Hope Over Heroin event slated to begin Friday, August 16 in Benton

By Jim Muir

The word ‘hope’ is defined by Dictionary.com as follows: to believe, to desire and to trust that what is wanted can be achieved.

All three of those elements – believing, desiring and trusting – will be on display in Benton this weekend, Friday, August 16 and Saturday, August 17 when “Hope Over Heroin,” a two-day, outdoor event takes center stage on the grounds of the Benton Civic Center. And the hope of what “can be achieved” by the multitude of volunteers involved in the important event is to make a huge impact to slow down the growing drug addiction problem in the region.

Franklin County Sheriff David Bartoni said while the event is billed as “Hope Over Heroin” he feels it might be better labeled as ‘hope over addiction.’

“Certainly, the need is great in our region,” said Bartoni. “This event is so important because of the way that drugs and alcohol have impacted our area. Addictions affect the quality of life of families and children so providing resources to help people provides a huge asset to law enforcement.”

The first-ever Hope Over Heroin event was held in 2014 after 14 heroin overdose deaths were reported in one weekend in Hamilton County, Ohio. According to the HOH website: “Hope Over Heroin is a collaborative faith-based ministry believing in and witnessing the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to change lives. While we are a faith-based organization we recognize the important of every resource that makes up a community’s fight against addiction. There is no singular solution.”

Ted Anderson, a retired pastor from West Frankfort, is heading up the local event. Details of the event began to fall into place, Anderson said, when he and another minister, Don Robinson, from Tennessee, spoke with Benton Mayor Fred Kondritz.

“We simply asked Mayor Kondritz for permission to pray a prayer of protection and blessing over Benton,” Anderson said. “He enthusiastically gave his permission and blessing! Before leaving his office we asked him what the greatest need in his town is and he quickly said ‘the drug problem’! We prayed and Jesus sent us “Hope Over Heroin”!

Anderson said the totally-free two-day rally will feature entertainment, food, speakers, and more importantly, there will be more than 30 agencies on-site to help any person with an addiction that is seeking help. He said there will even be transportation available to take those seeking help to Gateway Foundation Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center.

“We have transportation in place to take these people for treatment immediately,” said Anderson. “A lot of the time people battling addictions want help but don’t know for sure where to turn. We have that aspect covered, if a person shows up wanting help we will get them help.”

Anderson emphasized that a two-fold approach – physical and spiritual – has the best results when fighting an addiction. Anderson said statistics show that only two percent of people seeking help for an addiction succeed when there is not a faith-based component in the rehab. However, when faith and a spiritual component is added to the equation the success rate increases dramatically to more than 80 percent success rate.

“If a man or woman’s heart is changed for the good, then their life will be changed for the good,” said Anderson. “Through Hope Over Heroin, which provides the preaching of the good news of Jesus Christ, a coalition of faith-based and non-faith-based drug rehab agencies and churches, we believe that this can and will happen.”

The rally has been in the planning stages for several months with more than a dozen churches and scores of volunteers involved in every aspect.

“It has truly been a community effort,” said Anderson. “A lot of volunteers have combined their talents to impact the addiction problem plaguing Southern Illinois. It has been our prayer and it’s our belief that this two-day event will save lives and also change lives for the better forever.”

Anybody needing more information can visit a Facebook page that has been established (Hope Over Heroin/Benton) or call the local HOH phone number at 618-200-0035.

West Frankfort man charge with two counts of first-degree murder in death of Kendra Ardery

A 48-year-old West Frankfort man has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the death of 29-year-old Kendra Ardery, also of West Frankfort.

Thomas McCoy was taken into custody on August 12, 2019 and is being held at the Franklin County Jail in lieu of $5 million bond. McCoy is additionally charged with one count of concealment of a homicide and one count of abuse of a corpse involving the death of Ardery.

According to Franklin County Assistant State’s Attorney Phillip Butler, the charges allege that McCoy killed Ardery by inflicting physical trauma to her head and neck between August 8, 2019 and August 10, 2019. The charges also allege that McCoy concealed her death and abused the victim’s body by sexual conduct.

McCoy will appear in Franklin County Circuit Court for a first advisement hearing and bond review on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 at 3 p.m.

The death of Ardery is being investigated by West Frankfort Police Department, the Illinois State Police and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.

Roland Fisher – Christopher, IL

Roland Fisher, 83, of Christopher, IL passed away Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at his home.

He was born in Macedonia, IL on Nov. 18, 1935, the son of Ben & Cora (Wiggins) Fisher.

He married Betty Jean (Lawson) on July 2, 1959, and she preceded him in death on May 27, 2008.

Mr. Fisher served in the U.S. Air Force during Vietnam from 1955 to 1976, retiring as Master Sgt. Dec 1, 1976. Mr. Fisher was Dietary Foreman for the VA Medical Center in Marion. He loved the Lord, his Church and he was a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan, Christopher Bearcat fan, and enjoyed horse racing.

Mr. Fisher is survived by his children, Rebecca Curry, and husband, Darren, of Union, MO, Robert Fisher, of Christopher, Curtis Fisher, and wife Carla, of West Frankfort, IL, Alice Freeman, and husband Sgt. Andrew Freeman, of Marion, IL and Kelly Fisher, of Marion; grandchildren Blake and Zachary Curry, McKenzie and Joshua Mohring, Hannah and Chase McGee, Thomas and Matthew Williams and Gabriel Fisher; sisters Phyllis Harris, of Pikeville, KY and Alice Shanks, of Benton.

Mr. Fisher was preceded in death by his parents, wife & by 2 brothers – Richard & Curtis.

Funeral services will be held at 2:00 P.M. Saturday, August 10th at the Morton & Johnston Funeral Home in Benton with Rev. Bert Mitchell & Rev. David Mitchell officiating.

Burial with Military Rites conducted by the Benton American Legion & VFW Posts will be in the Knob Prairie Cemetery in Akin. Visitation will be after 11 A.M. Saturday at the funeral home.

For more information or to send online condolences please visit www.mortonjohnstonfuneralhome.com

Daniel “Dan” Lee Lynch – Benton, IL

Daniel “Dan” Lee Lynch, 56, of Benton, passed away on Wednesday, August 7, 2019, at his residence.

He was born on March 14, 1963, to Ronald and Carolyn (Sneed) Lynch in Berwyn, IL. Dan was a United States Army Veteran. On April 2, 2011, he married Susan Lea (Tate) Joy.

Dan was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He enjoyed music and fishing. His passion for music started at a very young age playing the drums, to being a lead singer in a band to most recently learning how to play the bass guitar.

He is survived by his loving spouse of 8 years, Susan Lea Lynch; five children, Dustin (Tori) Lynch, Kassie Lynch, Brook Cecil, Alex (Brandon) Mandrell and Caitlin Joy; five grandchildren, Cyrus, Raymond, Harper, David and Coraline; one brother, Craig (Shari) Lynch; and many dear family members and friends.

Mr. Lynch was preceded in death his parents, Ronald Lee and Carolyn Gail Lynch.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Pate Funeral Home, 301 S. Main St., Benton, IL.

Visitation will be held on Saturday, August 10, 2019, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., at Pate Funeral Home, Benton, IL.

Funeral services will be held at 3:00 p.m., on Saturday, August 10, 2019, at the Pate Funeral Home, Benton, IL, with Rev. Stacy Tate, officiating. Military rites will be performed by the Benton American Legion Post 280, VFW Post 2671 and the United States Army.

Online condolences can be given at www.patefh.com

James Robert “J.R.” Smith – Benton, IL

James Robert “J.R.” Smith, 82, of Benton passed away on August 4, 2019.

He was born on May 9, 1937 in Rend City, IL to Robert and Eva (Connor) Smith. He married Margarett Ann (Johnston) Smith and she preceded him in death.

He is survived by his daughters Joni (Jimmy) Bruce of Benton and Kimberley (James Leister) Smith of Benton; grandchildren Claudia Bolivar, Ada Mocaby, Bryan Mocaby, Jamie (Matt) Smith and Stayce (Alison McCurley) Leister; great grandchildren Robyn Thomas, Olivia Thomas, Marshall Leister-McCurley, Nora Leister-McCurly, Adonis Westerberg, Aurora Bolivar, Luciano Bolivar, Haydan Jeter, Kayd Jeter and Addlyn Jeter; and one brother Larry Smith of Washington. He was a retired coalminer and was a well known country western singer. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife and one great grandson Claude O’Daniel.

Funeral services will be on Saturday August 10, 2019 at 11:00 AM at the Gilbert Funeral Home in Christopher with Brother George Marshall officiating. Visitation will be on Friday August 9, 2019 from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM at the funeral home. Burial will be at the Masonic and IOOF cemetery in Benton. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Church of Christ in Christopher and will be accepted at the funeral home.

For more information go to our website www.gilbertfuneralhomes.com

Three old soldiers …

By Jim Muir

During a span of four months the city of Sesser, IL has lost three icons – three old soldiers and three good men who took on near-legendary status in the small farming community.

The death on August 2 of Amos Mitchell, 100, and on August 6 of Leroy Spotanski, 93, coupled with the March 18, 2019 death of 94-year-old Delmar Jones continues to close the chapter and usher out important members of the greatest generation. For those in the younger generation or those unaware, this is the generation that defeated Hitler and saved the free world. It’s because of old soldiers like these that we are not speaking German today! Let that sink in a moment!

Amos Mitchell

When I wrapped my mind around these three deaths, my first thought was how uniquely different each of these men were in their ideologies, personalities and professions. But, while all three men were contrasting in those areas, they were actually one and the same in their beliefs. These three are men that look you in the eye when they speak to you and say what they mean and mean what they say. These were men whose word was their bond and who put as much importance on a handshake as signing their name to a legal document.

Leroy Spotanski [/caption]

We hear a lot these days about the word “legacy” – what we leave behind when we’re gone. Often, legacy is talked about by stuffed-shirt politicians and ego-maniac athletes who would have us believe that accomplishments paid for by taxpayers and how many championship rings collected are how we should measure the greatness of people. Other people measure legacy by bank accounts and material possessions, and others by status in the community and by titles behind their name.

Delmar Jones [/caption]

But, when the final words are said about each of us there are three things, only three things that truly matter concerning our legacy. Those three things and they must be in this order, are faith, family and friends. When it comes to the legacy of faith, family and friends, Amos, Delmar and Leroy got it right, they understood the importance and lived it daily! And in the case of these three old soldiers you can quickly add these words to their legacy: respect, loyalty, integrity, honesty and an unapologetic, unwavering belief in the Stars and Stripes and that we are blessed to live in the greatest country on earth.

Several years ago country crooner George Jones sang a song entitled, “Who’s Gonna Fill their Shoes?” The song laments the fact that when many of the old classic country stars are gone, there will be nobody to take their place. With three prominent deaths in a small community, this song and that question crossed my mind. Who will fill these three old soldiers’ shoes? Who will walk in parades, who will put flags on the graves of veterans, who will support their community and their country, who will salute the flag, who will understand and practice daily those three F’s of faith, family and friends?

For anybody willing to step up … those are three mighty big pairs of shoes to fill!

In 1951 Gen. Douglas MacArthur gave a farewell speech to a joint session of Congress. During that famous address MacArthur coined the phrase: “Old soldiers never die … they just fade away.”

In regard to the three old soldiers I write about today, let me paraphrase General MacArthur’s famous quote – Old soldiers never die, they leave an indelible mark on the collective hearts of their family, friends and the community they live in … and then … they just fade away.

Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Spotanski and Mr. Jones … I join countless others in saying thank you for your service to God and country and thank you for making Sesser a better place to live. Godspeed Gentlemen and rest easy.

Leroy Thomas Spotanski-Sesser, IL

Leroy Thomas Spotanski, 93, of Sesser passed away on August 6, 2019. He was born on September 20, 1925 in St. Louis, MO to George Michael and Anna Rose (Kurgenski) Spotanski.

He married Elaine (Harmon) Spotanski on June 26, 1948 and she preceded him in death on December 21, 2014. He is survived by his children Vicki (Joe) Kloepper of Mulkeytown and David (Anita) Spotanski of Waltonville; grandchildren Amy (Kirk) Tipton, Matt (Dawn) Spotanski, Todd Spotanski, Dennis Harris and fiancé Sonya Gunter, Tricia (Barry) Higgins, Doug (Tricia) Harris, Mandy (Brian) Carson, Kristi (Jason) Carter, Jessie (Max) Dicus; 15 great grandchildren; 2 great grandchildren and one brother George M. Spotanski of Scheller. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, and one son Dennis “Tiny” Spotanski.

Leroy was a TEC Sargent 5 in the United States Army serving during WWII and Korea. He was an active and lifetime member of the VFW Sesser Cox Post 4753 and American Legion Post 0560 Bates in Sesser. He always volunteered for the military funerals and military functions. He was the Sesser Goode Township Supervisor for 23 years and served on the Sesser Police Commission Board for 23 years. He also served on the Franklin County Board for over 20 years. He worked at the Rend Lake College as Director of the Physical Plant until his retirement in 1987. He loved to fish and play golf. He had four hole-in-ones on the Pinckneyville Golf Course. He has been a member of the Roman Catholic Church in Sesser for 78 years and a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus in Christopher.

Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday August 10, 2019 at 1:00 PM at the St Mary’s Catholic Church in Sesser with Father John Iffert officiating. Visitation will be on Friday August 9, 2019 from 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM at the Brayfield-Gilbert Funeral Home in Sesser. Burial will be at Maple Hill Cemetery in Sesser. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Southern Illinois Honor Flight and will be accepted at the funeral home.

For more information go to our website www.gilbertfuneralhomes.com

Chris Paul Reed – Clearwater, FL (formerly of Benton, IL)

Chris Paul Reed of Clearwater, Florida, formerly of Benton, went home to be with the Lord on August 3.

He was born in Eldorado to Fred and Lena (Mosley) Reed on March 21, 1924.

He is survived by his daughter, Carolyn Britton and husband Larry of Florida, son Gary Reed and wife Debbi of Colorado, grandson Jonathon Stewart and wife Jennifer of Florida, granddaughters Michelle Rogers and husband Curtis of Montana and Amanda Palmer and husband Bill of Texas. He has seven great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Bettye Dykes Reed, son Jimmy Chris Reed and son David Paul Reed. Also preceding him were his sister Evelyn Lipsey, sister Imogene Burzynski, and brother Billie F. Reed.
He was a member of East Benton Baptist Church where he served as a deacon for many years.

He was the former owner of Reed Heating and Air Conditioning in Benton. He belonged to Benton Masonic Lodge #64 and served as Past Master, Benton chapter of Eastern Star and was a Past Worthy Patron, and a member of the American Legion Post 280 after having been in the Army.
Donations may be made to any charity instead of flowers.

Funeral services will be held at 11 A.M. Thursday, Aug. 8th at the Morton & Johnston Funeral Home in Benton with Pastors Mark Joplin & Mark Minor officiating. Burial will be at the Masonic & Oddfellows cemetery in Benton. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 P.M. Wednesday and after 10 A.M. Thursday at the Morton & Johnston Funeral Home in Benton. Masonic Rites will be conducted at 7 P.M. Wednesday at the funeral home.
For more information or to send online condolences please visit www.mortonjohnstonfuneralhome.com

Dorothy Koropchak – Buckner, IL

Dorothy Koropchak, 81, of Buckner passed away on August 3, 2019.

She was born on September 8, 1937 in Buckner, IL to Filip and Anna (Baligroski) Pelak. She married John Koropchak Jr. on November 9, 1958 and he preceded her in death on April 10, 2001.
She is survived by her children Larissa (George) Wilkerson of Herrin, John David Koropchak of St Charles, MO and John Philip (Anna) Koropchak of Bowie, MD; grandchildren Stephanie (Justin) Galiher of Herrin and Adam Wilkerson of Kansas City, MO; great grandchildren Lillian Grace Galiher and Connor Joseph Galiher and several nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, three Sisters Rose Musso, Julia Sobarnia, Eva Replyuk, and two Brothers Frank Pelak and Steve Brand.

Dorothy was a cook at the Christopher Elementary School for 25 years.
Funeral services will be on Friday August 9, 2019 at 10:00 AM at the Protection of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in Royalton with Father John Pawelchak officiating. Visitation will be on Thursday August 8, 2019 from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM at the Gilbert Funeral Home in Christopher, with a Prayer Service at 6:00 PM. Burial will be at the St Mary’s Orthodox Cemetery in Royalton.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Protection of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church or to the St Mary’s Orthodox Cemetery Fund and will be accepted at the funeral home.
For more information go to our website www.gilbertfuneralhomes.com

Amos Herman Mitchell – Sesser, IL

Amos Herman Mitchell, Sesser, Illinois passed away at Helia Healthcare of Benton, Illinois with his loving family at his bedside, 10:00 pm, August 2, 2019 at the age of 100 years and 165 days. Mr Amos, or Billy Goat was greatly admired and professionally cared for by the staff at Helia.

Amos is predeceased by his loving wife Rosemary, by his parents Herman Omar and Nella (Pulliam) Mitchell, brothers Lowell (Jennie) Mitchell, Charles Mitchell, Cecil Mitchell, sisters Neva Furlow, Clorine (Melville) Straub, Wilma (Tom) Uttley, and Agnus Mitchell.

Amos is survived by his loving sons, Ned Mitchell of Sesser and Randy Lowell (Renee) Mitchell of Collinsville. Amos also leaves behind to mourn his passing and cherish his memory grandchildren Justin Jon (Brittany) Mitchell, Jonna June L Mitchell and (friend Jan Paul Miller), Carrigan Aleta Mitchell, Ty Matthew Mitchell and Alexa Marie Mitchell.

Amos was also blessed to have known and be known by his great grandchildren; Johnel Maria Eubanks (fiancé Johnny Vercellino), John Charles (Sierra) Eubanks, Jr., Christian Mitchell Rolla, Cobin Dane Rolla, Kingston Lane, Kaylor Belle Lane, Kambria Noelle Mitchell, Kennasyn Joelle Mitchell, great great granddaughter Violet Sky Eubanks. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Amos was born February 18, 1919 in Zeigler, Illinois. He attended one year of high school before joining the Civilian Conservation Corps to help support his widowed mother and her family. He later earned his GED and insisted that his two sons, Ned and Randy attend and complete a college degree. Amos entered the Army in 1941 and honorably served his country in WWII in the Americal 23rd Infantry Division in New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, Burma, and New Guinea. He was a decorated war veteran earning two Bronze Battle Stars, American Defense Service Ribbon, Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon and 5 Overseas Service Bars.

Amos was the oldest member and faithful Christian of the Sesser First United Methodist Church. He was a living witness to all who knew him. He was married to the love of his life Rosemary White Mitchell on January 20, 1945 by Methodist minister R. A. Lippman. They enjoyed 67 years of marriage.
Amos was a retired coal miner, last employed at Freeman United Coal, Waltonville #3. He was a long time member of Local Union 1545 of the United Mine Workers of America. He was an avid bird hunter and was widely known for his expertise in training bird dogs, both English Setters and Pointers. He was an excellent gardener and enjoyed maintaining his home and lawn.

The visitation will be Friday, August 9th, 2019 at the First United Methodist Church in Sesser from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm. A funeral service of Christian burial will be at 1:00 pm, August 9, 2019 at the church. Jim Slone will officiate. Internment with military rites will be at Maple Hill Cemetery, Sesser, Illinois.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations may be made to the charity of your choice or the Sesser First United Methodist Church.

Final arrangements have been entrusted to the Newell Funeral Home, Waltonville, Illinois.

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