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Local News Archives for 2018-11

Imagine Hillsboro to Host 'A Storybook Christmas'

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Imagine Hillsboro will be hosting their annual Storybook Christmas festival this weekend in downtown Hillsboro.

Events will begin Friday with a lighted parade at 6 p.m. There will also be a tree lighting ceremony, performances by local musicians and a haunted walking ghost tour during the festival's opening day.

On Saturday, Breakfast with Santa and the Frosty Five-K will kick off activities on day two. There will also be performances from carolers and characters from holiday storybooks roaming the streets. Local businesses will be open for Christmas shopping and food vendors will be open during both days as well.

For more information about this year's Storybook Christmas event, log on to imagine-hillsboro.com or visit the Imagine Hillsboro page on Facebook.

400 Served At Litchfield Thanksgiving Dinner

The Litchfield Ministerial Alliance served nearly 400 dinners at their 2018 community Thanksgiving dinner. Volunteers of all ages worked together to make it one of the best meals. The alliance thanks everyone who served, prepared and financed the dinner.

Hillsboro Adopts Ordinance Regulating Food Trucks

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As part of a short agenda, the Hillsboro City Council adopted an ordinance during their meeting Tuesday evening regulating food trucks in the city.

Mayor Brian Sullivan said the idea to regulate food trucks originated with the city's planning commission. There have been a few trucks that have opened for business in Hillsboro recently, and Mayor Sullivan said it is a good idea to have an ordinance in place in case someone operating a truck that is not up to standard decides to visit and open up shop. He said he did not see anything in the new ordinance that would interfere with the trucks that are currently operating.

Regulations in the new ordinance include each truck operator paying a fee of $50 per year and each business having a permit that legally allows them to serve food. City attorney Kit Hantla said they also have to establish that they are not associated with a carnival since those permits are different.

Matt Chandler operates one of the food trucks currently in Hillsboro. He attended the meeting and told the council that he has run into problems at times operating his truck on his business's property due to the proximity of the sidewalk. Sullivan said that he did not believe the ordinance would change that situation.

The council voted to adopt the ordinance, 3-0, with commissioner Daniel Robbins absent from the meeting.

The next Hillsboro City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 11, at 7 p.m.

Montgomery, Macoupin Students Named Winners of Poster Contest

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The winners of the regional poster contest, hosted by the Macoupin Montgomery Addiction and Behavioral Health Coalition (MMABHC), have been announced.

The first place winner at the high school level was Lincolnwood Freshman EJ Stevens, who received $150. Coming in second and receiving $100 was Southwestern Junior Emily Simpson. Third place winner and $75 recipient was Southwestern Senior Peyton Smith.

At the middle school level, Southwestern eighth grader Abby Pruiett won first prize and received $150. Nokomis seventh grader Coree Keagy placed second and received $100, while Mount Olive eighth grader Emma Chambers finished third and won $75.

Other students also received a $25 gift card for being declared winners of the contest at their respective schools. In Montgomery County, they include Ally Schnarre from Hillsboro High School, Elaan Bader from Litchfield High School, Mae Marten from Litchfield Middle School, Hazel Myles from Lincolnwood Middle School, Samantha Frailey from Hillsboro Middle School and Jeffrey Kamer from Nokomis Middle School.

The contest was hosted in October with the purpose of enhancing the schools Red Ribbon Week activities. The theme for this year's contest was Life is a Journey...Travel Drug Free.(Photo Courtesy of Paula Campbell)

Litchfield 'Voice of Democracy' Semifinalists Announced

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The names of ten semifinalists in the seventy-first annual Voice of Democracy Scholarship competition have been announced.

Damon Burdell, Kolby Carr, John Corso, Drake Facchinello, Jordan Minkevich, Michelle Saathoff, Bethany Seely, Jaya Terrell, Corey Voyles and Clayton Walch are students at Litchfield High School who have been selected as semifinalists for this year's competition.

The competition is a national audio and essay contest that is sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Auxiliary. The title of this year's theme was Why My Vote Matters. The top ten essays were selected from a pool of over sixty entered by Litchfield High School. The contestants have recorded their essays, and a group of judges will select three finalists. All students freshmen through seniors at Litchfield High School were eligible to participate.

Locally, the first place winner will receive $500 and a gold Voice of Democracy medal. His or her audio recording will also advance to judging for the twelfth district. Second place will receive $200 and a silver medal, and third place will receive $100 and a bronze medal.

All semifinalists will receive a certificate of merit and an invitation to an awards banquet that will be held Saturday, December 1, at the Litchfield VFW Hall.

Hillsboro Council Hears Dog Park Proposal

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The Hillsboro City Council listened to a suggestion from a local resident Tuesday evening about building a dog park along School Street.

Nancy Slepicka spoke to the council on behalf of Imagine Hillsboro's Parks and Recreation Committee. She proposed building a park in the vacant bottom area between the Challacombe House and the Family Eye Care building. She said the park would cover a large piece of land, requiring a minimum of 140 feet in length and 75 feet in width.

Slepicka told the council that Imagine Hillsboro was not requesting money from the city for the project. She said the organization would pay for the cost, even if that meant reimbursing the city if they had to budget the project.

All of the council members and Mayor Brian Sullivan agreed that the idea would be beneficial to the city. The mayor said he had previously heard suggestions from other Hillsboro residents about creating a dog park. Slepicka said it would not only be a place for dogs to visit, but would be a community gathering spot for dog owners as well. No action was taken on the matter.

The next Hillsboro City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 27, at 7 p.m.

County Board Unanimously Approves FY19 Budget

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Members of the Montgomery County Board unanimously approved a budget for Fiscal Year 2019 during their monthly meeting Tuesday morning.

The approved budget includes a surplus of $8,293 in the general fund and will also allow for the hiring of a new full-time deputy in the sheriff's department after some creative maneuvering.

During the October meeting, Finance Committee Chair Megan Beeler informed the board that Undersheriff Rick Robbins had requested hiring an additional full-time deputy, stating that the sheriff's department was understaffed. At the time, Beeler said there was not enough money in the budget for that department to add a full-time position.

On Tuesday, Beeler told the board that County Clerk Sandy Leitheiser elected to fund one salaried position in her office using an automation fund, which is generated by fees paid from documents recorded. This move, coupled with $30,000 that was placed in the sheriff's department's overtime fund in October, will allow the department to fill the vacant deputy's position. Beeler and Robbins both thanked Leitheiser for her proactive decision. Leitheiser replied that her office was blessed to be in the position to make such a move.

The board will hold a re-organizational meeting on Monday, December 3, at 8:30 a.m. The next regular monthly Montgomery County Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 11, at 8:30 a.m.

New Blackburn College President

Blackburn College has selected Dr. Julie Murray-Jensen as the next President of Blackburn College. She will be on campus beginning January 14, 2019. Dr. Murray-Jensen succeeds Dr. John Comerford, who served as Blackburn President from July 2013-July 2018.

Dr. Murray-Jensen is currently the vice President of Enrollment and External Affairs and Executive Director of the KCC Foundation for Klamath Community College in Klamath Falls, Oregon. During her time there, she spearheaded fundraising and capital campaigns, retained numerous grants for the school, oversaw the school's Small Business Development Center, and focused much time and energy on community education and outreach. She implemented enrollment efforts andstrategies and grew enrollment by 12%. From 2014 to present, Murray-Jensen raised over $6 million in grants, private donations, and public monies to fund the construction and outfitting of a new Work Skills Technology Center.

Dr. Murray-Jensen will be accompanied by her husband, Eric Jensen, and their daughter, Mia and Madeline. Both girls will attend Carlinville Scholls starting in January; Mia in 7th and Madeline in 4th grade.

LLCC Litchfield Director Killed in Vehicle-Pedestrian Accident


The Director of Lincoln Land Community College's Litchfield campus was killed during a vehicle-pedestrian accident last Thursday evening.

Lorie McDonald, 46, was pronounced dead at HSHS St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield, according to the Montgomery County Coroner's Office.

According to the State Police, McDonald was hit by an eastbound pickup truck, driven by Nathan Glover of Litchfield, at 9:10 p.m. Thursday. Police said McDonald was walking at the intersection of Union Avenue and Monroe Street when she was struck by the vehicle. Glover, 31, was cited for Operating an Uninsured Motor Vehicle.

Lincoln Land President Charlotte Warren released a statement on social media Friday about McDonald's passing.

"It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of LLCC-Litchfield Director Lorie McDonald due to a tragic accident last night," the statement read. "Lorie was a highly engaged leader, well-respected by her colleagues and students. She loved her job and was dedicated to serving LLCC and her community. We extend our deepest condolences to her family, loved ones, many friends and acquaintances, and the students she assisted and encouraged every day."

Grief counselors will be available for students and staff at Lincoln Land in Litchfield throughout the week.

The incident remains under investigation by the State Police.

Former Litchfield Resident to Hold Book Signing Event

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Former Litchfield resident and new author Sonya Jones will be holding a book signing in Litchfield in December at the new library.

Jones, who was a contestant on NBC's The Biggest Loser during the show's sixteenth season, will be signing copies of her book titled, 44 Lessons from a Loser. The book details Jones's life both on and off "The Biggest Loser" ranch, and her journey towards finishing second on the show, losing by a fraction of a pound.

Jones is currently an Outreach Representative for HSHS Medical Group. Her signing event will be held Saturday, December 8, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Litchfield Library, located near the community center at 1205 South State Street.

Graham Correctional to Receive $2.5 Million for Improvements

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Graham Correctional Center in Hillsboro will be receiving more than $2.5 million for improvement projects, according to State Representative Avery Bourne.

Bourne said over 167,000 square feet of roofing will be the prison's main priority. The replacement of lock controls and their associated intercom equipment will also be addressed.

"This funding will heighten safety for the hard-working men and women who are employed at Graham Correctional," Bourne said in a statement. "I am pleased to see this balanced budget doing so much deferred maintenance in the state."

The Prison, located at the southern-most point of Hillsboro, is a medium security adult male facility that houses several special populations, including substance abuse treatment, sex offender treatment and inmates in a kidney dialysis program. It also provides numerous academic and vocational programs to ensure success after an offender's release.

According to the Illinois Department of Corrections website, Graham Correctional Center currently has an inmate population of 1843.

Montgomery County Election Results

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Seventy-one percent of registered voters in Montgomery County participated in Tuesday's General Election. The county saw a total of eight contested races, including sheriff, treasurer, state's attorney, county clerk and recorder and seats in four county board districts. Here are the results from those races:

Montgomery County Sheriff:
Rick Robbins - 6,189
Mark Brazel - 5,319

Montgomery County Treasurer:
Nikki Lohman - 6,573
Jay Martin - 4,841

Montgomery County State's Attorney:
Bryant Hitchings - 5,789
Andrew Affrunti - 5,462

Montgomery County Clerk and Recorder:
Sandy Leitheiser - 10,452
Jake Leonard (write-in candidate) - 61

Montgomery County Board District 3 (Top two are elected):
Evan Young - 1,001
Donna Yeske - 844
Steven Traylor - 692

Montgomery County Board District 4 (Top two are elected):
David Loucks - 906
Earlene Blackburn-Robinson - 771
Roberta Meyer finished - 544

Montgomery County Board District 5 (Top vote-getter is elected):
William Bergen - 694
Perry Jackson - 626

Montgomery County Board District 6, four-year term (Top two are elected):
Mark Hughes - 860
Ron Deabenderfer - 843
Robert Mulch - 745

All election results are unofficial until canvassed on or before Tuesday, November 27.

Board Approves Interim School Superintendent

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The Litchfield School Board agreed to a contract with an interim superintendent Thursday evening, filling a vacancy that was left by Debbie Poffinbarger earlier this week.

After meeting in closed session for nearly an hour and a half, the board approved a 120 working day contract with John Mullet, who will take over as the district's superintendent for the remainder of the school year. Mullet previously served as Litchfield's superintendent for two years before retiring in 2015.

Before Mullet's appointment, the board approved a mutual separation agreement with Poffinbarger. They released a statement addressing the matter.

On November 1, 2018, the Board of Education of Litchfield Community Unit School District No. 12 and Debbie Poffinbarger, Superintendent, entered into a mutual separation agreement. Effective immediately and by mutual agreement, Mrs. Poffinbarger will no longer serve as the District's Superintendent and her employment with the district will end June 30, 2019. The decision of the Board and Mrs. Poffinbarger to enter into this agreement was amicable and mutual."

The next Litchfield School Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 13, at 6 p.m.

Starr Shooters Collecting Donations for Wreaths

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The Montgomery County Starr Shooters 4-H club will once again be honoring local veterans in cooperation with the Wreaths Across America Foundation.

4-H members will be collecting $15 donations from area residents who are interested in sponsoring a wreath to be laid at a veteran's grave at the Witt Cemetery. Donations will be collected by November 11.

The wreath laying ceremony will be held on Saturday, December 15, at 11 a.m. Wreath sponsors and residents are invited to join Starr Shooters at the wreath laying ceremony to assist with placing the wreaths at veteran's graves. Donations may be sent to Denise Kistner at 16110 Witt Avenue, Witt, Illinois 62094.

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