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Main Street receives awards

Lincoln, a community that’s
improving and celebrating it

[MAY 23, 2001]  Main Street Lincoln won three awards in Springfield on Thursday evening, May 3, at Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood’s ceremony honoring Illinois Main Street communities.

The awards received by Lincoln included Public Improvements in the Design category, given for Scully Park; Business Plan in the Economic Restructuring category, given for Sew Many Friends; and Business Expansion in the Economic Restructuring category, for Grapes and Grounds.

Attending the ceremony were Mayor Beth Davis, Main Street Lincoln Board President Jon Steffens and Program Manager Wendy Bell with her husband, Terry.

Lincoln collected more than its share of the rewards. "There are 59 Main Street communities, 43 awards were available, 200 applications came in," Bell said.



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She added, "I visit a lot of other Main Street communities, and I am always glad to come home, because we have so much here we can share with the world."

Lincoln and Logan County are in a time of apparent synergism, with historical, tourism, and new business development planning taking place on all fronts.


Scully Park restoration

[MAY 23, 2001]  If the trees could talk in Scully Park, what a tale they would have to tell.

Project description

Violet Mary Simpson, daughter of Sir William Simpson, was educated in England and Paris, France. There she met her husband-to-be, Thomas Scully, and married in 1924. Scully, heir to a land empire, and Violet settled in the United States in 1925. Mrs. Scully was known to be a great philanthropist and gardener. Among other generous donations, she funded and planned the landscaping for the county-owned Washington Park. The park sits one block south of the courthouse square and was renamed for her upon her death in 1976.


The centerpiece of the park was a beautiful fountain in a large pool surrounded by formal flower beds. Tragically, a young teenager was accidentally electrocuted while playing in the fountain during the mid-’80s. The immediate reaction was to drain the fountain pool and fill it in with dirt. Consequently, the park became largely abandoned. "No loitering" signs were put in, the flower beds turned to weeds, and the plaque for Mrs. Scully on the fountain fell off.

In 1999, Main Street Lincoln volunteers decided to investigate the possibility of restoring the fountain. The first phase was to dig out the pool by hand and, unbelievably, the pool floor was found to be intact. The project went on Main Street Lincoln’s work plan in 2000. Funding for the $27,000 project was obtained from several sources. The Logan County Board and the Logan County Parks and Trails Foundation, which Mrs. Scully also initiated, each gave approximately 25 percent of the total. The other half came as a grant from the Woods Foundation, and an extra $100 came from Union Planters Bank’s ribbon of dollar bills when they opened their new drive-through across from the park.


The most important result of this project was the spirit of cooperation and an increase in civic pride. The groups that funded the project are unrelated to each other but each was committed to the legacy of Violet Scully and saw the possibilities of the park.

Local contractors were used throughout the project. Electricity was moved and the fountain rewired at a low voltage by Fitzpatrick Electric. P & W Pool finished the interior of the pool and installed the fountain. Don Bode, a local welder, designed and built a wrought-iron fence to surround the perimeter of the pool. This, combined with all electrical apparatus being housed in a small blockhouse, should ensure there is never another tragedy to close the fountain. Bode also designed a wrought-iron gateway sign for the main entrance. Eight sturdy picnic tables were ordered from Big R Farm Supply, and not one has disappeared yet. Banners were made by a local seamstress and hung by our city street crew.




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Main Street Lincoln volunteers replanted the flower beds with donated perennials, trimmed the overgrown trees and took the "no loitering" signs down. They trenched the lines for electricity and replaced and poured concrete where necessary. Four contemporary streetlights that surrounded the pool were taken down by volunteers and replaced with new historically sympathetic lighting. Four heavy-duty trash containers were also added so families picnicking had a place to dispose of their garbage. Main Street Lincoln coordinated the entire project and administered the finances.

The "new" park was dedicated Memorial Day weekend in 2000. Officials from the Logan County Parks and Trails Foundation, the Logan County Board, the Woods Foundation, city of Lincoln and Main Street Lincoln were on hand. More importantly, Violet Scully’s two sons, Michael and Peter, as well as family from England attended. Michael and Peter cut the giant violet-colored ribbon at the gateway while hundreds looked on. Afterwards, a punch-and-cookie reception was held near the fountain and the first penny was thrown in by Main Street Lincoln Board President Dale Bassi. The "wishes" from the fountain are collected when the pool is cleaned and donated to another Main Street Lincoln project, restoration of the Indian maiden statue.


The impact of the Scully Park restoration was obvious all summer long. There were people in the park day and evening, when once no one visited. A neighbor who lives in a second-story downtown apartment has adopted the flower beds as "her back yard" and is teaching the neighborhood children to care for them. Downtown employees routinely eat their lunch in the park. Parents visit with their children. In the evening, lovers young and old stroll through. With the gentle sound of water and the scent of roses, it is a romantic spot; the first wedding was held there this fall.

The Scully Park restoration is a success story because of the public-private partnership initiated for the good of the community.

[Main Street Lincoln]

Special award for business plan

Sew Many Friends

[MAY 23, 2001]  Ivy Koritz and Sue Bidwell did their homework before opening the doors of "Sew Many Friends," and it shows.

Project description

Koritz and Bidwell were college roommates who maintained their friendship long after graduation. They each have unique talents but both share a love of quilting and sewing. The lack of available materials drove their desire to open a store with adequate supplies. However, with no retail experience, they took time to study all the options and learn from the experts.

Koritz and Bidwell worked with the local SBDC on their initial business plan and then had the S.C.O.R.E. chapter from Bloomington review it. They also attended a Business Start Up Seminar hosted by Main Street Lincoln and put on by the S.C.O.R.E. chapter from Springfield. This included sessions on SBA loans, marketing, bookkeeping and small-business banking, as well as more on the business plan.


Their next step was attendance at Main Street Lincoln’s Business Nexus, an event to bring prospective business owners and business resources together. During that time, Main Street held tours of available property downtown. When Koritz saw the block-glass window, the breadth of 127 S. Kickapoo and the fact that the property was located next to a needlework and framing shop, she knew she’d found their location.

The final step was to finish their business plan, then use it as a guideline in opening their business in October 2000. Ivy and Sue appropriately named their business "Sew Many Friends" to honor all of the people who had helped and inspired them in planning the new business.


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Having a quilting supply store next to a needlework and framing shop has installed an arts-and-craft anchor on a corner of downtown Lincoln. Both businesses have benefited from the traffic each individual store brings.

Koritz notes that their target market area of the surrounding 60 miles is still their base, but the word is getting out and some people are coming from even out of state. This is largely due to a "Shop Hop" that Sew Many Friends was a part of. The Shop Hop features quilting supply stores throughout a region and then offers special incentives for quilters to visit all of them. Originally 400 names, their mailing list now includes 1,000 addresses.


Besides the benefit to the business next door, Sew Many Friends offers services previously unavailable to the area. Their inventory includes 650 bolts of fabric, as well as batting, threads and patterns. Lessons are available for the beginner to the experienced quilter. And for those who have no desire to learn to quilt but want to snuggle under one, Sew Many Friends has invested in a machine so they can quilt any design you’d like.

[Main Street Lincoln]

Business expansion project

Grapes and Grounds

[MAY 23, 2001]  After owning Eckert’s Fine Dining for 2½ years, Jon and Jason Steffens decided to expand their business to include a fine wine and coffee shop.

Project description

 Jon Steffens said that they view Grapes and Grounds "as a natural extension of a fine restaurant." Eckert’s Fine Dining Restaurant is open two days a week, and dining is by reservation only. Grapes and Grounds is open six days a week, inviting passers-by to pause for a drink or dessert. When the weather is conducive, tables and chairs are even placed out on the sidewalk to encourage customers to relax.

The new but related business took three months to plan and execute. The Steffens brothers created a doorway between the restaurant and the adjoining shop in their building and renovated the empty storefront to prepare for Grapes and Grounds. During the three months of preparation, they also searched through distributors to acquire particular wine and coffee products.


The result of the Steffenses’ business expansion is very promising. Grapes and Grounds has increased the visibility of Eckert’s Fine Dining, which has led to an increase in the number of Lincoln diners. Prior to Grapes and Grounds, only 15 percent of Eckert’s customers were from Lincoln. Now Lincoln diners account for 30 percent of Eckert’s customers.


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Jon Steffens believes that Grapes and Grounds gives the public "one more reason to come downtown," as opposed to shopping and dining in west Lincoln or outside of Lincoln. Grapes and Grounds adds to downtown’s diversity and complements other businesses. Next door to the wine and coffee shop is a new bakery—one stop for customers on their way to work.

Besides the healthy impact on downtown Lincoln businesses, Grapes and Grounds will help the Steffens family. Jon Steffens believes that diversifying is stabilizing agent for businessmen in a small town. Business at Eckert’s Fine Dining tends to revolve around holidays. Grapes and Grounds yields steady, year-round business.

Grapes and Grounds opened just over a year ago and is doing well, so the Steffenses' business is expanding again. At the time Main Street nominations were submitted, plans for Eckert’s Bed and Breakfast were in the works. The bed and breakfast has been open for more than six months and has one of four planned thematic rooms open, the Arabian Room.

[Jean Ann Carnley]



Illinois Employment and Training Center

New name, new address

[APRIL 20, 2001]  Congress repealed the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) June 30, 2000. A new Workforce Investment Act (WIA) has replaced it. The Logan County Illinois Employment and Training Center (IETC) now houses two offices:  Illinois Department of Employment and Security Office (IDES), "the unemployment office," and Logan County Workforce Office (WIA)

Effective April 30, 2001, the offices will be at the following address:

120 S. McLean St., Suite B

Farm Bureau Building

Lincoln, IL 62656

The new e-mail address is ietc@abelink.com.

Phone and fax numbers remain the same: phone (217) 735-5441 and fax (217) 732-2658.

Staff members are Fred Wiemer, Rod Lewis and Jan Gleason.

Please feel free to contact any of the staff for employment and training services. The staff looks forward to serving you.

The Chamber Report

Upcoming events

June 8 — Chamber roundup golf tournament, auction and dinner

Aug. 24-26 — Lincoln Art & Balloon Festival


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The Chamber of Commerce is a catalyst for community progress, bringing business and professional people together to work for the common good of Lincoln and Logan County.

Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce

303 S. Kickapoo St., Lincoln

(217) 735-2385

Fax (217) 735-9205



[Provided by Bobbi Abbott, executive director of Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce]

Honors & Awards

ALMH names Nurse of the Year

[JUNE 1, 2001]  Gary Auten, RN, has been named Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital’s 2001 Nurse of the Year.

Gary was nominated by his peers and selected by a committee of ALMH staff. He has worked as an Emergency Department nurse at ALMH for over two years.

Gary lives in Clinton with his wife and three children, Rachel, Emily and Jacob.

Zac Tibbs and Stephanie West
honored by Lincoln Rotary Club

[MAY 17, 2001]  LCHS seniors Stephanie West and Zac Tibbs have been selected by the Lincoln Rotary Club as two youth who are "Ready for the Real World." The annual award that recognizes youth demonstrating exceptional vocational skills and work ethic was presented to the students and their parents at the May 9 Rotary meeting.

Stephanie and Zac were each honored with a plaque and a $250 cash award.

Zac Tibbs, son of Dennis and Beverly Tibbs of New Holland, owns and operates his own produce business, which includes production planning, planting, weeding, harvest, sales and bookkeeping. He has also served as the assistant superintendent in the Floriculture Department at the Illinois State Fair for the past two years.

[Zac Tibbs]

Cherie Lock and Dave Robson, both from the University of Illinois Extension, nominated Zac. Robson writes that in his second year working at the Floriculture Department Zac "took initiative without needing any reminders and even suggested improvements for a smoother working environment."

Zac will study engineering this fall at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.


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[Stephanie West]

Stephanie West, daughter of Randall and Cynthia West of Lincoln, has been employed for one year as a nurse’s assistant in the long-term care facility at The Christian Village. "Stephanie always has a smile and a soft touch with the residents," says Stephanie’s supervisor, Deidre Berger, RN. Stephanie says she enjoys helping others meet their needs for everyday life. She will attend Lincoln College in the fall to study nursing.


This is the third year for the Ready for the Real World Award. It was established to honor young people who demonstrate responsible work ethics above and beyond what is normally expected for someone in their teen-age years. One award is given to a young person with outstanding entrepreneurial skills. The other is awarded to a young person who has excelled in his or her work for a Logan County business or agency. Nominations are accepted from the student’s direct work supervisor and are due each year in March.

The Lincoln Rotary Club meets Wednesdays at noon at the Restaurant at the Depot. Membership is open to area professionals nominated by current Rotary members.

[Rotary news release]

ALMH names May Employee of the Month

[MAY 9, 2001]  Congratulations to Randy Turley, who was named Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital May Employee of the Month.

Randy began employment at ALMH as a Care-A-Van driver in February 2000. Randy and his wife, Tina, have four children—Adam, Chase, Spencer and Madyson. In his "spare" time, Randy enjoys playing golf and softball. He also hosts outings for needy children and families.

According to Randy’s nominator, "Randy is a true ALMH star! He has his own fan club at the area nursing homes, comprised of both staff and residents. He truly cares about everyone—he gives up his free time to take nursing home residents for Frosties at Wendy’s and drives through the park. He’s an excellent goodwill ambassador between ALMH, the physician offices and the long-term care facilities. If the hospital calls and has a transport in off hours, he comes in to help if available. Randy’s great sense of humor has brought smiles to many and brightened many days."

[ALMH news release]

Main Street Corner News


Job Hunt

Now Lincolndailynews.com makes it easy to look for a job in the Logan County area
with our new Job Hunt feature in the Business section.

Employers, you can list available jobs by e-mailing ldn@lincolndailynews.com. Each job listing costs $10 the first week, $20 for eight days to three months. There is a limit of 75 words per announcement.

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