Smoke Filled Balloons in Cullom



One of the First Balloon Ascensions in Cullom

One of the First Balloon Ascensions in Cullom

Although it is not known exactly when Cullom had the first balloon ascension, there is a newspaper account from 1898 of one taking place that August and reporting it as a success.

Some even assume that Cullom holds the distinction of having kept the tradition of a balloon ascension during the annual August Celebration longer than any other town in the United States.

It took hours to fill the smoke filled balloons

Spectators would watch for hours as a kerosene fire was lit that produced the smoke and hot air which inflated the balloon,

Spectators would watch as a kerosene fire was lit that produced the smoke and hot air which inflated the balloon


According to the Cullom Centennial Book ~ A Century of Memories, this photo was taken in 1963


I love all the cars lines up along Maple Street,

What great cars lined up along Maple Street in 1948

I remember as a kid you would spend the afternoon watching the preparations for the balloon launch.

I remember spending the afternoon watching the preparations for the balloon launch


Up, up and away!

Up, up and away!

One of the best known balloonists that came to Cullom was Claude Shafer.  He would jump from the balloon with a parachute.  Professor Shafer made the annual trek to Cullom until the 1960’s when Peter Krieg took over the annual tradition.

These photos were used in the 1982 Centennial Pageant.  I’ve got more, I’ll post them later…




Attract birds to your garden

A bird bath will complete your garden

A bird bath will complete your garden

I have a customer whenever he visits always mentions how he loves to hear the birds sing.  It’s a genuine pleasure for him.  Being in the country, we sometimes forget how ‘city folks’ don’t have the same opportunity we take for granted… like listening to the birds.


Birds use water to clean their feathers

Bird baths provide fresh water the birds need daily

Bird baths provide fresh water the birds need daily

Bird baths can be more than a focal point in your garden; they will also help you attract birds.   Birds will add a sense of peace and serenity to complete your landscape design.  Besides, they’re downright fun to watch as they splash around!

Birds need to drink water and depend on a supply of fresh water daily.  They also use water to clean their feathers, so, they are really taking a bath.

Located near shade is best

Located near shade is best

A bird bath should be located in the shade; it will help prevent algae growth.  Although, you also need to change the water regularly, that will help too.  I hose mine out each time I fill it.  If the ‘crud’ gets too bad, use a mixture of one part bleach to 10 parts water and scrub inside the bowl.  Rinse well.  I’ve also heard you can use hydrogen peroxide, but have never tried it myself.

I’ve also had customers tell me if you add a few pre 1983 copper pennies, they will help control the algae.  Copper is a natural algaecide; might be worth a try.

Birds add a sense of peace to your garden

Birds add a sense of peace to your garden

Sometimes, the simple pleasures in life are overlooked.  Maybe we should appreciate the little things, like the chorus of birds singing in your yard.

HAHN INDUSTRIES has a large selection of concrete bird baths in stock, check our Facebook page or website:




Later…  Barbara

Hanging in there…


No falling ~ Climbing

Sometimes it all depends on how you look at it… Is she climbing… is she falling… or, is she merely hanging on?

Did she start at the bottom and pulled herself to where she has almost reached the top?  On the other hand, maybe she was on top, took a chance peering over the side, slipped, and fell?  There are cobwebs on the branches therefore not too many people have passed this way before her.  It also looks as though the scavengers are circling to pick over the pieces if she fails.

I am not sure where I came across this picture, so I can’t give the proper credit. Nevertheless, I’m captivated by the intriguing paradox from the first time I saw it.  

Most times this is how I see my life… not sure if I’m struggling up or down… maybe it’s nothing but a quirk of fate that makes the difference.  However, it points out as we begin this busy season with all the holiday preparations and stress…  no matter which direction we’re headed…

It takes strength to hang in there…

kinda like most things we encounter in life, it all depends on how you look at it! 


Later… Barbara

A Great Place To Live

The GFWC IL Woman's Club decorated the Village Signs on each side of town!

The GFWC IL Woman’s Club decorated the Village Signs on each side of town!

My posts have become few and far between.  I don’t have as much free time to write as I would like, at least nothing worth reading.  I haven’t had much time to fix dinner either, my son can attest to this, some weeks two nights out of seven are becoming the norm.

What have I been doing?  Learning how to be a Village President.  I have a lot to learn.  Some days I feel as though I’m living a Country Western Song… there are ‘dogs’, ‘pickup trucks’,  ‘squabbling  neighbors’, and ‘skunks’, and not dead ones in the middle of the road either. <I’m dating myself>

However, I have also been learning why it is so great to live in a ‘small town’. It’s the people!

For reference sake take a look at the list below… <I’ve probably forgotten some> These groups, churches, and the people who are involved with them, make Cullom the special place it is!

American Legion

American Legion Auxiliary

American Legion Jr. Auxiliary

Charlotte Plan-It’s 4-H Club

Citizens for Cullom

Cullom Beckman Memorial Library

Cullom Co-Ed 4-H Club

Cullom Community Owned Market

Cullom Fire Protection District

Cullom Food Pantry

Cullom HCE Unit

Cullom Senior Citizens Group

Cullom United Methodist Church

GFWC IL Woman’s Club of Cullom

Sons of American Legion

St. John Roman Catholic Church

St. John’s Lutheran Church

Tri-Point Boosters

When I look at this list… I see men and women who honor our veterans and senior citizens, mentor and provide funds for our children.  People who work to nurture our bodies, minds and souls, keep us protected and provide entertainment.  I think this is quite impressive for a town of 600 people!

No, it’s not a ‘perfect’ town… however, it really is a nice place to live.  I’m thankful, and so grateful to be called ‘Mayor’.

Ladies of the Cullom HCE Unit's decorations at the corner of Hack & Oak Street.

Ladies of the Cullom HCE Unit’s decorations at the corner of Hack & Oak Street.

Once again, I’ll recommend the website to learn more about our ‘Small Town’

Later… Barbara

Sprucing up the Cullom Community Building



The Cullom Village Office is on the west side of the Community Building.  Besides the Village Office, the Community Building has two rooms available for rent, with a full kitchen and many groups and clubs take advantage of the space.  It is also the location for The Cullom Food Pantry.  By design, it has a three-person board of caretakers, tax revenue is collected by Sullivan Township for upkeep, and located on Village property. It is a valuable asset to the Community.

Each year during the annual Cullom Celebration, the Flower Show and the Junior and Adult Domestic Arts of the Junior Fair are held in the larger of the two rooms. Since being elected, I noticed how overgrown many of the bushes and trees were around the building, and thought it needed some work before the Celebration.

I talked to Ron Shapland, President of Citizens for Cullom and we decided we would ask a few people to volunteer to bring their clippers and rakes, and some evening we’d take an hour or so and spruce it up a bit.

We decided this past Wednesday evening would be the night.  Ron had asked for volunteers the previous night at the Citizen for Cullom meeting, and I had mentioned to a few members of the community who had offered their service, also the members of the Village Board.

During the afternoon, I checked the Weather Channel, it had a Heat Advisory Warning.  It was forecasting for 7:00 p.m. it was still to be 90 degrees.  By mid-day I made the decision, it was just ‘too damn hot’,  surely there would be a cooler night to tackle the job.  Made a few phone calls, sent a few emails, and thought I let everyone know we were postponing.

However, to my surprise… this morning I drive past and see it’s done!  And it looks 100 percent better!  The following people didn’t let the heat get to them… they completed the job!

Hopefully, I haven’t forgotten anyone who helped.

Thank you1

Dick Gassler    John Platz    Todd Meister    Jody Rock

Jake Sherer    Cory Eimen    Patti Krause    Carl Krause

You guys rock!

Later… Barbara

It’s been awhile…

It’s been awhile…

Don’t you hate politicians who say one thing before an election and do something else after?  Me too!  I was sworn into office as Village President April 23rd.  Since then we have held two Regular Board Meetings, and five Special Board Meetings.  Not bad for the first two months    Oh wait… this does not include a bid opening, a few committee meetings, and spending every Wednesday evening at the Village Office.  This Board has been busy!

My point in telling you all this is to let you know, I have not had the time to do much writing or keep everyone up-to-date as promised.  So… I would like to take this opportunity to let you know what we have been up to on the Cullom Village Board.

You may or may not know… Cullom needs a new well.  Our Well #2 on North Hickory Street completed in 1947 is deteriorating.  We found out about this late last year.  Currently, it is pumping about 40 gallons per minute… it should be closer to 100 gallons per minute. Don’t panic… we do have two wells, Well #3 which is okay, however, it does take both wells to provide all the water the village uses. So you know, there had been a Well #1 which was abandoned years ago.

After investigation it was determined the location of Well #2 is not on Village property. It was decided it was not a good idea to be spending money it will take to dig a new well and not have it on property the Village owned.  Property was purchased on North Ash Street next to Regency Woodworking, the old building was demolished and trees removed.  In the future, there will be plenty of room for a new water tower on this property if needed.

Negotiations with Ameren have been finalized to bring power to the new well site, and the permit from the EPA has been received.  The bid opening will be July 2nd for digging the new well and new water line.  Our intention is to award the contracts on or about July 9th

Whew… made me tired just writing all this…Yet, we have also been actively working on updating the waaaay out-of-date ordinances, acquiring a new auditor, contemplating 2013 street repairs, town maintenance, appropriations, water bills, barking dogs, homeowner’s lawn upkeep… and going after unlicensed, abandoned vehicles next!

The bad news is we had one board member resign, Paul Flessner.  He will be greatly missed.  The good news, Brad Wallrich will be appointed as our new trustee at the regular scheduled board meeting July 23rd.

You will start to see notices around town about conserving water.  With the condition of our well, it is important everyone needs to be using water responsibly.

Also, to give everyone a head’s up… Frontier Communications will shortly be bringing in a fiber optic cable.  Village right-of-ways on East Hack, North Hickory, East Jeffery and North Oak are going to be affected.

I will try to do better in the future keeping everyone up-to-date. If you have questions you can leave a message at 815.689.2160, contact me by email, or I am at the Village Office every Wednesday 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Oh yes… I do have a job, and those pesky kids of mine… always want to eat and complain when there isn’t any food in the house and the laundry isn’t done.  I’m a Mom too… sometimes I need to remember to keep everything in perspective! 

Later… Barbara

My thoughts before the election…

Standard          In Illinois, Tuesday April 9th is the day that is called the Consolidated Election.  No, there will not be any national candidates to vote for, but every election is important.  This one is no different.  I trust every registered voter will take the opportunity to elect your local governments and school boards.

          I would like to say a few words about being a candidate for Mayor of Cullom.  It was a difficult decision, a responsibility I do not take lightly.  It is not something I thought I would aspire to, the desire I have for tackling this challenge was never a life-long dream.  However, I am willing to try and do my best.  That said…

          First, I would like to make clear I do not have any harsh words to say about our current mayor.  She originally asked me to serve as a Trustee to fill a vacant position on the board.  I find Marge Kross an inspirational role model.  She has done a great job and has served our community well.

          My primary goal is to advance the use of the technology available to engage as many people as I can in community issues.  There are changes I would like to implement to achieve this goal with board approval.

                   Summaries of Agendas and Minutes posted online, and newspapers

                    Dedicated Internet page where questions can be answered publicly

                     Dedicated Email for more private questions and answers

                    Village office hours to change ~ from Saturdays to Wednesday afternoon/evening

                    I will be available most days in my business office 9:00 am – 3:00 pm  or, by appointment

                    Implement a phone alert calling system, used for important announcements or warnings

          As each of us faces difficult times in our personal finances, the Village is no different.  Due to the diligence of the current mayor and trustees, the Village is financially stable.  Taxes have not been raised.  I will, with the help of the trustees do my best to keep Cullom a viable community and work not to increase taxes.

          Water is the highest priority.  In my opinion, one of the foremost responsibilities of the Village Board is to provide clean and safe water.  Again, thanks to the care of previous boards, we are fortunate as a community to have an abundance of some of the best water in the area.  Again, I will not neglect this priority.

          I believe this gives you a preview of some of my positions if I were to be elected Mayor.  I expect these to be some of the most important issues.  If there are any questions you would like me to answer, please do not hesitate to ask.  Most generally, you can find me at my office 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.  I also have a dedicated email address for this purpose:  I will try and answer your concerns in a timely manner.

          I want to encourage everyone to take an interest in our community. I know the job of mayor will not be easy.  I know I have a lot to learn.  I know I will make mistakes.  I respectfully ask for your support and your vote on April 9th.

Later… Barbara

p.s.  In case you heard any rumors like… ‘If elected, I will ban eating ice-cream cones on alternate Sundays when temperatures are below 50 degrees’, or any other such preposterous and ridiculous rumors… They Are False… Ask me first!