Peter McFarland likes to work with his hands. That is undoubtedly what has drawn him in part to his two main interests of the past few decades: broadcast technology and baseball.
McFarland officially retired on Friday after 43 years as an engineer at WCIA. It is an industry that has seen years of change. Basketball? Not so much, at least at the Little League level.
McFarland’s family is so involved in the sport that a field is named after them. McFarland Field is the home of the First String League, sponsored by the CU Kiwanis Club, in Champaign.
“I enjoy it immensely,” McFarland said of his involvement in baseball. “It’s been a really good thing for myself and hopefully for the kids. I have met many good children. Some of them have grown now.”
Originally for children aged 6-17, in recent years the competition has been for those 4-12 and includes tee-ball. This year, a category for 13-year-olds was added, which he hopes will remain so.
The family involvement began with his mother, Earline, who ran the concession stand for many years. His father, Bob, attended many of the games. Peter continued the tradition and was league commissioner for 28 years.
A petition started by Joe Omark led the park district to agree to name the field after the family.
“It was surprising and very exciting at the same time,” says Peter.
Randy Green, a former 10-year-old president of Kiwanis CU Little League, said McFarland has been involved with Little League since Green played soccer with his son Brandon.
Whether it’s coaching kids or preparing the field or running the concession stand, the league’s volunteers do it all, he said.
Little League International recently recognized McFarland for his contribution and Green was one of the people who nominated him.
McFarland said he will downsize his role and hand over his duties as commissioner to Shawn “Bundy” Green.
He began his duties at WCIA in 1978. He studied “the technical part of communications” at Parkland College and one of his teachers was Ed Kelly, formerly of WCIA.
“He got me this job here,” McFarland said. ‘I will always appreciate him.
“I grew up thinking I wanted to be a counselor in school. That didn’t quite work out. I went to study business administration and didn’t like bookkeeping” and decided to switch to communication.
A lot has changed since those early days.
Paul Davis headed the editorial board, Dale Fleming was its first boss, and Augie Meyer was its owner.
“We had big, bulky equipment like belt machines. It was all videotape. Now it is digitally recorded. The quality is a lot better. The cameras have been slimmed down so that one person can handle most of the equipment.”
Despite the progress, the equipment still had to be serviced and repaired. He kept up to date with the technology, but there isn’t as much preventive maintenance that needs to be done as in years past.
WCIA chief engineer Darren Martin said McFarland has been his “right-hand man” for many years.
“He’s been an excellent employee, trustworthy and reliable,” said Martin, noting that McFarland has been instrumental in a number of projects at the company, including maintaining the old tape machines with archive footage from the 1970s through the 90’s.
McFarland and his wife, Debarah, have two sons and a daughter.
With more free time, he wants to “travel a bit” and this winter he will be involved in the park district basketball program. He also wants to be referees and referees.
But it’s time to let someone else service the WCIA equipment and worry about baseball rains. McFarland has paid his dues.
Students get a taste of the profession
Area high school students learned a little bit about plumbing, pipe fittings, and HVAC repair, among others, during a series of visits to the UA Local 149 training facility in Savoy.
The students met Matt Kelly, Local 149 Business Manager, Journeyman Justin McMullin and Training Director Derek Reedy, who took time off to work with the students. They were introduced to a variety of skills, including plumbing, electrical, carpentry, roofing, concrete, and painting.
The students also spent time with union members at the University of Illinois Facility and Services plant, as well as the fabrication shops and offices at A&R Mechanical.
This year’s visitors to Local 149 were:
Kody Roberts, Monticello; Alayna Hill and Benjamin Ottney, Fisher; Anthony Barron SJO; Griffin Reynolds, Unity; Lucas Lenzini, Mahomet; Alex Swanson, PBL; Jack Kelly, Tuscola; Mateo Thomas, Jonathan Kleinfieldt, Richard Cadena, Garrett Daly and Jose Beuschlein, Centennial; and Susana Garcia, Colin Katterhenry and Drew Caldwell, Central.
Robert Morgan, Villa Grove; Landon Banta, Tuscola; Jake McElhaney, Landon Hobbs and Nolan Nierenhausen, Mahomet; Caleb Vannoy, Unit; Jessica Bailey, Alexander Roskov, Jaylen Davis, Lauren Mobo, Emanuel Peralta, Nathan Bell, Martin Hernandez, Gavin Ash, Thomas Davison, Crescenciano Gutierrez and Jaime Tiger, Centennial; and Rowan Abzug, Central.
Gonzalez succeeds Nevitt with Rotary club
Outgoing Champaign West Rotary president Christine Nevitt presented the hammer to new president Nestor Ramirez in a ceremony this week.
Nevitt joined Champaign West Rotary in November 2013 and has received numerous Rotary awards ranging from Rookie of the Year to Rotarian of the Year. She took the title of club president on July 1, 2020.
She is Senior Vice President and Commercial Compliance Manager for Busey Bank.
Born in Bogota, Colombia, Ramirez studied medicine at the Jesuit University in Bogota and then spent seven years as a doctor in the jungles of southeastern Colombia. He came to the US in 1979. He spent 31 years as a neonatologist in several neonatal intensive care units in Champaign-Urbana, Springfield and Chicago. He is now retired.
Ramirez has been a member of the club for over 10 years and has won several Rotary awards, including Rotarian of the Year, and is a Paul Harris Fellow.
Omark selected for internship
Danville resident Victoria Omark has been selected for a three month internship to work closely with the management team at Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport, Ariz.
“I’m very lucky,” Omark said. “Airport management is a difficult area to get into as most jobs want you to have experience, but most airport management internships require you to have a degree. I am lucky that LBIA offers students hands-on experience.”
The senior from North Dakota University is pursuing dual degrees in air traffic control and airport management. Two years ago she obtained her private pilot license.
“We’re excited to have someone who is passionate and willing to learn,” said LBIA Director Jeremy Keating. “Victoria came out on top of over 40 entries, which is really good.”
The LBIA program offers a paid internship to juniors and seniors enrolled in aviation management programs. The internship is tailored to the student’s specific aviation interests and also provides students with the opportunity to overshadow every aspect of airport management.
Red Kettle Run set for July 17
For 12 hours later this month, people will run the track at Champaign’s McKinley Field to raise money for underprivileged children.
The Red Kettle Run for Kids will take place on Saturday, July 17 from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm.
The Salvation Army of Champaign County has set a goal to help 240 participants raise money to cover the costs of a nine-week day camp program for low-income and at-risk children ages 6-13 this summer.
Registration for both in-person participants and external supporters is open online at www.Sal.Army.US/redkettlerun. Runners, walkers and even demonstrators who register for the event with a $24 donation will circle the track in two-hour blocks.
Cooling stations with snacks and drinks are available along the track throughout the day.
The summer camp, which runs from June 7 to August 6, offers children the opportunity to grow and develop themselves by helping them build social skills, receive daily nutritional meals, participate and learn team sports, achieve goals in daily planned activities and receive daily tutoring in math and reading.
ORCHESTRA TO PERFORM AT FISCHER THEATER
The Danville Symphony Orchestra has signed an agreement with the Fischer Theater for the symphony’s 2021-22 season.
The agreement includes hiring theater staff from marketing and box office to full-service production management.
At least three of the symphony’s four full orchestral concertos will take place at the Fischer Theater, beginning with the “Roaring Twenties” concert on October 16 featuring the music of Cole Porter and Gershwin.
The orchestra will bring Broadway performers into town to sing some songs.
Fischer Executive Director Jason Rome said he believes the alliance will benefit both the theater and the symphony. He said the theater is an anchor in the community and the cornerstone of the city’s plans to rebuild downtown Danville.
Don Marrow, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Vermilion Heritage Foundation, added: “This partnership aligns perfectly with our mission to provide, through the Fischer Theater, a premier multi-purpose venue for the performing and visual arts, and to contribute to the economic development of the Danville area.”
Rantoul hosts Prospect Games tryouts
The Rantoul Family Sports Complex was selected to host the USA Baseball Midwest Region team tryouts, known as the Prospect Games.
More than 300 athletes and families from 11 states gathered at Rantoul in hopes of eventually representing the nation on Team USA in international competitions.
Rick Janor, USA Baseball’s Midwest Region Regional Director, said choosing the Rantoul facility was an easy decision, “given the synthetic turf, quality of the facility, excellent amenities” and the service provided by the complex’s staff. .