Steve’s Ramblings: Lord be with the people left behind of Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church

By Steve Dunford

The last time I have ever wept so hard over a tragedy in this country was 9-11.

In the year or so that I have written occasional editorials, I have learned that if I have something to share it is.

Sutherland Springs FBC before yesterday’s tragedy. (Texan Online photo)

Yesterday as the Associate Pastor or Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church took the pulpit, someone who had family ties to the church came in and opened fire.  Twenty-six of the congregation was killed.   Yesterday there were estimates of there were up to 30 injured, the official account of the injured is 20.

Yesterday afternoon, as severe weather was bearing down on us, my concentration was on the event.  After things were winding down, I broke down and bawled.

I went to a bible study the men of my church has on Monday morning.  I left early because I wanted to get on with getting to the task of “loading up the website.”

As I began to start, I watched a press conference that was held in this unincorporated small community of 400.

The weeping began after I watched the press conference.  Toward the tail end the pastor and his wife, Frank and Sherry Pomeroy asked to speak.  They were out of town.  However, their 14 year old daughter was killed in yesterday’s massacre.

The pastor of the church for 15 years, was emotional saying it was a tough night for his children and grand-babies.

His wife to the podium with a prepared statement.  One thing she said comfort was their daughter went with her church family that she loved so much.  Mrs. Pomeroy went on to say.  “This is more of a congregation of  parishioners, this is a family.  We played, ate, laughed, cried, and most of all worshiped together.  Most of us are gone, and our building is beyond usable again.”

Bro. Frank (I never met the man, but he is my brother in Christ)  when the press tried to bombard him with questions, he would answer with broken parts of Proverbs 3:5-6.   Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

The church streams their services on Facebook Live every Sunday, and posts their services on YouTube, which I think is visionary and one way to fulfill the Great Commission.  In fact the shooting was live, and Facebook disabled it quickly.

Several things that I read said this was in a small church.  Sometimes 200 to some was a small church.  I heard someone in the community said they ran between 50-100.

I went through several YouTube Videos.  In Sunday School there was 30-32  consistently.  For morning worship there was 50-55.  Please don’t think I am making light of the situation, but there was one Sunday there were 53 in Sunday School and 72 for church.  The numbers brought a quick smile to my face in a grave situation; they must had food after church that Sunday.

To understand the pain these people are feeling.  I want to mentally do a test.  No matter what name is on the door of your church, take the crowd that was in the worship service if you attended yesterday.  Now cut that in half, knowing they were taken.  The ones that are left, visualize 80% of them in the hospital.

This is the pain of the few people left behind in this church.  Yes there could have been 26 more residents in heaven yesterday, but there will be unbearable pain for those that will carry on.  We need to pray for this church fervently.

When the Church of Christ in the Nashville area had the shooting, it broke me, but not to near this capacity.  There was so much more that hit home.  Here is why:

  • This took place in a town of 400.  I grew up in a community of 600.  As a college student, I know there was a drifter that walked in church one night, heading toward the preacher.  It looked like he had a 9 m.m. in his pocket.  I was among several who jumped up.
  • Three of the five churches I have pastored were not not much smaller.  They had 25-30 in attendance for Sunday School and 30-35 for “church.”  The other two were smaller than that.  When you are someone’s pastor, there will be a part of you that are part of them.  I was thinking what if it would have happened at any of the five churches that I preached at.
  • This congregation was smaller, but not much than the church I attend Calvary Baptist Church.  On average, we have 35-45 in Sunday School, and 60-70 in morning worship.
  • I feel guilty for feeling that way, but it hit hard that it happened to my Southern Baptist brothers and sisters as well.   I don’t know what the statistics are, but around 30% the total that were attending a worship service in Franklin County was at a Southern Baptist Church.  This might be hitting home to a lot of you for the same reason.

I wrote an editorial about churches need to ramp up their security after the shooting in Tennessee.  Our church was in the process of doing this at the time.   I also said that if someone had a conceal/carry license, I have no problem whatsoever for them coming to church strapped on.

I used this passage of scripture then and will today:

Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise hisscrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.  (Luke 22:36)

The gun debate has started, like it does on every tragedy, for stricter gun control laws.   I stand strong behind the Second Amendment for reasons what happened yesterday in the aftermath.

A private citizen that lived across the church, shot the killer, injuring him.  I say thank God he was armed, and live in a country that he has the freedom to bear arms,  or things could have got worse.  Some accounts say law enforcement was on its way.  There were calls placed about someone dressed in all black and acting weird at a convenience store close to the church.

I ask everyone that has taken the time to read this, please pray for these people fervently.  The tears were flowing while writing this.  This scripture was on my heart as soon I read about this tragedy.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me (Jesus)  before it hated you. (John 15:17)

This is being investigated as a family domestic dispute in part of it.  Even if someone was bitter and angry with a family member, there was more hatred on display for the family, it was for the body of Christ.

Again, please pray for everyone involved.  It will be a very long healing process.











Steve’s Ramblings: How I feel the regional/sectional complexes can be fixed

by Steve Dunford 

I think the regional/sectional complexes are great, but it is broken.  Currently, there are some travel issues, putting it plain is obnoxious.

Here is some examples of recent trips off the top of my head.  On a school night in volleyball last year,  Thompsonville and Elverado went to Valmeyer for a regional semi-final game.  It is 100 miles from T’ville.  It is 75 from Elkville.

Benton and Herrin had to travel to Columbia to play a regional championship game a few years ago.

Steeleville has traveled to Crab Orchard the last two years to play in a regional.

The Class 3A regional was hosted at Salem a few years ago.  All the southern teams went here, and the northern part of the complex went to either Marion or Carbondale.

One year Sesser-Valier and Waltonville had to play a regional championship game at Crab Orchard.  Christopher was hosting a regional and they both had to drive through Christopher to get there

Here is my solution.  I had this thought the day the football playoff pairings were released.

It is a reward for 8-1 and 9-0 to host playoff games in the first round in football.  It was different this year, very few 7-2 teams hosted games.

The IHSA reimburses schools for 20% of the gate.  That is a buck a head.  They reimburse to pay for  the officials.  The host school have to pay the ticket takers, scoreboard operators, PA announcers.   and any other things that goes into hosting a game  Most schools break even or end up in the red.

I think the solution to improve the process is the higher seed plays at home.  You could still have the regional championship on Friday night, the winning team cutting down the nets, etc.

There could be increased revenue because there will be several teams across the state at home.  There could be decreased revenue if a championship game is held in a smaller gym.

No matter what the system, is there will be some that will complain, and it will not be perfect. .  There are still some calling for the comeback of two class basketball.

The regional-sectional complex is a much fairer, and balanced system.  There are several instances over the years in which there were a couple or three teams that were over or pushing the 20 win mark, where the next regional down the road, every team would be under .500.

There was always the line, “you have to play someone sometime.” however, I feel it is best to get your four best teams to the sectional if at all possible.

This is just a thought.  I would like you to share your opinion on the matter.



The next 26 hours: My second favorite time of the High School season

by Steve Dunford 

I am giddy like a kid on Christmas morning.  I am downing an unhealthy supper (a $.99 cent Totino’s pizza) with several electronic devices ready to go.  On top of that, I will be listening to two maybe three radios tonight.

One upon a time in the two class system in high school basketball, there was not a greater moment than during the Class A Sectional and a team smelling victory, with the crowd chanting ….SIU…..SIU.  The team that came out of the Supersectional that following Tuesday night would become our team, the team representing us in Southern Illinois in Champaign and later Peoria.

When the State Tournament was in Champaign I had the priveldge of going five years straight.  The first year was in 1988, my” friend Travis Clem and I took our “college day” to visit the U of I campus.  The only building we made it to was the Assembly Hall (Now the State Farm center.  I had the privilege to watch my distant cousin, Dick Corn coach his Pinckneyville Panthers in a state title game, losing a heart breaker to Pana.

The last state tournament I made it to was special as well.  I was able to witness a Franklin County team the Benton Rangers take home a third place trophy.

I remember there was a wreck on 57 on the way up.  (Some things never change.)  I did not have time to make it to my Brothers.  My buddies and I pull up at the McDonald’s on Route 45 right before you turn to go to the Assembly Hall.  The first thing I see was Kenny Irvin shaved bald with Jo Jo Liquid Papered on his head.  We walk in and everyone in the place was from “down home.”

I received my first taste of playoff football during the 2009 season.  I became a Sesser-Valier Red Devil during that stage in my life.  They just recently added the second W as they started co-oping with Woodlawn.

The Fairfield Train Yard, the site of the SVWW Devils playing the Mules tonight. Both are 8-0. (Randy Olson photo)

Tonight is deja vu.  I can tell you where I was eight years ago tonight.  We did not make it to the Train Yard and the Devils were finishing an undefeated season.  Kendell Gibson hit either Bronson or Dawson Verhines in the end zone for a two point conversion that night.

I could not get WFIW in my driveway, because TAO was bleeding over.  I remember sitting at the North Sandusky Boat Ramp listening to it on the radio, “tailgating” with my wife or son.

When the Devils put the exclamation point on an undefeated  season, I remember listening to the late Stan David moaning on the radio, saying “that sucked, that really sucked.”

I remember the next Saturday watching a first round playoff game from Carroll Kelly field.  It seemed like three years in a row, the Devils drew Nashville in the first round.  The older you get years run together.  I know the following year they went to Nashville.

Fast forward a few months later and the Devils and Cardinals were facing each other on the hard wood in the Salem Class 1A Super-sectional.  Four class basketball was in its infancy.  The SIU Arena was undergoing renovations.

It was possibly a once in a lifetime experience.  I was able to see what became my town and my team make a State Tournament run.  I became very sick during on the way home from the Sectional Finals.  I ended up in the ER at Franklin Hospital.

I had money put back to go to Peoria, but I missed a week of work, and was unable to make the trip.  I remember on that cold March night listing to Jim Muir and either Danny Czerwinski or Tom Wheeler.  When the Devils pulled out the barnbuner, I had a “Shooter” moment.

A few days later, I had the chance to watch my team, and the only Franklin County team play in a State Championship in my lifetime.  There were also two Southern Illinois teams playing in the State Championship that day, as the Massac County Patriots

I have traded in my maroon hoodie for a red and grey one now.  The West Frankfort Redbirds are fighting to stay alive in the playoffs tonight travelling to Nashville. If they win they are in.  If they lose, time to start basketball and wrestling.  Kevin Toney is supposed to be “retired” but he has been spending a lot of time here lately in his office at Max Morris Gym.

Technology has grown dramatically over the last few years.  I will be keeping track of multiple games across Southern Illinois.  As I will, I will be saying Go Devils, Go Redbirds, and yes Go Rangers!!!!!!

What is my favorite night now?  It is 1A/2A regional final night.  Since I went to a high school of 95 kids, I love four class basketball.

The Crab Orchard’s, Carrier Mills’, Meridian’s, Christopher’s, Gallatin County’s, Goreville’sand especially Sesser-Valier and Woodlawn  experienced deep post season runs which they would not possibly had the opportunity in four class basketball.

I have a kinship to all six high schools in the county.  The Thompsonville Tigers trump everyone.  I would say the early favorites to go to Peoria from our area is Goreville in Webber Township in 1A.  I like the Harrisburg Bulldogs in 2A right now.  I would love to see the Benton Five make a deep postseason run in 3A.

It is going to be two or three special years coming up in T’ville.  The program has only played in one regional championship, losing a heart-breaker to their nemesis every time they have a good team, the West Frankfort Redbirds.

I might have the chance to see the Tigers cut down regional championship nets.

Thank you for rolling down memory lane with me tonight.  The older I get, I am evolving into a cry baby.  I wiped a lot of tears writing this.


Guest Editorial: Benton Fire Chief Shane Cockrum

BENTON, IL – As Fire Chief, almost on a daily basis I work on issues that affect our citizens. Many of these are not even in times of emergency. You will frequently see me posting about recycling, festivals, economic growth ideas and much more. I, like many of you, do this because I care about my community.

From time to time, issues will arise that impact each of you and are directly or indirectly tied to the department I run, the Benton Fire Department. I am a very transparent person so I do my best within reason to provide you the facts.

We all know one of the major downfalls of today’s society is the growth of fake news or misinformation that seems to run rampant. Although many see through these claims, it has become very easy to believe things we see and hear through social media.

One issue that I face daily is the fire hydrant situation. Since my taking of the helm in June of 2015, we have worked hard to bring fire protection up to levels never before seen in this community and I’m happy to say that in June of 2017, this city received the best fire protection rating in its nearly 100 year history

. I would be a fool to say that it was all me and came without enormous help of the men at the station, the water dept, the council or the mayor. But like anything, much improvement remains. It’s no secret that we have a dated water system, but I can tell you that something like 44% of America falls within this same categor .

Many of us are coming to the end of the useful life of our water systems as most were installed at the same time in our country. I have talked many times to the water superintendent’s of past and present and I can assure you they are working to alleviate the problems but I would please ask you to bare with them.

As far as fire protection, we will continue to maintenance all hydrants(many which are still very good) and fix all problems we can and make sure the ones we can’t get to the appropriate people. I do want to reassure you that your family is safe through this process. Past administration of the FD were proactive enough to plan ahead and see this coming.

We currently have fire apparatus and mutual aid plans that are put into play at every working fire to bring over 10,000 gallons of water to the scene within 10 minutes. That is as much or more water on wheels than you will find on any first alarm, in almost any municipal department that I’d venture to say, is within 100 miles. I will continue to lobby hard to get the necessary replacement of hydrants and water infrastructure but while this is an ongoing process, please know that you and your family are protected.

Don’t let naysayers or anyone not “currently” in the know tell you otherwise. If anyone has any concerns, feel free to contact me at my office or stop by and discuss, my door is always open. I apologize for the long post, appreciate your time and ask that you continue to be safe .

Steve’s Ramblings: We still need to be aware….. In my opinion, Alonzo Young is long gone

by Steve Dunford

From the dealings of this case this brought back a lot of memories.

I have always had an interest in law enforcement.  I used to not believe when people would tell me you would shrink when you get older.  The last time I was at the doctor I was 5′ 10″, the same height I was in the 8th grade.

My senior year I was 5′ 11 1/2.  I still round it off and list myself at 6′ on my state ID card.  I was listed at 6′ 1″ on the basketball roster in high school.

I told my height for this reason.  I wanted to be a state cop.  The academy would have frowned on that 1/2 inch I failed to grow.

I changed to an education major because I wanted to be a high school basketball coach.  At 47, I am still undefeated.

I love picking the mind of policeman.  I have three that I can call good friends that are cops.  Scott Isaacs, a recently retired Illinois State trooper.  Steve Flowers, who is an Illinois Secretary of State Policemen.  And Jimmy Emberton, (no his name is not Sanchez) who is a Zeigler Patrolman.

I got to church with retried state trooper Kenny Jones.  He is a deacon at Calvary.  I love when he tells me about his law enforcement days.

He tells me stories about someone who inspired me to consider law enforcement as a career, the late Don “Frog” Eubanks.  He would let me ride shotgun at times in his patrol car.

I had this long introduction to say this, following this story was right down my alley.

I had a pretty intense seizure Friday afternoon.  I was mad.  I was having to miss the Friday Night Lights.  Because of logistics, I cover West Frankfort every week.  I am in the Big Red Army now, but I write my stories so teams in the River-to-River can read about the other team as well.

One of the official mugshot’s shared, from WSIL Carolyn Cerda’s Facebook page.

Around 7:00p.m., I began to see Rumors on Facebook that three convicts escaped in West City.  There were a few rumors that McDonald’s was robbed.   I was noticing listening to the scanner that around 6:00 p.m. that something was going on and I did not know what.

I began to hear familiar names from my burger flipping days when I was in high school and college.   They have went very far working for the Morelands.  Then I heard West City Police was checking the security cameras on the scanner.

Around 7:30, I called WSIL-TV.  When you want to get the word out in Southern Illinois, Channel 3 is the best place.  I asked what was going on.   They said they didn’t know, but a reporter is on the way.

It was around 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. that I was either tagged or one of my friends from Hardin County shared the convicts came up missing in Crittenden County KY and they were claiming they escaped in Franklin County.

This left me shaking my head.  I don’t plan on going in the prison transport business, but I would had a headcount before I left McDonalds, and one on the Cave-in-Rock Ferry.  I was wondering why the bus did not have security cameras.

One thought I had was why there were female prisoners on the bus.  A prison bus is not the place for mixed company.  I could imagine there was a lot of ” hootin’ and hollerin’.”

When they lost the prisoners, said it happened in  Southern Illinois, and did not notify authorities up here three hours later left me shaking my head.

There were individuals that were questioning the authorities silence. I have been a sportswriter for two years.  I am still green, I have been a newsman for less than a year.  I have learned when the cops is not talking, it is a reason.  I do not want to say anything that will hurt their effort.

Their top priority was finding out the safety of the employees that work around the stores in the immediate area.  I have been a sportswriter for two years.  I am still green, I have been a newsman for less than a year.  I have learned when the cops are not talking, it is a reason.  I do not want to say anything that will hurt their effort.

I am going to use a few Dukes of Hazzard references.  I was wondering whether Enos and Cletus were driving the bus.

Then there was a follow up Charles Kelly was on the loose in Marion KY, the Crittenden County seat.

He was captured Friday night.  The Crittenden Press, which is the local paper did an outstanding job covering this.   He was asking customers and employees in a convenience store where a motel was.  I guess he was going to steal the cash to stay the night.   I found this out Saturday morning.

I tried to follow up with the Crittenden County jail and the transport company I did not get anywhere with them.  There were a lot of people that where saying why do you keep taking about Kentucky?  I was told by several there were three people on the loose here not two.

I rarely comment on things that I post on the Franklin County News Facebook page.  I will comment on things on my personal Facebook page though.   I have been given the permission by the administrators from Talk Benton to share emergency information on the page.  It was confusing for me as well.

Sunday I did a lot of investigation on Randall Napier.  Someone took a screenshot of some information linking him to Red Fox KY, his hometown.  I tried to thank her for the post.  I was able to run with the information.

Red Fox is a spot in the road in the Appellations near the West Virginia line.  One thing I had to chuckle was that one of the closest towns to Red Fox was Hazzard.

Napier reminded me of the Duke Boys.  He seemed “like a good ol boy.  Never meaning no harm, beats all you ever saw, been in trouble with the law, since the day he was born.”  Reading through some charges, he seemed like he liked to run from “Rosco.”

There was nothing that was a major crime he committed.  He seemed like he could not stay out of jail.  He was a frequent customer of the county jails in Eastern Kentucky.

I came across he committed some crimes in Madisonville KY, which is 40 miles from Marion KY.  I wondered if he had a girlfriend there.  I wondered whether if it is where he was picked up.

I can’t understand the transport company not releasing the authorities where he was captured.  I tried make an attempt to get the magic question today.  They weren’t very nice to say the least.

I believe if it was in Franklin or the surrounding counties, the transport information would have coughed up the information immediately.

When Channel 3 dug up some information on Alonzo Young, he was the one that concerned me.  He has not been captured as far as I know.  We can’t let our guard down, but each day that goes by I seriously doubt he is in Franklin County.

Don’t think I am going to resort to a life of crime, especially have the experience of escaping.  This is a scenario. I would steal me a car, hotwire it, and get out of Dodge as fast as I could.

With no major crimes committed over the weekend here, I would say we can feel we are safe.  The incident in Whittington was definitely unrelated.

Other than calling the transport company today, I had a nice conversation with a Crittenden County Deputy.   I am wondering if the jail is a separate entity than the sheriff in Kentucky.  He described it as the same words that Scott Choisser did, “crazy and driving me nuts.”  He did not know Napier was captured.

I am dedicated to everyone to find out if Young is captured.  I have used Jim Rasor’s quote when severe weather happens, Don’t be afraid, be aware.

I just hope that if they never escaped in Franklin County, ever penny the West City and Benton Police departments, the Franklin County Sheriff’s office and the Illinois State Police will be reimbursed by Prisoner Transport Company of the expenses occurred on this investigation.







Steve’s Ramblings: A Tirbute to Denny and Mike Steed

by Steve Dunford

When I was a kid when adults would tell me that time flies when I got older, I would never believe them.  There was something that happened ten years ago today that only seems like two or three years.  My hero of the faith passed away.  It was not a TV preacher or a professor of a bible college, it was a local preacher Denny Steed.

Denny Steed

Denny and his brother Mike passed away too soon.  They both left this life and went to their eternal home when both men were in their 50’s.  Denny had cancer, Mike had a fatal stroke.

I chose this title, because there is a Facebook page called A Tribute to Denny Steed, in which his son Derek is the administrator.  Several people were posting memories on there today.  Denny and Mike were inseparable, so I decided to tribute both of them today.

I am going to write this chronologically.  It was someone that I was around all my life.

In their early 20’s Denny and Mike helped their parents Bill and Irma run Steed’s Store in Thompsonville.  Denny was the butcher.  I think Mike’s role was a manager.  Denny’s wife Marsha, and Mike’s wife Jane were checkers along with long time employee Wanda Gunter.

Looking back I never wondered how they made any money.   They always opened up the soda machine for every kid in town when they were in the store.  The high school kids that worked there, anytime Bill and Irma was gone, (their parents) potato chips and cookies flew off the shelf.

I loved going to “the store” as a kid.  That is what it was referred to in Thompsonville.  Very few people called it Steeds.  Denny was quite the artist.  He knew I loved Peanuts.  He would draw me a personalized cartoon that was Charles Shultz quality. He was known for his on Christian Tracks, with the main character, Cannon Ball.

I used to have a security blanket when I was a toddler.  Denny and Mike would say, “Suck your thumb Linus.”  After I gave up the blanket, I would still fuss to bring it to the store so I could suck my thumb for them.

At the tender age of four they talked me into being a “country music star.”  The most requested songs were Behind Closed Doors and The Most Beautiful Girl by Charlie Rich, The Streak by Ray Stevens, and I Love by Tom T. Hall. Two Pepsi crates was my stage, and a 10 oz. soda bottle was my mic.

Denny and Mike being Denny and Mike

Every kid had to have a meat sticker.  When I was in kindergarten, a lot of us had our Steed’s Store stickers on.  I would sometimes fuss with my mom to let me go to the store and get a sticker from Denny.

Here is something else they pulled.  My great-grandma “Granny” (every person in Thompsonville called her that some would put Dunford after it) asked Mike or Denny if there was something she could get the men for Christmas.  There was a snow on and she did not want to go to town.  (Town meant you were going to Benton or West Frankfort, and once in a blue moon Harrisburg.)

They had a full case of Hai Karate aftershave and soap on a rope.  Those rascals cut her a good deal.  When I opened it, I felt like a man getting my first bottle of after shave.

My dad was on second shift.  After he left for work, mom my brother and I loaded up in the 1970 Nova we had at the time to go to town (Benton).  I had to go in the store to tell Denny and Mike what Santa Claus brought me.

They said, I see you got the cologne on that Granny got you.  Mike told me well in my adult life that I told them I would be shaving soon.   They busted out laughing telling me how “good” I smelled.

Around Pickle City my mom was hanging her head out the window my brother and I just put it plainly stunk.  We were allowed to go to Gibson’s to pick out some aftershave.  The Hai Karate bottles disappeared.

Reflecting back, I was in Kindergarten then.  The last day of school before Christmas my first grade year, their dad Bill came home for lunch.  We were having our school Christmas party and all the teachers were out in the hall crying.  Bill had a massive heart attack and passed away.  The funeral was on Christmas Eve.

At that time I think Denny might have been pastoring the Akin Baptist Church.  Mike was the song leader at Thompsonville First Baptist Church.  They both made a good evangelistic team as Denny would preach and Mike would lead the singing.

Mike went off to College at William Jewell, and might have gone on to seminary at Midwestern, both in Kansas City.  Denny soon would take the pastorate at Woodlawn First Baptist Church.  I am unsure that he went off to bible college or not.

Denny went on to pastor the Ten Mile Baptist Church of McLeansboro, East Benton Baptist Church, Dahlgren Baptist Church, Lebanon Baptist Church near Mt. Vernon, and he was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Galatia when he passed.

Mike was the music director and later the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Wayne City, Director of Missions of Salem South Baptist Association, a staff ,ember of Logan Street Baptist Church of Mt. Vernon, and was the pastor of  the New Hope Baptist Church northwest of Mount Vernon.  I might have missed a few.

Mike also had a hand in the inception of 90.9 The Vine, a Contemporary Christian station in Wayne City.  He was part of the morning show crew.  He had to ad-lib most of it and he was hilarious.

When I was the pastor of East Side Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon, Mike would do stand up comedy at the association pastor Christmas parties.  Compared to Denny he was the straight one.  There was nothing greater in my adult life to run into them when they were both together.

Mike was hilarious when he preached, Denny was to, but he was more of a “Hell fire and brimstone” preacher.  Mike always said oh glory, Denny well glory.

Denny Called himself a “Bapticost.”  He would cut loose and preach for over an hour at times and it seemed like ten minutes.  It was hard, pulpit pounding, preaching.  He wasted his time taking his King James Bible to the pulpit because he could quote most of it,

The “Bapticost holding a revival in Savannah GA in 2004.

Both of them were my heroes of the faith.  This is why, they were for real, and they lived it.  Because of that, they lived it.  When I first started preaching, I used to say if only I could be like Denny.  I realized Denny was Denny, and Steve is Steve.  I have been accused myself of being a “Bapticost” at times.

One of the reasons I am a Southern Baptist, is I heard Denny Preach on the doctrine of the security of the believer out of Ephesians 1.  He took a home made jar of pickles to the pulpit.  He was showing how hard it was to get it off.  He said that Christ went to the cross to die for our sins one time. As a 16 year old, I dug into the Word of God, and that is why I believe that way.

As Denny passed from death unto life ten years ago today,  it was a bittersweet day.  I hated to lose him, but I know he was in a place where there was no more pain and suffering.

At both Denny and Mike’s funereal, the ones that went through the line was in the thousands.

Ten years later, after his death, there are people still talking about Denny.  That is the legacy you want to leave behind.

From the things that I have been through in life, I probably wont have a lot of goods in this world.   I have came to the realization the most important thing, is how many lives you have touched.

Both of these men had a great impact on mine.  I will see them again some day.





Max Lucado: Las Vegas shooting – After this tragedy, can we still find calm in chaos?

(Max Lucado – Fox News.  Please click on the link for the full story.  Here is an excerpt below.

Our nation is reeling from yet another national crisis. On Sunday more than 50 innocent lives were taken and thousands were put in danger while attending a country music concert in Las Vegas.

As we watch the horrifying images on television news reports with our hearts breaking, what if we stopped and asked ourselves a question? What can I do to make a difference? So many of these situations are out of my control, but are they out of God’s control? Does he want me to panic or ask me to pray? Is there a way to find calm in the chaos, strength in the strife?

One thing is sure: It is not God’s will that you lead a life of perpetual anxiety. It is not his will that you face every day with dread and trepidation. He made you for more than a life of breath-stealing angst and mind-splitting fear. And he made you to be a voice of peace in a wild, worry-wart world.

Steve’s Ramblings: Hug The Ones You Love Tighter Today

by Steve Dunford

I woke up around 4:00 a.m. this morning.  It was probably a quarter till five that was online for the first time this morning.

One of the first things that I do when I get on line in the morning is go to Facebook and Twitter.  I have nearly a hundred news sources in my feed.

I began to see reports of the tragedy in Las Vegas this morning.  I went to their local paper to provide a link.  I don’t remember what the national media outlets told what the death toll was but they were reporting 20 people dead and 100 injured.

This picture really moved me today. This girl I assumed was a teenager was hugging either a dog or a stuffed animal after the tragedy last night. (John Locker, AP Photo)

Fox News has been on in the background all day.  I had to shut it off for a few minutes and I turned it back on.   We as a nation are facing the biggest tragedy since 9/11.  At the last count fifty-eight people did not come back to their loved ones.  At this time there are 515 injured.

At this time, no one has any motive why the  sniper Stephen Paddock to snap.  There have been claims and even an AP report the hideous action was caused by terrorism.  There are reports that he is squeaky clean.  No matter the motive, it will not bring back lives.

It takes months and even years to get a Suite in the Mandalay Bay Hotel.  It blows my mind how someone could take several lives like that.

With every tragedy, you hear acts of heroism.  One that stick out is from the LA Paramedic that was treating individuals, the off duty cops who came to the rescue and individuals who stepped up to help.  There were police that lost their lives serving as human shields.  There was a man from Tennessee who shielded his wife and took bullets for her.

These passages of  scripture came to my mind today:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  (John 15:13)

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (James 4:17)

There were people who laid down their lives that did not know the individuals they died for.  In the parable of the Good Samaritan,  our neighbor is everyone.

I did not know anyone who was injured who lost their life last night.  I have all kinds of emotions from sadness to anger.

I watched a news story about an hour ago.  It was from a District Attorney from a county in Nevada.  He was in the VIP section of the concert.

He was talking about his escape and how life was flashing before his eyes, thinking about his girls.  He was saying just five minutes before there were police that were joking and kidding with them all.  He said seeing them go into action in short time was great to see.

This is a time in this country we put our political feelings aside.

We never know what tomorrow brings.  I am sure that all of those that went to the concert, it was the last thing they thought would happen.  That is why we need to tell our love ones that we love them, and hug them tight tonight.  In addition, we need to live every day to the fullest.




Steve’s Ramblings: In defense of Murphysboro High School

by Steve Dunford

MURPHYSBORO, IL – Those who know me well, know that I feel strongly about the National Anthem situation in the NFL.  I have watched my last game until things change.  This is coming from someone the world would stop on 16 Sunday afternoons per year.

I did not realize the Red Devils did not come out for the Anthem until after the game was over.

There is a strong possibility it was played by the band early.  It caught Rick Westemeyer by surprise.  If you noticed there was not a starting lineup either.

Murphysboro AD Len Novora, had everything drawn out to a T.  One thing that was going on WINI was having trouble getting the broadcast on the air.  There were school officials that were checking into it, as they rely totally on internet streaming for their broadcast.

I think with them not taking the field tonight was a logistics issue, instead of a protest.

After Coach Gary Carter met with his team tonight, the entire Murphysboro coaching staff knelt and repeated the Lord’s Prayer together in unison.  Afterwards, on of the assistants thanked God for a hard fought game and no one was hurt.

After I asked Coach Carter a couple questions, I was able to talk to him about the staff praying.  He told me there was ridicule, but they will keep doing it.  I told him the Lord will protect them, and keep doing it.  It is something that we need more in our society than less of it.

From the conversations and the posts from West Frankfort fans on Social Media, I totally understand what it appeared like tonight.  If I felt it was a protest, I would be the first one to be upset.  This is not a scolding, I just don’t think things were as they appeared.

I got home at midnight.  I could not wait to get home to put together the story of one of the most bizarre high school football games that I ever witnessed, and I have been to a lot of them over the years.  It might just have to wait until morning.   I forgot to set my DVR for Sports Extra, and I will be digging scores up on Twitter.

I just hope this cleared some things up.  Please share this.





Guest Editorial: Bryant Urges Governor to Veto HB 40

by Terri Bryant, State Representative, 115th District (R-Murphysboro)

Toward the end of last April, as the budget impasse was dragging through its second full year, I rose on the House floor to voice my total opposition to a bill that would vastly expand access to elective, taxpayer-funded abortions. The bill in question was HB 40, sponsored by Democrat State Representative Sara Feigenholtz of Chicago. During a more than hour-long debate on the bill, many of my House Republican colleagues joined me in speaking forcefully against the bill. We cited our faith in God, our love and compassion for the unborn, and the potential burdensome financial cost to the taxpayers of the State of Illinois as our main reasons for opposing the bill.

My opposition to HB 40 also goes to the core of my faith. I believe a life begins at conception and no one has a right to take that life. The sponsors of HB 40 routinely introduce legislation and support bills to use Medicaid dollars to help the most vulnerable among us. The same value set that drives those votes does not square with using Medicaid dollars to terminate the lives of the weakest, most helpless, and vulnerable of those among us, the unborn.

Under questioning from House Republicans on the House Floor that day, Representative Feigenholtz confirmed that HB 40 does in fact seek to expand the use of Medicaid to pay for elective abortions. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) has estimated that if the bill is signed into law, it could result in an extra $60 million of Medicaid spending to cover the costs related to abortive procedures per year. This added cost would come at a time when Illinois has its first budget in more than two and a half years, and while we currently still have $16 billion in unpaid bills.

The bill’s sponsor also admitted that the measure allows women to choose abortions for any reason, during any stage of pregnancy. If they happened to be a Medicaid recipient or a State employee covered under the state’s group health insurance plan, that would mean HB 40 would make taxpayer funded abortions available on demand. The sponsor also admitted that the bill would allow for taxpayer funding of partial birth abortions as well.  I cannot in good conscience support this attempt to expand Illinois taxpayers’ already heavy financial burden to fund this barbaric practice.

Despite our objections, HB 40 passed both the House and Senate. During that time, a spokesperson for Governor Rauner publicly declared that the Governor intended to veto the bill. After that statement was made, an immediate hold was placed on the bill by the Senate sponsor.
On Monday of this week, State Senator Don Harmon released the parliamentary hold that had been placed on HB 40. The bill has now been sent to the Governor. The Governor has 60 days to either sign the bill or veto it.

I have implored Governor Rauner to veto HB 40 in its entirety. He had previously assured me and my House Republican colleagues that oppose the bill that he would in fact veto the measure. The purpose of this editorial is to both educate the people of my district on the moral and financial pitfalls of HB 40, and to once again publicly call on Governor Rauner to issue a total and complete veto of this bill.

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News