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The year that was 2016 was a year of highs and lows all around the world. Iroquois County was not immune to the many ups and downs of every day life. We take a look back at some of the stories that made headlines during the year. These stories show the strength of our county and the fortitude of our community. The stories appear here as they did the first time they were published.

Governor visits Watseka By CARLA WATERS, Managing Editor Iroquois County is now part of a disaster proclamation from the state. And Gov. Bruce Rauner came to Watseka yesterday morning to make the announcement. Rauner visited with Watseka Mayor Bob Harwood and other dignitaries — first at city hall and then at VIPS Restaurant. Illinois has been inundated with flooding in the past few weeks and 12 counties had already been a part of the disaster proclamation. Rauner said he added Iroquois and 10 other counties because the flooding damage is so widespread. Iroquois, along with Cass, Cumberland, Lawrence, Marion, Menard, Moultrie, Pike, Richland, Sangamon and Vermilion counties join Alexander, Calhoun, Christian, Clinton, Douglas, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Monroe, Morgan, Randolph and St. Clair counties on that proclamation. Watseka and other parts of Iroquois County have experienced the third flood this year. June and July floods damaged many homes in the area. That flood, coupled with the 2008 flood, has wreaked havoc on homeowners and businesses in the area. Rauner said he finds it heartwarming to see the amount of people who will help their neighbors in these time of crises. “The people of Illinois are resilient,” he said. The disaster proclamation makes

available several state resources, he said, some of which will help the governmental agencies that have had expenses related to flood cleanup, or individuals who have had personal losses related to the flood. The proclamation also opens up the path for federal dollars to be requested. The state must make that request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The assessment teams have been, and will continue to be, in the affected areas. The Individual Assistance Program provides grants and low interest loans to people. The Public Assistance Program provides reimbursement to local governments up to 75 percent of eligible costs. One important factor, Rauner said, is for people to gather the information needed regarding their specific situations. According to information provided “While there is no defined damage amount for Individual Assistance, the state’s past experience with requests for federal assistance shows that it takes hundreds of homes with severe damage to qualify for the program. The Public Assistance program does have a populationbased threshold, which for Illinois is $18.1 million statewide. Once the state meets the statewide threshold, individual counties would also have to meet a threshold of $3.56 times the county’s population.” Rauner also cautioned people to be mindful of not driving through water “even if it doesn’t look deep.” He said there have been 10 people

Jan. 6, 2016

Photo by Carla Waters Watseka Mayor Bob Harwood shows Gov. Bruce Rauner, State Rep. Tom Bennett and Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director James K. Joseph photos of flood areas in Watseka. The governor visited Watseka yesterday. in Illinois who lost their lives during this most recent flooding. Rauner also took time to thank the many first responders and public employees who worked around the clock during the flooding to help people in need. “God bless you,” he said. Harwood provided pictures of some of the flood areas in Watseka for the governor to look at. He then accompanied Rauner to VIPS, where Rauner was able to meet with restaurant owner Peter Kokinias, who told the governor some of the trials he’s faced with the flooding. Kokinias said he has owned the restaurant for 14 years, having weathered the floods of 2008 and beyond. He has learned to keep sand bags at his restaurant to put into use right away if the flooding occurs. He had 1,600 sand bags this time,

he said, and worked with a hauler to get sand brought in. Chef Freddy Santos and Jim and Sue Seabert and family helped tremendously, Kokinias said. “They found us volunteers,” he said of the Seaberts. All worked to fill the sandbags and get them up around the building. He said the restaurant was opened shortly after the flooding this time. But the flooding takes its toll, he said. “It’s going to take a year to catch up,” he said. There is an impact on the business. However, Kokinias said he is thankful for the customers. “They are great,” he said. “We appreciate any business we get and thanks to all of the faithful regulars who patronize us throughout the years. Our customers are great.”

Jan. 28, 2016

‘Welcome...’ Gilman woman loves people, people love her By WENDY DAVIS, Reporter Not much may be known of Mary Jane Spiegeler but a whole lot of people have come across her, and she’s said “Hi”. “She takes the time to find out about others, asks ‘how was the surgery’, things like that, but no one knows about her,” said her great-niece, Angi Alvarez. “I’ve got the gift of gab,” said Spiegeler, who most would recognize as a Watseka Walmart greeter. “That’s my downfall, I’m a talker.” She also is able to find humor in anything. But what’s not known about her, she said, is “I’m an extrovert but I’m an introvert, too.” What else isn’t known about her? “I’m very dull. I have a great family.” She used to be a lay leader at the Methodist church in Gilman, and she sang in the choir. She said she loves to sing. She’s part of the Sweet Adelines group in Paxton and has been singing lead with the Sweet Adelines since

1990. She’s worked as a beautician, various factories including TRW, T&D, and Littelfuse, and as a soda jerk when she was younger. What are some of her favorites? Her favorite animal is a cat. Her favorite color is purple “and red, green and blue”. Her favorite food is everything “but pepperoni pizza. It doesn’t like me”. Alvarez said she makes the best cranberry sauce. Her favorite drink is sweet tea. “Oh, I love a black cow: Dad’s Old Fashion root beer and vanilla ice cream.” Her favorite songs are “Amazing Grace” and “Purple People Eater”. She said she likes the song “Lonely Little Petunia in an Onion Patch”, which after she sang it ends with the petunia crying. She said she also would have to say Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra tunes because she grew up with them. Her favorite television show is the old Star Trek and the original Lone Ranger. Her favorite movie is Heaven Knows Mr. Alice and King of Kings with Jeffrey Hunter, which, she said, is the first movie where God’s face is shown. Her favorite sport is football

because “There’s so much action.” Spiegeler said her favorite team is the Steelers because of Mean Joe Green. “He always seemed so nice when they won. I bet he wasn’t that mean.” She loves jewelry and is a big lover of QVC. She crochets and, Alvarez said, every family member asks for a blanket for Christmas. Spiegeler said she’s trying to relearn how to sew. Her mother was left handed, but she was right handed and didn’t pick it up so easily. She also loves history. Her history is that she was

Photos contributed (Above) Mary Jane Spiegeler, Gilman, hugs her great-niece, Angi Alvarez. ((Left) Mary Jane Spiegeler will celebrate her 80th birthday Feb. 9. born and raised in Gilman. She said she remembers the three grade school houses on the block where the current grade school is. She said she hated being the shortest kid. She said it made

riding bikes hard. She doesn’t remember how tall she was at her peak but today she’s 4’7 1/2”. Her parents were immigrants: her mother English and her father Scotch/Irish,

and she’ll tell people that in her finest Irish brogue. She had one older sister, Bernice, with whom she was very close until her death. She was raised both Catholic and Methodist.

Please see WELCOME, page 2

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Iroquois County Year in Review

January, 2016

Feb. 9, 2016 Present at the designation of the Chief “Bud” Romine Training Facility at the Watseka Fire Department Banquet Saturday night were: back row, left to right: JR Clifton, Jeanine Clifton, Mark Clifton, Bob Romine; front row, left to right:  Lacy Clifton, Elaine Romine, Dave Romine, Leatha Romine, Ashley Clifton, Ben Clifton and Jeff Clifton (holding Ben). Photo by Carla Waters

Training facility named for former fire chief By CARLA WATERS, Managing Editor He was a dedicated firefighter, community member and family man. Saturday night the Watseka Fire Department and Watseka Area Firefighters Association honored former fire chief Walt “Bud” Romine by naming the training tower in his memory. Chief Romine passed away in September. Firefighter Kyle Schaumburg said about 10 years ago he and then-firefighter Josh Rader attended training with the MABAS 7 Fire Academy. The training was in Peotone, he said, and they soon realized that they wanted to have a training facility in Watseka. They worked hard to get a non-profit designation and start to raise funds. The group formed the Watseka Area Firefighters Association and began to work on raising funds. From that idea, Firefest was born, which is now well at-

tended and has been conducted for several years. The money was set aside to get the training towers started. “I think we are now on our third upgrade for it,” he said. The training tower is changed periodically on the inside so that the training can be changed for the firefighters, too. Firefighter Jason Howe said that Chief Romine, nicknamed “Smoke” had “and extensive history with the department.” He helped fight many fires, including the Father’s Day train explosion and fire at Crescent City in the 1970s. Howe said he was a cadet when he first became acquainted with Chief Romine. He said, “His father-in-law, Chief Ken Eastburn, introduced him to the department in 1958. Most of the department today wasn’t alive in 1958. Bud served the fire department and community from 1958 to 1993. In that time, he was a firefighter, a lieutenant, an assistant

chief and then chief. He was a lifetime member of the Eastern Illinois Mutual Aid Association. “There’s no doubt he influenced numerous firefighters through the years,” Howe said. Because of his dedication and service to the community, Howe said the training tower would be renamed the Chief “Bud” Romine Training Facility. The honor was accepted by his family, including wife Elaine, and children and grandchildren: JR Clifton, Jeanine Clifton, Mark Clifton, Bob Romine, Lacy Clifton, Dave Romine, Leatha Romine, Ashley Clifton, Ben Clifton, Jeff Clifton and Ben Clifton. The family thanked the fire department and said that Chief Romine would be very proud.

where they lived. She said she told them “We live in plain view”, meaning Plainview, Minn. Unfortunately, Bernie died from a blood clot to the heart just two months and two days after they had wed. She said he’s buried in a town called Welcome, Minn. She came back to Gilman to live with her mother; and her sister lived across the street. “When you’re down. She always has the right words to say,” Alvarez said. “She’s our rock. She’s always helped us when we were down,” said her niece, Kathy Ortega. “She’s not just an aunt to me; she’s like a mom,” said Alvarez. Both women recognized their aunt was used like a taxi service and she wouldn’t miss any activity her nieces and nephews were in. They also love that when she gives birthday gifts, she gives the person’s age in dollars and cent. Someone turns 38, she’ll give them $38.38. In fact, Spiegeler has a birthday coming up. She’ll turn

80 Feb. 9. She notes: “It’s the same day as President William Henry Harrison.” “I’ve never felt old,” Spiegeler said. “If you don’t like your age, reverse it.” But she also knows that right now if she were to reverse her age it’d be 97. She said she’s waiting until she can be 8 again. She said she gets a kick out of when someone asks a 100-year-old what their secret to their longevity is and the reply is “I don’t know. If I knew I’d bottle it and sell it.” But, again, finding humor in everything, she wears a shirt that reads “The older I get, the faster I was.” With this being a special birthday, her family is having an open house for her from 2-6 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Gilman Legion building. No gifts are asked for, just well wishers. “We just want people to come,” said Alvarez. And well wishers is what she often finds in people. “There are so many more nice people that mean or angry people,” she said.

Welcome From page 1

The best advice she got from her mother was to treat others like you want to be treated. The best advice she got from her father was whenever you feel down about yourself, there’s always someone else out there who’s worse off; and whenever you get in a fight, shut up, walk away, then come back to talk like a rational human being. The best advice she gives out is “Don’t take everything you hear as gospel”. It’s hard to heed advice when one is younger she said. “A kid knows it all, or I thought I did. You listen, but it kicks in later.” She’s glad to have the stories and old wives tells her parents relayed to her, she said. She married Bernie, a man whom she met through a newspaper ad, in 1969. He was a former Navyman in World War II and seed corn salesman from Fox Lake, Minn. After their wedding in Gilman, the couple honeymooned at Disney World in California. She remembers riding the roller coaster, and she’ll still ride them today, she said. After she moved to Minnesota, she said she was asked

As we embark upon a new year, area businesses renew their commitment to supporting our local economy. Their hard work, innovation and dedication make our community a better place to live, work and do business!

“134 Years”


“154 Years”




“128 Years”



“120 Years”


Since 1889

“119 Years”




815-432-2406 Since 1897


815-432-5227 Since 1870

“127 Years”


Member FDIC

Since 1883

“147 Years”

815-432-4544 Since 1898

815-432-5487 Since 1890

“113 Years”

LUDLOW CO-OP DANFORTH - 815-269-2390 LODA - 1-217-386-2412 LaHOGUE - 815-265-7211 PERDUEVILLE - 1-217-379-3714 PIPER CITY - 815-686-2297 BUCKLEY - 1-217-394-2331 LUDLOW - 1-800-500-CORN DELREY - 1-815-268-7217 PAXTON - 1-217-379-4366 GILMAN

Since 1904


January, 2016

Iroquois County Year in Review

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March 17 2016

Change in Beaverville ‘The community needs it’

Photo by Wendy Davis

By WENDY DAVIS, Reporter For 94 years the Curby family has helped in the construction of Beaverville. Yesterday, the Curby True Value Hardware Store changed hands letting

Kyle Anderson, Jim Curby, Vince Anderson and Cindy Anderson stand in front of Beaverville’s hardware store. The Andersons have purchased Curby True Value and are expecting to call it Beaverville Hardware Store.

the Anderson family take on where the Curbys have left off. “It’s a farming community. We’ve had the support of the people. We thank them for their support, and ask for their continued support,” said Jim Curby. Eddie and his wife Ovila migrated from Canada in the early ‘30s. It was during the Depression when Eddie helped start a general store across the street from where the hardware store is now, said Jim. He said Beaverville’s elevator and bank didn’t close, which helped the Curby family and the area. The general store was called B&Cs in 1932. At that time cash was not king; customers traded goods for what they needed, he said: chickens, eggs, and a bushel of corn was 16 cents. Sometime in the middle ‘30s the hardware store developed. It was called Beaverville Hardware and was at the present location, Jim said. He said at one time the store stocked appliances and had a propane business, as well. It was a true family business, he said, with Eddie’s sister, Sister Gabriel, working at the store before she became a nun. There were as many as 15 from the family taking care of the business through the years, he said. The hardware store became a True Value store in ’57, Jim said. He said Eddie was convinced by Bill Knapp, the former owner of the True Value store in Cissna Park, to be part of the retail store. Beaverville has True Value’s store number 145, and now there are 4,000-5,000 stores. In fact, Jim

said, the founder of True Value, John Cotter, came to Beaverville for the signing. Jim came back from the service in ’68 and had been doing his part for the family ever since. “It’s been a staple here,” said Vince Anderson. He said he heard the store could be up for sale months ago. He took the proposition to his wife, Cindy, and she gave the green light. “We have to keep it in operation. It’ll keep [four} jobs in town. We know it’s not a big money maker but it’s good for the community,” Vince said. “It’s always been there. We can’t let it close.” Today, there are still staples at the store. The flyer billboard in the foyer, the popcorn machine inside and the 50 cent greetings cards will stay, said Vince. “This was a must.” The big sellers at this True Value store have been hydraulic hoses and paint, said Jim. He said he thinks the store has offered the most drill bits in Iroquois County and batteries are sold up to 500 a year. There will be changes, Vince said. Not only will there be a store redesign but some items could be expanded; this includes the grocery section. Vince’s nephew Kyle Anderson will be the store’s manager. The phone number remains 815-435-2044. The new hours are 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday. Jim will find something to do with his time as he retires. He said he has a Corvette to drive and grandchildren to spend time with.

April 4 2016

WCHS grad part of Grammy-winning team By WENDY DAVIS, Reporter A Grammy award was given to one former Watseka man. Nathan Bramstedt now teaches at Metea Valley High School in Aurora and this year the school was considered in the top three high schools in the country, making it a 2016 Grammy Signature Schools Gold recipient. “It’s a great honor I share with the other nine teachers, as well as the staff, administration, students and parents,” he said. “We have a committed administration and parent support group, and a passionate staff.” Each year 20,000 schools apply for the Grammy award by writing essays and giving demographic information. This was the fourth year Metea Valley applied and this was the first year it made it to the next and final round, he said. It was narrowed to 100-150 schools, and concert recordings and more essays about the music programs were judged. “It was an honor to make it to the top 100.” Metea Valley was formed seven years ago in the Indian Prairie 204 school district. He said he is part of the original staff. It has a music department of nine teachers, with as many as 900 of the school’s 3,000 students who participate in music, Bramstedt said. A lot of the students who are in the program either study music in college or at least take part in a music organization in their later schooling. The teachers, he said, “all value

each other’s programs”. There are more than 20 music programs, including bands, orchestras, choirs, marching band, jazz band, steel pans, madrigal singers and jazz choir. “There’s a lot of different music opportunities. Some students don’t take a music class during the day, but they take a music class as an extra curricular after school. There’s collaboration between the teachers and the coaches in athletics. I welcome that.” The music groups are all noncompetitive, too, he said. “We believe music can exist for music sake.” Winning the award from Grammy, he said, “is tangible evidence the program is working”. He said the students are encouraged to take private lessons. “We perform advance music to push the students.” A lot of what the students are able to do goes back to what they learn early on as students. The K-12 district “really benefits in all levels. There’s great support for music in all grades. The high school teachers acknowledge and reflect the support of the teachers from elementary school and middle school,” he said. Bramstedt said he remembers studying music under Dr. Paul Clark, who was “a great mentor”. He also took lessons from Missy Cahoe and remembers singing at the Watseka Methodist Church. He said it was a “culture shock” for him having been from a small school, Watseka Community High


“101 Years”

An Independent Partner of Presence Health


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School, going on to teach at such a large school. “Art allows you to cross those boundaries of a small town to a large town. Music can make you feel comfortable in a large school.” He said Matea Valley’s auditorium seats 900. Because that’s the approximate number of music students, he said they’re unsure of where or how they’re going to arrange the Grammy presentation. The music department will be awarded $3,500 in an official ceremony later in the


“110 Years”


Photo contributed WCHS graduate Nathan Bramstedt is one of nine teachers at Metea Valley High School in Aurora who was awarded a Grammy Signature Schools Gold award for their music department. school year. He said the plan for the money is to use it to invite guest artists to meet and teach the students. More information about the Matea Valley’s music program as well as a sample of the music submitted to the Grammy organization can be found at Bramstedt is a 1997 WCHS graduate, and he was a member of the band and marching band, and he was a drum major. He is the son of Marti and Mark Bramstedt.

“108 Years”



FERTILIZER - 486-7377 IROQUOIS HOOPER 815-429-3349 486-7058 MARTINTON - 815-428-7513 Since 1908

“98 Years”


BEAVERVILLE, IL 815-435-2036

SHELDON, IL 815-429-3331

ASHKUM, IL 815-698-2346

GILMAN, IL 815-265-4707

WATSEKA, IL 815-432-4198

Since 1919

120 E. Walnut St., Watseka, IL 60970 815-432-2494

145 E. Fifth Ave. Clifton, IL 60927 815-694-2329

“87 Years”

Calvary Lutheran Church & Preschool

120 E. Hickory Street, Watseka 815-432-4136 Since 1930

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Iroquois County Year in Review

January, 2016

May 4 2016

Watseka grad honored for work By CARLA WATERS, Managing Editor A 1998 Watseka graduate has earned a prestigious award through Eastern Illinois University. Joseph King recently received the College of Education and Professional Studies Rising Star Award. Criteria of the award includes being with 10 years of graduation from EIU. King graduated from EIU with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2003 and earned his master’s degree in community counseling in 2006. Recipients must have “excelled in their field or in the career for which the CEPS degree prepared them,” according to the information provided. The awards ceremony was March 22 at EIU. King is a national board certified counselor and licensed clinical professional counselor. He worked for 17 years in a couple of human services capacities: first working with intellectually disabled persons and then working in mental health. His master’s degree work led him to work with Cumberland Associates, where he was a clinical case manager for adults. King then began working with LifeLinks, part of the Regional Behavioral Health Network in Mattoon. There he was supervisor of Screening Assessment and Support Services for Clark, Douglas, Edgar, Coles, Cumberland, Shelby and Moultrie counties. He also supervised all crisis services in Edgar, Clark and Coles counties.

King became executive director of Residential Services for The Pavilion Behavioral Health System in Champaign in 2012. There, the Residential Treatment Center works with children who have been diagnosed with several mental illnesses and need long-term treatment. The average length of stay there is one year. The program is licensed for children from 10-18. “Since he accepted the position as the director of Residential Services at The Pavilion, the program has earned the status of a Level One Facility from KING the state of Illinois,” reads the information provided. “During his tenure, Illinois has also certified The Pavilion as a Medicaid-approved site. While at The Pavilion, Joey has also implemented a travel basketball league for the students in the RTC program. This program serves as an incentive program for the students and helps to reinforce sportsmanship and teamwork with the kids.” King said he grew up around police officers. His father, Donnie, along with other family and friends, have been or are in law enforcement. His brother Josh “continues to investigate and bring justice to families in need,” he said. Sister Janelle King Jaskula has worked “for more than a decade as a correctional officer and my sister-in-law, Barb,

works in probation. My cousin and lifelong friend Travis works as a dispatcher. “My major law enforcement influences, who never missed a family party, holiday, or a celebration that involved me, were Richard Corke, Lafe Milar and Ronnie Harris.” Their dedication to the people in the community they serve and the sacrifices the law enforcement officers make was not lost on him. He said he has great respect for police officers and the work they do. “I feel very connected to law enforcement,” he said via telephone, noting that he also felt a different calling. Working in this capacity gives him a different opportunity to help people. In fact, The Pavilion’s motto is “Making a Difference in People’s Lives”, which King said is important to the work they do there. He was honored to get the award, noting that it was somewhat of a surprise, primarily because most things that are done in his line of work are confidential. “I’m in a field that is protected by a lot of HIPAA privacy laws so it’s not a job where there’s a lot of recognition,” he said. King and his wife Angie live in Charleston with their two children. In his spare time, King enjoys working with the Charleston Recreation Department, where he coaches T-ball, football and basketball.

June 20, 2016

‘I believe in the athletes’ Watseka officer supports Special Olympics athletes, event By CARLA WATERS, Managing Editor cwaters@ A Watseka police officer was one of many officers throughout the state who participated in the Special BOETTGER Olympics Torch Run and then volunteered at the games in Bloomington June 10-12. Watseka Patrolman William Boettger said it was a really rewarding experience. According to information provided by Illinois State Police “The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the single largest year-round fundraising event benefiting Special Olympics Illinois. The annual intrastate relay and its various fundraising projects have two goals: to raise money and to gain awareness for the athletes who participate in Special Olympics Illinois. The Law Enforcement Torch Run has raised more than $39 million over 30 years while increasing awareness of Special Olympics Illinois athletes and their accomplishments.” More than 4,000 athletes took part in the games at Illinois State University’s Redbird

Arena and a few other venues around Bloomington that weekend. Boettger said the torch goes all over the state and when it got to this area’s region area officers took over. The Flame of Hope was in this region for about 56 miles of the 1,500 miles it took for the total run. He ran a portion of the torch run and then drove a squad car for the final portion. He was one of the officers who ran with the torch as it entered the arena. Later at the event the Watseka squad car was noticed by area people , he said, who were happy to see Watseka represented. “It went very well,” he said. “It was a great time. “ Boettger said on the Friday of the games was the final leg of the torch run, when the torch arrived and the flame was lit that stayed lit throughout the games. “Then we welcomed the athletes,” he said. Officers, parents and friends lined the entrance area and the athletes ran in giving high gives. The officers and others gave the athletes lots of shout-outs and encouragement, he said. “The next day I put the squad car on display,” he said. There were about eight other departments with squad cars on display. The athletes and families who weren’t participating in the games at that moment were able to view the squad cars and talk to the officers. After that the officers walked around and talked with athletes and other people there. “We just met with them, talked with them, encouraged them,” he said. “We showed our support.” He said the reception from the athletes and the public toward the officers was very heartwarming. “It’s a different experience than the negative reception we get,” he said. “Everyone loved seeing us there.” Boettger said he has taken part in fundraising for Special Olympics before and

“85 Years”


815-889-4168 Since 1932

“58 Years”



Wedding Gown Cleaning & Alterations Since 1959

Photos contributed Watseka Officer William Boettger was one of the officers who accompanied the torch into the arena during opening ceremonies for Special Olympics in Bloomington recently. plans to continue to do so now that he is part of the Watseka Police Department. Special Olympics is an important organization for a number of reasons, he said. “I believe in the cause and I believe in the athletes,” he said. “These kids are giving it their all and asking for nothing.” That’s why the fundraising is so important, he said. The athletes don’t want anything but the opportunity to compete, he said. The fundraising helps to support the T-shirts, the medals and the other expenses for the event so that the kids don’t have to pay for anything. He plans to continue with fundraising efforts.

“80 Years”


202 S. Central St., Danforth, IL Family Owned & Operated

815-269-2010 Since 1937

“53 Years”

Rt. 1 & 24 East, WATSEKA, IL

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Boettger said he hopes to raise more awareness about law enforcement’s involvement in the event, too, just because he thinks many people don’t realize that it happens. The torch goes through a portion of Iroquois County on its way to Bloomington and several officers from around the area take part. He said the other thing he’d like people to do is be aware of the fundraisers going on and what those fundraisers support. In the end, he said, it all is for giving the kids a wonderful event and a great experience. That great experience then also rubs off on everyone else.

“59 Years” IROQUOIS RESIDENT HOME An Independent Partner of Presence Health



Janet Burton, DON Tom McCann, Administrator Since 1958

“52 Years”

STOCKLAND GRAIN CO., INC STOCKLAND, IL 815-682-4211 MILFORD, IL 815-889-4855 GREER, IL 815-984-4700


January, 2016

Iroquois County Year in Review

Page 5

July 8, 2016

Seeds planted to recovery By WENDY DAVIS, Reporter It took a while but everything has ended up being okay for the Chandler family of Cissna Park. Next week will mark a year after an accident, which included a fatality, and it’s taken as long for Jeremy and Staci Chandler, as well as their now four-year-old son, Spencer, to see the recovery. It’s all still very fresh with the family, Staci said. It was July 16, 2015, and Jeremy was driving with Spencer in the truck. They came upon an unmarked intersection and there was a collision which threw the two out of the truck. She said Jeremy was pinned under it, and, luckily, Spencer was not. Spencer spent just 15 days at Carle, eight in pediatric ICU and seven in the pediatric unit, with a skull fracture and fluid in his lungs as well as some bumps and bruises. Jeremy’s injuries were much more serious. “The truck landed on his chest.” Among the injuries were two broken shoulder blades, a spinal cord injury as a result of an L1 burst, bone fragments that caused spinal fluid to

leak and multiple rib fractures. She said he could feel nothing from the bellybutton down. At Carle there was back surgeries, with two days in the ICU, before he could be downgraded and sent to a basic room, and then sent to Provena for inpatient therapy. On Aug. 26 he was released from Provena to be sent to Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago to do more extensive rehab on his legs to them walking again, she said. By Oct. 26 he was not yet 99 percent, Staci said. He’s had to learn to do some things differently than he had before. He can’t run, she said, and he’ll have a permanent weight restriction of 50 pounds for the rest of his life. Outpatient care at Carle continued until March. “There’s no real lasting affects as of now,” she said. “He had one goal, to plant this spring in the tractor.” And, he got 50 acres of corn in the ground his first day back to work. There will also be hunting in the fall and playing baseball with Spencer. He was motivated to get to a normal way of life, she said. “I was pregnant at the time of the ac-

Jeremy and Spencer Chandler planted this spring. As Jeremy was recovering from last year’s accident, his number one goal was to get back into the tractor. cident. He knew he had to get better for his son and our unborn child. “He had his family motivating him. He knew he had to get better.” He, and the Chandlers, had friends and family support all through their difficult time. She said there was food and a tremendous outpouring of support, including a benefit put on by family and friends, Angie and Preston Blanck. “We want to thank everyone for anything they’ve done,” Staci said. All this was a major help for her, too, as she had to sit and her family hurt.

From the time right after the accident, “I was a walking zombie. I was dealing with things, trying to understand, figuring out how we were going to live our lives.” Once Spencer was stable, and then Jeremy was more stable, “I was more comfortable. I started to realize things were going to be okay. “We did what we had to do.” Today, everyone, especially Jeremy, she said, appreciates life a little more and they work to not just give back to the community which was there for them, but to also pay a little forward sometimes.

August 19, 2016

Pink-shirted Warriors rally around coach, his girlfriend By DOUG BRENNEMAN, Sports Reporter When Warriors coach Darin Hartman arrived at Shewami Country Club for Watseka’s boys and girls golf meet yesterday that was eventually cancelled because of storms, he noticed a golfer wasn’t in uniform. “I saw Cam Barragree with a pink shirt on and I almost told him to get his match shirt on and let’s go, but I didn’t and I got busy,” Hartman said. He then saw the rest of the boys with pink shirts on. At that point he realized his team was wearing pink because his girlfriend, Donna Jones, had surgery for breast cancer Wednesday, after being diagnosed just a month and a half ago. “It almost brought me to tears that they would do something like that, that they thought enough of me and Donna,” Hartman said. “It meant a lot to me.” Hartman missed Wednesday’s golf meet to be at Loyola Hospital in Chicago for the surgery. Assistant coach Chad Cluver took the team to the meet and gave them a letter Hartman had prepared that explained why their head coach wasn’t there. “Chad really helped me out,” Hartman said. “The people in this school really step up for each other.” Once the kids read the letter, the text

messages to their coach started. “I got text messages from my team saying ‘Tell Donna we are thinking of her,’” Hartman said. “Cam’s mom, Tammy, texted that he is going to golf his best (Wednesday) for Donna. I showed Donna all the texts I got. It’s so awesome, but it doesn’t surprise me because the kids are awesome.” One of those awesome kids organized the wearing of the pink shirts. Senior Nathan Schroeder has experienced what breast cancer can do to a family because his cousin, Wyatt Claire, lost his mom, Mary Beth, to the disease earlier this year. “That hit me hard.” He was already wearing a pink bracelet for breast cancer, so it wasn’t a stretch to put on a pink shirt and then tell his teammates to do the same. “I didn’t really give them a chance not to,” he said. Some may have had to borrow a shirt but every member wore one. “I know how it affected my family, so it was going to do the same to coach,” Schroeder said. “It can affect a family that quick. I wanted to show my support for him and Donna.” Schroeder had met Jones just once, at the Grant Park meet last year. “I don’t know her personally, but I have known Coach

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Hartman for a while. I thought we would do something special for him. I didn’t want him to know about it so we could surprise him.” It worked. Hartman was very surprised at the gesture, but yet, not surprised his team thought to do it. “That’s the kind of kids I have. I am very blessed to Photo by Doug have a group like that. The Brenneman. unbe- Nathan Schrolievable. It was eder models a so cool. It meant the world, very pink shirt he wore in support of his cool.” The coolest coach’s thing will be a girlfriends breast full recovery for cancer surgury. Jones. It’s ironic that Watseka’s teams are the Warriors because Jones,

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who is in charge of the kids programs at the Bradley library, has an army behind her. “We have a lot of prayer warriors out there,” Hartman said. He attends Trinity Church in Watseka and she goes to the Gathering Point in Bourbannais. The couple will celebrate a year together Aug. 23. “She’s a sweetheart. Everything went great. Doctors said she did awesome. Whenever you hear that word ‘cancer,’ it’s a scary time.” Jones, who lives in Kankakee, will have a lot of help dealing with it. “People have set up meal plans for her,” Hartman said. Jones left the hospital yesterday, but won’t be back to work for a few weeks. “Her work is very good about letting her work from home. As she recovers, people are taking care of her.” “Hopefully, she can come out on top of it,” said Schroeder, who added a message for her. “Stay strong!” Hartman believes that triumph can come from tragedy. “It is a great experience for them and myself. I get out here and my kids are dressed in pink. That’s the type of kids I have. It makes me love coming to work, makes me love my job, makes me love my kids. I could not ask for a better group.”

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Iroquois County Year in Review

January, 2016

October 13, 2016

1991-92 Final Four Golden By KIM RABE For the Times-Republic Way back in 1991-92, the CrescentIroquois High School Golden Girls’ team accomplished something very few small teams ever do – it made it to the Elite Eight, then went on to take part as one of the Final Four teams in state basketball play-offs at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena. The team was memorable for a couple of reasons: It was one of the best runs a CIHS team would make because the school would eventually co-op sports with Cissna Park, and it was noted for having two sets of sisters who proved to be powerful forces when on the floor at the same time. On Thursday, Oct. 6, the Golden Girls’ team members and Coach Hanns Meyer were recognized during a Crescent City Grade School/St. Paul’s Lutheran School Lady Hawks’ basketball game. The games took place in the CIHS gym and former Coach Hanns Meyer’s wife – Ginger – stood at the helm of the squads, whose assistant coach is a former member of the 91-92 squad – Katie Brown Ash. The Final Four Golden Girls were honored in recognition of the upcoming 25th anniversary of their trip to Redbird Arena. Also recognized was Bob Sorensen, Crescent City, for being the Number 1 fan of Crescent City school sports. The 1991-92 team ended up with a 30-2 record and its road to the Final Four looked something like this: CIHS faced St. JosephOgden in a super-sectional game and came out on top, 54-52.

In the quarterfinal, CIHS would best Carrollton, 60-52, but would lose to Hancock Central 67-52 in the semifinal. That semifinal loss pitted the Golden Girls against Winnebago in a battle for third place, with the Golden Girls coming within a breath of winning but losing 44-45. That year, Hancock Central would defeat Sullivan, 74-69, in overtime to become state champs. In addition to being a “Final Four” team, their plaque includes these honors: Golden Girl Tip-Off Champs, Urbana Turkey Tourney Champs, Iroquois Conference Champs, Regional Champs, Sectional Champs “Sweet 16” and Supersectional Champs “Elite 8.” The head coach was Hanns Meyer, assistant coach was Jackie Lowe, Laura Morrical was a manager/statician, and Mindy Peterson kept score for the team. Members of the squad were: Monica Yates (#12), freshman, guard; Kim Bohlmann (#13), sophomore, guard; Faith Munsterman (#14), freshman, guard; Mandi Yates (#22), junior, guard; Katie Brown (#23), sophomore, guard; Melissa Yates (#24), senior, guard; Julie Storm (#30), freshman, guard; Gretchen Brazel (#32), junior, forward; Marlene Garrett (#34), sophomore, guard; Sarah Erwin (#40), junior, center; Lisa Garrett (#42), senior, center; Kristine Freeman (#44), junior, guard; Tiffany Salmon (#50), freshman, forward; Shannon Hunt (#52), freshman, forward; and Suzanne Gocken (#54), freshman, center. Connecting with these former teammates, one thing was certain: Every single player had – and still has to this day – a deep

Photo by Kim Rabe Several of the members of the 1991-92 Golden Girls’ Final Four team were recognized at a CCGS/SPL Lady Hawks’ basketball game Oct. 6 in the CIHS gym. The event was in recognition of the team’s 25th anniversary of making it to the Final Four at Red Bird arena. In the front are Kim Bohlmann Rohlwing (left) and Katie Brown Ash. In the back are Tiffany Salmon Koester, No. 1 basketball fan Bob Sorensen, Gretchen Brazel-Brown, Shannon Hunt Francis, Coach Hanns Meyer and Mary Yates (holding and representing a photo of her three daughters who were members of the team: Amanda Yates, Melissa Yates-Denoyer and Monica Yates Olsen. respect and admiration for Coach Meyer. At the time of the Golden Girls’ appearance, Meyer had served seven years as head

coach and all of those years were at CIHS. His record stood at 154-29, and the team’s record the previous year was 29-0.

November 3, 2016

Woodland bridge closed By WENDY DAVIS, Reporter The bridge outside of Woodland on North Street is permanently closed. IDOT notified the county engineer’s office about it over the weekend. Engineer Joel Moore said the bridge was closed immediately. He said the possibility has been there for a while; there have been issues. He said there a lot of rust and with that there’s the potential for failure at the contact points. “Anything can be repaired, but it’s cost prohibitive,” Moore said. The approximately 140 foot long bridge spanning Sugar Creek is a metal 8 panel pin connected pratt through the truss, built in the early 1900s. He said that type of bridge needs to be disassembled to be repaired, and not doing it properly would give it a better chance of potentially collapsing. Once, major bridge funds were requested and it could have been a $1 million to replace the bridge and do some road work to go along with it, he said. He said the “absolute low side” would be at least $400,000. There’s no plan in the near future to replace it, Moore said. There are higher priority bridges, based on traffic and money allotted for work. He said Belmont Township does have money to make a bridge repair but a different bridge was chosen. “There only X amount of dollars and the road commissioner decides,” he said.

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Photo by Wendy Davis The bridge north on North Street outside Woodland has been closed permanently.

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