Village Crier: January 2, 2021

Agenda set for next Sidney village board meeting

The Sidney Village board is set to meet Monday, January 4, at pm.

Sentinel Village Crier Village President Jason Arrasmith plans to discuss the purchase of an enclosed bulletin board for the new community building as well as the possibility of building infrastructure to support electrical power for Christmas lights in the future. He will also lead a discussion on the new lights at Witt Park.

Trustees will also discuss future compensation for their work on the village board.

Over a thousand COVID-19 cases in 2020

The Sentinel are closed out the year with a reported total of 1,060 cases in 2020. There were 426 confirmed cases identified in St. Joseph, 324 in Tolono and 105 cases within the Philo zip code of 61864 according to the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. Meanwhile, 96 residents in Sidney, along with 73 from the Village of Ogden and 36 from Royal have been confirmed by tests since March.

Between New Year's Eve on Thursday and today, the CUPHD reports that there were 27 new cases scattered across the six villages. After a rampant spread in late November, the area saw 100 or fewer cases during the month of December.

The Sentinel accepts reader comments and opinion pieces

The New York Times has them. The Wall Street Journal and USA Today has them, and we want them, too. Send us your Letter to the Editor or Opinions piece.

Do you have an opinion on restaurants being closed, proof that Joe Biden and Democratic Party stole the 2020 elections, or a theory on why white supremacists are attempting to infiltrate alien communities to take control of UFOs? How about a funny, yet interesting anecdote from the last nine months of the pandemic that you would like to share with readers?

We'll gladly review your submission. is your Sentinel. We are looking to build an environment of thought-provoking conversation with our friends and neighbors.

Send us your letters or opinion piece to The Sentinel at For more information on submitting your Op-Ed, follow this link. Letters to the Editor will usually be published as Viewpoints. You can find more information to assist your submission here.

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Top ten Sentinel stories from 2020

During the last 12 months, The Sentinel has published 416 stories. Here is a look, starting with #10, our most read stories for the year 2020.

Rational regard: Will shelling be the new normal?



It is the word I started using about a week or so ago in informal conversations to refer to sheltering-in-place. In our homes and apartments we are much like hermit crabs, turtles and clams safely tucked within our sanctuaries from a virus to avoid infecting or becoming infected with the coronavirus.

Willowdale Winter Wonderland coming in December

When Lacey Smith moved into the Willowdale Subdivision with her husband and three kids in 2015, she heard tales from the past when residents would lavishly decorate their homes for the holidays.

"I love Christmas and we have a fantastic neighborhood!" said Smith, who has lived ...

County records 4 Covid-19 deaths, state could see another stay-at-home order

While the state's positivity numbers continue to grow at a record pace for the fourth straight day, the number of active Coronavirus cases in our area have shrunk from a high of 53 on Sunday, November 1, to 27 as of today.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 12,623 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 79 additional deaths. Four ...

Money Matters: Three businesses that would be great to have in St. Joseph

As St. Joseph and small towns across the country face stagnation (lack of growth) it is important that they prioritize their local economy.

St. Joseph is a desirable place to live for many reasons. We have a great school system, small town values, a low crime rate, proximity to jobs and everyday necessities, the best El Toro in Champaign ...

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...

Subway manager starts GoFundMe campaign to help employee

Last Thursday while at work April Patton didn't feel well. Despite the pain and discomfort, she finished her shift and continued to work several more days at the Subway located on 220 East Warren in St. Joseph before seeking medical attention. According to store manager Adam Porter, it was then she was informed that she had suffered a stroke on December 17.

With Christmas just around the corner and learning that she would not be able to return to work...

Statewide stay-at-home order, not if but when

"The numbers don't lie. If things don't take a turn in the coming days, we will quickly reach the point when some form of a mandatory stay-at-home order will be all that is left," Governor Pritzker said. "With every fiber of my being, I do not want us to get there. But, right now, that seems where we are headed."

Two St. Joseph residents found dead, suspect in custody

Early this morning, Champaign County deputies arrested Jonathon Perry, of Homer, now held in custody at the Champaign County Correctional Center, on the preliminary charge murder after deputies performed a welfare check on a residence located on Shore Drive in St. Joseph.

While searching the property around 4:15am this morning, deputies found ...

Illinois Rural Health Association hosts virtural conference in October

Despite restrictions on gatherings due to this year's pandemic outbreak, the Illinois Rural Health Association (IRHA) plans to host its 31st Annual Educational Conference next month.

The theme of this year’s conference is "Pulling Together in these Challenging Times". The two-day series of meetings with more than 20 workshops and panel discussions will be held virtually over the internet using a video ...

Our top story, numero uno for 2020

On the fence about getting vaccinated? You might not have a choice

"With at least two Coronavirus vaccines available on the near horizon, many Americans may face a new dilemma in the way of a mandated Coronavirus vaccination.

Just as in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, General Chang asks, "To be or not to be? That is the question which preoccupies our people...", to vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That is the question that will occupy the minds..."

Village Crier: December 31, 2020

Local news briefs for St. Joseph and Tolono

Active COVID cases remain low

According to the Champaign-Urbana Health District there are 65 active COVID-19 cases, five more than the area's six week low of 60 on Sunday, within the six villages covered by The Sentinel.

To date, there has been 73 positive cases in Ogden, 36 in Royal, 426 in St. Joseph, 6 in Sidney, 11 in Philo and 324 identified in Tolono since March of this year.

St. Joseph IGA open New Year's Day

Looking for additional snacks for tonight's countdown to 2021? The St. Joseph IGA will be open today from 6a-8p. The store will also be open on January 1, New Year's Day, from 6a-6p for last minute shopping needs.

Recycling reminder for Tolono residents

The Village posted a reminder that users should only place approved items in are recycling bins and asks that all boxes be broken down or flattened in order to make plenty of room for the increase in material due to the holidays.

Recycle bins use is for Tolono residents only. If the bins are full, residents are asked to take items back with them. Leaving boxes and recyclable material on the ground next to bins is considered illegal dumping. Illegal dumping is punishable with a $500 fine from the village. There are surveillance cameras to record activity at the bin location.

Here is a list of acceptable items that can be disposed at recycling bins.

Possible winter storm on New Year's

Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a Winter Weather Advisory for today starting at 4:03am until 12pm on January 1. In addition to Champaign County, the advisory also covers Edgar, Vermilion, Shelby, Coles, Piatt and Douglas counties.

The area is expected to see a mixture of precipitation late tonight and Friday. A winter storm system is expected to bring snow, sleet and freezing rain to the area. While the exact track and strength of this storm has not been determined, the threat for ice and snow now appears to be likely to make road conditions hazardous during early hours New Year's Day.

Current prediction calls for snow accumulations up to a half inch, sleet accumulations between one and two tenths of an inch, or ice accumulations between one- and two-tenths of an inch.

For the latest road conditions throughout Illinois visit

Forest preserve collecting Christmas trees

The Champaign County Forest Preserve District is accepting Christmas trees now until mid-January. Only undecorated trees will be accepted. Artificial trees or commercial drop-offs will not be taken as they cannot be used for the natural recycling by the Preserve District.

The tree can be dropped off any day of the week between 7am and sunset. Once you arrive at the park, there are signs to direct vehicles to the following drop-off locations:

• Homer Lake – drop trees off near the Maple Sugar Grove
• Lake of the Woods – drop trees off at the west maintenance entrance off Rte. 47.
• Middle Fork River – drop trees off at maintenance building

The trees are chipped and used for trails and landscaping at forest preserves throughout Champaign County. When the lakes freeze over, the trees are dragged onto the lake with cinder blocks attached to them. These will sink when the ice thaws to provide a natural aquatic habitat.

Billy Bob's closed

On December 11, the Champaign County public health agency suspended the health permit for Billy Bob's in Ogden. Yesterday, Judge Roger Webber granted a restraining order sought by the agency barring the restaurant from operating without a valid health permit.

Billy Bob's, represented by attorney Tom DeVore, will be back in court at 9am on January 12, when the TRO expires, for another hearing to force the restaurant to comply with the state's ban on indoor dining.

Judge Ben Dyer was replaced on the bench by Webber after a request submitted by DeVore, who had hoped for a friendlier court after Dyer shot down a pair of earlier attempts by DeVore to keep two other clients open, the Apple Dumplin' and Mary Ann's Diner in Champaign.

The timing could not be worse for the establishment which will now be closed during a typically profitable New Year's celebration. On their Facebook page, a message stated that the restaurant will be open "for carry-out in the near future".

Photo of the Day - December 30, 2020

Jenna Albrecht and Lacey Kaiser

Third at state!

Spartan volleyball players Jenna Albrecht and Lacey Kaiser celebrate with teammates after the team's 2-1 win over Rockford Lutheran to finish 3rd at the 2019 Illinois High School Association's Volleyball State Final in Class 2A. Finishing the season 36-5, St. Joseph-Ogden brought home the hardware after a three-set thriller, 25-11, 20-25, 25-23. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Lender makes home loan process easier for buyers

Sentinel Money Matters
Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company and Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee, has launched a new video promoting its easy loan process.

"Getting a home loan should not be an intimidating and difficult process, and we are continuously working to make the home financing journey - from application to closing - as easy as possible," said company president Eric Hamilton "A seamless home loan process greatly improves the customer experience, which is at the heart of our business."

Vanderbilt also enhanced its online application to simplify the process for customers on the company website.

Along with making the loan approval process easier for customers, Vanderbilt is continuing a program offering no payments for 60 days. This program automatically extends most new customers' first mortgage payment due date for 60 days after closing. While there are some additional requirements and restrictions, the program gives customers extra time to focus on paying the costs of moving in, without worrying about their first mortgage payment.

Over the last two years, the mortgage company has published an updated version of their home loan guide that contains helpful articles designed to explain the loan process to customers and valuable tips to ensure they are prepared during each step along the way.

Photo of the Day - December 29, 2020

Taking their best shot

St. Joseph-Ogden's Seth Wedig takes a shot on the Unity goal during his team's home game in 2017. After playing to scoreless finish after regulation time expired, the Spartans fell 2-1 in a shootout against the Rockets.

PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Photo of the Day - December 28, 2020

JC Ducey, Tyler Johnson and Lukas Graves enjoy an SJO football game

Tres grandes sonrisas

Former Spartan athletes JC Ducey, Tyler Johnson and Lukas Graves flash million dollar smiles as they show a little love to their favorite sports photographer from the back of a truck bed in 2013 during St. Joseph-Ogden's home football game against Marshall. The trio, who played in a state football title game together in 2006, also were teammates on the baseball field. Johnson, a three-sport athlete, played basketball while Graves wrestled his way to state finals appearances during the winter seasons. Later that evening the entire Spartan nation wore smiles as SJO rolled to a 47-0 shutout over the visiting Lions in the season opener on August 30.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Guest Commentary: Decisions determine our destiny

By Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

2021 is here, and will it be just another year?

If it's just another year then that won't be bad at all because too many will not have another year. The opportunity and privilege to have another year is the gift of life. Being alive and living your life is about as good as it gets. Aim for being alive this time next year.

Make some decisions about 2021. Where do you want to be this time in 12 months? Would you like to be ten pounds heavier? Maybe you would like to be ten or twenty pounds lighter?

If you cut back on your portions and get off the couch you can lose a pound a week on average. This is daunting but just think about where you can be the first of March if you start today? Don't start tomorrow. Start right now. Today. This minute. Throw all that junk cake and pie in the trash. This is a tough decision because we hate to say goodbye to all those holiday cookies and candies. Your body will thank you and you will feel so much better very soon.

Decide about financial habits. Millions of Americans carry credit card debt. Minimum payments on $3,000 of credit card debt is like swimming up river. If you have missed a few payments your credit card company may be anxious to hear from you. Ask them if they will consider a settlement payoff. A friend of mine owed $5,000 and his credit card company settled for a $2800 payoff. Your company might or might not but it never hurts to negotiate. You might be able to sell some things in order to erase that back breaking high interest debt.

Make some money in 2021 - if you want to. Most Americans need to make money in 2021. Work on job applications. Peruse the newspaper. Search online. Consider places you have heard about and call them, go see them. Knock on doors of opportunity. You get nowhere if you do not try. You might complete 20 or 30 applications to get one job interview. Complete the application thoroughly. Give them a reason to consider you. Put together a good biographical sketch, resume. Have a friend or two to review and edit because two heads are better than one. Have some good trusted references. Wherever you work do a good job because you want them to say a good word about you. A good word may seal the deal on your next job opportunity.

Jobs sometimes are scarce. Consider your personal knowledge and abilities and what might you do to make a dollar or two? What do you know that others need to know? What can you offer that others need or might want? Can you make something? Can you fix things? How can you help others? Creating your own life and business might be the financial and mental sanity answer for you. If you create your own work and are good at what you do, you will not run out of something to do.

Our decisions determine our destiny. Whatever decision we make we have to put into action. Faith without works is dead. May your life be good, healthy and filled with wonderful love, family and friends in 2021. Let's work together for a good year.


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.


Area restaurant owners have a court date for operating without a health permit

Restaurants to have day in court "Not till I get a court order," is what restaurateur Jeff Buckler told The News-Gazette on Friday, December 18, the day after his establishment, Lil Buford's in Tolono had its health permit pulled and was asked to close. "Wars aren’t won in one fight." Now he is a little more than three weeks of finding out if he picked the wrong battle.

This morning, the Champaign-Urbana newspaper reported that Buckler, and Charles Buck, owner of Billy Bob’s Under the Water Tower in Ogden, are formally charged with operating a restaurant without a valid health permit.

Billy Bob's permit was suspended on December 11. Both restaurant owners have continued to operate providing dining services without county permits.

Despite Champaign County having the third lowest positivity level among the 102 Illinois counties, under Illinois' multi-tier resurgence mitigation plan indoor service at bars and restaurants is prohibited. However, outdoor service and carry-out and delivery sales are still allowed at establishments that possess all the requisite permits by state, county and local governments.

Buckler also owns Buford's in Sadorus which currently offers carryout and outdoor service only after he ceased indoor dining earlier this month. Even in the face of fines, attorney fees and possible court order closure, Lil Buford's, which opened in October, continues to offer dine-in service today.

Fighting tooth and nail for the survival of his business, Buckler's resistance effort made the national news on Sunday. He told FoxNews "there are thousands of servers and cooks and bartenders are out of work" and that "People are starving. It's going to get bad here soon."

The two owners and their attorneys are scheduled to be in court January 21.

Several other Champaign County bar and restaurant establishments that have ignored the state's public health mandate have entered settlement agreements with the health department's enforcement after appearances in court or prior docketed dates. Merry-Ann’s Diner in Champaign, the American Legion Post 71, Apple Dumplin’ at 2014 N. High Cross Road, U; Not Too Far Bar at 203 Chapin St., Ivesdale; and Red Wheel Restaurant at 741 Broadmeadow, Rantoul, all were cited for continuing indoor dining.

The Apple Dumpling was permanently restricted from operating without a valid health permit in a decision by Judge Benjamin Dyer. In a settlement agreement by owners Jim and Kathryn Flaningam and county health officials, a permanent injunction order approved a little more than a week ago included provisions that the restaurant owners must comply with all applicable laws, including any notice of requirements issued by the Champaign County Public Health Department.

The Red Wheel's suspension barely lasted 24 hours and was reinstated after a written correction was accepted by the CUPHD and a reinstatement fee was paid. In a settlement agreement with City of Champaign and the county, Merry-Ann’s agreed to quit offering indoor dining services to the public.

Photo of the Day - December 27, 2020

Unity's Skyler Shepherd dribbles the ball to the paint against SJO
Unity falls in OT loss to SJO

Unity three-sport athlete Skyler Shepherd dribbles around St. Joseph-Ogden's Jake Pence during the Rockets home game on February 5, 2016. The Spartans in prevailed in an overtime thriller defeating the Rockets, 76-67.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

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