Champaign veteran fighting disability battle with VA

CHAMPAIGN – According to Army doctors, Garrett Anderson has "shrapnel wounds, all over body."

But the Champaign man found out last week from the Department of Veterans Affairs that the wounds "aren't related to your military service."

Dental assess program founder leaves for job in Wisconsin

URBANA – Lisa Bell, an Urbana dental hygienist who founded a groundbreaking dental access program for needy children, has accepted a state job in Madison, Wis.

Her program, Central Illinois Dental Education and Services, will continue under new leadership, according to Claudia Lennhoff, a board member with the organization.

Charity track meet to honor toddler

DANVILLE – When Steve Luke heard that 2 1/2-year-old Reagan Williams was shaken to death last July, he wanted to do something to help.

After all, he knew the toddler's grandfather, Greg Williams, from when they were kids and from working together at Danville High School, where Williams taught English.

Trip to Taiwan shows culture full of kindness

Kaohsiung, TAIWAN – In Kaohsiung, the second-largest city on the island nation of Taiwan, the people seem to be as warm as the weather.

For five East Central Illinois locals spending March in southern Taiwan on a trip sponsored by the Rotary Foundation, depending on – and receiving – the kindness of people in the Kaohsiung area has become a way of life.

Volunteer steps down from screening job after 25 years

URBANA – Having administered lie-detector tests for 40 years, Clarence Romig is a fairly good judge of character.

That's part of what made the Urbana man so good at the volunteer activity that he's been forced to give up due to deteriorating eyesight.

Athletes help children become stars in school

CHAMPAIGN – Six-year-old Kaylee Bowers was wearing her Warren Carter basket-ball jersey earlier this week, as she does nearly every Tuesday, when Carter visits her school.

The first-grader and the basketball player sat side by side on the floor in a hallway at Garden Hills Elementary School, Carter listening while Kaylee read books to him.

Tom Hayden scheduled to speak at conference

URBANA – Veteran anti-war activist Tom Hayden is headlining a conference of peace organizations this month.

The Illinois Coalition for Peace and Justice's second annual conference will be March 30 and 31 at the Holiday Inn in Urbana. Hayden speaks at 7 p.m. March 30. Conference information is at the conference Web site at

Soldiers officially welcomed home

DANVILLE – When Spc. Givon Hall of the U.S. Army Reserve 332nd Quartermaster Battalion returned from a tour in Iraq in 2004, there was no community parade to celebrate his safe return, no crowd to shake his hand and thank him for his service to his country.

That's because when the Champaign man was deployed in March 2003, he was taken from his home unit in Danville to serve in another from Springfield, Ohio.

'Death of a blue-collar neighborhood'

CHAMPAIGN – Frances McArty says that sometimes she feels like she's "a ghost in a cemetery."

McArty, 89, has pictures of her earlier life, with her late husband, Charles, displayed throughout her house. She easily recalls past friends and neighbors, when nearby Mattis Avenue was just a country road, and the years she spent working at the Robeson's and Goldblatt's department stores.

Rather says hard work is key to success

How did Dan Rather go from being a college student manning a rural Texas radio station – characterized as no more than an outhouse with an antenna on the top – to the long-running evening news anchor for CBS?

"I think the single-most important thing is be determined to work hard," he told University of Illinois students Wednesday evening.