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Features

  • “W.E. Etcheson, General Merchandise” was the large sign under which Donald Etcheson was (figuratively) born 82 years ago, and lived from infancy until young manhood.
    Don Etcheson probably has more memories of the old Shafter Store, which was located on Ill. Route 185, than most people do.
    This is not surprising, as he grew up there in the days when Shafter was rather a hub of business and activities.

  • Darrin Lurkins is showing his family’s Polled Hereford cattle at the Fayette County Fair.  He seemed especially proud of “Eclipse,” a heifer that was born in September.

    Raising Hereford cattle is the Lurkins family’s business.

    “We raise seed stock, and sell bulls and heifers to 4-H kids, and try to help people out as much as we can,” he said.

    Lurkins, a 4-H Club “veteran,” is an avid supporter of the organization.

  • Ethel Augenstein’s name has been almost synonymous with good food during her 95 1/2 years.

    Although she held down other jobs in her earlier years, she found her way to various restaurants, schools and church kitchens in the area, and there she remained, assuring anyone who partook of her cooking good food.

    Ethel, however, did get out of the kitchen(s) long enough to live an interesting and active life, a fulfilling life as a wife and mother, and a useful life to her community, organizations, and her church…and still is. 

  • Though he came from very humble beginnings, the Rev. Norris Price has fashioned a life that is rich in all the important ways.

    At the age of 77, he is still vital, healthy and involved. And he maintains an intellectual curiosity that keeps life interesting.

    “I grew up in the country southwest of Ramsey,” Price said. “I suppose we were considered poor. There wasn’t much cash, but we never went hungry. And we had a lot of fun.”

    From an early age, he demonstrated a thirst for knowledge and a fascination with people.

  • Many words could describe Eleanore McNutt – upbeat, optimistic, energetic, creative, fun-loving, caring, modest, cooperative and willing to work. The list of good qualities could go on.

    Among her most notable qualities are her compassion and compatibility for elderly adults and for those special people who need a special person to understand them.

  • Haldon Warner became a member of the family at First National Bank of Vandalia in 1963, working in the bookkeeping department.

    “Back then,” he said, “they wanted you to start by learning every department and work your way up.”

    That seems like a good plan, because young Haldon Warner did, indeed, work his way up. He is now senior vice president and chief lending officer, positions from which he is retiring. He wears other hats, including serving as the compliance officer.

  • Seventy years ago, a young girl saw a photo in a local newspaper of a young boy, a member of the Vandalia High School FFA chapter … and fell in love with him.

    She didn’t know who he was, but she cut the picture out of the paper, and showed it to friends and family as the guy she was going to marry.

    Meet Dwight and Darlene Denning as they share their unique and lasting love story. As they celebrate their 66th wedding anniversary, Darlene still has that same 70-year-old newspaper clipping in her purse.

    The Photo

  • Jay Stortzum gives the first impression of a soft-spoken man of with a pleasant, intelligent and friendly personality. 

    An ensuing conversation reveals that the first impression is correct, along with a sincere commitment to serve for the betterment of others, a trait which became apparent when he attended Eastern Illinois University.

    As a student at EIU, Stortzum served as a student senator and the student body vice president, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education.

  • The purple ribbons displayed about town represent hope for finding a cure and effective treatment in the fight against cancer, all kinds of cancer.

    The shape of the ribbons is familiar. While the pink ribbon has long represented breast cancer, the purple ribbon  represents all types of cancer.

    Behind this symbol of the battle against cancer are many people, of all ages, all stations and all walks of life, survivors and caregivers, all with the common goal – winning the fight against cancer.

  • Katie Carson’s winning essay for the “Patriot’s Pen” contest, which is held every year by the Brownstown Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9770, went on to win the District 12 competition.

    Katie, the daughter of Duane and Tammy Carson, is an eighth-grader at Brownstown Junior High School. She said that her writing was partially inspired by the return home from the service of a friend, Travis.

    “The town escorted him home and had an appreciation party for him,” she said.

  • “Does America Still Have Heroes?” was the intriguing question asked, and answered, by Brownstown High School senior Connor Smith in the essay he wrote for the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ annual “Voice of Democracy” student contest.

    Connor’s entry won the local award presented by the Brownstown VFW Post 9770.

    The 18-year-old son of Stan and Lana Smith is a member of this year’s graduating class at Brownstown High School. 

  • In many cases, when one is nearing the age of Ethel Gates Booher, the occasion is described more accurately as “observing”or simply “reaching” the honored year, which, in Ethel’s case, is 99.

    In Ethel’s case, her homey, cheerful room in the Long Term Care facility at the Fayette County Hospital was alive with greetings, laughter and listening to Ethel’s stories of the past last Friday, as she, and her children and grandchildren literally celebrated Ethel’s 99th birthday.

  • Five years ago, in an effort to help their grandson, Justin Dial, find a outlet for his computer repair expertise and sales during the summer months, Dewayne “Speed” and Marilyn Dial of St. Elmo had no idea that they would adopt, or be adopted into, a group of vendors that is rather like a large family.

    That “family” gathers on weekends from the first weekend in April until the last weekend in October, weather permitting.

  • Cindy Hicks saw a need in the Fayette County area and, wanting to help people, was tossing around ideas in her head on how best to do this.

    She saw a need to help people clothe their families, especially younger children and teenagers, when they are hard-pressed to pay their bills, handle school expenses and put food on their table. Although clothes are a necessity, they are not at the top of the have-to-have list.

  • Faye “DeeDee” Diveley recently celebrated her 40th anniversary of serving others through her work at Fayette County Hospital and Long Term Care. She worked a brief time as an aide, when she was very young, then as an LPN.

  • “I just kind of knew from about the age of 14 that was what the Lord had given me the gifts to do and to be."

    That's what Mary Lou Whitten said, in regard to her notable and lengthy work and contributions in the nursing/teaching field. 

    “I also had a favorite aunt, Fleeta Mattes, who was a nurse, and I think just being around her and watching her probably  contributed to it. But I felt the Lord gave me the gifts and I just took it from there. I never even thought about being anything but a nurse.”

  • Shirley (Sperry) Curry has always spoken in a soft, demure voice, and had a gentle, unassuming and cheerful, disposition. However, she was firm and steadfast in her beliefs, standards and morals.

    She was a pleasant co-worker and a good friend, and always carried her own weight. She never shirked what she felt was her responsibility at the workplace or in her home as a housewife to her husband, Jim Curry, and mother to their four children: John, Marcia, Deborah and Tom.

  • A framed photograph in Roy Elliott’s room shows his shirt tail being cut off, a traditional ritual when someone becomes a licensed airplane pilot.

    A member of Fayette County Civil Defense (now Emergency Management Agency)  for years, he was a jack-of-all-trades with many skills, until a fateful day three years ago when a tree he was trimming fell on him, fracturing his back in two places. Parkinson’s disease entered the picture, rendering him unable to perform routine daily activities.

  • At last Wednesday’s Lenten Luncheon at First United Methodist Church in Vandalia, Beth Hoffman spoke on the topic of “sacrifice.”

    Sharing in a sincere manner, Hoffman spoke of a time in her life that was a personal struggle, a time of sacrifice that she later came to see as a blessed time, and a time of growth spiritually.

    An accomplished vocalist, she also provided inspirational music for the program, performing a duet with her daughter, Megan.

  • Stefanie Montgomery is well into her second year as director of youth ministry at First United Methodist Church in Vandalia, accomplishing a goal she has had since a young girl – working with and helping teens.