Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra to Perform a Virtual Concert

The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra is hosting a concert Saturday, February 20th, at 3:00 pm. Music director and conductor, Garrett Allman had hoped to host their annual youth concert in person but a virtual one worked out better, due to Covid restrictions.

This is a family concert geared towards the youth of the community, featuring kid-friendly and fun music. Allman speaks of featured soloist, storyteller, and actor, Bobby Norfolk who has made other appearances with the Symphony.

“He sent a video of him doing a wonderful original piece of his called Anansi and the Dancing Granny. It is based on a story from Ghana, West Africa when he visited there in the summer of 1993. The climax of the concert is the last piece. The rest of the concert is members of the orchestra in solos, duets, and trios doing music that is appropriate for a youth concert which I’m sure parents will enjoy too.”

Also highlighted within the program is Jacksonville native and Illinois College drum-line Director, Tyler Carpenter who did one of the arrangements for the concert. Allman says he is pleased with the talented work Carpenter has been able to bring to this performance.

“For this, he plays at least five different instruments. They’re all on five different squares which you’ll see five Tylers on the screen playing. One of him is playing bongos, a marimba on another, steel drums, drum set, and electric guitar.”

Despite the challenges, Allman is excited and pleased with what has come out of this process. He says multiple people have had to work together so this performance could come to life.

“They do their own videos then send them to us electronically. Steve Varble has been working with us and doing some of his magic to get it all together and put it on the air for us. I just saw the preview of it last night and it looks really good.”

For more information, you can go to Since the event is virtual, anyone can broadcast it free of charge. The video will be posted on their page the day of and even on their YouTube channel Jacksonville Symphony Society. The video will be accessible for a week on demand.

Memorial Health Systems Offering Educational Healthcare Grants

The Memorial Health System announced Thursday that applications for the Medical Center Foundation Healthcare Career Education Grants are now available. Executive director of the Memorial Medical Center Foundation, Melissa Hansen Schmadeke says for 15 years the Foundation has provided nearly $1 million in educational grants.

Hansen Schmadeke says the program is a win for the student, the hospital, MHS patients, and the larger community. She says the investment in education to strengthen local healthcare is possible thanks to the generosity of our donors.

The grants are awarded to students pursuing careers crucial to present and future clinical care needs at Memorial Medical Center. Award amounts will vary based upon the program of study. Recipients will complete a work obligation at Memorial Medical Center upon completion of their program.

Some requirements are applicants must be currently attending or accepted into a fully accredited school for their chosen field of study, demonstrate a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, and be accepted into their program of study and all prerequisite coursework must be completed. In addition to completing the application there are other supporting documents needed to be considered.

Detailed guidelines and application forms can be found at Completed applications are due April 1, 2021. For more information about the Memorial Medical Center Foundation Healthcare Career Education Grant Program, contact Hansen Schmadeke at 217-788-4700 or email

Hospital Volunteer Provides Charging Station to Passavant.

Visitors to Passavant’s waiting rooms will now have access to charging stations, thanks to a grant. Hospital volunteer and retired employee of ExxonMobil in Jacksonville, Judi Flynn was able to use a grant opportunity to purchase and install the charging stations. This grant is available to retirees of ExxonMobil who are eligible to receive grants up to $2,000 a year for volunteer time. Flynn said she is happy the money is going to a good cause.

The addition of two mobile device-charging stations have been installed in the waiting rooms of the emergency and surgery departments at Passavant Area Hospital. Both stations have multiple charging cables to accommodate different mobile devices. This will hopefully make visits less stressful and more convenient for patients and their loved ones.

Executive Director of the Passavant Area Hospital Foundation and Volunteers, Pam Martin says the goal of the foundation is to apply unrestricted donations in helpful ways to make better experiences for patients and visitors. She says this grant and installation will help to complete the goal.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Issues “Foodie Challange”

The Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is challenging residents to highlight their favorites places to eat in the Jacksonville area.

The Convention & Visitors Bureau’s “Foodie Challenge” is unique compared to the others being hosted throughout the state of Illinois. According to the announcement, the weekly challenge during the months of February and March are to help push direct sales while having locals highlight what establishment has the best food and drink. Executive Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Brittany Henry has lots to share and says the goal is to offer help.

We’re looking at helping a lot of our local restaurants and businesses during the recovery process from COVID-19.”

This is not the first time that the Convention and Visitors Bureau has hosted events or challenges to get community members participation for a good cause. Not only were other events to help keep businesses running, they got people out of their homes to see what attractions Jacksonville has to offer.

The things we kind of looked at in the beginning when we started doing things from home when COVID was very heavy. We did a bingo challenge card and we promoted buying gift cards from local restaurants. We did things as far as porch pick up or products from a boutique shop. We even did things as far as when it was nice outside, take a walk with your family and look at some of our attractions. In doing so we thought that went pretty well so that’s why we developed the graphic the foodie challenge that pushes you to desserts, drinks, dinner items, and gives suggestions very vaguely on what you have to share that experience.”

K’s Creek Bang Bang Shrimp

Along with the Foodie Challenge a new series of videos produced by Jacksonville native Ryne Turke called “That 1 Place” will be showcased on the Convention and Visitors Bureau social media platforms. This will be featuring participating local guests and their trip discussing the place that fits the theme of the week. Henry is ecstatic that Turke is offering up his skills to help highlight some of Jacksonville’s finest to locals and visitors.

I asked what’s the best local restaurant depending on what kind of cuisine we’re looking for, or what is the most sought out attraction, or maybe what’s the quirkiest thing that you can do in your community. I think Ryne is going to add a neat flare to these videos for us. He has a great personality, great with the interview process which is what we love. He is going to help interview locals in the community about what are these can not miss opportunities, that we can help share these experiences to not only those in the community but to the outside.”

Henry says she is excited that so many people are wanting to get involved and help spread the message in a safe manner of all the great things in Jacksonville.

I think it is very important for us to do these things right now its always been a digital world, but more so today. The content that we use we push out is very important. We need to be able to push out what Jacksonville has to offer. But our citizens of our own community are going to be the biggest ambassadors to do that. We wanted to build some excitement with that and work with Ryne to build some really cool videos, that we can push out on our YouTube channel and social media to use them for some neat marketing tools.”

Henry asks that the community keeps doing what they’re doing and also participate in the Chamber’s Eat, Drink, Win Challenge as well. She is so happy that these challenges are allowing others to help out and bring the community together.

Every Sunday will be the announcement of the theme for the week. On Mondays, winners will be drawn. To enter the weekly drawing is a two-step process: First, post a photo of yourself enjoying food or drink from any Jacksonville location to your favorite social media platform tagging the Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and the business with the hashtag #jacksonvilleil.

Next, send a photo of your receipt to the Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau by Facebook or Instagram direct messaging, or an email to Visit for a list of food and drink options under the dining tab. This promotion applies to curbside and delivery as well.

For more information about the Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and the events they offer, visit their website at