Pete Hughes is one of LaFayette’s favorite sons. Most of us oldsters know about his college basketball exploits, when he was the nation’s leading scorer, I believe it was, at Blackburn College.
Pete went on to a successful career as a school superintendent and professor. In recent years Pete and his wife Carol have been leading a regular mission to a city in Russia, where they support a church that works especially hard to reduce the scourge of alcoholism.
Pete wrote this past week in response to my column about Christmas traditions. He pointed out how fortunate we are to have been born in the United States, where our special times at Christmas are possible, where we have warmth and clean drinking water, luxuries not available in much of the world.
Pete reminds us starkly of our good fortune through the recent mission to India of his nephew Peter, son of John Hughes, another favorite son of LaFayette.
Peter is a veterinarian who went to India to sterilize dogs, which are apparently overrunning cities in that sprawling country of more than a billion people.
Peter wrote the following to his uncle:
“This morning I went with the dog catchers again. Our last trip got me into the alleyways of the old city [Mumbai, I think]. Poor, filthy, and bustling. Tents and cardboard boxes on piles of garbage. Pigs and rats rummaged through the refuse as did small children with no shoes.
“I’m sure there are places just as bad in other places, but I can’t imagine worse.
“I watched a little girl chase some pigs off a garbage pile and start grabbing the bits of food out of the old wrappers and plastic bags.
“She wasn’t headed to school today.”
Peter goes on to wonder “why we weren’t born in an Indian garbage pile? Smart choices? Sacrifice? Hard work? No. Plain dumb luck.
“So when you see that Powerball and wonder what it would be like to win the lottery, stop and realize. . . .you already have!”
Economic development director Denny Rewerts and Jenny Garner, the latter of the University of Illinois Extension, have taken the lead in creating a leadership academy for Stark County. Over the next five weeks, 14 county residents will participate in a series of Friday morning sessions on topics such as collaboration, ideas and opportunities for Stark County, and managing meetings, among other topics.
Those who have signed up include Barb Cantwell, Theresa Macy, Ann Orwig, Ben Leezer, Tom Howes, Amanda Bickett, Andy Jackson, Melissa Nogode, Judy St. John, Al Curry, Michael Horn, Rachel Horn, Scott Salisbury and Mary Kooi.
Among those presenting to the academy participants are Bob Mueller, Jenny Garner, John Leezer, Mike Bigger, Don Schmidt, Brian Rewerts, Tony Rolando of the state Department of Commerce and Economic Development, Sally Pepper, Jerry Klooster, attorney John Redingshafer of Peoria, Josh Barbee, Denny Rewerts and Rich St. John.
Sponsors for the academy include the Wyoming, Speer and Toulon banks and the Leezer Agency.
Maestro Bruce Polay is bringing first chair clarinetist Eric Ginsberg and violoncellist Carolyn Suda from the Knox-Galesburg Symphony to the News Room Bistro on Sunday, February 10 at 3 p.m. for a rich musical program of works by Poulenc, Kabalevsky, Bernstein, Polay and Tajcevic.
What a great way to warm the soul on a winter’s afternoon.
Admission is just $5 and all students are free. Sweets will be served at half-time.
Sponsors of the program include the State Bank of Speer, Bob and Julie Mueller, Mike Bigger, and Mike and Pat Stahl.