Monday, Jan. 6


Year in review--November and December

[JAN. 6, 2003] 

[Click here for January and February news]

[Click here for March and April news]

[Click here for May and June news]

[Click here for July and August news]

[Click here for September and October news]


Election news

Voters in the Nov. 5 election found many changes. Logan County has been divided into two representative districts and two senatorial districts during the redistricting. The 87th and 88th representative districts now form the 44th Legislative District, and the 99th and 100th representative districts create the 50th Legislative District. Most of the northern and southeastern portions of Logan County are in the 87th Representative District and 44th Legislative District. The southwest portion of the county and most of Lincoln are in the 100th Representative District and 50th Legislative District. Logan County also has six new county board districts. Voters recently opted to choose county board members from districts instead of at-large, as they did formerly.

In the November general election, Logan County voters said “no” to two proposed tax hikes and made a change in the sheriff's office. The referendum for the city of Lincoln's sales tax increase went down by a 2-1 majority, while the Chester-East Lincoln education fund tax increase failed by a narrow margin. Incumbent Sheriff Anthony “Tony” Soloman, one of the county's few Democratic officeholders, was defeated by Republican challenger Steven G. Nichols. In the new county board District 3, the only district with a race, Republican incumbent Gloria Luster of Mount Pulaski and Republican newcomer John Stewart, also of Mount Pulaski, defeated Democrat Harold Dingman of Latham. The other county board seats were decided in the March Republican primary.

Winning the House seat in the 87th District without opposition was Republican Bill Mitchell of Forsythe; the House seat in the 88th District went to Republican Rich Brauer of Petersburg. Republican Bill Brady of Bloomington took the 44th District Senate seat, and Republican Larry K Bomke of Springfield won the 50th District seat.


Lincoln city news

On Nov. 1, a groundbreaking ceremony marked the beginning of construction of the city's $9.8 million sewer plant upgrade. City officials and officials from Environmental Management Company, which operates the plant, attended. The work will take about 18 months to complete.

Martha “Marty” Neitzel was appointed to fill the city council seat left vacant by the recent death of Alderman Joseph Stone. Neitzel was seated on Nov. 4. Her husband, Arthur, is a former city council member.

The city council voted to try again to pass the 0.5 percent sales tax that citizens turned down in the November election. Alderman Steve Fuhrer said he did not believe the council had worked hard enough to get out the message about the tax and why it is needed. He pointed out that a person who spends $10 will pay only 5 cents more, and a person who spends $100 will pay only 50 cents more. Verl Prather, finance chairman, said Lincoln residents need to understand that without some new revenue there will be no more street repair work.

The city also agreed to hire an attorney to fight the 13.24 percent increase in water rates requested by the Illinois-American Water Company. The rate increase must be approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission and will not go into effect until the summer of 2003. City Attorney Bill Bates suggested they hire an attorney who has dealt with the ICC previously. The increase will cost the average residential customer about 12 cents a day, or $3.75 per month.

School and college news

Parents and staff members from Washington-Monroe Elementary School were among teams from 15 schools from across the state chosen to present their effective school improvement strategies at the statewide "School-Family Partnerships Make a Difference" conference in Naperville. The Washington-Monroe team included Principal Rebecca Cecil, teachers Leslie Singleton and Debbie Turner, and parents Crystal Alley, Dawn Frye and Candy Boulb. The presenters showed their workshop participants how to organize Family Reading Nights, Family Resource Libraries and out-of-school opportunities for families to complement school instruction. Washington-Monroe is also the winner of the Golden Spike Award for raising test scores three years in a row.

Lenny Janet, former Central School principal, was sworn in as the newest member of the District 27 school board in November, filling the vacancy left by the resignation of Leta Herrington last month. Janet said he would run for another four-year term in the April 1 election. The two other board members whose terms expire, Shelly Allen and Joe Brewer, both are considering running again.

Lincoln Christian College and Seminary has achieved a record enrollment of 1,011 students for the fall semester. This is the first time in the school's history that enrollment has exceeded 1,000 students. Sandra Kellerstrass, a nontraditional student in the LincUp program, was the 1,000th student to register for classes at LCCS.

Lincoln College student groups once again helped elderly Lincoln residents by donating time to rake their leaves. This annual tradition is supported by members of the Lincoln College Student Senate and the Lincoln College Admissions Ambassadors.

County board news

The Logan County Board honored retiring board members for their years of service: Rod White, 20 years; Doug Dutz, 12 years; Clifford Sullivan, six years; Roger Bock, three years; Jim Griffin, two years; and Tom Cash, one year. Dick Logan received a gavel for his two-year service as board chair.

The board formally forgave a 1988 loan to the Logan County Cemetery District for $100,000. The loan consisted of tax money collected by the county to maintain county cemeteries. When the cemetery district was formed in 1988 to take over that function, the county gave it all maintenance equipment and the loan as start-up money. The loan was later written off the county books as uncollectible. However, it was not formally forgiven. The cemetery district maintains 44 of the 60 cemeteries in the county.

The board passed its fiscal 2003 budget and set levies totaling $2,628,705. The 2003 budget contains a general fund property tax increase of 1.6 percent and a deficit of about $190,000 in the general fund. Levies for the ambulance service and liability insurance funds were cut in order to shore up the general fund.


Other November news

Veterans from Logan County were honored at a musical tribute Sunday evening and at the traditional courthouse lawn ceremony Monday, Nov. 11. Nearly 150 veterans from all branches of service filled the Lincoln Park District ballroom Sunday evening for a dance and musical tribute honoring them. All Logan County veterans were sent invitations to the first-time special event hosted by the youth group of St. John United Church of Christ.

Looking for Lincoln members are planning for the premiere showing of the video "From Surveyor to President; A. Lincoln in Logan County" on Jan. 11 at Lincoln College. The screening is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Johnston Center for the Performing Arts on the LC campus.

Record crowds thronged Lincoln downtown for a Sunday “Tea at the Lincoln T,” an event organized by downtown merchants. Refreshments, entertainment and friendly merchants made it day local people remember as an old-fashioned good time.

Sports news

Lincoln Community High School's Lady Railer volleyball team faced off with the Taylorville Tornadoes. A 3-0 Taylorville run began Game 1. But that was it. The entire rest of the match was dominated by Lincoln, as they went on to defeat Taylorville 15-5, 15-4 and repeat as regional champions.

Lincoln (30-8) moved on to play Champaign Central in the sectional semifinal match at Rantoul. The Lady Railers showed the heart of champions as they once again refused to let their season end. But not before they gave their coaches and fans quite a scare. When it was over the box score looked like this: 13-15, 15-11, 15-7; Railers win.

A fired-up and focused Lincoln volleyball team took the floor at Rantoul High School with one mission in mind: to be the team that moved on to the super-sectional match. And that's exactly what they did. The Railers lived up to their No. 1 seed, defeated Champaign Centennial, repeated as sectional champions and moved on to be the only team played Normal Community in the super-sectional contest Saturday. The final tally: 15-6, 13-15, 15-11. The Lady Railers finally lost to Normal Community High School, 15-7, 15-1, but they never quit.  

Mount Pulaski's Lady Hilltoppers defeated Colchester (30-10) in the Class A volleyball quarterfinals and defeated Lena (31-6) in the semifinals in order to play against Wheaton-St. Francis (32-8) for the state championship. The Mount Pulaski team took second place at Redbird Arena in Normal.

[to top of second column in this article]


County board gets five new members

Five new Logan County Board members and the county's new sheriff took office early in December. The new sheriff is Republican Steve Nichols. New members are Mitch Brown of rural Lincoln, Bob Farmer of rural Lincoln, Pat O'Neill of Lincoln, Chuck Ruben of rural Hartsburg and John Stewart of Mount Pulaski.

Circuit Judge Dave Coogan and Associate Circuit Judge Don Behle conducted the swearing-in ceremony before a crowd of about 100 people in the third-floor courtroom of the Logan County Courthouse. Also sworn in were returning Logan County Treasurer Mary Bruns, County Clerk and Recorder Sally Litterly, and six county board members. Those returning to the board are Paul Gleason, Lloyd Hellman, Dave Hepler, Dick Logan, Gloria Luster, Dale Voyles and Terry Werth. Hellman could not attend the ceremony because of illness. The term of the newly elected regional superintendent of schools, Jean Anderson, begins July 1, 2003.

At an organizational meeting the new board members received committee assignments and their term of office. Because of the county going to district rather than at-large representation, board members drew numbers for two- and four-year terms. For each district, one name got a four-year and the other got a two-year term. This will protect each district from starting with all-new representation at each election. Drawing two-year terms were Mitch Brown, Lloyd Hellman, David Hepler, Dick Logan, Gloria Luster and Patrick O'Neill. Drawing four-year terms were Robert Farmer, Paul Gleason, Charles Ruben, John Stewart, Dale Voyles and Terry Werth. Voyles is the new county board chairman.

The board's animal control committee, with new chairman Pat O'Neill, held its first meeting and heard a list of complaints citizens said they would like to see the corrected.

The newly reorganized board heard plans to ask for federal funding to improve Fifth Street Road, the No. 1 priority on the county's five-year road plan. County engineer Tom Hickman said the project won't be carried out until funds are in place. He is drafting a letter to Sen. Peter Fitzgerald asking for federal funding. Voyles and Lincoln Mayor Beth Davis will also sign the letter.

In other business at Thursday night's board-of-the-whole meeting, Sheriff Steve Nichols said an audit in progress found doors and locking mechanisms on two cellblocks in need of replacement. The sheriff is also taking applications to replace correctional officers who have resigned or been terminated.

The board also voted to direct its finance committee to write a resolution and set the rate for a tax referendum to support economic development. If passed at the January board meeting, the resolution will go before voters in April. The money would be earmarked for economic development of the whole county, not for land for a commerce park or any other specific project. If passed, the new economic development tax would replace current county and city funding for the Economic Development Council. Finance committee member Dick Logan said one argument in favor of the tax is that it would give the EDC a steady, predictable income and "stop the begging" each year at budget-writing time. He and board member Terry Werth explained that one problem in filling the director of economic development position is the low salary and inability to commit to more than one year's pay. They said at least $55,000 a year for three years is needed to attract a strong candidate.

Lincoln city news

Lincoln aldermen continued discussing ways to persuade voters to pass the 0.5 percent sales tax increase that was turned down in November. City Treasurer Les Plotner gave his financial report for the first six months of the current fiscal year, showing how the city's income from various sources has dropped this year compared with previous years. The most startling news was the difference between the funds the city expected to earn from its investments and the amount it is actually earning: $18,203, only 21.4 percent of the estimated $84,950.

The council also announced plans to resurface the streets around the courthouse square using accumulated Federal Aid-Urban funds. Streets that meet federal designation as collector streets are Broadway from Hamilton to Union, Pulaski from Hamilton to Logan, and Kickapoo from Broadway to Clinton. To get the $528,000 from the FAU funds, the city must pay 20 percent of the cost of the total project, about $132,000.

Bill Melton, a 21-year veteran of the city council and the sole Democrat, has announced that he will not run for his Ward 4 seat next year because he is moving out of his home to rural Lincoln. Running for the Ward 4 seat is Orville “Buzz” Busby, who previously served as alderman in Ward 4. In Ward 1, incumbent Pat Madigan will face Anthony “T.J.” Swarts in the February Primary. In Ward 2, incumbent Steve Fuhrer will face former alderman Stephan A. Mesner. The winner of the primary will face Leo Logan, who has filed as a Democrat, in the April 1 general election. In Ward 3, incumbent George Mitchell will faces Jonette “Jonie” Tibbs in the primary, and in Ward 5, newly appointed Martha “Marty” Neitzel will face a challenge from Derrick Crane.


School news

Partitions are up in the new Central School classroom wing, and it is becoming possible to imagine parts of the completed building. Rick Spahn, project manager for S.M. Wilson, said 95 percent of the steel structure is in place, although roof framing remains to be done. The classroom wing is close to weather-tight, and interior work is progressing on both floors. The District 27 school board unanimously passed a 2003-4 tax levy of $3.17 million, including bonds. This reflects a tax rate of $3.0356 per $100 of assessed valuation and is based on an estimated assessed valuation of $104.5 million.

Washington-Monroe, Northwest and Jefferson schools have received a windfall in the form of increased Title I funds. Rebecca Cecil, principal at Washington-Monroe and Title I director, said in October 2002 she learned that an additional $89,739 would be granted to the three schools. Washington-Monroe, with the most qualifying students, gets the most dollars. In the past much of this money has been used to buy educational materials and technology. This year Cecil said the Washington-Monroe teachers felt they could help students more by hiring a teacher to work with small groups of children.

The ag issues team and the food science and technology team of the Hartsburg-Emden FFA chapter were selected as state winners in recent competition. The five members of the ag issues team, Matthew Wrage, Nick Alberts, Brittney Kavanaugh, Kyle Hoerbert and Kory Leesman, presented pros and cons on the topic of "Upgrading the Locks and Dams on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers." As state winners, the team will now represent the Illinois FFA Association at the 2003 National FFA Convention. This is the third state-winning team competing in the Ag Issues Career Development Event for the Hartsburg-Emden FFA chapter. 

Lincoln Community High School got a good report from the North Central Association accreditation committee in December. Committee chair Colleen Legge was impressed with the “continual commitment to school improvement that LCHS has shown” as well as its commitment to students. LCHS juniors made dramatic increases in reading and writing skills on the Prairie State Achievement Exam this year.


Other December events

The Lincoln Public Library District has received two new grants from the office of Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White. The Dream Again grant entitled "Great Books, Great Films" will be used to purchase classic movies in the DVD format and great works of literature in the CD format. The library will also receive a new DVD player and public performance movie licensing rights for one year. This will allow the library to host a series of public programs with the new DVD movie titles. Lincoln will share this $32,100 grant with the public libraries in Chatham, Rochester, Clinton, Effingham, Mount Zion and Taylorville. The Opportunity Knocks grant entitled "Terry Turtle's Teaching Totes" will be used to purchase tote bags for the youth services department at the library.

An Air Evac Lifeteam explained their emergency-based services to members of the Local Emergency Planning Committee this month. The privately owned service can dramatically shorten the time needed to transport critically ill or injured patients. It is most valuable when there is a significant distance to travel to a hospital.

Christmas shopping got a lot easier for Nancy Moore of Lincoln. Her name was drawn as the winner of the Santa Shopping Spree, which means she had $1,000 in shopping spree bucks to spend at participating Lincoln businesses. Her entry was from The Mustard Moon

The Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce's annual Christmas parade. included 100 contest entries, three marching bands, color guards, commercial vehicles, horses, candy, and Santa and Mrs. Claus on a beautiful sleigh. This year's theme was "Let Your Spirits Soar." Perry Grieme of Parker-Grieme Insurance, the chamber's Member of the Year for 2002, is this year's grand marshal. The only complaint was the cold weather, which caused some band instruments to freeze up. But even the cold could not keep the city from enjoying the beautiful colors and lights decorating downtown.

 Five inches of snow blanketed Lincoln and the surrounding areas on Christmas Eve. Businesses reopening Thursday morning had the chore of clearing walks and pathways to their doors.

Sports news

On Dec. 10 LDN has learned that Brian Cook was chosen Big 10 Player of the Week. Cook led the Illini to victories over No. 12 North Carolina (82-65) and over Arkansas (62-58). He averaged over 20 points, 5.5 rebounds and dished off 4.5 assists. According to Illinois coach Bill Self, Brian did the job against the best competition the Illini has faced. Cook was previously selected as a weekly Big Ten winner in December of 2000, during his sophomore season.

[Joan Crabb]

Return to current Top Stories page

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Calendar

Letters to the Editor