Monday, July 22

Heat cannot stop Elkhart festivities

[JULY 22, 2002]  "Despite the heatÖ we had a great homecoming," says Mayor Dayle Eldridge of Elkhart. Elkhartís homecoming was this past weekend, Friday through Sunday.

[Click here for more photos]

Events started Friday with a pork barbecue dinner, a Logan County Bluegrass concert and a dance DJ for the youth. Saturday, the town had a garage sale, with many homes and organizations participating. There was also a ribeye sandwich lunch and a car show. At 4 p.m., much of the town turned out for the "Home Town America" parade.


[Photos by Gina Sennett]

The streets could not be called crowded, mainly because much of the town actually participated in the parade. Members of the local FFA and the local AFSCME represented their organizations. Most of the vehicles from the car show did double duty as participants in the parade.

Many citizens also marched to show their support for their favorite candidate. Sen. Larry Bomke and Rich Brauer, candidate for state representative, in particular each had many people holding signs and passing out candy. Other candidates, including gubernatorial candidates Rod Blagojevich and Jim Ryan, had their signs taped to cars.


Saturdayís events continued into the evening with a fried chicken dinner, a kiddie tractor pull, a cake walk, a hypnotist and a street dance featuring the band Up Front.

Sunday morning dawned with a biscuits and gravy breakfast. The main event of this final day was the four-on-four co-ed grass volleyball tournament.

Most events were in the downtown area (Governor Oglesby Street).

[Gina Sennett]

Tuesday, July 30

6:00 pm

- Luehr's Ideal Rides Bargain Night

     --All rides take 1 ticket

- Veterans Pass in Review - (Grandstand)

7:30 pm

- Logan County Queen Pageant

Wednesday, July 31

9:00 am

- Open Horse Show

7:30 pm

- Talent Contest

Thursday, August 1

1:30 pm

- Harness Racing

6:00 pm - closing

- Luehr's Ideal Rides Ride-A-Thon Night

6:30 pm

- Tractor Pull

Friday, August 2

1:30 pm

- Harness Racing

- Senior Citizens Day

7:30 pm

- 4-H Night-- Calf, Pig, Chicken & Goat Scrambles

Saturday, August 3

8:00 am

- 3 on 3 Basketball

- Chili Cook-off

1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

- Carnival Opens--"Kids Bargain Afternoon"

1:00 pm

- Kids Day--South end of Fairgrounds,

     Special Events Building

- Harness Racing

7:00 pm

- Country Music Show--Wade Dooley

Sunday, August 4

1:00 pm

- Harness Racing--Downstate Classic Day

- Luehr's Ideal Rides Family Day

     --All rides take 1 ticket

2:00 pm

- 4-H Livestock Auction

6:00 pm

- Demolition Derby

To order reserved Box & Track seats, call 217-732-3311

Illinois' Cleanest & Finest County Fair

Lincoln College athletic center
and museum are $2 million closer

[JULY 22, 2002]  "Itís fantastic! Fantastic!" said Lincoln College President Jack Nutt of the $2 million in additional capital funding for the school in the state budget approved by the General Assembly.

Nutt said he had received no word but assumes the money is an Illinois FIRST grant resulting from the letter he sent Gov. George Ryan six months ago. He emphasizes that the grant is "not a done deal" since it could still be removed. But since the General Assembly has adjourned and the governor approved the funding, Nutt is optimistic it wonít be removed or vetoed.

Nutt also said he does not know whether the grant is for the proposed museum, athletic center or unspecified "capital construction," as in the case of two previous Illinois FIRST grants totaling $1.1 million. If either of the last two is the case, Nutt said, heís ready to "put the hole in the ground."

Once designed as a single structure, the proposed Lincoln College athletic center and museum now stand separate in architectural drawings. At graduation on May 11, Nutt formally kicked off the fund drive for the two buildings, with a substantial sum from individual and governmental sources already in the coffers.

The athletic and convocation center site is on Nicholson Road, just beyond where it bends off Ottawa Street. Tentatively called the Lincoln Center, the building includes a multipurpose gymnasium with bleacher seating for 1,000, wrestling area, offices for all members of the athletic department, locker rooms, a community fitness center, hall of fame and training room.


The proposed Lincoln College Museum is located on the corner of Keokuk and Ottawa, across from the college library, on the former site of the college tennis courts. The facade, including limestone columns and facing, is designed to remind the viewer of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to be built in Springfield. "A stately museum to a stately president" is how curator Ron Keller puts it.

Though Nutt expects both structures to be built within a couple of years, the athletic center will come first because it directly affects the students. "We have to have the gym," Nutt said. The Davidson-Sheffer Gymnasium, in current use, was built in 1933.

The construction budget for both projects totals $6.5 million, with the athletic center accounting for $4.5 million. The college already had $4.5 million in May, Nutt said, but some of it is designated for scholarships and restricted gifts. Besides the fund drive and Illinois FIRST application, he has asked for a federal grant to cover approximately half the $2 million cost of the museum.

A factor in fund-raising is the proposed federal Charity Recovery and Empowerment Act, which has already passed the House of Representatives. Retroactive to Jan. 1, 2002, it provides for the conversion of IRAs to charitable purposes without tax consequences. If the Senate passes the bill, Nutt expects to raise any money he still needs in a short time.

Several reasons account for splitting the original building plan. First, Nutt said, vouchers for the first two Illinois FIRST grants totaling $1.1 million, which were expected to be earmarked for the museum, said capital construction instead, so the money can be used for the athletic center. The two checks have time limits ending in June and July of 2003. Second, the combined structure grew too large for its site. Finally, some donors prefer to support a separate museum.

Dennis Shoemaker of Diversified Buildings in Morton is architect for both projects. The athletic and convocation center comprises 40,000 square feet. Nutt said that with chairs on the floor the gymnasium will seat up to 3,000. Besides hosting graduation ceremonies and being home to Lynx teams, it can accommodate end-of-the-season tournaments.

Plans also include a fitness center with aerobic, cardiovascular and ergonomic equipment. Membership will be available to the public. A pet project of Nuttís is the Logan County Hall of Fame, with photos of famous LC residents from a variety of fields, though he expects sports to predominate.


Nutt hopes to install a composition floor and dropped ceiling in Davidson-Sheffer Gymnasium and use it for a variety of purposes. Physical education classes, however, will be located in the new field house.

The 10,000-square-foot museum has an open design, specialized lighting and environmental controls to protect the collection. Separate rooms house the collegeís rare-book collection and a 50-seat tiered lecture room, which will also be used for presentations to tour groups. Work areas, a vault and a kitchen complete the main floor. There is also a full basement.

Ron Keller, curator of the museum, is in no hurry to build. The museum must last for 50 years, he said, so it is important to take time and be sure all needs have been anticipated. Besides, Keller and assistant Paul Gleason, both at LC for about two years, have not yet completed inventorying the collection.

Museum collections and tourism

Most impressive to tourists are artifacts such as the rails split by Lincolnís cousin John Hanks in 1830 and the replica of Lincolnís chair in Fordís Theatre. These three-dimensional objects are on display in the current museum in McKinstry Library.

However, the museum has many documents that are not displayed. These include letters from every member of Lincolnís cabinet, correspondence between Lincoln and his eldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, and documents from people ranging from Robert E. Lee to Frederick Douglass.

Although most of the collection deals with Lincolnís presidential years, Keller plans to emphasize the young, unbearded, pre-presidential Lincoln in the new museum because that was the man who lived here. Tourists want to know Lincoln as he was in Logan County, Keller said.



[to top of second column in this article]

He sees the LC museum and the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield as "both in business doing the same thing ó increasing awareness of Lincoln and educating the public." He and Nutt believe both will increase tourism in the area.

About 2,300 visitors toured the college museum last year, representing at least 30 states and five foreign countries. The single biggest month is May, with its many school tours, but the LC Parents Weekend logs the biggest day. Most school tours are elementary classes, with five scheduled this week. In summer, charter tours often have an Abraham Lincoln theme but sometimes focus on Route 66.

Admission is free and expected to remain so in the new structure. Keller said that because the museum has "so many great benefactors" it need not be self-sustaining. However, some revenue is generated by sale of items such as Lincoln busts and statues, beanbag Lincolns, prints, placemats, pens and pencils, toy soldiers, Lincoln penny earrings, and over 40 book titles.

In the new museum Keller plans exhibits consisting of panels using local sources, such as Lawrence Stringerís 1911 "History of Logan County, Illinois," with Lloyd Ostendorf prints as background. Ostendorf was widely known for his depictions of Abraham Lincoln. The college owns one of his paintings, "Lincoln and the Women He Loved," showing portraits of Lincoln, his mother, stepmother and sister. Keller has obtained permission to use other prints from Ostendorfís heirs, who he says are "quite excited" about the project.

The museum design allows space for rotating displays as well as the permanent collection. Nutt expects to see loaned exhibits from other institutions at least twice a year. "We send Lincoln artifacts to museums all over the world," he said, "so a lot of museums owe us." He envisions exhibits on various themes, not necessarily Lincoln-related, put together with pieces from several collections.


The LC museumís collection contains a repository of presidents, including signatures of all U.S. presidents.

It also holds many Logan County articles and maps. These are mostly documents and not of high interest to tourists, but Keller does currently display a 1905 plat book and an 1800s document about building a road to Middletown. Artifacts of local interest include a table owned by Robert Latham and a chair from the Scully house. The new museum will have a somewhat larger local history display. Keller said this idea is still evolving.

For about a year the college museum has been home to the Edward Madigan Collection, consisting of papers dealing with the Lincoln nativeís years as congressman and secretary of agriculture, books on state government and agriculture which he collected as a state representative, pictures, and some personal items. At the request of Madiganís family a few books and letters were de-acquisitioned from the Bush Presidential Library. Again, the collection is not of high tourist interest but noteworthy in Logan County and Lincoln College history. Madigan was a 1955 graduate and trustee of the school. "Itís a priority in our minds" and worthy to be part of the permanent exhibition, Keller said, even though the display will not be large.

The Lincoln Group of Illinois, consisting of over 100 amateur Lincoln scholars currently based at Illinois Benedictine College in Lisle, is moving its headquarters to the LC museum in June. The group has some archives and produces a newsletter, which will be coordinated with the one published by the museum. Keller sees the move as a step toward creating a research center.

Although architectural drawings show stoplights and crosswalks at the intersection of Keokuk and Ottawa, Nutt does not anticipate much foot traffic across Keokuk. "I donít view the museum as a part of the college," he explained, expecting most visitors to be tourists.

Keller, on the other hand, dreams of a museum and history program that will be a magnet for students. Rosemary Porter, Kellerís first student intern, has worked this year at "transcribing and documenting material on Logan County history and Civil War warrant records, researching and writing about Abraham Lincoln, assisting in the preparation of museum displays, and giving tours for visitors to the museum," he said. Her article on the Lincoln courtship appeared in the spring 2002 issue of the museumís quarterly, The Lincoln Newsletter.

Ron Keller grew up in Newton, Ill., and earned baccalaureate and masterís degrees in history at Eastern Illinois University. He came to Lincoln College after teaching one year at the elementary level and six years in middle and high school. Besides being curator of the museum, he teaches four courses per semester in history and government.

Former Lincoln Junior High School history teacher Paul Gleason is assistant curator. Among other tasks, he researches and answers questions on local history. The two are organizing, cataloging and preserving materials on Logan County in the 1860s borrowed from the local courthouse. This project sparked collaboration on a book on Logan County soldiers in the Civil War. Gleason is currently writing an article to submit to The Lincoln Newsletter on how Logan County became involved in the war, the number of troops and their experience at Shiloh. He expects to use the article as prelude to the book.

After the museumís move, its present quarters in McKinstry Library will become an art gallery, and the current Layman Gallery, with entrance beside the card catalog, will be absorbed into the college library.

[Lynn Shearer Spellman]

Celebrating American Theatre

Lincoln Community Theatre


Dearly Departed

July 12-20
Johnston Center
for the Performing Arts

for ticket information, call 732-2640
click here:

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Gov. Ryan signs 9/11 remembrance bill

Designates Sept. 11 annually as a commemorative holiday and school day

[JULY 22, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD ó Gov. George Ryan signed Senate Bill 1531 on Friday, designating Sept. 11 as a commemorative holiday and a school day.

"September 11 was a tragic day for our nation, and by officially setting aside this day each year, we will honor the memory of those who lost their lives and educate children about how this nation came together in support of all Americans," said Gov. Ryan.

All commemorative holidays are regular work and school days during which we recognize significant contributions to our society or great sacrifices that have been made for our country.

SB 1531 also creates a September 11th Remembrance Fund as a special fund in the state treasury to provide grants to aid victims of terrorism, to local governments for terrorism training public safety initiatives, or to prevent terrorism or other potential local disasters and emergency situations in Illinois.

The Illinois Vehicle Code and state finance acts are also amended to create specialty license plates for Sept. 11. The secretary of state is authorized to charge an additional initial fee of $40 and a renewal fee of $27 for this plate. Of those fees, $25 from the initial fee and $25 of the renewal fee will be deposited in the special remembrance fund.

[Illinois Government News Network
press release]

Articles from the past week


  • Energy assistance bill signed for Illinoisí low-income families


  • Hot, dry conditions continue across Illinois

  • Construction of American Legion home to begin soon


  • Central School move-in date set for fall 2003

  • Committee plans sesquicentennial fund-raising dance for Sept. 21


  • County budget picture improves

  • $1 billion borrowing plan sold at competitive rate -- State credit rating remains high


  • Hearing brings overwhelming support for LDC

  • LDC support letter submitted to IHFPB by Mayor Beth Davis

  • Council accepts bid and approves budget


  • ALMH among top 10 percent of hospitals surveyed  (Business)
  • History and lessons offered on Underground Railroad signal quilts

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