April 24, 2014

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Kids are most important in consolidation

I favor consolidation because I believe our small district alone will not be able to FULLY serve our kids in the near future. Don't get me wrong, A-C currently does an excellent job of providing the best we can for students but we fall short in some areas like vocational offerings, elective courses, and in some cases, upper level courses. We struggle to fulfill student needs for their schedule currently. With that in mind I think we need to be proactive and look at our options to improve on what we already have available for our kids.
In looking at PORTA, I think there are several positives that support consolidation.
One is the type of students in both districts. A-C and PORTA students are very similar. They each come from rural, small towns; they get along well with each other and many have the same interests; and they score similarly on state tests.
Two, PORTA has excellent academic and extracurricular facilities, more vocational offerings, more elective offerings and some additional upper level electives that A-C cannot offer (AP courses, etc.).
And three, we bring a lot to the table for them too (good staff, high student performance, good people). We have programs, curricular and extra-curricular, that PORTA would welcome. I know there are some negatives (for both of us), but none that are deal breakers in my opinion.
The location of each town creates a triangle which equalizes a lot of travel concerns. High school students going to PORTA from Chandlerville probably would have a shorter drive than they do to Ashland. It's a 20 minute drive door to door from A-C to PORTA and is about the same from Chandlerville. A proper re-structuring could configure attendance centers so students could attend the elementary or middle school that is closest to them.
As it has been discussed in other forums, the Chandlerville building may close but that is true whether consolidation occurs or not. The Ashland school, however, will be essential for the new district. It can operate as a K-8 center with some Chandlerville students and Tallula students coming here with the Ashland students. Our young Ashland children in Pre-K and other elementary grades will not have to be bused to Chandlerville.
Unfortunately, too often personal agendas rule the minds of those who express their opinions. I have yet to hear an EDUCATIONAL reason not to consolidate. I'm sure some individuals feel it is going to affect them personally. What are the negatives as they affect the students? Isn't that what we should be concerned with?
Consolidation of A-C Central and PORTA is a logical long-term step that makes sense financially and ensures a better education for all of our children. I hope people will seek the truly factual information regarding consolidation, keep an open mind, and vote for what they feel is the best EDUCATIONAL decision for the students.

Dan Williams
A-C Central
Guidance Counselor
A-C Central
Principal 1991-2012

Play season opens on high note

The Beardstown Opera House play season opened up on a very high note. “The Big Bad Musical” played to near standing room only audiences every night.
The cast of the play was amazing intertwining new cast members with familiar cast members. It was evident that the entire cast and their directors worked hard and long on the words, dances and songs. Thank you to the public for the enormous support.
I would again like to thank the City of Beardstown, the Star-Gazette, WRMS and the general public for the great support on the “Raise the Roof” fund.
The roof is near complete and will be inspected. Alot of insulation is also under the roof, which already makes a difference in keeping the upstairs warmer. To that point, the next major fundraiser will be for heating and cooling in the entire 123 building. The theme will be “Warm Up, Cool Down, Beardstown Opera House.” I will be writing more about that in the future.
I hope you will continue your generous support of our activities and our fundraising efforts.
Steve Wessel
President BOH, HPF

Open letter to the citizens of CUSD #15:

According to the ISBE website, 45 school districts in the State of Illinois are on Financial Watch. 67 others are on Financial Early Warning. We’re not one of them, yet, but we’re on track to get there very soon.
Districts all over the state are making decisive spending cuts, trimming costs and shaving expenditures where ever they can in order to stave off financial disaster. We’re not one of them, yet, but I believe we need to be.

Retirement home brings romance

They said they would be sitting down at their wedding, and that is what they did. That was during the wedding we had here at the Blair House on this past Saturday.
We are here living at the Blair House, a dignified retirement home. Let’s face it, one doesn’t come here for a vacation, they come here to spend the rest of their lives.
Seven months ago Judy Stein, 71, a retired high school librarian, moved into Blair House. On her first day she went down to breakfast and found an empty chair at a table in the corner of the room. At that table was Myron Tepper, 78, a retired hospital pharmacist, there was another gentleman and a 98-year-old lady in a wheelchair who made up the foursome at that table. The four had breakfast, lunch and supper there every day and soon became good friends.

Hurray for the Heroes of Winter!

Greetings from the Ridge.
I’m sure you’ve been there. You sit in the store’s parking lot, the temperature hovering somewhere between chilling and killing as you try to summon up the courage to get out of the car and make a break for the automatic doors. You gauge the distance and wonder if you can dash all the way to the store without breathing, knowing that the first gasp of artic chill will stab your lungs like a blast of killer popsicle. Then you see him hurry by.
Most stores hire a young man to retrieve the orphaned carts from the lot’s frozen surface. He’ll gather up an aluminum train of about forty rickety-wheeled carts then push them back into the store where you’ll hope they thaw out enough to grab. Here I sit worrying about simply walking into the store while this kid is spending eight hours on the set of Dr. Zhivago for my convenience. He’s my winter hero.

A devastating tornado strikes Cass County in 1883

Though numerous tornadoes visited the land we call Cass County over the centuries, the county’s first verified tornado struck in May of 1845 (like many historical events, the exact date is up for debate).
It was born in Morgan County, where it destroyed a number of barns and fences. Moving into Cass County, the twister smashed a few houses and leveled  the Walnut Grove School near Princeton. Though the storm did considerable property damage, there was no loss of life.

Here we go again

By David V. Miller
For the Star-Gazette
For those of you wondering if winter is ever going to end……well… not any time soon. Going around Beardstown just three days after Ground Hog’s Day, I myself, was tempted to make a trip to Pennsylvania, to put a hit on that subterranean guinea pig!

A good time to clean out freezers

I was watching the early news this morning (Mon.).They had two scientists reporting on the sixth extinction coming up. They had a chart of how many species are already gone, and the percentage of many others. One I remember that was shocking was that 50% of the Great Barrier Reef is gone. Could we be far behind if the world becomes unbalanced?

Pioneers discover Illinois is tornado country

Few things in nature are more terrifying or sudden, and none more violent than a tornado.
A tornado, which is part of a thunderstorm, consists of a dark funnel-shaped cloud in which rotating winds can reach speeds in excess of 300 mph. About half of all tornadoes are classed as F1 on the Fujita scale with wind speeds of 73 to 112 mph. By comparison, an F5 tornado has wind speeds of 261 to 318 mph.
The first recorded tornado in Illinois history occurred on a Sunday, June 5, 1805, racing through what would later become known as Tornado Alley.

‘Citizens for Kids First’ favors consolidation

My name is Caitlin Mahoney and I am the vice president of "Citizens for Kids First." This is an organization of parents, students, teachers and taxpayers. We have come together to improve the education of our students and provide a brighter future. I am 100% for consolidation.