Category: Interesting People

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 endofwatchguitar.com.  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!

June 18th, 2017

by Andy Mitchell On Father’s Day the Mitchell crew converged on the tiny town of Naples, Illinois to celebrate Mom’s 82nd birthday as well as Dad’s abiding spirit. We arrived in a well-buffed Lexus, a “half-broke” Durango, and all other manner of transport, save for watercraft, which would have befit our destination, Evandy’s Boatel, the…

The Fire Inside

“I’m pretty boring.” This was the answer Liz Chamberlain gave in response to me asking what her favorite hobbies are. However, I was unable to ask Chamberlain face to face, as we conducted our interview through instant messenger due to her busy schedule. It took me very little time to realize just how busy, and humble, this soon to be 15-year-old really is.

When this article originally came across my desk, I was informed that Tom Finch Automotive out of Jacksonville was donating $5 from every oil change during the month of May to send a young girl from the community to Muscular Dystrophy Association’s summer camp. It was through a little research that I found my way to Chamberlain. Well, sort of. When I reached out, I learned that she was not only home schooling, attending Choir class at Jacksonville High School, but she was also getting ready to head to Chicago to attend Arlington Heights Fire Department’s MDA fundraising event and well as the Chicago Muscle Walk.

But just what is Muscular Dystrophy? According to Chamberlain, who technically has Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 3 , this means that her ‘nerves don’t tell my muscles to move, so they waste away”. According to the Mayo Clinic, Muscular Dystrophy is a group of genetic diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. The disease is rare, with fewer than 200,000 cases diagnosed in the United States per year. Chamberlain was misdiagnosed three times before finding the Muscular Dystrophy Association where they sent her for testing and diagnosed her at age 9. It has left her relying on the use of a wheelchair as her means of mobility.

What would have the potential to break the average person’s spirit, let alone someone so young, doesn’t deter Chamberlain from a challenge. In fact, it’s apparent through speaking with her that she is fueled by helping others. She is an ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which leads her on travels all over the state raising money for the cause. She has been involved in media events, district meetings, worked with fire fighters for “Fill The Boot” campaigns, summer camp programs, among many others. The list goes on and on, and when telling me about all of her charitable work Chamberlain speaks of it as if it was nothing out of the ordinary. While most parents are working hard to get their teenagers to do chores, Chamberlain is singing the National Anthem at major sports and charity outings and attending dinners to raise money out of the goodness of her heart.

When asking Chamberlain to tell me about the MDA Summer Camp, which is held July 9th-15th in Bloomington at Timber Pointe Outdoor Center, she goes on and on about all the activities the camp offers. The camp is all accessible for ages 6-17, and while it costs $2000 per camper all of the fundraising people like Chamberlain and businesses like Tom Finch Automotive do, it allows everyone to attend free of cost. Going into her 6th year at the camp, Chamberlain explains “It is a week of ‘I can’, not ‘I cannot’”. She gets to hang out with people her own age who understand what it is she goes through. She has a counselor assigned just to her, as each camper does, who helps to allow her to be a kid for once. The kids get to ride motorcycles, horseback ride, go boating and canoeing among many other activities. The final night culminates into a formal dinner and dance.

In asking her who her hero is, Chamberlain tells me her deep appreciation for fire fighters. She talks of the fundraising many departments have done for MDA, countless talks she has had with the men and women of numerous departments, and how they take no credit for the work they do. “That’s what they do every day, in and out, to help people and save lives. When I thank them they say ‘oh it’s nothing’ or ‘it’s just a little thing’. They don’t take credit for how much they help me and other MDA families. They don’t ask for attention or credit or fame. They are the most amazing people.”

There is an old saying, “you are the company you keep”. It makes a lot of sense for Chamberlain to look up to men and women who are much like herself. While she may not consider herself a hero, what she does for others speaks volumes about the spirit inside her. At just 14, she humbly perseveres on no matter what obstacles she faces, making it her life’s work to help others. She may not be a fire fighter, but she is a fighter, and there is a lot of fire in her. So much so, it was hard to remind myself that I was in fact interviewing someone who is technically just entering her freshman year of high school.

When I asked Chamberlain what she would like to tell the world, she actually had to remind me of just that, saying “I don’t really know at fourteen”. She then proceeded to tell me that what she does know, is that it doesn’t matter if you are in a wheelchair or have any other type of disability. That in life we need to treat each other with respect, kindness and love and to always try to give more than we take. She may be only 14, but Chamberlain is wise beyond her years. Her drive and compassion is something most people hope to develop in a lifetime. She, like so many amazing people tied to her story, doesn’t take credit for just how many people she has helped through her dedication and hard work. The world is truly Chamberlain’s oyster, and while she may not know it all quite yet, there is one thing that I have no doubt of. Her story of compassion and generosity is truly contagious, and the world is better for having heard it.

Those wishing to keep up with Chamberlain’s charitable journey can check out her Facebook page, Lizzie Chamberlain- MDA IL GWA Emeritus. You can also go to www.mda.org for more information on the disease, how to get involved, or to donate.

Schmidt Aims to Pilot Passavant Through Healthcare Complexities

by Anna Ferraro It’s a tenuous time for healthcare providers in America. With the advent of the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) under the Obama administration, and the uncertainty of how the ACA will weather the changes being implemented by the current Trump administration, medical caregivers of all backgrounds and levels feel tentative about what…

Dreaming of horses

By Kyla Hurt

Meet Joshua and Tiffany Wohlers. The husband and wife team help the grand opening of Wohlers Stables a few months back and they’re quite the pair. It’s the type of sweet fairytale fall-into-place kind of tale told of these two. Opening the stables has been a lot of work, time, money … and heart. They met in 2010 when each worked for different businesses, but a project required the businesses to work together … which meant the two would be working “hand-in-hand,” (pun intended). “I’d had my eye on her a long time,” grinned Joshua Wohlers. One Friday, they worked together and the next day, Joshua Wohlers went back and asked her out. That was December 4 of 2010. A noon wedding on 12/12/12 and wedding photos with horses made their love official. Fast forward a few years to a six-hour horse ride they took around Waverly. “We just rode and talked” during that trek. Both have always loved and been around horses and Wohlers Stables was just in a dream stage at that time. The dream has come true. Buildings were started in July 2016 and the grand opening event was April 30, 2017. Contained on the 14 acres of land is the Wohlers’ home, a 110 feet by 42 feet stall barn, a 66 feet by 60 feet arena barn, 14 horses (12 owned by the Wohlers, plus two boarders), a barn that holds tack and an assortment of spaces for pygmy goats and chickens. There is a lot to see and my, oh my, it is pretty out there. Joshua and Tiffany try to ride every day themselves, plus they offer riding lessons for age three and up. There’s comfort … there’s peace with horses, they say. “I think what’s unique about our (stables) is that it’s a really fun-oriented place. There’s a lot of love in this place,” said Tiffany Wohlers. Eventually, the Wohlers would like to add stalls and increase the arena space, but this is perfect for now. Tiffany Wohlers summed it up, “Everything starts as a dream.”

Wohlers Stables is located at 3285 Pitchford Road in Waverly. Call 217-494-9869 or visit www.wohlersstables.com to contact Joshua and Tiffany Wohlers about their stables.

Hungerford 41 years at MCHD

When she peeks around the door to greet you at the Morgan County Health Department (MCHD), the first thing you notice is the wonderful smile that even lights up all the way through her eyes. Carol Hungerford is retiring on June 30, 2017, after 41 years at the Morgan County Health Department; that is a year longer than she has been married. The MCHD is holding a reception honoring Hungerford’s retirement on June 30 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.at Hamilton’s. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to come.

Hungerford began her career at the Morgan County Health Department before she had even graduated from high school. Her Jacksonville High School business teacher, Mrs. Flystra, recommended her to then director Bill Meyer for a part-time position. Hungerford had afternoon study halls, so she was let out in the afternoon to work as a file clerk from 1 – 4:30 p.m. during her senior year. It was 1976 and many schools at the time were doing away with the arts. Hungerford had been planning to go to Utica College to study and become an art teacher. When the MCHD offered her a full-time job before she graduated, Hungerford looked to an unsure future as an art teacher, and the reality of a full-time position, and chose to stay at the health department.

It’s never been boring here, things are always changing,” said Hungerford. “I’ve held positions as file clerk, administrative assistant, family planner, office manager, Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) and have done the billing,” she listed. She said she had planned to retire a few years back, but when her current boss public health administrator Dale Bainter came on board, Hungerford stayed to be his administrative assistant and continued with the PHEP. “Dale is a go getter and has a plan for tackling new health issues.”

When I started here, there were no fees, no walk-in immunizations. The budget has gone from $200,000 to $1.3 million,” Hungerford recalls. “Grant programs constantly change. We later began taking walk-ins from WIC.” The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a supplemental food program for low-income pregnant women, postpartum women, breastfeeding women, infants and/or children up to their fifth birthday from low-income families who are determined to be at nutritional risk.

When talking about the Morgan County Health Department, Hungerford justifiably becomes very sentimental. “I grew up here, I’ve seen the number of employees grow and my life happened here! I’ve gotten married, had kids and grandkids. I have had three great bosses who have always had my best interest at heart. If there was an emergency or death in the family, each would say, ‘What do you need?’ I gave them loyalty and the same care in return. It’s a family atmosphere and I think that also helps us in dealing with all the families we serve here.”

Hungerford married her husband, Frank, when she was 19 years old, approximately a year after she began with the health department. Frank Hungerford is retired from the United National Benevolent Association and currently serves as pastor at Lynnville Christian Church. They have three children, Bethany Miller, Ann Hungerford and Clifton Hungerford, plus three grandchildren.

As I said, it’s never boring here – everyone drops what they’re doing and gets the job done. Like during the flu shot season, we give between 1,200 and 1,500 shots in two days.” But she also notes the Morgan County Health department is not just for the underprivileged, they work for the people of Morgan County.

The only thing consistent in public health,” Hungerford states emphatically, “is change.” Talking about some of the changing issues she sees facing the Morgan County Health Department in future, she notes, “We are constantly checking on trends. Our coordinator in charge of communicable disease relentlessly checks to see what issues are coming our way. There are water issues, food issues, health issues. Every five years, we develop an IPLAN (local needs assessment plan). We go through a community committee and discuss issues in our community and set up programs to deal with those specific issues in our community.” Hungerford says the health department also has a new computer program for billing to help keep up with the ever-rising number of people who walk through their doors. “We are right on the cusp of change,” she said. “Our grants are perpetually transforming and so are we. Dale has great plans for the future of the health department and I know he is the right person to be in that position.”

What does Hungerford plan to do during her retirement? Well, she can’t quite step away yet from her work family, so she plans to work part-time hours starting in the fall, administering vision and hearing screenings as needed for the department. She says plans to spend lots of time with her husband, kids and “grandbabies” – and do some traveling, too.

Recall that she wanted to be an art teacher when she was younger? Hungerford still remembers her art mentor/art teacher in junior high and high school, Judy Moore, and managed to find a painting of Moore’s at a sale once, which she treasures. And while she has put her art on the back burner, Hungerford has joined the Jacksonville Art League, located on South Main Street, and has a space there where she is able to paint. Over the years she has enjoyed doing art projects including painting a 12 feet by 6 feet landscape mural at her church – which makes you feel as if you could walk right into it. She has also led a paint-and-pour at her church. A Carol Hungerford original painting of a daisy hangs in City Hall, as well. So, could we see a show at the Strawn Art Gallery some time? Hungerford said she is ultra critical of her own work, but from what this writer saw and the perceived joy she takes in her paintings, it would seem that like the love she has showed for the health department during the last 41 years, we can only hope and look forward to it, someday.