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

“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.

TPL in the ‘clouds’ with digital subscription services

By Colleen Lehmann
The options for digital material to check out from Tuscola Public Library is about to become greatly expanded, as beginning Aug. 1, 2014 there will be another two e-services added to the MyMediaMall option already available.

TPL head librarian Devin Black reports that in addition to MyMediaMall–which currently has about 11,000 titles under its umbrella that includes e-books and audiobooks–the 3M Cloud Library e-book service and Zinio digital magazine subscription service will be options for TPL clientele who use e-readers.

The subscription service to MyMediaMall cost the library $465 last fiscal year, and there is likely to be a 10 to 15 percent increase this year. The 3M subscription is $442 this year, while the Zinio digital magazine service will be an $800 cost this year. However, grant money is helping to cover some of those costs, and Black is excited about the opportunity to help augment the library’s offerings.

“No one is suggesting that digital offerings are or are going to outpace checkout of physical books, in fact, quite the opposite is true here. Last fiscal year there were 44,000 checkouts of actual books. But with 1,200 e-book checkouts in the same time period, it’s obvious there is also an interest and an audience for that option. What we are finding, in fact, in talking with our patrons is that oftentimes people like physical books for certain situations, and e-books for others—such as going on vacation. Our goal is to keep our library patrons happy by being able to offer both,” says Black.

Want to learn more about the new offerings? Library staff will be offering a general overview, “Intro to e-Books and Magazines,” on Tues., August 5 at 1 and 5 p.m. This course will be a general discussion. For more hands-on tutorial workshops on each of the three e-services and how to download and access them with your particular e-reader, consider registering for one (or more) of the following slated gatherings. A 3M workshop will be held Monday, Aug. 18 at 1 and 5 p.m.; MyMediaMall workshop Wednesday, Aug. 20 at 1 and 5 p.m.; and Zinio workshop Thursday, Aug. 21 at 1 and 5 p.m.

“While we certainly don’t plan to turn anyone away and will be delighted to see a large turnout at all the workshops, having at least a rough idea of how many folks might be attending will help us for planning purposes, to ensure we have enough staff and materials on hand,” says Black. He added that no pre-registration is necessary for the Aug. 5 discussion.

To pre-register for one or more of the e-book workshops, call TPL at 253-3812. You can find additional information on the TPL Web site at

Perfect day for Tuscola Sparks in the Park celebration

By Colleen Lehmann
It was hot and it was sunny … in other words, it was perfect weather to throw a Fourth of July celebration. And that’s just what happened Saturday, July 5, 2014 as Tuscola played host to a bevy of activities for the annual Sparks in the Park celebration.

There were games to play, food to eat, entertainment to enjoy, a parade to take in, athletic endeavors to join (or watch from the sidelines!), cars and tractors to admire. And because no Independence Day celebration is complete without pyrotechnics, a breathtaking display of fireworks became the crowning glory on a great day.

Thanks to all who played a role in creating such a family-friendly event for the community to enjoy, year after year. And here are the results from the aforementioned athletic endeavors that took place Saturday.

•Firecracker 5K results
There were 67 participants in this year’s Firecracker 5K—56 runners and 11 walkers. First runner overall and first male to cross the finish line was Tuscola’s own Eric Ponder in 16:22.65, while first female finisher was Jessica Franklin of Mahomet in 19:40.35. Top three finishers in each of the categories are listed below.

Female 14U: 1st—Hannah Hornaday (30:10.10), 2nd—Carlie Seip (37:12.15)

Male 14U: 1st—Jordan Middleton (21:47.95), 2nd—Jake Dyer (23:18.35), 3rd—Caleb McDaniel (24:38.90)

Female 15-19: 1st—Jessica Franklin (19:40.35), 2nd—Rachel Watson (30:15.55), 3rd—Mikhala Sumption (33:39.25)

Male 15-19: 1st—Eric Ponder (16:22.65), 2nd–Chas Campbell (19:49.70), 3rd—Trent Ponder (21:05.90)

Female 20-29: 1st—Caitlin Souza (28:57.55), 2nd—Hannah Myers (29:29.70), 3rd—Margarita Carter (29:53.65)

Male 20-29: 1st—Garrett Miller (20:47.35), 2nd—Michael Ovca (21:27.70), 3rd—Cody Shelmadine (21:59.15)

Female 30-39: 1st—Erin Smith (25:48.10), 2nd—Rebecca Burton (27:29.35), 3rd—Melissa Lehmann Amescua (28:54.35)

Male 30-39: 1st—Chad Martin (21:45.23), 2nd—Scott Harned (24:28.65), 3rd—Brian McDaniel (24:38.50)

Female 40-49: 1st—Jean Holmes (26:04.80), 2nd—Camille Bralts (28:30.45), 3rd—Kristina Smith (35:19.65)

Male 40-49: 1st—Mike Tankersely (18:50.45), 2nd—Yale Westjohn (19:54.85), 3rd—Todd Wiessing (21:49.55)

Female 50-59: 1st—Amy Kleiss (30:19.25), 2nd—Debbie Romine (31:06.40)

Male 60U: 1st—Robert Middleton (30:38.25), 2nd—Randy Bergeson (32:50.40)

5K Walk: 1st—Fred McDonald (40:19.75), 2nd—Megan Spillman (45:34.30), 3rd—Danielle Carter (46:54.20)

3-on-3 basketball results
Ervin Park’s south end basketball courts offered battles royale as 3-on-3 basketball enticed a total of 36 teams to play in various age categories throughout the morning. Results of those clashes are listed below.

In the adult category, there were 16 teams hitting the courts. At day’s end, the first-place champion was Team Champaign’s Finest. Team members were Bryce VonLanken, Kenny Smith, Anthony Hanners, and Paul Sanders. They narrowly edged out second-place finisher Team Dirty Jake and the boys—whose roster included Jake Orick, Brett Cashner, Paul Henningsen, and Christian Lowry.

The high school division saw two teams competing, with The Bomb Squad winning gold. Team members included Tuscolians Zane Gream, Ray Kerkhoff, and Marc Davis; and Jonathan Wallace of Champaign. Second place went to the Shiloh trio of Alex Asbury, Aaron Bell, and Kaleb Harper.

In the 7th/8th grade division, five teams came to play. It was the Incrediballers who came out on top, on the talents of team members Will Little, Brayden VonLanken, Luke Sluder, and Cade Kresin.

Runner-up status went to The Franklin Trio, which included Jessica, Amanda, and Alexa Franklin. Third-place finisher was ‘Merica Men, made up of Noah Woods, Payton Hastings, Turner Hastings, and Cameron Ochs.

Nine teams were entered in the 5th/6th grade division, and leading the pack was Team Bad Mamajamas, whose roster included Trevor Davis, Drew Coursey, and Lucas Kresin. Finishing second were Team Bricklayers, made up of Logan Tabeling, Aaron Jayne, Sam Wesley, and Isaiah Jackson. Airballers was the third-place team, featuring Blake Primmer, Sam Chapman, and Tanner Dreher.

Four teams made up the 1st-4th grade division, and it was Team Clutch taking the gold medal. Team members were Jalen Quinn, Caden Baer, Riley Nolan, and Easton Cunningham. In second place was Team All-Stars, featuring Preston Brown, Thomas Brown, Dylan Homann, and Jayden Gaines. Team One Shot Wonders clinched third place via Landon Banta, Mason Jones, Jordan Quinn, and Austin Cummings.

•Mud volleyball results
Twenty teams slogged through the mud flats at Ervin Park’s north end in an epic battle, looking to lay claim to bragging rights for another year as mud volleyball champions. When the final serve had been made and point won, it was the Aceholes coming out on top of the muck and mire. Team members included Kyle Negangard, Mitch Negangard, Matthew Restad, Corey Hire, Alex Thorson, and Seth Tolliver.

Earning runner-up status was Team Mud Daubers. Making up the second-place finishers were Randy Potter, Lucas Sweitzer, Laith Russell, Tyler Potter, Dustin Potter, and Ben Fletcher.

100 years and counting … Gates marks milestone birthday

gateswebBy Colleen Lehmann
The United States of America wasn’t the only one marking a birthday this past week … another elder stateswoman of sorts was also being celebrated. Rowena Gates, longtime Tuscola resident, marked a century on this earth July 3, 2014, and there was plenty of fanfare to honor the significant milestone.

Gates has spent 78 of her 100 years in Tuscola, prompting Mayor Dan Kleiss to issue a proclamation designating July 3, 2014 as Rowena Gates Day. A handsomely framed copy of the proclamation now rests in Gates’ sunny Jarman Center apartment. An open house was held Sunday, June 29 in the Jarman Center dining room to mark Rowena’s 100th birthday, attended by family and friends wishing her well.

Marney Foltz, activities director at Jarman, noted, “Rowena is truly one of the smartest, most articulate people I’ve ever met. She is absolutely an inspiration and a delight to know. I am amazed by her every day.”

Foltz’s reaction is understandable, considering the remarkable mental acuity and easy recall Gates displayed during a recent interview (far superior to my own, I might add).

While she’s lived most of her days in Tuscola, Rowena Hay was born July 3, 1914 in Toulon, Ill., and at age 3 moved with her family to Kewanee, where she remained until after high school graduation. Her father, Marian, was a lawyer and her mother, Catherine, a kindergarten teacher. She was one of seven children—two boys and five girls—in a household where education was valued and a love for travel fostered.

Rowena tells the story of a trip her adventuresome father took following his sophomore year in college. He and a friend rode their bicycles to a shipyard, where they earned passage on a ship to Europe by volunteering to care for livestock in the cargo hold. Once abroad, they traipsed throughout country after country.

“He kept a journal of the adventure, and it is filled with rich details. It’s really quite good, and should be published,” says Rowena. And, in fact, it may yet be someday, in a fashion.

“My daughter Cindy has mentioned before that, after she retires, she’d like to write a book, using my father’s journal as the basis for the storyline.”

Following high school graduation, Rowena went to Eureka College from 1932 to 1935, where she studied English literature and served as editor of the school newspaper. And it was while she was a co-ed that she met her future husband, Gaylord Gates.

“Gaylord’s good friend Dean Rice was engaged to a Eureka girl, and Gaylord came along with him for a visit. We went out on a date with them, and were married two years later, on July 4, 1936.

The year before they were married, however, Rowena spent a year in Chicago, working in consumer relations for Proctor-Gamble and living downtown in the Allerton Hotel.

Rowena and husband Gaylord had three children, two of whom are still living. Her oldest daughter Julia, born in 1938, died in 2002 of primary amyloidosis. She was a master’s-degreed teacher/counselor. Son Mark was born in 1943, and now lives in Gig Harbor, Washington and works for Boeing after earning a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science and physics and a master’s degree in engineering physics from the University of Illinois.

Daughter Cynthia, born in 1954, is a Bostonian and has a Ph.D in biomechanical engineering.

They raised their children, first in town, and later on the family farm, located three miles north and one mile east of town, one mile south of the Villa Grove Road.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal July 9, 2014 edition

Suspect arrested in rest area death of Monticello woman

1A-Rest stop murderwebIllinois State Police (ISP) confirmed that the nationwide manhunt to locate Terence Doddy, 36, of Rockford, who is a suspect in the murders of 44-year-old Tonya Bargman of Monticello, and 37-year-old Todd Hansmeier of Rockford, has ended.

Police apprehended Doddy at approximately 11:23 a.m. on July 4, 2014 as he appeared to head in the direction of Wisconsin.

ISP investigators had been seeking the public’s assistance for any information regarding the murder that occurred on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at the Willow Creek Rest stop on Interstate 39 southbound, at the 84 mile marker.

A rest stop attendant discovered an unresponsive female at approximately 8:30 p.m. at the Willow Creek location, near Paw Paw. Investigators reviewed surveillance video from the rest stop and determined that a female exited the rest room and was attacked by a male subject.

The victim was later identified as Tonya “Toni” D. Bargman, age 44, of Monticello. Illinois State Police named Terence Doddy, 36, of Rockford, as a person of interest in this investigation. Doddy was wanted by Rockford PD for a June 30 murder in Rockford. Doddy was observed leaving the scene of the rest stop murder in the victim’s vehicle, a Gray 2013 Nissan Altima, bearing Illinois license plates BARGMN 2. Investigators had issued law enforcement alerts nationwide.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal July 9, 2014 edition