Recent Z-R grad earned two degrees from Rend Lake College as well

by Steve Dunford 

Around the time of most high school graduations, I posted a press release from Rend Lake college.  The story highlighted one Christopher students and two Thompsonville students who were earning their Associate’s Degrees from Rend Lake College simultaneously graduating from high school.

Allanna Garrison

I was then made aware of the accomplishments of Allanna Garrison, who recently graduated from Zeigler-Royalton High School and earned two degrees from Rend Lake College. She is the first Z-R graduate to accomplish this.

She was the Salutatorian of her Senior Class, and graduated with high honors from RLC, earning over 70 credit hours.

I have swapped texts with her the last few days, and we talked about the journey of this incredible accomplishment.

She will be attending Southern Illinois University in the fall, majoring in nursing.  She will also participate in the Army ROTC program as well.  She works in the medical field now, as a CNA at Parkway Manor in Marion.

Along with being a high school student, and carrying a college workload as well, Allanna was active in her very recent high school days in the following:  Drama Club, Math club, SHARP Club Secretary, Class Secretary, WYSE team, and Math Field Day. I am also part of the National Society of Leadership and Success.

She also likes to listen to music, play the guitar, and likes the outdoors.

I asked her who had the biggest influence on her to accomplish such an awesome feat.  She said, “My parents are my biggest influence. I was raised to always do the best you can in school and that is what I always did. They pushed me to be better and get to where I am today.”

“Another influence was my guidance counselor, Jim Chamness. He helped me learn about the duel credit classes and that is what really helped me the most. I have him to thank for me graduating from RLC.”

She told me that she started taking online classes her sophomore year.  She was enrolled at Rend Lake for two summers, and took night, dual credit, and online classes throughout the rest of her high school days.  Between the three, there were periods in which she was enrolled in six or seven college classes.

Allanna discussed the fall semester of her recently finished senior year.  She said she would be at school all day, head to RLC to take classes, then around 10:00 p.m. would start on her homework.   She told me she gave up athletics, and did not have much of a social life during this time.

In a personal note, I am blown away by her accomplishments after taking with her.  This young lady will go very far in life.





Rend Lake college graduates from Franklin County

ReAnne Palmer- RLC Public information 


Rend Lake College officials want to congratulate the Class of 2017 for another successful year. The 50th Annual RLC Commencement was held Saturday, May 13 in James “Hummer” Waugh Gymnasium. A total of 633 graduates were conferred 681 Associate Degrees and 454 Occupational Certificates for a total of 1,135 degrees and certificates. Bob Carlock, retired vice president of finance and administration at RLC, was the keynote speaker.

BENTON – Gary Allan, Michael Allan, Alison Anthis, Ashley K. Atkins, Alissa Bain, Leigha Bain, Deryck Bates, Jonathon Carson Batts, Kelly L. Bishop, Brandtlee Abram Brown, Brandi Nicole Cairns, Cali M. Carney, Aubrionna Casey, Joseph James Clinton, Kaleigh Cole, Mariann R. Cook, Lindsey Marie Cox, Zoie Paige Crain, Bria Leigh Curry, Pari Morgan Davis, Mackenzi Dollins, Heather Crystal Drew, Chason Lee Dunford, Rachel Raquel Easton, Curtis Alan Eubanks, Emeri-Jean Allyce Farnam, Connor Foltz, Samantha Franklin, David Bradley Garrett Jr., Sadie Hall, Abbigail E. Hart, Kelsey Morgan Head, Nicholas Sebastian Hoffman, Katelyn J. Houghland, Sarah E. Hubbard, Laura Katherine Jamerson, Emmy-Leigh Jay, Robin Nicole Johnson, Caleb James Kearney, Christine Keppler-Clayton, Amy Kovarik, Molly LaRae McGuire, Matthew Krug, Dakotah Micheal Lampley, Leanne Ledbetter, Shelby Lewis, Alaina Lynch, Dionna Grace Martin, Jayme Martinez, Janie Marie McMurray, Mallorie Melvin, Darian O’Brien Menees, Brandon Meyer, Kenneth A. Miner, Lindell Ray Minor, Virginia Morgan, Devon Jean Morris, Lorie Jane Nalley, Ashley Odom, Samantha R. Orrill, Ben Pankey, Gabriel Price, Joshua Price, Tarron Pulliam, Presley Robbins, Naylin Ronchetto, Charles Schram, Jenna McKay Shadowens, Andrea Linda-Marie Shaw, Kerrie Smith, Dylan Snyder, Kassie N. Spencer, Whitney Summers, John David Sweet, Nathan Watkins, Allee Nicole Wellen, John R. Wilder IV, Jacob Young

BUCKNER – Alyx Michaela Starkweather

CHRISTOPHER – Andrew David Benard, Jacob Ross Burkitt, Michael Taylor Calloni, Julie Y. Faling, Austin Frey, Zoie Danielle Frey, Amanda Gant, Nicole D. Howell, Jacob Allen Jablonski, Trevor Johnson, Kailey Kerkemeyer, Brittany N. Lowery, Camryn Joan Maloney, Erica Lynn Maple, Micah Motsinger, Kayla Parrish, Adam Jay Porter, Annabelle Lea Shukites, Jacob W. Underwood

COELLO – Joseph N. Shaw

EWING – Jaylyn Cozart, Delta Dawn Hermann, Ike Hutchcraft, Wade M. Hutchens, Kacee Leann Roberts

LOGAN – Dakota Casey, Nicole Marie Mullins

MACEDONIA – Bailey Jo Hiestand, Terrence Anthony Richard Marshall, Anthony L. Page, Danielle Rena Richardson, Martin John Ward

MULKEYTOWN – Brianna Bowlin, Ryan Andrew Curry, Allanna C Garrison, Michael T. Hoffman, Cameron Jones, Tara Chantell Law, Loghan Danielle Matyi, John Rapp, Christopher Richard, Breanna Faye Whitley, Cindra F. Wroblewski

ORIENT – Brittany Segatto

ROYALTON – Meghan Marie Clark, Kassandra Jones, Brandon Stubblefield, Stephan Threewitt, Austin D. Walker

SESSER – Ashly Lynn Brown, Reginald Joseph Eubanks, Johnathon Leonard Galloway, Cody Hamm, Blaine Leslie, Nicholas David Marlo  Caleb I. Mays, David Nelson, Brianna Joyce Risley, Kyle Andrew Robinson, Monica Lynn Scott, Skylyn DeVonne L. Simpson, Luke William Thompson, Matthew D. Wallinger, Kieran S. White

THOMPSONVILLE – Maleissa Anne Baney, Charlene Boyd, Chelsey Lynn Bundy, Kayla Follmer, Brady German, Cecily Ann Heusner, Austin Kerley, Austin Michael Kessler, David K. Payne, Kenzie Nichole Rizor, Kyle J. Shimkus, Kenise Rashelle Smith, Damien Sky Wilburn

VALIER – Sophi Rai Johnson, Bailee Lynn Jones, Jamie Jones, Courtney D. Smith

WEST CITY – Amanda Frankart

WEST FRANKFORT – Alexa L. Beavers, John Fenton Bowers, Shannon Browning, Jared Lee Eastwood, Garrett Karoski, Makenzie Kondoudis, Brittany Nicole Long, Alexis Rae Newell, Charles Saunders, Amber Marie Sloan, Kailee Spears, Adam Wiggins, Bryce Timothy Wiley, Kathryn Nichole Wise

WHITTINGTON – Dakota J. Head, Tabitha Hopkins, Noah Jones, Nathan Scott MacDonald, Jennifer Young

ZEIGLER – Breanna Renee Davis, Bailey Schimpf


Severin Honors Zeigler Royalton Coaches vs. Cancer

Press Release From State Representative Dave Severin

Randall Risley, the cooridinator of coaches vs. Cancer in the Z-R School District (

SPRINGFIELD, IL The House of Representatives have adopted House Resolution 379, introduced by state Rep. Dave Severin (R-Benton), to recognize Zeigler-Royalton Coaches vs. Cancer and the exceptional work they have done raising money to fight cancer.

“The amount of money that Zeigler-Royalton has been able to raise in eight years is truly impressive,” said Severin. “In fact, each year Zeigler-Royalton has led the state in fundraising and last year ranked seventh in the entire nation. Their work shows that a small community can have a huge impact when people come together and commit to a worthy cause.”

Zeigler-Royalton has been raising money since 2009, and so far has raised more than $110,000.

Steven Anderson signs with MacMurray to play baseball

by Steve Dunford 

Anderson on the mound in a recent Z-R-C game with Trico. (Randall Risley photo)

Anderson on the mound in a recent Z-R-C game with Trico. (Randall Risley photo)

Steven Anderson signed a letter of intent to play baseball for MacMurray College yesterday.  The Zeigler-Royalton senior has put together a great season for the Z-R-C Tornadoes behind the plate, on the mound, and especially at the plate.  His batting average has been hovering around the .500 mark all year.

Anderson is the second Franklin County backstop to sign with the Highlanders.  He will be join West Frankfort catcher Peyton Overturf playing in Jacksonville next year.

.I had a conversation with Anderson yesterday and asked why he chose MacMurray. He said, ” I was weighing my options for a while to see all the offers I was getting. However, MacMurray stood out far more than any others by their superb offer and drive to get me to go to school in Jacksonville.”

I also asked him what does it feel like the chance to play at the next level.  First he mentioned  was his High School Basketball Coach Matt Morgan who taught him to handle adversity.  Throughout the conversation, he said that Coach Morgan has served as a role model to me, and taught him to be a man.

I had several conversations with Coach Morgan over the last couple of years he always said that Anderson would go far in life whatever he does.

I did not know this until talking with Steven yesterday.  He lost his mom when he was twelve.  Steven told me that he has dedicated all he does in athletics to his mother.  He went on to say that she is his inspiration.   I know Matt Morgan lost his father at an early age as well.  That is what inspired the coach to approach super fan Randall Risley to start Coaches vs. Cancer.

Risley ran with it, and Z-R for a school for a high school with an enrollment around 150, they lead the nation in a lot of national categories.  Double R (it is Tom Wheeler’s fault that I call him this) has been very gracious in letting me share Z-R pictures over the years.

He also mentioned how his baseball coach Page Kirkpatrick pushed him to be a better player and opened doors for him to get a scholarship.

He said how Z-R-C assistant baseball coach Scotty Clark would help him with drills a lot of times at five in the morning to improve.

He also mentioned C-Z-R football coach Josh McCurren, who has been a stability in the four years he put on the pads for the Bearcats.  He also bragged about an offensive lineman that wore #53 that was a good team mate of his and a better person.  That made his dad very proud.

Anderson was an all Black Diamond running back for the Bearcats in football.  I was able to see about half of their games.  They would be down 30-0 and he played like the score was 14-14.

During basketball season Z-R did not have a lot of wins.  The Tornadoes took the Elite Eight Woodlawn Cardinals to the wire during the Sesser-Valier Holdiay Tournament, beat a very good Webber Township team, beat an Elverado team that was the surprise of Southern Illinois, and gave Goreville and Christopher all they wanted late in the season.  They were in a loaded BDC West this year.  He was their point guard, and the glue to the team.

I had this conversation with Matt Morgan during the season.  If the Tornadoes were in the SEC or GEC, playing schools more to their enrollment size they would have been one of the top teams in the conference.  This current group of seniors will set the tone for some talent that is coming up for Z-R in the underclassmen and at the junior high level.

The Tornadoes have had another successful year on the diamond.  They will be in contention for another regional crown.  There is a link (that I forgot how to get to) with Z-R-C stats to get his exact batting average.  It seems like every box score line score, or any post on social media about a game he is going 2-4 or 3-5.

This is my second season of covering high school sports.  There are certain kids you develop soft spots for.  Steven Anderson is one.  Not only has his gutsy, hard work paid off to play baseball at the next level, he is an outstanding young man.

I will be following and looking forward to the great things you will do in the next four years at Jacksonville.







Changes on the West Frankfort school board

There was a huge slate of candidates, and I must say very well qualified candidates, for the Frankfort Community District #168 school board.  Incumbents Mary Moreland, Geroge Karoski and Barbara Glodich were defeated in Tuesday’s school board election.

There was a head to head competition two fill the remainder of a two year term.  Keith Griffith defeated Amy Durfee with 1134 votes to 705.

There were nine running for the four remaining full terms that were open on the board.  Retired Special Education teacher and administrator Gayle Crawford received the most votes with 1,183.  Attorney Warren Campbell Brown was second with 1,013.  Jon Alexander received 992, and Amanda Tinsley was the last that was elected with 695.

The ones who where not elected had the following votes:  Karsoki 668, Sue Forgatch 649, Glodich 633, Moreland 446, and Shannone Steinberger 188.

In the Benton High School District 103 Board race; Whittington Church pastor Mark Minor was the top vote getter with 1,882, dentist Robin LaBuwi 1,636, newcomer to the board Mark Franklin was elected with 1,314 votes.  Ronald Slayton was defeated with 704 votes.

In the Benton Grade School District 47 Board race, former BCHS principal Gary Messersmith received the most votes with 991.  The other three elected were Brad Wilson 893, Lex Stewart 882, and Derek Stowers 792.  Norman Carlile with 728 votes, W. Scott Rice with 679, and Ron Winemiller with 647 votes rounded out the field.

Darren Fletcher (340 votes), Craig Zinzileta (322), Jacob Page (318), and Tommy G. Harmon (267) were elected to the Ewing-Northern grade school board.  Susan Shelton was not chosen with 231 votes.

In the Thompsonville Unit District 174 School Board race (Hamilton County Numbers included), Krista McFarland Shelby received the most votes with 193, Natalie Dixon 166, and  Michael Miller was also elected with 159.  John Bush was defeated with 113 votes.

In the Christopher Unit 99 School Board race, Charles Mazur (505 votes), Angela Basolo-Bond (493) and Susan Raben (387) were elected.  Steve Marlow received 335 votes and Angie Montegia 310.

The school board races in the Sesser-Vailer and Akin school districts were uncontested.  The final Zeigler-Royalton numbers will be posted at a later date.










Ashmore, Buchanan re-elected mayors of Sesser and Valier yesterday

In the results of the Franklin County Consolidated Election yesterday,  incumbent Sesser Mayor Jason Ashmore was elected to serve another four years in a landslide over his challenger Glen Gulley.  Ashmore of the Citizens Welfare Party had 559 votes to the challenger Glenn Gulley who had 121 votes.

The Citizens Welfare Party also won all the Ward races in the city  In Ward 1 Dana Laur defeated Barry Ramey 88 to 49,  In Ward 2, Richard Lee Miller defeated Jeff Harmon 172 to 97, and in Ward 3, Alan Wayne Shannon defeated Edie Hawk 172 to 64.

Martin Buchanan has been elected to another term as village president of Valier.  Buchanan has held the post since the 1960’s.  He is the longest standing mayor in the state other than to Marion mayor Robert Butler.  Buchanan received 180 votes to his challenger Joe Canup 131.  Gale Burzynski, Michael Moyers and Bruce McMurray were elected to the Valier village board.  Burzynski was the top vote getter with 193 votes, Moyers 171, McMurray 152,  In defeat Harl Ray Lewis received 147 votes and Clarence Gulley 127.

Ron House was elected West City Villiage President, as he received 124 votes to Mike Reed’s 76.  Bruce Watkins was elected to full an unexpired term on the town board as he was elected over Steve Mumbower 113-85.

Angela Kay McDowell was elected mayor of the village of Ewing over Eric Haney 42-36.

Donald Storey was elected Benton City Commissioner defeating Melvin Dixon 654-383.

In the City of Christopher, Katrina Claxton defeated Michael Deaton 278-178 for treasurer, and in Ward 3, Brian Hargis defeated Marshall Johnson.

In the Village of Buckner, there were two ties that happened on the village trustee racevilli.  Ray Rozhon and Rick Hefner finished in the top slot with 47 votes.  Robert Klingel and Herbert Krumrey had 23 for the third spot on the board.  I will keep you updated on the tie breaking procedures.

For the North City “Coello”  village board Louis Thery, Mark Moschiono and James Allen will be seated on the next board.  Thery was the top vote getter with 102 votes, Moschino 87, Allen 82, and Mark Parke 63.

Numbers from the races in Royalton and any other Six-Mile township race will be posted when they become available.

Special elections tomorrow

Tomorrow voters will go to the polls here in Franklin County to vote for a penny sales tax referendum whether to build a new courthouse.  Groceries, over the counter medications and titled vehicles are exempt from the tax.  Here is how the ballot will be worded:

To pay for public facility purposes, the construction of a new Franklin County Courthouse, shall the County of Franklin be authorized to impose an increase on its share of local sales taxes by one percent (1%) for a period not to exceed 20 years?

This would mean that a consumer would pay an additional one dollar ($1.00) in sales tax for every one hundred dollars ($100) of tangible personal property bought at retail. If imposed, the additional tax would cease being collected at the end of the 20 years, if not terminated earlier by a vote of the county board.

When the courthouse gets paid off, the tax will sunset if it is well before the twenty years.

In other special elections tomorrow, Kathy Storey, Stephanie Hart, Kelli Whittington and Debra Clark are running for three six-year terms on the Benton Library Board.

Sharon Pinkerton, Sunshine McClintock, and Melissa Peebles are running for two six year terms on the Royalton Library board.

For the Akin Water district James Sullivan, C.L. Carlile, Gaylen Jackson, Jason Bennett, Derek Johnson, Dennis Summers, and Dennis Clark will be running for four seats on the board.

Please exercise your right tomorrow.


Contested school board elections tomorrow

The most hotly contested school board race in which I expect the biggest turnout in is the Frankfort Community Unit District 168 race.  There are two candidates vying for one two year spot.  They are Amy Dufree and Keith Griffith.

There is a nine candidate slate that are running for four positions.  In the incorporated areas of the district (West Frankfort and Orient) Warren Campbell Brown, George Karoski, Mary Moreland, Schannone Steinberger, and Barbara Glodich are on the ballot.  In the unincorporated areas Gayle Crawford, Amanda Tinsley, Sue Forgatch and John Alexander are running.

Dufree and Griffith are both in the incorporated areas so one of them will be elected. There can not be no more than three other candidates incorporated areas, so two from the unincorporated areas will be elected to the school board.

At the last school board meeting there was some controversy over the possible hiring of a new superintendent.  There was a huge public turnout.  The previous board tabled the vote until the new board is seated.  One of the major issues is whether the new superintendent resides or will reside in the school district.

In Christopher Unit District # 99, Steve Marlow, Angela Basolo-Bond, Susan Raben, Amie Montegyia, and Charles Mazur are on the ballot for three open seats.

In the Ewing -Northern Grade School School District #115, Susan Shelton, Tommy Harmon, Craig Zinzilieta, Jacob Page and Darren Fletcher are running for four vacancies.

In Benton Grade School District #47, Norman Carlile, Brad Wilson, Gary Messersmith, Derek Stowers, W. Scott Rice, Ron Winemiller, and Lex Stewart, will be chosen to fill four positions.

In Benton High School District #103, Robin LaBuwi and Mark Minor are running from Ewing Township.  Ronald Slayton and Mark Franklin from Benton Township.

If I am understanding the legal jargon right, only one person between Slayton and Franklin can be seated on the board.

For the Thompsonville Unit District #174 board, Natalie Dixon, Michael Miller, Krista McFarland Shelby and John Bush are running for three open seats.

In the Zeigler-Royalton Unit District #188 Jeffery Olkoski, Kathie Keown, Gary Vaughn, Jamie Kirkpatrick, and Joseph Dover are running for three open spots on the school board.

For John A. Logan College Board, Bob Ellis, William Orill, Mandy Little and Becky Borgsmiller are running for two open six-year term seats.

In the race for the Rend Lake College board, Randall Rubenacker, Brain Dorris, John Kabat, and Kent Sickmeyer are running for three open seats.

There is no opposition in the Sesser-Valier and Akin school board races.

Please exercise your right tomorrow.





Contested Township races: Consolidated Election tomorrow

In Goode Township, for Highway Commissioner Democrat Brent Loucks is running against Republican Mark Kash.  For Township Trustee there are six running for four spots:  Democrats Garry Eubanks, Roger Loyd, Ronald Roberson, and Terry Witcher and Republicans Wesley Kash and Joshua Qualls.

In Ewing Township, Republican Brenda Garvin is running against Democrat Dana Rone for clerk.  There is a full slate of eight running for Township Trustee, in which four will be elected.  The GOP is running Mark Smith, Jeff Jones, Darrell Smith, and Scott Britton. The Democratic slate consists of Ginger Johnson, Terald Kniffen, Helen Townley and Donna Simpkins.

In Denning Township there is a hotly contested Road Commissioner race between Democrat Dave Wilmore and Independent Randy Pearce, with some write in candidates.  For the Township Board there are five candidates for four spots; Democrats Robert Shelby, Lawrence Jamrozek, Terry Joiner, and Mike McCarthy along with Independent Andy Woods.

In Eastern Township, Republicans Jason Bennett, Marshall Clark, Jim M. Heifner, and Democrats Debbie Jones, William Roesch, Justin Summers, and Dennis K. Summers are running for four spots to be Township Trustees.

In Six-Mile Township, two Democrats Scott Fiss and Charles Miller and four from the GOP, Dale Rhodes, Jerry Carpenter, Ron Knox, and Dale Martin for four Township Trustee posts.

In Northern Township Republican Roger Webb is facing a write in challenge for Highway Commissioner. There are a full slate of candidates for Township Trustee with four.  The Democrats are running William Richardson, David Goss, Gerald Glen Lowery and Andrea Lowery.  The Republican Caucus appointed Ron Sink, Don Bain, Bill Nipper and David Clark.

In Frankfort Township, Tim Grisby the lone Democrat and four Republicans John Odle, Jim Walton, Tim Weaver, and Dan Wells are running for for Township Trustee spots.

Please exercise your right to vote tomorrow.


Contested Municipal Races for Consolidated election tomorrow

The anticipated most hotly contested battle will be in the City of Sesser where incumbent Jason Ashmore of the Citizens Welfare Party is being challenged by independent Glen Gulley.  There is also a full slate of candidates in the alderman races as well.  In Ward 1, Dana Laur (CW)  is running against by Barry Ramey (Ind.)  In Ward 2, Richard Miller (CW) is running against Jeff Harmon (Ind.)  In Ward 3, Alan Wayne Shannon (CW) is running against Edie Hawk (Ind.)

In the City of Benton Donald Storey and Melvin Dixon are vying for a two year term for City Commissioner.

In the City of Christopher Michael Deaton and Katrina Claxton are running for City Treasurer.  There is a contested race in Ward 3 between Marshall Johnson and Brian Hargis.

In the Village of Buckner Ray Rozhon, Robert Klingel, Herbert Krumery and Rick Hefner are running for three slots on for Villiage Trustee.

In Ewing, Eric Haney and Angela “Kay” McDowell are running for Village President. (mayor)

In the Village of North City (Coello) Louis Thery, Mark Parke, Mark Moschino, and James “Jimmy” Allen are in contention for three spots for trustee.

In the Village of Valier, Joe Canup is challenging long time mayor Martin Buchanan.  Along with Marion Mayor Bob Butler, Buchanan is the longest mayor in office in the state of Illinois.  For Village Trustee Bruce McMurray, Clarence Gulley, Harl Ray Lewis, Michael Moyers and Gale Burzynski are running for three spots.

In the Village of West City Mike Reed and Ron House are facing off to be the next Village President.  Bruce Watkins and Steve Mumbower are contesting for a two-year spot on the village board.

In the Village of Royalton, Jack Leach, Charles Brandon, Matthew Battaglia and Randy Domenick for three four-year spots on the village board.  Bennie Kalert and John Thomas Bullock are running for one two year slot on the board.

Please get out and vote tomorrow.



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