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Grundy County’s Own Magazine


May 2013

New & improved Morris’ city pool ready for summertime activities

Also inside: Three Rivers soccer club Martial Arts for the mind and body


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Local History

Downtown Mazon Mazon was a thriving little town, even back in the day. (photo submitted by Kirk Houchin)

Inside this



Kickin’ it into gear

Three Rivers keeps growing in players, coaches, success...............................................

New and improved

Morris’ city pool ready for summertime activities..............................................


Fitness for the mind and body

Martial Arts options for young and older.............................

General Manager: Robert Wall Managing Editor: Patrick Graziano Herald Writer: Christina Chapman-Van Yperen

Grundy County’s Own Magazine



Herald Correspondents: Jeanne Millsap and Austin Hough Ad Director: Rich Ponulak Art Direction and Design: Rob Szekely Ad Sales Representatives: Gina Ringer & Kelly Limbach

1804 N. Division St., Morris, Illinois 60450 815.942.3221

GO magazine is published four times a year by the Morris Daily Herald, 1804 N. Division St., Morris IL 60450. The entire contents may not be reproduced in any manner, either in whole or part, without written permission of the publisher. Advertisements appearing in GO magazine are not endorsements by the publisher. The publisher is not responsible or liable for errors or omissions in any advertisement beyond the paid piece of that advertisement. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission from the publisher. © 2013, Morris Publishing Company.

May 2013 • GO magazine 3



& improved Morris‘ city pool ready for summertime activities

Morris’ city pool has been a place for families to cool off and make life-long memories for almost a hundred years. This summer will be its first full season where swimmers can enjoy its $2 million worth of renovations. “It’s a facility like this that makes up a town and a community,” said Jim Hitchcock, one of the pool’s three managers. George Dare and Tracy Steffes are also managers. “We thank the community for their patience and their patience will be rewarded with this great aquatic center,” he said. “It’s one of the finest in the area.” The pool started undergoing renovations in 2011. The work included a new liner, returning 4 GO magazine • May 2013

Story by Christina Chapman-Van Yperen Herald Writer

diving boards to the pool, removing the baby pool and expanding the pool to the south for a zerodepth entry, installing a new filtration system, and adding a splash park for young children, as well as a water slide. The pool is within the city’s TIF district, so it was paid for in cash with TIF money, said Mayor Richard Kopczick. The city took on no debt to upgrade the pool. A TIF district freezes the assessed value of properties in the district. Any tax money from increases in value of those properties then goes into a special fund to be used to improve properties in the district. Kopczick said this project was an originally planned project when the TIF district was

established in 1986, but other, more-important city projects had to be completed first. “The decaying of the old pool got to the point where it wasn’t worth trying to maintain the old pool, so it was time to put back into it for the community,” said Kopczick. Because the pool is located in a flood plain, it could only be redone, not completely rebuilt. “It will allow for a whole new summer option for kids in the community,” said Kopczick. “I hope that fantastic memories are created there this year, and for years to come at the pool.” The mayor said he spent many summers at the pool when he was a child and looks forward to bringing his grandchildren there in the years to come.

The renovated Morris City Pool will include a zero-depth entry and an enlarged deck space for more lounge chairs - left. (Herald Photo by Liz Allen). The Morris Pool during construction. -right and below. (Photos submitted).

ACTIVITIES FOR ALL The pool’s new design caters to all ages with a splash park for toddlers too small to swim to lap lanes for the adult swimming enthusiasts. “It was made with the foresight to be able to offer aquatic activities for everyone,” said Hitchcock. The two new diving boards are 1 meter and 3 meters. The first weekend the pool was open last summer, the lines for the board were long for the 1 meter. It only took one brave diver to take on the 3-meter before the line started for the larger board, said Hitchcock. The plunge area for the diving portion of the pool is about 12 feet. During the brief time the pool was open last year, it maxed its capacity one day with 400 people at the pool, said Hitchcock. The pool also features larger deck space for sun tanners and those taking a break from the water, as well as concessions. The pool is handicapped accessible, including the use of an auto lift. Another popular addition is the 20-foot plus slide, which actually features three slides at different levels, as well as the eight swim lanes. The pool will open for the season May 25, and will stay open as long as the weather and the pool water temperature permits. Monday through Sunday, the pool will have open swim from noon to 4:30 p.m. It will be closed until 6 p.m. to allow for adult swim. The pool will then reopen from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. On Tuesday and Saturday nights, it will reopen from 6 to 8 p.m. so that, after 8 p.m., it can be used for private parties. The cost to use the pool has not changed. For city residents, it will still be $1 for kids and $3 for adults. For non-residents, it is $2 for kids and $5 for adults. People can also sign up for a 20 swims pass for $20. This cannot be used on holidays or Sundays. New this year is that this pass will require a photo to be taken, said Hitchcock. Also new this year is the offering of a season pass. For a year’s pass, an individual can purchase one for $50. A family pass can also be purchased for $150. The pool passes will be available to purchase at the pool, 300 Northern Ave., in Goold Park, in May. ADDED OFFERINGS With the new renovations comes new programs for swimmers of all ages. The city pool will now offer at least two, possibly three, swimming

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(815) 476-2600 • May 2013 • GO magazine 5

Tyler Semlar, 5 (left), and Ezequiel Villanueva, 7, both of Morris, play basketball in the Morris City Pool. Plans are in the works to expand the pool deck for more lounge chair space, remove the baby pool to create one larger pool with a zero-depth entry and install diving boards, a splash pad and possibly a water slide. (Herald Photo by Liz Allen).

lesson sessions this summer given by the American Red Cross. The instructor will again be Joanne Engle The lessons are for people ages 4 to 15 years old. Adult lessons could be offered if there is enough demand, said Hitchcock. The first session of lessons will be offered from June 17 to June 28. The second will be July 8 to July 19. If there is demand for a third session, it will be in August. Lessons are in the morning, but specific times have not been set yet. The lessons are $50 for residents and $75 for non-residents. For children younger than 4 years old there will be “Mommy and Me” lessons, which are

open to mothers and fathers, said Hitchcock, who want to get their children comfortable with the water. The Red Cross is also going to give lifeguard lessons in the beginning of the season. A “Junior Guard” program will also be available for 11- to 15-year-olds. This program allows lifeguards to teach the kids how to support the guards by looking out for unsafe situations in the pool and to teach them to be observant of those in the water. “It will prepare our next set of guards,” he said. Water aerobics will also be offered. The managers are also working on getting scuba

diving lessons offered at the pool. Hitchcock said the staff is also excited to start offering private parties at the pool. The price for parties are still being worked out, but rental will be available during the day and night. From 11 a.m. to noon the pool can be rented privately and a party could continue on into open swim that starts at noon. Rental will be available at night as well. For more information on the pool and its programs call (815) 942-2919 or visit morrispool. or through the city of Morris website at n

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6 GO magazine • May 2013

Local Organizations


it into gear

Three Rivers keeps growing in players, coaches, success Six years ago, the Three Rivers Soccer Club only had one team. With the program only being established in 2002, though, the growing pains were imminent. It looked like the league formed by Ascension and Colleen Vela was not going to succeed. In a matter of six short years, however, the program has risen up as one of the elite soccer clubs in the state, fielding 14 teams ranging from eight years old to high school level players. This has not only led to more players, but more coaches as well, as the club has gone from two to five coaches in a matter of three years.  “This is definitely a club that has taken off

Story by Austin Hough Herald Correspondent

out here,” first year head coach Jeff Lundeen said. “Frazer Galt has done a fantastic job of promoting it and the parents have been a huge support. We’re starting to expect nothing but the best.” One of the key reasons to the growth has been the coaching staff, led by the fore-mentioned Frazer Galt, who moved from Scotland to be with his wife 10 years ago. Galt has brought a plethora of knowledge about the game to the club, which has benefited everyone involved. “Just getting to work with him on a daily basis is incredible,” Derek McMullen, who has been a coach at Three Rivers for three years now, said. “Just being able to share ideas on how to teach

the kids is special. Plus it’s always nice to get a different perspective of the game from him since he grew up in a totally different area when it comes to soccer. It helps my coaching technique and the way I coach my players, and their results show.” “He’s a ton of fun as a person and just a very knowledgeable coach,” Lundeen added about Galt. “The way the kids have taken to him is incredible. It seems that they’re always taking away something from each practice and his love of the game.” Despite it’s insane growth over the past six years, the club still remains a very close-knit community. All the coaches know all the players and teams, which allows them to step in easily if a coach is

May 2013 • GO magazine 7

gone or sick. “The size of the club is perfect,” rookie head coach Mike O’Shea said. “Obviously we’d love to grow, but the fact that we’re small enough to where we know all the kids is fantastic.” “The philosophy of the club is great,” McMullen added. “The great people I’ve been able to work with has added to it as well. They’re some quality guys.” One of the reasons why all the coaches know all the players is that many of them coach numerous teams. With there only being five coaches for 14 teams, many coaches lead three or four teams during one season. This is just all a part of the family atmosphere that Three Rivers likes to use. “I don’t know how they do it,” O’Shea said, who coaches only his son’s team. “It’s a lot of work trying to manage multiple teams.”  “It has been excellent to see more coaches wanting to get involved with our club,” Galt added. “I feel the three guys we added,  Jeff Lundeen, Humam Talhami and Mike O’shea have all done a great job with player development and I think all three know the game pretty well and are always open to learning  new ideas and improving their coaching skills. They are very easy to work with and this is what Three Rivers Soccer Club is looking for.” The club has grown so fast, in fact, that the coaches actually were able to attend an

Soccer Club Events


May 28th 5.00 -6.15PM - U15 BOYS/GIRLS 6.30-7.45PM  - U16-U18 BOYS AND GIRLS  May 29th 5.15 -6.30PM  - U15 BOYS/GIRLS 6.45-8.00PM  - U16-U18 BOYS AND GIRLS  June 3rd 5.00PM -6.15 - U8 & U9  6.30PM-7.30 - U10 & U11  June 4th 5.00-6.15PM - U12 & U13  6.30 -7.30PM - U14 June 5th June 6th  5.00PM -6.15 - U8 & U9  5.00-6.15PM - U12 & U13  6.30PM-7.30 - U10 & U11 6.30 -7.30PM - U14

Adidas Cul Ver training session over the winter. Here they were shown all sorts of skills about the game, just picking up useful knowledge they can use for their teams. “The program basically teaches foot skills, ball mastery, things like that,” Lundeen said. “It was a very neat thing and it’s something the club is trying to promote. It’s a great way to educate the kids and Cul Ver is a great place to start for them.” Although they are very happy where they are at as a club,Three Rivers wants to expand even more, whether it be more coaches or players. “We’re hoping to grow a lot in the next few years. That’d be amazing,” O’Shea said. “Five years from know we’d love to have every level of play filled. Right now we play levels where we have the kids. It’d be great to have two teams at every level.” Even with growth expected, though, the club doesn’t want to get “too big for it’s britches.”  “We think if we’re going to be a big club that’s going to compete with other clubs in the area, we need to show not only development in the players but the coaches as well,” Lundeen said. “The board has stepped up and said it’s something they’re willing to do, so I hope we can run with it. The possibilities are endless with this club.” n

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Fitness for the mind and body

Martial Arts options for young and older

Story by Jeanne Millsap | Herald Correspondent Ed Perdomo, of Morris, grew up in a pretty classes. He’s now a blue belt. threatening area of Aurora and knew from “I just love the art itself,” Rodriguez said. the time he was young that he needed a way to “It keeps me in shape. I love the group, too. It’s protect himself. very fun. It’s a great time coming here.” “I lived in a tough neighborhood,” he said, “that High school junior Shelby Berard began classes had a lot of gang kids. We were always fighting with her father almost three years ago. It was his because I didn’t want to be in the gangs.” idea, she said, and they’ve stuck with it ever since. He found the perfect solution by joining a “It seemed like a really fun thing to do,” she said. martial arts class, and he has stayed involved in “I love the technique we do. It’s so much fun.” the sport for the past 38 years, first buying and Morris seems to have more than its share running his old school, then later bringing it of martial arts studios, with several new ones and here to Morris. He is a fifth degree black some that have been in town for a few years. belt and teaches hapkido at his Illinois Avenue In addition to Perdomo’s studio, there is the Iron dojo, which is what martial arts studios are called. Panda Karate School, the Okinawan Martial His wife, Kim, and their two children also Arts Academy, the Seale Academy of Martial Arts, take classes there. Shorei-Goju “It’s a great physical Inc., Chang workout,” Perdomo Lee’s Taekwon said. “I’m in my 50’s, Martial Arts, and I’ve stayed in shape and Ultimate through it.” Karate at Perdomo said people Mueller’s School of all ages can benefit of Dance. from participating in Scott martial arts. The style Lawrence, of the he teaches does have Iron Panda direct contact and throws Karate School, Morris student Shelby Berard shows teacher achieved his black and is probably not the Ed Perdomo her kicking technique at the Hapkido right choice for those belt in 1992 Institute of Self Defense in Morris (photo submitted). who have serious joint and has been disabilities. teaching ever since. He thanks his mother for “But there is a martial art for everyone,” he getting him interested when he was only 18, but said, such as Tai chi or yoga, which aren’t fighting after that, he didn’t need much encouragement. or contact martial arts. He found he loved it. Johnny Rodriguez has been one of Perdomo’s “Once I started, I didn’t feel right if I didn’t students for four years. He got interested go both nights a week,” Lawrence said. “It turned after enrolling his daughter and watching the into an actual passion. Then slowly, I started work10 GO magazine • May 2013

ing with kids. . . I feel that if I can save one or two kids from a life of not having confidence or a bullying situation, it will be worth it.” Lawrence teaches karate to kids and adults. Karate, he said, differs from other martial arts in that it places emphasis on strengthening the hands and feet. No weapons are used in his classes. When the hands and feet are properly strengthened, he said, it should only take one blow. Two of its principles, he said, are to do right to the next person and to pass on what you have learned to someone else. Gary Gillette, of the Okinawan Martial Arts Academy on Liberty Street, teaches karate. He is a fifth degree black belt and said students learn discipline, commitment, and sacrifice. “It takes six to seven years to get a black belt here,” he said. “You have to work for it. When I promote them to a certain rank, I feel they can really hold their own.” His school runs traditional forms of karate and does allow controlled contact and use of such weapons as nunchaku, kama, sai, tonfa, eiku, and bostaff. Karate keeps you in shape, Gillette said, and teaches hand and eye coordination. Kids do better in school, he said, and some of his students who were diagnosed with an attention problem have significantly increased their focus. His students have formed a close family, too, he said. They even got together and remodeled his dojo for his birthday last month while he was out of state. Dustin Seale, of The Seale Academy of Martial Arts on Liberty Street, was involved in martial arts, baseball, track, and other sports as a kid growing up in Channahon, but he stuck with martial arts even after four years in the U.S. Marine Corp

serving in Desert Storm then returning for a career in the Morris Police Department. “Martial arts was the only thing that has helped me in every aspect of my life,” he said. “It gives you that determination and that confidence and teaches you that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.” Seale said he first learned that when he entered boot camp weighing 125 pounds. “Martial arts gave me the mental fortitude to move forward every time against bigger guys,” he said. Seale is now a ninth degree black belt in ryukyu kempo karate, which is full-contact. He teaches jujitsu (where he’s a seventh degree black belt), karate (ninth degree), kickboxing and kung fu (fifth degree). He is also in high demand internationally for his teaching skills and regularly holds seminars and classes in Europe. He has been inducted into the Hall of Fame three times. His Morris school has been open for one year. He has all kinds and levels of students, including his European students who needed a place to train while they were in the U.S. Chang Lee’s studio, Chang Lee’s Taekwon Martial Arts, on Commercial Drive, is also new to Morris, setting up just last fall. He has operated a dojo in Batavia for 20 years. He teaches the Olympic style of tae kwon do that uses weapons such an nunchaku and swords and also teaches gymnastics and cardio kickboxing. Martial arts teaches leadership, he said, and how to work together well. It increases body strength, flexibility, circulation, and muscle mass. It helps with weight loss, too, he said. “We work more as a group,” Lee said, “not as individuals. We work together as a team. . . It is good for the spirit. Everything is positive. There is achievement, goals, and honor. Our students do better in school and all areas of life.” Vince Balluff runs Shorei-Goju Inc., Okinawan karate, on Route 6. His student and one of the teachers, Erich Matthews, a first degree black belt, said he began studying martial arts several years ago for something to do. “I wanted to be more physically fit and wanted to be able to handle myself if I was out with my family,” Matthews said. “I recommend it for anybody. Anybody can do this. We don’t do full-contact training. We do punching, kicking,

Scott Lawrence teaches a class at the Iron Panda Karate School.

and a few weapons training. This is a selfdefense class.” Matthews said as he has grown to a teaching position, he now enjoys seeing others grow in the sport as he has. “It’s nice to see some of the kids developing real power and real skills,” he said. “They get faster and more flexible and more coordinated.”

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Scott Lawrence, of the Iron Panda, said Morris is a good place for anyone to study martial arts. Studio owners are not competitive with each other, either, he added. “What’s cool is that we all know each other,” he said, “and it’s not a competition between us. We work together. It’s a courtesy we actually have with each other.” n

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Go Magazine 05-2013  

Grundy County's Own Magazine

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