Votes Trickle in for 2014 Illinois Primary Election

Primary elections were held across the state of Illinois on Tuesday, March 18.  The election gave voters the chance to influence who will represent them at the state and local levels.

Early  and absentee voting began in late-February and March for Alexander and Pulaski Counties and was wrapped up over the weekend. Alexander  County Clerk and Election Authority Frances Lee opened her office on Saturday to accomodate the last of early voting in the county.

Af 11:00 a.m. on Saturday only five voters had come through the office.  The low numbers correlated with state-wide predictions of a low voter turnout.

“It’s been very quiet so far this election,” said Lee. “I think a lot of people have stopped caring.  John Q. Public is sick of the back-and-forth fighting between the different sides.”

Lee also cited the small amount of campaign advertising in the area as a factor in the low turnout.

“Usually there are signs and advertisements everywhere,” said Lee.  “That’s how people know that there’s an election approaching.  There isn’t much of that around this year.”

Monday afternoon saw the distribution of election equipment.  Election judges for the county picked up their precinct’s ballots and M100 voting systems.  The judges are responsible for the delivery as well as the return of the equipment after the election.

As the voting machines began leaving the County Clerk’s office late Monday afternoon, workers and election judges milled about and conversed with eachother.

“I’m starting to get all nerved up,” said Ellen Henderson-Bigham, a candidate for Alexander County Clerk.

The most closely watched race in this year’s primary election is that for representation in the election for Governor of Illinois.

With five candidates on the ballot in Alexander County, three being Republican, the possibility for change throughout the state is a possibility.

Election judge Vernon Stubblefield had only nine voters come through his precinct at the Alexander County Courthouse by 2 p.m. The slow trickle of voters left judges time to converse and offer ther opinions on the primary election.

“You would think that because of the number of Republican candidates on the ballot there would be more people from the party out voting,” said Vernon.

The Cairo Airport had only 14 voters come through the precinct by 2:30 in the afternoon.

“Some people would sure help the time go by quicker,” said Curtis Jones, and election judge at the Cache precinct.

As polling wound down, workers in the Alexander County Clerk’s office began counting and processing absentee ballots.  The process involves comparing records and signatures on previously submitted documents to weed out anyone attempting to vote more than once. Approximately 165 absentee and early ballots were processed and then added to the final tally by the County Clerk’s staff.

By 8:30 p.m. ten of the eleven precincts had reported back with a total eligible turnout of 14.5 percent.  Thebes, which struggled with tabulation issues,  reported at 9:05 p.m.

A closely watched aspect of the election was the race for Illinois Senate representation. Senator Durbin was opposed by Republicans Jim Oberweis and Doug Traux.  Strong opposition to Democrats has been major local news in recent months.

Senator Durbin ran unopposed on the Democratic ticket for position of senator and  garnered a majority of votes in Alexander  and Pulaski Counties.

Oberweis was victorious on the Republican side of the Senate race with 64 percent of the vote in Alexander County.

Tio Hardiman upset Pat Quinn for nomination to represent the Democratic Party for Illinois Governor in both Alexander and Pulaski Counties.

The complete tabulation revealed that 19.36 percent of eligible voters in Alexander County voted, just shy of the predicted 20 percent. In Pulaski County 18.64 percent of eligible voters took a trip to the polls.

1,082 total votes were cast in Alexander County and 864 in Pulaski County.

(See below for a full breakdown of votes)
Alexander County Treasurer Jerry Smith posts election results outside County Clerk's office in the Alexander County Courthouse Tuesday evening. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Alexander County Treasurer Jerry Smith posts election results outside County Clerk’s office in the Alexander County Courthouse Tuesday evening. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Cuirtis Jones, an election judge at Alexander County’s Cache precinct, housed at the Cairo Airport, laments to a friend about the low number of voters he has seen. Jones’ precinct had only 14 voters by early Monday afternoon. “The clock just isn’t moving,” Jones said. Low turnout was expected throughout the region with some speculating only 20 percent of eligible voters taking advantage of the opportunity to influence change in the forthcoming state elections. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Cuirtis Jones, an election judge at Alexander County’s Cache precinct, housed at the Cairo Airport, laments to a friend about the low number of voters he has seen. Jones’ precinct had only 14 voters by early Monday afternoon.
“The clock just isn’t moving,” Jones said.
Low turnout was expected throughout the region with some speculating only 20 percent of eligible voters taking advantage of the opportunity to influence change in the forthcoming state elections. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Among the stacks of ballots and voting equipment, Alexander County Clerk Frances Lee works in the back of her office with Wytiona Orr on Monday to prepare the precincts throughout Alexander County for the March 18 primary election.  “I’m going to miss doing this,” said Lee. “It can be fun if you enjoy working with people.” Low voter turnout was experienced throughout Illinois.  Alexander and Pulaski Counties were no exception with many speculating that only around twenty percent of all eligible voters would participate. “People don’t really seem to care until it’s the main election,” said Lee. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Among the stacks of ballots and voting equipment, Alexander County Clerk Frances Lee works in the back of her office with Wytiona Orr on Monday to prepare the precincts throughout Alexander County for the March 18 primary election.
“I’m going to miss doing this,” said Lee. “It can be fun if you enjoy working with people.”
Low voter turnout was experienced throughout Illinois. Alexander and Pulaski Counties were no exception with many speculating that only around twenty percent of all eligible voters would participate.
“People don’t really seem to care until it’s the main election,” said Lee. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Pulaski County Unofficial Results
Pulaski County Unofficial Results
Alexander County Unofficial Results
Alexander County Unofficial Results

George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

 

Area Districts Cope With Missed School Days

Harsh winter conditions have forced schools in Alexander and Pulaski Counties to close for multiple days this year.  While snow days are generally allotted to each school, persistent extreme weather has caused many districts to surpass their original rations.

Currently, the Cairo School District has missed 11 days of school due to severe weather. The District quickly surpassed the five allotted days however, have been granted forgiveness by the State of Illinois for four of the days so far.

Superintendant Angie Evers explained that because Illinois as a whole has experience a rough winter, Act of God days, which are applied for by the district as a means of forgiveness, are being approved more liberally than usual.

“I’m quite certain that we’ll be granted the other days which are pending at this time,” said Evers. “We were scheduled to have Monday off for Casmir Pulaski so that didn’t effect us.”

The biggest concern for the school is the effects on I-SAT testing that is scheduled to begin this week.  With the week before the tests shortened, preparation and scheduled curriculum are being squeezed into fewer hours.

“It’s a delicate balancing act,” said Evers.  “I desperately want children in the classrooms but you have to consider keeping people safe when they’re trying to get to school. Mother Nature has really been working against us.”

At this time the last day of school for the district is planned for June 4.

“We’ve got our fingers crossed,” said Evers.

Pulaski County schools are in much of the same situation.  Weather caused closures throughout the week for Meridian schools.

Elementary principal Brent Boren stated that at time of printing the district has been out of school 18 days due to winter weather.

“We’ve lost almost a full month of school,” said Boren.  “It’s been detrimental in respect to the time we’ve had to prepare for state testing.”

Boren also spoke of the toll missed school days take on student’s retention and comprehension.

“When children miss school it takes them out of the rhythm of education and can often break any momentum they have going for them,” said Boren.

A major factor in determining whether schools remain in service are the road conditions.  Administration agreed that  student’s safety is the number one priority when it comes to deciding whether school will close.

“It’s most important to keep the children safe,” said Boren

Temperatures have began to rise across the region, giving many hope that the end of the brutal winter Illinois has experienced is in sight.

“We’re just going to keep plugging along and sooner or later it’s going to improve,” said Boren.

Alicia Rames and Erica McDowell enjoy playing in the snow in Cairo on Thursday. Severe weather in the area has prompted districts to apply for pardons from the state of Illinois. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Alicia Rames and Erica McDowell enjoy playing in the snow in Cairo on Thursday. Severe weather in the area has prompted districts to apply for pardons from the state of Illinois. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

The Week in Photos: March 6, 2014

The Visual Report for the week of March 6, 2014:

Deb Oldham, with Election Management Associates, conducts accuracy testing on Alexander County ballot tabulating systems. The public test was held at Alexander County  Clerk’s office on Thursday afternoon. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Deb Oldham, with Election Management Associates, conducts accuracy testing on Alexander County ballot tabulating systems. The public test was held at Alexander County Clerk’s office on Thursday afternoon. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Alexander County Sheriff and Cairo resident Tim Brown debates the issue of animal control with Mayor Tyrone Coleman at a community breakfast held at Cairo High School in October 2013 -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Alexander County Sheriff and Cairo resident Tim Brown debates the issue of animal control with Mayor Tyrone Coleman at a community breakfast held at Cairo High School in October 2013 — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Malik Hagler of the Century Centurions  motions to his teammates during game 4 of the regional tournament Thursday night.  -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Malik Hagler of the Century Centurions motions to his teammates during game 4 of the regional tournament Thursday night. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Jarvis Woodson drives past Meridian defense at Century High School on Friday evening. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Jarvis Woodson drives past Meridian defense at Century High School on Friday evening. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Players fight for possession of the ball during game 4 of the Century Boys Regional Basketball Tournament on Thursday in Ullin.  Cairo lost to Century with a score of 55 - 47. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Players fight for possession of the ball during game 4 of the Century Boys Regional Basketball Tournament on Thursday in Ullin. Cairo lost to Century with a score of 55 – 47. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

Bryce Gardener makes a play at the 1A Regional Championship held at Century High School in Ullin on Friday. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

Bryce Gardener makes a play at the 1A Regional Championship held at Century High School in Ullin on Friday. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Senior Center Bryce Gardner triumphantly holds the net from the 1A Boys Regional Championship game held at Century High School in Ullin on Friday.  The Pilots battled the Meridian Bobcats for the title  and were victorious with a score of 68 - 65. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Senior Center Bryce Gardner triumphantly holds the net from the 1A Boys Regional Championship game held at Century High School in Ullin on Friday. The Pilots battled the Meridian Bobcats for the title and were victorious with a score of 68 – 65. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

Amanda Cheek and Zachary Sauerbrunn were crowned Century High School’s 2014 Homecoming King and Queen on Saturday, February 22. -- Photo Provided | The Cairo Citizen
Amanda Cheek and Zachary Sauerbrunn were crowned Century High School’s 2014 Homecoming King and Queen on Saturday, February 22. — Photo Provided | The Cairo Citizen

 

 

Martin Luther King Jr. Remembered by NAACP

Members of the community gathered for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast Monday morning in Mounds.  The gathering, held at St. Raphael’s Hall, featured music, keynote speaker Rev. Kevin Anthony, and breakfast catered by Barbara Snow.

Master of Ceremony Bishop Derek Eurales opened the memorial with a prayer and the singing of the Negro National Anthem.  All in attendance joined in, starting the ceremony on a positive note.

The annual ceremony was sponsored by the Pulaski and Alexander County branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.   The NAACP was formed in 1909 as a civil rights organization aiming to improve the educational, social, and economic status of minority groups.

“We come to honor the dream because the struggle continues,” said Eurales.

The life and achievemnets of Martin Luther King Jr. were honored and remembered on the 85th anniversary of his birthday.

Many in the community saw the breakfast as a place to not only remember but educate.  Younger attendees were treated to a healthy dose of history and culture with their meal of eggs, bacon, and sausage. Local attendee Lenora Clark remarked on the importance of instilling the values Dr. King purveyed.

“We need more youth to take an interest in those who came before them and made the lives they live possible,” said Clark. “King was a rare and timeless example of someone worth molding your own life from.”  Keynote speaker Kevin Anthony spoke of the many struggles that dictated the lives of those who fought for the right to be treated equally.

“Many forget exactly what people went through to attain freedom for the present,” said Anthony.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lives on through his wisdom and teachings, inspiring people across the world.  His message of unity and equal rights has carried far beyond his own life.

King is most widely known for his famous advancement of the civil rights movement and the “I Have a Dream” speech he delivered at a peaceful protest on the steps of the Lincoln Monument.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. on March 29, 1968.  In 1983 President Regan signed a bill designating King’s birthday a federal holiday.

(Left to Right) Rev. Kevin Anthony, Minister Stephanie Fisher, and Richard Grigsby share a laugh at St. Raphael’s Hall Monday morning.  The annual rememberance breakfast held by the NAACP highlighted the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  King was a influencial figure in the civil rights movement, fighting for equality and justice.   The crowd celebrated what would be King’s 85th birthday, keeping the spirit of his beliefs and struggles alive. “We come to honor the dream because the struggle continues,” said Master of Ceremony  Bishop Derek Eurales during his welcome address. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
(Left to Right) Rev. Kevin Anthony, Minister Stephanie Fisher, and Richard Grigsby share a laugh at St. Raphael’s Hall Monday morning. The annual rememberance breakfast held by the NAACP highlighted the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King was a influencial figure in the civil rights movement, fighting for equality and justice.
The crowd celebrated what would be King’s 85th birthday, keeping the spirit of his beliefs and struggles alive.
“We come to honor the dream because the struggle continues,” said Master of Ceremony Bishop Derek Eurales during his welcome address. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Rev. Kevin Anthony recieves his breakfast during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. remembrance breakfast in Mounds.  Anthony was the keynote speaker and brought a message of unity and positivity. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Rev. Kevin Anthony recieves his breakfast during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. remembrance breakfast in Mounds. Anthony was the keynote speaker and brought a message of unity and positivity. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Workers for Barbara Boo’s Catering sing along to the Negro National Anthem Monday morning at St. Raphael’s Hall in Mounds.  The Alexander and Pulaski County chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hosted their annual Martin Luther King Junior Memorial Breakfast celebrating King’s 85th birthday.  -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Workers for Barbara Boo’s Catering sing along to the Negro National Anthem Monday morning at St. Raphael’s Hall in Mounds. The Alexander and Pulaski County chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hosted their annual Martin Luther King Junior Memorial Breakfast celebrating King’s 85th birthday. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Aaron Oomeal performs a praise dance at St. Raphael’s Hall in Mounds Monday.  The annual rememberance breakfast highlighted the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Aaron Oomeal performs a praise dance at St. Raphael’s Hall in Mounds Monday. The annual rememberance breakfast highlighted the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

The Week in Photos: October 17, 2013

The visual report for the week of October 17, 2013

Circuit Clerk Paul Jones helps unload furniture for the Alexander County Circuit Clerk's office in Cairo on Wednesday October 9.  The office is back in working order after suffering storm damage on May 21, 2013. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Circuit Clerk Paul Jones helps unload furniture for the Alexander County Circuit Clerk’s office in Cairo on Wednesday October 9. The office is back in working order after suffering storm damage on May 21, 2013. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Former NFL player Tim Lester addresses students in Cairo about the importance of making smart decisions.  Lester played for the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers over the course of his career.  "You're not born a winner; you're not born a loser; you're born a chooser," said Lester. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Former NFL player Tim Lester addresses students in Cairo about the importance of making smart decisions. Lester played for the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers over the course of his career. “You’re not born a winner; you’re not born a loser; you’re born a chooser,” said Lester. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Workers install new mats in the gymnasium of Cairo High School on Friday afternoon.  The work continued through the weekend, giving a new look to the walls. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Workers install new mats in the gymnasium of Cairo High School on Friday afternoon. The work continued through the weekend, giving a new look to the walls. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Helena Tolbert, Allijah Frazier, and Airyn Frazier enjoy the sunshine and relax on the steps of the historic First Presbetarian Church in Cairo on October 11. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Helena Tolbert, Allijah Frazier, and Airyn Frazier enjoy the sunshine and relax on the steps of the historic First Presbetarian Church in Cairo on October 11. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Markayla Barnett, 5, of Sandusky, waves at a passing vehicle during the annual Mound's Fall Festival parade.  Heavy rain fell for the duration of the parade however, children and parents alike braved the conditions to observe the passing floats and vehicles. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Markayla Barnett, 5, of Sandusky, waves at a passing vehicle during the annual Mound’s Fall Festival parade. Heavy rain fell for the duration of the parade however, children and parents alike braved the conditions to observe the passing floats and vehicles. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
MarTriana Barnett, 8, of Sandusky screams in excitement after catching a stuffed bunny thrown from a passing vehicle during the Mound's Fall Festival parade. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
MarTriana Barnett, 8, of Sandusky screams in excitement after catching a stuffed bunny thrown from a passing vehicle during the Mound’s Fall Festival parade. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Horses and they're riders endure the rain while filing past onlookers during the parade in Mounds on Saturday, October 12. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Horses and their riders endure the rain while filing past onlookers during the parade in Mounds on Saturday, October 12. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Shayna Minuth passes onlookers on the breast cancer awareness float in the Mound's Fall Festival parade on Saturday. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Shayna Minuth passes onlookers on the breast cancer awareness float in the Mound’s Fall Festival parade on Saturday. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Week in Photos: October 3, 2013

The visual report for the week of October 3, 2013:

Owna Butler, 94, of Grand Chain, recalls her past while enjoying the warm weather in Grand Chain on Saturday, September 28.  Butler has lived in Southern Illinois for her entire life, attending many of the area schools which are no longer in existence.  "Most of the people and places I know are gone," said Butler.  Butler enjoyed the festivities of Grand Chain Day, electing to tour the town on a horse-drawn carriage.  "I think some people have an understanding with the master upstair," said Butler, referring to her health and life's longevity. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Owna Butler, 94, of Grand Chain, recalls her past while enjoying the warm weather in Grand Chain on Saturday, September 28. Butler has lived in Southern Illinois for her entire life, attending many of the area schools which are no longer in existence. “Most of the people and places I know are gone,” said Butler. Butler enjoyed the festivities of Grand Chain Day, electing to tour the town on a horse-drawn carriage. “I think some people have an understanding with the master upstair,” said Butler, referring to her health and life’s longevity. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
A participant in the Grand Chain Day parade throws candy to children Saturday.  The parade features floats, antique farming equipment, and emergency response vehicles from the area.  Children and parents lined the streets for the chance to behold the many vehicles and collect sugary treats. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
A participant in the Grand Chain Day parade throws candy to children Saturday. The parade features floats, antique farming equipment, and emergency response vehicles from the area. Children and parents lined the streets for the chance to behold the many vehicles and collect sugary treats. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Children line up during the parade on Main Street in Grand Chain on Saturday, September 28. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Children line up during the parade on Main Street in Grand Chain on Saturday, September 28. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Kalyse Davis, 6, of Metropolis looks on in wonderment of a ball floating on a stream of air during Grand Chain Day. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Kalyse Davis, 6, of Metropolis looks on in wonderment of a ball floating on a stream of air during Grand Chain Day. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Children enjoy the bounce house Saturday during Grand Chain Day. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Children enjoy the bounce house Saturday during Grand Chain Day. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

Nadia and Jennifer Bolinger, of Scott City, exit the Grand Chain Jail on Saturday, September 28 during the festivities of Grand Chain Day. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Nadia and Jennifer Bolinger, of Scott City, exit the Grand Chain Jail on Saturday, September 28 during the festivities of Grand Chain Day. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Cheryl Dunaway of the Glory Road Ramblers performs Saturday during Grand Chain Day. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Cheryl Dunaway of the Glory Road Ramblers performs Saturday during Grand Chain Day. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Tom Riston, owner of Tom's place, a popular restaurant in Tamms, clears wreckage from his business.  Tom's Place was the victim of a hit-and-run on September 21.  The Accident has forced his business to close indefinitely.  "If you can't cook you can't have a business," said Riston. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Tom Riston, owner of Tom’s place, a popular restaurant in Tamms, clears wreckage from his business. Tom’s Place was the victim of a hit-and-run on September 21. The Accident has forced his business to close indefinitely. “If you can’t cook you can’t have a business,” said Riston. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Bonnie Riston displays a photo of the fence which was damaged during the September 21 accident.  "We're really just glad nobody got hurt," said Riston. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Bonnie Riston displays a photo of the fence which was damaged during the September 21 accident. “We’re really just glad nobody got hurt,” said Riston. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Week in Photos: September 12, 2013

The visual report for the week of September 12, 2013

Michael Smothers warms up for the Cache River Calling Contest.  Smothers won the contest taking home $500 and a trophy.  -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Michael Smothers warms up for the Cache River Calling Contest. Smothers won the contest taking home $500 and a trophy. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

Area residents partake in a guided canoe tour through the Cache River Wetlands on Saturday, September 7.  The tours allowed participants to explore the unique and fascinating environment while enjoying a warm and sunny afternoon.
Area residents partake in a guided canoe tour through the Cache River Wetlands on Saturday, September 7. The tours allowed participants to explore the unique and fascinating environment while enjoying a warm and sunny afternoon. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Karen Mangan of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leads a tour through the Cache River Wetlands Saturday.  The tours were part of Cache River Days in Ullin.  The area has been deemed a Wetland of International Importance and features a wide variety of animal and plant life.  One of the highlights of the tour was the opportunity to behold the state champioin Bald Cypress tree which is over one thousand years old. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Karen Mangan of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leads a tour through the Cache River Wetlands Saturday. The tours were part of Cache River Days in Ullin. The area has been deemed a Wetland of International Importance and features a wide variety of animal and plant life. One of the highlights of the tour was the opportunity to behold the state champioin Bald Cypress tree which is over one thousand years old. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Meghan Smith of Jonesboro was crowned Senior Miss Cache River Friday at the Cache River Days beauty pageant held at Leona Brust Civic Center in Ullin. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Meghan Smith of Jonesboro was crowned Senior Miss Cache River Friday at the Cache River Days beauty pageant held at Leona Brust Civic Center in Ullin. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
(Left to Right) Mallory Ozment, Lauren Taake, Meghan Smith, and Jayci Needling pose for a photo after being crowned royalty at the 2013 Miss Cache River Pageant. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
(Left to Right) Mallory Ozment, Lauren Taake, Meghan Smith, and Jayci Needling pose for a photo after being crowned royalty at the 2013 Miss Cache River Pageant. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
A spectator takes a photo of the newly crowned royalty during the 2013 Cache River Days pageant. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
A spectator takes a photo of the newly crowned royalty during the 2013 Cache River Days pageant. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Lilly Levins, 4, of Miller City is comforted by her mother after judging at the 2013 Cache River Days pageant. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Lilly Levins, 4, of Miller City is comforted by her mother after judging at the 2013 Cache River Days pageant. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Keysha Brown, 2, of Pulaski walks the runway at the 2013 Cache River Days pageant held at the Leona Brust Civic Center in Ullin. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen.
Keysha Brown, 2, of Pulaski walks the runway at the 2013 Cache River Days pageant held at the Leona Brust Civic Center in Ullin. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen.
Lauren Taake was crowned Miss Cache River Friday at Leona Brust Civic Center in Ullin.  First runner up was Olivia Gordon.  Second runner up was Clare Bunyan. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Lauren Taake was crowned Miss Cache River Friday at Leona Brust Civic Center in Ullin. First runner up was Olivia Gordon. Second runner up was Clare Bunyan. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Jayci Needling of Jonesboro was crowned Little Miss Cache River on Friday at the Leona Brust Civic Center in Ullin. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Jayci Needling of Jonesboro was crowned Little Miss Cache River on Friday at the Leona Brust Civic Center in Ullin. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

Mallory Ozment of Ullin poses for a photograph after being crowned Little Miss Cache River on Friday. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Mallory Ozment of Ullin poses for a photograph after being crowned Little Miss Cache River on Friday. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

Shelby Scane picks out a loaf of bread at the Helping Hands Food Pantry in Tamms.  The pantry opens its doors every Thursday and allows area residents to recieve food in times of need. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Shelby Scane picks out a loaf of bread at the Helping Hands Food Pantry in Tamms. The pantry opens its doors every Thursday and allows area residents to recieve food in times of need. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Samari Smith and Khalia Washam share a laugh  in the dugout before their softball game.  The Cairo Pilots lost to Egyptian School 9-2.
Samari Smith and Khalia Washam share a laugh in the dugout before their softball game. The Cairo Pilots lost to Egyptian School 9-2.

 

 

 

 

 

The Week in Photos: July 11, 2013

Vera Calhoun-Russell, 104, looks out the window from her bed May 1 in her home in Villa Ridge. Vera’s bed sits less than ten feet from the place she was born. She has lived most of her life in the house, which her father built, and has helped raise many foster children there. Now, in her advanced age, she is the one being taken care of. Her youngest daughter, Janice Russell-Couch lives  with and cares for her mother with the help of her husband, Allen Couch. Because of arthritis in her right knee, Russell has lost her mobility over the last 4 years. So, between Janice and Allen and part-time nursing care, they tend to all Vera’s needs. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Vera Calhoun-Russell, 104, looks out the window from her bed May 1 in her home in Villa Ridge. Vera’s bed sits less than ten feet from the place she was born. She has lived most of her life in the house, which her father built, and has helped raise many foster children there. Now, in her advanced age, she is the one being taken care of. Her youngest daughter, Janice Russell-Couch lives with and cares for her mother with the help of her husband, Allen Couch. Because of arthritis in her right knee, Russell has lost her mobility over the last 4 years. So, between Janice and Allen and part-time nursing care, they tend to all Vera’s needs. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Allen Couch, right, attempts to feed Vera Calhoun-Russell, his 104-year-old mother-in-law March 10 in Russell’s home in Villa Ridge. Allen said though he may only be related to Russell through marriage, he still enjoys taking care of her. “It gives me a good feeling inside that I can do for others,”he said. Allen provided similar care to his father for seven years from 1992-1999, so when he married Russell’s daughter, Janice, he was able to step right in and help with her daily routine. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Allen Couch, right, attempts to feed Vera Calhoun-Russell, his 104-year-old mother-in-law March 10 in Russell’s home in Villa Ridge. Allen said though he may only be related to Russell through marriage, he still enjoys taking care of her. “It gives me a good feeling inside that I can do for others,”he said. Allen provided similar care to his father for seven years from 1992-1999, so when he married Russell’s daughter, Janice, he was able to step right in and help with her daily routine. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Allen Couch, middle, and Janice Russell-Couch, left, load their trunk with groceries while 104-year-old Vera Calhoun Russell waits in the car March 30 at Wal-Mart in Sikeston, Mo. Despite her age and lack of mobility, Russell often goes on trips, both big and small, with her daughter Janice and son-in-law Allen, be it to the grocery store, visiting family out of state or even just for a drive. Janice said traveling has always been something Russell has enjoyed doing. Allen said she does well with knowing where she is when they travel and often reads the signs along the road. There is one sign Allen said she never misses and that is the golden arches of McDonald’s. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Allen Couch, middle, and Janice Russell-Couch, left, load their trunk with groceries while 104-year-old Vera Calhoun Russell waits in the car March 30 at Wal-Mart in Sikeston, Mo. Despite her age and lack of mobility, Russell often goes on trips, both big and small, with her daughter Janice and son-in-law Allen, be it to the grocery store, visiting family out of state or even just for a drive. Janice said traveling has always been something Russell has enjoyed doing. Allen said she does well with knowing where she is when they travel and often reads the signs along the road. There is one sign Allen said she never misses and that is the golden arches of McDonald’s. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Allen Couch, right, waits with Vera Calhoun-Russell June 19 at Cape Foot Clinic in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Allen said caring for his 104-year-old mother-in-law is a task he is honored to do. He said when he fell in love with his wife, Janice Russell-Couch, he knew he was there to be with her and help her care for her mother. “It’s like God said, ‘This is where you belong. You are needed there,’” Allen said. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Allen Couch, right, waits with Vera Calhoun-Russell June 19 at Cape Foot Clinic in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Allen said caring for his 104-year-old mother-in-law is a task he is honored to do. He said when he fell in love with his wife, Janice Russell-Couch, he knew he was there to be with her and help her care for her mother. “It’s like God said, ‘This is where you belong. You are needed there,’” Allen said. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Luke Mitchell readies barbecue to be sold July 4 in Tamms. Mitchell said he and the other firemen working the pit had been cooking pork butts and shoulders for 24 hours. He also said the pits they were using are more than 50-years-old. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Luke Mitchell readies barbecue to be sold July 4 in Tamms. Mitchell said he and the other firemen working the pit had been cooking pork butts and shoulders for 24 hours. He also said the pits they were using are more than 50-years-old. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

Her Turn

Vera Calhoun-Russell, 104, looks out the window from her bed May 1 in her home in Villa Ridge. Vera’s bed sits less than ten feet from the place she was born. She has lived most of her life in the house, which her father built, and has helped raise many foster children there. Now, in her advanced age, she is the one being taken care of. Her youngest daughter, Janice Russell-Couch lives  with and cares for her mother with the help of her husband, Allen Couch. Because of arthritis in her right knee, Russell has lost her mobility over the last 4 years. So, between Janice and Allen and part-time nursing care, they tend to all Vera’s needs. -- Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen
Vera Calhoun-Russell, 104, looks out the window from her bed May 1 in her home in Villa Ridge. Vera’s bed sits less than ten feet from the place she was born. She has lived most of her life in the house, which her father built, and has helped raise many foster children there. Now, in her advanced age, she is the one being taken care of. Her youngest daughter, Janice Russell-Couch lives with and cares for her mother with the help of her husband, Allen Couch. Because of arthritis in her right knee, Russell has lost her mobility over the last 4 years. So, between Janice and Allen and part-time nursing care, they tend to all Vera’s needs. See the bottom of the story for more photos. — Isaac Smith | The Cairo Citizen

 

Vera Calhoun-Russell sleeps soundly just ten feet from where she was born more than 100 years ago in a house her father built on a hill in Villa Ridge.

Despite losing her husband to World War II before having children of their own, Vera took in and cared for others for most of her adult life.

“We went to church every Sunday and there was no excuse about not going,” Vera’s youngest daughter, Janice Russell-Couch said. “She will tell you about the old days, when they come back to her memory.”

Born January 15, 1909 to parents Pearl and Ralph Calhoun, Vera was the seventh of eight children. She ended a 20-year teaching career she held in Chicago to return to Villa Ridge and help her parents take care of the house and family.  She has not left since.

“She says, ‘I have been here a long time,’ and I say, ‘Yes you have,’” Janice said of her 104-year-old mother. “She has her good days and her bad days.”

Signs of dementia began to set in around 2004, said Janice, adding that she had to learn to accept that her mother was not as strong or able as she once was.

“I always see it this way,” Janice said.  “She took care of me when I was little, so now it is my turn to make sure I take care of her.”

The room in which Vera stays is filled with family photos and artifacts. Hung above her head is a painted portrait of her father, Ralph Calhoun, who built the family home, and across the room is her high school diploma, presented to her June 16, 1923.  She often tells stories of the “old days,” of picking strawberries, raising children and preparing family meals.

“Mom was a fun person. She liked to do things. She liked to travel,” Janice said. “She always told us you had to work hard for your money.”

As an avid gardener and independent person, it was not easy for Vera to give up doing for herself.  Throughout her life, she took in and brought up more than ten children, some for only a few months or a few years, but others she raised through to adulthood.  Despite the change in their roles as caretakers, her daughter Janice still sees Vera as a caring mother who was firm but loving.

“When you love somebody and help somebody that can’t take care of themselves, that’s just a blessing,” Janice said, adding,  “One day you are going to be blessed for helping them.”

In 2000, Vera learned of her daughter’s husband-to-be, Allen Couch.

“She wanted to make sure Allen would take care of me,” Janice said.

The two married in 2005 and for Janice the role of caretaker now took on a new meaning: co-caretaker. When they met, Janice was finishing a master’s degree in education, working as a Pre-K teacher for Meridian School District and took care of her mother on her own.  After they married, Allen took on many of the tasks Janice previously juggled to complete.

“Most of the things I have done in my life were basically for me,” Allen said.  “But, when I began to care for other people, I found that this is what I am good at doing.”

Allen said it was love that drew him to Janice; however, her situation was one he identified with and his affection for her grew out of her passion and commitment to helping her mother.

“It’s like God said, ‘This is where you belong. You are needed there,’” he said.  “I accepted it very easily.”

Allen said he has grown to love and care for Vera as his own mother, whom he lost soon after he and Janice began dating.  No stranger to the difficulties of caring for an elderly parent, Allen said he brought solace to Janice’s hectic life.

“It was easier for me because I [did] this kind of live-in and health aid for other people … and then, dealing with my mom and my dad.”Allen said.  He he understood what she was going through.

Today, the couple continues to care for Vera but recently she qualified for 30 hours a week of in-home care through Shawnee Development Council and Medicare, allowing them to pursue activities previously difficult to maintain.  While Allen often spends time with family in Tennessee and Janice maintains an active role in church and work, one always remains available for Vera.

Janice said her mother often says something in preparing her for the inevitable.

“She will say, ‘I’m not going to be here long with you, my days are numbered,’” Janice said. “I think about it. I know one day she is not going to be here.”

At 104 years old, Vera’s regular check ups provide her with a clean bill of health each time.  While she lost much of her mobility four years ago and spends most of her days in bed, other than arthritis in her knees, she has no other chronic medical problems.

Allen said spending time with Vera has helped him put his own life into perspective.

“We don’t realize how blessed we are that we are able to get up and walk out of the house and come back in and fix our food and go to the bathroom when we want to,” Allen said.  “So she really makes you think about how blessed and how thankful we should be.”

A typical day in the Russell-Couch household starts before the sun rises. Prayers are said and breakfast is made. Allen and Janice help bathe and dress Vera before her home care workers arrive by 9 a.m. When Allen is at home, he will often stay on to help the nurses throughout the day while Janice is working or running errands.  For many, providing such intimate care for an in-law would be difficult, said Allen, adding he finds it an honor to be able to tend to her.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,” Allen said, quoting a Bible verse from the book of Ephesians. He said prayer is a big part of Vera’s life, too.

“Sometimes she will be in pain and she will say, ‘I’m praying that God will come here and take this away from me,’” Allen said. “I think that is what [keeps] her here today, her faithfulness and trust in God taking care of her.”He said Vera enjoys hearing him read from the Bible and hearing his prayers. “One thing that she does remember …  is who God is.”

Janice recalls those Sundays when she and her family would walk from their house to the nearby Methodist church, which now sits on her family’s property. She would sit in the pew, her and her siblings in handmade dress clothes, listening to the sermon as one big family.

“She talks about how good God has been to her,” Janice said, not wanting to dwell on Vera’s next step.

“It will be a difficult thing whenever it happens,” Allen said, though he trusts in God to do what is best.

“God knows what he is doing,” he said.

–Isaac Smith can be reached at (618)-734-4242

Preliminary trials begin in Feb.’s Meridian brawl cases

Court proceedings have begun for many arrested in the Feb. 20 brawl during the regional tournament at Meridian High School.

Preliminary hearings began July 10 at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Mound City. Pulaski County state’s attorney Grayson Gile said for the last 4 months his office has been reviewing video footage of the incident provided by Meridian High School and going over eyewitness testimonies. Gile said after reviewing the tape, he has been able to get several strong visual identifications.

“I’ve got several of what might be referred to as ‘Sports Illustrated’ shots,”  Gile said referring to the clarity of some of the images he has been able to pull from video footage.

Not all the identifications have been this clear, though. Gile said he has had to postpone approximately one third of the cases so his office can gather more evidence. Gile said he wants to err on the side of caution and have more evidence than he needs before going to court.

“I do not want to go out there and make allegations to try to put forward a case if there is not sufficient evidence,” he said.

In May, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office released a list of the twelve individuals arrested. They were: Bruce Woodson, of Cairo, Cameron Robinson of Cairo, Cordell Johnson, of Cairo, Darian Engram of Mound City, Darmez Nelson of Ullin, Darryl Jackson, of Cairo, Dejhanane Washington of Cairo, Jemond Pilgram, of Mounds, Kathryn Nesby, of Mounds, Richard Steele, of Mounds and Wilmont Gibson Jr. of Cairo. A juvenile was also arrested.

All 12 suspects were charged with reckless conduct. In the state of Illinois, reckless conduct can either be a class 1 misdemeanor or a class 4 felony.

–Isaac Smith can be reached at (618)-734-4242