A reporter’s Monday in Mahomet


Monday was not unlike many other days in Mahomet.

The sun rose on cue. People were traveling to and fro; some for work; others on errands.

It was also the only day of its kind for this calendar year: six months since the last Christmas and six months until the next Christmas.

With temperatures in the 70s most of the morning and touching the low 80s in the afternoon, it was an ideal day for a reporter to check out the sights and sounds of our growing and thriving community.

Here’s how one day in the life of Mahomet played out.

At 9 a.m., Champaign’s Lucas Hill was starting his workday.

The owner of LH Landscaping was unloading a riding mower at Churchill Crossing.

His mowers will get a workout.

“The rain slowed us down last week,” Hill said. “We have 13 jobs today.”

His company cares for lawns in Champaign, Mahomet, Savoy and Urbana.

“We usually try to put properties in one town together in one day,” Hill said. “It’s easier and saves gas.”

Though temperatures — and the humidity — are expected to rise by week’s end, Hill enjoys his work.

“It’s way better than a desk job,” he said.

Hill has pretty much a one-track mind during the workday.

“The entire business is all I think about,” he said.

By 9:30 a.m., Chamber of Commerce director Walter Pierce was busy checking items off his list.

“I plan out the week, things I need to get done,” Pierce said. “It’s usually like six things. Today, there’s 12 things.”

One of the details on his to-do list is confirming the continuation of the Mahomet Farmer’s Market past its original Aug. 31 conclusion.

At the request of several vendors, he plans to keep the weekly Friday sessions along Main Street in operation through the end of September.

“A lot of people said their gardens were (planted) late and they will still have produce,” Pierce said.

He is also finalizing details for a Shop Mahomet Boutique event at a still-undetermined mid-October date with booths being set up at both the Legion and Community buildings.

The idea, he said, is to encourage folks “to shop local.”

Two hours after he arrived at the office, Pierce had marked four items off his list.

At 10 a.m., five cars were parked in the lot at the Mahomet Post Office.

A customer paid $10 for a sheet of 20 stamps with the image of Sally Ride, who in 1983 became the first American woman in space.

“It’s a high-volume day,” postmaster Kellie Cook said. “It’s the day we have the highest mail volume.”

The first employees arrive at 5 a.m. to sort mail. Delivery drivers are at work by 7:30.

As for the office counter, the peak times vary.

“We get spurts,” Cook said. “Right before lunch (break, at 11 a.m.), people come in.”

The Mahomet Public Library was a bustling place at 10:30. Ninety minutes after the doors were unlocked, 27 vehicles were in the parking lot, but nearly four dozen other spaces were available.

Among the patrons was Mahomet’s Anne DeAtley. She was accompanied by her four sons, ages 9, 6 and twins that are almost 2.

“One is more excited than the others,” DeAtley said.

The oldest boy was on a mission to find books to check out.

“We do daily reading at home and he wanted books to read,” DeAtley said.

Cathy Shanks — and one co-worker — were in charge of more than 20 students from First School. The group ranged in age from incoming first-graders to incoming fourth-graders.

They make a weekly pilgrimage to the library during the summer months.

“They like the option of choosing their own books, geared to their individual likes, that are different from the classroom,” said Shanks, who has worked at First School for six years.

Truth be told, the youngsters especially enjoy the “getting there” part of the experience.

“They get some exercise,” Shanks said, “but they like to see how many vehicles they can get to honk at them.”

Monday wasn’t a day for records as the group walked the route.

“On the way over today, it was four,” Shanks said, “but they’ve hit 16 before.”

At 10:45, Bondville’s Sandy Sieber had found her way to the frozen foods aisle at the Mahomet IGA.

Her routine was different than most weeks.

“I usually shop later in the week,” Sieber said, “but we just got back from vacation.”

Her car was one of 31 in the parking lot.

The store itself was the definition of busy. Most aisles had workers stocking the shelves. Several aisles had more than one employee putting out products.

“It’s load day,” explained store owner Brooks Marsh. “We get deliveries four times a week.”

The Monday workload is an important time to replenish.

“Saturday and Sunday are tied for our busiest (sales) days of the week,” Marsh said.

At 11 a.m., four tables have customers at the Hen House.

Thirty minutes later, it’s virtually a full house, including all eight chairs being filled at the so-called Table of Truth. Or, depending on the speaker, it’s also known as the Liar’s Table.

Some customers were ordering the day’s special, meatloaf, dinner roll, mashed potatoes and corn.

Topics of discussion ranged from food to the weather and from the high school honor roll to a bike path that’s in the works between Mansfield and Farmer City.

Dale Tharp said one of his pet peeves is when a purchase comes to $1.97 and he gives the clerk $5.02.

“They can’t count back change,” Tharp said, “and yet they’re probably honor roll students.”

The decline in the number of restaurants in the area offering salad bars was foremost in the minds of some guests. With the closure of Ruby Tuesday, and the decision (years ago) by Kentucky Fried Chicken and Wendy’s to abandon salad bars, the options are fewer than ever in Champaign-Urbana.

As for steaks, John Ronk is firm in his belief that it’s not necessary to dine out.

“I’ll do the same thing when I get in a wheelchair as I do right now,” Ronk said. “I’ll cook my own steak at home.”

His dislike for sweet potatoes drew a mixed reaction from the crowd, but all were in agreement that they’ve seen enough rain recently.

“This month on Turkey Farm Road, by (Rt.) 150, it’s over 12 inches of rain,” Ronk said. “The only other time I can remember it being that bad was that July (of 2013) when (Rt.) 47 from Gibson City to Mahomet was covered and 150 to the county Line Road was flooded.”

At 12:30, eight vehicles were in the parking lot at the Buffalo Trace Prairie bike trail, on the north side of town.

Dennis Bryant, from Morris, stopped for a quick break on his way home after a trip to the University of Illinois vet med clinic.

His passenger, was Scrappy, a 12 1/2-year-old rat terrier.

“He was kind of whining, and I thought he needed out,” Bryant said.

He doesn’t mind the two-hour trip, especially after Scrappy received a clean checkup following two surgeries for cancer.

“Down here, you get everybody who knows what they’re doing,” Bryant said.

Further north — and across the highway — Mahomet’s Mandy Alman and her three children were among the patrons at the Museum of the Grand Prairie.

The interactive nature of Museum Mondays is especially appealing to her children, ages 9, 7 and 1. The youngest, Lacey, was recently introduced to a wigwam for the first time.

“This is one of our favorite summer traditions,” Mandy Alman said.

There was no question which part 9-year-old Jonny Alman enjoyed most.

“Baking,” he said.

As a reporter’s eyebrows were raised, Mom explained the answer.

“They pretend they’re on a cooking show,” Mandy Alman said. “It started off as cakes. Now, it’s anything. A lot of it is pure imagination.

“I’m the judge. I usually like their stuff. Normally, we don’t have winners.”

The process includes a time for discussion from the contestants.

“They have to describe their dish to me,” Mandy Alman said.

This day was an exception to the no-winners rule, as 7-year-old Susie beamed, after spelling her name.

“He was disqualified and I won,” she said.

Once again, Mom needed to elaborate.

“Part of his presentation,” she said, “was putting a weed-whacker with his food.”

Even though she cut down that dish, the memories are ones she will treasure, even if the time is limited.

“I’ll be sad when they become teenagers and don’t want to come here anymore,” Mandy Alman said.

At 1:10 p.m., a customer at the Exxon MinitMart, on Lombard Street, spent $4 on a lottery ticket, one for a drawing worth $5.5 million.

The subsequent conversation was brief.

No, there would be no interview, even though there wasn’t a line of customers. Not on Monday. Not on another day.

“Corporate doesn’t allow us to speak to any kind of media,” said one unidentified store clerk.

At 1:30, Ann Kaiser had a brief respite at the Carle Clinic lab.

“Mondays are usually a pretty busy day,” said Kaiser, who has worked at the lab for 15 years.

“Depending on the time of day, we can have a whole room full of people (waiting).”

She never knows what to expect.

“We don’t do appointments,” she said, referring to the walk-in nature of the lab.

Many patients engage the techs in conversation.

“They chit-chat,” Kaiser said. “Mostly about the weather.”

As the 2 o’clock hour approached, Mark Tate said 85 rounds of golf had been played for the day at the Lake of the Woods course.

The total is a slight increase from typical Mondays.

“It’s a few more,” Tate said. “We had rain last week and closed the course for a couple days.”

Even after reopening, carts weren’t allowed on the course again until Sunday.

Monday’s conditions were favorable.

“It’s a nice, dry day,” Tate said.

He estimated that close to 75 percent of the facility’s golfers use carts, which adds to the cost of participation.

The per-person charge, daily after 11 a.m., is $26 for senior citizens and $30 for others. However, the fees for walkers are $16 and $19, respectively.

For Tate — the boys’ golf coach at St. Thomas More — one disturbing trend he has seen during his 15 years at Lake of the Woods seems to be continuing.

“Kids are slowing down on their interest, as far as coming out on their own to play,” Tate said.

While business was up at the golf course, the same wasn’t true at First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust — which is officially changing its name to First Mid Bank and Trust.

“We’re usually pretty busy on Mondays, but today we’re not,” said customer service representative Mackenzie Beck.

A guaranteed busy time are the days leading up to the deadline for making property tax payments.

“We take payments for all of Champaign County,” Beck said.

The in-house television screen is usually tuned into a news show.

“Saturdays are Fun Days,” Beck said. “We turn on cartoons for the kids.”

It’s not always the younger generation casting their eyes to the screen.

“SpongeBob is my favorite,” Beck acknowledged.

One highlight for Beck, who has worked at First Mid for nearly two years, is the interactions with the customers.

“We’re pretty close to our customers and get to know them on a personal basis,” Beck said.

“We can sit and talk to them 5 or 10 minutes.”

At 2:30, clerks Taylor May, a senior-to-be at Mahomet-Seymour, and Chloe Buzicky, a junior-to-be at M-S, were talking about their favorite flavors at Yo Yo’s Frozen Yogurt.

“Hawaiian Pineapple is a favorite,” May said. “It’s delicious. Blue Raspberry is pretty popular, too.”

Buzicky said it’s difficult to pinpoint long-term trends.

“We change a lot of them and have new ones every couple weeks,” Buzicky said. “Fruit ones are popular.”

At mid-afternoon, six cars and one bicycle are in the parking area.

One of the customers is M-S graduate Jason Means, a school teacher who lives in Sarasota, Fla.

He sampled the coffee flavor, topped with some heath pieces.

“I love it,” Means said. “As you get older, ice cream doesn’t do it like it used to. Frozen yogurt is better.”

The reporter’s day featured more than a dozen stops. Whether folks were working or relaxing, by themselves or with family, one conclusion is clear: Mahomet has no shortage of individuals who are a part of the daily scene and contribute to an ordinary day in the village.

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