2020 Year in Review

May begins same song, ‘Corona’ second verse

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[January 09, 2021]   The month of May 2020 began much the same way that April ended. Businesses were closed, schools were closed, people were staying at home, and the financial stability of many households, as well as many of the small businesses in the community was at risk.

Perhaps the ones who were most hurt by all of this, outside of financial concerns, were the students in the county, especially the high school and college seniors who had at the first of the year been looking forward to so many wonderful activities and events geared just to them.

There would be no prom for high school seniors. No graduations for junior high, high school and college students. There was not supposed to be any graduation parties, no get togethers of any kind.

Only the essential businesses and services were able to stay open. Even then, the governor had issued orders about the wearing of face masks and social distancing, saying that there would be repercussions to any business that did not enforce the rules.

In response to the rule, Logan County Sheriff Mark Landers issued a statement saying that no one in Logan County would be prosecuted for not wearing a face mask. At the same time, he explained that there were state statutes that could and would be enforced, and he explained what that meant.

Logan County Sheriff will not enforce Governor's Executive Order regarding face masks - WILL enforce violations of State Statutes

Midway through the month, some small businesses, desperate to save what they had worked so hard for chose not to obey the governors orders about the closure of non-essential businesses. The re-opening of some of those retail establishments, eateries, and bars prompted a letter from Lincoln Mayor Seth Goodman.

Lincoln Mayor Seth Goodman
Letter to Lincoln business owners - Pdf

In the meantime, many people were struggling with the loss of special events for area students. While it would be impossible to hold a prom, there were options that could be explored for honoring graduates.

Once again, Logan County figured out how to think outside the box, and students were publicly recognized, perhaps more than they would have been in a normal year.

Lincoln Community High School honors Class of 2020 with a parade

Cars at the fairground - crowds downtown - slideshow

The parade arrives in downtown Lincoln - slideshow

And the parade goes on - slideshow

And the parade goes on and on... - slideshow

And the parade goes on and on and on... - slideshow

And the parade goes on and on and on...AND ON - slideshow

Parade concludes with lights & sirens for our seniors - slideshow

LCHS seniors walk across the stage - video presentation to come later

LCHS seniors walk across the stage for graduation video - slideshow

On Sunday evening the seniors at Mount Pulaski High School experienced a unique graduation event. After parading through town, passing all the schools in the town they may have attended throughout their early education years, students returned to the high school where they were handed their diplomas in a 'drive-by" ceremony.

LDN has additional coverage from the MPHS senior parade in today's edition.

Photo by Teena Lowery

Hilltoppers Class of 2020 get parade and drive-thru diplomas

Students gather in the high school parking lot - slideshow

Awaiting the start of the parade -slideshow

And away they go! - slideshow

Students receive their diplomas from the back of their cars - slideshow

Mount Pulaski Eighth Grade Promotion Tribute video - Link

Mount Pulaski High School Class of 2020 Graduation video - Link

Claire Coogan - Class President speech

Isabella Wade - Valedictorian speech

Elaine Aylesworth - Salutatorian speech
Mount Pulaski High School Class of 2020 Honors, Awards and future plans
With Photos

On Friday morning volunteers were busy placing approximately 500 signs on the Logan County Courthouse lawn in Lincoln. The signs each contained the name of a graduating eighth-grader or senior from a Logan County school.

LDN has additional coverage of the event in today's edition.

Photo by Nila Smith

Graduates honored with signs on the Logan County Courthouse Square

A celebration of graduates on the lawn of the Logan County Courthouse - Junior High Schools - slideshow

A celebration of graduates on the lawn of the Logan County Courthouse - Senior High Schools - slideshow

At Lincoln College, eight young students found themselves in a very unique position. The college had been closed, and students had been expected to return home and continue their year through remote education. However, these eight called China home and international travel had been banned. The kids were caught in their own personal Twilight Zone, stuck at school, but not technically in school. They handled it with much grace and patience.

Students all around the country have experienced the weirdest and most unconventional school year in history. For eight young Chinese students participating in a first-time exchange program through the McKinnon School of Business at Lincoln College, this is a year they will never, ever forget. With the coronavirus upon us, most of the students are still at Lincoln College and unable to return to their homeland. In today's edition, the group talks about their experiences at LC during the regular school year and the tremendous support they have received from campus staff as they shelter in place in a foreign land.

Photo by Angela Reiners

Chinese students share learning abroad in Lincoln during a global pandemic

A letter to Lincoln Daily News from Armstrong Zheng

Remote learning dominated days of most young people and their parents or grandparents. Schools were closed but students were still expected to continue on with their education. Teachers, kids, and parents learned quickly how to conduct daily education via school websites, emails and Zoom meetings.

For younger students and their teachers the lack of contact was a difficult hurdle. Teachers such as Jenelle Schott continued to find new ways to connect with their students.

Last Sunday Jenelle Scott (center) and her parents Jan and Mike Brosamer were on hand to assist sister and daughter Marci Eads of Mama's Arcade in putting together a truckload of food for the OACF Sunday lunch.

While waiting to help out, the trio was working on another project. Scott is a teacher at Chester-East Lincoln School. With school not in session right now, Scott, like many other teachers, is working to find creative ways to stay in touch with her students. On Sunday, the three were putting bags of microwave popcorn into envelopes to be sent to each of Scott's students.

Scott invited her kids to pop the corn and settle in to watch a movie with her. While they were all in different locations, they would still be able to do something together. Scott uses Zoom to meet with her students, and the movie they are going to watch together will be played during the class Zoom meeting today.

Photo by Karen Hargis

School clubs and other youth based groups also found ways to keep in touch and enjoy a bit of time together apart.

On Friday morning, members of the Mount Pulaski High School FFA and FFA Alumni enjoyed a tractor drive around the high school.

Annually, FFA students at local high schools are permitted to drive their tractors to school on one specific day during the school year. Mount Pulaski FFA Advisor and Ag teacher Ralph Allen wanted to keep up the tradition in some way. Because school is not in session, the kids couldn't drive to school, but they could drive around the school.

Photo by Lisa Ramlow

Mount Pulaski FFA & FFA Alumni Tractor Parade

Load'em up - Move'em out! - slideshow

Drivers and spectators enjoy the morning - slideshow

On Thursday evening, Audra Turley and her crew hosted a drive-by greeting event for her students at Audra's Dance Studio.

Turley said that the kids have not been able to attend classes since March and she hasn't seen them nearly as much as she would normally. She said she and her staff miss their students and know that the students are missing their dance classes.

Turley and her instructors Brande Montgomery and Hope Duffy, assistants Emma Stoltzenburg, Lydia Roland, and Jayden Lawrence, along with Turley's daughter Faith enjoyed seeing a number of their students as they were driven past the studio by their parents.

Photo by Nila Smith

The crew at Audra's enjoy drive-by greetings from dance students - slideshow

Another demographic that was suffering the hardship of isolation was our residents in local assisted living and long-term care facilities. With visits with family no longer allowed, the residents got the opportunity on occasion to wave through a window to loved ones, and facility managers made it possible for as many as were able to spend time using the facetime app on cellphones to get to see the ones they loved.

In the middle part of May, The Christian Village hosted a parade for its residents. Friends, family and loved ones gathered in their vehicles while residents lined the main street into the village campus. Then, the cars, many decorated with signs and balloons, drove through the area shouting out and waving to their loved ones.

Christian Village family parade brings cheers and tears of joy

Residents and vehicles line up for the parade - slideshow

A parade of happy faces begin the trip down Seventh Street - slideshow

Smiles and waves for everyone at the Christian Village Parade - slideshow

At St. Clara’s Rehab and Senior Care, a different kind of project was underway in May. A variety of custom made posters were popping up that featured photos and greetings from family members. The posters were intended to send love and support to the residents whom they could not visit in person for the time being.

Recently, a couple of residents living at St. Clara's Rehab and Senior Care received these special gifts from family members. The extra-large photos are designed to go outside on the lawn. It is just one unique way that families are reaching out to one another during the stay at home orders implemented by the state in response to Covid-19.

Photo provided by Darcie Culbertson

Back on the birthday trail, there were a couple of youngsters who enjoyed unique “parties” to celebrate their birthdays. May birthday celebrations included a Kona-ice party for Cori Clark and a drive-by parade for the Stone siblings of Mount Pulaski.

For her 15th birthday, Cori Clark of Elkhart had big ideas of how she would spend it with friends. She began months ahead thinking about what she wanted to do and sharing her desires with her family. The plan had to include Kona Ices for all her party guests. When the coronavirus put a halt to large gatherings, Cori and her family hatched another big plan that included a Kona Ice truck parked in their driveway and a parade of cars! Cori's dad tells the full story in today's edition of Lincoln Daily News.

Photo by Teena Lowery

Local diva, Cori Clark, celebrates 15th Birthday in Kona-Ice style

Mount Pulaski Stone siblings share a birthday and a drive by parade

Local groups continued to battle with whether or not they would be able to host annual events in 2020 as they had in past years.

For many it was a huge disappointment when the Lincoln Park District announced that with all the restrictions on gathering and social distancing from the state, it would not be able to host a Fourth of July celebration. In addition, the park district would not be able to open the aquatic center for the summer.

Lincoln Park District cancels Fourth of July activities
Aquatic Center will not open this season

Another annual event, the Route 66 Garage Sales was canceled also. It was a big disappointment and a huge financial blow when the Humane Society of Logan County announced that it would not be hosting its annual garage sale at the Logan County Fairground.

Humane Society cancels annual garage sale for 2020

[to top of second column]

As is almost always the case, when our local organizations are hurting, people step up. So, while it was a surprise to the HSLC, it was certainly not shocking to learn that a particular birthday deemed a great donation to the no-kill animal shelter.

Pet birthday leads to a big donation for the Humane Society of Logan County

Even under such stressful times as what had been seen in the last few months in Logan County, there was still a lot of good going on in the community. Supporting one another is what Logan County residents do best, and it showed in the daily editions of Lincoln Daily News.

Toys for Tots provides books for children in the New Holland-Middletown School District

On Wednesday, May 20th, Lincoln College staff and volunteers prepared and delivered meals to a variety of front line workers and first responders in Lincoln. The Lunches were to say 'thank you' to those who have given so much of themselves to protect our community from Covid-19. Meals were delivered to several locations, including the Logan County Safety Complex, Logan County Department of Public Health and Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital. The meals were also available for curbside pickup at the Meyer-Evans Student Center on the campus of Lincoln College.

Photo provided by Lauren Grenlund

Lincoln College says thanks with free lunch for front line workers - Album

Pink Bows for Healthcare workers go up at ALMH

On Tuesday morning, our area farmers were at it again at Topflight Grain Cooperative's Krueger Elevator north of Lincoln. The farmers once again set to work gathering food for the Lincoln/Logan Food Pantry.

On this day they saw a tremendous outpouring of generosity from local folks. All totaled, 76 different individuals brought donations that filled the back of a box trailer. Others brought in cash donations that came to about $570.

The event was organized by Jeff Elsas, Bill Sahs and the Krueger Coffee Club. Chelsie Coers with the Logan County Farm Bureau Young Leaders also came to help out during the drive.

Photos by Karen Hargis and from Facebook

On Wednesday afternoon, the crew at Graue Chevrolet in Lincoln turned over 12 refurbished bicycles to the Lincoln D.A.R.E. program. The bikes were taken from the city of Lincoln's unclaimed property pile, checked over and necessary repairs made by the technicians at Graue. Officer Christi Fruge of the Lincoln D.A.R.E. will work with local school teachers and officials to determine who in the community could benefit from a new bicycle.

Photo provided by Chris Graue

With educational facilities closed early in 2020, a couple of the institutions took advantage of the time to start renovation projects in May rather than waiting until later in the year.

Renovation work started on the LCU Hargrove Chapel on Wednesday. The auditorium is getting a facelift this summer with new flooring, theater seating instead of long pew benches and fresh paint.

Seeing the project underway brought back memories for LDN's Karen Hargis, who is a graduate of LCU. "I came to Lincoln in 1971 to go to school at LCU (Lincoln Christian College then). That first year there was no chapel, but big plans were in the making for it. I was one of the many students that went to help tear down the corn crib that stood where the chapel is now. I was one of the students that snuck in while the chapel was being built to watch the massive construction and to pray. I remember thinking this was Holy ground back then and even now.

"Thousands have entered that place for chapel service, conferences, plays, concerts, and even funerals. I wonder how many have had the same thought about it seeming like Holy ground, and yet I am reminded that it is not the place that is Holy; it's the Holy One that hears those prayers. Wherever we are, that place becomes His holy ground."

Photos by Karen Hargis

Many improvements on the way at LCHS

Summer projects will improve viewer quality at LCHS sports programs - slideshow

Another big project also got its kick-start in May. An economic development project in Atlanta had been approved and on the drawing board since early in 2019. In May, ground was broken on the long awaited Atlanta truck stop. The travel complex would include fuel, a convenience store and fast food restaurant.

Atlanta Truck Stop groundbreaking jump starts local economy

By the end of the month, restrictions on businesses began to ease and Logan County communities began a re-awakening as those “non-essential” businesses were permitted to re-open with limitations. Among the limitations was an order from the state that there would be no indoor seating at restaurants. However, any eatery able to do so was permitted to offer outdoor dining.

Community leaders began right away working to re-open their cities and offer assistance to eateries that needed outdoor seating.

Lincoln Aldermen consider how to reopen from coronavirus
City parks playgrounds now open

City of Lincoln offers accommodations for outdoor dining areas for local bars and restaurants

Cooke Street in Mount Pulaski closed Friday and Saturday evening for outdoor dining

Downtown Lincoln rolling with the punches and getting back in business in Illinois’ phase three

For the first time, a new idea sprang up at the Logan County Fairgrounds. Food trucks were coming in on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. Nuthatch Hill BBQ and Culler’s Fry fans were excited to be able to pull in and grab a lunch featuring what is typically considered fair and festival food.

What could be better than a great big order of Cullers Fries? How about pairing it with a tasty BBQ sandwich from Nuthatch Hill BBQ Company? That's right, you can do precisely that three days a week at the Logan County Fairground in Lincoln. The two food-truck style businesses are teaming up to offer another lunch option for the community. Both businesses will be open at the fairground on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Hours for Cullers is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nuthatch will be on hand from 10:30 a.m. until the food runs out.

Photos by Karen Hargis

Public gatherings, with restrictions still in place, were permitted just in time for Memorial Day. Citizens were encouraged by the state’s department of public health to observe social distancing and still wear a facemask to outdoor events. Indoor events were heavily restricted and for many not worth the effort.

The American Legion in Lincoln hosted its annual Memorial Day services outside in the Legion parking lot. Seats were placed six feet apart, and many of the guests either wore their masks or stayed in their vehicles to witness the ceremony.

American Legion Post 263 Memorial Day Service respectful of past military and our current situation

American Legion Post 263 hosts Memorial Day Services in Lincoln - slideshow

Memorial Day events were also held in Mount Pulaski.

Mount Pulaski honors veteran sacrifices with double services

Just in time for Memorial Day, the Lincoln Rotary announced that new Hometown Hero banners had been placed downtown around the Logan County Courthouse square. Many enjoyed getting out and taking a look at the new banners and remembering the veterans portrayed in the images.

In time for Memorial Day, the Lincoln Rotary has put up 24 new military Hometown Hero banners in the downtown Lincoln area. The banners are in addition to what was put up last year.

LDN has a list of the new banners with their locations and a slideshow of the new banners in today's edition.

Photo by Nila Smith

Lincoln Rotary adds new banners to Hometown Hero Military Tribute

In time for Memorial Day Lincoln Rotary adds 24 new banners honoring our Military Heroes - slideshow

Other news

In other news, the Logan County community in general and the Habitat for Humanity of Logan County specifically lost a very dear friend in the early part of the month.

It is with great sadness that today we remember Leonard Krusemark. Leonard was a great man with a deep love for all people. He was heavily involved in the Habitat for Humanity of Logan County. He presented each new homeowner a family Bible at the house blessing and often shared his words of wisdom gained over his 90 years of life.

Leonard joined the angels on Friday, May 1, 2020.

Photos from LDN archives

The Lincoln Writers Club had planned to have a 20 year anniversary reception, but that had to be cancelled. Instead, Rebecca Johnson, the club’s founder wrote a special remembrance article to mark the date.

Lincoln Writers Club celebrates 20 years

And Lincoln Daily News’ roaming reporter/photographer Curtis Fox shared his daily walks with readers as he recorded in photos the awakening of spring in Logan County.

Welcome Spring!

Even though there are a lot of strange things in our lives right now, it is good to know that some things always stay the same.

Spring is upon us, and every year, one of the nicest treats for motorists along Fifth Street in Lincoln is this house with a lovely blanket of lavender flowers.

Photo by Curtis Fox

Welcome Spring - Spring explodes in Kickapoo Creek Park - slideshow

A walk in the country - Roads and country vistas -

A walk in the country - Buildings - Album

A walk in the country - Animals - Album

As the month of May came to a close, people around the community had only one thing to say about the coronavirus “We are soooo over this.” The desire to return our community to normal was strong, and optimism was high that we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

On Saturday May 30th, the total number year-to-date of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Logan County was 11 with ten reported to have recovered from the disease.

The governor had implemented a Phase Three re-opening plan statewide, but the Logan County Department of Public Health was still urging extreme caution.

Logan County Department of Public Health urges continued caution

So, we said good-bye to May and looked forward to June with the hope that by late summer our community would be back to what it used to be. And, for a time, it looked like that could happen. But, the revelry was short lived as the coming months brought higher concentrations of the illness within our community.

None the less, the community would push on, doing all that it could to hold up the people and keep our local businesses going. It is part of who we are. We stand together and work together and keep pushing forward. In the coming months that unity would be tested and would prevail.

[Nila Smith]

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