Over 8,000 homes still without power after high winds rip through Champaign County

URBANA - A severe storm that left more than a 500 mile stretch of damage across several Midwest states caused a large number of power outages throughout the mid-section of the Ameren Illinois service territory this afternoon, according to a statement released by Ameren Illinois.

"This was a significant, slow moving weather cell that pounded our electric infrastructure over the course of several hours," said Lenny Singh, Chairman and President of Ameren Illinois. "Crews have been mobilized throughout the service territory and we are calling in reinforcements from Illinois and nearby states. We're in the assessment phase now and will focus on getting the system repaired and power restored as quickly as possible while exercising high standards of safety."

Ameren Illinois activated its Incident Management Team (IMT) at 1:00 pm Thursday, June 29, 2023, to support restoration activities. It will be staffed around-the-clock to coordinate service restoration, logistical support and communications.

Over 8,000 homes in Urbana, Tolono, and St. Joseph remain without electrical service as of 2 a.m., more than 12 hours after the storm ripped through east central Illinois. According to Ameren's outage data, 7,184 homes in Urbana were still without power. Only 165 homes in Tolono do not have electricity. Meanwhile, in St. Joseph, 47.66% of the residents in the community east of Urbana still needed electrical service restored. No estimate was available when the more than 1000 customers could expect power.

"Customer safety is of utmost importance, particularly when severe weather occurs. We urge our customers to take precautions to protect themselves and their families, including staying away from downed power lines and immediately reporting any downed lines to Ameren Illinois," Singh said.

Photo: Sentinel/Clark Brooks
A branch from a large tree at a condo unit near the corner Broadway and Vermont was peeled away from the trunk after winds close to 80 mph raced through the area after noon on Thursday. Widespread damage has been reported including overturned semis, flattened crops, and fallen trees.

Customers and media can receive timely updates on outage restoration by following the Ameren Illinois news feed on Facebook or at twitter.com/AmerenIllinois. Outages by county can be tracked at AmerenIllinois.com/outage.

Safety Reminders

Customer Reminders

Call Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000 as soon as possible to report a downed line, natural gas odor, or an outage.

Stay away from downed power lines because these lines may still be energized. During an outage, individuals are asked to stay indoors after sunset because downed lines may not be visible. Stay away from brush, shrubs and fallen trees that may be hiding these lines.

If your electric service is interrupted, unplug or protect sensitive computer and electronic equipment with a high-quality surge protector.

Customers seeking more information on their outage:

Customers will receive notification on the restoration status of individual outages. Those who are signed up for alerts will receive alert updates through their preferred channels. All others will receive a phone call.

Customers can report and check the status of their restoration at Ameren.com or download the free Ameren Mobile app where you can report or check your outage right from the palm of your hand.

Sign up for alerts. Text REG to AMEREN (263736) to start or visit Ameren.com/Alerts. 

In addition, safety and real-time outage information is available on the outage map at AmerenIllinois.com/outagemap.

Urbana sees substanial storm damage

The limb of a large pine tree lays on an outfield fence at Blair Park on Thursday after a storm that produced nearly 80mph windspeeds passed through the area. In its wake, the storm left over 28,000 homes without power in Champaign County and more 170,000 homes in Ameren's service area.

"Unfortunately, we do not have a safe estimated restoration time. Crews are being dispatched from other Ameren Illinois regions and from neighboring states to help with restoration efforts. We truly appreciate your patience and understanding while our crews work through the night to restore as many customers as quickly and safely as possible," said Ameren employee Linda, who signed a response to a question on the company's Facebook page. To sign up for alerts and outage updates from Ameren, text REG to AMEREN (263736).

Scheduled flights to and from Willard Airport were canceled by airport officials after damaging winds from the powerful derecho caused a power outage and damaged the roof of the commercial terminal.

Photo: Sentinel/Clark Brooks

Save money on trips with latest travel trend

NAPSI - A recent trend in travel is taking many people far—and you can be among them. Here’s what’s going on:

  • Subscription travel is increasingly popular.
  • According to recent research, 55% of American travelers belong to a travel subscription club or are interested in joining one.
  • Saving money is the primary reason for joining. For example, members of Travel + Leisure GO, part of the world’s most influential travel brand, save on average 25% on bookings and up to 60% off at 600,000+ hotels and resorts, car rentals, tours, excursions and more—with no waiting on cash back or points.
  • A World Of Perks For Savvy Travelers

    Adventure seekers in that travel club get expert advice from the editorial team at Travel & Leisure magazine, preferred pricing and big savings on travel, members-only perks and access to a personal concierge to help take vacations to the next level. Each member’s personal concierge can help travelers create the vacations they’ve only dreamed about, build itineraries, book airfare and rental cars, as well as make hard-to-get dinner reservations at 1,500 restaurants around the world, provide exclusive access to popular sporting events, concerts, culinary VIP and wine events and more.

    With savings on every trip, members quickly earn back their membership fees after booking just one or two getaways.

    Members also get 110% Best Price Guarantee on cruises with up to $1,500 onboard credits, and savings on parks, shows, and attractions. Plus you can get inspired for future adventures with a subscription to Travel & Leisure magazine, included with membership.

    A vacation planning and booking gateway lets you explore curated travel itineraries on featured destinations and then build and book your next dream vacation with a quick call. You can choose from thousands of destinations around the globe or design your own trip with recommendations, activity ideas, and tips from the experts.

    Cutting Costs

    You can preview savings with a trial membership, and sign up for the platform when you’re ready to book an itinerary, says Fiona Downing, Chief Membership Officer Travel & Leisure GO.

    Four more ways travelers can save money and have fun:

    1. Travel during “shoulder season”, the less popular travel times such as early autumn at the beach and winter in Europe.

    2. Find free things to do. Look for concerts in the park and museums that are free on certain days of the week.

    3. Eat like a local. Visit local markets and food stands for a taste of the area’s cuisine.

    4. Keep souvenirs to a minimum. Take lots of photos instead.

    Looking Back | Cowan leads Rockets in romp over PBL

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    Unity's Will Cowan fires a shot from in front of the Paxton-Buckley-Loda bench during their Illini Prairie game back in January. The Rockets rolled easily to a 58-22 win over the visiting Panthers behind Cowan's game-high 16 points. View 28 more photos in the game gallery here ....

    Search the PhotoNews Media archives for more photos:

    Search by athlete's name, team, school and more

    Lifeguard shortage affecting summer pool staffing

    When local officials make decisions about where to close pools or cut back hours, they do so knowing that swimming has a fraught history of racial inequities.
    by Michelle Andrews
    Kaiser Health News

    KHN - Two summers ago, a teenager who had jumped off the diving board started struggling in the deep end, her arms flailing. It took only a few seconds for lifeguard Makenna John to notice the girl’s distress. She grabbed her rescue tube, jumped in, and helped the girl to safety.

    This summer is Makenna’s third lifeguarding at the public pool in Roxana, Illinois, a village in the St. Louis area. Although dramatic rescues are relatively rare, she estimates that up to a quarter of the roughly 50 people she keeps a watchful eye on during a shift can’t swim. Then there are the daredevils and children whose parents think they’re better swimmers than they are.

    Photo: Sergio Souza/Pexels

    “It’s stressful because you’re responsible for ensuring the safety of all the people at the pool,” said Makenna, 17.

    Lifeguarding may look like a cushy job. What’s not to like about lounging in a chair by the pool all day? But the job carries a load of responsibility.

    Drowning is the No. 1 cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of those deaths occur in swimming pools. For kids 5-14, drowning is the second-most common type of unintentional injury death, behind motor vehicle deaths.

    As schools let out and warm summer days draw people to pools and beaches around the country, many cities and towns are scrambling to hire enough lifeguards to safely oversee swimmers. If they can’t meet their targets, they may cut back pool hours or opt not to open some pools at all. While a shuttered pool on a hot summer day is a letdown for many residents, it can be a particularly big blow for low-income families who don’t have a lot of affordable summer fun options.

    Up to 90% of Des Moines kids qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch, said Ben Page, director of Des Moines Parks and Recreation in Iowa. “People can’t afford to go to the movies for air conditioning,” he said.

    When local officials make decisions about where to close pools or cut back hours, they do so knowing that swimming has a fraught history of racial inequities.

    Racial disparities play a significant role in drowning deaths. Overall, the drowning death rate for Black people in the U.S. is 1.5 times that of white people. The difference is starkest for swimming pool deaths, in which Black children ages 10 to 14 drown at a rate 7.6 times that of their white peers, according to the CDC.

    Research conducted in 2017 by the USA Swimming Foundation found that two-thirds of Black children have minimal swimming ability or can’t swim at all. Forty-five percent of Hispanic children are nonswimmers, as are 40% of white kids. (Hispanic people can be of any race or combination of races.) The same study found that 79% of kids in families with incomes less than $50,000 are unable to swim.

    When Cullen Jones, the first Black American to hold a world record in swimming, was 5, he nearly drowned at a water park near his home in Irvington, New Jersey. At the time, he didn’t know how to swim, and lifeguards saved his life.

    “Most people expect that if you have a near drowning, you were doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing, you were horseplaying or someone pushed you,” said Cullen, a four-time Olympic medalist.

    Now 39, Jones travels the country as an ambassador for the USA Swimming Foundation, talking to kids about the importance of learning to swim.

    It’s not hard to see the thread connecting lack of swimming ability and higher drowning rates among Blacks with the expansion of swimming pools in the United States. As cities embarked on a municipal pool building boom in the 1920s and ’30s, Black Americans were generally excluded from them, either explicitly because they were white-only pools, or by threats and violence, according to an exhibit at Philadelphia’s Fairmount Water Works titled “Pool: A Social History of Segregation.”

    When desegregation was mandated after World War II, many towns closed or relocated their pools to secluded white neighborhoods rather than allow Black people to use them.

    Funds also weren’t provided to support pools in majority-Black communities, said Kevin Dawson, an associate professor of history at the University of California-Merced, who has written on the topic. “They might not fill them all the time or not have lifeguards, so people couldn’t use them.”

    As cities and towns today make decisions about which pools to open, many are doing so with a clear intention that they be accessible to poor or minority kids as well as those in less diverse or wealthier neighborhoods.

    In Baltimore, where the public pools are free to all, city officials carefully selected which 12 of its 23 pools would open this year.

    “We picked our pools so that it will be equitable and there would be locations on bus lines so that everyone will have access,” said Nikki Cobbs, chief of aquatics at the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks.

    Recreational experts who’ve canvassed jurisdictions say they expect fewer closed pools this year than last.

    “Things are a little bit better than they were,” said Kevin Roth, vice president for research, evaluation, and technology at the National Recreation and Park Association, an advocacy organization for people working in the parks and recreation field. “The open times may still be compressed, but there were communities that didn’t open half their pools last year, and we’re not hearing that this year.”

    Still, lifeguard staffing shortages continue to put pressure on pool availability. In recent years, it’s become increasingly hard to fill seasonal lifeguard positions with teenagers, the backbone of the workforce.

    That’s largely because employment patterns have changed.

    Until 2000, about half of teenagers worked at least part of the summer, on average, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. But by 2010, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the employment rate for teens had dropped to about 30%. Many local parks and recreation staffers are well aware of this new reality.

    “The opportunities for young people have increased, and many travel and do internships; they do sports and camp. We’re competing with a lot of things,” said April Chappell, aquatics director for the Cincinnati Recreation Commission.

    “There’s been a bit of a cultural shift,” Roth said.

    The tight labor market has also given teens better-paying employment options — such as fast-food, retail, or office jobs — that don’t require them to carve out time to get certified in swimming, CPR, and rescue operations by the Red Cross or another group.

    Many cities and towns are now taking steps to compete, including boosting lifeguards’ hourly rates, promising bonuses, and offering to pay for lifeguard certification classes. Some are reaching out to retirees and nontraditional workers to fill their ranks.

    Des Moines has hired 151 lifeguards to date, far more than the 125 minimum needed to staff its five pools, said Ian Knutsen, who supervises the city’s aquatics program.

    Before recruitment got underway, they surveyed former lifeguards about what would make them want to sign up for a stint this year.

    “Money was the biggest deciding factor,” Page said.

    Des Moines lifeguards start at $15 an hour, compared with $13 last year. That makes the city jobs competitive with other local employers. Lifeguards get an additional $5 per hour for working on holidays. Those who stay through July can get a $200 bonus, which grows by $25 each year they come back, capping at $300.

    Cincinnati raised lifeguard wages to $16 an hour, from $11.53 last year, and offered $500 bonuses to returning lifeguards. Despite that, lifeguard shortages persist and mean the city may be able to open only 13 of its 23 pools, said Chappell.

    Kids often want to lifeguard at their neighborhood pool, Chappell said. But in some neighborhoods, there may not be enough kids who are swimmers to fill the spots. The city has programs to help increase those numbers.

    Last winter, Cincinnati funded a lifeguard academy for people 14-24. The program pays for swimming lessons if they need them and pays for their lifeguard training, as well. About 150 applied, and over 60 became lifeguards, Chappell said.

    It’s not only the number of lifeguards that determines pool availability. In Phoenix, lifeguard recruitment has been going great, said Adam Waltz, a spokesperson for the city’s parks and recreation division. Still, the city plans to open only 18 of its 29 pools for the summer, with some on staggered schedules. The sticking point: pool managers.

    “In order to open 29 pools, you need to have 29 pool managers, and we couldn’t get that this year,” he said. “We can’t have a first-summer lifeguard calling the shots during a water emergency.”

    KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

    Affordable Connectivity Program makes internet affordable for low-income households

    student working on laptop

    The Federal Communication Commission's Affordable Connectivity Program helps millions of households get and save on internet service
    Family Features - High-speed internet service is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for everyone, everywhere.

    From doing homework to using telehealth, working remotely, connecting with family and friends and more, internet is needed for everyday life, but the cost can make it hard for many to afford.

    To help ensure all Americans can share in and contribute to today's internet-based society and economy, Congress created the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Launched Dec. 31, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees the program to help eligible households gain access to affordable high-speed internet service.

    "For many households, the cost of groceries, gas and rent can eat up the monthly budget, putting internet access out of reach," FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. "The ACP is the nation's largest-ever broadband affordability effort, supporting internet connections in millions of households. That's progress, but we want to do more to get out the word about this powerful program and reach families that may not know about this benefit."

    How the Program Works
    The ACP provides eligible households a savings of $30 per month toward internet service or $75 per month for eligible households living on qualifying Tribal lands. Taking part in the ACP could make internet service free if the savings covers the entire price of the plan. Eligible participants will not receive additional money back if their bill is less than the discount.

    Eligible households can also receive a one-time savings of up to $100 to buy a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers. The program is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household (a group of people who live together and share money even if they are not related).

    As of June 2023, more than 18 million households have enrolled in the program and are connected to high-speed internet services they need.

    How to Enroll
    Step 1: Visit GetInternet.gov and submit your application or print out a mail-in application. Households with questions about eligibility or how to apply, or need to request a paper application, can call the ACP Support Center at (877) 384-2575.

    Step 2: If approved, contact your local internet provider to select a plan and have the discount applied to your monthly bill. Use the Companies Near Me Tool to find participating internet service providers in your area by city and state or zip code. Consumers can select the type and level of internet service that best suits their needs.

    The ACP protects consumers by allowing households to choose an internet service plan that meets their family's needs. Consumers also cannot be denied service because of their credit score or prior debt with a provider, and households enrolled in the ACP can switch providers and plans without incurring additional fees or penalties for early termination.

    Eligibility Requirements

  • * Their household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, about $60,000 a year for a family of four or $29,000 a year for an individual
  • * Anyone in the household, including children or dependents, participates in certain government assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, WIC, Federal Housing Assistance or other programs
  • * Anyone in the household already receives a Lifeline benefit
  • A household may also qualify for the ACP through a participating provider's existing low-income program.

    For a full list of eligibility requirements and more information, visit GetInternet.gov.

    Recipe | Breakfast Brunch Board

    Family Features - Few things go together like the weekend and brunch. Whether that means gathering with family, friends or a combination of both, it's the perfect time to slow down and bring your loved ones together for a lighthearted meal.

    Catering to a variety of different palates requires a diverse menu of dishes ranging from fresh fruit and baked goods to proteins and more. A key ingredient to bring any spread together: Envy apples, which are a natural cross between Braeburn and Royal Gala apples.

    With their beautifully balanced sweetness, uplifting fresh aroma, delightfully satisfying crunch and bright red skin that sometimes features a golden blush, they can be served fresh or paired with other brunch favorites in shareable dishes like the Brunch Board with a Twist. Plus, their naturally white flesh doesn't brown as quickly as other apples, making them easy to savor while enjoying time with loved ones.

    Find sweet brunch recipe inspiration at EnvyApple.com.

    Brunch Board with a Twist

  • 2 Envy Apples, sliced
  • boiled eggs, halved
  • cooked bacon
  • bananas, sliced
  • berries
  • miniature pancakes
  • edible flowers, for garnish
  • 2-3 Envy Apples, for garnish

  • On breakfast platter, artfully arrange sliced apple, halved boiled eggs, bacon, bananas, berries and pancakes. Garnish with edible flowers and whole apples.

    Cool dog-friendly National Parks to hike this summer

    Photo: Thirdman/PEXELS

    While most parks allow dogs, they typically have trails specifically designated as dog friendly.
    by Kim Salerno

    Hiking is so much more enjoyable when you can take your four-legged sidekick along. Finding the perfect place to hike with your pup may require a bit more digging, but it’s certainly time well spent.

    While it may be intuitive to think that all hiking trails allow dogs, that’s not always the case. While most parks allow dogs, they typically have trails specifically designated as dog friendly.

    In addition, some trails require dogs to be leashed while hiking, while others allow dogs to be off-leash. Another consideration is the dog-friendly trails’ rating. They can range from easy to very strenuous. You need to determine if your dog (and you) are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced hiker.

    The good news is that there are many dog-friendly hiking trails in parks across the United States.

    Here are some fan-favorites – from coast to coast!

    Pisgah National Forest

    Pisgah National Forest is located in western North Carolina in Brevard, NC. However, it surrounds almost all of the ever popular pet-friendly destination, Asheville, NC. Pisgah National Forest boasts over 500,000 acres of some of the most majestic and rugged mountain scenery, as well as the best outdoor exploration in eastern North America. In addition, you and your pooch will find whitewater rivers, waterfalls, along with hundreds of miles of hiking trails.

    One of the more popular dog-friendly trails is Sam Nob Trail. It’s a moderate trail that is 2.5 miles and takes about 1.5 hours to complete. It’s well maintained, has beautiful views, and has a stair portion. Dogs must be on-leash.

    Acadia National Park

    Located in the bayside town of Bar Harbor, this spectacular park is Maine’s only National Park…but it sure is a must-visit for hikers and their pups. Located on Maine’s amazing coast, across from the infamous Mount Desert Island, this park is sure to please two and four-legged visitors. Dogs are welcome on almost all trails and carriage roads. With approximately 100 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails – you’ll find trails from beginners to advanced.

    One of the more popular dog-friendly beginners’ trail is the Wonderland Trail. It’s a short, 1.5 mile trail that takes you out to the ocean and through Maine’s lush forest. Hiking pups must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet.

    Shenandoah National Park

    Shenandoah National Park is located in the glorious Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It lies just west of Washington, D.C. The Park stretches 105 miles with entrances at Waynesboro, VA and Front Royal, VA. This scenic park boasts towering waterfalls, lots of wildlife, and spectacular views. They have approximately 100 miles of hiking trails. And the good news is dogs are permitted on almost all of them. However, the general rule is that dogs must be on-leash. However, some trails do allow dogs to be off-leash.

    A popular dog-friendly trail is the Hawksbill Loop Trail. It’s considered a moderately challenging route. It takes approximately 1 ½ hours to complete. Dogs may be off-leash in some areas of this trail.

    Cuyahoga Valley National Park

    Cuyahoga Valley National Park lies along the Cuyahoga River between the Ohio cities of Cleveland and Akron. Dog-friendlyCuyahoga boasts over 100 miles of trails that welcome dogs. Known as a refuge for native plants and wildlife, the dog-friendly park provides visitors with a plethora of discoveries. The spectacular winding Cuyahoga River sweeps into deep forests and rolling hills.

    Top rated moderate dog-friendly trails to hike in Cuyahoga Valley National Park include Salt Run, Kendall Lake and Cross Country Trails. For an easier jaunt, take the ever-popular Towpath Trail to follow the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal. Dogs must be leashed.

    Olympic National Park

    There’s something for everyone (and dog) at Olympic National Park. In addition to plenty of hiking trails, this popular spot has beaches, waterfalls, and breathtaking, lush rainforests. Located near Port Angeles and Squim, WA,Olympic National Park allows pups on a number of hiking trails as well as various sections of the beaches.

    Devils Punchbowl via Spruce Railroad Trail is a great dog-friendly hike. It takes you along the shoreline of the lake. This trail is considered easy and takes about 50 minutes to complete. Dogs must be on-leash.

    Grab your four-legged hiking buddy and hit the trails!

    Kim Salerno is CEO/Founder for TripsWithPets, Inc. TripsWithPets is a leader in the pet travel industry – providing online reservations at pet-friendly hotels across the United States and Canada.

    Guest Commentary | Don’t vote for someone just because of their age

    by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

    Are President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump too old to be President of the United States?

    The answer to this question varies and depends on your perspective.

    This perspective hinges on your expectations of America’s President. Should he or she be able to run up steps? What about walking down the steps from Airforce One without looking down? This is a good trick.

    We have to be careful about hanging a number on the maximum age to serve as President. Eighty may be too old, but maybe it’s not. I heard Billy Graham preach when he was 80 and he came on the stage talking and preaching like a dynamo. There was nothing inarticulate or incoherent about him. There are millions of eighty-year-old plus people in this nation who live very active lives and have a lot to contribute to our country.

    However, we have to be realistic there are millions of 80-year-old American’s who are barely alive, their health is terrible. Many cannot care for themselves let alone care for a nation. Furthermore, there are also millions of Americans between 36 and 70 who are not mentally or physically healthy enough to hold down the world’s number one job.

    Each individual must be evaluated by each American. We have to look at all of the candidates circumspectly. Do they have the experience? Do they have the knowledge and skills. Are they articulate. Does the candidate demonstrate leadership skills that we need to lead this country forward to better times? Will the candidate be a strong presence on the world stage and be a peace maker and leader?

    Seventy million Americans do not want a President who is going to cut Social Security or Medicare benefits. Millions of Americans over 50 do not want the Social Security retirement age raised from 67 to 70. No one in this age bracket is going to support a candidate who infers either of the changes. The full benefits age should never have been raised from 65 to 67. Millions of Americans will pay into Social Security all their lives but never make it to age 67 and thus never collect a penny. Of course, these people can collect a smaller amount if they want to retire at 62 and live on much less money. This is not a viable option for many.

    Don’t vote for someone just because they are young and vigorous. Youth is attractive and often charismatic but youth sometimes make mistakes. Don’t vote for someone just because they are 80. Hopefully they are wise and very experienced but may be on the verge of becoming too frail. Look at the whole person. Age is a number. Look at what he or she is able to bring to the job and potentially do to help and lead our nation.

    It’s a big decision and don’t make it all about a number.


    He is the author of 13 books including UncommSense, the Spiritual Chocolate series, Grandpa's Store, Minister's Guidebook insights from a fellow minister. His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to editor@oursentinel.com.



    Looking Back | Unity loss sets up 5-game win streak

    With the hectic 2022-23 season behind us, we want to use the summer to catch up publishing some of the great moments we captured this season but didn't have the time or resources to publish. Here is The Sentinel's next installment of our summer feature called Looking Back. Visit our website weekly for more photo features.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    Unity's Andrew Thomas tries to dribble past Normal U-High Christian Mckee during their Christie Clinic Shootout game on Saturday, January 7. The Rockets fell 56-48 to the Pioneers. See more photos from the game.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    Rockets' Henry Thomas goes up for a shot on Pioneers' Christian Mckee. Unity was unable to recover from a nine-point, first-half deficit in the shootout at St. Joseph-Ogden.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    Unity's Dalton O'Neill tries to dribble past Normal U'High's Jonah Harms. The Rockets dropped to 8-7 on the season after the loss.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    Junior Dalton O'Neill bobbles the ball in front of Pioneers' Mason Hooper.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    Unity head coach Matt Reed yells instructions to players on the floor in the second half. The Rockets went on to win the next five games on the sechedule after the 56-48 loss to the Pioneers. See more photos from the game.

    Looking Back | St. Joseph-Ogden basketball team rolls over Nashville 24 points

    With the hectic 2022-23 season behind us, we want to use the summer to catch up publishing some of the great moments we captured this season but didn't have the time or resources to publish. Here is The Sentinel's next installment of our summer feature called Looking Back. Visit our website weekly for more photo features.
    Ty Pence has his shot blocked in the Nashville game
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    Nashville senior Aidan Heiman tries to block a shot under the basket by Ty Pence. The Spartans defeated the visiting Hornets, 59-35. See more photos from this game here. Heiman finished the game with 4 points and 6 rebounds.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    SJO's Coy Taylor tries to get around Nashville's Carter Schoenherr during a first-half free throw.

    Rylan Hammer and Maddux Carter
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    Nashville's Rylan Hammer brings the ball down the court to a waiting St. Joseph-Ogden senior Maddux Carter playing defense in first half.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    McGwire Atwood pulls down a rebound in the second half. Atwood helped the Spartans break a two-game skid with their first win of 2023.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    Spartan senior Ty Pence looks for an open path into the lane during in the fourth quarter.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    St. Joseph-Ogden cheerleaders lead student fans in a cheer during a timeout.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    SJO sophomore Tanner Siems barrels his way into the paint against Nashville sophomore Isaac Blazier in the team's 59-35 win. See more photos from this game here.

    Looking Back: Spartans defeat Indians by 10 in conference showdown

    With the hectic 2022-23 season behind us, we want to use the summer to catch up publishing some of the great moments we captured this season but didn't have the time or resources to publish. Here is The Sentinel's first installment of our summer feature called Looking Back. Visit our website weekly for more photo features starting next week.
    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    St. Joseph-Ogden's Addison Frick puts the ball up for a first half shot during the Spartans' home basketball game against Pontiac. Frick finished the game with a team-high 17 points powering SJO to a 57-47 victory. See more photos from this game here.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    SJO senior Taylor Hug fires a jumper from outside the arc for one of her four treys against the visiting Pontiac Indians.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    Driving past Pontiac's Makyah Hartfield, SJO's Addie Seggebruch attacks the paint in January 5 home game at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    Freshman point guard Katie Ericksen moves the ball around during the second half against Pontiac.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    Surrounded by Pontiac players, Spartans' Kaytlyn Baker protects the ball during second half action. Baker, a senior, contributed a field goal and one free throw in the Illini Prairie Conference win for the St. Joseph-Ogden program on Saturday.

    Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
    Spartan Katie Ericksen loses control of the ball after colliding with Pontiac senior Mackenzie Coates in the second half. View 14 more photos from the SJO girls' first game of 2023 here.

    America’s Best Restaurants Roadshow filming at Buford's Pub on Friday

    SADORUS - Lights, camera, action! America's Best Restaurants Roadshow will be at Buford's Pub filming for an upcoming episode this Friday. The show, produced for the America's Best Restaurant's YouTube channel, will be aired at a future date.

    America’s Best Restaurants is a national media and marketing company focusing on local, independently-owned restaurants. The show will highlight the popular local two-unit business south of Champaign owned by Jeff Buckler.

    "Most of my food comes from my travels on a motorcycle," Buckler said, often taking pictures of menus on his trips so he can return home and use the ideas as a springboard for new items.

    The episode will feature a extensive interview with Buckler and highlight his signature dishes. Restaurants featured on the ABR Roadshow are found through customer nominations or by a restaurant applying through their website for consideration for an upcoming episode.

    Buford's is known locally for its inventive American-style menu items where bigger appears to be better, according a press release announcing plans for the upcoming show.

    In addition to his burgers and fries, Buford's is the home of Champaign County's "Elephant Ear Tenderloin" and the "Trash Can Nachos", basically three pounds of food served in a 12 x 8 pan. The two local establishments are also known for their garlic parmesan tater tots, various smashburgers named after friends, and homemade dipping sauces such as wasabi ranch or jalapeno ranch.

    Located at 109 E Market St, Buford’s Pub seats 70 indoors and an additional 70 on their outdoor patio. ABR will announce the premiere date on their Facebook page and at https://americasbestrestaurants.com/rests/illinois/bufords-pub.

    Tips to keep pet-related distraction at a minimum while driving

    Photo: Emerson Peters/Unsplash
    by Kim Salerno

    Summer is a season of travel. More people hit the road during the warmer months, whether to visit friends and family, explore new places, or go on outdoor adventures. And the good news is, many summer travelers are bringing their pets along. But are pet parents taking enough precautions to keep everyone in their car safe?

    The perils of distracted driving
    We often think nothing of adjusting our GPS system, changing our music, or petting our furry passenger while we drive, but the implications of taking our eyes off the road, our hands off the wheel, or our minds off of driving, can be very serious. According to the Center for Disease Control, or CDC, distracted driving and a failure to pay attention to road and traffic conditions cause 25 to 30 percent of police-reported traffic crashes, which add up to roughly 1.2 million crashes each year. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Administration, or NHTSA, notes that roughly 20 percent of car accident injuries involve distracted driving.

    Distracted driving and pets
    Distracted driving is of most concern in summer, when it typically reaches its peak as more younger drivers take to the road, and more people in general take the opportunity to travel, explore, or visit family. Traveling with pets compounds this concern, as unrestrained pets can both cause distractions and make accidents more dangerous.

    “Pets can easily take a driver’s attention from the road, posing a serious risk not only to the pet but also to the passengers riding in the same vehicle,” says Michael Leung, co-founder and lead product designer of Sleepypod, a manufacturer of premium pet carriers and pet restraint systems. “If there is nothing restraining a pet in a hard stop or car accident, the pet can become a projectile and potentially collide with fellow pets or human passengers.”

    Such a collision could be catastrophic, regardless of a pet’s size. A 10-pound dog in a 50-mile-an-hour car crash exerts 500 pounds of force. Meanwhile, an 80-pound dog in a 30-mile-per-hour crash exerts 2,400 pounds of force.

    Unrestrained pets may also fall or jump out of open windows or flee the car in fear after a crash, potentially becoming lost, injured, or worse.

    Keeping pets safe with restraints
    A quality, rigorously tested pet restraint can make all the difference in preventing distracted driving and keeping human and pet passengers safe during an accident. Interestingly, an American Automobile Association (AAA) survey found that, while more than 80 percent of drivers admitted that they recognize the dangers of driving with an unrestrained pet, only 16 percent used pet restraints.

    “Hopefully, you’ll never have to put a car restraint for your pet to the test,” says Michael, “But taking an extra minute to properly secure a pet before heading on the road for summer adventures could offer peace of mind and reassurance.”

    Best practices for pet restraint
    Michael spearheaded Sleepypod’s rigorous advanced crash-testing program, which includes a large and growing family of crash test dummy dogs and cats featuring sensors and monitors that measure car crash and pet restraint data. In addition, he and his research and development team gather real-life accident data through Sleepypod’s Crash Replacement Program, which offers customers who have used a pet safety restraint while in an accident replacement pet restraints or discounts on new pet restraints.

    Michael offers the following tips for minimizing pet-related distractions and keeping pets safe during accidents:

  • Pets should always be restrained in a back seat to prevent them from injury if an airbag is deployed.
  • If you cannot restrain your pet with a reputable, tested car restraint, the next safest option is to place your pet in the footwell behind the front seat.
  • Smaller pets are safer when fully contained in a restrained carrier, while larger dogs should ride in a car safety harness that does not connect the pet with an extension tether.
  • Pets should be unable to slide forward far enough to “submarine,” or drop off the seat, at any point during a collision.
  • Securing pets is the best way to ensure you and your pets have happy, distraction-free travels during summer, and all year round.

    Kim Salerno is CEO/Founder for TripsWithPets, Inc. TripsWithPets is a leader in the pet travel industry – providing online reservations at pet-friendly hotels across the United States and Canada.

    Viewpoint: Choose your company carefully

    by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

    A friend will do his best to prevent you from driving off a cliff. Your enemy will give you directions to the cliff and happily watch you plunge to your destruction. A friend cares enough to caution you about financial decisions or bad investments. Your enemy will be glad to see you lose your money. Your friend will warn you about a snake in the path. Your enemy will tell you to enjoy your walk.

    A friend cares enough to help. Your enemy will let you sink. Thirty years ago, I made a move. I had a house payment in one town and an apartment rent in my new location. I had two car payments, a very sick wife and two small children. The financial burden was tough. I met with a group of 8 to 10 men every Thursday morning at 6 AM for prayer. These men prayed for me but came to me one day and said, “We’re going to collect $300 to $400.a month to give to you until you sell your house. I was surprised, thankful but declined the offer. They insisted. One man spoke up and said, “We’re not going to sit here and watch you sink.” I was very close to just giving my house back to the bank but fortunately I was able to sell it eventually and gained enough money to make a down payment on a house in my new location.

    Your friend may not be able to save you. However, your friend will try to save you from sinking. Your enemy will find humor in your demise.

    Your friend will not barrage you with your past mistakes. A real friend puts the past behind and moves forward. The only good thing about remembering past mistakes is so you won’t repeat them. Your enemy delights in rehashing ancient history when you failed, divorced, folded, went crazy and more. Your friend will focus with you on today. They will celebrate your current life and activities.

    The Bible says the Devil is like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour. Often, his most effective work is discouraging us and immobilizing our lives. The work of God is forgiving, forgetting, cleansing, burying and looking ahead to the goal line. The work of evil is to take you back to your old sins and failures.

    The Bible talks about forgetting those things which are behind. The scriptures teach that God through Christ cleanses us of all our sins. He buries our sins in the depths of the sea to be remembered no more. God doesn’t remember them, so why do you worry about a failure that happened a hundred years ago? Remember Lot’s wife? She looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. Looking back turns us into salt or immobilizes us from going forward. You can’t go forward looking over your shoulder. The Bible says press toward the goal line. This means you look forward.

    Choose who you spend time your time with very carefully. Live looking forward and avoid those who want to keep you looking back.


    He is the author of 13 books including UncommSense, the Spiritual Chocolate series, Grandpa's Store, Minister's Guidebook insights from a fellow minister. His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to editor@oursentinel.com.



    Dolittle play comes to Station Theatre this week

    URBANA - The Absentee, a play by Julia Doolittle, starts its opening run on Thursday at the Station Theatre. The play will run for ten days through June 25. Directed by Christiana Molldrem Harkulich, The Absentee is about a beacon operator who finds herself alone in deep space with only her ship’s A.I. for companionship and is later contacted by a political canvasser requesting that she vote in absentia for the 2088 election.

    The Operator, played by Kat Cordes, who can't share her full name due to the Space Force code, she takes the job on the outer rim of space as a form of self-exile to avoid problems she left behind back on Earth. The cast also includes Kimmy Schofield as The Beacon, Courtney Malcolm as Lt. Zal, and Trent Sherman plays Glen, the canvasser hoping to secure the Operator's vote.

    A rising star as a playwright, Julia Doolittle is also a screenwriter. In 2018 her play, "Tell Them I'm Still Young," was featured at the American Theater Group. She was a finalist for the 2017 Heideman Award at the Human Festival, and a semi-finalist for the O'Neill Summer Conference. Her work was featured at the South Coast Repertory, the Sam French Off-Off Broadway Festival, and the Victory Gardens Theatre.

    The Station Theatre production staff includes Clayton Young as Assistant Director; Stage Manager Lyn Sampley and assistant Max Deremiah; Scenic Designer Henry Collins; Lighting Designer Jesse Folks; Costume Designer Susan Curtis; Logan Dirr running sound; Daryl McGee handling props; and graphic design created by Law Welle. The play is produced by Nicole Frydman & Melissa Goldman.

    Tickets can be purchased online at here. The opening night and reception starts at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.