September 27, 2017

CARTERVILLE — A story that went viral on the John A. Logan College Facebook page received more attention last night during the College’s board of trustees meeting.

The story was about three-year-old Blakleigh Camden of Murphysboro who is battling cancer. She made a wish early this month hoping that she could be the bat girl for the John A. Logan College softball team.

Head softball coach Taylor Orsburn was moved by the request and immediately made room on the team for Blakleigh. Last Friday, Blakleigh — who had just completed a chemo treatment — served as bat girl for the Lady Vols.

There were tears and cheers throughout the game.

A story about Blakleigh’s wish, posted on the John A. Logan College Facebook page, was read by nearly 50,000 persons and shared by readers hundreds of times.

Orsburn was asked by Dr. Ron House, president of John A. Logan College, to share the story with the board of trustees Tuesday night.

“It was awesome,” Orsburn said. “She (Blakleigh) even threw out the first pitch.”

Players and coaches from other teams in the softball tournament hosted by JALC at the softball fields of Marion High School were also moved by Blakleigh’s story and helped raise nearly $1,500 for Blakleigh and her family for expenses associated with travel to and from St. Louis for cancer treatments.

Those attending Tuesday’s board meeting applauded Orsburn and her team for the compassion they showed Blakleigh and her family.

“This is the kind of good that an institution like John A. Logan College can do in the community,” House said. “The little girl’s wish was to join the softball team for the day. Our wish for Blakleigh is for a long, healthy life and the continued love and support of her family and friends.”

Tuesday’s meeting began with a moment of silence in memory of Gladys Belle McLaughlin, the mother of board of trustees member Cheryl Graff, who passed away Monday. McLaughlin, 96, was a Murphysboro resident and a retired nurses aide.

Graff attended Tuesday’s meeting. Board of Trustees Chairman Bill Kilquist called for the moment of silence.

Dr. Ray Hancock, a member of the JALC board of trustees, noted that Gene Stettler, a longtime Williamson County educator and father of Greg Stettler, a JALC employee, passed away Sunday.

JALC Student Trustee Timothy McDaniel noted that a student-led effort raised money for Jason Stutes, the 2017 Faculty of the Year award recipient, who is currently battling cancer. More than $400 was raised through a dunking booth during Southern Illinois Hunting & Fishing Days held Sept. 23-24.

Alarmed by what he described as a backward step in reporting sexual assaults on campuses nationwide, Kilquist called for the board of trustees to call on College attorney John Huffman to draw up a resolution to support current and stricter sexual assault reporting on Logan’s campus. The board was unanimous in its support of the resolution.

Board of trustees member Mandy Little discussed a one-day meeting of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association held at Heartland Community College in Bloomington. Little said there was major discussion about reversing declining enrollment which has been a major concern of colleges and universities throughout Illinois. Enrollment declines have been a direct result of the state’s ongoing budget crisis.

Board of trustees member Jacob “Jake” Rendleman, who also represents the John A. Logan College Foundation, discussed a $1.5 million donation to the college left through the will of the late James and Rosemary “Dee” Childress of Carterville. “This is the largest donation in College history,” Rendleman noted.

Rendleman also discussed a new campus grants program whereby the Foundation will grant money to noteworthy programs on campus. There is currently an application process for programs seeking money that can be obtained through the Foundation.

Rendleman also talked about a new scholarship offered by Ameren.

The Foundation will also host a dinner celebrating the College’s 50th anniversary on Nov. 3. All employees, current and past, are welcome to attend at no cost. Reservations to attend, however, are required.

A memorial service will be held for longtime law enforcement officer Tom McNamara, who led the effort to create a meth conference at JALC and battle the meth problem in Southern Illinois. The service will be held on campus on Oct. 1 from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Speakers include Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Congressman Mike Bost.

The board also approved a construction bid for Adult Basic Secondary Education classroom upgrades; revisions to a number of board policies, including security camera policy, emeritus status, purchasing, and grading system.

The October board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.

A number of personnel hires were made.

A 2.11 percent pay increase for non-teaching professional employees was approved, which is also the increase for employees represented by the Teamsters and Laborers.