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Downhill Derby an instant hit

Dan Schonert, who came up with the idea to host a soapbox derby event in Mt. Carmel, wasn’t sure how the first Wabash Cannonball Downhill Derby would go over.

After the initial event Saturday, Schonert can rest easy. He and his fellow Kiwanis Club members have a hit on their hands.

“I was thrilled with the turnout and with all the fun everyone seemed to be having, from the participants to the spectators,” Schonert said. “It turned out to be a better event the first year than what we expected it to be."

Fans lined the Third Street hill between Market and Mulberry to catch a glimpse of the racing from drivers aged 6-70.

The need for speed

There is nothing like the first time you drive a homemade soapbox car down the Third Street hill between Market and Mulberry, site of Saturday’s  first Wabash Cannonball Downhill Derby.

As Dan Schonert found out.

About halfway down the 410-foot slope, event organizer and driver Schonert said he became “shocked at how fast you get going. It was pretty intimidating that first time.”

That’s why Schonert will allow each driver a practice run before they begin competition which begins at 2 p.m. following 1:30 p.m. registration.

“We’ll make sure everyone gets a practice run,” Schonert said.

Dale Righter: "A phenomenally bad idea"

Now that the Illinois General Assembly has passed House Resolution 895 by a 55-51 vote, Illinois High School Association officials will be called to Springfield for hearings and to defend itself against a potential takeover by the state.

State Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, thinks that taking control of the organization that runs statewide high school championships would be “a phenomenally bad idea,” an idea he thinks will fade with time.

“I think most legislators will over time settle into the notion that there are so many other problems that Springfield has to deal with that why would you take on management of something else,” said Righter during a stop in Mt. Carmel Friday.

The measure’s sponsor, Rep. Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, included in the resolution a plan for the Illinois State Board of Education to take over the IHSA — the same board “which doesn’t handle anything else very well,” Righter said.

Though LaVia has since softened her stance, citing instead “accountability” and “transparency” and not a takeover as key reasons for hearings, the resolution leaves IHSA officials uneasy, especially since they claim she never contacted them in advance of filing the measure.

“We felt unfairly targeted with the way this all came about,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “But what’s done is done. The hearings are going to happen, so our mindset now is the sooner the better. We want to show the representatives how we operate and clear up any misconceptions they may have.”

Hopper: "He angered the beast"

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — In the days leading up to their scheduled boxing rematch Saturday night at Guns ’N Hoses at Ford Center, Daniel Hopper realized that things had become personal with his opponent Clint Hoskins.

For starters, Hoskins, an Evansville firefighter who asked for the rematch, seemed to shun Hopper, a Wabash County Sheriff’s deputy, at a pre-fight weigh-in event at an Evansville establishment after the two had privately agreed on a small stunt for the fans gathered. Hoskins had his back turned as Hopper was introduced and stepped on the scale and the two never spoke.

Then there was Facebook.

“He talked so much trash about how I got lucky last year,” Hopper said of the comments posted on Hoskins’ page. Not that Hopper could read them, though. “He blocked me. I couldn’t get on his Facebook.”

Though advertised as a charity event in support of 911 Gives Hope, the bout itself would be anything but charitable. “I don’t mind losing, it’s for a great cause,” Hopper said. “But I didn’t want to lose to him.

“He angered the beast.”

Carwile, Critchfield win redrawn 5K

The second Blue Ribbon 5K run held Saturday in Mt. Carmel was a little different than the first.

Sponsored by the Guardian Center, the race course had to be altered last week because of Wabash River flooding that put scenic River Road under water. So, entrants were detoured along Golden Aces Way with a couple of other jogs thrown in.

Andrew Carwile and Karolanne Critchfield won individual titles in the second 5K event in the city this year.

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