I’m happy to report that Peoria’s “Mr. Baseball,” Pete Vonachen, is on the mend. Pete fell at home recently and broke his hip resulting in surgery at OSF St. Francis. Following recovery from the operation, the 86-year old Vonachen was transferred to Proctor Hospital to begin rehabilitation. This was Pete’s second rehab visit to Proctor in recent years. He was transferred there over a year ago after doctors removed part of a leg due to diabetes. It’s interesting to note that Pete served on the St. Francis Advisory Board for many years and still attends meetings where his opinions are highly valued by everyone.
Pete continues to amaze people with his positive mental attitude. When I visited him he was sitting in a chair talking with close friend George Shadid who himself had major surgery recently. Pete proudly announced that he had just walked to the nursing station and back for the first time. He was wearing the usual infectious smile and trading funny lines and comments with everyone.
When one visits with Pete the conversations always touch on a variety of interesting stories, some humorous, some serious, and some downright fascinating. The latter could describe his story about the late Paul Cation. An attorney with strong influences in the Republican Party, Cation wound up in federal prison in Marion, Illinois. After a period of time, Vonachen related, Cation was given the job of providing orientation to new prisoners. He was surprised when he sat down face-to-face with new fellow inmate, the great Pete Rose. Yes, the Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds, “Mr. Hustle.” Rose asked Cation where he was from. When Cation said Peoria, Rose immediately asked, “Do you know Pete Vonachen?” Why is it so many people ask, when they learn you’re from Peoria, if you know Pete Vonachen? I’ll tell you, it’s because the man is loved and respected all of the country.
MORE GOOD NEWS!
As I mentioned, former state Senator George Shadid was visiting Pete when I stopped in Room 324 at Proctor. George was in St. Francis the same time Pete was just two doors away. George had surgery on his throat. Surgeons removed a growth the size of a golf ball he told us. The growth was analyzed as all such masses are. Doctors later told Shadid the growth was not cancerous. That was good news. Strangely, the mass that was removed was made up entirely of … cholesterol. Now that’s a medical revelation. Doctors said research indicated they could find only one other similar medical case on record. Meanwhile, George looks and sounds wonderful.
As president of the Woodruff High School Alumni Association, I’m proud to announce the awarding of $1,000 scholarships to eight former Woodruff students now attending other District 150 high schools. Winners of the scholarships are Tina Washington of Manual and Peoria High students Jemia Carpenter, LaCorsica Metts, Taylor Rusk, Kyle Santos, Jalisa Smith, Salina Thomas, and Shaina Vongphouthone. The students and their parents were honored guests at the alumni association’s annual spring banquet in the Commons at Woodruff.
Counselors at Manual and Peoria High are to be commended for their splendid cooperation. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for Richwoods. The lack of cooperation at that school only hurt those Woodruff students who had no opportunity, through no fault of their own, to apply for scholarships.
It was interesting to read each of the student applications. Virtually all of them made comments about the love they had for Woodruff and their former teachers. Too bad Laura Petelle, Linda Butler and Debbie Wolfmeyer could not read what the students wrote so they could learn how much emotional damage they caused by voting to close Woodruff. On a positive note, one Central student wrote, “In this Lion beats the heart of a Warrior.”
You probably read details about the confrontation between a Peoria High female student and music teacher Denise Adams. Ms. Adams’ husband, Lee Wenger, a gentle and friendly guy, came to his wife’s defense and paid a heavy penalty. We’re told Wenger has been banned for life from entering or attending any District 150 event anywhere in Peoria and perhaps the world by administration. We’re also told the student was not penalized. Some District 150 teachers say they have never heard of such a heavy penalty assessed against anyone in the history of Peoria education.
The Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame held its 31st Annual Induction Banquet on Sunday, April 1. No fooling. Over 400 people attended the event at the Civic Center and applauded as Chuck Buescher, Al Carius, Dave Golden, Howard Nathan, and Carl Stutzman were inducted along with the 1988-89 Central boys basketball team, 1989 and 1991 Farmington girls softball teams, and the 1994 Eureka College men’s basketball team.
Al Carius was recognized as one of the most successful cross country and track and field coaches in the country. The North Central College coach, who hails from Morton, has seen his teams win 13 national titles along with 37 consecutive College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Cross Country Championships. Former Peoria County Board member Bill O’Brien was present for the event. His son, Michael, was a pole vaulter for North Central from 2001 to 2005. Michael is in the U.S. Air Force, stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, where he serves as Chief of Civil Litigation for court martials. He recently spent six months in Iraq. Many other personal stories were shared at tables throughout the room.
Those beautiful apartments and condos at Cape Cod Village in Morton are for sale for a cool $17.3 million. That means the 200 units are priced at over $86,000 each.
Meanwhile, the Medicine Shop at the Oak Cliff Plaza on North Knoxville has been sold to HyVee. HyVee closed the business and reportedly hired former owner Bob Antonacci for its Sheridan Village store.
The Obama administration sponsored a strange public relations stunt. After defunding and demolishing America’s highly successful and world leading space program, the White House sponsored a highly promoted flight of the space shuttle Enterprise to New York City. The shuttle, which never ever entered space, was carried by a 747. Despite the economy and the high cost of fuel, White House officials apparently gave approval for the plane and its “passenger” to circle New York City for almost an hour before landing. Not a single news network questioned the cost of the flight.
WITH “THE LEFT”
“The left” is busier than ever now that they helped elect Barack Obama president. Hopefully, the country will elect a more moderate Mitt Romney as president in November. Churches have been fighting the radical left for years in the ongoing battle to retain traditional values. Bishop Daniel Jenky gave a recent homily critical of President Obama and some Catholic liberals suffered intellectual seizures over his remarks.
Liberal faculty members at Notre Dame University responded by demanding that the Bishop either apologize or resign. My two word homily to the Irish liberals in South Bend is “Butt out.”
In 1906 Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote a biography about Voltaire saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Today, the liberal left’s response to those they disagree with is, “Apologize or resign.” Everyone should read Michael Connelly’s evaluation of Obama care. Unlike Obama, whom the media claims is a former professor of constitutional law, which he never was, Connelly is a constitutional attorney. If you read it in its entirety, you will agree with Bishop Jenky.
As a long-standing member of the Methodist Church, I recognize the liberal forces within my own denomination led by such leftists as Jim Winkler. Winkler and others of his ilk function within the Board of Global Ministries are making six figures from contributions made by unsuspecting Methodists. Winkler, who once came to Peoria (unfortunately), has been calling for the Methodist Church to quit investing in Caterpillar because the company does business with Israel.
Fortunately, Reverend Bob Phillips, Directing Pastor of First United Methodist Church, strongly supports Caterpillar. “Divestment as a tool to influence foreign policy is a bad idea and that is a position I have held long before coming to Peoria,” Phillips said to members of our church. Winkler and his associates have for many years represented left-wing positions against the U.S. government especially when George Bush was president.
Peoria County board member Andrew Rand has resurrected an old idea about saving money. He’s suggested eliminating the offices of Recorder of Deeds and Auditor, both held by elected officials. We’ve heard this idea before. What Rand fails to acknowledge is the costs will remain almost the same, just better hidden. People will still have to do the work. Staff will have to be added, raises given for additional work each year, and most importantly, there’ll be a significant lack of accountability. If the Auditor or the Recorder of Deeds screws up, citizens can vote them out. What happens if you push those responsibilities to those in appointed positions? You won’t even know who to go to complain unless it’s the county clerk. This is a bad idea and should be rejected ……again!
Since Rand is looking for ways to reduce costs he might resurrect another idea. Remember when the League of Women voters led the “Nine Is Enough” campaign for the county board? He might want to try that idea on for size. It was fairly popular in its day. Here’s another suggestion for Rand to consider. Reduce the pay for board members. It’s a small part-time job with little to do other than attend committee meetings and a once a month full board meeting. Board members hardly ever receive phone calls like city council folks except when a hot zoning issue develops and those are rare. Committee chairpersons make over $10,000 a year while others “earn” close to $9,000. Not bad for one or two meetings a month. But reducing board pay will never fly for obvious reasons even if cutting salaries could save $1 million over 10 years.
BAD MONTHLY QUOTE
“I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” —Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice
(And she’s voting on Obama Care?)
BEST MONTHLY QUOTE
“Confuse a liberal with facts.”