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Archives for February 2014

Pana Area Ground Zero – Again


BARELY FOUR MONTHS after an EF-1 tornado swept the west side of Pana, an EF-2 tornado touched down causing damage to property and trees on the east side of Pana, Thursday afternoon, Feb. 20.

And just like on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, Thursday was a windy, unseasonably warm day. The tornado appears to have formed about 3 miles south of Pana, then took a northeasterly track across the sky.

This shows some damage to trees and a shed on the Dale Warren property near the intersection of East Sixth St. Road and Sportsman’s Club Road east of Pana.


A TORNADO IS blamed for this damage to the Sharon and Ron Morrell home on the northeast corner of E. 6th St. Road and Sportsman’s Club Road on Thursday, Feb. 20. The twister tore down the garage and damaged the roof of the home.

No Warning Siren Sounds Due To Lack Of Information

The wild winter weather of 2014 continued on Thursday, Feb. 20, when an F-2 tornado skipped across the southeastern sky of Pana, causing damage along its four-mile route. While the area was under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for the afternoon on Thursday, information concerning a Tornado Warning did not reach the communications center of the Pana Police Department until after the severe weather had passed.

Pana Police Chief Daniel Bland and Pana Emergency Coordinator Rod Bland said because of a power outage in Taylorville, some necessary information through the LEADS (Law Enforcement Agency Data System) communications lines did not reach Pana. When the information did arrive, the tornado warning was issued for northern Christian and southern Sangamon Counties. By the time information got to Pana, the storm had already passed.

“Usually, 911 will activate weather spotters when severe weather threatens,” Rod Bland said. “They did not ask for spotters. But we had a few men at the fire station who volunteered to go out when the thunderstorm hit.”

He said two spotters went south on Route 51 and went to the County Line Road where they turned around about 4:20 p.m. on Thursday. They were only parked momentarily when they decided to head back to Pana. They reported heavy rain and wind and said visibility was nearly zero. When they got back on the highway, they discovered the damage at the Elvers Machine Shop property and a power line down on the highway.

The storm then skipped down to the Warren’s Grove area (E. 6th St. Road and Sportsman’s Club Rd.). It touched down on the Warren property, taking out a shed and breaking trees. It continued on a northeast track and struck the home of Ron and Sharon Morrell on the top of the hill. It took off the garage of the home and damaged the roof as well. A nearby shed was also destroyed.

There was damage to the roof of the Monica Puckett home and the siding and roof of the Vivi Klingberg home as well. The storm destroyed a shed on the Jim Mizeur property, spreading debris across a frozen pond. The home of Jake Sinclair had its roof lifted up and set back down and the garage door blew out. Some sheds were damaged and another one destroyed on the John Holthaus farm across Illinois Route 16 about a half-mile east of the Rosebud Corner.

According to Rod Bland, the storm was over in a little less than 3 minutes, having traveled at an estimated 67 mph. An EF-2 tornado produces winds in excess of 120 mph.

“All we knew was there was a possibility of severe weather,” Police Chief Bland said. “With the LEADS line down, we did not get information from the National Weather Service. We do have a weather radio in the office, but it was not near the dispatcher’s area and they did not hear it. We have since moved the radio into the area where the dispatcher can hear it.”

Bland said the department can activate the storm siren when necessary. They do not need to be told or get permission from any other agency.

“When certain criteria are met, we (Pana) have the authority to sound the alarm,” Bland said. “It is not a situation where we have to get permission from another agency before we sound it.”

He said the information they had at 4:10 p.m. on Thursday wasn’t sufficient to warrant setting off the siren.

“Our information said the tornado warning was for northern Christian and southern Sangamon Counties,” he said. “There was no indication there was a tornado anywhere near Pana.”

While strong winds remained, the severe weather was out of the area by 4:25 p.m.

It was those strong winds which are blamed for a fire which destroyed a home at the corner of Fourth and State Streets on the west side of Pana. According to Fire Chief Bland, the wind caused a large tree branch to snap off and hit high voltage lines in the alley between Chestnut and State streets. There was a serve of power into the Janet and Dave Brown home at 300 South State which caused the house to fill with smoke at 6:04 p.m. The owners reported seeing a blue streak and light bulbs were blown out throughout the house. It also caused a water line to rupture under the house. Police Chief Bland said he arrived at the house a minute after the fire was reported and flames were shooting out of the house.

The fire chief said there was major damage to the home, including the front room and kitchen.

The storm caused power outages throughout the area, including for 4-1/2 hours on the west side of Pana due to the above incident. Both Blands said they had no reports of any injuries due to the storm in the area.



Piasa Tops Pana on Senior Night; Beat Vandalia Saturday

The Piasa Southwestern Birds were 11-of-12 in free throw shooting for the fourth quarter, and a couple of controversial calls in the closing minutes were all part of the Birds’ 66-60 win in the Pana High School gym on Friday, Feb. 21. Seven senior boys players as well as four girls basketball players were honored prior to the start of the game. Also honored were senior members of the band and cheerleading squad.

“We came out cold and were down 12-0 right off the bat,” PHS Head Coach Gary Bowker said.  “The game was tied going into the fourth and they just made more plays than we did.”

Pana dug themselves a hole early, trailing 12-0 before Bowker called a time-out with 5:04 left in the quarter. The Panthers missed their first 8 shots and were 1-for-11 before they made their second basket. But, all 5 Pana baskets in the first quarter were 3’s, and Pana was only down 3 after one, 18-15.

As with the other 6 seniors, Kyle Gibson, playing his final game before the hometown Pana crowd, led the Panthers with 17 points. Another senior, Brock Trexler, had 10. Seniors Brock Beeson and  Kyle Miller added 7 and 6 points, respectively, and senior Evan Gatons had 4 points. Senior Jon McLeod put in 3 and senior DaSheng Lin had 2 points. Sophomore Jake Franklin scored 9 points with 10 rebounds and Rhett Zahradka had 2 points.

“I just wish our seniors would have gotten a win on senior night,” Bowker said. “All seven seniors scored and played well.  They are a great group of young men.”

Vandalia Game–

At Vandalia for a make-up game on Saturday, Feb. 22, the Panthers cranked up the offense and posted a 102-68 win over the Vandals.

Top Pana scorer was Kyle Gibson with 24 points and Jon McLeod finished with 20, making 6, 3 point baskets. Gibson had 3 treys and he was 7-of-8 at the free throw line. Both Kyle Miller and Jake Franklin added 8 points each and Evan Gatons and DaSheng Lin added 7 apiece. Brock Beeson chipped in with 6 as did Rhett Zahradka. Blake Kircher had 5 points with Trent Patton adding 4. Christian Lett ended up with 3 points and Brock Trexler and Braden Bumgardner scoring 2 points apiece.

With the regular season ending Saturday, Pana has an 11-15 mark overall. They finished with a 3-5 record in the South Central Conference.

Tonight, Monday, Feb. 24, Pana takes on Shelbyville in the first game of the IHSA Class 2A Regional, hosted by the Rams. Tip-off is 7:00 p.m.

The complete schedule of the regional was in the Thursday, Feb. 20, PN-P.


Meredith Epley To Shoot At State 3-Point Contest

Meredith Epley

Meredith Epley


Kristen Lenover

Kristen Lenover

Senior Meredith Epley of the Pana Panthers girls basketball team will appear in Redbird Arena Thursday, Feb. 27, as a participant in the Country Financial 3-Point Shootout. Epley qualified for the honor on Thursday, Feb. 20, prior to the finals of the Sectional at Carlinville.

She is the daughter of Debbie Holthaus and Luke Epley of Pana.

Epley made 10 of her 15 3-point attempts to advance to state. One other player made 11 to qualify for state as well.

Also making it to the sectional final was sophomore Kristen Lenover. She made 5 of her attempts and did not qualify for the state. She is the daughter of Rebecca Russell.

The first round of shooting is expected to begin about 5:00 p.m. Thursday.


Olivia Littleton Signs Letter of Intent To Bowl for RMU, Springfield


OLIVIA LITTLETON, PANA High School senior, seated at left, signed a National Letter of Intent to bowl for Robert Morris University, Springfield.

Seated at right is RMU Head Coach Jeff Carter. In back are her father, Chuck Littleton, Pana High School Girls Bowling Coach Dustin McDonald and her mother, Suzie Littleton.  

Olivia has bowled all four years at PHS, leading the team as a junior and senior.  When she started her bowling career, Olivia had little experience with bowling as a sport. She quickly decided bowling was something she enjoyed and wanted to commit herself to getting better. Not only did she work hard in season, she put in lots of hours outside of the season and made great strides quickly.

Olivia has been the heart of the PHS team the last two years, according to Coach McDonald. She carried the highest average two years in a row and led the team to its first regional victory this season. Her high game this year was 242 and her high series was 592 (her career high series is 627 in the 2012-2013 season). 

Olivia will be pursuing a degree in business administration and a minor in accounting.

Fact, Fun & Fillips: February 24, 2014



“What say you now, Patrick Cavanagh, as the Grand Canal, slips quietly by near Baggot Street bridge in Dublin, Ireland?”


Has the world reached what might have been its level of your higher expectations or does just the changing current and make-up of the Grand Canal, as the story says, still satisfy the fertile and busy mind of a literary giant? – Another Irishman Feb. 21 , 2014, in Pana, Ill.


What say you now Patrick Cavanagh? Much loved Irish poet of the Emerald Isle?


We’ll let you finish this phrase after reading just a poem on the Grand Canal and a snippet as taken from pages of “From the heart of Ireland to the Irish at heart” – magazine, Vol. 63, No. 2, March/April 2014”

And to whom we Thomas J. Phillips of the world, USA, make our own award for having found that he includes all the outstanding requisites for our nominating him for our own “favorite” Irish poet. This  after reading “his story” told by Ireland’s Editor Carissa Carey in the current edition of the magazine “Ireland of the Welcomes,” we mention above!

That’s why another “son of Ireland”, Thomas J. Phillips  Jr., we suppose, is glad for those who picked the “Irish diamonds (coal) for survival in Pana, Ill. – my grandfather  Charles and his brother, Tom.

Pana, Illinois, small coal mining village that with the discovery of that extensive and far reaching undercropping delivered what  such could do for a small otherwise, beside  its agricultural riches, would otherwise be without the fame that growing millions of roses have also brought to the city which was made famous for them and its bringing fame of sorts to Pana.

That’s as “rose capital of the world” at least to us and any others whoever saw the beautiful designed bank checks for years from the Pana, “The City of Roses.”

That mouthful alone could be the basis for another column! Except, that for now, one of the possible poets, in this Irishman’s choice  of a golden mind, paper reduced to poetry . . . . now goes to “Mr. Patrick Cavanagh.”

But first we must say and present for your acceptance a sample of that work of Mr. Cavanagh’s “genius with words” and emotions!

What a wonderful gift, it must be!


In another of his Canal poems, Kavanagh asked to be remembered

“. . . . with no hero-courageous Tomb – just a canal-bank seat for the passer-by”


And from here next time, we shall begin our mental machinations.


So Long.

Engagements: February 24, 2014


Jeff and Wendy Lewis of Bloomfield, Kentucky announce the engagement of their daughter, April Danielle Lewis to Quinton Dale Edward Witt, son of Scott and Kim Witt of Girard. April is the granddaughter of Leroy and Carol Lewis and Wendell Ockerman and the late Glenna Ockerman of Bloomfield, Ky. Quinton is the grandson of Jerry and Vera Seely of Girard, and Ed and Lena Witt of Herrick.

April graduated from Nelson County High School in 2010 and graduated from Midway College in 2012, earning her Associates Degree in Nursing. She currently attends the University of Louisville where she is working towards becoming a Nurse Practitioner. She is employed by Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, Ky. as a registered nurse.

Quinton graduated from Girard High School in 2004 and attended Knox College where he played football. He currently attends Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, earning his Industrial Maintenance degree. He is employed by Orbis in Bardstown, Ky.

The wedding is scheduled for May 3, 2014 in Bloomfield, Ky. in Bloomfield Baptist Church. The reception will be at the Bluegrass Entertainment and Exposition Complex in Bardstown, Ky.

Births: February 24, 2014

Dave and Manasi Cocagne of Chicago, are parents of a daughter, born at 11:11 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, at Prentice Women’s Hospital. Annika weighed 5 pounds, 1 ounce and was 18.3 inches long.

Grandparents are Cheryl Dagon, Taylorville and Bill Cocagne, Marion. Great-grandparents are Prabhat and Chandrabali Bhattacharyya, New York and the late Jim and Madge Dagon, Pana.

Blood Drive Mar. 5 In Pana

To help ensure an adequate blood supply for the region, a blood drive is being held in Pana First United Methodist Church, located at 619 Kitchell Street, Pana on Wednesday, Mar. 5. Hours are 1:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Donors may call the blood center toll-free to sign up at 1-866-GIVE-BLD or schedule an appointment online using sponsor code 60036 at

Walk-ins are also welcome and truly appreciated.

Central Illinois Community Blood Center, a not-for-profit organization, is the provider of life-saving blood for 14 hospitals throughout central Illinois, including Pana Community Hospital, Taylorville Memorial Hospital, and Springfield’s Memorial Medical Center and St. John’s Hospital.

Upcoming Events At Pana Senior Center

The Pana Area Senior Citizens will have their monthly meeting/meal on  at noon, Wednesday Mar. 5. Entertainment is by Don Bettis from Taylorville, singing and picking, beginning at 11:00 a.m. Lynnette DeClerk will be catering a meal of pork loin, potatoes, vegetable, salad and a dessert for $5. After the meal and meeting, bingo will be played.

All seniors over 60 are invited for the meal and all other activities at the center.

On Wednesday, Mar. 12, the Golden Circle Nutrition Program for meals at the center are resuming a regular meal on Wednesday. Suggested donation is $2.60 per meal.

Seniors get a nutritious meal and have games, Wii bowling, puzzles and many other activities going on daily from 9: 00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The Pana Senior Center is located at 188 US Highway 51 South, next door to the Eagles Club.


Obituaries: February 24, 2014

William Winter

William Winter, 54, of rural Tower Hill, died Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 in his residence. McCracken-Dean Funeral Home, Pana, in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be sent to


Shirley Crowe

Shirley M. Crowe, 81, of Pana, died today, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 in St. Mary’s Hospital, Decatur. McCracken-Dean Funeral Home, Pana, is assisting the family. Condolences may be sent to


Esther M. Oltmann

Esther Marie Oltmann, 88, of Nokomis, died at 5:01 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Hillsboro Area Hospital. Stiehl-Dawson Funeral Home, Nokomis, is in charge of arrangements.