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Today's Opinions

  • Vandalia native recording images of our city

    Someone asked the other day how I found ideas for the articles that appear in this column.

    That is an interesting question. A subject can be suggested by a photograph, a biography of a person, the history of a town and even questions from our readers.

    Fayette County’s recorded history begins in scattered histories of Illinois, the "History of Fayette County," published in 1878; followed by the "Pictorial History of Vandalia, Illinois," in 1904; and the "Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Fayette County," from 1910.

  • Funds aid fight to eradicate breast cancer

    There aren’t many among us who haven’t been impacted by breast cancer.

    It is the leading cause of cancer death among women between the ages of 40 and 59, and it is second only to lung cancer in total cancer deaths among women.

    This week, we at The Leader-Union are observing national Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a variety of activities.

  • Accidental poisoning kills family members

    Along with contributing a weekly history column for The Leader-Union, I also answer genealogy and history questions in a “Queries” column published bi-monthly in The Ramsey News-Journal.

    A question from Ron Marsh of Pullman, Wash., prompted me to look closer at the family of Zelah F. Watwood, who homesteaded along Boaz Creek (Ramsey Creek) in the 1830s.

    Ron had found the family living in Fayette County in 1840 and 1850, but Zelah was not mentioned in the 1855 Illinois State Census records. Ron questioned what happened to him. Had he moved on?

  • Keep recycling momentum going

    It’s been a long time since residents of this area were offered any type of recycling program. If the participation in recent recycling drives are any indication, they are ready and willing to start recycling again.

    In recent months, area residents have had the opportunity to turn in old electronic items and paper products, instead of throwing those items into the trash. Those drives have kept several tractor-trailer loads of old TVs, computers, cardboard boxes, newspapers and other pieces of what is normally considered to be garbage out of our landfills.

  • More War of 1812 veterans buried here

    Last week, I wrote of my work to compile a list of War of 1812 veterans buried in Fayette County. Beginning with seven names, the list had grown to 11 by publication time.

    After receiving her newspaper, Lucille Fisher telephoned to remind me of the War of 1812 veteran marker in the Pilcher Cemetery for Winslow Pilcher. Winslow served in Captain G. Smith’s Company of the Virginia Militia.

  • VCC solution is vital to future of this area

    This area dodged a major bullet last week when a Johnson County judge issued a preliminary injunction that prevented Gov. Pat Quinn from laying off more than 2,600 state employees – including about 125 at Vandalia Correctional Center.

    The ruling sends the governor and the union representing the prison workers back to the bargaining table.

    Hopefully, by buying some time, the two sides can begin moving down a path that will lead to real solutions that work for everyone involved.

  • Newspaper Week a chance to reflect on changes

    Given the roller-coaster ride that those of us in the media have been on this past year, it’s more appropriate than ever to pause and take a deep breath during National Newspaper Week.

    And as we do, it’s time to take stock of this always fascinating but sometimes maddening institution in which we toil.

  • Cooperation key to halt VCC cuts

    It’s down to crunch time.

    One week from today, the state is scheduled to lay off 2,600 state workers, including 1,000 employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections. About 125 of those layoffs would be at Vandalia Correctional Center.