•September 30, 2015•
By Derek Pope
Reporting from Bethany
During their September regular meeting, Okaw Valley’s board of education will vote on whether or not to confirm their 2015-2016 school year fiscal budget. Prior to the meeting, the board held a public hearing to notify the public and field discussion of the budget in its entirety, as well as matters related to the increase or decrease in its ending balance.
Previously the News Progress reported that Okaw Valley’s “final estimated ending budget” for the 2014-2015 would end with a roughly $145,000 deficit—this turned out to not be true. In fact, the district’s final budget ended up in the positive as of its closing date on June 30. Its four major operating funds totaled roughly $4,896,000 versus the approximately $4,528,000 it started with, entailing an actual surplus of almost $380,000. Okaw Valley’s previous tentative budget did not include revenue accrued as of June 30 for operating funds budgeted for but not used during the 2014-2015 school year. The entirety of the budget voted on this month will “not be the same” as the district’s ending budget though according to Okaw Valley superintendent Kent Stauder, “due to the rising cost of salary, insurance, and capital projects.” Following the board of education’s vote, the complete 2015-2016 budget will be made available to the public and posted on the district’s website. Read More
•September 30, 2015•
By Ariana Cherry
Reporting from Sullivan
Sullivan city treasurer, Myron Salmon, announced his resignation at the Sept. 14 city council meeting “He made a good situation in what we do here,” commented Mike Mossman. “We wish him luck in his new endeavor,” he added. September 29 will be Salmon’s last day.
“I can’t say that I am happy, but I understand his position,” stated Mayor Ann Short.
“We appreciate everything he has done,” said Mossman. The council will begin looking for someone else to fill his position.
In other matters, the council heard or acted upon further:
-Commissioner Bill Hagen was absent. Discussion regarding the recycling program will be held at the next meeting as well as updates on the water and sewer plant projects and the 403 N Graham demolition. Read More
•September 30, 2015•
By Nick Fiala
Reporting from Lovington
To everything there is a season...A time to plant, and a time to harvest - Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
A sunny sky looks down on a yard full of beautiful plant life, a kind of raw oasis in the middle of endless squares of concrete road running through the town of Lovington.
Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, all fly around in a symphony of colorful motion and calming ambience. The habits of each of these creatures are well known to the man who runs the garden they enjoy so.
“They go clear down to South America in the winter.” the man says, pointing at the hummingbirds. “You know, That’s a long ways.”
Hard work over a long distance is something this man, Francis Seelow, knows well. His talent for prolific gardening has earned the attention and gratitude of his friends and neighbors.
Seelow’s talents were honed over a lifetime spent farming endless acres in local counties. His first teacher was his father, who farmed provincially for a living, himself the son of a hard-working immigrant.
“Dad farmed all his life. My grandfather came over here from Germany after World War 1. He was a blacksmith and railroad worker.” Read More
Teachers Learn to Rock
•September 30, 2015•
By Mike Brothers
In a world of cut school budgets, unpredictable evaluations and a questionable pension plan it isn’t easy being a school teacher these days.
Sullivan Unit 300 administration and teachers are trying a proactive approach at improving morale.
Morale Matters was implemented by the Sullivan Education Association at the beginning of the school year.
“So many of the causes for lack of morale are simply out of our control,” SEA president Don Lockwood said of education. Teachers don’t control the state budget; they cannot control the changing times of how students are evaluated and they have no control over the mismanagement of their pensions by state government.
“It’s an excellent concept,” superintendent Brad Tuttle said of the Morale Matters program.
He explained the uncertainty teachers face these days has led to fewer people choosing education and even fewer wanting to get into public school administration.
“This is the third year the state has cut our budget by a quarter million dollars,” he continued, noting there is a negativity surrounding public education. “Schools aren’t getting the funding the way they were five years ago, yet the costs of operations continue to rise, and it forces cutbacks,” he continued
All things that contribute to lowering the morale in the schools. Read More
Compiled by Bekki Ferguson-Stevens
25 Years Ago This Week
Sullivan High School will crown a new queen this Friday during homecoming festivities. Senior candidates are Stacey Anderson, Laura Pound, Angie Johnson and Misha Coy. Princess attendants Mandy Collins, Jennifer Daily and Nicki Wood will also take part in homecoming festivities all week at Sullivan High School.
Bryan Yoder of rural Lovington recently took home seven prizes for his corn exhibits at the Illinois State Fair. He dedicated his prizes to Howard Phillips of Arthur, superintendent of the Moultrie-Douglas Fair for many years.
Sandi Cameron was recently elected president of the United Way Board of Moultrie County for 1990-91. Also elected were Terry Shaw, vice president; Sheila Muzzy, secretary; Margaret Ann Smith, treasurer; and Darrell Davis, campaign chairman.
Bethany’s Ben Osman was just a few yards from catching a pass from Burl Coclasure during the Mustangs 14-2 victory Friday night over Maroa-Forsyth.
After 27 years as chief cook, bottle washer and owner of Wilson’s Cafe in Dalton City, Dorothy Wilson recently hung up her apron and leased the family style restaurant to a young Dalton City woman. Michele Phelps, 22, who previously worked at the restaurant as a teenager before she launched her own career in the food industry, leased the business Sept. 1 and has renamed it Michele’s Cafe.
Two more military service personnel with local ties are reported to be serving in the Middle East as part of Operation Desert Shield. Army Pvt. 1st Class Robert S. Hale, son of Robert Hale and Carol Hale Bolin of Sullivan, was recently dispatched to Saudi Arabia. He is a 1989 graduate of Sullivan High School. Linda Hall of Harrisburg, Pa., a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard and the daughter of Warren and Dorothy Hall of rural Sullivan, left last week for Saudi Arabia. She is a 1966 graduate of Sullivan High School. Read More
•September 23, 2015•
By Mike Brothers
With some 500 production related jobs opening in the next few years the need to train local students is in growing demand.
On Sept. 18 representatives of No Job Left Behind from Coles, Douglas, Shelby and Moultrie counties gathered at Faith Lutheran Church in Sullivan to find out how to best meet that demand.
Dr. Mike Rudibaugh , GIS professor from Lake Land College, analyzed results from the 2015 gap survey sent to 131 employers in the region.
What Rudibaugh learned was the growing need for production employees is in a region that is experiencing a decline in population.
“One thing I think you will find is many communities have an aging population,” Rudibaugh said, citing Shelby County as one with 40% of its population over 50 years of age.
He went on to explain the present commuter trends across county lines indicate the need for training will require regional cooperation in order to attract major government funding.
“Production (manufacturing) still plays an important and vibrant role in our communities,” Rudibaugh continued. “And partnerships between production and education can help communities stabilize population by training workers for jobs that need to be filled here.”
Sullivan schools superintendent Brad Tuttle pointed to the recent success of the welding program in its first year at District 300 high school.
Aimed at preparing students for Agri-Fab and Hydro-Gear jobs in Sullivan the class has more than 12 students in its first year.The school has also enjoyed success with the summer intern programs at these local facilities.
Deacon Patient of Agri-Fab said he would like to utilize more internships if some funding sources could be located to grow that program.
Joe Sheiner of Hydro-Gear noted they opened the tour to include more than the manufacturing side of the business. Hydro-Gear utilized the summer intern program to help fill a receptionist vacancy this year.
Tuttle noted an adult education welding program is being planned with hopes of vocational funding to assist.
•September 23, 2015•
By Susan Sullivan Rauch
Executive Director of the Beacon
“People with developmental disabilities have special needs, but their basic needs are the same as everyone else’s. The need to have a home, learn useful, relevant skills; work; and develop and sustain relationships with people they care about and who care about them.” Author Unknown
The Moultrie County Beacon has done this in Sullivan since 1968, yet many of our citizens have only a vague notion of what we actually do and whom we actually help. This isn’t such a surprise for our first 30 years we really didn’t talk about what we did.
To the families that we served, we were a blessing, but for the majority of the population our work remained a mystery that had little impact on their lives. Most children with special needs were bused out of town to special schools, thereby inhibiting the social relationships that are built during the 12 years attending public school. As a result, many adults with developmental disabilities grew up without being fully integrated into their communities.
Today we are driven to push the boundaries that once hindered people with disabilities from meeting their full potential. Today most of our children attend our local schools and, as a result, form relationships that enrich their lives as well as the lives of their classmates. Read More