The Jacksonville Park Foundation and Passavant Area Hospital are partnering with Illinois College Professor Dr. Jeremy Turner to give away helmets to every fourth grade student in Jacksonville.

The Protect the Melon! campaign encourages youth to wear a helmet when biking, roller skating, riding a scooter, skateboarding or any other “wheeled” activity. “The importance of wearing a helmet has been shown to save lives and protect against brain injuries,” said Dr. Turner. “Being active is essential to being a healthy child, and with that comes falls and tumbles.”

Illinois College psychology students have been presenting the brain awareness program and giving away bicycle helmets to fourth graders at Lincoln Elementary for a number of years. Jacksonville Park Foundation founding board member Harry Ford had the idea to expand the program to all the schools in the community. Passavant has agreed to provide proceeds from the May 31 Passavant-Powerade 5K and 10K Race to provide helmets for all 350-plus fourth graders in Jacksonville public and private schools.

Dr Helmet and Illinois College students in front of trailer

Illinois College’s (from left) Ashley Lanzara, Doug Allgaier and Amanda Jones helped “Dr. Helmet” Dr. Joseph Cangas drop off a load of helmets at Illinois College recently. Helmets will be given away to Jacksonville fourth graders to Protect the Melon!

 

On Thursday, April 17, Illinois College students will travel to District 117 schools to give a lesson on how the brain works, show how a melon with and without a helmet fares when hitting the pavement, and distribute the helmets. Distribution to Our Saviour School, Salem Lutheran School, Westfair Christian Academy and Illinois School for the Deaf will be at a later date.

Links, tips and information on being a Melonhead is available at ic.edu/melonhead.

The Jacksonville Park Foundation is working with the Pilot Club, Helmets First!, the Illinois College Psychology Club and others in the community to fund the program for future years. Contact Foundation President Steve Warmowski via jacksonvilleparkfoundation.com to help. Community members can also take part in a Town Brook 5k and fun run, bike rides and nature walk during the Fourth Annual Downtown Celebration on May 17th, or attend performances of the Ken Bradbury play Brook Tales May 17 at Grace UMC and May 18 at Centenary UMC, to support the project.

The Jacksonville Park Foundation focuses on health, recreation and families. Volunteers in the group have started several initiatives to improve the quality of life in the Jacksonville community such as promoting youth health, a Town Brook recreational trail, park enhancements, healthy food and a SEED 2.0 environmental education club revival. The foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization and is solely reliant on private funding.

You can contribute by making a check out to Jacksonville Park Foundation and mailing to Laura Marks/JPF Treasurer, Jacksonville Savings Bank, 1211 W. Morton Ave., Jacksonville, IL 62650.

Jacksonville Park Foundation board member Dave McCollum at last fall's cleanup.

Jacksonville Park Foundation board member Dave McCollum at last fall’s cleanup.

The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Parks Foundation encourages all to participate in the city’s Town Brook Cleanup 9-11 am Saturday April 12, 2014. The event starts at Foreman Grove (on the city’s east side, off State Street) at the confluence of the Town Brook and Mauvaisterre Creek. The cleanup will focus on the downstream area to the east of MacMurray College.

The event is organized by Alderman Lori Large Oldenettel and the City of Jacksonville’s Special Studies Town Brook Committee. Volunteers must be 18 years of age and everyone must sign a waiver. Volunteers are asked to wear long pants and soled shoes. Everyone is encouraged to wear gloves and bring a litter grabber.

This cleanup is being funded in part by a grant received from a $500 SCALE (Streambank Cleanup And Lakeshore Enhancement) grant from the EPA. A successful cleanup puts the city in line for a future $5,000 grant.

Read past stories about plans for cleanup, and the last cleanup. And check out the site of the future disc golf course.

Prefer to help out with some other things this weekend?

Starhill Forest Spring Work Day

Join Friends of Starhill Forest for a morning of tree planting at the Arboretum Saturday April 12th. Tools and training will be provided. Bring gloves. At noon socialize with Friends at a provided lunch.

This is not only a great opportunity, but having Town Brook supporters with training on the proper way to transplant trees will be a very important skill set. Once the city figures out the plan to manage the city’s Town Brook as a park, all that experience will help in planting trees here in Jacksonville. The Arboretum is a program of Illinois College.

Youth Camp Cleanup

Western Illinois Youth Camp Saturday-Sunday. From 8-noon Saturday, and 1-4 Sunday April 12-13. Come help a local resource on Lake Jacksonville that does lots to connect children and the community to the natural world. Map.

wiyc_cleanup

The Audubon Woods Mountain Bikers will have a trail cleanup 1pm Saturday March 22nd. Starting on Woods Lane between Country Club Road & Vandalia on the east end of Lake Mauvaisterre, there will be a much-needed litter cleanup in & around the Emma Mae Leonard Wildlife Sanctuary and Audubon Woods Recreation Trails.

From organizer CJ Bahan: I would like to invite you to join me. If you’re unfamiliar with this area, it is a user-maintained, public space here in Jacksonville open to walkers, runners, birders, cyclists, canoeists, etc. Please bring trash bags, gloves, pick-up sticks, & anything else you may need. This will be a non-sponsored, crowd-sourced event. Please dress for the weather, however if the weather is too bad I will re-schedule. If the ground is too soft & muddy on the trails, we will only do clean-up on the roadsides around the Sanctuary. Please share with your friends, thanks! Follow the Facebook event for updates.

This is a crowd-sourced, independent cleanup. No age restrictions like with the city’s cleanups (this spring’s scheduled for 9-11am April 12th – from Foreman’s Grove upstream to Hardin).

If you’d like to find out how you can make Jacksonville more bicycle friendly, come to the Illinois Bike Summit Tuesday April 15th in Champaign. Meet, network with and learn from bicycle advocates from around the state. Day includes workshops, breakout sessions and bike rides. Registration is only $35, includes trial membership in League of Illinois Bicyclists and lunch. Topics include . . .

  • IDOT’s new Bicycle Transportation Plan, with summary from IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider
  • Plan implementation priorities of the bicycling community from League of Illinois Bicyclists’ Ed Barsotti
  • Local bike advocacy case studies
  • Bicycle-Friendly Universities
  • Trail project successes
  • The Bronze Age of Champaign-Urbana: The Making of Two Bicycle-Friendly Communities
  • Health community/bike advocacy partnership case studies
  • Education and enforcement
  • Mountain biking facilities
  • Enhancing your own bicycling
  • Bike sharing programs
  • Bring your bike for an hour-long, early-morning ride through the Champaign and Urbana Communities and the U of I campus.
  • The very popular “Coffee Talks” of past summits will be held again from 8:30-9:30 am, tentatively including: Producing your First Bike Map, Running a Community Bike Workshop, Bike Counts & What we learned from our first Campus Bike Census, Bike to School Day, and Bike to Work Day events.
  • Post-conference reception tradition will continue, hang out for a bit longer for some refreshments and extended networking time

 

A plan is in the works to bring a Disc Golf Course to Foreman Grove, on Jacksonville’s east side. Illinois College students Nathan Zimmerman and Caleb Harris made a presentation recently to the city’s Parks & Lakes Committee. They, along with MacMurray College students Janson Shehorn and Cydny Saxer and others, have been working with the Parks & Lakes Department on plans for a course in the little-used park.

The group so far has approached businesses to sponsor the nine holes on the course (Jacksonville businesses have precedence on hole sponsorships). That and other funds raised, along with interest on the city’s Goveia Family Trust the Parks & Lakes Committee recommended be used to support the project, could allow for completion of the course this spring. The course will be walking distance from Mac and is on the planned route of the Town Brook recreational path. Disc golf is popular amongst high school and college students, and will be a great recreational resource along Jacksonville’s waterways.

City approval for the disc golf course is expected Monday Feb. 24th during the Jacksonville city council meeting. A Parks & Lakes Committee meeting is at 6pm (probably focused on the senior center); discussion during workshop session at 6:30pm; and hopefully a vote during the city council meeting starting at 7:30pm. Come out to the meeting to show your support, check the Town Brook Twitter feed for updates.

For more information or to sponsor a hole contact Nathan Zimmerman (below). Donations can be made to the project by mailing a check made out to the Jacksonville Parks Foundation (indicate Disc Golf in memo) to Laura Marks/JPF Treasurer, Jacksonville Savings Bank, 1211 W. Morton Ave., Jacksonville, IL 62650. (217) 245-4111

The Jacksonville City Council Monday approved $60,000 for a Mauvaisterre Creek watershed project spearheaded by the American Farmland Trust.

Mike Baise, of the Trust, previously announced an EPA grant to help reduce soil erosion upstream from Mauvaisterre Lake. The grant is a 60/40 match, so the city’s contribution could bring up to $90,000 in matching funds. The city’s contribution in 2015 may be cash, or in-kind work/services. Volunteer time spent on approved projects may also count towards the local match.

Baise leads a team meeting with farmers and landowners to identify projects to slow water and reduce runoff from farms. The team hopes to identify projects like ponds, berms, buffer strips and other erosion control devices. Besides the benefits to the farmers in preserving their topsoil, Mauvaisterre Lake (a source for drinking water for Jacksonville and surrounding homes on rural water networks) would have less siltation and the phosphorus which comes with the silt.

Along with the dredging Mauvaisterre Lake, reducing soil load into the lake will help bring back a recreational resource for Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Parks Foundation looks forward to helping with projects – like paddle-boat, rowboat or sailboat rentals; or other ideas – to encourage more use of the lake. The Town Brook is a tributary of Mauvaisterre Creek, so successful projects elsewhere in the watershed could attract funding for our urban section of the watershed.

You can help — Baise is looking for old Mauvaisterre Lake photos, to document the takeover of the lake by sediment over time. Know of any aerial photos of Mauvaisterre Lake, or other images showing where recreation used to be possible on the lake? Contact American Farmland Trust or the Jacksonville Parks Foundation with any leads.

Congratulations to the winners of the Town Brook History Contest! The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Parks Foundation held the contest in an effort to reconnect the community to its waterways.

The Jacksonville community has a long history and a myriad of connections with Mauvaisterre Creek and its urban tributary the Town Brook. The town grew up near its banks; the creek was used as a byway for travelers on the Underground Railroad; its waters were dammed to provide a water supply to support development; generations of kids grew up playing in the brook – hunting for snakes, looking for crawdads, exploring its banks.

Ken Bradbury is writing a play, Brook Tales, which will explore this history and the characters associated with our waterways. Performances will be Saturday & Sunday May 17-18, 2014. Performed by Ken’s Lincoln Land Community College actors.

Winning stories were from:

  • Cora Lee Lacey, who would catch snakes at the State Hospital Farm and tie strings around their “necks” so the snakes wouldn’t get away during lunch.
  • Sarah Angleton, recalling at 8 years old was stuck with her brother in the basement during a storm, with their parents cut off from the house by flooding.
  • Sue Ann Hackett, who recalled story of friend finding pop bottles floating in the Town Brook with notes pleading “Help! Help! Captured. Let us out!” from men working at the State Hospital Farm.
  • Dan Moy, for memories of playing baseball near Franklin School and having to clamber down into the Town Brook to retrieve home run balls.
  • Roger Deem, who sought shelter from bullies at Franklin School at the edge of the Town Brook, later organized a cleanup of the waterway as an Eagle Scout project in 1975, and felt the connection of critters living along the brook.

The contest was sponsored by Our Town Books and Dr. Jerry Osborne of MacMurray College, and each winner received a $25 gift certificate to the book store. The entries were judged by Jim & Sally Nurss of Our Town Books; Chris Ashmore of the Jacksonville Public Library; and Trina Meek of the Eclectic Art Gallery. The full stories were published The Source.

Did you or someone you know grow up playing in the Town Brook? Have any family history along Mauvaisterre Creek? Or do you know a really good yarn? You can submit your story by clicking the history tab.

By Roger Deem

No matter how inflated one’s ego might be, it is impossible not to have a touch of humility forced upon one’s self the first time the Pacific Ocean comes into view. The sweeping majesty of the world’s largest expanse of water makes a first impression like the impact of a wrecking ball.

And curiously, I experienced a similar greeting from Jacksonville’s Town Brook one Spring day in 1975.

I had reached the Life rank in Boy Scout Troop 107 at an early age and then languished at that level for three-and-a-half years as other distractions (i.e. girls, sports, etc.) commanded my interests. I never, ever doubted that I would become an Eagle Scout eventually but in my mid-teens, hormones had definitely replaced ambition as the central motivator in my life.

Then one day, Scoutmaster Joe Grojean gathered all of us with the Life rank and one by one began to question where we were on the path to Scouting’s highest honor. When his inquiring gaze turned my way, he glanced down at the papers in his hand, then back at me. The stern expression which crossed his face was the same he had worn the time he caught me and John Heinzman teaming up to swipe half of Wilbur Spink’s breakfast.

Bypassing the gory details of his ensuing harangue, the basic thrust of his message was to get off my padded backside and get to work! Fearing retribution through the paddle which was usually sitting nearby, I decided to get to work.

The biggest test which still awaited me was the Eagle Scout Service Project. While the benefit to the community was a primary purpose, the main goal of the project was and remains to test the leadership and organizational skills of an Eagle candidate. I was 16 years old and was really rolling now through my swelled-headed teenager phase. I wanted something big, something dramatic for a project. I wanted to show the world I was all growed up and could take whatever it dished out.

I was directed to Col. Vern Fernandes who was chairing the Jacksonville Sesquicentennial event the following year. In the first minute of my meeting with him at Elliott State Bank, I felt very much like Beetle Bailey in his first encounter with Sgt. Snorkel.

Vern started reading from a list of projects the city wanted completed in time for the celebration. One by one, I dismissed the suggestions because none measured up to the level I was seeking. Vern was becoming more irritable by the minute at this young whippersnapper who was poo-pooing his recommendations. I did not yet realize that only a person blinded by immeasurable youthful ignorance would have deliberately thrown gasoline on the fire that was Col. Vern!

Finally, he reached the end of his list and informed me this last project was too big for a boy–cleaning garbage out of the town brook. I nearly jumped out of my chair in my haste to say, “Yes! That’s the one I want!” Vern resisted the idea until I convinced him that anything I accomplished couldn’t make it any worse and there would still be time for the city to complete the job after I totally botched it.

I had no idea how much I had just bitten off. My only prior exposure to the brook was during my years at Franklin School when I used to hide down near the water during recess so the school bullies couldn’t find me.

I went out to make a preliminary inspection of the task that lay before me. I had traversed the roads adjacent to the brook all my life but had never noticed the litter. That day, I saw it all and it was depressing beyond belief. In particular, the stretch that ran parallel to Hoagland Boulevard between Diamond and Lincoln was so trash-covered it looked like the garbage room in Star Wars. It seemed as if 90% of the county’s population had been using the waterway as its own personal rubbish bin.

Fast forward to the end of the project: With a LOT of guidance from my father and the good will and support of five local Scout troops and one Cub Scout pack, we got the job done. I have to say the letter of recommendation Vern wrote to my Eagle Scout Board of Review remains one of the high points of my life. But the brook was still waiting to make its real impact.

I took and developed my own photos in those days. The day the project concluded, I was in my darkroom (which everyone else called the leaky basement) processing the “after” photos showing the project’s results. As one picture sloshed around in the developing fluid and began to fade into view, I noticed there was a pile of garbage bags stuffed to the gills sitting on top of the hill. I realized with dismay that those bags were still out there–I had forgotten to take them to the dump!

So I went out to the site and loaded the bags into my car. I stopped to take a final look at the finished project. As I surveyed the scene, I saw a pair of critters dashing through the now-cleared grasses. Though I did not recognize the breed that day, the image of what I saw is still vibrant in my mind and I suspect they were badgers. They looked like they were running free in a natural paradise, kind of like a happy couple in a margarine commercial charging through a pristine meadow towards each other.

It was the first time I saw the Town Brook as something besides an excuse to build bridges. For those happy, scampering critters, it was home. It was their paradise which so many of us had trashed like a teenager’s room. It was one of those life moments when one first perceives a world larger than the one he or she has occupied.

As I rapidly approach codger status, my appreciation for the natural world has grown and flourished through the years. I took my very first steps on that journey by the waters of the Jacksonville Town Brook.

The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Parks Foundation held a Town Brook History Contest in an effort to help reconnect the community to its waterways. The Jacksonville community has a long history and a myriad of connections with Mauvaisterre Creek and its urban tributary the Town Brook. The town grew up near its banks; the creek was used as a byway for travelers on the Underground Railroad; its waters were dammed to provide a water supply to support development; generations of kids grew up playing in the brook – hunting for snakes, looking for crawdads, exploring its banks. The stories, along with others, will be part of Brook Tales – a play written by Ken Bradbury and performed by his Lincoln Land Community College class. Performances May 17-18 (Saturday & Sunday) will benefit the Town Brook Initiative. Click the History tab to find out more, or to submit your story to the history project.

By Dan Moy

Ebey Alley was the street in Jacksonville that produced some of the finer young athletes that were students of Franklin school. The alley runs past the old post office and the Production Press company and ends at the Town Brook. Ebey Alley is still there, but most all of the homes are gone as well as the athletes. There were cousins that enjoyed playing sports on the MacMurray college campus and the playground of Franklin school. Joe was a cousin to Milt, Ed and Ronny, and they enjoyed playing baseball on the Franklin school playground. The biggest problem was that they all could hit the baseball further than the limits of the field and that limit was the brook. As a neighborhood schoolmate from college Avenue, I was always invited to play ball with them as an outfielder. That always produced a problem since any of them could hit a home run that would end up in the brook and the outfielders always had to go into the brook to retrieve the ball. You always hoped that it had not rained two or three days before the games so that the field would not be muddy or the swift moving water would take the ball under the Clay Street bridge.

My parents could never understand how I would come home or a warm summer day with muddy shoes. All I have to mention was that I was playing ball with the McPike’s from Ebey Alley and they understood that one of the guys had hit a home run into the brook.

The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Parks Foundation held a Town Brook History Contest in an effort to help reconnect the community to its waterways. The Jacksonville community has a long history and a myriad of connections with Mauvaisterre Creek and its urban tributary the Town Brook. The town grew up near its banks; the creek was used as a byway for travelers on the Underground Railroad; its waters were dammed to provide a water supply to support development; generations of kids grew up playing in the brook – hunting for snakes, looking for crawdads, exploring its banks. The stories, along with others, will be part of Brook Tales – a play written by Ken Bradbury and performed by his Lincoln Land Community College class. Performances May 17-18 (Saturday & Sunday) will benefit the Town Brook Initiative. Click the History tab to find out more, or to submit your story to the history project.

By Sue Ann Hackett, as told by Carson Steinheimer

I was talking to one of my childhood/lifelong chums tonight and asked him if he had played by the brook, had any stories. Yes! Carson Steinheimer, son of Ray Steinheimer who had a drug store on the corner of State and Court where the Journal office is now, and his buddy Tom Lukeman, son of George Lukeman who had a car dealership (I think) east of the old High School on State Street, lived on Woodland Street.

Carson related that when they were about 10-12 years old they would take their bikes and load their lunch — a bottle of cream soda pop and a peanut butter sandwich — in their baskets. They pedaled down Woodland and east to Lincoln. [Morton Avenue was not built out there in this period of the 1940s.] There was a small bridge over the brook which connected to the State Hospital “Red Farm” where they raised hogs. They would eat their lunch by the brook and fool around. Sometimes they would ride south on the narrow road out to Diamond Grove Cemetery and eat their lunch there. Tom’s grandmother lived in that area.

One time they saw pop bottles floating in the brook with paper notes inside them. They took the cap off one bottle and read the note which said: “Help Help! Captured. Let us out!” They put the bottles in their bike baskets and rode downtown to the Police Department. The policeman read the notes and told the boys that they were probably written by men from the State Hospital who had been working at the farm, but he complimented the boys for bringing in the evidence.

[Carson became a dentist and lives in a Chicago suburb; Tom has homes both on Woodland and I think in Havana, Ill. Not sure of his work. Carson and Tom were in the famous Boy Scout troop at Grace Church (Carson attained Eagle rank) and have remained friends.]

[Side observation, nothing to do with the brook. Children of our youth in the 1940s-50s were "surrounded" by the three State Institutions and had interaction with the families, teachers and workers at them. We learned the Deaf signing alphabet and would practice short messages with each other. When in Junior High or early High School and starting to date, we might secretly sign "I Love you" to our favorites.]

The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Parks Foundation held a Town Brook History Contest in an effort to help reconnect the community to its waterways. The Jacksonville community has a long history and a myriad of connections with Mauvaisterre Creek and its urban tributary the Town Brook. The town grew up near its banks; the creek was used as a byway for travelers on the Underground Railroad; its waters were dammed to provide a water supply to support development; generations of kids grew up playing in the brook – hunting for snakes, looking for crawdads, exploring its banks. The stories, along with others, will be part of Brook Tales – a play written by Ken Bradbury and performed by his Lincoln Land Community College class. Performances May 17-18 (Saturday & Sunday) will benefit the Town Brook Initiative. Click the History tab to find out more, or to submit your story to the history project.

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