Local voters will help decide a five-way race for three seats on the Illinois Eastern Community Colle...
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Local voters will help decide a five-way race for three seats on the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges Board during the April 6 consolidated election.
Incuments Barbara Shimer, Robinson, and Jan Ridgely, Olney, are running again. They will face Roger Browning, Mt. Carmel; Jeff Cutchin, Allendale; and Brady Waldrop, Sumner.
Board Chairman G. Andrew Fischer is not seeking re-election. Continuing trustees are John Brooks, Hutsonville; Gary Carter, Fairfield; Brenda Culver, Noble; and Al Henager, Mt. Carmel.
Barbara Graves Shimer
Shimer, 67, Robinson, will originally appointed to fill a vacancy on the board. She is now running for her first full term.
“In my years of teaching and work in the community I witnessed firsthand the difference having a quality educational experience at an IECC school makes,” Shimer said.
“If we want our counties to be places where people want to stay and build lives, we need to help equip students for the jobs of the future. I understand the importance of fiscal responsibility,” she added.
“I passionate about the mission of IECC and want to be an advocate for quality education in southeastern Illinois.”
Shimer graduated from Lincoln Trail College and Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor of music Summa Cum Laude and a K-12 teaching certificate. She has taught at Lincoln Elementary School, Nuttall Middle School and Robinson High School, as well as LTC.
She has 47 years of experience in bookkeeping, accounting and business management and formed and currently operate 2 oil LLCs with significant assets.
She is the former LTC theater director and is presently the United Way of Crawford County community resource representative and chair of Crawford County100 Women Who Care.
Ridgely wants to continue efforts to keep IECC successful.
“I am seeking re-election as I am committed to the continued success of the college district,” he said.
“During my present term we have hired a new chancellor, a new chief financial officer, a new personnel officer, and a new Lincoln Trail president. I am supportive of those individuals and excited about their visions and plans for the district,” Ridgely said.
“As a taxpayer, I realize the importance of prudent management, and I try to be fair and represent all four college campuses,” he added.
Ridgely lives in Parkersburg in southern Richland County.
Ridgely graduated with an associate’s degree from Wabash Valley College in 1983. He continued his education at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and received a bachelors of science degree in 1985.
His degree in agricultural business has benefited him greatly in his career, Ridgely said.
He began his employment at Citizens National Bank of Albion in 1986. He has been the bank’s president and chief executive officer since 1999.
“Agriculture has always been a part of my life,” he said. “In addition to my work at CNB, I own and operate a grain and livestock operation.”
Ridgely and his wife, Lisa, have been married 32 years. Their three children and six grandchildren all live within the IECC district.
Browning, 61, said the four IECC colleges should play a major role in the educational needs of the 12-county district.
“Our colleges offer an affordable option for traditional and non-traditional students looking to take baccalaureate classes and transfer to a university, learn skills to transition into the workforce, or learn new skills to help with a career change,” he said.
“I believe that my passion, knowledge and experience would be a tremendous asset to the board of trustees as they guide IECC into the future. I want to provide board of trustee leadership that will enable IECC to offer a quality education at an affordable cost to transfer, career and technical and non-credit students,” he added. “At the same time, I will be fiscally conservative and a good steward of taxpayer dollars, in order to keep district tax rates as low as possible.”
Browning said he doesn’t think the district needs sweeping changes at the board level.
“I think the board of trustees has done a good job of providing leadership to help the colleges offer a quality education,” he said. “I would like to use my unique experience and expertise to help the trustees form a vision for the future of the district.
“I am extremely passionate about the value of an education and I want to use my years of experience at the district level to help with decision making that will guide our colleges for years into the future. Improvement is continuous and we should be striving to constantly improve given the changing environment in which the colleges operate.
Browning is a a graduate of Carmi High School and the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in business/accounting.
Browning first arrived in Mount Carmel in 1987 to work as a certified public accountant for Kemper CPA Group. Since then, he has served as a chief financial officer in both corporate and governmental settings.
“In 2001, I went to work for IECC and the college district has been a huge part of my life ever since, as I served in the role of Chief Financial Officer for approximately 17 years until my retirement,” he said.
As a senior administrator for IECC, he served on the district’s cabinet and was involved in all aspects of district operations including finance, academics and human resources. Prior to retirement he had a working relationship with each of the district’s college presidents, working with them to develop budgets and to oversee construction projects.
“I also worked very closely with the IECC Board of Trustees and I have a very good understanding of trustee roles and responsibilities,” he explained.
“This college district has been very good to me and I want to give back by serving the people of the district to build strong colleges that are the envy of other districts across the state,” Browning said.
“If elected, I promise to be an advocate for all four colleges, not just one college or another. The college district is much stronger when all four colleges prosper.”
Jeffrey B. Cutchin
A recent retiree, Cutchin, 61, is running for the IECC board as a way to volunteer his services to the community.
“I believe with my experience I could be of value to the IECC district,” he said.
He especially wants to help with the district’s funding and enrollment challenges.
“I would like to be a part of addressing those concerns in the IECC district,” Cutchin explained.
Cutchin worked in computer science in private industry for 16 years. From 1985 through 2016, he was college faculty at both community colleges and universities either as full-time or adjunct. He moved into community college administration and held the positions of coordinator of instructional services, assistant dean of student services, dean of the college and IECC’s chief academic officer.
He has a bachelor’s of science in geology, a master’s of arts in teaching and a Ph.D. in community college leadership.
Waldrop, 34, is a Sumner native now living in Lawrenceville. He is a partner in Gosnell, Borden, Enloe, Sloss, McCullough and Waldrop, a law firm he joined in January 2015.
As a younger attorney, Waldrop wanted to become more involved in the community. IECC seemed a good fit. Also, he credited the district with helping him earn his undergraduate degree.
“As a student at Red Hill High School, I used the community college system routinely,” he explained. “I shaved a year off my undergraduate studies taking dual credit courses.”
The lower cost of those courses also helped him and he wants to do what he can to help other area students.
“Any way I can help keep college costs down and help kids get college credits is an area that needs to be explored,” Waldrop said.
He is especially interested in promoting the use of distance learning. “It opens up a lot of avenues,” he said.
Waldrop considers the IECC campus libraries to be valuable community assets that often go unnoticed. He wants to change that.
“With my background in library science, I would like to see the libraries used more,” he explained. “They’re not that well known in the community. They’re not just places to store books or places where kids go to study any more. They’re really community centers.”
Besides other resources area residents can use, the libraries offer access to technology people may not have at home, he said. “Promoting them is something I would love to do.”
Waldrop earned a bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Illinois before getting his juris doctorate at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. He also has a master’s degree in library sciense from U of I.
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