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The Bob Freesen YMCA Day Campers began a day at camp recently by saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag outside and then headed out on the YMCA’s one-mile trail to walk and run. Counselor Chuck Cropp challenged the campers to jog the whole trail that day. Campers had fun trying and getting in shape. One said he was singing as he ran. Most campers replied that they liked running down the hill the best. Many saw me taking photos and stopped to ask “why” I was taking photos. The answer: it was a beautiful day and they were outside. They were a healthy and curious bunch!

Honor Flight: Classmates and lifelong friends

Only special friendships endure over a lifetime. On the first Thursday of every month, four men from the Jacksonville High School (JHS) Class of 1961 (well, really one is from the class of 1960, but has been adopted into the 1961 class, they say) meet up at the Knights of Columbus Hall. They have been doing this since May 2006. It’s usually the four of them, but they have a blue notebook that anyone from their class who joins them signs.

These four men also all share the experience of military service during wartime, but each served in a different division of the armed forces. There is Army Specialist 4 (E-4) Robert “Bob” Northrop, the adopted JHS class of 1960 graduate, U.S. Army; Sergeant Dick Matthews, U.S. Marine Corps; Lieutenant Colonel Roger “Rog” Riggs, U.S. Air Force; and Seaman (E-3) Ted Deen, U.S. Navy.

All four men, along with Ross Chumley from the class of 1960 (U.S. Army), boarded the Land of Lincoln Honor Flight on Tuesday, May 23. Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created through donations, that transports America’s Veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of themselves and their friends. Northrop and the other men have gone to see of many of the Honor Flights leave and arrive back in Springfield in the past and say big crowds gather each time.

Dick Matthews organized the group and sent their applications in on November 20, 2015, but with 583 ahead of them in the Land of Lincoln area, they waited. On February 4, 2017, they received word their flight would be in May.

Robert “Bob” Northrop grew up in Winchester. He started school in a one-room country schoolhouse where his teacher was his great aunt; then, in sixth grade he joined the Jacksonville school district and he met the other three men in high school.

Northrup was drafted into the Army on October 5, 1960. He served 23 months and 16 days with Border Patrol at Fulda Gap in Germany from 1960-1962. Northrop said, “On our first day they told us if the Russians decide to come through, they will come through here. And if they do, you will last 13 seconds.” American troops defended that position for 40 years after World War II. During the Cold War, Russian forces were stationed along the border, ready to cross the plain and reach the Rhine River. Fulda Gap was the widest of the invasion corridors through the hills of Germany’s central uplands.

After his service, Northrop returned to Jacksonville and married Rita Ann Shelburn in 1963. They have one son, three grandchildren and one great-grandson. Northrop was a tractor mechanic and worked form Howell Electric for 32 years. But Northrop’s big love and hobby was to race cars when he was younger and several of his cars were in national car magazines. He still loves working on and restoring cars in his garage.

Dick Matthews, who was born at Passavant Hospital on the same day at same hospital as Rita Northrop, went to Washington Elementary School, before joining the others at JHS. Matthews went to San Diego, California, on September 1, 1964, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps for three years until 1967. He served in Vietnam.

Dick returned to Jacksonville and married Brenda Stephenson on in 1970. He and his wife have a son and a daughter, plus six grandchildren, all girls. Matthews worked at IGA for 18 years and a convenience store for 18 years. He also served as Scout Master for Troop #107 for many years; similarly, fellow classmate and Veteran Ted Deen served as Scout Master for Troop #109 at Grace United Methodist Church. Matthews now works for the Illinois State Police in the Firearms Services Bureau and volunteers as a docent at New Salem and Lincoln’s Tomb.

Riggs started his flight training at Jacksonville Municipal Airport with Carmen “Bogey” Burgard, owner of the Jacksonville Flying Service and airport manager, as his flight instructor. He earned his private pilot certificate in 1963 and his commercial pilot certificate and flight instructor rating in 1965. Riggs earned his commission in 1967. His first duty station with the 345th Tactical Airlift Squadron at Ching Chuan Kang (CCK) Republic of China Air Base, Taiwan, where he flew C-130s all over Southeast Asia from October 20, 1968, through January 1970. Riggs flew all his missions to South Vietnam. He flew the C-130 cargo plane (four-engine turboprop) on 525 sorties in country. After Vietnam, he continued his military career including on an Alaskan mountain top at Indian Mountain Air Force Station as an instructor and the director of safety at the Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters in Arkansas. He married Marilyn White in 1974 and they have two children and three grandsons.

Riggs continued his service as an executive pilot for the State of Illinois. He retired from the State of Illinois in 2002, proud he never so much as scratched an airplane. He wrote a book about his life and aviation career as an historical document for his family. He is working on streamlining the book for publication since so many others have asked to read it. Riggs said writing it was good therapy for many things. When asked if he had a name for the book, he said if it is published he might call it Hogs, Hercs and Heroes.

Ted Deen was born in Beardstown. He said he met Riggs in first grade at South Elementary School in Mrs. Lansink’s class. They were also the first class to attend Turner Junior High School. Deen joined the U.S. Navy right out of high school. He was in the service for four years from 1961-1965. Deen served aboard the Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer USS Waldron (DD699). Deen said the destroyer was in the Atlantic side, which differed from the rest of the men in the group. The USS Waldron operated in the Atlantic and in European waters. Waldron was extensively modernized in 1962, then resumed her Atlantic fleet career.

After his military service, Deen returned to Jacksonville. He married Mary Christine on June 3, 1968. They had five children, three girls and two boys. He said one of his daughters, Anne, played volleyball for St. Francis and was a four-year All American. They now have ten grandchildren. Deen has worked for Hutchison Engineering, Inc., and in 2018 he will celebrate his 50th year with the company.

On the night before the flight, the four men attended a dinner at the VFW in Springfield and met all the other participants and their guardians, who travelled with the Veterans holding on to medicines, carrying water and making sure they have everything they needed on the trip. Members of Dick Matthews’ family were their guardians, except Greta Hardwick of Beardstown, who aided Northrop.

On Tuesday, May 24 the group met at 4:30 a.m. at Springfield Capitol Airport. The Honor Flight Organization arranged for wheelchairs in Washington, D.C. for the 45 men in wheelchairs and for the three buses that transported all the Veterans and their guardians. The four JHS grads said there were many “surprises” on the flight and trip that they don’t want to give away for others who take the flight, but the trip was made very special for everyone.

Northrop and Deen noted that the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was very moving and that they had a special place of honor in the front where they could all see. Northrop said afterwards they were walking along and a group of about 100 school children moved off the sidewalk to let them through and clapped for them as they went by. He also said Senator Sam McCann and Congressman Darin LaHood met the group at the WWI Memorial and shook their hands.

Riggs had been looking forward to seeing the Air Force Display in Washington, D.C., and said it didn’t disappoint, with three arches going in three different directions symbolizing the Air Force connection with ground, air and space.

The group returned to Springfield at 9:30 p.m. after a whirlwind day of visiting memorials in Washington, D.C., including the those for World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam Veterans (Wall), U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, Lincoln Memorial, Air and Space Museum, Arlington National Cemetery and Tomb of the Unknowns and Changing of the Guard. When they got off the plane they were greeted by crowds lining the halls of the terminal all the way to the baggage claim area. All those people came to clap, shake their hands and thank those on the Honor Flight for their service to our freedoms and our country. Riggs said there were dozens of Springfield fireman — and some Girl Scouts gave the men boxes of cookies. He choked up when talking about it, as did the Northrop. He said bikers, ministers, reenactors in WWII army uniforms, strangers and family were together clapping and saying, “Welcome home.” Classmate Dick Sweeney who is the bartender at the K.C. Hall in Jacksonville was there and so was Governor Rauner, who came out to greet and shake hands with each Veteran.

All the classmates agree that it was a wonderful experience and they were glad that Matthews had gotten them all organized to share another life experience together.

Four paws and two thumbs up

It was a sunny day when I made the short trip from Jacksonville to meet with the owners of Four Paws Veterinary Clinic that has recently opened in Winchester. Upon entering the business, I was kindly greeted by a tiny dog I came to know as “Gizmo” and the veterinarian, Dr. William Debold. As a dog owner myself, I was incredibly surprised at how welcoming the clinic felt. Where most clinics are lined with concrete walls and dull colors, Four Paws is filled with beautiful wooden and corrugated metal walls and brand new wooden laminate flooring throughout. The business is rustic and homey, as sunny as the day outside and truly a comforting feeling for any pet owner who considers their fur friend as a family member. Not long after arriving, I am greeted by Dr. Debold’s wife, Carol, a former resident of Winchester. It doesn’t take long to learn the beautiful design was a labor of love.

For over 22 years, Dr. Debold owned and operated a mixed animal clinic. In all, he has practiced veterinary medicine in five states for over 31 years, even taking care of horses and cattle belonging to country stars such as Randy Travis, Don Williams and Tanya Tucker, just to name a few. While his love for animals has never changed, a new love caught his eye. Married for over five years, Carol and William Debold’s story begins in Michigan, where his long-time clinic was located. After a few years, family needs called Carol Debold back to Winchester. Not content with the distance that laid between them, William Debold made the decision to sell his clinic and after some thought, begin his own to serve the community his wife so loves. In fact, when asking what the inspiration was for opening the clinic, William and Carol Debold both looked at each other and smiled. No words were needed to answer the question. Four Paws was in fact built by Carol Debold, completely decorated by her while William Debold was busy closing shop in Michigan. He did not see any of it until after it was completely done. The support these two have for each other is evident with every nail and board that holds the business together.

Open since March, Four Paws offers an array of clinic, as well as in-home services. For those unable to transport their pets due to age, difficulty or time constraints, Dr. Debold offers basic in-home services. A true lover of animals, he also provides canine and feline euthanasia in the comfort of your own home should that be a choice with which your family is faced. At the clinic, services include microchipping, routine vaccinations, wellness examinations, canine/feline illnesses and heartworm testing, as well as spay/neutering and other minor surgical procedures. While predominantly serving canines and felines, he did not rule out assisting those with small animals such as rabbits and hamsters if the need arose.

When asking Dr. Debold what one of his most rewarding experiences was as a veterinarian, he recalled saving the life of a bird dog. The animal had accidentally been shot during a hunting trip and was wounded severely through an artery in its shoulder. It took him over two hours just to stop the bleeding, and two weeks of around-the-clock care to nurse the dog back to health. But much like animals do, he bounced back fearless as ever and went right back to hunting alongside his owner. In a way, this story seemed somewhat reminiscent of the veterinarian himself. Selling his clinic in Michigan and moving to a smaller community was a big risk. When asked what his biggest hurdles have been throughout the years, he told of how originally it had been purchasing the equipment which sometimes costs astronomical amounts. At the current moment, the biggest hurdle is gaining cliental, which as many can imagine would be awfully hard to do in a new community. But much like the bird dog, Dr. Debold seems unafraid of the venture and instead is just excited to continue doing what he loves.

As my final question, I asked the Debolds what their hope is for the future of Four Paws. Their answer: “To serve the people and their pets. To bring back services to a community that has not had a veterinary clinic in quite some time.” As someone who lives in Jacksonville, I have more than a few options when it comes to veterinarians. I look forward to making another sunny drive to Winchester sometime in the near future, but this time with my dog in tow. You cannot put a distance too far on a compassionate and caring veterinarian, and Four Paws is worth every mile.

Dr. William Debold is located at 124 W. Jefferson St. in Winchester. To make an appointment for your furry family member, contact 217-320-9069.

Beefalo Week

Lonzerotti’s Italia Restaurant is holding Beefalo Week from Tuesday, June 27 through Saturday, July 1. Open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner from 5-9 p.m., the restaurant is located in the old train station at 600 E. State St. in Jacksonville. Frank and Susan Whitney own Lonzerotti’s Italia Restaurant, along with their sons, David and John. The restaurant serves classic Italian dishes, as well as new American dishes created by Chef Richie Frederick.

Chef Richie” said they are excited about the opportunity to showcase beefalo for the entire week. “It is good meat, not as fatty as other beef and much juicier.” Lonzerotti’s has a Beefalo Week menu planned that has options for every taste. The menu includes: Cherokee Chowder, Smoked Meatballs, Johnny Cakes, Mini Gyros, Buffadilla, Beefalo Steak Sliders, Link in the Chain and Pow Wow Pastry, all with beefalo in the ingredients.

This special week and menu showcase the beefalo product from another local business, Gross Farms. Owner William Gross says he has known Chef Richie for some time and contacted him to check if there was any level of interest in incorporating beefalo at Lonzerotti’s. “They are starting into the farm-to-table arena, so they quickly agreed. Lonzerotti’s came up with the idea of a weeklong tasting. Genius!”

In addition to being flavorful and tender, beefalo is very nutritious. See the comparison chart included in this article.

The higher protein level of beefalo, plus the fact that it is very low in cholesterol, makes it possible to satisfy protein requirements while not only eating less meat, but also simultaneously reduce saturated fat intake and gain extra calcium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin A.

What about flavor? Vanessa Tyus, director of New Directions Heating and Cooling Center, a center which assists displaced “homeless” persons in Jacksonville with their emergency shelter-related needs says the response has been overwhelmingly favorable. Gross generously donated half an animal to the center.

We appreciate Mr. Gross for donating the much needed meat to the shelter. All we had to do was pick it up, he had it all processed for us. We were able to cook so many meals during the month,” reported Tyus.

The first thing we made were hamburgers on the grill,” Tyus remarked. “I didn’t tell anyone what the meat was until after they had eaten. I know I was even skeptical because I don’t care for wild meat, but this was wonderful and juicy! Everyone loved it.”

Many of the center’s meals are provided by outside vendors; those vendors have used the beefalo meat for spaghetti, lasagna, chili, tacos and more. “The rib-eyes and t-bones were amazing, as was everything else,” said Tyus.

We were also able to share meat with families that were leaving the shelter,” revealed Tyus. “It was tremendous for the center and its families in need, and we are hopeful that Mr. Gross will donate to us again,” expressed Tyus. “We were also able to ‘pay it forward’ and help at risk families whose Link cards were running out at the end of the month. It was truly a wonderful gift to be able to share the delicious meat with everyone.”

The Gross Farm has an amazing history that began when William G. Gross was born in 1926. As one of eight children raised on a ranch that had been homesteaded by his family in Russell, Kansas, shortly after the Civil War, he grew up knowing that his grandfather was the first acknowledged breeder in the state of Kansas to raise Aberdeen Angus on this ranch, and was also one of the founding members of what would become the American Angus Association. Having been exposed to livestock at an early age by their father, Norman, William Gross and his brothers and sisters grew up with a love for animals and a passion to care for them … so much so that five of the eight siblings became veterinarians, all graduating from Kansas State University. They include: Dr. Glen G. Gross, DVM; Dr. Dean R. Gross, DVM; Dr. Joanne G. Gross, DVM; Dr. Robert U. Gross, DVM; and Dr. William C. Gross, DVM, himself.

Dr. William C. Gross and his siblings moved to the Jacksonville area to all start businesses; the businesses have helped and supported many farmers and animal lovers in this area of the state for almost a century. “Dr. Bill,” as many referred to him, brought with him a passion for the old west. As a child he used to say, “When I grow up, I am going to write a cowboy song and make a million dollars.” While he did write many limericks, and sang many old west songs as he bounced along the country roads between veterinary calls, the fruits of his labors were realized in the care and nurturing of the many sick animals in Jacksonville and the surrounding area.

Shortly after establishing his veterinary practice in Winchester, Illinois, Dr. Bill and his brother, Glen Gross, bought a farm south of Jacksonville. Glen Gross wanted to develop it and sell plots for houses, but Dr. Bill wanted to raise livestock, which would soon include not only the original herd of Aberdeen Angus from Russell, Kansas, but also exotic animals. They came to a decision to split the farm in half so each could pursue their individual interests. Glen Gross chose the eastern half that was bordered by Massey Lane, and Dr. Bill preferred the “more secluded” western half. Dr. Bill soon began to develop his part of the farm with “double high fence” to contain his future hobby … raising buffalo, several varieties of deer and eventually, elk. This was the beginning of what would soon become a most unique training ground and diversified learning opportunity for himself and his family.

In 1958, Dr. Bill went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to the Woolaroc Ranch, which is owned by the Phillips Petroleum Company family and purchased part of their resident herd of American bison. At the time, no one had introduced bison to this part of Illinois. After a highly eventful journey back to Illinois with the feisty animals, he established his herd south of town. Not too long after, he became interested in cross-breeding the American bison with his father’s herd of Aberdeen Angus. Little did he know what would lie ahead with regards to the national promotion of “Certified Angus Beef” being the American standard against which all other beefs would eventually be graded, let alone the future benefits in flavor and health that creating “beefalo” would offer! He would be the first in Illinois to embark on such a project, and one of the first in the world.

The Gross Farm was fairly secluded in the early years, other than the occasional school field trip or private viewing to friends or acquaintances. In 2003, the property was divided by the building of the Corridor 67 highway, so what was once a private haven, is now available for public viewing. Many cars now stop or pause to take in a view of the buffalo and interesting looking Black Angus Beefalo that have inhabited the Gross Farm for decades.

We are proud of our father’s efforts and our family’s heritage in forming the ‘Black Angus Beefalo’ and have enjoyed its lean attributes and superior flavor for decades ourselves,” William Gross explains. “Now we have decided to make it available to the residents of Jacksonville and the surrounding area. We hope everyone enjoys the wonderful flavor, the juiciness and the associated health benefits that we have been blessed with for many years. Try it out during Buffalo Week at Lonzerotti’s. Bon appetite!”

William Gross sells beefalo by the package to customers and also sells quarters/halves and whole animals. Call him for pricing and information at 217-833-2802 or email at 

For reservations during Buffalo week at Lonzerotti’s Italia Restaurant, call 217-243-7151.

Peace on the Prairie

Peace: freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.

The first thing I noticed on my drive was the closer I was to reaching my destination, there were no longer any street markings. As a Murrayville native, this was a sign I was going to be spending the day getting back to my roots. On a quiet gravel road surrounded by sunshine and countryside, I pulled up alongside a grey mailbox covered in birds and flowers with ”Peace on the Prairie” inscribed on the sides. For having never been there before, I had an innate feeling of already being home.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb is an online hospitality service. It is a website ( that enables people to lease or rent short-term lodging, such as vacation rentals, home-stays, hotel rooms and many more. In layman’s terms, it allows people with extra space or property to connect with those needing a place to stay. Around five years ago, Kevin and Jamie Klein, married over 24 years and both professors at Illinois College, found themselves with property that wasn’t being utilized. Sitting on 24 acres of land, they had built a studio apartment on to a two-car garage adjacent from their home. Originally, the idea was for their parents to have a private area to stay when they would come to visit. But as plans for life sometimes do, things changed and the family found themselves with an extra living space not being used. The studio apartment has a full kitchen, full bathroom, stackable washer and dryer, queen bed and a queen-sized futon/couch. After a bit of discussion with his wife, Kevin Klein decided to post the studio apartment on Airbnb to see what type of response the space would draw. Fast forward five years, and the couple has greeted guests from across the world.Upon exiting my car, I was greeted by the couple’s dog, Sparkle. By her calm demeanor, I could tell I wasn’t the first visitor she’d met along the way. She was as friendly as the cats who were now walking around inquisitively. I met Jamie Klein as she was tending to the property. She took a short break to show me the apartment, which was far homier than any apartment I have ever owned. The apartment is filled with anything a traveler could need, whether your stay be long or short. Internet, Netflix, books and movies are all at your fingertips. Whether you are traveling between jobs and needing an extended stay, or simply needing to hit the pause button of life, if you need it – Peace on the Prairie has it.

After touring the apartment, Kevin Klein arrives from visiting the neighbors. Of the very few you will find scattered in the area, throughout our talk you can tell they all are very close knit. Immediately, he asks if I am interested in checking out the bee hive he has recently installed on the prairie. Self-admitted, I am terrified of bees. However, his passion speaking about the insect and how the hive works, my fear turned into intrigue. When I set out to speak with the Kleins about their property, I did not envision myself standing within a foot of hundreds of bees. But, watching the hive at work, how the bees create honey and learning all of the detailed care that goes into such an intricate process was an amazing experience. I felt truly humbled to be able to witness such an incredible sight.

During my time touring the property, I found myself more enthralled with all that it had to offer. Off to the north of the apartment, surrounded by woods and prairie, is a large pond that is perfect for fishing with your own equipment or taking a ride on the water in the canoe that is provided. The pond is stocked with catfish, bluegill and crappie. The Kleins don’t mind whether your preference is catch and release or should you want to clean and cook them, the pond is at your disposal as you wish. If natural water isn’t your cup of tea, during the summer season they have an above ground pool that is also available for guests. There are acres upon acres of restored prairie and timber that can be hiked. And to end a long day spent exploring nature and its wonder, there is a fire pit that is also surrounded by prairie as far as the eye can see. While I visited during the day, Kevin spoke about how one of the most interesting things for guests is just how many stars they see at night. The Kleins make it a point to keep lighting in the area dim so those who have never experienced a country sky get the grand effect of what a clear night has to offer.

“Each life intersection is an opportunity to make new friends and share a bit of Peace and a bit of the Prairie.” These are the parting words Kevin left me with after my tour of the property. On two maps in the apartment, there are pins that mark where every guest is from. From Hong Kong to Scotland, Britain to China, people from across the country, as well as world, have found solace in a little corner of Illinois. What we have all had hidden underneath our noses, is the very place so many seek to find the peace they don’t have in their hectic lives. What a beautiful thought it is to know how close we are to paradise. So close, we sometimes don’t even take the time to notice.

Peace on the Prairie is located at 518 Happy Hollow Rd. in Murrayville. If you ever find yourself seeking relaxation or know someone needing the perfect place to stay, you can book a stay at Peace on the Prairie via their Facebook page, by telephone at 217-673-5241 or at

Liana Hamm wins P.E.O. STAR Scholarship

Chapter CY, P.E.O., of Jacksonville, is pleased to announce that a young woman they recommended was selected to be the winner of a P.E.O. STAR Scholarship for the 2017-2018 academic year. The P.E.O Sisterhood is one of the largest community-based women’s organizations in North America, with almost 250,000 initiated members. The organization provides loans, grants…

Congratulations to Tom Winner!

Winner recently celebrated his 50-year anniversary of his business, Winner Salon of Beauty, located on the square in Jacksonville. Winner has contributed to this community in various capacities throughout his career, but is often associated with the safe arrival of Santa Claus into our community each year. His efforts not only for all of us, but also for his customers, do not go unnoticed. Thank you, Mr. Winner!

Duck Race for Lifeline winners

Special to The Source

Here are the winners from the recent 23rd annual Duck Race for Lifeline, held at Nichols Park in Jacksonville.

1st Place           Nancy Wood                                                               $1,000
nd Place          Morgan County Abstract Company-Amy Coats           $500
rd Place           Angela Coffman                                                          $300
th Place           Bob Morris                                                                  $200
th Place           Mr. and Mrs. Brian Glascock                              $100 Passavant Gift Shop Gift Certificate
th Place           Carrie Sheppard                                                    $100 Passavant Gift Shop Gift Certificate
th Place           Tena White                                                        $100 Passavant Gift Shop Gift Certificate
th Place           Brenda Coultas                                                   $100 Passavant Gift Shop Gift Certificate
th Place           Jacksonville Noon Rotary                                   $100 Passavant Gift Shop Gift Certificate
th Place         Midwest Emergency Department Physicians       $100 Passavant Gift Shop Gift Certificate

Passavant’s Lifeline Program provides 24-hour help and medical assistance. The event raised $37,555 for the Lifeline Program at Passavant in their mission to improve the health of the people and communities they serve.