Wednesday, May 18, 2011

‘Hometown Heroes’ honored

Richard Billington, a resident of ASTA Care Center, listens as awards were given to 28 “Hometown Heroes” during a reception Wednesday. Eighteen agencies were honored at the reception, which was held in conjunction with National Nursing Home Week.
By Peg Reynolds
Pontiac Daily Leader
Posted May 12, 2011 @ 09:07 AM

Pontiac, Ill. —
ASTA Care Center of Pontiac recognized 18 “Hometown Heroes” at a 2 p.m. reception Wednesday at the nursing home.
Activity Director Kathy Finkenbinder was the organizer of the event that honored 18 Pontiac, Livingston County and state officials and volunteers.
Most organizations were represented by at least one person. They were presented with a certificate and a goodie bag filled by nursing home residents. Inside the bag was a thank-you card, an American flag pin, and “a bunch of lifesavers, because they are lifesavers in this community,” said Finkenbinder.
“It’s our way of giving back to the community and letting them know we are part of the community,” she said. Honorees sat on one side of the main dining room as residents and staff filled the other side. Finkenbinder shared reasons why each agency was being honored and what they did to assist the residents and staff at the nursing home.
ASTA Care Center Administrator Lorrie Stogsdill and Social Service Director Tisha Harty handed out certificates and gifts as Finkenbinder talked of each organization’s service to the nursing home and the community.
Those honored were:
• Emergency Disaster and Service Agency “for their quick, informative manner in which the response comes from the agency for emergencies and disasters,” said Finkenbinder. Chuck Shopp accepted the award.
• Pontiac Street and Alley Department “for getting our staff to work during the snow storm and keeping the streets open,” she said. Chris Brock accepted the award.
• St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry “for keeping the community fed and helping those in need,” she said. Evelyn Ribordy and Jane Kuerth accepted the award.
• Alfa Troop 2nd 106 Calvary Unit National Guard for “serving our country and helping out in disasters,” said Finkenbinder.
• WJEZ, Todd Lowery and Kent Casson, for “always keeping the community informed of weather alerts,” she said.
• Livingston County Coroner Michael P. Burke was honor for things he does “without being aware of what he does,” said Finkenbinder. “He reaches out to the younger generation, stressing the importance of safe driving and the use of common sense — such as promoting that the youth not take on habits that would cause a terrible outcome.”
• Livingston County Sheriff Marty Meredith was honored for his service, which was accepted by Chief Deputy Marvin R. Rutledge and Sgt. Earl Dutko. The department was honored “for combating the drugs in this area are commended. The continuing education of his officers will only enhance their job performance.”
• Betty Ester, a promoter of the city of Pontiac, was recognized for “placing Pontiac on the official tourism map,” said Finkenbinder. “People from all over the world come to visit our town. For that we are very grateful. Those groups of tourism helps to promote business, families moving her and our economy.”
• Del Estes Education Center honor was accepted by his widow, Betty and their son, Dave Estes. “Del had a dream, a goal and a strong drive to get the museum in place,” she said.
• Livingston County Food Pantry was recognized and volunteers Joan Bevill, Gwen Voytas, Grace Weaver, Betty Decker, Heather Robertson, Pastor Carolyn Bavaro and Edna Mae Rutherford.
• Duffy Ambulance Service award was accepted by Joe Stock, Brenda Matuszewski, Tina Diemer and Andrew Krominga. However, Matuszewski and Diemer had to leave abruptly when an emergency call came in during the awards.
• Pontiac Police Department was honored “for all of your efforts, keeping us safe and the continued education to both the officers and the community,” said Finkenbinder.
• Pontiac Fire Department for “always meeting the needs, for the 911 calls, fires, accidents and disasters, and for putting yourself at risk to help others,” she said. The award was accepted by Officers Jim Woolford and Jim Morgan.
• Paul Ritter, Pontiac Township High School ecology and science teacher, was honored for his “outstanding efforts educating the students, community and the all-out efforts for the P2D2 program,” she said.
• Danny Jarrett was in Springfield and could not be present. Accepting the honor on his behalf was his wife, Linda Jarrett. He is the president of the AFSCME Local 494 and was honored “for his continued support for the employees of the prison, the unselfish hours of work for the union and helping with the fight to keep the Pontiac Prison open,” said Finkenbinder.
• Scott McCoy was not present, but was honored ‘for his outstanding efforts, outcome and endless time that he spent as mayor during the flood.”
• State Police District 6 was not present, but was recognized for “keeping us safe and protecting and guiding us,” she said.
“They are like the Three Musketeers — when you need help you call on a Three Musketeer to come to your side,” Finkenbinder said of the 18 agencies. “We thank them whole-heartedly for all their efforts and dedication. We are a strong community because of those folks.

Barickman praises students’ support

Joy Butler
State Rep. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, left, spoke with students at Pontiac Township High School about the upcoming Illinois Senate Environmental Committee meeting this week on House Bill 2056, which PTHS students worked to have passed earlier this year. With Barickman are students Joshua Faust and Lanora McCune, who worked on the legislation and will be working on the Senate passage.

By Sheila Shelton
Pontiac Daily Leader
Posted May 10, 2011 @ 09:50 AM

Pontiac, Ill. —
State Rep. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, met with some students at Pontiac Township High School Monday morning to discuss the help they provided in getting a bill passed recently in the Illinois House.
It was House Bill 2056 that expands the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program (P2D2) in Illinois.
Some of the same students who testified earlier this year before the House Environmental Committee will be returning this Wednesday to testify before the Senate Environmental Committee that is now considering the House Bill.
“I appreciate what you students have done. You came to Springfield and brought this issue to us,” Barickman told the students. “You guys have brought this to the forefront. Thanks for all you have done and are continuing to do. You guys are well on your way to becoming active, caring citizens.”
“You guys have reached out to your legislators,” said PTHS ecology and science teacher Paul Ritter. “There are people that will never understand what all you have done to make a change in the world.”
House Bill 2056 which passed the House by a 110-0 vote April 7 after its introduction in February was co-sponsored by Barickman. This bill would assess a $20 fee on those convicted of drug-related offenses, which would be used to fund disposal of prescription drugs.
P2D2 provides for safe disposal of antibiotics, antidepressants, birth control pills, seizure medications, pain killers, tranquilizers and cholesterol lowering medications.
P2D2 was originally a program developed by Ritter and his PTHS students to be used in Livingston County. It has since then been utilized and adopted by schools all over Illinois and in various states throughout the United States. The program has won national acclaim and awards as means of ensuring preventing medications from ever getting back into the drinking water supply. There are several locations around the area where disposals of prescription drugs no longer needed can be made.
Student Josh Faust said that students are now working on starting the P2D2 program in Hawaii by contacting police officers and health departments to get the ball rolling.
“You students have participated in the largest grass roots program in our lifetimes,” said Ritter. “You guys are changing your world and standing up for the things you believe in. We once heard in December 2007 this couldn’t be done and now look at what you have done.”
“You will see this go through the Senate committee and then it pass to the full Senate and goes on to the governor for his signature,” said Barickman.

2011 SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Environmental Excellence Awards Rewards Kids Making a Difference

--Parks Grant $80,000 to Support Youth-Driven Eco-Projects from New York to Nebraska--
By: PR Newswire
May. 13, 2011 10:00 AM

ORLANDO, Fla., May 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- From coordinating coast-to-coast bake sales to help endangered sea turtles to building a floating classroom, kids and educators across the U.S. are designing creative ways to conserve the world we share. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment awarded eight youth-driven environmental groups with a SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Environmental Excellence Award during a special awards ceremony at SeaWorld Orlando April 29. Each winning group received $10,000 to fund their efforts. Since 1993 the company has awarded $1.8 million to nearly 160 individuals, youth groups and schools.
The 2011 award recipients include:
Cooking Up Ways to Help Endangered Sea Turtles - North Carolina
Casey Sokolovic is using her baking skills to help threatened and endangered sea turtles. Through her awareness program, "Help Them L.A.S.T. - Love a Sea Turtle," she bakes and sells turtle-shaped sugar cookies and lemonade to raise money in support of turtle conservation efforts. She created the "Great Bake for Oceans' Sake," a coast-to-coast bake sale that encourages people to bake and donate the proceeds to an ocean conservation organization.
Amphibians in Crisis - Nebraska
There are close to 6,000 known species of amphibians, almost 2,000 are threatened with extinction. To help researchers better understand the crisis, the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb. created the Amphibian Conservation Education Project. Little was known about amphibian populations in Nebraska. The program gets Omaha-area students involved in conducting statewide amphibian surveys that provide information to state researchers.
Fighting the "Purple Plaque" - Nebraska
Purple Loosestrife, an invasive plant, is a constant threat to the wetlands around the tiny town of Niobrara, Neb. To combat this "purple plaque," Niobrara High School biology students breed armies of Galerucella beetles, which are placed in areas to feed on Purple Loosestrife. The students' work has resulted in increased vegetation diversity in wetlands that were once infested.
A Floating Classroom - Virginia
The Elizabeth River is one of the most polluted rivers that terminate in the Chesapeake Bay. The Learning Barge is a "green" vessel created by the University of Virginia School (UVA) of Architecture and The Elizabeth River Project to inform, inspire and engage riders and participants to help make the river safe for swimming and fishing by 2020. The barge's features include a floating wetland nursery, power systems run by sun and wind, compost toilets, hand-washing stations that use rain water, a seining pool to enclose fish for study, oyster floats, habitat cubes, an underwater camera and enclosed classroom. Since its creation in 2006, more than 10,000 people have been aboard learning what they can do to support the river's restoration.
Disposing Pills, Disposing Problems - Michigan
Pontiac Township High School students are leading the charge to educate the public on the environmental dangers that improperly disposed prescription and non-prescription pills and drugs have on a community's water supply. Through their Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program (P2D2), the students not only educate the community but also provide alternative disposal methods, ranging from how to properly throw away controlled substances to how to coordinate drop-off locations. The program has expanded to more than half of the 102 counties in Illinois. The program's sponsor, Pontiac Township High School teacher Paul Ritter, was named as an Outstanding Environmental Educator by the National Science Teachers Association.
Saving the Creek - West Virginia
The Friends of Deckers Creek (FODC) Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is an award-winning, self-driven youth group whose mission is to increase youth participation in helping clean up decades of environmental degradation in Deckers Creek in north central West Virginia. Their efforts include trash cleanups, educational outreach programs and fundraising. Over the past four years, YAB has worked diligently to secure more than $20,000 in funding for their projects.
Keeping Watch Upstream - New York State
The Environmental Study Team (EST) encourages and assists youth people in upstate New York to be active in the monitoring and improvement of their local environment. The students help assess and document the physical, chemical, and biological properties of freshwater streams, particularly along the Schoharie Creek and Mohawk River, and present their findings to the public and local government. The team also has discovered and reported previously unknown sources of pollution.
Green and Growing - Pennsylvania
Inspired by their new LEED-certified building, Green Valley Elementary School faculty and students created the "Green and Growing" program. The program includes green challenges to encourage students and their families to recycle and conserve water and energy at home, the creation of an outside green zone complete with trees, a wetland meadow and grasslands, and an outdoor classroom with amphitheater-style seating overlooking a nature trail.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, a portfolio company of The Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX), operates 10 parks across the U.S. including SeaWorld parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio; Busch Gardens parks in Tampa, Fla. and Williamsburg, Va.; Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando; Sesame Place near Philadelphia, Pa.; and water parks Adventure Island in Tampa and Water Country USA in Williamsburg. The 10 parks play host to 23 million guests each year and employ 20,000 people nationwide.
A global leader in animal care and conservation, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment cares for more than 60,000 animals including 200 endangered or threatened species. This commitment to animals benefits animals around the world. The company has rescued more than 18,000 orphaned, injured or ill animals over the past four decades and contributed more than $50 million to conservation, wildlife rescue and environmental stewardship programs worldwide. The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund -- a non-profit, 501(c)3 charitable foundation -- has granted more than $7 million to support hundreds of projects around the world. For more information, visit
SOURCE SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

PTHS students hope for P2D2 program expansion

By: Kent Casson | 2 weeks ago
St. Rep. Jason Barickman talks with PTHS teacher Paul Ritter on Monday (photo by: Kent Casson/WJBC).
State Representative Jason Barickman is joining Pontiac Township High School students in urging the senate passage of a house bill, which expands the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program in Illinois.
On Wednesday, the senate will consider House Bill 2056, which would assess a $20 fee on those convicted on drug offenses. The money would be used to fund disposal of prescription drugs.
PTHS student Amber Brunskill made a video about the P2D2 Program, which originated in Pontiac.
“We went down to the Illinois House and it really got be interested. I have been involved in P2D2 across the state with Mr. (Paul) Ritter,” said Brunskill.
Student Beth Guelde has worked with P2D2 for the past few years.
“Last year, we introduced it to the Caterpillar Plant, which then introduced the program into some new states. I have seen it grow pretty far. This year, we are introducing P2D2 in Hawaii and Alaska too,” said Guelde.
Barickman addressed some PTHS students on Monday morning, saying he is impressed with their efforts to help protect the environment. Barickman says he is proud to do his part of help expand the worthy program throughout the state.

National Take Back day will accept your old prescription meds

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

By Lindsay Vaughn

When not disposed of properly, old prescription medications can leach into the environment or be found and abused.
The Bureau/Putnam County Community Partners Against Substance Abuse and local law enforcement agencies are taking a proactive approach to preventing these problems by participating in National Take Back Day.
Citizens can bring unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs to the Princeton Police Department for the collection event 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
The national program is a U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration initiative. The Princeton Police Department is hosting the local event for CPASA.
“It’s kind of a derivative of our P2D2 program, but the DEA is on board now and that really helps a lot,” said Princeton’s Deputy Chief Allan Beaber.
P2D2 — a prescription drug disposal program — has given Bureau and Putnam county residents a safe place to get rid of unwanted prescription meds since last summer. Through a partnership with CPASA, the Princeton Police Department, Spring Valley Police Department, Bureau County Sheriff’s Department and Putnam County Sheriff’s Office have provided secure drop-off boxes in their stations.
After Saturday’s event, the DEA will collect and dispose of any drugs Princeton police collect.
“This is one day when anybody and everybody can bring their drugs into the police department. It will be secured and stored, and a day later the DEA will come and transport it and incinerate it for us. There’s no cost to the police department or anybody,” said Beaber. Another one-day event will be held this fall, Beaber added.
About two weeks ago, the DEA picked up more than 1,300 pounds of pills that the Princeton Police Department had already collected.
“We had one room back here that was just filled with boxes and bags of unused and outdated prescription drugs. 1,300 pounds. Look how much of that is not in our water system, not in our land, and there won’t be the opportunity for a person to take those and abuse them,” said Beaber.
According to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 7 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, and every day, about 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time, according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America.
A majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.
On the first-ever National Take Back Day last fall, law enforcement agencies throughout the country took in more than 121 tons of pills.
At that time, CPASA was still getting local agencies started with the ongoing P2D2 program and couldn’t participate in the national event, but CPASA coordinator Dawn Conerton is excited to take part now.
“We’re still going to be doing the ongoing program throughout Bureau and Putnam counties, but this is a program where we can support the DEA and the DEA supports us,” Conerton said.

Students Spur Legislation To Keep Drugs Out Of Waterways

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) – Whether you use prescription drugs properly or abuse them, a group of students is emphasizing that landfills and waterways are no place for the unused pills.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Dave Dahl reports, Paul Ritter, a science teacher at Pontiac High School downstate, told a state House committee that his students originally developed the P2D2 Program. P2D2 is short for “Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal.”
LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Dave Dahl reports

“These are students who have put their hard work and effort and the blood, sweat and tears,” Ritter said. “You’ll also notice there’s a piece in there called the medicine chest. The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant thought so much of these kids that they took their curriculum and presented it, and published it.”
Students from Antioch Community High School were also involved in creating the program.
HB 2506 would allow law enforcement personnel to collect prescription drugs from residential sources and burn them. It has already passed out of a state House Environmental Affairs Committee and is now going before the full state House.
It is meant as an alternative to flushing unused prescription drugs down the toilet, thus contaminating waterways and marine life.

Pontiac Students Showcase Growth of P2D2 Program

PEORIA - When the P2D2 prescription pill and drug disposal program started four years ago at Pontiac High School, few people could have foreseen its incredible growth into a national movement.

"We have Alaska. Hawaii is joining in and we have a couple other states, but it's grown pretty fast," says Pontiac senior Bethany Guelde. "It's pretty exciting."

As part of Peoria's Clean Water Celebration, students are continuing to help the growth of the P2D2 program by educating area students about the dangers of prescription medicine and our drinking water.

"Mostly just to get the word out so the kids can start their own program, if they like," says Pontiac senior Amber Brunskill. "Maybe make good decisions themselves."

The unique part of P2D2 is that the students are the ones who continually take the lead to move the program forward. Some students are even looking to take that sense of responsibility beyond high school.

"I've already talked to the college I'm going to in Michigan. I'm going to start a program up there because it has not yet been introduced into the community," Guelde says.

Students say the program is essential because even though two-thirds of the world lacks clean drinking water, we often take it for granted.

"It's just not something that goes through most people's minds, so when we say this is a huge deal and something needs to be done about it, most people are shocked by that," says Pontiac sophomore Charles Spencer.

But the dedication of these motivated students all but guarantees P2D2's success for years to come.

"I've learned so much and I love the program that I wish I wasn't a senior now and could keep going," says Brunskill.

In four years, P2D2 has expanded into 16 states, disposing over 135,000 pounds of medication and other drugs.