South Jax updates clerk’s office, board room

Transparency and accountability aren’t the only improvements taking place in South Jacksonville in 2016.

Updates to Village Hall started earlier this year with the addition of new chairs and a fresh coat of paint in the board room.

Clerk Dani Glascock was at Village Hall this week to fill WLDS-WEAI News in on the other improvements, including audio/visual equipment.

Glascock expects the audio/visual equipment to be installed in December.

The Village recently turned a storage room into an office for the village clerk.

You can check out the updates at Village Hall today during South Jacksonville’s Planning and Public Facilities Committee Meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m.

The meeting will review water meter updates, ordinance codification policies, the latest on the village gazebo and a utility easement for Sleep Inn.

NOTE: some changes have been made to the original story from Monday

Jacksonville Municipal Election Candidates

Candidates for Jacksonville’s upcoming municipal election are set, barring a last minute entry.

The week-long filing period closes today at 4:30 p.m., and as it stands, two wards will be determined through an election.

In Ward 1, Eren Williams will challenge incumbent Jeffrey Hopkins. As for the two year term in Ward 4, incumbent Aaron Scott will run against Lance Bruere.

Other candidates running for open seats include Andy Ezard for Mayor, Skip Bradshaw for Clerk, Ron Smiljanich for Treasurer, Lori Large-Oldenettel for Ward 2, Marcy Patterson for Ward 3, Mike Wankel for the four year term in Ward 4 and Steve Warmowski for Ward 5. Each candidate currently holds the position they are running for.

According to Clerk Skip Bradshaw, there won’t be a primary race since there aren’t three or more candidates running for a single position.

The election takes place April 4, 2017

Jacksonville added to ESSA listening tour

Jacksonville School District 117 is being included in the third statewide listening tour aimed at gathering feedback on educational results in the classroom.

The Illinois State Board of Education will make eight stops this week to various school boards in regards to Illinois’ Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan.

In collaboration with the Regional Offices of Education, the listening tours will collect feedback from all stakeholders on the draft plan to implement the new federal education law.

The tour starts today in Jacksonville and Chicago and continues through December 8th in Aurora, Forest Park, Crystal Lake, Galesburg and Decatur.

Find out more here.

Dog flu outbreak reported in Jacksonville

Several cases of canine influenza have been reported in the Jacksonville and Central Illinois area over the last month.

This comes after a huge outbreak last spring in the Chicago area where tens of thousands of dogs came down with the flu.

Protecting Animal Welfare Society Founder Lisa Jackson tells WICS that a dog recently adopted out was taken to the vet and tested positive for the flu.

WICS ABC Newschannel 20’s Esther Kwon breaks down what you need to know about the dog flu and shares some advice from Veterinarian Greg Hurst here.


Jacksonville prepares for Small Business Saturday

Jacksonville businesses are preparing for the annual shopping day held hours after one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Small Business Saturday was formed in 2010 to counter the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Since then, the United Kingdom picked up the holiday from the United States in 2013 and #SmallBusinessSaturday has taken on a life of its own.

Jacksonville Main Street Event Coordinator Kristen Jenkins says Downtown Jacksonville businesses will offer secret sales, food and entertainment from 9-2 p.m. on Saturday.

“Jacksonville Main Street will offer entertainment including Santa being downtown, there will be dancing around the square and there is a vendor fair at On The Rox. There will be lots of local vendors selling their goods,” says Jenkins.

Jenkins says shopping local allows small businesses to flourish and keeps the money spent in the community.

“You can really knock out your entire shopping list for Christmas in Downtown Jacksonville. It offers everything from gift cards, restaurants, movies and unique gifts. We have boutiques like Just Good Trade. For any crafters out there, gift certificates from the Quilted Cow or the Recycled Cottage would be perfect. You can always pick up scarfs and decorative items from All Occasions. There are some great places to shop downtown for your Christmas list.”

Go to for more information on Small Business Saturday.

Cookies and Cocoa 5K Dash set for Downtown Jacksonville

Shopping, dancing and seeing Santa aren’t the only events taking place on the Downtown Square in Jacksonville on Saturday.

Runners and walkers of Central Illinois will partake in a 5k race, with a slight twist.

Participants will enjoy two cocoa and cookie stops along the route of the Cookies and Cocoa Dash. Kids can also join in the action through the .5K fun run.

All paid runners will receive a goodie bag and sweatband, compliments of Nestle.

Since the registration date has passed anyone who signs up will not receive a goody bag.

The race starts at 10 a.m. and you can check out the route at

South Elementary Principal wins gold at Waterski Championship in Spain

A District 117 principal won a gold medal for Team USA this summer at the 2016 World Over 35 Waterski Championships in Spain.

Water skiing has always been a big part of Kelly Zoellner’s life. Zoellner fell in love with the sport at the age of five, thanks to the guidance of her father and frequent trips to Lake Decatur.

“I loved being out there at the lake during the summer. There were like 18 families out there and my sister and I were the youngest. We had dinner out there and traveled to tournaments on weekends. I tried to progress along with the kids who were older than me and keep up with my dad. I didn’t realize how good I was, compared to kids who were my age, until I got to high school,” says Zoellner.

In the years to follow, Zoellner would place in regional and national competitions and even earn a spot in her first international competition at 17 years old.

Zoellner says she drew plenty of collegiate scholarships, but knew she wanted to attend the University of Louisiana at Monroe, since she knew a number of skiers who attended the school already.

Zoellner stayed at the University of Louisiana at Monroe for a year and half, then transferred to Millikan University so she could be closer to her family.

As for her teaching career, Zoellner got her first educational job in 2001 and worked her way up the ranks to South Elementary Principal, the role she’s held since 2014. Having the summers off has allowed Zoellner to improve her skiing skills and teach young skiers the proper techniques of the sport.

Zoellner explains the intense qualifying process for the World Championships.

“You have to be ranked top 15 in your division, based on the World Ranking List. They select the best 35 year old man and woman, 45 year old man and woman and 55 year old man and woman. The best of what is left is selected as the last two on the team. I was selected as the eighth person in. There were five women and three men on Team USA. I was only able to get to the finals in jump, which i won,” says Zoellner.

Zoellner competed against the top skiers from 15 other countries, including Canada, Mexico, Argentina and France.

Now that she has a gold medal and earned the top ranking in her division for the jump event, Zoellner is gearing up for the 2018 World Games.

Click below to hear the interview with Zoellner.

Black Friday expert provides shopping tips

An avid Black Friday shopper is sharing her secrets to success for the biggest shopping day of the year.

What started as a family tradition in her grade school years has transformed into a passion for Jacksonville-native Ann Hungerford.

After many years of trial and error on Black Friday, Hungerford has compiled a solid list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to getting the most of your time shopping.

Hungerford says strategizing and figuring out what items you want is key on Black Friday, even in a town like Jacksonville.

“I notice there are police officers in almost every store. It is no exaggeration to have five or six officer at each point of sale, just because it gets physical. People have crossed those lines just to save a few bucks. Once you get to the store there is no time for planning. It is mass chaos. About the only thing you have to worry about that day is finding a parking spot and knowing where to go.”

Hungerford says she’s adjusted her strategy slightly as stores continue to start Black Friday deals early each year. While a portion of her family celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, Hungerford is out at the stores searching for deals.

Hungerford advises shoppers to travel in large groups so you have a better shot at purchasing the items you want most. She also requesting layouts of each retail outlet so you can move quickly to the item you items on your list.

“They place the items throughout the store so there is a path and the aisles are blocked off. It is a free for all at those checkpoints. I shouldn’t have to second guess if a person in the late stages of pregnancy is going to get hurt by attending a sale at Wal-Mart. It has gotten to that point where that is your first thought.”

Hungerford says big dollar items like televisions, gaming systems and cameras occasionally have a limited amount of items in stock, so do your research on how those items are sold before heading to the store.

Hungerford also suggests looking online to see if you can get similar deals without going through the hassle on Black Friday.

On a different note, Hungerford warns shoppers not to get caught too caught up in the savings.

“There’s definitely been years and go and just because it is on sale you buy the five for four dollar pajamas, even though you can’t fit another pair in your dresser. I really think it is about moderation and assessing your needs for that item beforehand. If you don’t, then your savings aren’t worth it if you are buying extras,” says Hungerford.


Big Brothers Big Sisters spreading throughout local school districts

Big Brothers Big Sisters programs are spreading throughout school districts in Central Illinois.

Case Manager Abby Hilsabeck says schools have added the weekly mentoring program that matches high school students with elementary students.

The interactions include a range of activities, like homework help, playing board games and group activities.

“This is something that makes schools a positive environment for kids. Elementary school kids always look up to high schoolers. These high schoolers take time out of the days to give kids extra attention. It can be hard to be a young kid these days,” says Hilsabeck.

Programs are already up and running at Rushville, Virginia, Faith Lutheran in Jacksonville, Quincy, Pittsfield and Franklin.

North Greene Elementary Principal Jackie Kuchy explains how the Big Brothers Big Sisters program operates in her school.

“We make referrals for students to participate. Big Brothers Big Sisters came down to train 12 high school students to serve as bigs. Our after school program runs on Tuesday from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.  The other layer is more of a standard Big Brothers Big Sisters system. We have adults in the community who have been trained and will eventually be paired with littles. We will have two layers of service going on,” says Kuchy.

Kuchy has received several phone calls from parents who want to add their children to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. She says the 12 bigs and 14 littles have met a couple times this month, with each interaction gaining “more momentum”.

Anyone interested in helping out with Big Brothers Big Sisters is encouraged to call the office at 243-3821.

Jax Main Street named Top 25 finalist for Levitt AMP grant

Jacksonville Main Street is one step closer to bringing back the successful Levitt AMP Concert Series.

Nearly 24 hours after online voting polls closed, Jacksonville Main Street received the word it cracked the top 25 in total votes for the 2017 $25,000 matching grant.

Jacksonville was one of the 15 organizations that qualified for the concert grant last year that brought in ten weeks of free musical performances. Artists included Fivefold, Sara Ross, David Gerald and Benton Blount.

The decision of which finalists receive the $25,000 grant is now in the hands of the Levitt Foundation.

Each finalist will be reviewed and the winning towns will be announced on January 5th.

You can find out more about the competition by going to