SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010
The Road Ahead
live learn WORK play
Oil keeps pumping 70 years later/Page 2
Effingham restaurant leaps forward/Page 4
City of roses still in full bloom/Page 9
SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010
Pumping strong since 1937 Loudon oil field drew workers to build 2,923 wells to get millions of barrels below Central Illinois By PHIL JACOBS For the Herald & Review
ST. ELMO — Wright’s Corner sits in the middle of the Loudon oil field, the third largest in Illinois, midway between St. Elmo to the south and Beecher City to the north. It was here in 1937, on a patch of land that otherwise would have been planted in corn or soybeans, the Carter Oil Co., now the Exxon Mobil Corp., produced the first oil well in Fayette County. Until Carter arrived in the area from Oklahoma, wells were drilled using the old cable tool drilling technique which basically uses a pipe on the end of a cable that I M PA C T punched OF 3-D holes in Three-dimensional the ground. It imaging technology was a slow, has been a boon to inefficient and cumthe oil and gas busibersome ness, which may process. have helped tap the The largest oil find in IlliOklanois. homans brought A hundred miles with them or so south of the a large Loudon discovery, in rotary an area around drilling Stephen A. Forbes rig, powered by State Park in Marion two diesel County, 3-D imaging engines discovered a reef that lying in the silurian reduced formation beneath the standard Lake Carlyle. But it drilling could not be time from reached using stanthree dard drilling methweeks to ods. Ceja Corp. of four days. They run Tulsa, Okla., used a 24 hours a highly specialized day, and at horizontal drilling night, they technique to tap the are lit up deep formation. The like the gantry at initial production Cape came in at 2,000 Canaveral barrels a day, setting the night a record in Illinois. before a Experts estimate the launch. Since its reservoir holds at discovery least 5 million to 6 in 1937, the million barrels of oil. Loudon field has yielded slightly more than 400 million barrels of oil, according to Bryan Huff of the U.S. Geologic Survey at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “The field is still producing 500,000 barrels of oil a year,” Huff said. Companies still there today are drilling new wells and shutting down older ones in an effort to become more efficient. In the 70 or so years the field has been in production, 2,923 wells have been drilled and 1,389 of those are still operating.”
An Allied Oil Corp. refinery in St. Elmo was near completion in this September 1939 photo.
A worker walks down the steps on an Exxon Mobil Corp. storage tank in St. Elmo in June 1985. the area, including roughnecks, drillers and suppliers,” Belden said. “Suddenly, new houses were going up, new buildings were being built, tank farms and pipeline facilities being constructed. “As a result of all the activity, several taverns sprang up and with them came the attendant problems, and so I guess it came as little surprise when the township soon voted itself dry. I wasn’t born then, but you hear a lot of stories.” Belden explained that working conditions back then were much different than today. “Many times, drilling operations of the past were more dependent on the weather than we are today,” Belden said. “You can go only so far in mud. Nowadays, the oil and chip roads throughout the county are far better than negotiating the mud roads of the past. We can get anywhere we need to go now. If we need to build a road to get the rig from the county road to the site, which is often in the middle of a cornfield, we build it.” He said that many things have changed since his father started the busiDavid Belden ness. of Belden Enterprises “In the in St. Elmo early days, we relied on e-logs (electric logs), for example, to provide us with hole data, about the nature of the formations we had encountered during the drilling process, and geologist of the day did surprising well using the little information they got from them. “By comparison, we can take a 3-D image of the underlying formations today, which gives us a lot more data than we ever had before,” Belden explained. “It’s like comparing the information a doctor gets from X-rays with the data they get from the newest medical scanners.” He said the information is more detailed and thus more useful. “It still doesn’t tell you if there is oil at the proposed site, however, it does indicate the nature of the formation you are looking at, and based on that data, we make the determination of whether or not to drill, which is still the only way we are going to find oil.” Belden and Huff believe the future holds even better technology that will help them in the search for even more oil to help meet the seemingly unquenchable needs of the nation.
‘The dizzying prospect of that much oil brought a lot of people to the area. ... As a result of all the activity, several taverns sprang up and with them came the attendant problems, and so I guess it came as little surprise when the township soon voted itself dry.’
H&R file photos
Oil wells are seen in this June 1985 photo. There have been 2,923 oil wells built to pump 400 million barrels of oil from the Loudon oil field. The 1,389 wells that remain continue to recover 500,000 barrels a year. David Belden of Belden Enterprises in St. Elmo works for the oil busi-
ness started by his father “Deke” Belden in the early 1950s.
“The dizzying prospect of that much oil brought a lot of people to
In this July 1938 file photo, the streets of St. Elmo are full of people. The farming town filled with workers after the discovery of oil. Parking became difficult to find, and the city eventually had to ban liquor sales.
For the Herald & Review/Phil Jacobs
The C.E. Smith No. 1 oil well is illuminated while it is drilled in July 1938. The well extended the Loudon oil field two miles to the west of St. Elmo.
Portable houses for chickens have been transformed into homes for workers and their families, as seen in August 1939.
David Belden of Belden Enterprises in St. Elmo stands in front of one of the company’s oil wells.
SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010
Younger hands take the reins Couple says there’s a lot to learn about Lock, Stock & Barrel By KENNETH LOWE H&R Staff Writer
DECATUR — Gregg Meisenhelter once told his wife, Dana, he would own Lock, Stock & Barrel. He might have been joking, but now his longtime ambition has come true. “I told her back in college that I wanted to own Lock Stock,” he said. “I never thought it would come true, but Jim and Kathy made it true for us.” For Dana, the job is already a part of her family. Her mother worked there for 16 years. The Meisenhelters sat down with former owner Jim Gresham and his wife, Kathy. The two couples spoke to the Herald & Review in the moments before the restaurant opened for another day. Jim is the owner of the venerable institution, which has operated since 1977. This year, he is passing the reins to younger hands. “Kathy and I have been talking about it for a while,” Jim said. “We’re getting to the point where we’d like to spend more time with the grandchildren. We’re at that age when we think a lot about that.” He said he saw passing ownership to the Meisenhelters as an opportunity, though leaving will still mean setting aside part of his life he’s gotten used to. “First and foremost, (I’ll miss) the daily routine we had,” Gresham said. “We got used to it; we enjoyed it. It didn’t seem like work most of the time.” Gresham said he’d also miss the people. “We got to see a lot of peo-
The Road Ahead VILLAGE: Long Creek COUNTY: Macon POPULATION: 1,364 MAJOR HIGHWAYS: U.S. 36, Illinois 121.
The Road I have a vision to save our landfills from plastic and plastic foam products I see families: n Reusing eco-friendly water containers n Refusing to buy water in plastic bottles n Using eco-cloth bags at grocery store n Refusing plastic foam “to-go” boxes at restaurants I see restaurants: n Stopping all plastic foam and plastic for to-go boxes n Searching for eco-friend-
Ahead ly Web sites such as www.gogreenstarfish.com. I see children: n Reminding parents about the chemicals in our landfills n Reusing eco-friendly water bottles during hot days at school I see our government: n Requiring all businesses and restaurants to stop using plastic foam n Buying into green companies for all paper supplies Jeanne Helm Oreana
Payments as low as $100/month
Herald & Review photos/Kelly J. Huff
Lock Stock & Barrel owner Gregg Meisenhelter fills the glasses for longtime patrons Karen Ferguson of Clinton and Cindy Laramee of Vandalia. The ladies started going to the establishment as Millikin University students when it opened in 1977.
Meisenhelter and his wife, Dana, are the new owners of Lock Stock & Barrel. taking over the establishment in December. ple and had a great staff over the years, all of whom are still with Gregg and Dana,” he said. “I still get to see a lot of the customers.” The place has also been a part of their family life, Kathy said. “We’ve made a lot of friends here through the years,” she said. “It’s just been a wonderful fit. Our children grew up in here. We love the community and the area.” For the people who rely on the restaurant for a few drinks after work or a quick lunch near the campus of Millikin University, the changing of hands has thankfully not
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changed anything about the favorite hangout. “I like that the owners seem to know our names,” said Debbie Campbell, a librarian at Millikin who said
she grabs lunch there. “They recognize us.” Jim Gresham continues to work at Lock, Stock & Barrel as he makes the transition to the new owners. Both couples say the process is going smoothly, though Meisenhelter said there’s more to learn than he anticipated, but it’s still easier than he expected. “I went into it thinking it was going to be a ton of work, a ton of hours,” he said. “It’s been easier than I thought. There’s still a lot to know, more than I ever thought.” “The transition is going very well,” Gresham said. “Kathy and I are extremely pleased with Gregg and Dana. I can only see good things happening. It’s good to have a fresh perspective, and yet maintain what we built over the last 30 years.” email@example.com|421-7985
Mark McCollom: Owner
New location 202 Spitler Park Drive, Mt. Zion South of ACE Hardware
Macon County Sheriffs Department PROUDLY SERVING THE COMMUNITY SINCE 1829. We are proud of our 150+ employees and their involvement in the community. Sheriff Thomas Schneider
SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010
A leap forward for restaurants Firefly Grill in Effingham grows own vegetables, wins eco-friendly award By THERESA CHURCHILL H&R Senior Writer
EFFINGHAM — You know you’re somewhere special even before your server asks if you’d like your water to be spring, sparkling or tap. There’s the oak firewood stacked outside to the right of the main entrance, a raisedbed vegetable garden beginning where the barnlike structure ends. There’s the display kitchen, with its wood-fired grill, rotisserie and pizza oven, and the dining room, with framed photographs from the proprietors’ wedding interspersed among wraparound windows. Then there’s the menu, paper because it changes every day. One side details the fresh seafood flown in from California, New England, Alaska or the Caribbean, in addition to dishes and sandwiches made from locally-raised pork, chicken, turkey, beef and elk. The other side is devoted to an extensive wine list. There are also a dozen desserts, six to 12 appetizers and half-dozen salads to choose from. It’s no wonder Effingham’s Firefly Grill was recently one of three businesses in the state to receive a Quantum Leap Award from the Illinois Bureau of Tourism. Deputy Director Jan Kostner praised the restaurant for a contemporary Midwestern cuisine and eco-friendly operation that are catching the attention of travelers from throughout the country. Effingham Tourism Director Kim Jansen said the restaurant is a plus when marketing the community to tour bus operators and conventions. That the Firefly’s atmosphere is elegant with a casual, hometown flavor is no accident. The place was built from the ground up in 2005 by Kristie Campbell, daughter of local businessman Dean Samuel of Samuel Music, and her husband, Niall Campbell, the chef who opened the Bread Box Cafe in Waterville, Maine, and the Blue Macaw on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques and more recently cooked for the Lark Creek Inn near San Francisco. Kristie Campbell’s parents moved from Effingham to Maine when she was 2, but she visited frequently and has fond memories of catching fireflies in the backyard of her grandparents, Lowell and Lucille Samuel — hence the restaurant’s name. Named the No. 2 eco-friendly restaurant in the United States by Bon Appetit, the Firefly Grill can seat more than 300 people in the summer and has three private dining areas and two outdoor seating areas overlooking a 2.3-acre man-made pond that irrigates a 1.5-acre organic vegetable garden supplying much of the restaurant’s fresh produce. It employs between 45 and 60 people depending on the time of year. Future plans include a fishing tournament this spring to benefit a local charity and to keep the pond healthy and the installation of greenhouses to lengthen the growing season. “The University of Illinois in Champaign is helping us design and set them up,” Kristie Campbell said. “We should be able to grow lettuce and Brussels sprouts yearround and extend the tomato season by four months.” She added that the restaurant and the nearby Rosebud Theatre hope to start a weekly farmer’s market in 2011. The Rosebud closed in December, but the city of Eff-
For the Herald & Review/Mark Ballogg
The 2.3-acre pond next to the restaurant contains catfish, koi, bass and sunfish.
The Road Ahead
Herald & Review/Stephen Haas
Oak logs used for cooking are seen stacked outside of the Firefly Grill.
MORE INFO WHAT: Firefly Grill WHERE: 1810 Avenue of Mid America, Effingham HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday in spring, summer and fall. Menu switches from lunch to dinner at 4 p.m. Sundays and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. In winter, the restaurant closes at 8 p.m. Sunday, 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. OTHER SERVICES: Catering on and off-site; weddings; quarterly lobster bakes, beer tastings and wine tastings FOR MORE: Visit www.ffgrill. com or call 342-2002. ingham purchased it in January, with the nonprofit group, Arts Connection of Central Illinois, hoping to begin a performance season in September. firstname.lastname@example.org|421-7978
Herald & Review/Stephen Haas
Lauren Diveley, left, and Heidi VanBellehem check their orders before bringing them out to diners.
Herald & Review/Stephen Haas
Customers enjoy lunch at Firefly Grill.
Most of the vegetables and herbs come from an adjoining organic garden more than an acre in size.
Kristie and Niall Campbell display their Quantum Leap Award from the Illinois Bureau of Tourism.
CITY: Effingham COUNTY: Effingham POPULATION: 12,384 MAYOR: John Lange INDUSTRY: Sherwin-Williams, Peerless of America Inc., Southeastern Container Inc., Mid America Motorworks, HN Automotive Inc. TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: Cross at the Crossroads, Kluthe Aquatic Complex, Lake Sara and Ballard Nature Center MAJOR HIGHWAYS: Interstate 57, Interstate 70, U.S 40, U.S. 45, Illinois 32, Illinois 33 HISTORY: More then 150 years of growth, and there’s no slowing down now. Effingham has a proud history made up of hardworking people with a sense of pride in community. Folks first started making their way to Effingham, first called Broughton, in the early 1800s when settlers moving west along the Old Cumberland Trail stopped to work in the rich soil along the Little Wabash River. The trail became The National Road, which is now recognized as a Scenic Byway. In the mid-1800s, the new railroad brought with it a “boom” of not only new people and homes, but also new business. During the 1900s, Effingham continued to grow at a modest pace, until the 1960s when the area’s second population explosion occurred. It was then that the Interstate Highway System was initiated, placing Effingham in the center of the juncture of Interstates 57 and 70. I-57 links Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico, while I-70 connects the East and West coasts. Effingham’s prime location prompted the construction of travel centers, restaurants, hotels and a variety of manufacturing businesses and distribution centers. A third growth spurt now is under way. The world of communication breakthroughs has opened up doors never before thought possible, and you can be sure that Effingham keeps pace with the latest in technology. A complete fiber optic infrastructure connects the city to a worldwide communications network. Effingham is literally at the crossroads of the interstate system and the information superhighway. Effingham has a deep sense of pride in its history. Many families here come from a long line of descendants who have called this area home. They have been joined by many new residents who are pursuing the positive opportunities available here. Today’s citizens are building their legacies as pioneers in their own right and making history right here in Effingham. ON THE WEB: www.effinghamil.com/
SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010
Long shot at basketball
The Road Ahead Storms, rain, sleet, snow, fire all pummel the Earth and upset the peaceful flow of life as we know it. However, after the storm, there is a beautiful rainbow full of color and bright in heaven’s sky. It takes our breath away, and it is said that if we follow it to its end, there lies an overflowing pot of gold. The rainbow makes me dream of tomorrow’s world, a world of blended colors and cultures and traditions. Soon families will no longer be all black, white or Asian. There will be white parents who love and cherish the black or Asian children as parents should and want the very best for them. Our faces will look different. Cultural and traditional skills and talents will lead the way to jobs never before heard of. Our food will be a different fare and grown under new methods. In the end, harmony and individual talent and skills will rule the Earth. What you can contribute will be the most important trail of all. Our world will be different, and hopefully, this multicultural rainbow will be shared by all. Truly we are the world. Are you ready to make your contribution? Do your part to make this a better world. The end and the beginning starts with you and me. Evelyn Taylor Strong Decatur.
Owners build success turning old Decatur Armory into gym By JUSTIN CONN H&R Staff Writer
When Rodney Walker and Joe Flies hatched the idea to turn the Decatur Armory into a multi-purpose sports facility, they figured at very least it would give their kids somewhere to play basketball whenever they wanted to. “We always ABOUT said, ‘Wouldn’t n The SkyWalkit have er International been cool Sports Complex if our can be rented for dads had $75 an hour, but owned nonprofit groups gyms?’ ” can get better Flies rates. said. n Open gym for Almost adult basketball is three until 10 p.m. years Wednesdays and later, the Thursdays, 10 a.m. SkyWalkto noon Saturdays er Interand 4 to 6 p.m. national Sundays. Cost is Sports $5 per session or Complex $30 per month. can be n Cardio classdescribed es are at 6 p.m. as an allMondays and purpose Wednesdays , gym and and at 7:30 p.m. banquet Thursdays. Cost hall. It is $5 per session also can or $30 per month. be described as a success. “When we started, we didn’t look at it as a revenue generator,” said Flies, who is a 50-50 business partner with Walker. “We looked at it more as a way to give back to the community and the inner-city. We never thought it would be what it is today. The response has been
Herald & Review photos/Lisa Morrison
Rodney Walker gathers participants in a program on the fundamentals of basketball at the Skywalker Sports Complex. BELOW LEFT: Young players learn the basic basketball skills. BELOW RIGHT: A young player is determined to get to the basket.
amazing. It’s grown into a viable business. “And the best thing about it is that our gym is a melting pot,” Flies said. “We’ll have kids from the city in there playing with kids from the county at every age
Michael Irons gives his son, Jordan Michael, a few tips on free throws.
group.” Walker said they chose the armory for its basketball court, and that remains the complex’s bread and butter. The court is home to Decatur Christian girls and boys basketball, as well as volleyball. There’s a fundamentals program for younger players, and leagues for youth, junior high and adults. But the armory is huge; the court space is 16,000 square feet, which gives it a capacity of about 4,500. That kind of space lends it useful for just about anything. SkyWalker has launched a thriving boxing program, there are evening cardio classes, volleyball leagues, caged dodge ball leagues, family reunions, children’s birthday parties, organizational functions, boxing shows and mixed martial arts shows, “People don’t realize how big it is until they get there,” Walker said. “We didn’t see some of the stuff at first. But then you start noticing the potential. You can put the biggest jumping castles ever in there for birthday parties. The possibilities are endless.” SkyWalker isn’t the only source of income for either Walker or Flies; both have other jobs that they consider their main source. But you wouldn’t know it by the amount of work they put in to make the complex a success. Once they began leasing the building from Phil Flaugher, they redid the entire inside, resealing the windows, sanding, re-varnishing and lining the floor and painting. Then they set out to let people know about it.
“That was the biggest challenge,” Walker said. “We used a lot of word of mouth and made a lot of T-shirts. I bet there are 5,000 to 6,000 SkyWalker T-shirts out
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SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010
Clintonia Eagle has been a soaring success It’s given jobs to teens, entertainment to town By TIM CAIN H&R Entertainment Editor
CLINTON — Crossing a century-old business with a new building and a new attitude has Clinton looking forward, and is providing some valuable training for its teen work force. The Clintonia Eagle Theatre has been open for 19 months since its debut Aug. 15, 2008. “Whenever a business opens, there’s more opportunities job-wise, and that’s a plus,” said Gary Ward, president of the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce. “A business like this caters more to teens working, and it’s important for the community to get more teen involvement. “It’s also a business that attracts people from other communities to ours, so that’s an economic positive.” The theater is run by a relative youngster as well. Stephen Piersall,
Herald & Review/Kelly J. Huff
Stephen Piersall, the general manager, sits in one of the five theaters at the Clintonia Eagle Theatre in Clinton, which offers patrons the latest creature comforts. 23, has managed the five-screen theater since it opened. He came to the job via the Eagle’s
owners. He worked for them at a theater they own in Robinson while attending Indiana State University,
pursuing a finance degree. “I don’t own it, I just run it,” Piersall said. “I do management stuff here, what I call ‘homeowner’s repair.’ It’s a lot of cleaning.” The booking and the payroll are outsourced. But Piersall does all the hiring (“and firing,” he added with a chuckle) and tracks and orders concession inventory. He manages close to a dozen employees, mostly teens. “I like working with younger people,” he said. “They’re more impressionable.” Ward said part of the appeal for the some of the Clinton populace is a long-awaited return of a movie house to the city. The original Clintonia movie theater was demolished in 1989. “I’ve heard people say it’s nice to have one again,” Ward said. “I think people here are extremely happy with it,” Piersall said. “The only disappointments might be letting people know about it, and not having things nearby like restaurants for people to go before or after the show.” Piersall also has brought in some
Radio embraces Web world Keeps broadcasters connected to fans By TIM CAIN H&R Entertainment Editor
For all media, an Internet presence is no longer an option, it’s a requirement. “We’re selling entertainment, fun and the experience,” said Chris Bullock, regional manager of the Cromwell Group Inc. of Illinois, whose FM stations include WEJT (105.1), WYDS (93.1), WZNX (106.7) and WZUS (100.9). “We add to the experience by having the ability to have this additional interaction.” Radio stations are in a unique situation as media develop their presence on the Web. Newspapers have stories, and have needed to develop audio and video. Television has the video, but has needed to develop a manner to deliver text online. Some radio stations have taken the position of Mary Ellen Burns, president and general manager of FM stations WXFM (99.3) and WDKR (107.3). Those stations do not have Web sites. “We might get into it,” she said. “It hasn’t seemed like that big a thing. “Radio is radio. If we’re going to be on the Web, that would be ancillary. It would be an idea, but we’d rather have a person listening.” But WDKR has a Web presence with videos on YouTube, at www.youtube.com/user/ WDKRradio. Brian Byers is vice president of community affairs for Neuhoff Media, whose Decatur stations are WSOY-AM (1340), WSOY-FM (102.9), WDZQ (95.1 FM) and WDZ (1050 AM). To an extent, he agrees with Burns, but the Neuhoff stations are deeply involved in text services, and WSOY-AM has begun to work with video.
Herald & Review photos/Kelly J. Huff
Brian Byers, director of community affairs for Neuhoff Media, chats with WSOY Radio personality Amber Van Meter during a live broadcast from the Decatur Memorial Hospital Sports Enhancement Center as Personal Trainer Dana Embree talks to a Club Fitness member. “We used to push the audience to the radio all the time,” the WSOY-AM morning show host said, “and we still do. But with the younger generation, you have a group of people who want what they want when they want it. And I thought, ‘We ought to be with our listeners 24/7.’ ” So the stations find themselves using all manner of media, from the Web (streaming audio, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter) to texting. “The base mode is made up of people listening to the radio,” Bullock said, “and it always will be. But we can add to that with Facebook and text pushes. Now we have the ability to hit those people in several different ways.” The stations have worked in steps to get where they are. “There are so many different opportunities, and we’ve embraced all of them,” Bullock said. “We started basically with poorly done Web sites, and now we’ve gone into streaming, video and audio, much the same as what the Herald & Review or WAND can do.” “It’s been step-by-step,” Byers said. “We’ve had a Web
Videographer Paul Farr scans the room at the Decatur Memorial Hospital Crossfit center as he creates a piece for the WSOY Radio Web site during a live broadcast from the facility.
site forever, for 12 years, probably. That evolved into streaming. We know people are in offices where they don’t have good radio reception, and that gave them the chance to keep up with us. And we have listeners all over the world. We’ve implemented it in steps. “And now we have the texting. It takes less than two minutes to sign up, and that’s for all our stations.” Byers said the key in all changes is recognizing the habits of the audience and adapting delivery methods to that. “The first thing that happens when people get up now is they check their cell phones,” he said. “We can give them broadcasting information, Illini updates, school closings, and we’re sending it right to you. “In a couple of years, people will be listening on their phones.” The work doesn’t come without sacrifice, of course. There’s more expectations from customers, but that doesn’t mean any of the stations have added bodies to facilitate the extra work. “All of this stuff is just more stuff on our plate,” Bullock said. “We’ve absorbed that. Sure, it’s extra effort. But we’re just getting started.” The one thing of which Byers and Bullock are positive is they can’t predict where the fields are going. “I’m not a Luddite,” Byers said, “but I don’t know a lot about the technical field either. That said, I use my phone all the time. An iPhone application is what we’re looking at now. It’s hard to imagine where we’ll be.” “If you would have asked me that two years ago,” Bullock said, “I wouldn’t have known then, either. We just have to roll with it. We’ll stay with what our customers want.”
The Road Living the past 17 years with the not-so-traditional family life has made me who I am today. Not only have I had to cope with my parent’s separation, but I had to manage with the loss of my father at 8 years old. My father not able to watch me grow up, graduate high school or walk me down the aisle on my wedding day will be extremely hard to deal with. For this, I feel I deserve no less than to have a happy future ahead of me. Although this major setback has been unbelievably tough to get through, it has taught me a lot of the hidden possessions in life. I do not take life for granted because it can be snatched away at any moment. I have been taught respect, the courage to stand up for what I believe in and really how important family is. I also believe everything does happen for a reason whether we realize it or not. My father passing away so early in my life has taught me to live for the little things and cherish every moment. I know my future will bring a wonderful husband, a job I enjoy and a wonderful family of my own. I
new and untraditional ideas. “We did ‘Monday Night Football’ ” on a big screen, he said, “and that was free admission. It went over well, especially since Monday is one of our weaker days. We also did a meal package with showing the Super Bowl. We weren’t charging people to see the game. “We run free movies on some Saturdays, and we get sponsors from around the area to help out, because we still have to pay for the film. It’s usually kids movies, stuff that’s been released in the last year and usually available on DVD. We do really well with that.” Changes are ahead for the theater, Piersall said. “We don’t have the 3-D capability yet,” he said. “I talked with our primary stockholder, and he’s definitely looking into it. He’s sold on switching everything to digital, and in the next six months, depending on how things fall into place, additional funding will be arranged for.” firstname.lastname@example.org|421-6908
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SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010
Doris Logsdon grades roses according to length of stem at Pana Greenhouses in February 1986. Crooked or very short stemmed flowers are removed.
City of roses still in full bloom Pana no longer grows flower, but distributes them “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” — William Shakespeare from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ By PHIL JACOBS For the Herald & Review
PANA — The large greenhouse ranges that gave the city its colorful appellation, “City of Roses,” are gone, as are the coal mines that warmed them and the railroads that served them. But one business, Air Conditioned Roses Inc., proudly carries on a tradition that dates back to the early years of the 20th century. By 1945, six major growers were producing almost 20 million roses a year. They employed nearly 200 people, second only to the local mining industry, and the 285-foot smoke stack at the Amling Brothers flower operation just west of the downtown area, was the tallest structure in the city. Four railroads traversed the area, according to Tom Phillips, the publisher of the Pana News-Palladium. As a
young man, Phillips worked as a clerk in the local office of the New York Central Railroad. “It was my job to light the lantern and flag down the night train to stop and pick up the roses that were going to places like Toledo, Cincinnati, Boston and other cities all across the U.S.,” said Phillips, who then was just out of high school. “I would come to work, and the whole station was permeated with the delightful fragrance of roses.“ Today, the delicate scent is limited to the warehouse and work area of Air Conditioned Roses, located just off U.S. 51 on Second Street, where General Manager Paul Dubre oversees a wholesale operation that ships roses and other flowers to retail florists throughout Central Illinois. “We started this business in 1963, after it became clear that operating expenses, especially the heating costs for the large greenhouses, could no longer compete with growers in warmer climates. Consequently, we now import our roses from California and South America,” Dubre explained. “We can order, say, a hundred roses to be picked on Saturday and shipped in time for us to process them and deliver them to our customers by Tuesday or Wednesday, and they are never out of air conditioning.
For the Herald & Reveiw/
Trudy Smith, who works for Air Conditioned Roses Inc., trims a roses that she then puts in partially filled water buckets, prior to shipment.
Gene Schmitz stands between ‘endless’ rows of valentine roses in February 1970.
A worker wraps roses at the Pana Greenhouses in January 1959.
H&R file photos
Roses growing in the Pana Greenhouses in February 1986 point their heads toward the light. The planes, the trucks, our warehouse and our vans are all air conditioned, so the flowers always arrive in perfect condition.” The processing includes recutting the stems so they will draw water, like a Christmas tree, after which they are inserted in five gallon buckets which are partially filled with water. The roses are never boxed, they are transported fully hydrated and refrigerated. The company also sells other seasonal flowers including daisies, carnations, lilies, gardenias and snap dragons, which are delivered to retail florists five days a week. But if a customer has an unexpected funeral or wedding, its may be possible to have a special order sent overnight. “Like everyone else, customer servTom Phillips, ice is paraformer New York mount,” Central Railroad Dubre said, clerk all of which pleases Johanna Svendsen Maple who manages Svendsen’s Florists in Decatur. “We have been buying roses and other flowers from them for a long, long time and they are just wonderful to deal with. They have helped us out of several binds over the years, often meeting us half way in Moweaqua or, on several occasions, they sent a truck all the way to Decatur. You can’t beat that kind of service,” Maple said. It’s no wonder then the business appears to have a rosy future. “We have nearly doubled the number of employees since we began,” Dubre noted, “and as we look toward the future, we
‘I would come to work, and the whole (train) station was permeated with the delightful fragrance of roses.’
Legend of the rose Since the rose industry’s debut here in 1918, legend has it that the city’s namesake has appeared astraddle the winner at Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Derby and in the Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. While these appearances are open somewhat
to interpretation, what is more certain is the universal love of the rose that often represents one’s love for another. Thus, an anonymous writer, obviously under the spell of a rose, wrote, “The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart.“
Carl Enge examines tea roses in the Pana Greenhouses in July 1990.
About 28 acres of ground was covered in glass in May 1951. At the center is a 285-foot smoke stack. Coal was used to heat the greenhouses, but energy costs eventually shut down the growing operation.