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August 2013

From Idea To Reality Stuff The Bus A Volunteer For The Ages A Passion For People And Music Creating A Living Legacy


contents Publisher Bob Dennis bob.dennis@register-news.com Editor Tesa Glass tesa.glass@register-news.com Associate Editor Rick Hayes rick.hayes@register-news.com Advertising Manager Sheonna Hill sheonna.hill@register-news.com Business Manager Brenda Moore brenda.moore@register-news.com Circulation Director Jimmy Bass Advertising Account Executives Missi Morgan Jeff Mullen Barry Waggoner Editorial Staff Writers Paul Hines Travis Morse

Features 4

From idea to Reality

8

Stuff the Bus

10 A volunteer for

the ages

12 A Passion

for People and Music

16 Creating a

living legacy

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Mt. Vernon NOW Magazine© 2013 by Mt. Vernon Register-News. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form without prior written permission is strictly prohibited.

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Dr. David Walters has always loved performing music... August 2013


August 2013

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From idea to Reality Photos and story by Tesa Glass

What started out as a small idea has turned into a big event in just a few short months — the Market Day at the Armory. “It started with the branding project last year,” said Mt. Vernon Festivals Committee member Bonnie Jerdon. “The idea to make the old armory into a market was one of the primary recommendations to create an anchor downtown. And, now we’re doing it.” But, it didn’t happen overnight, although the growth of the market has seemed to grow up out of nothing. “We were working on plans to get the armory in condition for use, and had the opportunity to try the flea market outside,” Jerdon said. “Kari Lowery called asking about a location to do a flea market. She was part of an online rummage sale group, and I realized this is exactly what we’re trying to do. But, we weren’t ready to have anything inside yet. We told her we could try doing it outside on a trial basis and see what happened.”

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The armory, which is owned by the city, was leased to Mt. Vernon Festivals for the Market Day events, to be held outside only. The Festivals committee, which is a registered non-profit entity, take on the responsibility for contacting and contracting vendors and advertising the monthly events. “With just two Market Days, we’ve more than doubled in size,” Jerdon said. “The second one had about 110 vendors. I’m surprised how successful it has been. ... I thought

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it would take time for people to get used to it, to put it on their to-do list of events. I knew it was a great idea, I just thought it would take longer to grow.” Vendors sign us for booth space each month, then are allowed to sell anything legal — a combination of food, fruits and vegetables, rummage sale items, collectables, furniture, antiques, glassware and clothing. “It’s been a pleasant surprise how quickly it’s taken off,” Jerdon said. “It’s also fun to see all the different items there are each month.” Market Day flea market is held on the Saturday of the first full week of each month, now through October. “The vendors are mostly locals, and we now have a little bit of a reach, and expanding with each market,” Jerdon said. “The visitors are a lot of local people, but we’re now getting a lot of regional visitors as well. By polling people at our booth at the Market Day, and walking around talking to people, we are reaching withing a 50 mile radius of Mt. Vernon, with people coming from DuQuoin, McLeansboro, Salem and other areas. It’s still new, so I see us reaching further and further into the market.” A host of volunteers work to set up the Market Day, work during the event and help with clean up. Lowery has been instrumental and “tireless” in her work, Jerdon said. And, the group hopes the flea market will continue. “A long term plan is in development,” Jerdon said. “The city hired Market Ventures to do an assessment of space and the armory as well as the potential market. A preliminary report has been completed, and the next step will be for the report to be presented to the Branding Leadership TEam to decide how to move forward with a complete business plan, which would be a recommendation to the city council.” Meanwhile, Market Day will continue to expand and volunteers are still needed to be a part of the event. “There is a lot of excitement about it,” Jerdon said. “We’re hearing a lot of people saying its a great thing to have in Mt. Vernon. We want everyone to be a part of it.”

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Working together to

Stuff the Bus Photos and story by Tesa Glass

It’s time for school, registration is completed and students are ready to board the school bus and hit the books. But, not every child has the new shiny backpack and school supplies. That takes some of the fun and excitement out of those first days of classes. Thanks to the United Way of South Central Illinois and the entire Jefferson County Community, every child in need can have school supplies to start the year. “This is the sixth year we are doing Stuff the Bus,” said Rhonda McCowen, executive director of United Way of South Central Illinois. “The first year was my first year as director and we thought it was a necessary program. We went out on a limb and started the program.” Stuff the Bus allows members of

the community to make donations of school supplies which are then distributed to students at all 16 grade and high schools within the county. The first year of the program,

McCowen said only Mt. Vernon City Schools District 80 was part of the program, with 800 students receiving backpacks of school supplies. Now, six year later, all 16 grade school

districts, the Southern 30 Adolescent Center and four high schools in Jefferson County participate with 3,000 backpacks of supplies distributed. “This is a program everybody can do and be a part of,” McCowen said. “If you donate just a 10 cent pencil, we can put that pencil into the hands of a child and teach them to write.” Dr. Kevin Settle, a United Way volunteer and retired superintendent of District 80, was the leader of the district when the program started. “I thought Stuff the Bus was a great idea,” Settle said. “I saw first hand when students came to school without proper supplies to begin with, they didn’t feel as positive, didn’t have the same enthusiasm vwhen they saw the other


kids in their class had new supplies.” Settle said prior to the United Way effort, schools and teachers tried to fill the need. “Schools took on a lot of responsibility for trying to provide supplies, but teachers really did it,” Settle said. “Teachers would pay for supplies for students out of their own pockets.” Stuff the Bus has met a need in the community. “Now, the students get the whole backpack full of supplies and they can feel good about going to school,” Settle said. “The community support for the program has been wonderful to see. You see the same volunteers come out for Stuff the Bus year after year, and you can see how people value it.” Teacher and volunteer Susan

Staples said the supplies help not only the students, but families. “Stuff the Bus helps families that have limited means to have supplies on hand for students,” Staples said.

“At the end of the school year, if there are still supplies left, we can give them to students who move into the district, sometimes in

emergency circumstances.” Cheryl Settle said when working with kids, it’s easy to see the need. “There are lots of organizations who work with kids,” said Settle, who is also an educator. “I’ve been working with United Way, and I’m on the YMCA Board, and the Chamber, and you see the need out there. This is something you can really do to help kids and address a need.” The Stuff the Bus campaign will continue until school starts later this month. Anyone who would like to donate supplies or funds to be used to purchase school supplies may contact the United Way of South Central Illinois at 242-8000.


A volunteer Photos and story by Rick Hayes If

Crossroads Community Hospital volunteer Margaret Roderick was unable to celebrate her 100th birthday with her friends and colleagues due to being in Florida for the winter months. Hospital officials — specifically Angela Schrum, coordinator of Senior Circle — made sure the occasion was marked with pomp and circumstance recently when a big party was held in the hospital’s conference/community room. “Margaret turned 100 while she away for the winter. We wanted to have a party for being a wonderful 100 and still giving back to people and volunteering while she can,” Schrum said.

Roderick said it once, she repeated it several times during the party, “I don’t deserve this.” She added, “I don’t know why I’m still here. My four sisters are all gone. I at the same food and lived under the same roof.” Roderick is hopeful her two brothers — ages 93 and 89 — can also make it to the century mark. Roderick turned 100 on Feb. 15 — and her late husband, Jim, was born

on the same day a year earlier. Jim, who could be seen in the community engineering the popular Lions train, died 10 years ago. Roderick has two grown daughters, Carol Hicks of Mt. Vernon and Sandra Austin of Tucson, Ariz. She also had two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Several members joined Roderick at her party to extend well-wishes and enjoyed refreshments. One by one, during a roundtable salute, auxiliary members praised Roderick for her work, and presented her with birthday wishes. Roderick has volunteered at Crossroads the past 14 years as a member of the Ladies Auxilary. “I delivered menus and delivered newspapers to the rooms,” Roderick said, adding as a volunteer she performed whatever duties are necessary. She volunteers at least one day a week at the hospital. She also remains active at First United Methodist Church


for the ages Mayor Mary Jane Chesley joined the party too, presenting Roderick with a centurion award. “It’s great to honor and recognize you for your years of service,” Chesley said. “You have set an example of volunteerism for other people to follow.”

in Mt. Vernon, helping with funeral dinners. “She goes to church every Sunday and she is out here (hospital) every Thursday. She goes anytime anybody wants to go,” Hicks said, adding her mother recently renewed her driver’s license. “All I could do is flunk,” Roderick told family members. In her civilian life, Roderick was a teacher. She taught for 10 years in Iowa, including a one-room schoolhouse, and 13 years in the Mt. Vernon grade school system. One person added, “And another 20 years substituting.” Principal J.L. Buford originally asked Roderick to teach third grade, but since there were small children at home, she told Buford she could only teach half time, leading to the assignment as kindergarten teacher at Franklin School. She retired in 1985.


A Passion for People and Music Photos and story by Travis Morse

Dr. David Walters has always loved performing music, but his past-time has taken on special significance during the last several months.

Walters was diagnosed with Stage IV gastro-esophageal cancer in September 2012, at which time he stepped down from his medical practice at Heartland

Women’s Healthcare. Walters had practiced medicine in Mt. Vernon for about 18 years, and has delivered over 5,000 babies. He only recently has come back to work at his practice, an answer to the prayers of many in the community. Now, Walters devotes more of his time to singing and playing guitar, an activity he finds richly rewarding. On June 28, he played a


successful acoustic set at GenKota Winery, performing songs by James Taylor, The Rolling Stones and others. “I’ve always played, but I’ve gradually gotten more serious about it,” Walters said. “I enjoy music and performance.” Walters, 59, has played music since his college days, but didn’t start performing publicly until he moved to Mt. Vernon in 1995. Since then, he has played on his own, with friends, and with

the band Associated Sound. He has also performed on stage at the Sesser Opera House. “I’m like a novelty act,” Walters joked. “I was a singing gynecologist. Now, I’m a terminally ill singing gynecologist.” Medicine is actually Walters’ second career. He moved from England to California in 1976, with a master’s degree in chemistry. He then worked for 11 years in the

manufacturing industry, in the areas of production management, manufacturing engineering and quality control. He left the industry in 1987, however, to attend medical school. Medicine had always appealed to him and he decided to pursue it after some of his family members became sick. Another reason for his decision was the fact that manufacturing in the U.S. was on the decline in the 1980s, as


there was a “massive amount of outsourcing going on,” Walters said. “I had always been interested (in medicine). Then I got more interested in it,” Walters said. “That was a great decision. I’m glad I did it.” Leaving his medical practice last September was difficult, but the cancer made it impossible to keep going. Walters had a large tumor in his left shoulder blade that limited the use of his left arm. Chemotherapy treatments also made him very sick. Walters said November and December of 2012 were when he felt the worst, but that he is doing much better now. “I am better than I expected to be at this point,” Walters said. The average lifespan of someone diagnosed with Stage IV cancer is 11 months from the time of their diagnosis, Walters said. About half of those diagnosed live longer than that and half live shorter. About 2 percent survive for five years, Walters said. “It’s not an automatic three strikes and you’re out, but the prospects are not favorable,” Walters said. After 18 years of practicing medicine in Mt. Vernon, Walters has earned the respect and admiration of his coworkers and the community. In May, the “Hope 4 DW”

5K Run/Walk was held to raise money for the effort to name the C-section suite at Good Samaritan Regional Health Center after Walters. The run drew over 400 participants and raised more than $12,500. Organizers hope to hold the event again next year. ���It’s just a way for Heartland Women’s Healthcare, Good Samaritan Hospital, and the community to honor Dr. Walters,” said Ashton Stephens, marketing

director for Heartland Women’s Healthcare. “He’s done so many deliveries in Mt. Vernon and the surrounding communities.” Having the C-section suite named after him is a great honor for Walters. It’s also a fitting tribute considering Walters’ long-time advocacy of the procedure. In 1997, Walters wrote a book arguing that C-sections should be offered as a primary care option for women. At the time, this was a

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controversial position since there was a push in the medical field to reduce the number of C-sections being performed, Walters said. “There’s no evidence of any disadvantage of the C-section,” Walters said. “That was a very radical position at the time.” But time has proven Walters correct since now C-sections are more widely accepted, he said. In the wake of the book’s publication, Walters was interviewed on PBS and made a number of other media appearances. “It’s one of those 15 minutes of fame issues,” Walters said. “That was kind of a fun moment for me. It’s very vindicating.” As for the future, Walters said he will continue to pursue music as his chief passion. And even with the Stage IV cancer diagnosis, Walters is keeping positive. It helps, he said, that his family, friends, colleagues, and the community have thrown their support behind him. “Most days, I feel pretty positive. Most days, I manage to have a fairly positive attitude,” Walters said. “There’s been a lot of kindness and outpouring from the community. (It’s) very uplifting.” Walters lives in Mt. Vernon with his wife, Donna. He also has four grown children.

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Creating a living legacy

Photos and story by Paul Hines

Matt Miller is reminded of his legacy every summer. Each time Miller arrives to the baseball park, he travels under the entrance sign that reads Bob Strothman Baseball Park. It’s home to three baseball fields and the hub of the summer Jefferson County Sports Authority baseball league. The ball fields play a huge role in his life during the summer. He simply just enjoys being around the action. Miller has been closely involved with the league over the past decade, in which his son Brady has grown up playing on the fields. His wife, Kenna, is the granddaughter of Bob Strothman. “It feels good to know that she understands and now I’m helping out like her parents helped out and her grandpa helped out.” Brady represents the third generation of the family to play at the fields. Miller was originally recruited by former league director Denny Clark to coached a 9u team

in the Mustang division. In recent years, Miller’s role in the league has expanded. He is co-director and helps director Mike Schubert and schedules umpires for the various league games throughout the summer. It means sometimes he has to fill in if there is a conflict or cancellation. Miller took the field on a Monday night in the middle of July

to umpire a travel game matchup. Between innings he roamed around the field, chatting with the Mt. Vernon coaches and players. “It’s just very enjoyable to see those kids grow,” Miller said. “I’ve coach most all these boys since they’ve been 5 years old. One year they’re on your team, the next year you’re playing against them and all that.”


JCSA offers six different baseball league. The youngest is Shetland (ages 5-6). The division increase until the 15-16 age Colt league, which is offered depending on demand. The other divisions are” Pinto (ages 7-8), Bronco (11-12) and Pony (13-14). Even though Miller’s son has moved into one of the oldest age division, he still plans on staying involved with the league. He believes having someone involved who doesn’t have a child playing can provide valuable insights and direction. “I’ll still be out here

helping out, but I don’t think I’ll have as many irons I the fire,” Miller said. “I think it’s good to have younger parents to help out that are coming up to progress, but I think it’s also good to have

someone who doesn’t have an iron in the fire.” Miller started coaching his son at the age of 5 in the Shetland league. He’s 13 now. Miller’s approach to coaching is a mix of fun and competition.


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“All the boys that I’ve coached know that I’m the most goofy coach,” Miller said. “We have fun and all that, but I’m probably the most competitive coach too. I try to win, but I try to have fun in the aspect of it too. “I just try to make it fun, enjoyable because you still want kids to come back and still play.” One of the biggest challenges of August 2013


the season cam during Memorial Day weekend. The league held a multi-day tournament that drew 42 teams spanning southern Illinois from Teutopolis to Metropolis. In its third year, the tournament has grown so popular that about a dozen teams were turned away this year. With so many team playing throughout the holiday weekend, several sites across Mt. Vernon were needed to accommodate all the games. Miller along with league coach and umpire Brian Chelf sat at the table behind the fields’ concession stand platting and August 2013

scheduling the necessary plans. “That was really stressful, getting the umps lined out,” Miller said. As the month of July wound down so did the JCSA baseball league action. Through the middle of the month most of the team still playing were the league’s travel squads. Miller said there’s a purpose behind the scheduling structure. The league organizers want the children to have a portion of the summer that isn’t sports related, if they choose. “My boy’s done playing already,” Miller said. “His last travel game was last weekend and

now he still has July and half of August to do what he wants to do instead of being baseball all summer until school starts. “They can still be a kid yet.”

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Mt Vernon Now - August 2013