began, are the Moultrie County representatives on the nine person bi-county board. Read More

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