Habitat House Completed by Care A Vanners

Photo by Mike Brothers Hope Street Habitat for Humanity home in Sullivan is number 26 and was turned over to owner Nikki Bassett on October 16. Participating in the ceremony were: Pastor Dan Fultz, Moultrie County Habitat Board members, Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vanners; Bassett  and children Jordan, Jade and Maddux; family and friends.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Hope Street Habitat for Humanity home in Sullivan is number 26 and was turned over to owner Nikki Bassett on October 16. Participating in the ceremony were: Pastor Dan Fultz, Moultrie County Habitat Board members, Habitat for Humanity Care-A-Vanners; Bassett and children Jordan, Jade and Maddux; family and friends.

Six Week Experiment

•October 21, 2015•

By Mike Brothers

When the Moultrie County Habitat for Humanity handed the keys to new owner Nikki Bassett on Friday, October 16 the house on Hope Lane in Sullivan was jammed with people.

This was the 26th house for Habitat and a first for Habitat for Humanity Care-A- Vanners. Care-A-Vanner project coordinator Bob Gillespie and crews rotating on two week schedules built the house from ground to completion in six weeks.

Gary Smith, local Habitat board president, recalled year-long local builds in the beginning of the program. Smith thanked a long list of contributors including 40 Care -A-Vanner volunteers who spent the past six weeks working around subcontractors on a tight schedule.

The local churches and other volunteers fed the group during the six week project through an effort coordinated by Pastor Paul McGhghy. Faith Lutheran Church was campground host at Faith Resort where the Habitat volunteers parked their recreational vehicles during the build. Read More

Sullivan American Legion Gets a Little Brighter

Photo Submitted Front from left: Shelly Eddington, Larry Preston, Mike Keown, Aaron York, Deb Conlin; (second row) Mike Grose, Charlie Bragg, Chuy Gandarilla, Paula Stone, Kevin Weuve; (back row) Don Butler, Mark Conlin and Jerry Krebs.

Photo Submitted
Front from left: Shelly Eddington, Larry Preston, Mike Keown, Aaron York, Deb Conlin; (second row) Mike Grose, Charlie Bragg, Chuy Gandarilla, Paula Stone, Kevin Weuve; (back row) Don Butler, Mark Conlin and Jerry Krebs.

Home Depot Grant Helps

•October 14, 2015•

By Mike Brothers

Sullivan American Legion Post 68 is a brighter place after this week.

With funding from a $9500 Home Depot Foundation grant and a lot of volunteer hours the Legion has all new T-8 Energy Star lighting, a new ceiling and new carpeting in the lounge.

It didn’t come easy as Mike Keown explained.

About a year ago a member noticed the Home Depot grant program information in the American Legion magazine.

“This building is 20 years old, and we were hoping the grant would help us get a new HVAC system,” Keown began, noting he contacted the Mattoon Home Depot store in November 2014.

Shelly Eddington is the Home Depot volunteer coordinator at Mattoon and helped get the process started.

“This was our first grant application for the veterans program,” she began, explaining the HVAC request was beyond the scope of the operation.

However, she and Keown started exploring what was available: replacing carpet that was a safety hazard in the lounge area, new energy efficient lighting and the suspended ceiling all qualified.

That’s when the American Legion board started concentrating on completing the 10 page application. Read More

Wolf Creek Becomes Medieval Battle Ground

Photo by RR Best Battleground fights with foam protected weapons allow the medieval warriors to score points and advance to the next level much like popular video games.

Photo by RR Best
Battleground fights with foam protected weapons allow the medieval warriors to score points and advance to the next level much like popular video games.

•September 30, 2015•

People from all over the country were going medieval on each other at Wolf Creek State Park the weekend of Sept. 17-20.

For the past six years AMTGARD, a medieval combat and role playing organization has staged fantasy combat events at Wolf Creek.

This year’s Keep on the Borderlands theme included the battle for Ravenloff and the ultimate tournament prize — the Hammer of God Cup.

Best described as a video game stuck in the real world about 750 participated in this year’s event at Wolf Creek. There are AMTGARD chapters in all 50 states with medieval role players coming from as far as Alaska and Florida to participate in Windsor.

Over the course of the weekend Ravenloff castle was built and was defended. Groups of 12 fighters face off with foam covered swords and other medieval weapons fighting for points.

Points may be earned by completing objectives-like taking over the castle or through achievements.

Judged by the Reeves (referees) and event coordinators teams may earn points by utilizing good or interesting ways to achieve their objective. Bonus points stem from good sportsmanship during a battle.
Read More

Planters Gain Attention

Photo by Mike Brothers Planters recognized. Pictured from left: Mayor Ann Short; Tina Krigbaum, designer and owner of My Garden; Richard Glazebrook and Susan Rauch of the SCED Restoration and Enhancement committee and Stepheny McMahon of Sullivan Chamber and Economic Development. SCED committee members not pictured are Michelle Hauser, Cindy Richardson, Lori Kirk and Shonn Hild.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Planters recognized. Pictured from left: Mayor Ann Short; Tina Krigbaum, designer and owner of My Garden; Richard Glazebrook and Susan Rauch of the SCED Restoration and Enhancement committee and Stepheny McMahon of Sullivan Chamber and Economic Development. SCED committee members not pictured are Michelle Hauser, Cindy Richardson, Lori Kirk and Shonn Hild.

An idea that blossomed

•September 23, 2015•

It began as a project by the Restoration and Enhancement Committee this year and recently drew the attention of a local botanist.

Roger Kirkwood, retired director of Lake of the Woods Botanical Gardens in Mahomet, not only noticed the planters located around the square in Sullivan but wrote Sullivan mayor Ann Short.

“What a pleasant and unexpected surprise,” Kirkwood began his letter. “Immediately attention getting, these planters are obviously well designed and well maintained. What an inviting and enchanting new aspect to downtown!”

Some 16 new planters were placed around the square with the existing planters moved to parking lots and still maintained by the city.

Stepheny McMahon explained the committee is part of the Sullivan Chamber and Economic Development and purchased the planters, trees and shrubs early this year. The city of Sullivan provided the soil and all the flowers as well as regular maintenance of the planters. Tina Krigbaum of My Garden designed the arrangements and completed all the plantings.

Metro Communications Touches Just About Everyone

Photo by Mike Brothers While projects are underway all over the midwest for Metro Communications the hub of the wheel is with this dedicated Sullivan group. Back row from left to right: Zak Horn, Nick Hess, Heath Poulos. Front row from left to right: Elizabeth Bennett, Jolene Wright, Gabe Hedger.

Photo by Mike Brothers
While projects are underway all over the midwest for Metro Communications the hub of the wheel is with this dedicated Sullivan group. Back row from left to right: Zak Horn, Nick Hess, Heath Poulos. Front row from left to right: Elizabeth Bennett, Jolene Wright, Gabe Hedger.

•September 23, 2015•

By Nick Fiala
Reporting in Sullivan

Just east of the Moultrie County Courthouse is a white building on the corner of Harrison and Washington streets. Sullivan citizens go by it everyday without realizing the unique and vital service provided by seven people working out of a large room on the second floor.

The business is called Metro Communications; odds are that you use their services everyday, without realizing it.

“If you use a phone in central Illinois everyday, you use our service; you just don’t know it.” said Zak Horn, who has owned Metro Comm since 2000.

“Nobody really knows who we are or what we do...which is fine.” he said, with a laugh.

“Nobody” means everyday people using cellular phone and internet services. Cell phone companies are the actual customers for providers such as Metro Comm. They are a competitive local telephone company, providing wholesale, carrier, and enterprise services in a 26 county area.

“There’s a million-plus individuals that are in the footprint that we cover for services that we provide,” said Horn. “If you’re an AT&T, T-mobile, Sprint, or Verizon cell phone subscriber in Illinois, then we support those services. Those are our customers that pay us to deliver backhaul to the towers.”

Those towers are connected underground by thousands of miles of fiber optic cable laid out along roadways in a lengthy but delicate process by 30-plus field employees.

“There’re two ways to basically put fiber optic cable into the ground,” Horn said. “One is with a large cable plow, and the other is where you essentially thread it underground, and then tile the conduit together. There are multiple stages of construction required.”

None of that includes the long precise planning process Horn and his dedicated team work out with those invested in the land where cable needs to be laid. Read More

Lake Shelbyville Enjoys a Golden Season

Photo by Sonya Brewer

Photo by Sonya Brewer

A good year for camping

•September 9, 2015•

By Joash Tiarks
Reporting for News Progress

“A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature.” - Henry David Thoreau

Formed nearly 50 years ago, Lake Shelbyville is now certainly a beautiful and expressive feature of the region, and many local businesses depend heavily on the people and activities involved with the lake.

With an apparent excess of rain in June and unseasonably cooler temperatures throughout the spring and into summer, there might have been occasion for concern that the summer season surrounding the lake would be negatively affected.

According to an Illinois State Water Survey press release, this was the wettest June on record for Illinois at 5.33 inches above the average June precipitation. This left the lake as much as 10 feet above pool, or normal level, through June and July and into August. While this presented certain challenges for ease of access, John Fayhee, owner of Sullivan Marina and Campground, said that for him and the marina it has been a great season even with the weather.  Read More

Ice Cream Social Celebrates DOVE Anniversary

Photo by Nick Fiala

Photo by Nick Fiala

•September 2, 2015•

By Nick Fiala
Reporting in Sullivan

Just before 11 a.m. last Saturday, August 29, a small gathering of community volunteers, family, and friends stood under the protective branches of a large tree in Wyman Park.

It was all part of a public ceremony and free ice cream social to rally the local community together against domestic violence and celebrate the 45th anniversary of Dove, Inc., a domestic violence shelter and advocate center in Sullivan.

Though the event would include fun, games, and good-tasting food, it began with a period of quiet reflection. Pastor Ron Thomas of Sullivan’s Highway Church of Christ led the group in a prayer to dedicate a new garden on the park grounds in tribute to Sheri Randall, a repeat victim of domestic violence who lost her life at the hands of an abusive ex-boyfriend last March.

“There is a way to live,” Pastor Thomas said. “And it is with respect and love.”

In addition to the prayer, a speech was given by Mary Hughes, the director of the Moultrie County Agency of Dove, Inc.

“We vow to make a stand against domestic violence in our community, and we shall make a difference.” said Hughes. Read More

A Fun Filled Windsor Harvest Picnic

Photo by RR Best Patti Woods of Shelbyville provided Windsor Picnic crowds with some of Paddi’s Air Filled Fun on Saturday. She  shaped balloons into a variety of animals and flowers for an appreciative group.

Photo by RR Best
Patti Woods of Shelbyville provided Windsor Picnic crowds with some of Paddi’s Air Filled Fun on Saturday. She shaped balloons into a variety of animals and flowers for an appreciative group.

•August 19, 2015•

By Nick Fiala
Reporting in Windsor

The Saturday afternoon events for this year’s annual Windsor Harvest Picnic kicked off under a blazing summer sun that would make anyone think twice about sitting outside for an hour.

But that didn’t stop shop owners from setting up extra seating outside their Main Street storefronts. By the 2 p.m. parade starting time, sidewalks were lined with kids and adults alike cheering as the fire and police departments, the American Legion, local churches, beauty pageant winners, and more all blared their horns and threw candy to smiling parade goers.

A half hour before the parade even began, a rectangular patch of empty lawn chairs was set up to reserve a good seat for that night’s music entertainment.

By 6:30, there was a solid line of guests that was almost as long as the park itself, each of them standing there just to get a part of the main dinner course. Some of the vendors, serving funnel cakes and corn dogs and ice cream cones, tried to meet demand by serving two lines at a time.

An auction was also going on about that time, selling off two gooseberry pies from the stage..

“Just bid like your husband was bidding on a piece of farm equipment, Ma’am.” That was the advice that the energetic auctioneer gave to one bidder, earning laughs from the crowd.

And it seemed to work. Prices on the pies skyrocketed as dozens of bids came in from everywhere in a crowd . The first pie finally peaked at $150 and the second one got up to $405.  Read More

A Fitting End to the LTOTS Season with Miss Daisy

Photo by Keith Stewart Chauffeur Hoke Colburn (played by Equity actor Bryant Bentley, left), returns a can of salmon, unaware that Miss Daisy (played by Glory Kissel, middle) had just moments before accused him of stealing in a conversation with her son Boolie (played by Jesse Sharp, right).

Photo by Keith Stewart
Chauffeur Hoke Colburn (played by Equity actor Bryant Bentley, left), returns a can of salmon, unaware that Miss Daisy (played by Glory Kissel, middle) had just moments before accused him of stealing in a conversation with her son Boolie (played by Jesse Sharp, right).

•August 12, 2015•

By Dan Hagen
NP Theatre Critic

How appropriate that the play “Driving Miss Daisy” should cap the 2015 summer season here, because the venerable Little Theatre is the venue that integrated the town of Sullivan.

“The first African American actor Guy Little hired was an Equity actor from New York, Michael Wright, who, ironically, was from Shelbyville, a somewhat larger town 20 miles southeast of Sullivan,” wrote Beth Conway Shervey in her book, “The Little Theatre on the Square: Four Decades of a Small-Town Equity Theatre.”

“Collective memories of people in Sullivan in 1961 recalled either a sunset law on the books or an unspoken rule that no black man would be caught in Sullivan after the sun went down, much less spend the night,” Shervey wrote. Wright did, of course, staying with a local couple. “Rumor also had select area residents threatening to blow up the theatre or close it down for good. Not only did nothing like this happen, it never rose above gossip.”

Jibby Florini — the owner of Jibby’s restaurant, once the “Sardi’s of Sullivan” — headed off any racial confrontations. “(Wright) came in here, and I had to stop a couple guys from going over and challenging him,” Florini said. “They wanted him thrown out and so on.”

Read More

Scotty B.s’ Food for Travel

findlay Scotty Bs Waffles

Photo by R.R. Best WAFFLES ON THE MOVE - Scott Buxton serves up one of many specialties with a little help from son Matthew at a recent festival.

•August 12, 2015•

By Nick Fiala
Reporting from Bethany

At 214 West North Street, just off the main road in the small town of Bethany, a large red trailer sits in the driveway. It’s next to a plain white yard sign advertising Scotty B’s, a concession business founded by Sullivan native and former Navy cook Scott Buxton.

“It definitely did not look like that when I got it,” said Buxton, laughing and pointing at the trailer.

As the president of Sullivan’s own Junior Football League, Buxton has always valued his connection to his neighbors.

“We’re trying to just offer something for our community,” Buxton said. “I like making people happy when I cook… I’m just trying to offer something a little bit different...another slice of life out there for folks.”

That other slice is a Monday-Friday menu that includes pulled pork (on Fridays), burgers, a tenderloin measuring ten-and-a-half inches, French and sweet potato fries, chicken tenders, hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and funnel cakes (on Wednesdays).

There’s also a special challenge meal with a 30-minute time limit. It’s called the boss hog, and it’s a sandwich weighing more than four pounds, consisting of two pieces of Texas toast, one giant tenderloin, a pound of pulled pork, a pound of fries, a pound of bake beans, a pound of coleslaw, plus cheese and jalapeños. Read More