Tedeschi appointed chief circuit judge

BENTON — Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Tedeschi of Benton will begin serving a two-year term as chief judge of the Second Judicial Circuit at the start of the new year.

Here’s the link to the story in the Southern Illinoisan.

Obituary – Jason Dewayne Johnson – Mt. Vernon (formerly of Sesser)

Jason Dewayne Johnson, 43, of Mt. Vernon, formerly of Sesser, died October 15, 2013 in rural Jefferson County.

Jason was born March 17, 1970 in West Frankfort, IL to Bob Johnson, Sr. and Betty (Cockrum) Johnson, and they both survive.

He taught automotive classes at Rend Lake College, worked at Ford Square in Mt. Vernon for 12 years and was presently employed by ILMO Gas in Mt. Vernon.

Jason was a member of the First Baptist Church in Sesser, IL and was also a member of Quail & Turkey Unlimited.  He was an avid hunter and loved to do mechanical work.

He was married to Jane (Abell) Johnson, of Mt. Vernon.

Jason is survived by two sons, Christopher Reide Johnson and Cody Ryan Johnson, both at home.  He is also survived by a brother, Bobby and Suzanne Johnson, of Valier and a sister, Cheryl and Jim Matye, of Valier. Also surviving are nieces and nephews Rachel Matyi, Justin Matyi, Kirsten and Ryan Goodisky and Sophi Johnson.  He is also survived by a special family friend, Angela McNail.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 19 at the Brayfield-Gilbert Funeral Home in Sesser with Brother Mark Miller officiating.  Visitation will be after 5 p.m. Friday at the funeral home.  Interment will be in Maple Hill Cemetery, in Sesser.

In lieu of flowers memorial should be made to the Christopher and Cody Johnson  Educational fund and will be accepted at the funeral home.

Brayfield-Gilbert Funeral Home in Sesser is in charge of arrangements. For more information go to www.gilbertfuneralhomes.com

Obituary – Jo Ann Brown – Sesser

SESSER — Jo Ann “MeMe” Brown, 70, died at 11:55 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, in Pinckneyville Community Hospital after an almost five-year battle with leukemia.
Jo Ann Brown PictureJo Ann worked for Techna-Color in Pinckneyville and she was an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan.

Jo Ann was born July 15, 1943, in Du Quoin to Albert and Anna (Szczeblewski) Gerstenschlager.

She married Kenneth Brown on May 15, 1965, and he preceded her in death Nov. 12, 2005.

Jo Ann is survived by her children, Kenneth L. and Kelly Brown of Benton, Rhonda Lynn and Todd Hawkins of Mulkeytown and Gregg L. and Michelle Brown of Dix.  She is also survived by her grandchildren, Andrew Brown, Mallory Brown, Taylor Hawkins, Gage Hawkins, Gunner Hawkins, Dylan Brown and Kaitlyn Brown and two sisters, Judy Hoffman of Du Bois and Jean and Robert Zoeckler of Du Bois.

She was preceded in death by her parents; and husband.

Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, in Brayfield-Gilbert Funeral Home in Sesser.  Burial will be in Mitchell Cemetery in Sesser. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.

Brayfield-Gilbert Funeral Home in Sesser is in charge of arrangements.  For more information go to www.gilbertfuneralhomes.com

Franklin County Farm Bureau News

 By J. Larry Miller

We lost a good man this past week – a good husband, a good Dad, a Good Grandfather and a good farmer. We remember Jay Webb in a special service at the farm where he was born, lived his entire life and where he was taken to be with the Lord. Many of Jay’s friends and fellow farmers were there to embrace the family with their love and support. Many stories were told around the tables and the thoughts of Jay Webb brought joy to everyone’s hearts. Jay was a Franklin County Farm Bureau Board Member for 13 years and Jay Webb will be sadly missed.

Larry Miller, executive director Franklin County Farm Bureau

Larry Miller, executive director Franklin County Farm Bureau

Rain late week caused farmers to be on the sidelines accept for some limited shelling of corn but soybean harvest has now resumed but moisture levels have never gotten dry, at least what I have harvested. The cooler drier air will aid in lowering moisture levels in both corn and soybeans.

Corn yields continue to be very good and will probably be better than the 158 bushel yield that we anticipated in the August yield tour in Franklin County. I believe that the increase is because of the size of the kernels which is not part of our calculation. The kernel size in corn is larger than normal.

Soybean yields have also been a pleasant surprise but the size of the bean varies greatly and being on the small side. If rains would have come in August we probably would be looking at the best ever soybean yield but will only be average or above.

With all of the good news about yields some may think that farmers are in a very admiral position financially and everything is good but there are some issues to consider about what farmers face on a daily basis. The cost of planting a crop has risen dramatically in the last few years with seed cost alone for corn reaching $100 per acre. Corn prices are 50% lower than last year. Land values increase crop expenses and machinery is out of sight and getting higher. Farming is a very volatile business and a big can burst!

Happy National 4-H Week! Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) is celebrating the 4-H members who are helping form the future of agriculture.

4-H is a youth development program serving more than 6.5 million young people.  The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development found that, when compared to other youth, those in 4-H have higher educational achievement and motivation for future education and make more civic contributions to their communities.

Remember we are farmers working together. If we can help let us know.

Peabody, UMWA settle dispute over retiree health benefits

The United Mine Workers of America has agreed to a $400 million agreement with Peabody Energy Corp. and Patriot Coal Corp. that settles a bitter dispute over healthcare benefits for retirees in the wake of Patriot’s bankruptcy.

Here’s the link to the story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Cast revealed for RLC fall play “Treasure Island”

“Treasure Island” will feature several returning actors to the RLC theater stage, including a duo who have performed together five times.

Aaron Dawson, a 15-year-old from Benton, will be playing the role of Captain Flint, a parrot puppet. “Treasure Island” will be Dawson’s ninth show with Webb and 11th show of his acting career, making him one of the more experienced of the actors and also the youngest.

“I have a lot of fun at the theater and I get to meet all sorts of new people,” said Dawson. “When I was younger, my parents asked me if I was interested in acting, so I tried it and I really liked it. Tracey invited me to do a show at Rend Lake after seeing me with Pyramid Players [a theater company out of Benton], and it went very well.”

TWO DAYS OF DANCING  Cast members of Rend Lake College's fall play "Treasure Island" spent two days last week learning a dance number for the musical piece in RLC's Theatre. The play will open at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7 and will run through Sunday, Nov. 10. Tickets are on sale, starting Oct. 7.  (ReAnne Palmer / RLC Public Information)

Cast members of Rend Lake College’s fall play “Treasure Island” spent two days last week learning a dance number for the musical piece in RLC’s Theatre. The play will open at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7 and will run through Sunday, Nov. 10. Tickets are on sale, starting Oct. 7.
(ReAnne Palmer / RLC Public Information)

Dawson said he plans to attend Rend Lake College in a few years as a general studies and theater major before graduating and attending ministerial school.

Another actor from Benton, John Nalley, will be joining Dawson on stage for his fifth show as the notorious Long John Silver. Nalley has had several starring roles on the RLC theater stage, including the father in Father of the Bride, Mr. Banks.

“My friend and I auditioned on a whim back in 2009, and we ended up playing the villain and villainess in the show,” said Nalley. “I began to think of the theater as my home away from home. I’ll take any role, big or small, as long as I get to perform.”

In addition to Dawson and Nalley, there are 33 actors, all of which are expected to help build the set in addition to learning lines and dances:

  • Tara Bell Janowick (Johnston City) as Meg Trueblood
  • Phillip Borcherding (Mt. Vernon) as Banjo Brody (banjo)
  • Bethaney Brown (Mt. Vernon) as Nightingale Nell
  • Shawna Cardwell (Benton) as Whipstitch Winnie
  • Phillip Catt (Tamaroa) as Newport Ned
  • Nick Conner (Sesser) as Nathaniel Crisp
  • Elecia Crider (Woodlawn) as Shoreditch Sal
  • Cortne Fletcher (Benton) as Canterbury Kate
  • Curtis Galloway (Benton) as Israel Hands
  • Donald T. Graham-Barnett (Du Quoin) as Peatbog Pat
  • Sierra Harrell (Mt. Vernon) as Miss Lucinda Livesey
  • John Hunsell (Mt. Vernon) as Old Joe
  • Brandon Isom (Christopher) as Gentleman Jack
  • Robin Johnson (Benton) as Greystoke Gertie
  • Clay Lewis (Mt. Vernon) as Hardy
  • Chris Milburn (Mt. Vernon) as Captain Obadiah Smollett
  • Thomas Miller (Pinckneyville) as Tenderloin Ted (guitar)
  • George Motsinger (Christopher) as Barnacle Billy
  • Cheyenne Needham (Benton) as Cornwall Kelly
  • Josh Nelson (Mt. Vernon) as Ben Gunn
  • Quentin Overturf (McLeansboro) as Blind Pugh
  • Vonnie Palmer (Johnston City) as Mad Mary Maguire
  • Shelby Patterson (Waltonville) as Piccadilly Poll
  • Eric Price (Benton) as Jim Hawkins
  • Danielle Roberts (Mt. Vernon) as Dizzy Delores (recorder)
  • Devin Riley (Dix) as Harry Flash
  • Trevor Skidmore (Mt. Vernon) as Lionheart Lenny
  • Christina South (Enfield) as Lady Jacqueline Trelawney
  • Caleb Staples (Mt. Vernon) as Black Dog
  • Troy Stickey (Benton) as George Merry and Billy Bones
  • Lauryn Strom (Sesser) as Liverpool Lee (percussion)
  • Shannon Twitty (Bluford) as Sherwood Sheila (tambourine)
  • Yuting Zhang (Dahlgren) as Cheng I Sao

There are also several crew members and volunteers helping with the play, including Skyler Alldredge (Benton), Josh Dawson (Benton), Nicole Foskey (Johnston City), Timothy Learned (Mulkeytown), Anthony Mitchell (Benton), Josh Moyer (Mt. Vernon), Shelby Patterson (Waltonville), Jessa Poninski (Mt. Vernon), Aaron Ramsey (Mt. Vernon), Matthew Rush (Benton), Krystal Schuh (Newton) and Shannon Webb (Ewing).

Tickets for the play will go on sale today (Oct. 7) for $12 a ticket. Show times are 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7 through Saturday, Nov. 9; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10. To purchase tickets, contact Cathy Cross at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1263. Tickets will be available at the Theatre on show night if they are not sold out.

Obituary – Norma Jean Coffel – Christopher

CHRISTOPHER – Norma Jean Coffel, 70, died Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.
She was born in Prairie du Rocher to Monroe and Irene (Heller) Sickmeier. She was married to Robert “Bob” Coffel for 37 years.
Mrs. Coffel was a retired elementary schoolteacher in Christopher for 37 years and was a member of First Christian Church in Christopher.

She is survived by her children, Christina Busch and Sandra Bullock, both of Georgia and grandchildren, Aaron Busch and Allison Busch, both of Georgia.  Also surviving are siblings, Gloria Sickmeier of Johnston City, Jerry Sickmeier and Steve Sickmeier, both of Columbia, Roger Sickmeier of Waterloo, Gale Ray of Chester and Lynn Yearouf of Georgia and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday in Gilbert Funeral Home in Christopher with the Rev. Daniel Ison officiating. Burial will be in Harrison Cemetery in Buckner. Visitation will be after 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Christian Church in Christopher and will be accepted at the funeral home.

She was preceded in death by her parents.

Gilbert Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. For more information visit gilbertfuneralhomes.com. –

Timothy Newell to be extradited to Illinois in connection with death of Bonnie woman

BONNIE — A 42-year-old Jefferson County man arrested during the weekend in Missouri will be extradited to Illinois in connection with last week’s death of Rita Newell, of Bonnie.

Timothy S. Newell, 42, was arrested in Sweet Springs, Mo. on Saturday on a warrant charging him with unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle.  Timothy Newell lived with Rita Newell, 84, whose body was discovered Thursday afternoon after police were called to conduct a well-being check on her residence at 225 West Helkin Drive in Bonnie.

Timothy Newell lived with Rita E. Newell, whose body was found Thursday afternoon after police forced their way into the home while conducting a well-being check at the residence, at 225 W. Helkin Drive in Bonnie.

Jefferson County Sheriff Roger Mulch said foul play is suspected in the death but cautioned that authorities are awaiting the results of an autopsy before discussing details about the cause of death.

Authorities say that Timothy Newell is the adopted grandson of Rita Newell.

Our Universities: The Liberal Arts and China

The fundamentals of a free thinking society, communication and ciphering ability, are not do-dads, or throw-aways but essentials for a university to meet its public responsibilities and have durable economic impact.
“So what does business need from our educational system?  One answer is that it needs more employees who excel in science and engineering and the remainder of a workforce that is exposed to enough science and mathematics to function in the rapidly evolving high-tech world.
But that is only the beginning:  one cannot live by equations alone.  The need is increasing for workers with greater foreign language skills and an expanded knowledge of economics, history and geography.  And who wants a technology-driven economy when those who drive it are not grounded in such fields as ethics?”
— Norman Augustine, former Chairman and CEO of the Lockheed Martin Corporation, 2013 —

The impact of Chinese universities on international higher education is inarguable. The order of magnitude will not be fully realized until mid-century, but the effects will be pervasive and likely equal in influence to the German Polytechnics of the mid 19th century.

Walter Wendler mug 2  Gerald A. Postiglione, director of the Center of Research on Education in China at the University of Hong Kong, like many educational leaders worldwide, believes the Western conception and centrality of the liberal arts will take root in China. Norman Augustine is correct and Chinese educators sense it.
High-energy, high-achieving research universities power economies.
Tremendous pressure exists in a developing economy that is shedding top-down authoritarian traditions and adopting an entrepreneurial bottom-up approach to focus on pragmatics.  But, producing “useful” skilled workers without regard to creativity, free thinking, and inquisitiveness is shortsighted.  Short-term cost-benefit thinking rather than long-term economic vision flashes brightly for a season but fades brusquely.  Chinese leaders know this, having lived the fruits of a “rote learning culture.”  The pressure to train students with marketable skills is important, but must be looked at long-term, not solely through the myopia of immediate need.

In the U.S. this consternation existed before the Morrill Act that created public research universities as we know them today signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862. The act, its founders, and endorsers, had the vision and foresight to “promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.”

Societies that focus on the practical, without regard to the liberal, pay the utmost long-term cost.  The power to sustain is trumped by the power to produce. The value of balance is irrefutable.  In America’s best research universities, which have ubiquitous economic impact, a broad “liberal” view of learning is absolutely essential and recognized as such by university leadership and faculty.

Examples of powerful economic impact, nurtured by a liberal arts background, are well-known in America. In 2011, Stanford faculty published a report, “Impact: Stanford University’s Economic Impact via Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” that identified 12 Companies with Stanford “DNA” whose market values exceeded $10 billion each, and whose economic impact topped $.5 trillion.  A case-by-case analysis of the entrepreneurs reveals a wide range of educational experiences but, each one of them exhibits an understanding of the value and economic power of discovery and creative thinking.
Domestic universities generated $1.8 billion in patent revenue in 2012, and more than double that in recurring royalty income.  University “profits” follow research investments yielding between a 4% and 8% return.  During 2012 in the U.S., return on investment was $54.2 billion.

California, Columbia, Dartmouth, Florida, Michigan, MIT and a host of others combine a strong liberal arts foundation with sound scientific and practical educational opportunities.  Other institutions perform proportionally to investment and vision.

Chen Yongfang, a Chinese national, studied at Bowdoin College, a perennial champion of liberal arts. His record allowed him entry into leading research universities.   He was so impressed with the Bowdoin experience he penned a book: A True Liberal Arts Education heralding the virtues of an experience little known in China.  He suggests thoughtful reflection is invaluable to individual and state.  Not a do-dad.

Our universities are responsible for vitalizing economies with skillful workers. But, uncoupled from a keenly nurtured mind that responsibility is squandered.  The marriage of creative thinking and high skill creates strong economies. Nothing else will.  The Chinese are on the precipice of belief.

RLC awarded up to $2.25 million from U.S. Department of Education

INA, Ill. – Big changes lie ahead for students looking into healthcare at Rend Lake College as updated curricula, student support services and new programs will be taking shape over the next five years with the help of federal grant money.

The Title III Pathways to Success in Health Careers Grants were announced last week by the U. S. Department of Education (USDE), which added that a total of approximately $20.1 million in grants to 39 colleges and universities across the nation will be awarded under the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP).

RLC will receive the first grant payment this fiscal year in the amount of $449,960 to begin making big changes in the Allied Health Division. Kim Robert, Dean of Allied Health and Project Director, said the grant money will help increase educational prospects for RLC students.

Annually, per approval by the USDE, RLC will receive approximately $449,000 annually, for a total of $2,249,833 over five years. By the end of the grant period, RLC expects to see an increase in the number of Health Studies degrees and certificates awarded, as well as an increase in overall enrollment and enrollment-based revenue.

“The Allied Health Division is extremely excited to be awarded such a grant from the U. S. Department of Education, and we look forward to utilizing it to help our students in a number of ways,” said Robert. “We are looking into starting some new programs, purchasing equipment and starting an Allied Health Student Success Center to help our students be successful in their field of choice. Personally, I’m looking forward to working with the Rend Lake College staff to prepare our students for life after graduation in a number of healthcare occupations.”

Other plans include the establishment of a new Anatomy & Physiology (A&P) lab and revision of A&P I and II curricula, revisions to the Practical Nursing program curricula to incorporate educational simulation and web-based interactive instructional modules, development a new Health Studies advising and tutoring systems, and the establishment of a new Health Studies Success Center.

“Rend Lake College is one of only 39 schools across the nation to receive a part of the $20.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, and the only one in Illinois,” said RLC President Terry Wilkerson. “The grant will help us improve on our health studies programs, including the addition of two programs, and the support our staff can give to our students. On behalf of the college, faculty and staff, I want to thank the Department of Education for believing in Rend Lake College and our students by helping us expand our educational options and become one of the best higher education institutions in healthcare.”

Information from the USDE states that the healthcare and social assistance sector will create 149,000 new jobs in Illinois alone by 2018, effectively ranking Illinois as one of the top five states in the nation with the greatest shortage of healthcare professionals. More than a third of RLC students, or 35 percent, identify completion of health studies as an educational goal, and enrollment in these programs has increased 22 percent since the 2009-10 academic year.

U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stateddue to these job increases, both in Illinois and across the country, grants such as the Pathways to Success in Health Careers will allow students more options for careers post-graduation.

“Everyone deserves access to high-quality learning opportunities, from preschool to middle school and all the way through college,” said Duncan. “In order to achieve President Obama’s goal to lead the world in college graduates by 2020, we must work to ensure that everyone has a chance to enroll and complete postsecondary education. These grants will boost the capacity and quality of programs offered by higher education institutions that serve low-income students as they work to increase completion rates and better prepare their students for success in college, careers and lifetime aspirations.”

SIP helps postsecondary schools expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen their academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability, as well as build a framework to help students complete college.

For more information, contact Kim Robert at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1251.