Photo of the Day - November 21, 2020

Rachael Graham dribbles the ball in 2008

On this day

On this day 12 years ago, St. Joseph-Ogden's Rachael Graham dribbles the ball down the court despite the defensive efforts of a Williamsville defender during first quarter action at the Riverton Early Bird Tournament on November 21, 2008. The Spartans fought off the Lady Bullets to net a 42-38 victory on Friday night.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

support us please!

Survey says, We're doing Zoomgiving

Last Tuesday, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 rose to an all-time of 142 cases in the six villages.

With that in mind, we asked the obvious question in our very first online poll: "Considering the rising number of Coronavirus cases, do you plan to attend or host a large family gathering with ten or more people this Thanksgiving?"

The results are in. Out the possible 11,108 residents (that number based on the 2018 census) in the six communities this news site covers, we had a whopping 16 responses. The overwhelming insignifant response from 63% of the participants choose, "No freakin' way, Jay. We're doing Zoomgiving!!!"

Whatever your Thanksgiving holiday plans may be, The Sentinel sincerely wishes a safe and happy celebration. If you haven't seen it, The Illinois Department of Public Health has published a comprehensive and informative PDF with tips to make your holiday stress free and to keep family and guests healthy as head into the Christmas season.

Remember to protect the ones you love by limiting physical contact, social distance as much as possible, wear your mask - two is better than one - and washing your hands frequently to prevent the spread of the virus to our friends and neighbors.

New classes starting Tuesday, December 1. Details coming soon!

Photo of the Day - November 20, 2020

Drummer Brad Champ

Keepin' the beat

SJO pep band drummer Brad Champ plays while the band performs 'Hey Jude' during halftime at SJO's non-conference game against Unity at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on December 7, 2008. The Spartans fell 53-49 to the Rockets on the floor home to the Indiana Pacers. Unity's pep band also performed at the game in the facility now called Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Former SJO softball star honored with Impact Award at ISU

Andrea Coursey, a four-year varsity starter at third base for the St. Joseph-Ogden softball team was recently recognized for her commitment to excellence with the Impact Award. Illinois State's annual academic excellence awards ceremony, The Reggies, was not held this fall due to the mitigation measures in place to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. Coursey, a Redbird softball player, and several other recipients of the awards sponsored by State Farm were announced Friday.

SJO Alumni News
The Impact Award is given to the student-athlete that has a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of others around them and in the community. It recognizes individuals who posses exceptional leadership skills, a strong commitment to academics and engages in community service activities.

Coursey started in all 18 games she was available for the Redbirds this season shortened by the pandemic. She earned a MVC Scholar-Athlete Honorable Mention for the second-straight year and hit the team's first home run of the season in a 9-3 victory over USF in the Redbirds' season opener on Feburary 6. She enters her senior year having taken the field for ISU 101 times.

While at SJO she broke the state and school record for career RBIs in a season collecting 244 between 2014 and 2017. Coursey, who also played volleyball in high school, is tied for second in the all-time IHSA records for Most Grand Slam Home Runs in a season (3) and rose to #3 in prep softball history for the most RBIs in a single game. She pounded a pair of them back in May of 2015 during a non-conference game against Danville.

Academically, Coursey was four-year academic letterwinner, class valedictorian and was inducted into the National Honor Society.

Guest Commentary: Keep away the Christmas Blues

By Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

I love Elvis' song Blue Christmas, but I don't want to have one. In the best of times holiday blues strike most people. Now is the time to develop your plan for avoiding a blue holiday season and having a merry holiday one.

If you are missing a significant person in your life the blues are inevitable. You miss them sitting at your table. You miss them coming in your home. You are reminded of how much that person meant to you. Holiday shows don't often help. While some are festive, they often remind us of the voids we have in our lives. We don't always enjoy songs like I'll be home for Christmas because we know that often home is a past memory. Being reminded of the past is not always warm and fuzzy.

Social isolation will only make this year tougher. The best in life are the friends, family and positive relationships we have. Talking on the telephone, video chats, and good human relationship connections are important for your spirit.

Churches, groups, fraternal organizations and et cetera need to think about reaching out to people this season. Real, actual communication is the key. People don't need more Robocalls, more Facebook videos or mail to read. People need real human interaction and this may be the toughest December in our modern history to have this.

Sunday school classes, senior adult organizations, school organizations, classes, teams, should coordinate efforts to reach out to each other and to others. Letting others know you are thinking about them with positive reinforcement will be critical this holiday season.

Suicides occurs much too often during the holiday season. With Covid-19, unemployment and so many issues facing our planet, the environment for an upsurge of suicide is ripe. People can be saved from this by us all helping each other.

Make a holiday telephone list of people you are going to call often between now and January 1. You may call them every week. Or, it may be someone who needs a call every two or three days. Keep the calls brief. Often five or ten minutes will be a boost to someone. If you text message or video chat then commit to connecting with others with occasional chats and brief hellos.

One of the ways to boost your spirit is to be helpful. Who can you help this holiday? How can you help your local school? How can you help someone who is hurting more than you? How can you help a local human aid group or senior citizen's group?

You may know people who have lost loved ones. If you do, it helps to talk to others and say, "I know how you feel and what you are going through." There are people all around who may not be suffering as much as you. When you take your mind off yourself to help someone else, then you will find your load will be a little lighter and your spirit brighter.

The blues may sneak up on us this season. However, begin making your game plan now for overcoming and moving beyond them.


Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of American Issues, Every American Has An Opinion and ten other books. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization.


This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of PhotoNews Media. We welcome comments and views from our readers.


Covid pushes start of youth wrestling season to April 2021

The Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation met this past Sunday and revised their plans for overseeing the 2020-21 season.

Originally, the organization had hoped to resume practice and competition for young wrestlers like those in the St. Joseph Youth Wrestling Club after the Christmas holiday this coming January. Looking at more realistic timetable to return to the mat, the IKWF tentatively announced plans to resume practices starting April 5, 2021.

"We are hopeful that all of the craziness that we have all experienced throughout this year will start to take a turn for the better, and that we will be able to have a season sometime early next year," head coach Billy Gallo said in a letter to parents on Facebook. "We understand that there will be conflicts with kids participating in other sports and other commitments, but we plan to still start with a season at that time. Again, maybe we will see some improvement with this pandemic via vaccination/treatment sooner than April, and we will be able to start before then."

Meanwhile, the club will continue work on the new facility in the former Jim Clingan Auction building north of the Interstate.

"We can't wait to get the wrestlers in there," Gallo said. "We appreciate all of your patience and understanding throughout all of this, and we will continue to send out any updates as we get them."

He also said that registration fees will be returned to those families who have paid and all registration information will be kept on file for when the program can resume. As soon as plans are solidified, the club plans to email to members in future as soon the can have weekly open gym nights.

The IKWF says there will be no sanctioned events during the 2020-21 IKWF season until the CDC and IDPH guidelines and policies change to allow such competitions. The organization expects members to follow the guidance and guidelines provided by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). Clubs in violation of state and federal mandates were reminded in a release form organizing body that programs could face penalties by the IDPH and local health departments.

Photo of the Day - November 19, 2020

St. Joseph-Ogden dance team

Spartans take center stage at state

Members of the St. Joseph-Ogden Dance Team compete the IHSA Competitive Dance State Finals in January. Despite an excellent performance and a score of 76.88, the Spartans did not advance to Saturday's championship round after finishing in 21st place after the first day of Class 1A competition.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

The wait is over, winter high school sports season officially on hold

The Illinois High School Association met once again in a virtual meeting to discuss how to proceed as the state enters Tier 3 of the Governor JB Pritzker's Resurgence Mitigation plan. Thousands of Illinois high school athletes will have to wait just a little longer to make to break a school record, make three-point shots or earn that 15 second pin on the wrestling mat this winter.

Earlier today the prep sports association announced that all IHSA sports and activities will cease as of Friday, November 20, until the state's COVID-19 positivity returns to a level safe enough that the governor will return the state to Tier 1 of its pandemic response plan.

Below is the complete release from the IHSA.

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors met for a special virtual meeting on Thursday, November 19, 2020, where the Board provided an update on winter sports.

To maintain compliance with the most recent mitigations issued by Governor Pritzker that take effect on November 20, the IHSA Board issued guidance to pause all IHSA winter sports and activities by November 20.

"All IHSA sports and activities will cease by November 20 for what we hope is a short-term pause," said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. "Given the rising COVID-19 cases in our state and region, we support the Governor’s mitigations and believe it is imperative for everyone in the state to do their part in following them so that we can return to high school sports participation as soon as possible."

Ella Armstrong lines up a free throw shot earlier this year
St. Joseph-Ogden's Ella Armstrong lines up a shot from the free throw line back in February against Tuscola. Armstrong and the Spartans will not be piling up wins until maybe sometime in 2021.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

The Board will revisit the status of winter sports at their update discussion on December 2, and again at their regularly scheduled meeting on December 14 if necessary.

"Taking into account the current state mitigations, the Board believes that early to mid-December will be the most reasonable target to review the status of winter IHSA sports and activities," said Anderson. "The Board is sensitive to the scheduling difficulties these delays create for athletic directors and coaches. However, our experiences this summer and fall lead us to believe that setting arbitrary start dates hinders the process even more. We realize it may seem redundant, but we have to preach patience as we await more data and direction from the state. Despite the obstacles this unprecedented school year has presented, the Board’s vision to provide participation opportunities in all IHSA sports has not wavered."

The Board was steadfast in their desire to remind all athletes and athletic programs that adhering to the mitigations is vital to the hopes of safely playing high school sports in Illinois as soon as possible.

"I believe there is a misconception that IHSA and non-school athletic programs have an adversarial relationship," said Anderson. "In my time at the IHSA, I have not found that to be the case at all. More so, I think there is a mutual respect for the opportunities that each provide for athletes. IHSA schools have been exemplary in adhering to state regulations throughout this pandemic and we are calling upon non-school programs to hold themselves to that same standard. As school and non-school sports temporarily cease in Illinois, and throughout the Midwest, it is a great reminder that putting the health and safety of our fellow citizens at the forefront in the short-term will allow all levels of athletics to thrive in the long-term."

The Board provided the following participation clarifications to member schools:

Winter Season Start Date: Given the timing of the Governor’s new mitigations, November 16 will not be recognized as the start date of the winter season, regardless of whether winter sport teams conducted any official tryouts or practices. A new start date will be established for each sport once winter sports can be conducted again.

Conditioning & Weight Training: Conditioning and weight training before and after school are paused. Local schools will decide if conditioning and weight training programs that are a part of their academic curriculums continue or are ceased.

Open Gyms: Are paused and cannot be conducted at this time.

Outdoor Workouts: Outdoor workouts may be conducted in any sport in groups of 10 or less with masks and social distancing. Coaches are counted toward the 10. Use of sport-specific equipment is allowable with proper sanitizing practices.

One-on-One Skill Work: Per Tier 3 Resurgence Mitigations and with school approval, one-on-one skill work between a coach and student-athlete is permitted for winter sports only, but is limited to one coach and one student-athlete per facility.

Activities: Practices and competitions may only be conducted virtually.

Non-School Participation: All sports organizations in the state, school or non-school, have been directed to abide by the Governor’s mitigations. IHSA coaches cannot organize non-school participation in any fashion. IHSA by-law 3.100 will be in effect once winter sport seasons begin following this pause.

SJO Fan Club fundraiser orders due November 24

There are just four days left to take advantage of the annual St. Joseph-Ogden High School fan club $10 T-shirt sale. If you haven't ordered yours yet, order today to help support all the athletic programs at the high school.

"It's the only fundraiser fan club is doing this year. Because of Covid and the uncertainty of sports seasons, there was no good way to do the all athletic fundraisers that we've done the past few years," Tammy Vallee said. "I know I'd never be able to complete the list of what the funds are spent on, but each sport receives funds to spend on items they need. The fan club purchases larger items as they become needed as well, such as weight room updates and equipment that were added this past year."

With Christmas just around the corner, Spartan fans can email their name, email address, cell phone number and shirt sizes to or via Facebook Messenger. Payment can then be mailed or dropped off at 800 East Lincoln, St Joseph, IL, 61873. Checks must be made payable to SJO Fan Club. All payment and orders must be received by Tuesday, November 24.

Shirts can also be ordered with a student at the high school, who can submit orders and deposit payments at the check-in doors when they arrive at school in the morning.

The fan club expects T-shirt orders to be available for pickup the week of December 14.

The $10 T-shirts are available in sizes from youth through adult XL are available for $10 each. Extended sizes are also available at slightly higher prices with 2XL at $12 each and 3XL at $13 apiece. The fan club reminds fans who order to make sure to specify YOUTH in their email or messages when ordering a children's sizes.

The SJO Fan Club is an organization of parents, staff and community members who actively help every athletic program at the high school with fundraising and volunteers when needed.

Mean Mugz Bar & Grill opens in Ogden

Mean Mugz Bar and Grill opened for their first full day of business today at their new location in Ogden on 121 S East Avenue. The establishment will be open until 9pm today.

Village of Ogden
Moving into the location formerly home of The Vault in the old bank, the establishment features a Cajun inspired menu complete with catfish, shrimp and, of course, alligator. They also offer hamburgers, Philly Steak, chicken sandwiches, salads and variety of side dishes.

Carry-out is available. For more information call (217) 582-8029. Hours this weekend are Saturday 11am - 9pm and Sunday 12pm - 9pm.

Advertise with the Sentinel

This story was later updated with the hours of operation at 9:40p.

Photo of the Day - November 18, 2020

SJO's Kiel Duval tries to turn a double play
SJO wins tourney title

After securing the forced out at second, St. Joseph-Ogden's Kiel Duval attempts to throw the batter out at first during his team's championship game at the Spartan Invite on May 8, 2004. The Spartans won the four-team baseball invite after beating Tuscola in the title game. The former three-sport athlete, now a mathematics instructor at the SJO, is school's head basketball coach.

PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Winter sports season takes a pause across the state

The high school basketball was suppose to start on Monday. St. Joseph-Ogden, Unity and basketball programs from around the state were suppose to begin team practices to prepare to play competitive games starting on November 30.

Hoping to "flatten the curve" of a surge in COVID-19 cases that started nearly a week ago, Governor JB Pritzker announced yesterday that the state would enter a level three of the state's resurgence mitigation plan on Friday. Some of the restrictions that go into effect that will affect athletics at all levels until the state's positivity numbers regress include:

• Pause all indoor group sporting and recreational activities including youth and adult recreational sports, individual training may remain (with facility reservation)

• This includes park districts and travel leagues play

• Locker rooms should be closed

Under the plan outdoor sports and recreation activities may continue. Groups and practices outdoors is limited to 10 persons or less with social distancing, face coverings required for all activities at all times and locker rooms should be closed to the public.

The pause also applied to high school sports putting basketball, wrestling, dance and competitive cheerleading activities on hold until sometime after the start of the new year or perhaps beyond.

"The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) recognizes that today’s announcement by Governor Pritzker will temporarily pause the IHSA’s winter sports season," said in a statement from IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. "We remain optimistic that these new mitigations, coupled with the emergence of a vaccine, will aid in creating participation opportunities in the New Year for IHSA student-athletes in winter, spring, and summer sports."

Anderson and the IHSA Board of Directors will meet tomorrow, November 19, 2020, to consider how to proceed for the remainder of the academic year. While they won't be at the upcoming meeting, the IHSA extended invitations to to Deputy Governor Jesse Ruiz and Dr. Ngozi Ezike to future meetings with the hope of developing a plans so that high school sports and activities can resume as soon as possible.

"IHSA schools have been exemplary in adhering to state regulations throughout this pandemic," Anderson said. "We hope that non-school programs will hold themselves to the same standard as we all put the long-term health and safety of our fellow citizens ahead of short-term athletic competition."

Photo of the Day - November 17, 2020

Catcher Hannah Bowen


SJO catcher Hannah Bowen takes a hard pitch from Jenna Slifer (not pictured) on the arm during her team's road game at St. Thomas More in 2009.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Photo of the Day - November 16, 2020

SJO's Luke Renfrew in his last prep football game

Spartan playoff advance blocked

Luke Renfrew (left) and Jaden Miller (right) try to plug a hole in their defensive line during their 2019 first round playoff game against Williamsville. Despite the St. Joseph-Ogden seniors' best effort, their season came to an end after a 54-26 loss to the eventual Class 3A state champion Bullets. The Spartans finished the season with a record of five wins against five losses.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Sentinel Poll: What's your plan for Thanksgiving?

There are currently 772 patients, down 46 from Sunday following a four-day surge, who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in Champaign County. There another 1,348 in quarantine due to having been in contact with a COVID-positive individual.

With the recent rise in positivity and another possible stay-at-home lockdown on the horizon, what are your plans for sharing this Thanksgiving with family and friends?

For many of us it will be a difficult decision and others a no-brainer. After you vote, leave a comment (kid safe and SFW friendly please) with what led to your decision or which way your are leaning at the moment.

bike trails

Poll closes Friday, November 20, 2020

Active COVID case count rises to 69

The number of active confirmed COVID-19 cases in the area has risen to 69 as of this morning according to the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District dashboard. The combined total is an all-time high for the viral infection in the six communities The Sentinel covers.

With the exception of Philo, each of the five other communities saw at least one new positive case in a 24 hour period. The CUPHD currently reports Ogden, St. Joseph and Royal added one additional case in each village. Meanwhile, Sidney added 2 additional cases for a total of five and Tolono's case count is now at 29, up four from 25 on Saturday. There are six active cases in Ogden, 19 in St. Joseph and Royal's new case is the first in several weeks.

The pandemic continues to surge as countywide there are now 818 active confirmed cases and 1,449 additional individuals under quarantine who may have been in contact with an infected individual today. Yesterday, there 749 active cases with 1,166 residents under close contact quarantine.

The Illinois Department of Public Health continues to ask residents of the state to limit their contact with others, wear a mask and wash their hands frequently to help stop the spread of the virus that has claimed 39 lives locally and 10,670 Illinoisans.

Photo of the Day - November 15, 2020

Unity's Jon Decker dribbles around Jack Cook

Rockets fall in OVC battle at home

Unity's Jon Decker attempts to dribble his way into the paint past St. Joseph-Ogden's Jack Cook in their conference rival game on January 6, 2017. After a 15-all first quarter start, the Rockets fell at home to the Spartans by 30 points, 79-49.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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