Cheers

... to organizers of Change to Make Change, a new initiative that will ask downtown patrons to put dollar bills and change in collection boxes at participating businesses.

The idea grew from a series of discussions among downtown merchants, residents and others in an attempt to minimize aggressive panhandling by homeless people on downtown streets. 

Tricia Stiller, the city's downtown development division manager, expects the program to be in place before the end of the year.

Donations to the Change to Make a Change campaign will be given to local human service agencies "who are already in the trenches doing such good work," said Stiller.

Let's all contribute to the cause.

Cheers

... to Central Illinois Regional Airport that is hosting a unique Christmas tree display this month.

The '"Fallen Heroes Tree of Honor" was dedicated this week in the main terminal, serving as a reminder of those killed while serving in America's armed forces.

The tree features 155 ornaments representing service members from 33 states, and was inspired by a similar tree erected at the state capitol in Springfield last year. That tree also is on display this year.

The tree at CIRA will be on display through Jan. 2. The project is sponsored by America's Gold Star Families and the Sgt. Anthony Maddox Memorial, which honors a Normal native killed while serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

Cheers

.... to  Wittenberg Lutheran Center on South Main Street that has been reborn after a vehicle crashed into the building in April.

The motorist was not badly hurt, but that couldn't be said for the center after the car plowed through a brick wall and brick storage shed.

The work to rebuild began and all the hard work will be officially marked on Dec. 10 with a dedication ceremony celebrating completion of renovations that include a new 30-foot-tall tower with a steeple and cross. 

The dedication will be in remembrance of the Rev. Robert Lange, campus pastor at Wittenberg from 1977 to 1991, who died in July.

Cheers

... to the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School football team that won its first 2A state football championship last weekend, defeating another excellent area team, Maroa-Forsyth, 38-32, an exciting game at Huskie Stadium at Northern Illinois University.

GCMS ended the season undefeated at 14-0.

Coach Mike Allen said it all when he said after the game, "We played as a team for 48 minutes and that showed at the end.”

While you are out

... and about this holiday season, make note of the decorated houses you are wowed by. Why? Because Pantagraph columnist Bill Flick is again compiling a list of addresses of the best and brightest that will be shared with readers. Send your submissions to bflick@pantagraph.com. If you can, attach a picture (.jpgs preferred).

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