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High School Wresting Sign-up



The Mt. Olive – Gillespie wrestling team is looking for wrestlers to complete the squad.

It takes 14 wrestlers in 14 different weight classes to compete in a dual meet.  If you fit in one of the following categories (106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220, 285) consider signing up for the team.

Get a signup sheet in either the Mt. Olive or Gillespie high school offices, fill it out, and report to practice on Monday, November 7 at 3:15 in the Mt. Olive locker room.

Bring this paper work to Mr. Ryan at that time.

You must have a physical, signed waiver form, concussion form and steroid form from the IHSA, Prior to particpating in the first dual meet you must also have paid a participation fee or $30.

Questions: Contact Mr. Ryan at 217-246-1639

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CUSD 7 News

School board amends budget by $300,000, accepts athletic director’s retirement




Mike Bertagnolli

Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education members on Monday night approved a $300,000 adjustment to the fiscal 2024 district budget, accepted the retirement of long-serving Athletic Director Mike Bertagnolli, and decided, after lengthy debate, to commit nearly $90,000 in grant funds to adding solar panels on the roof of BenGil Elementary School.

Action to adopt the amended budget followed a 10-minute public hearing at the beginning of the meeting during which Supt. Shane Owsley explained the need for adjusting the budget numbers. State law limits district expenditures to whatever is budgeted for specific line items. The budgeting process, however, is complicated by the fact that school districts may not know what revenue will be forthcoming from state and federal sources when the budget is passed in August or September each year. This year, for example, the state has approved about $600,000 in state aid to the district but those funds have not yet been released by the comptroller. Since there is doubt about whether those funds will be released before June 30, Owsley said there is uncertainty about whether that $600,000 should be considered revenue for fiscal 2024, which ends June 30, or for fiscal 2025, which starts July 1.

Additionally, the district’s expenditures exceeded the budget in three specific funds—Transportation, Site and Construction, and Tort—for fiscal 2024. The amended budget increases both expenditures and revenue in those funds to not only cover expenses but provide a slight buffer. The newly amended budget also includes additional revenue in  Education, Debt Service, and Building Operations and Maintenance to provide more of a buffer than originally slated to cover any late bills that could come in after June 30

“Trying to predict revenue and expenditures in August and September is much more difficult than in June,” Owsley quipped. “An amended budget is required anytime you spend more than you expected to spend in August.”

Under the amended budget, revenue for the Transportation Fund is adjusted upward from $924,329 to $933,060. Nearly 95 percent of the budgeted revenue—$884,322—has been received and deposited as of Monday’s meeting. Expenditures for Transportation were upped from 861,359 originally budgeted to $901,359, $872,006 of which has been spent.

Owsley said the increases were necessitated by unexpected personnel costs for additional bus aides and special bus aides, plus the acquisition of new routing software that allows the Transportation Director to efficiently map the most effective routes for drivers to run on their daily routes. Owsley said the software is especially useful now that the district is going to consolidated bus routes to deliver and pick up students and the same time rather than staggered times.

The cost of retaining architectural services for projects resulting from a federal safety grant and from approval of an alternate revenue bond issue precipitated increasing both revenue and expenditures for the Site and Construction budget.  On the revenue side, the budget was increased from $2,054,870 to $2,351,669, reflecting unanticipated revenue from the safety grant and bond issue. Expenditures were increased from $780,000 budgeted last September to $986,229, of which $929,598 has been spent.

Increases in the cost of mine subsidence insurance required the board to boost Tort Fund expenditures from the originally budgeted $453,750 to $509,539, of which $476,366 has been spent. The revenue side of the budget was increased from $282,206 to $286,910.


The board voted unanimously to adopt the amended budget on a motion by Peyton Bernot, seconded by Amanda Ross.


On a motion by Kellie Vesper, seconded by Dennis Tiburzi, the board accepted “with regret” Mike Bertagnolli’s resignation for retirement as Gillespie High School instructor and Athletic Director. The resignation is effective June 30. Board members noted

Bertagnolli was a part of the district’s staff for 19 years. He served the last 13 years as Athletic Director, according to board member Tiburzi, who held that position before Bertagnolli was named. In addition to accepting Bertagnolli’s retirement, the board voted to post the position as vacant.

In other personnel action, all of which followed a one-hour executive session, the board appointed Korben Clark as a high school freshman football coach and hired Jordan Bartok as the head high school women’s volleyball coach, pending a background check and verification of certification.

In separate actions, the board hired Lexie Bussman as the head middle school cheerleading coach, accepted Bussman’s resignations from her position as a BenGil Elementary School one-on-one aid and as a high school assistant volleyball coach, and posted vacancies for both spots.

Board members voted unanimously to hire Emilie Campbell as a district paraprofessional, pending verification of certification and a background check, and hired Olivia VanDoren as a district one-on-one paraprofessional aide, pending verification of certification and a background check.

With separate actions, the board voted unanimously to post as vacant a student services coordinator position, and a high school social science instructor position.

Board members voted unanimously to reappoint the following spring coaches for the upcoming school year: Chase Peterson, middle school boys track; Jacob West, middle school girls track; Casey Fellin, high school women’s soccer; Michael Rodriguez, assistant high school women’s soccer; Lindsay Bearden, volunteer assistant women’s soccer; Jeremy Smith, high school head men’s baseball; Tim Wargo, assistant high school baseball; Adam Tallman, Dan Smith and Tate Wargo, volunteer assistant baseball; Michelle Smith, head women’s softball; Jim Matesa, assistant women’s softball; Joe Kelly, volunteer assistant women’s softball; Alex Ottersburg, assistant men’s track; Korben Clark, head women’s track; Jacob Kellebrew, bass fishing; and Ryan Bussman and J.O. Halterman, volunteer assistant bass fishing.



Board members spent several minutes discussing how to spend nearly $90,000 in grant funds the district is expected to receive as a result of a Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) grant application for which the city of Gillespie applied. CUSD 7 was one of 16 participating taxing bodies to receive grant funds under the city’s joint application. The city will be responsible for disbursing $1.1 million in grant funds to the participating agencies under terms of the grant, which is designed to mitigate against revenue loss resulting from the closure of Shay Mine No. 1.

Owsley said the school district is expected to receive about $98,167, three percent of which will be earmarked for grant adminstration. Spendable revenue from the grant will amount to about $87,000. To get its share of the grant money, the district must complete a project authorized under terms of the grant and apply to the city for reimbursement after the project is completed.

Owsley said he met with City Treasurer Dan Fisher about the grant and learned that Fisher wants documentation about how the district intends to spend its share of the grant by July 1, so he can submit it to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity by July 15.

“There’s a wide range of things we can do,” Owsley said, but he cautioned some projects could come with “strings attached.” Any project that might require earth moving, such as building a parking lot, would require an environmental student, which could cut into the grant funds. Likewise, altering an existing building would trigger a historical asset study.

While not taking a formal vote, the board authorized Owsley by consensus to indicate to Fisher the district would use its share of the grant to buy solar panels for installation at BenGil Elementary School. The district can circumvent the grant’s requirements for environmental or historical asset studies by earmarking the funds for the acquisition of materials and using the district’s own funds for installation.

“It sounds kind of foolish to eat up funds for environmental testing,” Bill Carter commented.

Bernot indicated the board should opt to buy materials only with grant funds, and use local funds for labor to install them. Additionally, because of the national push to install more solar, the district would be eligible for a 70 percent reimbursement from Ameren in addition to reductions in power usage.

“I think solar is the path of least resistance,” Bernot said.


Board President Mark Hayes agreed saying the district could avoid unnecessary restrictions on how the money is used, and get 70 percent of the investment back. Recapturing 70 percent of the grant money, plus reducing the school’s power consumption, he said, would provide the greatest benefit to the community.

BenGil Elementary was designed to potentially be energy self-sufficient. The number of solar panels on the roof now currently provides about 10 percent of the energy needed to run the building. Owsley said additional solar power would reduce the building’s reliance on the power grid but would not make the building totally self-sufficient. While self-sufficiency is a goal, Owsley said it would require three acres of solar panels to accomplish that objective.


The board voted unanimously to authorize Owsley to invest funds from the Ashby Family Trust in nine-month certificates of deposit earning five percent interest. The funds currently are in a money market account earning only 1.25 percent. Owsley said the goal is to maximize the return on the memorial funds, which are used to fund three annual scholarships named for members of the Ashby family.


In separate actions, the board voted unanimously to accept Prairie Farms Dairy’s bid to supply milk products for the 2024-25 school year, and Kohl’s Wholesale, Quincy, to provide bread products. Kohl’s Wholesale also was the successful bidder to provide food commodities for the school lunch program. Kohl’s bid reportedly includes options for fresh fruits and vegetables, and Owsley said district cooks are expected to meet with Kohl’s representatives soon to discuss offering more options of food choices to students.


The board voted to renew health care coverage with Blue Cross-Blue Shield, with a premium increase of about five percent for the same coverage.


The board unanimously approved a Consolidated District Plan. Owsley said the plan basically is a formality the district must have in place to maintain eligibility for certain grant funds.

In separate actions, the board also approved teachers’ handbook and a coaches’ handbook for the 2024-25 school year.


The board voted unanimously to move the regular July meeting of the board from July 22 to Monday, July 15, presumably to facilitate filling vacancies prior to the upcoming school year.


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GHS News

Miners baseball has six on all-conference teams



Tristen Wargo

The Gillespie High School baseball team had six players receive South Central Conference accolades, conference officials announced on Monday. The Miners had three named to the first team, two to the second team, and two to the third team.

Named to the first team included seniors Bryce Buhs as pitcher, Tristen Wargo as infielder, and Jesse Berry as outfielder. Wargo was also named to the conference’s second team as pitcher alongside sophomore Collin Griffith. Senior Jaydon Baker and junior Jack Kaylor were named to the third team as designated hitter/utility and outfielder, respectively.

Rounding out the conference’s first team included Nathan Matoush of Hillsboro in two places as pitcher and infielder; Marcus Payne, Rocky Darr and Hunter Newell of Southwestern; Carson Satthoff, Mathew Bywater, and Jake Gasperson of Litchfield; Aiden Hatalla of North Mac; Benjamin Hutchinson of Greenville; and Kale Konrad of Vandalia.

Joining Wargo and Griffith on the conference’s second team is Adam Hale, Colin LeMarr and Ryan Lowis of Southwestern; Carter Legendre and Dillon Pritchett of Staunton; Ethan Saathoff of Litchfield; Rowdy Sussenbach and Cohen Alstat of Greenville; Quinn Morrow of North Mac; and Andrew Kelly of Vandalia.

Third team honorees include Drake Curry, Cohen Alstat, Dominic Sanchez, and Hudson Alstat of Greenville; Carson Saathoff and Tate Dobrinich of Litchfield; Cade McCready and Collin Etter of North Mac; Ryan Karbach, Parker Moore, and Madyx Angel of Pana; Marcus Payne of Southwestern; Ayden Jones of Vandalia; and Noah Convery of Carlinville.

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High School Sports

Eight from Miners softball team tapped for all-conference accolades



Emma Gipson

Eight players from the Gillespie Miners softball team were selected to the South Central Conference All-Conference teams, conference officials announced on Monday.

Being honored on the first team from Gillespie included senior Emma Gipson, juniors Delaney Taylor and Macie Wright, and sophomores Ava Parish and Paxton Reid. Senior Wrigley Releford and sophomore Sadie Sholtis were named to the conference’s second team while freshman Laci Shuckenbrock was named to the third team.

Other first-team honorees from around the conference include Carlinville’s Hallie Gibson and Isabella Tiburzi; Staunton’s Ele Feldmann, Taylor Nolan, and Lilly Troeckler; and Alexis Bowman of North Mac.

Joining Releford and Sholtis on the second team include Taylor Keirs and Ines Oprtigosa of North Mac; Gianna Bianco of Staunton; Abby McDonald of Southwestern; Braley Wiser and Hannah Gibson of Carlinville; Zoee Englert and Haylee Clark of Greenville; Brianna Mathis of Pana; Aubrey Evans of Hillsboro; and Madison Lupton of Vandalia.

Rounding out the third team are Joey Laker and Kennedy Bowker of Pana; EmmaLeigh Wilfong and Emma Bingham of Greenville; Addison Ruyle and Olivia Kunz of Carlinville; Vivian Zurheide and Ella Kadell of Southwestern; Korryn Keehner, Kylie Lucykow, and Sam Anderson of Staunton; Elise Walch of Litchfield; Karleigh Prose of North Mac; and Peyton Chappelear of Hillsboro.

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