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

The Bee Raising Buzz: It’s The Honey

Photo by Emily Stutzman Beekeepers Tom Vance and John Durbin smoke bees to lure them into hives where the workers make some of the sweetest local honey in the country.

Photo by Emily Stutzman
Beekeepers Tom Vance and John Durbin smoke bees to lure them into hives where the workers make some of the sweetest local honey in the country.

•September 28, 2016•

By Emily Stutzman
for the News Progress

Honey at the grocery store is identified by the classic bear-shaped containers. Some may even buy locally grown honey at farmer’s markets or orchards. However, there are an increasing number of people who have started raising their own bees. Local farmer, John Durbin is one of those. Durbin has lived in the Sullivan area for many years and is one of the founders of the Arthur Beekeepers Club, which meets on the first Monday of every month at the Arthur United Methodist Church at 6:30 P.M.

“The intention,” he explained, “is to give people information that’ll help them keep their bees healthy.”

The Arthur Beekeepers Club has been meeting informally over the summer, with their first formal gathering on September 5. Durbin, who has lived in Sullivan for many years but only started keeping bees in 2013 is one of the officers. He invited me to attend the meeting and offered to let me try some actual beekeeping as well.

The first step of the beekeeping process was to fire up the smoker, which was fueled by cedar chips, and don some white beekeeping suits and gloves. We then headed out to the row of white bee hives a safe distance from the Durbins’ house.  Read More

Yost Found Guilty of Randall Murder

Photo by Mike Brothers Convicted of murder Michael Yost is escorted from Moultrie County Courthouse Sept. 15 by Sheriff Chris Sims (right) Chief Deputy Gary Carroll (left) and Deputy Gary Eller (second from left). Yost remains in Moultrie County Jail until his sentencing October 21.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Convicted of murder Michael Yost is escorted from Moultrie County Courthouse Sept. 15 by Sheriff Chris Sims (right) Chief Deputy Gary Carroll (left) and Deputy Gary Eller (second from left). Yost remains in Moultrie County Jail until his sentencing October 21.

•September 21, 2016•

By Mike Brothers

Michael Yost was found guilty of first degree murder in the cutting death of Sheri Randall in March 2015.

Chief Circuit Judge Dan L. Flannell announced the guilty verdict at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, ending the bench trail that began Monday, Sept. 12.

Judge Flannell emphasized that the state’s case established that Yost was guilty of all four counts filed, acknowledging the crime was cruel and heinous as State’s Attorney Jeremy Richey emphasized in his closing.

Yost faces a 20 years to natural life sentence with Judge Flannell scheduling a pre-sentence investigation report for 9 a.m. October 21. Yost was returned to the Moultrie County Jail to await sentencing.

Public Defender Brad Rau offered two witnesses on Yost’s behalf following the close of the state’s case on Thursday morning.

Yost, 43, recounted the events leading up to the death of Sheri Randall on March 4 while the court allowed endocrinologist Dr. Gregory Clark to observe the testimony.

Rau began by pointing out that Yost had Type II diabetes and asked his activities beginning on March 2, 2015. Read More

Yost Found Guilty of Randall Murder

image•September 15, 2016•
Michael Yost, was found guilty of first degree murder in the cutting death of Sheri Randall in March 2015.

Chief Circuit Judge Dan L. Flannell announced the guilty verdict at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, ending the bench trail that began Monday, Sept. 12.

Judge Flannell emphasized that the states case established that Yost was guilty of all four counts filed, acknowledging the crime was cruel and heinous as States Attorney Jeremy Richey emphasized in his closing.

Yost faces a 20 years to natural life sentence with Judge Flannell scheduling a pre-sentence investigation report for 9 a.m. October 21. Yost was returned to the Moultrie County Jail to await sentencing.

Public Defender Brad Rau offered two witnesses on Yost’s behalf following the close of the states case on Thursday morning.
Michael Yost, 43, recounted the events leading up to the death of Sheri Randall on March 4 while the court allowed endocrinologist Dr. Gregory Clark to observe the testimony.

Rau began by pointing out Yost had Type II diabetes and ask his activities beginning on March 2, 2015.