The year 2020 has been a year like no other. The Covid-19 pandemic forced people together and apart at the same time. 

The Herscher Pilot recalls area events that happened, or didn’t happen, this year.

January

As the year began, Herscher Pilot’s longtime office manager, Sally Schneider retired. 

In addition, Clifford Brewer, of Cullom, was charged with six counts of first-degree murder in connection with a triple homicide which took place at his home on Christmas Day.

For the second year in a row, Jack Holohan, senior, won the small school division Zach Hollywood Rebounding Award at the Kankakee Holiday Hoops Tournament. 

A WGN News weather station and camera were installed atop Herscher High School.

A new road sign was erected in Herscher in honor of Drew Rogers winning the 2019 IHSA Class 1A State Cross Country meet. 

Deb Scanlon was chosen as the Herscher Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year.

According to the National Weather Service, “January 2020 was the warmest January since 2012 and the 22nd warmest on record (since 1871).”

A Chicago resident is the second person in the United States with a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. “At this time, the risk to the general public remains low,” Gov. JB Pritzker said.

February

On Saturday, February 1, members of U2CT (Unit 2 Classroom Teachers) hosted the annual Dollars for Scholars fundraising event held at the Herscher Legion.

Herscher High School’s Winter Ball took place on February 8. 

Gunnar Tejes, Herscher High School sophomore, was accepted to perform at the 2021 Rose Bowl Parade as a member of the Bands of America Honor Band.

Herscher High School’s Scholastic Bowl team took third place at the Class 2A Masonic Bowl Sectional hosted by Herscher. 

Herscher High School outstanding math students competed in the ICTM Class 2A Sectional Competition at Morris High School on Saturday, Feb. 22. 

Kaylyn Bauer and Landon Schultz, Herscher FFA officers, were on the air with Don Elliot at WGFA Radio 94.1 on Friday, February 28 to culminate FFA Week. 

March

Herscher was recognized and commended by the IL Dept. of Public Health for its perfect compliance for 12 consecutive months of community water fluoridation.

 Karen Rushman of Kankakee was named the 2020 Woman of the year by St. Margaret Mary Herscher Council of Catholic Women.

The Herscher Pilot March Community Calendar was packed with events like Thee Olde Time Farm Show Auction, the Blood Drive at Herscher High School, the FFA Auction, the Cabery Fire Department 39th Annual Fish Fry, the Herscher Hustlers Pancake Breakfast, the Herscher Firemen Fire Dept Fish Fry,  Herscher’s Got Talent Show, HHS Swing & Sing, and the Bonfield Celebration Cash Bash.

However, in an unprecedented turn of events, the Covid-19 pandemic brought a flood of local cancellations.

All Illinois K-12 schools were conducted by remote instruction for the remainder of the school year.

The restrictions, due to Covid-19, allowed restaurants to remain open, for curbside service, but bars continued to be shut down.

Church services were delivered online and all government offices were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

April

The Herscher’s Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club held a “Virtual” Spring Fling on April 4th.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all Herscher parks and playgrounds were closed. 

Trinity’s Little Lambs Preschool in Herscher implemented “Field Trip Fridays” as part of their remote learning program. 

In order to put a little fun in completing the 2020 Census, the Pilot created a friendly competition between towns in the Herscher school district.

The Covid-19 pandemic created a situation in which medical mask supplies were quickly depleted. Lauren Janssen sewed masks for healthcare workers and others.

Herscher High School seniors received yard signs from the Herscher School District to celebrate the 2020 Herscher High School graduates. 

May

Barber shops and hair salons were considered non-essential businesses and remained closed.

The Herscher CUSD2 Board approved a “graduation” for Herscher HS in which each student will be given a time and location to meet at HHS in their cap and gown wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. Simon Walthers was the Herscher High School Valedictorian for 2020. 

The Herscher Pilot dedicated its May 21 edition to the graduates of 2020. Individuals and businesses congratulated members of the graduating class who were not able to finish out their senior year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Nearly eight inches of rain hit in some parts of County West over a four-day span.The resulting flooding caused damage to homes and property in Herscher.

The Herscher Legion Post did not host its annual program on Memorial Day. Instead, the Honor Guard visited area cemeteries for a brief ceremony.

The end of the school year was celebrated with drive-through parades. Teachers and staff at Bonfield Grade School, Herscher Intermediate School, and Limestone Middle School were on hand with signs, waves, and wishes for a good summer.

Barber shops and hair salons reopened.

June

Herscher High School’s newspaper, Tiger News Today (TNT), placed second in the state in their division for Best Print Publication in the 2020 IJEA Newspaper & Digital Media Contest.

In response to Covid-19 and state guidelines that limit social gatherings, restrictions caused a plethora of cancellations of local summer events including Herscher’s Corn Bowl and Squeals Cookoff

Approximately 25 people attended a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest at Herscher’s Village Park organized by Skyler Brinkman, a 2015 Herscher High School graduate.

Brenda Leiser, of Yoga on Main, provided free Community Yoga in Herscher Village Park.

Things are looking up at Alliance Grain in Cabery. For the past few months, improvements totalling about $5,000,000 have created a change in the look and capacity of the elevator.

Feed the Flock, a weekly food distribution program, serves hundreds of county west residents.

July

After 36 years, Herscher’s David Elliot has retired from his Country Insurance multi-line agency. 

Evelyn Bauer, who lives in the same rural Herscher home where she was born, was the recipient of a drive-by 98th birthday party.

Mary Jo Bailey, Herscher High School retiring Secretary, was greeted with a drive-by parade to celebrate her retirement.

The Herscher CUSD2 Board announced that in-person education will resume in the fall.

Susan Kuntz, secretarial ‘Jack of all Trades’ at Herscher High School for 23 years, retired. 

August

The Reddick Community Auxiliary donated a new sign to the town of Reddick.

Straight winds of up to 100 mph, called Derechos, blasted through the County West area creating downed trees and power lines.The Herscher CUSD2 Board met by flashlight despite the power outage in the area. 

The Kankakee county 4-H youth Livestock exhibitors were unable to show and sell their animals at the fair this year due to Covid-19.  However, on August 8, they were the recipients of an online donation “auction” run by by SC Online sales. 

As the 2020-2021 school year began, students returned to school with regulations of face masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing.

Gary Kohl received the 4-H Foundation Hall of Fame Award, presented during a virtual ceremony.

September

Covid caused the cancellation of Herscher’s Labor Day Celebration. 

Prairieview Lutheran Homes had a Drive-thru Fish Fry.

Bonfield Evangelical United Methodist Church hosted a drive-thru pork chop sandwich dinner.

Herscher High School’s NHS and X-C team joined forces to help clean up the debris at Limestone Park after the severe storms that passed through the area, making it possible for home cross country meets to take place there.

Herscher High School Students For Environmental Action (SEA) participated in a Kankakee River Clean-up on September 19.

October

The Herscher Village Board set the time for trick  or treating hours from 4 to 6 PM on Halloween. The board also recommended that participants follow CDC guidelines.

Tamara Palmer, a 1989 Herscher High School graduate announced the publication of her new novel, Finding Lancelot

Gunnar Tejes, Herscher High School junior, son of Dana and Mike Bennett-Tejes, built free desks for students.

At the October 13 Herscher CUSD2 Board meeting, the board approved an extension of the school day until 2:05 beginning January 5, 2021.

Alan Janssen, who farms south of Herscher, narrowly escaped injury when his combine burst into flames on October 14.

Herscher High School closed for student attendance from October 27 - November 9 to perform a deep cleaning of the building and to contain the spread of the coronavirus. 

November

Senator Patrick Joyce, native of Essex, won the November election to retain the 40th Legislative District Senate seat.

Ray Schneider, Herscher’s six term mayor, decided not to run for re-election in 2021.

Genevieve (Motzig) Berger turned 100 on Thanksgiving Day.

Although many Veteran’s Day events in County West were curtailed due to Covid-19, Harvest View Senior Living in Herscher held a ceremony honoring their veteran residents with a virtual Veteran’s Day presentation from the Manteno’s Veteran’s Home.

All Herscher School District students learned remotely from November 16-24 as District Covid cases increased dramatically.

After serving the Herscher community for 47 years, 85-year-old Bob Eich closed R. Eich & Sons, Inc., his family plumbing, heating, and air conditioning business.

December

Thrills & Deals - Collectibles & More, located at 141 West Myrtle, opened for business. It is owned by Caberyresidents Austin Ryals and his father, Mark.

“His Helping Hands” monthly food pantry launched at Herscher Christian Church, 30 Tobey Drive, Herscher.

At the Herscher village board meeting, a 1% sales tax Referendum was approved to be voted on by village residents in the April 2021 Consolidated Election.

Helen Wheeler Center CEO, Jackie Haas, was sworn in as the new 79th District State Representative. 

Horse Creek, which hasn’t been cleared for decades, was in the finishing stages of cleanup, adding more volume for water drainage.