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WHAT YOU SAID: Columnist reflects on 25 years of writing for the Belleville News-Democrat

TerryMackin

BY TERRY MACKIN
For the News-Democrat

The phone call surprised me, 25 summers ago.

Maureen Houston, editor of the Belleville News-Democrat's Sunday Magazine, asked if I was interested in writing a column. I told Maureen that I'd think about it. I needed to talk to my family and get permission from work. And I needed to think about it myself.

Did I want to get back into newspapers on a freelance basis? It had been more than a decade since I wrote for a newspaper. We had two young, busy lads. I had just started a new job. A quiet anonymous life in Belleville.

And what if my columns weren't very good?

I got the OK from everyone, including myself, and called Maureen back.

"I'll give it a shot, but one condition," I said seriously. "If my columns suck, let me know. I will fade away. No bad feelings."

"Deal," Maureen said.

The first column in June 1997 was about my son, Corey. He was 5 years old. Tiger Woods and his dad, Earl, were emerging onto the pro golf scene. Earl Woods had invested countless resources in his young son's golf career. I was sitting in my front yard in Belleville, watching my toddler son try to hit Whiffle golf balls over the roof of our home.

"Watch the big windows," was my big tip.

The circle of life: Earlier this year, I wrote about the birth of my grandson, Reed, the son of Corey, that toddler hitting Whiffle golf balls 25 summers ago.

My next column was about membership in the Chub Club. I am a fan of athletes who are a little rounder and have some bounce in their run. That summer of 1997, the Cardinals signed pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, a charter member of the Chub Club. Never, ever underestimate the chubby guy, I wrote.

My next column was about attending my 20th-year high school class reunion. Common line at the reunion: "I didn't know in high school that you could read much less write. ..." Funny guys, those high school buddies.

There have been more than a few columns about my old grade school, St. Philip's Catholic Grade School in East St. Louis. All the characters of my youth. Close my eyes and remember. A happy place.

I've written about my coaches and teachers. George Martz, Glenn Schott, Barney Elser and Lou Wappel. Teachers like Elaine Mathews, Dorothy Wigginton and Professor Bill Ward at SIUE. They were positive and encouraged me.

Professor Ward said often, "You'll never make it, Mackin. Don't have what it takes."

He helped me find it.

Other column topics near and dear

I wrote about the late R.J. Krause, youth coach in East St. Louis.

A column I never wrote: He called me early one morning in July and asked me to step out on my home's front porch. There was R.J. in his van, in the street, with a half dozen of his youth all-stars with him. They sang "Happy Birthday" to me, then "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

I've written about my parents, Bud and Betty Mackin. I miss them. I wrote a tribute column about my Aunt Marie Tockstein after she died in 2016. I'm glad I did.

A memorable moment was when my daughter, Cara, worked secretly with Maureen Houston and Pat Kuhl, editors, and wrote a surprise "Father's Day" column to me. That was special.

There has never been a plan, strategy or schedule. I write columns one at a time, usually a day before deadline, for 25 years now.

More reflections on columns

A lot has changed since 1997. The Sunday Magazine was retired. The newsroom has shrunk. There is competition for the public's mind space with cellphones, social media, news websites and 24/7 TV news. Anything written with more than 120 words may be pushing attention span limits.

At some point, readers will be tired of reading these columns from this older, Irish Catholic guy who grew up in East St. Louis in the 1970s. Some may be there already.

Maybe not, as long as there are old-school readers like myself. One col umn at a time, right?

Hopefully, one of my columns has made you think, laugh or even cry. Maybe brought back a good memory. It's been more than fun than I ever imagined when Maureen Houston called me 25 summers ago. Thanks for reading.

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Press Releases

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 15, 2024

Contact Information:
Caroline Krizman, media liaison
(216) 870-9590
press@masterblend.com
 

Tyler Enterprises, Turf Division of Masterblend International,
hires Travis Williams to its sales team


MORRIS, Illinois – Tyler Enterprises, the turf care products division of Masterblend International, is proud to announce the addition of Travis Williams to its turf and ornamental products sales team. He will be responsible for business development and sales of all nutrient and protection products to the golf course, grounds care, and sports turf markets in Central Illinois.

After earning a B.S. in Horticulture from the University of Illinois, Travis served as a director of golf and agronomy for Illinois State University’s Golf Course and their many athletic fields. Additionally he served as director of golf operations for ISU’s Golf Club and achieved the designation of Certified Golf Course Superintendent (CGCS) by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. Most recently, Travis was responsible for fertilizer procurement at Growmark, an Illinois agricultural cooperative.

These decades of combined hands-on turf agronomics and operations experience will provide Tyler customers with unique and practical insight to turf management best practices. Travis notes:

 

 

“I was interested in joining a well-respected company committed to providing quality products and excellent service. The position at Tyler/Masterblend allows me to utilize my combination of experiences to find collaborative solutions for agronomists throughout Illinois.”

 

 

Travis is committed to continued involvement and support of the turf management industry. He has provided leadership to industry associations by serving on the Board of Directors and as the past president of the Central Illinois Golf Course Superintendents Association. His firsthand experience and involvement provide credibility with today’s golf course superintendents and athletic field managers.

 

 

Scott Kuebel, vice president and general manager at Tyler Enterprises shares, “I am pleased to add such a quality sales representative to our team. Travis brings a wealth of experience in both the golf course and athletic field turf care fields. He is certain to provide exceptional insight and service to turf management professionals in the Central Illinois region.”

 

 

Masterblend International is a leading U.S. manufacturer and supplier of the highest quality fertilizer products and blending services for professional growers and turf care professionals. Our Masterblend and Tyler brands serve our clients worldwide and provide complete line of water-soluble fertilizers, control-release fertilizers, granular fertilizers, grass seed, micronutrients and chemicals.
 

Travis Williams

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 14, 2024

Contact Information:
K. Eric Larson
(847) 997-2109
elarson@eyso.org
 

Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestras to host open house on Sunday, February 18

Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestras (EYSO) is hosting an open house from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Elgin Community College Arts Center, 1700 Spartan Dr., Bldg. H, Elgin, IL 60123. 

Music students and their families are invited to get a behind-the-scenes look at EYSO rehearsals and learn more about the EYSO audition process. Pre-registration is NOT required, but individuals planning to attend can RSVP at eyso.org/openhouse to receive suggestions and guidance to make your visit as useful as possible. Attendees are welcome to drop in to any ensemble rehearsal to hear the current repertoire and experience how each conductor works with students. This is the perfect opportunity for area music students and their families to learn more. 

In its 48th season, EYSO serves student musicians from 70 communities and is one of Chicagoland’s oldest and most respected performing arts education organizations. EYSO has been recognized multiple times by the Illinois Council of Orchestras, including for Youth Orchestra of the Year, Programming of the Year, and Conductor of the Year. 

EYSO has a national reputation for providing not only an engaging musical experience for its students, but also a comprehensive learning environment which promotes curiosity, imagination, critical thinking, and collaboration. With five large ensembles, three small ensembles, and a thriving Chamber Music Institute, EYSO auditions new students each year in addition to the hundreds of musicians who already enjoy its rigorous methods of inquiry and "expert noticing." 

Students of EYSO explore a comprehensive curriculum each season—one which aims not only to help these students develop artistically and technically, but also to prepare them for a future of complex ideas, creative risk-taking, and leadership as global citizens. The dynamic and engaging rehearsals foster musical and personal growth as students develop into well-rounded and thoughtful communicators, and leaders in their sections, ensembles, schools, and communities. 

The mission of EYSO is to create a community of young musicians, enriching their lives and the lives of their families, schools, communities and beyond, through the study and performance of excellent music. To learn more about EYSO, visit www.eyso.org or call (847) 841-7700. 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 9, 2024

Contact Information:
Dawn Cross
(314) 865-4100
dcross@schaefferoil.com
 

Schaeffer Manufacturing Co. completes asset acquisition deal with Hicks Oils' lubricant business, guarantees jobs to all employees

ST. LOUIS, MO. (Feb. 9, 2024): St. Louis-based Schaeffer Manufacturing Co. today announced the acquisition of Hicks Oils’ Du Quoin, Illinois, lubricant manufacturing and packaging facility. As part of the deal, Schaeffer has offered employment and benefits to all 40 of Hicks Oils’ existing staff, effective immediately.

“We’ve spent the last few days working with their people to hire them as Schaeffer associates, explain our employment package and reassure them they have a future with Schaeffer,” said Jim Carroll, executive vice president of strategic expansion and product technology for Schaeffer. “They have valuable manufacturing skills and experience to ensure quality and reliable production.”

Schaeffer is a sixth-generation, family-owned company that’s been in operation since 1839. Many of Schaeffer’s St. Louis associates are second-generation associates with family members working with the company. 

“When people join Schaeffer, they often stay with us, and we hope our new Du Quoin associates will have that same experience,” Carroll said. “Schaeffer has steadily grown over the last 25 years, and we have strong customer relationships. The Du Quoin plant will offer us more opportunities for decades, and that means long-term employment for the people working there.”

The Du Quoin plant and associates will continue operating as before, with Schaeffer supporting its customer base. “We’re ready to serve those customers who have depended on Hicks Oils, and we welcome them to Schaeffer,” Carroll said. 

Aside from increasing manufacturing staff, the deal allows Schaeffer to add redundancy to its manufacturing operation.

“Having a plant located in another city ensures we can avoid production disruptions, and buying a plant already fitted for lubricant manufacturing gives us an immediate boost to the number of pounds we can produce,” Carroll said. 

About Schaeffer Manufacturing Co.
Founded in 1839, Schaeffer Manufacturing Co. is a sixth-generation, family-owned company that delivers the right solution to every lubrication challenge. Schaeffer’s products provide strong equipment durability and fuel economy benefits, allowing customers to maximize their equipment’s efficiency and expand profit margins.  

Schaeffer’s engine oils, greases, hydraulic fluids, gear lubes and other specialty lubricants are manufactured in the United States under the brand name Schaeffer’s ® Specialized Lubricants.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 31, 2024

Contact Information:
Matt McGarvey
Executive Director
(515) 554-2908
mmcgarvey@telligenci.org
 

Telligen Community Initiative awards 18 grants
Grants to support nonprofits strengthening families and communities in Iowa, Illinois, Oklahoma and Colorado
 

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (Jan. 31, 2024) – Tellligen Community Initiative (TCI) announced today it has awarded Strengthening Families and Communities – Social Determinants of Health grants to 18 nonprofit organizations totaling $1,017,252. The grantee organizations are located across Iowa, Illinois, Oklahoma and Colorado. 

Since 2014, TCI has funded more than $15.9 million in community-based support to nearly 400 projects in Iowa, Illinois, Oklahoma and Colorado, which are among the states served by Telligen.

“In this cycle of the grant program, TCI focused on supporting nonprofits who are working to decrease health disparities and create innovative solutions to increase physical, mental and social health and well-being for families as well as youth,” said Matt McGarvey, executive director of Telligen Community Initiative. “We are proud to fund these important and timely projects addressing significant challenges, and are hopeful they will result in long-term, positive outcomes.”

The grants will support a wide variety of projects, including addressing maternal and infant health, unique issues facing older youth, children’s mental health, parent education and more, particularly among historically marginalized communities. The Strengthening Families and Communities – Social Determinants of Health grant allocations include:

COLORADO

Child Advocates – Denver CASA  |  $50,000  
Address the gap in individual services for older youth preparing to age out of the child welfare system by providing a CASA volunteer/mentor to youth in the Older Youth Program.

Colorado Perinatal Care Quality Collaborative  |  $74,568
Support the collaborative’s Family Integration to ReStore Trust (FIRST) program that strives to address root causes of material mortality and increase access to culturally relevant, safe and equitable care.

Envision: You  |  $69,875
Provide workshops encouraging adult caregivers of LGBTQ+ youth to create affirming environments and advocate for their safety and inclusion, which are critical to mental health, suicide prevention, well-being and healthy relationships.

The Gyedi Project  |  $75,000
Address the growing inequity in maternal health outcomes through community and individualized education of Black women through use of an interdisciplinary team of Black professionals and community leaders.

ILLINOIS

Brightpoint (formerly Children’s Home and Aid)  |  $75,000  
Through its Doula Program, provide support to high-risk young women before, during and after pregnancy to reduce child abuse/neglect and develop strong parent-child attachments and healthy futures for families.

Elyssa’s Mission  |  $51,215
Help prevent youth suicide and unify Illinois schools in support by expanding its Hope Squad program, which organizes peer-nominated, advisor-trained support teams to identify and reach out to youth showing warning signs.

Shawnee Health Service and Development Corporation  |  $75,000
By expanding its OBGYN clinic doula services, provide education and support to 200 expectant mothers, positively affecting maternal and infant health outcomes.

SIHF Healthcare  |  $50,000   
Establish sustainable medical and mental health services at schools in low-income areas where children struggle due to a lack of medical access created by low social determinants of health.

Youth Crossroads, Inc.  |  $30,000  
Through its workforce development program, provide community health work and youth mental health services training - to first- and second-generation Latina/o/x high school students and young adults.

IOWA

Catherine McAuley Center  |  $28,810
Provide refugee children and families with programming to support physical, social and mental health, including prenatal classes for Afghan women, parent ed classes and middle/high school youth supports.

FAMILY, Inc.  |  $75,000
Through its Healthy Pregnancy Program, provide education and support to low-income pregnant individuals to ensure healthy babies and reduce maternal mortality in the maternity care desert.

Iowa Black Doula Collective  |  $63,200
Improve Black maternal/child health outcomes through doula support for prenatal care, birth, breastfeeding and postpartum; and culturally responsive parenting group support.

Lutheran Services in Iowa  |  $25,000
Through its Early Childhood Home Visitation program, provide family support and parent education for at-risk pregnant women and families with children ages 0-5 to promote positive development and safe, healthy families.

Visiting Nurse Association of Pottawattamie County  |  $20,505
Through its home- and shelter-based Parenting Support programs, which strengthen children and families through a multigenerational focus on maternal and child health, prevention of abuse and neglect, child development and school readiness, parenting skills and family self-sufficiency.

OKLAHOMA

Community Action Project of Tulsa County  |  $75,000
Through its home visit program, train parent educators who meet one-on-one with parents and children. Home visits focus on parent-child interaction, development-centered parenting, and family well-being.

Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Inc.  |  $75,000
Establish Caring Dads program for fathers who have perpetrated violence in their families. This will change its current counseling practices to more effectively include fathers and increase children's safety and well-being.

HopeHouse OKC  |  $30,000
Support families facing homelessness with housing, case management and family-centered programs. Through its hopeKIDS program, offer after-school activities, parent-child classes, mentoring, group counseling and trauma-informed training.

United Keetoowah Band (UKB) of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma  |  $74,079  
Through its PACE Advocate Initiative, serve approximately 150 tribal members within the 14-county tribal jurisdictional boundaries, coordinating tribal and external services to address adverse childhood experiences among UKB children and families.

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About Telligen Community Initiative
Telligen Community Initiative (TCI) is the charitable foundation of Telligen, Inc., a private, nonprofit health care intelligence company. TCI’s mission is to initiate and support innovative and forward-looking health-related projects aimed at improving health, social well-being, and educational attainment. TCI’s funding focuses on project support in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and Oklahoma within the areas of health workforce development and strengthening families and communities. For more information about TCI, please visit www.telligenci.org

 
 

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 29, 2024

Contact Information:
Kevin Fowler
Marketing Director
(855) 805-0595
info@stangelawfirm.com
 

Stange Law Firm, PC attorneys recognized by Illinois Super Lawyers in 2024

Stange Law Firm is proud to announce that attorneys Laura Voegeli, Zoe Arthurson-McColl, Drew Dossett, and Chuk Okereke have been recognized by Illinois Super Lawyers for family law in 2024. Founded in 1991, Super Lawyers recognizes the top attorneys nationwide, across a variety of practice areas and firm sizes.

Team Leader Attorney Laura Voegeli has been named a 2024 Rising Stars Honoree. This is Ms. Voegeli’s second year earning this honor, having been named a Rising Stars Honoree in 2023. The Madison County family lawyer has been with Stange Law Firm since February 2021, starting as an associate attorney before being promoted to senior associate attorney and then Team Leader Attorney in our Maryville, Illinois, family law office in Madison County.

Associate Attorney Zoe Arthurson-McColl has been named a 2024 Rising Stars Honoree. This is Ms. Arthurson-McColl’s first year receiving this honor. The Bloomington, Illinois family law attorney has been with Stange Law Firm since March 2023 as an associate attorney in our Bloomington, Illinois, office in McLean County.

Associate Attorney Drew Dossett has been named a 2024 Rising Stars Honoree. This is Mr. Dossett’s first year receiving this recognition. The Belleville, Illinois divorce lawyer joined Stange Law Firm in January 2021 as a junior associate attorney before being promoted to associate attorney in our Belleville, Illinois, family law office in St. Clair County.

Associate Attorney Chuk Okereke has been named a 2024 Rising Stars Honoree. This is Mr. Okereke’s first year earning this recognition. The McLean County divorce attorney has been with Stange Law Firm since June 2022, starting as a law clerk before obtaining his bar license. Mr. Okereke was then promoted to junior associate attorney and then to associate attorney in our Bloomington, Illinois, family law office in McLean County.

Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process. Peer nominations and evaluations are utilized along with independent research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis. The objective is to create a credible, comprehensive, and diverse listing of outstanding lawyers that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal representation.

Stange Law Firm is a multi-state divorce and family law firm with 25 offices across Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Indiana, and Iowa. The firm was founded in 2007 to provide clients with the compassionate, diligent, and caring representation they deserve when facing difficult family law matters. To schedule a consultation, call 855-805-0595 or email info@stangelawfirm.com. No matter the family law issue, Stange Law Firm is Here to Help You Rebuild Your Life.

Note: The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements. Stange Law Firm, PC is responsible for the content. Headquarters office: 120 S. Central Avenue, Suite 450, Clayton, MO 63105.



 

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