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Today's Opinions

  • Jack Ruby spent time in Fayette County

    I can remember this so clearly," Gene Etchason said. "My dad was reclining in his easy chair, while mom was in the kitchen getting dinner ready. We were watching the mid-day news, when, all of a sudden, dad sat up straight and said 'Jack Ruby!'

    "On the television screen was the scene where (Lee Harvey) Oswald was being taken from the Dallas jail when a dark-haired man holding a gun stepped forward.

    Within 15 minutes, there was a banging on the front door. There stood Wilson Hill, and he rushed in the room saying, Ruby! Jack Ruby!

  • Route 51 hearing vital to our future

    One doesnt have to stand along Interstate 70 very long to realize just how much east-west traffic travels through Vandalia on that four-lane highway. Hopefully, the same will be true for north-south traffic in the not-too-distant future.

    The Illinois Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing here next Thursday as it progresses with its four-lane expansion of U.S. Route 51. We hope that the hearing draws a good crowd of local residents.

  • Photographic plates a real steal at auction

    Several years ago, I attended an auction in Ramsey for the late Lois Stoddard.

    Among the treasures I carried home that day were three shoeboxes of photographic glass plates. As my bid was accepted, a man over my shoulder said, "You probably just got the best deal of the day." I had to agree.

    Lucky for me, Judy Stoddard Lampkin of Chicago was attending the auction. BJ Mueller introduced us, for which Im grateful, because Judy knew a lot about the plates. She told me they were most probably those of Frances Willis Mattes, who had been dead for many years.

  • City's division on engineering not good

    The city of Vandalia has some significant projects on the table, including the extension of water and sewer lines at the western Interstate 70 interchange and improvements to the downtown business district. And there are signs of other projects planned in the future.

    It's not the best time to have an obvious split among city officials about who should provide engineering services. Based on comments and votes at recent city council meetings, there is such a split.

  • Burtschis founded title company in 1890

    Burtschi Brothers Title Co. had its beginning on Aug. 5, 1890, when Julius Louis Burtschi acted as the go-between on a $700 loan from William Sonnemann to Katy Mayz.

    The next year, Julius opened an office on the second floor of a new Gallatin Street building, on the site of his birthplace. This second year, he made seven loans and built the first of 800 houses that he would build during his lifetime.

  • Downtown project must be a priority in 2008

    As they look back on 2007, city officials have to be pleased with many things that they saw within the past year, including the continued development of Vandalias western Interstate 70 interchange.

    But, as they reflect, Mayor Rick Gottman, City Administrator Jimmy Morani, Director of Economic Development JoAnn Givens and Vandalia aldermen also need to be looking at some projects looming in the future.

    At the top of the list is the effort to revitalize the downtown business district.

  • Christmas memories of a one-room school

    Nearly 20 years ago, I struck up a correspondence with a lady named Ruby Hearn from San Antonio, Texas.

    Ruby was the daughter of Selby and Laura Grandfield Hunter, and was born and raised in Fayette County. She lived away for most of her adult life, and always spoke of her old home with affection. She often told me she would like to return to Vandalia to live some day.

  • Don't make it easy for thefts from cars

    Vandalia Police Chief Larry Eason reported late last week that his officers had been handling an unusually high number of reports related to the theft of items from vehicles.

    And he noted that there was one fairly common thread in those thefts the thieves had been provided easy pickings.

    Eason seemed frustrated about that, the fact that some local residents continue to leave their property unsecured. In a number of cases, the thieves had only to open vehicle doors to get to their treasures.