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Wednesday, June 4, 2008 11:26 pm

Cap City

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Untitled Document WRONG NUMBER Jane Connelly was so fed up with getting “bad” phone calls that she disconnected her home phone and, at age 55, decided to get herself one of those newfangled cellular phones. She was happy with her decision, until she realized that the number AT&T assigned to her phone had previously belonged to someone named Gail Simpson. Connelly, a home health aide who scheduled her talk with us around her Bible-study group, had no idea who this Simpson person was, aside from the fact that she seemed to get a lot of calls. “I haven’t really talked to them. None of them have really told me what they want, because I tell them it’s a wrong number,” Connelly says. She was surprised to hear that these wrong-number callers were expecting to talk to Ward 2 Ald. Gail Simpson. The suggestion that she could impersonate Simpson seemed to give Connelly a giggle.
“That would be funny! Then I could find out the scoop,” she says. Simpson and one other council member, Ward 4 Ald. Frank Lesko, had city-issued AT&T cell phones that were deactivated during February budget cuts. Lesko’s number was inherited by a woman who says she hasn’t yet received a single call for the alderman. “I’ve had a coupla bill collectors call, and I can’t think of the name [they asked for], but it wasn’t Lesko,” she says.
LOST IN “SLUDGE CITY”
Kids who attend camp at St. Patrick Catholic School next week won’t be allowed to touch a computer — unless, that is, they’re approaching it with tools to thoroughly dismantle the machine. Called Camp Invention, this one-week course encourages kids to use creativity and teamwork to exchange ideas, test those ideas, and solve problems. Each camper also has the chance to bring an appliance from home, take it apart, and use the guts to create something new. The curriculum was developed by the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation, in Akron, Ohio, and was implemented at St. Patrick’s last summer. School principal Cora Benson says the relationship between the school and the camp began when then-board president Rick Maiocco happened to sit next to a National Inventors Hall of Fame representative on a flight to Philadelphia. Last year’s camp theme played off the TV show Lost. Campers were challenged to imagine that they had wrecked their airplane on another planet and find a way to survive and get back home. “They had to figure out how to survive by finding shelter, food, learning how to fish, and becoming friends,” Benson says. In another class, kids were challenged to build “car safety seats” for eggs. This year, campers will be lost in “Sludge City,” where they’ll need to find ways to address pollution, Benson says. The camp begins Monday morning at 9:30. The cost is $180 per child, but some $25 discounts are available, Benson says.
KUDOS Last week’s cover girl, Chevonne Watson, will be honored Friday night at the Lawrence Adult Education Center’s graduation ceremony as the recipient of the Peg Stroh Scholarship. Named after a late assistant principal, the $250 award is given to the college-bound graduate selected by a vote of all teachers at Lawrence. Watson, a single mother with two young children, plans to attend Lincoln Land Community College to study medical transcription [see Dusty Rhodes, “Least likely to succeed,” May 29]. Barbara Rochelle, family literacy specialist at Lawrence, says Watson has another surprise or two coming during the graduation ceremony, but declines to provide details.
SECOND CHANCE Last week, Springfield sculptor Jeff P. Garland installed some 35 pieces of his colorful Prairie Kinetic artwork throughout the Washington Park Botanical Gardens. To entice local art patrons, he threw an opening party, complete with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Sadly, just as the soirée should have been starting, the sound of sirens was heard throughout Springfield. Looking at garden art while sipping Chablis is so much more fun when there’s no tornado warning! “Four people showed up early, at 5, and that was about it,” Garland says. Everyone on the grounds retreated to the basement of the Botanical building, except the artist, who bravely stayed above ground with his work and his Chablis. Because the opening never really got off the ground, Garland’s hosting a reopening, 5:30-8 p.m. Friday, June 6. International Carillon Festival-goers are welcome. Garland’s flora- and fauna-themed art will remain on display (and on sale) through the month of June.
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