Dave Hinton: Oakwood brothers among those to thank for return of festival

Jul. 1—Every community has people who make things happen — organizers who get involved. Brett and Bruce Harrison are among those in Oakwood.

The Harrisons are part of a committee that organized a first — the daylong Fourth of July-themed celebration along the Kickapoo Rail Trail. It's a first as to its location that provides more elbow room. Previous celebrations have been centered at Oakwood Park.

Maybe the Harrisons got their volunteer inclination from their dad, John, who is the mayor of Fithian, where they grew up.

"Why do we like to get involved? It's definitely not for the glory," Brett Harrison said with a laugh. "Fourth of July's always been big in Oakwood. COVID kind of killed it. The feeling is somebody needs to drive it. We just want to see something good happen in Oakwood."

Other members of the organizing committee are Dawn Ann Price, who is president, Brett's wife Maria, Bart Huchel and Doug Wangler.

The celebration takes place today as Oakwood was one of the communities to get a head start on the weekend.

A parade, vendors, children's games, bands, a Jeep show, bounce houses, bags tournament, EMT and fire truck display, a medical helicopter landing and a return to an Oakwood tradition — commode races — fill the bill. And of course, fireworks, which are village-funded.

Unlike the races of yore when competitors built their own commodes for the race, these commodes are identical with three people pushing and one riding.

"I was actually in the first commode race when I was in high school," Bruce Harrison said, "and we won the thing," racing a commode built by the Jaycees.

Harrison and his fellow racers were the teens who made up the Oakwood school mile relay team that took third place at the state track meet that year. The team was in good shape to push a "porta potty."

Proceeds from this year's races go to the Oakwood Salt Fork Wrestling Coop, which organized the event.

Village President Robert Wright said the committee was formed in January and engaged in discussions with the village board and staff.

"They began discussions with the village (myself and Trustee Cathi Fritz) months ago in hopes this could be the start of an event that will take place on either Saturday prior or after the 4th as an independence festival that maybe one day is along the lines of the Broom Corn Festival in Arcola," Wright said.

The goal: have everyone come together and celebrate the nation, "our patriots, our military and our freedom," Wright said, adding this will be "a building year."

Bruce Harrison said he and his brother have been involved in volunteer activities for quite a while. Both have been active in youth football, Little League and other community-related endeavors.

Bruce now serves as youth football league president.

Brett, 55, owns The Liquor Box in Oakwood and is in sales.

Bruce, 60, is a clinical application specialist for Varian Medical Systems, "the largest company in radiation oncology."

Electrician apprentices become journeymen

Members of IBEW 601 electricians were among 50 East Central Illinois residents who recently graduated from their union apprentice training programs, earning the title of journeymen.

This is the second of three weekly items listing some of those graduates.

IBEW 601 members who earned the advancement are Jeremy Wemer, Steven Thomas, Anthony Feit, Chris Eisenmenger, Devon Mitsdarffer, Nathan Lewis, Brad Waller, Anthony Mabrey, Michael Robledo, Kort Davies and Dylan Melvin.

Kingren crowned Fair Queen

Maci Kingren will reign over this year's Ford County Fair.

Kingren was crowned fair queen at Monday's pageant by 2022 queen Gracelyn Greenburg.

A 2022 graduate of Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School, Kingren, 19, of Paxton, is a daughter of Bobby and Olivia Kingren and Laura and Tom Proctor.

She is a student of the University of Illinois through Parkland College's Pathways program and is majoring in agribusiness.

Named first runner-up and Miss Congeniality was Isabelle Kinder, 18, of Paxton.

A 2023 graduate of PBL, she is a daughter of Tim and Stephanie Kinder.

Also competing were Abigail Sizemore and Hailey Whipple.

A 20-year-old Gibson City resident, Sizemore will be a senior at GCMS High School this fall. She is a daughter of Mark and Gena Sizemore.

Whipple, 17, of Gibson City, will also be a senior at GCMS High School in the fall. She is a daughter of Holly Hawn.

4-Hers landscape Paxton park

A landscaping project was recently completed at Paxton's Pells Park, and Walltown 4-H Club members are the ones to thank. All materials were purchased with grant money, and all labor was volunteer.

CSC golf couting set for July 14

Community Service Center, Rantoul, will hold its annual charity golf outing Friday, July 14, at Willow Pond Golf Course, Rantoul.

Registration runs from 11 to 11:45 a.m. at the golf course or on Eventbrite. Mulligans may be purchased at registration. They will also be used to award door prizes. Pre-register by July 7.

Cost is $300 per four-person team, which includes greens fees, cart, prizes, a snack bag and lunch provided by Willow Pond. There will be prizes, door prizes and proximity contests.

Community Service Center is a private non-profit social service agency that serves Champaign County.

First responders honored for saving a life

Tolono Fire Protection District honored 13 responders for a cardiac arrest save June 21.

Those honored included one METCAD 911 telecommunicator, three Tolono Fire personnel, three Savoy Fire personnel, four EMS providers from Arrow Ambulance and one Tolono police sergeant.

Emergency personnel were notified a 42-year-old female was having a seizure and later she was not breathing. CPR was started via prearrival instructions by METCAD Telecommunicator Theresa Fuller.

When Tolono Fire Chief Chris Humer arrived on scene, he found the patient in cardiac arrest with Police Sgt. Jeffery McCracken doing chest compressions.

EMT Ann Haluzak and EMA Carson Kleparski arrived and assisted. McCracken rotated in to do CPR along with Tolono Fire personnel. Arrow Ambulance paramedics Aidan Taylor and Brad Smith and EMTs Bailey Smith and Chase Morgan arrived to assist with patient care.

Due to low manpower and the patient being bariatric, Savoy Fire was requested. Engine 453 arrived with Chief Doug Varner, Lt. Alex Tran and firefighter Bryden Francoeur.

Through their efforts, the patient was resuscitated, beating the odds. The chances of a positive outcome in the field during a cardiac arrest is just 5 percent.

It marked the second time a life-saving award had been given at Tolono Fire Department.

On Saturdays, we tip our hats to academic award-winners from our area.

Submit information at dhinton@news-gazette.com.

Honor roll


University of Iowa (Iowa City) — Kaitlin Shoviak, St. Joseph; Madeline DeCoste, Farmer City.

McKendree University (Lebanon, Ill.) — Kameryn Kresin, Tuscola; Maclayne Taylor, Ogden.


University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) — Sophie Happ, Monticello.

Milwaukee School of Engineering — Matthew Ziegler, Mahomet.

Heartland Community College (Normal) — Jasmine York; Eli Mononnnier, Bismarck; Phoenix Bieber, Jenna Brandt, Jenna Brandt, Morgan Fortune, Andrew Heiberg, Michael Oswald, Karlee Pruser, Shanell Thompas; Katie Volker, Clinton; Sadie Christensen, Gibson City; Danielle Black, Danielle Bogle, Macy Gerth, KaiNani Kastor, Kira Lindstrom, Kristi Lindstrom, Ethan Matlock, Kelsey Nava, Jaron Pinkerton, Natalie Popp, Brenda Roseberry, Joshua Sexton, Kathyn Toohill, LeRoy; Rebecca Vannarath, Mahomet; Alexis Butsch, Monticello; Aaliyah Denius, Oakwood; Caroline Bachert, Taylor Joop, Tolono.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.) — George Moore, Mahomet.

Campbellsville University (Campbellsville, Ky.) — Alexander Lewis, Danville.

University of Mississippi (Oxford, Miss.) — Dalton Glynn, Monticello.

University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) — William Martin, Molly Potter, Lily Skiles, Champaign; Caroline Bogen, Danville; Ella Curry, Bridget McMullin, Loda; Janey Watson, Rachel Wingle, Mahomet; Henry Dawson, Monticello; Ava Mills, Eve Owens, St. Joseph.

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point — Alayna Reynolds, Sadorus.

University of Wisconsin (Madison, Wis.) — Jake Allen, Sofia List, Eliza Loechel, Champaign; Claire Webber, Monticello; Kai Ebata, Urbana.

Mississippi State University (Starkville, Miss.) — Ainsley Jessup, Mahomet.

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale — Cassie Peters, Crescent City; Madison Eberle, Gibson City; Christopher Catron, Macy Hayes, Samuel Hudson, Hoopeston; Madalynne Chocola, Rossville; Haylee Ketchum, Watseka; Erica Mills, Clinton; Anthony Fanelli, Gavin Melton, LeRoy; Chris Cross, Rachel Gatewood, Alyssa Pankau, Urbana; Trinity Stroisch, Bement; Kyle Watkins, Bismarck; Kiley Knoll, Broadlands; Kacy Clarkston, Ashton Sawyer Sr., Catlin; Aaliyah Ballard, Emily Dowell, Cerro Gordo; Jessica Cristobal, Ashley Nelson, Curissma Coleman, Allie Harge, Brad Holt Sr., Gabriel Haynes, Kendall Johnson, Emmanuel Sanchez Gonzalez, Champaign; Morgan Klover, Cisco; Andrew Barnes, Tony Barnes, Grace Hance, Izabel Juarez, Lucio Torres, Emma Bogen, Aidin Stuhr, Danville; William Schmidt, DeLand; Abby Bolen, Farmer City; Logan Briggs, Angelica Cullotta, Bryson Pacunas, Fisher; Fiona Ely, Homer; Olivia Bunting, Jacob Creel, Oleksandr Jockush, Athena Mills,Britta Slupski, Sophia Slupski, Nicholas Uken, Mahomet; Tristan Fox, Garrett Kepley, Nicholas Mittelbrun, Owen Nowak, Monticello; Mady Moore, Aubrey Wells, Oakwood; Will Thompson, Philo; Joei Younker, Potomac; Hannah Combs, Ryan Grieser, Rantoul; Braden Clampitt, Tessa Stokes, St. Joseph; Conner Branch, Savoy; Phillip Hartke, Sidney; Liam Alt IV, Abby Goad, Tolono; Cara Johnson, Weldon; Sarah Rafferty, Arthur; Coej Foster, Kaitlynn Snelling, Alyssa Thompson, Kley Will, Sullivan; Lucas Burnett, Luauren Farley, Hannah Hornaday, Noah Woods, Tuscola; Tommie Hooker, Villa Grove.

University of Iowa (Iowa City) — Abigail Warner, Tolono; Eleanor Fuller, Elizabeth Jackson, Champaign; Jarret Lents, Cerro Gordo; Nicholas Morrow, Mahomet; Taylor Knott, Champaign.

McKendree University (Lebanon, Ill.) — Ryan Drayer, Rankin; Keegan McCarty, St. Joseph; Maurice Mendenhall, Mahomet; Jacob Rich, Paxton; Connor Thomason, Mahomet.

Loyola University (Chicago) — Cody O'Conner, White Heath.