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Bobby Ray’s opens at VFW

Linda Cox opened Bobby Ray’s restaurant at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), located at 903 E. Morton Ave., on Friday, August 4. The restaurant, located in the VFW Post #1379 on top of the hill behind Neal Tire and the UPS Customer Center, will be open on Fridays from 4-9 p.m., Saturdays from 4-8 p.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. The restaurant is open to the public, not just members of the VFW. It has something for everyone in the family.

Cox has worked in the restaurant industry for years and she is not a stranger to the VFW: she ran Jeanne’s on the Hill partner there around 2000. She has also worked at the Kottage Kafe and Norma’s North Star, both in Jacksonville. She has been out of the restaurant business since February doing in-home healthcare, but took on the challenge of opening and running this new restaurant at the VFW, Fridays through Sundays, while still doing in-home healthcare a few days a week.

The restaurant is named for her father. “He is 90 years young and a Navy Veteran who went into World War II when he was 17 years old. He lives in Florida now, but was born and raised in Greenfield,” Cox reveals. “He loved to come here when I ran the restaurant before.” The family surprised her father with a party for his 90th birthday this year when he drove here with Cox’s brother from Florida. “While he was here, I told him about the possibility of running the restaurant at the VFW and said I didn’t know if, at 64 years old, I had the stamina for it. My father said, ‘Just go for it.’”

Cox said she is excited about the opportunity. “We will make everything from scratch – from fried fish to horseshoes. Our lunch and dinner menus have something for everyone.” The menu includes hamburgers, horse and pony shoes, hot open sandwiches, grilled and breaded tenderloin and chicken, a soup and salad bar and more. Cox’s sister, Carol Piper, will also be making her delicious pies for dessert. “In addition to the regular menu, we will have daily specials,” said Cox. “As we move forward, we can always add more to the menu. For instance, in the winter we may have several soups available. For Sundays, from 7 a.m. until noon, we have a full breakfast menu that includes omelets, bacon and eggs, breakfast horse or pony shoes, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, French toast, and even steaks and more.” Prices at the restaurant are very reasonable.

During the opening weekend, Cox’s family – her three children, sister, niece and others helped her. “They have all been involved in the restaurant business with me for a long time and are helping me get up and running,” stated Cox. In the kitchen, the cooks are Kurt Sides and her son, Andy Cox.

The first two customers to arrive at the restaurant, even before the official opening time just to see Cox, were Randy and JoEllen Doyle. JoEllen Doyle said Cox had once hired her to work for a restaurant and they had worked together for years. She was happy to come out and support Cox in her endeavor.

The VFW added its own touch to the restaurant with ‘The Fallen Soldier’s Table.’ The table serves to remind those who come to the restaurant of the sacrifice of those who have served and recognizes, not only fallen soldiers, but POWs and MIAs. The table is set for one person with a red rose, a yellow ribbon on the vase, a slice of lemon, a sprinkle of salt, an inverted glass, an empty chair and a candle, all representing aspects of lives sacrificed, POWs and MIAs. All are explained on at the first table you pass on your way into the restaurant area. Take the time to stop by the table and read each of the meanings.

After all the preparation and hard work put in by Cox, her family and the VFW, Cox hopes the community will come to the restaurant, support them and, above all, enjoy the fresh, delicious food.


The Fallen Soldier’s Table

Those who have served, and those currently serving the uniformed services of The United States, are ever mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal sacrifice. They are compelled to never forget that while we enjoy our daily pleasures, others have endured, and may still be enduring, the agonies of pain and internment. Before we begin our activities this evening, we will pause to recognize our POWs and MIAs. We call your attention to this small table, which occupies a place of dignity and honor near the head table; it is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks; they are referred to as POWs and MIAs. We call them comrades; they are unable to be with their loved ones and families tonight, so we join together to pay humble tribute to them, and bear witness to their continued absence. This table, set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner along against his or her suppressors. The tablecloth is white, the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms. The single red rose in the vase signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep the faith, while awaiting their return. The yellow ribbon on the vase represents the yellow ribbons worn on lapels of thousands who demand with unyielding determination a proper accounting of our comrades who are not among us tonight. A slice of lemon on the napkin reminds us of their bitter fate. The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the country’s fallen tears of families as they wait. The glass is inverted – they cannot toast with us this night. The chair is empty – they are not here. The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation. Let us pray to the supreme commander that all our comrades will be back within our ranks. Let us remember and never forget their sacrifices. May God forever watch over them and protect them and their families.

Locals all a boat water skiing

By Kyla Hurt

The Illinois State Championships, hosted by the Illinois Water Ski Federation, took place this past July 22 and 23. The tournament, which included categories of slalom, trick and jump, was sponsored by the Jacksonville Area Water Skiers (JAWS) and held at Lake Leutz in Jacksonville. Overall, the Jacksonville Area Water Skiers team placed first in the weekend’s tournament.

Local competitors fared extremely well in the competition. See area results below:

Slalom results: Jaret Zoellner of Jacksonville, age 12, placed second in the B2 Slalom division. Jonathan Leutz of Jacksonville, age 15, placed first in B3 Slalom. Julia Zoellner of Jacksonville, age 11, placed first in G2 Slalom. Benjamin Leutz of Jacksonville, age 18, placed first in the M1 Slalom. Darr Leutz, 55, of Jacksonville placed fourth in the M5 Slalom. Kelly Zoellner, 38, of Jacksonville placed first in the OW Slalom. Savannah Leutz, 20, placed first in the W1 Slalom. Dawn Leutz, 47, placed first in the W4 Slalom, while Sam Isaacs of Pleasant Plains, 45, placed second.

Trick results: Jaret Zoellner placed second in B2 Trick. Jonathan Leutz placed first in the B3 Trick. Julia Zoellner place first in G2 Trick. Benjamin Leutz placed first in M1 Trick. Darr Leutz placed second in M5 Trick. Kelly Zoellner placed first in OW Trick. Savannah Leutz placed first in W1 Trick.

Jump results: Jaret Zoellner placed second in B2 Jump, hitting a speed of 45 KPH. Jonathan Leutz placed third in B3 Jump at 147 feet. Julia Zoellner placed first in G2 Jump at 38 feet and 42 KPH. Benjamin Leutz placed first in M1 Jump, hitting 57 KPH and 185 feet. Troy Zoellner, 45, placed first in M4 Jump, reaching 54 KPH and 115 feet. Kelly Zoellner placed first in OW Jump at 124 feet and 51 KPH. Savannah Leutz placed second in W1 Jump, hitting 54 KPH and 94 feet.

Overall team results for JAWS:

Jaret Zoellner placed second in B2 Overall with 1,777.4 points.

Jonathan Leutz placed first in B3 Overall with 2,714.4 points.

Julia Zoellner placed first in G2 Overall with 1,664.2 points.

Benjamin Leutz placed first in M1 Overall with 2,880.2 points.

Kelly Zoellner placed first in OW Overall with 2,672.8 points.

Savannah Leutz placed first in W1 Overall with 2,557.4 points.

Combined team standings resulted in JAWS with the highest ending total points of 11,108.7. This first place win was broken into 3,496.7 (slalom), 3,144.2 (trick) and 4,467.8 (jump).

Find out more about JAWS and the Illinois Water Ski Federation on Facebook.

Information regarding placement and scoring was taken from at

CPA Donates

The Jacksonville Citizens Police Academy donated money for the funding of medical kits for each squad car in the Jacksonville Police Department.

FOP event at Morgan County Fair

The top three pictures are Drew Baldridge and his band playing the guitar on stage, posing with the guitar, and signing the case.  The next three are where we took the guitar to the crash site and the dedication sign.  Trace Adkins is wearing the hat signing the case.  The one with all of the officers in the picture is Midland posing with officers working, my family and the family of the guy with the guitar.  The two with the guy wearing the tan hat is Midland playing the guitar on stage.  The last one is the lead singer of Midland signing the case.

The guitar was created by Bad Bart Guitars and is a dedication to all of the men and women that were killed in the line of duty in 2016.   The front of the guitar has the thin blue line on it and is made to look worn to show the wearing down of officers over the course of their career.  On the back is all of the names of officers killed in the line of duty in 2016.  The guitar will be raffled off in Nashville, TN in August of 2017 at the National FOP conference.  Tickets can be bought online at  All ticket sales will benefit the police memorial fund to help the families of fallen officers.  There is a facebook page to show pictures of artists signing the case, playing the guitar, or posing with the guitar.  There have been approximately 50 artists so far that have signed the case.

Slider for a day

Photo/Kyla Hurt

Taylor Graves’ artwork was selected as the winner, meaning that Taylor will “Be a Slider for a Day” on Sunday, July 9, courtesy of The Source Newspaper. The contest was to color “Speedy,” the mascot of the Springfield Sliders baseball team. Taylor likes baseball and the Sliders, so she said she was super excited. Pictured are (left to right) winner Taylor Graves, friend Chatym Besterfeldt, mom Amy Graves and brother Griffin Graves. The group is flashing some swag; Taylor is also holding up her winning artwork. Congratulations, Taylor! Play ball!