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In God We Trust
Serving St. Elmo and Brownstown Since 1880
St. Elmo, Illinois - Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015
Volume 135 - Number 4
Levitt bringing opry to area for 10 years
Share the details of your organization’s meeting or event by
calling newspaper correspondent Anna Jean Rhodes
(618) 829-5488
Jan. 27
6:30 p.m. -- Altamont
Opry at Living Museum
Jan. 28
1 p.m. -- Royal Neighbors of America #5784,
Phillips Building
5 p.m. -- TOPS at
Altamont Library
Jan. 29
Noon -- Exxon Mobil
annuitants, Vandalia Ponderosa
Jan. 31
4 - 7 p.m. -- Soup and
pie supper at Mason Civic
Feb. 1
Please attend the
church of your choice.
The St. Elmo Food
Pantry is requesting area
churches to celebrate
Super Bowl Sunday, Feb.
1- individuals attending
church services are asked
to take a can (or more) of
soup that will be donated
to the food pantry.
Feb. 2
7 p.m. -- St. Elmo City
Council meeting at Phillips Building
Buddy Osteen plucks away at an opry show. (submitted
For 75 years, Altamont
native Chuck Levitt has been
a musician, playing among
others, the fiddle, banjo, and
guitar. His love of music led
him to begin the Altamont
Opry, which in April will
celebrate 10 years of showcasing musical talent from all
around the area.
Levitt was born to play,
and got his start early.
“When you were old
enough to play two or three
chords, you were put in a
band,” he stated.
Levitt, whose career was
spent as a manufacturing
engineer and manager in the
plastics business in the Chicago/Wheaton area, stated
that while he loves music,
the life of a professional music swayed him away from
pursuing that full-time.
“It’s a hard life with the
travel… and there’s not payback in it, especially now,”
he explained.
Levitt stated that while
many people consider professionals to be the ones who
make records and have their
names in lights, he stated
that to play four times per
month would count one as
a professional to a person in
the business. He has done
his fair share of travelling.
To this day, he still is
involved in musical projects,
including playing with Larry
Eyman and the Country
Club Band out of Keysport,
Ill., and playing fiddle for
the Mountaineers based out
of Martinsville, Ill.
As one would expect,
music is not only a big part
of his life, but is a big part
of his family’s life also.
His wife Shelby plays the
guitar and sings, his three
daughters all sing, and his
grandchildren are musicallyinclined, as well.
As for establishing the
12 p.m. -- Friendly
neighbors meeting at Phillips Building
6:30 p.m. -- Altamont
Opry at Living Museum
7 p.m. -- Council of
Catholic Women at St.
Mary’s Catholic Church
Parish Hall
Feb. 4
1 p.m. -- Wright's
Corner HCE at Loudon
5 p.m. -- TOPS at
Altamont Library
Noon -- St. Elmo Business Association, Mary
Ann’s Restaurant
1:30 p.m. -- Wheatland
Unit of HCE
7 p.m. -- St. Elmo
Women’s Civic Club at
St. Elmo Library
Feb. 9
6 p.m. -- St. Elmo Lion's
Club at Mary Ann's
Feb. 16
7 p.m -- St. Elmo School
Board at St. Elmo Unit
opry, Levitt said that he had
been involved in local opries
when he got the idea to start
his own in Altamont. With a
group of friends, including
Buddy and Judi Osteen and
Bruce Kessler of Altamont,
Dwight and Glynnis Wright
of St. Elmo, and Bob Ingram
of Edgewood, the show
opened around April 1, 2005.
The shows are run as
closed-stage, open mic
events. Solo or loose groups
of musicians can take the
stage to play a few songs.
Official bands sometimes
perform, as well.
“People come up, sing
their songs and then go sit
down. They get their few
minutes of fame. If a band
comes in, we’ll let ‘em play a
little bit,” Levitt said.
Musicians of all ages and
•see OPRY pg 9
Bruce Kessler strums and sings for the crowd at the Altamont Opry. (submitted photo)
Local grad Pontious tackles Broken Skull Challenge
Feb. 3
Feb. 5
From left, Bob Ingram, Vickie Ingram, Shelby Levitt, Chuck Levitt, and Buddy Osteen
share their musical talents with the crowd. (submitted photo)
Nate Pontious will appear on Stone Cold Steve Austinʼs
Broken Skull Challenge on Feb. 22.
For Altamont native Nate
Pontious, pushing himself to
the limit physically is what
drives him.
“I’m constantly looking for that next adrenaline
rush or looking for that next
level that I can take myself
to,” the ACHS class of 2009
graduate stated.
That search led him to
audition for Stone Cold
Steve Austin’s Broken Skull
Challenge, a competitive
reality show that pits participants against each other in
physical battles of strength
and endurance for a $10,000
prize. After a four-month
audition process, Pontious
was selected as a participant
for the current season.
A few months after high
school graduation, Pontious
signed up for the United
States Marine Corps, something that his father and
grandfather had both done.
“My dad did it. My
grandpa did it. I knew I
wanted to serve, too,” he
said. His military stint took
him all over the world, to
places including Djibouti,
Oman, Hong Kong, Jordan,
and Afghanistan multiple
He was honorably discharged about a year ago
and knowing that he wanted
to work in fitness as a trainer, he headed to the Pacific
coast, settling in downtown
Los Angeles.
“I wanted to go somewhere where people were
into fitness, warmer places
where people are at the
beach. So it was California
or Florida,” Pontious said.
A few months ago, he
saw a flier advertising the
show. Always striving to
challenge himself physically,
he figured that he would answer the call. He continued
through the audition process
where he was grilled on not
only his fitness, but also his
toughness. He stated that he
was told that while many
try to impress the show staff
with examples of fortitude,
he was one of the few that
scared the interviewers.
As the process continued
and he had a feeling he may
be invited to participate in
the competition, Pontious
stated that he began more
serious preparations. He
watched episodes of the
show, and seeing the beating some competitors took,
decided that he had best
•see PONTIOUS pg 9
Brownstown board accepts St. Elmo seniors
heading for Chicago
Stine’s retirement agreement
In their regular meeting on Wednesday, Jan.
21, the Brownstown Community Unit School District #201 School Board
accepted the irrevocable
retirement agreement
of physical education
teacher Sandra Stine. She
will retire in two years.
Superintendent Adam
Bussard informed the
board that the proposed
pension cost shift, which
would shift the “normal”
cost of pensions from the
State of Illinois to the individual districts could cost
the board $130,000 per year.
He also informed members
that he will be attending the
Joint Leadership Summit
in Springfield, which is an
opportunity to gain professional development while
also providing a chance to
meet with lawmakers.
The board approved:
--the continuation of the
confidentiality of closed
session minutes prior to
Dec. 31, 2014;
--the preparation of a
letter to the Brownstown
Teacher Association and
the Brownstown Educational Support Personnel
Association to inform
them of the possibility of
the reduction in force for
the 2015-16 school year;
--the supplemental
levy resolution to cover
QZAB interest
At the regular session of
the St. Elmo school board,
the board approved the
senior class trip to Chicago
pending the class meeting
fundraising goals. They have
raised approximately 70 percent of the funds necessary
for the four-day trip.
A tentative schedule was
provided to the board by
Mr. Somodi. The plan is for
the students to depart on
the morning of Wednesday,
April 29 and return Saturday, May 2. Events planned
include a narrated boat
cruise, a Blue Man Group
performance, shop the Magnificent Mile, play whirlyball, attend a Cubs baseball
game, and visit the Museum
of Science and Industry and
Millenium Park. Mr. Somodi
stressed that the plan is tentative and subject to change
due to the availability of
funds and other factors.
In other business, the
board also approved an
interfund loan of $20,535.20
from the education fund to
the bond and interest fund
and approved the employment of Tom Fedrigon as
varsity softball coach for the
2014-15 school year.