The Canton Community College/Spoon River College Alumni Association hosted their annual Alumni Association Awards Reception and Athletic Hall of Fame Induction November 6 at the Canton Campus.
Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Pamela Wilson, DrCH, Med, LVT, MCHES, earned her associate degree from Spoon River College in 1977, a bachelor’s in zoology from SIU Carbondale in 1979, and a master’s in Health Education from the University of Texas in 1991. In 2019, she was recognized with an Honorary Doctorate in Community Health from SIUC for her devotion to protecting public health, especially through her work at Texas’ Department of State Health Services, where she was part of the state’s Oral Rabies Vaccination program that eliminated the domestic dog/coyote and Texas fox rabies variants.
During her career in veterinary science and health education, Wilson has received the H.E.A.L.T.H. Award from the Texas Department of Health, the Humane Educator Award from Texas Animal Control, and the Veterinary Technician of the Year Award of Special Merit by the Texas Veterinary Medical Association. Wilson has also authored several books, articles, and professional publications. She currently works in Zoonosis Control at the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin, and is an adjunct for Austin Community College in veterinary medical terminology.
Wilson received the SRC Alumni Achievement Award in 2002 and delivered the college’s commencement address in 2003. She also delivered the address at SIU’s College of Science and College of Agricultural Sciences earlier this year. She is the daughter of Bill Wilson, who taught biology at Spoon River College for 25 years and who was the 2012 recipient of the SRC Distinguished Retiree Award.
The Outstanding Service Award was presented to Paula Grigsby, who attended Spoon River College before earning her bachelor’s degree in business administration at WIU. That degree helped her launch Paula’s Acrobatics & Aerobics and Paula’s Tumbling Tornados, which later became Canton Fitness Center. She taught tumbling and exercise classes at her facility, which also housed weight-lifting equipment and tanning beds.
In 1987 Grigsby was hired as the program director of the Canton Family YMCA, in 2000 she became the associate executive, and in 2009, Grigsby became the executive director. Along the way, she brought the Tumbling Tornados to the YMCA and built it into an elite, nationally-known tumbling, trampoline, and double-mini team. Her awards include being named the United States Tumbling Association’s Coach of the Year in 1991, 1993, and 1996, and being named to the USTA’s Hall of Fame in 2019.
Grigsby serves on the Kiwanis, Rotary, and Graham Hospital Board, and with the First Christian Church. She has also served on the Chamber of Commerce Board, and was part of the committee that brought the Veterans’ Memorial to Lakeland Park.
Grigsby and husband Dave have two children, Jenni and James (Boomer), and eight grandchildren (soon to be nine).
Dr. Roland Pettit, a native of Wyoming, Il, was the recipient of the Distinguished SRC Retiree Award. He graduated from Wyoming Community High School in 1950, attended the University of Illinois, with a stint in the Army, and obtained his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1956. He returned and completed his Master of Science in Agriculture Education in 1971, and later obtained his Doctor of Education from Nova Southeastern University.
Pettit credits growing up on a farm and his involvement in agricultural organizations for leading him toward a career in ag education, which began when he helped launch a new ag program in Galena, and then a few years later, went into the feed and fertilizer business. He was the president of Western Fertilizer in Wisconsin when he came to Canton Community College in 1969 to launch another fledging agriculture education program. He retired from CCC in 1988, and began working for the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of International Marketing where he traveled frequently. He specifically mentions Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, France, and Italy as memorable experiences. Pettit remains active in the Canton community, including at the Wesley United Methodist Church.
Alumni Achievement Awards were presented to Nancy Anderson, Klinton Briney, Scott Brown, Brian Fengel, Chris Helle, and Lindsey Larson.
Nancy Anderson, originally from Farmington, owned her first dance studio at age 16, flying to Chicago regularly to attend Dance Masters classes while still a student at Farmington High School. After graduating high school, Anderson attended morning classes at Canton Community College and taught dance in the evenings, and it was at CCC that she met her husband Bill.
In 1975, Anderson returned to what had become known as Spoon River College to earn a nursing degree while she continued to run her dance studio and raise two daughters. She maintained a 4.0 GPA and received the “Nurse of the Year” award. She was also chosen as part of a group to represent Canton in a national television show, “Almost Anything Goes.”
In 1983, Nancy, Bill, and their family moved to Urbana, Ohio, and she opened the Nancy Anderson Dance Studio in 1994, offering tap, ballet, and tumbling lessons to students ages 4 and older.
Anderson is a certified Dance Masters of America Teacher, a member of the National Dance Association and The American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation and Dance, and is a Certified Aerobics instructor. She has choreographed for the Fulton County Playhouse, the Canton Friendship Festival pageant, and for plays at Urbana High School for over 20 years. She teaches a group of Senior Tappers in Urbana as a community service, and they won first place at Nationals in Florida.
Nancy and Bill enjoy traveling and spending time with their two daughters and five grandchildren.
Klinton Briney, originally from Lewistown, launched a web design business at the age of 10, which he credits with helping to develop the passion that led to his career in sports and entertainment marketing and public relations. After taking dual credit classes at SRC, he studied business marketing, sports entertainment, and public relations at Butler University, graduating with his bachelor’s degree in 2006. While at Butler, he took part in several internships, including one at MTV in New York City.
Briney has worked for now-retired Indy 500 driver Sarah Fisher and NASCAR. In 2010, he founded his own Los Angeles-based company, BRANDed Management, a sports/entertainment marketing and public relations agency. He represents celebrities and athletes and teaches them how to handle media, secures sponsorship and endorsement deals, and manages some of the biggest events in the entertainment and sports industries.
Briney has also developed brands for celebrities, athletes, and corporations, and has helped plan events and promotions associated with The Today Show, Susan G. Komen for the Curt, the Indy 500, the White House, and the Super Bowl. He has also published three books, and was a finalist for the 2012 White House Empact100 List of “The Top Entrepreneurs Under 30.”
Briney and wife Natalie live in Los Angeles.
Scott Brown, a 2003 Canton High School graduate, loved computers from an early age, and credits a dual credit class he took at SRC with fueling his interest in technology and leading to his career. He was just 19 years old when he founded TimbukTech in 2004, a technology consulting firm where Brown serves as owner and president.
Brown first opened a location in Macomb in 2004, then opened his first storefront in Canton a year later. By 2009, TimbukTech had moved to its current location on Randolph Street in Macomb, and by 2014, had moved to a larger location on East Chestnut in Canton. In 2016, TimbukTech expanded to a third location in Washington. The company has become a leader in the business technology sector in Central Illinois and it continues to expand.
In August of 2020, a high-profile search for a missing person prompted Brown to contact Chris Helle, director of Fulton County ESDA, to offer his help. He purchased and donated a drone equipped with thermal imaging, which has been used regularly in Fulton County and other counties across the region in emergency situations.
In 2021, Brown was recognized as the Canton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business Person of the Year for his professional efforts, the growth of TimbukTech, and his service to the community.
Brian Fengel, a 1983 Canton High School graduate, first came to SRC with the intention of being a welder. He earned that welding certificate, but also ended up taking a variety of other courses. His interest in law enforcement came after a family member was victim to a scam and after completing an internship with the Canton Police Department through SRC. He joined the Bartonville Police Department in January 1990, and became the Chief of Police eight years later.
Fengel is a 2001 graduate of the FBI National Academy, and he also graduated from the Northwestern University Executive Management Program. During his tenure as Chief, he served on the Illinois Silver Search Task Force, AMBER Alert Task Force, and Elder Abuse Task Force, and he worked the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He established the Bartonville Police Explorer program, and also established the Bartonville Safety of Seniors Program.
In 2012, Fengel was recognized as the State of Illinois’ Elderly Service Officer of the Year, sponsored and presented by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. In 2014, he was elected the fourth vice president for the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Board of Directors. He is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and has served on several boards, including the Public Safety Office Medal of Valor Review Board, which operates under the Department of Justice, following his appointment from the United States Congress in 2015.
Fengel retired in 2019 after 29 years in law enforcement to become the Director/Coordinator of the Central Illinois Police Training Center, where he coordinates training for more than 50 law enforcement agencies. He is an adjunct professor in criminal justice and criminal investigate at ICC for almost 20 years.
Fengel resides in Peoria County with his wife Tanya and their two children Emily and Blake. He remains active in Kiwanis, Shriners, Lions Club, and other community service agencies.
Chris Helle graduated from Farmington High School in 1997, then earned an associate degree from SRC with the goal of pursuing a career in criminal justice. Instead he went into the family business, Sawmill Hydraulics, and was key to helping the business grow into a national brand. He was named the 2010 Small Business Exporter of the Year for his efforts.
At the same time, Helle was discovering a passion for public service, first serving as the emergency services director in his hometown and helping build Farmington’s efforts into a top-notch program. He was recognized by the Governor of Florida and by FEMA for his role in providing support in the aftermath of the 2004 hurricane. He was also recognized locally by the Fulton County Board and was appointed as the director of the county’s Emergency Services and Disaster Agency (ESDA), and 911/Emergency Telephone Coordinator, positions he continues to hold.
Helle serves on the Illinois Search and Rescue Advance Team, and was recognized as a 2004 Volunteer of the Year in Emergency Management and as a 2013 Neighborhood Hero. Under his leadership, Fulton County ESDA has become the premier Emergency Services Agency in Illinois, with highly trained volunteers that can support and command full-fledged disaster recoveries.
Helle has written and received multiple grants for the county and for local governments and agencies. His leadership has organized and unified all local first responder agencies, allowing them to utilize each other’s expertise. In his role as ETSB (Emergency Telephone Service Board) Coordinator, he oversaw a remap of the county, the process of renaming roads, and building a communication network that keeps Fulton County residents safe.
Last but not least, Helle has built a large social media fanbase through his accurate and comprehensive weather and disaster notifications, along with some help from Trash Panda, the temporary foster cat that became a permanent resident of the Helle household and unofficial mascot of Fulton County ESDA. Helle and his wife, Stacey, have two teenaged children, Maddie and Ryan, and continue to live in Farmington.
Lindsey Larson is “an enthusiastic teacher, talented performer, committed social activist, and dedicated mother of triplets,” wrote Larson’s nominator for her Alumni Achievement Award.
While a student at Canton High School, she served as Drum Major for the CHS marching band, performed in numerous plays, musicals, and Madrigals, reached the IHSA State Speech Competition in Poetry, earned First Princess in the Friendship Festival queen competition, and still found time to take dual credit classes at SRC.
Larson’s time as a teenage volunteer with special needs children and adults at KARE led her to Northern Illinois University where she earned a degree in special education. She taught in DeKalb, continued performing in local theatre, and met her future husband, Josh. After their marriage, the couple moved to Washington, where Larson taught special education while earning her master’s degree from Xavier University.
Larson is currently a GED instructor in the Adult Education program at Spoon River College. She also serves on the board and teaches at The Breathing Tree Yoga Studio in Canton, continues to participate in the SRC Community Chorus, and organizes local Live Life Full fundraisers, raising tens of thousands of dollars for Prader-Willi Research.
The couple returned to Canton following the birth of their triplets – Hannah, Gwendolyn, and Elliot. Larson credits her background in special education with being her primer for advocating for her own special needs child, life as a GED instructor, and life as a community member who works to help lift others up and realize their own potential.
The 1964 Canton Community College baseball team was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame during the reception.
Team members are Bill Anderson, Chuck Bentley, John Doolan (deceased), Mike Frisch (deceased), Ron George (deceased), Ed Hoffman, Carroll Herman (deceased), Dick Kautz (deceased), Jack Meyer, Jasper “Jay” Parrish (deceased), Rich Prosser, Paul Swiger, Ken Walker, Ed Warner, Randy Welch. Coach Harry Smith (deceased) and Manage Lee Baker.
The team was the 1964 NJCAA Region IV Champions and NJCAA Illinois State Champions
After a solid regular season, the 1964 Canton Community College men’s baseball team got hot at the right time and won the NJCAA Region IV Championship en route to being the NJCAA State Champions of Illinois. No CCC or SRC baseball team has ever advanced further into postseason play.