Wednesday, April 18, 2018 • Vol. 140, No. 46

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor should be legible and limited to 500 words. They should discuss issues and/or events. If you are critical of an issue, you should present constructive criticism, rather than defamatory statements about an individual or organization.

All letters must be signed by the author, including an address and phone number for verification or they will not be published.

Deadline for submissions is 3:00 p.m. on Mondays prior to that week's issue. (On weeks containing a holiday, such as Memorial Day or Labor Day, the deadline may be earlier. Call 309-329-2151 for more information.)

To e-mail a letter to the editor, send it to argus@kkspc.com and put LETTER in the subject line.

You can also snail-mail a Letter to the Editor to:

The Astoria South Fulton Argus
Attn: Editorial Dept.
P.O. Box 590
Astoria, IL 61501-0590

The Argus reserves the right to edit or reject any letter, and to limit the number of letters on any one topic.


September 9, 2015

Dear Editor:

As a parent, talking to parents, making a choice about education is one of the most difficult, thoroughly researched, and intensely discussed decisions for a family with children from pre-school through college.

Why do parents wrestle? I believe it is because they recognize the value of knowledge, the necessity of a being able to apply that knowledge wisely, and the desire for their children to be successful, productive members of society. Yet for Christian parents, the struggle intensifies as they understand the importance of shaping their children’s minds and hearts to be transforming instruments in an increasingly secular society. Furthermore, many Christian parents recognize the consequences of neglecting their responsibility to “Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).

Why Christian Education? When Christian parents evaluate education, they recognize the importance of shaping both the mind and heart of their children. We are called in Romans 12:2, as individuals and Christian parents to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Education in a secular environment cannot support parents in their role to nurture non-conformity to the world and the renewal of their children’s minds so they may seek and discern God’s will.

At Trinity Academy, we believe Christian education should be the extension of the home and church. God gives parents the responsibility for educating their children’s hearts and minds (Deut 6: 4-6, Prov 22:6, Eph 6:4). The Christian school is an extension of the Biblical truth taught at home and in the church and should indeed challenge students to be transformed by the renewal of their minds. As students gain knowledge of various content areas, they also develop godly wisdom for how that knowledge is applied in a Christ-like way to the world around them. As students learn all truth is God’s truth, they develop a standard of truth with which they encounter and engage with culture; therefore becoming transforming agents in the world they live.

Christian schools integrate Biblical truth with content rich instruction, enabling students to recognize the Lordship of Christ and our need to respond in obedience to him. Students are encouraged to hold every thought captive for Christ and think, work, discern and act out of obedience to our Lord and redeemer. Students at Trinity Academy are challenged then to love the Lord their God, with all their heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30) in order to love and enjoy God forever.

As a parent, talking to parents about the education of their children, I am grateful for the opportunity at Trinity Academy to invest in the lives of my children, to make an eternal difference in them and the part of the world God calls them to transform.

Karen DeBruin, administrator
Trinity Academy, Industry


August 26, 2015

Dear Editor:

Until the State of Illinois budget is passed, the State of Illinois will resume adult dental coverage as it was before July 1, 2015.

We strongly encourage adults with Medicaid coverage to make appointments for extractions, exams and fillings as soon as possible.

This coverage may well disappear when the budget is passed.

Call Fulton County Health Department, 700 East Oak St., Canton, 309-647-1134 ext. 292.

Damon Roberson,
Administrator


August 5, 2015

Dear Patients and Friends:

Ronald WhitleyAfter 33 years as a general surgeon, I will retire at the end of July. I have been blessed with a wonderful and varied career, first as an academic trauma surgeon at the Medical College of Virginia, then a member of a large group at two large suburban hospitals in Richmond, Va.; and finally at McDonough District Hospital, coming here in 2002, because of family and my rural Illinois roots. I can honestly say the last 13 years have been the most rewarding for many reasons. Despite enjoying all of my patients, I have most appreciated caring for the rural people of Western Illinois. I have had some exceptional surgical colleagues and Dr. Edwin Card at MDH shares the top of that list with very few Virginia partners. He is an excellent surgeon and very conscientious all round doctor committed to the community. I leave you in good hands with him and his associates, Dr. Ruiz and Dr. Gonzales, and some very competent primary care and specialty providers who also do a great job.

The operating room and recovery room staff along with the ICU, emergency room, floor nurses, office nurses and staff, ancillary services, clerks and operators were indispensable in providing the great care rendered in this rural hospital. Caring for neighbors and friends translates into the best nursing care. I want to thank all the families who treated mine so kindly and allowed me the enjoyment and rewards of coaching your children in baseball and basketball through the years.

It has been a great honor and privilege having the opportunity to care for you and your families. Despite now living in Sherman, I spend a significant amount of time with friends and family at my farm near Industry. I look forward to chance encounters with all of you in the future.

Thanks again.

Sincerely,
Ronald Whitley, MD


July 29, 2015

Dear Editor:

The moving boxes are packed, goodbyes have been said and we are on our way to California. This is a wonderful community here in Astoria we are leaving, and we will miss it very much. Recently, a local pastor mentioned this community has the best people in the world, and I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. You have taken us in as one of your own, and never once did we feel as “outsiders” who “just weren’t from here.”

While here, we have formed solid, lifelong friendships that will stand the tests of time and distance. It has been an honor and privilege to teach the students of this community, help guide them through academics and life challenges and to show Christ’s love to them. I will always have very fond memories of teaching at Astoria High School and will never forget the students, the teachers and the experience. My wife truly enjoyed her time as an elementary teacher here as well.

We can’t say enough about Astoria, our time teaching at the school, the friendly people and what a great community this is. You have something very special here. We appreciate all the support in our efforts to start a car detailing business and manage Hughes Park. We’re doing what we can to keep Five Star Detailing here for a long time.

You all mean the world to us, and we’re already looking forward to coming back to Astoria to visit. Please let us know if you ever need a place to stay in Southern California; you are most welcome anytime. God bless you.

Doug, Tricia, Stryder and Arianna Banwart


May 13, 2015

Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter on behalf of a group of fifth- and sixth-grade parents known as the “Hornets’ Nest”. This group was formed when the VIT School, with deep regrets, cut the fifth- and sixth-grade sports programs. The Hornets’ Nest believes through an organizational structure, volunteers and community support, the sports programs can continue to thrive for our children.

The group is looking to fundraise for the next four weeks with a goal of raising enough money to pay for the 2015-16 seasons and become a self-supporting program for our future athletes. The Hornets’ Nest will be responsible to pay for referees, tournament fees, coaches if possible, concession supplies and new uniforms as needed.

The Hornets’ Nest is currently selling raffle tickets to win $250 cash or a Remington 1187 three- and one-half inch 12 gauge shotgun. You can purchase tickets from any Nest member or at the Vermont, Ipava or Table Grove State Bank. We will draw the winners at our Fundraiser Day on Saturday, June 6, at the Vermont Memorial Ball Park.

There are many ways you can support our Fun Day. The Nest will start the morning off waiting tables at Mercer’s on Main from 7-10 a.m. where a percentage and tips will go to the Hornets’ Nest. At 7 a.m. as well, we will hold the Hornets’ Nest 5K Run/Walk. You can pick up registration forms at the Vermont State Bank, Table Grove and Ipava S & S Short Stop or print one off of The Hornets’ Nest Facebook Page. Preregister by May 24 to receive a T-shirt. At 8 a.m., we will start our Co-Ed Softball Tournament; 9 a.m., 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament for fourth through sixth graders and seventh and eighth graders; 10 a.m., Mud Volleyball Tournament. For information or to register, contact Bobbi Peters, 309-333-3544. A Silent Auction will be held throughout the day along with cake walks and Bingo. In the afternoon, we will have face painting and barrel train rides. We will serve porkchops, rib-eyes, walking tacos, ice cream, etc. from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in the concession stand, and end the day with fair-type food from the Carousel Wagon, where a percentage also will go to the cause. Rain date is scheduled for June 13.

As you can see, we have a lot planned for this day, so anyone interested in volunteering, contact Brecken Reimolds, 309-221-5465 or reimolds4@yahoo.com. We also are looking for anyone willing to donate Silent Auction items. To do so, contact Shelley Abernathy, 309-221-3180. Monetary donations can be made out to VIT Hornets’ Nest and sent to Brecken Reimolds, fundraiser chairman, 13088 North County Hwy. 34, Table Grove, IL 61482.

You can find information about us and our Fun Day on The Hornets’ Nest Facebook page. We appreciate everyone in advance for your help and support, and hope to see everyone on June 6.

Sincerely,
Bobbi Peters
President, Hornets’ Nest


April 22, 2015

Dear Editor:

VETERAN GRAVE IDENTIFICATION

Each Memorial Day, American Legion Post 25 decorates all known veteran graves in Astoria Township and Woodland Township with a small U.S. flag.

We have identified many Civil War veterans, a small number of Mexican War veterans and a few veterans of the War of 1812 in addition to veterans of World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

If you know of any veteran’s graves who have not been recognized in past years, please let me know their name, burial location and any military service information you have. Upon confirmation of this information, I will add them to the Post 25 Honor Roll and include them in the annual Memorial Day flag placement. It is our goal all who have served will be honored.

You can write to John Smith, American Legion Post 25, PO Box 383, Astoria IL 61501, or call 309-333-3763.

John Smith
American Legion Post 25


April 15, 2015

Dear Editor:

Anyone in Illinois with a question about a legal matter can consult with a lawyer at no cost during the 34th Annual Ask-a-Lawyer Day on Saturday, April 25, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Illinois State Bar Association in cooperation with other bar associations.

Volunteer lawyers will stand by to provide legal information about consumer problems, family law, estate planning, personal injury and other common legal issues. Callers will be given information about their legal difficulties, that may include consulting with another lawyer on the caller’s specific legal situation.

The public can call or e-mail questions or discuss a legal problem with a lawyer using Skype. Information is available online, http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/askalawyerday.

Sincerely,
Richard Felice, President
Illinois State Bar Association


March 18, 2015

Dear Editor:

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month.

The Brain Injury Support Groups in our area are here to help all those affected by any type of brain injury along with their family members and caregivers. One of the first things you find when you attend a brain injury support group is the importance of the connections you make. You find others who are facing the same problems you face. You come to know you are not the only one dealing with a brain injury. You find a safe and welcoming environment with others who know what you are going through.

Second, you find a place where you can improve your coping skills. You see others are dealing with some of the same problems you must deal with. A support group is a place you find out new ways of how others are coping with the condition. You listen to tips and advice from others who may be helpful in your own life.

Third, you get motivated. You are often encouraged by the fact there are others dealing with life with a brain injury. You find a place where people will help you take a more active role in handling your brain injury. You are encouraged not to give up. Support group members know the help that is out there and can help you tap into community resources.

Finally, you find hope. You see others living a life with a brain injury. You take note they have done it and you start telling yourself you too can have a life after a brain injury.

There are two Brain Injury Support groups in our area. The Fulton County Brain Injury Support Group meets the last Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at First Christian Church in Canton. Call Steve Love, 309-647-1519 for information. In the Peoria area, there is the Brain Injury Group that meets the second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at United Auto Workers Local 974, 3025 Springfield Road, East Peoria. Contact Chris Hess, 309-565-0115 for information.

— Steve Love, Canton

* * *

Dear Editor:

This complaint is directed to the road commissioner in charge of maintaining County Highway 2 from Route 24 going to the south to Route 100.

We are tired of having services discontinued because of the condition of this road. Our taxes are raised every year, and our road is not fit to drive on. There are elderly people living on this road as well as people who have to get to work everyday.

We need someone who knows how to build and maintain a road. This brown stuff (that is supposed to be rock) turns to mud at the first rain and becomes almost impassable. It is almost impossible to remove from a vehicle.
I would be ashamed to say I was the road commissioner of the section of County Highway 2.

My sincere hope is for improvement in the condition and upkeep of our road.

— George Carmean


March 11, 2015

Dear Editor:

On Saturday, March 14, Woodland Church of the Brethren will host their fourth annual Trivia Night. Teams of up to eight players will answer questions on a variety of topics, and the team who answers the most questions correctly will receive a cash prize and a trophy.

Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit the young lady the South Fulton Argus called the “Princess Warrior”. Olivia Anaganastopolus, age 6, suffers from an aggressive form of childhood cancer called “Ewing Sarcoma”. We challenged area churches a few weeks ago to send teams to our competition. We also would like to invite area civic organizations, fire departments, high school students and businesses to send teams. We also encourage other organizations to hold benefits for this little girl.

At the end of the day, we won’t raise enough to cure this little Princess Warrior, but she will know there are people in South Fulton county who care for her.

Sincerely,
Kevin Sager
Woodland Church of the Brethren


January 28, 2015

Dear Editor:

I was surprised and disappointed when I read the details in the Jan. 14 South Fulton Argus regarding the South Fulton Co-Op Board Meeting held Jan. 7.

I was surprised because I was unaware of the grave financial condition the Co-Op was facing. I had not seen any information in the newspaper, I had not been notified of any public meetings regarding the problems, nor had anything come home from the school outlining the problems or asking for creative solutions and ideas from the South Fulton Community. If I missed an opportunity to help my school, its athletic program and the children, then I have failed. If there were no meetings, notices or information available to me, then those charged with the responsibility to inform have failed me.

A Co-Op sports program presents unique challenges for the student athletes, coaches, parents and administrators. I recognize some of these challenges include transportation and busing students to and from practices and games, scheduling games, tournaments, gym time and constant coordination between organizers, and I appreciate the effort it takes to do this. In turn, I recognize the advantages to a Co-Op sports program that include larger player rosters, reduced coaching staff and shared expenses.

The decisions made increased fees to students, athletes and their families, and reduced the services provided as follows: Elimination of the after practice bus, elimination of the practice bus on holidays or any time school is not in session, elimination of all junior high transportation for all athletic events, raise the sports participation fee to $50 per student per sport with no family cap, charge students $2 admission fee to get into home sports events that charge an admission fee, require teams to pay all entry fees for any and all tournaments they enter, and eliminate funding for South Fulton Rebels High School Cheerleading Squad.

These changes will inevitably have a ripple effect on our Co-Op program. We will most certainly have reduced sports participation and player rosters, reduced practices because we cannot require mandatory practices without providing adequate transportation, reduced attendance at home games, reduced tournament play, absence of high school cheerleading squad, diminished morale and students forced to choose one sport over another. There will be students that simply will not be able to participate at all due to the transportation changes and the financial burden, thereby discriminating against those students by not providing an equal opportunity for all.

In the meeting notes, mention was made more involvement by parents with South Fulton Booster Club was needed and that local business sponsorship of some programs may be beneficial. These are excellent ideas and only brush the surface of creative solutions that would allow us to keep our Co-Op programs intact. Prior to implementing these changes that go into effect in August, is it possible we might explore strengthening the South Fulton Booster Club, we might seek sponsorship from businesses in our communities, we might create a South Fulton Alumni Foundation and allow those who have come before us the opportunity to provide financial support, we might examine our budget and spending in order to pinpoint the source of the financial strain and fiscal problems, so smaller changes and corrections that would allow us to keep our programs intact might be implemented?

I appreciate the service of the board members who give their time and serve our school districts and communities, and I recognize these must have been extremely difficult decisions to make, not only as board members, but as parents and citizens of the community. I would urge them to not take the burden of these changes on alone, but to act in the capacity of a team, and to call on the support of our teachers, coaches, students, student athletes, parents, community members and administration to explore all possible solutions prior to implementing these high impact changes to our athletic program. Let us all work together in a partnership and focus on the strengths we have to offer as individuals to identify the problems and create solutions to aid our schools, our athletic program and our children without raising fees, without eliminating our high school cheerleading squad and without terminating services vital to our existence.

Respectfully submitted,
April Burgett


December 17, 2014

Dear Editor:

I appreciate everyone’s support and patriotism of Ipava’s Veterans Memorial. This is a great testament to the community and surrounding areas. Showing during all wars, we had boys ready to defend their country. Some giving the ultimate sacrifice.

We are still selling bricks and benches we will lay next spring when the weather clears. Hopefully, we will pick up more from Civil and Spanish American wars, adding to the history already there.

The Legion serves breakfast on the third Sunday of each month, from 7-11 a.m. The breakfasts are held to support our scholarship fund, the ballpark, South Fulton Sports Boosters, Camp Ellis Days and Boy Scouts.

Also, we appreciate the memorials received from the families of veterans who passed this year: Russel Hamm, Robert Marshall, Delbert Fawcett, William Foster, Willmer Willis and Walter Phillips.

A reminder to all, the price to rent the dining room is $75 for two hours, call 309-753-8632.

Four Legion members are currently serving overseas at this time:

  • Dennis Lamm, PSC2, Box 2643, APO, AP 96264
  • SSG Robert Easley, FSC. 62nd ENBN, National Police Training Center, Unit 86005, Box 509, APO AE 09847-9997
  • TSGT Donald Lundeen, PSC 2, Box 3775, APO AE 96264
  • SSG Eric Lundeen, ASC 78, Box 3731, APO AP 96326-0037.

Dennis Robertson, commander
Ipava Legion Post #17


November 19, 2014

Dear Editor:

I was recently asked, “What is it about Common Core you don’t like?” My reply, “Everything.” I guess my statements to our school board and letter to the editor have not thoroughly demonstrated my disgust of Common Core.

One statement I have encountered, “You are married to a farmer. You know the government sets the price.” Not sure how farming and Common Core relate, but I’ll play along. The government sets a supportive price, not a concrete price, in relation to commodities. However, with Common Core, we are talking about children NOT commodities. Children are NOT human capital.

Another statement I hear a lot, “It’s all about funding.” It’s true that Race to the Top federal funding and Common Core go hand in hand. However, our school didn’t receive one dime of Race to the Top funding. Now U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is threatening to withhold federal Title I money from states and schools not following Common Core. How can a state-led initiative like Common Core warrant punitive damages from the federal government? Mr. Duncan and his proponents have been shouting ‘state-led’ since the beginning. So, if Title I money is withheld then Common Core is federal education, that violates the 10th Amendment to our U.S. Constitution. In Illinois, the power of the purse for public school funding lies with the U.S. Congress and Illinois General Assembly. Mr. Duncan’s threats are empty and full of hot air.

Proponents of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) like to promote the idea that CCSS is not a curriculum. That local schools retain control over what is taught in the classroom. This flexibility and freedom is an illusion. Our curriculum is controlled by forces outside of our district and even the State of Illinois.

CCSS is owned and copyrighted by National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The Standards are considered a “living work” and only they have the legal right to modify them. Local control is gone. Our school board and administrators have become rubber stamp government facilitators. CCSS is a federal curriculum and schools must follow and purchase the aligned materials and tests.

If CCSS is such a Holy Grail, then why don’t the elite schools adopt them? Such as Lakeside, where Bill and Melinda Gates’ children attend school. The University of Chicago Lab School, where U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s children and Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emmanuel’s children did/do attend or Sidwell Friends, where the Obama daughters attend school. Go to each of these school websites. You will not find Common Core aligned anywhere.

Common Core is minimal workforce training for the masses. Not traditional American education. In 2013, National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), wrote a document that states it is not important under Common Core to have high educational standards in high school. It’s seen as a waste of time. You can read the document at ncee.org, click on math report and summary of findings.

I have written previously on data collection. I encourage you to go to Whitehouse.gov and click on education datapalooza. The White House invites 500 data entrepreneurs to develop apps and software to access you and your child’s personal data, provided by Federal Department of Education and other federal sources. Data previously protected by Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) until Department of Education and the Obama administration unilaterally “gutted” it. Now the act of requiring parental consent to share personal data has been reduced from a requirement to just ‘best practice’.

The following is not part of Common Core statewide in Illinois … yet. National Sexuality Core Standards Kindergarten-12th grade. However, when you accept federal money with baggage attached, you sometimes get a package you didn’t want. It is a 44-page document I recommend every parent read. Chicago Public Schools adopted these standards on Feb. 27, 2013. Florida is contemplating adopting these standards. A school district in Lawrence, Kan., has already adopted them.

Before you say “that won’t be allowed in our school”, remember local control is gone. On page 6 of this document, it states “Specifically, the National Sexuality Education Core Standards were developed to address inconsistent implementation of sexuality education nationwide and the limited time allocated to teaching the topic.” Basically, it means they will incorporate sex education into the math and English classroom assignments because those are the Standards that have been adopted, so far. You can find documentation of this also on page 6 in the lower right corner, “The Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education K-12 grade and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics recently adopted by most states.” Starting on page 12, on the same document, it states grade by grade what core concepts are to be mastered.

Fight Common Core. Refuse the tests, surveys and assessments associated with Common Core and PARCC to protect your child’s data. Don’t wait for legislators to act when you can act now. Please, continue to research Common Core.

Zoie Burton

* * *

Dear Editor:

Fulton County lost a good man. We drove over 80 miles on Nov. 13 to pay our respects to Jim Meehan at Shawgo Memorial Home. It was great to see so many people at the visitation and the parking lot was full. Yes, it was dark and we didn’t see the little no parking sign that was at the beginning of the block but the overflow was parking inside the white lines along the highway, so I did too. When I left the visitation after standing in line for over two hours, imagine my surprise to find a $50 parking ticket along with the other cars parked there.

I was raised in a small town and realize the town’s need for money, but to raise it by ticketing people at a visitation is wrong. I am going to pay my $50 visitation fee to the town of Astoria, but am asking the city leaders show some compassion for those suffering in the future.

I would like to know how many tickets were issued at the funeral home, and how many were written during the Scenic Drive along this same highway for illegal parking? I am not a betting man, but if I was, I would say zero for the drive and 10-15 for the visitation. This form of generating revenue is easier and faster than a speed trap.

Thanks for the experience, and welcome to Astoria.

Dave Phillips
Wataga, Ill.

* * *

Dear Editor:

I get such pleasure reading of all that’s going on in Fulton County. Being so far away from familiar places, I feel as if I am there watching it happen.

You all put out such a wonderful paper. Thank you and happy holidays.

M. Carmody


November 5, 2014

Dear Editor and Illinois Producers:

As part of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s commitment to strengthening rural economies, Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new fact sheet illustrating the impact of USDA investments in rural communities. Each state fact sheet highlights specific USDA investments in rural businesses, manufacturing, energy, water and other infrastructure development. They also outline how USDA is helping rural communities attract businesses and families by investing in housing and broadband.

“This report shows what investment in rural America means in real terms for families and businesses across the country,” said Vilsack. “Throughout the Obama Administration, USDA has created employment opportunities in rural America through investments in manufacturing, energy and small businesses. At the same time, we are bringing reliable services like water, housing and broadband to make these same communities attract and retain a talented workforce. This report proves the entrepreneurial spirit is strong in rural America.”

These fact sheets reflect Secretary Vilsack’s efforts to strengthen the “four pillars” of a new economy in rural America: developing a robust bio-based economy; promoting exports and production agriculture fueled by increased productivity and research; encouraging conservation including land management, stewardship and outdoor recreational opportunities; and building a strong local and regional food system to harness entrepreneurial innovation and help small and medium-sized family farms succeed in rural America.

The report’s state by state fact sheets are available at www.usda.gov/opportunities.

Thank you,
Scherrie Giamanco
Illinois State Director
Illinois FSA Office

* * *

Dear Editor:

When writing or discussing the Common Core Standards, I use fact-based independent research. Not government provided creative fiction or talking points.

The first creative fictitious statement, I will clarify with fact: The Standards were written by teachers for teachers. Truth: They were written by unelected unaccountable people selected by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The lead writers for English Language Arts (ELA) Standard, David Coleman and Susan Pimental, have never taught reading or English in K-12 or at the college level. Neither majored in English as undergraduates or has a doctorate in English. Neither has published serious work for K-12 curriculum and instruction. At the time the ELA standards were written, they were unknown to English and reading educators and to higher education faculty in rhetoric, speech, composition or literary study.

Two of the lead writers for the Mathematics Standard did have relevant academic credentials but no K-12 teaching experience. Jason Zimba was a physics professor at Bennington College at the time the standards were written. William McCallum is a mathematics professor at University of Arizona. The only member of the Math Standard team with K-12 teaching experience, Phil Daro, had majored in English as an undergraduate. None had ever developed K-12 mathematics standards before.

All of the information in the above paragraphs was provided by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, an English professor and senior associate in Massachusetts Department of Education. She was on the Common Core Validation Committee and refused to sign off on them. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak about her experience with Common Core writers on Oct. 18 in Washington, Ill.

Another creative fictitious statement, I will clarify with fact: The standards are just standards and they raise the bar, significantly. Truth: They are not just standards. They are controlled outside the State of Illinois with Federal baggage attached. When Illinois signed onto Common Core, it promised the federal government to adhere to the tests, data collection, data tracking, data technology, teacher evaluations and school evaluations. Every state received grant money to build a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS). You can find this information in the Illinois Race to the Top grant and on Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) website. Joy Pullman, a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute, wrote an article tracking the federal money and influence to the creation of Common Core.

As to Common Core raising the bar, significantly. How do you know this? There is no research to back up this claim because Common Core has never been pilot tested. Bill Gates, a huge investor of Common Core, stated in a speech on Sept. 21, 2013, at Harvard University. “It would be great if our education stuff worked but that we won’t know for possibly a decade.” As a parent, are you willing to wait 10 years to see if his experiment worked on your child? Are you content with basing your child’s education on the whim of a billionaire? I am not. This speech can be seen in its entirety on YouTube.

The arrogance and condescension of the Common Core proponents is truly astounding. They believe Common Core to be so profound it is undebatable. Everything that is wrong in public education has now been miraculously solved by this federal marvel. This Holy Grail. In their self righteous attempts to discredit and marginalize the opposition they resort to calling them ‘anti-government’ and ‘right-winged extremist’. There are conservatives that oppose Common Core. It is their right, as an American, to do so. So, how do you explain the opposition that sits on the left side of the aisle? A few examples: American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA). Both are left leaning unions comprised of teachers. Both want Common Core abolished. There is even a faction of AFT, The Badass Teachers, who despise Common Core so much they fight it full time. Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), another left-leaning union, wants Common Core out of the classroom. Their president, Karen Lewis, signed a resolution in an effort to rid our State of this federal beast. This is not a left vs. right issue. It’s an American issue.

Last spring, I didn’t know much about Common Core. I was where a lot of you are now. I have given specific information from reliable substantial sources, so you can begin your own research, as I did.

I thank God every day for blessing me with two loving parents who taught me to question everything. Except them.

I thank God every day for blessing Jeff and I with two extraordinary children. We teach them to question everything. Except us.

Zoie Burton


October 29, 2014

Dear Editor:

The following is a portion of my recent statement to our local school board, Astoria Schools District 1, on Oct. 15:

Last month I presented a broad overview of the federal beast known as Common Core. Tonight, I am focusing on the Data Collection and PARCC Testing of the Common Core regime.

In your copy of the United States Department of Education Cooperative Agreement with PARCC on page 1, second paragraph under “Purpose”, after you wade through all the government speak that is to impress and intimidate you, it basically says: We are allowing Department of Education and Obama administration to break a few privacy laws and bribe some states, then we are going to grab your data.

On page 2, Article 1, Appendix B, it states it will produce student achievement data and student growth data that can be used to determine whether individual students are college and career ready. Individual data — not statistical data-individual. When I say individual data, I’m talking about the 400 Data points the government seeks to record our children. Government Dossiers. A few of those points are religion, income, how do your parents vote, parents’ marital status, weapons in the home and sexual identity. All of this data is sent to Illini Cloud and on to a database in DC. For proof of this, turn to page 3 of the agreement to the highlighted portion that discusses “linking”. The government can then sell this data to third parties without parental consent. How can they do this? By gutting Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This is a gross violation of our Right to Privacy. How can you, in good conscience, facilitate this data collection and data sharing? There is more outrage over celebrities having their privacy violated. The President has never released his college transcripts from Harvard. Why is he afforded privacy and the rest of us are not? In fact, the President himself has called his data reforms “cradle to career”.

Did you know PARCC tests are protected by Illinois law? Did you know PARCC has a built-in 30 percent fail rate? Why would anyone set up a child to fail? There is no money to be made when children can pass tests. Did you know written into Illinois’ Waiver to No Child Left Behind (NCLB), 85 percent of white students are required to pass PARCC by 2019? However, only 73 percent of Latino and 70 percent of black students are required to do the same. I thought Common Core was the Holy Grail to public education. Why are there still different expectations?

I think it’s important to point out, we as a nation put a man on the moon and mapped the sequencing of human DNA without national standards or national tests.

How does all this data help educate our children? It doesn’t. It only helps Illinois State Board of Education and Department of Education track our children.

ISBE needs our children’s data to justify its existence.

ISBE needs our data to rank and sort our children.

ISBE needs our data to fire teachers and administrators.

ISBE needs our data to take over and close our local schools.

ISBE needs our data to please a federal government with an insatiable need for control.

My children, and all children who attend this school, are not data-producing government drones. They are granted the same rights and liberties stated in our U.S. Constitution. They are living beings with a potential that can not possibly be measured by a test score.

Are you so consumed with pleasing ISBE that parents have no voice and you can choose not to listen or act?

Are you so consumed with pleasing ISBE that children are forgotten?

Are you so consumed with pleasing ISBE that the concept of right and wrong no longer exists?

In Illinois, appropriations for Federal and State aid to public schools are determined by U.S. Congress and Illinois General Assembly (IASB — School Finance). Neither of these governing bodies passed legislation requiring Common Core. Therefore, you cannot and will not lose funding. It would be unlawful. The DOE is trying to force policy upon the public as if that policy was law.

We live in a “local control” state. In the handout I gave you last month, it clearly states you as a board have the power to release our school from the shackles of Common Core. If you seek the knowledge, run with it and stand up for what is right. I am asking the Board to stand up for what is right and perform three tasks:

  1. Immediately draft and sign a resolution stopping all implementation of Common Core.
  2. Immediately draft and sign a resolution to remove our school from the PARCC Testing Consortium.
  3. Develop our own better Standards in math and English.

Other schools across the nation are using this strategy to extricate themselves from the federal web of Common Core.

Please pause and reflect on what Common Core really is. I’m closing with the following quote:

“The State must declare the child be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.” — Adolf Hitler-Mein Kampf.

The Board graciously increased my allotted time limit from five to seven minutes. No one on the Board has contacted me regarding this statement. Please attend our next school board meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Zoie Burton


October 8, 2014

Dear Editor:

The following is a portion of my recent statement to my local school board.

The Common Core state-led initiative is not state-led education. It is federalized education. National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers are private lobbying firms for special interests in Washington D.C., and unaccountable to the voting public, would like you to believe in every state the governors, public officials, parents and teachers had enormous input in creating these standards. They are lying. The truth is these standards were created by a 24-member team, heavily funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. These 24 members then signed disclosure agreements to keep the information hidden from public scrutiny and to keep people like me … silent.

So, how did we get here?

State of Illinois could not meet their commitments for No Child Left Behind. So, Arne Duncan and Obama administration dangled the proverbial carrot of a waiver, to those commitments, in exchange for signing on to Common Core — sight unseen — to receive race-to-the-top funding. In the real world, this type of business is called extortion.

I’m not going to debate the content of the standards because for me, the debate is over. The standards are not internationally benchmarked and take education to the lowest denominator. As offensive as the standards are, there is a more deep-rooted mission here: indoctrination and data collection.

Our Federal government and Department of Education are using our children as human shields to promote a collectivist, communist developmentally inappropriate social justice agenda. You literally have Americans (unknowingly) surrendering their individual rights and liberties under the guise of a better education. There is no education here. Only uniformity and control. Common Core manipulates the student into what to think to manufacture carbon copy obedient children.

Common Core in its entirety — the standards themselves, numerous tests, assessments, surveys and all the data collected from those sources violate the 4th, 10th and Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to our U.S. Constitution.

The shamefully corrupt State of Illinois sold our children’s souls and education for a philosophy and ideology that violates who we are as a nation and insults those who have fought and died to protect it.

I refuse to subject my children to any part of Common Core. It strips children of their innocence, values, curiosity and spirit. Replacing it with stress, self doubt, confusion and fear. It seeks to destroy the sacred parent-child bond by constantly repeating “follow the Government, we know what’s best for you” dogma.

My children belong to me, not the government.

I will not back down from a Federal government whose only interest is having unlimited power over American people.

I encourage everyone to attend Astoria Community District #1 School Board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, to express their concern.

Zoie Burton


October 1, 2014

DEAR EDITOR:

The following was read by Denny Robertson at the unveiling of Ipava’s Veteran’s Memorial at Camp Ellis Days held Sept. 6.

Before entering the Ipava Memorial you will see two battle crosses, one on each side. It is believed the battle cross originated during the Civil War to identify the bodies of fallen soldiers before being removed from the battlefield.

The helmet or headgear identifies the soldier.

The inverted rifle with the bayonet stuck in the ground signals the time for prayer.

The boots represent the final march to the last battle.

As you travel around the memorial, you will find there are 21 slabs of concrete. These represent the 21 steps the guard at the (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) takes before turning, then hesitates 21 seconds before continuing his walk across the tomb. All of these elude to the 21 gun salute, the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

You also will see seven flags, this number represents the number of guns a warship in the 14th Century would have on board. Before entering a harbor they would fire each gun to show they were unarmed and were entering friendly, where as on shore they would fire seven guns three times each, giving us the 21 gun salute.

In the corner of the flag you will note there are 13 gray brick and also the names of 13 soldiers who were killed in action, giving the ultimate sacrifice for their country. These 13 brick and 13 men elude to the 13 colonies and also the 13 times a flag is folded after being taken down and stored for the night.

Also, when being presented to a loved one upon the death of a soldier or veteran.

And last is the black granite stone.

On this stone are the names of soldiers from here and surrounding areas who gave supreme sacrifice for their country.

I would like to remind everyone this memorial was built to remember these veterans when they were young men, with nothing but their future ahead of them, who took time out from their lives to defend their country or to be there if called on.

Thanks again for your support and remember we can add brick and benches to the memorial anytime — welcome to your memorial.


September 24, 2014

Editor’s Note: Astoria Lions Club member Ron Southerd, blood drive coordinator, would like to share this letter received from Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center following the recent blood drive sponsored by Astoria Lions Club.

Dear Mr. Southerd:

Thank you and the donors of Astoria Lions Club for the blood drive you recently held with Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. Donation rates may fluctuate depending on the season, but the demand for blood products at the hospitals we serve is constant.

Staff members in our component production are able to produce as many as four different blood components from every whole blood donation. We collected 22 units on the day of the blood drive, that will serve 88 patients at local hospitals. With the help of partnering organizations like yours, blood is on the shelves when patients need it. Please express my appreciation to all who participated for their commitment to our mission.

Providing you with the support necessary in recruiting volunteer blood donors and organizing a successful blood drive is a primary function of the Donor Relations Department. As a champion of our mission, you know how important it is to help make the donation experience pleasant enough for donors to want to donate again; your feedback is vital to maintaining and growing our donor base.

Thank you for your partnership and all you do.

Upcoming Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center blood drives in your area: Tuesday, Sept. 30, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Astoria High School Gym; Saturday, Dec. 13, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Astoria Christian Church.

Sincerely,
Amanda Hess
Director, Donor Relations


September 10, 2014

(Editor’s note: Astoria Elementary/Junior High School Principal Dave Crouse asked to share the following letter about an award Astoria Elementary’s Early Childhood Program received.)

Dear Mr. Dave Crouse and Early Childhood Teachers:

Congratulations. Astoria Elementary School’s Early Childhood Program has met the eligibility requirements for the ExceleRate™ Illinois Silver Circle of Quality. ExceleRate™ Illinois is our state’s quality rating and improvement system for early learning and development programs.

Achieving this designation demonstrates your school’s commitment to providing quality early childhood education to children in your district. ExceleRate™ Illinois unifies all our state’s early learning programs under a common set of standards across multiple delivery settings and supports programs that integrate and sustain best practices, while publicly recognizing your school’s achievement towards higher quality.

Your school’s Silver Circle of Quality designation can remain in effect until your next Illinois State Board of Education monitoring cycle. The enclosed ExceleRate™ Illinois certificates recognize your school’s achievement and commitment to quality early learning. Please display these certificates in visible areas, such as the program and main office areas, to share your school’s accomplishment with the parents of children you serve. ExceleRate™ Illinois will make your school’s Circle of Quality recognition public, to inform families looking for early learning options for their children.

Congratulations on your school’s achievement of the ExceleRate™ Illinois Silver Circle of Quality and continued commitment to quality early learning.

Sincerely,
Toni Porter
Professional Development Manager


September 3, 2014

Dear Editor:

Do you know what a head-on collision would do to you? On Aug. 19, I almost didn’t reach my 86th birthday, that will be the last of September.

To keep traffic moving smoothly, quite often a big hill has a third lane to keep the heavy rigs moving. I was returning home in the single lane headed west, when the nearest car on the two-lane side swung violently into my nearest lane. Visibility was good, he had two lanes. What in the world? The road was flat — you’ve heard the expression, “a football field to stop if you’re driving…” I was doing 50-60 mph (I save gas), there was at least that.

What would he do next? If he continued on across my lane, could I go left? No, there was a car in that lane. I would not be responsible for their death. I was right as far as I could get. I don’t think there was even a second to decide. I turned my wheels and he decided to move back into his lane. We passed on a diagonal. I don’t want to know how close. I sat on the shoulder and shook.

I was describing the incident to my daughter, and she said, “They were texting.”

Nearing retirement, her first job was in sports in Chicago and driver’s training. She often makes remarks at a stoplight, “Talking on the phone,” when they are slow to move. She also made remarks about texting but I didn’t listen.

Well, I’m listening now — don’t text and drive.

Mary Beaird
Glen Arbor, Mich.

Editor’s note: Things can (and do) happen in a split second. Thank you for sharing your story, Mary. Happy birthday.


August 27, 2014

Dear Editor:

Many have asked me just what this “Mrs. Astoria Pageant” is all about. Allow me to answer a couple of those questions.

First, the “Mrs. Astoria Pageant” is not your typical pageant. There is no need to worry about wearing a swimsuit or evening gown. We are not interested in how talented you are. All we are looking for is for you to be yourself.

Second, you do not need to be married to enter the “Mrs. Astoria Pageant”. Our goal is to celebrate the many hard-working and selfless ladies in our community. This includes single moms, aunts and grandmas. Any lady age 30 or above is encouraged to enter.

Third, although I will not divulge the actual categories (you will have to contact me for that), I will promise you they are easy, fun and imaginative. The best way to show your sparkle is through your creativity. For anyone with stage fright, I would like to encourage you with Proverbs 31:29 — She is clothed with strength and dignity; she laughs at the days to come. As women, we face many challenges every day. What better way to “laugh at the days to come” than to celebrate each other and have fun. Again, all we want is you to be you.

This pageant will be held Sunday, Sept. 14, at 3 p.m. I have a few open slots left for contestants. Deadline for entry is Aug. 31. For information or to sign up, contact me anytime, 309-221-9114. Hope to hear from you soon.

Tammy Spencer
Astoria Homecoming Committee


July 30, 2014

Dear Editor:

July 21 — Really look forward to receiving the Argus every week. Good to keep in touch with current events as well as the “Step Back in Time” page. As to the latter, can you explain to me how it is possible that 1964 was 50 years ago? Can’t be more than 25 or so, it seems.

Thanks for what you do.

Roy Cripe

* * *

Mr. Cripe:

The Argus staff is happy to know you enjoy our paper. It is always good to hear positive feedback.

I can’t vouch for 1964 (I wasn’t born yet), but time does slip away … faster and faster each day.

Thank you, and happy reading.

Judy Beaird, editor
Astoria South Fulton Argus

* * *

Dear Editor:

The Quincy to Peoria St. Jude runners will come through Astoria in the early morning hours of Saturday, Aug. 2, with a tentative arrival time of 6 a.m. The group will travel on their way to the St. Jude Telethon in Peoria, and stop by Astoria Town Park for a much-needed and appreciated break along the way.

Canisters have been placed in several Astoria businesses, and all proceeds will be sent with the runners to the telethon in Peoria.

This is the 10th year the St. Jude runners have come through Astoria. If you have never had the opportunity to join us, consider making it a goal this year. What can you expect? A caravan of over 75 people, six RVs, trucks, vans and police escort making their way into Astoria. The magic that happens by being there is something you won’t forget.

If you haven’t given a donation yet, feel free to bring it on Saturday morning. Thank you, and see you at the park.

Patty VanVoorhis and Sally Bair
St. Jude Runner’s Reception Coordinators


July 9, 2014

Dear Editor:

Spoon River College may be the best-kept secret in west-central Illinois.

Community colleges are often misunderstood. Many people have accepted the idea community colleges are inferior to universities and not “real colleges”. As a graduate of Highland Community College and a teacher at SRC, it is difficult to express my frustration with this attitude.

Choosing a community college was one of the smartest decisions I ever made. When I graduated from high school, I had no idea what I was going to do or what I was interested in. I realize today if I had started my education at a university I would have probably failed, and my life would have turned out differently.

I see students like me every day, students who are unsure if college is for them, unsure about what they should major in, and unsure about their own abilities. I also see students who have a plan and a goal, and who understand how beneficial a community college is to achieving their long-term goals. Some students are interested in a career and technical degree, while others are focused on completing general education requirements and transferring to a university. In either situation, the choice to attend a community college is not only a wise financial decision. Ultimately, it is primarily a wise educational decision.

Whether a traditional-age college student or a non-traditional student returning to college, a community college is the perfect stepping-stone towards achieving some long-term goal. Community colleges offer two-year degrees and certificates in a variety of career and technical fields. We prepare students to successfully transfer and complete four-year degrees. Community colleges do this more successfully compared to universities, for a fraction of the cost.

SRC class sizes are small with classes offered on a variety of days, times and online. There are Academic Success Centers at Canton and Macomb campuses that provide services to students, including tutoring. Community colleges are teaching colleges and the primary focus of our faculty is on teaching and the students.

If you are considering a college education and you live in west-central Illinois, I urge you to check out SRC. We have campuses in Canton and Macomb, as well as centers in Havana and Rushville. For traditional students and non-traditional students interested in a transfer curriculum or a career and technical field, SRC may be the best-kept secret in west-central Illinois.

Michael Maher
SRC Sociology Faculty


June 25, 2014

Dear Editor:

I am writing to you to see if you could have any influence with the phone company to have a phone booth installed at Hughes Park in Astoria.

Last Friday night, my pals and I gathered to play a softball game against Astoria Fire Department. Now I know on the surface it would seem my super hero friends wouldn’t have much trouble with this group. I watched, and for some reason we got behind, so naturally, I decided to help them.

As you may know, I need a phone booth to change in. I am a very modest person and cannot change out in the open. I searched and searched, but never found one, even with my X-ray vision, so we lost.

I hope before next year, when we may challenge this group again, there will be a phone booth for me.

Sincerely,
Clark Kent


June 11, 2014

Dear Editor:

According to Illinois Association of School Boards’ Foundation Principles for Effective Governance, the Board will “take responsibility for itself … The Board, collectively and individually, takes full responsibility for Board activity and behavior … Individual members are obligated to express their opinions.” Further stated in the Code of Conduct for members of school boards as per IASB, “I will prepare for, attend and actively participate in school board meetings.” It has been noted Astoria School Board member Chris Southwood has been absent from eight of the last 13 meetings. This is an attendance percentage of 38 percent. It is clear that if a board member is not consistently present at routinely scheduled meetings, he or she cannot abide by IASB principles. Mr. Southwood was elected to represent this community. He is not doing that.

Prior to this record of attendance, Mr. Southwood was the Board President. Attendance was better then, but still irregular. By irregular, I mean he missed enough meetings his fellow board members saw fit to seat a different president in April of 2013.

As I see it, one of three things must happen. One, Mr. Southwood must begin and continue attending meetings. If events in his life prevent him from doing this, then two, he must step down. Or three, our school board president must deal with this issue.

Would our school board be satisfied with teacher or administrator work attendance of 38 percent? Would our community? I would hope not. The role of a school board member is a job. It is one to be taken seriously. I made careful consideration of the candidate choices when I voted. I expect Mr. Southwood to take this job seriously, and if he cannot, then this is not a job for him. Decision making cannot be consistent with inconsistent attendance of board members. Our school is more important than that.

A Concerned Citizen

* * *

Dear Editor:

On June 28, Astoria Area Chamber of Commerce will host Cruise Night in Astoria Town Park. The band American Pie will perform from 6-9 p.m., food and drinks will be available for purchase from local organizations.

For a $20 donation, your car will be entered in the cruise and recognized with an announcement. This year’s donations will go to Children’s Hospital of Illinois towards the purchase of a kangaroo chair.

Several area families have benefitted greatly from Children’s Hospital of Illinois and the services they offer. The hospital is a state-designated Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center and the first state-designated Pediatric Critical Care Hospital.

Children’s Hospital of Illinois addresses the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of their pediatric patients based on three principles:

  • One — children are unique and have very special needs.
  • Two — a child’s illness impacts the entire family.
  • Three — childhood illness interferes with normal childhood growth and development.

Never heard of a kangaroo chair? Kangaroo care is a method of holding a baby — skin-to-skin. The baby only wears a diaper and a covering on their back — receiving blanket or parent’s clothing. They are placed in an upright position against the parent’s bare chest. This snuggling of the infant inside the pouch of their parent’s shirt (like a kangaroo’s pouch) led to the term “kangaroo care”. The chairs make this method possible for the parent and baby.

Benefits of kangaroo care to the baby:

  • Stabilization of the baby’s heart rate
  • Improved breathing pattern
  • Improved oxygen saturation
  • Gain in sleep time
  • More rapid weight gain
  • Decreased crying
  • Successful breast-feeding
  • Earlier discharge from hospital

Benefits of kangaroo care to the parents:

  • Improved bonding
  • Improved breast-milk supply
  • Increase in confidence to care for their baby
  • Increase in confidence their baby is well cared for
  • Increase in sense of control

The Chamber is looking forward to donating to such a great cause. The cost of a kangaroo chair is $1,500, and Children’s Hospital of Illinois Neonatal Critical Care Unit is in need of dozens of them.

For information, contact Astoria Area Chamber of Commerce Treasurer Steve Butler, 309-329-2172.

Astoria Area Chamber of Commerce

* * *

To whom this may concern:

I went to Browning Cemetery to put two hanging pots on my father’s resting place, but to my surprise, the hanger that said DAD on it was gone. The person or persons who took it, I hope you are happy. You have a lot more guts than I do to do such a thing. I feel you are a coward to rob people’s graves when no one is there to defend what is theirs. If I ever find out who took it, I will file charges against you. You do have a choice, I would very much like it put back. I feel sorry for you if that’s all you have to do is go around stealing off graves.

Barry Scego

* * *

Dear Editor:

Rod and Beth Price are close neighbors who volunteer to deliver food for our senior citizens to homebound in Astoria. Rod sits beside me at mealtime and the table talk abounded about D-Day in France on June 6, 1944. Rod mentioned my experience on this day 70 years ago would be good for publication.

On March 6, 1944, our fair-engined B-24 Bomber was shot out of the skies after bombing Berlin. I was one of these survivors and was a prisoner of war of the Germans for three months before D-Day. Survival in a P.O.W. Camp had to be adjusted to. Food was strictly rationed, as was clothing and housing.

However, Yankee ingenuity surfaced and a working radio was created that could bring B.B.C. reports of the upcoming invasion. This was typewritten and smuggled from compound to compound. On March 6, 1944, I heard the account as read to those in our barracks room.

Jubilation was ecstatic. Large groups paraded around our compound cheering and chanting, even to the objections of our captors in the watch towers. I’m unaware of how wine was even distilled by prisoners, but prunes, raisins and sugar from Red Cross food packages found ways to get brewed. One or two small groups were clearly inebriated.

The jubilation and celebration lasted into the evening, all of us were vitally concerned about the progress of the invasion. We assumed our forces would quickly overrun German defenses. We did not try to count the cost.

Secrecy of the radio was absolutely essential. It would have been confiscated by the Germans on a moments notice. Parts had been bought from German guards for cigarettes. The Red Cross packages had six packs of Chesterfield or Camels. A niche had been carved in the wall and the radio hidden when not used.

Progress of the invasion was conveyed to us by smuggling the report to us from another compound. We understood the British Beach was the slowest to break out and advance. The American Omaha Beach was listed with the extreme casualties. The British had the town of Aachen on their perimeter and were having trouble breaking out and advancing. When it was reported that Aachen was taken, one prisoner posted a sign in his window — “Mein Achin”. This was bait for the Germans. “Mein” in German is “Mine”. “Achin” is a part of the G.I. phrase “My Achin Back”. “Aachen” was obvious for the Germans to read. (Howdy Ann, Peter and Shirley.)

Hubert Cripe

* * *

Dear Editor:

I would like to tell you about my opinion on scouts. I’m a Boy Scout, Star Rank to be exact and I think people who take scouts seriously will learn great goal setting skills and can grow to become great leaders. I have over 10 years of scouting experience, from this time, I can tell you without a doubt in my mind scouts, whether girl, boy or cub, are generally held in a higher esteem than non scouts.

Sincerely,
Star Scout
Christopher Tournear


June 4, 2014

Dear Editor:

As the VIT school year draws to a close, I would like to show my appreciation to everyone supporting our school. With that, I would like to draw your attention to VIT PTO.

PTO has been around for years and helped in numerous projects. The group pays for field trips, Scholastic News fliers and other things teachers may need not covered in the school’s budget.

As our kids have gotten older, Candy Heaton and I have decided to step down. I still have one in grade school, but other parents or grandparents are needed to take over the lead. The president and secretary have stepped down this year, and I have kept doing Box Tops, soup labels and ink cartridges for the last two years as vice president. Heaton has been treasurer for the last two years and also has played the role of interim president. There is little interest from anyone wanting to help out.

We have plenty of volunteers to help with book fairs and Santa Shop every year, but no one to take an active administrative role. Without this, we will have to fold VIT PTO.

Mr. Curry sent a letter home with the students stating the same thing and received some response, but not enough. If you are interested in an active part in VIT PTO, contact Heaton, 309-221-3802; Mr. Curry, 309-758-5138; or myself. Heaton and I will stay another year to help out anyone willing to take over.

Thank you for your support.

Donna Tournear,
VIT PTO vice president
309-313-4960


May 28, 2014

Dear Editor:

In a perfect world, every elected official would love to lower taxes and provide critical public services. The reality is the math just does not add up. Illinois Rural Health Association relies on state-funded programs to support medically underserved populations across the state. If the current state income tax is not maintained at its current level, the healthcare services provided at hospitals, Rural Health Clinics and public health departments will suffer and impact Illinois residents who currently depend on them.

In the mental health community, core psychiatric services and crisis services would be eliminated. If an individual does not get the proper medical care in the early stages of an illness or be able to stay on their medication, the illness is not eliminated, it worsens and becomes more expensive to treat and makes people who could be leading productive lives unproductive, not to mention the human pain and suffering.

Illinois Rural Health Association urges members of General Assembly to make what may not be the popular choice, but the most practical and responsible one, by voting to maintain the current state income tax rate.

Sincerely,
Margaret Vaughn
IRHA executive director
217 E. Monroe, Suite 99
Springfield, IL 60561


May 21, 2014

Editor’s note: After the tornado hit Washington, Ill., Lynette Smith of Astoria organized the “Cinnamon Roll Project”, where cinnamon rolls were baked and delivered to the devastated area. A total of $677 was leftover from this project and was sent a few weeks ago. Smith wanted to share this letter she received that explains how the donation will be used.

Lynette and All Astoria Donators:

The tornado of Nov. 17, 2013, was tragic for Washington Grade School District #52. Over 200 homes in our District were damaged, most destroyed. Nearly 100 students were displaced and are living in temporary housing in at least 12 surrounding communities. Seventeen of our staff members have been significantly affected by the storm, most lost their home. Three of our four administrators lost their homes, and the fourth, his parents and sister lost theirs. As you can see, the impact is beyond descriptive words.

Yet, the community of Washington and the parents and students of D52 are recovering. The resiliency and attitude of those directly and indirectly affected by the tornado has been amazing to witness. Support has poured, nay, cascaded, in from not only the area and the state but from all over the nation. This outpouring of care, compassion and action has strengthened our resolve to continue our move forward. It may take years, but I am confident Washington will remain strong and persevere till we have achieved our goal … full recovery.

Your donation to help us to that end is greatly appreciated. Proceeds will be divided and distributed among families and staff that have been displaced by the tornado. Our distribution will occur later in the winter. This is strategic. For most families affected by the storm, needs will continue for many months and for some, years. D52 would like our distribution to be at a time when other donations are fading away. Hopefully, this will be a boost at a needed time.

Again, thank you for being part of that great support. Your efforts will make a difference for our community, students, staff and families.

In Humble Gratitude,
Superintendent Dr. John Tignor
Washington Grade School


April 16, 2014

Dear Editor:

Howdy again. I hope I can get a report about our bake sale on April 18. Our Senior Citizen Center has had their ups and downs since its beginning. The YWCA of Canton helps with rent money and sends meals to our site four days a week.

My wife Louisa and I started eating there several years before she died. George Wise was chairman of our board and insisted I be number two on the board. He retired for health reasons, and now I’m trying to maintain the way we keep going. It’s good I have a good board.

Repairs to our building have gotten us in a bind. We never did have a lot of money. Now, we had to update our lighting system. Then we needed the bug exterminator to do a big job. Our building front will likely need remodeling to correct damage caused by road construction.

Folks, our bake sale seems to be our best bet to cover some expenses. Jean Martin talked to Astoria Hometown Market, and they plan to provide a basket to raffle.

I do my own cooking at home, but Rod Price has a way of describing my “Hubie Stew” that I won’t be bringing any to the sale. Barb Miller said she would make homemade noodles for me to bring. Norma Meehan has a big kitchen and I bet she will have lots of goodies.

We have had some of our people asking for donations from businesses around our town. Now we hope to have a lot of you visit our bake sale on April 18, Good Friday, starting at 9 a.m. Maybe by noon we will close, or until we sell out.

Sincerely,
Board Chairman
Hubert Cripe

Editor’s note: Those who attend Astoria Senior Citizen Center have become a family, and whole-heartedly want to keep it open. Not only do they enjoy four-healthy meals a week, they look forward to socializing with each other. Please consider making a donation — whether it be a dozen cookies for the bake sale, a basket to raffle or a monetary donation — it would be very much appreciated. Also, they would be glad for you to join them weekly, and become a part of their family.

* * *

Dear Editor:

Every child should have an excellent school. That’s why I wholeheartedly support Governor Quinn’s courageous plan to invest in education like never before.

My colleagues on Illinois State Board of Education and I have long fought to increase funding for our pre-K through 12th-grade students, because a strong education system is critical to ensuring our state competes in the 21st Century.

Governor Quinn is proposing an increase of $291 million in the classroom for FY15 — an improvement that will move us in the right direction. His budget will allow schools to begin making up lost ground that resulted from decades of mismanagement the Governor inherited.

More importantly, the Governor’s ambitious blueprint will invest more than $6 billion in the classroom over the next five years — the largest investment in the classroom in Illinois history.

This investment could be a game-changer for Illinois economy. A state’s most valuable resource is its people. We need to support Illinois teachers so they can prepare our students to be college and career ready once they graduate. If we do that, businesses will want to stay and relocate here.

Last month, State Board of Education staff was asked to provide the legislature with information about what an additional $1 billion reduction to schools would mean since that is the level of funding they anticipate would be available without the extension of the current income tax level. That kind of cut could translate into the reduction of more than 13,000 teachers, it could mean more than 80,000 students who now take a bus would be forced to find another way to school, and it would mean more than doubling the number of school districts on our financial watch list.

We also reached out to districts and asked them what a reduction of this magnitude would mean. All of the districts we spoke with predicted reductions or elimination of extracurricular activities and academic course offerings, laying off personnel and increasing class sizes.

I believe if we do not maintain the current tax rate, it is not a pretty picture for our schools. We need to stand up and say, enough of the cuts. We cannot expect excellent schools while starving education. Our children and state deserve better.

Gery Chico, chairman
Illinois State Board of Education


April 9, 2014

Dear Editor:

Jean Martin is director of handling the affairs of the Senior Citizen Center in Astoria. The Lunch With Friends provides 128 meals a week to Astoria and the surrounding area. Jean also sets up Red Cross transportation for those she can help.

Our Senior Citizen Center has a history dating to October 1977. Paul Stauffer, pastor of Woodland Church of the Brethren, went to work on the idea, and on Nov. 17, 1977, the first meals were served at Astoria Church of the Brethren.

Mary Hezlip was site manager. We later moved to the Blue Room in the cafe. Richard Hoopes, Paul Stauffer and Jim Webb worked hard to get a grant request, and on June 18, 1980, we had a grant of $9,700 to cover remodeling the building on the south side of Main Street.

Ronal Wickert was supervising the construction and with volunteer help, we had a wheelchair ramp at the front door. Restrooms and furnace were provided, along with a modern kitchen. The main part of the building is available for receptions, anniversaries and other meetings.

Anna Danner is now age 100, and in her prime, she served in various stages of our development. Edythe Dodd and Nellie Stephens served in various ways to continue the work. Oral Kost, Ken Stevens, Ernest Bubb and Doane Trone also were strong supporters.

Mary Hoopes wrote a letter to Anna Danner in February 1988 telling about the above.

Now all you folks out there are invited to our Bake Sale on April 18. We have to have money to cover repairs to the building. Ameren Illinois had to do a big deal on the lighting, and the exterminator had to do a big deal on our bug problem. We will probably have to repair the stones on the front of the building.

Now, about our sale. Jean has plans for a basket raffle. I’m sure Norma Meehan will have goodies there. Rod Price has a way of describing my cooking that I don’t want to bring “Hubie Stew”. Barb Miller said she would make noodles for me. So, come to our Bake Sale on Good Friday, April 18, from 9 a.m. to noon at the center.

Sincerely,
Board Chairman
Hubert Cripe


March 12, 2014

Dear Editor:

Patsy Springs is back. The summer was long and dry. On Dec. 27, I had a stroke and have been confined to a bed. I have had a lot of time to think about my veteran’s list.

I have not yet found relatives for these two men — Andrew Fulk and James Searles. I still need next of kin to order a free government marker for these two veterans. Don’t wait to let me know, because tomorrow may never come.

Read Job 14:5 in the Bible. I almost didn’t see tomorrow. If there hadn’t been good doctors on the way, I wouldn’t be here today. The ambulance took me from my house to Macomb hospital. Then I was taken by helicopter to Peoria, where I had to undergo brain surgery. I would like to have a lot of people from the newspaper world visit me.

I’m at Wesley Village in Macomb. Every visitor can be showed around the facility. You will see what a nice place this is. If you have a loved one that needs care, Wesley Village is the place.

Come to Vermont Cemetery to see all the stones with Kermit Shorts’ help. Look in the old section because each section has been marked nicely by the Boy Scouts. Send any information you may have. I would like to get this paperwork started.

Sincerely,
Patsy Springs
407 Willow Road
Vermont, IL 61484

* * *

Dear Editor:

On Tuesday, March 18, there will be a primary election. Because primaries are notorious for low voter turnout, I hope to encourage the citizens to get out and vote.

There is a primary referendum to grant Fulton County Board the authority to create a public building commission. Note the word “create”. The people would not be voted into position, but appointed by the head of the board.

Why do they now need a “public building commission”? Because there is a group of people who are wanting to purchase the former golf course in Canton and erect all new buildings to house Fulton County Courthouse, Fulton County Sheriff’s Department and Fulton County Highway Department. With the size of the land, it is possible other projects would be proposed at other times.

I’m fearful if given too much authority and not held accountable to the voters and taxpayers when they do decide to buy land and build, they can use eminent domain. If this purchase would succeed, all the buildings would be owned by the commission and leased for their particular usage.

Is there an access of funds to cover these multimillion-dollar costs? I suggest there is not. We, the taxpayers, would be burdened with huge increases on our taxes. This would continue to our children and our grandchildren to absorb these enormous costs.

The current Fulton County Courthouse needs repairs to the bell tower and fire escapes. Fulton County Jail needs new locks and bars. If these small things were remedied, it would be far more economical than to buy land, build new and move.

A recession is not the time to raise taxes to this amount.

However, even though I will be voting a big “NO” as to appointing a building commission, I will vote for the one-percent increase to help our schools and children. I hope between now and March 18, people will investigate on their own then go vote for the betterment of Fulton County.

Sandy Bybee
Vermont, Ill.


March 5, 2014

Dear Editor:

I would like to encourage voters to show up and vote in the primary on March 18 and to vote for Jeff Neigel for circuit judge in Fulton County.

I am a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Fulton County who has lived and raised a family here for the past 35 years. My husband has lived here all of his life and has farmed, worked and been very active in union issues his entire adult life. He is currently the president of AFSCME Retiree Chapter 81.

Prior to my current position, I worked for 34 years in fields that brought me into the courtroom setting on a regular basis. (Probation, police officer, DCFS, court mediation) I’ve spent hundreds of hours in criminal, family, civil and juvenile court … and have had the opportunity to interact and observe numerous judges and attorneys. That is why Dick and I are encouraging voters to support Jeff Neigel in his run for circuit judge in Fulton County. Mr. Neigel has by far the most courtroom experience of any of the candidates running for this office. He has been a regular fixture in the Fulton County courts for over two decades. I’ve been involved in cases he was handling in criminal, family, civil and juvenile court on numerous occasions, and he has always handled these cases with competence and poise. Being an attorney is only one of the qualifications for the job … having experience in the courtroom is imperative in being a good judge. You can be an attorney and still spend very few hours inside a courtroom.

If you found yourself in court, wouldn’t you want to know the judge elected to hold that position was the best qualified to hear your case? Please vote on March 18 … and vote for Jeff Neigel for circuit judge in Fulton County.

Dick and Marcia Heitz
Cuba, Ill.


February 19, 2014

Dear Editor:

All residents of Fulton County will have a very important decision to make in the upcoming election on March 18. The decision is regarding additional funding for all Fulton County Schools. It is no secret the state is in a budgetary crisis, that has negatively impacted all schools in Illinois. On March 18, you have the opportunity to vote “yes” to the Fulton County School Facility Occupation Tax that will appear on the ballot.

Voting “yes” will allow Fulton County to collect one-cent more in sales tax. This additional one cent on items we are already paying sales tax (nothing will be taxed that isn’t currently taxed), will be collected and given to all schools in Fulton County. For VIT School District, it is estimated we could receive approximately $120,000/year in additional funds. This would be very beneficial for VIT, Astoria and all schools in Fulton County. No one ever wants more taxes, but this additional one cent added onto the sales tax is the fairest way to obtain funds for our schools. Listed below are frequently asked questions. Take a moment of your time to inform yourself, get the facts and vote “yes” on March 18. A website also has been set up with additional information. Use this link to access the website: www.fultoncoun.com or call 309-338-6444 to ask any questions you may have. I encourage you to consider this sales tax increase. It is vital for our schools now more than ever.

What will the actual ballot state? Shall a retailer’s occupation tax and a service occupation tax (commonly referred to as a “sales tax”) be imposed in The County of Fulton, Illinois, at a rate of 1% to be used exclusively for school facility purposes?

How will funds be used? Each school district in the county will decide how to use the revenues.

Goals specific to VIT School District include: safety and security improvements, additions and renovations, building improvements; architectural planning/engineering, durable equipment, address accessibility concerns and heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) infrastructure upgrades. There are upgrades needed this new income could provide.

Goals specific to Astoria School District include: future roof replacement, gym ceiling refurbishment, floor tile replacement in classrooms, new gym floors, replace rooftop heating and cooling units for elementary/junior high, kitchen freezer, ovens, walk-in cooler, upgrade lighting, windows and new construction projects.

Retail sales not taxed are: anything with a title: cars, trucks, ATVs, boats, RVs, mobile homes. Unprepared food (groceries), medicine, farm equipment, parts and farm implements; if it is not currently taxed, it will not be taxed.

Sales tax dollars cannot be used for: salaries and benefits, instructional costs, textbooks and computers, moveable equipment, school buses or operational costs.

How much will the sales tax generate for our schools? An estimated $2 million dollars will be generated annually for Fulton County schools per year.

Will every school district in the county benefit from this sales tax? Yes. Every school district in the county will receive funds from the sales tax, that will be collected from the entire county and then distributed based on district enrollment.

What is the county sales tax for schools? The county sales tax for schools is a new approach toward maintaining and improving schools, supporting local jobs and shifting funding away from property taxes across Fulton County. The revenue proposal asks voters to decide on a countywide, one-cent sales tax utilized only for schools facilities. The revenue from this sales tax will fund school improvements without increasing property taxes.

Why is this needed now? Many school districts in Fulton County are facing serious facility needs. Safety and security improvements to buildings designed in a different era require extensive and expensive updating to support learning into the future. Sales tax revenues can address facility needs while using competitive local contractors. The county sales tax for schools addresses facility funding in a manner that shifts away from property taxes.

Consider shopping locally in your communities and especially in Fulton County whenever possible. Thank you for your time and attention. We hope to see you at the poles on March 18.

Yours sincerely,
Citizens for Fulton County Schools


February 5, 2014

Dear Editor:

I would like to make your readers aware of a program sponsored by YWCA called “Lunch with Friends”. This program is a county-wide meal program for adults over age 60; we have congregate (group) sites in Avon, Farmington, Cuba, Lewistown, Astoria, Vermont and Canton. From these congregate sites we prepare meals to be delivered to the homes of many of our participants who are unable to join.

This program enables many participants to remain in their homes by providing a nutritious meal. We also are a “well-being” check for many of our participants since the delivery drivers and volunteers are the only people some of our participants see during the week. This gives their family members who live out of state peace of mind knowing their loved one is being checked on.

Last year out of our central kitchen at YWCA, we served over 58,500 meals to older adults. Although we only ask for a $3 donation per meal, some participants are unable to give that amount or anything at all. I am asking for your support via a monetary donation. As our food costs rise and with the inability of our participants to give the donation, we are in need of extra funds.

Also, if you or someone you know would be interested in participating or volunteering in the Lunch with Friends program, call for information, 309-647-9006.

Thank you,
Stacy Haggerty,
Nutrition/Project director

P.S. Please consider Lunch with Friends when it comes time to list memorial contributions at the time of the loss of a loved one. These gifts are another way to help this program. Planned bequests also are needed.


January 22, 2014

To the Astoria Community:

Each year, Astoria FFA Alumni hold their annual auction to raise funds for the upcoming year. The main purpose of the alumni is to support the students in the FFA program. Over the past several years, the alumni has been able to provide several students scholarships to be used in furthering their education. Throughout the year, students participate in leadership opportunities such as conferences, career development events and leadership camps that help them to become stronger individuals. These opportunities come with a cost. The alumni is a group of individuals that want to support the agriculture and FFA programs at Astoria High School. This auction is the biggest fundraiser the alumni has each year. We are asking for your support for not only the alumni, but these programs that are so important for the students. Auction items and cash donations (make checks payable to Astoria FFA Alumni) are needed.

The Alumni Auction will take place after the annual FFA Banquet to be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 2, at Astoria High School gymnasium. It’s a great event to celebrate the accomplishments the FFA members have had over the past year. The auction will begin immediately following the banquet.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact an Astoria FFA Alumni officer:

Tom Trone, 217-653-0986; Luke Jones, 217-242-9889; Ralph Matheny, 309-333-0647; or Darla Pittman, 309-313-3087.

Thank you for your support — it is truly appreciated.

Sincerely,
Darla Pittman, secretary
Astoria FFA Alumni

* * *

Dear Editor:

I just wanted to write a note to say how much I enjoyed the Table Grove Winter Play Day. To all of you who worked so hard to make this a great time. Starting with a Memorial Tree Lighting Ceremony and prayer; Christmas carols led by Pastor Rob and his wife; community building for free chili, all day by Table Grove State Bank; face painting; Santa and a real reindeer for pictures; storytelling at Table Grove Library; human dog sled races, so much fun.

Cookie decorating and ornament making; children’s games; free hot chocolate; and live nativity scene, all at Table Grove Church; and horse drawn trolley rides.

To add to the lovely day, it started to snow and when it got dark, a lovely lighted parade.

The floats were wonderful and all lit up. The local fire truck, and of course, the brave VIT band who braved the cold weather. I can only say it was a magical day. So to all who worked so hard to make this lovely day, I thank you. I had a wonderful time.

Toby Curley
A proud Table Grove resident


January 15, 2014

Dear Editor:

On New Year’s night, the Astoria business I own — The Shelf on Broadway — located at 216 E. Broadway, was broken into. The door was kicked in, and a safe with money and other valuable items were taken.

A neighbor (also a family member) called the police and waited until 3 a.m. for an officer to arrive.

A local officer showed up the next day. He seemed concerned an officer had not been to the scene of the break-in, and said he would be writing up a police report. I have not heard back from the authorities, even though I have called and left messages.

To my knowledge, there has not been a police report written; no fingerprinting was done; the neighbors have not been questioned; and no pictures have been taken.

My feelings are if the police would have shown up in a timely measure and followed through, this might have been solved.

I just want to inform other Astoria business owners and residents this type of crime is happening in town.

Sincerely,
Alta Diaz, owner
The Shelf on Broadway

* * *

Dispelling Blood Donation Myths

During the winter months, donors can find it difficult to schedule or keep a donation appointment. Sometimes misconceptions about blood donation can keep potential donors away regardless of the season. As a blood drive coordinator, it’s important to be able to address the misconceptions about donating blood. The following are a few of the most common:

“I can’t donate blood because I have a tattoo.” — If the tattoo was applied at a state-regulated facility, the person is eligible to give. The donor should wait 12 months if the tattoo was applied in a state that does not regulate tattoo facilities.

“I’m on antibiotics and am unable to give.” — It is acceptable if the donor is taking antibiotics to prevent an infection, for example, following dental procedures or for acne. The reason for antibiotics use must be evaluated to determine if the donor has a bacterial infection that could be transmissible by blood.

“I’ve had a flu shot and have to wait to donate.” — There is no deferral period for a donor who had a flu shot as long as they are feeling well.

“It hurts to donate blood.” — Most find the process simple and relatively painless. The difference one donation makes can last a lifetime.

“But I take meds.” — Not a problem. Call the coordinator at this number, 309-784-8921, or come in to the blood drive location, and bring a list of your medicine. They will do a small droplet of blood to test it.

Give the gift of life. It’s the gift you and I can give and it doesn’t cost — Red Cross Blood Drive, Vermont United Methodist Church, Jan. 20, 2-6 p.m.

Alice Bennett

* * *

Dear Residents of Astoria,

As winter is upon us, a reminder that with winter comes snow. As you wake up and look out on your snow-covered sidewalks, please remember some of our school-aged children still walk to school. It is your responsibility to clear your sidewalks of snow so children can safely make it to school and not have to walk in the streets. And while on the subject of snow, it is not a policy the Town of Astoria employees plow alleys. The tractor used to plow the streets is too wide to get down many of the alleys in Astoria.

One last thing I would like to address is the parking on Broadway. The road construction is very close to completion and it looks great. As a part of the construction, Route 24 — Broadway — was widened. This was not done to provide a parking lane on Broadway. As Town Board trustees, we had to pass a number of ordinances to get the grants to make improvements to our town. One of those ordinances states “No parking on Broadway with the exception of the three blocks in the business district.” The block on Broadway Shawgo Memorial Home is in is NOT one of those three blocks. Astoria Police officers will be issuing tickets to vehicles parking on Broadway while attending visitations/services at the funeral home.

Thank you for your help in making our fine town a safe place to live.

Sincerely,
Robbin Kost, Town Trustee
Chairperson of Streets and Alleys


December 11, 2013

Dear Editor:

I want to take this opportunity to encourage participation in the blood drive on Saturday, Dec. 21, at Astoria Christian Church. The Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center staff will be there from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the church fellowship hall. You may sign up by calling Pastor Brandon Llewellyn, 309-329-2150.

Being Astoria Lions Club blood drive contact person for two years, I appreciate how giving our South Fulton County community is, so I encourage donors to sign up before drive day to enable a more efficient scheduling for the staff workers. They are a great crew, dedicated, caring and always striving to make our blood drives pleasant and successful.

Ron Southerd
Astoria


December 4, 2013

Dear Editor:

With Christmas fast approaching, I would like to ask everyone to save your aluminum cans for the Toys for Tots program. This is how we buy the toys, hats and gloves for the children in the school district.

I am proud to say I was a 30-year member of Astoria Fire and Rescue. In those 30 years, we were able to help families in need at Christmas time. Without the aluminum cans, we don’t know how long we will be able to continue this program.

We have always had enough to take in two full semi loads a year. This year, we haven’t taken any in. We are very fortunate to have individuals and organizations make donations. We also do fundraising throughout the year, and Kandy and Kevin have had a “Toys for Tots” Benefit for us the last two years. Each year, we have 70-90 children we help.

So, if you have cans to donate, you can drop them off at the firehouse or any fireman will pick them up for you. We appreciate all of you who help us out each year.

Laurie Martin
Toys for Tots


November 27, 2013

Dear Editor:

It’s a sad thing in a small town when people seem to feel that items in your backyard are free for the taking. I went outside a week or two ago to use our little red wagon for yard work and discovered that it was gone.

Now this little wagon has been outgrown, and has a wobbly wheel … but it comes in very handy in place of a wheelbarrow for yard work. I have really missed it when trying to gather up sticks or leaves or yard clippings.

If someone wanted to borrow it for a day or two, all they had to do was ask. Now if whoever “borrowed” it would please return it — no questions asked — we would truly appreciate it.

Thank you,
Laura Hickle


November 20, 2013

Dear Editor:

We’re sure many people are aware of the bullying problems in the school systems. We hear about it all over the news, but are they aware of the prevalent problem right here? We’re writing this letter to inform our good town’s people that, yes, we do have a problem.

On Thursday, Nov. 14, there was a child in our school (Astoria) that fell victim to this crime. He had been bullied for quite some time and nothing had been done. We’re in hopes this child’s story will effect change in our community’s school administration to take a better look at this sad problem.

This young boy was told to avoid fights, and when he is bullied to seek out a teacher or adult figure, because if he defends himself he would get in trouble.

That fateful Thursday, he finally snapped and was bullied the last time. In the band room, with his classmates there, he attempted suicide. Luckily, the teacher got to him in time and he didn’t succeed.

Very sad, 911 was not called. The only calls made were to the parents and to mental health. I wonder what the policies at our little hometown school are? Where is the counseling for the students and teacher who witnessed this?

What of the boy, the victim of the bullies? He’s stuck in a mental ward away from his family and people who love and care for him, while the bullies get to be out and play with their friends and go to school, let alone sleep in their own beds and sit with their families.

What’s going to happen when he returns? Will the bullying continue? What about your child? How would you feel if this was your child? We implore everyone with a child in this school be aware and stand together to put a stop to this in our little hometown before the next child doesn’t get stopped in time.

Sincerely,
The parents of that little boy


October 23, 2013

Dear Editor:

I am upset with the way our government is being run — run the way politicians want, not the way we the people want. Let’s just stick with Illinois. Term limits have been suggested as a remedy but I think before that happens, we should get legislators to represent all the people in a district, not just those people who favor that politician.

Thus, I have joined in an effort to fairly re-shape our voting districts. Previously, the method has been described as gerrymandering. Legislators have chosen their districts and shaped them to their own advantage.

It is appalling and even embarrassing to look at the contorted shapes we have for districts. That’s why I joined Yes for Independent Maps. I am circulating a petition for the people to request a commission of non-partisan members to do the redistricting. Yes needs 500,000 signatures of registered voters to get this petition considered for the November, 2014, ballot.

For information or to sign the petition, contact me, Rosemary Perdew, 309-759-4425.


October 16, 2013

Dear Editor:

Our federal courts are quickly finding it difficult to carry out their duties and responsibilities as set forth in the Constitution and acts of Congress because of funding shortfalls. I am joining the presidents of the state bar associations in Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin, Nevada and Florida to urge members of Congress to end the devastating cuts to federal court funding.

It’s no secret our federal courts have been forced to downsize, furlough staff and scale back programs in the government’s attempt to balance the budget. The most troubling aspect of these cuts is they literally imperil the judiciary, a co-equal branch of government.

Cuts in staffing have resulted in slower processing of civil and bankruptcy cases in some courts. This affects individuals, small businesses and corporations unable to have legal matters heard in a timely fashion. Continued cuts to the federal defender’s office directly affect a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel and a speedy trial.

Funding cuts also have impacted court security, drug testing, substance use disorder and mental health treatment programs, as well as parole and probation services, all that could lead to an increased risk to public safety.

On behalf of the 32,000 members of Illinois State Bar Association, I ask Illinois residents to write to their Congressmen, urging them to make adequate court funding a priority. Our system of justice and our citizens deserve no less.

Paula H. Holderman
President
Illinois State Bar Association


October 2, 2013

Dear Editor:

It’s time for the annual Astoria FFA Alumni membership drive. To be a member of FFA Alumni, it costs $15 for the year or $200 for a lifetime membership. What will you get? You get the opportunity to help young adults in our area thrive in an organization that will provide them with lifetime benefits. Students in Astoria’s FFA program gain that extra edge that will help them when they enter the work force and the “real world”.

Being a member of Astoria FFA Alumni means you are a part of the support system needed by the ag department at Astoria High School and Astoria FFA Chapter. The alumni assists the ag teacher with anything needed including support on activities in the classroom and out. The alumni has organized the Section 12 Poultry CDE for the past several years, and we look forward to the upcoming contest next month. My question to you is, “Are you ready?” Becoming part of Astoria FFA Alumni means you are supporting a program helping students gain the positive attitude, confidence and networking abilities to strive, not only in an agriculture environment, but any occupation he or she chooses.

If you are interested in becoming part of the FFA Alumni organization, join us.

Make checks payable to Astoria FFA Alumni and mail by Oct. 31 to: Darla Pittman, 3043 E. Oak Grove Rd., Astoria, IL 61501; Ralph Matheny, PO Box 66, Astoria, IL 61501; or Luke Jones, 630 W. Wilson St., Rushville, IL 62681.

Sincerely,
Darla Pittman, secretary
Astoria FFA Alumni


September 25, 2013

Dear Editor:

My name is Robin Dunbar and I was asked to tell you my Weight Watchers story. When I thought about how a story has a beginning and an ending, I knew my Weight Watchers experience was not a story, it was a journey. Now this isn't the first time I have been on this journey, it's actually the fourth time.

The first time was when I was in high school, when the Weight Watchers plan was very strict about what you could eat. Basically, it was a diet. I tried it for a while but it was so strict about what you could and couldn't eat, eventually I quit.

Fast forward 10 years later, and a nurse at work is the leader of the Rushville Weight Watchers meetings. So a group of co-workers and I decide to join. Wow! What a difference 10 years had made in the whole Weight Watchers plan. No more food restrictions. You could eat anything you wanted in moderation. I am proud to say on this stop of the journey I lost 100 pounds. The problem is, I thought I had this weight thing mastered and I could do it alone. Let me tell you, it's not that easy. Before you know it, old habits start creeping back in and before long the pounds start creeping back on.

Fast forward another six years and I decided to join the Havana Weight Watchers because I knew I needed to lose the weight, but if you don't have the motivation to lose the weight, it's not going to work. So after a couple of months I stopped going.

Now fast forward to April, 2012. I saw an ad in the Argus asking if anyone would be interested in starting a Weight Watchers meeting in Astoria. I thought it might be interesting to go and see who is going to run it if I could remember when it was. Good excuse, right? Then the weekend before the first meeting I went to get my hair cut. I have been going to the same beautician for years and she just happens to be a Weight Watchers member also. I mentioned to her they were going to start a meeting in Astoria. She said she already knew they were going to start one because her leader, who also happens to be her good friend, was going to be the leader. She said her name is Bobbi Dean. Ok I admit, my next question was, how good of a leader is she? The reason this is so important is because your leader is there to guide you in your journey. If you don't feel like you can talk to her or tell her about your struggles, you won't succeed. So I am very happy to say I attended that first open house in April of 2012 and have continued with the program ever since.

I guess you could say it was like fate I joined this Weight Watchers group. Not only is Bobbi a great leader, all of the ladies who attend are not just fellow members, they are family. We all continue on our journeys knowing Weight Watchers is not a diet, it is a lifestyle change. Weight Watchers is a plan where you can eat any food in moderation.

I invite you to come and start your journey with Weight Watchers at our next open house on Tuesday, Oct. 1. Weigh-in is at 5 p.m.; and the meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Senior Citizen building in Astoria.


August 21, 2013

Dear Editor:

I first met Mark Sager when I joined Pony League many years ago. His dad was our coach and I was very impressed by the encouragement they brought to our team.

I never heard one word of criticism, only courteous treatment of each and every player on the team as if each player was irreplaceable.

I still remember hearing Mark's cheering, inspiring voice whether I hit a double or whether I struck out.

I remember those encouraging voices the very first time I went to bat as a pony leaguer, scared, the other team jeering me because I was a tiny, skinny kid out there. I heard this voice yelling, "swing!" The next pitch, I hit a triple and had a lot of fun that year.

We had a very successful season that year, and I remember Mark and his whole family define the words kindness, encouragement and patience.

It was an honor to have Mark in my life, even if it was for a short time.

Robert Woodruff

* * *

Dear Editor:

Astoria American Legion Post 25 and Astoria Area Chamber of Commerce are very proud and appreciative of the generous support and effort the people of the community have given to help construct and maintain such a moving memorial for the men and women who have graciously served our country with dedication and sacrifice.

In an effort to continue to maintain and protect this lasting tribute to those brave persons, we would like to add a powder coat steel fence that would surround the memorial area on three sides. The cost of this addition will be $6,545, and to date, we have received donations in the amount of $3,500. The fence will be installed within five weeks of raising the full amount.

Instead of only opening this up to a few for donations to this project, we would like to open this up to the entire community, and give everyone a chance to be a part of this beautiful and everlasting tribute to those who served us so freely. This memorial will be a part of this community for generations to come.

To make your tax-deductible donation, send a check to Community Veterans Memorial, PO Box 297, Astoria, IL 61501.

Sincerely,
Astoria American
Legion Post 25
Astoria Area
Chamber of Commerce


August 7, 2013

Dear Editor:

Once again it is time to say thanks for a job well done.

The Quincy to Peoria runners made their way into town in the early morning hours this past Saturday. There were 89 of them split into two groups along with the organizers, RV and van drivers, cop escorts and clerical personnel.

The crowd and the weather hung in there and the runners' hearts were warmed by the reception they received.

The telethon this year was up almost 8 percent with the grand total being over seven and one-half million dollars. The Quincy to Peoria runners raised $113,000, that is $2,000 up from last year.

All the runners coming in from all over the state and Memphis raised almost three and one-half million dollars. There were three new running groups added this year and each year more people get involved.

This is evident to us right here in Astoria, as each year our reception for the runners is growing.

We appreciate you all. The local Astoria group of runners that consists of Stephanie Carithers, Courtney Musson, former resident Brian Blakley (who comes back each year from Oklahoma to run in honor of his son Dalton) and two new runners this year — Kisha Stambaugh and her niece Aubri Jones. We would like to express our gratitude to Mayor Brian Bucher, Kevin Plate and the Town of Astoria and workers, Astoria Schools, bus driver Jay VanVoorhis, Astoria United Methodist Church for the community breakfast, Summum Christian Church, surrounding local churches, anyone who gave money and donations for the cause, Klide's Fast Stop, Slaw Dawgs Diner, Better Banks — Farmers State Bank, Steve Butler, Becky Kluthe, and last but not least, the citizens of Astoria and surrounding areas. Every year, they show up faithfully and give their time and their hearts to the runners.

The people who come to the park to witness this event are forever changed by what they experience. Watching this all unfold is a heartwarming experience. The crowd attending the reception cheering on the runners make all the difference to each and every person participating in the run. The comradery between the two is a special thing to watch.

As we have all come to realize, all you have to do is say St. Jude and the magic starts.

Sincerely,
Patty VanVoorhis and Sally Bair,
St. Jude Runners Reception Coordinators


July 24, 2013

Dear Editor:

I would like to publicly recognize Leland and Mary Lowary for their compassion and kindness towards my late friend Rodney Shaffer.

Leland came to Rodney's rescue awhile back when his blood pressure dropped. He called the rescue squad — and saved his life that day.

Leland and Mary were always true friends to Rodney and helped him out in many ways.

Bobby Musson
Astoria


June 26, 2013

Taxpayers of Astoria CUSD #1:

A few weeks ago, I wrote to explain the 10-year life safety survey that every school district in the state is required to complete. In that letter, I described the scheduled work to be done at the school this year. If you have been around the school this summer, I am sure you have noticed all of the activity. Currently, the old boiler, as well as the pipes that carried the water throughout the high school, has all been removed. The roofers are beginning to cut holes in the roof for the heating/AC work. The work is progressing on time and should be completed for the start of the 2013 school year.

Also, in my previous letter, I listed estimates of the cost to the taxpayers of the district for this work. We had estimated the interest rate to be 4 percent on seven-year bonds totaling one million dollars. I am pleased to report we were able to sell the bonds locally, through BetterBanks, and the interest rate was lower than anticipated, coming in at 3.21 percent.

What these numbers mean in terms of your tax bill is a $50,000 home will have an increase of $96.53 a year ($8.04 a month), a $75,000 home will see an increase of $171.94 a year ($14.33 a month) and a $100,000 home will see an increase of $47.35 ($20.61 a month).

Raising taxes isn't something anyone likes doing. The school board looked at all the options and felt this was the best way to maintain the safety of our schools well into the future.

Please contact the school if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Doug Daugherty
Astoria Schools Superintendent


June 19, 2013

Dear Editor:

After living in Astoria for almost 18 years and having to move out of the area, we could not leave without saying "thank you" to the Argus for all its hard work and for serving our community so well. Your ownership and staff have faithfully given our area a great small town newspaper that not only reports, but encouragingly supports this region of the state. Your paper has been a joy to read.

We also want to say "thank you" to all of those who serve in this area who make Astoria and the surrounding community a great place to live and raise a family. Thank you to all who have served in our town, school, library, park and county boards, our fire, police, sheriff and emergency services and our other service organizations. Thank you to our neighbors, friends and church family. You all have been a great blessing to us and our children. We wish you God's greatest blessings in the future, and we will not ever forget you.

Sincerely,
Pastor Gary and Jill Schultz


June 12, 2013

Dear Editor:

I am writing a letter about the Vermont Cemeteries. Vermont has a great cemetery worker who is doing a wonderful job. He helped with the placement of flags on veterans' graves (in the Township Cemeteries) for Memorial Day. I oversee the placement of flags in the city cemetery. I have 17 wonderful people who place flags on our veterans graves. I just love to drive through the cemetery checking on flags and watching them flutter in the air; it gives you a warm feeling all over. God Bless our veterans.

Patsy Springs, Vermont

P.S. If someone has a veteran in Vermont Cemeteries who did not receive a flag, let me know so they can be added to my list.

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June 5, 2013

Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter not as supervisor of Astoria Township, but as someone whose parents, aunts and uncles are buried in Astoria Cemetery.

The Saturday before Memorial Day, I took a drive through Astoria Cemetery and was impressed with what I saw. It was afternoon, the sun was shining brightly and a gentle breeze blowing.

The first thing I noticed was how nice the cemetery looked. The grass was neatly mowed and trimmed and all the newly placed flowers were bright and colorful. I know Phil and Billy Thomas have put in long hours getting all five township cemeteries ready for Memorial Day and they have done a tremendous job. I would like to publicly thank them for their fine work.

The second thing I noticed was all the flags waving over veterans' graves. It was an awe-inspiring sight. After inquiring as to their placement, I found it was done under the auspices of Astoria American Legion. It was noted there were approximately 550 flags placed in all of the cemeteries in Astoria and Woodland townships. The persons responsible for their placement were John and Lynette Smith, Bob Spencer and Bill Danner. I thank them not only for the flag over my dad's grave, but also for their effort to remember and honor all those who have served our country.

The scene I observed that Saturday afternoon is one I will not soon forget.

Thank you,
Garth Cripe


May 22, 2013

Dear Editor:

The Baccalaureate Service at Astoria High School last Wednesday evening was the best one I have ever attended. I came because I read in the Argus the entire service was going to be done by the senior class, and I was curious as to how well they would handle this. It was amazing.

All of the songs were a praise to God, they were put up on the screen and the audience was encouraged to participate. The students did a tremendous job with the invocation, inspirational messages and the benediction. When I left, I felt I had been to church. It was a breath of fresh air to see the teachers get up and sing a song together.

Kudos to the students, teachers and the school board who permitted this. God was allowed in school that night, as He should be. Thank you.

Proud of AHS,
Joyce Angel

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May 15, 2013

Dear Residents of Astoria:

Hooray — spring has arrived. With that being said, the road construction on Route 24 has resumed. I know it has been a long winter and the potholes on Broadway have been horrendous. I also know the temporary location of mailboxes, the new barricades, the long lines of traffic and the blocked driveways are frustrating. Remember, our highway has needed repair for many years. All good things take time too.

Allow extra time when you leave your house. You may get stopped in traffic. Also remember your cell phone cannot be used in the construction area. Smile and give those construction workers a wave and a break. Astoria is a great place to live … and soon those passing through our great community won't be aggravated with our horrid roadway. Your patience is appreciated.

Robbin Kost,
Chairperson of Streets and Alleys
Astoria Town Board Member


May 8, 2013

Dear Editor:

This time of year you can almost hear the murmuring of graduating seniors as they ponder what seems to be a timeless question. Did I make the right college choice? For those students who are still pondering, "Should I attend a four-year university, private college or the local community college", I would like to offer my thoughts. I will soon be graduating from Spoon River College with my associates degree and I have been attending Western Illinois University on a part-time basis. I feel community colleges offer a great value for your tuition dollars and they make the transition from high school to a four-year university smoother and less overwhelming.

First, let's consider tuition. The district tuition and fees for an incoming freshman at SRC for the fall 2013 semester are $125.(Spoon River College. 2011) Western Illinois University's tuition and fees per semester hour for 2013 incoming freshmen within the state of Illinois are $348.12. (Western Illinois University. 2013)

As you can see, the cost of the community college is 64 percent less than that of the university tuition. So while you are weighing your options seniors, keep in mind many classes you are required to have for your bachelors degree are available at a community college at a significantly lower cost. This helps alleviate the necessity of acquiring large student loans.

The student-loan debt is fast approaching one trillion dollars. Community college students take out less than seven percent of all federal Stafford loans. (American Association of Community Colleges Issues Brief. 2010. 5) College debt has been cited as being the next big financial bubble that could throw our national economy into crisis. (Grimm) If a student could maintain college debt at a manageable level by taking classes at a community college, the debt burden upon completion of a bachelors degree would be greatly reduced.

According to Debra Bragg, a professor of higher education at University of Illinois, "community colleges are cost-efficient ports of entry to higher education when compared with just about any other type of college, especially private colleges or for-profit technical institutions."(Ciciora)

I also appreciate Dr. Bragg making the analogy community colleges are the "ports of entry to higher education." The transition from high school to a four-year university can be a shock to incoming freshmen. Jeffery King noted in his article for the U.S. News and World Report, "that many incoming freshmen have trouble adjusting to the academic pace and the large class size of required courses at a university." (King) Community college classes are often smaller and more conducive to forming a relationship with your instructors and fellow students. So when a student does transition to a university from a community college the experience they have gained in dealing with college-level course work and the confidence they have acquired in setting up and working towards their future career goals serve the student well upon entering the university environment.

Universities also give you the opportunity to sample classes in the disciplines you are considering; they range from agriculture to zoology. However, according to American Association of Community Colleges many community colleges have mission statements that commit them to serve their communities with comprehensive educational programs and to serve as a community-based institution of higher education. (AACC. 2013) Community colleges offer classes that give a student a solid foundation to branch into other areas of studies when they enter a university.

In conclusion, I wish to affirm my view community colleges aid students in finding direction towards their chosen field of study. Community college classes are a great introduction into the rigors of college-level course work and prepare you for the transition into upper-level academic studies. And one final point, the lower cost in tuition and fees is substantial. I highly recommend the class of 2013 look into the possibility of attending a local community college. It will enrich your life and it will be a lot easier on your wallet.

Respectfully submitted,
Samuel Webb
Astoria

* * *

Dear Editor:

I would like to offer some insight into the 10-year Life Safety Report. Every school district in Illinois is required to have their school building inspected by a licensed architect at least every 10 years. This process results in the 10-Year Life Safety Report.

Each building is reviewed for items that could be potentially dangerous to students, teachers, other district employees and visitors. The entire building, inside and out, is reviewed for compliance with statewide school codes. The observations are combined into a report and issues are organized by priority. Each issue has an estimated cost listed to correct the deficiencies. The findings are presented to Board of Education for their review and then submitted to Regional Office of Education for their review. Following the ROE approval, the entire Report is submitted to State Board of Education.

In the fall of 2012, our school architects spent several days inspecting our buildings. Their final report showed a total of 11 major area projects that need to be addressed at an estimated cost of $1,079,520. Included in this amount is $273,800 for a new roof over the high school building and gym to replace the current roof that was installed about 1990. In addition to a new roof, the high school building will have new heating and cooling units installed at an estimated cost of $462,700. This will eliminate the need for the window air conditioning units and the aged boiler, both of which are beginning to cost us a lot of additional money each year to keep in working order. In addition to heating and cooling the rooms, the new units also will provide a way to circulate fresh air in the classrooms, that will allow for better air quality in the rooms.

As you can see, these two major upgrades combine for a total of $736,500, that represents 68 percent of our entire project. Other projects include $67,300 worth of door work throughout the building, $17,200 worth of plumbing work, $70,000 for windows and the remaining is for contingency and architectural fees.

State Board has licensed architects on staff who review each item listed in the 10-Year Life Safety Report. They have the authority to veto any item they believe is not required by code. The purpose of their review is to protect against unnecessary expenditure of taxpayer funds.

Following State approval, an Order to Effect is issued. This Order is similar to a court order since State Board of Education orders the school district to complete the approved work items within a five-year period.

In order to fund these projects, the State allows taxes to be levied to pay off bonds that will be sold to fund the Life Safety work. Once the bonds are sold, we will receive the money to begin the required repair work. We are working with First MidState Investment Bankers from Bloomington to secure our bonds. They have presented the board with various options on repaying the loans. After looking at several options, the school board is considering repaying the bonds over a seven-year period.

Based on estimated interest rate and a seven-year repayment plan, we have been informed for someone who owns a $50,000 home, his or her taxes will increase by $99.85 a year ($8.32 a month). A $75,000 home will increase in taxes by $177.86 a year ($14.82 a month) while a $100,000 home will increase by $255.87 a year ($21.32 a month).

While no one likes to have their taxes increase, the entire process I have described has been established to insure the safety of building occupants by providing a way to fund repairs required to meet Life Safety Standards. I hope this helps clarify the process. If you have any questions or concerns, contact me at the school.

Doug Daugherty
Superintendent/High School Principal, Astoria CUSD 1


May 1, 2013

Dear Editor:

Almost everyone has been touched by cancer, either through their own personal battle or through someone they love.

Every day, American Cancer Society is helping us stay well by preventing cancer of finding it at its earliest, most treatable stages. They assist families in finding the best resources to help their friend or loved one deal with a diagnosis and their journey to get well. American Cancer Society also is rallying communities (like ours) through events like Relay for Life, to fight back and find cures for this disease.

We are making a difference by teaming up to participate in American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Fulton County. The event will be held at Wallace Park in Canton beginning at 4 p.m. on June 22 and ending at 6:30 a.m. on June 23. There will be activities open to the public, including raffles, music, games and food as well as watching the opening ceremony, the cancer survivor's victory lap and luminaria ceremony.

At the event, our team (Marching with Mac) will camp out overnight and take turns walking around the track to raise money and awareness to help American Cancer Society create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. Saving lives from cancer starts one team, one participant and one dollar at a time. Our team is doing our part to make sure cancer never steals another year of anyone's life.

If you are a cancer survivor and would like to join in the survivor celebration and reception from 4-6 p.m., contact Deb Park, 309-333-2518 or 309-329-9916 or pick up a form at Astoria Office of Fulton County Health Department. Our community was well represented for this celebration last year at Relay for Life of Fulton County. Survivor forms are due to Tiffany Bainter by May 15.

Another aspect of American Cancer Society Relay for Life is the opportunity for people to come together to remember loved ones lost to cancer and honor those who have won their battle. One of the most moving parts of the event is the Luminaria Ceremony held at 9:30 p.m. As the sun sets over campsites and darkness falls, the night is brightened by the glow of illuminated bags called luminaria, each bearing the name of someone who has battled cancer. Some celebrate cancer survivors, while others help us honor and remember those gone too soon. All represent someone special who has been profoundly affected by cancer and the family and friends who continue to fight back in their honor.

Would you like to honor or remember someone with a luminaria during Relay for Life Luminaria Ceremony? If so, stop by Astoria Office of Fulton County Health Department and pick up a form (cost of each Luminaria is $10) or contact Deb Park. Luminaria Ceremony forms are due June 14.

Again, we appreciate our supporters in Astoria and the surrounding area who are helping to be a community that takes up a fight. Our team's total fundraising for the past three years has been $25,909.43. To make a donation to our team, Marching with Mac, send donations to Deb Park, Box 282, Astoria, IL 61501. Make checks payable to American Cancer Society. The impact we can make together is greater than what any of us could do alone.

Deb Park, Jon McCombs and
Marching with Mac Team Members

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Dear Editor:

I'm writing to say what a fabulous FFA banquet. It took place in this community on Saturday, April 27, at Astoria High School.

It was wonderful to witness an event with students receiving special FFA awards and also having most of their parents in attendance.

I personally have been attending this event for approximately 12 years. I can say this was one of the very best. You could even feel it in the air. The enthusiasm of the students, friends and family was overwhelming.

Astoria FFA Alumni gave out six scholarships. Four of those were $1,000 each and two were $500 each. The $500 scholarships were in memory of Robert Klinedinst and Penny Sheets. Those families have supported the FFA program for years. When the alumni first started giving scholarships they could barely give one $500 one, as the funds were not there. Astoria FFA Alumni gets stronger each year. They now have 55 members and growing. Astoria FFA Alumni is a driving force to help keep an agriculture program in our school. They are always willing to help.

I also would like to compliment Astoria School Board for seeing a need and hiring Morris McClelland to fulfill a position of ag instructor. Wow, has he done a fabulous job for our young people and the ag program these last few months.

Individuals and businesses that donate again and again are appreciated, so there are auction items to make this all possible. Also Gale Beekman for his auctioneering skills and his willingness to help.

The fall of 2013 will be a new challenge for Astoria ag program. There will be a new face as ag instructor. The district has hired Katie Chaffin. Katie comes from a good family background in agriculture and she and her family are already an asset to Astoria alumni.

FFA develops Leadership, Growth and Success.

Alumni officers are: President Tom Trone; Vice President Luke Jones; Secretary Darla Pittman; and Treasurer Ralph Matheny.

If there is anyone who would like to join or help, contact any of the officers.

As it was said in the agenda bulletin of this event, none of this would be possible without the support of this awesome community.

Sincerely,
Pam Trone

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April 24, 2013

Dear Editor:

A few weeks back I had the honor of helping with a benefit for Harold and Betty Vaughn at Slaw Dawgs Diner.

On a snowy, stormy day, all ages came until there were no chicken and noodles left. We had to turn people away who showed up as it had been such a success. It was a heartwarming day and Harold and Betty were overjoyed people care so much.

Life goes on and each person goes through his or her day hoping to have made a difference in some small way. I witness time after time they do.

After the fire benefit life once again "happened", and two of my cousins from Rushville were at the Boston Marathon. Chris Trone ran it and his brother Doug took pictures. They had been standing numerous times right where the first bomb went off. For a time, we didn't know if they were ok or not. What a joy to not only find out they were ok, but to have them back home safely. Just goes to show how small this world really is. When someone asked my cousin if he would be back running in Boston next year, he quickly replied, "I will be there."

The dedication, support and strength from all the people who endured tragedy is something we can all learn from.

This past Saturday, my sister Cheryl Hoebing of Quincy, (who is originally from this area) and her family held an annual Breast Cancer Benefit at The Tangerine Bowl for patients and their families. I got the opportunity to help with it once again, and I saw all ages come together to raise $8,000 in approximately eight hours by bowling for cancer awareness. I left the benefit early to make it back to Astoria in time to watch Astoria's Grand March at this year's prom.

I have quite a few 4-H kids I knew would be all dressed up and a part of the evening. I wanted to be able to tell them I was there supporting them.

Every young person who participated helped to make it special. They were elegant, handled themselves well and acted like they really wanted to be there. They all seemed happy to be participating and it was a privilege to sit and watch our future generation rise to the occasion and shine. What a nice evening it was.

So in closing, I just felt the need to write and say even though times get hard and each of us has a story — it is so great time after time, in so many ways, watching people (all ages) come together for the good to support so many different causes in so many positive ways. It gives us hope for the future.

Sincerely,
Sally Bair

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April 10, 2013

Dear Editor:

The day it all came to a head, or the end of the hair on the head …

It was rumored Mr. Vaughn was talking of quitting, but on that Monday morning when he said it was time, it was the end of the hair being cut by a man that gave more than half a decade to his profession. He and his wife had lived in the same town over this same period of time.

When he said to contact the auctioneer, I knew he was serious. I contacted Albert and he said to meet him. We met Albert along with Andy, and the equipment was added to the sale bill.

We knew the hair that had been cut by a devoted barber had come to an end.

I write this in appreciation, Harold, for all the hair cuts and being a devoted listener to all the chit chat.

Robert

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April 3, 2013

Dear Editor:

On April 9, citizens of the Town of Vermont and Vermont Township will be voting for Vermont Township Road Commissioner. We would like to take this opportunity to recognize Bobby Vaughn for his hard work and dedication.

As a family, we have had the chance to drive on several different township, county and state roads. Roads in Bobby Vaughn's area are the best roads. It doesn't matter if it is a gravel road or if it is a blacktop road, Bobby keeps them clear of snow. All upkeep on his roads are being done year round.

So before you vote, please take a drive on any of Bobby Vaughn's roads, then you can see for yourself. We are proud to say we will be voting for Bobby Vaughn.

Jeff Althiser and family

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March 27, 2013

Dear Editor:

My wife and I make the long and arduous trip from Albany, Ga., to Rushville several times a year to oversee the farm. On numerous occasions, I have interacted with personnel at Farmer's State Bank in Astoria on financial matters related to my wife's trust. President Bob Bridges and Barb Miller, his able and competent assistant, go out of their way to make customers feel at home in the bank, and go over and beyond the call of duty in meeting their banking needs. I don't know of many bank presidents in Georgia who cheerfully assist customers in carrying out heavy boxes and loading them into a waiting pickup truck.

My wife and I have been so impressed with the quantity and quality of the bank service, we decided to open up an additional account at Farmers State. The better banking system in general, and the Astoria community in particular, are lucky to have these two outstanding individuals.

Richard Anson Ph.D.
Albany, Ga., and Rushville

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March 6, 2013

To the community members of Astoria and surrounding areas:

You've heard the saying, "If you are ever going to have a crisis, have it in a small town."

The opportunity has arisen to do something to help two long time members of our community. From something bad comes something good. Here is a chance to reach out to Harold and Betty Vaughn who recently lost their home in a devastating, early morning house fire on Feb. 25.

Let's do our part by supporting a Chicken and Noodle Dinner on Sunday, March 24, at Slaw Dawgs Diner in Astoria, starting at 11 a.m. Carry-outs will be available.

We appreciate any monetary donations you may give, responses of what you can do to help or attending the meal and showing support by being there.

Donations may be sent to the following:

  • Sally Bair, PO Box 678, Astoria, IL 61501
  • Jerry Barnes, 1280 N. Sullivan Rd., Astoria, IL 61501
  • Joyce Belville, 501 N. Center, Astoria, IL 61501

For information, call 309-329-2705; 309-333-3130; or 309-329-2939.

Note from Jerry Barnes: "Over a year ago, a fundraiser was done for Denis and I and it meant more than words could ever say. Now we want to help others in their time of need."

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February 13, 2013

Dear Editor:

As an athlete, I have been invited to participate in the Down Under Sports Tournaments hosted on the Gold Coast of Australia. I am honored to be an ambassador of not only my community and state, but also our country. I will participate in this international event on the East Central Conference Football Team this summer.

I am looking for sponsors to make donations towards the cost of competing Down Under. A major source of funds comes through voluntary contributions of family, friends and business sponsors. Your sponsorship will be a very important part of fundraising for me and my team. This donation will help us fulfill this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Donations may be made by check to Down Under Sports or online, www.downundersports.com.

Down Under Sports T-shirts are available, with the money going to Crowe to play with the Illinois team. They may be purchased at the school or call Dawn Crowe-Severns, 309-635-2458. Also, T-shirt orders will be taken at the South Fulton senior night basketball game on Feb. 15 at Astoria High School.

"We at Down Under Sports have invited Luke to represent Illinois Football in the 25th annual Down Under Sports Tournaments to be hosted this summer. We wholeheartedly endorse him, and as you give this sponsorship letter your full consideration. Any assistance would be appreciated," said Down Under Sports President George O'Scanlon.

Luke Crowe and family

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February 6, 2013

Dear Editor:

It's me again. Just want to update you on the recycling.

Astoria now has four (yes, four) bins on site for your recyclables. More people are putting less in the trash and more in the recycle bins. This is good.

I still want to impress on the flattening of boxes before putting them in the recycle bins. I have to make note of the following: Last week while waiting for the truck to pick up the contents of the bins, I watched as an individual unloaded boxes from a truck. I was amazed the person emptied the boxes in the bin, and then flattened those boxes before putting them in the bin. This is what we need more of. The bins will not fill up as fast, leaving more room for more individuals to recycle.

Wally Danner
Town of Astoria trustee

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January 16, 2013

Dear Editor:

We received the following e-mail from a fan. It is always good to hear good things about our players and fans so I wanted to share it with the community as well.

Thanks,
Doug Daugherty
Astoria CUSD #1 superintendent/high school principal

I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know about my experience at a girls basketball game I recently attended. It was South Fulton vs. West Hancock at the Camp Point Central Tournament. I was so impressed by every person that represented your school. The young ladies played well, and seemed to really enjoy themselves. The coach coached his team as a coach should. He encouraged them, corrected them and cheered them on. He did not yell, criticize the other team or berate the officials. His enthusiasm was contagious. The fans cheered their team on and treated the other team and the officials with respect. It was so much fun to watch that game, and I congratulate the young ladies on their victory.

I attended the game because my husband is an official who worked the game. Honestly, it is no fun to be a referee's wife. No one enjoys listening to a family member being treated the way officials usually are. It doesn't bother him at all, but it is very difficult for me to listen to. If every school behaved the way South Fulton did, it would be a much more enjoyable experience. I have attended literally hundreds of games, and I have never enjoyed watching one more than I did this one.

Please pass the word along to all those involved with your sports programs about how impressed I was by the South Fulton coach, students and fans. Thank you to the adults for providing a wonderful example to their young people, and thank you to the kids for their outstanding performance and attitudes.

Sincerely,
Diane Smith

* * *

Dear Editor:

I am writing to your readers who are age 65 and older. A friend and I (both age 65 plus) have enjoyed Beaird Fitness Center in Astoria.

We both have leg trouble. Walking or standing any length of time causes leg pain. We tried Beaird Fitness Center, riding the stationary bicycle and walking on the treadmill to strengthen our legs. After 30 minutes on each, we did not experience any leg pain.

How come? Who knows, but exercise is good for all ages. I recommend all who are age 65 and older to give it a try for your legs.

See you on the treadmill.

Patsy Springs
Vermont

P.S. — Seniors get a special rate.

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January 9, 2013

Dear Editor:

It's having fun year round, but especially in a cold winter … it's very affordable … and it's as self-satisfying as it is beneficial to your health — it's the new Beaird Fitness Center.

The Beaird family has made a major contribution to the Astoria area with the very latest fitness equipment and exercise programs. All ages can enjoy working out individually or with their friends, while getting back in shape.

Let's all do ourselves a great favor by supporting this great addition to the Astoria area while becoming more healthy and physically fit.

Rod Price
Astoria

* * *

Dear Editor:

It's a new year, and for many means new weight loss resolutions. I wanted to share my own weight loss journey with those who are looking for an option to start their own.

Several years ago, I joined Weight Watchers and had success. But with that success came a misguided belief I could keep the weight off on my own. I stepped away from Weight Watchers and slowly watched my success slip away. After years of up and down weight, I hit a breaking point when I realized I was struggling to keep up with my energetic 8-year-old daughter. I once again turned to Weight Watchers where I found a revamped program geared towards the busy lifestyle of the 21st Century person. I never felt like I was starving myself or depriving myself of the foods I craved, but was still seeing results. I attended every weekly meeting I could and always left feeling motivated and ready to overcome any obstacle in my way. I reached my goal again and continued to take advantage of the weekly meetings for support to help me maintain my weight.

I now have the privilege of working as a Weight Watchers receptionist at the meeting in Astoria every Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m. in the Senior Citizen's building. I get to listen as our dedicated members laugh, swap recipes and share their struggles and how they overcame them. Every week there is applause and recognition for various accomplishments; the support at these meetings is incredible. We are lucky to have an informative, fun and supportive leader to teach the ins and outs of the program.

The Astoria meeting started in April of 2012 and has seen great success. The dedicated and determined group of people that attend these meetings have come far in their weight loss journey. To celebrate their achievements, we will host an open house on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 5:30 p.m. at the Senior Citizen's building. We invite anyone who may be interested in seeing what Weight Watchers 360˚ is all about to stop by.

I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2013, and am looking forward to seeing some new faces as they take that first step in their own weight loss journey.

Bobbi Peters
Astoria

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Dear Editor:

Here we go again … recycle.

I bet most of you think the recycle bins are always full. Not so. Every two weeks on Tuesday the bins are emptied. The response has been good — maybe too good.

That said, we are working on getting more bins in place. It would help if more people would flatten large cardboard boxes and milk jugs.

We, meaning all of us, need to do more recycling. Landfills are filling up. Do your part — recycle, reuse.

Wally Danner
Town of Astoria trustee

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December 19, 2012

Dear Astoria Families:

The tragic events that have occurred in Connecticut serve as a reminder America's schools are not immune to violence. Our hearts go out to the innocent lives that have been lost and to the families whose lives have forever been changed by this tragic event.

I know you are concerned about your child and their reaction to these events. Your child may ask questions about their safety at our school. Please be assured our school has safety protocols practiced every year with staff and students. The safety of our students and staff has always been a priority at Astoria CUSD1.

While we believe we have a safe environment, this devastating event has forced us to make changes to our daily routine. One change we will implement immediately is to begin locking all doors from 8:05 a.m. to 3 p.m. Anyone needing to enter the building during those hours will need to ring the buzzer and wait to be let in. You may come to either the elementary or high school entrance. Please be prepared to show identification and sign-in at the office upon arrival.

Your patience and understanding during this trying time is appreciated. We understand this change is an inconvenience, but worth the extra time it will take.

We continually review our practices and reinforce the measures we currently have in place to protect our students and faculty. As an educator, as well as a parent of students in this district, I can assure you we will continue to do everything possible to protect and keep safe the children of the Astoria District.

Sincerely,
Doug Daugherty,
Superintendent
Astoria CUSD #1

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December 12, 2012

Dear Editor:

Vermont Fire and Rescue Squad wants to again recognize those who have remembered us in donations and memorials.

Vermont Rescue Squad is part of Vermont Fire Protection District. The real estate tax money is used to provide vehicles, buildings, maintenance, utilities, supplies and protective equipment. All personnel of Vermont Fire and Rescue Squad are volunteers. No one is charged for fire or rescue calls made by them as real estate taxes support the district. The donations the fire and rescue receive are used by the volunteers only to purchase equipment and supplies. The extra equipment it has allowed us to purchase in the past has allowed us to use equipment that has many times eased the pain and suffering for our patients.

Donations from April 1, 2011, to Nov. 30, 2012: Carroll Kost, Doris Kost, Steve and Janet Ashwood, Travis Cox, Monroe Cox, Brian Boggs and David Dohner, Vermont Foundry.

Memorials from April 1, 2011, to Nov. 30, 2012: Cecil Wright, Russell Reimolds, Jean Douglas, O.D. Kost, Wanda Brown, Clifford Heflin Jr., Harold Wayne Demott, Gregory Pritchard and Dayle Danner. Vermont Auxiliary donates in memory of Jean Douglas, Wanda Brown and June McCormick; plus they donate annually to our Santa Fund.

We sincerely appreciate all the above donations and memorials and all of you who have remembered us in previous years.

Barb Douglas, treasurer

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November 21, 2012

Dear Editor:

We are grateful Astoria has a recycling program (of sorts), and have been faithfully separating our recyclables from our household trash. It has indeed reduced the amount of trash we set out for the garbage men by quite a bit.

However, it is not very convenient to have to gather up the recyclables in whatever bins and boxes we have, load them in the car (unless we borrow a van or truck) and haul them across town to the recycling dumpsters. We grumble, but do it — it's good for the planet, right? — but nine times out of 10 the dumpsters are full and we cannot use them anyway. It's happened so often to us we now go scout out the dumpster levels before even loading up the stuff to take over.

Since we cannot get rid of the recyclables, our kitchen is filling up with piles of boxes, cans, papers, bottles, milk jugs, etc. waiting for that golden moment when the dumpsters have enough room to receive them. It's tempting just to stuff them into the regular trash cans, just so we can make them go away.

We would be willing to pay a little extra to have curb-side recycling service added to our trash pick-up, even if it's only every other week. I think the full status of the recycling dumpsters proves plenty of Astoria residents are trying to participate in the program. What do you say, Astoria residents? Are you with me on this? Perhaps it could be a program you sign up for, rather than automatically having everyone charged whether they participate or not. Other towns this size have a curb-side program, so it shouldn't be that difficult to implement.

It's disheartening to try to do what is right, and be stymied at the end. If we make it easier for people to participate, maybe it would be more successful.

Thank you,
Laura Hickle

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November 14, 2012

Dear Editor:

I am a concerned mother of two Pre-K students I have pulled out of the VIT Pre-K program.

One, my child came home sad in his words because he had trouble opening his milk carton, that wouldn't have been a big deal, but the new rule of their class is if you can't open your milk carton, you do not receive a snack. I first called the school and left a message for the teacher to call me, no call from her. So I called the superintendent.

Of course the aide said my son was just stubborn and they (teacher/aide) just tell them that but do assist them. If that is the case, why was one child not given his milk nor snack and sat crying, witnessed by an aide who was upset but is feared of losing her job.

Two, this classroom has a rule amongst teacher/aides, what happens in that room stays in that room. I feel no child should be embarrassed by a teacher in the classroom.

Three, how does this issue become solved within 10 minutes of talking to an aide? I was told I didn't get both sides and my child is just stubborn. Really?

I have done my research and talked to a sub teacher who would have been able to tell me if my child was just stubborn and was told no was not the case, he was upset and frustrated he had to get it or wouldn't be given a snack.

Is this fair treatment? What is this teaching children? How is this positively shaping our children? Parents need to become aware of what is happening in the classroom.

Kayla Cleland

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October 31, 2012

Dear Editor:

Western Illinois vs. Chicago —

It is time we sent a senator to the legislature that actually represents us here in western Illinois. I believe most of us here in this part of the state disagree with the borrow, tax and spend Chicago politicians bankrupting our state. If we disagree with these policies, why would we vote to send John Sullivan back to the senate? Time and time again Senator Sullivan has supported these Chicago Machine policies.

As the chair of the budget committee he has supported billions of dollars in borrowing. He even supported our jailed Governor Blagojevich's $16 billion borrowing scheme. One wonders how a senator that sells himself as fiscally responsible is appointed to the position of budget chairman in a senate dominated by tax and spend Chicago politicians. This might explain why 95 percent of the Senator's campaign funding comes from out of district. Much of that from Chicago.

I recently saw one of Senator Sullivan's political ads where he says he voted against Gov. Quinn's massive tax increase. He continued "how could you even think about raising taxes on individuals, families and businesses at a time when the whole economy is moving in the wrong direction." The dishonesty in this ad is breathtaking. Chicago had enough votes without him to pass the massive tax increase so he was able to vote no and then come back to western Illinois and proclaim his fiscal conservatism. That all sounds great except for one small detail. Prior to the vote on this tax increase there was another bill that called for an even bigger tax hike that Sen. Sullivan dutifully voted for. Wow! Don't believe me? Look it up yourself, House Bill 174.

These borrow, tax and spend policies have an eerie similarity to the policies of another Chicago politician that resides in the White House. President Obama even referred to Senator Sullivan as his "best friend and greatest supporter."

Fortunately, we have the opportunity to do our part in restoring fiscal sanity to our state senate by electing Randy Frese. I have come to know Randy as a truly good man whose core values mirror most of us here in western Illinois and will not be swayed by the big spenders. Randy will represent our district with a focus on fiscal responsibility. Vote for western Illinois, vote for Randy Frese.

Tom Darnell, Quincy

* * *

To patients and family members of Graham Hospital, Graham Medical Group, Graham Home Health and Hospice and all Graham entities:

You may have heard on local and national news programs or read in the newspaper or on the internet about the recent meningitis outbreaks across the country that have been traced back to a specialty pharmacy known as the New England Compounding Center located on the east coast.

Rest assured, at no time has Graham Health System purchased drugs or any other product from this pharmacy.

Sincerely yours,
Robert Senneff FACHE
president and CEO
Mathew Vogel RPH
director of Pharmacy

* * *

Dear Editor:

The countdown has begun to Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Like citizens across the U.S., Illinois residents will have a chance to vote for a host of government offices including U.S. President and Congressional candidates.

Equally important are the judicial elections. The ballot will include men and women seeking both election as a judge and also the opportunity to be retained as a judge. Regrettably, many voters do not take the time to learn about judicial candidates in order to make an informed choice. This is unfortunate. Judges make critical decisions on a daily basis that directly affect all our lives.

Help is at hand. Illinois State Bar Association believes it has an obligation to share with the public information about the qualifications of judicial candidates. Who better than the lawyers, who practice alongside candidates for judicial office, to assess the professional qualities necessary for good judges? Our ratings can be found at http://www.isba.org/judicialevaluations. We encourage all voters to download these ratings and use them as a reference in the voting booth.

Bar association evaluations and polls are a reliable, independent and relevant source of information. As the president of the largest organization of lawyers in this state, I encourage you to take advantage of them.

Sincerely,
John Thies, president
Illinois State Bar Association

* * *

Dear Editor:

I would like to urge people to vote Nov. 6, but specifically to vote "no" on the Constitutional Amendment to Article 5.1. This proposed amendment has ambiguous wording that not only confuses the reader, but allows for unethical changes. It concerns changing pensions for state workers who have for years given their money to the state for these pensions. The governor and legislators have borrowed money from this account, and did not make plans to return it. The Illinois Constitution guaranteed a pension, workers have been counting and planning on it, nothing should alter that. However, legislators could change their pensions so they would not benefit until they, too, had worked the long years teachers, university faculty and other state workers do before they receive retirement compensation.

Rosemary Perdew

* * *

Dear Editor:

This could happen to you too.

For many years, we carried State Farm homeowner's insurance. We always thought we were fortunate to have a company that told everybody they were "Like a Good Neighbor" and would always be there for us. All was well until this past March when we had a major wind and hail storm that did a lot of damage to our house and other buildings. When we reported the claim to our agent, we received a call from an independent adjuster State Farm had hired. He told us because there had been so much damage in the area it would be awhile before he could get to us. In about 30 days, he showed up and spent most of the day going over our house and other buildings. He said he would call us in a couple of days. When he called, he said the total damages were over $38,804. He said we would receive a letter explaining everything and a check for that amount in the mail. He also advised when our roof was repaired, we would receive an additional $4,444. After we repaired our roof, costing $14,300, we received the additional money.

On Aug. 11, my 72nd birthday, we received a letter from State Farm telling us our homeowner's policy would not be renewed because of our claims experience. Over the many years we had other smaller claims, nothing like our last one, but we never had so much damage before. We did not receive any warning from our company or our agent in advance. Our State Farm agent told us we could keep our auto policies and our umbrella policy with State Farm, but we would lose a big discount because we would no longer have our homeowner's policy with the company.

We looked high and low for another company to sell us homeowner's insurance, but they said they did not want us because we had been cancelled by a big company like State Farm. We finally found a small mutual company who would cover us for a much higher premium and a larger deductible because we had been fired by State Farm. Our old premium was about $1,600 per year with a $1,000 deductible and our new premium would be about $2,400 per year with a $1,500 deductible from the new company.

If you owe a State Farm homeowner's policy and you have a big claim, don't be surprised if you get a letter like we did. Our agent told us State Farm has lost their shirt on their homeowner's policies all over the country, and they are not going to stop until they are showing a profit again.

We did not cause the wind to blow or the hail to fall from the sky, and we didn't pick the independent adjuster who set the damages.

I just want to be "Like a Good Neighbor" and give a word to the wise.

Fred Elmore
Rushville

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October 17, 2012

Dear Editor:

Township government plays a vital role in our communities. In tough financial times, rural townships like mine need voices in Springfield, fighting to bring us the resources needed to provide these important services. State Senator John Sullivan has a proven record of being that strong voice for townships.

As President of the Highway Commissioners Division of the Township Officials of Illinois and as Highway Commissioner of Huntsville Township in Schuyler County, I personally support John Sullivan because of his record of fighting for local governments and rural communities. In addition, his record has earned him the endorsement of TOI, of which I am the current statewide Secretary.

By reaching across the aisle and working with his colleagues from both parties, John delivers for our region. John always makes time to listen to our concerns on the local level, and works with us to find solutions. He understands how to effectively partner state resources with local needs.

John Sullivan's work ethic, responsiveness and dedication are unmatched. Townships in other areas of the state would be fortunate to have such an advocate. Luckily for us, we have State Senator John Sullivan, and I would encourage you to vote for him so he can continue this good work for our region.

Danny Hanning
Huntsville

* * *

Dear Editor:

I received a card in the mail today that upset me. It was from Randy Frese, Republican candidate for our district's Senate seat, now occupied by Senator John Sullivan. It never ceases to amaze me the lengths one will go to in order to get votes. I can handle the slinging of a little mud here and there, but I can't abide out and out lying. If any of you received the same card, disregard it and see it for what it is, a politician trying to garnish votes from the sportsmen and sportswomen in our district on nothing but falsehoods.

I've known John Sullivan for over 30 years, hunted with him, fished with him and shared numerous campfires with him. He's one of us, and has been for a long time. I hunted with John's dad before he passed away, I've hunted with his brothers and sons. I'd wager a fair amount John has logged more hours in a tree stand than any other politician in the state, possibly the country. There's not been one anti-gun bill passed since John started representing us. He's for the "Right To Carry Concealed", working for its passage with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

The other thing Mr. Frese failed to mention on his card was who carries the endorsement of the NRA. That'd be John Sullivan.

Mark Finch
LaHarpe

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October 10, 2012

Dear Editor:

The Health and Wellness Clinic of Fulton County is having its second annual fall drive to solicit donations for the operations of the clinic. Letters have been sent to our contributors from the past and we are receiving these much-needed donations.

If you received a letter and have misplaced it or if you are interested in donating to this cause, you can do so by sending your tax deductible donation to the Health and Wellness Clinic of Fulton County, PO Box 396, Canton, IL 61520.

The Health and Wellness Clinic is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) medical clinic. Our mission is to provide primary quality healthcare for persons age 19-64, uninsured, reside in Fulton County and who meet established financial guidelines. The doors remain open due to the help of generous contributors and volunteers.

Our medical volunteers include doctors, mid-level practitioners and nurses. We have many volunteers who serve as receptionists, clerical staff and maintenance.

The funds we receive from our supporters pay for medical and office supplies, as well as other critical clinic operations.

If you received a letter, consider a donation now. If you did not receive a letter, your donation can be mailed to the Health and Wellness Clinic of Fulton County, PO Box 396, Canton, IL 61520. No donation is too small.

With thanks,
Carol Blackfelner, chairperson
Health and Wellness Clinic of Fulton County Board of Directors

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September 26, 2012

Dear Editor:

Hats off to the Astoria Homecoming Committee and anyone else involved in planning our 2012 Homecoming. It was very enjoyable. I know it takes a lot of time and work to plan such an event, but I felt it was well worth it.

Hope to see the bed races, medallion search, firemen's water fight, quilt show and arts and crafts show next year.

Thanks, again, for an enjoyable and entertaining weekend.

I'm glad to call Astoria my hometown.

— Joyce Briggs

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September 12, 2012

Dear Editor:

Once again, the flag has been taken from my late husband, Loren "Red" Howell's grave. This has happened several times in the last 10 years. He was not a veteran of any war, but was a fireman for 23 1/2 years. The firemen are the ones who put the holder and flag on his grave. Firemen and EMTs are very important people, too.

How would you feel if they were not there to put out your fires or help save your loved ones? I would really appreciate it if you would leave his flag alone. Thank you.

Sandra Howell
Astoria

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September 5, 2012

Dear Editor:

Attention to anyone who had Mr. James as a teacher in grade school from 1952-74, including his years at Bader School and Astoria Grade School.

Ellsworth James taught grade school in Astoria School District during those years and if you remember, he frequently had his camera with him and took a lot of pictures. He was more than just a school teacher to me, and remained a friend of mine until his death last November at age 92.

For the last several years, I have been approached by some of his former students and asked if I could obtain his pictures on the event of his death. I did ask him a couple of years ago and he consented saying … "they are out in the garage and I do not know in what kind of shape they might be." When he passed, his wife Bertha did not hesitate giving me the colored slides, his projector and screen. He had numerous pictures of his vacations, family photos and pictures of his former students. The pictures are in perfect condition and the projector still works after 60 years.

I will show the slides at Astoria Homecoming (175th anniversary of Astoria) on Sept. 15. With the help of Barry Beck, I have obtained space in Astoria Public Library and will show the pictures on screen from 1-4 p.m. that afternoon.

If you, or if you know of anyone, who had Mr. James as a teacher, pass the word about this presentation. I will give away any slides people would like to have. If several people would like copies of a particular slide you can have pictures printed at Walgreens for 49 cents each. I am excited about this because I am sure I will see a lot of my former schoolmates. I know of some who are coming from out of state just to see these pictures. Hope to see a lot of you there.

Larry Parr, Class of 1961

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August 29, 2012

Dear Editor:

Hello, it's me again. No, not about recycling — about water.

Beginning with the September billing, all water customers of Astoria will see a 10 percent increase in their bill. (This is a 10 percent increase in the water part of your bill, not the total bill.)

You ask why the increase? Astoria is in the process of making improvements to the water treatment plant. To pay for this, we must increase the price of the water we are selling.

This improvement is being done to insure a plentiful and safe water supply for our water customers.

Thanks for looking,
Wally Danner
Town of Astoria trustee

* * *

Dear Editor:

I don't know how to reach Vermont Breakfast Club ladies except through this newspaper. We love them, and we don't even know them.

My brother-in-law receives the Argus at his business in Canton and sends me the articles.

I don't know which part of the paper the attached article would fit into or if you just want to send it to one of the breakfast ladies.

Thank you for your help in making the connection.

To the ladies of Vermont Breakfast Club:

Our gratitude to Vermont Breakfast Club for the wacky, fun articles in the Argus. Our Breakfast Club has begun keeping track of its conversations. Because of that club, ours are wacky, too.

We meet every other week at Bradford Library to read a short story, discuss it and then start our chatting. Breakfast is provided by the librarian, and usually consists of breakfast pizza and rolls or coffee cake.

We would love to have the Vermont Breakfast Club girls join us sometime.

Sincerely,
Carol Leininger
PO Box 294
Bradford, IL 61421

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August 22, 2012

Dear Fulton County Friends and Neighbors:

Your YWCA-sponsored "Lunch With Friends" older adult meal program needs your help. By Sept. 30, we will end a fiscal year in which we hope to serve over 60,000 meals. Our meals are for people over age 60, but the majority of people being served are over ages 70, 80 and 90. More than half go to people who are homebound or who live too far away to attend one of our 10 congregate (group) sites. Most of this group lives alone.

The program is facing a large deficit that will occur on an ongoing basis. The part of our funding that comes from federal or state funds covers less than half of what it takes to operate the program. This funding has not increased in years, yet the cost of our fuel alone, to take the food to the sites, is about $3,600 more per year than five years ago. We travel as far north as Avon and as far south as Astoria. The cost of food also is up and food is one of our largest expenses. The drought-related price of corn will further increase fuel, meal delivery container prices and food costs soon.

At Lunch with Friends, older adults of all income levels are welcome, and those who receive meals are asked to donate $3 per meal, but some cannot afford to give at all. We try to serve those who cannot give. Because some can give and some cannot, our current home delivered meal donation averages out to 88 cents per meal. With only 50 cents more per home delivered meal, our deficit would be taken care of.

If you are able to support a senior's meals, or if you belong to an organization or church that can do so, let us know, 309-647-0441 or send a contribution to YWCA Lunch with Friends, 111 N. Ave. A, Canton, IL 61520. We do our best to serve all areas of Fulton County and we are not the same program as Meals on Wheels that delivers to Canton within the city limits. We already work hard to bring in local funds by catering the Fulton County Jail 365 days per year, three meals per day. This helps in a big way, but your help is needed. Many of our participants do not have family nearby and live alone. Our meal delivery volunteer is their "well-being check" for the day. Your donation could be the one that helps an older neighbor remain in their own home for another year because someone is checking on them and bringing a hot meal. Thanks so much.

In service,
Jeannie Arndt
YWCA executive director

* * *

Dear Editor:

The American Legion is here for our veterans.

A couple of weeks ago, I was informed Vermont had a veteran of the Korean War in need of a ramp. Could I help? Since I am a member of American Legion Auxiliary I was glad to help. I made a few phone calls and was able to locate an aluminum ramp no longer needed in Canton. The VA had installed it for a veteran. He had passed and his wife requested it go to a veteran and to keep passing it on. She was so happy her husband's ramp was going to help another veteran.

John Hawkins, John Bybee and I went to Canton and picked up the ramp. John Hawkins installed it and added concrete at the end to make it long enough. He had to configure it somewhat because it was built to fit another house. He worked it out and it looks great. You can see it at 200 West 2nd Street in Vermont.

Our veterans deserve the best we can give them. When we find one in need, Vermont Legion is here for them.

Lona Krohe

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August 15, 2012

Dear Editor:

The following is a note to all VIT parents/guardians pertaining to school meal changes.

The State forced VIT School District to make changes in the meal programs. Though the intent is to provide healthier meals for students, we are afraid more food will be thrown away because students will like less of what is offered.

Examples are: one-half of all bakery goods must be whole grain. (Next year the requirement will be 100 percent.); more dark green vegetables such as spinach must be served; starchy vegetables like potatoes can be served only once a week because of the caloric content.

A serving of meat cannot exceed two ounces per day; milk must be one percent, flavored milk must be skim; required to provide each student with all portions of the meal, even if he will throw much of it away; and can no longer provide peanut butter and bread as an extra because of the fat content of the peanut butter.

In summary, we hope these changes can be tolerated, and as always, we will attempt to provide the best meals possible for students.

John Marshall
Superintendent of VIT Schools

* * *

Dear Editor:

I walk the Village of Vermont every day and I would like to commend the 75 percent of the citizens that take pride in their property, especially Merle Milby and Ronnie Raudabaugh who took it upon themselves to clean up problem areas around their neighborhoods.

BUT the other 25 percent are what you notice when you look around. These are the ones with the abandoned vehicles, the chickens, goats and other animals and the waist-high weeds around their houses. I understand the Village Board is rewriting ordinances to address these issues. I hope they go through with this and then enforce those ordinances.

I have heard many people say it is depressing to come back to Vermont and see how it has gone downhill. I was once told, "It is only Vermont", but we need to do what we can to make it a better place.

I have heard the saying "You can't teach pride", but I think everyone has a little pride in something. Since the weather is cooler, let's take some pride in our properties and clean them up.

Tana Crossman

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August 8, 2012

Dear Editor:

To the people of Beardstown and the surrounding areas, "Riverview Restaurant" is open and more than willing and happy to be of service to you and the community.

We have a wide variety on the menu and a wide range from appetizers to full-course meals. We have a beautiful facility, with a comfortable seating area to eat, converse, relax and watch the activity on the river, from people, boats and birds. We also accommodate parties or meetings, as we have a large speciality room used for gatherings.

Our facility has been bombarded with vicious rumors of us being closed due to many reasons. One of which was we were accused of food poisoning which was unfounded and we were cleared to open and serve the public.

Our hours of operation are Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

We also will open to serve you at other times for parties, meetings, etc., and when business picks up again, we are going to open daily also.

We are so happy to serve this beautiful town and the wonderful patrons here. We hope the public will see this notice and give us a try. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and if you bring this clipping to our restaurant, you will receive $5 off the price of your total meal.

Thank you, the owner and manager of Riverview Restaurant.

Rodney Martin
Beardstown

* * *

Dear Editor:

Planning the events for Astoria Homecoming is not easy at times, so I will explain activities planned for the weekend of Homecoming.

The Friday evening program will start with Little Miss and Master contestants dance, followed by the local talent show.

Starting early on Saturday will be the Lions four-mile run/two-mile walk, the parade, bed race following the parade, games (for kids and adults).

The afternoon program will start with celebrating the 175th anniversary of the charting of Astoria, entertainment, Little Miss and Master interviews, Miss Astoria talent, awards, old-fashioned costumes and beard judging, Little Miss and Master finals and performances by Stacey's On Broadway dance.

The evening program begins with entertainment, Miss Astoria interviews, drawings, medallion contest winner announced, Miss Astoria finals and street dance.

As you can see, the committee has planned Saturday to be busy. There also will be a quilt show, arts and crafts show and flower and vegetable show. Boden Amusements will be on the Midway Wednesday through Sunday with food being available at food stands during the weekend.

On Sunday afternoon, the program will begin with items of the time capsule being revealed, community church service, cake walk and fireman's water fights.

This list of events during Homecoming will be reviewed by the Committee and suggested changes will be discussed.

Barry Beck and Astoria Homecoming Committee

* * *

Dear Editor:

Well, missed last week, so here goes.

Yeah, you guessed it — recycling — has a nice ring to it doesn't it? We still need to be more selective on what and how we put articles in the containers.

Cardboard, mainly large boxes, take up a lot of room when not flattened out. Those missing trash day on Monday need to do something else on Tuesday besides dump their trash in the recycle container. Buy another container or contact one of the town employees to see if they can help you, or call me.

Any comments on the road sides and sidewalks? Speak up, that's the only way to be heard. Town Board meeting, 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13.

Thanks for looking.

Wally Danner
Town of Astoria trustee

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July 25, 2012

Dear Editor:

Recycling. Webster's Dictionary defines it as the process used in order to regain a material for human use. So said, why do some people think everything is recycleable?

Maybe down the road, somewhere, sometime, this may be possible. But for now, we need to keep with the things listed on the recycle containers. (Notice I did not call them dumpsters. That is where you put your trash or whatever you want to get rid of).

For example: Someone (we think we know who) put their fish-cleaning leftovers in one of the recycle containers — must have looked like a dumpster. Even so, still should not have been put in either one. (They have been removed.)

The town has had the containers placed there to help keep material from going into the landfill. Please be responsible for your actions.

Thanks for Recycling,
Astoria Trustee Wally Danner

* * *

Dear Editor:

Something to think about …

We were at a restaurant out of town the other day. It was a very nice place, good food, friendly service and clean. When we went to the cash register to pay, there was a sign that read, "We Reserve the Right to Adjust Our Prices According to Your Attitude".

It made us laugh, because as business owners, I am sure we have all felt like having a sign like this at some point.

In this economy, we are all having a tough time. The prices from our suppliers seem to go up each time we purchase an order. The prices are something not in our power to do much about.

What we can do something about is the way we treat people. We should treat everyone the way we would like to be treated, with dignity and respect. We love our jobs and are thankful for every customer we are blessed with. However, reading this sign made us wonder, even though times are tough, is it really that hard to just "be nice and smile"?

If we try, we can make all our lives a little bit easier with a simple smile.

Sincerely,
Jerry and Denis Barnes and the gang at Slaw Dawgs Diner

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July 18, 2012

Dear Editor:

I've been trying to locate service records for the deceased veterans buried in Vermont cemetery and have received several new stones for deceased veterans. The new "free" government stones are replacing unreadable and broken stones. I have come to an impasse as the government new law states a cemetery official cannot request a free government stone, but whoever requests the new stone must be a relative of the deceased veteran.

I am writing to the Argus readers for help. If anyone is a relative to the following veterans, let me know by e-mail, gravereg@hotmail.com:

William Dobbins, Civil War; William Green, Civil War; Edward McDonald, Philippine War; Andrew Fulk, War of 1812; Frank White, Civil War; Edward Clark, Spanish-American War.

I appreciate your help.

Patsy Springs
Vermont