In God We Trust ST. ELMO BANNER Serving St. Elmo and Brownstown Since 1880 St. Elmo, Illinois - Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015 $ 1 Volume 135 - Number 4 www.altnewsban.com Levitt bringing opry to area for 10 years Event Calendar Share the details of your organization’s meeting or event by calling newspaper correspondent Anna Jean Rhodes (618) 829-5488 Tuesday, Jan. 27 6:30 p.m. -- Altamont Opry at Living Museum Wednesday, Jan. 28 1 p.m. -- Royal Neighbors of America #5784, Phillips Building 5 p.m. -- TOPS at Altamont Library Thursday, Jan. 29 Noon -- Exxon Mobil annuitants, Vandalia Ponderosa Saturday, Jan. 31 4 - 7 p.m. -- Soup and pie supper at Mason Civic Center Sunday, 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. Monday, Feb. 2 7 p.m. -- St. Elmo City Council meeting at Phillips Building Buddy Osteen plucks away at an opry show. (submitted photo) BY NATHAN SCHOLES 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 Wednesday, Feb. 4 1 p.m. -- Wright's Corner HCE at Loudon Townhouse 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 Monday, Feb. 9 6 p.m. -- St. Elmo Lion's Club at Mary Ann's Monday, Feb. 16 7 p.m -- St. Elmo School Board at St. Elmo Unit Oﬃce 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 Tuesday, Feb. 3 Thursday, 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. BY NATHAN SCHOLES 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 times. 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 BY NATHAN SCHOLES 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 BY NATHAN SCHOLES 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.
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