Enjoy a continuation of the year in review looking the news that made headlines in 2020.
JULY• Massac COVID-19 count up to 11: After several weeks of only seven cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Massac County, that number has increased to 11 since June 24.
• LPGA’s Talley hosts golf clinic: Metropolis Country Club hosted an appearance from Princeton, Kentucky, native and LPGA Tour professional Emma Talley on Wednesday morning, July 15.
• Moving day: Massac County offices that had to move to the annex three years earlier when renovations to the courthouse began moved back in late July.
AUGUST• Metropolis Planet globe has a new ‘home’: When Noel Neill, better known as Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane, would come to town during the annual Superman Celebration, she always made a point to visit the Metropolis Planet newspaper office on East Fifth Street with its Planet globe out front. When the newspaper office was recently closed and operations moved to The Paducah Sun building, the globe was donated to the Metropolis Chamber of Commerce, which relocated the globe near the statue of the likeness of Neill’s Lois Lane on the corner of Eighth and Market streets.
• Fort Massac Encampment canceled: Tourism efforts in Metropolis took another COVID-19-related hit Monday, Aug. 10, with the cancellation of the 2020 Fort Massac Encampment, which was scheduled for Oct. 17-18 at Fort Massac State Park. The year marked the event’s 47th year.
• Area students return to classroom as 2020-21 school year begins: With face masks a part of their daily apparel, students in Massac Unit 1 and Joppa-Maple Grove District 38 returned to class the week of Aug. 17 in the “new normal” school environment.
• Council approves Helm as airport manager: The Metropolis City Council approved the hiring of Wayne Helm as the new manager of the Metropolis Municipal Airport on Monday night, Aug. 24, effective Sept. 1.
• Massac records first death from coronavirus: A male is his 70s is the first confirmed death in Massac County related to COVID-19, the Southern Seven Health Department announced Tuesday, Aug. 25.
• Labor Day Parade canceled over COVID-19 concerns: The Metropolis Lions Club has reluctantly cancelled its annual Labor Day Parade over concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19.
SEPTEMBER• WWII vet remembered for his lifelong service: Charles Russell “Hop” Hopson, Metropolis, whose lifetime of service to his country and community spanned decades, died Friday, Sept. 4, at Superior Care Home in Paducah. He was 101. Hopson was a fighter pilot in World War II. He enlisted in the Navy 79 years ago, on August 25, 1941, and remained on active duty through November 1945. He was a member of the reserves from that point until February 1967, when he retired as a lieutenant commander. During his civilian life, he wore many hats — a coach, a teacher, a driver edu-cation instructor and a principal at Metropolis High School during his long career in education.
• Shawnee picks Taylor as college’s 9th president: Dr. Tim Taylor was selected from a field of eight candidates Tuesday night, Sept. 8, to become the ninth president of Shawnee Community College. Taylor served as president of Oakland Community College in Michigan and at Frontier Community College in Fairfield.
• Don’s demolition complete: The old Don’s Standard Service on East Fifth Street was demolished on Sept. 2. The business was owned and operated for years by Don Travis. However, Travis retired and it closed years ago.
• Unit 1 has ‘lucky factors’ with cases of COVID-19: Massac Unit 1 reported its first two cases of positive COVID-19 tests last week. In a letter to parents dated Thursday, Sept. 10, Superintendent Jason Hayes reported those involved were two staff members who work at Unity Elementary School.
• Conducting PSO piece a ‘homecoming’ for Sanders: For Lee Sanders one of the thrills of being a composer is hearing a piece he’s written being performed live. That came to fruition Sept. 19 when Sanders conducted the brass ensemble of the Paducah Symphony Orchestra in “Four Rivers Fanfare,” an original piece he wrote specifically for them, during Brass on the Grass. Sanders, the son of the late Bill and Jessie Sanders, grew up in Metropolis and graduated from Massac County High School in 1987. He now lives in Los Angeles.
• Wrye named Illinois Ms. United States Agriculture: A Massac countian has been added to the title holders of a new scholarship program. Gabriel Wrye was recently crowned Illinois Ms. United States Agriculture 2021. She will represent the state for the national title in June 2021 in Orlando, Florida. The daughter of Mary Wrye of Belknap and Robert Wrye of Metropolis, Wrye teaches Ag in the Classroom to kindergarteners through fifth-graders for the Farm Bureau. She graduated from Joppa High School in 2016, Shawnee College in 2017 and SIU in 2019 and with her masters in 2020. She is an assistant instructor for scuba diving at Mermet Springs.
• Lady Patriot golfers take SIRR Conference title: For the 22nd time in the last quarter century or so, Massac County’s Lady Patriot golf team captured the SIRR Conference Tournament title on Sept. 22. Massac “lapped the field” with a team score of 335 by McKinnley Korte, Alexis Frazine, Elise Coakley, Lily Conkle and Josie Walker.
• After almost 5 years, I have missed this: Reporter Terra Temple returns to Metropolis Planet after 4½ years.
• McDaniel will not run for re-election come next spring: As petitions begin circulating for the spring 2021 election, one familiar face won’t be asking for signatures. “Right now, my intentions are not to seek re-election,” Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel confirmed Wednesday, Sept. 23. McDaniel has spent the last 20 years serving the City of Metropolis — four years as Ward 3 alderman from 2001-05 and 16 as mayor from 2005 to 2021.
• Shawnee National Forest marks 80 years: Shawnee National Forest commemorates its 80th anniversary of being proclaimed a national forest. Many efforts were made by dedicated residents of southern Illinois that were instrumental in the creation of the only national forest in Illinois.
• Former EMA official indicted on federal charges: A former Massac County Emergency Management Agency official has been indicted on federal charges by a grand jury in Benton on Oct. 5. Chris Thompson, 29, of Kevil, Kentucky, former major chief of operations and public information officer for the EMA, was indicted for allegedly defrauding the county and local businesses of more than $49,000 in goods and services.
• Vistra Joppa closure ‘will impact entire communities’: In a move to accelerate its transition to clean power generation sources and advance efforts to significantly reduce its carbon footprint, Vistra Energy announced earlier this month its plans to close coal plants in Ohio and Illinois, including the one in Joppa. Known locally as Electric Energy Inc., the company that employs 115 people is expected to be retired, along with the Baldwin Power Plant, by 2025 or sooner should economic or other conditions dictate. Vistra said its decision is based on the filing of the revised federal coal ash rule, known as the Coal Combustion Residuals rule.
• State: COVID-19 mitigations take effect Thursday: With an increase in positivity rates, Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced Monday, Oct. 19, that COVID-19 resurgence mitigations will be implemented in Region 5 beginning at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 22.
• Bailey takes SIRR Conference meet: Despite taking a little more circuitous route than the other runners, Massac County’s Ansley Bailey finished almost two full minutes ahead of the rest of the field in the SIRR Conference Ohio division cross country meet on Oct. 15. With no one close to her and nothing to follow, Bailey missed a painted line around the 2-mile mark and ended up having to backtrack a bit. The IHSA official on hand decided her time of 18:39 would count and the conference title was hers.
• Martin, Trojans advance to Class L cross country finals: Massac County Junior High’s only eighth-grade female cross country runner, Anna Martin, advanced to the SIJHSSA Class L finals on Oct. 16 at DuQuoin’s Fair Grounds. Martin finished 11th overall but was the third highest qualifier, not a member of the top two teams, running a time of 13:41.
• Six teens involved in Johnson County accident: A former Massac and Joppa high school student was among the six teenagers involved in a single car crash over the weekend. Macie Turvold is currently a student in Harrisburg. According to a traffic alert released by the Illinois State Police, a preliminarily investigation indicates a 2010 Ford driven by Jordan Davidson, 18, of Vienna, was westbound on Ozark Road near Locust Street Sunday morning, Oct. 25, when it ran off the roadway and struck a tree. ISP responded at 2:46 a.m. Three were killed — Davidson, Brayden Riley King. 17, from Vienna, and Aiden Roger Baker, 15, of Vienna.
• Bailey takes Marissa regional individual title: Massac County senior runner Ansley Bailey had no issues with directions this time and no real issues with the rest of the field Saturday, Oct. 24, at Marissa as she cruised to the finish line 50 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor, running the 3-mile course in 18 minutes and 25 seconds.
• Closed for renovations: Work began Oct. 30 to spruce up the 27-year-old Superman statue. Employees with West Ky. Painting, LLC., of Paducah, removed the paint down to the bronze of the 15-foot statue. Ten days later, Superman emerged from his blue tarp cocoon with a fresh coat of paint compliments of Blackhound Optics, LLC., of Lawrenceville, Georgia. Renovations to the base area will begin in the spring with funding from a brick campaign that is now underway. Bricks can be purchased online at supermancelebration.net or by calling 618-524-2714. A rededication ceremony is planned for June 2021 during the annual Superman Celebration when all work will be completed.
• 6839 Massac Countians cast their votes in the 2020 election: Of Massac County’s 11,070 voters, 6839 cast their ballots in the 2020 General Election as some 820 mailed in ballots, 2100 early voted and 3919 went to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3. That means 61.78% of Massac Countians voted.
• Bailey wins Class A Sectional at Swansea: Massac County’s Ansley Bailey ended her stellar high school cross country career on a high note Saturday, Oct. 31, when she won the IHSA Class A Sectional at Swansea’s Clinton Hill Conservation Area. Bailey ran the 3-mile course in 18:39, finishing 41 seconds ahead of the second-place winner.
• Unit 1 goes on full remote until Dec. 7: Massac Unit 1 schools are on full-remote learning now through Dec. 4 due to COVID-19. In-person classes are scheduled to resume Monday, Dec. 7.
• Metropolis Christmas parade canceled: Count the 69th annual Metropolis Christmas parade as a victim of COVID-19. The event, organized by the Metropolis Chamber of Commerce, has been cancelled for 2020.
• The tradition continues: Girl Scout Troop 8029 Collecting for COPE: When members of Girl Scout Troop 8029 were in kindergarten, they started spending part of the third Saturday of November helping others. While Groceries For Good is not being held at Metropolis grocery stores this year, the troop members are continuing their tradition by Collecting for COPE on Saturday, Nov. 21. The collection was done in memory of Girl Scout leader Kathy Martin, who passed away on Oct. 17.
• Lewis 12th in National FFA Agriscience Fair: What happens when you experiment hydroponics? You place 12th in National FFA Agriscience Fair. Jessie Lewis, a 2020 Massac County High School graduate, learned of her award in October. Lewis, the daughter of Kathleen Foss and David Lewis, both of Metropolis, is now a freshman at John A. Logan College in Carterville, where she is obtaining an associate’s degree before transferring to a four-year college to major in agronomy.
• Joppa students take part in Fowler’s Youth Advisory Council: Select Joppa High School students were invited by State Sen. Dale Fowler to join his Youth Advisory Council and attend a virtual meeting on Nov. 9. These students — Ava McNeill, Brody Greer, Gunner Johnson, Hayden Forthman, Aaliyah Latham, Mary Sparks and Cheyenne Lang — were chosen by their principal and teachers based on their dedication to public service, current events, government affairs and the political process.The Joppa Youth Advisory Council met virtually with other 59th Senate District high school council members.
• Joppa-Maple Grove learning goes fully remote: Deciding to err on the side of caution, Joppa-Maple Grove Unit School District administration and board of education made the decision Sunday evening, Nov. 22, to place their students on full remote learning. The decision is in effect from now until Dec. 7.
• Holbrooks counting their seven little blessings this Thanksgiving holiday: As crazy as 2020 has been, one Metropolis couple — Daniel and Amanda Holbrook — has much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Over the last 10 years, they have fostered 18 children. This year, their family officially grew to include seven children with the finalization of adopting two of them in October.
• Friends turn out to hold 90th birthday brigade for Carrell: Well-wishers in over 50 vehicles drove by Dorothy Miller Park on Friday afternoon, Nov. 20, to wish former City of Metropolis alderman Bill Carrell a happy 90th birthday. Several other Massac countians marked landmark birthdays in 2020 as they turned 100, including Pauline “Polly” Ragland in February; James “Jiggs” Whalen and Laura Walbright Ellerbush in March; and Ruth Hilgeman Schmidt in July.
• Joppa’s McHaney achieves Eagle Scout rank: Damon McHaney has earned an achievement few others have obtained. He is an Eagle Scout. McHaney obtained the rank on Oct. 7. McHaney, of Joppa, began his Scouting adventure with Pack 101 as a Cub Scout. He crossed over to Boy Scout Troop 101 in February 2013. McHaney graduated from Joppa High School as salutatorian of the 2020 class. For his Eagle Scout project, McHaney chose to clean up Robinett Memorial Park in Joppa.
• Massac County records third COVID-19 death: A female in her 70s is the third confirmed death in Massac County related to COVID-19, the Southern Seven Health Department announced Monday, Nov. 30.
• Parmer makes All-District Concert, Jazz choirs: Hannah Parmer is no stranger to the Illinois Music Education Association’s All-District Concert Choir. The Massac County High School junior, who sings alto, has been auditioning since her freshman year. She made both the All-District Concert Choir and the All-District Jazz Choir. This is her third year to make the Concert Choir and her first attempt at the Jazz Choir.
• City resolution: Chamber responsible for Superman statue: After 27 years, the Metropolis Chamber of Commerce officially is the owner and responsible agent for the Superman statute. The Metropolis City Council approved the resolution at its meeting Monday night, Dec. 14. The resolution was written by city counsel Rick Abell following the chamber’s request to assume formal responsibility of the statue and its area at the intersection of Superman Square and Market Street.
• MCHS student council helping 165 families: Thanks to donations to Massac County High School student council’s sixth annual food drive, 165 families will be fed this holiday season. The nine schools across Massac County started handing out the holiday meal boxes on Wednesday, Dec. 16, to families of school-age children in any of the nine schools in the Joppa-Maple Grove and Massac Unit 1 school districts who are in need of help during the holidays.
• Psi Eta, firefighters help with Christmas toy drive: The Christmas for Kids Toy Drive served 165 children during its annual giveaway on Saturday, Dec. 19. Due to COVID restrictions, this year’s event was held as a drive-thru at First Baptist Church Metropolis. The event was coordinated by members of Psi Eta sorority and Metropolis Firefighters Local 3367, which took the toys to recipients vehicles.
• Southern Seven launches virus vaccine interest survey: The first shipment of 160 doses of Pfizer-BioN-Tech’s COVID-19 vaccine was received by Southern Seven Health Department staff on Wednesday. Dec. 16, and transported to Union County Hospital in Anna.
• County’s 2019 audit riddled with difficulties: Jeff Stroder, with Cape Girardeau, Missouri, CPA firm Beussink, Hey, Roe & Stroder, presented the 2019 audit results to the Massac County Commission at its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 29. While the firm’s opinion was the financial statements were fairly stated, Stroder noted the auditing process was a complicated one this year with “several problems but they boiled down to two main reasons: 1) the bank accounts weren’t reconciled to financial statements; 2) there were a lot of errors in the financial statements, as journal entries were significantly adjusted,” Stroder said.
• Refurbishing allows gazebo to shine: For years, with its location on Metropolis Street just blocks from the Ohio River, the Washington Park gazebo has been a central part of the Metropolis landscape. Built in the early 1900s, the structure has undergone several layers of maintenance. The last three months of 2020, employees with Link Tree Removal & Carpentry, located in Olive Branch and owned by Link Warren, spent several weeks renovating the gazebo, bringing the structure as close to its original glory as possible.
• Unit 1 board approves Jan. 4 return date: With all members voicing their agreement that students need to be back in as normal a school week as possible, the Massac Unit 1 School Board unanimously voted at its meeting on Monday, Dec. 21, to return to the four-day learning schedule on Monday, Jan. 4.
• Massac County records five additional COVID deaths: Through the last edition of 2020 of the Metropolis Planet, the Southern Seven Health Department confirmed 26 deaths due COVID-19 in Massac County since August. Massac County recorded 857 total cases. Southern Seven reports 76 deaths in the region — Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski and Union counties — since the start of the pandemic. There have been 4732 cumulative total cases in the region.