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Today's Opinions

  • Mary Burtschi was 'historical treasure'

    I was working on an article about some of Fayette County’s settlements and villages when my sister Jane telephoned to tell me that Mary Burtschi had passed away.

    It was then that I decided my column this week would be about my friend and mentor, Mary Pauline Burtschi.

    I first met Mary on July 5, 1981, at “The Little Brick House” on St. Clair Street in Vandalia.

  • Louis Schutz home grew a second story

    The two photographs pictured with this story absolutely captivated me from the first moment I saw them. Why? Both pictures are of the same house.

    Home and business of tailor, Louis Schutz, and his seamstress sister, Anna, the address was 215 S. Fourth St., across the street from Gloria’s Christian Supply.

    The one-story structure is very old, probably older than Louie Schutz, who was born 1877 in Vandalia. This photo dates to the early 1900s.

  • Downtown project to hit high gear

    If you've driven in downtown Vandalia recently, you know that the enhancement project there is clearly under way.

    For now, the work is confined primarily to upgrading the city's storm sewer system on Fifth and Sixth streets. Though not as visible as later portions of the project will be, fixing the storm sewers is vitally important in making the downtown area attractive for current and future businesses. We must fix that system if we're to end the basement flooding and other problems that have plagued the antiquated existing sewer system.

  • Saving office of human services a victory for all

    From the beginning, it was a decision that didn’t even meet the state’s own criteria for closing offices. The client base was higher than the minimum set by the agency for closure and the driving distances to alternative Department of Human Services offices were greater than the standard set by the agency.

    It just didn’t make sense.

  • Cemetery statues were sculpted in Italy

    A couple of weeks back, my friend, Joyce McClary, was showing me photographs taken on one of her walks.

    Joyce was scrolling through the images, telling me where she had taken the shots when all at once I stopped her. The next photo was of the statue in South Hill Cemetery of a seated woman.

    The previous week, I had searched newspaper microfilm at Evans Public Library, looking for a story about four statues, sculpted in Italy, unveiled during a Memorial Day ceremony in 1952. The seated woman was one of the four.

  • Friend turns out to be journalism prof

    Recently, I contacted my friend, Roger Boye, of Evanston, to tell him my exciting news! My name appeared among the acknowledgments in Edward Callary’s new book, “Place Names Of Illinois.” This was a first for me, and I knew Roger would appreciate what it meant.

    I met Roger early in 1995 through a genealogical query. He was interested in family information on the Rheiner and Boye families of St. Paul. I copied what I had and sent it to him.

  • Good choices keep prom safe

    This is the time of year for proms, and many local high schools have either held theirs already or will be holding them soon. At Vandalia Community High School, the prom is this Saturday from 7-11:30 p.m.

    It’s a wonderful time of making memories, socializing with friends and enjoying a dress-up date. If you’d like a glimpse into the evening’s activities, the coronation of the prom king and queen will take place at 8 p.m. in the gymnasium. This year’s theme is “A Night of Enchantment.”

  • Downtown pain worth the gain

    This week, they brought in the big equipment.

    And as the first buckets of earth were moved, the downtown enhancement project in Vandalia is officially under way.

    The first phase will be to install new storm sewer lines. Those will take runoff water out of the sanitary sewer system, which should significantly reduce the load on our sewage treatment plant. Plus, by moving the storm water out of the area more efficiently, the incidents of basement flooding will be significantly reduced in the downtown area.