​​Children’s Museum of Illinois is Growing! $3 Million Donation from The Howard G. Buffett Foundation Supports Construction of Heroes Hall, Law Enforcement Addition

(DECATUR, Illinois) - Children’s Museum of Illinois, 55 South Country Club Road, announced its new addition, Heroes Hall on Wednesday, July 20, 2017 at a 5 pm news conference.

Children’s Museum of Illinois is adding a 7,000 sq. ft., two story addition, containing permanent exhibitions focused on highlighting the importance of law enforcement and the heroic work officers do on a daily basis. Heroes Hall will feature interactive experiences for kids of all ages. This expansion is made possible by a generous $3 million donation from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

“We are an educational facility with the unique opportunity to educate in a fun and interactive way,” says Amber Kaylor, Executive Director of Children’s Museum of Illinois. “I can think of no better way to use that opportunity than to educate children about the heroic work our law enforcement officers perform daily. The Howard G. Buffett foundation has partnered with us to bring this opportunity to life. We are extremely thankful.”

”Children’s Museum is a great community asset for the greater Decatur area, which is one of the reasons why this is such a great place for families,” said Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of The Howard G. Buffett Foundation. “Less visible is the role local law enforcement agencies play every day to keep our communities safe. Our hope is this new exhibit enhances this valuable community asset while bringing much needed recognition to the individuals and organizations that make the quality of life here in Macon County so high.”

Children’s Museum of Illinois is expanding partnerships with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, Decatur Police Department, and Decatur Park Police to create programming which will build relationships between children, parents, and local law enforcement officers.

Ed Culp, Chief of Decatur Park Police said, “I’ve had the distinct honor of serving the community I was born and raised in for the last 27 years. Through that time, law enforcement has been perceived by the public nationally in a positive and negative tone. However, here in Decatur/Macon County I have been proud to serve with some of the finest men and women in law enforcement to ever wear the badge. Their positive impact on our community is reflected in the addition being brought to our children, by the Children’s Museum of Illinois and The Howard G. Buffett Foundation”.

Kaylor also stated, “The Heroes Hall addition to Children’s Museum of Illinois in conjunction with increased partnership with Scovill Zoo will aid in creating a regional destination and improving the quality of life for Decatur and surrounding communities.”

The addition is scheduled for completion in the Summer of 2018.

For more information about the Museum,visit:

Conservation District Awarded Grant For Friends Creek Conservation Area Addition  

 The Macon County Conservation District has been awarded a grant of $368,280 from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to add 90 acres to Friends Creek Conservation Area. 
     As of June 30, this grant adds 90 acres to the north side of the existing 526 acre Friends Creek Conservation Area near Argenta, IL. 
     The Rannebarger Trust managed by Gerber State Bank previously owned the property.  In late 2016, they sought out the Macon County Conservation District as a potential buyer because they wanted to give back to the community, and recognized the added benefit the property would have for people because it already adjoined Friends Creek Conservation Area.
     The community can look forward to several benefits from this addition to Friends Creek Conservation Area, all of which will be passed on to future generations:  
    The addition expands existing wildlife habitat, protects 2 more miles of Friends Creek shoreline, and provides space for additional trails and outdoor recreation such as hiking, cross country skiing, bird and wildlife watching, and creek fishing.
     $10,000 of the grant will apply towards natural area restoration.  Just because an area looks ‘natural’, does not necessarily mean it is healthy habitat.  A diverse array of native plants and animals are essential for maintaining well-balanced ecosystems.  Natural area restoration works to bring those elements back into balance.  It often involves removing invasive plant species, and replanting native trees, flowers, and grasses. 
     “The most important thing about this expansion of Friends Creek Conservation Area is the ability to protect the creek itself,” says Paul Marien, Executive Director.  “Clean water and clean air are key to survival for both wildlife and people, and this creek is a tributary that feeds Lake Decatur, the public water supply for the City of Decatur.”
     Existing amenities at Friends Creek Conservation Area include the only public campground in Macon County, 3.5 miles of trails, the historic one-room Bethel School, and a variety of habitats including prairies, forests, and savanna. 
     Friends Creek Conservation Area is one of several Macon County Conservation District sites open to the public all year round for educational programs, family events, and outdoor recreation.  
    For more information about Friends Creek Conservation Area or the Macon County Conservation District, visit maconcountyconservation.org.

Decatur Barn Colony Artists To Be Featured In Exhibit By Logan County Arts And The Lincoln Art Institute July 13-August 5

  Decatur’s Barn Colony Artists will be featured in the July 13-August 5 exhibit by Logan County Arts and the Lincoln Art Institute. The show will debut with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 13, at the Lincoln Art Institute, 112 S. McLean St, Lincoln.
    After the initial reception, the gallery is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00-4:00 p.m. July 15-August 5. Additional viewing times may be arranged by calling the Lincoln Art Institute at (217) 651-8355.
    The display of 80 works of art include watercolor and oil paintings, multi-media, drawings, and photography from Decatur artists Ann Brunson, Phil Cooling, Miguel Durban, Shirley Fahs, Stephen Gardner, Ken Moser, Dianne Spaniol, and Jim Spaniol. Each artist is showing multiple works, most of which are available for purchase.
    Highlights about each of these award-winning artists include:
    Ann Brunson has been interested in art from a young age saying, “As a kid I was always drawing or making paper dolls.” In this show, she is featuring a colored drawing titled Cat 1. Although her family members are dog owners, Brunson often includes a cat in her altered reality works featuring diagonals, strong designs, and multiple colors.
    Phil Cooling is creative with a variety of media including acrylic, oils, and wood from realistic to abstract viewpoints. He says, “Lately I have been trying to evoke a thought or emotion with my paintings. Just stand back and let your mind wander as you look. I’m not going to tell you what you might see, that’s for you and you alone.” “Seeking” was created without using a paint brush. See if can you guess what tool was used.
    Miguel Durban took up drawing, then painting with oils and using other media including charcoal. Durban says, “I paint almost every day, often from photos or sometimes just from my imagination.” His featured work, done with oil and a palette knife, is titled Sunny Day at the Creek. This view of nature is favored by Durban because of its combination of colors and the form of the trees.
    Shirley Fahs is showing water colors, drawings, and a unique collage made of match covers and acrylic titled The Fire Within. Fahs contacted friends who contributed match covers featuring long-gone restaurants like Elam’s root beer stand, The Blue Mill, and Shenanigans. This one-of-a-kind piece also includes an historical political cover, “Re-elect Hosapple”, a former Macon County Sheriff.
    Stephen Gardner, a college student, joined BCA a couple years ago after meeting members at an art show. He works with acrylics on canvas, many with a different-world look. His favorite work for this show is titled Flowers, and is a close-up view of a flower cluster. Gardner who has been interested in art all of his life says, “Some of my earliest memories are drawing silly pictures with Crayola markers.”
    Ken Moser launch-ed into art by taking a watercolor workshop by Rob O’Dell. Moser also paints with gauache (opaque watercolors), oils, and acrylic. His favorite for this show is a watercolor of realistic wisteria blossoms fading to more impressionistic leaves and background, a subject from his own yard.
    Dianne and Jim Spaniol often return from photo shoots with totally different perspectives in their 10 years of sharing photography as a hobby. Dianne Spaniol’s favorite for the July show is called Architecture. This nighttime shot of the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, which crosses Nashville’s Cumberland River, draws the viewer deeper into the bridge and highlights often overlooked colors reflected upward from Music City’s neon lights.
    Jim Spaniol is featuring colorful guitars in a photo taken at a street market in San Antonio, TX. He says, “Since I play the guitar, these caught my attention. I love this colorful form of my favorite instrument.”
    Information on the next exhibit is available at the Barn Colony opening . That August exhibit of works by LCA members is themed “Color Me Blue.”  Non-members may also show artworks in this exhibit by paying a small display fee.  Anyone interested in participating may contact Moses Pinkerton or Mitch Douglas (630-890-1318) for more information.
     Some BCA artists started or returned to art after retirement including Ann Brunson who said art took a backseat to her career, but she picked it up after retirement when she joined Barn Colony Artists (BCA). Ken Moser says, “I retired from work and decided to learn how to create artwork.” 
    Miguel Durban, who took up drawing at age 54 in his homeland, Spain, credits BCA’s weekly instructional meetings with guiding him forward.               

    For more information about the Barn Colony Artists, started in 1939, send an email to barncolonyartists@gmail.com.

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