By Paul Westermeyer
Staff Reporter | Pontiac Daily Leader
The ever-increasing prominence of the STEAM initiative is usually thought to only encompass or concern schools. But on the local level, the local after-school Boys & Girls Club of Livingston County program has made it an extracurricular activity as well.
On Wednesday, the Boys & Girls Club received eight laptops from Advanced Technology Recycling free of charge, a donation facilitated by the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council.
“What we were looking to do when starting the STEAM program was to appeal to the high school students at the Boys & Girls Club,” said Jodi Martin, the interim chief executive officer of the local youth organization.
“We were brainstorming about ways in which we could recruit teens into the Boys & Girls Club at Fairbury and in Pontiac. So we got in touch with (GLCEDC CEO Adam Dontz) and he reached out to ATR and helped get this setup for us.”
On the importance of technology to the Boys & Girls Club’s broader mission, Martin said that while the national organization was trending in this direction, it was still fairly new on the local level.
“It’s been prevalent across Boys & Girls Clubs across the United States to now focus on the three key priority outcomes, which are academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles,” she explained.
“Within that goal of academic success, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America has 98 programs. But what’s been different here is that we haven’t accessed that much in the past, and now we’re seeing what it takes to be more successful.”
As evidence of STEAM being crucial for a flourishing academic environment, Martin referenced the tech-savvy culture of the junior high students of Pontiac School District 429. Last month, Pontiac Junior High School STEAM teacher Christine Chiodo told the Daily Leader that PJHS was one of 98 schools chosen for the state’s “Students for the Information Age” TECH 2018 event. The PJHS STEAM program also received similar assistance from the GLCEDC.
Martin expressed gratitude to both ATR, for the donation, and to Dontz, for facilitating the gift.
“If it weren’t for Adam and the GLCEDC, we wouldn’t have these laptops,” she said. “He’s really the reason this is happening, and it’s really great that ATR very generously donated to help us kick this off.”
For his part, Dontz commented that the GLCEDC helping out the Boys and Girls Club was in line with his organization’s goals of ensuring a workforce that could readily meet the job market of the future.
“Increasing the knowledge and skills of youth in our area is a critical component to ensuring the the longevity of a high quality workforce,” he said. “The GLCEDC is currently working with the Boys and Girls Club to promote their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programming and we approached one of our members, Advanced Technology Recycling, and requested a donation of laptop computers to help the Boys and Girls Club.
“I’m deeply appreciative of ATR’s generosity and the Club’s commitment to advancing its program offerings.”
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By Luke Smucker
The Daily Leader
February 14, 2018
A new cup of joe is making its mark in downtown Pontiac.
After months of planning and preparation, business owners Scott and Jennifer Cranford and co-owner Marty Fannin opened The Cup and The Scone coffee house, located at 213 W. Madison St., on Feb. 9.
Until he became an owner, Scott Cranford didn’t intend to operate a small business. Initially, he just wanted to work part-time at Starbucks, but after he and his wife came back from a trip to Europe, Jennifer suggested a coffee house.
“Although I’ve been a small business owner before, this is our first foodservice-based business,” she said. “When I lived in Minnesota, I ran a medical billing company for just under 20 years as well as a driving school. I also helped with the business planning of The Blend, a coffee shop in Washington, (Ill.), with my neighbor at the time.”
“So, I had an idea of the business structure of owning a coffee house, but my husband and I are really new to operating one.
Fortunately, we partnered with Marty Fannin, who has been in the industry for more than 30 years. So, all of the foodservice-based information is coming from him. “Together, I think the three of us make quite the team.” Even with an idea and the proper people in place, the business still needed a location.
After a lot of prayers, the idea to buy the location on Madison Street came to Scott during a walk with his wife.
“We were walking down Madison Street and it just came to me,” Scott said. “I wanted to call it ‘The Cup and The Scone’ because I really like old English coffee houses. Although we’re not located directly on the square, we like this location because everybody
seems to drive down Mill Street in front of Bernardi’s II and DeLong’s and most people make that left turn on to Madison
The coffee houses’ rustic interior is made up of ideas from the Cranfords’ daughter, Olivia, and Jennifer Cranford. The owners say they can comfortably seat about 80 people.
“We wanted something with an old English feel, something like you might find in Europe,” Jennifer Cranford said. “We wanted something that is cozy, comfortable and a little timeless. Our daughter, Olivia, is a little more cutting-edge, so she pushed us to go a little bit modern.”
Although the decorating is mostly complete, Scott said there are still a few finishing touches to be added. “We want to give each booth a stretched canvas, which depicts the history of old English coffee houses,” Scott said. “That is my contribution.”
The Cranfords bought the location last September and spent the past five months in construction.
Along the way, both had their fears and doubts. During the rough times, the couple says they looked to one another and God for support.
“There were moments leading up to this, where I was pretty overwhelmed, to say the least,” Jennifer said. “In those moments, I was glad to have my husband with me, he’d always keep me calm.”
“I’ve had my moments, too,” Scott added. “I remember one time when my wife and my daughter walked in here and I was sitting on some of the building materials. The walls had just been tuck-pointed and acid washed and there was dust everywhere.
“We were talking about when we were going to open and all of a sudden, I just remember saying, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me. When are we going to open? I don’t even know when we’re going to get the floor cleaned.’”
In the darkest moments, the Cranfords say Fannin always knew how to find the answer.
“Marty would stop us and say, ‘let’s pray about it for 10 minutes.’ Every time we prayed about it, someone came through for us — it has been very humbling,” Scott said.
The coffee house’s signature roast is a five-bean blend called Black Velvet, which features rich caramel notes.
“It is good hot, but it gets better cold and it’s great at room temperature,” Scott said. “A lot of people will tell us, ‘I need cream and sugar,’ but then they take a couple drinks of Black Velvet and they’re OK drinking it black, I have never seen anything like it. I tell people all the time, ‘adding cream and sugar to this coffee is kind of like adding ketchup to a steak at a restaurant.’”
When it comes to coffee, the owners say there isn’t much they can’t make. Their specialty is a Kyoto cold brew. Kyoto is a traditional Japanese cold brew that is never heated.
“It takes 10 to 12 hours to make, but I can get unbelievable flavors out of it — like nothing you’ve ever had before,” Scott said. “You’ve heard of craft brews before? This is craft coffee. I think we’re the only ones who offer a Kyoto south of Chicago.”
The coffee house also features a number of baked items to complement their coffee.
“I don’t want to compete with Pfaff’s Bakery because I love it so much,” Scott said. “However, I like scones and I wanted to bring that European feel to this place by offering some scones and muffins to compliment our coffee.
“Our baker, Anna, has knocked it out of the ballpark since we opened. People are coming to get so many scones that we have used up what we thought would be enough scone mix to last us three weeks.”
They also offer a gluten-free option for those with food restrictions. “We want people who are on a gluten-free diet to be able to enjoy our food,” Scott Cranford said. “We want people who are eating a gluten-free muffin or scone to feel like they are eating the real deal.”
The Cup and The Scone is open Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“We don’t want this to be a place you only come once per week,” Scott said. “We want people to come and hang out here with their kids. This isn’t another restaurant where we want you to eat and leave, we are hoping you will stop on in and stay a while.”
For more information, search for “The Cup and The Scone” on Facebook, or visit thecupandthescone.com.
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STREATOR — Recent years have seen the job market trend increasingly toward careers requiring skills in computation, engineering and manufacturing, and the desire for education to meet those demands has expressed itself in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics academic discipline.
And Woodland High School is putting itself ahead of the curve, becoming the first school district in Livingston County to implement a STEM curriculum for all its grades, K through 12.
But ambitious programs such as these require a bit more than sheer determination and sweat — they need a serious capital investment.
That’s where the beneficence and patronage of Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council, along with Country Financial and Streator Onized Credit Union, is crucial: after the GLCEDC helped procure a seed grant of $31,000 for Woodland, the insurance agency and the bank pitched in as well.
With the investments, Ryan McGuckin, superintendent of the Woodland School District, said that Woodland had teamed with Texas Instruments to add its line of TI-Nspire series of graphing calculators to the school’s repertoire.
He believed that the science teachers and math teachers had been able to utilize such technologies to “revolutionize the curriculum,” making it even ready to tackle “the 22nd Century” when it arrives.
Hannah Cox, the STEM teacher at Woodland, works with the grant equipment and gave a specific accounting of its impact in the classroom.
“My students get to learn about things that they don’t necessarily get to see in an everyday chemistry class or an everyday math classroom,” she said. “They get to build it … They get to see how it actually works on a small-scale, and how it should work on a large-scale.”
A project that Cox is particularly excited about is the arrival of futuristic Texas Instruments TI-Innovator Rovers, purchased by the school due largely to the largesse of Country Financial.
“With Country Financial, they were able to give us money to buy what are called Texas Instruments Innovator Rovers, which are these little robots that we’re able to use with the calculators we have now,” she said, explaining that the Rovers could essentially be piloted once connected with a calculator.
“It’s really cool and I’m really excited about it,” she added.
Kevin Derossett, the representative of Country Financial of Dwight whom Cox had first approached about procuring cutting edge tech, said humorously that today’s technology made him nostalgic for a time when “you could make a computer screen flicker like a strobe light.”
On a more serious note, though, he said Cox’s enthusiasm was “inspirational” and a “great opportunity to give back to the local community.”
Lori Christopherson, a representative of SOCU, added that her employer is pitching in for consumable supplies for Woodland.
“We were told that they needed consumable products so … we found out what that need was,” she said. “We wanted to make sure we were giving back to the community in that regard.”
In addition to the recent bequests from SOCU and Country Financial, McGuckin also expressed gratitude to the GLCEDC for helping kick off Woodland’s significant expansion of its STEM curriculum.
“If not for the generous grant from the (GLCEDC), we couldn’t do this,” he said.
CEO Adam Dontz said that after the initial grant, which he likened to a seed, was planted, he was encouraged that other community organizations and businesses helped the school bear fruit.
“I think we were the initial contributor to help Woodland really develop its STEM program, and what I was really pleased by was that from our initial contribution, not only has Woodland received additional benefit and partnerships with Country (Financial) and SOCU, but then they’ve also brought in other local businesses like Iberdrola and others.
“I was happiest to hear from what Ryan conveyed is that, stemming from what we did, it has really become a community effort.”
The Daily Leader
By Paul Westermeyer
January 18, 2018
Posted in: Local Jobs/TrainingNewsNewspapers
Baily Stipp and Cameron Price, measure the temperature of a greenhouse they made in the STEM class, which was funded through donations from the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council, Country Financial and SOCU.
Woodland instructor Hannah Cox’s students are learning about things they don’t necessarily get to see in an everyday math or chemistry classroom.
Since the beginning of the school year, students have worked with greenhouses, wind energy, model rockets, model towers and skyscrapers, among other items.
With the help of the community, Woodland Unit 5 has become the first kindergarten through 12th-grade district in Livingston County to offer STEM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
Cox teaches the high school STEM class, which currently has 11 students in it who must meet math and science requirements to qualify for the class.
“We’ve done a lot,” Cox said. “Right now we’re in the middle of energy consumption based project, talking about solar power with wind . … They actually get a lot of free reign and they get a lot of hands-on. They get the benefit from using their own thought processes and learning about using what you have to make something greater. It’s very interesting to see how things turn out. They all work really well together.”
The Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council contributed $31,000 for the initial purchase of classroom equipment, and Country Financial and SOCU have contributed financial support as well.
“The economic development council has worked with three school districts for STEM funding,” said Adam Dontz, of the council. “The funding requires three components: professional development, curriculum development and purchase of equipment for STEM training. Woodland has put together a program to do just that.
“We were the initial contributor to help Woodland kick off,” Dontz continued. “From our initial contributions, not only has Woodland gotten help from SOCU and Country Financial … stemming from what we’ve began, it has really turned into other community members helping as financiers and guest speakers. Our funding wasn’t meant to be ongoing. (It was) provided to accelerate implementation of STEM program at Woodland.”
The lessons high school students learn in their classroom trickle down to the rest of the district’s 550 students as well. The high school students go into elementary classrooms to pass on some of the concepts they have learned, and math and science teachers incorporate some STEM concepts into their curriculum for junior high students.
Another component of the program is that people in the community with STEM-related jobs will come to Cox’s class on a regular basis to talk about what they’re doing.
Cox is excited about Rover robots that Country Financial will fund, which will allow the robots to perform tasks through commands from a calculator.
“When Hannah came to me, it inspired me,” said Country Financial Agent and Woodland alumnus Kevin Derossett. “I remember when computers were first coming out and we thought the flashing green light on the screen was cool. It’s a great opportunity for my company to give back and as an alumnus of Woodland, this is where my heart is.”
Money contributed by SOCU is being used for consumable supplies for the curriculum.
“With our presence in Streator, Dwight and Livingston County, we are thrilled to give back to the community,” said Lori Christopherson, of SOCU
The district has contributed $10,000 and teamed with Texas Instruments to purchase items from the Inspire series such as probes and thermometers that are used on a daily basis.
“Over the next few years the school will have a trainer come once every other month that shows teachers not only how to use the equipment but also expand the equipment use,” said Superintendent Ryan McGuckin. “Really, we could do none of this without the contributions of the community and Livingston County.”
Posted in: NewsNewspapers
November 22, 2017
OSF HealthCare – Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Peoria, IL – November 22, 2017) – OSF HealthCare has reached an agreement with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) to ensure patients have uninterrupted access to extensive high quality, in-network, medical care and services, including pediatric, neurologic, and cardiovascular care. All OSF HealthCare hospitals and services will continue to be in network now and in the New Year.
“We are pleased to have finalized a continuation of OSF HealthCare’s relationship with BCBSIL that ensures patients and families have in-network access to the treatments and services they need,” said Randy Billings, senior vice president of population health. “We realize this situation caused concern for our patients and families, and appreciate the support and patience of local businesses and community leaders.”
OSF HealthCare hospitals and providers are in-network caregivers for BCBSIL today, and will remain in network moving forward into 2018. This includes BCBSIL Commercial, PPO, EPO, and Blue Choice products that BCBSIL terminated previously. For a complete listing, visit www.osfhealthcare.org/blue.
OSF HealthCare has been recognized by Blue Cross and Blue Shield for quality and safety, earning several distinctions including Blue Distinction Total Care and BlueStar Status.
OSF HealthCare is ranked in the top 20 percent of large health care systems in the country by Truven, an independent health care analytics research company and OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report among the top 50 pediatric facilities in the U.S. in two pediatric specialties.
Additionally, OSF HealthCare has been recognized as one of the Most Wired systems in the country for six years in a row, and has been named a Top ACO by Becker’s.
About OSF HealthCare: OSF HealthCare is an integrated health system owned and operated by The Sisters of the Third Order of St.
Francis, headquartered in Peoria, Illinois. OSF HealthCare employs nearly 19,000 Mission Partners in 115 locations, including 11 hospitals – 7
acute care, 4 critical access – and two colleges of nursing throughout Illinois and Michigan. Its physician network employs nearly 1,200
primary care, specialist physicians, and advanced practice providers. OSF HealthCare operates an extensive network of home health
services; owns OSF Saint Francis, Inc., composed of health care-related businesses; and OSF HealthCare Foundation, the philanthropic arm
for the organization. OSF Innovation, ranked among the top 10 innovation centers in the country, is located in Jump Trading Simulation &
Education Center. More at www.osfhealthcare.org.
[CLICK to read entire press release in PDF format]
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