Tuscola anxious to welcome return of donut shop

By Kayleigh Rahn

The nose knows, and Richard and Donna Kidwell are hoping the sweet smell of donuts wafting from their Rt. 36 Daylight Donuts shop will stir nostalgia in local passersby who have long awaited the return of the sugary treats.

“There is nothing better than a warm donut,” Richard Kidwell said from inside the newly renovated shop.

Cinnamon snails, chocolate long johns, raspberry-filled glazed and the ever-loved, proven community favorite maple squares – the whole team will return for what many hope will be the come back of a community tradition at the donut shop.

The Kidwell family says they are certainly happy to bring back the smells and tastes of the loved Dixie Cream donuts owned by the Dallas family during the downtown shop’s height of business.

After all – what has been become common knowledge around town – Daylight Donut Flour Co. bought Dixie Cream donuts for its recipes.

“We have that recipe — it will taste 99.9 percent like that,” Kidwell said. “They will be made fresh every day; we will not sell day-old donuts. Donna and I will eat everyone’s leftovers.”

Kidwell is hoping the doors will open Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, but there are certainly no promises. The crew will take its time to ensure they have the routine down before it opens for good. With that in mind donut cravers shouldn’t be surprised if they push the opening date back a few days.

“I’ve hired experienced staff for the making of the donuts, but it depends on how much training we need here to make sure everything is under control,” Kidwell said.

–The full story can be found in The Tuscola Journal Nov. 19, 2014 edition.

City ready for shovels to hit ground at Cronus site

By Kayleigh Rahn
It won’t be long before shovels are flipping dirt at the new project site for Cronus Chemicals LLC; however, the final details regarding several property exchanges are still on the to-do list before construction can begin.

The announcement on Wednesday Oct. 29, 2014, made it official that Cronus will land its $1.4 billion granular urea fertilizer plant in Douglas County, just west of Tuscola city limits. And since the county’s worst kept secret was made public, TEDI executive director Brian Moody says his office is slowing down a bit; however, from an outsiders perspective it seems business is, well — busy.

The plant site itself is made up of five properties, and when the final lines are signed 15 real estate transactions will have taken place to turn over the land needed for the construction space and surrounding utility feeds, Moody said.

“That’s our short-term goal — working on real estate, working on the easements,” he said. “The waterline will remain the big focus for me. I’m hoping by the end of this month or in the early part of December we’ll have most of those wrapped up.”

As for the project’s progress, Moody says they’re back to work since the announcement and have entered construction mode.

“To me the next big step is getting shovels in the ground and actually seeing some dirt moving out there,” he said.

The timeline for construction lacks specifics at this point, but it’s in the works. Representatives from the company’s project team will meet with local officials through the end of the year to hammer out the details, but Moody says dirt should be moving by springtime.

However, those paying close attention might see movement before then as soil borings begin this winter.

“For a project of this scale things are going to happen fairly quickly,” Moody said. “Many times there’s a year or two of pause between the announcement and when things get going, but that will not be the case. We’ll just have to wait until things are worked out, and coming into the winter it looks like spring will be when people will start to realize things are going on.”

It will likely be mid- to late summer before the estimated 2,000 workers are on the building site.

–The full story can be found in The Tuscola Journal Nov. 19, 2014 edition.

Tuscola schools welcome veterans for annual breakfast, program

–Voyles reminds students of ultimate sacrifice

By Kayleigh Rahn

Jim Voyles says for him Veterans Day does not stir memories of battles won or patriotic tunes.

During the Veterans Day program at Tuscola Community High School held Monday Nov. 10, 2014, Voyles explained to the gymnasium filled with students that to him Veterans Day and similar holidays remind him of Jimmy Downs — the first American soldier he saw die during his service in Vietnam.

“I’m sure all (veterans) have similar experiences as to the meaning of Veterans Day, but mine was March 7, 1970,” Voyles said. “It was late in the afternoon, and we just stopped to set up our night defensive position after moving all day on a very visible jungle trail.”

The third platoon had gone to inspect the area for enemies when enemy soldiers walked into their perimeter, Voyles recalled.

“A battle broke out, and bullets were flying everywhere when I was ordered to bring the artillery in ‘danger close,’ which meant it was within 50 meters,” Voyles told the students. “I wouldn’t have done it unless I was ordered. As I lied there talking on the radio, Jimmy Downs, who was within 10 feet of me assisting with a machine gun, was hit in the neck. I don’t know whether it was a bullet, splintered bamboo, or artillery. I just know he was hit in the neck.”

Two platoon medics emerged and began working to control the blood flowing from the soldier’s neck.

“With complete knowledge that he was about to die, certain in his faith, Jimmy made the sign of the cross and said the Lord’s Prayer,” Voyles recalled. “Within seconds he would lie dead on the jungle floor. Jimmy Downs was the first American soldier I saw die. Each Veterans Day and Memorial Day I play that scene over and over in my mind and have never been able to forget it. It’s become a kind of tribute to Jimmy Downs, and that’s what Veterans Day means to me.”

And though they attended classes during Veterans Day on Tuesday, at least one TCHS club took advantage of the opportunity to serve the local veterans with breakfast before Monday’s program.

Senior Cody Lewis said the club started offering the meal three years ago in an effort to do something a little extra for the local vets.

“It’s definitely worth it to see the smiles on their faces,” Lewis said about the early wake-up call to prepare the meal. “It’s important for us to show our appreciation for them because they have done so much for us.”

TCHS agriculture teacher Brittany Eubank said they served about 40 veterans Monday morning.

“I think it’s a great thing that the kids get to show their appreciation, but also get to visit with the veterans and hear a little bit about their stories and get to know members of the community,” Eubank said.

“You see all these people out in the community, and you don’t know they are veterans until they come to something like this,” Alexander said. “It’s neat to see that they’ve served their country and risked their lives to protect our freedoms.”

–Full story in The Tuscola Journal Nov. 12, 2014 edition

Rahn welcomed to The Tuscola Journal editorial staff

By Colleen Lehmann

You may have noticed a new byline on several stories in last week’s The Tuscola Journal. That belongs to Kayleigh Rahn, hired as the replacement for reporter and copy editor Colleen Lehmann, who is relocating to Columbia, Mo.

Rahn, formerly Kayleigh Zyskowksi, is a 2007 graduate of Tuscola Community High School, and the daughter of Frank and Marlene Zyskowski. She earned a degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, being named Outstanding Senior Journalist and receiving the Daily Eastern News Adviser Award in 2011.

“I loved my time at EIU, and still keep in touch with several professors,” says Rahn, who credits her time with the student newspaper as a catalyst for her career choice.

“Being involved with the student paper was a great time in my life—stressful and very busy but I learned so much. It was definitely a trial by fire, and scary at first, but then I got the hang of it and loved it. It confirmed that this is what I want to do as a career.”

Rahn comes to The Tuscola Journal with three years of experience at daily newspapers, working for The State Journal in Frankfort, Ky. for a year before returning to the Land of Lincoln and joining the staff of the Journal Gazette-Times Courier in Mattoon as a staff writer for the past two years. She has covered breaking news, criminal and court activity, city halls and schools, as well as doing human-interest pieces.

To contact Rahn, email her at kayleigh@thetuscolajournal.com or call the office at (217) 253-5086.

–Full story in The Tuscola Journal Nov. 12, 2014 edition

 

Community Building renovation gives council plenty to ponder

By Colleen Lehmann

Tuscola City Council is considering a renovation to the oft-used Community Building, and prior to the Nov. 10, 2014 city council meeting, a study session was held so representatives of engineering/architecture firm Farnsworth Group could give a preliminary presentation of possible options for the renovation. They ranged from basic overhaul of the outdated mechanical systems to a full-scale renovation and addition to add better functionality and aesthetic appeal to the 60-plus-year-old building.

Farnsworth reps noted that, per previous conversations with city officials, first priority is an upgrade of the building’s mechanical and electrical systems, as electrical service and HVAC systems are inadequate for the size of the building. Putting in a three-phase electrical system and either a boiler/chiller system or a geothermal system would be done.

A second priority is updating the interior finishes for both aesthetic reasons and more efficient use of space. Options included using natural, earth tones and materials, such as cladding the columns with stone or wood veneer; adding wood veneer or other materials to a portion of the walls; using acoustical ceiling tiles; installing durable, easy-to-clean flooring; and doing “envelope” improvements to improve heating and cooling efficiency.

A third consideration would be to help accommodate use of the building as a home for Actors Rural Theatre Company (ARTCo). This could possibly include building an addition, and moving the main entrance to the west side of the building.

With each of the priorities, there were several scenarios presented, ranging from basic to more inclusive, with corresponding price increases. For example, a basic upgrade of mechanical systems would run approximately $310,000. Doing an “all out” renovation that included geothermal system installation, complete electrical upgrade, necessary asbestos abatement of flooring, including an addition, doing interior finishes and envelope improvements would carry a price tag of $1.75 million. A middle-of-the road renovation and mechanical systems overhaul would run in the $1.5 million range.

“This has given us a lot of information to review and consider over the next few months. We can think about which option to go with, or whether to do it at all, so I look forward to a lot of good discussion,” said Mayor Dan Kleiss following the presentation.

–Full story in The Tuscola Journal Nov. 12, 2014 edition

Having a field day … Cronus announcement held at site

By Colleen Lehmann
It was fitting, really, that the world officially learned of a billion-dollar agriculture project coming to Tuscola after first having to travel down a stretch of rural pavement informally known as Hog Market Road and traipsing alongside a recently harvested field.

The announcement was made Wednesday Oct. 29, 2014, that Cronus Chemicals LLC will site its $1.4 billion granular urea fertilizer plant in Douglas County, just outside of Tuscola city limits. The declaration came amid much fanfare, with a number of high-ranking political officials and labor union representatives and workers being given center stage once Gov. Pat Quinn arrived and the press conference began, just before 10 a.m.

Job creation and stimulation of the economy were the prevailing messages being offered by those speaking at the event, beginning with Adam Pollett of Ill. Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, who preceded Gov. Quinn at the podium.

During the 33-month construction period, it is projected there will be as many as 2,000 jobs in bringing the plant site from tilled land to fully functioning facility, involving numerous trades. Mike Carrigan, president of Illinois AFL-CIO, said it’s “been a long time coming, but everybody involved doubled down to bring it together. Today’s announcement is all about jobs. Thanks to Dave Streicker with Cronus through the negotiation process, to Jason McKinley of Lincolnland Building & Trades/Boilermakers 363, Matt Langendorf of the East Central Building Trades Council, and Shad Etchason, president of Decatur Building & Construction Trades Council. All these skilled workers you see represented here can resolutely say ‘this project will be done on time and on budget.’”

You can possibly expect to see some earth moving activity at the site, but construction will likely being in earnest in the spring, with the plant projected to go on-stream sometime in 2017.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal Nov. 5, 2014 edition

County officials dedicate local WWII vet’s funeral flag

By Kayleigh Rahn
A new flag hangs in the Douglas County Courthouse, and if one were to count he or she would find it has only 48 stars.

Community members gathered Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, to dedicate the flag in memory of the late Clarence Franklin Jones, a World War II veteran who died early in the war in 1942 as a prisoner of war in the Philippines.

“The flag we are dedicating here this morning was draped on (Jones’) casket when his body was reinterred in the US military cemetery on Luzon in 1945,” said Paul Wisovaty during the dedication ceremony. The flag was later returned to his parents by the US government.

According to family records, Jones enlisted in the Army Air Force when his youngest sister Lynn Jones Statzer was just more than 2 years old. She wrote an account nearly 12 years ago in which she said the family saw his enlistment as a positive move.

“The country was just beginning to recover from the Depression, so my parents couldn’t afford to send him to college, and he couldn’t find a job really suited to him and he didn’t want to farm,” Statzer wrote.

Recently, County Board Chairman Chuck Knox attended an estate sale in Champaign, and as he made the rounds of the available items he came across the 48-star flag in mint condition. Upon further examination he noticed a card that noted the flag was laid upon the casket of Douglas County veteran Clarence Jones.

“As (Knox) tells the story he then had to wrestle a 300-pound sumo wrestler to walk away with it,” Wisovaty joshed.

Knox donated the flag, which Wisovaty dedicated along with a wooden plaque that reads — “In memory of Clarence Franklin Jones, US Army Air Corps. Survivor of the Bataan Death March. A Son of Douglas County lest we forget.” He hung the plaque to the south of the County Board chambers doorway.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal Nov. 5, 2014 edition

Sheriff’s department seeking to unionize

By Kayleigh Rahn
Eleven county employees who serve within the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office have opted to unionize, and while county officials say it won’t directly affect the workings of the county board, it will likely influence the bottom line of the county’s budget.

The county received formal notice in July stating that a majority of the deputized officers have selected the Fraternal Order of Police to represent them during labor negotiations. Then within the past month, the county was notified through two additional letters saying seven patrol officers and four command officers will be represented by separate bargaining units.

County Board vice-chairman Don Munson said on his own behalf, without representing board policy, that the question of the possible unionization isn’t a new idea.

“This question of the possible unionization of certain members of the sheriff’s staff has always been out there, but relations within the department have been for the most part very good,” Munson said. “With the advent of a new sheriff on the horizon, uncertainty has evidently prompted the patrol staff to seek union guidance.”

According to Sheriff Charlie McGrew, timing was everything when it came to making the move toward unionization.

“For them to be able to negotiate in 2015 they had to get this started so many days before the end of the year,” he said. “If they had not started the process now it would have postponed the start of their bargaining.”
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal Nov. 5, 2014 edition

Douglas County sheriff candidates to face off

By Colleen Lehmann
One way or another, there’s going to be a new sheriff in town—make that county—when the ballots are counted for the Nov. 4, 2014 general election. Fred Galey, who defeated current Chief Deputy Pete Buckley in the March 2014 Republican primary, now faces Democratic challenger Ed Willmore on the November 2014 ballot.

Here are their responses to a candidate profile survey. And don’t forget, if you haven’t voted already, on Election Day polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. for you to cast your ballot.

Wilmoreweb•Edward Willmore, age 61, Tuscola
Family:
I have been married for 32 years to Rhonda (Gillmore) Willmore, who is originally from Atwood. I also have two sons—Brandon and Justin. Brandon is the dairy manager at Tuscola IGA and is married to Betsi (Veach) Willmore. They have two children, Isabella and Blake. Justin works for Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and is married to Andrea (Slaughter) Willmore. They have one daughter, Paizley.

Education:
I attended Tuscola Community High School and graduated in 1972. Prior to working for the sheriff’s office I received my law enforcement training from the University of Illinois Police Training Institute. I worked for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for 29 years. During my time at the sheriff’s office I was a sergeant over patrol deputies for 20 years, and served as the evidence officer for 20 years. Also in my career I attended training in traffic accidents, homicide, suicide, command officer, and active school shooters. I have also been to numerous other trainings through the mobile training unit in Mattoon.

Civic involvement:
Tuscola Moose Lodge

Have you ever held public office before, and if so, what and for how long?
I have never run for public office.

What do you feel are the primary responsibilities for the office of sheriff? What are your qualifications for this role?
To protect and serve the taxpayers of Douglas County, and to uphold all state and federal laws. Serve the citizens with respect and dignity and treat people the way I would want to be treated. As sheriff you have to make sure all court papers (i.e. subpoenas, civil process, warrants) are served in a timely manner. The corrections division is a very important role at the sheriff’s office. As sheriff you have to make sure the inmates are receiving meals, proper medical care, mental health care, and get them to court appearances. Also maintaining courthouse security for judges, employees, and citizens coming in and out. Making sure our patrol deputies have the proper equipment to help protect themselves as well as the citizens while on duty. Maintaining a secure evidence room when evidence is needed for court.

As sheriff I will work on the budget and stay within the budget that county board has given me. I have been with the sheriff’s office for 29 years and understand the everyday operation and responsibilities of the office. I started as part-time deputy, telecommunication and correctional officer. I have worked with the budget when it came to purchasing equipment. In my years I have handled calls from domestic violence, child abuse, burglaries, robberies, traffic accidents, homicides, suicides, and many more. Based on my experience, I know I can run the sheriff’s office.

What factored into your decision to run for this office? Why do you feel you are the better choice?
I made the decision to run for sheriff several years ago. I have spent my entire life helping serve the citizens of Douglas County and feel like I still have more to give. The budget is one thing I will be actively a part of. I retired in 2011 form the sheriff’s office and I will suspend my pension and start paying back into the pension system. I want to continue to work for and run a highly qualified and trained department where I spent my career at. I believe I am the lonely candidate with the experience and knowledge to run the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Are there particular issues you wish to address and/or goals you wish to accomplish?
The budget is a big issue. We cannot spend money that we do not have. We need to make wise decisions when it comes to spending. I want to make sure that our employees have all the equipment that they need to effectively do their jobs well in keeping the citizens safe. If equipment needs replaced I will go the county board and explain to them why it needs replaced. I will not spend money just because we have it in the budget.

I was recently asked by a local mayor if I would help his department when needed. This is a big role as sheriff. I will maintain a good working relationship with all police departments throughout the county. I would like to see about sending the correctional officers to police training. Having these officers assist other departments, if a deputy retires or moves on in their career, would be beneficial to the department having someone readily available.

I will have an open door policy. If a citizen has a complaint or concern I would want them to come in and speak with me about it. I also will be a working sheriff. I will be out there with the deputies patrolling and answering calls for service.

What is your position on the issue of unionization for sheriff’s department personnel, given the recent petition to do so filed with the Illinois Labor Relations Board?
I don’t think they need it but they have that right. They have a merit board that works well. We have had a union there before and it did not work; you pay more in union dues than you will ever get in pay raises. But if that’s what they want, I have no problem working with them.

Fred Galeyclrweb•Fred Galey, age 58, Tuscola
Family:
I am married to my wife, Jeanette. We have a daughter, Michelle; a son, Joseph; and three grandchildren.

Education:
I graduated from Tuscola High School in 1974, and graduated from Parkland College in 1976. I have one year of studies at Southern Nevada College.

Civic Involvement:
I am a member of Tuscola Moose Lodge 729, and of the Illinois Police Association.

Have you held public office before, and if so, what and for how long?
I was appointed by the governor of Nevada to two statewide committees. The Nevada Industrial Relations Board and the Nevada Public Employees Retired System Advisory Committee. Both boards were around five years, and only resigned when I retired.

What do you feel are the primary responsibilities for the office of sheriff? What are your qualifications for this role?
I feel the main responsibilities for sheriff are staying within the budget, running the jail, and stepping up patrols of rural Douglas County to prevent thefts and burglaries.

While on the police force in Las Vegas, one of my duties was treasurer for the biggest association in law enforcement in the state of Nevada, putting together a multi-million dollar budget and making sure the association stayed within that budget.

What factored into your decision to run for this office? Why do you feel you are the better choice?
As far back as 2010 I was constantly asked to run for sheriff. There needed to be a change in how the sheriff’s office was being run. I was once again asked back in 2013 to run to make the change that is deeply needed. With my extensive law enforcement experience, and not owing anyone any favors, I will be able to do what is needed to get the job done and to make sure the citizens get the best and most professional service. I still feel a calling to participate in law enforcement, especially so in my home county of Douglas. I feel I am capable of improving the sheriff’s office with my vast experience while serving in Douglas County and Las Vegas, Nev. law enforcement.

Are there particular issues you wish to address and/or goals you wish to accomplish?
Currently there are too many deputies and staff who are working day shift. I will make sure that the evening and night shifts will have more coverage. This is normally when the activity level is the highest. I will also be working all the shifts, and I will have the #2 and #3 deputy trading off with me.

I also want to have an environment of free ideas. Just because someone is in a supervisory role doesn’t mean that the non-supervisory employees won’t have as good or better ideas. Currently that concept is not practiced.

I will be looking at the cost of all the SUVs currently in the sheriff’s department fleet. Most or all of the vehicles are E85 capable, but it is not being used at this time. E85 is a cheaper fuel, and with the reimbursement program with the State of Illinois, it could save the department money.

I will explore replacing some of the SUVs with police patrol cars to further save the taxpayers by reducing fuel costs.

What is your position on the issue of unionization for the sheriff’s department personnel given the recent petition to do so filed with the Illinois Labor Relations Board?
I have no issues with unionization. I am a bit surprised with the timing of this action but, if this is what makes the employees feel more comfortable in their jobs, I’m okay with it.

Any additional commentary?
I want to bring the sheriff’s department back to a professional department that is not only respected by the citizens of Douglas County, but all law enforcement entities within the county and the state.

I will have an open door policy. I have been stating this since 2010. People like talking to the person in charge, not someone down in the chain of command.

 

It’s important, now more than ever before, that all of Douglas County’s law enforcement agencies share resources and cooperate with one another to serve all the communities of Douglas County as a unified force. I intend to make this one of my top priorities.

 

Mooney Ford dealership under new ownership

–Mooney offers appreciation to city, community for longtime support
By Colleen Lehmann
There have been a whole lot of changes going on at the Tim Mooney Ford dealership over the last few months … what with May’s hailstorm damage and a facility-wide renovation to deal with … but perhaps the biggest change of all will take effect on Nov. 1, 2014.

That’s when, after over 26 years, Tim Mooney will no longer own the dealership, and Tim Mooney Ford ceases to exist. Instead, the moniker will be Ford Tuscola, owned by a partnership that includes several businessmen who have dealerships in Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois. The lead man with whom Mooney has dealt in the negotiation process is Arizona resident Guy Cannon.

Bob Oltean, who has served as general manager of Toyota Danville (located in Tilton) after the aforementioned partnership acquired that dealership, will be a partner in the Tuscola Ford facility, splitting his time between the two. Jon Hensley, longtime Mooney Ford employee, will take on the role of general manager, overseeing daily operations in Tuscola. Mooney will retain ownership of the property itself.

“It is my understanding the current staff here will stay in transition with the new ownership, if that is what they want to do,” said Mooney. “Most of the staff has been here a long time. They know their jobs and know how to take care of people, work hard and give 110 percent. They’re all people I not only enjoy working with I consider each a good friends as well.”

While to the casual observer this might seem a sudden decision, selling the dealership, according to Mooney it was anything but.

“I’ve known for several years that I wanted to sell at some point, but there’s a difference between wanting to do something and actually acting on it. I knew my kids were not going to be going into the business, and I wanted to be able to do this when I was at an age where I could still try something different. The economy has been on an upswing in the last few years, so I really began seriously considering it last August. I felt like things were at a point within my family and within the business that it made sense.”

While there were a number of inquiries into the dealership, Mooney said he narrowed down the list of what he considered serious prospects to about four, and began the arduous process of trying to compare deals and terms. It was at about this time he came into contact with Cannon and his partners, who would ultimately prove to be the new owners.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal Oct. 29, 2014 edition