Photo of the Day - November 27, 2020

Rylee Walsh and Ella Miller calculate football stats

Counting it up

Statisticians Rylee Walsh (left) and Erinn Miller tally the St. Joseph-Ogden game stats after the football team's 2017 opener at home on August 28 against St. Thomas More. The Spartans kicked off the season dominating the visiting Sabers, 54-7.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Photo of the Day - November 26, 2020

Christian Butler makes a catch

Stretch to catch

Unity's Christian Butler reaches out for a catch in center field in team's final home game of season against Sullivan on May 10, 2008. The Rockets, unable to plate a run in seven innings, fell to the visiting Redskins, 7-0.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

We're collecting letters for Santa

The turkey is in the oven and the delicious aroma of fresh-baked pie is in the air. That means Christmas is just around the corner.

Letters to Santa Letters to Santa first began regularly appearing in newspapers around the 1880s. Every December since then, newspapers across the nation have published children’s requests for the gifts they want most. Entering our third year of covering news and sports in our part of Champaign county, The Sentinel is ready to join the tradition this year by publishing Letters to Santa from readers in the six villages we cover.

In a one-on-one Zoom meeting two weeks ago, Santa was delighted The Sentinel volunteered to help collect some of the millions and millions of letters he receives this time of the year, sort them and make sure he gets them on time. In the newspaper business, deadlines are just another day at the office.

Starting today, Letters to Santa will be accepted via email until noon on December 18. That gives us plenty of time to publish as many copies of the letters as we can before forwarding them to the Jolly Ole Elf at the North Pole.

Write your list early so Santa can make sure he packs his sleigh with all the gifts he needs to drop off on Christmas Eve to all the good little boys and girls your house. With his permission, we created a new email address at The Sentinel to make sure we get every letter and can forward them on to our new partner up north.

Please include in the body of an email after the letter your name or the child’s name, age and town where he or she lives. Email your letter to You can also submit a handwritten copy of any letter to St. Nick by sending a sharp, clear copy of the letter taken with your smartphone.

The Sentinel looks forward to sharing the letters and lists from kids in your hometown.

Christmas lights contest in Tolono

The Tolono Fun Days committee is sponsoring a holiday lighting contest next month. Winning lighting displays and holiday scenes will be eligible to win gift card prizes provied by local business and the committee.

To enter, Tolono residents that wish to participate in the contest will need to turn their outdoor holiday displays and lights on by 6p on Friday, December 4. There are three categories that will be award prizes at the village tree lighting ceremony on Saturday.

The three divisions are the Fuse Buster, Frosty's Pick and Low Watt.

Fuse Busters are big, bold bright displays "that is spinning the watt meter" according to the flyer circulated by the committee on Facebook. The Frosty's Pick award will go to the best display that features a snowman. The Low Watt entries will be judged for the best display with a few lights.

The Tolono Fun Days committee asks that residents bring a non-fragile, weather-proof ornament for the village tree lighting at the police station 6p on December 5.

"Join us for a social distancing event to bring in the holidays."

Basic Photography
Beginning photography classes coming soon!

Photo of the Day - November 24, 2020

Unity senior Karson Ewerks
Rockets stall in road trip at Rantoul
Surrounded by opposing players under the basket, Unity's Karson Ewerks looses control of the ball thanks to Rantoul's KeJuan Carodine behind him while going up for a put back in the paint during their Illini Prairie Conference road game earlier this year. The team's second leading scorer in the contest, Ewerks, a senior, finished the night contributing nine points in the 49-37 loss on January 21. Unity finished the 2019-20 season with a 1-8 conference record while Eagles' wrapped it up one step above with two wins, seven losses in the Illini Prairie Conference.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Unity East offers preschool screening next month

Unity East Elementary is offering Spectrum preschool screening for new students on December 10.

Developmental screening is a play-based assessment designed to identify problems or delays during normal childhood development. It systematically looks for signs that a young child may have a delay in one or more areas. Normally, the process does not establish a diagnosis, rather it helps teachers and specialists determine whether more in-depth assessment is needed.

Screenings for all three and four-year-old children not already enrolled in the Spectrum program will be held between 8:30-11:30 am at Unity East Grade School, located at 1638 County Road 1000N in Philo.

Contact Jennifer Hastings at (217) 469-2291 ext. 126 or email her at for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Seven questions with Tolono's Susan Plackett

October 31 has come and gone, but the memories from this year's celebration in Tolono will live on thanks to the collection of photos shot by long time resident Susan Plackett at this year's Halloween parade.

Participants stretch for blocks as they make their way through town during the Tolono Halloween parade on October 31.
(Photo courtesy of Susan Plackett)

Born and raised in Tolono, Plackett enjoys making memories for those growing up in Tolono like many of the members of the community did for her during her childhood.

"There is nothing more uplifting in these times than seeing families and children having fun," she said.

The Halloween parade was a first for Tolono according Plackett and the third parade in the village this year. With the annual Tolono Fun Day festival canceled due to restriction on large public gatherings in Illinois to prevent the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, a 4th of July parade was put together at the last minute she said because "everyone was missing not having Fun Day the weekend before."

"The Tolono Fun Days committee is trying to give the community something to do during the pandemic," Plackett said. "We had 18 participate 4th of July and 20 participants at the September 4 golf cart parade. [For the] Halloween [parade] there were over 40 vehicles and I don’t know how many walkers."

She shared 146 photos from the parade on Facebook from the parade. Here's a look at some of her photos from three weeks ago and a little bit about her Halloween memories.

Susan Plackett photo
Susan Plackett photo
Susan Plackett photo
Photos courtesy of Susan Packett
Click on any photo view larger
Susan Plackett photo
Susan Plackett photo
Susan Plackett photo
Susan Plackett photo
Photos courtesy of Susan Packett
Click on any photo view larger
Looking back, what is your favorite trick-or-treat childhood memory?
"I am too old to remember my own but I do remember my daughter, Veronica’s Halloweens. My husband and I always made her costumes. Until one year she asked if she could please get a store costume. She still loves Halloween and I still take her picture in her costumes."
What is your favorite Halloween movie? How many times have you seen it?
"My brother (John Dodds) and I used to watch Creature Feature every Friday night in the 70’s. There was a different movie every week. Though we watched the movies in the dark our Dad would get upset because every light would be on in the house after the movie. My brother is a chicken. LOL..."
Describe the best costume you wore as an adult?
"My husband and I usually build floats for parades, but we did make a two man cow from an old white blanket and a Papier-mache’ head for a party we were invited to."
You probably saw hundreds of costumes on Saturday at the parade. What was your favorite costume of the day and why?
"I loved all the costumes. This little guy spooked me when he peeked out while I was taking pictures. I think next year there needs to be a pet costume contest The second link of a ketchup bottle costume with the dog as a hot dog. LOVED that one."
Earlier, we asked about your favorite trick-or-treat story. What year was your absolute worse Halloween and how did it end up like that?
"Oh, there is no such thing as a bad day or being bored in our house. My daughter was so disappointed when she was sick and missed the Halloween party and parade at school. Her whole class showed up all through the night to give her candy. The most trick-or-treaters we have ever had here on Daggy Street. LOL And just like that her gloom turned into joy!"
On Facebook, there were several people who said they did not have many trick-or-treaters. Did you have many stop by your house? Do you think the pandemic limited participation this year and why?
"The Pandemic may have had some to do with the low trick-or-treaters. We do not normally get trick-or-treaters because the location of our home and there are not many children in our neighborhood. Door to door trick or treating has declined for the past several years. I think parents take their kids to the newer subdivisions where there is better lighting and sidewalks and trunk or treat events."
Are you a professional photographer? When did you start taking pictures and what do you like about it?
"No, I am not a professional photographer. I have been taking photos since I was a little girl. My first camera was a pocket camera that I earned from selling things door to door.

I don’t normally take posed shots but at the request from a close friend several years ago I started to taking senior photos for family and friends. I just like taking action shots. I like catching the moment or a memory. "

According to Susan, this is the Plackett's all-time best Halloween costume. Photo provided.
I almost always have my camera around my neck during all special events I attend. I remember going to a high school play without my camera and caught myself several times reaching for it. Yes, photography withdraw is very real. LOL ... Can you believe I was restricted from having my camera at my daughters wedding. LOL ... I did capture a couple special moments behind the scene with my cell phone but I had to sneak it. Best thing ever when they put a camera in a cell phone.

I make memories beyond the camera by being involved in the school, my church and several organizations in town.

See the rest of Plackett's Halloween parade gallery on Facebook.

Who's making a difference in your town? Let us know

The Sentinel is searching for regular folks who are making a difference in the lives of others in the communities we cover. Among the 11,000 people among us are angels and we want to share their stories.

We are talking about your friends and neighbors who you know that quietly work small miracles for those around them. They make small ripples that become swells making your community stronger.

The Sentinel wants to find such people, the heroes and heroines, to highlight their acts of kindness and compassion as we approach the holidays. If you know such a person, let The Sentinel know. Email us at with the person's name and contact info (email or phone number).

Please limit suggestions to people who have strong ties to the six villages we serve. If they grew up here, work here or live here, we want to recognize their efforts in making our lives just a little bit better.

Poll: Will you be vaccinated?

The Food & Drug Administration will meet on December 10th to review Pfizer's request for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its Covid-19 vaccine. Pfizer, with their German partner BioNTech, released promising final results that show their vaccine is 95% effective and protects elderly adults who are most at risk of dying.

This week's poll asks if approved for use after the meeting next month, will you get vaccinated? Use the comment section below to tell us why you will or will not.

Poll results

Photo of the Day - November 22, 2020

Rockets secure another home win

Unity's Jeremy Gallivan communicates with teammates while playing defense during his team's home game against Monticello on September 29, 2017. Scoring a touchdown in each of the four quarters, the Rockets prevailed with a 30-13 Illini Prairie Conference victory. Unity went capped the season with at 9-2 record and never lost a home game during the campaign.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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