Below is just a selection of headlines from this week's issue.
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Salt Fork candidates seek your vote
Each of the nine candidate spoke out in a forum at Jamaica Tuesday night. Read their speeches to the voter
HERE.... View the complete two hour forum (in two parts) below...
Letters, letters and letters weighing in on consolidation, only in this week's issue of the Sidell Reporter.
Vermilion County candidates facing off in contested races are interviewed in this week's Reporter. Tom O'Shaughnessy vs. Karen Wall for Circuit Judge and Lynn Foster vs. Cathy Jenkins for County Clerk.
Sidell Reporters available in news boxes at the Sidell Post Office and in front of the Reporter office, as well as inside the Reporter office; Sidell Grocery, Sonny's Cafe in Sidell, Casey's in Fairmount and in a news box in front of the IGA. Pick one up today!
More news continues below....
The Faith Church of Fairmount hosted Trunk or Treat and a Chili Cook off and was enjoyed by many. Six year old Cooper Ores visits Micaela Murrell’s trunk for treats.
Veteran’s names needed
The Sidell Reporter would like to honor our veteran’s in a Veteran’s Day tribute in the Nov. 6 issue. But we need your help in giving us names.
There is no charge to share your veteran’s name for our list. Just send name, town and state they reside, what wars or years they served. There will also be a Memorial list for deceased Veterans. Please indicate on which list to place your veteran’s name.
If you would like to include a photo a message of appreciation to them, a 4-inch ad can be purchased for $10 per veteran. Names and ads must be turned in no later than Nov. 3. Mail to Sidell Reporter, P.O. Box 475, Sidell, IL 61876 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The public is invited to a dedication of the new Sidell Township Flag Nov. 10 at the township hall. The flag was commissioned last spring and designed specific to the local township.The dedication will be held during the regular meeting at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served .
Rock and Roll all Nite over this KISS Collection - ready Suzanne Woodard's story on Jim Wolfe's collection.
Who you gonna’ call? Fairmount ghost busters? Read about GRACIES society of ghost hunters.
The editor reminisces of carmel corn and Halloween 1960 style.
Guest editorial by Dave Porter. He shares his disillusion with the Governor's race.
Vermilion County reinstates flu clinics. Make plans to get shot. All the information you need in this week's Reporter.
The editor puts on the apron and shares some recipes in this week's Recipe Box.
Used oil collection Nov. 14. Farmers, shop workers get your old oil gathered up to recycle through the program. Read about it in this week's Reporter.
Honor Rolls for Junior High and High School listed in this week's Reporter!
Jamaica Unit 12 will hold their annual food drive for Jamaica area families. If you would like to donate or sign up for a basket read about the details in this week's Reporter!
Salt Fork Storm football team will sit on the sidelines the first week of state playoff action for the first time in 14 years. But the ending of Friday's game with Oakwood was one for the books. Read all about it in Richard Lamb's final football report only in this week's Reporter. Lamb doesn't plan to return as the Storm Reporter. A definite loss for this publication.
Salt Fork Soccer goes to the Super 16 but loses to a strong adversary, 2-0. Congrats Storm for going farther in the season than ever in the program.
Storm Volleyball advances to regional title game. Good luck Lady Storm!
Norman—Grant and Nathalee (Ford) Norman of Hume are proud of a new daughter, Hadley Grace Norman. She was born Aug. 26, 2014 at Carle Foundation Hospital at 12:29 p.m. She weighed 6 lbs. 4 ozs. and was 20 inches long.
Maternal grandparents are Jeff and Debbie Ford of Sidell. Paternal grandparents are Greg and Julie Norman of Sidell. Maternal great-grandparents are Joe and Janet Ford of Allerton and Bob and Edna Eads of Catlin. Paternal great-grandparents are Bill and Sharilyn Norman of Sidell. Hadley’s maternal great-great grandmother is Hilda Lehmann of Milford.
The nine candidates seeking a seat on a new Salt Fork School Board, if voters approve the referendum to consolidate Jamaica and Catlin school districts, met for a public forum Tuesday. The candidates answered four questions that they had been provided ahead of time, then answered questions for another hour from the audience.
Prior to the Q&A session at the forum, each candidate had an opportunity to ask the audience for their vote. Following are those campaign speeches.
I currently serve on the Jamaica Board of Education and have served in that capacity for the past five and a half years. During my tenure I have been involved in making many tough decisions on various district issues, from finances, to personnel, to consolidation. When considering my position on issues that come before the board, I ask myself two questions: Is it good for the students? And is it financially responsible to the community?
I will always stand behind the decision I make or the vote I cast, and if asked, I will gladly explain my stance on any issue. I believe my experience in these matters, and my willingness to be open and transparent, along with my involvement in the current consolidation effort from the beginning qualify me for a position on the new Salt Fork Board of Education. If given the opportunity, I will look forward to using that experience to assist the district in providing the educational opportunities our students deserve.
Currently, I am serving my second term on the Jamaica School board. Holding this position has opened my eyes to the challenges that our local schools face under the State of Illinois. Although, we don’t have control of our state government, serving in this role creates opportunities to be proactive in trying to provide the very best education we can for all students in the district.
It has been a privilege to serve and help make decisions that directly impact the students. I believe that my profession of law enforcement for the past 21 years enables me to make rational and wise decisions in difficult times. Furthermore, I am an alumnus of Jamaica and have strong ties to the community. I am actively involved in both the Jamaica and Catlin communities, serving and volunteering on multiple committees.
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, I currently have three children in the Jamaica school system, one at each level, elementary, junior high and high school. I have an invested interest to see that we provide the very best educational experience for them and all students in the district, now and in the future.
My hope is that voters know my motivation for running for school board is about providing the very best educational experience we can for all students. I will strive to make the best decisions while being a good steward of their tax dollars.
I am willing to invest the time that this position demands and make the difficult decisions with confidence and integrity that will make our district stronger.
I am a Jamaica graduate and have lived in Catlin for the last 12 years. I am the Village Clerk in Catlin and the accounting specialist for QStart Labs. I have three children enrolled in the Catlin School District, a senior, sophomore, and a fourth grader. In the year and half that I have been the village clerk, I have helped set the budgets, written or helped write five different grants, two of which have been granted for more than $418,000 and the last three grants are still pending.
I have spent years volunteering for different organizations such as the Storm Youth Football board, Catlin Grade School Parent Involvement Team, Salt Fork Booster Club and the Ladies of Catlin, all of which help make the Salt Fork community the best place to live and raise a family.
The Catlin and Jamaica school boards have faced some tough decisions over the past years. Dwindling funds from the state and lower enrollments have forced the school boards to make cuts that have hurt the educational experience at our schools. The bare-bone curriculum we now have is unacceptable. I can’t look at future generations of children, let alone my own children, and tell them that I passed and voted down an option that could have increased their education on the hopes that “something” might come along.
A south county school has been discussed since 1966. That is 48 years. 48 years and it still hasn’t happened and unfortunately, I don’t see the state of Illinois getting their fiscal house back in order to provide the millions of dollars that will be needed to see this come a reality any time soon.
Is there another viable option for our children and our community? Viable meaning that it offers our students a better education, retains local control, doesn’t damage the Village of Catlin by having a large vacant building on the corner of our main road, has a REALISTIC chance of passing, and is within our budget constraints placed upon us by our failing state government?
Both Jamaica and Catlin School Board members have stated what potential cuts might be next. The idea of finding additional revenue sources is a great one, but it is not realistic at this time and may never come to fruition. I know it was mentioned that a gas tax or a higher sales tax could raise additional funds. As for Catlin, the gas tax is not permitted due to the type of local government we have, nor would it produce enough revenue to offer what has been cut and what may be cut next. A sales tax for schools has to pass the entire county. I wouldn’t place my child’s education on the prayer and hope that those in surrounding communities will see our need and come to our rescue.
This consolidation is an opportunity for the Salt Fork community to determine their own future. I don’t want the future of my town, community or school to be left in the hands of other towns in Vermilion County nor the State of Illinois.
I have lived in the Jamaica School District for 36 years. I have a wife Amber, a 12 year old son and a 18 year old daughter. I’m in my second year of serving on the Jamaica School Board of Education.
I will tell you why I’m here. That reason is the students– it doesn’t matter if you are a Catlin student or a Jamaica student, hopefully after Nov. 4th they will all be Salt Fork students. I want to ensure that every one of those student have the best curriculum available to them and they receive the best education possible.
I am a graduate of Oakwood High School and Illinois College majoring in Business Administration with a minor in Economics.
I returned to the area after college and was employed by Danville Area Economic Development Corporation (now Vermilion Advantage) for 12 years. During my tenure there I was not only involved with business retention and recruitment, but also workforce development. In 2003, I entered the banking industry. I am presently the President of the First National Bank of Catlin.
My wife of 22 years and I moved to Catlin in 1997. We have four children ages 19 to 13. I have been on the Catlin School Board since 1999 and presently serve as board president. The Catlin School Board, during my tenure, has had to make some very difficult decisions, many of those resulting in staff and program cuts. The consolidation will restore what has been lost over the years. It creates a more efficient and financial stable district.
The curriculum offerings will be enhanced compared to what is being offered in both districts today. It will allow two small districts to come together to create a district that will be on par as far as enrollment and the largest tax base in Southern Vermilion County. This will insure as future re-organization efforts occur that the Salt Fork District will be at the table as an equal partner.
I am asking for you to vote YES on November 4. I would appreciate your support for the Salt Fork School Board.
I am currently serving on the Catlin School Board. I’m a product of the Catlin School system and, after graduating from college, my wife and I decided to make Catlin our home. We chose this because of our deep appreciation of small town values and the education that comes with them.
We have three children and four cousins that are in grade school, and four more that will be entering the school system in the next four years. This is just one of the many reasons why I have a strong passion for our schools. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very close family and my family has been very involved in education and public service all of my life. This, along with firsthand experience, has given me the opportunity to understand what it takes to effectively educate children and to understand how public boards with state and local funding operate.
I’m also a partner in multiple successful and profitable businesses with the first one formed almost 20 years ago. I have always believed that to be a good steward of taxpayer’s money, one must first be financially sound in their personal life, be willing to effectively listen and communicate to the public and not be afraid to speak about the tougher issues.
I am a logical, down to earth, caring family man. I believe very strongly in the morals and values that are associated with living and raising a family in a small town. I believe that everyone living within the school district has an equal voice that deserves to be heard. I’m always willing to listen and put the public’s best interest at hand, and never to have a personal agenda. I believe that as a community we should be thankful for what we have, not be content, and willing to continually improve on what we have to offer.
I thought there would be no better opening than to use the letters that form:
School Board Member – I am on my 4th year serving the Jamaica District.
Action Oriented – we have put together a plan over the past year and a half to determine our destination for the Salt Fork district. I believe that we MUST take action now.
Love for my community – why do we live here? We live here because this is “home” for a lot of us. If our kids desire to come back, we want to be able to provide them with a viable school district.
Timing – The timing for consolidation is right. We would be the first in the area. We would make Salt Fork district one of the largest in the county.
Family – My family has been a part of Jamaica or Catlin districts for three generations. I want to ensure our communities have a voice in our kids’ education for generations to come.
Outlook – We have to analyze our present to forecast for the future.
Relationships – Over the past several years, I have had the privilege to cultivate many relationships with members of both the Jamaica and Catlin districts through the Salt Fork Co-op.
Kids – Isn’t this the bottom line? As parents/grandparents/relatives/friends/neighbors, isn’t it our goal to make things better for our kids than what we had?
I would appreciate your vote on November 4th. Thank you for your consideration.
Robert E. Wright
Earlier this year I served on the Committee of Ten to help figure out a plan that works for both districts. I speak only for myself when I say that at times the process has been difficult and disheartening. Anything that’s worth paying attention to has a critic, or five, or 10. I can handle it, and I don’t feel the need to respond publicly. I am bolstered by my family and my friends, some which I’ve made along the way and are sitting here with me as candidates and others in the crowd. Without the support of such friends, I would not be up here tonight. I came to run for this board after these friends asked. Since that is what brought me here tonight, allow me to talk about friendship.
As you know, this is an emotional subject that has received an appropriate degree of scrutiny. I understand that people have to vote their own conscience and I agree that we make that decision on our own. However, as a community, Salt Fork is not a “ME FIRST” concept. I think it is a friendship between two schools. At least admit that is what is best about it when you look at the kids. It is most certainly a “THEY ARE FIRST” concept to me. And they need this consolidation. I’ve looked at it long enough to be certain; at this time, this consolidation is best for my kids. They will benefit from our commitment to this friendship.
We’re not the first to take this step and meet this challenge. It’s been done before and now it’s our turn. Good people in those communities came together, made it work, and they’ve been better off for it. I applaud those sitting beside me for signing up for this commitment. I think we’re all aware of the time and dedication that will be required of the new school board. It’s a long way to go and short time to get there. Though, I’m confident that it can be done if we just say, “Yes.”
The timeline that led to tonight began 30 years ago via the hotly contested Education Reform Act of 1985 where the State of Illinois tried to induce consolidation and reduce the expense of funding small schools. That legislation was quickly amended, but the state’s policy on consolidation has been clearly simple ever since. Small schools need to consolidate and reducing funding will help them figure that out. A study conducted by researchers at Illinois State University titled Illinois Public School District Consolidation-A Tiered Approach identified what small is. Our schools are small and relatively getting smaller. In 1985, the state viewed 500 pupils in a high school as ideal.
The time is now. Waiting a little longer to see what happens is doing the same thing that’s been done over and over, and expecting a different result. The only way to thrive is to consolidate. With a larger student body, a larger voting district, and a larger commitment to this friendship, we will take the larger next step together. However, this consolidation is the right first step.
Andrea Venters Van Leer
Good evening. My name is Andrea Venters Van Leer. I want to thank everyone for taking the time to listen to the information presented in order to make an informed decision. We as a community are facing an important decision in this upcoming election. I would like to share some information about myself and the strengths I will bring to the Salt Fork Board of Education.
My grandparents lived in Indianola and my mother went to school in Jamaica. While I grew up in Morris, I became acquainted with this community when my parents moved back to the area after I graduated from high school. My brother, Allan, attended Jamaica from seventh grade through graduation.
My husband, Jeff, who is a graduate of Jamaica, and I moved back to this area in 1999 and have lived in the Catlin School District since 2006. I have two girls at Catlin, grades four and six.
I am currently serving on the Catlin School Board. I bring many assets as a board member. Having taught at the high school level for 25 years I have extensive experience working with curriculum. I have analyzed and written curriculum as well as evaluated its effectiveness in the classroom; as such I am familiar with Common Core and how it applies to all levels, and I know what a highly effective school looks like. As a high school teacher myself, I believe that my candidacy brings a unique perspective, one that will be essential as the board works with administration to create policies and procedures to govern Salt Fork High School.
Much of the debate regarding consolidation has been around the enhanced academic and curricular opportunities that consolidation could bring. I believe I can lend my decades of experience in education to this process. I believe that the new board needs to be comprised of people with diverse strengths with each member bringing their experiences to the table to work together to form a strong, cohesive district.
I understand that consolidation is a sensitive topic. I think it is important for me to point out that if the consolidation goes through, it will personally impact my family. My older daughter, Alysen, will be in seventh grade next year and thus will attend Salt Fork Junior High, located at the current Jamaica campus. My younger daughter, Jacey, will be in fifth grade and will continue to attend the Salt Fork North Campus in Catlin.
Change is difficult. But I firmly believe that change is necessary to enhance the academic opportunities for my daughters and for all of our children.
I want to be part of the team that leads Salt Fork to become a top school in Vermilion County. Thank you for your time and consideration!
Sheridan Grade School Halloween, circa 1934, front from left, Josephine Salrin, Jim Salrin, Liz Salrin Burris, Rosemary Salrin Davis. Middle left, girl unknown. Back row, Susie Todd Spisok, Ted Todd, Arthur Todd, Donnie Todd and Roger Todd. First photo with their Halloween masks on, second with their identity revealed.
FOR SALE— Star Spangled Recipes cookbook — 545 recipes and 37 pages honoring local veterans are included. $17.50 includes postage. Make check payable to Sidell Veteran’s War Memorial. Mail c/o Sidell Reporter, P.O. Box 475, Sidell, IL 61876. Proceeds from the book support the upkeep of Sidell Veteran’s War Memorial Board.
FOR SALE—GREAT FOR JAMAICA ALUMNI—“A Look Back At 39 Years of Cardinal Pride.” 40 pages covering Jamaica sports from 1955-1995. Lots of pictures, stats and memories from fans and athletes. $12.50 includes postage. Make check payable to Sidell Reporter. Mail to P.O. Box 475, Sidell, IL 61876. Click here to order.
“The 50th Anniversary of Jamaica High School – 1955-2006” commemorative issue. 32 pages with over 100 photos depicting the first 50 years of Jamaica High School. Includes a list of all graduates and teachers. $12.50 includes postage. Make check payable to Sidell Reporter. Mail to P.O. Box 475, Sidell, IL 61876. Click here to order