Leaders Among Us

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F M G R Feirich / Mager / Green / Ryan

Attorneys at Law Providing Business and Personal Legal Services to the Midwest

About Us The Southern Business Journal Monthly is a publication of The Southern Illinoisan. Contact us via mail at 710 N. Illinois Ave., Carbondale, IL, 62901, or at P.O. Box 2108, Carbondale, IL, 62903. Also reach us on the Web at www.sbj.biz and via email at SBJ@thesouthern.com. Copyright 2010 by The Southern Illinoisan. All rights reserved. Information about how to subscribe may be obtained by calling 618-529-5454 or 618-997-3356, or by visiting www.sbj.biz.

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Located in the Westown Centre • 2001 West Main, Carbondale • (618) 529-3000

Visit our web site at www.fmgr.com

Contact Us Publisher: Bob Williams 618-351-5038 Editor: Gary Metro 618-351-5033 Copy Editor: Cara Recine 618-351-5075 Copy Editor: Mary Thomas Layton 618-351-5071 Writers: Les O’Dell William Atkinson Marilyn Halstead Advertising: Abby Hatfield 618-351-5024 Circulation: Trisha Woodside 618-351-5035 Publication Design: Rhonda M. Ethridge 618-529-5454, ext. 5118 2

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Introducing the best and brightest – ‘Leaders’ Class of 2010! Through the pages of this magazine, you will meet 15 outstanding citizens from Southern Illinois — the “Leaders Among Us” Class of 2010. It is a distinguished and respected team of men and women, though several members of this class of Leaders are decidedly younger than many of their 102 predecessors from six previous years. Other members of the Class of 2010 have more years of experience but remain young at heart. In their stories in the following pages, told powerfully by Southern Illinois writers Les O’Dell, William Atkinson and Marilyn Halstead, you might notice more similarities than

1.800.827.7020 MAY 2010

community contributions stretch above and beyond the accomplishments of their vocations, which also are significant. “These men and women come from larger and smaller communities from across Southern Illinois. Williams Metro Each was nominated by others in their community differences among this diverse collection of people, because of their activities and accomplishments on people who come from behalf of their friends and different walks of life, neighbors,” said Gary backgrounds and Metro, editor of SBJ and hometowns. The Southern Illinoisan. “It These men and women share a trait of commitment is a pleasure to share their stories. We are pleased to to their various add their names to the communities. All were ‘honor roll’ of leaders nominated by their recognized in earlier years.” admirers throughout the Each member of the Class region. They give freely of their time and resources for of 2010 was invited to a gathering in their honor, the well-being of their the April 29 Community neighbors. And their

Leaders Breakfast sponsored by the Southern Business Journal and The Southern Illinoisan. The breakfast’s scheduled keynote speaker is Don Yaeger, a former associate editor at Sports Illustrated and best-selling author, for a presentation on the characteristics of greatness. Greatness, too, is a characteristic of our newest “Leaders.” Join us in congratulating each member of the “Leaders Among Us” Class of 2010. – Bob Williams is publisher and Gary Metro is editor of the Southern Business Journal and The Southern Illinoisan. They can be reached at 618-529-5454 or at sbj@thesouthern.com.

Don Heine 10 Years

Kim Verdick 10 Years

Billy Martin 20 Years

Judy Trankle 20 Years

www.pepsimidamerica.com SOUTHERN BUSINESS JOURNAL

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GUY

STEVE JAHNKE

ALONGI III 4

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uy Alongi III says he is just “the guy at the wheel” of the family business that was started in 1933 by his grandfather and inherited by his father, John, and uncle, Jerome “Mimi,” in 1953.

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“If they hadn’t done what they did, we wouldn’t be successful today,” he said. The restaurant Web site boasts that they have sold more than 1 million pizzas. As part of his business, Alongi and his partner, his brother John, are getting ready to tear down a building in order to expand the restaurant. “We are in the process of redeveloping one of the old buildings that is located next to us,” he states. “We plan to add outdoor dining at the restaurant for about 80 people and then add drive-through access and a parking garage.” Alongi, a member of the Du Quoin Chamber of Commerce, wants to draw people to the center of town. “If we can add features to the restaurant, it gives people more reasons to come to Du Quoin and gives people attending Du Quoin State Fair more reasons to come to downtown Du Quoin,” Alongi says. “We want to be an important part of the community, because this is where we live and work.” One of the ways the Alongi family has done that is by creating a scholarship at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Education is also important to the Alongi family. Mimi Alongi was one of the original members of the John A. Logan Board of Trustees. The family started the Alongi Legacy Scholarship in the mid1990s, demonstrating not only a commitment to education and Southern Illinois University but also a commitment to help others. “As a family we have all been blessed to go to college and get degrees, and we realize that not everyone in our area is blessed with that opportunity,” Alongi says. “That’s why we started the scholarship.” The scholarship is awarded annually to a high school senior from Perry County who plans to attend SIUC. Applicants must prove a financial need and have a home address in Perry County. Students from Trico, Pinckneyville and Du Quoin high schools who qualify may apply. The Perry County Chapter of SIU Alumni MAY 2010

Association is responsible for choosing the recipient. While a lot of people work at the restaurant, the Alongis hire quite a few college students. “We have about 20 college students currently,” he states. Employees of the restaurant are given special consideration for the scholarship. The family has worked to make it an endowed scholarship that will continue for years, hosting an annual golf tournament to help raise funds. Doris Rottschalk, president of the Perry County Chapter of SIU Alumni Association, says Alongi, his brother and his father are graduates of SIUC and members of SIU Alumni Association. “Guy has worked very hard,” Rottschalk says. Alongi is also a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church parish council. The council is responsible for the church building, which is more than 100 years old, caring for Sacred Heart Cemetery and for creating and administering church policies. “In fact, he’s really worked on policies and procedures for the church,” Rottschalk says. She is a former member of the parish council. “I see this as a way of giving back to my church,” he explains. He was also involved in some other organizations at one time. “To be honest, though, the restaurant takes up the majority of my time,” he says. Alongi understands that doing business is tough in Du Quoin and tough in small towns all over Southern Illinois. “I thoroughly enjoy being at the restaurant,” he quickly adds. He may take that quality from his father. Although John Alongi retired about 25 years ago, he often can be found at the restaurant. He points to his parents, John and Betty, as his sources of inspiration. “They have taught me the importance of dedication and work ethic over the years to run a family business,” he adds. Rottschalk praised the family. “They are very loyal to SIU and very loyal to Du Quoin,” she says.

– William Atkinson and Marilyn Halstead

DID YOU KNOW? Many of the photographs on the restaurant Web site, as well as newer photos in the restaurant, were taken by Guy’s wife, Beth. SOUTHERN BUSINESS JOURNAL

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MIKE

ARMSTRONG ike Armstrong has been mayor of Steeleville since 2001. He was a village trustee for six years before that, having been elected at the age of 25. He has served as a member of the city’s fire department for many years. He also is a member of the board of directors of the Illinois Tax Increment Association, which focuses on TIF activities.

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Armstrong is involved in several businesses in Steeleville, including automotive parts, real estate and sports memorabilia. Even though he is involved with all of these endeavors, he still finds the time to spend numerous hours working to improve the city, both in an administrative capacity, as well as in a “hands on” capacity. As mayor, for example, he helped revitalize the downtown area and assisted with the development of two new subdivisions. Armstrong doesn’t take a lot of credit personally, though. “We are a small community of 2,200,” he said. “As mayor, I have been very fortunate to be surrounded with very good people on the private side and the public sector, and this is what has been making things work.” One difference between the businesses and the municipality, according to Armstrong, is that the municipality has to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “As a result, it takes a team effort to get everything done,” he explains. And he likes to be part of the team. In fact, he very much likes to be “hands on.” He helps put up the city’s

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Christmas decorations each year, and he also helped landscape the new library. He helped construct a new baseball field, along with concrete pads for bleacher seats, areas for picnic tables and bathrooms. Armstrong was born and raised in Steeleville. He and his wife, Rebecca, have two children, ages 22 and 15. He first got involved in community service in 1995. “I had a lot invested in the community with our businesses at the time, and the community had been very good to me over the years, so I felt it made sense to get involved in ways where I could give back,” he explains. Armstrong admits there are times when things can become frustrating and even overwhelming. However, he emphasizes, the good days outweigh the bad days. “I have an appreciation for the people I work with on a regular basis,” he says. “This is a great community.” In looking to his sources of inspiration, he first credits his parents. “They have been very supportive of everything I have done my whole life,” he states. Another key figure was Floyd Hartel, who was Armstrong’s first and only employer. (Armstrong shifted to self-employment opportunities after working for Hartel.) “He really pushed me to get into business and politics and helped me get started with my own businesses,” Armstrong explains. “He was a nononsense, hard-working man who ran a truck service, the local Dairy Queen and other businesses. He also donated tons of time to make the community better.” Hartel passed away in the 1990s, and the Citizen of the Year Award in Steeleville is named after him. “When I worked for him, he would

DID YOU KNOW? Mike Armstrong developed his work ethic and leadership style under the tutelage of Floyd Hartel, for whom Armstrong worked, and for whom Steeleville’s Citizen of the Year is named.

occasionally have me come in at three in the morning to begin work, and then work until midnight,” Armstrong recalls. “However, he was always right there beside me. I have tried to model myself after that. For example, I never ask the city guys to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself.” And Armstrong frequently puts his money where his mouth is. For example, he has spent countless hours over the years working side-by-side with the city’s maintenance crew repairing water line breaks. “We have a small maintenance department, so every hand helps,” he explains. “They know they can call me MAY 2010


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ALAN ROGERS

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anytime, and I am always happy to help.” While Armstrong is proud of Steeleville, in general, what makes him most proud is the way everyone seems to be working together these days. “This is something we lacked in the past,” he admits. “It is a compliment to the people in our community that we have all come together and began working together. All of the organizations are now headed in the same direction.” These days, in fact, many of the projects that take place in Steeleville are designed to help everyone, not only one or two groups. MAY 2010

One example is the new library. It was the result of cooperation between the local school system, the city and the library district. The old library was a 600-square-foot room in the city hall. “You could barely turn around inside it,” Armstrong recalls. The new library is a 5,000-square-foot facility that was built on school property. “This allowed the school district to move its library into the new building, too,” he adds. And doing this opened up a couple of new classrooms. Teamwork was responsible for new playground equipment in the city’s park.

“This was a joint venture with the Steeleville Jaycees,” Armstrong explains. “They came up with 50 percent of the funding, and the city came up with the other 50 percent. They provided some of the labor, and we provided some of the labor.” Armstrong notes that it is important to remember his family in all of this. “I really appreciate their support,” he emphasizes. “They put up with a lot in terms of the amount of time I spend with the businesses and the community.”

– William Atkinson SOUTHERN BUSINESS JOURNAL

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CHUCK NOVARA

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arry Carter of Anna knows about stars. Not the lights in the night sky or those who achieved prominence on the athletic field or in Hollywood. To Carter, a professional in pharmaceutical sales with AstraZeneca, the acronym STAR, situation, task, action and result, is helpful. It’s a procedure he uses in working with sales representatives on a daily basis.

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“In situation, task, action, result, we ask a question about something, and we know that often past performance will predict future actions,” Carter says, referring to the interviewing process for new sales representatives. The STAR system is also a good way to look at the impact Carter has had on his home region. Whenever he saw a situation he could improve, he got involved. Carter says it was a lesson he learned from his father. “I remember when I was growing up, my dad always said that it was his generation’s turn to make sure that things went the way they were supposed to go,” Carter says. “As an adult, I believe it’s my generation’s time to take care of those things.” That’s meant serving in a variety of organizations and on boards. He oversaw the Anna District 37 School Board, and served as secretary and president throughout the 1990s. Additionally, he is a member of the board of AnnaJonesboro National Bank, has served on Union County Hospital Board and has been active in St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Carter’s first job was selling life insurance. In 1973, he began as a teacher at Unity Point School, spending his summers working with migrant laborers. After seven years of teaching, he was ready for a new challenge. He took a sales job with Quaker Oats, then moved into pharmaceutical sales. He’s now been in the industry for more than 25 years. “People ask me how I lasted here for this long. I tell them it’s not a matter of lasting, it’s enjoying it for 26 years,” Carter says. “It’s the people. I truly believe that I’ve made a difference in the lives of my family and in the lives of patients. I haven’t just survived, I’ve enjoyed it.” He says the belief that teachers make good sales people has proven true in his life and in his experiences. “Teachers know how to manage their time, and the same presentation skills that you learn as a teacher are important to sales. In pharmaceuticals, we’re a unique breed because we have to apply product knowledge to selling. We have to understand the science and know how to communicate it,”

LARRY

he says. That know-how leads to the rest of the STAR acronym: tasks, actions and results. In Carter’s life, it is difficult to separate the three. He’s brought results through tasks and actions. “I can pick out individual accomplishments in each project that I’ve been particularly proud of. I’ve been involved in the planning that has built a lot of buildings: the St. Mary’s Catholic Church Parish Hall, additions to schools, bank branches. It’s been a good journey.” He is especially proud of his work with the school board. “I wanted to make sure that we were doing the best job we possibly could in Anna to give our children the best education available,” he said. Carter says sometimes he was thrust into leadership situations. “When I joined the parish council, I was taking the place of the outgoing president,” he recalls. “So, I became the president. I don’t know. Maybe nobody else was willing to do it.” He says it didn’t matter. “As individuals, we’re not here to take care of ourselves; we’re here to serve,” he says. Balancing his work — which includes supervising a 10-member sales force — as well as civic involvement and family could be a challenge, but Growing up, Larry Carter not for Carter. He says it’s always wanted to be an a matter of planning and entertainer. Specifically, he priorities. dreamed of being a stand“I put out a monthly up comedian like Jonathan calendar and I try to look Winters or Robin Williams. at things a month in advance. That way you know where you’re going,” he explains. “It’s a matter of priorities. Family should come first. Sometimes you have to juggle and work needs to be first for a while, but 95 percent of the time, the wife and kids have to be No. 1.” He says he’s tried throughout his life not to do too much at one time, that it always has been a matter of priorities, with his wife of 36 years, Mindy, and three children, now grown, coming first. With his family, with work and with his civic involvement, Carter says the best part has been working with people. “In my lifetime of work and in being on the boards, I’ve met a diversity of individuals, some that I’ve agreed with and others that I’ve disagreed with, but we’ve always been able to find a common ground. I’ve worked with a lot of different people and different environments.” He says he hopes the next generation, like his, has learned from the examples of generations that have gone before and is ready to take the reigns to make things go the way they’re supposed to. That’s what he’s tried to do. “I did the things I did because I have a deep passion for the community and I wanted to make things better,” Carter says. “I wanted to help people and make these organizations better. I would like to believe that in each and every case, the organizations are better when I left than when I got there.”

DID YOU KNOW?

CARTER MAY 2010

– Les O’Dell

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DID YOU KNOW? Nathan Cherry’s wife, Tara, nicknamed him ‘Handsome Bandsome.’ She even had the name engraved in his wedding ring.

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athan Cherry prepared to be a youth pastor his whole life. He couldn’t help it. He’s always been around kids. As Doug and Lisa Cherry’s eldest, he often helped corral, entertain, manage and teach his nine brothers and sisters. So when his parents established Victory Christian Center in Carbondale, there was no doubt who should handle the church’s business and its youth program.

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NATHAN

of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Somehow, he finds time to volunteer at Carbondale Middle School. It keeps him busy. “Every day, I have at least five different directions that I could go in the morning,” he says. “What challenges me most is picking which of those to pursue. I want to do more than just juggle them without progressing on any of them.” The problem, Cherry says, is that everything he wants to do is important to him and it is all part of his ministry. “This is what I’ve always wanted to be. From the time I was 11 or 12, my parents have been in ministry, and I’ve wanted to be in ministry, too, since then,” he explains. “My desire is not because it was all I’ve ever known, but rather because I think I developed a heart — a passion — for it.” That passion has led Cherry to preach and share with groups of all sizes and ages. “Being in a service with 50, 150 or 200 kids who are passionately worshiping the Lord and watching them respond to what God is doing in them — that lights my fire. That’s what I love to do,” he explains. “But I also enjoy sitting down one-on-one with a teen or an older man and

PAUL NEWTON

CHERRY Today, the 25-year-old is associate pastor of the church, but his influence goes far beyond the church walls. Cherry directs the Reality Youth Center, an outreach program at Carbondale’s Bowen Gym. He also volunteers as the MAY 2010

head basketball coach for Trinity Christian High School in Carbondale. He organizes meetings and events for high school youth groups from across Southern Illinois in a program called SURGE and serves as the worship leader at a summer camp

being able to ask, ‘What is going on in your life?’ That is also rewarding for me.” It hasn’t always been easy for him. Even though today he’s adept at leading meetings and speaking in front of hundreds and thousands of people, Cherry says he had to overcome shyness. “I never did stray far from Mom. I always was a quiet kid. I think the transition took place when I was in college. I was sort of pushed out into the real world and as I began working with youth, I just matured out of it. I had to learn how to be a people person.” Of course, being part of a family of 12 helped, too. “Growing up in a large family is everything to me as a youth pastor,” Cherry says. “I pull from it so much, but in a lot of ways it has kept me humble, and it’s helped me relate to people of all ages.” He says he tries to apply what he has learned growing up in a large family to building relationships among people and between churches. “I’ve learned in ministry that relationships are everything. When you find a place you are serving, you have an opportunity — no, an obligation — to cultivate relationships and develop trust just by being there. You have to ‘sew’ into someone’s life so that they know you’ll be there when they need something. Just like in a big family.”

SEE CHERRY / PAGE 38 SOUTHERN BUSINESS JOURNAL

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uring one afternoon each week, Barbara Bock Dallas reads for the fourth-graders at St. Andrew School in Murphysboro. She always reads from the same book, “Holes” by Louis Sachar. In the novel, boys who might be described as juvenile delinquents are sent to Camp Green Lake as punishment. Instead of hiking, boating and normal camp activities, these campers spend all of their days digging holes in a former lake bed.

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It’s ironic that Bock Dallas reads to students about Barbara Bock Dallas digging down. It’s out confesses that dark chocolate of character for her is her guilty pleasure. ‘The because she’s all darker the better,’ she says. She will not, however, say how about building up. many dark chocolates. Over the years, the Murphysboro resident has worked tirelessly in support of projects important to her and her hometown. Except for a brief time when she lived in Milwaukee, the Jackson County community has always been her home. “I was gone almost four years,” she recalls. “I missed

DID YOU KNOW?

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BARBARA

BOCK DALLAS Congratulations to all of the Community Leaders especially Barbara Bock Dallas!

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Barbara Bock Dallas

PAUL NEWTON

advocate for rural hospitals. During 25 years with the IHA, she worked with businesses and political leaders, health care companies and consumers, yet she remained invested in Murphysboro. Its people were the ones who really mattered to her. “The people of Murphysboro make this place special,” she says. “I love to see the familiar faces, the familiar cars. I love the feeling of security, of being home.” When she retired in 2004, she didn’t have to look far to find things that interested her. She just looked around town. “The first year after I retired, I did almost nothing. I organized my pantry, I did things around the house, and the year was good for me. I refreshed myself spiritually, mentally and physically. Then I thought, ‘OK, what am I going to do?’ I knew I wanted to give back to my church and to St. Andrew School. The first thing I did was to call the school and ask if there was a class I could read to. Fifty years after I was in the fourth grade there, I started reading to the fourth-graders at St. Andrew’s.” Bock Dallas says after she started volunteering at the

Murphysboro. I missed walking down the aisle of St. Andrew Catholic Church, I missed driving down Walnut Street.” So, she came back to Southern Illinois. She worked for about a dozen years at Southern Illinois University Carbondale before joining the Illinois Hospital Association. It was a role that took Bock Dallas throughout Illinois and around the nation as an

MAY 2010

from the City of Murphysboro, Murphysboro Tourism Commission, & Murphysboro Chamber of Commerce

SEE BOCK DALLAS / PAGE 14 SOUTHERN BUSINESS JOURNAL

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BOCK DALLAS FROM PAGE 13 school, other opportunities emerged. She started helping with the Gen. John A. Logan Museum, she began to do more at church, and she began to volunteer at nursing homes. “During that time, people would call me and ask me to serve on boards,” she explains. “But I’d tell them that, for example, I wasn’t going to be on a nursing home board. I’m going to be out there serving them ice cream and dancing with them and saying prayers with them.” For Bock Dallas, life is about doing. She says it’s something she learned from her father. “I saw my father be on the first volunteer auxiliary police force. I saw him take up collections and be an usher at Mass every Sunday. I saw him help with bingo at the American Legion. I grew up knowing that you volunteer to do things and you give back.” Giving back was what she planned on doing when she retired. “I knew I wasn’t going to lie on the couch eating chocolate bonbons and watching television,” she says. “I’m too

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high energy for that.” While she enjoys traveling with her husband, Bruce, Murphysboro still calls her to come home. “I’m not saying that we don’t pack from time to time,” she says, winking. “We go to other places, but when we come back, this is home.” She says even in a small community such as Murphysboro, her volunteer work is giving her a chance to meet new people. “Since I have gotten involved in various projects, people who I knew a little bit before are becoming very, very good friends. There are people I didn’t personally know, but had admired from afar. All of sudden, I’m working with them on a project. I love that.” She’s working with lots of people these days, as her calendar is quite busy, filled with tourism commission meetings, church events, activities with the museum and special projects that come her way. She established a Flag Day observance that became a model for other Southern Illinois communities. She helped implement the Murphysboro Hometown Christmas activities, and when the SIUC School of Journalism began planning to send

photojournalism students to document a weekend in Murphysboro, it was Bock Dallas who coordinated the effort on behalf of the community. “The things that I pick to do are things that haven’t been done before,” she says. “I am never satisfied. I always want more. I try not to look back at what we’ve done. Instead, I want to see what’s next. I want something more. Let’s build on what we’ve done.” She says she doesn’t know what her next project will be. But one thing is certain. She’ll put everything she has into it. “I haven’t the foggiest idea what’s next. I don’t really pick what I do. It’s more like God puts these things in my path, so who am I to question?” Regardless of Bock Dallas’ next project, she says she’s already looking forward to it, much the same way that the students at St. Andrew School look forward to her weekly reading of “Holes.” “I’ve had students tell me they look forward to fourth grade because they know I’ll be reading to them. When I look on those faces and they hang on every word, that’s satisfaction.”

– Les O’Dell

MAY 2010


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LINDA

FLOWERS s a child, Linda Flowers wanted to be a teacher. In fact, as the fifth-oldest of 11 children growing up in inner-city Chicago, Flowers used to play ‘school’ with her brothers and sisters. It wasn’t just for fun; for her, it was serious business.

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“My mom’s family was from Alabama, and because of the times in which she was born, her parents didn’t allow her to go to school until they had a son that was old enough for the two of them to go together, so she started school at the age of 11,” Flowers says. “She only went through the sixth grade, but regardless, both my mom and dad instilled in us the value of an education.” Because of the value they placed on schooling, Flowers says her parents made sure every one of their children could read before reaching school age. “We only had one TV,” she remembers, “but we all had books. We used them for playing school, but we knew they were really for reading. If I ever said to my mom, ‘I have no homework,’ it didn’t matter. It would be reading time, and then I could play.” It’s a concept that Flowers, who serves as principal at Carbondale’s Thomas Elementary School, says is lost in many homes today. “I think sometimes kids tell their parents that they don’t have any homework and that means it’s Nintendo time or TV time,” she says. “I tell our parents here that reading is always homework, math facts are always homework, spelling words are always homework. You don’t have to have the teacher say there is homework in order for there to be homework.” Flowers, whose school encompasses second and third grades, says children face many distractions today, and, in some ways, education has lost its place as a priority.

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“Even though we say education is important, as a society, there are a lot of things, a lot of actions, that don’t show that, and actions do speak louder than words. We give kids double messages and they don’t know which ones to believe. Do kids believe what the adults say, or do they believe what the adults do?” She says the key is for communities and societies to get on the same page and to stress the value of an education and for schools to really prepare students for what’s ahead. “I went to a high school that wasn’t preparing students for college; it was preparing people for vocations. I majored in cosmetology in high school. I was No. 17 in my high school class, so I came to SIU thinking that I was prepared and that maybe I was smart, but I was really totally unprepared for college in terms of study skills and everything else,” she says. Despite feeling unprepared, Flowers did well in college, and kept doing well, eventually earning a Ph.D. She credits people who encouraged her, and she tries to encourage others at school and in other activities. She’s active in Carbondale’s Rock Hill Missionary Baptist Church, a member of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority, board member for the Carbondale Community High School district and a leader in Girl Scouts. She’s also an active member of the local chapter of NAACP, a role that she considers among her most enjoyable activities. Even though she’s a school principal, she still sees herself as a teacher. “I’m a kid person, more so than an adult person,” she says. “So my work with children, I think, is most rewarding to me, especially the work I’m able to do with kids that are struggling academically and behaviorally. I had teachers who believed in me and pushed me to be better, and I think that’s what the kids need now. Sometimes, especially with the economics right now, parents might be consumed with making ends meet.

DID YOU KNOW? Linda Flowers originally planned to become a music teacher. She played tenor saxophone with the Marching Salukis and SIU Pep Band in the mid-1970s. That’s where the teachers, the schools and the communities have to fill in the gaps for kids.” Sometimes that means giving students opportunities they may not otherwise have. At Thomas, every second-grader gets violin instruction in a joint venture of the school district and Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Music. Then Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn named the instruction a pilot program for his 2006 Illinois Violin Initiative, a program to encourage children to learn classical music. When SIUC approached the school with the idea and the instruments for the program, Flowers quickly agreed. “How would you say no to something that would provide students with experience and opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have,” she says. “The discipline of music and the discipline of practice carry over to the classroom. There’s a big body of research out there that ties music to success in academics.” Flowers says she often tells parents that violins are cheaper than video game systems. She says that, for her, success is seeing a child succeed, whether it is with a musical instrument, in math or in reading, a particular passion of hers. “My last teaching job was in reading, and when I became an administrator, I gave away all of my social studies, science and math things, but I still have all of the reading books. I kept them because I imagine that when I retire, I’ll still be teaching kids to read. Knowing kids will be OK because they can read gives me a real sense of satisfaction.”

– Les O’Dell

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erance Henry is someone who has found a way to squeeze 25 hours out of every 24-hour day. His list of business, professional and civic activities is extensive.

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Henry is co-owner of Latta Java in Marion, as well as co-owner of SI Small Biz, which provides Web site design services, information technology solutions and Web site hosting. He spends additional amounts of time teaching Southern Illinois business owners and their employees about using technology, and also teaches continuing education classes about computers and eBay sales at John A. Logan College in Carterville. In 2009, Henry helped start Marion’s Downtown Hubfest. “Like all new things, though, it takes a lot of people to get something like this off the ground,” he states. How did the idea evolve? “Every town has its own special event, so we wanted something unique for Marion,” he replies. Henry came up with the idea for the name, because Mayor Bob Butler calls Marion the “hub of the universe.” The first Hubfest was in late 2009. “We blocked off the downtown area, and we had food vendors, a beauty pageant and several concert performances,” he reports. “We are already planning the 2010 Hubfest, which will be in September.” Henry also organized and led downtown businesses during the first year of Cruise Nights. This involves having a number of antique cars parked around the square in Marion, which brings several hundred people downtown the fourth Saturday of each month. And to further boost business in downtown Marion, Henry came up with the idea of cooperative advertising. “I realized that advertising can make or break a business,” he explains. “However, a lot of small business owners don’t have budgets for individual advertising.” As a result, he initiated a program to help downtown businesses engage in cooperative advertising in newspapers and on television. “Businesses are now starting to see some positive returns from this, and they are getting excited,” he adds. MAY 2010

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TERANCE

HENRY Henry is also now the newly elected president of Marion Main Street, as well as a two-time winner of Marion’s Downtown Business of the Year. His activities do take him outside of Marion, though. He is a member of the Youth Council Board of Man-Tra-Con, as well as a board member of the Southern Illinois Workforce Development program at Man-Tra-Con. He is also an active member of Southern Illinois Networking Association, which provides referral assistance to business owners in the area for various professional services that the members can offer to each other. Henry is originally from the Alton area. He lived in Carbondale and Du Quoin for a while and graduated from Carbondale Community High School in 1992. After that, he moved back to Alton. Soon, though, he returned to this area and graduated from John A. Logan College in 2000 with an LPN degree. After that, he began attending Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg, with plans to work toward his R.N. degree. “I quit halfway through because the eBay business was growing so much,” he recalls. “I had been doing it as a hobby on the side to pay for gas to get to and from school.” However, the activity began taking up more and more of his time. In addition, the size of the sales was growing. “I started selling small things, but ended up selling things like bulldozers, backhoes and motor homes,” he states. After working on the eBay business for about seven years full time, he started to get even more involved in computers. He landed a job as the IT person for the city of Marion. Now, as part of SI Small Biz, Henry does IT work for a number of other communities, agencies and businesses

DID YOU KNOW? Terance Henry received a licensed practical nursing degree from John A. Logan College and was halfway toward a registered nursing degree from Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg when he decided to pursue business and community development full time. in Southern Illinois. With so much business on his plate, what led Henry to want to give back so much to the community? “I came from a humble beginning,” he replies. “I grew up in the ‘concrete jungle’ part of Alton, where there really wasn’t much else to do other than get into trouble.” However, as he got older, he realized, through the help of some mentors, that he had the potential to do something with his life, as well as to give something back to a community. “We are only here for a short time, so I don’t want to just take resources; I want to leave some behind,” he explains. How does he find the time for so much? Two things that help are aphorisms that he uses as reminders. His father-in-law told him several years ago, “Promise what you can deliver, and then deliver what you promise.” His grandmother told him, “The Lord will put no more on your shoulders than what you can handle.” When it comes to inspirational people in his life, Henry can count a number of them. “There is no single person,” he explains. “In fact, I have developed the habit of trying to learn as much as I can from everyone I meet.” One particularly inspirational person

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ichael Hopkins is vice president of commercial lending at The Bank of Marion. Previously, he worked at Banterra Bank, Citizens Bank of Du Quoin and First Bank in West Frankfort.

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His brother, who nominated him for “Leaders Among Us,” noted that he is, as vice president of commercial loans for The Bank of Marion, “not the stereotypical Mr. Potter banker from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ He is more the George Bailey type, with true concern for customers and neighbors and their wellbeing.” Hopkins grew up in West Frankfort, where he played baseball, football and basketball at Frankfort Community High School. He

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graduated from John A. Logan College, where he was a member of the baseball team. He then graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a degree in marketing. He is an active member and past president of West Frankfort Chamber of Commerce and helps cook ribs for the chamber’s annual fundraiser. Hopkins is also an active member and past president of West Frankfort Rotary Club and an active member and past president of West

Frankfort Lions Club. He has played Santa Claus during Christmas events for the Lions Club, Moose Club and Elks Lodge in West Frankfort. He helps cook barbecue chicken for the Pony League baseball and softball youth summer league fundraisers and is an active member of St. John’s School’s parent organization. And, according to his brother, Hopkins is “one of the good handful of people who annually meets at 5 a.m. on a Saturday to put up the Christmas decorations in downtown West Frankfort, and one of the smaller handful of people who meets at 5 a.m. several weeks later to take down the decorations, when it is usually colder and definitely less fun.” Hopkins is also co-chair of John A. Logan College Board of Trustees. While the school serves primarily Williamson and Jackson counties, West Frankfort is the only Franklin County town within the district. His brother notes that Hopkins “has the ability to meet and make a good impression with electorate outside his home county and thus overcome a districting disadvantage.” To what does Hopkins owe his volunteer spirit? “I have been very blessed and fortunate to have people around me my whole life who taught me how important it is to be active and to make your community better,” he replies. “I watched my mom and dad, Gladys and George MAY 2010


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Hopkins, and how active they were in the church, school and coaching at the park. They showed me first hand how essential it is to be involved and to give more than you take.” And as the youngest of five children, he grew up watching his three older brothers and sisters doing the same thing — being active and making a difference. “I have also been lucky to observe some other great community leaders in West Frankfort, such as Charlie Lintner, Wilma Finazzo, Bill McKee and Goebel Patton, who have had such a great passion for community betterment,” he continues. Patton is particularly inspirational to Hopkins. “At 96, he is still very active,” he reports. In fact, Hopkins attributes one of his favorite sayings to Patton: “Service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy on earth.” Another one of his mentors is Jake Rendleman,

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a longtime JALC board member. “I learn something from Jake every time I am around him,” he states. After being around these service-minded individuals, Hopkins realized that service work doesn’t get done by itself. “I realized that I had the ability to do it, so I went ahead and started doing it,” he explains. “I have been very fortunate to be able to work with so many wonderful people. All of these people know the importance of being a volunteer.” He goes on to add that he enjoys the whole idea of volunteerism, whether it is cooking ribs from the chamber or picking up trash during the Town Clean Up day. “You make great friendships with other people who share the same community spirit,” he adds. Where does Hopkins find the time for all of his activities?

spirit activities,” Hopkins states. The support he Michael Hopkins played high receives from his family school baseball, football and basketball at West Frankfort and employer are vital. and baseball at John A. Logan “This is very College, where he earned a important because there degree in marketing. are things that may take you away from work or family for an hour or two “It certainly helps to have a day,” he explains. “I have a wife who understands,” he just always tried to focus on replies. making time for the right His wife is Holly, and they things.” are parents to two children, While he has been involved Matthew (grade 5) and Ryan in a lot of activities over the (grade 3). Holly spends time volunteering for their church years, the one that gives him the most pride is being and school. elected to serve on JALC “I hope that all of our Board of Trustees. involvement will rub off on “This is an elected our boys and that they will position, and to have the learn the lesson that I have number of people in learned from my parents, Southern Illinois who have siblings and fellow faith in me and voted for me volunteers,” he states. “I means a lot,” he reports. want them to learn that it is “Now that I am working in important to leave more than Marion, I hope to become as you take.” active here as I have been in It also helps to have an West Frankfort,” Hopkins employer who understands states. “I still want to keep the importance of my ties in West Frankfort.” community service. “The Bank of Marion is – William Atkinson very involved in community

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GARY

KELLY ary Kelly came to Du Quoin in 1993 as the high school principal. He became assistant superintendent of the district in 1994, and then became superintendent in 1997, a position he has occupied ever since.

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During the last 13 years, Kelly has become involved in many activities locally, regionally and statewide. Interestingly, while many people who are active in their communities talk about how their service helps their communities, Kelly also realizes how his service helps him as a person and as a professional. In other words, he has always felt he receives as much as he gives. He is a member and past president of Du Quoin Lions Club, a member of the board of directors of Du Quoin Chamber of Commerce, an organizer of Perry County Fellowship of Christian Athletes Camp, a past board member and a coach of Du Quoin Youth Club and a past coach of Du Quoin Khoury League. He is also an organizer of Du Quoin Weekend Warrior Feeding Program. “This was organized by the school district in cooperation with the Du Quoin Ministerial Alliance,” he explains. The idea was in realization

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of the fact that students receive breakfast and lunch during the week at school. However, many students may not have access to nutritious meals on the weekends. The program is designed to provide food on weekends to children who have been identified as not having access to these nutritional items. “We modeled this program after ones we were familiar with in other communities,” he states. Kelly is president of Southern Illinois School Masters. This is an organization of Southern Illinois school administrators, including superintendents, principals and assistant principals, who meet twice a year for professional development, as well as to network. “The organization has been in place for a number of years,” he states. “We bring in a speaker and share a meal at each meeting.” He is president-elect of the Illinois Association of School Administrators, a statewide organization for Illinois school administrators set up to provide support in their pursuit of educational excellence through school improvement initiatives. “Participating in this organization allows me to connect with school leaders throughout the state, and it has been a great opportunity to learn a lot of things,” he reports. Reaching his position as superintendent has been no easy journey for Kelly. Both of his parents were

DID YOU KNOW? Gary Kelly credits his mom for much of his success, professionally and personally. ‘My mom is my hero,’ he says. born and raised in Sesser. His mother went through nurse’s training in St. Louis, and his father worked for the FBI in Washington, D.C. “They carried on a longdistance relationship,” he reports. When they married, though, his father left the FBI and moved to St. Louis, where Kelly was born. However, his father died when he was in kindergarten. His mother then moved Kelly and his two brothers back to Sesser. “We had relatives in Sesser on both sides of our family, and my mom felt it would be a better environment for us to grow up,” he explains.

As a result, Kelly was raised in Sesser and went through the school system there. After that, he attended Rend Lake College for two years and then received his bachelor’s degree in education at the University of Illinois. He was a substitute teacher in Sesser-Valier for a while and then taught full time at Mount Carmel High School. He pursued his master’s degree in school administration at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and then, later, a Ph.D. at SIUC. Kelly admits part of his commitment to community service is simply an element MAY 2010


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STEVE JAHNKE

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of the responsibilities of his position as a superintendent. However, it goes beyond that. “Our community has always been very supportive of our school district, so it is important for me to give back,” he explains. “This helps the community, the school district and the students.” And even before becoming an administrator, Kelly had a commitment to community service. “I have always been involved in community activities, even when I was a teacher,” he recalls. “I have always believed that it is important to be connected with the community and to be an active member.” One thing that keeps him going is remembering what his mother went through. “My mom is my hero,” he MAY 2010

states. “She is the most inspirational person I have ever known. She raised three boys on her own. She was a young person at the time. She didn’t throw up her hands and give up. She tried to do what she thought was best for us.” Kelly notes that many single-parent families have problems. “However, my mom always made things happen for us. She always did whatever she could to help us become successful,” he says. In looking back over his career, the thing that gives Kelly the greatest sense of pride is having had the opportunity to be a school administrator in Du Quoin for 17 years. “We have had a lot of challenges over the years,” he points out. “Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to

work with a lot of great people, including the board, the staff, the students and the community in general.” A specific source of pride for Kelly is the students. In fact, in December 2009, he wrote an article for the school district’s Web site called “Acts of kindness abound with District #300 students.” In it, he paid tribute to the school district’s students, who have been and continue to be involved in community service activities, such as donating items for the PTO food drive, the American Heart Association’s “Jump Rope for the Heart,” efforts for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, visits to local nursing homes, honoring of local veterans and dozens of other civic-minded projects.

In reflecting on these activities, he asks, “Where do students learn these examples of giving? I would submit the answer lies in what they see in their own homes, in our schools and in our community. Students seem to have a keen sense of understanding of what helping others truly means.” In the future, Kelly will continue to look for ways to improve things for the students and the community in general. “We were able to build a new K-8 school 11 years ago,” he reports. “We have been on the list for a new high school since 2002, and we are still awaiting state funding. I would definitely like to see a new high school facility. It would be very beneficial for the students.”

– William Atkinson SOUTHERN BUSINESS JOURNAL

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TOM

MILLER round the corner and down the hall from the WJPF-AM broadcast studio is Tom Miller’s office. The room is nondescript: Neutral paint, no plants, no pictures on the wall and very little to mark more than 30 years in radio. There are few things in the office that would spur memories, except for the folder. It’s a manila folder that means a great deal to the big-voiced broadcaster who hosts the station’s ‘Morning News Watch.’

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The folder has sat in the same spot for almost a year. On the tab is a simple description — words that hold a deep meaning for Miller and thousands of Southern Illinoisans. The label simply reads, “May 8 Storm.” Inside is a collection of cards, letters and e-mails from around the region, each one expressing gratitude for what Miller did after the derecho swept through the area. The folder is full, yet there are hundreds of pieces of correspondence still to be added to it. Miller says he didn’t realize it at the time, but the second week of May 2009 was the defining moment in his broadcasting career. “I had just left the station because we had already dealt with two storms. I was tired, and I really wanted to go home,” he recalls. “As soon as the big storm stopped, I went back to the station. We weren’t on the air because our generator hadn’t come on yet. Steve Falat, the general manager of River Radio, asked me what I thought we should do.” Miller’s answer showed the simple work ethic of the self-described farm boy from Saline County. He told Falat that they should do everything they could as fast as they could and not stop until they couldn’t do any more. Falat agreed, and Miller took to the airwaves, becoming a primary source for people throughout the region, telling listeners what had happened, where to turn for help and reassuring them that everything was going to be OK. He was a voice in the darkness for Southern Illinois. Miller personally anchored storm and recovery coverage on River Radio’s stations day after day for nearly a week.

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DID YOU KNOW? Tom Miller got his start in radio in the parking lot of a barbecue restaurant in Harrisburg. That’s where Mackie Nichols, owner of radio station WEBQ, found the 16-year-old and asked him if he’d like to work weekends at the station. He’s been behind a microphone ever since. “Personally, I don’t know how many hours I was on the air,” he says. “I didn’t count, but it was a lot. The first day I left here after a minimum of 22 hours on the air, and then I was back again at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning.” Throughout the coverage, Miller was able to call upon years of experience to comfort and assist listeners. “I think everything that I had ever done prepared me for that — living in Murphysboro, living in Harrisburg, knowing Carbondale, knowing the lakes, the forests, the points, knowing the people. My entire life was in preparation.” Miller said he had to help; after all, the area is his home. “I live here. I consider this all mine and feel that I’m responsible. Maybe it’s idealistic or naïve, but if something bad happens in ‘my town,’ I’m going to do something about it,” he says. The broadcasts gave Miller an opportunity to give updates on efforts to restore electricity and to help people find basic necessities. He also helped people pass the time and keep calm in a tough situation. “Don’t forget that the way people behaved after the storm was remarkable, and I’d like to think that we were partially responsible for that. I wanted the messages to be very well

tuned, ‘This too shall pass; you’re OK; it is only a house. Yes, the truth is you’re not going to be happy for a while, but it will be OK.’” More than at any other time since he first went on the air at age 16, the aftermath of the storm allowed him to make personal connections with his audience. “If there’s anything that I try to do, it is to develop eye contact with a listener,” he explains. “I don’t know if it can actually be done, but that’s what I’m trying to do — to communicate directly with one person, only I have to MAY 2010


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carry the conversation.” He holds these conversations every weekday morning, arriving at the station by 5:15 a.m. and going on the air 45 minutes later. Even though his show is just 180 minutes, Miller never stops discovering and sharing information. “I’m on the air just three hours and spend about 45 minutes getting ready for it, but for me, I spend virtually all of my waking time trying to learn new things. I’m always gathering. I have piles of books and I spend a minimum of 45 minutes every day doing what I call ‘free range’ reading just trying to MAY 2010

find out what other people are doing and thinking because the idea is to be able to communicate with them in a meaningful way.” Miller calls his approach “stocking the library.” He reads at least four books at a time, visits countless Web sites each week and pours over newspapers. “It’s a lot of retention and knowing and taking things that are connected, then finding the connection,” he says. “That’s when you get the big picture. I think it makes you better in a tight squeeze. In my life, I spend all of my

time getting prepared for what happens next.” When the next thing was a massive storm that devastated an entire region, Miller was ready. “Once you realize that it’s not about you, the world changes,” he says. “A lot of people needed help. Helping people — that’s very rewarding to me.” Judging by the pile of cards and letters in the manila folder, Miller should feel good because he helped an entire region.

– Les O’Dell SOUTHERN BUSINESS JOURNAL

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JAMIE

NASH-MAYBERRY ays of sunshine stream in the windows of Jamie Nash-Mayberry’s classroom at Shawnee High School in Wolf Lake. Some of those sunbeams make their way through an appleshaped prism on her desk, sending a spectrum of colors cascading from the ceiling down the walls like a rainbow. As students enter, they are met with music and inspirational quotations on the wall. The ambience of the room matches the personality of the teacher.

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In her first full year of teaching, Nash-Mayberry teaches everything from world geography to psychology, but what her students really learn goes beyond concepts and dates. Every day, her positive approach to teaching and living permeates her lessons, her classroom and the lives of her students. “I try to teach students that we have to live our lives to the fullest, while appreciating the small things,” she says. Nash-Mayberry calls her classroom the “happy room,” where she encourages her students to think big, leading by example.

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“We recently talked about all that we could accomplish. That spurred the idea of writing bucket lists — things we wanted to accomplish before we die,” she says. Fridays became brainstorming days when students would dream and plan and share their goals. One student’s list included a rather simple entry: Save a life. “We all immediately put that on our own lists, too,” Nash-Mayberry added. “It doesn’t have to mean give CPR to a drowning victim. It could be something as simple as a little miniscule action that could make a difference in a person’s life.” Nash-Mayberry shares her bucket list, too. One week, a student tried to give the teacher a reality check. “I can’t remember exactly what was on my list that day, but one of my students told me that it was unrealistic and impossible,” she recalls. “I asked why she would want to crush my dream like that. That was the beginning of the dream-crusher tickets.” Dream-crusher tickets are citations students can give one another, as well as teachers and administrators, for dashing the hopes of a dreamer. The tickets themselves state, “Your punishment shall be that you will have to live in a world with one less dream pursued.” So far, Nash-Mayberry has avoided receiving a ticket. “I have to be very careful,” she says. “I haven’t gotten one yet, but the students have threatened me.” A graduate of Cobden

DID YOU KNOW? Despite her young age, Jamie Nash-Mayberry is fanatical about classic television, especially ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘The Lone Ranger.’ Her car even testifies to her devotion. On her back bumper is a simple bumper sticker that reads, ‘Hi, ho, Silver, Away!’ High School, Nash-Mayberry earned a bachelor’s degree in 2008 from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. A long list of achievements and honors at SIUC shows that dreamers can accomplish a great deal. It’s a mindset that Nash-Mayberry says she learned in a Union County garden. “My grandpa always had a positive outlook on life. He lived right next door, and I’d help him in the garden,” she says. “He’d share stories, but mostly he taught me by example. Everything he raised, he’d give away up and down the road. We’d sit on the back of his truck and enjoy the close of a pretty summer day. He taught me to enjoy the simple things.” Outside of the classroom, Nash-Mayberry and her husband, Kevin, are both members of the Little Egypt Search and Rescue team, a volunteer organization that works to locate and save victims involved in anything from plane crashes to hiking mishaps. She says she’s gained some of her outlook from her training for this role. “In search and rescue, the No. 1 necessity of

life — even before air or water — is a positive mental attitude. You have to have a will to survive.” She maintains her positive attitude through the things around her. “I love to read positive quotes and books, and I try to surround myself with people who are optimistic,” she says. MAY 2010


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Even on down days, NashMayberry tries to brighten her students’ days. She’s even come up with a solution, thanks to a student’s suggestion, to make sure there are rainbows in the classroom on gloomy days. Borrowing from an advertising slogan, she passes around a bag of Skittles candy on sunless MAY 2010

days so students can at least “taste the rainbow.” So what’s at the end of the rainbow for Nash-Mayberry? She says years from now, she hopes to still be doing what she’s doing now, as well as checking off items from her bucket list. “I hope I’m still teaching years from now. I want to still be teaching high school

and having the feeling that I’m making a positive difference. That’s why I’m in it now. I want to feel like what I am doing matters.” Just as she encourages her students to look beyond their own lives, Nash-Mayberry sees the big picture for herself. “I like to think that I am more than just a social

science teacher who wants her students to learn the content, but rather someone who also encourages students to think critically about the world around them and who encourages them to believe that they truly can change the world,” she says.

– Les O’Dell SOUTHERN BUSINESS JOURNAL

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REBECCA

O’NEILL ebecca “Becky” O’Neill is an attorney and clinical law professor with the Southern Illinois University School of Law Legal Clinic. She grew up in Johnston City, went to John A. Logan College, SIUC and then SIU School of Law. She practiced law for three years, starting in 1988, and has been at the legal clinic since 1991.

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While O’Neill teaches students the finer points of law, her passion in her position at the legal clinic is to help the less fortunate with legal assistance, particularly the elderly, and to impress upon her students the importance of doing the same, now and in the future. O’Neill established and continues to support the Bessie Engram Community Service Award at SIU School of Law, which provides an annual monetary award to the SIU law student who demonstrates the most community service to the elderly. Mary Rudasill, former director of clinical programs at SIUC, in her support of O’Neill as the 2004-2005 winner of the Lindell B. Sturgis Public Service Award at SIUC, noted that, in ONeill’s approach with elderly clients, she “sets a great example for our law students. She demonstrates that you can be an extremely ethical, competent and successful attorney while still treating everyone involved with respect.” Rudasill went on to note that, “For several years, she took students to the soup kitchen in Marion and provided short-term legal services to those who came for the daily free meal. These special activities relate to one of Becky’s main teaching objectives — to impress upon law students the great need for pro bono legal service activities after they graduate and start their practice. “It does not take too many road trips

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through rural Southern Illinois to demonstrate to law students that many, many people cannot afford to hire an attorney to address their legal problems. Becky’s students will certainly be among those lawyers who understand this need.” O’Neill routinely volunteers to make presentations on legal issues of concern to the elderly. These presentations, which are not part of her employment duties, usually take place outside of regular work hours, and she travels all over Southern Illinois to make them. Through the presentations, she shares legal information with agency personnel, organizations for the elderly and others who may serve the elderly through their employment. However, O’Neill’s passion for helping extends beyond just legal services for the elderly. In fact, some might say it is at the opposite end of the spectrum. “When my son was in junior high, he was in a musical at school,” she recalls. The company that produces musicals for rental at schools hosted an international theater festival in Atlanta that year. “The school district couldn’t afford to send the kids, so a group of five of us mothers took our children there to participate,” she continues. “We won, so we then started thinking about ways to give other children in Southern Illinois the same opportunities to participate in the arts.” The next summer, O’Neill drafted the paperwork to get a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established to do just that. It is called ArtStarts. She recruited a board of directors and began locating volunteers to help with the organization — to bring the vision of ArtStarts to life. She is currently president of the organization. The goal of ArtStarts, which serves the southern 14 counties of Illinois, is to provide opportunities in the arts for youth ages 5 through 18, particularly to those who might not otherwise be able to participate because of economic barriers. The organization sponsors a number

of events. These include putting on summer theater camps, hosting art competitions and offering scholarships for students of underserved populations who plan to pursue an art-related field in college. ArtStarts also produces spring musicals. “These are huge productions, which are held at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center each year, and our shows usually sell out,” O’Neill says. These spring shows will usually draw 4,000 to 6,000 people each year. The organization also produces a large dance show in the fall. “About nine charities participate,” she explains. They have couples who dance, similar to “Dancing with the Stars,” and the participants earn funds for their charities. “During these shows, we have huge production numbers that the children put on,” she adds. Last year, that event raised about $95,000 for charities. During these various events, the youth members manage the stages, assist with costuming and choreography, sell ads for the programs, manage the box offices, work as ushers, sell merchandise, handle the lighting and music, manage the sound and MAY 2010


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perform in the plays. While O’Neill does a lot of the work, she emphasizes that ArtStarts really relies on a huge network of volunteers who do so much work, and patrons who contribute financial support. “These individuals help make the organization what it is today,” she states. MAY 2010

DID YOU KNOW? Though not part of her job, Rebecca O’Neill travels throughout Southern Illinois helping with legal issues concerning the elderly. For example, ArtStarts engages professionals and students in the art, design and construction departments of SIUC and John A. Logan College to

help with the management and creation of art contests and stage play productions. While O’Neill has accomplished a lot in her law education career and art

promotion activities, she says that she is most proud of her three children. And who has been the most inspirational person to her? “My mother, Barbara Maroscher,” she replies. “She is extremely talented, a gifted musician and artist, and she has been very inspirational to me. For

SEE O’NEILL / PAGE 38 SOUTHERN BUSINESS JOURNAL

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DID YOU KNOW? Amy Oxford and her mother launched SI Yellow Ribbon to support troops and their families. Today, it is a national organization supporting more than 2,000 soldiers.

AMY

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my Oxford of Harrisburg suffers from lupus, a debilitating autoimmune disease. She also suffers from fibromyalgia, as well as a necrotic bone disease, which cuts off the blood supply to her bones, causing bone tissue death and ultimate bone collapse. The combination of these afflictions leaves Oxford in severe pain most of the time.

STEVE JAHNKE

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Because of her disabilities, Oxford is unable to work full time. She tries to make ends meet as a substitute teacher in the Harrisburg school system. There are some days, though, when she is so exhausted and wracked with pain that she can do nothing but lay in bed. “I have good weeks and bad weeks,” she explains. “Some weeks, I can work five days. Other times, I have to stay in bed all week long.” As a result, she frequently struggles to pay bills and buy groceries. One might think that, with all of these adversities and challenges, Oxford spends her free time trying to find out what others can and will do for her. Actually, the opposite is true. She spends virtually all of her spare time helping others. Oxford began the first lupus support group in the region, spending time talking with organizations about this disease, and setting up displays in malls and at health fairs. “Lupus is in the field of arthritis, and people just really don’t understand what it is,” she notes. Earlier this year, she and her daughter began raising money to be able to present a check at the televised arthritis telethon this spring. She is also a team captain and is walking in the arthritis walk for lupus research. Later this summer, she will be a member of a team for the annual cancer walk and has already begun fundraising for this effort. This year, Oxford is PTO president at East Side School in Harrisburg. In this role, she helped to coordinate Fall Fun Day, Grinch

Day and a fundraiser. She is also a room mother for her daughter’s class. “As a volunteer at school, I am always taking pictures of the various events so that I can give them to the parents who had to work that day and couldn’t see their children participating in the events,” she reports. Oxford is a volunteer for Girl Scouts, and she has her own 4-H Club. She is also active in her church, delivering homemade meals to shut-ins and baking cookies that will be distributed at the correctional center in Harrisburg. In December, she worked with local police officers on the Shop With a Cop program, helping children pick out shoes, clothing and toys for Christmas. Then, in January, she worked at the local bloodmobile registration table and also donated homemade cookies that would be served to donors. Enough? Not even getting started. Oxford is most known for heading up SI Yellow Ribbon, an organization she and her mother, Kathy Williams, launched in 2003 as a way to show support for the troops overseas and lend support to the families of those troops. SI Yellow Ribbon started out with the names of seven soldiers. Today, it is a national organization with the names of 2,300 soldiers from around the country in its database. “When we started, we just wanted to provide a way for our community to show their patriotism,” Oxford recalls. “We started by selling yellow ribbons for people to hang outside, to show their support. We didn’t want to make a profit, so we started looking for ways to use the money.” They decided to take the names of local soldiers who were deploying and create care packages. “We never intended for it to become a national organization, but it just sort of took off after our efforts hit the national wire services later that year,” she continues. “We ended up on Fox News and CNN, and things just snowballed from there.” Oxford and her mother spend time conducting fundraisers, speaking at schools and churches, organizing items, packing boxes and mailing the boxes. They also

stay in contact with the soldiers and their families via e-mail and regular mail. Each care package also receives a handwritten note from Amy or her mother. For her efforts with SI Yellow Ribbon, Oxford was chosen to receive the National VFW Member Volunteer Service Award in 2006. She received the award in Washington, D.C., where she spoke to thousands of attendees, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The next year, Oxford was a guest on the “Montel Show,” one of five women from around the country selected for their community service while also dealing with personal adversity. And, in 2008, she was honored in person at the White House by President George W. Bush for her efforts, where she received a presidential coin. Oxford received the Rosemary Berkel Crisp Award in 2005 for her volunteerism in Southern Illinois, and Illinois State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka selected her as one of 15 women in Illinois to receive the “Woman to Woman Making a Difference Award.” Why is Oxford so committed to helping others? “I don’t want a handout,” she replies. “I just want to help people.” Oxford emphasizes that her mom raised her that way. “My mom has a lot of health problems, too, and I realized that she could have just laid down and given up,” she states. “However, she was always an avid volunteer.” While her mom is the most inspirational person Oxford knows, the person of whom she is the most proud is her daughter. “Callie frequently comes to me and says she wants to volunteer, and it just makes me feel really good,” Oxford says. “For example, with the arthritis telethon, she said, ‘Mommy, I see how sick you are. I want to help you raise some money.’ She is only 9 years old. In fact, she is the reason I keep going.” Oxford recently lost her home and had to move in with her parents. “That was a particularly rough week,” she recalls. “However, that was the week I found out that I had won the Leaders Among Us award. That really helped me through things.”

– William Atkinson SOUTHERN BUSINESS JOURNAL

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JASON

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ason Shadowen remembers warning his oldest son about picking on his little brother.

“Someday he’ll be able to give it back to you,” Shadowen recalls saying over and over again. Even though the youngest member of the family is only 3, he’s already “giving back.” It’s not surprising, though; giving back is what the boys’ father is all about. “I think the theme of leaders is giving back,” Shadowen says. “I believe true leaders are people who give back to their communities. It comes with leadership.” He says he’s marked passages in Bob Prosen’s book, “Kiss Theory Good Bye,” about superior leaders. “I will be honest. I’ve never really seen myself as a superior leader,” he admits. “I’ve underlined a lot of where the book talks about the qualities of superior leaders. It really defines a leader and, after reading it, I thought I was on the way, but I know I’ve got a long way to go.” Shadowen is the owner of Electrical Detectives, a Herrin-based electrical contractor. For his company, he says leadership and giving back means providing excellent customer service. “Customer service to me is a win-winwin,” he explains. “First, the customer has to win. It’s something we pride ourselves on. Once the customer wins, that means the individual technician wins and, then finally, the company wins.” For him, a customer’s win means having a client who understands what the technicians are doing. “We try to be very customer-focused,” he says. “We try to educate people about their electrical systems and make sure that customers are both safe and comfortable.” The giving back goes beyond work for Shadowen. In fact, the list of his involvements and memberships is almost as long as the ladder he uses. He’s involved in a number of chambers of commerce and volunteers at the annual HerrinFesta

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DID YOU KNOW? Jason Shadowen is a huge music fan. He says his portable music player contains ‘everything but opera.’ It includes a range of music from praise and worship artist Chris Tomlin to 1980s heavy metal hair bands. Italiana. He has been involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters, serves on the board of directors of Southern Illinois Home Builders and is past

president of Southern Illinois Networking Association. “SINA has been really good for us in business and it works extensively with charities,” he says. “One of the things I really like about the organization is that you have other business leaders promote you and your business for you. It’s like having other salesmen working for you.” For Shadowen, one of the biggest advantages of his involvement in groups like SINA goes beyond business. “I’ve developed a lot of personal MAY 2010


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relationships and made a lot of good friends,” he says. He’s also trying to develop relationships with those much younger. Shadowen is instrumental in the development of a new organization patterned after Big Brothers Big Sisters. He says he’s doing whatever he can to help launch the new group called Mentors 4 Kids. “It’s going to be a really awesome thing,” he says.

MAY 2010

With so much going on in his life, Shadowen is a big proponent of planning. His BlackBerry is never far from his side. “I’m always putting dates on it. Someone will ask me something and the first thing I’ll do is go to my calendar,” he says. Planning to him means more than scheduling appointments. “My motto is, ‘Plan or be

planned for.’ In our business, you have to plan,” he says. “We have to get things in line for marketing and we have to plan for the slow seasons and for the busy seasons, and I think you have to take the planning into your personal life, too.” His personal life also involves a commitment to Cornerstone Church, where he plays in the worship band and works with youth at the

church’s West Frankfort location. “I love how our church supports its communities. That’s a really important part of life for us. The church doesn’t stay within its walls. It’s in the community and it’s giving back,” he says. For Shadowen, everything seems to come back to giving

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octors may say Bill Vandergraph has a problem with his heart. After all, the pastor of Full Gospel Pentecostal Church of Alto Pass has had a couple of open heart surgeries and a few stents placed in arteries.

D

Sure, his anatomical heart might not be as strong as it used to be, but referring to the center of emotion, the spirit of a man and the capacity for sympathy, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with his heart. For nearly all of his 72 years, Vandergraph has been caring for other people. Born and raised in Alto Pass, he says he knew as a child that his calling would be in ministry. “I always wanted to be a preacher. I remember at 9 years old telling people that’s what I wanted to be,” he says. After working for Caterpillar in Peoria for about five years, he followed through on his promise to pastor. For nearly 50 years, he’s been in ministry with his wife, Shelba, whom he married only months after graduating from high school. Their life together has been one of service. As missionary pastors, mostly in Missouri, they started daycares and preschools in churches throughout the state. The couple returned to Southern Illinois in the early 1990s when Vandergraph’s father was ill. He was still serving as a pastor, but he also took on a job driving a school bus for the Cobden school district. He says he loved the job because it offered income without taking a great deal of time.

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“I learned to enjoy it,” he says. “As a school bus driver, you As a Cobden bus driver, Bill Vandergraph often learn a lot about an took Appleknocker teams to other schools for area, its families and games. The host school would often serve a its status just by being meal for officials, coaches and bus drivers. One night on a trip to Ullin, he followed the around the children. It ‘Welcome’ signs, filled up a plate and sat was very enjoyable and down to eat — the only uninvited guest at a rewarding.” Shawnee High School alumni dinner. It’s obvious the Vandergraphs enjoy children. They have four biological children “I remember being here as a kid and, throughout the years, have had and going to sunrise services on Bald some 40 foster children. Knob as a kid,” he recalls. “The cross “We saw the need and fostered has always played a part in our lives. children ranging from newborn to Unfortunately, I think people got almost teenagers,” he says. used to it, and there was a lack of “Eventually, we adopted two and interest in taking care of it.” dropped out of fostering, but Vandergraph and his group have recently we’ve gotten back in for already raised more than $325,000 for some very special reasons.” the project. He says the goal is to He says when they adopted the two raise an additional $300,000 in the children, they were already greatnext three years. grandparents. The couple has a total He says the organization rose from of 17 grandchildren and 23 greatconflicts within the cross’ governing grandchildren. organization and the state of Eventually, he was asked to pastor disrepair of the monument. Full Gospel Pentecostal Church of “I was really bothered by that and I Alto Pass. It’s a position he’s had for realized I had to do something to get eight years and one he enjoys. the cross fixed. It is a symbol of my “I really get fulfilled with teaching faith; it’s common to all Christians.” in the local church. I enjoy the Vandergraph said he reached out writing and the preparation of to individuals, businesses and other sermons,” he says. “I appreciate churches to work together. every day that I live. I’m not “This team got on board, and never supposed to be doing all of this at once have we had any division. Our this age. I get energy from doing only objective is to raise money for things. I have to be busy, and I have the cross; that’s all we do. Everything to find areas that will occupy my focuses on the needs of the cross,” time.” Vandergraph says. The area of his ministry that has He said he hopes to raise enough kept him busy for the last couple of money not only for the restoration of years is leadership of Friends of the the cross, but also for the continued Cross. The organization is a nonupkeep of the site and to add some profit group working to raise money additional services, including a for the restoration of the 111-foot cross on Bald Knob. SEE VANDERGRAPH / PAGE 38

DID YOU KNOW?

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CHERRY FROM PAGE 11 Cherry still is involved in his birth family’s life, even though he is now married. His wife, Tara, is expecting their second child. His siblings still seek him out for help and advice. Not only does he administer his parents’ church, he also is key among other family ministries, as well as helping brothers and sisters find their own place. “I love my family, and I feel that there are so many messages that God has in us — in all 10 children. All of us are in different seasons of life, and we’re working to capture those different seasons. I’ve been spending a lot of time with them just planting visions,” Cherry says. He has some visions of his own for his own life, his church and Southern Illinois. “Several years ago, God

O’NEILL gave me a vision that this is where I was called to be. So many times we all get tired of being in one place or another, but I feel that God has me here for a long time. I’ll probably grow old here, still making friendships and trying to cultivate the community while being able to be in ministry. My heart is community. My heart is with people and helping people. That’s who I am.” If Cherry sounds like he’s got a single focus, it’s because he does. And that’s just the way he wants it. “Church is my life. It’s all I’ve known, and it’s the life I love. I really don’t feel fulfilled if I’m not working toward accomplishing something for Christ. That’s the ultimate goal, and it makes the day-to-day worthwhile because of the power of just one changed life.”

– Les O’Dell

HENRY FROM PAGE 19 was his mother. “She raised three boys by herself in Alton,” he states. “She dropped out of high school, but went back and got her GED. She eventually moved us out of the projects and made sure that none of us were stuck there.” According to Henry, his mother never used the words, “I can’t.” To her, he says, that was just another term for being lazy. Another particularly important person in his life was Barb James, who was an English instructor at John A. Logan College. “I knew her when I was living in Carbondale,” he recalls. “She would sit me down and talk to me. I learned a lot from her.” Another thing that got Henry thinking about the possibilities that life could

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offer was that James’ house had a carpet. “I had grown up in a place with concrete floors,” he explains. “I decided that I wanted a home like hers someday.” More recently, Henry has found that he has learned a lot from George Trammell of the Marion Chamber of Commerce. “I love his leadership skills,” he states. “He really knows how to get things done.” Another is Gail West, the Marion city administrator. “Physically, she is a small woman, but when she speaks, she can enlighten a whole room,” he states. “I often talk with her one-on-one, and I think I have picked up another associate’s degree just from listening to her.”

– William Atkinson

FROM PAGE 31 example, she always pushed me to go the extra step when it comes to helping other people, as well as to emphasize the importance of building character.” Despite her many achievements, O’Neill still has some dreams, most of which revolve around writing. For one thing, she would like to write a production, such as a play or a musical,

that ArtStarts students would perform. “I have a lot of stories to tell, and I would like to put them down someday,” she states. She would also like to write some of the interesting stories that she hears when she is doing free legal work for the elderly. “Some of the stories that these people have really need to be shared,” she concludes.

– William Atkinson

SHADOWEN FROM PAGE 35 back. He says he enjoys working with youth for that reason. It’s also why he works with business and trade associations — sort of a way of repaying what he’s gained. “While I’ve not really had too many mentors, I’ve been a part of many electrical and contractor organizations, and many of those contractors have been as much of a mentor to me as anyone else in my life. I’ve learned so much from others in my industry,” he says. “Look at all of the big leaders in any industry or in the world. They are huge in giving back,” he adds.

Every day, Shadowen draws on the knowledge he’s learned from others in his industry as well as those people he thinks are leaders. Yet, he doesn’t call them his heroes. He saves that title for one other individual: his wife Shayna. “She’s probably the biggest hero in my life,” he says. “She is so busy all of the time with our kids and working. She does so much. I wouldn’t have the energy to do what she does.” It’s probably true. After all, the Electrical Detective knows all about energy and about doing things for others.

– Les O’Dell

VANDERGRAPH FROM PAGE 36 chaplains program. Vandergraph says his work with Friends of the Cross and being a pastor are just about loving people. “I’ve always been a people person. I love children to those in nursing homes ... I know that hurting people need to be listened to and I enjoy listening. It gives me energy. I know there is a need, and I want to be where I’m needed,” he says. “I just cannot be isolated. There’s plenty to do and so

much that’s not being done,” he adds. “We, as Christians, tend to worry about things that are not essential. The whole church movement is supposed to be about other people.” As work on the cross progresses, there’s a chance people will look on it as Vandergraph’s legacy. That’s not what he wants. “If anything, I’d rather be remembered as a faithful pastor than anything else, that’s very important to me.”

– Les O’Dell MAY 2010


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2010 LEADERS AMONG US GUY ALONGI III MIKE ARMSTRONG LARRY CARTER NATHAN CHERRY BARBARA BOCK DALLAS

LINDA FLOWERS TERANCE HENRY MICHAEL J. HOPKINS GARY KELLY TOM MILLER

JAMIE BROOKE NASH-MAYBERRY REBECCA O’NEILL AMY OXFORD JASON SHADOWEN PASTOR BILL VANDERGRAPH

SPONSORED BY:

MAY 2010

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