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Archives for January 2011

City Council: Upholds Water Bills for Residents; Reduces Business Rates, Monday

Commercial water rates were amended to lesser amounts by Pana City Council at its Monday, Jan. 24 meeting at Pana City Hall. However, complaints by residential water users were rebuffed, relating to usage being calculated by 1,000 gallons instead of 100 gallons as in the past.

The amended ordinance for commercial and out-of-city users is retroactive to June 1, when the increased water rates went into effect.

Mayor Steve Sipes explained that the water system’s “infrastructure is failing,” and although “the popular thing would be to change back, the city must invest in its water and sewer.”

Alderman Glenn Schneider commented, “People don’t like to pay for what they are not getting.”

Although agreeing with that statement, Alderman Phil Waddington said, “If we back out and round out to 100 gallons, not 1,000, it will not keep us from operating in the black.”

The vote to pass the amendment passed 5-2, with Schneider and Alderman Roger Lebon voting “No.”

All aldermen except Barb Stauder were present, with eight persons in the audience.

Amanda Ade Harlow, city attorney, said that when the committee met, recommendations were made to modify the ordinance regarding boating, leasing of lots, and water skiing.  Boating includes the definition of watercraft, modifications and penalty, speed and horsepower of boats, life preservers and duty of passengers. Quiet hours will begin a half-hour after sunset until 10 o’clock the next morning. Leasing of lots refers to lease rental amounts, cutting of timber, number of lots per lease, sanitation and plumbing, building without a permit, and docks. Items referring to water skiing relate to the definition of motorboats, occupancy, general regulations and traffic regulations.

Cutting, Mowing on Dam

After lengthy discussion, the council approved spending $11,000 for cutting  young trees and mowing the lake dam (on the south side of Lake Pana). The bid was awarded to Doug Miller Construction  of Pana. The breakdown includes $4,200 to cut saplings to two-inch-high bases, $800 for removal, and $3,000 each for mowing in June and October.

Waddington commented that saplings was a misnomer, because they had not been cut for five years.

The city crew does not have time to do the work, it was said.

The money for the project will come from water and sewer funds, said Pete Scherzer, city treasurer. Superintendent Don Buerk said that, at the water plant, he had been conducting chemical feed experiments that resulted in a savings of compounds, lowering use to 60 pounds instead of 140-145 pounds per day. There will be an estimated $4,200 savings for the city, which will help pay for the dam work.

The council passed a resolution to rent water tower space to Computer Techniques, Inc. The use will cost $212.50 per month for the first five months, with $100 applying to the engineering fee. CTI will thereafter pay $112.50 monthly rental. An addition to the original resolution allows CTI representatives onto the site during regular business hours, except emergency situations–as determined by the water superintendent or CTI personnel.

Jack Dixon addressed the council regarding placing banners naming active Pana military personnel on utility posts. T-date, nearly 30 active duty persons’ names have been submitted, he said. A contract will be executed with Ameren CIPS–whose posts will be used for the project.

A lease for the open lot south of Community Mission Center was approved unanimously, granting it to John Metzger, of the non-profit organization center’s coordinator, for $1 rental fee. The site is at 32 S. Locust St.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:12 p.m.

First Meeting of TIF Joint Review Board Held

Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 26, the first meeting of the Pana Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District Joint Review Board met in Pana City Hall. It is the task of the to review the Redevelopment Plan for the city.

Under TIF law, a municipality may designate an area for development and any increases in Equalized Assessed Valuation taxes collected goes to a TIF Fund. The money is then used for various projects inside the District. The district can be active for a maximum of 23 years.

Committee members selected Nick Epley, vice-president of Peoples Bank and Trust as the at-large representative of the committee. The other members of the committee represent taxing bodies which get revenues from the TIF District. They include Paul Schmitz, Christian County Board member representing Christian County; Dr. David Lett, Pana School Superintendent, representing Pana Commuity Unit School District #8; Scott Lensink, President, Lake Land College, Mattoon, representing the college district; Tom Latonis, Pana Township Supervisor, representing the township; and Jim Deere,  Economic Development Director, City of Pana. Lensink was not present for the meeting.

Members selected Epley as the chairman and Deere as the secretary.

It will be the duty of the Review Board to make a report on the development plan during the public hearing on the TIF District which is schedule for Monday, Mar. 14, at 6:00 p.m.

A letter from Lensink indicated the college district was not in favor of the TIF District for the City at this time. He cited problems with current finances as the reason to not go forward with the plan.

Likewise, Dr. Lett also presented the committee with a report from the University of Illinois which cast a negative light on TIF’s. The study says in a group of 235 municipalities with TIF’s in the Chicago area, development in those communities was slower than those without TIF’s.

Deere pointed out the TIF District is the only tool a municipality has to help revitalize blighted areas. He said several developers are waiting in the wings with projects should the TIF District be established.

The redevelopment plan was presented by Springfield attorney Dan Schuering, who represents the city for TIF purposes. He outlined the plan which contains information related to the establishment of the TIF District. There is a map of the district, an assessment of whether property is blighted, findings from the property assessment and a budget for the proposed TIF District.

Members were asked to review the materials and come back during the next meeting to discuss the plan.

The next meeting of the committee is Tuesday, Feb. 8, at 1:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of Pana City Hall.

‘No Trauma’ To James Mundy’s Body: Coroner

by Rich Bauer,

Managing Editor

Vandalia Leader-Union

A Tower Hill man whose body was found in a Vandalia home on Saturday evening, Jan. 22, did not die from any type of physical injury, the Fayette County coroner said on Monday, Jan. 24.

An autopsy performed on the body of James Mundy at St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham did not show “any trauma,” such as gunshot or stabbing wounds, Coroner Bruce Bowen said.

The body of Mundy, 31, was found in the bedroom of a residence at 1909 Arrow Drive. Bowen said that Vandalia police officers went to the home of William F. and Sally J. Cyrus looking for information about Mundy, who was reported missing by family members last week.

Bowen, who pronounced Mundy dead at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, said that Mundy’s body had been placed between the box spring and mattress, and that the bed was lined with pillows and blankets, supposedly to hide the body.

Bowen estimated that Mundy died sometime on Wednesday, Jan. 19.

Vandalia officers took Sally Cyrus, 55, and her son, William, 30, into custody on tickets alleging the unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine and obstruction of justice.

On Monday, Fayette County State’s Attorney Stephen Friedel filed charges of participation of methamphetamine manufacturing, unlawful possession of methamphetamine and unlawful disposal of methamphetamine-manufacturing waste – all of which are felonies – against both William and Sally Cyrus.

The bond for each was set at $100,000.

On Saturday, Eason said, officers spoke with Michael Cyrus, another son of Sally Cyrus, who was housed in Fayette County Jail on drug charges.

Cyrus initially denied knowing anything about Mundy’s whereabouts, but when they went back to talk to him again, Cyrus said he had last seen Mundy on Wednesday.

He told officers that Mundy was sleeping, and had been sleeping “for a long, long time.”

Officers had returned to the Cyrus home during the day on Saturday, and got no response.

That evening, officers returned, and the Cyruses acknowledged their presence, but wouldn’t open the door. They eventually allowed them to enter, and a short time later, they told officers that the body was in a bedroom and led them to that location, Eason said.

Upon finding the body, officers contacted Bowen, and a state police crime scene technician was called to process the scene. Eason also noted that his department had been in regular contact with Friedel since the search for Mundy had gotten under way.

While there, officers also found a bag containing what they believed to be methamphetamine.

Legal Self-Help Center Opens at Pana Library

GATHERING IN THE lower level of Pana Carnegie-Schuyler Library in Pana, several officials ushered in a new tool to help citizens who need legal information, but cannot afford an attorney. The service went on line at the Pana and Taylorville libraries on Friday, Jan. 21.

Those gathering for the unveiling were, from left, Attorney William Farr of the Christian County Bar Association; Joseph L. Dailing, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition for Equal Justice; Stacie Colston, seated, Outreach Coordinator and Attorney at Law for Illinois Legal Aid Online; Janet Hicks, Pana Library Director; Fourth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Ron Spears; and Paul Schmitz, Vice-Chairman of the Christian County Board.

(Tom Latonis Photo)

A new internet-based legal self-help center for lower income residents of Christian County opened Friday morning, Jan. 21, in Carnegie-Schuyler Public Library at 303 East Second Street.

A press conference with Judge Ron Spears, Circuit Clerk Julie Mayer, Janet Hicks, library director, and Dorothy Siles, director of Taylorville Public Library launched the opening. The center will be accessible to anyone with a computer linked to the internet. People without a computer or internet access can use public access computers at either  the Carnegie-Schuyler Library, or at the Taylorville Public Library.

Organizers emphasized the self-help center is no substitute for a lawyer, but it will provide basic legal information for citizens in minor court matters. Items such as divorce, and felony crimes should be entrusted to a lawyer.

“While anyone may use the center from any computer connected to the internet, for those people who don’t have a computer with high-speed internet access, public access computers will be available at the Carnegie-Schuyler Library in Pana for their use,” Judge Spears said. “No specific legal advice is provided, only general legal information is provided and the user must decide how to use the information in court. For specific legal advice, the unrepresented litigant will need to consult an attorney.”

About the Center

Start-up funding for the legal self-help center is being provided by Illinois Bar Foundation. The new internet-based center will provide legal information for lower income people who must represent themselves in court, as well as other non-court-related legal information.

The Christian County sites were developed under the leadership of Judge Spears, Clerk Mayer, representatives of the Christian County Bars Association, Carnegie-Schuyler Library in Pana, the Taylorville Public Library and Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation.

“Carnegie-Schuyler Library is happy to be a part of the this new project,” Pana Library Director Janet Hicks said. “This will provide a new source of legal information for our patrons to use, not only for those individuals going to court, but also people who may need non-court documents like Power of Attorney or other information about the law.”

The Christian County Legal Self-Help Center is the 54 such center to be opened since May, 2007. The website can be found at http://christian.illinoislegalaid.org.

Well-Known Gas Station Owner Ralph Johnson Dies

Ralph Johnson, 91, of Pana, died Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011 in Heritage Manor, Pana.

He was born Dec. 30, 1918 in Pana, the son of Fred and Susan Denbow Johnson. Ralph was a graduate of Pana Township High School. He lived his entire life in Pana where he owned and operated Johnson’s Standard Oil Station for 49 years. He later drove cars for Bob Ridings. Ralph enjoyed driving cars, in fact, he began driving when he was 13 years old. He enjoyed sports, especially the Chicago Cubs and Bears. Ralph loved kids and had been known to fix hundreds of bicycle tires at no charge. He volunteered for many community events such as the Christmas Baskets and the horse races at the fairgrounds. Ralph was a member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Pana; Pana Knights of Columbus, where he was past grand knight and had held several offices; and Pana Elks Lodge #1261. He also had served as city alderman in Ward One from May of 1995 to May of 2006. Ralph Johnson and Rosa “Rose” Cousin were united in marriage on Aug. 18, 1940. She preceded him in death on Sept. 24, 2006.

Surviving are their children, Roger (Sue) Johnson, Barrington and Rosemary (Charles) Kolesar, Oreana; four grandchildren, Chad (Kelly) Johnson, Cary, Bart (Tricia) Johnson, Barrington, Krista (Eric) Veech, Argenta and Kyle Kolesar, Decatur; eight great-grandchildren; brother, Wayne Johnson, Edna, Tex.; sister: Lela Carlton, Taylorville; and by his very special cousin, Sharon Sue Castle, Pana. He was also preceded in death by his parents, wife and his brother, Walter Johnson.

Funeral mass will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 29 in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church with Rev. Rodney A. Schwartz officiating. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Pana. Friends may call Friday, Jan. 28, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in McCracken-Dean Funeral Home, Pana.

Memorials may be made to Sacred Heart School; St. Patrick’s Catholic Church; or Pana Community Hospital Foundation.

Condolences may be sent to www.mdfh.com.

Debris Builds Up At Pana Recycling Site

TAKING CARE OF of A snow covered mess is Jim Deere Executive Secretary of the Pana Chamber of Commerce and City of Pana Development Director, left, and City of Pana Mayor Steve Sipes.

Jim Deere of the Pana Chamber of Commerce was notified Friday afternoon, Jan. 21, by Pana Wal-Mart that trash was overflowing the blue recycling dumpster located on the southwest corner of their parking lot.

The facility is managed by Christian County Solid Waste Management.

Apparently, the current dumpster was full and items were just thrown down on the ground next to the unit, ranging from cardboard (which is no longer accepted at the site) to plastics and even trash. When the empty dumpster was brought and the full one removed, a surprisingly large heap was left behind to be cleaned up.

Since no one was notified before the city employees were gone for the day, Sipes and Deere decided to clean it up themselves.

A sign is posted asking that individuals not leave recyclables/trash on the premises if the unit is full, however, in this case, the sign was not heeded.

Panthers Clobber Cavaliers

ALLISON ALLEN, 32, goes up for a shot during the Pana-Carlinville basketball game, Monday, Jan. 24, in the Pana High School gym. Allen scored 20 points and had 13 rebounds in Pana’s 59-21 win.

Watching to see if she’ll get a rebound opportunity for the Panthers is Ashley Funneman, 30 in background.

Both Allen and Funneman are two of four seniors who will be honored Monday night, Jan. 31,for Senior Night. It is also “Orange Out Night,” with all Pana fans asked to wear orange.

(Gene Reed Photos)

The Carlinville Cavaliers came to Pana on Monday, Jan. 24, to face the Pana Panthers girls basketball team in South Central Conference action. They might have been better off staying on the bus.

Pana turned 28 Cavalier turnovers into 17 points and held Carlinville to two first half field goals enroute to a 59-21 victory. Pana improved to 10-0 in the SCC and are 22-2 in regular season play.

What can you say when a team has more turnovers than points?

“That’s our bread and butter, that’s what we do really well, get out and pressure the basketball, try to turn defense into offense,” Head Coach J. R. Boudouris said after the game. “That’s something we didn’t do against Vandalia. We turned them over 26 times, but then we didn’t finish it off with points. Tonight, we didn’t shoot the ball very well, but I thought offensively we did a nice job converting the turnovers we forced.”

Carlinville finished the game with 28 turnovers and 21 points.

Several individuals played well for the Panthers on the offensive end, with both Allison Allen and Allie Schoonover each scoring 20 points apiece. Allen also grabbed 13 rebounds, 9 off the defensive glass. After scoring just 3 points in the first half, Lett finished the game with 14. Alyssa Waddington chipped in with 4 points and Jessica Harbert, starting for Nadine Vaughn who has been ill, had 1 point.

Pana shot 45% for the night, making 26-of-58. The Panthers shot a woeful 1-for-15 from behind the arc. Carlinville was 7-of-36, 19%. At the line, both teams made 6 free throws. Pana had 15 tries at the line, 40%, and Carlinville attempted 13 free throws, 46% Pana’s margin on rebounding was substantial with 43 caroms compared to 23 for Carlinville. After Allen’s 13 came Schoonover and Harbert with 7 apiece. Jessica Etter dished out 6 assists and Lett gave out 5. Allen had 7 steals and Schoonover made 5 thefts. Etter and Lett got 3 each. Pana had just 10 turnovers while Carlinville committed 28.

This evening, Thursday, Jan. 27, the Panthers are on the road for a re-match with the Vandalia Vandals. It is the second time the two teams will meet in 5 days. Pana was a 48-42 winner in that game.

The regular season is winding down as the Panthers will celebrate Senior Night, Monday, Jan. 31, in the Pana High School gym. Organizers are planning an “Orange-Out Night,” asking all fans to wear orange for the final home game. Seniors to be recognized are Jessica Etter, Ashley Funneman, Allison Allen and Jessica Harbert.

Pana finishes up on the road Thursday, Feb. 3, at East Alton-Wood River.

Each evening starts with junior varsity action at 6:00 p.m.

Pana Shuts Down Comets

The Pana Panthers boys basketball team picked up its fifth conference win and 15th overall on Tuesday, Jan. 25, with a 47-38 win at Greenville.

The game was a close one throughout, but Pana Head Coach Gary Bowker said the defense on Greenville’s top player, Dannon Young, in the final four minutes helped secure the Pana victory.

“The key player for us was Allen Kile tonight,” Bowker said. “Young had 18 of Greenville’s 38 points and we put Allen on him for the last four minutes of the game. He did a great job slowing him down.”

Jared McMillen led the Pana attack with 17 points and both Max Schmitz and Lucas Rochkes each scored 7. Allen Kile, David Kirkbride, Mitchell Beyers and Philip Arnold all had 4 points apiece.

The Panthers had a big advantage on the free throw line, making 15-of-25, 60%. Greenville got the line 7 times and made 2, 29%.

Taylorville Game–

Attention now turns to a game 14 years in the making.

For the first time since Dec. 9, 1997, the Pana Panthers and the Taylorville Tornadoes boys basketball teams will square off on the hardwood. The game is set for Saturday night, Jan. 29, in the Pana High School gym. Junior varsity action begins at 6:00 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for Jan. 11, but weather postponed the game.

And while it’s been a long time, some things never change. The 1997 roster, like the 2011 Pana roster, has a McMillen and a Beyers on it. This year’s team features juniors Jared McMillen and Mitchell Beyers. On the ‘97 team, the McMillen was Adam, Jared’s brother, and the Beyers was Nick, Mitchell’s cousin.

In addition to playing for county bragging rights, a special trophy has also been created for the game. It will be called the “Coal Miner’s Game,” with the trophy being a coal miner fashioned out of coal. The trophy will remain with the winning school until the next contest between them.

As an added attraction, the Pana Sports Boosters will be having their popular Taco Bar Supper in the Panthers Den. Serving is from 5:00-7:00 p.m.

The 15-2 Panthers (5-1 SCC) step back into league play Tuesday night, Feb. 1, as they host the Vandalia Vandals with a 6:00 p.m. tip-off for JV action.

Pana Youth Baseball/Softball Registration Announced

Pana Youth Baseball/Softball Organization will hold registration for the 2011 season on Saturday, Jan. 29, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and on Sunday, Feb. 27, from 2:00-5:00 p.m. in Pana High School.

Parents must be present on one of those days to register. Fees are due at the time of registration.

The following leagues will be offered:

• T-ball: 5 & 6 girls and boys (must be 5 by Apr. 30)  Fee $20;

• T-shirt: 7 & 8 girls & boys (must be 7 by Apr. 30)   Fee $30;

• Boys Baseball 9 & 10 (must be 9 by Apr. 30) Fee $30;

• Boys Baseball 11 & 12 (Must be 11 by Apr. 30)  Fee $30;

• Pony League boys 13 & 14 (must be 13 by Apr. 30)  Fee $55;

• Girls Softball 9-11 (must be 9 by Jan. 1) Fee $30

• Girls Softball 12-15 (must be 12 by Jan. 1) Fee   $30.

• Boys and girls traveling teams will have tryouts.  You must play on a league team to be able to tryout for traveling team. The fee is $30 and is due later.

If you have any questions, please contact Susan Ade or Karen Lett.

Obituaries: January 27, 2011

James D. Mundy

James Dale Mundy, 31, of Tower Hill, died Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011 in Vandalia. McCracken-Dean Funeral Home, Pana, in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be sent to www.mdfh.com.

Dora Beattie

Dora Beattie, 84, of Rochester, a native of Rosamond, died Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011 in Regency Nursing Care, Springfield. McCracken-Dean Funeral Home, Pana is assisting the family. Condolences may be sent to www.mdfh.com.