Year in review – Part 1
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■ Sam Coonrod, the 2011 Carrollton High School graduate who put the city on the map when he pitched in his first Major League baseball game in 2019, traded in his view of the Golden Gate Bridge for a view of the Liberty Bell this past weekend.
Coonrod, 28, learned Saturday, that the San Francisco Giants, who had drafted him in the fifth round of the 2014 draft, had traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies for 2020 fourth round draft pick Carson Ragsdale, also a pitcher.
■ A special meeting was held at Carrollton City Hall for the Business Sustainability Grant Committee to approve off on the 13 businesses in Carrollton who had applied for the Business Sustainability Grant offered through the city. The grant, offered through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), gives any business, located within the city limits of Carrollton, up to $7,500.
■ The city of Carrollton approved, by a consensus vote, to seek a grant that will look at bringing broadband internet to the community. The grant is a $15,000 grant that provides a facilitator to look at where the city is in terms of broadband internet in the community and what kind of gap they might have when it comes to broadband technology.
■ It was a very cold and rainy day on Friday, Jan. 15, but around 20 Greene County Health Department staff and volunteers braved the cold and rain to vaccinate around 500 Greene County residents with the COVID-19 vaccine in a drive-thru clinic at the KC Hall in Carrollton.
■ While all school districts in the county, and the state for that matter, will be receiving a second round of stimulus money, North Greene will be receiving the lion’s share – more than three times as much as Carrollton and Greenfield.
Superintendent Mark Scott reported that the district will receive almost $1.4 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, Greenfield is receiving $410,715 while Carrollton will receive $409,773.
■ Carrollton Superintendent Mark Halwachs informed school board members of a grant program offered by the federal government that would pay for the majority of the cost of setting up a distance learning classroom at the high school. The grant will pay 85 percent of the cost and the district will pay the other 15 percent.
The cost of the options varies widely. To become a host school costs $40,000 with the federal government kicking in $34,000 of the cost and the district $6,000 and to become a host school is $80,000 with the split being $12,000 for the district and $68,000 for the federal government.
■ Every student at Greenfield High School will have their own Chromebook next year after the Greenfield School Board approved the purchase of 105 new Chromebooks. Cost of the 105 computers comes to $31,755 which includes the Chromebooks, licenses and cases. Funding to pay for the computers will come from grant funds from the REAP (Rural Education Achievement Program) grant they receive.
■ Tri-County FS rang in the new year with a new manager at their White Hall facility naming assistant manager Terry Monroe as the new manager of the facility after the retirement of long-time manager Bob Goode at the end of the year. Goode had been with the company for almost 40 years.
■ In a visit to Rockford Friday to tour a vaccination site in Winnebago County, Gov. Pritzker praised Greene County for its efficiency in delivering more than 1,900 doses of the vaccine in an orderly and timely manner.
■ At around 8:10 a.m. Friday morning, a call came in that there was a fire on the Carrollton Square. The fire was located in one of Carrollton’s oldest three-store buildings which housed the law offices of Clough and Grummel, located on the North side of the Carrollton Square. The fire started in the apartment above the law offices and was noticed by Attorney Craig Grummel, whose office is located below.
■ Billy’s Furniture and Clearance Center opened for business on Friday, Feb. 19 in the old Alco building in White Hall with a wide selection of household furniture to choose from. The store is owned by Billy McCurley, who grew up in White Hall and went to North Greene through the 8th grade. He still considers White Hall his home, though he has been gone for the past 28 years.
■ Roodhouse Mayor Tommy Martin was one of many local mayors who attended a meeting at the Emergency Management Agency in Springfield on Feb. 23 where Gov. Pritzker called for a low interest loan program be established for small municipalities impacted by record high gas prices during the cold snap in February.
■ Pritzker called on the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) to develop a $15 million low-interest loan program to help small municipalities that have been financially impacted by record high natural gas prices due to extreme weather conditions.
■ What began as a simple traffic stop in Greenfield ended in a high speed chase through two counties and resulted in the recovery numerous firearms and stolen goods. During the investigation, a 100-pound drum magazine loaded with 7.62 rifle ammo was located near the vehicle. Also, recovered still inside the vehicle were a loaded handgun, numerous loaded rifle and pistol magazines and numerous containers containing ammunition.
■ When Charlie and Beth Burrus decided to retire from Pharmacy Plus in Roodhouse in December of last year, it left some pretty big shoes to fill, but Amanda Crane, of Brighton, is just the person to fill those shoes.
Crane, a 2014 graduate of the SIU-E School of Pharmacy began her career as a pharmacy technician at Schnucks. After becoming certified, she entered pharmacy school and upon graduation, she was hired by Schnucks as a pharmacist. In all, she spent 12 years with Schnucks.
■ The Greene County Board approved a $5 adjustment to the salaries of the highway department highway department workers at the March 10 board meeting. The additional pay is an effort to keep its few current employees and encourage new employees to apply for open positions.
Transportation Committee Chairman Joyce Clark said that the starting salary in for a highway worker in Greene County was $17.27 compared to $20.84 in Calhoun County and over $25 in Macoupin County.
■ The Greenfield Board of Education congratulated yearbook sponsor Angie Brown and her yearbook staff at the March 15 school board meeting on receiving numerous awards from the Illinois Journalism Education Association in the 2020 yearbook contest.
■ On Monday, March 15, Jeff and Kim Fansler opened the doors to their newest business venture, Outlaw Liquors and General Store in White Hall. It is located in the old Hardee’s building, more recently home to Sol Mexican Restaurant and right across the street from Billy’s Furniture and Clearance Center.
The Fansler’s bought the building in October, soon after closing their furniture store, J and K Furniture, located on Main Street, which they had owned and operated for the past 13 years.
■ The voters of Carrollton overwhelming elected a new mayor Tuesday as former Public Works Director Mike Snyder overwhelmingly defeated incumbent Mayor Joe Montanez with 68 percent of the vote to Montanez 32 percent. Snyder had 396 votes to Montanez’s 190 votes.
The race for Carrollton City Clerk was a little bit closer. Donna Nonneman defeated Vicki Jackson with 58 percent of the vote to Jackson’s 42 percent. Both ladies were running for the position currently held by Karen Kirbach, who did not seek a second term.
■ The city of Roodhouse has received yet another federal grant towards the purchase of a new vehicle for the city – the third in less than nine month giving the city three brand new vehicles for less than the price of one.
■ Any hopes of filling the position of county engineer were dashed Monday afternoon when members of the Greene County Board’s Transportation Committee learned that the candidate they were prepared to offer the position of county engineer had already accepted a position with another county.
■ Carrollton Attorney Nick Graham and member of the Carrollton Square Initiative (CSI) approached the Greene County Board at their Judiciary Committee meeting last Monday before their regular board meeting on Wednesday about a proposition of providing accent lighting around the courthouse that would not cost the county anything other than the cost of electricity.
■ Greene County coffers will be enriched to the tune of $2.5 million soon with the first of two payments arriving as soon as May 10. Finance Committee Chairman Kristie Ford said the money is part of a package announced by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which was a $787 billion program signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009 to stimulate the economy.
■ Within hours of notification that the two stores would be closing within the next 30 days, with a projected closing date of May 15, residents were mounting campaigns on social media to keep the sFrom calling and writing Kroger corporate headquarters to doing the same with local legislators, Greene County residents are adamant about keeping the two stores open.
Greene County Health Department Public Health Administrator Molly Peters asked the Greene County Board at the April 14 board meeting to write letters of support to keep the stores in both communities siting a variety of reasons.
■ Country music star Heath Sanders appeared in concert at Copper Stills and Mash Friday night to a sold out crowd and wowed the audience with a mixture of his own works plus covers of well-known favorites for almost four hours.
■ Another much larger round of funding will be coming to school districts this summer from the federal government through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) program.
While Carrollton and Greenfield will both be receiving around $900,000, more than double the $400,000 amount they received in round two, North Greene will be receiving a whopping $2.7 million, also more than double the $1.3 million they received in round two.
■ With the closing of Kroger expected within days, a group of North Greene residents have organized a group to help those with no way to get out of town to get groceries. They call themselves “Lettuce Serve You.”
■ Boyd Hospital might be a small rural hospital, but that doesn’t mean they can’t expand on the services they offer to the communities they serve. Boyd Hospital has now added occupational therapy to its long list of offered services and is proud to welcome Dawn Hansen-Ricklefs to its staff as a full-time registered and licensed occupational therapist.
■ With the imminent demise of Kroger, which rumor has it will be May 6 instead of the targeted May 15, residents are worrying about where they will go to get fresh produce. Little do North Greene residents know, they have had a store in their own backyard all this time.
Triple J Meats, located on the corner of the three-way stop in Roodhouse, offers more than just meats, they also offer a full line of fresh vegetables and fruits, along with locally made jams and jellies plus many other items.
■ At a special meeting of the Carrollton City Council, representatives from County Market, met with the council and members of the community to discuss an option that would bring groceries into the community again.
This option would allow residents of not only Carrollton, but anywhere in the county to order grocery items online, pay for them and have them delivered to Carrollton from the Girard store to a large semi which would be parked in a lot. Those who ordered items would then come to the trailer and pick them up.
■ While Lions Clubs around the area, and nation, are dwindling to next to nothing, the White Hall Lions Club is thriving with an influx of new, young members who are anxious and willing to breathe new life into the organization with a summer full of fun events.
The most notable of those events begin on June 3 and last throughout the summer. It is the Music in the Park series which will be held in Whiteside Park and coincides with the Garden Club’s Farmer’s Market on Thursday evening.
■ When life gives you lemons – you make lemonade. And when Kroger decided to close their stores in Carrollton in White Hall, virtually cutting off Greene County’s supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, Justin and Clara Hamel, put their heads together and came up with an idea of how they might alleviate some of the problem – creating a community garden on the vacant lot next to their house.
■ The North Greene School Board approved paying their vocational/tech teacher’s salary over the summer to be supervisor over a summer work program paid for through the Job Center. The program will offer North Greene students up to 29 hours of work a week at $11 an hour for doing work around the North Greene community in a variety of different jobs.
■ Between Mother Nature, who saw fit to drop the temperatures into the low 50s Friday night, and the vandals who decided to bust up the bathrooms, the opening of the Carrollton Pool on Saturday, May 29 was doomed from the beginning.
Mother Nature can be excused, because, after all, this is Illinois, but the vandalism cannot. The vandalism was discovered on Saturday, May 22, when the building was opened up for cleaning in preparation for the upcoming pool season.
■ The Carrollton “Lunch on Us” program began in it’s fifth year serving a free lunch to anyone in the Carrollton community on May 25. While most lunch programs focus on serving only school children during the summer months, the Carrollton program serves anyone and everyone, no matter their age, income or any other factor.
■ White Hall Fire Department was called to the home of Nathan Roberts on Memorial Day afternoon after the grill he was cooking on in his garage apparently malfunctioned and caught the garage on fire.
■ Two juveniles are responsible for destroying the park and all of the playground equipment in the tiny village of Rockbridge on Sunday afternoon.
The Sheriff’s Department discovered that a 12-year-old boy from Eldred and an 11-year-old boy from Alton had set fire to the rubber mulch in the playground area which quickly got out of hand and ended up consuming the entire playground area.
■ Residents in Carrollton will begin seeing work start soon on the new elevated storage tank which will be located on land purchased by the city next to the FS plant on Rt. 108.
■ The Greene County Board hired a new office manager for the Greene County Highway Department at their June 9 regular board meeting. Brooke Darr was selected to replace Diane Hendricks, who resigned to take over as Treasurer for the City of Carrollton. Her resignation was effective June 1. The county received 24 applications for the position.
■ Don’t expect to see an ice cream truck playing catchy music going up and down the streets of Carrollton, but the Dairy Bar of Carrollton does have a mobile ice cream truck now that they will be setting up at major events such as the Greene County Fair, wedding receptions, food truck events and any other event that customers are willing to book them into.
■ Two Greene County fire departments are recipients of grants from the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshall’s (OSFM) as part of the 2021 Small Equipment Grant Program. A total of $3.3 million was awarded to 149 fire departments/districts and EMS providers throughout the state. The OSFM received 448 applications requesting around $10.5 million for this round of grant funding. Roodhouse and White Hall were among those selected this grant period. Roodhouse Fire Protection District received $22,831 and White Hall Fire Protection District received $24,500.
■ The second highest court in the land has struck down the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) approval of a 66-mile natural pipeline running through Illinois and Missouri built by Spire STL.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, on June 22, vacated FERC’s approval of the Spire STL Pipeline finding that the agency did not sufficiently analyze whether the pipeline was, in fact, needed.