News Sidewalks Around Sullivan Square

Photo by Mike Brothers Penhall Company started early Monday sawing away the old sidewalk in preparation for removal. Traffic was rerouted and the noise level on the square increased as the city project includes new accessible walks and resurfacing the street around the square.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Penhall Company started early Monday sawing away the old sidewalk in preparation for removal. Traffic was rerouted and the noise level on the square increased as the city project includes new accessible walks and resurfacing the street around the square.

After A Few Noisy Days of Demolition

•April 6, 2016•

The city of Sullivan sidewalk renovation project started Monday April 4.

It will involve removing the sidewalk and curb around the inside of the square and replacing it with new ADA compliant  walk and crosswalks. The north and east sides of the square will be closed first.

Then closings will occur as needed after the new is installed. The plan is to saw cut the sidewalk all the way, but only the north and east sides will be closed to parking. Workers are using water to cut so the dust will be minimum, but soupy. They will be removing the entrance by the fountain at the northwest corner and leaving the southwest entrance until the north side is complete.

The second phase is to mill the roadway around the square and adjoining streets to prepare for new asphalt. This part will be very noisy but should only last three or four days. Parking will be at a premium during this construction period, and all who can are encouraged to park off the square. There are a few parking places beside the dive shed to the south, as well as the parking lots around the area. No work is scheduled on Washington St. from Jefferson to Water and Jefferson from Washington to Worth.  Everything else around the square will be in the construction zone.  All construction is weather dependent.

Ariana Cherry looks into the costs of the project in her Sullivan City Council story on page 12 of today’s newspaper.

Local Travelers Find Cuba Under Renovation

Sullivan’s Joe Pound kneels at entrance of Hotel Nacional in Cuba

Sullivan’s Joe Pound kneels at entrance of Hotel Nacional in Cuba

•March 30, 2016•

Reported by “Jose” Pound
For the News Progress

Imagine a lush, tropical island in the Caribbean Sea (just 200 miles south of Miami and 90 miles south of Key West, Fla.), about the length of Florida (700 miles), with so much natural beauty, warm & friendly folks plus delightful local food. Only in the last few years have Americans been allowed legally to visit this island to meet and greet these engaging, energetic, creative Cuban people.

This largest island in the Caribbean Sea is one of about 30 major islands, many of which (26) my wife and I have visited over the past 40 years, but never to Cuba. This void was due to our government’s restricted travel embargo policies. Fortunately for us, these past restrictive travel policies now are being relaxed by our government. Recently five adults from Sullivan were part of a flood of new visitors from the US taking advantage of this new freedom to travel to Cuba. It proved to be a great experience for me like none of the other islands of this tropical sea I’ve visited earlier.

Our touring company…Road Scholar (part of Elderhostel based in Boston) has been doing these tours to Cuba for a short time. Elderhostel has been around for 40+ years. It is a well regarded not-for-profit travel agency. Our small group (five) from Sullivan made this trip to Cuba in the middle of March. We were accompanied by 17 other persons from all over the country…from upper Wisconsin to Texas from Ohio to west coast. What a diverse group. This is my report of that experience. The program was called Havana and the Countryside.

This particular Road Scholar group seemed to coalesce well, as we toured the western part of this large beautiful, green tropical island for eight days (March 13-20, 2016). About half of us were singles and about half couples…a diverse group of explorers. All of us from Sullivan were singles.

This experience in the middle of March immediately preceded President Obama’s recent three day visit to Republic of Cuba. It’s been 88 years since a US President visited the island. Our small group departed Cuba on Sunday the March 20 just one hour before the President and his family arrived at Jose Marti International AP near Havana, Cuba. We were delighted to not be there during the President’s visit. One neat fact, our stay in Havana was at the huge Hotel Nacional, where the President stayed. There were all kinds of preparation activities preceding the President and his family’s arrival in the Cuban capital. Read More

Yost Defense Takes a Twist

•March 30, 2016•

By Mike Brothers

Judge Dan L. Flannell granted Michael Yost until April 4 to produce evidence that involuntary intoxication be a reasonable defense in the death of Sheri Randall on March 4, 2015.

Yost, 41,  appeared in Moultrie County Circuit Court March 29 with public defender Brad Rau requesting expert witness expenses. This is to help prove Yost’s diabetes condition combined with alcohol contributed to his amnesia.

State’s Attorney Jeremy Richey objected to Rau’s request for an additional expert evaluation of Yost.

“As for the involuntary intoxication, it was not involuntary if it was caused by his own failure to take care of his condition,” Richey said, after pointing out he didn’t see the link to an insanity plea and the involuntary intoxication issue. Read More

Injured Bald Eagle’s Captor Sought

Photo by RR Best

Photo by RR Best

Damage forces euthanization

•March 30, 2016•

A bald eagle in a severely weakened state due to being kept illegally in captivity, was euthanized March 17.

Illinois Conservation police officers Jason Moody and Brandon Barnes responded to a call about an injured eagle in a field near the Lake Shelbyville Wildlife Management Area in Moultrie County.

The eagle made several attempts to fly but was unable to fly more than 20 yards. After several attempts, the officers were able to capture the bird and deliver it safely to the Illinois Raptor Center in Decatur.   Read More

Left Over Clothing Here, Helps Overseas

CAM Schrock_0283•March 23, 2016•

By Nick Fiala
For The News Progress

A non-profit organization called Christian Aid Ministries, or CAM, has a small operating branch right here in Sullivan.

Ray Miller, a Mennonite from the community of Bourbon, has been assisting with the donations for the past five years. He voluntarily picks up donated or overstocked clothes from thrift stores and churches in the county and drives them out to a collection building rented out by CAM, near Arthur, where they are packaged and eventually shipped overseas.

“I donate my time picking them up,” Miller said. “It’s a really unique deal. Everybody’s doing a little something to help somebody.”

CAM, which is based out of Ohio, orders large containers from a third party company that go to each collection site across the country. The process for transporting the clothes is very thorough.

At the rural Arthur collection facility various church groups gather in shifts to sort through the mountains of donated clothing. For three months volunteers sort, clean repair and prepare the clothing for bales that are shipped overseas.

But since 1981, volunteers have been running it as a well-oiled machine, turning out two large containers per group, to be carried overseas on a barge every year by March. In fact, Miller’s group has already finished their first one this year, and they’re well on their way to finishing the second.  Read More

Leak Free Roofs for Sullivan Schools

•March 23, 2016•

By Mike Brothers

Sullivan students should enjoy leak free roofs and better climate inside following Sullivan Community Unit District #300 school board action March 14.

At that meeting the board approved bids to replace the roofs and HVAC systems for the elementary, middle and high schools. The bus garage will also be included in the roof replacement project.

Mike Zellers of Graham and Hyde Architects explained coordination will be the key to accomplishing the HVAC and roofing replacements during the course of the summer when students are away from school.

Bids were received from six companies for the roof replacement. Top Quality Roofing of Mt. Zion submitted the lowest overall bid at $1,350,000.

Zellers noted a 30 year Firestone rubberized surface was manufacturer backed, and the bid came in 18% under the estimated cost.

Kevin Landrus, district maintenance director, reported on past projects from Top Quality. He noted the company had replaced roofs at several area schools with the most recent involving Mattoon School District which gave excellent ratings for the completed project.

Upon administration recommendation the board approved the Top Quality bid unanimously. Read More

Yost Fit to be Tried for Randall Murder

•March 16, 2016•

Michael S. Yost’s lack of memory from the night Sheri Randall was killed wasn’t enough to keep the Honorable Judge Dan L. Flannell from determining he was fit for trial during a March 15 hearing.

Yost, 41, is charged with four counts of murder in connection with the death of Randall at her Graham St. apartment in Sullivan March 4, 2015.

Dr. Lawrence Jeckel, forensic psychiatrist of Champaign, agreed Yost could have no memory of the night during testimony at the Moultrie County Courthouse. “He is fit to stand trial,” Dr. Jeckel told Public Defender David Rau.

“Is he suffering from amnesia from that event?” Rau asked Dr. Jeckel, who replied that he believed Yost had no memory of the day in question.

Rau told the court that Yost’s lack of memory hinders his ability for defense.

He then had Dr. Jeckel refer to the medical report from the night of the crime to illustrate a metabolic disturbance could have caused Yost’s blank out.

Referring to the medical report Dr. Jeckel noted Yost had diabetes, and the combination with alcohol and a variety of opiates found in the defendant’s blood stream combined with a drop in blood sugar could cause such a disturbance. Read More

Governor Visits Lincoln Day

Photo by Mike Brothers Crowd meeter- Governor Bruce Rauner (right) greeted Moultrie County Lincoln Day guests following his remarks Saturday at Terry Warren’s farm.  Above Rudy Huber from CF&H in Sullivan has a few words with the governor while wife Linda snaps a cell shot as a momento.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Crowd meeter- Governor Bruce Rauner (right) greeted Moultrie County Lincoln Day guests following his remarks Saturday at Terry Warren’s farm. Above Rudy Huber from CF&H in Sullivan has a few words with the governor while wife Linda snaps a cell shot as a momento.

•March 16, 2016•

Governor Bruce Rauner told 200 Moultrie County Republicans he was committed to improve funding for the state’s schools, but provided little hope to recently laid off Eastern Illinois University employees on Saturday, March 12.

The governor spoke to a full house of party faithful at the 2016 Lincoln Day Dinner held at the Terry Warren farm south of Sullivan.

“Illinois schools receive the lowest state support for education in the nation,” Gov. Rauner said, pointing out he proposes increased state funding, and he would push to put schools in downstate first.

For those who lost jobs at EIU last week because of the budget impasse the governor said he had offered to meet with the president of EIU and house speaker Michael Madigan to discuss the matter.

He emphasized his commitment to redistrict reform and term limits which brought applause from the crowd. Read More

Flower Delivery Ploy For Active Shooter

Photo by Mike Brothers Sullivan schools’ security Gary Eller and Kim Swinford of the Moultrie County Health Dept. review first responder checklist while Sullivan police chief John Love and Moultrie County chief deputy Gary Carroll go over rapid response procedures during  active shooter training March 9.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Sullivan schools’ security Gary Eller and Kim Swinford of the Moultrie County Health Dept. review first responder checklist while Sullivan police chief John Love and Moultrie County chief deputy Gary Carroll go over rapid response procedures during active shooter training March 9.

•March 16, 2016•

By Mike Brothers

A man walked into the Sullivan schools’ office March 9 asking to deliver flowers to his wife, a teacher.

That set off an active shooter exercise involving 18 first responders and 118 teachers and administrators on a cloudy Wednesday afternoon.

Jan Haegen, Moultrie County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency director, explained the active shooter exercise was held in cooperation with Sullivan schools to get an idea how emergency plans might play out if a shooter tried to enter the local school.

“All departments work together,” Haegen said of the combined training operation for the schools and county emergency services. “Anytime training is needed, everyone contributes, keeping us all up to speed.”

With headquarters set up at the American Legion across the street from the schools, state, county and city police were dispatched according to the ESDA approved plan. Moultrie County ESDA board prepared the county’s emergency response plan over six months, which was approved by Illinois Emergency Services. Read More

Community Responds to One Book One Sullivan

Photo by Mike Brothers One Book One Sullivan community discussion at the First United Methodist Church was held last week. Above high school teacher Becky Lawson, One Book coordinator Rikki Ray and table leader sixth grader Lilly Graham discuss the book while One Book volunteer partner Cheryl Wildman, special education teacher, watches in the background.

Photo by Mike Brothers
One Book One Sullivan community discussion at the First United Methodist Church was held last week. Above high school teacher Becky Lawson, One Book coordinator Rikki Ray and table leader sixth grader Lilly Graham discuss the book while One Book volunteer partner Cheryl Wildman, special education teacher, watches in the background.

•March 9, 2016•

By Mike Brothers

One Book One Sullivan members filled the First United Methodist Church community room Thursday, March 3 to discuss the latest community /school based book selection.

Sponsored by the Sullivan Rotary Club, One Book One Sullivan released the new read November 25 distributing copies of Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 to students and those interested in the community.

Coordinated by middle school language arts instructor Rikki Ray with the help of volunteer middle school teachers Cheryl Wildman and Haley Seeley, 20 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students volunteered for the project.

Students who volunteer for One Book One Sullivan also agree to read a  book a week during the summer as well as participate in the selection process for the annual community/school read.

As the 6 p.m. start time of the community discussion of the Michael Vey series by author Richard Paul Evans approached, more tables and chairs had to be included to accommodate the growing crowd.

Community members were seated at tables along with One Book One Sullivan volunteers to lead discussion on the book.

Michael Vey is a ninth grade student from Utah with special powers that lead him on an incredible adventure. Read More