Tuesday, April 1, 2014

OUR TOWN: A Series of Profiles on the Citizens of Monmouth

By Bryant Salyers

    Is basketball just a game or a life lesson? Monmouth-Roseville Head Basketball coach, Chuck Grant, says that basketball is more than just a game. Grant grew up on a farm in a small town in Warren County. His dad was a hard working individual who was a sort of no-nonsense guy. Grant’s mom was a diligent stay-at-home mother, and some might say she was on the verge of having OCD.  “Mom was a stay at home mom who kept the cleanest house in the world.  Seriously, if I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, my bed was made when I came back”, says Grant.

      Coach Grant might have one certain individual to thank him for getting into coaching, and that is Dick Mings. Mr. Mings was his basketball coach growing up.  Mings was a great role model for Grant, and he was the definition of a class act both on and off of the court. Grant did not think he was going to get into coaching at first, but eventually caved in and accepted an offer to coach junior high basketball. After a few years, Grant loved coaching and was eventually offered a job to help coach at the junior varsity level. Grant felt from the beginning that he had something to offer high school kids not only on the floor, but more importantly off of it, and that is exactly what Grant is achieving.

     Grant not only teaches his men the “Xs and Os” of high school basketball, but also very important life lessons. When asked about how he thinks he prepares athletes for life after high school, Grant stated, “I think that's what sports are all about.  I think a person can learn more about themselves when they play a sport than just about any other activity.  I've never bought into that whole dumb jock thing, ya know?  I think that when you play a sport, you challenge yourself.  That challenge comes with both its successes and failures, just like life.  Anybody can live their life when things are going well, but what will you do when things are not?  You digging your heals in and fighting, or making excuses why you're not. . . The thing that we try to do with our players is to tie the two together; Sports and life.” 

     The Monmouth-Roseville boys’ basketball team’s season came to a brutal ending at the hands of the number one ranked team in division 2A boys’ basketball. Monmouth-Roseville easily won its first regional game against its opponent, the Farmington Famers. Monmouth-Roseville won by the score of 92-58, improving to a record of 17-4, moving into the regional championship game against their regional rivals, Macomb Bombers. This most anticipated game of the year took place on the bombers home court. Some would say that this would be a disadvantage for the Titans and that is exactly what took place until two minutes were left in the fourth quarter. With time winding down and the hopes and dreams of the Titan players in the hands of the Bombers, the Titans fought back from being down by 10. In last seconds of the fourth quarter, Monmouth-Roseville guard, Martel Hunter passed the ball to his fellow big man Trayvon Smith. Smith turned around and put up a last second shot to tie and it went through the hoop. The game was to be decided in overtime.

      The excitement did not stop there, with the seasons’ ends in plain sight for the Titans once again, they fought back and thanks to a last second buzzer beater by senior guard, Martel Hunter, the Titans won the Regional Championship by a score of 62-61 and moved on to Sectionals. This was the game that the Monmouth-Roseville boys were “licking its chops for”, a chance to prove themselves against the number one team in the State for 2A, the 27-0 Rockridge Rockets. Their dreams of winning a State Championship came to an end at the hands of the undefeated Rockets by a score of 76-51. The Titans ended its season finishing with a record of 18-5. The Titans are losing 4 of the 5 starters next season due to graduation, but have a lot of young talented players wanting to prove themselves and to push Chuck Grant and Titans boys’ basketball season even farther next year. 



Saturday, February 8, 2014

OUR TOWN: A Series of Profiles on the Prople of Monmouth

Monmouth Fire Chief
By Paige Elizabeth Nord

     For Casey Rexroat, September 11, 2001 was more than a national tragedy.  It was a life changing moment.    Casey had always wanted to be a fire fighter, but it was the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center that convinced him to make firefighting a career.  Rexroat was inspired by how firefighters from across the country came together to help the other fallen firefighters on 9/11.   “I guess you could say that the team aspect or brotherhood is what inspired me.  I believe that firefighting is one of the best jobs in the world.  I know that it will never pay as well as some other jobs, but the fulfillment you get from helping others in their time of need and being able to do something that you love is what makes the job great”.  Casey Rexroat along with the other firefighters at the fire station in Monmouth, IL think of themselves as just regular people doing what they love to do.  

Originally from the Macomb area, Casey Rexroat has been the fire chief at the Monmouth Fire Department for about a year and a half .  His daily responsibilities include communicating with other departments, shift scheduling, payroll, and most importantly responding to emergencies.  Casey started with the Monmouth Fire Department as a firefighter, then he became captain, and now he is the current fire chief.  

Rexroat immediately started pursuing his fire fighter career after 9/11.   “I always thought beforehand it was really hard and competitive to get on a fire department because there are so many people that want to be one and there are so few openings.  I was always a little discouraged by that, but after 9/11 happened I thought I would go ahead and give it a shot and I started testing a couple places and did fairly well on their tests.  I tested everywhere and took the first opportunity I could get”. Casey Rexroat was hired by the Monmouth Fire Department in 2005 and has worked his way up through the ranks until he was appointed to Fire Chief in the fall of 2012. 

 Before Rexroat joined the department he received his Emergency Management Technician (EMT) certification; however, the majority of his training and education was obtained after he was hired by the fire department.  He currently has an associate’s degree in fire science and a bachelor’s degree in fire administration.

 Rexroat finds helping people in their emergency situations the most rewarding part of his job.  He said, “I take a lot of pride in having a fire department.  Sometimes we don’t realize it because it is our job, but we go out and help these people that just had a fire and are displaced and don’t have anything.  Being able to help them is what is most fulfilling about my job”.  His most memorable fire was the large Wells Pet Food fire in 2006.  Casey was a firefighter at the time and it was a fire that lasted for about three days.  The fire department returned to Wells Pet Food over a two week period until the fire was completely extinguished. 
Although Casey has not received any awards in his firefighting career, it is evident Casey is a hard worker during the day.  He has put in numerous hours of work outside of his normal working hours to further his education in his career as a firefighter.  His advice to those seeking to become a firefighter is to achieve a college degree or medical background certification, since many departments are making this a requirement before one is allowed to apply due to the increasing standards of medical training.

In addition to Rexroat’s busy forty hour work week, he is a husband and a loving father of three small children including two girls and one boy all ranging from the ages of three to ten years old.  Some of his hobbies include hunting, fishing, and helping coach his daughters’ softball team with his wife. During the summer months he especially enjoys going on vacation with his family. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

OUR TOWN Profiles of Monmouth

Jane Hartley Pratt 

  By Mackenzie Mahler

“You tell Billy that we don’t fight; we sue.” Originally advice to their son, this is the philosophy that reigned in the Pratt household, and with two lawyers, it makes perfect sense. Local attorney Jane Hartley Pratt is a pillar of the Monmouth community through both her law practice and her service in the local Rotary Club. The Indianapolis native migrated to Monmouth with her late husband, Channing L. Pratt from Washington, D.C.

Pratt graduated from Indiana University’s Law School in 1955. When she entered the school, she was the only woman in the program. “[Dealing with the gender inequality] was a challenge until they realized I was there to graduate, not just to get a man,” said Pratt. “I think it’s best typified by when I walked in the building… we were in an old building and had to walk up a short flight of steps, and there were three fellas standing there. One of them looked down and in a snide comment said, ‘Well, she’s in the wrong building.’ And, I just said, ‘No she’s not!’” By the time she graduated, two other women had joined the program.

“Most of the fellas were great,” said Pratt. “We had – my husband and I – had such special friendships with two of them and their spouses.

Eventually, Pratt and her husband moved to back Monmouth – her husband had roots in Roseville – and took up residence at a local law practice. “I can’t imagine spending your career not sharing it with a spouse,” said Pratt of working with her husband at the firm Beal, Pratt, & Pratt. “It worked great for us. It wouldn’t work for a lot of people, but his personality was such with mine that it worked well.”

In addition to working together, the two got to know members in the community better through different gatherings in town. They didn’t stick to your average book club, however. Instead, Pratt described how the couple formed a gourmet club with several other couples in town and learned how to cook sophisticated dishes. “We were also original members of the wine club in town,” said Pratt. “The club started in 1975, and although I’m the only one left from the original group, we’re still finding out new things about wine.”

Pratt reminisced on raising her three children in Monmouth and how thankful she is that she had this small community to lean on. “It’s nice knowing that if you really need help, you can get it… or give it,” said Pratt. “Monmouth was a great place for raising children. You knew who their friends were and could kind of keep track of things… There were times our kids did things that they don’t know I know about and still don’t know I know about to this day, but we found out from the other parents. In that sense, it’s been a great place to raise children.”
She doesn’t just love the community she lives in, but Pratt actively gives back to Monmouth by serving as the local Rotary Club’s president. “Rotary is an extremely worthwhile organization, and I think we all have to step up and take our turn at leadership. I really consider it a privilege to work with that group,” said Pratt.

“Working with Jane has been an awesome experience,” said Rotaract president and Monmouth College junior, Jake McLean. “It’s apparent how much she cares about the Monmouth community and the people that she works with. Her care for the community is what inspires me and others to continue helping out wherever we can.”

In addition to serving as Rotary president, Jane still practices law full-time at Beal, Pratt, & Pratt with partner Andrew L. Youngquist.