Memorable quotes from 2013 ...

“Come April, it will be 24 years (on the Paxton and Paxton-Buckley-Loda school boards), and that’s more than long enough.”
— Mike Short, the school board’s longest-serving member, on his decision to not seek re-election to the board.

“We’re going to be one of the last drive-ins in the U.S. About 20 have closed in the last month.”
— Ben Harroun, manager of the Harvest Moon Drive-In in Gibson City, on the facility’s fundraiser that saved its fate by raising $140,000 to buy new digital projection equipment.

“That’s a big milestone for us to just get somebody to say, ‘Yes, you can build here.”
— Paxton resident Jon Russell, a member of the Paxton Dog Park Committee, on the Paxton Park Board’s decision to allow the dog park to be built at Coady Park.

“If it’s such a great thing, why doesn’t everyone have one?”
— Paxton City Council member Rick Wolfe, during a discussion about the future of Paxton’s airport.

“Of other Illinois county jails known to have been built specifically of athens marble, those in the counties of Cook, Will and Lincoln have been destroyed, while that in Livingston has been altered significantly. Only the Ford County jail remains with little alteration, probably making it the best remaining example of a county jail built with this classic Illinois building stone.”
— Royce Baier, president of the Paxton Foundation, explaining the historical significance of keeping Ford County’s former jail and sheriff’s residence standing. A few weeks later, the jail was sold to the foundation for $1, allowing a long-term renovation to take place.

“Our mayors are now more proactive. Now the mayors are getting the first phone calls (from prospective businesses). They’re kind of handling it on their own.”
— Ford County Board member Randy Ferguson, who also serves on the board of the Community Economic Development Foundation (CEDF), explaining that a change in the county’s cities’ reliance on the organization led to a steady decline in funding over the last several years, and ultimately its demise.

“The issue is dead. We have always said that if we received a legal opinion that we could not cross into Indiana that we would abide by that ruling.  Until last night, no one had told us that we could not legally move forward.”
— Doug Corbett, then the administrator of the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department, explaining that his agency has decided not to pursue its plan to provide home-health services in Indiana, now that the Iroquois County Board’s attorney warned the move would be illegal.

“When High Concrete left (Paxton), that was our major customer; that was what brought us there (to Paxton). We tried hanging on, thinking they were coming back, but it just didn’t appear like it would happen, so we didn’t have any choice.”
— Paul LeFebvre, owner of LeFebvre Companies Inc., on the firm’s decision to close its terminal at 1065 W. Ottawa Road in Paxton by the end of March.

“It didn’t happen overnight, and it’s not going to get solved overnight.”
— State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, the featured speaker at the Ford County Republicans’ annual Lincoln Day Dinner, on the state’s bleak financial situation.

“My wife and I are expecting a baby any day now. I would like to know if there is any way possible for me to be there for the birth of our child, so I may be of support to my wife during the birth/labor and aid in watching our other two children during this time. Please and thank you.”
— Andrew Condon, a rural Ashkum man charged with the first-degree murder of a Gilman gas station clerk in October 2012, pleading with authorities to let him out of jail for the birth of his third child.

“2013 would be a great opportunity to build (our wind farm). There’s turbine availability, equipment availability — everyone rushed last year, in 2012, so it’s a perfect time. The problem is the natural gas market just depresses the wholesale price of power, and nobody’s willing to jump on a 20-year commitment to buy our power, even though the price we can offer has never been seen in the history of renewable power. We’re talking 5 cents. It’s very affordable power we’re selling.”
— Doug Krause, project manager for Akuo Energy. a co-developer of the Dogtown Wind Farm near Paxton. He said up to 49 more wind turbines could be built east of Paxton within the next year, bringing to 143 the number of turbines along a 10-mile stretch of Illinois 9.

“I’m just happy we worked together and got an agreement we can both live with and move forward.”
— Paxton-Buckley-Loda Superintendent Cliff McClure, reacting to the school board’s approval of an agreement that guarantees his district will receive at least $6.5 million in tax revenue generated from Paxton’s tax increment financing district.

“At first blush, is there a need to compete like that? I don’t think so. It’s not about a market-share grab. If the service is being provided, that’s great.”
— Chuck Bohlmann, chief executive officer of Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka, explaining that, unlike the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department’s administrator, he does not consider the expansion of home-health services into two rural counties in western Indiana a priority.

“I cannot imagine anyone of authority telling that we do not have the ability to cover the Newton and Jasper area for Home Health Care and Hospice. When we get a referral, we’re out there in 24 hours in at least 90 percent of our cases. I can’t imagine Newton County would need more.”
— Jasper County Hospital home-health program coordinator Dianne Hollerman, disputing the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department’s statement that it had contacted her hospital to determine the need for better home-health services in Newton County, Ind.

“We do not know the name of the person Mary talked to.”
— Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department spokesman Julie Clark, after being asked to identify the official at Jasper County Hospital who was reportedly contacted by the health department’s home-health coordinator, Mary Cahoe, and had told Cahoe that Jasper County Hospital “would welcome our services due to the distance that (the hospital’s nurses) must travel to provide services outside of Jasper County.”

“I’m just glad to be here. I’ve got a new outlook on life.”
— Rick Flessner, a 20-year veteran of the Roberts fire department who escaped with minor injuries after a floor collapsed underneath him during an early-morning blaze at a bar in downtown Melvin.

“Although we appreciate Mr. (Rod) Copas’ enthusiasm for learning the inner workings of the FIPHD, we wish it was more informed and constructive in a positive manner. If all the time, money and effort being spent in endless questions and audits could be redirected into our FIPHD programs that have measurable outcomes, we might be able to make even more progress in our communities’ health.”
— A statement from the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department, contending that expenses being reviewed by Iroquois County’s auditor at the request of County Board Chairman Rod Copas were justified.

“Will it happen? It’s a 50/50 right now, but it shows there is interest.”
— Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold, telling the local chamber of commerce that two retail businesses have inquired about locating in Paxton as a result of the presence of a tax-increment financing district.

“After completing an investigation,
GE determined that an isolated manufacturing issue was the cause of the two blade fault occurrences. We have addressed the manufacturing issue to prevent this from happening in the future.”
— Lindsay Theile, a spokeswoman with GE’s Renewable Energy business, on the cause of two GE-made wind turbines in East Central Illinois breaking in 2012.

“It was kind of a shellshocking moment, kind of a culture change growing up in Tolono graduating with less than 100 kids, and all of a sudden, I’m around 35,000 students.”
— Brian Cardinal, a 12-year NBA veteran and former Purdue University basketball standout, telling the Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce about coming from Tolono Unity High School to the Big Ten.

“We need to fix what’s broken.”
— Iroquois County Board Chairman Rod Copas, on why his board decided to remove three of its representatives on the Ford-Iroquois board of health.

“We came up here this morning because we wanted to personally tell the good people of this county how proud you should be of those in your local government who have stood up and demanded accountability to clearly questionable expenditures of your tax dollars. Unlike many in our county, your officials took the bull by the horns.”
— Kirk Allen, co-owner of the Edgar County Watchdogs website, speaking at an Iroquois County Board meeting about the actions the board was taking to remedy issues within the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department.

“I’m not retiring. I’ll be in the office. I’m just taking it a little easier. I don’t want the primary responsibility. As the attorney, the burden is on me. I’d just rather be in an advisory position to help out.”
— Bob Martensen, on his decision to step aside as the attorney representing the Paxton City Council and Paxton Park District.

“Yeah, with this weather, I was a little hesitant. But I was like, ‘You know what? When we were in high school, the weather didn’t stop us. We still dragged Main.’ The true blue of Paxton are the ones who are going to be there regardless of the weather.”
— Debi Chapman-Hermann, speaking about plans for an upcoming Draggin’ Main event after 10 inches of snow fell over Paxton the night prior.

“Just because you are aging doesn’t mean you just want to sit around and watch TV.”
— Cindy Brewer, executive director of the Villas of Holly Brook facility in Monticello, as she presented an overview of the layout, services and amenities of a proposed Gibson City assisted-living facility.

“Some of the biggest challenges the village is facing is we’ve got dilapidated property, and if it’s vacant, I’d like to try to get rid of it if nobody’s going to fix it up.”
— Ron Dudley, prior to being elected village board president in Loda.

“It happens.”
— Matt Kauffman, president of Stewardship Energy LLC, when asked if he had ever seen a shorter, less-eventful public hearing for a wind farm’s special-use permit application than the 30-minute hearing held in April for the Dogtown Wind Farm near Paxton.

“You’ll never know how it will work if you don’t try it. It can be done.”
— Long-time Paxton Alderman Bill Goben, urging fellow aldermen to look into the possible use of the city’s shooting range for public classes.

“I don’t want to point fingers at anybody; I just want to say that when we have that kind of money going out, there should be an account back to the board on what happened.”
— Buckley Village Trustee Ron Lenington, questioning why the village spent $11,175 on fuel between January 2012 and January 2013.

“There’s no way I can ever fill Bob’s shoes. I can just try really hard and just work hard. That’s the best I can do.”
— Attorney Ross Sorensen, then 29, after being appointed as a replacement for Bob Martensen, who gave up his duties as the Paxton Park District’s attorney after 48 years on the job.

“We were wore out. We were just exhausted. We finally had to take a vacation in October. We couldn’t take it anymore. Seriously, he was exhausted; I was exhausted.”
— Melisa Plotner-Moore, on the volunteer work that she, her husband and other volunteers did to build  a new firehouse in Thawville for the Iroquois-Ford Fire Protection District.

“An Alumni Hall of Fame is something that our current students would see on a daily basis. Seeing this could help to inspire some of them, by showing the many accomplishments of those who came before them.”
— PBL High School teacher Travis Duley, on the idea behind a proposed PBL Hall of Fame.

“We decided over the weekend to voluntarily drop all of the lawsuits in Ford County. We recognized that this legal approach of trying to uphold our  agreement with customers carries with it a negative perception that we do not intend. Instead, we will look at other ways of communicating and upholding the terms and conditions of our ticket-purchase agreement, which is designed to ensure convenience and efficiency for all of our customers.”
— Dennis E. Toeppen of Champaign, president of the bus service, Suburban Express Inc., in response to a backlash from University of Illinois students who were sued by his Champaign charter bus service in Ford County Circuit Court for alleged violations of the company’s “terms and conditions.”

“There was no public hearing, no public vote, nothing. If there’s nothing wrong with that, then look out what’s coming down the road. It’s a huge problem.”
— Iroquois County Board Chairman Rod Copas, expressing concerns over how the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department awarded a $123,000 contract for the installation of solar panels on the health department’s offices in Paxton and Watseka to a husband of health department employee.

“Everything we’re doing here seems like it’s coming back to common sense. You can’t award a bid to anybody that’s related to anybody that works for you, especially when it’s for $100,000. Those are things you just can’t do. It’s got to be written (in the law) somewhere.”
— Ford County Board member Randy Ferguson, responding to the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department’s embattled administrator saying he did not see any issue with the awarding of a $123,000 contract to the husband of an agency employee.

“In the last two months, we have probably met with 20 to 25 different (businesses), either that are currently in Paxton or that want to come to Paxton. It is encouraging that these people want to know more about what the (tax increment financing) can do for them.”
— Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold, saying he sees plenty of reason to be encouraged with the progress made in Paxton’s business district in the past year.

“It feels pretty good. I think that as the board member there longest, it was probably the right thing to do. I kind of know what’s going on here.”
— Brad Strebeck, on being appointed president of the Paxton Park Board in May.

“I think that was partly my fault because we hadn’t ever had to go into closed session before.”
— Dr. Kevin Brucker, president of the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department Board, admitting that he made a mistake when he instructed the public to leave the board’s meeting room before a vote had been taken to enter closed session.

“I’d say it kind of shows that when you’re having a rough day and saying, ‘My life sucks,’ then you just need to look across the room and go and see those people’s lives in shambles.”
— Paxton resident Eddie Nuss, 19, on the devastation caused by a tornado in Moore, Okla. Nuss and his friends visited Oklahoma to help with relief efforts.

“I’m still flying high.”
— Gibson City resident Ray Leisure, reacting to seeing himself on the History Channel show “American Pickers” during a viewing party at the Gibson City American Legion Hall. The show’s hosts visited Leisure’s property on Sept. 16 and spent 10 hours rummaging through his massive collection of antiques.

“Both Will and Andrew work very hard at what they do, and getting recognition through the IPA contest is a great honor and shows how hard they continue to work to give the Paxton-Buckley-Loda school system and Ford County area the best weekly newspaper possible week after week.”
— Tim Evans, general manager of the News-Gazette Community Newspapers, after the Paxton Record — including Editor Will Brumleve and Sports Editor Andrew Rosten — won seven awards, including three first-place honors, to place sixth overall among 30 small weekly newspapers competing in the Illinois Press Association’s 2012 Excellence in News Contest.

“I don’t believe in buying high-dollar. We build with what we can, with junkyard builders. I don’t like AutoZone. I don’t like to go broke buying equipment.”
— Gibson City resident Eric Reynolds, on his approach to building demolition derby cars.

“There’s no way we can force him out. I think the only way you could get him out of office is if he agreed to leave. The only hope you’ve got is for him to go on his own will.”
— Ford County Board Chairman Rick Bowen, after learning that Public Health Administrator Doug Corbett’s contract says he can only be fired if a disability prevents him from performing his duties, he dies, or he is convicted of a felony crime.

“I guess crime pays. I can’t believe they would let him off with that. That’s because they didn’t steal it from the judge, probably.”
— Richard Hewerdine, owner of a Paxton jewelry and coin shop, expressing disappointment upon learning that one of three men charged in connection with burglaries at his store will be required to pay only $5,000 in restitution.

“I didn’t expect it. Winning wasn’t really the most important thing to me.”
— Kristen Batte, 17, of Paxton, after being named Miss Ford County Fair Queen.

“Is this what we want? How much more do we need to see (before determining) that there’s a problem in Ford-Iroquois Public Health?”
— Iroquois County Board Chairman Rod Copas, detailing the cases of documented unprofessional conduct by Public Health Administrator Doug Corbett.

“The noise especially bothers me at night sleeping. And being a mile away, I’m sure I don’t get as much annoying effects as people who live 1,500 feet from them.”
— Iroquois County Board member Marvin Stichnoth of rural Milford, urging the board to change its wind ordinance so that the setback between turbines and nonparticipating primary structures — or homes located on property not being leased for a wind farm — be increased from 1,500 feet to a distance equivalent to 12 times the rotar diameter.

“We’ve asked numerous times to be presented with the facts. You can only ask for it so many times, and then finally you just have to go on to the next topic.”
— Ford County Board Chairman Rick Bowen, on why his board has not taken any action to resolve the issues surrounding the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department.

“We’re going to send all the information we have to each board member in Ford County. It will go out probably tomorrow morning, and then there won’t be anyone with the ability to say that they didn’t have whatever information is out there.”
— Iroquois County Board Chairman Rod Copas, on his efforts to get Ford County Board members to look at the facts surrounding issues in the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department.

“I don’t care to disprove your garbage. It’s your opinion that you’re saying is fact, and it simply is not fact.”
— Ford-Iroquois Public Health Administrator Doug Corbett, to Edgar County Watchdogs members.

“They get their day in court, just the same as most people get their day in court.”
— Ford County Circuit Judge Steve Pacey, after he granted motions allowing a bus company to refile some of its 126 small-claims cases against passengers for violating the company’s “terms and conditions” of buying tickets online. Suburban Express’ legal tactics created an Internet uproar among University of Illinois students, after the company designated Ford County as the venue for any legal action that arose, making it so students could not get free legal representation from the UI.

“I’ve never prescribed medical marijuana, and I never plan to. I don’t recall a patient in 30 years that I have not been able to control with conventional therapies.”
— Dr. David Hagan, a family medicine physician in Gibson City, on the new Illinois law legalizing cannabis use for treatment of certain medical conditions.

“What has been done here is a travesty and injustice.”
— Cary Hagen, financial services and support coordinator for the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department, on the board of health’s decision to buy out the remainder of Public Health Administrator Doug Corbett’s contract.

“I don’t even understand why I’m here. This guy broke into my house.”
— Ryan A. Nibbe, interrupting Judge Steve Pacey during a court hearing in August. Nibbe, 34, was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the July 28 altercation that led to the death of Timothy Robertson, 44, of Gibson City.

“The counties are not in a position to demand we provide a program that is not sustainable.”
— Ford-Iroquois board of health member Dr. Bernadette Ray of Gibson City, explaining why the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department intends to end its home health care program effective Oct. 1.

“The records are all right here, and if anyone would like me to lay them all out right here, I’d be happy to. Most of them have been published. The point is, when we ask for something, we’re being lied to.”
— Kirk Allen, co-owner of the Edgar County Watchdogs website, offering to show the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department board the documents that he says prove the local health department’s tobacco coordinator, Julie Clark, misled state public health department officials when she applied for annual grants to subsidize the tobacco program employees’ salaries.

“Chicago deserves its fair share but so does Chenoa, Illinois.”
— Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Rutherford, promising to make sure that the state’s education budget is fair to small, rural districts, during a candidates’ forum in Gibson City in September.

“It turned out that chemicals had nothing to do with the fire.”
— Piper City Fire Chief Tony Lane, after firefighters first suspected that dangerous fumes may have been created when a pesticide reacted with water at a soybean facility in Piper City in September. The fears prompted the evacuation of a two-block area around the
facility and the cancelation of classes at nearby Tri-Point Junior High/Elementary School.

“It’s something we’ll have to start to monitor and watch.”
— Paxton-Buckley-Loda Superintendent Cliff McClure, on the fact that his school district has the lowest sixth-day enrollment total it has seen in 11 years.

“He (told police he) sells cannabis to pay for school.”
— A probable-cause statement from Gibson City police, referring to a comment made to police by an Elliott man who allegedly had in his possession almost 120 grams of cannabis.

“There’s no way.”
— Paxton-Buckley-Loda eighth-grader Adam McMullin, when asked if he could pass the eighth-grade exit exam administered 101 years ago to students at Bullitt County schools in Kentucky.

“We can’t make the other side do what they should do ... and if they don’t want to work with us, then we need to dissolve it. We’ve got to either come together or get apart, and I don’t know how you bring  us together.”
— Iroquois County Board member Kevin Hansen of Clifton, expressing frustration with Ford County officials’ reluctance over the past year to address the many issues surrounding the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department.

“Hopefully, it becomes a nice destination for a lot of people.”
— Paxton Park District Recreation Director Neal McKenry, on the opening of a dog park at Coady Park in October.

“It’s surreal. He should be here. But he’s not. I can’t wrap my brain around it.”
— Julie Gerdes, mother of Jeff Potts, 49, who died after being stabbed outside a bar in downtown Paxton.

“Having a lawyer get up and tell you (the pros and cons), I don’t think that’s at all what I had in mind, and I don’t think it was productive either. I think each one of you should have had an opportunity to say what you think or ask questions. ... I just wanted to say I was a little disappointed everybody didn’t get a chance to weigh in on the thing.”
— Iroquois County Board member John Shure of rural Buckley, saying he was disappointed that, unlike the Iroquois County Board, the Ford County Board chose not to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of dissolving the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department as requested.

“We always base the Mexican restaurants on their fajita quesadillas. It was the BEST we have ever had anywhere!!”
— Paxton resident Julie Burgess, commenting in a Facebook post about the food at newly opened Pueblo Lindo, a Mexican restaurant in downtown Paxton.

“I’ve been thinking about this for the last four years. I decided that this is the time in my life to do this.”
— Paxton Police Chief Bob Bane, on his decision to seek election to the Ford County sheriff’s post.

“He was mumbling statements at the scene — something to the effect of, ‘I was protecting myself.’”
— Paxton police officer Robert Yates, testifying in a preliminary hearing about what was said by Sean F. Kelley, 33, after he allegedly stabbed Jeffrey D. Potts, 49, of Paxton, in October.

“It’s just a lot of monkeying around, and a little shocking at first.”
— Iroquois County’s financial director, Anita Speckman, after thousands of dollars in charges were billed to the county after its phone system was hacked in September.

“I challenge our stakeholders to keep the momentum going and not hang their hats on one year’s results.”
— Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School Principal Trent Eshleman, after his school’s students met state standards on tests taken last spring — for the first time in many years.

“We could have touched them; they were just right there. They went real slow because (the motorcade) was passing a Catholic school. ... We were right up close — off the street, of course.”
— Irene Hustedt, recalling how she and her husband, Harold, watched President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade pass by them in Fort Worth, Texas, before Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, took an airplane to Dallas on the final day of the president’s life.

“After 20 years in education, I get to practice what I’ve preached to students, student-athletes and teachers. ... I’ve been given an opportunity I need to go after, and I’m going to do that.”
— Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School Principal Trent Eshleman,  saying that he decided to resign because he wants  to try his hand at owning a business. Eshleman said he wants to “follow some dreams, take some risks and don’t live in fear” — the same advice he usually gives to his students.

“It just basically skirted us. We were darn lucky. If it just would have been a little more to the north, it would have been a different story.”
— Paxton Emergency Response Service Director Ed Hanson, on the tornado that devastated Gifford in November.

“Some people were crying, frustrated, screaming. Some were in a frantic pace to help other people, pulling people out of the rubble. It was quite the scene. It was pretty gruesome. People were in disarray and shaking their heads. There was smoke on the ground. It was a complete obliteration. So much debris piled up.”
— Paxton native Jerry Prina, who lives in Washington, Ill., describing the scene after tornadoes touched down there in November.

“In my estimation, what we’re getting for the money is not just an interim administrator; we’re getting someone who will also help both counties in working with both counties to establish their own health departments. ... He’s assisting both counties, which is invaluable at this point.”
— Iroquois County Board Chairman Rod Copas, expressing his thoughts on the value of the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department’s $5,200-per-week contract with health care executive placement firm B.E. Smith Inc. for services provided by interim Administrator Steven Williams.

“It has been my honor and priviledge to have been entrusted with the duties of resident circuit judge for Ford County for more than 17 years. I have tried to fulfill my promise to the public to be a firm and fair judge. I have kept my promise to be a public servant by having made more than 4,600 appearances at various school, community, church and other public functions during my tenure as judge — and that doesn’t include the stops that I make each morning at the coffee shops and the nursing home when I’m out running.”
— Ford County Circuit Judge Steve Pacey, announcing his retirement from the bench, effective Dec. 31, 2013.

“We have identified a suspect population of roughly 1.5 percent of our total blades in our wind turbine fleet. We have notified those customers with turbines within this population and are closely working with them to keep their turbines running reliably and safely.”
GE Power & Water spokesman Katelyn Buress, explaining that a small percentage of the 1.6-megawatt turbines made by GE may be affected by a manufacturing issue.

“I’ve accumulated a few over the years.”
— Paxton resident Victor Johnson, who has 140,000 blinking Christmas lights installed at his home at 333 W. Patton St.

“We are here because we want everyone to know that we do not want frozen meals. I can have a frozen meal at home.”
— A senior citizen in attendance at the Ford County Conversation on Aging and Independent Living — a public forum held in Paxton by the ECIAAA to seek input for the agency’s next Area Plan for fiscal years 2015-17. Many Ford County seniors urged the agency to keep its Peace Meal program unchanged, after the hot-lunch program for the elderly almost became a frozen-meal program last summer.

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