Name deletion | Champaign County Probation Officer Receives Award for Dedication | Columns


Near a plant in her office given to her by Recreational League teammates after her mother’s death, Jennifer Crites holds the plaque recognizing her as the recipient of the William Ettinger Award from the Illinois Probation and Court Services Association.

Many people would like to change the world. Jennifer Crites is doing her best to do so.

Whether it’s breaking the law or helping children with special needs, Crites doesn’t wait for someone else to do something.

An adult probation officer with the Champaign County Probation and Judicial Services Department, Crites not only works to help affect the lives of those who break the law, she is also active in Special Olympics.

People have noticed.

As a probation officer, Crites recently received the William Ettinger Award, awarded by the Illinois Probation and Court Services Association to the person who has demonstrated the highest degree of dedication and service to the association. She also received the Frank Calkins Prize in 2017 for her support to IPSA in its committee work.

Outside of work, she was named Volunteer of the Year 2017 for the Chamber of Commerce of the Rantoul region.

In addition to creating the Rantoul Crusaders Olympic team for which she is the head coach, Crites has participated in a number of Special Olympic events in addition to helping with the Tom Jones Challenger League, a baseball league that focuses on children 6 to 21 years of age with varying degrees of physical or mental challenges. She was named Jones League Volunteer of the Year in 2016.

Crites, a probation officer for over 20 years, said she was “very surprised” at the way people in trouble with the law act – great one minute, a different person the next.

“While they’re on probation, you get to know them, you ask them about their family life, their personal life,” Crites said. “They seem to be good citizens in the community and then you see them come out and commit a crime.

“There’s one person sitting in the office, and that’s another person” in the world.

The company is “definitely more violent” than when Crites started working in 2001.

“You get to know them over time,” she said of the people with her files. “You learn how their family history may not have been as favorable as it should have been. Perhaps it was mental health issues ”that contributed to their breaking the law. “Or drugs or alcohol, compared to when I started, I felt like it was just a stupid choice on their part.”

Crites said that many violent offenders today know the difference between right and wrong, but they don’t care.

“Or maybe they don’t care because they’re under the influence of drugs, under the influence of alcohol, under the influence of their peers,” she said.

Crites said the workload can become overwhelming.

More and more people are sentenced to probation today, but the way they are treated has changed.

In the past, the philosophy was “You got it wrong, that’s the consequence, go for it,” Crites said.

“Now it’s’ Let’s get to the root of the problem; How can we help you? Let’s get it clear. ‘”

Success stories drive her forward. Crites said a few former clients continued to contact her long after their probation had expired and let her know how they were doing.

“We as probation officers love to hear that,” Crites said. “Some clients say, ‘I need help.’ Whether they are on probation or not, we will help them.

Help can take the form of advice or resources, or just being someone to talk to.

Crites, who is 47, said a probation officer “certainly cannot be naive in this matter.” Still, she is happy to have started labor.

Crites got involved with Special Olympics because her son is a child with special needs.

“He is such an active individual and he loves the sport” of baseball, said Crites.

She founded the Rantoul Crusaders Special Olympics team 10 years ago. The team participates in various events. Right now, basketball is coming.

Other events include athletics, softball and pétanque. Crites said the kids enjoyed being able to practice their softball skills at the new family sports complex in Rantoul.

Before the pandemic, Crites involved children in the community with activities such as trips to Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch, Rantoul basketball games, and similar activities.

In the past, the Crusaders have trained with Rantoul’s boys and girls basketball teams.

Michael Williams, director of the Champaign County Probation Department, said, “The department is very proud of Jennifer. This award is a testament to his hard work, determination and dedication. It’s truly gratifying to know that Jennifer is receiving this well-deserved recognition from her peers across the state.

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Carico named Exchange student of the monthKennedy Carico is the first of her class, that is to say at the secondary school of the canton of Rantoul with a cumulative average of 5,733.

The daughter of Monica and William Carico de Rantoul is also the student of the month of the Rantoul Exchange Club. Its school activities have included a marching band, marching band, chamber choir, fall play, spring musical, student council, multicultural club, national honor society, FFA and volleyball. .

Carico has served as Student Council treasurer and co-chair, NHS vice-chair, head of the clarinet section and captain of the volleyball team. Her volunteer activities have included singing in church her entire life, singing in The Villas of Holly Brook assisted living, creating e-cards for children’s hospitals, and serving for the madrigal dinner.

Carico’s work experience has included a lifeguard at the Rantoul pool, dealerships, a Pottery Place employee, a lifeguard at the Sholem pool, and a Willow Pond employee.

She plans to go to college and earn a degree in musical theater with a minor in American Sign Language.

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Best buddies promoted

Charles Elliott loves the True Buddies program and wants others to know about it.

The Champaign resident said he was a pal.

“I don’t remember how I got involved with this program,” Elliott said. “Maybe it was someone from the (Developmental Services Center) on Clark Road, where I’ve been a client since 2007.”

There are about 70 buddies who are matched.

Best Buddies connects high school and college students with people with intellectual disabilities. In the past, they have attended Curtis Orchard and University of Illinois sporting events. They host talent shows at the Illini Union and picnics at Illini Grove.

“Since my family moved to Champaign, I have had several official and honorary friends that I often met for coffee or a stroll on campus, and my parents entertained them for lunch or dinner,” Elliott said. .

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Cook named builder of the year

John Cook was named Tennessee’s Builder of the Year.

The former Champaign and Fisher resident also served as president last year of the Greater Knoxville 20 County Builders Association, one of 12 local homebuilders associations in the state.

Cook graduated from Eastern Illinois University 20 years ago with a major in industrial technology. He and his brother, Ralph, who graduated from Parkland College with a degree in construction management (both graduated from Fisher High School) in 2001 traveled to Tennessee to start their business, which became a construction hub. / design in Louisville, Tenn.

Until recently, they only built on lots owned by clients or developed lots. They added a few custom community developments – one of 34 homes and another of 67. They built for buyers from Hawaii, Illinois, California, Michigan and New York.

John remains the face of Cook Brothers Homes and Ralph is a business partner.

Their parents, Ron and Karen Cook, left their Fisher farm, now the Sangamon River Forest Reserve, in 2007 and purchased 110 acres a few miles from John near Seymour, Tenn.

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Ken Gentrup and his wife, Rhonda, with Rotary Sgt-at-Arms Danville Noon Amy Brown, left.

Former Teen Patient’s Wish Fulfilled Make-A-Wish Illinois and St. Louis Children’s Hospital have helped make a wish come true for a former teenage patient from Arcola who wants to give to others.

Jorge Garza was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in 2019 at the age of 17. He is doing well today after the treatment.

To give back, Garza wanted to reach out to other children receiving treatment at the hospital.

“I chose this wish to help the other kids in the hospital know that someone was thinking of them, praying for them and wanting them to be better,” Garza said.

He was unable to deliver gifts to hospital patients in person due to the pandemic – one of the gifts being a go-kart video game system in the ninth-floor teen room.

Child Life staff at the hospital helped prepare a video and photos of the presents for him. The video was shown at a greeting party at a community center in Arcola with a dozen family and friends on hand. The event also included a meal from her favorite area restaurant and an ice cream cake.

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American Legion Post Color Guard 559.

Antique Store Owners Give A Program Ken and Rhonda Gentrup spoke about their Glory Daze Antiques and Uniques store on Vermilion Street, Danville, at a Danville Noon Rotary reunion at the Fischer Theater.

The Gentroups also discussed their plans to help revitalize downtown Danville.

Their son and daughter-in-law own Lainey’s Ice Cream Shop at 57 N. Vermilion St.

A building that the Gentroups recently bought in the region could become a furniture store.

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