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Today's Opinions

  • House, Senate must reverse misguided cuts

    After a couple of weeks of feeling the sting of the public’s frustration, members of the Illinois House of Representatives this week have an opportunity to correct the misguided budget cuts mandated by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

    As they gather in Springfield, state House members must come up with an alternative budget plan that makes more sense than the random cuts the governor required of state agency heads in late August. Then, they must convince their counterparts in the state Senate to follow suit.

  • Luster family has many tales to tell

    The Luster family made its way into the wilderness that was Fayette County before statehood. At the head of the clan was Archibald Luster, who with his wife, Malinda Yarbrough, lived in the southwestern part of the county.

    Some of their sons moved across the Kaskaskia River and settled in the Pinhook area, about four miles southeast of Vandalia. Archibald and Malinda were parents of nine children: Henry, born in 1778, Chana, William, Josiah, Malinda, Catherine, Mary, David and Philip, the youngest, born in 1801.

  • State shoots self in the foot by closing sites

    Just when you think that things can't get any worse in our state capital...

    The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, responding to budget cuts implemented by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, announced on Thursday the closure of 24 state historic sites and state parks. On that list is the Vandalia Statehouse.

    The news of those closures comes as a major blow to our state, which is getting ready to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birthday, as well as to our community.

  • Old family photos spawn identity question

    Helen Luster, of the Pinhook community, and I have corresponded for several years now. In her occasional letters, she has shared with me old stories passed down through the Luster family, several of which I have repeated in this column.

    Last week, I received a note from Helen, accompanied by two pictures. She wrote about a mild controversy in the Luster family over the identification of a couple in an old photo.

  • Both sides win

    The agreement inked last week between the Vandalia Board of Education and the Vandalia Unit Teachers' Association marks a successful conclusion to an important negotiation process.

  • Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a hopeless addict. I get like this every four years.

    Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a hopeless addict. I get like this every four years.

    I mean, I can't make it even a couple hours without a fix.

    Maybe I need a support group where I could stand up and say: "My name is Dave, and I'm an Olympic junkie."

    In most sporting events, I've gotten sufficiently cynical that I can hit the remote after a quick progress check. I have too many things on my "to do" list to just sit in front of the tube for hours.

  • Landes stood guard over Lincoln's assassin

    Henry Landes (Lan-dus) of Pennsylvania, who mustered into the U.S. Marines during the Civil War, kept a diary.

    This diary became an important piece of evidence when stories surfaced of a man living in Tyler, Texas, named John St. Helen, who claimed to be John Wilkes Booth.

    St. Helen/Booth said he had escaped from the surrounded barn in Bowling Green, Va., and wasnt dead after all.

  • Party-lines votes not always the best

    It's not been unusual for the Fayette County Board to have tie votes on various matters, such as appointments, with board members voting along party lines. The current board chairman, Steve Knebel, said he would like to see that pattern change.

    Prior to the boards appointment of Mary Sue Ruot as the circuit clerk through the end of November, Knebel noted that he was going against the recommendation of numerous fellow Republicans in recommending Ruot.

    I know how its been done in the past. I know a lot of things have gone politically. I dont agree with that, Knebel said.