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Wednesday, May 28, 2008 03:41 pm

Cap City

The Illinois Symphony Orchestra is changing its tune. In recent days, key players have resigned, including board president Jane Denes, chorus director Richard Robert Rossi, at least one other board member, and some office personnel. No one with the administration could comment on the record, but a source with first-hand knowledge of the resignations says these changes are part of a positive process, and that ISO is moving toward a higher level. The source emphasized that the board members serve on a volunteer basis, and that such resignations are “typical at the end of a season.”
This isn’t the first time that ISOhas experienced dissonance, especially with its choral component. About this same time, in 2005, director Marion van der Loo was abruptly fired [see Dusty Rhodes, “Discord in the Symphony,” June 30, 2005]. Van der Loo had led the group for a dozen years; Rossi resigned after only a quarter of that time.
HELP UNDERWATER TEAM STAY AFLOAT In the last two weeks, the members of the Springfield Underwater Search and Rescue Team have scoured local beaches for foreign objects. They’ve helped a fella recover two lost Sea-Doos from the depths of Lake Springfield. They’ve even extracted three pipelines that were sticking out of the shoreline, posing a threat to boaters. Jim Hoover, a SUSART veteran, says the team has recovered a wide variety of items from the lake since 1960 and, what’s more, they’ve always done their jobs for free. “We do it just to help people do something that they can’t do on their own,” Hoover says. “Most people, if they lose something in the water, they assume it’s gone. If they know for sure where they’ve dropped it, we can go back and get it for them.”
After all these years, SUSART is finally asking for help of its own. Last week the team asked the community to help fund a new storage facility to house its 31-foot pontoon boat and jon boat, trailers, dive truck, and dive equipment. Additionally, Hoover says, the team members just learned that their scuba tanks are made of a “questionable aluminum alloy” and need to be replaced. For more information on SUSART or to offer a donation, call Hoover at 217-529-5191.
BAMBI AND THE FOX We’ve grown quite accustomed to seeing the meetings of governing bodies turn into zoos, but we found it unusual when we happened upon a pair of woodland creatures recently — not in the forests along the Sangamon River’s south fork or even at the Springfield municipal complex but deep within the city limits, near the Pasfield Golf Course. One recent Saturday, in separate sightings, we spotted a doe and a gray fox crossing Lawrence Avenue from the golf course around dusk. Lance Flury, Pasfield’s golf pro, says deer sightings are common on the course, which is sandwiched between Washington Park and a patch of woods just north of Lawrence. The fox, however, is a newcomer. Flury, who is unsure where the animal’s den is located, says the Pasfield canid has become a regular, sometimes lying out on the fairway while games are in progress. “He’s not intimidated by people. It’s almost like he’s domesticated,” Flury says. Before area residents begin freaking out, it should be noted that although foxes, like all wild animals, will defend their dens and offspring against threats, they generally don’t attack children, nor are they likely to dine on your pets — that is, of course, unless your hamster is allowed to roam freely in the park.
BETTER THAN SLEEPING IN HIS CAR Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg offered a bit of an apology last week, noting that he actually succeeded in finding a decent place to sleep in the capital city. In town with his family to hear U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speak, Steinberg wrote in a May 23 column that he and his family spent the night at the Hilton Garden Inn and found it “pleasant, with its airy, high-ceilinged lobby and good coffee.” He even found time to do some old-fashioned Chicago-style journalism and studied the phone book in his hotel room. He discovered — stop the presses! — that there are many things named for Lincoln here. It’s a far cry from an earlier visit in March, when the professional sourpuss had nothing kind to say about his stay at a popular bed & breakfast [see Cap City, April 3].
A PLACE TO TALK RACE This year, the centennial of the infamous Springfield race riot gives special meaning to the Race Unity Rally, an annual event that promotes diversity and racial reconciliation. Karen A. Davis, a senior vice president with Regions Bank and a Springfield native, will speak at the rally, which starts at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 1, in the Capitol rotunda. The event also features live music and dance, the announcement of winners in the children’s art and poetry contest, and exhibits and remarks about the 1908 riot. After the event, cake and refreshments will be served at the Capitol Visitors Center. For more information, go to www.springfieldbahai.org or call 217-553-5978.
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