http://www.leaderunion.com/todaysopinions/rss.xml en New & improved website unveiled http://www.leaderunion.com/content/new-improved-website-unveiled <p> If you have been a regular visitor to our website, www.leaderunion.com, you likely already know that we have unveiled a new and improved product.<br /> If you haven&rsquo;t been a regular visitor, check it out.<br /> Our new website offers more content, is much more reader-friendly and allows more opportunities for you, our readers, to participate in our online version of The Leader-Union.<br /> The Way We Were http://www.leaderunion.com/content/way-we-were-125 <p> 25 Years Ago<br /> <br /> 1989 &ndash; Fayette County farmers were busy harvesting wheat. In some areas, there was no wheat to harvest as a May hailstorm wiped out the crop.<br /> The Fayette County Health Department and S.A.F.E. (Sexual Assault and Family Emergencies) sponsored self-protection seminars for female county employees and the general public.<br /> Ashley Crabtree was named Little Miss at the Ramsey Daze celebration.<br /> Vandalia Jaycees sponsored a Fourth of July celebration with fireworks at the Vandalia Lake.<br /> <br /> 30 Years Ago<br /> <br /> A look at Vandalia businesses in 1924 http://www.leaderunion.com/content/look-vandalia-businesses-1924 <img src="http://www.leaderunion.com/sites/www.leaderunion.com/files/imagecache/thumb85/july10_vandaliastreet1930.jpg" alt="This is the way Gallatin Street in downtown Vandalia looked in 1924. This view is looking east from the 500 block of Gallatin Street." title="This is the way Gallatin Street in downtown Vandalia looked in 1924. This view is looking east from the 500 block of Gallatin Street." align="left" hspace="6" /><p> In 1989, I fell into the position as editor of the quarterly publication of the Fayette County Genealogical &amp; Historical Society.</p> Enjoy the Lincoln Festival and fair http://www.leaderunion.com/content/enjoy-lincoln-festival-and-fair <p> If you&#39;re looking for something fun and interesting to do, there&#39;s there&#39;s no shortage of either in Fayette County during the next few days.<br /> This Saturday and Sunday, the second annual Lincoln Heritage Festival will be held in the Vandalia city parks along Fillmore and Locust streets.<br /> The activity lineup includes a wide array of historical events &ndash; including Civil War camps and skirmishes,&nbsp; period arts and crafts, children&#39;s games, live music, horse-drawn carriage rides and a wide variety of food vendors.<br /> Banks of the Okaw http://www.leaderunion.com/content/banks-okaw-134 <img src="http://www.leaderunion.com/sites/www.leaderunion.com/files/imagecache/thumb85/july1_2014_banks_wehrle.jpg" alt="" title="" align="left" hspace="6" width="86" height="85" /><p> <strong>This week&rsquo;s Mystery Banks Photo: </strong>These four siblings were born and reared in Vandalia.</p> Jerauld wrote of life here in the 1850s http://www.leaderunion.com/content/jerauld-wrote-life-here-1850s <img src="http://www.leaderunion.com/sites/www.leaderunion.com/files/imagecache/thumb85/july3_2014_linda_jerauldsarahphoto.jpg" alt="Sarah McAfee Jerauld" title="Sarah McAfee Jerauld" align="left" hspace="6" width="69" height="85" /><p> In a letter dated April 9, 1914, Sarah McAfee Jerauld responded to a request by the editor of The Vandalia Union to write of her experiences for the anniversary issue of the newspaper.<br /> She wrote, &ldquo;When I moved to Vandalia in March 1852, there was not a foot of brick pavement in town and only 10 brick houses.</p> The Way We Were http://www.leaderunion.com/content/way-we-were-124 <p> 25 Years Ago<br /> <br /> 1989 &ndash; Vandalia Chamber of Commerce was seeking volunteer greeters for the tourism center.<br /> Between 250 and 300 honored Jim Staff at a retirement reception. Staff served in the field of education for 38 years and was superintendent of schools for Fayette County since 1959. Effingham and Bond counties were later added to his region.<br /> Jane Eaton won the 11th annual St. Andrews Ladies Open Golf Tournament.<br /> <br /> 30 Years Ago<br /> <br /> Celebrate safely this weekend http://www.leaderunion.com/content/celebrate-safely-weekend <p> The Fourth of July is a celebration of our country&rsquo;s independence that always includes gathering of friends and family, community festivals and, in general, a lot of summer fun.<br /> Unfortunately, many times it also includes injuries due to unsafe use of consumer fireworks.<br /> As area residents prepare for the three-day holiday weekend, the Office of the State Fire Marshal is urging everyone to leave the fireworks to the professionals trained to handle them.<br />