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Local News Archives for 2016-06

A "Magical" Run for Professor Longhair


When you live in a small community like Montgomery or Macoupin County, you never know what kind of people you're going to come across. Even small towns have their characters. There are those who keep their head down and work. Those who are always out on the town; and there are those who entertain because they love what they do. One local entertainer is celebrating his 15th anniversary this year, and has made an impact on the lives of those both young and old.

Randy Thompson is a mental health counselor at the Montgomery County Health Department; but what some may not realize is that he has an alter ego. His name is Professor Longhair.

Since 2001, Professor Longhair has been traveling around Central Illinois, performing magic shows for kids and adults alike. According to Thompson, the journey started when he was just a kid.

"My grandfather was a speaker at Toastmasters and he thought that utilizing magic tricks would be a neat way to get some of his stories illustrated. So he became a semi professional magician that traveled around Decatur. When he passed away, I guess he realized that I was the only grandchild who was interested in magic and stuff. He left a box with my name on it, and when I opened it, it was full of thumb tips and other magic stuff. I had no idea what to do with it, but there was a card for a little magic store. It looked like it was closed when I arrived, but a little guy saw the car and let me in. It was a friend of my grandfather's and he taught me everything. At that point, I thought, 'I'm going to keep doing this.'"

Thompson specializes in stage magic but also creates balloon shapes, performs with puppets and does face painting. For Thompson, it wasn't just about entertaining early on, but was a way of providing therapy for those in need.

"I've been a social worker in this area for thirty-five years, and I did utilize a lot of (my talents) with patients at nursing homes and special needs kids to bring this kind of entertainment to them since it was an area I specialized in."

Whether it's performing at a nursing home, a school, a community gathering or a birthday party, Professor Longhair is happy to be of service.

"I'm proud that I've never turned down an event. We can find a way to work magic into almost anything."

Without the support of the community, Thompson says he wouldn't be able to do what he enjoys.

"I really appreciate the support of the community. I've worked with the Litchfield Park District, Imagine Hillsboro and the Macoupin County Historical Society so I really appreciate the support of those organizations and many others I've forgotten to mention. I also appreciate the support from the charities we work with and try to help. We would like to continue to assist the community that way."

Finally, for Professor Longhair, it doesn't matter how old the person is or who he or she may be...

"As long as I'm performing, I'm happy."

-David Jenkins
June 29, 2016

Carlinville Man Arrested

A 29-year old Carlinville man is in the Macoupin County jail following an incident early this morning just northwest of Virden. The Macoupin County Sheriffs Office reported that just before 6:00 this morning, a suspicious pick up truck was parked at a residence on Greenland Road. Deputies arrived and ran a check on the license plates and discovered the van had been stolen from its owner in Carlinville several days ago. Authorities approached the house and heard someone talking. The deputies gave several verbal commands over a loudspeaker for the suspect to come out of the home which he ignored. The deputies then announced that a police dog would enter the home at which time the man surrendered. No one was hurt. Authorities have not identified the man because he hasnt been officially charged. The Sheriffs Office said the man will be charged with residential burglary and with violation of parole.

Without Budget, Hillsboro Schools Can Stay Open Through February

As the deadline for the next fiscal year nears, school districts in the state continue to grow worried about the possiblity of not being able to open their doors in the fall. Hillsboro Superintendent David Powell says that while some districts may be forced to close by the election in November, Hillsboro has enough money to last beyond the first of the year.

"The revenue that would be frozen due to the lack of a state budget would impact us greatly, but without that revenue, we could go through at least February of next year."

Even though the district has some time, Powell is still pushing for legislators in the state to get a budget that satisfies the needs of education completed.

"It's very frustrating to see what's going on in Springfield. I'm working with other superintendents and Senator (Andy) Manar to push for, not only a budget, but a good budget with better funding for education. We need adequacy and we need equity with regard to the K-12 public education budget. Getting a budget is obviously important. We can't function without one; but as important is the content of that budget."

According to Powell, the amount of state aid the Hillsboro school district has received over the years has decreased dramatically.

"In 2008, Hillsboro received nearly $7 million in general state aid, and in eight short years later we're receiving $3.9 million; so you're looking at a $3 million drop in state aid over eight years on a $19 million budget. That's just crushing us. We're starving for revenue. Our local property tax payers are certainly doing their part, and we're receiving our money from the federal government that's about ten percent of our budget. But our state revenue is just dried up and it's really hurting our students."

Hillsboro plans on opening their doors to students for the school year on August 15, 2016.

-David Jenkins
June 27, 2016

Macoupin Tax Bills

Macoupin County Treasurer Anne Boehm has announced that the 2015 real estate tax bills will be mailed Friday, June 24th. Approximately 38,000 tax bills are being prepared for mailing with a total current tax extension of $43,918,264.34.

The first installment due date has been set for Thursday, July 28, and the second installment due date will be Thursday, September 1. Penalties will be charged after the due dates. The treasurer advises every taxpayer to read the information on the back of the tax bills.

If a taxpayer does not get his/her tax bill(s) they should contact the treasurer's office, failure to receive a tax bill or receiving one late for any reason will not relieve a taxpayer from paying taxes or any late penalties accrued.

For questions contact the treasurer's office at 217-854-4014 ext 709.

Hillsboro School Board President Resigns

The Hillsboro school district hosted their June school board meeting on Tuesday evening. The meeting began with the formal resignation of one of the board members.

Board President Bill Clinard sent an email to board members on June 3, stating that he would be resigning from the board due to medical reasons, effective immediately. The board voted unanimously to accept the resignation.

Superintendent David Powell read in a statement that Clinard was a man of integrity and was never afraid to take a stand for what he believed in. Powell said he would miss the leadership Clinard brought to the board for thirteen years, and that he looked forward to continuing his friendship for many years to come.

Board Vice President Barbara Adams will serve as acting president until a new president is selected.

-David Jenkins
June 22, 2016

Macoupin Relay for Life

The Macoupin County Relay for Life will be held this Saturday, June 25th from 4pm to 11pm at the Macoupin County Fairgrounds.

This year's theme is Tailgating for a Cure and teams are planning to set up tailgating sites around a walking track. Everyone is invited to bring a truck to park or bring lawn chairs to enjoy the event. The Relay walking will kick off with a survivors lap and anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer may participate.

Team Sites are planning a variety of acitvities including games and food. Back again this year will be the vendor fair, the entertainment stage and a dunk tank.

Community members are invited to light a luminary in honor of survivors for a suggested donation of $10.00. Luminaria order forms are available at www.relayforlife.org/macoupinil or they can be picked up at the Macoupin County Public Health Department at 805 N. Broad Street in Carlinville.

Macoupin Relay for Life

The Macoupin County Relay for Life will be held this Saturday, June 25th from 4pm to 11pm at the Macoupin County Fairgrounds.

This year's theme is Tailgating for a Cure and teams are planning to set up tailgating sites around a walking track. Everyone is invited to bring a truck to park or bring lawn chairs to enjoy the event. The Relay walking will kick off with a survivors lap and anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer may participate.

Team Sites are planning a variety of acitvities including games and food. Back again this year will be the vendor fair, the entertainment stage and a dunk tank.

Community members are invited to light a luminary in honor of survivors for a suggested donation of $10.00. Luminaria order forms are available at www.relayforlife.org/macoupinil or they can be picked up at the Macoupin County Public Health Department at 805 N. Broad Street in Carlinville.

Mental Health Options in Montgomery County

The Montgomery County Health Department offers a vast array of options for residents dealing with health problems; but what local residents may not realize is that the department also has a mental health division. According to Behavioral Health Coordinator Kimber Deming, letting the people know the division is there is very important.

"There are so many people that come, even just to work at the health department, that don't even realize there's a mental health division of the Montgomery County Health Department. We've tried to get the word out through schools. Some schools utilize their own counselors. When you come in, it doesn't mean that you have a mental health disorder. You may just need help dealing with that family issue or with that crisis that is possibly short-term. We're trying to get rid of that stigma that just because you come in doesn't mean that it's something you're going to deal with for the rest of your life."

Some are able to talk to parents, coaches, or mentors, but Deming says others don't have anyone to reach out to for help.

"Some people don't have those people to talk to. That's one reason why we're trying to get the word out. If you feel like you don't have anyone, we're right there. We have a crisis line that's available 365 days, 24 hours a day. It's 1-888-324-5052. You call that anytime and we will respond to that call. Some people just don't have family members or friends that they feel comfortable talking with."

If money is an issue, Mental Health Counselor Randy Thompson says the department does not turn people away.

"Some folks are sometimes afraid that they don't have the financial means to come get services, and that is not the case. With the Montgomery County Health Department, we do not refuse services based on inability to pay. We do accept the medicaid card as well as private insurance. All we ask is that clients would call first and we would set up an appointment time. They can bring in the pertinent information that will help us get services started irregardless of the financial situation."

The Montgomery County Health Department in Hillsboro is open Monday through Friday at 8am. To set up an appointment, call 217-532-2001.

-David Jenkins
June 21, 2016

Litchfield Man Pleads Guilty to Manufacturing Methamphetamine

A Litchfield man pleaded guilty on June 15, for participation in methamphetamine manufacturing.

49 year old Roger Perkins was sentenced to 24 years incarceration in the illinois department of corrections by the Honorable Judge James Roberts for the class X felony and was ordered to pay court costs and a $3,000 drug assessment. Perkins must also serve a three year parole when he is released.

State's Attorney Chris Matoush indicated that Montgomery County deputies, assisted by Litchfield police officers, led an investigation into a 911 phone call concerning a possible pseudoephedrine purchase to be used to manufacture methamphetamine. The investigation led to a residence in Litchfield, and on October 25, 2014, deputies found Perkins in a shed at the residence. Deputies discovered an amount of methamphetamine and pseudoephedrine on Perkins as well as numerous amounts of containers containing methamphetamine substances.

Matoush also indicated that his office obtained records documenting that Perkins had made several purchases of pseudophedrine in the three months prior to his arrest.

Perkins was on parole at the time of his arrest and has been in continuous custody since.

New Hires at Litchfield School Board Meeting

The Litchfield school district had their regularly scheduled school board meeting on Thursday, June 16th at 7pm. The board went into closed session at 8:10 and returned at 9:36 to address personnel matters in the district.

The board voted to hire Peggy Adamick as the computer teacher at the junior high school for the upcoming 2016-17 school year. Instructional tutors Stephanie Luttrell, Vanessa Barrett, and Abby Headrick were hired at Russell and Colt elementary schools.

The board also hired coaches for the upcoming school year. Justin Ripley was hired as an assistant football coach; while Austin Sherfy, Eric Turner, Marc Luttrell, Nick Dyson, and Tom Priddle were all hired as volunteer football coaches. Brittany Maples was hired as assistant volleyball coach, and Jessica Ball was approved as volunteer coach for the high school softball team.

The next Litchfield school board meeting is scheduled for July 21 at 7pm at the high school.

Veterans Caravan June 18

A Veteran's Caravan will be visting various locations in southern Macoupin County on Saturday.

The Veteran's Caravan will begin at 9:00am in Mt. Olive. Stops are scheduled for the Mt. Olive VFW- 9:20am; Benld Veteran's Park- 9:50am; Gillespie City Hall- 10:10am; Dorchester Memorial- 10:35am; Bunker Hill Flag Pole- 11:00am; Staunton City Hall- 11:30am; the Molinar Memorial in Sawyerville- 1140am and finally the Wilsonville City Hall. Those planning on attending are advised that times are approximate and 10 minutes either way should be allowed.

The conclusion of the caravan will be at the Wilsonville Community Center with a luncheon of pulled pork, hot dogs, chips, drinks and cake available.

The event is hosted by the Macoupin Military Support Group, Wilsonville Community Outreach and the Village of Wilsonville.

Hillsboro Area Hospital Free Summer Lunch Program

One of the largest problems children throughout the country face during the summer is finding meals for lunch. Hillsboro Area Hospital, in conjunction with the USDA and Illinois State Board of Education, is hosting a free summer lunch program for children ages eighteen and under through July 29th. As a retired teacher, program volunteer Pam Dawson knows first-hand about the lack of nutrition children face.

"I spent many years knowing that we were feeding kids through the school year, and then summer would come and we thought that they magically would eat. When I retired, it became a project I became interested in and I actually saw a flier from another hospital in the area that was doing some kind of program and I went and talked to them. I approaced our churches at first, but they just didn't have the facilities to do that. So I went to our hospital, met with Roseanne Heck for the first time, and within about an hour we had a go."

Roseanne Heck, director of community relations with the hospital says that while they are a sponsor, they do have help from government agencies like the USDA and state board of education. According to Dawson, besides that sponsorship, the support from the community has been helpful.

"The Sertoma Club has helped us with transportation. We have a lot of private citizens who are sending in donations. Through the school district, we use a bus and a bus driver; but we have to pay for that, so through private donation, we've been able to do that. We also have tons of volunteers who come to the hospital everyday to help us out from all over the community."

If you're interested in volunteering, contact Hillsboro Area Hospital today.

-David Jenkins
June 14, 2016

Jersey County Fatal

One person is dead following a motorcycle accident Saturday in Jersey County.

According to Illinois State Police, 34 year old Brett Cankar of Bellelville was driving a 2015 Harley-Davidson southbound on IL Rt. 100, near Dabbs Road, when the motorcycle left the roadway and struck a guardrail at 7:37pm.

Cankar was ejected from the motorcycle and was pronounced dead at the scene by the Jersey County Coroner.

Rt. 100 was shut down for approximately three hours. Assisting at the scene was the Jersey County Sheriff's Office, QEM and Rosedale Fire Department.

Geriatric Theatre Tickets

Geriatric Theatre, the senior division of Summer Repertory Theatre at Blackburn College has announced that tickets for its June 23 through June 26 performances of Murder at the Ok Corral are available at CNB Bank and Trust, Carlinville Public Library or online at blackburnsummerrep.org.

Tickests are $12 for adults and $6 for children age 12 or younger for Friday, Saturday and Sunday performances. However, on opening night, Thursday the 23rd, playgoers of any age can see the comedy simply by making a donation. There will be a donation jar at the door as people enter. Proceeds from the donations, like those paid-ticket performances , go to the non-profit Summer Repertory Theatre.

The Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances on June 23, 24, and 25 begin at 7:30pm in Bothwell Auditorium on the Blackburn College campus. The Sunday, June 26, matinee, also in Bothwell, begins at 2pm.

Carlinville Library Sumer Reading Program

Carlinville Public Library will kick off the Summer Reading Program with the popular Serengeti Steve, the Reptile Guy on Friday, June 10 at 1pm. Kids and adults are welcome to come watch as he shows all kinds of reptiles, arachnids and other creatures and allows the audience to get involved.

All programs for summer reading at the library will begin at 1pm with students ages 5 and 6 scheduled for Tuesdays, June 14, 21 and 28; ages 7 and 8 Wednesdays, June 15, 22 and 29; and ages 9 and 10 Thursdays June 16, 23 and 30.

Parents are asked to register children for the program before Saturday, June 11th.

For more information call 217-854-3505.

Law Enforcement Torch Run

On Wednesday, June 8th law enforcement from the area will be participating in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. Officers from the Illinois State Police, Macoupin County Sheriff's Office, Gillespie, Carlinville, Girard and Virden Police Departments will be participating in the run. Running alongside the officers will be personnel from the Illinois Army National Guard as well as civilians who support Special Olympics.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest year round fundraiser benefitting Special Olympics. The Law Enforcement Torch Run has dontated over 39 million dollars to Special Olympics.

This year officers will start the leg at Gillespie Police Department at approximately 7am and follow IL Rt. 4 north to the district line on the north edge of Virden. Members of the Illinois State Police Academy will run the torch from Virden to the steps of the Illinois State Capitol.

Motorists should be aware of the runners if traveling in the area. There will be serveral vehicles following the runners with emergency lights on.

Budget Impasse Won't Stop Montgomery County Fair

With the state of Illinois still without a budget, fair organizations are being devastated by cuts. Despite the financial struggles of the state, Myrna Moore says the Mongtomery County Fair is able to proceed as normal thanks to the generosity of the people in the county.

"Montgomery county people have really stepped up and donations have been coming in. We've been selling a lot of new signs for the back of the grandstand. Mark Knodle and I go out and get the donations for the livestock and are in charge of the livestock shows. We've raised close to $2000 in added money for the livestock since it had to go to a jackpot show. I just want to thank everybody that's donated. Whether it's the scholarship for the queens, you gave us a gallon of paint or whatever you have done, thank you very much."

Moore says residents' priorities play a big role in their generosity.

"I think Montgomery county still knows what's important to people and they certainly step up and give when it counts."

Shannon Durbin added, "who would want to miss good family fun time? The biggest thing about the fair is spending time with your family and enjoying it."

The 2016 Montgomery County Fair is June 22-26 in Butler. For more information, visit montgomeryfair.org.

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