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Three Alumni Honored at CHS

Commander J. Shannon Parker, Don Beckemeyer, and Dr. Nancy Evers sit before the presentation.

Three Centralia High School Alumni were honored during an assembly on Friday at the Centralia High School Gymnasium. 

Class of 1980 member Don Beckmeyer, Class of 1964's Dr. Nancy Evers, and Class of 1992's Commander J. Shannon Parker Jr. were all honored for their various accomplishments.

Don Beckemeyer currently works as a Mechanical Engineer for NASA. An Irvington Native, after high school he went on to graduate from SIU Carbondale after a stint at Kaskaskia College. He later went on to work for NASA as a Deputy Director of Engineering, a Systems Engineer, and a Project Manager. He worked on the mission management team for 2 space shuttle flights and received NASA's Spaceflight leadership award. He currently works on the SLS, or Space Launch System, NASA's state of the art new space vehicle. He challenged students to get involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

"I challenge you to look for opportunities to make a difference in your own lives. In your circle of friends. In your community. In your future," said Beckemeyer.

Dr. Nancy Evers, a renowned educator, graduated from Illinois State University before moving on to get a masters and doctorate degree from the University of Wisconsin after high school. She became a college professor at the University of Cincinnati, and has served as the president on the University Council for Educational Administration and served as the Invited Chairperson of the National Commission on Women in Educational Leadership. She encouraged students to follow their dreams.

"Today, I want to encourage you to dream, and to dream big. To envision a better world that you would like to see for yourselves and others in the future," said Evers.

Naval Fighter Pilot Commander J. Shannon Parker was the youngest of the honorees. He served the country after graduating from Vanderbilt and Indiana University as a Naval Aviation Commander. Commander Parker flew over 200 combat missions in Iraq and received four Navy Commendation Medals and an Air Medal. He currently serves at a naval base in Jacksonville, Florida. He quoted Theodore Roosevelt during his speech.

"Theodore Roosevelt once said 'Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing'. [Teachers] countless hours preparing students for the rest of their lives is greatly appreciated," Parker said.

The three had their plaques unveiled after their speeches. They will be hung on the distinguished alumni wall next to famous Centralians such as former White House Press Secretary James Brady and former US Senator Roland Burris.

The renovated clubhouse plans on display during the meeting.

Steve Whritenour addresses the audience.

The Greenview Golf Club is under new ownership and is months away from a full-scale renovation that will bring new amenities to the golf course south of Wamac. Centralia Police Sergeant Steve Whritenour and his family purchased the golf club after the clubs current manager approached Whritenour while playing golf this July.

Whritenour plans a slew of new renovations.

"We're actually going to add about 2,000 square feet to the clubhouse and fully remodel this place. There is not one inch of this building that won't be new in 2015. There's going to be a new pro shop, new bathrooms, an indoor golf simulator, a new kitchen, dining room, full banquet room and restaurant," Whritenour told WJBD.

Joanie Norville, a former bar owner who is currently employed as a cook at St. Mary's hospital, will own the restaurant side of the clubhouse. The restaurant will be called "Fairways" and will be opening in March with the rest of the clubhouse.

"I want it affordable, and I want to do more home cooked meals and have daily specials, we're not really into the big steaks, we want it to be more affordable" said Norville.

Whritenour plans to break ground on the facility next month. He invited members of the public to the current clubhouse to weigh in on his plans for the course on Thursday.

The man who called in a fake bomb threat to the Saline County Courthouse in Harrisburg was arrested on Friday.

22 year old Tevin Tate of Carrier Mills was arrested by the Saline County Sheriff's Department and is being held on charges of Falsely Making a Terrorist Threat and misdemenor possession of cannabis.

The case is under investigation and more charges are pending.

The bomb threat was first called in on Friday, November 14th before the courthouse opened. The Secretary of State Police Bomb Squad along with Saline County Sheriff's deputies swept the building and found no evidence of a bomb, and deemed the building secure. 

The President of Star Buildings is pleased with the work force the company has found in the region.  

David Alexander said they opened the office in Salem specifically because they could not find quality workers in Oklahoma City with its extremely low unemployment rate.    Salem was selected as a site for a new office after a Sandoval native, Dan DeKalb, was asked to help solve the quality worker issue.   Alexander said DeKalb met with Kaskaskia College and determined there could be a quality work force from graduates of the Kaskaskia and Rend Lake College drafting programs.   

Alexander has been pleased with their welcome.

"It was one of the easiest decisions we ever made. We have 13 people hired in a matter of two months and some hooks out there to hire about...8 to 10 more" Alexander told the chamber.

Alexander said they also plan to have an internship program with Kaskaskia College.  He noted they may outgrow their facility in a portion of the Modern Woodman building at Schwartz and Jefferson Streets, but joked they knew a company that could provide them with a new building.  

Star makes between three and four thousand individually designed steel buildings a year for commercial use and churches.  They work with about 1,100 builders across the U.S. and don't sell direct to the public.  Alexander explains the role of those being hired for the Salem office.

"They are the last line of defense that I have before we actually have a disaster or a successful project. These detailers are doing everything and our plant is manufacturing exactly what they say...they have to shoulder quite a bit of responsibility" said Alexander.

Alexander promised the company is here to stay and many employees, like himself, have never worked for another company.  DeKalb said with a lot of summer overtime, employees can make $40,000 a year.  

Alexander and DeKalb spoke at the Salem Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon meeting on Thursday.  

Formal charges were filed Friday in Jefferson County Court against a husband and wife duo who allegedly beat a three year old child. 

28 year old Michael Belmont of Mt. Vernon was charged with a Class X Felony count of Aggravated Battery of a Child as well as an additional, lesser felony count of Aggravated Battery to a Child, as well as Aggravated Domestic Battery. If convicted, he could spend up to 30 years in Prison. 

His wife, 27 year old Kaysie Belmont, was charged with a misdemenor count of Aggravated Battery of a Child as well as Domestic Battery. She could face up to five years in prison.

Both are said to have struck a three-year old relative, causing great bodily harm.

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