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Hundreds support Democrat Party at Vince Demuzio Dinner

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The second annual Vince Demuzio took place Saturday, November 5 at Gillespie Civic Center. Hundreds of supports packed the center and enjoyed a catered meal by Fema’s before listening to former US Congressman and Southern Illinois University of Carbondale President Glenn Poshard.

Supporters give Poshard a standing ovation. (Photo by: Tim Dudley)

Before Poshard took the podium, former Senator Deanna Demuzio thanked supporters for contributing their “continuous support” for the Democratic Party. Deanna is the widow of the late Vince Demuzio, who the dinner is named after.

“I want to say thank you to each and every one of you for the support that has been shown to the Demuzio family over the past years,” Deanna said, “We miss [Vince] dearly.” Support that Democratic ticket top to the bottom, Deanna went on to say.

Deanna Demuzio thanks everyone for attending. (Photo by: Tim Dudley)

The dinner would not be possible without the corporate sponsors. The Democratic party thanked corporate sponsors: Plumbers & Pipefitters, Local 553, Peyton Bernot, Friends of Andy Manar, Citizens for John Cullerton, Foresight Energy LLP, and IBEW Local 309.

The Vince Demuzio Dinner was started last year in honor of Vince, but to support the Democratic Party. “We are here to honor and remember Vince Demuzio,” Andy Manar stated, “Vince was an influence on myself and countless others here tonight.” Andy Manar is running for State Senate in 2012. The primaries will be on March 20 and the general election will be on November 6.

“Vince was a trustworthy man,” Mike Mathis noted. Vince Demuzio was an Illinois State Senator who died while in office. At the time, he was the most senior member of the Illinois Senate. He had once been chair of the Illinois Democratic Party. Demuzio died after a battle with colon cancer which included surgery in early 2004. Demuzio resided in Carlinville, Illinois, and after his death, his seat was filled by wife Deanna. A section of I-55 south of Springfield is named after him.

Glenn Poshard was the guest speaker of the evening. Poshard is the president at SIU-C and has brought over 40 years of service to the university. Poshard is a veteran, a three-degree graduate, a former senator, former congressman, a past recipient of the Lindell W. Sturgis Memorial Public Service Award (2003), a recipient of the SIU Distringusihed Alumni Award, and also a member of the SIUC College of Education and Human Services Hall of Fame.

Andy Manar states Vince was an influence on his life. (Photo by: Tim Dudley)

“I will never forget what Deanna and Vince did for me,” Poshard began. Poshard went on to share an amusing story as well as his most embarrasing story about himself having to wear womens bell bottom “hippy” pants after his wife did not pack him any other pants to wear. After the stories, Poshard recalls his first encounter with Vince. “President Barack was showing me around the dome when we came across Senator Vince Demuzio,” Poshard said, “Barack introduced me to Vince as the next Senator. Vince replied with, I know him.” With a confused look on Poshard’s face, he questioned Vince and said I do not think you do. Vince went on to say, “Oh yes I do, you were the guy up here 3 years ago testifying that bill for transvestidites.”

It never ended with Vince, according to Poshard. Poshard recalled countless stories where Vince and himself shared laughs. “He was a classic,” as Poshard referred to him.

Vince was what we call a throwback, Poshard noted. Vince connected us to our roots. “Whether the friendship was personal or political, friendship always meant uncompromising loyalty to Vince,” Poshard said. Friendship meant family to Vince.

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“Because of Vince, the democrat, we can all appreciate it because he brought us back to the roots of the democratic party,” Poshard hammered. Vince simply believed in the basic philosophy of the Democratic party.

Vince taught us four principles while he was in office, according to Poshard. The number one principal was: balance the budget. “Don’t spend more than you take in,” Poshard noted. “Say what you want, but we still have General Motors and we don’t have Osama Bin Laden,” Poshard said of the United States. If Vince were alive today, he would have balanced our budget and cleaned up Springfield.

The second principle we learned from Vince was: Democrats believe in equal educational opportunites for every one of the students. It is the only way we build the middle class, Poshard said. “The quality of the a child’s education in this state today is based upon the unfair principal I have ever seen and that is: the property tax.” Educational opportunity for all kids, no matter where they live, is a sign of equality of a nation.

Glen Poshard was the guest speaker at the 2nd annual Vince Demuzio Dinner. (Photo by: Tim Dudley)

Vince’s third principle: stand up for the working men and women in America. Poshard traced back to where his parents were coal miners. No safety standards in the mind and overtime was nonexistent, Poshard recalled.

The fourth and final principal stated by the noble stateman Vince Demuzio was: protect those most vulnerable among us. “As a principal of our Democratic party, it says there will come a day when the master will be before us,” Poshard noted.

Poshard’s favorite person in the Democratic party when he was growing up stated, “The test of a free people is to protect those in the dawn of their life as a child, the dusk in their life as elderly, and those in the shadows of life: the vulnerable, the sick and disabled. This is what we stand for as Democrats,” Poshard hammered.

“Vince Demuzio, the Democrat, balanced the budget, stood up for the working people and insisted on equal opportunities of our children and stood up for the most vulnerable,” Poshard closed, “That is what being a Democrat is!

“Thank you to everyone that attended the 2nd Annual Vince Demuzio Dinner. A very special thank you to our family’s long time friend, Glenn Poshard, the guest speaker. In his usual awesome manner, he reminded us why we are Democrats. Thanks to all,” Deanna Demuzio ended.

 

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School board deals with personnel issues during special meeting

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Stephanie Bray

Meeting in special session Monday night, members of the Community Unit School District 7 Board of Education accepted “with regrets” the resignation for purposes of retirement of Stephanie Bray, one of the district’s three technology integration specialists, effective June 4.

The board called a special session to deal with the apparently unexpected resignation before the board’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting later this month. However, board members tabled action on approving a revised job description for the Student Information System/Data Integration Specialist position, pending further discussion.

The board also tabled action on posting the newly created vacancy and tabled posting a district-level secretary’s position.

In February of 2022, the board accepted “with regrets” Bray’s announcement of her retirement “no later than the end of the 2025-26 school year.” There was no indication of why Bray moved her retirement date up by two years.

On a motion by Weye Schmidt, seconded by Amanda Ross, the board voted unanimously to accept Bray’s resignation. The action followed a 50-minute executive session to discuss personnel issues behind closed doors. The public portion of the meeting lasted less than 10 minutes.

In other action, the board voted to renew the district’s One Room contract to offer a remotely taught Spanish class to fulfill the district’s foreign language requirement for the 2024-25 school year. This will be the second year an off-site teacher will teach foreign language at GHS, using remote communication technology. Supt. Shane Owsley said the district had no applications for the vacant teaching position last year. This year, an applicant from Brazil explored the possibility of teaching in Gillespie but ultimately accepted a tutoring position at Greenville University. Owsley said hiring the applicant could have become cumbersome because she was not yet certificated to teach high school Spanish. He said he recently changed the job description from Spanish to foreign language to expand the pool of potential applicants.

In other personnel action, the board approved the maternity leave request of Amber Allan, BenGil Elementary physical education teacher, effective Aug. 28 through Jan. 20.

In separate actions, the board accepted Nathan Henrichs resignation as Gillespie High School freshman football coach, posted the position as vacant, and appointed Henrichs as a varsity assistant football coach. The board also voted unanimously to appoint Alex Jasper as an assistant freshman football coach. The board unanimously accepted Wayne Ireland’s resignation as a volunteer assistant football coach, and voted unanimously to appoint Jarrod Herron and hire Trenton Cleveland as volunteer assistant football coaches.

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The board voted unanimously to hire Michael Rodriguez as a high school volunteer assistant women’s basketball coach.

On a motion by Schmidt, seconded by Kelli Vesper, the board hired Alexis Ollis as a head cook and kitchen staff member, pending documentation of certification and a background check. The board also Brittany Hughes as a district kitchen staff worker, pending documentation of certification and background check.

On a motion by Vesper, the board voted unanimously to post a vacancy for a one-on-one paraprofessional aide.

Board members voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Jessica Kelly as a middle school assistant track and field coach and voted unanimously to hire Jay Weber as the high school head track and field coach.

The regular monthly meeting of the board is set for 6 p.m., Monday, June 24, at the district’s administrative office.

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Americana festival set for July 4 at Benld Park

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Jess Barker, The Lodge Brothers, and The New Prairie Drifters are set to take the stage at Benld City Park on Thursday, July 4 as part of the Americana Festival.

The music festival intends to celebrate the birthday and spirit of America with thriving local culture of music, food, and art. It is scheduled to begin at 12 noon and end at 6 pm.

Food will be available for purchase from The Barracks American Table, a new Gillespie restaurant, and skincare products will be available from Nature’s Bliss, a Benld gift shop.

The park is located at 305 North Main Street in Benld. Admission is free.

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Macoupin County Fair underway until Sunday

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Rides, tents, food trucks, music, animals, and plenty of other offerings fill the grounds at the Macoupin County Fair for the 172nd year. The fair is held June 4 through June 9 at the Macoupin County Fairground north of Carlinville.

The oldest county fair in Illinois, the Macoupin County Fair welcomes thousands of guests to the area and unites agriculture, family, and community. The fair continues through Sunday with highlights every evening.

The fair also meets the needs of families on a budget, for just $10 per person you get parking and all-access to the carnival rides. The cost-friendly fun draws in visitors and locals who get to embrace the county’s namesakes.

Tracy Lawrence and Walker Montgomery are set to take the stage Thursday evening, June 6, at 7:30pm. Friday evening features the tractor and truck pull, and Saturday evening is the crowd-favorite demolition derby.

The fair opens every morning at 8am and closes at 12 midnight. For a full list of schedule of events or to pre-pay for entry, visit the fair’s website here.

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