Today in Washington - March 12, 2009

Donelle Pardee Whiting

The team of Bryan Veginski, Nathan Domenighini, Brian Niedermeier and I just got back from the March Madness Media Challenge.

For those of you, dear readers, who don’t remember last year, we returned to the competition as the defending champions.

Last year was the first first place finish for the TimesNewspapers staff, competing under the Peoria Times-Observer name.

Three of us were returned to try for a repeat win. Niedermeier joined us this year after to loss of our fourth to another job.

Niedermeier did not let us down as we did our best to continue to be the dream team.

We moved into first place standing early on and then remained there until the final event.

Everybody who participated gave a strong showing and the competition was fierce.

But it was all in fun and it gave the media outlets a chance for some friendly, non-journalism related competition.

WEEK knocked us into second place by staying alive with two members of their team in the top three at the end of the final game.

That game is appropriately named Knock Out.

We are very happy with our showing this year and intend to return to try to get the traveling trophy back.

The Media Challenge kicks off the March Madness Experience at the Peoria Civic Center, which will be open tonight through the end of the boys state basketball championships.

First up is the 1A/2A semi-finals.

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Washington Community High School teachers and other volunteers will be canvassing local neighborhoods this weekend in an effort to inform residents about the upcoming renovation referendum.

Shelli McClellan said it is an effort to share vital information about the proposed renovation and to make sure residents are informed with the facts before voting.

Apparently, there is some misinformation flying around town and not everybody fully understands what the high school needs and what renovations are being done.

In addition to the canvassing, the school is having tours and superintendent Dr. Jim Dunnan said he is available to anyone with questions.

There are tours from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 16 and 23.

These two dates are set up to allow residents to see the problems with crowding during the lunch periods.

There will be another tour at 5:30 p.m. March 30 prior to the Meet the Candidates event sponsored by the Washington Education Association.

The Meet the Candidates night is an excellent opportunity for voters to meet the school board candidates and hear what they have to say.

Remember, readers, and informed voter is a smart voter. So, take advantage of the opportunities to get the facts before April 7.

•••

In addition to the high school renovation referendum, Washington residents are among those being asked to vote on a sales tax increase.

The money raised from the sales tax increase would be distributed to Tazewell County schools.

In the case of WCHS, Tim Custis said if both the WCHS referendum and the Tazewell County referendum are passed, the money from the sales tax increase given to the high school would be applied toward the debt service on the renovation thereby reducing the amount needed from property taxes.

Sounds like a good deal to me. Be sure to read next week’s edition of the Washington Times-Reporter as Nick Stroman will have a story about the proposed Tazewell County sales tax increase.

•••

Relay For Life teams and the Washington St. Jude runners are gearing up for their fundraising efforts.

Washington’s Relay For Life, scheduled for August, is a weekend event in which participants walk around the track throughout the night.

This way there is always someone walking from each team.

The idea is to show support for those who are currently fighting cancer and those who are survivors.

It is also an opportunity for them to raise money for cancer research through the American Cancer Society.

Last year was Washington’s first, and despite the rain there were several dedicated walkers.

Let’s see if this year we can improve on success.

Also a first for our wonderful city was the Washington satellite run for the Memphis-to-Peoria St. Jude run.

The St. Jude run and its satellite runs raise money for St. Jude, which provides excellent services and care for families with children suffering from cancer.

Last year’s event was a huge success, so let’s hope for a repeat. They have already begun having orginazational meetings. Contact Jack Stone, 357-0703 / stonegd@comcast.net; or Dominic Lang at 339-9392 / dominiclang@comcast.net.

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Today in Washington is a type of blog. I am using it on a regular basis to keep you posted on what I am working on or brief items of interest.

Through this feature, I can continually post updates when I have a computer at my fingertips. That said, I am not always at a computer, so I can’t get information to you until then. But, this is basically an online journal that I am sharing with the readers.

So far, it seems to be a popular feature for visitors. It has been the most-visited page on our site, as you can see on the “Popular Stories” list. Because of that response, I have decided to make this part of my daily routine, minus weekends, of course.

But, I want to include more information. This is where you can take advantage of me. Post a comment or send me an e-mail at dwhiting@timestoday.com if you have any news or information that would be of interest to our readers.

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