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Features

  • Gary Smith went to Santa Cru, South America, last year on a construction mission, and the experience opened his eyes about how fortunate Americans are.

    “We don’t realize how blessed we are. Simple things in South America, like turning on tap water, safe water to drink is not available. We take it for granted,” he said.

  • Tracy Jones decided about 15 years ago that she wanted to be sure her family was eating healthy, nourishing and flavorful foods, so she decided to raise their own food, and process and preserve it herself.

    She consulted with her mother – who always canned, as did her mother before her – and began continuing the family tradition.

    “I’ve been canning since I was 20 or 21. My mother, Martha Rambo, taught me,” Tracy said.

  • Lisa Robbins wears more than one hat…and is more than happy to do so.

    She loves children and feels she has the best of both worlds, as she teaches kindergarten at Jefferson School during the school year and works with them in the summer as manager of the Vandalia Municipal Swimming Pool.

    She will begin her 24th year teaching kindergarten this year, and has worked at the swimming pool for 30 years.

    She began working at the pool as a lifeguard.

  • We often perceive others only on the surface, a part of a group or team, a familiar face expected to be seen in a certain setting, without thought of that person being considered as an individual.

  • The scene opens on a young woman, her emotions obviously intense and personal. She had received word of her soldier husband’s return home after months of not knowing if he was even alive.

    A voice-over of a male speaks the words of her husband’s letters as she gets ready for the day… and leaving the viewer intensely interested and wanting the movie to continue with the story.

    This is the trailer for the film, “As Ever, Stan,” written and directed by Alex Schwarm.

  • Peter “Pete” Sutherland Jr. had stories within a story to tell about his family, and he has told those stories in his recently published book, “The Five Sutherland Boys – A Family Saga.”

    The “five boys” are Pete’s father, the late Peter Sutherland Sr. and his four uncles, Willie, Johnny, Louis “Fat” and Luther.

    The book features the exploits of Louis, who was nicknamed “Fat” as a boy. Though the nickname did not describe his physical appearance, it was moniker that stuck to him until death.

  • The stately building standing at 321 S. Seventh St. in Vandalia is actually an old mansion built around 1864 and has served as the home of American Legion 95 in Vandalia for many years.

    A veterans’ museum was started within its walls in 2004, in which many artifacts – items, photographs…and memories – are displayed for the public to view

  • Carolyn Daniels is small in stature, but a giant in terms of the service, heart and dedication she has given to the Fayette County residents in need of counseling, help and advocacy in the courts.

    Daniels, as the executive director of SAFE (Sexual Assault and Family Emergencies) for the past 23 years, she has been an understanding, compassionate person who cares enough to make a difference in the lives of others.

  • At this time of the year, it is usual to see the farmers working their fields, or the planted fields showing the evidence of the work done.

    The heavy, frequent rains have changed the countryside this year, as they have prevented most farmers from having access to their fields with the farm machinery.

    Ron Marshel recognizes the seriousness of the situation, sympathizes with the area farmers and continues to work to help better the agriculture industry for the farmers in his position of manager of the Fayette County Farm Bureau.

  • Something different is being added to downtown Vandalia – life-sized works of arts are appearing on various buildings.

    The colorful, paintings appear three dimensional, and although the subjects are dressed in Victorian-style clothing, their faces may seem very familiar.

    That is because the artist often is inspired by the faces of his friends, family and acquaintances.

  • Every year at this time there are many reunions and celebrations of family, high school graduations and other milestones reached.

    One of the foremost annual events is the Fayette County Relay for Life, an all-night event featuring various activities and entertainment, as well as a community walk in celebration of life by cancer survivors, and families, neighbors and friends of the many whose lives have been touched by the disease.

  • The Browstown Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #9770 recently announced Kelsey Shelton as the winner of its annual Voice of Democracy Scholarship Award for her winning essay.

    The opportunity to submit an entry is offered to high school seniors. If the winner is going on to college, the amount of the scholarship is $250. If no further schooling is planned, the award is $50.

    A 2009 Brownstown High School graduate, Kelsey has NASCAR among her interests. In fact, she likes NASCAR’s Jimmy Johnson to the extent of having his initials on her license plate.

  • Some years ago, it was the dream of most little boys to have an electric train for Christmas. The name “Lionel” was probably almost synonymous with “Christmas wish” for young boys.

    It was not unusual to see Christmas trees, often decorated with colorful Noma Bubble lights and little electric trains running around their base.

    The electric trains, with maybe a few more feet of track and accessories added, eventually were packed away and stored in the attic as the boys became interested in other toys and pastimes.

    Not so with Mark Miller.

  • When one approaches the American Legion Home in Ramsey, the first impression is one of reverence and appreciation of the serene setting for the memorial walls and benches dedicated to the area’s veterans.

    As you enter the building on any given weekday at the noon hour, you may again be impressed, this time by the small group of senior citizens who gather for a nutritious noon meal, conversation and companionship. This is the highlight of the day for some, and a time of enjoyment for all.

  • Lynn Sefton Ferguson became interested in aerobics in 1979. Soon convinced that aerobics were very beneficial to a person’s health, both physically and mentally, she became an aerobics instructor.

    That was 20 years ago, and she is still going strong. Her energy, vitality and youthful appearance speak well for her chosen profession.

    She was introduced to aerobics through a friend whose sister was into aerobics in Oklahoma, where it was comparatively new. Her friend wanted her sister to come here for a clinic, but at least 20 people had to sign up to do this.

  • This week, Betty Bolles Feezel continues her remembrances of Carter Oil Co.’s Williams Camp north of St. Elmo.

    The Move to Williams Camp

    “We moved to Williams camp in 1939,” Feezel said. “My dad had a house built in Williams camp, which was nothing but a farm field.

    “The company leased the land and made out streets. Every street had a wide, concrete sidewalk on each side and an alley. We had a ton of fun skating on the sidewalks,” she said.

  • “One Happy Family” is the title of an article published in the August 1946 issue of “The Link” a Carter Oil Co. publication.

    In part, the article states: “Life in a Carter camp is like life everywhere – just about what one chooses to make it. … 200 people in the Williams Camp are taking full advantage of the opportunity to make a small community like a rich one for all concerned.

  • If you see a cowboy riding his horse down the street amid traffic in Vandalia, you could be reminded of the old big-city-based TV series, “McCloud."

    That cowboy is Brad Mason, doing what he likes to do best – work with horses

    Brad, one of Don Mason’s sons, was born and reared with his dad’s horses, and his background includes roping cattle, breaking horses to ride, working as a farrier for 13 years and working with horses at a racetrack. He still practices roping locally, but hasn’t made the rodeo circuit recently.

  • If you remember Gerkin’s Ice Cream Parlor in downtown Vandalia, you may also remember a young Vandalia high school student who worked there as a soda jerk, Clarence Alender, better known as “Butch” in those days.

    “Butch” would hurry (walking, no car) from the high school (now known as High School Apartments) and work during his 45-minute lunch break, then hurry back to school

  • Mark Heischmidt is very talented and creative, seemingly in any endeavor he undertakes. He taught art and English in the St. Elmo schools to all ages before retiring after a career of 34 years.

    As an interior decorator, he has lent his talent and touch to Mary Ann’s Restaurant's walls and also to friends’ homes.

    An artist, he likes to paint scenic landscapes, and he drew the illustration for cover of “Living the Dream," a historical fiction novel written by Barry A. Coughlin.