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Little League Coming to Jacksonville in April

Another opportunity for youth baseball is coming to Jacksonville this spring. Baseball players ages 10 to 12 years old in the Jacksonville #117 School District are invited to participate in the newly formed Jacksonville Little League.

According to an announcement by the league Friday, these registered Little League teams from Jacksonville will compete against other teams throughout Little League District 17 during the regular season.

One of the organizers of the Jacksonville Little League, Randy Plunk says he was moved to help start the movement to bring a Little League to Jacksonville after both of his sons played baseball both locally and in travel leagues.

The important thing was kinda getting back to the grassroots of playing baseball. We all grew up playing Little League and for me, it was kind of going back to that. It’s a great organization, it’s a great opportunity for kids from the school district to get together, because ultimately, they will all play junior high ball together or play high school ball together, so we’re getting together with that opportunity or dream of potentially making the all-star team and getting to Williamsport. That was the biggest piece for me.”

The league will give players the chance to make a team that could compete for a spot in the Little League World Series held in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, each year for the postseason.

Plunk says he and the organizers of the Jacksonville Little League don’t want to take away from any other youth baseball organization in the area, they simply want to offer another option for families to let kids be kids right here at home.

The goal is, we’ll play them all out at Future Champions during the week so that those folks that want to have weekends free, they will have the free weekends. Sometimes when it comes to other sports it turns into that is your family’s vacation and we want kids to be kids and to enjoy the summer and play a little baseball like we all used to when we grew up.”

Player assessments will be held on Tuesday, April 2, at 5:30 p.m. at Future Champions Sports Complex, Field 6. Baseball athletes who are between the ages of 10 and 12 on or before August 31, 2024, are encouraged to participate in the assessment.

The number of athletes registered will determine the number of teams organized. The fee is $100 per athlete, which includes the cost of a team jersey and hat. Fundraising options will be offered to offset the registration cost, and sponsorships are welcomed.

Home games will be played in Jacksonville at Future Champions beginning in late April. Game nights will be announced after the number of teams has been determined.

Pre-registration for the April 2 assessment is encouraged. For more details, visit www.jacksonvillell.com or Jacksonville Little League on Facebook.

Jacksonville Man Arrested After Shots Fired Outside of Downtown Tavern

Police are investigating after gunshots were fired outside of a downtown Jacksonville bar overnight.

According to a press release by the Jacksonville Police Department early this morning, officers responded to the 200 block of West Morgan Street at approximately 12:20 am for a report of shots fired in front of the West Morgan Depot tavern.

Police canvassed the area and reportedly took a suspect into custody not far from the scene. Officers were also able to locate and recover the suspected firearm along with additional evidence according to the report.

38-year-old Benjamin L. Clinton of the 600 block of East Independence Avenue was arrested and booked into the Morgan County Jail at approximately 3:45 this morning on initial charges of reckless discharge of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon, and possession of a firearm without a valid FOID card.

After further investigation, Clinton is also being charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm. During the course of the investigation, officers determined no one was injured in the incident.

Jacksonville Police officials say this was an isolated incident and unrelated to an incident last Sunday when officers reported hearing a single gunshot near the West Morgan Depot at approximately 1:30 am and responded to a municipal parking lot where a crowd had begun to gather.

No injuries were reported in that incident, and both shots fired incidents remain under investigation according to police.

Officials say anyone with any information on either of these incidents is urged to contact the Jacksonville Police Department by calling 217-479-4630, or by submitting an anonymous tip with Morgan, Scott, Cass Crime Stoppers by calling 217-243-7300, or on the web at morganscottcrimestoppers.com.

Adult Prom Tickets Going Fast as Clock Winds Down on Royalty Voting

Tickets for the Crisis Center Foundation’s Second Annual Adult Prom have been hot sellers over the last month. Executive Director Dona Leanard says, tickets will still be available at the door Saturday night but you may not get a seat.

The prom is being held at Hamilton’s 110 Northeast Saturday night. Leanard says they have 40 tables available and as of Friday afternoon had roughly 10 seats left available.

She says ticket sales for this year’s prom have already doubled compared to last year. “It’s been more work this year but it has all been worth it and we’ve had a great response. I know just this afternoon we have had a flurry of prom court donations. So after posting the tallies we’ve had quite a few donations.

The prom court was something new this year. We kind of had an idea for it last year and then expanded it this year and has just taken off like wildfire. We have ten people participating in prom court and they have been gathering a dollar per vote. All the money is donated to the Crisis Center and whoever the top two finishers are will be prom royalty.”

Voting closes at 6:00 Friday night and as of the last posting was a very heated race. The winners will be announced during the prom on Saturday night. Leanard says she and her staff at the Crisis Center are thankful for the big turnout in ticket sales and votes, as the foundation saw some major cuts in funding recently.

This year unfortunately we did have a decrease in one of our grants. It wasn’t just us, it was across the board, every program saw their funds cut this year. Ours totaled $149,000 in what we lost this year.”

Leanard says all the proceeds will help close the gap left by the shortfall for the Crisis Center Foundation, which is a greatly needed organization for the area. “we provide services to victims of domestic violence. We’re located here in Jacksonville, we have walk-in services and a 19-bed emergency shelter. We serve Morgan, Scott, Cass, and Greene Counties.”

The Crisis Center Foundation is also celebrating its 40th anniversary with this year’s adult prom. Leanard says there is no dress code for the event and guests have already commented on wearing everything from suit and cocktail dress to jeans and sweats.

She says it does not matter what anyone wears, the event is all about having a good time while raising funds for the Crisis Center Foundation. Live music is being provided by the Chicago area band Sushi Roll.

Doors open at 6:30 and the band takes the stage at 7:00. For more information or to order tickets, go to the Crisis Center Foundation page on Facebook. The prom will run till 11:00 pm with an after party at the AMVETS immediately after.

Jacksonville Public Library’s Author of the Year Contest Still Open

Aspiring Morgan County authors still have time to submit their work to become Morgan County’s Author of the Year.

The annual Friends of the Library “Author of the Year” contest allows local writers to submit their work in short prose and poetry.

Jacksonville Public Library Head Librarian Jake Magnusson says the contest is open to all Morgan County residents aged 16 and older: “You can submit in either category or both categories if you like to write fiction and poetry or non-fiction – whatever you like to write. We have entry forms here [at the library]. They are also available at Our Town Books. All entries are going to be due back on March 22nd. We’ve got cash prizes that have been provided by the Farmer’s State Bank & Trust Company. We’re pretty excited about that.”

Residents of Morgan County, as well as full-time students at Illinois College, Lincoln Land Community College, or area high schools are all free to enter the contest.

Contestants cannot be affiliated with the Jacksonville Public Library as employees, board members, or family members thereof. Winners of a category may not enter the same category for a period of two years.

Magnusson says the winners will be announced at the Friends of the Library meeting on Thursday, April 18th: “It’s always a fun time. We will have people in the community who are interested in reading their writing to kind of show what they can do and then the Friends have a big get-together after the winners have been announced. The winners, get to choose to if they are able, to read their work for an audience.”

The Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering closer relationships between the library and the community.

The group works to provide financial support to the library as well as encouraging the library’s use as a center for educational, cultural, and civic life; and assist in improving and expanding the library’s facilities, resources, and services.

To find out more about the Morgan County Author of the Year contest or to become a Friend of the Jacksonville Public Library, log on to jaxpl.org or stop by the library located at 201 West College Avenue in Jacksonville.

Former Russian Recipient of Operation Christmas Child Outreach Package to Speak in South Jacksonville Next Month

A former overseas recipient of a national Christian relief program is coming to Jacksonville next month to share her story.

For several years now, a number of families in West Central Illinois have participated in the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child program where gift-filled shoe boxes are delivered to needy children overseas.

One of these children, Elena Nicholson was a recipient of a Christmas Child gift box when she was a young girl living in the former Soviet Union. Elena was just 8 years old when she and her sister were moved from an abusive and poverty-stricken home to an orphanage in the U.S.S.R., where she received her shoebox. She says it was the first time she had ever received a gift. Elena and her sister were later adopted by a family here in the United States.

Elena has stayed involved with Operation Christmas Child into adulthood, and she will be telling her story during an event on Saturday, March 9th at the First Christian Church in South Jacksonville.

According to the announcement, Elena wants to thank area residents who participated in last year’s record-setting collection season when more than 1,100 shoe boxes full of toys, school supplies, and personal care products were donated by area families.

The local collection contributed to an all-time high collection of more than ten million gift boxes that were collected and distributed last year.

Elena Nicholson will be speaking during the Operation Christmas Child celebration at First Christian Church on Saturday, March 9th from 10 to 11:30 am.

Organizers say the public is invited to attend and refreshments will be served. First Christian Church is located at 2106 South Main Street in South Jacksonville.

Shoplifter Arrested After He Unknowingly Ran Toward Police at Scene of Two Vehicle Crash

A two-vehicle rollover crash led to the quick apprehension of a shoplifter who had nothing to do with the accident Friday afternoon.

Jacksonville Police, Jacksonville Fire Rescue, and LifeStar EMS all responded to the intersection of Massey Lane and West Morton Avenue at approximately 1:45 pm for a report of a three-vehicle crash with one vehicle on its side. Upon arrival, responders learned there were only two vehicles involved in the incident.

According to a crash report by the Jacksonville Police Department, a vehicle driven by 21-year-old Darrien E. Miley of Jacksonville was traveling westbound on West Morton Avenue when his vehicle reportedly ran a red light and was struck by a vehicle driven by 29-year-old Ethan E. Thornley, also of Jacksonville.

Thornley’s vehicle was traveling northbound on Massey Lane after the light had turned green. Miley’s SUV was spun into the curb from the collision which caused the vehicle to turn onto its side. No injuries were reported in the incident and no citations were listed in the report. Miley’s vehicle had to be towed from the scene, and Thornley’s was able to be driven.

During the course of the accident investigation, Jacksonville Police were alerted to a theft that had just been reported at the Walmart Supercenter located at 1941 West Morton Avenue.

According to the report, a man had removed merchandise from the store without paying for it and had last been seen running in the direction of AT&T and Dunham’s Sporting Goods.

Officers at the scene of the crash in the intersection quickly located the suspect in the adjacent parking lot, and 33-year-old Alex D. Zabuski of Beardstown was arrested for retail theft under $150.00. Zabuski was booked into the Morgan County Jail where he was later released with a notice to appear in court.

Waverly High to Host Community Blood Drive

Students at an area high school will be rolling up their sleeves to help the blood supply.

ImpactLife has announced a community blood drive will be held at the Waverly High School the first week of March.

The Impact Life donor bus will be at the school from 12:30 to 5:30 pm on Thursday, March 7th. To donate, contact Theresa Roscetti at (217) 435 2211 or visit www.bloodcenter.org and use code 60087 to locate the drive. Appointments are requested. You may also call ImpactLife to schedule at 800-747-5401.

The blood drive is open to all members of the community. Potential donors must be at least 17 years of age. Those 16 years old can donate with a parental permission form available through www.bloodcenter.org. Donors also must weigh more than 110 pounds, and a photo I.D. is required to donate.

All donors will receive an ImpactLife promo voucher for either an Egift card that can be used at places like Walmart, Target, Amazon, and more, or donors can use points for a Green Happy Go Lucky tee shirt or direct a donation to plant trees in a US reforestation project.

For questions about eligibility, call ImpactLife at (800) 747 5401. ImpactLife officials say donors who last gave blood on or before 1/11/24 are eligible to give at this drive.

Prairieland United Way Hoping for Big Push, Less That $10k Away from Campaign Goal

Time is running out as a local fundraising organization is inching closer to its campaign goal for the year.

The deadline for the Prairieland United Way’s 2023 campaign is the 29th of this month and Director Karen Walker says, they are less than ten thousand dollars away from hitting the mark.

We are very thankful for everyone who donated to help get us to this number. $467,000 is a huge number for us to raise. We’re almost there and are within just a few thousand dollars of being there so if you haven’t contributed, please I ask you to make a donation to help us reach that number.

Our allocation process will start in March, we’re about a month away from those starting, so we need to reach this goal so we can help so many people that rely on help from these programs. Whether it’s Meals on Wheels programs, nutrition programs, food programs for our pantries, daycares that need scholarships, the homeless shelter, or whatever it is. There are so many that rely on these funds, that we have to raise these funds in order to help them provide these programs.”

Walker says the total of approximately $9,000 away from hitting their goal includes the pre-sale of tickets for this Saturday’s Price is United event. She says there are still seats and some full tables available for the event, which will feature some new, never-before-seen aspects.

Walker says the hosts, David and Nicole Meyer always put a lot of work into keeping the event fresh each year. “I know they have a new game this year so if you have been before and think oh I’ve seen that show and it’s fun but I don’t want to go again, there’s something new every year.

I know they have a new game and I don’t even know what it is, so I’m always surprised every year as well. We also have something new coming out, we have a new video aspect to it this year. So again, we try to bring out new things, new prizes, new games. We change it every year so while it’s our fourth year it’s new and improved.”

Tickets for this weekend’s The Price is United event are $50.00 per person which includes a full dinner provided this year by K’s Creek. The event starts at 5:30 pm at the Midwest Athletic Center on Hardin Avenue, with dinner followed by the show, a live The Price is Right style gameshow that this year, Walker says has even more prizes for attendees to win.

She says anyone interested should contact her office to reserve a seat, and even if you don’t want to go, she asks you to please consider donating to help the Prarieland United Way close the gap and finish this year’s campaign strong.

To find out more information or to reserve tickets, contact the Prairieland United Way by calling 217-245-4557, or go online to prairielandunitedway.org.

Price Is United Event Returns For 5th Anniversary This Weekend

Tickets are still available for what has become one of the area’s favorite fundraising events that gives attendees the chance to win some fabulous prizes.

The Prairieland United Way’s “The Price is United” dinner event returns this upcoming Saturday, February 24th.

The dinner and game show event gives everyone in the crowd the chance to come on down and be a contestant in a live The Price is Right game show format.

David and Nicole Meyer who created the event approximately four years ago during their tenure as Campaign Co-Chairs, say they are excited for this year’s show as they will not only be upgrading some of the fan favorite features of the show, but they will also be debuting a brand new game at this year’s event.

The show has grown over the years to include a full Showcase Showdown Big Wheel contestants can spin.

David and Nicole say with everything that goes into putting on the show each year, they are thankful for all those who chip in to make the event happen. David says that a wealth of friends and the Prairieland United Way Board helps pitch in the night of the event to make it run smoothly each year. Nicole says that the community as a whole as well as the community’s organizations and businesses that make donations make it all possible.

The event is sponsored by Reynolds Consumer Products, along with a host of local business sponsors who all come together each February to help the Prarieland United Way meet it’s annual campaign goal for the year.

Nicole Meyer says both the reach and the people the funding is able to help, is what makes the Prairieland United Way so close to her and David’s hearts: “It’s an organization that supports so many other non-profits within our local area and it just has great reach. If you’re questioning on where you want to donate your money to make a difference in your community, we highly suggest Prairieland United Way.”

More than $10,000 in prizes are up for grabs at this year’s The Price is United dinner and gameshow event.

Individual tickets are $50.00 each with eight person tables available for $400, and a few VIP tables left at a cost of $480.00 each.

To order tickets, call the Prairieland United Way office at 217-245-4557. More information can be found at prairielandunitedway,org, or on the Prairieland United Way’s social media pages including Facebook, and Instagram.

Barry Man Arrested For Child Pornography After FBI Tip

A Pike County man has been arrested on multiple child pornography charges after a tip to the FBI.

According to a press release from the Pike County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff David Greenwood was alerted of a possible child pornography suspect in the county earlier this month by agents from the FBI.

Greenwood says Chief Deputy Zack Orr, who is a member of the Illinois Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, was assigned to the case.

On February 15th, 33-year old Brandon L. Frame of Barry was arrested without incident following a joint investigation by the Pike County Sheriff’s Office and the Illinois State Police.

Frame was cited for 10 counts of possession of child pornography. According to the press release, Frame is alleged to have been in possession of videos of children under the age of 13 engaged in various sexual acts.

Frame made his first appearance in Pike County Circuit Court on Friday, where he was assigned a public defender. A motion to deny pretrial release filed by the Pike County State’s Attorney’s Office was granted. Frame remains lodged at the Pike County Jail. He is due to return to court for a preliminary hearing on February 27th.