Broken Down Springfield Bus Leads to Sullivan Pizza Party

•April 13, 2016•

What looked like a long boring wait for a busload of students from Springfield turned into a pizza party at Sullivan Civic Center last week.

It all started when a charter bus carrying 35 students from Grant Middle School broke down about 3 p.m. next to Jim Warren Auto Sales.

“Jim Warren called me when he saw those kids waiting around the broken bus,” Sullivan police chief John Love said. “Officers sent to the scene learned it could be several hours before another bus could be sent for the students.”

Love said he made two calls; the first to Sullivan school district where director of transportation Kevin Landrus immediately sent a Sullivan School bus for the students.

“The replacement bus was coming from Jacksonville, and there was going to be about a 4 hour wait/delay,” Landrus began.

“I sent Michael Puyear, employee within the transportation department of Sullivan Schools out to pick them up and we shuttled them to the Civic Center.”

“I can’t imagine trying to keep 35 middle school aged kids occupied for four hours, let alone on a bus sitting on the side of the road. We were glad to do our part and offer assistance to the kids and adults on board,” he concluded. Read More

Shrine Club Presented with Donation

 Photo furnished Shrine Club Presented with Donation The Tri-County Shrine Club was presented a donation from the Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond ugly sweater contest held during the holidays. Shrine Club president Jeremy Malin and ALAH freshman Emma Harris presented the donation to Noble Ed Camacho, Potentate of Ansar Shrine Temple in Springfield at Yoder’s Country Kitchen in Arthur. This is the second year ALAH has donated the ugly sweater donations to the Shriner’s Crippled Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. Participants donated $1 for each ugly sweater vote to raise funds. Harris is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stan Harris of Atwood. Stan Harris is the Second Ceremonial Master of Ansar Temple.

Photo furnished
Shrine Club Presented with Donation
The Tri-County Shrine Club was presented a donation from the Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond ugly sweater contest held during the holidays. Shrine Club president Jeremy Malin and ALAH freshman Emma Harris presented the donation to Noble Ed Camacho, Potentate of Ansar Shrine Temple in Springfield at Yoder’s Country Kitchen in Arthur. This is the second year ALAH has donated the ugly sweater donations to the Shriner’s Crippled Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. Participants donated $1 for each ugly sweater vote to raise funds. Harris is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stan Harris of Atwood. Stan Harris is the Second Ceremonial Master of Ansar Temple.

News Streets and Sidewalks Around the Square

•April 6, 2016•

By Ariana Cherry
For the News Progress

New streets and sidewalks will surround the recently renovated Moultrie County Courthouse. Rerouted traffic and construction noise are what it takes to get there.

The Sullivan city council approved a bid to resurface the square and other surrounding streets that includes Harrison, Jefferson, Main, Washington and S. Main streets at the last meeting. The estimate of the project was $750,000 with concrete costing $140,000. The lowest bid was from Ne-Co Asphalt Co at $919,126.30.

Presently,the street improvement fund doesn’t have enough to cover the entire project so other funds will come from TIF and the electric fund. TIF had reserved  $450,000 for the project. The street improvement fund has $400,000 with the electric fund contributing $100,000.

It was noted that street improvement projects usually spend anywhere from $20,000 to $42,000. Typically, there is $50,000 in the budget for normal street maintenance unless a larger project has to be completed.

Other costs that aren’t included in the estimate are engineering and road striping. Mayor Ann Short estimated that the entire project could cost a million dollars. “We have $850,000 available, and we could borrow from the electric department to help fund other costs,” she informed.

Commissioner Ken Johnson said he planned on having the project finished within a three-day period.  Read More

Beacon Looks For Outside Funding Sources

Photo by Mike Brothers Above Joe Ellis and David Cornwell load the box crusher, preparing cardboard collected from area businesses for recycling. At right Executive Director Susan Rauch checks photo display strip which helps consumers with autism deal with schedule changes.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Above Joe Ellis and David Cornwell load the box crusher, preparing cardboard collected from area businesses for recycling. At right Executive Director Susan Rauch checks photo display strip which helps consumers with autism deal with schedule changes.

•April 6, 2016•

By Mike Brothers

The Moultrie County Beacon’s annual benefit auction at the Otto Center in Arthur April 15 is more than a place to get the best fried pies and donuts anywhere; it has become a financial lifeline for the local non-profit agency.

Located in Sullivan the Beacon is a community-based not for profit, offering a wide range of services to the developmentally disabled and mentally ill residents of the area.

“We were resistant to outside fund-raising until the state got three months behind on funding,” executive director Susan Rauch said of the decision to follow up on a suggestion from board member Dannie Kuhns that the Beacon approach the Otto Center about a benefit.

Since that time, state funding reached a crisis for community agencies when the state failed to come up with a budget. That lack of funding for programs to help people who need it the most has forced the Beacon to focus as much on fund- raising and training just to maintain existing services.

David Kaufman of the Otto Center was not eager to help a Moultrie County agency since he was in Douglas County, but Rauch encouraged him to tour the Beacon facility in Sullivan.

“Once he saw the services we provide at the Beacon he agreed, and that brought a host of help from the Amish community which has been essential to the success of the annual benefit,” she continued. Read More

Moultrie County Tentative Multiplier Announced

•April 6, 2016•

Moultrie County has been issued a tentative property assessment equalization factor of 1.0000, according to Constance Beard, Director of the Illinois Department of Revenue.

The property assessment equalization factor, often called the “multiplier”, is the method used to achieve uniform property assessments among counties, as required by law.  This equalization is particularly important because some of the state’s 6,600 local taxing districts overlap into two or more counties (e.g. school districts, junior college districts, fire protection districts).  If there were no equalization among counties, substantial inequities among taxpayers with comparable properties would result.

State law requires property in Illinois to be assessed at one-third (1/3) of its market value.  Farm property is assessed differently, with farm homesites and dwellings subject to regular assessing and equalization procedures, but with farmland and farm buildings assessed according to standards based on productivity. Read More

Sullivan Singer Invitational Makes Comeback

Photo Submitted FAME Award for Singers Sullivan Singers placed fourth runner-up in FAME Chicago last weekend with qualifying scores for FAME Nationals. Grant King was named “Best Male Soloist.” The Singers were awarded the prestigious FAME Award that is given to the most “professional and easy to work with ensemble and director.”

Photo Submitted
FAME Award for Singers
Sullivan Singers placed fourth runner-up in FAME Chicago last weekend with qualifying scores for FAME Nationals. Grant King was named “Best Male Soloist.” The Singers were awarded the prestigious FAME Award that is given to the most “professional and easy to work with ensemble and director.”

•April 6, 2016•

By Kennedy D. Nolen
For the News Progress

After the Sullivan Singer’s cancellation of the annual invitational last year, the Singers knew they had to make a comeback, director Jeffrey Thomas said.

More than 20 groups participated in the competition, and 4,000 spectators flocked to the SHS gym March 11 and 12.

Singer’s alumni and school board member Jeff White was the emcee for the high school competition, and middle school principal Ted Walk hosted the junior high competition Friday evening.

Read More

News Sidewalks Around Sullivan Square

Photo by Mike Brothers Penhall Company started early Monday sawing away the old sidewalk in preparation for removal. Traffic was rerouted and the noise level on the square increased as the city project includes new accessible walks and resurfacing the street around the square.

Photo by Mike Brothers
Penhall Company started early Monday sawing away the old sidewalk in preparation for removal. Traffic was rerouted and the noise level on the square increased as the city project includes new accessible walks and resurfacing the street around the square.

After A Few Noisy Days of Demolition

•April 6, 2016•

The city of Sullivan sidewalk renovation project started Monday April 4.

It will involve removing the sidewalk and curb around the inside of the square and replacing it with new ADA compliant  walk and crosswalks. The north and east sides of the square will be closed first.

Then closings will occur as needed after the new is installed. The plan is to saw cut the sidewalk all the way, but only the north and east sides will be closed to parking. Workers are using water to cut so the dust will be minimum, but soupy. They will be removing the entrance by the fountain at the northwest corner and leaving the southwest entrance until the north side is complete.

The second phase is to mill the roadway around the square and adjoining streets to prepare for new asphalt. This part will be very noisy but should only last three or four days. Parking will be at a premium during this construction period, and all who can are encouraged to park off the square. There are a few parking places beside the dive shed to the south, as well as the parking lots around the area. No work is scheduled on Washington St. from Jefferson to Water and Jefferson from Washington to Worth.  Everything else around the square will be in the construction zone.  All construction is weather dependent.

Ariana Cherry looks into the costs of the project in her Sullivan City Council story on page 12 of today’s newspaper.

Wyman Park Easter Egg Hunt Draws Huge Crowd

Wyman Park Easter Egg Hunt Draws Huge Crowd The Sullivan Fire District hosted a huge crowd at the Wyman Park Easter Egg Hunt at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 27. In addition they had a grand bicycle give away.  A bicycle was donated to both a boy and a girl in each of the six age groups participating. Bike winners included: 0-1 Faith Whitlow and Beavis Edwards; 2-3 Wesley Murray and Ana Kean; 4-5 Charlie Conlin and Gabby Hutchcraft; 6-7 Leighton Poulos and Wyatt Wehrle; 8-9 Jaiden Beckwith donated her bike to Hannah Kercheval and Ivan Moxley won the boys bike; 10-11 Noah Marlow and Madelyn Neville. Photo by RR Best

Wyman Park Easter Egg Hunt Draws Huge Crowd
The Sullivan Fire District hosted a huge crowd at the Wyman Park Easter Egg Hunt at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 27. In addition they had a grand bicycle give away.
A bicycle was donated to both a boy and a girl in each of the six age groups participating. Bike winners included: 0-1 Faith Whitlow and Beavis Edwards; 2-3 Wesley Murray and Ana Kean; 4-5 Charlie Conlin and Gabby Hutchcraft; 6-7 Leighton Poulos and Wyatt Wehrle; 8-9 Jaiden Beckwith donated her bike to Hannah Kercheval and Ivan Moxley won the boys bike; 10-11 Noah Marlow and Madelyn Neville.
Photo by RR Best

Local Travelers Find Cuba Under Renovation

Sullivan’s Joe Pound kneels at entrance of Hotel Nacional in Cuba

Sullivan’s Joe Pound kneels at entrance of Hotel Nacional in Cuba

•March 30, 2016•

Reported by “Jose” Pound
For the News Progress

Imagine a lush, tropical island in the Caribbean Sea (just 200 miles south of Miami and 90 miles south of Key West, Fla.), about the length of Florida (700 miles), with so much natural beauty, warm & friendly folks plus delightful local food. Only in the last few years have Americans been allowed legally to visit this island to meet and greet these engaging, energetic, creative Cuban people.

This largest island in the Caribbean Sea is one of about 30 major islands, many of which (26) my wife and I have visited over the past 40 years, but never to Cuba. This void was due to our government’s restricted travel embargo policies. Fortunately for us, these past restrictive travel policies now are being relaxed by our government. Recently five adults from Sullivan were part of a flood of new visitors from the US taking advantage of this new freedom to travel to Cuba. It proved to be a great experience for me like none of the other islands of this tropical sea I’ve visited earlier.

Our touring company…Road Scholar (part of Elderhostel based in Boston) has been doing these tours to Cuba for a short time. Elderhostel has been around for 40+ years. It is a well regarded not-for-profit travel agency. Our small group (five) from Sullivan made this trip to Cuba in the middle of March. We were accompanied by 17 other persons from all over the country…from upper Wisconsin to Texas from Ohio to west coast. What a diverse group. This is my report of that experience. The program was called Havana and the Countryside.

This particular Road Scholar group seemed to coalesce well, as we toured the western part of this large beautiful, green tropical island for eight days (March 13-20, 2016). About half of us were singles and about half couples…a diverse group of explorers. All of us from Sullivan were singles.

This experience in the middle of March immediately preceded President Obama’s recent three day visit to Republic of Cuba. It’s been 88 years since a US President visited the island. Our small group departed Cuba on Sunday the March 20 just one hour before the President and his family arrived at Jose Marti International AP near Havana, Cuba. We were delighted to not be there during the President’s visit. One neat fact, our stay in Havana was at the huge Hotel Nacional, where the President stayed. There were all kinds of preparation activities preceding the President and his family’s arrival in the Cuban capital. Read More

Yost Defense Takes a Twist

•March 30, 2016•

By Mike Brothers

Judge Dan L. Flannell granted Michael Yost until April 4 to produce evidence that involuntary intoxication be a reasonable defense in the death of Sheri Randall on March 4, 2015.

Yost, 41,  appeared in Moultrie County Circuit Court March 29 with public defender Brad Rau requesting expert witness expenses. This is to help prove Yost’s diabetes condition combined with alcohol contributed to his amnesia.

State’s Attorney Jeremy Richey objected to Rau’s request for an additional expert evaluation of Yost.

“As for the involuntary intoxication, it was not involuntary if it was caused by his own failure to take care of his condition,” Richey said, after pointing out he didn’t see the link to an insanity plea and the involuntary intoxication issue. Read More