Feature Stories

Final Show Delivers Pretty Performance With a Hint of Pink

Photo by Keith Stewart Pictured is Sarah Ledtke as Elle Woods (left) and Anna Blair as the good-hearted salon owner Paulette (right) in the Little Theatre’s latest and last production of the 2014 summer season, “Legally Blonde.”

Photo by Keith Stewart
Pictured is Sarah Ledtke as Elle Woods (left) and Anna Blair as the good-hearted salon owner Paulette (right) in the Little Theatre’s latest and last production of the 2014 summer season, “Legally Blonde.”

July 30, 2014

“Legally Blonde” to close out 2014 summer season

By Dan Hagen
NP Theatre Critic

Willowy and witty, pretty and poised, Sarah Ledtke never makes a false step as the star of the Little Theatre’s final show of its 2014 summer season, “Legally Blonde.”

As Elle Woods, Malibu boy-chaser turned Harvard Law ace, she brings the same qualities of likability, whimsy and stage presence to the role as Reese Witherspoon did in the original hit film, although not at all in the same way. 

Ledtke’s confident gestures easily arrest the audience’s attention. With empathy, without preaching, Ledtke sells the show’s ever-relevant message — that you don’t have to be limited by other people’s low estimation of your worth. It’s a pleasure to watch a professional performer who has such command of her craft. 

Director Therese Kincade did an equally professional job of casting this musical, and all her principals find a comfortable fit in their roles. She’s got Mike Danovich, the season’s most reliably solid player, as Warner, the preppy boyfriend who thinks he’s too good for Elle. She has energetic Tiffany Sparks as Brooke Wyndham, the exercise queen on trial for murdering her elderly hubby. Anna Blair is the gaudy but good-hearted salon owner Paulette, balancing show-stopping clown against endearing underdog.

Andy LeBon, who was so good as Captain Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music,” brings his ringing note of authority to bear on the John Houseman-like role of the arrogant and brilliant Harvard criminal law professor Callahan.  Read More

A Repeat Donator: Punches Cuts Again for Locks of Love

Submitted Local hair stylist Candy Cox (left) and Ricky Punches  (right), each hold up their recently cut locks of hair, which they plan to donate to Locks of Love.

Submitted
Local hair stylist Candy Cox (left) and Ricky Punches (right), each hold up their recently cut locks of hair, which they plan to donate to Locks of Love.

July 30, 2014

Joined by local stylist in hair donation

by Christina Whitford
Sullivan Reporter

For most people the never ending task of getting your hair cut becomes routine. But for those who have lost their hair due to medical illness, the gift that one person’s hair cut can give them is extraordinary and priceless.

Through the non- profit organization Locks of Love, many people choose to give the locks they cut to help children, including Ricky Punches of Sullivan, who recently made his second donation in two years.

The organization provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada who are suffering from long-term medical hair loss from an assortment of diagnoses. Locks of Love goal is simply to restore self confidence to children in these situations.

Over the years, many local residents have generously made hair donations to help others in need. Recently making a return trip to the salon for another round of donation was Punches, who first donated in January 2013.

“After my first donation, I began growing it again to cut and donate,” explained Punches.

He made the donation after learning about the program from his mother and seeing her rally to help find people to donate their hair.  Read More

Moultrie-Douglas 4-H Livestock and Horse Show Results

Submitted Christian Hopper of Gays waits patiently with his rabbit.

Submitted
Christian Hopper of Gays waits patiently with his rabbit.

July 30, 2014

The following area individuals earned accolades during the Moultrie-Douglas 4-H livestock show:

Boer Goats

Katie Cline, Moultrie County Longhorns, Windsor-Jr. Champion Doe, Sr. Champion Doe; Zachary Hall, Moultrie County Longhorns, Gays-Reserve Grand Champion Doe, Jr. Champion Buck, Sr. Champion Buck, and Grand Champion Buck; Ethan Gingerich, Atwood-Hammond Prairie Dogs, Sullivan-Reserve Sr. Champion Buck; and Matt Cline, Moultrie County Longhorns, Windsor-Reserve Grand Champion Buck.

Pygmy Goats

Maddy Paddock, Awesome Arthur Clovers, Arthur-Grand Champion Wether-Sr. Champion Doe, Reserve Grand Champion Doe, and Reserve Jr. Champion Buck; Mathew Paddock, Awesome Arthur Clovers, Arthur-Reserve Sr. Champion Doe.

Poultry

Amy Monroe, Sunny Side Flea Flickers, Bethany-Grand Champion American, Reserve Grand Champion American, Reserve Grand Champion English, Grand Champion Asiatic, Grand Champion All Other Fowl Single, Grand Champion Water Fowl Pair; Benjamin Bushue, Moultrie County Longhorns, Sullivan-Grand Champion Continental & All Other, Reserve Grand Champion Continental & All Other, Grand Champion Bantam-Feather Legged, Reserve Grand Champion Bantam-Feather Legged, Grand Champion Meat Production Class, Reserve Grand Champion Meat Production Class; Blaire Monroe, Sunny Side Flea Flickers, Bethany-Grand Champion Egg Production Class, Grand Champion Eggs;Issac Gingerich, Atwood-Hammond Prairie Dogs, Sullivan-Grand Champion Large Purebred, Grand Champion Rabbit; Joshua Gingerich, Atwood-Hammond Prairie Dogs, Sullivan- Reserve Grand Champion Large Purebred, Reserve Grand Champion Small Purebred; and Maddy Paddock, Awesome Arthur Clovers, Arthur-Grand Champion Small Purebred. Read More

A Legend Restored

Photo by Florence Hallford The Burcham Sisters, (from left to right) Julie Yantis, Carole Jacoby, and Sara Gale recently visited the newly completed and relocated horse shoe pits in Tom Conn Park, which they helped fund. Not pictured is Laura Stinson. Their father, the late Emmett Burcham was a reknown horseshoe thrower. The pits were officially reopened last Thursday.

Photo by Florence Hallford
The Burcham Sisters, (from left to right) Julie Yantis, Carole Jacoby, and Sara Gale recently visited the newly completed and relocated horse shoe pits in Tom Conn Park, which they helped fund. Not pictured is Laura Stinson. Their father, the late Emmett Burcham was a reknown horseshoe thrower. The pits were officially reopened last Thursday.

July 23, 2014

Lovington’s horseshoe pits reinstalled at Tom Conn Park

by Florence Hallford
Lovington Reporter

The old horseshoe pits in Lovington’s Tom Conn Park held the memories of many residents as they watched or played horseshoes with friends and family. But last year the pits were removed to accommodate the new skate park. Yet, towards the end of the planning for the skate park project, Sara Gale approached the board to reinstall the horseshoe pits in a different location to keep alive the memory of her father Emmett Burcham, who was a champion thrower.

“During the discussion of the skate park, they talked about relocating the pits,” said Gale. “But they lacked the funds. Then I thought my sisters and I could help.” 

The sisters, known as the ‘Burcham Girls’, were not against the skate park being put in but were concerned with moving the original horseshoe pits. 

“It was the idea that Dad had used them, not necessarily where they were located,” added Gale. Nonetheless, the sisters are now more than satisfied since the pits were relocated last Thursday, though still in Tom Conn Park.

The horseshoe pits were built to regulation and include the pins from the original pits. The only thing missing is the clay, which board member Dennis Garmon is working to locate. 

Jeremy Doggett executed the project while Garmon designed the pits. 

“They turned out exactly like it was on paper,” explained Garmon, who was supportive of the project and was interim mayor during the final talks on the skate park project.  Read More

Lovington Resident Opens up Resale Shop in Sullivan Friday

Photo by Keith Stewart Robin Vaughn of Lovington is set to open her new resale shop, Mudgies, at 20 W. Harrison in Sullivan Friday.

Photo by Keith Stewart
Robin Vaughn of Lovington is set to open her new resale shop, Mudgies, at 20 W. Harrison in Sullivan Friday.

Mudgie’s soft grand-opening set for Saturday

by Joash Tiarks
Reporting in Sullivan

There is at least one new store opening this Friday in Sullivan, but for shop owner Robin Vaughn it is a familiar routine. Vaughn has owned and run the Thrifty Boutique for the last five years, first in Decatur before then moving to Arthur. But prohibitive rent prices there recently forced her to close up shop and look elsewhere for options, which brought her to Sullivan.

However, Vaughn realized an immediate conflict: there is already a similarly named shop in town. With the proposed opening date of July 18 fast approaching, she needed a new, unique name for her new location. Read More

Powerhouse Cast Drives “Sound of Music”

Sound_0049

Photo by Keith Stewart Pictured is Sam Mulligan of Sullivan (left) as Friedrich von Trapp, and Lukas Mills (right) as Kurt von Trapp walking Maria Rainer, played by Leah Berry, center, to her wedding in the second act of the “Sound of Music”.

July 16, 2014

Grand set design, intricate costuming add to show’s strength

By Dan Hagen
NP Theatre Critic

few minutes into the first act, the Little Theatre’s “The Sound of Music” turns perfect.

It’s the famous “Do-Re-Mi” number sung by the young would-be nun-turned-governess Maria (Leah Berry) and Captain von Trapp’s children (Sam Mulligan, Sydni Mulligan and Maddie Keller, all of Sullivan,  Lukas Mills, Izzy Miller and Piper Countryman). 

In a lesser production, those children can be precocious annoyances, too cute by half. But director John Stephens has given his cast a dazzling clockwork charm here and provided us with one of those live theatre moments when audience and performers are in radiant unison. Read More

A Life Spent Outdoors

Submitted Avid outdoorsman Joe Florini of Sullivan has been recently recognized by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for his 35-plus years of volunteer outreach by way of gun safety classes he helped teach and organize in Moultrie and surrounding counties.

Submitted
Avid outdoorsman Joe Florini of Sullivan has been recently recognized by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for his 35-plus years of volunteer outreach by way of gun safety classes he helped teach and organize in Moultrie and surrounding counties.

July 9, 2014

Florini recognized for outdoor outreach

by Keith Stewart
keith@newsprogress.com

Florini is a name that has been tied to Sullivan and the surrounding area for almost 75 years beginning in the early 1940s with the opening of Jibby’s restaurant. But the recognizable family name has extended beyond the once local spot in the form of Joe Florini and his decades of outreach when it comes to the outdoors.

“Obviously, a Florini, all of them are well thought of,” said childhood friend Steve Wood. “Never a bad word from anybody.” Read More

Making the Cut

Photo by Keith Stewart The Buxton family rushed a large delivery of corn up to Chicago last fall after receiving a request from the movie set of the latest Transformer’s film. Pictured are father Steve Buxton and daughter Abbey.

Photo by Keith Stewart
The Buxton family rushed a large delivery of corn up to Chicago last fall after receiving a request from the movie set of the latest Transformer’s film. Pictured are father Steve Buxton and daughter Abbey.

July 9, 2014

Local corn crop featured in Hollywood film

by Joash Tiarks
Bethany Reporter

A late corn harvest is not typically what a farmer plans, but for local businessman Steve Buxton of Buxton’s Garden Farm it is the order of the day. And last year it brought some unexpected and unusual business, with potentially far-reaching results.

Each spring, with the majority of corn farmers busy planting out in the field, Buxton occupies himself with other concerns at his family-run farm, situated off Route 121 halfway between Bethany and Sullivan. However, come the first week of June he fires up the tractor and gets busy putting seed in the ground anticipating a harvest of tall, strong stalks of hearty Blue River hybrid corn. The drastic difference in planting schemes arises from their annual corn maze event. Since 2007, each October Buxton’s has fashioned a life-sized maze of living corn stalks, open to everyone during the day and to the more adventurous on Friday and Saturday nights.  Read More

Dawson Returns to CEFS as Outreach Coordinator

July 2, 2014

Replaces Waymire, who is promoted to director

by Barry Featheringill
Sullivan Reporter

C.E.F.S Economic Opportunity Corporation announces the return of Kristy Dawson to the Moultrie County C.E.F.S office as outreach coordinator after Barbara Waymire was promoted to position of Outreach Director in the Effingham office. Waymire had served as Moultrie County coordinator for four years. Read More

A Look Back at Moultrie’s Contribution

Provided by the Moultrie County Historical Society Pictured is the last gathering of Moultrie County Civil War veterans. The place and date, however, are not known.

Provided by the Moultrie County Historical Society
Pictured is the last gathering of Moultrie County Civil War veterans. The place and date, however, are not known.

July 2, 2014

County’s men fought in Civil War’s largest battles

by Tom Emery

Illinois supplied the fourth-highest number of men to the Union during the Civil War, sending some 259,000 men to the Northern cause. An estimated 773 of them came from Moultrie County, whose men fought with valor in some of the war’s most significant battles.

Moultrie County men fought in some of the state’s top regiments and in the war’s largest battles.

Company E of the 21st Illinois Infantry was predominately a Moultrie County company, which had the distinction of serving under Ulysses S. Grant in his first major field commission.  Read More