“Back to School Night” at RLC slated for August 4

Before you hit the books, why not have a blast with Rend Lake College?! RLC is inviting all in-district high school student and recent graduates to its “Back to School Night” at the Aquatic Zoo in Mt. Vernon, IL on Wednesday, August 4th from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Come out and have a fun night at the waterpark!

The night includes free admission and giveaways to the first 25 to enter the park. Students can also sign-up for additional giveaways as RLC will raffle off items throughout the night. There is also a chance to win tickets to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari.

The event is limited to 450 people. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP on Facebook. We hope to see you there!

Chalk, chalk and more chalk – Benton artists plan to decorate sidewalks at Benton Community Park

The second-ever “Chalk Benton” event will be held this Saturday, July 31 at Benton Community Park.

Triston Bigham, of Benton, was busy this week advertising his second-ever “Chalk Benton” event this Saturday at Benton Park.

Triston Bigham, a Benton High School grad, initiated the first event a few weeks ago as just a way of getting a few creative friends together to draw with chalk. Bigham, who has a passion for chalk drawing, will attend Rend Lake College this fall and study graphic design. He said the first event was so successful – more than 25 showed up to show off their chalk drawing skills — that he wanted to hold another event at Benton Community Park.

The event will begin at 2 p.m., just look for a crowd with chalk in their hand and a smile on their face. You can also find more information on Facebook at Chalk Benton.

Remembering Mary Havlovic – an iconic educator who left a huge impact on students’ lives

By Jim Muir

Many people probably glanced over the obituary of Mary Havlovic and didn’t pay much attention. Perhaps the most noteworthy item listed in the brief death notice was the fact that Mrs. Havlovic lived to be 101 years old, a quite remarkable feat.
But for many, news of her death brought sadness and bittersweet, nostalgic memories of an iconic teacher and a long passed era when the world was far safer and when time didn’t seem to pass so quickly.

Mary Havlovic passed away on Monday, July 19, 2021 and will be buried in Mount Auburn, Illinois on Thursday, July 22, 2021.

Mrs. Havlovic was a longtime teacher at the old Washington Grade School in Sesser, located near where the Miner’s Memorial Park is located. She had the distinction of being a teacher there both before and after the 1963-64 consolidation that created a unit school district that is now known as Sesser-Valier. Countless children had the blessed opportunity to have Mrs. Havlovic as a teacher and can still recall her ‘big’ voice and hearty laughter.

It was not unusual in that era to see Mrs. Havlovic – wearing a dress and barefooted – in the middle of a dusty ball diamond, pitching softball during recess. In conversations I’ve had with those who fondly remember her and from comments I’ve read on social media, the most significant thing that stands out decades later was her kindness to everybody. And it didn’t matter – rich, poor, boys, girls, smart and those who struggled – she was kind to everybody. In fact, the only thing that exceeded her kindness back in those wonderful days was her keen ability to help her students learn and to make school fun.

Washington Grade School

Mrs. Havlovic didn’t have any children of her own, but she made a huge difference and a positive impact on an untold number of lives, mine included. Simply stated, she was one remarkable lady!

Interestingly, when I heard of the death of Mrs. Havlovic I thought of a short quote written by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It reads:

“What is success?

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”

Based on that description, Mary Havlovic’s time on earth was a smashing success and hers was a life well-lived.

Obituaries are adequate and purposeful when describing the highlights of a person’s life but they fail to reveal the real fabric of that person.

Today I would like to add a footnote to Mary Havlovic’s obituary.

Along with the relevant facts that were listed, Mrs. Havlovic should also be remembered as a person that loved all children, helped shape and mold an untold number of young lives and spent her best years making the small mining and farming community of Sesser a better place to live and attend school.

And most importantly it should be remembered that Mrs. Havlovic is still admired and revered by former students, many who are now in their 60s and 70s. That’s a legacy with quite a lasting impact.

RIP Mrs. Havlovic. Your race is run but your contribution to children’s lives will carry on for generations to come!

Hotlanta Hero! Sesser-Valier teacher meets boyhood idol

By Jim Muir

There is an old adage that says, ‘never meet your heroes.’ The theory behind that statement is simple: there’s a good probability you’ll be disappointed.

After a recent whirlwind trip to Atlanta, GA, Craig Garner would beg to differ with that familiar and often-used line about meeting our heroes.

Garner, a longtime high school teacher in Sesser, IL, a small farming community in southern Illinois where he was born and raised, recently met his boyhood idol, former Atlanta Braves star, Dale Murphy, and the results, in Garner’s own words were: “unbelievable, just an incredible experience.”

In order to understand the importance of Garner meeting his hero, the calendar must be backed up a few decades to the 1980s when sports fans throughout the Midwest received Atlanta Braves games, via superstation, Turner Broadcasting System (TBS).

Garner said the availability of games to watch was instrumental in him becoming a fan, but said Murphy’s consistent, hard-nosed style of play made it easy to become a fan.

When I was young, there was no out-of-market stuff, so we could see the Braves on TBS, the Cubs on WGN and I fell in love with Dale Murphy back in the day,” said Garner. “I started watching him play when I was probably six or seven years old. I had a little romance with the Cardinals – I loved Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds – but for the most part I’ve been a Braves’ fan all these years.”

Earlier this year Garner saw a link on Twitter that highlighted an event called
“The MVP Experience” – an event that is hosted by Murphy.

“I went to his website and found the details and decided to toss aside the saying about never meeting your childhood hero, and I signed up,” said Garner. “How it works, is that there are a handful of games a year where Dale Murphy meets with fans. You pick a game; you register and pay money and meet him for lunch at his restaurant (Murph’s in downtown Atlanta). I was fortunate enough to get a game when the Los Angeles Dodgers were in town and spend the day with him.

Garner said the event is organized by Murphy’s wife, Nancy. The Murphy’s are the parents of eight children, seven sons and one daughter. Two of the sons chose football and have played in the NFL.

He said following lunch there is a Q & A where fans can ask the former Atlanta slugger and two-time National League MVP (1982 and 1983) any question.

Garner called it a “surreal moment” when he walked in Murph’s Restaurant and saw the largen wooden No. 3 prominently on display that used to hang in Turner Field.

“When you walk in and there’s the wooden No. 3 I saw on television so many times and there’s Dale Murphy to greet you, that’s a moment that is burned in my mind for sure,” said Garner. “All of us that were a part of it, there was 35, went to a dining area and Dale talked while we ate, just letting us know what the day was going to be like.”

Garner said following lunch everybody moved to another area where there was a podium and the question-and-answer period got started.

“He stood at the podium for at least two hours answering questions about former players that he competed against, pitchers he faced and compared the era he played in to baseball in 2021. He really talked a little bit about a lot of different things,” said Garner. “He brought his MVP awards and he signed anything we asked him to. He was just really a great guy and easy to talk with.”

Murphy grew up in Oregon and was the No. 5 overall pick in the 1974 MLB draft, right out of high school. He signed with the Braves, turning down an offer to play college baseball at Arizona State. He made it to the big league in 1976 and played 14 years in Atlanta before being traded to Philadelphia where he spent three seasons. Murphy closed out his stellar 18-year MLB career in 1993 in Colorado.

Interestingly, one story that really caught Garner’s attention during the question and answer session involved a game when Murphy played for Philadelphia and was matched again his old team, the Atlanta Braves. Murphy related that it was back in a different era with “old school managers.” He said an Atlanta batter had been hit by a pitch and legendary Braves’ manager Bobby Cox – the epitome of old school – instructed his pitcher (Tom Glavine) to hit the first batter he faced in the next inning.

“When the next inning rolled around Glavine went to Cox and said, ‘I can’t hit the next guy up … it’s Murph,’” Garner recalled Murphy telling the group.

Proving he really was old school to the max, Cox, who had managed Murphy for 14 years said: “I don’t care who it is … hit him.”

Garner said he found the incident on YouTube and said Glavine made a feeble attempt to hit Murphy with the pitch – a pitch that Murphy said he knew was coming.

“It took Glavine four pitches to finally hit him,” Garner said. “And then he got kicked out of the game. It was a great story.”

Garner admitted that he went into the Murphy meeting with some apprehension, knowing that he stood the chance of destroying, or at least damaging, the great memories of his boyhood idol.

“I can still recall seeing documentaries from years ago talking about just how great of a person Dale Murphy was, so I thought it would be OK, but you never know. I still remember that he played the game hard, he played it right and he was a great role model. Even as a kid it was great to know that hard work would pay off,” said Garner. “So, I went into it believing that it would be a great experience. And to meet him and find out he was just the most likeable, down-to-earth guy you could ever want to meet. He was the same guy I watched on television as a kid and everything I hoped he would be. It was a day I will never forget!”

Franklin County Sheriff’s Dept. makes arrests, issues tickets

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department made multiple arrests and issued several tickets during the past week. Here is a complete list.

7-11-21 Dalton J. Chaffin age 21 Qulin, MO was ticketed for failure to wear a seatbelt.

7-13-21 Kyle W. Murphy age 26 of Zeigler was ticketed for having an expired registration and violation of classification.

7-14-21 Joy Griffith age 62 of Benton was arrested for theft.

7-14-21 Theodore J. Ruble age 31 of Murphysboro was ticketed for operating an uninsured motor vehicle, speeding and improper passing.

7-14-21 Garrett L. Cardwell age 37 of Benton was ticketed for speeding.

7-14-21 Alex D. Trujillo age 36 of DeSoto was ticketed for speeding.

7-14-21 Cletus J. Schram age 36 of Zeigler was ticketed for speeding.

7-14-21 Lois A. Bejma age 57 of Ina was ticketed for speeding.

7-14-21 Mark L. Hartman age 30 of Nashville, IL was ticketed for speeding.

7-15-21 Branson D. Nutt age 20 of Sesser was arrested for domestic battery and endangering the life and health of a child.

7-15-21 Kevin R. Chandler age 38 of Royalton was ticketed for speeding.

7-15-21 Damian T. Jeffro age 33 of Valier was ticketed for speeding.

7-15-21 Cassandra L. Weeks age 47 of DuQuoin was ticketed for speeding.

7-15-21 Kenzie J. Rushing age 18 of Pinkneyville was ticketed for speeding.

7-15-21 Gerri D. Mitchell age 48 of Benton was ticketed for speeding.

7-15-21 Terry R. Nelson age 55 of Citronelle, Al was ticketed for speeding.

7-15-21 Lindsay M. Bussick age 38 of Thompsonville was ticketed for speeding.

7-15-21 Brittney M. Clarida age 30 of Thompsonville was ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and reckless driving.

7-15-21 Kelli K. Rexing age 40 of McLeansboro was ticketed for speeding.

7-15-21 Jennifer R. Morris age 29 of Ewing was ticketed for having an expired registration and speeding.

7-15-21 Heidi C. Sniderwin age 39 of Thompsonville was ticketed for speeding.

7-15-21 James W. Butler age 92 of Marion was ticketed for speeding.

7-15-21 Kendra M. Fischer age 37 of Herrin was ticketed for speeding.

7-15-21 Glenn T. Owens age 82 of West Frankfort was ticketed for operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

7-16-21 Rhonda D. Vanzandt age 52 of Benton was arrested for driving under the influence. Vanzandt was also ticketed for improper parking on the roadway and illegal transportation of alcohol.

7-16-21 Jeremy E. Williams age 38 of Buckner was arrested for criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct.

7-16-21 Branson D. Nutt age 20 of Sesser was arrested for violation of an order of protection.

7-17-21 Kevin M. Throgmorton age 29 of Royalton was ticketed for operation of vehicles and streetcars on approach of emergency vehicles.

7-17-21 Valarie C. Elliott age 52 of Buckner was arrested for domestic battery.

7-19-21 Dennis C. Donaldson age 51 of Valier was arrested for battery and aggravated assault.


7-12-21 Randy E. Tibbs Jr. age 43 of West Frankfort. Failure to appear for criminal damage to property.

7-12-21 Amy J. James age 37 of Orient. Failure to appear for failure to register as a sex offender.

7-15-21 Nathan D. Moore age 40 of West Frankfort. Failure to appear for drug paraphernalia.

7-15-21 Jonna M. Sirach age 42 of West Frankfort. Failure to appear warrant for criminal damage to property.

7-15-21 Captain E. Prak age 45 of West Frankfort. Failure to appear for dumping garbage on real property.

7-16-21 Timothy R. Griffith age 63 of Benton. Failure to appear for resisting a Peace Officer.

The public is reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

RLC announces 5 teams and 36 athletes achieve academic honors

INA, IL – The National Junior College Athletic Association recognized 36 athletes from Rend Lake College for their high academic achievements during the 2020-21 season.

The NJCAA officially announced the RLC athletes and teams as Academic All-Americans. RLC had nominated the athletes for awards earlier this summer.

There were 13 student-athletes who earned a grade point average of 4.0 and were given the distinction of NJCAA First-Team Academic Excellence Award, the highest award available. Another 11 Warriors earned a GPA between 3.80 and 3.99 and the NJCAA Second-Team Academic Achievement Award. A dozen more athletes received the NJCAA Third-Team Academic Achievement Award as well as a GPA between 3.60 and 3.79.

Selections for the All-American teams included members RLC baseball, softball, volleyball, men’s and women’s golf and men’s and women’s basketball teams.

First-Team Academic Excellence Award (4.0 GPA)
Madelyn Britton – Softball
Justin Clark – Baseball
Jackson Creel – Men’s Basketball
Townsend Ellis – Baseball
Mitchell Gilman – Baseball
Christopher Gory – Baseball
Ma’Kayla Marshall – Women’s Basketball
Jaice McCowen – Women’s Basketball
Samantha McCowen – Women’s Basketball
Mikayla Robbers – Softball
Alexandra Sadler – Women’s Golf
Hunter Thomas – Baseball
Rylee White – Women’s Golf

Second-Team Academic Achievement Award (3.80-3.99 GPA)
Weston Brockhouse – Baseball
Arlon Butts – Baseball
Rachel Finders – Volleyball
Megan Hallemann – Women’s Basketball
Kyle Hetherington – Baseball
Destiny Holtz – Softball
Blake McKay – Men’s Basketball
Race Rynski – Men’s Basketball
Brooke Stepter – Volleyball
Brandon Tucker – Baseball
Nicholas Wimber – Baseball

Third-Team Academic Achievement Award (3.60-3.79 GPA)
Aaron Agee – Baseball
Frank Barrett – Baseball
Danielle Bieber – Softball
Korey Bunselmeyer – Baseball
Leah Davis – Softball
Jase Felker – Baseball
Paige Hand – Volleyball
Annibelle Harrison – Women’s Basketball
Ashley Jarrett – Volleyball
Samantha Licka – Softball
Brendan Luster – Men’s Golf
Emma Moser – Softball

The NJCAA also recognized several teams from Rend Lake as Academic Teams of the Year. A team receives the distinction for earning a GPA of 3.0 or better.

Academic Teams of the Year
Volleyball – 3.48
Women’s Golf – 3.28
Baseball – 3.21
Softball – 3.12
Women’s Basketball – 3.07

Rend Lake College trustees accepts bid for construction of new Event Center

INA, Ill. — Rend Lake College took its first step toward an all-inclusive textbook program Tuesday night at its monthly meeting of the Board of Trustees. Members unanimously passed the first reading of a change to RLC’s textbook policy that will take effect next Summer.

Since 1998, the college has used a textbook rental program that saved students millions over two decades. RLC’s board and administration believes the new, fee-based program will save students and families even more at a time when accessibility and affordability are imperative to higher education. Following a review of potential proposals by outside vendors — and careful consideration and analysis of options — administration believes students will be able to better budget and plan for textbook costs through a fee-based program. The college will continue to own and operate the campus bookstore, which will administer the new program. Students will be able to order their books online after registering for classes. More details, including the new fee structure, are expected to be presented and acted on at the August board meeting.

Unterbrink awarded Event Center construction bid

A bid of $1,562,708 from Bruce Unterbrink Construction Inc, of Greenville, was accepted for construction of the new RLC Event Center. The bid includes four alternates for sanding, cleaning and staining existing roof deck beams; replacing tile and painting walls in the lobby; installing wood wainscot on columns in the conference room and lobby; and removing clerestory windows and insulated metal panels, and installing new insulated metal panels. The funding for this project will come from bonding sources already available resulting in no additional cost to the taxpayers of the district.

Baseball Coach Bullington hired as new Academic Advisor
Warriors Head Baseball Coach Walker Bullington was appointed to a full-time, tenure-track Academic Advisor position, effective August 16. Bullington’s appointment to the Academic Advisor with Baseball position comes after former advisor Tonya Odum’s recent transfer to Coordinator of Industry Training & Apprenticeships. Coach Bullington took over the baseball program last August. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Carson Newman University (Tenn.) where he played first base for the Eagles.

Brown named Records Specialist

Elissa Brown was hired as a full-time Records Specialist, effective July 12. Brown has an Associate in Arts degree from RLC, and she had worked as an assistant teacher at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Richards appointed Business Office Specialist

Heather Richards was appointed as a Business Office Specialist, effective July 26. She has an Associate in Applied Science in office management from the University of Phoenix and an Associate in Science in early education from Eastern Illinois University. She had worked at Asbury & Associates, H&R Block and Charleston Family Dental.

Donoho hired as Toddler Room Lead Child Care Provider

The board ratified the appointment of Jacey Donoho as lead teacher for the toddler room at the Rend Lake College Foundation Children’s Center, effective July 1. Donoho has worked as an assistant teacher in the room for two years and has demonstrated the needed skills and abilities to be successful in this position. Donoho is also a graduate of the RLC Early Childhood Education program.

In other business, the board …

Approved a second reading raising the hourly rate for some part-time positions, effective July 1;
Approved revisions to the policy and procedure regarding dual credit, effective July 13;
Approved fees for Summer 2022;
Approved a first reading raising the hourly rate for some part-time positions, effective August 10;
Approved the 2021-22 Record Retention Handbook, Student Handbook, Student Worker Handbook and Police Department JCA Compliance Policy Handbook;
Reviewed and accepted the College Mission Statement and mission document;
Updated the college’s definition of co-curricular;
Accepted the resignation of Trio Adviser Faith Matzker, effective July 16;
Accepted the resignation of Rend Lake College Foundation Children’s Center Director Chrissy Confer, effective July 28.

Mark Your Calendars
Warrior Days Workshop, Wednesday, July 28, Rend Lake College Campus, 9:30 a.m. to noon
Warrior Days Workshop, Wednesday, August 4, Rend Lake College Campus, 9:30 a.m. to noon
RLC Sponsored Back to School Night for High School Students, Wednesday, August 4, Aquatic Zoo 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Warrior Days Workshop, Saturday, August 14, Rend Lake College Campus, 9:30 a.m. to noon
Fall 2021 Semester Begins, Monday, August 16
Annual RLC Foundation Golf Outing, Thursday, September 9, Rend Lake Golf Course, noon shotgun start
Fun Fest, Wednesday, September 15, Rend Lake College Ina Campus, noon to 3 p.m.
Auto Show, Saturday, October 9, Rend Lake College Ina Campus
RLCF Annual Scholarship Dinner, Thursday, October 21, Benton Civic Center, 6 to 8 p.m.

Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies make arrests, issue tickets

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department released the following information regarding arrests and recent tickets issued.

6-20-21 Peyton H. Sieveking age 18 was ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

6-21-21 David K. Osburn age 36 of West Frankfort was arrested for 2 counts of theft.

6-21-21 Chase L. Cross age 21 of Hurst was ticketed for speeding.

6-21-21 Zackary B. Spiewak age 28 of Marion was ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

6-21-21 Johnathan L. Miuer age 19 of Christopher was ticketed for disobeying a traffic control device.

6-22-21 William H. Beaty age 30 of Benton was arrested for failure to register as a sex offender.

6-22-21 Jeremy E. Bartlett age 38 of West Frankfort was ticketed for operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

6-22-21 Charles S. Hargett age 61 of Thompsonville was arrested for burglary and possession of methamphetamine.

6-23-21 Kendrick K. Simelton age 29 of West Frankfort was arrested for violation of an order of protection.

6-23-21 George W. McWhirter age 73 of Mulkeytown was arrested for obstructing a Peace Officer.

6-24-21 Clinton R. Burroughs age 46 of Benton was arrested for driving while license suspended and failure to signal.

6-24-21 Hope L. Nelson age 48 of Benton was ticketed for failure to signal and operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

6-25-21 Kim A. Neal age 56 of Benton was ticketed for failure to wear a seatbelt.

6-25-21 Robert E. Bruce age 42 of Benton was ticketed for having an expired registration.

6-26-21 Shelia K. Brown age 39 of Mt. Vernon was ticketed for speeding.

6-27-21 Taylor N. Williams age 26 of Sesser was ticketed for improper use of an electronic device.

6-27-21 Joseph M. Ennen age 18 of Benton was ticketed for operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

6-28-21 Clark A. Ward age 29 of West Frankfort was ticketed for operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

6-28-21 Amy S. Forcum age 43 of Grand Rivers, KY was arrested for driving under the influence and driving while license suspended. Forcum was also ticketed for improper lane usage.


6-21-21 Tristan G. Pulley age 31 of Thompsonville. Failure to appear for criminal damage to property.

6-21-21 Kendra L. Fox age 30 of Benton. Failure to appear for dogs running at large.

6-21-21 Samantha K. Gardner age 23 of Johnston City. Failure to appear for driving while license suspended.

6-23-21 Joseph K. Williams age 38 of Ziegler. Failure to appear for violation of an order of protection.

6-25-21 Annabelle R. Hartline. Failure to appear for passing an emergency vehicle.

6-25-21 Hayden M. Manis age 24 of West Frankfort. Failure to appear for possession of a stolen vehicle.

6-25- 21 Tiffany E. Yocum age 29 of Christopher. Failure to appear for possession of a controlled substance.

6-25-21 Jesse B. Fenoglio age 40 of Benton. Failure to appear for domestic battery.

6-26-21 Jody D. Loeh age 53 of Royalton. Failure to appear for theft.

6-27-21 Zachary A. Wilson age 29 of Benton. Failure to appear for speeding.

The public is reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Sheriff David L. Bartoni

Happy Campers!

Summer camps and happy campers are taking center stage at Rend Lake College this week.

Here’s the link to the story.

Marion Cultural & Civic Center charts post-COVID reopening

Driving around the Marion Tower Square during the COVID-19 pandemic was especially depressing for a music fan.

Here’s a link to the story at the Southern Illinoisan.

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News