Missoula, Montana is New Home for Kathy Best

Photo furnished

Photo furnished

•June 1, 2016•

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sullivan native Kathy Best’s newspaper career is taking her to Missoula, Montana. The daughter of the Moultrie County News Progress late publisher and editor Bob and Marion Best has worked from coast to coast, leaving the family newspaper in Sullivan for brother Bob to tend. The following Montana Standard story by Darrell Erhlick announced her appointment this week.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Kathy Best has been named editor of the Missoulian and the Ravalli Republic, Publisher Mark Heintzelman announced Wednesday.

Best is currently the editor and vice president for news at The Seattle Times. In that role, she has helped lead the newsroom to three Pulitzer prizes and multiple national print and digital journalism awards, including for video and multimedia presentations. She’s known for her commitment to significant watchdog and investigative journalism, innovative explanatory reporting and engaging storytelling that illuminates the heart and soul of a community. She has spent the last nine years in Seattle helping the newsroom learn to do all of those things well on multiple platforms — from desktops to mobile and from social media to Sunday print.

“The opportunity to lead the Missoulian and Ravalli Republic allows me to return to my first and deepest love -- great community journalism,’’ Best said. “I can’t wait to help these talented newsrooms take their work to the next level, giving print and digital readers in western Montana relevant and engaging news they can’t get anywhere else. We’re going to have some fun.’’

Newspapering is part of a family tradition for Best. She worked for her family’s newspaper in central Illinois, the News-Progress in Sullivan. It was there that she learned the basics of newspapering, from taking photos to selling ads. She continues to be a co-owner of the newspaper with her brother. Read More

Training Days Helped Sullivan Veteran Make Honor Flight

Vet Johns Ruscin•May 25, 2016•

By Mike Brothers

John Ruscin of Sullivan thought his training days were over after joining the Navy in May 1945 during World War II.

Ruscin just returned from the Land of Lincoln Honor Flight of Springfield, where 80 veterans toured various historic and veterans’ sites in Washington, D.C.

A retired junior high school teacher and coach from Sullivan, Ruscin knew the Flight would require some walking around Washington so he went into training weeks before.

“I had surgery and some heart problems, but I didn’t want to use a wheelchair,” he said. “So I started walking up and down the street to hopefully be in good enough shape to walk to the sites.”

Ruscin explained that 14 of the 80 veterans of the free Honor Flight were wheelchair bound. “It put a big burden on the guardians who were responsible for getting the veterans off and on the bus at every stop.”

Impressed by the changing of the guard in Arlington Cemetery and the tours of the memorials, Ruscin explained one thing that got to him were the letters of appreciation sent to veterans on the flight.

Ruscin received 113 letters thanking him for his service during World War II. Read More

Sullivan Students Get Some Financial Help for Their Dreams

Photo by Mike Brothers Sullivan athletic director Ryan Aikman presents Blake Stewart with the L.J. Hollonbeck Memorial Track Scholarship.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Sullivan athletic director Ryan Aikman presents Blake Stewart with the L.J. Hollonbeck Memorial Track Scholarship.

•May 18, 2016•

It takes more than money to chase your dreams, but it helps.

Sullivan High School counselor Krista Smith pointed out $300,000 in scholarships plus an additional $40,000 in local awards were given during the annual Awards Night held May 4 in the high school commons. Some 86 separate awards were presented during the evening.

As the awards were distributed, the locally funded scholarships demonstrated the community’s commitment to education in Sullivan schools.

The David Elzy Memorial Scholarship was presented by Scott Bales and Elzy’s daughters Ally and Abby to Grant King. Elzy was a 1986 Sullivan High School track record holder, who joined the Air Force serving in Desert Storm.

Greg Lane presented the Leon Lane Memorial to Alyssa Marshall. His father was born in 1926 and married their mother Evelyn in 1946. An auctioneer for 45 years, he served as Sullivan mayor until he passed away during his sixth term.

The Blake Lane scholarship was presented in memory of the 1998 SHS graduate who left SIU-C to become a lineman and was killed in a work accident in 1999. Kyler Houser was the recipient.  Read More

PTO Provides Much-Needed Funds for SES

Photo  furnished Pie in the Face was done for Box Top Collection at Sullivan Elementary School.  The students are Rhyder Pierce on the left and Liam Donovan on the right.  The teachers are Melissa Haegen on the left, Micah Heddins in the middle, and Kurt Friese on the right.  Students got to play the “Pie in the Face” game as a reward for collecting box tops in December.

Photo furnished
Pie in the Face was done for Box Top Collection at Sullivan Elementary School.  The students are Rhyder Pierce on the left and Liam Donovan on the right.  The teachers are Melissa Haegen on the left, Micah Heddins in the middle, and Kurt Friese on the right.  Students got to play the “Pie in the Face” game as a reward for collecting box tops in December.

•May 4, 2016•

The continued underfunding of schools in Illinois is no secret. For years now, the state of Illinois has balked on fully funding its schools as promised. As a result of these difficult times caused by budgetary constraint, schools have been forced to turn to outside sources to help fund activities. Fortunately, the Sullivan PTO has stepped up its efforts to provide opportunities for the students of Sullivan Elementary School.

PTO is an integral part of the elementary school. They help fund varying activities, including but not limited, to assemblies, field trips, and tickets for all students to see a play at the Little Theatre on the Square. The PTO also gives teachers money to spend in the classroom for supplies, as well as different apps for use with iPads and other technological resources that are used to supplement instruction. Numerous fundraising activities take place throughout the year, such as “Art to Remember” and Box Top collection. The PTO provides great incentives for students to bring in box tops (which may be exchanged for money to be spent in the classroom). One example occurred earlier in the year when students who turned in box tops got a chance to hit their teachers or the principal in the face with a pie. Read More

Around the Corner

Astoria shotThe Astoria Company Store—Handmade Products Right Before Your Eyes

•April 13, 2016•

By Kennedy D. Nolen
For the News Progress

This April you may finally see the Astoria Company Store create their products right as they make them.

The Astoria Company in Sullivan is a tiny company doing a big thing, said one of the owners Timmy Valentine. The store, which originally opened about 13 years ago as a fundraising company, sells an extensive variety of handmade products such as lotions, soaps, scrubs, and its well-known bamboo charcoal face mask. The company has now been located in an old inn since 2013 on 204 E. Jackson Street. Creators at Astoria take advantage of local ingredients such as honey and soy by using them to make products.  Read More

Annual Illinois Relief Sale Continues to Help Those in Need

Mennonite Sale quilt

Photos Submitted One of the hand-stitched quilts that will be auctioned off at this year’s event.

•March 2, 2016•

The Illinois Mennonite Relief Sale Board is working diligently in preparation for the annual two day relief sale that attracts people of all faiths and denominations for a common cause: Providing relief for the needy.

For Peoria and all surrounding communities March signals the traditional Illinois Mennonite Relief Sale.    This year marks the 58th Annual Illinois Sale to be held at Interstate Center in Bloomington on March 18-19.

This family festival is not only a special event filled with food, fun, and fellowship, but also a time for achieving the purpose of helping the needy at home and abroad.

Twenty percent of the net proceeds of the sale help local charities by providing food for the less fortunate.  Some of these agencies are the Peoria Salvation Army, Peoria Rescue Mission,  Midwest Food Bank, Bloomington Home Sweet Home Mission, and other local food pantries.

Eighty percent of the net proceeds are channeled through Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches.  Its purpose is to share God’s love and compassion by providing food assistance, clothing, medicine, material resources, and financial to the needy in 60 countries of the world, including America.   Read More

Eighth Annual Valentine’s Day Poetry Contest Draws Record Crowd

Photo courtesy Kathi Shackles Four generations of poetry lovers attended Valentine luncheon. Left to right are: Nadene Cochran, Jane Adcock, Lesa Young, and Jessica Young.

Photo courtesy Kathi Shackles
Four generations of poetry lovers attended Valentine luncheon. Left to right are: Nadene Cochran, Jane Adcock, Lesa Young, and Jessica Young.

Courtyard Estates Hosts

•February 17, 2016•

By Ariana Cherry
For the News Progress

The 100 Valentine’s Day Luncheon and Poetry Contest attendees know a thing or two about love-after-all, from their years of experience.

Experiences were shared at the annual gathering held at Courtyard Estates in Sullivan Friday, February 12.

A verse from Harry McCorkle’s poem, “Memories,” spoke measures of wisdom. “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

The luncheon has developed into quite the social event in the last eight years. The idea originally was started by Sullivan resident, Linda Spencer who formerly was employed with Mid Illinois Senior Services through Experience Works. Sadly, she was unable to attend this year because of health issues.

“This is the first time we have had to turn people away. We had 100 seats,” stated Deb Groendal , the director of Mid Illinois Senior Center. “It just keeps getting bigger and bigger each year,” she added. ‘Not only has the event drawn more people, but the poetic talent just keeps getting better and more creative.” Judges Kathy Shackles, Holly Allendorf, Alicia Moyer and Ariana Cherry all would agree. “It definitely was harder to choose winners this year,” said Allendorf. Read More

Invisible Completes Mirror Images 27th Season

Photo Submitted Curtin Call For Invisible cast: Addy Diener delivered a special message last Friday night thanking Rebecca Lawson, on the far right, for helping them with this year’s Mirror Images production of Invisible.

Photo Submitted
Curtin Call For Invisible cast: Addy Diener delivered a special message last Friday night thanking Rebecca Lawson, on the far right, for helping them with this year’s Mirror Images production of Invisible.

•February 3, 2016•

By Kennedy D. Nolen
For the News Progress

Students who are part of ‘Mirror Images’ of Sullivan High School performed the much awaited show ‘Invisible’ at the Little Theatre January 29.

Vernon, played by Jona Workman, is the new kid in school. Frequently moving makes him feel more invisible with each new school.

Mitch has terrible anxiety and panic attacks so badly he cannot even talk to the girl on whom he has a crush.

Alex is the school bully. His home life is rough so he takes his anger out on others. Also, there is the athletic and pretty girl Nicole. She is dating a guy, Gavin, who is somewhat controlling. Sybil, the sweet, smart girl, is best friends with the school’s party girl Avery. Avery has a terrible habit of drinking, driving and using her phone in the process.

Cyrus has voices in his head, and Sapphire has an eating disorder.

He learns everyone in the school has invisible or not-so-invisible problems.

After a couple days go by, Vernon makes friends with Gavin, and they begin to hang out frequently. As Gavin is driving Vernon, Avery is also out driving drunk and talking on the phone with Sybil. She blows a stop sign and hits the car occupied by Gavin and Vernon.

A cameo appearance at the crash by Larry Edwards of the Sullivan Fire Department helped reality hit home for the audience. Vernon was pronounced dead, and Gavin and Avery both had injuries.  Read More

Mirror Images’ 27th Annual Show: ‘Invisible’ Comes to Little Theatre

•January 27, 2016•

By Kennedy D. Nolen
For the News Progress

Becky Lawson and her Mirror Images group will present a play entitled ‘Invisible’ to the community this Friday, Jan. 29 at the Little Theatre on the Square. The 45 students, freshmen-seniors, spent the months of Oct. and Nov. writing the perfect script for this year’s play offered to the schools and community.

Lawson, who has been at SHS for 28 years, has helped edit the script for the 27th Mirror Images play she has directed. Over the years, the program has purchased plays, but the group thought it would be fun to write their own script. Not only was the script written by the students, but three students in particular wrote two original songs with lyrics. Lawson said, “The songs are awesome.” After months of writing, revising, and practicing, the group is proud to present this play to their peers and the community.

A brief synopsis without spoilers is this:  Read More

Sullivan Chamber of Commerce Brings New Dreams to the Community

Photo Submitted Laurrie Minor (left) and Stepheny McMahon (right) are happy to share new ideas for the town of Sullivan in 2016.

Photo Submitted
Laurrie Minor (left) and Stepheny McMahon (right) are happy to share new ideas for the town of Sullivan in 2016.

•January 27, 2016•

By Kennedy D. Nolen
For the News Progress

As the New Year is upon us, the Sullivan Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development shares their new plans and dreams for the town of Sullivan. Laurrie Minor, chamber administrator, and Stepheny McMahon, director, said they will not only continue their usual events and work from the previous years but will be happy to present fresh ideas to the community throughout 2016.

The Chamber’s annual dinner will be held to discuss an important concept: ‘One Town, One Million Dreams’ Jan. 29 at First United Methodist Church in Sullivan.

McMahon says this idea was given to her by a friend in Marshall who went to eighth grade classrooms, engaging students in workshops where their dreams  and goals were discussed.

The Chamber hopes to encourage the kids as well as the rest of the community to share their dreams with each other as a form of support and connecting people.

“Once someone shares an idea, others may relate to it, and the support can motivate one to meet the goal,” McMahon said.

Both Minor and McMahon have started creating their own dream lists and sharing ideas with each other. Read More