2020 Year in Review

How we coped with Covid in April

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[January 09, 2021]  After the announcement in March that all of the state of Illinois was under a stay at home order, our world changed. So many of the things that we do every day, we were no longer “permitted” to do, like go to school and work or spend a Saturday morning shopping at our favorite downtown stores.

Driving around the heart of Lincoln was like driving around a ghost town, with empty parking spaces abundant all around the Logan County Courthouse square. It was a weird time, and one that most of this population had never experienced. Fact is the last time something this dire had occurred in Logan County was in 1918-1920 during the Spanish Flu.

Throughout the month of March there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Logan County. Because of this, many of our people were quite frustrated by the orders under which they were being forced to live. It was a difficult time for our small businesses and our people. Parents became teachers and teachers found themselves out of work or teaching remotely. Dining rooms became home schools and classrooms sat dark and empty gathering dust.

The fun, traditional events that we always enjoyed such as the April Lincoln Park District Easter Egg Hunt where canceled and many people were feeling the sadness of isolation, even though isolation was only beginning.

On April 2nd, Logan County recorded the first official case of coronavirus. While it had been reported by many health experts that the disease would have its greatest impact on the elderly, this first case in Logan County was a middle age person, a female in her 40’s.

LCDPH reports first case of coronavirus in Logan County

Even though there was one diagnosis in the community, coronavirus did not spread rapidly and by the end of the month, there were still fewer than 10 cases.

Before the end of March though, our community began to figure out ways to cope with Covid-19 and share love to those who on a regular day would have been enjoying special milestones or events.

On April 1st, LDN reported the first “drive-by” birthday party for 12 year old Elayna Marten of Mount Pulaski. While there was no fun filled party with family and friends, Elayna was delighted that she was remembered and recognized by those who were important in her life.

It's a real bummer for a pre-teen when celebrating your birthday means no party, no special time with family, and no chance to celebrate it at school with your BFF's. So when Elayna Marten of Mount Pulaski celebrated her 12th birthday, she wasn't expecting anything special. However, her friends and family had a different idea. Instead of gathering together for a party, those who know and love Elayna had a Covid-19 Birthday Parade past her house! In a bad situation, they gave Elayna a happy memory and a birthday she will never forget. Someday, when she is old and gray, she can tell her grandkids about the year she had her own special birthday parade!

A drive-by surprise for local 12 year old leaves everyone smiling

Kelton Olson of Elkhart was also recognized on his ninth birthday in a special way.

Last Thursday, Kelton Olson of Elkhart celebrated his ninth birthday. It was another Covid birthday with no big celebrations, no chance to enjoy it with friends at school.

To make his day special, dear friends Rob, Alissa, Landon and Olivia Smith put a large sign on the side of their vehicle and delivered a special birthday wish and gift to Kelton.

Ann Olson noted, "It wasn't a parade, but he was thrilled!"

Happy belated Birthday Kelton!

Photo by Ann Olson

Another drive-by event took place on Easter weekend and friends and family surprised Caroline Higgins. Caroline was ill and so she and husband Mike were being extra cautious. But with Easter holding a special place in Caroline’s heart, those who loved her wanted her to enjoy the weekend in the best way possible.

Caroline and Mike Higgins were beaming on Saturday afternoon as a parade of more than 100 cars came into their driveway with Easter greetings for the pair. Caroline was recently diagnosed with cancer and is at even higher risk than most of us for contracting coronavirus. They have been in complete isolation. Their good friends Chuck and Penny Fricke and Ron and Deb Ackerman decided that Easter was a great time to show some love to their friends. They put together a parade of cars and were amazed by the huge turnout.

See more in today's edition of Lincoln Daily News

Photo by Karen Hargis

Friends show their love for Caroline Higgins with an Easter Parade

An Easter Love parade brightens the day of a sweet lady - slideshow

And, Princess Belle visited Lincoln on a special mission to calm children during this unsettling time.

In Lincoln, Princess Belle is calming children by song - Album

At the end of March, the population of the state of Illinois was hoping that the stay at home orders would be short lived. However, on April first, Governor JB Prtizker announced that he would extend the order to last throughout the month of April.

It became a time to “take heart” and try to figure out how to cope with what was going on in our world. In that respect, there were those who knew that a little love and kindness could go a long way. Those people set out to show a little “heart” to all of our community.

First three

On Tuesday afternoon, Governor JB Pritzker announced that he had extended the Illinois Stay at Home Order to April 30th. We know that for many of you, and us at LDN as well, that is a hard pill to swallow, but we have a duty to support that decision.

We're giving you a little heart this morning, to help you all know that there are a lot of us going through this and trying to take heart and show you our love from the inside out, literally.

The center pic is super cute, good for April Fool's Day, and we hope it makes you smile. It was submitted via our Facebook page by Angie Brooks. Shannon Neibuhr Gonzalez provided the two flanking pictures. We draw your attention to the large top heart in the right-hand photo. It expresses [love] "to the world," a sentiment we hope all will share.

Photos taken from LDN FB page

04/02 – top x 4

Carrie Groves, her daughter Izzy and Carrie's best friend Chris Parks spent the weekend and Monday showing a little love for our downtown businesses. The business windows not already decorated with hearts were done by the trio to show love for our community and our small businesses that are struggling right now. Thanks ladies for the wonderful gesture.

Photos by Lisa Ramlow

Take HEART Mount Pulaski and "hang in there." Those are the messages that we are sharing to all the community and especially to residents of the Mount Pulaski area from residents Clair and Olivia Cyrulik. The girls, age 10, drew the great big message on the retaining wall at their home. Their mom Angie sent the photo to Lincoln Daily News and we are happy to share it along with all the other HEARTwork we have received. We've been spreading out the hearts and there are still more to come, so stay tuned!

Photo by Angie Cyrulik

How many of us remember the Care Bears? It is so sweet and inspirational in its own way. They were adorable little bears that children loved to cuddle, and many kids had their favorites. Each one had a special symbol on its tummy, and this particular bear is "Tenderheart." And he is showing his love by pouring out a bucket of hearts all over the window.

Maybe this could be our best message as we approach Easter this year. We should all show love (from a distance) to those who mean so much to us. What better time to appreciate those who are an important part of our lives on a daily basis?

Our hope for the best outcome of this terrible disease we are all sheltering from, is that when it is over we will love more deeply, share more generously, and give more of ourselves to those who are important to us.

Photo by Lisa Ramlow

Lincoln resident gives ‘Heart” to downtown businesses

Local trio shows a little "Heart" for local businesses - slideshow

More HEARTwork from our downtown merchants - Album

CCAonline sends a message of love to all of you

A little more heart from the hearts of our community - slideshow

04/16 community x 4

Here are a few more ‘hearts’ for our community from the hearts of the community. The two pictures on the left were sent in by Bobby Taylor of Mount Pulaski. Bobby is one of those rare people who is an essential worker by default. She runs a daycare facility that would typically be closed. However, she is still caring for the children in her program whose parents are healthcare workers. It's kind of a trickle-down effect, where to support those front line workers a second line has to keep functioning as well. The week before Easter, the children decorated the windows at Bobby's with hearts as well as a lovely stained glass cross for Easter.

The second set of hearts (on the right) comes from Rebecca Johnson of Lincoln. Many will remember that Rebecca worked for St. Clara's Rehab and Senior Care as the activity director for years. She retired last year in April.

Rebecca is known for being crafty and artistic. She said that to do her hearts she decided to use Mother's Day and Birthday Cards she has received from her kids and grandkids. She filled her front door glasses with hearts and noted, "That's a lot of love" put up "in thanksgiving to all the amazing people helping during this difficult time."

Photos by Bobby Taylor and Rebecca Johnson

The unusual circumstances under which all were living brought out the creativity in some of our local residents in other ways. It was time to think outside the box so to speak, and many of our people became quite good at doing so.

With schools closed, even the colleges, continuing the school year became challenging. From grade school to college, students were expected to educate at home via internet.

College professor Ron Keller figured out how to engage the students in his class and hold their interest during study time via video re-enactments.

Lincoln College Professor Ron Keller finds online ways to bring history to life

The thought of no Easter Bunny for children in 2020 was heart breaking for downtown owners Lisa Mestinsek (Top Hat Creamery) and Kathie Williams (Small Town Creations). The popular ice cream shop was permitted to be open for curbside pickup, as were all other food service businesses.

The two put their heads together and hippity hop the bunny showed up at the ice cream shop!

Easter Bunny delivers sweet treats from Top Hat Creamery - Album

While no one was supposed to socially interact with others, there were ways in which messages of support and hope could be delivered. Some went old school with notes and messages, many drawn with calk on sidewalks.

Wednesday was a nice warm day and a great day to get outside and share some love messages.

That is what little Zayna did with help from her grandparents Josh McCoy and Steph Roseboom.

Zayna sent messages to all of us: "Stay Safe, Wash your hands, Be positive, Walking is good, and God Bless USA."

She also sent a special thank you to nurses everywhere.

Our favorite is the large one she wrote on the edge of her concrete driveway "I (heart) 6 ft. apart!"

See more in today's edition of Lincoln Daily News.

Photos by Josh McCoy

Messages on the sidewalks - Album

As the world was coming to grip with just how serious the pandemic was, and the danger of loss of life or at least serious illness if contracted, it was our frontline workers who were quietly doing their jobs even though they were putting themselves in harm’s way day in and day out.

[to top of second column]

In Logan County, there were many who understood and appreciated this, even though the numbers locally were still relatively small. What our police, fire, EMS, nurses and doctors were doing to protect and help us did not go un-noticed, and some felt the strong need to support and thank those workers.

In another community a project called Flag 2020 was underway. At home with time to research various topics on the internet Angie Cyrulik of Mount Pulaski discovered Flag 2020 and knew that this was a project she could get behind and implement locally.

She began Flag 2020 – Lincoln IL and was immediately shocked and happily surprised by the overwhelming response. The goal was to raise money to purchase carry out meals for local front line workers starting with the hospitals.

The project exploded before her very eyes, and soon, she had raised enough money to deliver meals multiple times to the hospitals as well as many, many other frontline workers.

Cyrulik noted that this was a win-win project because all the food was ordered from local eateries that were open for pick-up or delivery only. The loss of dining room service was having a terrible impact on those restaurants, and this project helped them out as well.

FLAG 2020 – Lincoln, IL makes a big difference for front line workers and local restaurants

Other local groups also got involved in supporting front line workers in different ways.

Volunteers from Open Arms Christian Fellowship Church recently donated 100 cloth face masks to St. Clara's Rehab and Senior Care. With a shortage of masks this was a valued donation the management and staff of St. Clara's greatly appreciated

Some have suggested that perhaps when we do have to go out, that we wear a mask. We have seen folks wearing masks locally when shopping. If you are interested in making a mask for yourself, LDN does have a link to two U-tube videos that will show you how. Memorial Health Systems is also seeking donations of masks and we're confident there are other local facilities that would benefit from them as well.

St. Clara's staff receive prayers and words of encouragement from Safe Haven Hospice - Album

Friendship Manor Quilters make masks for our front line workers

Heartland Community College recently made a donation of medical supplies to Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital.

With on-site teaching suspended for the rest of the year, Dean and Department Chair of Health Sciences Jennifer O'Connor gathered up supplies that would not be used by Heartland and delivered them to the hospital. The donation was accepted by Tara Morris (blue scrubs) who works at the ALMH Emergency Room and is also an instructor at HCC.

HCC also made additional donations to OSF St. Joseph in Bloomington-Normal.

ALMH began accepting donations directly Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on weekends by appointment only. To make a delivery on weekdays, go to the service/delivery door on the back side of the hospital and ring the bell. Appointments are required only for weekend drop offs.

Photo provided by Steve Fast

Heartland Health Sciences donate materials to Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital

LDN found this impressive window with a beautiful message in Lincoln on the south side of Scully Park. We went searching for Jenny Lewis to find out the rest of the story. Jenny is a procedural technician in labor and delivery at St. John's Hospital in Springfield.

She said that the window was a surprise gift from her mother-in-law with help from her husband and children and input from Jenny's mom. Jenny said the window and its message of support was their way of telling her how proud they were of the work she is doing on the frontlines during the coronavirus. And that they extended those feelings to all frontline healthcare workers as well.

Jenny said when the sign first went up and she was out looking at it, there were some people in Scully Park across the street who came to the edge and started clapping for her. It was very touching, "and it made me proud to go to work and do my job."

LDN is proud of you too, Jenny. And we are grateful to you and every healthcare worker risking his or her health to take care of others. You are our heroes.

Photos Karen Hargis

Lincoln Community High School also hosted a “Light for the Fight” event with the dual purpose of showing support for front line workers and also for showing love to the Class of 2020 who was going to be missing out on many of its milestone events. By this time schools had been closed to the end of the school year, proms had been cancelled, and sports was suspended. Graduation ceremonies would be another opportunity to think outside the box. In all our students were getting the short end of the stick, and many wanted them to know they were thought of and loved, thus the combined event.

Lincoln shows up for Light For The Fight - Covid-19 Album

As the month progressed there was also a need for food in the community. It was a time when schools were closed and kids were not getting the nutrition they needed because of it. Parents were stretching their dollars to the best of their ability under the circumstances, but being off work, on unemployment, and needing to provide multiple meals per day for the family was putting a terrible strain on them.

Again, the community stepped up to help out.

Open Arms partners with local restaurants to provide Sunday lunch to the community

Open Arms & Guzzardo's provide Sunday Lunch for the community - slideshow

Copper Creek Staff play "Ding-dong Dash!" to help those in need - Album

District 27 continues to provide nutritious meals for at risk children - Album

Lincoln Logan Food Pantry serving more customers than ever due to Covid-19

There was also some financial assistance coming into the community. Locally, Enel North America (owners of Logan County windfarms in the Mount Pulaski area) donated $65,000 to relief efforts in Latham, Mount Pulaski and Lincoln.

Enel North America Commits $65,000 Toward COVID-19 Relief Efforts in Central Illinois
First Responders in Latham and Mount Pulaski will receive $50,000
Pledges $5,000 to Lincoln Logan Food Pantry

The Logan County Airport received a funding commitment through the federal CARES act.

LaHood Applauds Over $16.5 Million in CARES Act Funding for 18th District Airports
Logan County Airport to receive $30,000

Lincoln Daily News also embarked on an effort to help the community cope with what was going on around them. To educate and inform all of us about the various aspects and impacts of Covid-19, LDN embarked on a series of articles talking with local folks about what was going on in their lives and businesses as a result of the disease. The goal was to share knowledge and assist all of us in gaining perspective and understanding the sacrifices of the community at this point in time.

A closer look: How the Covid-19 Pandemic is changing our lives
By Dr. Paul E. Boatman

Explaining the pandemic and shelter-in-place to younger children

Lincoln postal worker Teena Lowery said, “As I was walking along my mail route in Nugent Place one day recently I noticed a little girl outside snapping a picture of this window. Turns out an eight-year-old girl and her mom created this artwork and beautiful message. It took them between 3 - 4 hours to complete. As you can see it has everything people are looking for these days. As mom Nikki Rhoades said, “Whether you are hunting for hearts, bears, Easter eggs or just a little bit of encouragement we have got you covered.”

In today's edition, LDN reporter Angela Reiners catches up with the family responsible for this artwork and talks with mom Nikki Rhoades about how to talk to your children about social distancing and the coronavirus. Be sure to check it out.

Photo by Teena Lowery

How to talk to your children about social distancing and the corona virus

How to explain shelter in place to an older child with special needs

Companies help employees transition to working from home

Staying connected: Working from home benefits and challenges

Essential workers on the front lines taking precautions

Because of the stay at home orders, the newly created Community Champion awards presented by Lincoln Daily News were put on hold in March. However, in April the trophy was posted in our daily edition and a show of long-distance love was given to all our front line workers.

Community Champions for April 2020

LDN also checked in with some of our local businesses and institutions to see how they were doing. Some were getting creative to help their business and the community, while others took on the attitude of “just keep on truckin’.”

Debbie’s Downtown Floral offers solutions for the ‘Stay at Home’ blues
Put flowers on your table this Easter season, maybe let the kiddo’s do the arranging

Truckers keep on trucking during the pandemic

St. Clara's residents are doing well and looking forward to seeing family again soon - Album

Quality Inn serves essential travelers with the utmost care

Timber Creek Village residents and staff doing well in these unusual times

A message to the community from Administrator Tisha Abner

Christian Village standing strong in the face of Covid-19

Of course, school sports were officially over for the year. To mark this and honor those who lost some good opportunities at a state championship, LDN’s Sports Writer Teena Lower put together her final thoughts on the season.

Some final thoughts on the Railers basketball season

Even though the daily headlines included something about the coronavirus pandemic there was other news in Logan County.

To the best of our ability, our community continued to do many of the things it would have done otherwise, including giving to those in need, celebrating spring, and keeping our city and county moving forward.

Lincoln City Council meets under unique conditions
Small business relief, 2020-21 Budget, insurance and more

Lincoln aldermen set to approve 2020/2021 fiscal year budget

On Tuesday afternoon, Graue Chevrolet technicians handed over six bicycles to Christy Fruge of the Lincoln D.A.R.E. program. The bikes had been retrieved from the unclaimed stack of bikes at the city street department building and were refurbished by Graue technicians.

Fruge will work with local school teachers and School Resource Officers to give the bikes to deserving youth in Lincoln.

Photo by Nila Smith

Graue technicians refurbish abandoned bikes for Lincoln D.A.R.E. program

Andie Halley of Atlanta has been selected as the new Executive Director at the Christian Village in Lincoln. Halley is well qualified to fill the position and is looking forward to a bright future at the Village. She notes that her love for our senior population comes from her love for her own grandparents and the relationship she had with them, especially her grandfather. She noted that when making a decision, "I think of my Grandpa Bob and ask myself, would this be good enough for him?"

Photo provided by Christian Village

One interesting and unique story came from a tip and photos from reader Brad Matthews. Asian Carp had invaded Lincoln Lakes, and in April Shawn Price of Price Fisheries was hired to resolve the issue.

Now that is a boatload of fish! Shawn Price of Price Fisheries was recently hired by the Lincoln Lakes Condo Association to come to Lincoln and help rid of the invasive Asian Carp that have taken over the lakes. Price is a commercial fisher who does a lot of environmental fishing, helping to rid the Midwest of the invasive fish that are detrimental to other fish as well as the eco-system of the public waterways. In two days, the harvest from the lake exceeded 17,000 pounds. The fish were sold, some for food, and others for use in the production of fertilizer.

Photo by Brad Matthews

Lincoln Lakes ridded of Asian Carp

Finally, Mother Nature also did her part to keep the community entertained in April. Some may not have been so pleased with her efforts such as Laurel Sutton who found herself in a very frightening situation at the hands of the weather.

Though it was only a bit before 5 p.m., outside the evening sky looked more like it typically does around 7 p.m. or so. The storm was on its way. In a few short minutes the wind arrived, and also heavy rain that rolled down the streets in waves. It only lasted a few minutes in Lincoln, but it was long enough to wreak havoc around the Logan County community. The Illinois State Police reported multiple semi tractor-trailers were knocked over on Interstate 55 between Elkhart and Lincoln. Power went out in a wide portion of Lincoln as well as rural areas and other communities. Much of the reason for the power outages were snapped power poles and broken lines. In Lincoln, power was restored relatively quickly coming back on around 6:30 p.m. in many areas.

Photos by Nila Smith

On Wednesday evening, Laurel Sutton had finished her day working at CEFCU in Lincoln and was on her way home for the night. As she headed south on Primm Road a heavy storm hit the area with hard fast winds.

In an instant, Laurel found herself in a situation no one ever wants to be in. Power poles were falling in front of her vehicle as well as behind! She was trapped in her car while the storm raged around her.

Thankfully she was rescued by local first responders and Ameren, but it is surely an event that she will never forget.

Thanks to all who helped Laurel, and Laurel - we are happy that you are okay!

Photo printed with permission from Laurel's sister Mitzi Rohlfs.

Straight line winds do damage in Mount Pulaski

But, Mother Nature also did us a solid, giving us peace, calm, and beautiful scenes to help us forget what was going on around us.

The beauty of nature is all around us. This area is a popular sheltering place for heron. The large birds build their nest in colonies high in trees. The nests are generally about three-and-a-half feet in diameter to accommodate the big birds. When in flight, the birds present an awesome sight with a six-foot wing span.

Photo by Curtis Fox

An amazing sunset at Kickapoo Creek Park promotes a sense of peace and tranquility during troubled times in our community. A walk in the park, observing social distancing, is good for the body and the mind. While it is going to be rainy today according to the weatherman at least, perhaps Sunday or later next week, you will take that opportunity to commune with nature and draw strength and inner peace from its fantastic serenity.

Photo by Jan Youngquist

The beauty of nature - slideshow

Spring arrives at Kickapoo Creek Park

As a result, we reached a point when we looked around us and imagined that the work was almost normal.

The world looks almost normal - slideshow

So, in that first few weeks, this is how we coped with covid. Maybe we could have done a little better in some areas, but for the most part, we showed the strength and resilience of the community, as well as compassion for others.

If you don’t think we are blessed, think again. This is a great place to live and great people to live among.

As we go into May and in the months ahead we’ll locally see more chin up attitude as we hear the “Same song, different verse.”

[Nila Smith]

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