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SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010



The Road Ahead

live learn work PLAY Leader brings back jazz festival/Page 15

Southern gospel draws crowd to The Barn/Page 16

Bike trails coming together/Page 17


SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010


Family as medication Gowin Parc finds big impact on Alzheimer’s with small facilities, individual care By ANNIE GETSINGER H&R Staff Writer

PANA — A year ago, Evelyn Nohren, 89, was combative, stubborn and withdrawn. A victim of the dementia that has slowly robbed her of various cognitive abilities, Nohren no longer knew her own children and would often sleep on the floor of her nursing home room to avoid falling out of bed, said daughter Mary Glick. “She was gone,” Glick said. “She always knew me, but she didn’t know her other children.” Nohren was heavily medicated, suffered from bed sores, and Glick likened her mother’s condition to that of a homeless person. Glick said she knew her mom needed a change, and she explored a new facility in Pana, Gowin Parc, an Alzheimer’s disease and dementia home with a focus on a familylike atmosphere to serve individual residents’ needs. Jason and Theresa Gowin opened their second facility last spring in Pana after owning and operating another location in Mattoon. In May, after being deemed too difficult for several other facilities, Nohren became the first resident of the Pana location. Within weeks, Glick said, her mother’s entire demeanor had changed. “It’s just the atmosphere here is a family atmosphere,” Glick said. “It’s an institution in the other (facilities).” Over the following months, Nohren’s medications were reduced, and she became a more active participant in the world around her, Glick said. Now, Nohren knows her children and grandchildren, and on a Thursday morning in late February, her husband, Tuck Nohren, 95, picked her up for a day on the town to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. Tuck Nohren drives his pickup truck over from Hickory Estates to visit his wife every day when weather permits, staff members said. “I can’t say enough good things about this facility,” Glick said, adding that she believes “everything” about Gowin Parc has made the difference. Jean Weitekamp, executive director of the Pana facility, said the smaller staff-to-resident ratio of the 16-person facility is an integral part

Herald & Review photos/Lisa Morrison

Mary Nuzback sits in the family room, watching television with some of her friends at Gowin Parc, an Alzheimer’s home that helps patients through common meal times, relaxed visitor policies and a family feel. BOTTOM LEFT: Kathy Johns peels potatoes as she prepares dinner for the facility. The residents eat their meals family style. BOTTOM RIGHT: Evelyn Nohren is surrounded in her room by pictures of her family. TOP: The Pana facility opened in June. of its mission. “We’re just one big family, really,” Weitekamp said. “This is more home. We have a chance to really get to know them and work with them one-on-one.” Since welcoming Nohren in May, Gowin Parc has brought in seven others, bringing it to half capacity.

The kitchen is a central fixture at the facility, and lunch and dinner are dished out family style and also serve as social times for the residents. Some actually like to assist with meal preparation, Weitekamp said. One woman likes to help do dishes and peel potatoes. “It makes her feel like she’s con-

tributing to the household,” Weitekamp said. Gowin Parc is different from traditional long-term care facilities in a number of ways, she added. The building has no visiting hours, Weitekamp said, and family members are welcome at any time. Residents’ daily lives thrive on routine,

but they are not restricted to specific bedtimes or required to get up at any certain hour. The rooms and corridors are painted in subdued, happy colors, and each person’s bedroom is decorated with a distinct color and style to aid residents in connecting with their spaces. Outside each bedroom is a glass case called a “memory box” in which family members can place objects familiar to residents to help with this process. Linda Gill and Kathy Johns, resident specialists at Gowin Parc, spend their days taking care of the people who live there and engaging them in a variety of activities. Staff members work 12-hour shifts to maintain a sense of routine, and on any given day, they read the newspaper, lead exercises, go on outings, play board games and trivia and interact with residents in countless other ways, Weitekamp said. Both Gill and Johns have worked in longterm care for more than 20 years. “I started in a nursing home, and this is completely different,” Johns said. Weitekamp said she’s grown personally and professionally since starting her job at Gowin Parc. “Every day is different, fun,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much I really enjoy working with these people and how they can enhance my life.” Weitekamp, who started her nursing career in 1991, brought her grandmother, Evelyn Mizeur, 90, to live at the facility in January. According to Gowin Parc’s Web site, its mission hinges on the promises and gifts of love, nurturing and care families provide for each other. Glick remembers her mother as a loving, quiet woman who worked hard on the family farm, raised three children and had a special love for flowers, a person who deserves to be cherished and looked after late in life. “We always had zinnias and marigolds in the garden and gladiolas,” Glick said, remembering a special gift she acquired from her mother. “ … I can remember walking in the woods with her and her showing me the wildflowers … I learned to identify wildflowers because of her.”|421-6968

It started as an entertaining hobby

The Road Ahead Comic artist now

The Road Ahead

looking to shoot local productions

In my future, I believe there will be more pain, but more happiness as well. My grandmother will win her fight against cancer. She will be healthy once again, apt to partake in all the activities that used to consume her life. I will go off to college, make new friends and be able to experience new journeys in the road ahead. When I graduate from college, I will become a teacher and, hopefully, inspire my students just as some of my high school teachers have inspired and supported me. When I get married and am settled in my house in the country, I will instill in my children the values that my parents instilled in me. If time allows and my writing skills are refined, I would like to write novels, sharing stories with the people of the world. I want to make a difference in someone’s life. I want to be a good influence to those around me. The best way to achieve this goal is by becoming a teacher, or becoming a parent or even sharing a story that stands for something important. In my future, I fear the pain of fading memories. The memories of my little brother are vanishing, even two and half years since he has been gone. I will never forget him, but with every day that passes, the memories of my time with him fade away. I know that as I see his classmates grow up, I will always ache for what could have been. Who would he be today? Whatever happens in the road ahead, for we can never know what truly lies ahead, I will always remember to believe in myself and love as much as I can. Each day will bring new opportunities and obstacles. I will stand strong. Taylor Williamson Windsor

CITY: Lincoln COUNTY: Logan POPULATION: 15,418 MAYOR: Keith Snyder INDUSTRY: Eaton Electrical Group, International Coal Group, Precision Products Inc., Saint-Gobain Containers, Weyerhaeuser, MII Inc. COLLEGES: Lincoln College, Lincoln Christian College and Seminary. TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: Postville Courthouse State Historic Site, Route 66 attractions, Railsplitter State Park. ANNUAL EVENTS: Logan County Fair, Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival, Railsplitter Festival. MAJOR HIGHWAYS: Interstates 55 and 155, Illinois 10 and 121. HISTORY: When plans were made in the 1850s to connect Springfield and Bloomington by rail, a water stop and passenger depot were needed midway between them. Three businessmen created a speculative venture called the Town Site Co. to develop a site near the town of Postville. They were Virgil Hickcox, a director of the railroad; John D. Gillett, a cattleman and landowner in Cornland; and Robert B. Latham, sheriff of Logan County. For legal assistance, the partnership turned to a prominent railroad attorney in Springfield, Abraham Lincoln. On Aug 24, 1853, it was announced that the new town would be named after the future president. More than 90 lots were quickly sold for $40 to $150. Three days later, Abraham Lincoln christened the town by using watermelon juice from a nearby wagonload of melons. A statue of a watermelon stands near the railroad depot to commemorate where Abraham Lincoln christened the town. ON THE WEB:

By KENNETH LOWE H&R Staff Writer

MOUNT ZION — The only thing that might hint at the nature of Eric Hector’s house in Mount Zion is the white truck out front. He opens it up to reveal dollies, lights and camera equipment. It’s only one part of the vast array of graphic design, prop and set production, lighting, film and other equipment he uses as head of Heroic Age Studios. “If all you’ve got is a paragraph, an idea, and funding, we’ll do the whole, or if you just need people to fill in the blanks,” Hector said. Hector’s home doubles as his studio, with a basement office devoted to his graphic design and concept artwork. There are the trappings you might find in the home of any man who grew up with a love of comic books and flashy scifi movies — the top of one bookshelf has a veritable army of Spider-Men and the shelves are lined with graphic novels. The critical difference is that for Hector, a good portion of it is more than just a hobby. The Justice League action figures that line one shelf, for instance, were entirely colored by his studio. Hector’s creative life seems to spill into his home as well. Besides the extensive lighting equipment and the family car, his garage holds a limited-edition Mercury Marauder with a huge skull attached to it, the gaping mouth opening to give the driver a view out the windshield. The skull is still blue, Hector said, because he needs to finish painting it the proper color, then wire the eyes up with evil-looking red lights so it can serve as a fully functional prop in a film. The aptly-named creator got his start when he worked for Marvel comics as an intern in the ’90s. The industry was

Herald & Review photos/Ralf Pansch

Eric Hector and Tim Lynn edit a drunken driving commercial.

Hector, left, and Lynn, partners in Heroic Age Studios, show just some of the equipment used to produce their award-winning work. weathering a turbulent time. Hector described one party in a grand hotel in New York City, complete with ice sculptures of superheroes but all the joy of a funeral. A third of Marvel’s staff had just been laid off. Hector eventually lighted out on his own, borrowing money from his father and grandfather and using his contacts in the entertainment industry to get started color-

ing comic books with cuttingedge techniques. Hector’s clients these days include the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office (for which he helped produce a driver safety video starring Secretary of State Jesse White), Marvel and DC Comics and independent filmmakers in need of equipment, manpower and technical know-how. Together with his wife, Joan, Hector said he’s hoping

to begin making more inroads with the surrounding community. “We’re starting to offer our services to the community as well,” he said. “We’ve got so much stuff that we can do, we’re starting to open up to the whole community. We can bring all the production values of a film to a local television commercial.” The times are calling for advertisers and organizations to make use of better production values in their ads, logos, and promotional materials, Hector said. “Kids have grown up, and they’re so savvy now,” Hector said. “They don’t necessarily want to a see local commercial that looks like that. They want to see what they’re used to seeing. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I want to be able to offer the community all of that stuff.” Joan Hector said local businesses and churches shouldn’t be scared off by the highend equipment. “It’s not cost-prohibitive,” she said. “We work with all kinds of budgets.”|421-7985




The mission of the Decatur Park District is to foster healthy lifestyles through recreational opportunities, provide quality programs and facilities, and preserve and protect our natural resources, benefiting and enhancing the quality of life for all in our community.

2009 Highlights Planning Process for Decatur’s Lakefront The enhancement of the Nelson Park lakefront area has long been identified as a community priority. Following constructive meetings by a number of organizations and individuals, the Park District resumed its planning process in 2009, with a focus on making the lakefront area a new economic engine for the community. A committee of Park District, City, Chamber, County, labor, and neighborhood (CONO) representatives requested proposals, visited several outstanding planning firms, and selected internationally-recognized AECOM to create a long-range vision and plan. The Community Leaders Breakfast (February 2010) spurred enthusiasm, interest and community dialogue. A new website and Facebook page now provide updates about the exciting process that will enhance Decatur's quality of life and serve as a catalyst for community growth.Visit

• Our partners make possible the following activities and programs: PERFORM!, Team Soy Decatur Junior Open and MidState Soccer teams (Team Soy Capital); education (ADM), golf programs (DMH), athletic programs and Staley Striders (Tate & Lyle), Decatur Park Singers and First Tee Golf (Ameren). WSOY, STORMCENTER 17, and the Herald & Review are media partners. In 2009, the District warmly welcomed Wal-Mart as sponsor of Boo at the Zoo.

Air Choice One Airlines Lands at Decatur Airport Air Choice One, Decatur’s newest airline, began daily round-trip flights to Lambert St. Louis Airport on December 15 via their comfortable 9-passenger Cessna Caravan aircraft. Daily service to Chicago O’Hare was added on January 14, 2010. All in the community are encouraged to support Air Choice One to ensure the airline’s success. For flight schedules, fares, and information, visit

• The Park District maintains an important relationship with Millikin University in operation of the DISC. The partnership also allows the community to benefit from the expertise of talented, shared professionals like MU exercise science instructor Allison Krich (DISC), MU instructor of music theory/director of opera music and the Women’s Choir, Michael Englehardt (Greater Decatur Chorale and Decatur Park Singers), and Ann Borders, MU Adjunct Professor of Theatre and Voice (Young Park Singers). Head coach Lori Kerans and the MU Women’s Basketball Team present the annual Little Hoopsters program at the DISC.

Changing of the Guard: Park Board of Commissioners April 2009 marked the retirement of Dr. William Van Alstine from the Park Board of Commissioners after an accomplished, 18-year tenure. Dr.Van Alstine served on the Board from 1989 – 1995 and 1997 – 2009 and was President from 1993 – 1995. He was influential in many important developments, including streamlining the corporate structure and adding a chief financial officer, District recognition as an Illinois Distinguished Agency and NRPA Gold Medal Finalist, and construction and renovation of countless parks, projects, and facilities. With Dr.Van Alstine’s retirement, the Board welcomed Bob Brilley II as its newest Commissioner for a six-year term.

Award Highlights

Online Registration and Tee Times To enhance customer service, simplify the scheduling of tee times, and enable visitors to sign up for Park District activities and classes from the comfort of their own homes or offices…online registration is now available at!

• Following the Park District Risk Management Agency’s (PDRMA) 2009 loss control review of administration, aquatics, golf, maintenance, police, recreation, DISC, zoo and SRA departments, the Decatur Park District received its highest rating to date, earning PDRMA accreditation and a level A membership status. This score represents the District’s continued commitment to the prevention of unforeseen injury and the ongoing safety of employees and patrons.

Standard & Poor’s Bond Rating The Decatur Park District improved its financial rating two years in a row. In 2009, the Standard & Poor’s Financial Management Assessment rated the District an A+. In 2010, the District earned an AA-. Both ratings are significant accomplishments and unusually high for a park district. Ratings are based on financial stability, with higher scores resulting in lower bond interest rates and reduced expenses. Arts & Recreation Center Renovation Since 2007 when the Poage family generously donated the former Tallman Pontiac/Cadillac dealership on Oakland Ave., the facility has been transformed into a functional, mixed-use building housing the Park District’s Arts and Fleet departments. In 2009, parking lot resurfacing and landscaping greatly enhanced the building’s outdoor appearance, while indoors, new additions included a costume shop, prop storage area, and dance studio with raised dance floor, wall-to-wall mirrors, and ballet barres. Throughout the year, dance and theatre classes, Chorale practices, and rehearsals for Perform!, B.O.S.S., and Park Singers energize the renovated facility. Scovill Park Enhancements Thanks to a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the District was able to complete several significant enhancements to Scovill Park, including a new pavilion, bioswales at the park’s entrance, and interpretive signage. The bioswales will improve water quality by reducing run-off along the hillside. Signage now displays maps and various highlights within the park, including Scovill Zoo and the Wikoff Oriental Garden. MLS Chicago Fire Mid-Fielder Mike Banner Visits MidState Soccer Camp Major League Soccer mid-fielder Mike Banner of the Chicago Fire signed autographs, led drills, and helped coach the MidState Soccer Camp on July 27 – 30 at the DISC. Banner is scheduled to return for the 2010 Summer Camp on August 2 – 5. Redbird Rookies League Decatur’s Redbird Rookies League celebrated its first anniversary in 2009, with a visit from Fredbird, the popular Cardinals mascot. The league was formed in 2008 thanks to a successful partnership between the Park District, DMH and Dr. Wendell Becton. Participants learn the values of teamwork, integrity, self-esteem and leadership in the “classroom” of a baseball setting. Last summer, 300 Decatur area boys and girls learned to play baseball the Redbird Rookies way. Decatur Commodores Baseball Joins Park District Family In 2009, the Decatur Commodores Baseball League came under the Park District umbrella. The goal is to provide superior coaching and instruction for boys who want to reach the highest levels of play. Teams participate in showcase tournaments to give players exposure to college coaches and recruiters. Thanks to the efforts of Behnke & Company, fundraising for the renovation of the Commodores’ home field at Sunnyside Park has begun. For more information, visit Park Watch Program Fights Vandalism Did you know the Park District spends an average of $30,000 each year to repair damage caused by vandals? Thanks to a new Park Watch program, those who vandalize Decatur Park District property and facilities are being punished for their crimes. Park Watch offers rewards of up to $1,000 for tips leading to the arrest of vandals. All tips are helpful, and callers may remain anonymous. Call Park Watch at 422-5911.

• Decatur Park District golf courses received the National Golf Foundation’s 2009 Customer Loyalty Award. This prestigious award is based on surveys through the NGF Voice of the Golfer and is presented to public golf facilities that have received high customer approval ratings and a ranking as “most improved.” The Decatur Park District was awarded first place in the nation in the municipalities category.

2009 Herald & Review Readers’ Choice Awards #1 Best Central IL Golf Course - Hickory Point #2 Best Central IL Golf Course - Red Tail Run #3 Best Central IL Golf Course - Scovill #1 Best Golf Pro - Kurt Rogers #3 Best Golf Pro - Jay Dexter #3 Best Place for a Wedding Reception - Hickory Point #3 Best Fitness Center – DISC • At the annual Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) Conference, the Decatur Park District received the 2009 Youth License Plate Award – Best Promotional Practices for its support of the annual IAPD Kite Fly and Park District Youth License Plate. Also at the conference, the Park District received the 2009 Agency Showcase: Best in Show Awards for its Decatur Airport television commercial and activity guide series. • The following individuals received 2009 Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA) Community Service Awards for their outstanding contributions to the advancement of parks, recreation and leisure in the community and the State of Illinois: • Big Creek Advisory Committee & chairman Rod Bussell • MidState Soccer Club Advisory Committee member and coach John Kravanek • MidState Soccer Club Advisory Committee member and coach Mike Shumaker • Staley Striders Running Club director and coach Mike Landacre

Did You Know? In 2009, over 200,000 individuals visited the DISC, which features a fitness center, indoor walking/running track, basketball/volleyball courts, indoor soccer field, rock climbing wall, dance and aerobics studios, batting/throwing cages, and indoor golf center. Over 1,000 volunteers donated more than 9,000 hours in service to Scovill Zoo, Fairview and Nelson Parks, Dreamland Lake, recreation programs, arts programs, Special Recreation events, and golf tournaments. In partnership with the State Board of Education, the Park District provides 68,500 free meals and snacks to over 500 youth in 18 summer recreation programs and at 15 partner agency sites.

Looking Forward For the past 86 years, the Park District has worked to fulfill our community’s needs for physical well-being, productive leisure activities, and outdoor parks and recreation spaces. 2010 will bring exciting new opportunities as we involve the community in the Nelson Park Lakefront project, complete the master planning process for Decatur Airport, continue the transformation of Big Creek Riding Center, expand the Stevens Creek Bike Trail, and address the important issues of youth obesity and senior wellness.

Community Partners The Decatur Park District benefits from a number of valued community partners who have joined in our effort to enhance the health, fitness, and quality of life for all in the greater Decatur area.



SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010


‘You just have to love the music’ Blues society has big plans as it spreads its passion By ASHLEY RUEFF H&R Staff Writer

DECATUR — The Decatur Blues Society is recruiting. If you love the blues, then President Don Wright wants your number. The society is one of 165 worldwide affiliated with the Blues Foundation in Memphis. Their mission is to keep blues music alive through performance and education, and Wright is making sure Decatur is executing its part of the mission. After witnessing the droves of people at the summer concert series Blues in Central Park, Wright realized there are enough blues lovers in Decatur to sustain a local society. Jay Hartman, the man behind Decatur’s Blues in Central Park, serves as the society’s vice president. He knows from experience how much Decatur residents love the blues. He gets stopped in the grocery store and the mall by people who want to know who he’ll be bringing in to perform next. “I’d always had people going ‘We need a blues society in Decatur,’ ” Butler said. “I was glad to see Don take the reigns with it.” Wright started the Decatur’s society in August. About six months later, he had 35 members, five corporate sponsors and big plans for the future. The society already holds jam sessions once a month at a different location around town. The jams have been scheduled for Tuesday evenings, but that’s going to change to Sunday afternoons in hopes of attracting more musicians. “A lot of blues fans are old people like me,” said the 52year-old Wright. “And we don’t want to start at 9 or 10

Herald & Review photos/Stephen Haas

John ‘Catfish’ Evans plays a solo on the electric guitar with the Down Home Blues Band during a Blues Jam open mic, sponsored by the Decatur Blues Society at Doherty’s Pub in Decatur. o’clock at night.” But the jams also attract younger musicians who want to jam with their blues elders. “Those blues jams, sometimes, we just throw guys up there that don’t even know each other, give them a key and see what they come up

with,” Wright said. Decatur is full of talented musicians, but Wright has found the trouble lies in getting them out of their living rooms and into a public setting. “We’re finding more and more people coming out of the woodwork that haven’t

Neill Dresen plays the guitar during a Blues Jam open mic.

played for a long time,” he said. A genuine fan of the music, Wright lights up with a cool intensity when he describes the musicians that have played at the society’s jam sessions so far. “He just totally smoked on

guitar,” he said, describing a first-time jam session musician. “He grabbed everybody’s attention. Its guys like that that bring the jams together. The unexpected people that come up.” Wright treats the society and the prospect of its growth with the same intensity. He and the society’s board members have spent countless hours writing the bylaws and lining up the paperwork so the group qualifies as a nonprofit organization. Part of its mission is to create a local educational outreach program that will take blues music into the schools. That sort of community involvement is still off in the distance and will depend on how many people join the society. “We’re new at this,” Wright said. “We’ve only been around a little while, so we’re feeling our way around to see what we can get away with.” The society just hosted its first structured event when it organized a CD release party Tuesday at Madden Arts Center for Champaign’s Kilborn Alley Blues Band. “They wanted to include Decatur because they have such a large fan base here,” Wright said. Now, the biggest project ahead of them is a blues festival this summer. As part of the national Blues Foundation, Decatur’s society is eligible to send one band and one solo or duet act to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis each year. To determine who the society will send, Wright said he hopes to organize a summer competition that would feature all area blues musicians interested in competing in Memphis. While the blues society needs musicians to spread the music around, Wright emphasizes that those who want to join the society don’t have to be musicians. They just have to love the music.|421-6986

Don Wright sings with the Down Home Blues Band in Doherty’s Pub.

Restaurateur says cajun creole has spice, but it’s not hot Taylorville becomes place for New Orleans cuisine By COURTNEY WESTLAKE For the Herald & Review

TAYLORVILLE — The best way to describe the generous helpings of tasty Louisiana-style cuisine served up at Gambino’s Louisiana Restaurant in Taylorville? “It’s a party in your mouth,” laughed owner Gaetano Gambino. Contrary to popular belief in Central Illinois, cajun creole dishes are zesty, flavorful, invigorating … and not necessarily hot. “A lot of people are scared to eat cajun because they automatically think it’s going to be hot,” Gambino said. “Louisiana food is not hot. Louisiana food has a flavor that has taste; the different spices are not necessarily heat spices but spices for taste. People have been ruined thinking that all Louisiana food is hot.” It is Gambino’s hope to prove otherwise to the Midwest. Gambino arrived in Illinois in 2005 from New Orleans to help a restaurant chain open in Central Illinois. When Hurricane Katrina hit his hometown that August, he felt he had no choice but to stay in the area. His restaurant first opened as a cafe in Rochester in July 2006, and he later added the rich and flavorful cajun dishes that now set Gambino’s Louisiana Restaurant apart from other restaurants in the area. “My food is unique here; I figured I would try to make my food work up here,” he said, and added with a laugh, “plus that first summer and winter were really nice here, so I didn’t think Illinois weather was too bad!” Gambino’s move to Taylorville took place in March 2009. The restaurant space increased to 3,000 square feet, which is about triple the size of his last

For the Herald & Review/Courtney Westlake

Gaetano Gambino pours the ingredients of a New Orleans Hurricane. Gambino has brought the taste of cajun creole to Gambino’s Louisiana Restaurant in Taylorville. space, he said. Everything on the menu of Gambino’s was either created by Gambino himself or came from a family recipe. For instance, Gambino’s sister taught him how to make gumbo when he was a kid, and today, the chicken and sausage gumbo on his menu is his mother’s recipe. “It’s always a variation of something I learned along the way,” he said. “Nowhere in the world will you find it cooked exactly like that.” Grilled Shrimp Slidell is just one Gambino specialty, served covered with creamy crab and crawfish sauce and named after the Louisiana town where Gambino lived as a child and worked with his parents at their restaurant, Gambino’s Seafood. Other specialties on his menu include the catfish platter, Jambalaya, crawfish etoufee and alligator plate. Try one or all of

these dishes topped off with a beignet, a traditional New Orleans deep-fried pastry that is dusted with sugar and served warm. Gambino regularly makes trips to the New Orleans area to get his seafood fresh. “Creole New Orleans-style … that’s what I do,” he said. “It’s a better blend of spices, not as much heat. I give people the flavor they can’t get anywhere else. I want people to be happy with what they eat and say ‘wow’ when they come here.” Jim Weddigen of Springfield first came to Gambino’s during its first month of business in Rochester because he likes to support local businesses, he said. Now, Weddigen makes regular trips to Taylorville to eat at Gambino’s and visit with Gambino, who has become a good friend. And whenever Weddigen’s

parents visit from Detroit, they also insist on dining at Gambino’s. “G is the epitome of a local businessman trying to make a go of it,” Weddigen said. “The reason I keep coming back is G; he takes good care of people. He’s innovative and tries new things.” Adding to the traditional New Orleans experience is the ambiance and decor of Gambino’s restaurant. Murals of New Orleans streets line the walls along with paintings of jesters, New Orleans carnival masks and other Mardi Gras-esque decor. A centrallylocated bar, which breaks up front and back dining rooms, serves up hurricane cocktails that transport patrons straight to Bourbon Street. And Gambino himself makes rounds to the tables to socialize with his customers as part of a laidback, welcoming atmosphere. Diners have begun to drive all the way from St. Louis or the Chicago area to eat at the Taylorville restaurant, Gambino said. Gambino trains his cooks for at least six months to create his distinctive dishes and assures that his staff knows how to take care of his customers. A good dining and social experience is just as important to him as good food. “I figure if you get good service and decent food, I have a winning combination,” he said. As you leave Gambino’s, you’ll not only have a full belly (and a to-go box), but you’ll also likely be waving good-bye to Gambino himself and other new friends, finding it hard to stop smiling. “I have the gratification of making people happy,” he said. “I like this particular type of food because it gives people a new experience. Food is not only an edible thing but a social thing where I’m from. In Louisiana, it’s not just the food: It’s the people, and I try to bring some of that up here.”

The Road Ahead CITY: Decatur COUNTY: Macon POPULATION: 80,000 MAYOR: Mike McElroy INDUSTRY: Archer Daniels Midland Co., Caterpillar Inc., Tate & Lyle, Mueller Inc., Air Caster Corp. TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: Macon County Historical Museum, Hieronymus Mueller Museum, Millikin Homestead, Children’s Museum of Illinois, Lincoln Square Theatre, Scovill Zoo, Governor Oglesby Mansion. MAJOR HIGHWAYS: Interstate 72, U.S. 51, U.S. 36, Illinois 48, Illinois 121 and Illinois 105. EARLY HISTORY: Decatur was founded in 1829 and is the Macon County seat. The city is named after War of 1812 naval hero Stephen Decatur. One of the busiest of the first settlers was Benjamin R. Austin, born in Virginia in 1802, who came to Macon County in 1825. He was a surveyor and laid out the original town plat of Decatur. He was the first county treasurer, served as justice of the peace and otherwise was active in the early years of the county. His brother, William A. Austin, helped him lay out Decatur. William Austin was a justice of the peace for many years. Capt. David L. Allen, born in Loudoun County, Va., in 1806, came to Macon County in 1828 and was a leader, giving the city Central Park. Philip D. Williams came in 1825 from Virginia. He served on the county board of commissioners, was a justice of the peace and held other offices. He built the second house in Decatur at East Main and Water streets. Williams kept a place “for the entertainment of beasts.” Thomas Cowan came with the Leonard Stevens family in 1821 or 1822. In 1822, also came George W. Friend of Ohio, who settled in Friend’s Creek Township. Several other settlers came in 1824. Abraham and Hubble Sprague came from New York. Charles Nelson and Nathan Burrill, Kentuckians, arrived that year and located in Friend’s Creek Township. Among the 1825 arrivals were John Draper, who came from Virginia; James Howell of Ohio, who settled in Oakley and was followed later by his son, William Howell; David Florey, native of Virginia; William W. McDaniel; William Warnick, the first sheriff, who came from Tennessee; and Joseph Strickland, who settled in Niantic Township. The year 1826 saw the arrival of a number of newcomers. Edmund McDaniel came from Vandalia that year; John McMennamy came from Tennessee; Emanuel Widick came from Tennessee; William King arrived that year; Elisha Freeman and Hiram Robinson came and settled in South Wheatland Township. Quite a few additions were made the following year, in 1827. Among them were James Edwards, born near Raleigh, N.C., who was a member of the party that drove the Indians out of the county; Jones Edwards, native of North Carolina but came here from Tennessee; Eldridge H. McDaniel; Thomas Nelms, who came from Logan County, Ky., and was killed here by a falling tree; Dempsey Pope of North Carolina, who came from Tennessee; Benjamin Wilson of Tennessee, who assisted in the organization of the county; James Finley, a Kentuckian; and Michael Myers came either in 1827 or 1828. In 1828, the population was increased by the addition of William A. Austin of Virginia; William Hanks of Kentucky, who settled in Harristown Township; Samuel Braden, native of Ireland, who came to Macon County from Tennessee; William D. Baker, who settled in Long Creek Township; David Davis, born in North Carolina, but came from Tennessee and settled in Long Creek; Robert Smith Sr., native of North Carolina, who came from Sangamon County; William C. Smith from Sangamon County; Andre Smith, his brother, also from Sangamon County; William Wheeler Sr., native of Virginia; James Myers, Kentuckian, who settled in Long Creek Township; William Dickey, who settled in Friend’s Creek Township; Valentine Claywell, Kentuckian, who came to Pleasant View Township; and Ephraim Cox, arrived in 1828 or 1829. ON THE WEB:

SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010



There was almost a jazz funeral for festival

The Road Ahead

Annual event thrives under leadership of Maggie Parker Brown

My vision for the road ahead would simply be that adults act like adults when living their lives in their homes and communities. If all adults truly were adults, the model they would leave for their children would be treat others the way they themselves want to be treated. They would care for others, care for the Earth and care for themselves. Adults would not let companies manufacture food or products that cause disease or make people sick. Adults would be honored to make a profit, but not gouge others and take advantage of situations to make more and more. Adults would demand to know about the people they are voting for and demand to know how their taxes are being used. They would not allow lobbyists and special interest groups to sway politicians away from what is good for all the people all of the time. Adults would make sure the schools would be the center of the community, open to the public, so people could use the library, computer labs, gyms, attend classes, vote, share fellowship with others in the community. Most of all, adults would be the type of people who model what a human being should be in this world. Many adults may have come from homes that did not model adultlike behavior. It is time to get help and rise above the past and look toward the future so it is brighter, healthier, and makes sense. If the adults do not start being adult about the decisions being made in this world, who will? Barbara L. Preston Decatur

By BOB FALLSTROM H&R Community News Editor

DECATUR — Without Maggie Parker Brown, the Central Illinois Jazz Festival would vanish. She’s the rescuer, the savior of the 35-year event that brings world class musicians to Decatur during the first weekend in February. The festival appeared doomed after the 2001 music faded. The Holiday Inn management said it was a losing proposition, no longer acceptable. Maggie was the president of the Juvae Jazz Society at the time. She proposed the festival be saved. The hotel’s challenge: Raise $50,000. Rallying the Juvae Jazz Society members, Maggie came up with the money. A Decatur tradition continued. Nine years later, the festival is bigger, better, much bigger, much better — thanks to Maggie’s innovative direction. After a successful 35th festival, with at least 1,000 attending Saturday night, she has scheduled the 2011 festival for Feb. 4 to 6. While festivals all around the country have folded or cut back, the Central Illinois Jazz Festival rolls on. She’s also proposing some new attractions: the Black Swan Jazz Band from Portland, Ore.; BED, which features Dan Barrett on trombone, Eddie Erickson on banjo/guitar and Rebecca Kilgore on vocals; and Decatur-

Herald & Review photos/Ralf Pansch

A New Orleans-style umbrella parade starts another Central Illinois Jazz Festival. In 2001, the festival had dwindled to a point that its future looked uncertain, but under the leadership of Maggie Parker Brown, it has been resurrected, with 1,000 attending on Saturday night of this year’s festival. based blues band, The STILL. Look for Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, the 11-piece group from New York City, to return. The Nighthawks were a hit in their first Midwest festival appearance in February. Booking the Nighthawks continued Parker Brown’s strategy, “Keep it entertaining with the best musicians attainable.” People want to be enter-

tained, she learned a long time ago when she and her late husband, Jim Parker, operated the Tack Room in Illiopolis. Maggie and Jim were married in 1977. She first attended the festival in 1978. “I fell in love with the music,” she said. Monthly concerts at the Tack Room on Sunday, arranged by Jim and Maggie, attracted traditional jazz legends and

standing-room-only audiences. After Jim Parker died in 1998, Maggie continued Tack Room concerts for about a year. She then was elected president of the Juvae Jazz Society. When she took over the festival, there were five bands and one site: Holiday Hall in the hotel, now known as the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel. In contrast, it has been a massive upgrade. The 35th festival featured 16 bands and five sites. The music was diverse, Dixieland, Chicago and New York jazz, swing, big band, ragtime, gypsy. Customer-friendly Parker Brown has the touch. She added an umbrella parade, a “pianorama,” a swing dance, a dinner show, Decatur and Central Illinois musicians, a jazz brunch. “I use tactics I learned by attending festivals and jazz concerts around the country,” she explains. “I talk to people. I listen to people’s comments, particularly listen to criticism. I learn from my mistakes. “The Juvae Jazz Society has a number of talented people who are willing to work. Everyone working together is the way to succeed.” Parker Brown gave-up the Juvae presidency to concen-

trate on solving the thousand problems of putting together a jazz festival. It’s often a 10hour-a-day job. Each year she distributes a comment sheet to gauge the customers’ likes. One of the comments this time was that the festival is, “New Orleans under one roof. What could be better than this?” Parker Brown’s goal is to attract students, who seldom are exposed to this kind of music. “I’m open to new ideas,” she adds.|421-7981


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SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010


Leap of faith fills The Barn with Southern gospel Crowd keeps coming, supporting financially free concerts in Pana By MEREDITH JACKSON For the Herald & Review

PANA — After traveling and singing Southern gospel music for several years in the mid-1990s, Joanne Clark had a desire to offer the same type of entertainment to others in a unique way. She could see it all — quality Southern gospel groups, a nondenominational setting, great fun, good fellowship — and no admission charges. In 2002, along with partners Judy and Joel Smith and her husband, Robert, then 59-year-old Clark took a leap of faith and purchased a former cattle auction barn with more than 17 acres in the middle of the country in Tower Hill. As locals had referred to the building for years as The Barn, so it remained, though the venue MORE has become less INFO rustic and more polished with The Barn’s years of renovaperformances tion and remodmay be heard eling. every Tuesday But Clark’s night, 6 to 8 p.m., story didn’t actuat www.jesusis ally begin with the purchase of For a schedule of The Barn’s per- The Barn. For several years formances, visit prior, she and www.thebarn-pana. Judy Smith com. organized gospel sings and performances at other locations, but without achieving Clark’s vision. “But then, someone called me and had me look at this building in Tower Hill,” she said. “It’s out in the country, not near any town at all. I got them to agree to allow me to have several Southern gospel programs, and that’s how we started.” For four years, April through December, the Clarks and Smiths continued offering free Southern gospel concerts on the first Saturday of the month at The Barn, from 7 to 9 p.m. (They felt it was important to get people home in time to rest and attend church on Sunday morning.) Using donations, they paid the owners in return for use of the building and electricity. Crowds grew, and 315 attended a concert in December 2002. “At that time, we prayed and thought about it and asked people what we should do, and everyone said we should buy it,” she said. Together, the Smiths and Clarks took on the construction work. The Smiths became the site’s caretakers, Judy Smith ran the sound, Joel Smith passed out tickets at the door,

The Barn, a former cattle auction, was renovated by the Clarks and Smiths.

Photos for the Herald & Review/Josh Jackson

Joanne Clark, who helps operate The Barn, sits in the renovated theater that hosts popular Southern gospel acts. Clark, along with her husband, Robert Clark, and Judy and Joel Smith, bought and renovated the former auction to host free concerts. Robert Clark ran the concessions area and Joanne Clark took on most of the administrative duties for running The Barn, spearheading the formation of a not-for-profit organization and booking performers. Right away, the group tore out a wall, expanded the building and added a stage. Four-hundred theater seats provided comfort for guests, and a new fellowship hall provided space for meals and snacks prior to concerts. Performers who did not have their own buses were able to use a two-

bedroom apartment on site. Additionally, the Clarks and Smiths added six bathrooms, a product room, lighting, a canopy entryway and furnaces — all without charging admission or passing an offering plate. “We just have love offering boxes at the door, and we never charge anything,” Clark said. “And it has worked out fine.” Clark is quick to point out that they do charge admission for one special performance each year, called The Best of The Barn. The

Simmering competition Chili chefs make Forsyth cook-off a destination By STEPHANIE LANE For the Herald & Review

FORSYTH — The smells of simmering homemade chili filled Hickory Point Mall in January at the annual Great Forsyth Area Chili Cookoff, beckoning patrons toward its olfactory smorgasbord. The Forsyth cook-off drew chefs from near and far, vying for chili honors. This was just one of numerous culinary competitions held worldwide by THE the International NET Chili For more inforSociety. mation on the InterThe nonnational Chili Sociprofit ety, log on www. tion’s events benefit charities, which included the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, while contestants tried for cash and a shot at the World’s Championship Chili Cookoff. In its fifth year, the Forsyth cook-off began with the simple hope of boosting spirits during the cold winter months. The event has since grown to almost 50 cooks, along with a local celebrity challenge. The competition is divided into three categories: red chili, green (verde) chili and salsa. Contestants prepare the chili on site, while mall visitors breathe in the mouthwatering aroma. Forsyth Mayor Harold “Hap” Gilbert has helped run the cook-off since it began and has seen firsthand the positive impact the event has had on contestants and mall patrons. “We really look forward to it growing. Everyone comes in and has a good time. There’s a

Before renovation, theater chairs in The Barn looked like this.

Herald & Review photos/Ralf Pansch

Tom Pardikes of Plymouth, Mich., gets his seasonings prepared at the Forsyth Area Chili Cookoff. lot of camaraderie among the chili cooks, and it just makes for a great time,” Gilbert said. Ken “Island Heat Chili” Kostal of Marblehead, Ohio, was one of the cooks coming to the venue, which is growing in popularity. “I’ve been doing chili cookoffs for over 20 years but decided to make the sevenhour drive for the first time this year to try this one out,” Kostal said. Aside from the glory of taking top honors, contestants enjoy meeting fellow chili connoisseurs. Jilli Simmons of Florissant,

Mo., made this year a family affair. Her mother, father and children attended, and her parents competed alongside their daughter. “We each have our own opinions and own ways of cooking our chili. We’re all from the same family, but all of three of our chilis are different,” Simmons said of the family affair. The great idea behind chili cook-offs is bringing people together with each of his or her own unique twist on a basic recipe — good chili.

evening includes a KFC meal and three to five well-loved Southern gospel groups. Clark feels that while she does her best to ensure that only the best quality Southern gospel groups perform at The Barn, she owes the success of the venture to God. “He has led us in the right direction and has given me vision after vision of what I need to do,” she said. “He has always provided funds from unexpected places, and people have given us a sizable amount to help our mortgage go down.

The Road My outlook on life is usually either a cliché or a song, depending on the situation. One thing I maintain is I am the glass half-full person. In my case, it is usually half full of wine. I try not to borrow problems. I’ve begun to believe if you are full of gloom and doom, expect problems. They’ll find you. I try not to swear and instead say, “God bless it.” It really takes away the negativity. My fabulous Grandma Marsh used to throw her hands in the air and sing, “Let it be.” Whisper those words of wisdom she would say, thinking “let it be” usually when she was faced with things that cannot be changed and did not call for strife. There are times when we need to accept God’s plan, let it be. No amount of complaining, prayer will help the situation. Acceptance and trust. There are times in life when we need to know that evil triumphs because we do not speak up. These are the times when we cannot let it be. We need to pray. Speak up. Eliminate the “should of,” “could of” and “would of.” Know when to see the

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“It wouldn’t have thrived without the hand of God.” One of the first groups ever to perform at the Barn was the Wanda Mountain Boys, scheduled to perform again at The Barn on April 3. “It’s like no other place we’ve been to,” said Claude Johnson, one of the group’s founding members. “We love it. We sing all over the Midwest, and it’s our favorite place to sing. It’s not a church, but it brings out all types of people who enjoy Southern gospel and bluegrass.” Providing a fun, non-denominational atmosphere was certainly one of Clark’s goals. Each evening involves a meal or snack and giveaways that have become real crowdpleasers. Johnny and Nova Lee of Bethany, along with their young sons Zachary and Jonathan, have attended several concerts at The Barn. With the addition of a play area and nursing station, the Lees have found The Barn to be quite family-friendly. “My family and I enjoy going to The Barn to see some of the best traditional Christian music in the U.S.,” Johnny Lee said. “It’s somewhat nostalgic to sit in a theater seat housed in an old barn, with a bag of popcorn, as Brian Lester of The Lester Family sings ‘What a Day That Will Be.’ ” Joanne Clark hopes that in years to come, crowds at The Barn will continue to grow. Attendance has leveled off in the past year or so, but Clark remains optimistic. “We had high hopes for more expansion, but we can’t with attendance leveling off,” she said. “Our hope would be to see our attendance increase. A full house is fun to sing to and talk to and have fun with.” She adds that even the smallest donation from more people would make a difference to their expansion plans. In the meantime, she plans to keep on booking groups and praying.


difference? It is what it is. Words said often by my great husband. Look at it, see it, know what it is, only then can you go forward. I try to live like my blood type B-positive. I do see the bad in life. I see the crap. There is a difference. Bad cannot always be changed. Crap is manmade. You should always rise above it. I’ve seen all kinds of bad in my life and too much crap. As I say often “crap by another name is still crap.” That’s how I recognize the difference in life’s problems, how I go about moving past them if I should depends on

what it is. One outlook that has brought me tremendous peace is the understanding that I really do not have time for the pain. It has helped me to stand up, speak up and walk out. Knowing I not only have the option to say no, but it really is great at times to say it, has brought me great peace. My vision for life is always to live it, accept it, reject it, if we have to, but always enjoy it. Be positive. It is what it is, and thank God for all of the blessings we receive. Shari M. Grider Argenta

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SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010


The Road

Herald & Review photos/Stephen Haas

A hiker walks along a portion of the bike trail at the Rock Springs Conservation Area in Decatur.

My vision for our community is one of hope but will require courage. As scientific research advances, we are learning that everyday items we grew up using may inadvertently be harmful, not everything “green” is good and not everything recycled is the healthiest item to buy. In the hustle and bustle of 21st century life, as we want to help, sometimes the actions that will have true impact get lost like a check sent by mail. I have a vision for Decatur as a leader in green community living. New opportunities are present for green economic development and improving quality of life issues to foster healthy citizens and a healthy environment by combining new scientific data with the precautionary principle. For these goals to be accomplished as a community, we must first enhance our environmental health literacy, so, as a community, we can have discussion about plans for the future. As cities try to become greener and encourage healthy living, they inad-


Ahead vertently may be hurting their residents because of lack of knowledge and planning. Ideas full of common sense now may be harmful because of chemicals that were not previously present. Several years ago, it was estimated that more than $54.9 billion a year was being spent on preventable environmentally caused diseases such as asthma, childhood cancer, neurobehavioral disorders and lead poisoning. Billions are also being spent on obesity, which, in some cases, now have been linked to environmentally caused endocrine disruption. Winston Churchill said that the best resources a country can have is healthy citizens. I believe the same can be said for our local community with our children. I hope to live in a community like that with my family and participate in that vision with RIPPLES, a local Christian environmental health organization. Susan Renee Ferre Decatur

Bike trail connections coming Stevens Creek extension breaks ground this spring By ASHLEY RUEFF H&R Staff Writer

DECATUR — It has been a long time coming, but the Decatur Park District is finally moving forward with plans to take the city’s southern bike trails north to connect with Forsyth’s trail system. A master plan of greenways for Macon County was laid out in 1998 by the Decatur Metro Area Greenway Coalition. Since then, community groups have slowly been picking away at the plan by creating new paths and connecting the existing ones. The particular leg of the plan connecting Fairview Park to Forsyth along Steven’s Creek will finally break ground this spring. After more than 10 years of red tape, the park district finally cleared the way to begin construction on the first

phase of the trail that will start at Fairview Park and reach four miles north to Greendell Park, just past Illinois 121. Executive Director Bill Clevenger said it took the park district longer than anticipated to raise money for the project and to get the land requirements in order. “We were really moving along, and then, all of a sudden, we encountered all those difficulties with taking the trail north,” he said. Once the first phase is complete, then the park district will start looking for funding for the second phase that will take the trail from Greendell Park to near Interstate-72, where it will connect with Forsyth’s trail system. Forsyth Mayor Harold “Hap” Gilbert said the village is moving its system south so it’ll be ready to meet up with the Stevens Creek trail when the second phase is complete. “We are working on our bike trails to make them contiguous and to make sure everything is connected,” he

A portion of the bike trail is seen at Rock Springs.

The Road CITY: Mount Zion COUNTY: Macon POPULATION: 4,845 MAYOR: Donald R. Robinson Jr. INDUSTRY: PPG Industries, Green Valley Mfg. Inc., Jordan Industrial Controls Inc., Precision Tool & Die. TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: Spitler Woods State Natural Area. MAJOR HIGHWAYS: U.S. 36, Illinois 121. HISTORY: The Wilson Post Office was the first building in what is now the village of Mount Zion. It was built as a stopping place on the old Paris-Springfield road (Main Street and Illinois 121 south), the only road across the Illinois prairie from east to west at that time. It was an inn or tavern, a place where one could get a good meal and a night’s rest and care for one’s horses. People from settlements all around came to Wilson’s post office for their mail or to send letters back to friends and relatives back home. It is said that Abraham Lincoln had slept there. Some years later, as settlers increased in number, a general store was opened in what is now the business part of Mount Zion, known as the Skillman and Mays store. The post office was set up in that location. The house then was used as a residence for many years.

said. Forsyth has 11.8 miles of greenway, and Gilbert said there likely will be more development in the coming year. “I think that there are a lot of people that would really like to be able to get on their bikes here, and if they’ve got the energy and desire, to be able to bike all the way to Rock Springs,” he said. Or maybe even Mount Zion. But that part of the master plan is still far off in the future. The Macon County Highway Department recently received a grant to help pay for the engineering plans for a trail that could connect the Mount Zion trail system to Decatur’s. The path would stretch from the intersection of Lost Bridge and Country Club roads down to meet Baltimore Avenue, and then south to the Harryland Road, said county engineer Bruce Bird. Mount Zion would extend its trail system to meet the trail at Harryland Road. “It would be great if we could connect with Decatur,” said Judy Roessler, director of Mount Zion parks and recreation. “That would, therefore, connect us with the Rock Springs trail.” Roessler said Mount Zion already has 2.71 miles of trail. This year, her biggest project is installing Fletcher Park, a new green space going up south of the Mount Zion Intermediate School. “We really have no connection to our schools and our new park that’s going in, so that’s the next thing that we’ll try to get accomplished,” Roessler said.

Another important portion of the greenway master plan also is being developed through a county and Decatur Park District collaboration. The plan is to create a full pedestrian loop around the lake. When the county revamps the portion of Country Club Road that runs past the Illinois Children’s Museum and Scovill Zoo, it also will add a bike path alongside the road. The trail will divert through the parkway area past the attractions, but a sidewalk will continue alongside the road. “That particular piece is important because it provides a final connection around Nelson Park Basin,” Bird said. The earliest construction could begin on the project is 2011, Bird said, but when it’s complete, it will finish about a four-mile loop around the lake.|421-6986

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From 1886 to 1910, it was the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Scott when they retired from farming. In 1910, the house was moved to another location in the village. It has been remodeled several times and is still in use as a home on Henderson Street. The stagecoach brought mail through town twice a week if the roads were passable. The route was from Terre Haute, Ind., to Springfield. In 1873, the railroad came through, and shortly thereafter, the mail came by this method. The village was laid out in 1860. The name of the post office was changed to Mount Zion Post Office on Nov. 2, 1866. The town took the name from the church, which had been organized in 1830. It is a biblical name used for hundreds of churches, a favorite with Presbyterians. The first federal post office in Mount Zion was built in 1886 on the southwest corner of Main Street. It was a frame building and run by Hutchison. This building burned. In 1898, a new post office was built just south of the blacksmith shop, directly west of the first post office. This was a frame building run by Minerva Vermillion, called “Aunt Nerva,” which she ran for the next 24 years. Because the post office had to be a required number of feet away

from the depot before the government would hire someone to transport the mail between the two, the post office was moved to the southeast corner of Main Street. The present post office was dedicated Aug. 18, 1962. The rural route was changed, and two citydelivery mounted routes were started Oct. 27, 1973. ON THE WEB: non CITY: Pana COUNTY: Christian POPULATION: 5,615 MAYOR: Steven D. Sipes TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: Coal Creek Village, Kitchell Park, Lake Pana, Lincoln Prairie Trail MAJOR HIGHWAYS: U.S. 51, Illinois 16 and Illinois 29 ON THE WEB: www.pana

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SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010


Lights, cameras, hands-on learning Technical academy brings a studio, TV show into classroom

MORE INFO WHAT: Decatur Area Technical Academy PHONE: 424-3070 WEB SITE: techacademy

By STEPHANIE LANE For the Herald & Review

DECATUR — The Decatur Area Technical Academy knows all about breaking the traditional norm of education. Focusing on building real world job skills, the Decatur Area Technical Academy lets students get hands-on experience in their education and career path. Tasha Ziemer, marketing and recruitment coordinator for the Decatur Area Technical Academy, knows the importance of career exploration and technical training for high school students. “We serve students from 19 high schools, representing Decatur and the surrounding areas. Students typically receive entry-level skills in our programs, with the option of continuing on to college or a trade school to further train to enter a skilled or professional career,” Ziemer said. Students from all over Macon County can take dual-credit classes, earning college and high school credit simultaneously, while gaining work experience through internships. Classes are held in the main building at 300 E. Eldorado St., Richland Community College and Mr. John’s School of Cosmetology. Morning class sessions run from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and afternoon class sessions from 12:05 to 2:35 p.m. Gayle Bowman teaches the Broadcast Productions course at the Decatur Area Technical Academy. A former assistant news director/ morning news anchor and producer at WAND-TV, Bowman cannot only teach about the mass media world, but also has the field experience and stories of behind-the-scenes productions. Students integrate music production, still photography, animation and video production. Projects appear on Comcast Cable Channel 22, YouTube and the Web site. In her fifth year teaching at the Decatur Area Technical Academy, Bowman incorporates her love of teaching with the energy of her students. “I love kids of all ages, but espe-

PROGRAMS: agriScience technology/pre-veterinary studies; building trades; computer-assisted drafting (CAD); broadcast production; graphic arts; office technology; medical office coding specialist (new fall 2010); health occupations; culinary arts; cosmetology; early childhood education; family & consumer related occupations; Web programming; computer technology; criminal justice; fire fighting; welding; auto body; automotive technology; cooperative work education. PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS: ArgentaOreana; Atwood-Hammond; Central A&M; Cerro Gordo; Decatur Christian; Deland-Weldon; Eisenhower; Futures; Lovington; Lutheran School Association; MacArthur; Maroa-Forsyth; Meridian; Mount Zion; Okaw Valley; Sangamon Valley; St. Teresa; Tuscola; and Warrensburg-Latham.

Herald & Review photos/Ralf Pansch

Gayle Bowman, left, instructor of the Decatur Area Technical Academy’s broadcast production courses, assists Warrensburg-Latham junior Emily Massey while setting up equipment for a newscast.

Splendor Smith, left, a senior at Eisenhower High School, and Yashika Reed, a MacArthur High School senior, prepare for a newscast in Bowman’s class. cially teenagers, and I enjoy seeing them create,” Bowman said. “They don’t have to think out of the box; they haven’t been in it yet. Their take on mass media is the future.” The technical academy updated its name 10 years ago to focus on the

boom in technology. Bowman pointed out that students don’t really watch a lot of television anymore. While one generation shifted from radio to television, the next generation is cruising the Internet for communication, information and enter-

tainment. This shift in technology has opened new doors for careers in the media industry. Bowman’s Broadcast Productions course is right on target for students interested in a career in media. Students can take the class for two years, with the first year being in classroom training and the second year focusing on an internship in which students have to create a final senior project. Along with career-specific skills, the Decatur Area Technical Academy is also teaching students time management and accountability. “While the students learn skills that relate directly to professions that involve photography, video production and marketing, the soft skills they learn are the most important. The Decatur Area Technical Academy emphasizes work ethics, including attendance, punctuality and professional interaction,” Bowman said. Bowman’s classes are also project-based, meaning students are working on team building skills by working together towards a common task. The students learn to value differences and work with each other’s

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complementary talents. Central A&M student Kirsten O’Brien has delved into the broadcast productions program at the academy. “I thought the program was a great way to broaden my horizon and offset my learning. It’s a lot of fun to meet people from all the different schools and learn about a career you could go into,” O’Brien said. O’Brien completed her first year in the classroom setting and has been working an internship at WZUS-FM radio in Decatur since the beginning of the school year. She gets to apply her classroom knowledge in a real-world environment. Her internship involves booking guests on the show, running the show and being on-air. Bowman’s media students not only go on to college, but also to work for newspapers, television stations and radio broadcasting: taking what they have learned in textbooks and making a potential career while networking in the Central Illinois community.

The Road CITY: Oakland COUNTY: Coles POPULATION: 996 MAYOR: Sharon Houchin INDUSTRY: Miller Grain TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: Dr. Hiram Rutherford House


Ahead and Office, Walnut Point State Park. MAJOR HIGHWAY: Illinois 133. HISTORY: Oakland, originally named Independence, was founded in 1833.

For the Herald & Review

DECATUR — As the Decatur community has grown over the decades, the Decatur Area Arts Council has kept up one piece of artwork at a time. In 2004, after much planning and artistic support, the council moved the hub of Decatur arts into Madden Arts Center in downtown. As times have changed, so have the resources from which the arts council draws to support gallery exhibits. A new initiative allows individuals, rather than corporations or businesses, to sponsor gallery shows. Local community members can choose an artist and work with the group to set up an exhibit. Beth Nolan, a member of the board of directors and a financial adviser for The Brechnitz Group, got the ball rolling in February, with her husband, John Larcher, and fellow board member, Virginia “Gigi” Shafter, and her husband, Jim. They helped debut the first sponsored exhibit,

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Beth Nolan, left, and Gigi Shafter survey the packed house in the Anne Lloyd Gallery for the opening of the art exhibit they sponsored. It is the first show that has been sponsored by individuals rather than corporate sponsorship. It is part of a new initiative by the Decatur Area Arts Council. “Worlds Apart: Paintings and More by Don Gruber.” A former art teacher, Gruber’s work was on display for the month of February featuring a meet-the-artist reception. “I wanted to lead by example and start off the sponsored gallery exhibits,” Nolan said. As the fundraising chair for the board of directors, she wanted to find an artist

A jazz combo from Millikin University provides music for the gallery opening. From left is Steve Widenhofer, Jake Widenhofer, Adam Cunningham and Sean McDonald.

who not only was talented, but also had a strong tie to Decatur. Since the February exhibit, four more couples have jumped on board to sponsor art exhibits. Gigi Shafter has proudly supported the council for years. With the economic downturn and diminishing funding and corporate sponsorships, Shafter said she stepped up as a private sponsor. “I’ve always been such a big supporter of the arts. I enjoy seeing the humor and just viewing the world through artist’s eyes,” Shafter said. With different gallery exhibits each month, there’s always something new. “We make a huge effort to appeal to all segments of the population,” Shafter said. The arts center is set up so the first floor is the gallery, the second floor is classrooms, and the third floor contains a community room available for public use. Bert Gray, executive director and self-proclaimed

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MORE INFO WHAT: Decatur Area Arts Council WHERE: 125 N. Water St., Decatur PHONE: 423-3189 WEB SITE: ADMISSION: free GALLERY HOURS: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday head cheerleader for the council, explains the importance of moving downtown. “Our mission is simple: arts for all,” Gray said. “The art brings people downtown. It brings energy into downtown and helps play a part in the economic vitality. “Art is always important during difficult times. When art sells, artists pay taxes, and it helps keep the economy alive.” Classes are available for children and adults, ranging from drawing, painting, mosaics, clay work and several “how-to” classes.

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Entertain them and they will come Musical mix brings a crowd to Long Creek Vineyard By BOB FALLSTROM H&R Community News Editor

Herald & Review photos/Ralf Pansch

Leta Burch, a member of the Barn Colony Artists, gets ready to teach collage techniques at a recent Monday night meeting in Madden Arts Center.

Bringing out the best Barn Colony Artists find learning from others improves everyone’s work By MEREDITH JACKSON For the Herald & Review

Mary Lou Meyer and Burch prepare materials before one of the artist group’s weekly meetings.

Herald & Review photos/Lisa Morrison

Jody Fisher stands in front of custom white pine barrels.

Terri Fisher serves during a wine tasting at Long Creek Vineyards. There will be a people’s choice professional barbecue competition on Saturday, along with amateur barbecue competition and a people’s choice professional wing competition on Sunday. Live entertainment will be featured both days, as well. Decatur blues band, The STILL, plays Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m., while Champaign’s Sugar Prophets play Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. On June 12, Long Creek

Vineyards will host the Island Fest from 2 to 7 p.m. The theme is Cheeseburgers in Paradise with Jimmy Buffet music and a competition for the best island table decor. “Our Island Fest is a festival far different from anything around here,” Terri Fisher said. “Who wouldn’t want to escape to the islands if only for a day, even if you do have to use your imagination a little.”


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Jason Curce makes several announcements before a meeting, while Burch sets up materials to teach. “We go through the process of developing our skills. The skill level is a relatively simple thing to develop, but the presentation of the idea is more difficult, so we all learn from each other and from other media how to present our ideas in the most meaningful way. For example, those ideas of light and shadow on a sculpture can be adapted to painting as well.” Another reason the artists experience other media is to discover new ways to create. “Sometimes you don’t know what you like until you try it,” Disbrow said. Mary Lou Meyer, publicity contact for Barn Colony Artists, has been interested in

art for most of her life, just as Disbrow has been. She enjoys not only the artistic benefits of belonging to the group, but also the social aspects. “The people in Barn are exceptionally nice people, and they share what they know,” she said. “You can either be an accomplished artist or just a beginner to join.” Meyer has been a member of the group for years, and at age 74, she recently won her first blue ribbon. But for Meyer, and Disbrow as well, it’s not about the ribbons. It’s about the joy of creating, and honing the skills she needs to create better pieces all the time.

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Decatur Area Lawyers

DECATUR — About seven years ago, Jessica Stricklin Disbrow received a Decatur Park Service flyer offering beginning water color lessons from local artist Joyce Matteson. She had just retired from a 25-year career as a lawyer in Decatur, and it seemed fate had issued her a directive to rediscover her inner artist. During her school days, Disbrow had painted and studied fine arts, but life, as it has a way of doing, left her little time to pursue her interTHE est. But NET retireFor more ment information, call offered Mary Lou Meyer her that at 423-6766 or visit chance http://barncolony. again. “I went to (Matteson’s) class and fell in love with painting all over again,” she said. Very soon after she began painting, Disbrow joined Barn Colony Artists. She began showing in their annual spring show in 2003, and several years later, she won her first ribbons in pastels and watercolors. Today, she is Barn Colony’s vice president and a strong supporter of the group that helps her and local artists of all ages to grow in their field. Barn Colony Artists was founded in 1939 by Herman Jackson, who wrote a letter to the Herald & Review suggesting that local artists form a group to share their knowledge and educate the community. “The idea was to encourage the development of the arts in the Decatur area and to … improve the skills of the members,” Disbrow said. The group called themselves Barn Colony Artists after their meeting location, the barn/carriage house on the grounds of the Millikin home on Pine Street in Decatur. The not-for-profit organization met there for the next 30 years. Today, Barn Colony Artists meets on the second floor of the Madden Arts Center every Monday night, 7 to 9 p.m., beginning with the Monday following Arts in Central Park in September and ending in late May. The artists put together their work for a spring show each May at the Madden Arts Center and are regularly featured at locations including Rock Springs Conservation Area, Decatur Public Library and Forsyth Public Library. The group’s approximately 50 members range in age from 16 to 80, and their interests come from across the artistic spectrum. So, the local artists who lead each meeting use a variety of media as well. “We have professional caliber art instruction in all media — drawing, painting, pastels, sculpting, paper tearing, oil, photography,” Disbrow said. “It’s essential that every medium is represented at some point over the course of a year or two.” Though each artist particularly enjoys the meetings focusing on his or her specialty, Disbrow explained that they all benefit from learning about others’ areas of expertise. “Every artist is trying to capture an idea or an image that is meaningful not only to the artist, but on other people who see the work,” she said.

DECATUR — How do you attract customers? Offer entertainment. And Long Creek Vineyards is doing just that. Beginning in May, and extending all the way through November, the 22-acre, family venture, operated by Terri and Jody Fisher, will be offering a MORE little INFO something, WHAT: Long entertainCreek Vineyards mentWHERE: 7185 E. wise, for Firehouse Rd., everyone. Decatur “I try CALL: 571-0052 to create ONLINE: www. events longcreekvine that are different HOW TO GET than any THERE: Take U.S. in the 36 east. Turn right area,” on 70th Street. said Terri Go to the T, about Fisher. “A a block, and turn customer left. It’s the sixth suggested house on the the Blues right, white with a Fest, and green roof. The it just winery is around grew back in the basefrom ment entrance. there. Barbeque and blues festivals are big events, but Decatur didn’t have anything like this, so we thought it would be something the community would enjoy. “Besides, who doesn’t like food and wine?” The Smokin’ Blues BBQ Fest — Saturday and Sunday, May 22 and 23 — kicks off a long list of monthly events at Long Creek Vineyards in 2010.


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Two approaches to the same fight Mixed martial arts teachers disagree on methods, but both love sport By JUSTIN CONN H&R Staff Writer

There are two men whose names are synonymous with mixed martial arts in Decatur: Jeff DeVore and Jason Reinhardt. The two men go about teaching and promoting the MMA craft in different ways, and, as a matter of fact, each man disagrees with the other’s methods. But what the two men have in common is the foresight to see where their sport was going, and the resourcefulness to capitalize on it. DeVore teaches out of the martial arts academy that bears his name along U.S. 36 in Long Creek and is in his 21st year of business. Though there are numerous martial arts instructors in Decatur, DeVore is one of the few with an MMA program. “What I always thought was you might be the best kicker, but you better know how to use your hands if they close the gap,” DeVore said. “I did muay thai, boxing and wrestling, and that made me the black sheep of the martial arts community around here when I first started. I used to call it a modern-day blend that stressed the traditional values of attitude, discipline and respect. Now they call it MMA.” But DeVore isn’t sure he likes what the new name stands for, especially defined by MMA’s most popular vehicle, Ultimate Fighting Championship. “UFC has drawn a lot of interest and popularity to MMA, but then you see the way these UFC guys go on TV and act like adolescent schoolchildren,” said DeVore, who began his MMA program six years ago, coinciding with the rise of UFC’s popularity. “That’s the perception a lot of people have of our sport, and it’s the biggest thing guys like me are trying to fight these days, that chest-thumping, foul-mouthed image.” Reinhardt, on the other hand, embraces UFC. After

Herald & Review photos/Stephen Haas

Jeff DeVore works with Colton Creason during mixed martial arts team exercises at DeVore Martial Arts Academy in Decatur.

Quartus Stitt trains with Joel Blair, wearing the white shirt, in the ring at DeVore’s academy. 15 years of tae kwon do, Reinhardt joined a Brazilian JiuJitsu school in 1996 and had his first amateur fight in 1998. Soon, Reinhardt was driving back and forth to the Quad-Cities to train with UFC fighter Matt Hughes from Hillsboro and the famous Miletich Fighting Systems. He fought at UFC 78 (Nov. 17, 2007), losing to fighter Joe Lauzon in the first round by submission. Reinhardt suffered a neck injury in 2001, but it wasn’t until last year that it came back to haunt him. Reinhardt gave up his MMA training business in Decatur and put

his fight career on hold to overcome an addiction to the painkiller Vicodin. “I went to rehab and took a year off to get my body clean,” Reinhardt said. “Pain pill addiction is prevalent in our sport; it’s one of the downfalls. But I’m clean and back to 100 percent now. I hope I can be help to other fighters in showing them that’s not the road to go down.” Reinhardt is 40, but isn’t done in MMA — training, promoting or competing. He plans to train full time at Hughes’ gym in Granite City. And he plans to re-establish

Reinhardt MMA Academy with his brother Justin, who just moved back to the area from Oregon. While DeVore and Reinhardt disagree on the benefit of the UFC’s influence on the sport, both have fought and promoted MMA fights and trained MMA fighters in Decatur. And both agree that the public has a general misconception about their sport. DeVore said many equate MMA with “no-holds barred.” “It’s just like any other combative sport; there are rules, regulations, referees and judges,” DeVore said. “It’s not like staging a cockfight behind an alley. It’s a sport. I have kids who are 6 years old training in it. My grandson is 3, and he can walk through the instructions of a triangle choke and an arm bar.” Reinhardt agreed, saying MMA is a good fit for anyone who wants to try it. “At first, people are scared of it; there’s a lot of explaining you have to do,” Reinhardt said. “I always say, ‘You don’t have to be a fighter to train like one.’ You take the class, get in shape, learn self-defense and meet a lot of great people. Once you get people in the door, they’re sold.”|421-7971

Continued from Page 19 Jazz in July will take place every Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. A Facebook suggestion, Winestock, returns and will be July 31 and Aug. 1. Saturday will feature reunions and performances by area bands of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, while on Sunday, there will be an all-day jam session by area musicians. Saturday’s event will be from noon to 7 p.m., while Sunday’s hours are noon to 5 p.m. Homeward Bound Pet Shelter will host its Dog Days of Summer fundraiser on Aug. 28. There will be entertainment, silent auctions and pet-related activities. Returning in 2010 will be Sunset Saturdays. Local entertainment will play from 3 p.m. to sunset. On Sundays during September, there will be acoustic and sing-along acts from 2 to 5 p.m. OctoberFest is set for Oct. 2 and 3 and will feature wine, art, bonfires and entertainment. Wrapping up the 2010 entertainment is the Home for the Holidays Vintage Christmas Walk on Nov. 2628.|421-7981


reached a bend in the road after retirement, now is the perfect time to pick up a paintbrush, pen, camera or what have you, and stop by a Barn Colony meeting. There’s no charge for anyone who would like to come and observe one time. “At some point, we finally have the opportunity to say, what would I like to be doing now?” she said. “Luckily, there are all sorts of opportunities out there, and to take advantage of them could be as simple as a flier coming in the mail from the park district.”

Continued from page 19 “I can get lost in my art,” Meyer said. “Even though I’m retired, I’m busier than I ever was, and that’s my time to relax and enjoy. I’m not all that great, but I enjoy it. I try to tell people interested in Barn Colony that you don’t have to be great, or even an artist at all. We have several that aren’t but come to the meetings. They are interested in art and are interesting people.” Disbrow added that for those who, like her, have

The Road


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When the Fishers purchased their home in 2000, it had four pre-Prohibition grapevines on the ground, which Jody Fisher decided to process into wine. The majority of the vineyards were planted in the spring of 2004, with some additional being added in 2005, bringing the total acreage planted to five. The first commercial vintage was bottled in 2007, with the winery opening the following year. “On average, the five acres produces about 20 tons of grapes,” said Terri Fisher. “We produced about 1,500 gallons (of wine) in 2007 and 3,500 gallons in 2008.” Opening Long Creek Vineyards meant that Jody Fisher didn’t have to wait for retirement to pursue his dream. He had hoped to one day move to California and own a winery. After Terri Fisher had read a story in the Business Journal of Mid-Central Illinois about the Illinois wine industry, a seed was planted, and the Fishers set out on a new venture. “We decided we could do it here and didn’t have to wait until retirement.”

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