‘A whole new perspective’ says TCHS student about unique leadership camp

1A-Blake NSLCwebBy Colleen Lehmann
If any Tuscola High School teacher happens to assign a “What I Did Over Summer Vacation” essay, Blake Woodard will have some great subject matter with which to work.

The soon-to-be senior spent what he characterizes as a “life changing” 10 days at a National Students Leadership Conference (NSLC) on the campus of Fordham University in New York City, studying sports and entertainment management. Woodard was afforded the unique opportunity by virtue of an anonymous nomination and recommendation.

“We still don’t know who nominated me for NSLC, but whoever it was, I am so glad they did,” says Woodard. “When my parents (John and Deanna Woodard) and I got the information and started checking out NSLC, it just looked like too good an opportunity to pass up.”

NSLC is a well-regarded and established leadership conference for high-achieving students offering them a blend of classroom activities; hands-on, real world simulations; field trips; and motivational speakers related to a variety of career interests. In Woodard’s case it was sports management, but other areas of concentration included biotechnology; business and financial careers; education and the classroom; journalism, film, and media arts; intelligence and national security; international diplomacy; law and advocacy; engineering; forensic science; culinary arts and restaurant management; medicine and health care; and theatre.

And so on July 8, 2014 Woodard flew from Indianapolis to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, arriving to attend a welcoming barbecue and opening ceremonies. Then it was nine days of morning-to-night immersion in the world of sports/entertainment management and leadership principles. Leadership series lecturers included professors Jay Caputo and Rob Romano.

“They were cool dudes, and offered really great perspectives on things like contract information, the ins and outs of being a sports agent, the kind of issues that arise in dealing with athletes and entertainment figures. I gained a lot of insight I wouldn’t have had any idea about before,” says Woodard.

 

Romano, in particular, piqued Woodard’s interest. He is a former NFL player, now an attorney with his own agency (RISE), representing athletes and coaches on a national and international level. Guest speakers to which the students were also exposed included nationally acclaimed sports business/news names like Aaron Cohen ad Matt Stroup.

Classes on campus were divided into three categories. Client management simulations—Woodard’s favorite–had the attendees drafting letters to potential clients trying to earn their “business,” learning about the negotiation process, public relations hurdles and how to handle them, and contract issues.

A second focus was management labs, offering tips on public speaking, interviewing techniques, and other necessary skills in the job-seeking world.

The third category was doing an event management simulation. Conference attendees were divided into teams and assigned different tasks related to the planning and hosting of a major sporting competition called the Fordham Games—an Olympic-like competition that included tug-of-war, dodge ball, touch football and more.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal July 30, 2014 edition

The Pharmacy merging with Sav-Mor Pharmacy

By Colleen Lehmann
Going into The Pharmacy on Tuscola’s North Main Street has always felt a bit like stepping back into a kinder, gentler time … an ever-present hint of nostalgia in the air.

That feeling has become more pronounced, with the recent announcement that the downtown business will be closing its doors to retail operations at the end of the month. July 29, 2014 will be the last day The Pharmacy is open to walk-in traffic.

As of July 30, 2014, the business will officially merge with Tuscola’s Sav-Mor Pharmacy. It was, says The Pharmacy owner Todd Lehman of Sullivan, a very difficult decision to make.

“I have been struggling with this for over six months; it’s caused a lot of consternation and sleepless nights. We have a lot of great, tremendously loyal customers, but overall the numbers were going down and it wasn’t making good business sense any more to keep on going like this.”

Several factors were cited by Lehman as leading to the difficult decision to close the doors. Five years ago, when he bought the business from longtime owners Fred and Janice Moody, third-party reimbursement was already beginning to be a problem, and anyone who has lived in Illinois for any time knows that has not improved with time.

“The reimbursement rate for pharmacies is terrible, and the bigger chain pharmacies are the ones with all the negotiating power when it comes to contracts. For the smaller, rural independent pharmacy it’s kind of a take-it-or-leave-it situation. And if you don’t have a lot of other things to encourage foot traffic through the door it continues to become more and more difficult to entice new and greater numbers of customers into your place,” lamented Lehman.

As numbers continued to point to a decision needing to be made, says Lehman, Sav-Mor Pharmacy owner David Falk made an offer to buy out the retail side of the business, “An offer I just couldn’t refuse,” said Lehman.

The Pharmacy customers able to refill their prescriptions at Tuscola’s Sav-Mor Pharmacy, 104 East Southline Road. Free prescription delivery within a 20-mile radius, a drive-thru window for prescription drop-off and pick-up, and the availability of a smartphone app to order refills are some of the services Sav-Mor offers.

Lehman will be working as a fully licensed pharmacist at Sav-Mor, while also continuing operations with his long-term care pharmacy license, what’s known as a “closed door shop,” that does business closely related to nursing home facilities but does not allow for retail disbursement.

•FS acquires Pangburn Propane, Oil
The Pharmacy isn’t the only Tuscola business to have undergone a change of ownership. Illini FS, based in Urbana, has acquired the assets of Pangburn Countryside Propane and Pangburn Oil Co. in Tuscola. Co-owner Mike Pangburn, age 67, will retire at the end of the year, while brother and co-owner John, age 63, will likely stay for another two years.

“We have been considering this for a while. We were looking to retire soon, and with no one in our families in a position to take things over, the handwriting was kind of on the wall,” they noted.

Mike and John’s father, Myron Pangburn, went to work for Standard Oil in 1959, and later he and wife Nola purchased the liquid fuel business and started Pangburn Oil. Mike and John Pangburn established Pangburn Countryside Propane in 2002.

Illini FS, a division of the Growmark regional cooperative, provides agriculture-related products and services to farmers and other rural residents of East Central Illinois.

TEDI/Chamber merger official with TEDI board approval

By Colleen Lehmann
It’s official … Tuscola Chamber of Commerce and Tuscola Economic Development Inc. are now one entity, following a vote in favor of the merger at the TEDI annual meeting held July 17, 2014 at The Smith House.

Serious talks of such action have been ongoing between the two organizations for almost a year, and with a vote to amend TEDI bylaws to form Tuscola Chamber & Economic Development Inc., the deal was sealed. TEDI executive director Brian Moody noted the board of directors for TEDI will essentially remain the same—with representatives from six sectors: agri-business, industrial/utilities, professional, financial, retail services, and individuals/organizations, as well as one each from Chamber, Tuscola School District, and City of Tuscola. The Chamber spot will now be an at-large position, and Lyn Selen has agreed to serve in that role for now. TCEDI officers have yet to be elected.

That business aside, Moody offered highlights of activity in which his office has been involved over the last two years. On the economic development front, a veritable boomtown of construction is currently ongoing—with Lambo’s Travel Center having just opened its doors in the past week, and nearby Jimmy John’s sandwich shop hoping to do so sometime in August. The overhaul of this high-visibility corner had been the subject of years of efforts, discussion, and environmental delays, but a partnership of private and public funding has made the dream a reality.

Down the Route 36 corridor, Daylight Donuts shop continues to march toward its grand opening, and next door an O’Reilly’s Auto Parts store is expected to be established. Country Companies Insurance (Kris Clodfelder) established a new office on the corridor, and Mooney Ford continues its significant showroom renovation. Other businesses undergoing “makeovers” of varying degrees are Shopko, Burger King, and Tuscola Car Wash.

In the downtown business area, The Vault Arts Collective/Yellow Dog Studios has added a creative flair first sparked by Vintage Karma, and At Home Tuscola—a home furnishings store—is working on taking up residence in the former Sav-Mor Pharmacy building.

Moody noted that word continues to be awaited on a site announcement for Cronus Chemicals, a billion-dollar fertilizer plant project that, it would appear, will likely end up being built just west of Tuscola city limits on acreage originally pursued as a possibility for the troubled FutureGen project. Final word is anticipated sometime in the third quarter of 2014.

Moody has been actively involved with several regional economic development groups—including serving terms as president of East Central Illinois Development Corp. and vice president of East Central Illinois Economic Development District.

Budget figures for the 2014-2015 fiscal year for TEDI show an anticipated income of $137,000 and anticipated expenses of $135,280. Actual budget figures for 2013-2014 were income of $138,781 and expenses of $127,891.

New teachers introduced, approved at BOE meeting

–Technology report, donation highlight agenda
By Colleen Lehmann
New faces will be abounding when students and staff return to Tuscola School District for the 2014-15 school year. At the July 21, 2014 school board meeting, board members were introduced to two new hires—Natalie Jones of Harrisburg who will teach art classes at Tuscola High School and East Prairie, as well as Alicia Mullen, who will be the music teacher at North Ward.

And following an executive session Monday night to discuss personnel and contract negotiation issues, TCHS grad (Class of 2010) Emily Groves was hired as a kindergarten teacher, to replace Stephanie Terwelp, whose resignation was accepted as Terwelp got a teaching job in another community. It was noted one of Grove’s fellow kindergarten teachers will be Jennie (Sullender) Porter, who was Groves’ own kindergarten teacher back in the day.

Resignations were also accepted from special education teachers Chelsie Logan and John O’Dell, and speech pathologist Michelle Doughty. Those positions have yet to be filled.

•All about technology
Technology-related discussions took a front-and-center role in Monday night’s meeting, beginning with the presentation of a check for $7,118.64 to the district representing proceeds from the third annual Marilyn Davidson High Heel Dash held June 14. Organizers Carly McCrory, Mallory Davidson, and Rick Davidson were on hand to deliver the donation, noting it was double the amount raised last year. And this year’s Dash was augmented by the giving of mini art canvases of high heels, made by school district students under the direction of their art teachers, to all participants.

Supt. Michael Smith noted his “absolute delight” with the ongoing association of the Dash with the school district, and praised the Davidsons and McCrory for their dedication to the goal of raising money for technology and keeping former board member Marilyn Davidson’s name alive with the effort.

Technology coordinator Shannon Smith noted the proceeds will be used to purchase 15 iPads and cases for student use. This segued into a planned annual technology update S. Smith presented to the board, as well as a detailed outline of job responsibilities.

Smith noted she had recently attended—at her own expense—the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference held in Atlanta, Ga., which offered numerous ideas for further integration of technology in the classroom and also validated that what has been and is currently being done in District 301 is on board with what the future holds on that front.

The three-part presentation included examples of validation, frustration, and inspiration regarding her efforts to use technology as a hook to instilling an excitement for and love of learning. Validation was having successes in the classroom that prove using technology has helped “hook” students into improving other skills.

“Technology can and should be a mindset, not necessarily a skill set. It can allow students to use it, to the best of their individual abilities to show us how smart they are.”

The biggest frustration for Smith is lack of time and resources to implement some of the technologies out there, though she was quick to point out her gratitude at having the volunteer help of Tracy Hornaday and Smith’s mother, Nancy Brachbill.

And finally, inspiration comes in the form of seeing the successes of students who master skills—both educational and social—through the combined use of technology and other, more traditional classroom techniques and approaches, what she referred to as “led by instruction, powered by technology.”

She concluded, “For the 2014-15 school year, my goal and mantra is going to be ‘Don’t talk about it, be about it. Go from what if to what is.’”

Further technology-related discussion included strategies for how to realistically manage and implement technology with limited staffing and without unduly burdening already-time-strapped classroom teachers.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal July 23, 2014 edition

 

Lambo’s Travel Center officially opens for business in Tuscola

By Colleen Lehmann
Lambo’s Travel Center opened its newest facility last Wednesday, in Tuscola, with little fanfare but ever growing public interest and support. The under-the-radar start was deliberate, says owner Mike Lanman, to help his staff get their bearings and work out any kinks before making a more public announcement.

It certainly didn’t take long for word to leak out, and since the July 16, 2014 soft opening, the 24-hour travel center has been hopping with customers, as well as curious locals wanting to check out Tuscola’s newest business. And an impressive one it is. The 7,000-square foot travel center/convenience store is just that … packed with just about any convenience a traveler could want, and boasting a stylish décor not typically found in such a facility.

Lanman was quick to point out that city fathers have been an essential component in the Tuscola Lambo’s coming to fruition, after three years of outside delays and hurdles.

“I hope the citizens realize how progressive-minded and what long-range thinkers their city officials are. It’s not like that everywhere, as I have experienced in my business. It has truly been a pleasure working with [city administrator] Drew Hoel, [TEDI director] Brian Moody, Mayor Dan Kleiss and all the staff, and had it not been for their help and hard work, this might not have gotten off the ground. They are excellent partners to work with, and that is why Tuscola’s arrow is definitely pointing up,” he said.

He is equally pleased with his new staff of 15 full-time employees, saying, “I am really impressed with the caliber of workers we have hired. They have hit the ground running, know how to treat customers, and are catching on to everything we’ve thrown at them. I couldn’t be happier with them.”

Tuscola Lambo’s features 12 BP gas pumps in front of the building, and in the rear are several pumps for truckers, including bulk diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). Customers can take advantage of reward programs and discount pricing on fuel purchases.

A two-bay car wash will soon be up and running on the west side of the property. Inside there is the convenience store, with cold and room temperature items available. Sandwiches, snacks, toiletries, novelty items, K1 kerosene, ice and more are all available for purchase. You might want to try something at the shake/smoothie station (120 milkshakes sold the first day), and in a nod to fellow businesspeople, there is a display featuring Flesor’s Candy Kitchen’s goodies.

A fully stocked liquor store featuring all manner of spirits, wines, import and domestic beers takes up one side of the store, and in the rear is a video gaming room.

And let’s be honest … one of the primary reasons for pulling into a travel center, aside from getting gas, is to use the restroom. Odd as it sounds, this is a restroom well worth your stop.

“I made a point of doing my research when it came to public restrooms. We wanted something that was nice looking, easy to keep clean, and welcoming, and I think we hit the mark,” says Lanman.

One of the other draws for Lambo will be a good-sized food area with a Cajun flair, featuring fried chicken, rice and beans, jambalaya, honey biscuits, and more. Employees are training on the equipment early this week, and Lanman anticipates having the food available by Wed., July 23.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal July 23, 2014 edition

Weekend motorcycle accident injures three

By Colleen Lehmann
Two people have been treated and released while another remains in critical condition following a two-motorcycle accident that occurred in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 20, 2014 in downtown Tuscola.

Darin Rich, age 33, of Tuscola remains hospitalized at Carle Foundation Hospital with severe injuries. He was airlifted to the hospital, while Tuscola couple Terry (age 28) and Tory (age 28) Franklin were taken by ambulance to Carle, then treated and released for non-life-threatening injuries.

Rich and the Franklins were injured around 1:08 a.m. Sunday when they crashed their motorcycles near the intersection of Parke Street and North Central Avenue. Rich was driving a red 1999 Big Dog bike, which had come to rest on the Community Building parking lot, while the Franklins were on a blue 2010 Harley Davidson bike that ended up on the ground near the west corner of the Senior Citizen Center parking lot.

According to Tuscola Police Chief Craig Hastings, it appears the two parties had left It’ll Do Too and were on their motorcycles traveling northbound at high rates of speed when, after crossing the railroad tracks, they were not able to successfully negotiate the jog in the road and hit the curbing at the intersection of Parke and Central Avenue.

Investigation continues into the accident, and Hastings said information has been forwarded to the Douglas County state’s attorney’s office to determine if charges will be made.

‘Brief’ only way to describe July county board meeting

By Colleen Lehmann
Had you arrived five minutes late for the July Douglas County Board meeting, you would have missed the whole shooting match. Honestly.

The full complement of board members convened at 9 a.m. Wed., July 16, 2014, and concluded business at 9:05 a.m. Aside from the routine business of approving past board minutes, financial obligations and the like, the only other action was approval of Douglas County election judges for 2014 to 2016.

There are four election judges for Arcola 1, six for Arcola 2, two for Arcola 3, three for Bourbon 1, two for Bourbon 2, four for Bourbon 3, four for Bowdre, four for Camargo 1, two for Camargo 2, four for Camargo 3, two for Garrett 1, four for Garrett 2, five for Murdock, six for Newman, three for Sargent, eight for Tuscola 1, six for Tuscola 2, four for Tuscola 3, and seven for Tuscola 4. The list of approved names will now be submitted to the circuit court of the Sixth Judicial Circuit for confirmation and final appointment.

The next meeting of the Douglas County Board will be held Wed., August 20, 2014 at 9 a.m. in the boardroom of the Douglas County Courthouse.

Tuscola opposed to PCBs allowed in Clinton Landfill

–Site sits atop Mahomet Aquifer, city’s drinking water source
By Colleen Lehmann
It was in a semi-construction zone that Tuscola City Council members met Monday evening, July 14, 2014 for both the brief public hearing on the proposed annual appropriations ordinance and the regular bi-monthly council meeting.

Work is well underway in council chambers for installation of audio-visual equipment and a new council table to better fit the space and purpose. The chamber remodel is nearing completion, and Monday’s meeting will likely be the last affected by the project.

Another project in Tuscola—this one of a much larger scale—was the subject of two ordinance approvals. City Administrator Drew Hoel explained that, with Lambo’s Travel Center expected to open sometime this week and the “vast majority” of street and sidewalk work completed, an ordinance was needed noting the prohibition of parking on both sides of new roads Apgar Avenue and Triple A Way. A second ordinance created stop intersections on Apgar Avenue at the intersection of Prairie Street and Progress Boulevard, and on Triple A Way at the intersection of Apgar Avenue and Route 36.

City officials have decided to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with other communities opposing an IEPA permit that operators of the Clinton Landfill are seeking. The permit would allow contaminants—including PCBs—into the site, which sits atop the Mahomet Aquifer. It is from that aquifer that Tuscola and numerous other municipalities (approximately 500,000 residents) get their drinking water, and the potential effects of pollution have prompted area municipalities to band together in opposition of the permit request.

According to information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) belong to a broad family of manmade organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons. They were domestically manufactured from 1929 until their manufacture was banned in 1979, as they were demonstrated to cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems.

Due to their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point, and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications including but not limited to electrical, heat transfer, and hydraulic equipment; as plasticizers in paints, plastics, and rubber products; in pigments, dyes, and carbonless copy paper.

Tuscola City Council voted to enter into the intergovernmental agreement opposing the permit, an action that will obligate the city to chip for a portion (based on population and number of municipalities) of legal fees. That amount is likely to be in the $500 to $1,000 range, said city Administrator Drew Hoel.

“I think it’s money well spent, not only for those of us currently living in Tuscola, but for future generations,” said alderman Boyd Henderson.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal July 16, 2014 edition

 

Prison sentences for two men in Douglas County court

By Colleen Lehmann
A stolen horse trailer and two DUI stops in five days netted prison terms for two men in separate cases heard in a Douglas County courtroom earlier this month.

Joseph R. Jordan, age 40, of Allenville, was sentenced July 9, 2014 by Judge Richard Broch to 12 years in the Illinois Dept. of Corrections, after pleading guilty to the Class 2 felony count of unlawful possession of a converted motor vehicle. Jordan stood accused of having a stolen 2009 white Four Star horse trailer taken from Chester Creek Harness Shop in rural Arthur on or about April 17, 2013.

Jordan, who was represented by public defender Jeannine Garrett, did receive pre-sentencing credit for 85 days spent in the county jail.

Scott A. Barker, age 55, of Humboldt, will serve two consecutive prison terms, after pleading guilty to felony counts of aggravated driving under the influence.

Barker was first stopped on May 23, 2014 for DUI, and subsequently charged with a Class 2 and a Class 4 felony count of aggravated DUI. At that time he had at least three similar violations: in March 2007 in Douglas County, and in March 1999 and Dec. 1998 in Cleveland County, Okla. Five days later, on May 28, 2014, Barker was stopped again for DUI in Douglas County. This time charges were Class 1 and Class 2 felonies, and the May 23, 2014 incident was considered in sentencing.

On July 9, 2014 Judge Broch sentenced Barker first to three years in IDOC, two years mandatory supervised release, and included various fees and penalties. For the second DUI case guilty plea, Barker was convicted and sentenced to four years in IDOC, to run consecutively with the first prison term. A total of 44 days for time served in Douglas County Jail was credited to Barker’s sentencings.

Local Lincoln lore explored at unique Oakland theatrical event

Lincoln stories abound in Central Illinois, but Oakland’s tale reveals a unique side of the man through the annual Lincoln’s Trial and Tribulations program depicting the story of the 1847 Matson Slave Trial.

The program explores the question of slavery, Abraham Lincoln’s involvement as a lawyer for the slave owner, and the role of townspeople in assisting the locally held slaves. This is the only time in Lincoln’s career when he represented a slave owner. This creates the historical mystery of how the “Great Emancipator” could have been involved in trying to keep a family enslaved.

Lincoln’s Trial & Tribulations is set for three dates throughout the summer to give more people a chance to experience the historical dinner theater program. Performances will be on July 26, Aug. 16, and Sept. 19, 2014. The first two dates start at 5 p.m., and the September program begins at 4 p.m. Order tickets by calling 217-508-9113 or going online to www.matsontrial1847.org.

“You will experience Lincoln from a whole new perspective within an intimate theatrical experience,” said program coordinator Renee Henry.

The evening begins with tours of the 1847 Dr. Hiram Rutherford home near the town square, followed by an 1847 meal of ham or turkey, cucumber and tomato salad, potato patties, and fruit cobbler. Participants then are transported back in time at Independence Pioneer Village, north of Oakland. The collection of log cabins serves as a backdrop to the Matson Slave Trial story, performed under the covered pavilion.

Joe Woodard, a well-recognized Lincoln impersonator, will once again portray the future president in the program.

“Woodard does an outstanding job of capturing the look, speech, and mannerisms of Lincoln. You feel like you are truly seeing the man standing before you,” said Henry.

A partnership with Freetown Village of Indianapolis provides the actors portraying Jane and Anthony Bryant. Jane and her four children fled Coles County landowner Robert Matson, who had kept them enslaved on his Illinois farm for two years.

Oakland abolitionists assisted the family and instigated this court trial to determine the family’s fate. Local actors portray the other characters involved in the trial.

“Each year we do something a little bit different so if you’ve been before, especially if you came in our early years, you will enjoy this version just as much,” volunteer Susan Scheel said.

The program has received support from the Looking for Lincoln program. They have presented at the Lincoln Home in Springfield on Lincoln’s birthday, and will be performing scenes from the production at the Illinois State Fair to help promote the new Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.

“We are slowly getting some broader attention for the story and our presentation,” Henry said.