“Wizard of Oz” Brings the Charm to Little Theatre Stage

Photo by Keith Stewart Dorothy Gale, played by Daniella Davila, clutches her companion Toto, played by Compo.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Dorothy Gale, played by Daniella Davila, clutches her companion Toto, played by Compo.

•July 15, 2015•

By Dan Hagen
NP Theatre Critic

The Little Theatre’s family-focused season, which began with “Mary Poppins,” continues today with “The Wizard of Oz.”
And yes, it’s THAT “Wizard of Oz,” the 1939 MGM film version with which the world is most familiar, slightly expanded and extended with a song by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
Fantasy is a much simpler sell on film, of course, and there’s a moment or two when the capable performers could use a little extra special effects help. Mollyanne Nunn, for example, tries valiantly to be ethereal as Glinda the Good Witch, but could use a boost from something shiny, at least a pin spot.
But what director John Stephens may lose in movie magic, he more than makes up for in the magic of immediacy. All the familiar characters are there, right in front of you, sustained by the performers’ belief in them, something you can see in their eyes. You may be surprised at how well a very strong cast can keep this Baum ticking. Read More

Sullivan Quality Lube Opens Under New Family Management

Photo by RR Best Pictured are Jeff (left) and David (right) Smith, a father/son duo that recently re-opened the Sullivan Quality Lube.

Photo by RR Best
Pictured are Jeff (left) and David (right) Smith, a father/son duo that recently re-opened the Sullivan Quality Lube.

Plan is to source parts, oil locally

•July 15, 2015•

by Joash Tiarks
Reporting in Sullivan

Through life it is necessary to deal with many different routines; a morning routine, a health routine, a school routine, a routine of yearly events. But for the routine of regular vehicle service there is a new option in town.
Jeff Smith, along with his six sons and one daughter, has recently leased the vacant garage on Jackson St., across from McDonald’s, to open Sullivan Quality Lube.
“We’ve been open for (a few weeks) now and we are seeing about 70 people a week come through,” Smith stated. “Most of those that stop in did not even know that we were open.”
A longtime resident of Dalton City, Smith is no stranger to routine maintenance, having worked as a mechanic for EK Truck Service, on Market St., for several years before branching out and purchasing a truck of his own. Read More

Uphoff Crowned Miss Moultrie-Douglas

Photo by Keith Stewart Pictured is Gabrielle Uphoff of Sullivan being crowned Miss Moultrie-Douglas Tuesday night by the former Miss Mo-Do Maria Meyer.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Pictured is Gabrielle Uphoff of Sullivan being crowned Miss Moultrie-Douglas Tuesday night by the former Miss Mo-Do Maria Meyer.

First Sullivan queen since 2006

•July 8, 2015•

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

She may have come off to the judges as a seasoned pro, but for Gabrielle Uphoff of Sullivan, Tuesday night’s pageant was her first.
So was her crown.
“I’m kind of in shock, but I’m very excited,” said Uphoff shortly after her crowning. “Fairs are my favorite.”
The two-hour pageant came after months of preparation that for Uphoff included, perhaps more than those with more pageant-going experience.
“It’s been practicing interview skills, and trying to calm my nerves when it came to my speech, and walking,” said the 2015 Miss Mo-Do. “I’ve never done anything like this, but it’s been a great experience. My mom and I went over pages of interview questions and speeches, and outfits. It’s been an all day, every day process.”
“She’s put quite a bit of work into it over the last few months,” added her father Phillip. “Practicing her speech and the whole wardrobe. I basically kept out of it. It was all her and mom and her friends. I’m just very proud of her.”
“It’s been very stressful and a lot of work, but it was fun too, kind of like prom,” said her mother Stacey. “The best part is the preparation. We’ve spent a lot of time together, practicing questions and walking.”
The last time there was a Mo-Do queen from Sullivan was in 2006 when Danielle Ketchmark was crowned. Read More

What’s the Hurry?

Photo by Keith Stewart Sullivan resident Tyler Wagey stands in front of a newly installed 4-way stop-sign at the intersection of Washington and Blackwood after he went to the city council with concerns about vehicles speeding throughout the neighborhood.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Sullivan resident Tyler Wagey stands in front of a newly installed 4-way stop-sign at the intersection of Washington and Blackwood after he went to the city council with concerns about vehicles speeding throughout the neighborhood.

Sullivan residents concerned about speeding in neighborhoods

•July 8, 2015•

by Ariana Cherry
Arthur/Sullivan Reporter

There seems to be a rush in Sullivan, but nobody knows what the hurry is. Speeding around the square, Sullivan Civic Center and in neighboring areas has been noticed lately by residents and drivers, including Tyler Wagey, who lives on N. Washington Street.
“We need to look out for those who can’t look out for themselves- the kids. They can’t go to the city and tell people that they need to slow down,” he said. “There are several kids who are on my block throughout the day. Safety is my first issue. It comes first before anything else. How are we supposed to be able to teach our kids to be safe?”
Wagey hasn’t been the only one to notice the speeding problem in Sullivan. Speeding cars have been an issue for other parents and residents too.
“I’m his neighbor, and we definitely have noticed a problem with speeding. My dog was hit coming back across the street when he was chasing after a ball,”  said Sullivan resident Cassie Heselton.
“The speeding and reckless driving in Sullivan are horrible. We moved back here in 2011 and after only being here three months, I had the city put up a ‘slow, children playing’ sign,” shared Krista Brandeberry. “Of course, it didn’t really work on our road. Even the big trucks go down Worth Street faster than I think they should.” Read More

“Swing!” Hits the Stage at a Furious Pace

Photo by Keith Stewart Pictured are Jordan Cyphert and Megan Farley in the Little Theatre’s latest production, “Swing!”

Photo by Keith Stewart
Pictured are Jordan Cyphert and Megan Farley in the Little Theatre’s latest production, “Swing!”

July 1, 2015

By Dan Hagen
NP Theatre Critic

The scene: an urban night club during World War II, and if the atmosphere is particularly realistic, that’s because the bricks and the loading dock are the actual back wall of the Little Theatre, cunningly incorporated into the scenery.
More than Jen Price-Fick’s set is cunningly done in this musical, Swing!, directed and choreographed by Amber Mak and Todd Rhoades.
Unencumbered by plot in any but the most abstract sense, Swing! swings from bebop to scat singing to torch songs at a brisk pace that never flags.
Sound problems lost us Brady Miller’s Boogie Woogie Country during the dress rehearsal, but those ought to be fixed when the show opens today.
Colorfully costumed by Jeannine La Bate (orange shirts, blue fringed cowboy jackets, the works), this show is all song and — particularly — dance, and as my friend Bart Rettberg pointed out, a great deal could have gone wrong with the show that didn’t. The dancing is furious yet fairly flawless.
When this show opened on Broadway in 1999, the people who could remember these song and dance numbers first-hand were already in their 60s. Many are now gone, a fact that has to shift the reception of the show somewhat. We’re looking at a lost world being evoked. Read More

Sullivan Native Earns Artists’ Residency in Ireland

Photo submitted Pictured is Sullivan native Patrick Blythe seen behind his  eight foot tall bronze sculpture titled, “Harvest” which has been installed in the median of El Paseo, between Sage and Ocotilla in Palm Desert, Calif.

Photo submitted
Pictured is Sullivan native Patrick Blythe seen behind his eight foot tall bronze sculpture titled, “Harvest” which has been installed in the median of El Paseo, between Sage and Ocotilla in Palm Desert, Calif.

In retirement Patrick Blythe realizes passion

June 24, 2015

by Joash Tiarks
Reporting in Sullivan

“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke”

-Vincent van Gogh

To live with such an internal fire of passion would indeed be difficult, especially if it had to remain dormant for many years. The venting of van Gogh’s passion came later in his life and many appreciate the works of art it birthed.
A similar circumstance surrounds one of Sullivan’s own sons in the person of Patrick Blythe, now of Palm Desert, Calif.
Much like Van Gogh, Blythe started in a business career, suppressing a deep creative passion in favor of a more stable career and home life. It was not until his retirement in 2002 that Blythe was able to give vent to the obsession that had been smoldering in his soul for 50 years.
“I spent years just going to art museums and enjoying the work of other artists,” he explained, “I was so obsessed with art that I really just had to stop doing it(myself). It was like a drug almost.”
Blythe explained that once he started a painting or project, he found himself wanting to do nothing else until it was done, brushing family and work aside to perfectly impart his impressions. So, he had to quit for a while, cold turkey. Read More

One Flower at a Time

Photo by RR Best Pictured is Kim Warren with her newly planted display at Wyman Park in the background. The display serves as a memorial for Warren’s father, mother, and brother-in-law, all of whom lost their battles with cancer. The memorial was completed just in time for this past weekend’s Relay for Life.

Photo by RR Best
Pictured is Kim Warren with her newly planted display at Wyman Park in the background. The display serves as a memorial for Warren’s father, mother, and brother-in-law, all of whom lost their battles with cancer. The memorial was completed just in time for this past weekend’s Relay for Life.

New Wyman park display arrives in time for Relay for Life

June 17, 2015

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

Close to five years ago, Kay Aldridge arranged for a memorial in Wyman Park for her late husband Harris after his fight with cancer. The memorial, three crabapple trees and a stone plaque in the middle, was placed just south of Wyman Lake near the north parking lot pavilion.
Kay herself passed away last August, she too after battling cancer, but her memory was commemorated and the chance seized to raise awareness about the awful disease that took her life when her daughter Kim Warren decided to expand on the memorial just in time to debut for this past weekend’s Relay for Life.
“When we knew they were going to move the Relay for Life out here, I decided I was going to plant it,” said Warren. “Anything with flowers, wildlife, animals, she was all about that–in fact when I went to go do this Kory (Wiley, parks superintendent) said, ‘This is the perfect place Kim because she always came out here. She always parked here. She always picked persimmons over here.’ She chose the site for my dad’s memorial so I worked furiously all week last week and did it all in the pinks, purples, and fuchsias like the American Cancer Society colors.” Read More

Pedal and Garden Tractor Pull July 11 at Tabor Park

Free family event from the Christian County Tractor Puller Association

June 17, 2015

by Ariana Cherry
Arthur/Sullivan Reporter

The Christian County Tractor Pullers Association is pulling in some family entertainment for everyone to enjoy come Saturday, July 11, at Tabor Park in Sullivan where the association will be putting on a free pedal and garden tractor pull.
“We are a family-based group from kids to 88-plus year-old guys and gals,” explained Ed Righter, a member of the association. “It is family-based club. We even have some ‘groupies’ that follow us.”
The association actually began 30 years ago and was started by the Jackson family of Taylorville, Ill. Christian County Tractor Pullers are a pulling garden tractor club that consists of 50 members from mostly central Illinois who pull competitively. They have classes that range from Stock 10 horse-power to NQS (National Quarter Scale) 50.5 cid alcohol burning tractors. Not long ago, they added stock twin classes and a pro-twin class to their options of tractors to compete. Read More

Sullivan Kiwanis, Back in the Business of Serving

Photo by Keith Stewart Sullivan Kiwanis Club President Cindi Reed (right) is presented the club’s gavel by Jim Dooley as part of the charter ceremony Monday night.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Sullivan Kiwanis Club President Cindi Reed (right) is presented the club’s gavel by Jim Dooley as part of the charter ceremony Monday night.

June 17, 2015

Local chapter receives charter Monday

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

Nearly nine months of meetings, soliciting, and discussing came down to Monday evening’s charter celebration as the local Kiwanis group officially reemerged in Sullivan after shuttering several years ago.
Held in a packed side room of the Red Apple Family Restaurant, the charter presentation not only included the installation of 16 members, but also three officers, and saw a show of support from various neighboring Kiwanis groups from Mattoon, Charleston, Decatur and Tuscola.
And two of those groups–the Decatur Golden K Club and the Tuscola club, were instrumental in reviving the Sullivan branch, that, according to member and local historian Paul Stone, was originally founded in 1929.
Dave Butler, who is not only from the Tuscola club, but also the current Kiwanis lieutenant governor for district 27, along with Jim Dooley, the 2014-2015 Kiwanis Governor for the Illinois and eastern Iowa district, and others began by going door to door, soliciting membership late last fall. Read More

Bringing the Boats Back to the Lake

Photo by Keith Stewart Pictured is Jeff Gibbs, the owner of Clinton Marine who recently opened a location in Sullivan just in time for the busy boating season.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Pictured is Jeff Gibbs, the owner of Clinton Marine who recently opened a location in Sullivan just in time for the busy boating season.

New boat dealer/repair facility opens in Sullivan

June 10, 2015

by Joash Tiarks
Reporting in Sullivan

As summer approaches and things heat up at the lake, many boaters will recognize a familiar name in town, especially those with runabouts and the larger cruisers. Clinton Marine, out of Weldon, Ill. is expanding and has opened up shop in the former D & M Sporting Good storefront on S. Hamilton Street in Sullivan.
“We felt it was a good idea to get down there, not only for service but also for sales,” owner Jeff Gibbs explained. “There really has not been anyone down there selling boats for years, and it’s really a great body of water.”
Clinton Marine was originally started by Gibbs’ father in the late 70s and the primary location in Weldon on Clinton Lake was built in 1985. Gibbs took over the business when his father retired in 2010, having returned from establishing and running a boating business at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri for 16 years. Read More