MATTOON — The Mattoon Arts Council has announced the winners of its recent annual quilt show and announced a Feb. 29 Dresden plate quilting workshop.
Votes taken by visitors to the quilt show in the Mattoon train depot's Lone Elm Room resulted in Libby Fox's quilt winning first place and Donna Homann's quilt winning second place in the Viewers Choice Award category. Their quilts were selected from among 54 new quilts shown by 34 exhibitors.
“Color Me Happy” was the theme of the 2020 show, which was organized once again by the Prairie Stitchers group. They have already chosen the theme of the Jan. 30-31, 2021 show, "Quilts Around Town," to give prospective exhibitors time to create their new quilts.
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Prairie Stitcher Jamie Willis is scheduled to lead the "Dresden Plates: A New Look" quilt workshop at 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 29 in the Lone Elm Room. The $40 entry fee will go to benefit Arts Council programming.
Workshop participants are invited to explore the simplicity of the classic Dresden plate block and learn several variations of this style's "fan blade" designs. They will use modern fabrics and their favorite colors to create a pillow, wall hanging, or block to begin an entire quilt.
Participants can bring a sack lunch or dine at one of many nearby restaurants downtown. They will need to bring a sewing machine and extension cord and other quilting supplies. The full supply list and registration information is available by calling the Arts Council at 217-258-6286 or by visiting mattoonartscouncil.org.
Community leaders share stories of Dick Lumpkin's legacy
MATTOON -- Consolidated Communications' Dick Lumpkin was active with several community organization over the years on his own and through his leadership role with the Lumpkin Family Foundation.
Representatives from Eastern Illinois University, First Mid Bank & Trust, Lake Land College, and Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center discussed Lumpkin's legacy to their organizations after hearing that he died on April 4 at age 84.
Eastern Illinois University
Lumpkin continued a legacy of contributions to the university his family has made over the course of decades, contributions EIU President David Glassman said touched every aspect of the university.
"Many individuals see one area that they'd like to support, but when it came to the Lumpkins, they wanted to support the holistic idea of a university in the East Central Illinois region," Glassman said.
The Lumpkin family has a long legacy of support for the university, and that extended and continued with Dick Lumpkin, Glassman said.
"Regardless of where that support came from directly, I think Dick had an impact, whether it was personal, it was from the family foundation or it was from Consolidated (Communications)," said Steve Rich, assistant vice president for Advancement. "I think that was all because of Dick's interest in supporting those areas."
Most known for the support in academics on campus, the Lumpkins have made significant contributions to scholarships for students and to academic programs, particularly to Lumpkin College of Business and Technology.
Their support stretched to other areas on campus as well. The Lumpkins' contributions extended to the operations of the Doudna Fine Arts Center and the performances made within its walls, those contributions also reached to the university athletics and to WEIU broadcast station. These contributions over the years prompted the university to name a building in honor of the Lumpkin family.
It could not be understated, the contributions made by the Lumpkin Foundation, and by extension Dick, were significant for the university, said Paul McCann, vice president for business affairs.
"I think you can see by the naming of a college after him that we thought it was a substantial commitment to the university, too," McCann said. "We don't do that often."
Beyond his financial support to EIU, Glassman said the wisdom and guidance Lumpkin offered EIU officials was held in high esteem.
"His legacy and success will continue to resonate throughout EIU forever," Glassman said.
First Mid Bank & Trust
Joe Dively, chairman and CEO of First Mid-Illinois Bancshares, Inc., said Lumpkin served on its board of directors for nearly 40 years.
"(Lumpkin) first joined the board in 1966, when it was First National Bank, Mattoon, with $26 million of assets, and served the bank, the parent company and the shareholders faithfully as it grew to $1 billion during his tenure," Dively said. "He was a key part of First Mid’s vision and strategy and contributed significantly to its growth."
Dively said Lumpkin was also a passionate supporter who strongly believed in the value of a locally headquartered community bank, and the Lumpkin family remains a major shareholder.
Within the broader community, Dively said Lumpkin has been behind many major initiatives that have helped shape the future, growth and enrichment of Coles County, such as Sarah Bush Lincoln, Mattoon Area Family YMCA, Eastern, Special Olympics Family Festival and Coles Together.
"It was an honor to have worked with and for Dick for nearly 30 years. His impacts will be felt profoundly for many years to come. He was a mentor, role model and personal friend to many of us who worked alongside him. He was a great man and will be sorely missed," Dively said.
Lake Land College
College President Josh Bullock said Lumpkin played a leadership role with the Lumpkin Family Foundation as it supported the start of solar and wind energy education at Lake Land, plus the construction of Lensink Hall and its sustainable energy learning center. He said this foundation also has supported other academic programs and endows scholarships.
Lumpkin also quietly helped Lake Land in many other ways over the years, Bullock said. For example, he said Lumpkin made a contribution to the scholarship fund established by former Lake Land President Robert Luther as a tribute to Luther when the former president was terminally ill in 2017.
"(Lumpkin) did not want a lot of public attention. He wanted to do things because it was the right thing for students and the community," Bullock said.
One of Lumpkin's most visible legacies on Lake Land's campus is the Special Olympics Family Festival that Consolidated Communications holds on campus every September, Bullock said. Lumpkin always had a smile on his face as he watched the athletes have fun at the festival that he helped start, Bullock said.
The Special Olympics Family Festival was a "labor of love" for Lumpkin, Bullock said. He added that after each festival, Lumpkin would roll up his shirt sleeves and help his fellow volunteers pick up litter.
"It's just a sad day for the community," Bullock said of Lumpkin's death. "He lived such a great life and had such a powerful impact it will be felt for decades to come."
Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center
Amy Card, director of the hospital's health foundation, said Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center owes a great deal of its history and achievements to Lumpkin's efforts and support. She said Lumpkin once told her it was "certainly a day worth celebrating" when SBLHC first opened on Mother's Day, 1977, following an effort in which he was involved.
"His stories of how the interest and energy behind the new hospital began to build were fascinating," she said, also noting that it was the first large-scale joint effort of volunteer groups from Mattoon and Charleston.
Card said Lumpkin's support of the foundation was "outstanding" and his and his family's support led to the naming of SBLHC Lumpkin Family Center for Health Education. Lumpkin continued to support the hospital's initiatives such as its Women & Children’s Center, and its mobile mammography and dental programs.
In addition, Card said Lumpkin served on funding campaign committees that led to construction of the hospital's renovated emergency department, its Center for Healthy Living and both the original and newer Regional Cancer Centers.
Lumpkin was one of 15 recipients during the 40-year history of the foundation's Soaring Eagle Award. The award goes "those who have long distinguished themselves through philanthropy, volunteerism, commitment and dedication to supporting the mission" of SBLHC, Card said.
After the hospital's founding, Lumpkin later served on the Sarah Bush Lincoln board of directors in the 1980s and 1990s. This include serving as board chair from July 1, 1989 to June 30, 1993.
Customers line up for Marshalls opening at Mattoon mall
MATTOON — Customers lined up Sunday morning along the front of the Cross County Mall for the opening of the new Marshalls department store there.
Parent TJX Companies, Inc. of Framingham, Mass. celebrated the opening by donating $10,000 to The Haven homeless shelter and community kitchen during the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Laurie Holsapple of Mattoon was among the first to line up for the 8 a.m. store opening. She arrived at 6 a.m. with her daughter, Missouri State University student Alexandra Holsapple, and her daughter's roommate, Mariah White.
Holsapple said they turned out early looking for bargains and Rae Dunn pottery. Holsapple said she is a collector of this pottery and a big fan of TJX's Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and HomeGoods stores.
"I am excited for Coles County. This is a big thing, definitely something we needed," Holsapple said of the new store. "There are a lot of people who are not from Mattoon who are in this line."
The line stretched from Marshalls west past the mall's central entrance to the front of Joann Fabrics & More.
Holsapple said she is hopeful that Marshalls will add an interior entrance to the mall concourse as more stores open in the mall and draw even more shoppers there.
Marshalls is located in a newly created 22,500-square-foot space at the front-center of the mall. Property owner Rural King of Mattoon created this area by combining five available retail spaces and a corridor.
During the ribbon cutting, manager Julie Wolfe's voice quavered as she thanked all the shoppers who lined up and thanked all of her Marshalls staff members for their store preparation efforts.
"I want to tell you all how hard our associates have worked," Wolfe, of Charleston, said.
Staff handed out tote bags, sugar cookies, and bottled water to the customers who filed into the store after the ribbon cutting. A local band, The KICK, performed on the sales floor.
Marshalls carries apparel for ladies, men, juniors and children, plus shoes, accessories, home products, beauty supplies and more.
Bloomington residents Alexa Curry and Chelsie Miller said they were the first customers to check out at the Marshalls registers, where their purchases included Rae Dunn pottery.
"We both ended up with everything we expected to get. It was worth the drive," Curry said.
Mayor Tim Gover, who took part in the ceremony, said the new Marshalls will increase shopping options in Mattoon and bring more shoppers to town. He noted that the store also will employ approximately 50 full- and part-time staff members.
Haven Executive Director Chris Davis said the $10,000 donation will make a "huge difference" for his nonprofit organization. He said these funds will help with upgrading the community kitchen and enhancing the shelter's day programs.
"We are just honored to be chosen to be honest," Davis said. He noted that Marshalls also provided large cardboard boxes for the Haven's "Cardboard City" homelessness awareness event Friday evening.
PHOTOS: How Marsalls took shape at Cross County Mall in Mattoon
Construction progressing at Marshalls site at Mattoon mall
Marshalls entrance taking shape
Marshalls entrance taking shape
Marshalls entrance, front view
Marshalls entrance, looking east
Marshalls marquee in Mattoon
Marshalls front door
Groundbreaking marks start of Coles Centre hotel and convention center
MATTOON — The start of a long-envisioned project will lead to an "anchor" for development and employment in Coles County and the area.
That was the assessment Wednesday from developer Jeremy Yost on the outlook for the hotel and convention center that will be built in the Coles Centre development area just east of Mattoon.
During a groundbreaking ceremony, Yost said his family's business first thought 10 years ago that such a project would be viable.
"It's something that's always been needed," he said. "It's something I believe is going to be an anchor in Coles County."
The hotel and convention center are planned for a large section of Coles Centre, next to the road at the north entrance of the development area. Coles Centre is located at the southwest corner of the intersection of Illinois Route 16 and Lerna Road.
The $15 million project will include construction of a 102-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel with an on-site restaurant and other amenities.
A connected 8,200 square-foot facility will be named the Coles-Moultrie Convention Center and include a 550-seat theater.
The convention center's name will be recognition of the Mattoon based Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative sponsoring the project's loan application with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Economic Development Loan Program.
On Wednesday, Yost said construction should be complete in about a year. The facility will have about 40 employees at opening, eventually increasing to about 60, he said.
Wednesday's ceremony drew an audience made up of a variety of representatives from local governments, organizations and businesses. It marked a day that was "a long time coming," Mattoon Mayor Tim Gover said.
"What a great day for Mattoon, Coles County and all the people who live in this area," he said.
Doug Wilson, state director of the USDA, said the loan program helps development and, in turn, bring more customers to electrical cooperatives. He called it the "best use" of federal tax revenue.
"You can actually see where these dollars come from and work their way through," Wilson said. "This will definitely be a launch point for the community."
Yost said his family's business, Yost Enterprises LLC, conducted a study that showed a "major need" for more hotel rooms in the area. The convention center will serve as a location for nearly any event or activity that needs meeting space, he added.
In addition to the hotel and convention center, recently announced plans for Coles Centre include a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois service center and an HSHS medical clinic.
Also on Wednesday, HSHS announced that its clinic will offer primary health care services and should begin seeing patients next spring.
In a news release, Melinda Clark, HSHS chief executive officer, said the Mattoon facility should be "the best way to serve the many HSHS Medical Group patients in the area."
Kris Phipps resigns as interim fire chief for Mattoon
MATTOON — Kris Phipps has resigned as interim chief of the Mattoon Fire Department, which is now being overseen by its shift captains as city officials consider options for filling the chief post.
Phipps said he resigned on Thursday because he and some officials have different positions on the fire department's public safety roles, and he does not want to compromise on his position.
In addition, Phipps said he resigned because he believes that local public safety agencies must work together as a team and he is not the one who can ensure that teamwork.
"We have a difference of opinions on public safety issues. I have to respect their position and hope they respect mine," Phipps said, declining further comment.
The Mattoon City Council voted on March 5 to hire Phipps, as an independent contractor, to serve as interim chief for 12 months to fill a vacancy created by the Feb. 25 early retirement of Tony Nichols as chief.
Phipps, who is a former Charleston fire chief, joined a Mattoon department that was adjusting to the recent elimination of its ambulance service and assistant chief position as part of efforts to reduce the city's budget deficit and restructure the department. The former assistant chief, Sean Junge, later retired early.
"It's a great bunch of guys. I have the utmost respect for them. They are some of the finest emergency responders I have ever worked with," Phipps said of Mattoon firefighters.
Phipps said they streamlined the department, fulfilled promotions, and prepared for an upcoming review of the city's insurance rating for fire protection services.
City Administrator Kyle Gill said the fire department is being overseen by its three shift captains as officials consider whether to hire another interim chief or a permanent one.
"It was a pleasure working with Kris. I respect the work that he did. I think he did a lot of good things for the fire department," Gill said.
VIDEOS: Downtown loses jewel: Fire consumes Shores Jewelry building
MATTOON -- Owner Harold Shores had just left work for the day Thursday evening at Shores Jewelry when a friend called to tell him there were reports on the emergency scanner of smoke coming from his downtown building.
Shores said his first action was to call his son and grandson, who resided in apartments above the store.
"I said, 'Get everyone out. Get out of the building," Shores said of his property at 1614 Broadway Ave.
While watching flames consume his building later that evening, Shores said he was glad to report that his family members and the other residents of apartments in his building and adjacent buildings were all able to safely evacuate.
"As bad as it is, at least everyone is safe," Shores said, adding that he was not able to retrieve any items from his jewelry store before it was destroyed.
Mattoon Fire Department was called to the scene at 5:40 p.m. They arrived to find smoke coming from the roof of the building. As the night wore on, calls went out to neighboring departments to provide manpower and tanker trucks.
Crews reported having the fire under control by 9 p.m., but were still on the scene at press time.
Early details shared
During a press conference later Thursday night at City Hall, officials commended Shores for being more concerned about the safety of others than his store and building. His father founded the jewelry store downtown in 1948 and the store moved in 1985 to its current location.
Shift Capt. Robert Alexander said firefighters initially found a smoky haze on the first two floors but had trouble finding an access point for the third floor, where they believe the fire started, without using the elevator.
Alexander said they accessed the third floor with Shores' help but could not find a good line of attack in this smoke-filled space, which contained construction materials and stored items.
"We were then able to take a defensive approach and stop the fire from spreading to the buildings adjacent," said interim Fire Chief Kris Phipps during the press conference. He said they contained the fire, but the adjacent buildings on the east and west suffered smoke and water damage.
Phipps said no injuries were reported among those in the affected buildings or the firefighters. He said firefighters will likely be on scene throughout the night putting out "hot spots" within the Shores building.
He said the Lincoln Fire Protection District helped haul water to the scene from other lines in Mattoon so firefighters would not put an extra strain the lines downtown.
The Illinois State Fire Marshal's Office will assist with efforts to determine the cause of the fire, Phipps said. Rubble will likely need to be removed from the site before the investigation can be conducted effectively, he said.
City Administrator Kyle Gill said the section of Broadway in front of the Shores building will likely be closed for some time due to concerns about the front of this building collapsing. He said businesses adjacent to the Shores building and directly across the street will be temporarily closed.
Personnel from several area fire departments assisted the Mattoon firefighters at the scene. Many community volunteers turned out to bring bottled water and food to the firefighters.
"Mattoon is a community that when there is a disaster like this, they all join together," said Mayor Tim Gover.
Crissy Paige, who had lived for four years in an apartment above Shores Jewelry, said she learned about the fire when she was at a friend's house and her daughter called to see if she was all right. Paige then rushed to the scene, where she saw smoke and flames billowing from the building.
"Praise God I wasn't here. I just showed up here and all of my things are gone," Paige said of the apartment that she and her husband, Doug, shared. "Pray for us. We have lost everything except for the clothes I have on my back. We have lost it all."
Paige said their lost possessions included World War II photos and medals that had belonged to her husband's grandfather. Paige said she and her husband chose to live in an older building in Mattoon's downtown business district because they are history buffs. She said they remained there for four years because Shores is a good landlord and an "awesome guy."
Harley Powley, who has lived for six years above the adjacent Luigi's building at 1610 Broadway, said she was shopping when her husband, Austin, called to say their building was being evacuated. She said her husband rushed to the scene to retrieve their 4-year-old pug dog, Hank, from the apartment.
"My husband ran upstairs and got him. He works at nearby at K.C. Summers, so he was just a phone call away," Powley said, adding that Hank was shaken but was otherwise all right.
Powley and other residents of apartments in the 1600 block of Broadway gathered in the adjacent Mattoon Area Family YMCA parking lot Friday evening and anxiously watched as the fire threatened other downtown buildings.
Anxious business owners
The War Zone game store co-owner Jarrick Honn said he was playing a card game at his adjacent shop, 1622 Broadway, with some of his customers when they saw smoke coming from the vicinity of the Shores Building and were told by police to evacuate. Honn said the police gave him time to retrieve his work computer and essential papers.
Honn said he was confident that firefighters would keep the flames from spreading west to his shop, but worried that water from the fire houses would reach his stock of cards and hobby items.
"I have a card and hobby store. The moment that water pours onto my building, everything is gone," Honn said.
Lisa Hubbartt, co-owner of Hubbartt's Downtown Diner, said she closed earlier in the afternoon but returned to her restaurant at 1626 Broadway Ave. as soon as she heard about the fire. She said police officers let her go into the building to retrieve essential items before the structure was closed as a precaution.
As she watched fire destroy the nearby Shores Jewelry building, Hubbartt said is a great loss to a longtime downtown shop and to the close knit community of businesses there.
"It's just so sad because all of us downtown people stick together and work together," Hubbartt said.
Melissa Burton-Sanders, who used to own the two buildings west of Shores Jewelry, was among those watching the fire Thursday evening. Burton-Sanders said she has worked in this block downtown over the years and family members have lived there.
"I have known Harold Shores my whole life. He is family. Everyone down here is family," Hubbart said. "It's heart breaking."
'This is huge'
Joe Jenkins, 50, lives in Mattoon on the 1300 block of Lafayette about five blocks away. He said it was one of the bigger fires he remembers occurring in the city. When he initially smelled the smoke, he thought it was coming from his building, "as strong as it was."
Janet Clark, a close friend of the Shores family, was visibly upset as she searched for them amid the confusion. "I want to see them. I know they are terribly upset," she said. "I don't have any idea what he'll do. It won't destroy him, but it's a horrible, horrible loss." She called Harold Shores a "survivor."
Dave Schilling, a former Mattoon City Council member who has lived in Mattoon 47 years, remembers other big fires in the city, but none like this. "This is just huge," he said. "I've never seen it this bad."