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Opinion

  • Just last week in this space, we talked about the value of the various law enforcement entities building camaradrie and training together.
    This week, we saw how that pays off.
    Monday afternoon, an inmate escaped from Vandalia Correctional Center, and within a short time, numerous entities responded to a call for help.

  • Once a year, we at The Leader-Union take a week to step back and consider what we do, and why we do it.
    Well, actually, we think about those things a lot more often than once a year. But this first full week in October, we have a built-in reason to think about them – it’s National Newspaper Week. During this observance, we talk about our mission, and we share with our readers why that mission is important to them.

  • 15 Years Ago

    1997 – A number of volunteers and a crew from the Vandalia Correctional Center Work Camp strung holiday lights along the tops of businesses in the downtown Vandalia business district.
    Fayette County Habitat for Humanity set a dedication ceremony for its first house, which was located at 1417 W. Madison St. in Vandalia.
    Sarah Roberts scored 14 points to lead the Vandalia Middle School eighth-grade girls to a 36-12 win over Litchfield that gave the squad a share of the Jr. Mid-State Conference title.

  • Although the military history of his family goes back to the Revolution, to Commodore Chauncey in the War of 1812 on the Great Lakes and up through most of the wars including current day.

  • This week’s Mystery Banks Photo: This young man, pictured as a teenager about 55 years ago, grew up in Vandalia.

    He was an over-the-road truck driver, and moved to Texas about 15 years ago. He retired and recently moved back to Vandalia.

    Do you know him? If so, call The Leader-Union, 283-3374.

    In last week’s Mystery Banks Photo were: Tom and Ed McCarty.

    Identifying them were: The girls at McKellar, Robertson, McCarty and Click Insurance, Elaine Michel, Amy Meseke, Sharon Elmore and Marjorie Blythe,.

  • The first governor of Illinois, Shadrach Bond, is an interesting fellow. He was inaugurated on Oct. 6, 1818, before the state was admitted to the Union.

    When the capitol moved from Kaskaskia to Vandalia, so did Shadrach Bond. His wife, Achsah, a strong pro-slavery advocate, did not come with him, but remained on their farm in Monroe County with their slaves.

  • Communities throughout Illinois have struggled with how to enforce a law that has banned smoking in public places since Jan. 1, 2008. Those include Springfield, which put into place a local law two years before that.

    Now, Vandalia joins Springfield as those seeking to crack down on violators.

    Springfield’s ordinance violation has prohibited smoking in public places since 2006. And, based on an editorial in the April 14 issue of The State-Journal Register, city officials are still fighting with the issue.

  • In 1921, Dr. Mark Greer came face to face with an ailment that he could not treat – Milk Sick. 

    Dr. Mark, as he was affectionately known, started his practice in 1913 in Fayette County after graduating from St. Louis University. The son of a doctor, Dr. Mark began his practice much as his father had, afoot and with horse and buggy.

  • It only comes around once a year, and next week’s Fayette County Fair is an event you won’t want to miss.

    Beginning this Saturday with the junior horse and pony show and concluding a week later with the always-popular demolition derby, the fair offers a smorgasbord of sights, sounds, smells and tastes that is vintage county fair. Nowhere else can your senses experience the same delicious mix.

  • Sunday evening’s deluge was not your typical summer thunderstorm.

    The strong cell that dumped wave after wave of torrential rain on Fayette County caused considerable damage in low-lying areas.

    Neighborhoods near the Town Branch in Vandalia were particularly hard hit.

  • In early spring 1839 George Washington Hickerson had a vision – and in 1866, when he wrote his life story, his vision was preserved for posterity.

    One of the three children of William Loving and Malinda Luster Hickerson, George, along with brother, Andrew Jackson Hickerson, served in the Black Hawk War from Fayette County. George wrote in his memoirs that he was elected major of the militia in Fayette County.

  • You know the old saying about not really appreciating something until you lose it. That saying applies to the Grande Levée.

    The period celebration returned, albeit in a downscaled version, to the Vandalia Statehouse grounds this past weekend, and it was, for the most part, very well received.

    Friday night’s attendance lagged behind that of past years, and, on Saturday, the crowd began to fade by mid-afternoon. That, we believe, was largely due to the high heat and humidity.

  • One day while quizzing my dad about the family, he made a comment that has stuck with me over the years: “My grandmother was raised in the home of C.F.W. Walther.”  

    He went on to say that her mother worked as a housekeeper for the Walther family in St. Louis, and this is why his grandmother, Emelia Rau Torbeck, spent several years of her childhood in their home.  

  • Are you the type of person who looks for something fun and exciting to do on the weekends? If so, you will have a lot of choices this weekend.

    Fayette County’s weekend schedule includes the return of the Grande Levée on the Vandalia Statehouse grounds. The celebration kicks off, as usual, with dinner and old-time music, and gets into full gear on Saturday.

  • My cousin, Connie Torbeck, who works in historic preservation in Pennsylvania, sent a clipping to me from a 1908 Vandalia Union with a question – where is the Henry Gochenour home located?

    “Old Landmark Going,” read the headline.

    “The old building known best by citizens of Vandalia as the Mrs. Slade residence is being torn down and will be replaced by a modern residence at once by Henry Gochenour, who has purchased the property. 

  • The Dec. 21, 1916, issue of The Vandalia Union proudly announced that former area preacher, the Rev. William S. Hart, was attaining some distinction as a moving picture star.

    Hart, a native of Newburgh, N. Y., had a younger brother who came north when a young man and settled on a farm near Farina. He became quite a ventriloquist, and for several years followed the county fairs with a Punch and Judy show, but later became an evangelist, a Baptist, up to the time of his death.

  • A month ago in this space, we urged area citizens to provide more input to the Illinois Department of Transportation about the agency’s proposed routes for a western bypass for U.S. Route 51.

    Previous public meetings had drawn only modest participation, and we didn’t feel that IDOT officials were hearing enough from us.

    Last week, however, at a follow-up meeting just for residents of Vandalia’s northern neighborhoods, the highway engineers got an earful.

  • Though it didn’t come as a surprise to anyone, the CEO of Motown Technology and Sports Facility Inc. this week made it official. He’s not bringing a $300 million sports and entertainment facility to Vandalia.

    After months of giving our community the silent treatment, Motown’s leading man, Kenneth Bardwell, stated the obvious. It’s over.

    We’ve been jilted – jettisoned, we presume, for a newer, more-attractive model.

  • One of my more recent projects has been to research the history of Union Cemetery in Sharon Township. 

    This beautiful burying ground sits atop a hill with a lovely vista overlooking the prairie land to the west.  In the far distance, the smoke stack from the Coffeen power plant is visible.

    Shortly before his death, the Rev. Glenn L. Sharp, wrote a brief history of the Union congregation, telling that the first church, built of logs, was erected about 1835 by the Protestant Methodist congregation.