Smiles on Faces Four Hooves at a Time

Photo by RR Best Andrea Ebert is seen with Jasper, one of her two mini therapy horses, during a visit to Aspen Creek in early December.

Photo by RR Best
Andrea Ebert is seen with Jasper, one of her two mini therapy horses, during a visit to Aspen Creek in early December.

January 21, 2015

Mini horses make visits to local residential centers

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

Andrea Ebert describes it as her perfect storm.
The nurse of more than 30 years who also has a master’s degree in gerontology was able to combine her love for people and for horses last fall by way of creating Heartland Mini Horses, an organization she formed out of Taylorville that seeks to provide therapeutic visits to nursing homes and assisted living centers with the help of two hairy little horses: Jasper and Bailey.
At just 32 inches tall, Jasper is a two-year old miniature horse and is joined by eight-month old Bailey who stands an inch shorter, is black-and-white, and acts as Jasper’s sister in the way they will playfully gnaw at one another.
“Anything over 34 inches is pony stage,” explained Ebert. “As far as training them, these horses have to have a great deal of patience. There are times I’ve had Bailey sit for five minutes waiting for someone to touch her.” Read More

ALAH Receives Transportation Payment From State

January 21, 2015

Only two payments expected

by Ariana Cherry
Arthur/Sullivan Reporter

“We’ve received our first payment for transportation and special education, and we are excited about that,” superintendent Kenny Schwengel announced during his treasurer’s report at the ALAH School Board meeting Wednesday, January 15.
The district’s transportation fund had been short for several months, and the district found themselves borrowing money from other sources to help cover costs.
“We’ve had to take money from the education fund to help pay for transportation and special education needs” added Schwengel. Recently the district received a voucher for $11,324.89, although other payments are still to be expected. “We should receive four payments this year, but we will be lucky to see two of them,” noted Schwengel. It was also reported that the district received a voucher of $20,660 for reorganization. The current balance of all the district funds is $6,290,154.05. Read More

Sullivan PD Warns of Unlocked Vehicle Thefts

January 21, 2015

Recent string has police urging public for help

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

After several instances where items were taken from unlocked vehicles this past week, Sullivan police chief John Love is asking the community to be alert and to call his office for any information related to the thefts.
Love, who declined to comment on the number of actual thefts or their exact location within Sullivan said that it appears at least one individual is targeting vehicles that are unlocked and then stealing items, though so far the value of such items remains minor. Read More

Moultrie Moves On 911 Improvements

Photo by Keith Stewart Last month, the county board, acting in their new capacity with recently elected Billy Voyles joining the board, formally agreed to contract with Coles County’s 911 center to make improvements to Moultrie’s emergency phone services. Pictured, from left to right: Billy Voyles, Kevin McReynolds, Roger Glazebrook, Arlene Aschermann, Dave McCabe, county clerk Georgia England, Ron White, Gary Smith, Tim Rose, and Todd Maxedon. McCabe was voted to retain the chairmanship, and White was again chosen as vice-chairman at their reorganization meeting in December.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Last month, the county board, acting in their new capacity with recently elected Billy Voyles joining the board, formally agreed to contract with Coles County’s 911 center to make improvements to Moultrie’s emergency phone services. Pictured, from left to right: Billy Voyles, Kevin McReynolds, Roger Glazebrook, Arlene Aschermann, Dave McCabe, county clerk Georgia England, Ron White, Gary Smith, Tim Rose, and Todd Maxedon. McCabe was voted to retain the chairmanship, and White was again chosen as vice-chairman at their reorganization meeting in December.

January 14, 2015

Committee rejects tax referendum, for now

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

At their final meeting of the year, the county board approved 911 upgrades that will now task Coles County with the ability to tone out or directly page emergency personnel here in Moultrie County.

At their December 11 meeting and acting in their newly elected capacity with former board member and Democrat Ken Johnson replaced by Republican Billy Voyles, the board unanimously approved the more than $45,000 in upgrades that will now allow Coles County’s 911 center CECOM, with whom Moultrie has contracted for 911 services for just over three years, to directly page out the appropriate emergency personnel.

Before these upgrades, CECOM, upon receiving a wireless 911 call, had to contact either the Moultrie sheriff or Sullivan fire department, depending on the nature of the call, and verbally relay the emergency information. The 911 caller would become part of a three-way phone call before CECOM disconnected and let the Moultrie county agency take over. This relaying of information is said to have taken up valuable minutes in paging out emergency responders, minutes that the upgrades look to avoid. Read More

Meyer in State Queen Pageant

Submitted Meyer in State Queen Pageant Miss Moultrie-Douglas County Fair Queen, Maria Meyer, will be one of 74 young ladies competing for Miss Illinois County Fair Queen Title at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield the weekend of Jan. 16-18. Meyer is a senior at Tuscola High School.  The interview portion will be held Friday, January 17. The preliminary—which consists of speech, swimsuit, and evening gown--will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, January 18. The public is invited to attend and tickets may be purchased at the door. Finals will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, January 19.  The top 15 will then start over with all four categories along with answering three pop questions on stage. Tickets for the final portion had to be purchased in advanced.  If interested in attending, contact Sandy Hoke at 493-3583.

Submitted
Meyer in State Queen Pageant
Miss Moultrie-Douglas County Fair Queen, Maria Meyer, will be one of 74 young ladies competing for Miss Illinois County Fair Queen Title at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield the weekend of Jan. 16-18. Meyer is a senior at Tuscola High School.
The interview portion will be held Friday, January 17. The preliminary—which consists of speech, swimsuit, and evening gown–will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, January 18. The public is invited to attend and tickets may be purchased at the door. Finals will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, January 19.
The top 15 will then start over with all four categories along with answering three pop questions on stage. Tickets for the final portion had to be purchased in advanced.  If interested in attending, contact Sandy Hoke at 493-3583.

Fire Saturday Destroys Motor Coach

January 7, 2015

Electrical system deemed the cause

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

A fire Saturday morning north of Lovington ravaged a motor home that was inside a shed.

According to assistant Hammond fire district chief Gary Gee, his department was dispatched Saturday morning around 8:30 a.m. and upon arrival saw fire and smoke exiting a shed. Read More

County Consolidates Pay Schedules into One

January 7, 2015

Some employees receive extra check

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

At their November meeting, the county board unanimously approved consolidating the county’s three different payrolls into one, a move that saw an immediate cost, but one that looks to provide a net savings down the road.

Citing cumbersome payroll processing for each of the county’s three payrolls, board chairman Dave McCabe explained that the consolidation will make for more efficiency in the county clerk’s office.

“You may remember some time ago we made the decision to delay the pay period so that we’d have time when someone left the county’s employment to take care of any changes in money we owed them, [or that] they owed us,” said McCabe. “Like most businesses do, you have a delay from your first pay period to reflect those…well, that got to be a little messy because we were just changing new employees so the old employees were under the old plan, and the new employees were under the new plan, and somehow we got a third one in there, and I’m not real sure how that third one got in there, but what it resulted in was Pam (Wittkowski, chief deputy clerk) and Georgia (England, county clerk) were having to calculate three separate payrolls for each pay period. Very time consuming, very confusing, so they worked with our auditor and talked with me a little bit about it and decided we would go to a one week delay for everybody.” Read More

Daily Successfully Pushes for First 2015 Baby at DMH

Submitted Pictured is the Daily family with their New Year's newborn Oliver Daily. From left to right, husband Andrew, their daughter Addison, mother Heather with Oliver, and son Colby.

Submitted
Pictured is the Daily family with their New Year’s newborn Oliver Daily. From left to right, husband Andrew, their daughter Addison, mother Heather with Oliver, and son Colby.

January 7, 2015

Oliver Daily born at 3:34 a.m. Jan. 1

by Ariana Cherry
Sullivan/Arthur reporter

On New Year’s Eve, when the clock strikes midnight, there’s a push to kiss that special someone, make a new year’s resolution, and/or let bygones be bygones. But for Heather Daily of Sullivan- she was pushing against the clock to deliver the first baby of 2015 at Decatur Memorial Hospital, which ultimately, would become the first baby born in Macon County.

“The nurses at DMH were very competitive. They were all rooting for us and wanted to be the first ones. They were like, “let’s go!” said Daily.

While, indeed, the race was on at DMH, Daily never planned on delivering a new year’s baby.

“We were not expecting it at all and attended several occasions throughout the day. Everyone kept telling me, ‘You better get that baby in before the end of the year.’”

And as Daily’s friends and family said those very words, she began to feel her first labor pains at 7:30 p.m. that evening.

“We called the doctor at 9:30 and then again at 10:30. It was after 11 once we got to DMH.

“The whole experience was surreal because we weren’t planning on it and didn’t think it would happen,” added Daily. “They (the nurses) wanted our baby to be the first one.”

After the successful efforts, Daily and her husband Adam welcomed their new baby boy Oliver Lewis Daily, weighing 6 lbs, 11 oz, born at 3:34 am. January 1, 2015. Read More

Sullivan Schools Approve 6.73 Percent Levy Increase

January 7, 2015

Final figure to depend on actual EAV yet to be determined

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

The Sullivan school district approved their levy request last month and went with the higher of two levy increases that the board first made public in November.

At their December 18 truth in taxation hearing, which was attended by two members of the public, the board explained the need for the 6.73 percent levy increase request, citing in part the nearly $200,000 lost this year in state aid after the local property value raised considerably while student population fell. Superintendent Brad Tuttle also cited approximately $61,000 in tax money the board recently left on the table after last year’s levy request fell short of the full actual levy amount for which they could have asked.

“Even though we asked for 9.98 (percent levy increase) last year, it came in at 11.90. By us not asking for 11.90, we actually lost $61,000 that we could have recouped,” said Tuttle. “And if you look at the history of our school, we have not received the amount we could have received since 2002.” Read More

OV Schools Approve Nearly 9 Percent Levy Increase

December 31, 2014

Over $300,000 additional revenue requested

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

In this month’s board meeting, the Okaw Valley school district approved a levy that seeks more than $300,000 in new revenue.
After holding a truth in taxation hearing December 18, at which no objections were raised, the board formally approved the 8.81 percent increase in the levy using an estimated EAV of $81 million, up from the previous actual EAV of $73,966,393
The district tax rate comes to 4.5 percent, and results in an aggregate levy of $3,664,079, which is a $322,805.36 increase over the previous levy.
The estimated EAV of $81 million comes prior to the county assessor’s office’s actual EAV figure, which will be calculated within the upcoming months. Only then will the district have a concrete levy total. Read More