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CHAMPAIGN – This Veteran's Day, American Legion National Commander Marty Conatser has a little better idea of the things affecting U.S veterans and soldiers.
Conatser, a Champaign resident, toured Walter Reed Army Medical Center last month and spent four days in Iraq in mid-August. He's become well-acquainted with the politics that provide funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
But in the commotion of leading the Legion, Conatser hasn't forgotten he's working for 2.7 million vets.
Whenever he's feeling rushed by his hectic schedule or drained by national politics, all he needs is a visit with a Legionnaire.
IVESDALE – Kamikazes haunted Jack McHale's dreams for years, long after he'd left the South Pacific and returned to Ivesdale to raise his family.
McHale, a recognition officer on the battleship USS Massachusetts from October 1944 until the war ended, was stationed in the crow's nest high above the deck in the middle of the aerial action . His job: to spot aircraft and ships and identify them as friend or foe.
CHAMPAIGN – Tracy Parsons resigned today after 13 years as head of the Champaign County Urban League, saying "the time is right."
"I've been doing this for 13 years," Parsons said this morning. "We've done a lot of good stuff, helped a lot of people. And in some ways I think I changed the climate in this community a little bit. We're going to give somebody else the reins to handle this challenge."
GIBSON CITY – Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School will hold an assembly Monday to discuss the death and funeral arrangements for a senior.
Ethan J. Glascock, 18, of Melvin was killed Friday afternoon in an automobile accident.
URBANA – Without bowling pins or flaming batons, Karla Shelby has fast become a master of the art of juggling.
Handling a full-time job, full-time college and the care of five girls – and leading a motorcycle club – will do that to you.
URBANA – An ex-con who turned his life around and started a nationally distributed magazine is the keynote speaker at a roundtable on prisons and censorship that starts Friday.
Paul Wright, 42, is the editor of Prison Legal News, which has 7,000 subscribers – 70 percent of them behind bars – including linguist/activist Noam Chomsky and billionaire philanthropist George Soros. It also has a Web site, www.prisonlegalnews.org.
URBANA – A U.S. bombing attack against Iran in coming months is almost a certainty, according to an independent journalist who went to Iraq four years ago because he believed the American media was not accurately reporting the realities of the war.
Dahr Jamail works for the Inter Press Service and the Asia Times and has been published in The Nation, the Sunday Herald and The Guardian. He spoke Sunday afternoon to an audience of about 100 people at Gregory Hall on the University of Illinois campus. Jamail is the author of the book, "Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From An Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq."
SPRINGFIELD – As curator and director of the Illinois Executive Mansion, Dave Bourland's job includes everything from selecting and restoring artwork to planning weddings and hosting ambassadors.
"I'm a part of just about every event here," he said. "There are very few things that go on here that I'm not involved in."
THOMASBORO – Ask Ruby Splittstoesser what she would do if she won the lottery, and she wouldn't blink before telling you she would spend it on troops overseas.
Many people might give a similar answer, but it's not difficult to believe Splittstoesser. She spends a great deal of her time and money on care packages for members of the military.
DANVILLE – A benefit for the family of Jenna Rose McMillin will be from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday in the Oneighty Building at the New Life Christian Center, 2105 N. Bowman Ave., Danville.
The event will celebrate the life of the 9-year-old Danville girl, who died Sept. 29 after a long battle with leukemia.