Make tracks to Tuscola Train Day

TrainDay1web By Colleen Lehmann
When it comes to trains and Tuscola, there is a bit of a love-hate relationship, depending on who you ask. The rails played a major role in the city’s founding and history, and Tuscola boasts a somewhat unusual diamond crossing where three lines—CSX, CN, and UP—intersect.

That can be the source of frustration for some residents, who occasionally weary of the numerous times any given day that signal lights flash and safety arms lower to allow unimpeded passage for the clickety-clacking railcars that whiz by (or slowly creep—based on your particular sense of urgency in needing to get across!).

But for many folks, that long pull on the horn is more siren song, wooing them to the tracks to watch the mighty iron horse pass through. Those who love all things train are a devoted bunch, and so for them—and anyone else so inclined—an inaugural Tuscola Train Day event on Sat., May 10, 2014 is just the ticket.

Attend the first-time event and you will find a designated train viewing and photography area, locomotive horn exhibit, railroadiana vendors, HO model train layout, and more. The nearby Tuscola Community Building will be the site for the vendor fair, as well as light refreshments available for purchase, while the parking area adjacent to the Union Pacific right-of-way will serve as the viewing/photography area. Events kick off at 9 a.m. and will conclude by 5 p.m., rain or shine.

Tuscola resident Fred Heilich unquestionably falls into the aforementioned category of train aficionado, and he has essentially been a committee of one in bringing the nationally recognized Train Day event to town. Amtrak has sponsored a Train Day for seven years, celebrating the rich history of the rails in America and stressing the importance of safety. Heilich was in the aerospace industry by trade, but indulged his passion for trains by serving as a volunteer engineer/conductor for the West Chester Railroad—a short line railroad in Pennsylvania—since 1999. He still holds a current engineer’s certificate with the West Chester RR, and is excited to be the driving force behind Tuscola’s first-time hosting of the event.

“It’s always been in the back of my mind, since we moved to Tuscola, to have a Train Day event here, since there is such a significant history and the diamond formation. While my ‘real’ job was as an aircraft flight control engineering business manager in the aerospace industry, I come by my love of trains honestly. One of my grandfathers was a railroad locomotive engineer, and the other was a railroad section foreman,” Heilich noted.

Armed with the desire to organize Train Day, Heilich approached city officials about the proposition.

“I asked the city if there was any kind of backing it could give me, and was fortunate to receive a Tourism grant, and they waived the Community Building rental fee to help gauge interest. Once that was approved I got busy promoting the event. Rail fans and model railroaders are the target audience, but it’s certainly something anyone is welcome to attend, and would be a very family-friendly day.

“I’ve been to a number of communities to talk about the May 10 date, marketed it heavily at the Decatur and Mattoon train shows, and have used social media to get the word out, as well as including it on online railfan calendars and sites. [City employee] Anna Marx has been a big help with getting things organized and with marketing efforts,” Heilich added.

Vendors have shown an interest in coming to Tuscola, says Heilich, with one man bringing 10 tables of merchandise to the Community Building. Team Kika—a support group for Tuscola resident Erica Kremitzki who is currently fighting cancer—will be offering light refreshments for purchase. Two collectors of locomotive horns will be set up in the empty lot where F.H. Jones Lumber Company was formerly housed, and there will be parking in the Cargill lot and in the lot to the west of the Community Building. The traditional parking spaces outside of the Community Building, near the tracks, will be roped off for viewing/photography purposes.

Heilich stressed that safety will be a primary concern on Train Day, and noted “We are asking that the ROW areas of the UP/CSX/CN railroads not be used, as these are private property and would be considered trespassing.”

If anyone is so inclined, Heilich would appreciate help with setting things up on Friday around 4 p.m., and tearing down Saturday after 5 p.m. For more information, contact Heilich at 217-552-4059.

Tuscola well represented in 2014 Illinois Marathon

By Colleen Lehmann
There were plenty of Tuscolians taking to the streets of Champaign-Urbana on Friday and Saturday for the 2014 Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, just over 100 of them participating in everything from the 5K to the 26.2-mile full marathon. In fact, of the 101 individual Tuscola finishers, 24 of them participated in two races—mostly the 5K and 10K, although some ran the 5K and either the half (13.1 miles) or full marathon.

While everyone who took on the challenge of the race(s) is certainly to be congratulated, special kudos go to 11-year-old Jake Dyer, one of the “two-fers,” who placed first in his age division (12 and under) in the 10K with a 46:30 clocking. He also ran the 5K in 19:25.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal April 30, 2014 edition

Westjohn witnesses Boston Strong firsthand in second marathon appearance

1-Westjohn at Bost. MarathonwebBy Colleen Lehmann
What can you accomplish in three hours and 16 minutes?

For Tuscola’s Yale Westjohn, that amount of time allowed him to run 26.2 miles along the hilly streets of the Boston area during his second consecutive appearance in the iconic Boston Marathon—held April 21, 2014. But quite aside from the personal satisfaction of performing well in the challenging race, was the equally moving spirit of this year’s event, in light of the 2013 bombing tragedy. Yale and wife, Laura, and daughter Cassie were all back this year after being in attendance last year, though fortunately they were not among the injured, as Yale had finished an hour before the bombs detonated.

“After last year’s events, which we miraculously avoided, I felt I had to go back, to race and be a part of something special. I wanted to be a part of the message that we will not live in fear; that would be letting them win and that is not the American way,” said Yale Westjohn.

“The message was clear – despite last year’s tragedy, the runners and spectators were out there to show that the bombing would only strengthen their support of the event and not deter participation. They had the second-largest field in marathon history, and twice the number of spectators this year. It was amazing to witness,” said Lara Westjohn.

It was no surprise that security was extremely tight this year, for both spectators and runners.

“One of the biggest changes was that runners could no longer bring a backpack with them to Athlete’s Village (the gathering spot for the runners in Hopkinton, prior to the race). In prior years, they would allow runners to bring gear with them, which would then be transported to the finish line area where they could then gather their belongings. This year, whatever the athletes brought with them to Athlete’s Village would either have to be thrown away or carried with them to the finish. That made me have to do a little more planning,” said Westjohn.

Runners were “wanded,” and police presence and bomb-sniffing dogs were in much greater numbers.

“Over Athlete’s Village, police helicopters could be seen circling overhead, and police could be seen patrolling rooftops. They were everywhere along the route, and were also in the crowds disguised as spectators,” says Westjohn.

The Tuscola resident was very moved by the kindnesses shown him by Bostonians.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal April 30, 2014 edition


Meinhold steps up in unexpected role as pitcher

By Lenny Sementi
TCHS softball pitching ace Erin Walker was scheduled for a night off after throwing in nine games in 10 days, so the Warriors were looking toward number two Karli Allen this Thur., April 24, 2014 in Paris. Allen, however, was sidelined late in the day with an injury and pneumonia, and up stepped Madeline Meinhold.

The sophomore has been in the batting order since the second game of the year, and has held down second base in numerous games, but had only thrown one inning of varsity ball. However, that didn’t matter, as the second-year player fanned nine in a 9-0 victory over the Lady Tigers. She scattered seven hits and four walks over seven innings of action, working out of a bases-loaded jam twice in the game.

Walker owned the hill in the Warriors’ other four contests of the week. The senior went 3-1, opening the week with an 11-0 win over Sullivan April 21, then upended Georgetown 9-4 on April 22, and Unity 2-1 on April 23 before dropping a one-run heartbreaker to Central A&M 11-10 on Friday to end the week. She allowed just one run to cross the dish on her watch before Friday’s defeat in a back-and-forth shootout.

Tuscola ended a brutal 11-day stint in which they played 12 games, resting just on Sunday. The girls in black and gold are now 18-4 on the year as they head into the final three weeks of the regular season.

•Tuscola 11, Sullivan 0
Walker worked through the first two frames facing one more than the minimum before the Warriors broke through at the plate. Peyton Shelmadine walked to open the frame, moved to second on a ground ball by Meinhold, and then scored on a double to the left field fence by Morgan Little, who moved on a fielder’s choice by Jenna Jacobs. Anna Watson beat out a two-out infield single plating Little, making it 2-0 Warriors.

Walker worked around a leadoff single in the top of the fourth, striking out two of the next three, both looking on curve balls, and the Warriors answered the effort with two more runs in the bottom half. Meinhold doubled to open the frame, moved on a single by Jacobs, and scored on a sac fly by Halle McCrory. Watson beat out a bunt, pushing Jacobs to third; the pair both advanced on a pass ball to make it 4-0 Warriors.

Tuscola blew it open in the fifth, sending 11 players in all to the plate, scoring seven runs and invoking the 10-run rule to end the game early. Allen homered to start the ball rolling, then Walker and Shelmadine followed with back-to-back hits, setting the table for a three-run homer by Meinhold. Little reached safely for a third time in the game, and McCrory followed with a hit. Both moved on a wild pitch and scored on a double by Amber Tabeling to make it 11-0 Warriors.

•Tuscola 8, Georgetown 4
Walker worked just three frames in the game before giving way to Allen, but they were dominant innings. The senior retired all nine she faced, striking out seven and leaving with a 6-0 lead in her pocket. Allen delivered the pill the final four stanzas, giving up just two earned runs.

As usual, Watson got the ball rolling at the plate in the bottom of the first, reaching on a bunt. She then swiped second and third, and scored on a single by Allen. Walker helped her cause with a single that moved Allen, who then trotted home on a sac by Shelmadine, making 2-0 Warriors. Alexis Guiliani bunted her way on and scored on a double by McCrory in the second as Tuscola moved in front by three.

They added three more in the third on a double by Walker and hits by Meinhold, Little, and Guiliani, driving the score to 6-0. Tuscola added to its run totals in the fourth thanks to Allen crossing the dish on a hit by Meinhold. The Warriors wrapped up their scoring in the bottom of the sixth, courtesy of a double off the right field fence and a single by Little, securing the win.

•Tuscola 2, Unity 1
Watson was at it again the next night, opening the game with a bunt single. The speedy sophomore stole second and third, and returned home on a two-out single by Walker to left center. Meinhold set the table in the fourth with a leadoff single. She moved to second on a ground ball by Little and scored on a single by McCrory. Watson followed with her second hit of the game, but that’s where the rally ended as the Warriors left a pair.

McCrory doubled in the sixth with two gone as Tuscola looked for a few insurance runs, but was stranded once more. Unity, however, broke through in the bottom half on a bloop single, a sac bunt, and a fielder’s choice, making it 2-1 heading into the final stanza. Tabeling opened the frame with a single to left, but for the third straight at-bat Tuscola was unable to plate the run. Walker, however, didn’t need the extra run support, retiring the final three Rockets in order to end the game. She fanned the first looking, induced a ground ball to first, and then struck out the third swinging to collect the win.

•Tuscola 9, Paris 0
Tuscola scored in five of the seven innings, and Meinhold scattered seven hits and four walks over seven innings of work as the Warriors improved to 4-0 on the week. The sophomore retired nine of the first 10 to step to the plate, striking out six of them. She then worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth on a pair of great plays made by Jacobs at second and Watson at third to get her the first two outs. She did the rest of the work herself, throwing it by the Lady Tigers’ seven-hitter to retire the side.

Watson led the way on offense, going 3 for 4 in the game with an RBI, two runs scored, and four stolen bases. Tabeling was next up with a pair of hits, an RBI, and a run scored. Little also added two base knocks to her season stat sheets, including a triple to lead off the top of the second. McCrory, Meinhold, and Jacobs all singled in the game as the Warriors delivered 10 total hits in the contest.

•Central A&M 11, Tuscola 10
The Lady Warriors built a 3-0 advantage through three innings of action, but were unable to hold on against a big swinging Central A&M squad. It was Watson again stirring the pot early for Tuscola. The speedster outlegged an infield hit, moved to second on a throwing error, moved to third on a sac by Tabeling, and scored on a pass ball to give the Warriors an early lead.

Shelmadine singled to lead off the second, and moved on a single by Meinhold. The pair crossed the dish two batters later on a 2-RBI single by Jacobs to put the Warriors up by three, 3-0. A&M answered with two unearned on two hits and an error. Back came the Warriors to win the frame, scoring three in the bottom on hits by Watson, Tabeling, and McCrory, and a sac bunt by Shelmadine to make it 6-2 Tuscola. They added another in the fourth to go up by five, 7-2, thanks to a leadoff hit by Jacobs, a bunt single by Watson, and a ground ball to the left side by McCrory.

A&M thundered back with four runs in the fifth on three hits, a walk, and an error, then took the lead in the sixth with three more runs, only to watch the Warriors tie it at 8 in the bottom half. Jacobs continued to swing the hot bat, connecting on a fastball for a two-out double to the left field corner. The senior then scored on an error.

A&M retook the lead in the top of the seventh with a two-run homer, but the Warriors weren’t quite done yet. Walker walked to open the bottom of the seventh, as did Shelmadine. Walker, however, was caught on a fielder’s choice by Meinhold, leaving the Warrior at first and second with one gone. Little singled to left to load the bases. Anna Kauffman gave it a ride to deep left, pushing in one run on a sac fly, but that’s where the magic ended as the Warriors dropped a thriller.

Youngsters lead the way for Lady Warrior tracksters

By Lenny Sementi
It was another long week for the Tuscola High School girls track team. The Lady Warriors competed in three meets, a tri-team event at Gibson City on Mon., April 21, 2014 and two large invitationals.

They traveled to Mattoon Tues., April 22 to do battle with some of the top big school teams in the area and then returned home on Fri., April 25 for the long-running Tuscola Open boasting 14 schools. It was some young Warriors who did some damage in the two invitationals. Emma Henderson and Logan Hale both donated to team points in the Open in multiple events.

“We opened our week in a smaller meet at GCMS, to shake off some of the rust,” stated Coach Drew Sterkel. “Most girls participated in events they had not previously been a part of.”

Senior Clarisa Phillips was leading the way for Coach Sterkel. The fourth-year runner cleared 4-8 in the high jump, and also set a personal record in the 200-meter dash. Joining her at the 4-8 height was Hale, setting a personal best as well. Two more young Warriors, Caylen Moyer in the 100-meter dash and Calleigh Miller in the 100-meter high hurdles, delivered PRs as well.

Henderson continued to impress in her freshman campaign at the Mattoon Invite, against solid large-school competition. She took fourth overall in the 800 meters with a time of 2 minutes 28 seconds. Henderson also ran a leg in the 4×400 relay that took sixth overall, setting a PR with a time of 4:28.

“I was very happy with the end product of the Mattoon Meet,” stated the coach. “We are starting to get some of our injured athletes back, such as Baylee Tackitt.”

The Tuscola Open was the aiming point all week, and the ladies didn’t disappoint, taking ninth overall with 19 team points to their credit.

“I thought we had a good night and a good week going, but the Open was even better,” said Sterkel. “We did exactly what we planned on doing. We set six PRs at the Open and scored double the points we did a year ago. I am really happy for our girls; they set a goal and I believe they achieved it.”

The two freshmen led the way in scoring. Henderson took fourth in the 400 with a time of 1:02, and backed it up with a third in the 800, crossing the line in 2:28. She also was the anchor on the 4×400 meter relay, joining with Mikhala Sumption, Lexi Sluder and Hale. They ended up in sixth overall as Henderson accounted for 11 of the team’s 19 points.

Hale added to the point total in the high jump, clearing a personal best 4-10 to take fourth overall and adding four team points to the mix.

“It was great to see Logan do so well; she’s been working very hard,” the coach commented.

Phillips competed in the high jump as well, but added to the team totals in the 4×200 relay, connecting with Moyer, Tackitt, and Felicia Tucker to take sixth overall.

Another senior joined Phillips and Tucker in donating to the cause. Nicole Mannen linked up with sister Rachel, Courtney Brewer, and Alli Moss to take sixth place in the 4×800. It was another young gun who rounded out the scoring in the team event. Peyton Kresin took fifth overall in the discus with a toss of 99-5. Kresin also competed in the shot, finishing right behind sophomore Brooke Hennis who fell a few spots short of scoring for the team.

Sluder was another who competed well, crossing the line in 18.1 in the 100-meter high hurdles, and in 55.33 in the grueling 300-meter hurdles. Megan Quick and Alli Moss rounded the track in the 1600 meters, both nearing personal best times.

“I was really proud of our girls. They had the right mentality and were determined to make some noise,” Sterkel said. “Emma is getting better by the day. It was a very tough week with a lot of meets, but we ran well. We are looking forward to a full week of practice to fix some things before conference and sectionals.”

Boys track-and-field claim Tuscola Open

By Missy Chappell
•PBL 74, Tuscola 61, GCMS 46
The Tuscola boys track team traveled to Gibson City Monday, April 21, 2014 for a triangular meet with PBL and GCMS. Tuscola took second as a team in the meet, but once again had numerous standout individual performances.

Stephen Gibson took first place in both the shot put and discus. He threw for a distance of 50-6 in shot and 156-8 in discus. Of the eight other discus throwers who competed, nearly all had lifetime best throws.

Austin Rexroad finished in third place with his lifetime best 9-0 pole vault.

Tuscola runners took second and third in the 300 hurdles. Adam Bratten finished in second place with a run of :47.0, and Philip Spillman finished in third with a time of :48.8.

Eric Ponder took first place and had his lifetime best run in the 1600M with a time of 4:32.0 (In 1999 Robert Hanners set the school record in the 1600M at 4:22.8.). Trent Ponder finished in third place in the mile with a time of 5:33.9. Ponder also finished in first place in the 800M with a time of 2:06.4, followed by Nick Kemp who finished in third with a time of 2:17.4.

Chas Campbell, with a time of 12:18.7, was the only Tuscola competitor to place in the 3200M. He had a fourth-place finish.

In total, eight relay teams competed for Tuscola last Monday, two each in the 4×100 and 4×400, three in the 4×200, and one in the 4×800. Of the eight relay teams competing, only two failed to place.

In the 4x100M, the team of “young guys” consisting of freshmen Joe Lopez, Broc Tackitt, Adam Bratten; and sophmore Keagan Kibler edged out the “old guys” team consisting of seniors Nick Kemp, Chandler Kerns, Kyle Pugh, and Chas Campbell by four-tenths of a second, taking second place with a time of :50.2. The “old guys” finished fourth with a time of :50.6.

John Evans and Broc Smith put in outstanding performances in their three main events. Broc placed first in the 100M and 200M, with times of :11.2 and :23.0 respectively, while John Evans took second in both of those events, running the 100M in :11.4, and the 200M in :23.2. In the 400M, Evans finished in first with a time of :54.5, and Smith took second with a time of :55.8.

Tuscola finished 1-4 in the 200M, behind Smith and Evans in first and second was Tanner Robinson in third at :25.4 and Austin Rexroad in fourth with a time of :25.6.

•Tuscola Open
Tuscola hosted the 28th annual Tuscola Open track meet on Friday, April 25, which featured competitors from 15 central Illinois schools. Tuscola won the meet easily with 112 points. The next closest competitor, Cumberland, had 61 team points. Neoga and Arcola tied for third with 55, and Central A&M had 50. Tuscola won the event for the 5th consecutive year, completing the first of their three teams goals this season. The Tuscola Open was once again a huge success, that would not be possible without the help of all the volunteers.

In addition to the team success, there were many individual highlights. Although they did not place, Keagan Kibler and Kyle Pugh accomplished personal bests in the long jump. Kibler jumped 15-4 and Pugh jumped 15-8.

In the discus, Stephen Gibson threw his personal best of 159-0 and earned a first-tplace finish, while Clayton Turner also threw a personal best of 137-11 and earned a third-place finish. Gibson and Turner finished first and fifth respectively in the shot put, Gibson throwing 50-5, and Turner throwing 44-3.

Tanner Robinson placed sixth with a pole vault of 9-0.

Broc Smith took first place in the 200M with a time of :23.03, and second in the 100M with a time of :10.9. John Evans had a third-place finish in the 400M, running the track in :52.50, and Eric Ponder took second in the 800M, finishing his two laps in 2:10.37.

Eric Ponder had a first-place showing in the 3200M with a time of 11:21.83, and Trent Ponder had a sixth-place finish in that event with a time of 11:56.66.

A highlight of the meet had to be the performances of all four relay teams, each putting in an outstanding performance. The 4x100M team of Joe Lopez, Broc Smith, Nick Kemp, and John Evans finished second with a time of :45.85.

The 4x200M team consisting of Lopez, Smith, Kemp, and Tanner Robinson finished in first place with a time of 1:37.9. The 4x400M team of Kemp, Robinson, Evans and Chandler Kerns finished in third place with a time of 3:42.71. Finally, the 4x800M team of Evans, Kemp, Kerns, and Chas Campbell finished in second place with a time of 9:22.17.

The Tuscola Open is always a highlight of the season for the track team, and neither the weather nor the team disappointed fans this year.

Warrior baseball 3-1 on the week

Warrior pitcher Tyler Hale during OVC action with Meridian.

Warrior pitcher Tyler Hale during OVC action with Meridian.

By Missy Chappell
The Tuscola Varsity baseball team played three homes games and one on the road at Decatur St. Teresa last week. They were undefeated at home and lost a tough game on the road.

•Tuscola 6, Central A&M 3
On Monday night, April 21, 2014, winning pitcher Nick Bates threw 5.2 innings, giving up three runs on five hits, with only five walks and two strikeouts. Bates held Central A&M scoreless until the fifth inning.

Coach Duff Hoel had this to say about the sophomore’s performance, “Nick threw well on a difficult, rainy night to pitch. I thought his velocity was as good as it has been (all season) and he was spotting pitches well.”

Bates had a great performance at the plate, as well as on the mound. He was 2-3 on the night with a home run and four RBI. Bates’ home run came in the first inning on the fourth pitch of the game.

“We got off to a terrific start. The three-run homer on the fourth pitch of the game was a great start,” said Coach Hoel. “The top of our order really did their job well tonight. We made some adjustments to the lineup and it paid dividends for us.”

Cole Evans, Tucker Robinson, and Devin Rose also went 2-3 at the plate for the Warriors.

“I told the guys to quit thinking in the batter’s box and simply swing the bat. They did that well,” said Coach Hoel, “but then some of them forget to think about base running” – proof that in high school baseball, there is always something to work on, even after a win.

•Tuscola 9, Georgetown 8
In another strong pitching performance on Tuesday, April 22 against Georgetown, Austin Martin pitched a complete game for the Warriors. In seven innings, Martin gave up eight runs on 10 hits. However, he walked no one and had four strikeouts.

According to Coach Duff Hoel, “Austin threw strikes. He didn’t walk anyone and gave us an opportunity to win.”

Tommy Watson and Tristan Williams both went 2-3 on the night. “We got a few timely hits tonight and were a little more patient at the plate,” Hoel noted.

•Decatur St. T 1, Tuscola 0
In a tough loss, Devin Rose pitched all six innings for the Warriors. He gave up just one run on two hits and three walks and had six strikeouts. Coach Hoel once again was impressed with Rose’s performance.

“Devin has allowed five hits in his last two games, yet he has lost them both. Tonight, he faced the minimum (number of batters) in four of his six innings (pitched).”

St. T scored in the bottom of the fourth inning on a hit batter, a single, an intentional walk to load the bases, and another hit batter. Tuscola had runners in scoring position in both the third and fifth innings, but were simply unable to come up with a big two-out base hit.

•Tuscola 13, Meridian 6
Tyler Hale started on the mound for the Warriors Friday night, April 25 at home against conference rival Meridian. Hale has some good performances under his belt this season, but Friday just wasn’t his night. He left the game in the third inning, down 6-5.

“Tyler threw okay, but got up in the zone and they hit him pretty hard. Griffin Day came in and did a real nice job and completely shut down their offense,” said Hoel.

Winning pitcher Day gave up only four hits and one walk in his 4.1 innings pitched. He also had four strikeouts.

Offensively, the Warriors had a great night. Tristan Williams had a home run and Austin Martin added two more. Blake Woodard was 4-4 on the night with four RBI.

“We had a couple guys really step up for us tonight. It was nice to see Blake Woodard get an opportunity and come through for us,” said Coach Hoel after the game.

Zach Bates and Jackson McCrory were 2-3 on the night, as well as Austin Martin who was 2-3 with two home runs and four RBI.

“Austin Martin squared a couple of balls up and drove in four runs for us on two home runs, but his best play of the night came on defense when he dove for a ball in the gap for the first out of the game.”

Tuscola has five games on the schedule this week, against Unity Monday and Danville Schlarman on Tuesday, and at home Wednesday-Friday facing Sullivan, Fisher and Tri-County.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal April 30, 2014 edition

East Prairie track teams dominate triangular meet

By Colleen Lehmann
All four East Prairie Middle School track-and-field teams bested the competition in point totals at the conclusion of a triangular meet held April 14, 2014 on the grounds of Tuscola High School.

Eighth-grade Hornet boys had 90 points, compared to Cerro Gordo with 18 and St. Matthews with 14; while the elder Hornet girls amassed 66 points compared to St. Matthew with 36 and Cerro Gordo with 18. Seventh-grade Hornet boys compiled 87 team points, while runner-up St. Matthews had 44 and Cerro Gordo managed just three. The younger Hornet girls were team winners with 76 points, with St. Matthews earning 49 points, and Cerro Gordo’s team had a five-point showing.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal April 30, 2014 edition



School board not alarmed at taking on full agenda

By Colleen Lehmann
Tuscola Board of Education members and related officials had a number of guests appear at the April 28, 2014 school board meeting—most were invited, one was not. Seven third-graders were present (along with their teachers and parents) to give examples of the biography projects they and fellow classmates have been hard at work on for the last three weeks.

And almost immediately after the conclusion of their presentations and the exodus of children, teachers, and parents, tornado sirens sounded, the uninvited storm sending board members, principals, and other meeting attendees to seek shelter in the school’s pit lab for approximately 20 minutes. Fortunately, no damage occurred and the meeting resumed.

Despite the 2013-2014 school year winding down, a number of subjects related to the 2014-2015 school year were discussed and/or acted upon, as is typically the case during the April board meeting. Approval was given to the 2014-15 district calendar, which will soon be posted on the district’s Web site, and a final draft of the 2014-15 school handbook will likely be ready for approval at the May meeting.

Negotiations are underway with Gould Bus Service for the transportation contract, Supt. Michael Smith reporting that final numbers are still in flux but should be available for the May meeting. The same holds true for an insurance quote with Hillard Insurance Agency, via agent Butch Price, on the school liability insurance policy.

Registration for the 2014-15 school year will be held both online and with a one-day “old school” (pardon the pun) on-site day. Those taking to their computers for the task can do so from June 1-July 31, 2014. The on-site registration day for all grade levels will be held at North Ward Elementary School Tues., August 5 from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

At Supt. Smith’s request, for the third year in a row, his salary for the 2014-15 year will remain frozen at the 2011-12 level. That figure is $110,975.99 for salary, $12,592.01 for pension, and $7,704 for insurance, for total compensation of $131,272. The motion passed with a vote of six yeas and one nay (Darold Spillman). Board member Tim Mooney noted before the vote that while appreciative of Smith’s willingness to freeze his salary for three years, “we really should look at doing something different down the road in all fairness.”

Something that won’t remain the same next year is lunch prices, which due to a federal mandate will be raised by 10 cents. That will make lunch at North Ward $2.35 and at East Prairie and TCHS the cost for lunch will be $2.45. The price increase is effective August 2014.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal April 30, 2014 edition

Fruits of North Ward coin drive highlighted in letter

1A-NW coin drive2web

These photos depict orphans in Ukrainian facilities enjoying fresh fruit purchased with money raised in a coin drive held last month at North Ward Elementary School.

By Colleen Lehmann
K-Kids at North Ward Elementary School in Tuscola held a coin drive in March to benefit disadvantaged children living in orphanages in the Ukraine.

“We challenged the students of North Ward to bring in their coins for a week, and all of the money collected would be sent to the Ukraine Ministries to buy fresh fruit for the orphans. The Ukraine has a large orphan population and the children live in some pretty stark and sad conditions,” explained teacher Beth Linstead, faculty advisor for K-(Kiwanis) Kids.

“We always try to pick one fundraiser a year that is global, to help students realize that what we do here in smalltown USA can have an effect in another country. Last year we collected school supplies and sent them over. This year we decided that collecting money and letting the authorities buy fresh fruit for the orphans was a better idea. Those children do not get fresh fruit/fruit oftend due to the high cost.

“The connection is through [North Ward teacher] Marydith Foster. She and her husband, Jeff, went over to visit and pursue adoption last year and saw the conditions firsthand. She asked us to help out and the students really liked the idea of helping others that are less fortunate. We raised around $275 for the cause, and had a wonderful response from the gentleman in charge of buying and distributing the fruit. It was pretty heartwarming, and makes me thankful,” Linstead said.
–Full story in The Tuscola Journal April 30, 2014 edition