Revisiting the Public Library Act and Its Signing in 1872

by Tom Emery

March 18, 2015

Today, library users in Illinois enjoy of the best public libraries in the nation and a statewide commitment to resource sharing and library technology that is the envy of the nation. It wasn’t always that way.
This March marks the anniversary of the signing of the Public Library Act by then-Governor John M. Palmer in 1872. The law provided for the tax-supported, free-usage public libraries that Illinoisans know today.
Before then, Illinois residents had no access to free reading, and had to join private organizations for library material. Social libraries date to 1818 with the founding of such organizations in Albion and Edwardsville. A subscription library was founded in Belleville in 1821, and by 1872, there were an estimated forty such libraries across the state. Read More

CCC Camps Left Mark in East Central Illinois

March 11, 2015

by Tom Emery

Few federal government programs today are viewed as efficient and popular, with long-lasting results. The Civilian Conservation Corps, the enormously successful Depression-era program of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, was all that and more.

The CCC put unemployed, impoverished young men to work in forestry, soil conservation, drainage, and public parkland. Known for its quality of work, the imprint of the CCC remains in parks, forests, and farmlands today.

Decatur was home to three CCC camps, with a fourth near Macon. Other area communities with CCC camps include Shelbyville, Charleston, and Tuscola. Read More

Cassady’s Project Receives Ag in the Classroom Grant

Photo by Keith Stewart Okaw Valley’s Aspen Cassady teaches her agriculture education students about the differences of cells in male and female reproductive organs in livestock Monday. Cassady recently earned a grant that will pay for a digital microscope set to arrive next week.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Okaw Valley’s Aspen Cassady teaches her agriculture education students about the differences of cells in male and female reproductive organs in livestock Monday. Cassady recently earned a grant that will pay for a digital microscope set to arrive next week.

March 11, 2015

Will purchase digital microscope for student use

by Joash Tiarks
Bethany Reporter

The Illinois Agriculture In The Classroom(IAITC) program constantly seeks teachers who inspire their students, and the program is able to accomplish this by partnering with local teachers, specifically in the area of agriculture. Recently it found a partner in Okaw Valley ag teacher Aspen Cassady.

Each year, under the oversight of the Illinois Farm Bureau, the IAITC raises funds through the Illinois Agriculture Association(IAA), making more than $700,000 available to the teachers and classrooms throughout the entire state “to fund education, research, and charitable activities that benefit Illinois farm families and agriculture,” according the the IAA website. The IAA counts the Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Growers, Illinois Pork Producers, Illinois Soybean Association, and the University of Illinois Extension among its large group of generous contributors. Read More

More Than Just Reading in One Book One Sullivan

Photo by RR Best Pictured is Sullivan high school and One Book One Sullivan organizer Rikki Ray (right), along with retired teachers and helpers (left to right, background) Lois Shuman, Carol Glazebrook, and Martha Sherer. The reading group just concluded another successful year after it held its final community book discussion on its latest read, “Unstoppable.”

Photo by RR Best
Pictured is Sullivan high school and One Book One Sullivan organizer Rikki Ray (right), along with retired teachers and helpers (left to right, background) Lois Shuman, Carol Glazebrook, and Martha Sherer. The reading group just concluded another successful year after it held its final community book discussion on its latest read, “Unstoppable.”

March 11, 2015

In eighth year, group just as strong as ever

by Ariana Cherry
Arthur/Sullivan Reporter

Not only can a good storyline reside within the pages of a book but so can the opportunity for a good conversation. Sullivan middle school student, Sarah DeLong, wanted to get the conversation started when she was inspired by the Mattoon reading group, Read Across Mattoon. She had come across a book that the group had been reading while at Common Grounds. DeLong had asked language arts teacher Rikki Ray about possibly starting something similar in Sullivan. “How could I turn her down?” replied Ray. After writing a grant to the Sullivan Community Education Foundation, One Book One Sullivan was formed in 2007. Read More

Former Sports Editor to Hold Book Reading

March 4, 2015

Brown’s Mad Gasser Tale to be presented Saturday in Sullivan
by Ariana Cherry
Sullivan/Arthur Reporter

Brown

Brown

WWII era Mattoon, Illinois, is descending into madness. The small town’s fears of an enemy within, stalking them like prey, are threatening to become a reality and consume the town. As the hysteria rises, the people of Mattoon are tested in ways that will change their lives and their idyllic small town forever. And for one family, everything hangs in the balance.”
That is the brief summary of Jason Brown’s latest book, “Prowler: The Mad Gasser of Mattoon,” a novel that covers the two week long hysteria surrounding the famous 1940’s incident.
In 1944, it was noted that a bizarre figure dressed in black wreaked havoc in Mattoon by spraying an unidentified paralyzing gas into the windows of unsuspecting residents. The attacker vanished without anyone ever seeing him, and the case stumped not only the residents but the local law enforcement. Social scientists ended up calling the whole situation a mass hysteria, which has now become the inspiration for Brown. Read More

“What Can’t Be Said” Touches Audience’s Hearts, Inspires Students’ Creativity

Photo by Keith Stewart Mary Farley as Debbie (left) delivers a body image to Bethany played by Summer Utley (right) as Rachel, played by Gillian Lange, (center) looks on.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Mary Farley as Debbie (left) delivers a body image to Bethany played by Summer Utley (right) as Rachel, played by Gillian Lange, (center) looks on.

February 11, 2015

Mirror Images group writes own screenplay and performs

by Ariana Cherry
Arthur/Sullivan Reporter

Students in Sullivan High School’s prevention theater group, “Mirror Images,” literally got to see their hard work come alive on stage during last Friday’s original production of “What Can’t be Said.”
The magic not only radiated from the portrayal of true-to-life characters from the students, but it also reached out to the hearts of the audience, loud and clear. The production’s message reached about 400 people, who were in attendance to see the show.
“I have had several people stop me this weekend to tell me how much they loved the play and how well written it was. Some people also have told me that they cried because certain characters were like people they knew or were like they were in high school. It truly touched a chord with people,” said Becky Lawson, Mirror Images adviser and SHS English Teacher. Read More

New Faces in New Positions at Sheriff’s Office

Photo by Keith Stewart Pictured are the new Moultrie County sheriff Chris Sims (left) and deputy Brandon Beckwith (right).

Photo by Keith Stewart
Pictured are the new Moultrie County sheriff Chris Sims (left) and deputy Brandon Beckwith (right).

February 11, 2015

Two promotions and a new hire come to department

by Ariana Cherry
Arthur/Sullivan Reporter

There’s a new sheriff in town…as well as a new second in command and deputy.
On December 1, Brandon Beckwith became the newest Moultrie County deputy after Chris Sims was elected as the Moultrie County Sheriff.
When previous Moultrie County Sheriff Jeff Thomas retired after 12 years of service (41 total in the department), Sims saw this as an opportunity to step up to serve the citizens of the county. After already serving as chief-deputy since 1994, he already had some ideas in mind of how he would like to assist the citizens and office.
“I had some authority as deputy, but the sheriff is ultimately responsible. I look forward to having the authority to make positive changes, empower employees to do a better job with customer relations and improve productivity,” said Sims. Read More

Strong at 90, Craig Continues to Work

Photo by Keith Stewart Paul Craig, who recently turned 90, is still as active as ever and in his 37th year at Atchison Electric in Sullivan.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Paul Craig, who recently turned 90, is still as active as ever and in his 37th year at Atchison Electric in Sullivan.

January 14, 2015

‘Short’ still stocks inventory at Atchison

by Joash Tiarks
Reporting in Sullivan

Of the many employees Dick Atchison has working for him at Atchison Electric, one stands out far above the rest, and it is not because of his height. In fact, Paul Craig’s nickname is ‘Short’ and has been for as long as he can remember, and that memory stretches back to the 1920’s.

“I don’t know nothin’, but I got two hands,” Short said as he approached Dick back in 1978. Having worked for the city electric department for the previous 10 years, he was ready for a change, and Dick gave him that opportunity. Thirty-seven years on he is still going strong and, having recently celebrated his 90th birthday, still works 8.5 hours a day four days a week with no plans to stop anytime soon.

“I just love what I do,” he declared.

Born in 1924, Short has lived in the Sullivan area for as long as he can remember, growing up in a tenant house on a farm about a mile from town. He and his younger sister are now the only ones left of nine siblings, four brothers and three sisters having already passed away, all older than he. Read More

French Family Continues Bike Donation in 20th Year

Photo by Keith Stewart Joc French (right) recently donated four bikes to four randomly selected Lovington grade school students. This year’s winners include Koby Brownlee (left), Shalonda Hettinger (middle), and not pictured Jaydin Smith and Normal Mendez. Also not pictured are Joc’s wife Amanda and daughter McKenzie.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Joc French (right) recently donated four bikes to four randomly selected Lovington grade school students. This year’s winners include Koby Brownlee (left), Shalonda Hettinger (middle), and not pictured Jaydin Smith and Normal Mendez. Also not pictured are Joc’s wife Amanda and daughter McKenzie.

January 7, 2015

Four Lovington grade schoolers receive bikes in time for Christmas

by Keith Stewart

keith@newsprogress.com

For Joc French, he takes what has become a family tradition very seriously.

Almost like Santa himself, French walked up the lightly snow-covered sidewalk on a Thursday morning last month, carrying a large cardboard box adorned in aged green gift wrap, pictures of Santa emblazoned like patches except for one spot, on top, where a piece had been torn away accidentally, revealing the underlying brown cardboard. The otherwise faded green box was the same one used to draw names 20 years ago when Joc’s mother and father Mark and Tammy began to annually donate two bicycles to two Lovington grade schoolers.

“My dad had moved to Sullivan, and I felt our community here in Lovington should still be blessed with this opportunity,” said Joc.

Taking over in 2012, Joc did just that. Read More

Local Tennis Association and Member Honored

Submitted The Okaw Valley Tennis Association was recently named organization of the year by the United States Tennis Association, which also named one of the group’s members Joan Dickens of Sullivan, volunteer of the year. Pictured are OVTA participants and volunteers, including Dickens (back row, second from the right).

Submitted
The Okaw Valley Tennis Association was recently named organization of the year by the United States Tennis Association, which also named one of the group’s members Joan Dickens of Sullivan, volunteer of the year. Pictured are OVTA participants and volunteers, including Dickens (back row, second from the right).

December 17, 2014

USTA names organization and volunteer of the year to OVTA, and Dickens

by Joash Tiarks
Bethany Reporter

If local business owner Chris Dobosz had his way every kid 14 and under in Moultrie and surrounding counties would be all smiles and that as a direct result of learning and playing tennis.

And it is this mindset that, at least in part, no doubt made the difference in the Okaw Valley Tennis Association receiving the ‘Organization of the Year’ award from the USTA over all other associations in the Mid-South Illinois District, one of 13 districts spread throughout five midwestern states.

“I just want smiles,” said Dobosz. “As long as they’re smiling, then I think we can progress. As long as they’re having fun, everything else will fall into place.” Read More