No place like Tuscola for welcoming, helping community members

By Colleen Lehmann
“Tuscola is my home … it’s like a sheltering, loving third parent.”

So was the characterization of this community of ours by Mike Carroll, retired judge and attorney and keynote speaker for the 2014 Tuscola Community Foundation annual reception, held Thursday, Oct. 16 at Ironhorse Clubhouse.

Approximately 100 folks were in attendance at the event, which marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of the foundation, a publicly supported non-profit corporation that provides financial assistance for programs and services from its General Fund and a number of restricted funds. These funds serve a broad spectrum of interests, including education, health and human services, scientific research, religion, and youth activities.

TCF board member Linda Damler welcomed guests to the reception, which included a cocktail hour and catered appetizer buffet courtesy of Flesor’s Candy Kitchen. Tuscola High School FFA students volunteered their time and talents in helping with setup, decorations, and throughout the evening.

Fellow TCF board members Dan Kleiss, Duff Hoel, Colleen Lehmann, Phil Beachy, Rev. Jason Braaten, Michael Smith, Drew Hoel, Susie Harbaugh, and John Watson were introduced, after which Drew Hoel took the podium briefly to introduce Carroll as speaker. In the background a slideshow silently displayed photos of TCF scholarship and grant recipients.

People, Carroll theorized, fall into three categories: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those that wonder, “What happened?”

“Fortunately, Tuscola is lucky to have an abundance of the first category—those who make things happen. Volunteerism abounds. People and city government are forward thinking, willing to go above and beyond to get things done for the betterment of the citizens.

“Tuscola is truly one of the great examples of what a small town can be; how it can enhance the life experience for people; make people feel safe, like they belong and are important; impart meaning to life; and render existence as something that makes sense,” Carroll said.

Those same goals are part and parcel of what Tuscola Community Foundation tries to do, and board members invite anyone wishing to learn more about TCF to contact them, or visit the Web site at www.tuscolafoundation.org.

Audit report shows city finances on solid ground

By Colleen Lehmann
An audit is no easy process to go through, but a necessary one for all municipalities, to determine that proper accounting procedures are being followed, and to get a clear picture of the entity’s financial footing.

Prior to the start of the Oct. 14, 2014 Tuscola City Council meeting, city treasurer Alta Long gave an overview of the audit report for FY 2014 (May 1, 2013-April 30, 2014). She noted the audit process took three auditors 4 1/2 months, and generated 61 pages of financial information.

“Ten percent of checks issued (3,175 were written during the financial year) and everything over $20,000 is scrutinized by the auditors. The bottom line on our bottom line is, the city is financially sound; nothing negative was found. With audits, generally speaking, no news is good news, and that’s what we got here,” Long said.

Highlighted items included water and sewer funds showing positive cash balances after having been cash negative for awhile. Original water bonds (issued in 1992) and sewer bonds (issued in 2003) for major projects will be paid off by 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Overall debt is down $337,711 from last year, and capital assets up $1.3 million … “which means we are upgrading our property and equipment faster than its life is depreciating,” said Long.

She continued, “It was great when, in 2001, the city started saving money for a rainy day—making a schedule for capital improvements and vehicle replacements. We have not borrowed for equipment purchases for 12 years, a far cry from 20 years ago, when we had to borrow $20,000 just to buy a squad car,” Long noted.

General Fund reserves have been the borrowing source for TIF projects, with TIF owing the General Fund $581,003 at the end of FY 2014. Having Tax Increment Fund is the financial vehicle through which the city has been able to help encourage economic development projects. But the TIF districts will expire in eight years, “and that’s something we need to be thinking about … what if anything do you want to do to replace that,” Long said.

•TIF requests
Three TIF requests were approved at the Oct. 14 meeting. A $10,157 grant and $1,155 loan will go to Lynnita Brown for repairs to Aldridge Collectibles at 131 W. Sale Street; and a $2,500 grant to the Douglas County Museum board for foundation, tuck-pointing, and other masonry repairs to the building.

The third was a $20,000 grant and $15,000 loan to Rachel Puckett, who will be establishing her antiques business, Since 1776, at 102-104 W. Sale Street. The money will be used toward the costs of repairing drywall, flooring, and ceiling, as well as for painting and lighting upgrades and replacement of the door. Puckett, who was at the meeting, said she hopes to have her business up and running by Thanksgiving, also leasing space to vendors featuring antiques and repurposed items.

When the city’s current contract with its solid waste hauler expires in July 2015, there apparently will be some competition for the job. Eric Shangraw, municipal marketing manager for AREA Disposal in Peoria, was at the Oct. 14 meeting to express the company’s interest in bidding for the solid waste hauling contract. Shangraw said the company could offer competitive rates, and also offers pickup of recycling.

In other business the council:
•Appointed councilman Boyd Henderson mayor pro tem in the absence of Mayor Dan Kleiss, who underwent back surgery earlier in the day.

•Approved payment of bills totaling $228,399.98.

•Accepted the resignation of Tuscola Police Dept. officer Matt Reed, effective Friday, Oct. 10, 2014.

•Was presented with a certificate of appreciation from American Legion Post 27 for the city’s assistance with Post activities.

•Approved a request to use Ervin Park on June 6, 2015 from 6:30-10:30 a.m. for the annual Erin’s Race 5K run to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The race will start by the north pavilion, go south onto Main Street, turn left on Pembroke, right on Niles, left on Sale, right on Carico, right on North Central, right on Parke, and back into the park.

•Learned Eddie Boutilier was the only name on the TIF delinquency list.

•Adjourned until the next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014 at City Hall.

Bergeson resigns county board, Carroll to fill term

By Colleen Lehmann
After serving on the Douglas County Board for the past six years, Tuscola resident Randy Bergeson officially tendered his resignation for consideration at the Oct. 15, 2014 monthly meeting. He suggested having Michael Carroll, his neighbor and now retired county judge, serve the remainder of the District 4 unexpired term.

It was with regret that the other board members accepted Bergeson’s resignation, which is effective Nov. 30, 2014, and they also voted their approval of Carroll as his successor until Nov. 30, 2016.

Asked the reason for his decision, Bergeson said other commitments were taking up his time, then quipped, “Mike knows more than I do about the business of running the county, so really it’s a public service for me to do this.”

An ordinance establishing generally applicable standards for construction “on, over, above, along, upon, under, across or within use of/repair of public rights-of-way” drew not only approval but praise from board members.

“We owe a huge thanks to our county engineer [Jim Crane] for getting us ahead of the game on this matter,” said board member Tom Glenn.

The 45-page document details specific guidelines contractors/companies must follow when doing construction or repair work that impacts county rights-of-way—among them required permitting and insurance, general construction standards, traffic control, and cleanup and restoration practices.

“We have had trouble with this type of thing in the past, including damage done to public right-of-way that was difficult to get rectified, so to have something cutting edge like this in place to ensure certain standards are met is terrific,” said board member Don Munson.

In other business the board:
•Approved minutes of the Sept. 5, 2014 special board meeting and Sept. 17, 2014 regular monthly board meeting, payment of the county’s financial obligations, and reports of fees of county offices.

•Approved a one-year contract with Advanced Correctional Healthcare out of Peoria, at a cost of $55,029.25, for inmate medical care, based on an average daily inmate population of 25. This will be a savings of approximately $10,000 from the current provider, who elected not to offer a bid for the contract.

•Approved authorization of an increase in the circuit clerk automation fee, from $15 to $25, and in the document storage fee, from $15 to $25. The changes will be for all first filings other than non-court appearance traffic offenses (will remain at $5) and “must appear” traffic cases (will remain at $15). The new charges will be in effect starting Jan. 1, 2015.

•Approved a motion to reappoint Tom Wold, Dr. Virginia Wade, and Tom Hettinger to the Douglas County Public Health Board; and to appoint Dr. Aaron Parsons to fill the vacated unexpired term of Dr. Richard Davidson.

•Received an informational handout on Ebola from Health Department administrator Amanda Minor (see textbox).

•Adjourned until the next regularly scheduled meeting on Wed., Nov. 19, 2014 at 9 a.m. in the boardroom of the Douglas County Courthouse.

Cronus decision delayed pending signed agreements

By Colleen Lehmann
About this time next week, Project Cronus officials and TEDI executive director Brian Moody had tentatively planned on making the official announcement to the world that the granular urea fertilizer plant would indeed be built in Douglas County, just outside of Tuscola.

But utilizing “an abundance of caution,” the determination has been made to hold off a bit longer, so as of Friday, Oct. 10, 2014, there is no set announcement date according to Moody, though he maintains it is “imminent.”

“The union (labor) negotiations are done, EPA process is completed, governmental milestones have been cleared.* Right now the only remaining issue is getting landowner easements signed for the water pipeline corridor. Nine of the 77 landowners have completed the agreements; they are done and in my hands. At least 45 of them have, in theory, agreed to the terms, as they were part of the landowners group that bargained as a collective with Cronus officials” Moody noted.

While Moody characterizes the ongoing conversations as positive and going well, “The problem is getting ahold of people, which I guess at this time of year is not surprising. Harvest time is making it difficult; of course farmers are out in their fields whenever the weather permits. The sense of urgency to get the agreements signed that exists with everyone working on the project is, perhaps, not at the same level for some of the landowners. I recognize not everybody is as up-to-date on and/or living the project like I am and the Cronus officials are.”

Moody said that as of the Aug. 27, 2014 landowners meeting, “We’ve tried to pound home that night and since then that time is of the essence. The corridor path has been altered slightly here and there several times at the request of landowners. I certainly sympathize with their concerns, and we truly are trying to be as accommodating as possible.”

A 100-foot temporary easement would be necessary during the pipeline’s construction phase, with the easement whittling down to 30 to 50 feet on a permanent basis. The final draft agreement, with names, have been in the hands of landowners for about two weeks.

“We want to have half of the agreements in hand, and at this point we have about one-quarter of them. Once we have 39 or 40, everyone would feel confident making the announcement.”

Cronus Chemicals is seeking to construct a fertilizer manufacturing facility at 785 East Highway 36, just west of Tuscola. The anticipated project cost is $1.2 billion, with 1,500 to 2,000 construction jobs over the 32-month building phase. Once operational, the plant would employ approximately 150 full-time workers, up to 50 permanent contractor maintenance positions, and spinoff business for 30 to 50 trucking positions.

Officials have said the projected economic impact of the plant during construction phase would be as high as $300 million, and once the plant is operational, $100 million a year for the first decade of its life.

“We would still anticipate spring construction—mostly earth-moving and such. You wouldn’t necessarily see building going up until this time next year,” said Moody.
________________________________________________________

*Previous Cronus milestones:
In April 2013 legislation was approved designating the proposed site a high-impact business site, which would afford it property tax abatements not to exceed $12 million, among other enticements.

On Thursday, March 6, 2014 officials of the Urbana-Champaign Sanitary District signed off on a contract that would provide up to 6.3 million gallons of effluent (treated wastewater) necessary for plant operations. Compensation to the U-CSD by Cronus Chemicals would be a minimum of $2 million per year.

On Sept. 5, 2014, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency announced a final decision had been made to issue a construction permit for the proposed Cronus Chemicals project.

Music to her ears–piano recital birthday gift for retired prof

1A-Catharine SmithwebBy Colleen Lehmann
For 37 years, from 1949 to 1986, Dr. Catherine Smith was a guiding light on the piano faculty at Eastern Illinois University—teaching and demanding excellence from scores of talented students and serving as chair of the keyboard area for many years.

Not only was Dr. Smith an exceptional teacher at Eastern, but also a recognized leader in the Charleston community. A devout Catholic, she served on the committee that planned and built the Newman Center. Since her retirement, Dr. Smith returned to her hometown of Bloomington, Ind., where she remains active as a performer and lecturer.

On Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 at 7:30 p.m., in recognition of Dr. Smith’s 90th birthday, a piano recital will be held in her honor at Doudna Fine Arts Center’s Dvorak Concert Hall on the EIU campus in Charleston. The public is invited to attend this free celebratory event. At least 20 former students will be reuniting—coming from across the country–to share their talents at this special program, as will former colleagues. EIU alum Ron Roberts of Huntsville, Alabama will be emcee.

Glenna Murphy of Tuscola, a former Smith student who now serves as liturgist and pianist at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Charleston, is one of the primary organizers of this gala event, which will also include a full weekend of gatherings for the “students” coming back to honor their teacher and mentor.

“When we learned she was going to be marking this milestone birthday we thought something must be done to celebrate—but initial thoughts were a group dinner or something of that nature. Dr. Smith, however, said what she wanted was a piano recital featuring former students, so that’s what we got to work on,” said Murphy.

And so letters were sent across the country, and the response has been prolific. Performers will travel from Florida, California, Tennessee, Colorado, Virginia, Rhode Island, throughout Illinois, and beyond for the recital.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal Oct. 15, 2014 edition

Former TCHS athlete running to help ensure miracles

Former Tuscola High School athlete Erica (Hall) Sherer realized almost 20 years ago that she liked running long distances. Little did she know that nearly 20 years later, she and husband Adam Sherer would be running the Chicago Marathon to benefit Lurie Children’s Hospital, where an amazing staff of doctors and nurses saved the lives of their twins Reese and Nolan, born 2 1/2 months prematurely on July 24, 2013, weighing only 2 lbs.

“The doctors told us the next 72 hours were very critical for the babies’ survival,” recalled Erica of those first few days in the hospital.

Nolan’s lungs were very underdeveloped and he struggled to keep his food down. After the first day both babies lost weight, not good considering they were already so tiny, but the doctors and nurses were encouraging and informative as the entire extended family supported each other through each hour of every day.

Maternal grandparents Jerry Hall and Susan Hall of Tuscola and paternal grandparents Jill and Kurt Sherer spent hours daily praying for the babies, Erica and Adam, and all the medical staff–for strength, guidance and faith. Over the next three months, the family experienced numerous faith-strengthening and emotional trials, including Reese undergoing surgery on her head. Her fontanel had grown closed too quickly, and the doctor had to cut open her head and reshape it.

“I was really scared, just thinking about them cutting my baby girl’s head open” said Erica, but once again, the medical staff kept the family well informed about the procedure, easing anxieties both before and after the surgery.

“Imagine sitting in a room with your two precious children with all kinds of machines hooked up to them, and every time you hear a beep or an alarm go off you immediately think the worst. That’s where these amazing nurses put you at ease, explaining everything to us,” said Jerry Hall.

Toward the end of the babies’ hospital stay, recalled Adam, “I wanted to find out who manufactures all this equipment that has made it possible for us to have these miracle babies, and find a way to give something back.”

The couple has chosen to do that by again running in the Chicago Marathon, only this time with proceeds raised by them going to Lurie Children’s Hospital.

“We are ready to run 26.2 miles to raise money that will help provide more technology that someday will give someone else a miracle like the ones we received,” said Adam.

Those miracles–Reese and Nolan—are now healthy, active 14 1/2 month-old toddlers. And their parents remain in contact with some of the nurses who made those first, anxious days tolerable, even attending the twins’ first birthday party.

“They truly are part of our family,” says Erica.

Anyone wishing to join the Sherer family in benefiting Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago can do so by making a tax-deductible donation. To help Erica and Adam reach their fundraising goal, go to
http://foundation.luriechildrens.org/site/TR/Events/TeamRaiser?fr_id=1530&pg=team&team_id=26480. The Sherers will be running “for the life of it” on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014.

Tuscola Community Foundation marking 20 years

By Colleen Lehmann
Twenty years ago Tuscola had a challenge put forth to it—made by Arcola resident Joe Monahan via the Tuscola Rotary Club. Monahan, whose family had recently acquired First Federal Bank of Tuscola, offered a $5,000 check to serve as seed money for the establishment of a not-for-profit community foundation to benefit Tuscola, such as the one Arcola had in place.

After bankers Bill McCarty and Doug McCumber and attorney Emerson Moore researched the ins and outs of creating such an organization, the decision was made to forge ahead with the plan. In July 1994 the certificate of incorporation was filed with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, and in September 1994 the first meeting of membership was held.

And since that time, scholarships have been awarded to graduating TCHS seniors, classroom endeavors have been enhanced, the Nunn Scout Building has received funding, BETHS Place domestic violence shelter has received financial assistance, as have several efforts and organizations serving the needs of Douglas County senior citizens. Prairieland Pride Playground has been a financial recipient, among many others over the years.

While the Tuscola Community Foundation board of directors meets quarterly to consider grant requests and conduct business, since 2006 it has also hosted an annual reception to help spread awareness of the foundation and its mission.

This year’s annual reception, scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014 at Ironhorse Clubhouse, marks 20 years of TCF working toward the betterment of life for Tuscola and its citizenry. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres (catered by Flesor’s Candy Kitchen) and beverages will be served from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. TCF president Dan Kleiss will then introduce the keynote speaker.

And who better to wax eloquent on the value of life in Tuscola than this year’s guest speaker, the Honorable Michael G. Carroll, retired Douglas County judge and one of the most enthusiastic and prolific champions of Tuscola and its storied history.

•Carroll career history
After graduating from Tuscola High School in 1965, Carroll attended Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, earning an undergraduate degree in 1969. He went on to the College of Law at University of Illinois, leaving with a J.D. in 1974 and passing the bar exam in 1975.

After a stint with the Army Corps of Engineers, Carroll was elected to and served as Douglas County state’s attorney from 1976 to 1982, after which time he went into private practice with the firm that would eventually bear his name—Lemna, Moore and Carroll. He specialized in wills, trusts and probate estates, personal injury, and business law.

Carroll remained in private practice from 1982 to 2006, and also served as Tuscola city attorney from 1988 to 2006. In November 2006 he was elected judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit following the retirement of Judge Frank Lincoln, and was retained for another six-year term in November 2012. However, he elected to retire from the bench effective Jan. 1, 2014.

“I was a Jarman baby, lived here all my life except for higher education and two years as an officer in the Army. As a child, I always saw Tuscola like a third parent: sheltering, protective, and, yes, sometimes smothering and too intimate. At reunions, past classmates often remark how fortunate they were to have grown up in Tuscola during the ‘50s and ‘60s … halcyon days, indeed.

“Of course things change and the town evolves. The trick has been, I believe, to create new assets and bend with the times without sacrificing those invaluable qualities found only in close-knit communities like Tuscola. I think we’ve largely done that. And those invaluable qualities include the town’s human capital. It’s the people that ultimately make or break a small town. We’ve been blessed in that regard. The patrons of Tuscola are many,” says Carroll.

“I’ll talk about what the town means to me–the relationship I feel with it, the major stages or transitions I’ve seen in my lifetime, and what I think makes it special. There will be some stories along the way–hopefully funny and mostly true–that help illustrate the themes,” he quipped.

There is a limited amount of available seating for this year’s gathering. Anyone wishing to attend the 2014 Tuscola Community Foundation annual reception is encouraged to reserve a seat by emailing tuscolafoundation@gmail.com or call Linda Damler at 253-3097 no later than Oct. 14. We look forward to spending an evening enjoying a shared love of all things Tuscola! And to learn more about Tuscola Community Foundation, visit the Web site at www.tuscolafoundation.org.

Hall of Fame makes weekend true coming home

By Colleen Lehmann
It was standing room only in the Douglas County Museum Saturday afternoon, Oct. 4, 2014 as 140 alums, citizens, family and friends gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of this year’s TCHS Hall of Fame inductees.

This is the biggest crowd to date for the event, which was revived approximately six years ago to honor high-achieving alumni and help underscore the valuable role education and community plays in children’s and teens’ lives.

Danny Matthews, Class of 1974, introduced classmate and inductee Dr. Greg Skuta, president and CEO of nationally recognized Dean McGee Eye Institute in Oklahoma City. Matthews noted Skuta’s rise to become a world renowned ophthalmologist, helping others around the world who suffer from eye disease.

“Greg shared the gifts he got—from being raised by great parents Richard and Jackie Skuta—and the Tuscola community. And I think it speaks well of you that approximately one-third of your class is here to celebrate your accomplishments.”

Skuta thanked Matthews for his kind words, saying it is “incredibly gratifying, as I have such great affection for my fellow alumni. I’m proud to be a Tuscola native, and am a particularly proud member of the Class of 1974. The educational experience we got from TCHS was vital to the contributions any of us have made. I’m also grateful for the unwavering, unconditional love and support from my parents—which allowed us to pursue our dreams and passions.”

Skuta offered a brief PowerPoint presentation featuring photos of his wife and three adult children and workplace, along with humorous running commentary, starting with this quote attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. “True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country!”

Added Skuta, “It’s great to see that alum are helping run the city, the county, and contributing to the world. This town is filled with people who have done whatever they can with whatever they have and have made an enormous difference. They have left an indelible transformational impact, not only in Tuscola but around the world. The top three things I’ve learned throughout my years on this earth—leadership matters, educators are infinitely important and have lifelong impact, and family is a tremendous blessing and joy.

Scott Day, Class of 1983, offered remarks for Class of 1981 inductee Rick Mooday.

“We have our three inductees who went out into the word and did great things. What a wonderful thing that we can say they went through Tuscola High School. If you can go out in the world and do what these inductees have done, then it’s very apparent we had a great curriculum and continue to have one.”

Mooday, who attended EIU and UIUC, joined the Navy after graduation, feeling he owed the country his service. Deployed to Iraq, he flew 23 combat missions in Desert Storm, then went on to Texas Tech, where he earned a Ph.D in chemical engineering. He accepted a post-doctoral research position at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico in 1999, working in weapon materials, materials science, stewardship and refurbishment of U.S. nuclear weapons systems, intelligence, and assessment of foreign nuclear weapons.

Said Mooday, “It’s great to come from a place with a broad view of success; Tuscola is a wonderful place to be from. Coming back for this event, it was wonderful to see the investment in the town, and was an honor to speak at the high school yesterday.”

Mooday reminisced about USI picnics, taking swim lessons at the Tuscola pool, and reaffirmed the difference dedicated educators made in his life.

“Mrs. (Kay) Kleiss was such an energetic teacher. She and Miss (Janet) Cox had a great work ethic. They always had great feedback and smiles on their faces. I remember Miss Cox telling me ‘How are they going to know what you know if you won’t tell them?’ That moment has stuck with me all my life.”

The inductee said he stayed in national defense “because it’s something I loved and felt like I could contribute to. I just felt it was my duty.”

Sue Reece, Class of 1962, did the honors for her husband, classmate and inductee Morrie Reece. She confessed to secretly filling out the forms and mailing them to event co-organizer Marci Shoemaker, who suggested a co-worker or friend send in an application.

And that’s when supplemental offerings arrived from Janet Wozniak—whose husband Steve was a co-founder of Apple Computers along with Steve Jobs.

“Through Morrie’s work at Apple, he made the world a better place,” wrote Wozniak.

After distinguished careers in the Navy’s power nuclear reactor division and later in the field of education, Morrie Reece joined a small company named Apple Computer in1982 to work in the newly formed education division. For the next 30 years he held a variety of management positions within that division, and during his last 12 years with Apple, was the company’s senior education development executive. He worked and consulted with over 120,000 educators in 32 states.

Reece noted, “My work has taken me to hundreds of schools, but I always thought South Ward—where I began my school career—was one of the most beautiful.”

Reece recalled with fondness his time spent in chorus at Tuscola High School, included being selected to the 1972 All-State Chorus his senior year.

“While we were there, a special audition was held to assemble 60 voices from Illinois to sing at the National Music Educators Conference. I was fortunate to be chosen, and we later spent four days in Chicago, singing in front of 13,00 music teachers.”

Now, he quipped, “The music I record is a big hit in the Tuscola and Newman nursing homes.”

In his life at Apple Computers, Reece has trained 120,000 K-12 teachers and over 11,000 higher-education teachers. He has received the Golden Apple—the company’s highest achievement award—15 times.

“I can still recall being at a dinner with Steve Jobs in October 1983 when Steve said, ‘Guys, we’re going to change the world.’ That was the day they had introduced their first Macintosh to Apple employees,” said Reece.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

While the three inductees were well aware of the kudos coming their way on Saturday, there was another Tuscola native in attendance who had no idea she was to receive some honors as well. Hall of Fame co-organizer Marci (Hausman) Shoemaker was given some love as well, via committee member Susie Harbaugh.

“This last part of our program has to do with leadership. Six years ago, Marci created a spark–she wanted to bring back and expand the old Homecoming tradition. She took a chance, made some calls, held meetings in her home, started an e-mail group. And I know you won’t believe this, but Marci Shoemaker got excited,” quipped Harbaugh.

“I remember the questions she fired at me. What about a newsletter? What about an online presence? What about selling a few items with a Warrior logo and raising some money for a scholarship? What about offering a tour of the high school for people who are coming back? What about encouraging classes to have their reunions during Homecoming weekend? What about bringing back the Hall of Fame? And this year, when she said what about teaching these youngins how to build a class float?

“With that infectious smile and tireless enthusiasm Marci is, and will always be, a Tuscola Warrior at heart! I believe that if your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more and become more that is leadership, and you, my dear Marci, are an excellent leader,” said Harbaugh.

That said, members of the Hausman/Shoemaker family joined Harbaugh onstage to present Marci with a handsomely framed pencil drawing of Marci done by local artist Jeff Edwards. The inscription burned into the black-and-gold mat read, in part: “In recognition of your Warrior pride and dedication to Tuscola High School alumni.”

A visibly moved Shoemaker responded, “Seven years ago, I told (then TCHS principal) Mr. Ransom that Homecoming sucks. We need to make this about the alumni. I couldn’t do it without the work of the whole committee. It’s been great to be able to bring back the Hall of Fame, which someone had already started, and to give out these awards. I love doing it.”

That sentiment is no surprise to anyone who has worked with Shoemaker on the event, or attended any of the ceremonies held the past six years.

Homecoming week stirs fond memories for 1933 TCHS alum

By Colleen Lehmann
Mary Hettinger Teeters came to Tuscola High School in her senior year, the fourth school she attended in her secondary school career—having started as a freshman in her native state of Ohio, sophomore year in Pesotum, and junior year in Villa Grove. Despite her newcomer status that fall of 1932, Mary quickly took to her new classmates and school, and proudly proclaims herself a TCHS Class of 1933 alum.

“I have so many memories of Tuscola High School, and the wonderful teachers they had there. Coming in my senior year it could have been difficult, but I’ve always liked meeting people and making friends so I set out to do that, and it all worked out,” says Teeters, who will mark her 99th birthday on Oct. 12, 2014.

Teeters chuckles as she recalls some classroom incidents from that seminal year.

“I was quite a tomboy in those days, and liked to bound up the stairs two or three at a time. Right after lunch I had physics, and I can still see Mr. [Ray] Wulliman, shaking a pencil at me and telling me to go back down and ‘walk up those stairs like a lady.’”

And on the subject of physics, Teeters says that she was also “most fortunate” to have as a lab partner fellow senior Howard Wright.

“Howard had such a mind for science and for explaining it. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude; I might still be in physics if it weren’t for him.”

Time in the classroom of civics/history instructor Bertha Flack left an impression on Teeters as well.

“She was a very dedicated teacher and loved her subject matter. She was, without a doubt, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat and my goodness, that was always very apparent during election time. You’d better be a Democrat or look out!”

The year 1933 held several major milestones for then-Mary Hettinger. She became a high school graduate in May, and in December married sweetheart Albert Teeters. That happy union lasted until Albert’s death in 2000 at age 90, and from it were borne three beloved children. Sadly, only one of the couple’s children is alive today. Firstborn daughter Mary Ann, who arrived in 1937, died at age 8 of complications from three-day measles. Son Jim, born in 1940, succumbed to cancer in December 2009.

“Thankfully, I still have my wonderful youngest daughter Carol. She lives in Richmond, Virginia and calls me just about every day to see how I’m doing,” says Mary, who is quick to note she has also been blessed with four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

While the deaths of her children were the worst moments of her life, Mary’s spirit and strong faith keep her on a positive path.

“The hardest part of losing Mary Ann was walking away from the gravesite the day we buried her. I thought for sure my heart would break right open. I have to admit, I did have a little talk with God, asking him why I had to lose two of my children, but He hasn’t gotten back to me on that yet,” she quipped. “But,” she continued, “you eventually learn to live with it, and I have so many blessings in my life that I am so very grateful for.”

For whatever reasons, Mary’s high school graduating class never had a reunion … that is, not until the 50-year anniversary rolled around.

“Can you believe it–our first class reunion was our 50-year one. I just made up my mind that it would happen, even though I’d only gone there the one year. I called up Drucilla Smith Taylor, Mary Iles Carmack, and Myron Fullerton and we got together and planned it.”

The event was held at Forty Martyrs Church hall, and Teeters still gets tickled thinking of it. “I typed up all the names of our classmates and the words to the school song on gold construction paper. We decorated and just had the most marvelous time catching up with each other. Afterwards, I received some lovely notes from people thanking us for putting it together.”

The very first Homecoming held at Tuscola Community High School was in October 1931, and now, 83 years later, as events get underway for the 2014 version, adopting Mary Teeters’ sense of community and loyalty is a great way to properly celebrate the occasion.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal Oct. 1, 2014 edition