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A reason we are thankful – electricity and the Illinois Landmarks grant!

Newly installed outdoor lights – the first ones the Independent has ever had!

Logan Sullivan working on wiring the new lighting on the building.

Mike Sullivan, owner of Sullivan Electric, drilling through layers of brick to install lights on the front of the Independent.

Landon Sullivan waving from above – working on the outside service.

Mike Sullivan and two sons Landon and Lawson working on the new lighting.

Lawson Sullivan drilling the placement for the ground wire.


By Jennifer Lane

Over the past year, the past 138 years to be exact, God has protected this historic Hardin County Independent building (est. 1884) and recently provided restoration of its electrical issues through the hands of Mike Sullivan and sons, Logan, Landon, and Lawson of Mike Sullivan Electric of Harrisburg, IL. Since the service and meter had to be upgraded, SouthEastern Illinois Electric (SEIEC) employees also contributed to the repair.

There have been upgrades and quick fixes to the newspaper building over the years, but more problems developed earlier this year that could not be ignored. Sometimes we felt like we were in an episode of “Stranger Things” when the power would bog down and flicker. Let me tell you it was quite dramatic at times. My sister, Heather Rash, and I managed to get a newspaper out each week while we experienced a hot summer and extremely cold fall. The electricity would fluctuate causing not enough, or too much at times. We couldn’t run the air conditioning or heat for fear of fire. We lost two appliances this summer due to the issues. Though we were uncomfortable, our computers withstood the issues and we got the job done. There were many times that we thought about packing things up to work from home, but somehow we kept going.

Obviously, we don’t make a ton of money here so the first obstacle was finances. This was going to be a big expense! I learned of the Landmarks Illinois Southern Illinois Preserve Grant Program that was established earlier this year in partnership with Banterra Bank. The grant program provides monetary assistance to preserve or rehabilitate historic structures in downtown areas and other commercial corridors of Southern Illinois to support economic development. There are two opportunities each year to apply with deadlines in January and July. I was one of the first applicants and was blessed to received the grant! To apply, visit

It took time….everything takes time… but I finally received the $2,500 in grant money with the stipulation that I must match it. I had to borrow money from Banterra and got a little extra to make other repairs. There were also a few local people who heard about our financial situation and gave donations. We were humbled and thankful for that.

We had the roof tarred, replaced a door and a window, installed a water hose spigot, fixed some plumbing in the basement, and repainted the trim and doors black.

We still have some painting to do and other projects that are important, but they are going to be expensive. These include masonry work and work to reinforce the floors and stairs. It’s time and money, time and money.

Back to our main issue, the electricity –

Earlier this year when I contacted Travis Shortland, Serviceman with SEIEC, to look over the building for the electricity issue, he said there were several things that needed to be repaired. Frankly, he was shocked and expressed concern for a fire. Shortland told me that I need to get someone who was very experienced and thorough. He recommended Mike Sullivan. I trusted Travis and gave Mike a call right away.

The day before Thanksgiving Mike and his crew arrived and spent the entire day working to restore the electricity back to full capacity. They completed a 200 Amp meter service and panel upgrade. They also installed some gorgeous new lights on the front of the building and another light on the side of the building where we park.

Mike is a third generation electrician. Like myself, a third generation owner of the Hardin County Independent, I think that is something to be proud of – carrying on family the tradition!

Mike’s grandfather, Vernon Sullivan, owned McKinney Appliances in Eldorado in the 1950s. During that time, it became very popular for people to buy air conditioners and refrigerators, but they didn’t have the proper wiring and electricity to support those new-to-everyone appliances. Vernon, self-taught, began to rewire electricity in these people’s homes which led him to the start of his own business, Sullivan Electric.

Vernon’s son, Chuck, worked for the railroad until Mike was born. He wanted to be home more so he went to work for his dad as an electrician.

When Mike was old enough, he remembers working for his grandpa and said he was tough guy who expected a good effort. Mike’s younger brother, Brett Sullivan, is also a Journeyman Wireman and can attest to their grandpa being a tough guy. Mike also worked for various Southern Illinois contractors through the years before taking on his own business. Mike expects the same work ethic of his sons, that was instilled in him by his grandpa and dad.

Today, Mike Sullivan Electric is a 24 hour, full service, residential and commercial union electrical contractor company in Harrisburg. Mike’s crew services all of the Russell Oil Company’s gas stations, stores, and rentals across Southern Illinois. He also provides electrical services for Clearwave Communications, in addition to small businesses like the Independent, and individuals at their homes.

Mike’s sons are proud to be a part of the business, referring to themselves as 4th generation electricians. Logan, 26, started helping just after his grandpa Chuck passed away, when he was just 10 years old. Mike added, laughing, “Yeah, for a dollar an hour.” Today, Logan works for his dad full time. He has gained hands-on experience through the business, and is training through the International Brotherhood of Electrical Works (IBEW 702) now as a CW4. Middle son, Landon, 21, will begin his training in January. Youngest son, Lawson, 15, says he plans to pursue a career in the family business as an electrician, too.

I bet their great-grandpa Vernon would be proud.

In addition to their three young men, Mike and wife Joni, have two daughters: Laney, 21, (a twin to Landon) and Livvie, 14.

Mike Sullivan Electric, LLC  618-926-3304


Landmarks Illinois grant information…

Check presentation of Landmarks Illinois matching grant. Suzanne Germann (Landmarks Illinois Director of Reinvestment); Shain Lloyd (Banterra Bank Regional Manager, Metropolis), Jennifer Lane (Owner and Editor of the Hardin County Independent); and Heather Rash (Hardin County Independent Reporter/Ad Designer). Jennifer and Heather are sisters and a third generation of this business.

Businesses in Elizabethtown and Sesser are the first recipients of the
Landmarks Illinois Banterra Bank Preserve Southern Illinois Grant Program

The Hardin County Independent in Elizabethtown and Brewed on Broadway and Pin Up Salon in Sesser have been awarded matching grants through the Landmarks Illinois Banterra Bank Preserve Southern Illinois Grant Program. Both businesses will use the grant funding to make necessary repairs to the historic buildings in which they operate. Representatives from Landmarks Illinois and Banterra Bank will host community events in Elizabethtown and Sesser next week to present checks to the grant recipients.
The Hardin County Independent, a local newspaper founded in 1871, has been awarded a $2,500 matching grant to help make electrical repairs in its downtown Elizabethtown building that it has operated in since 1925. Read more about this grant recipient at our website, .
“This grant money could not have come at a better time,” said Hardin County Independent owner, Jennifer Lane. “What we thought were some minor issues with our electricity at the office have turned into a very expensive situation. This grant money will only cover a portion of the cost. We had to borrow money from Banterra Bank to match the grant funds to make these necessary repairs.”
Jennifer added that it has been a very hot summer and a cold start to fall without the full use of electricity for air conditioning and heat, but thankful that the repairs will be made soon.
Brewed on Broadway, a coffee shop, and Pin Up Salon in Sesser are located in two downtown historic buildings owned by Rebecca and Kenny Benedict, the Gualdoni building and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows building. A $2,500 matching grant will help pay for needed tuckpointing and masonry repairs at the buildings that sit across the street from each other. Read more about this grant recipient at our website, .
This is the first round of funding announced through the Landmarks Illinois Banterra Bank Preserve Southern Illinois Grant Program, which launched in the spring of 2022. Landmarks Illinois and Banterra Bank will host check presentations with both grant recipients on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. Members of the community and the press are welcome to attend the check presentations.
Representatives of the Hardin County Independent were presented with their grant at 9:30 a.m. at their office building at 196 W. 1st St. in Elizabethtown, Illinois.
The Benedicts, along with their daughter Chelsea Zettler, will be presented with their grant at 3 p.m. at the Brewed on Broadway building at 102 W. Franklin Ave. in Sesser, Illinois.
About the grant program – The Landmarks Illinois Banterra Bank Preserve Southern Illinois Grant Program provides monetary assistance to preserve or rehabilitate historic structures in downtowns and other commercial corridors of Southern Illinois to support economic development. This is the first grant program Landmarks Illinois has targeted to a specific Illinois economic development region and is also the organization’s first grant program offered to private building owners, developers and for-profit business owners.
Grants are awarded on a matching basis and range from $500 to $2,500, each based on project need. Grants are distributed twice a year. Grant application deadlines are January 1 and July 1 each year. Commercial property owners, nonprofit organizations or governmental bodies are encouraged to apply. Visit our website to read detailed grant guidelines and to submit an application.
About Banterra Bank – Founded in Southern Illinois, Banterra Bank approached Landmarks Illinois with the grant program concept, because they saw a need for preserving the region’s historic downtown buildings and supporting small business development in the area. Banterra began as a single bank in Ridgway, Illinois in July of 1975. Today, Banterra has $2.7 billion in assets and is ranked in the Top Ten Percent of U.S. Charter Banks and Top Five Percent for Illinois Charter Banks by asset size. Banterra has almost 40 locations in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Utah, as well as a specialty lending division that serves customers nationwide. For more information, call 866-BANTERRA (226-8377) or go to
About Landmarks Illinois – We are People Saving Places for People. Landmarks Illinois is a membership-based, historic preservation nonprofit organization serving the people of Illinois. We inspire and empower stakeholders to save places that matter to them by providing free guidance, practical and financial resources and access to strategic partnerships. For more information, visit

Landmarks grant Video Links from WSIL and facebook


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