Photo shoot of Ford just one job in Dowers' long career

It's been nearly 31 years since local photographer Dale Dowers received a phone call in the middle of the night from someone asking if he wanted to photograph then-president Gerald Ford.

"I thought he was kidding," Dowers, 77, said.

A tiny baby's struggle for life shows heart of a community

ST. JOSEPH – When St. Joseph United Methodist Church held its live Nativity procession last month, more than a few tears were shed among the congregation.

"There wasn't a dry eye in church that day," said the church's pastor, the Rev. Mark Harris.

Two Jamaica teens recovering well from truck crash

DANVILLE – Jamaica High School student Derek Darr, 18, was listed in good condition late Friday afternoon and basketball teammate Joseph Anthony Horner, 18, returned home this week after being critically injured in a car accident Jan. 10.

Darr, 18, of rural Fairmount, and Horner, 18, of Sidell, were returning to school from an internship at Koehn Motors Inc. when the pickup truck Darr was driving broadsided a grain truck at the intersection of 850 North 800 East Road. The driver of the grain truck was not injured.

Community turning out to help DJ

ARTHUR – Marty Benard of Arthur had a DJ service for years, working at weddings, class reunions and family parties. And he donated his time to spin tunes at plenty of benefits too, raising money for causes like muscular dystrophy.

Now it's his turn to be the recipient of good will.

35 years later, Arcola soldier receives honor

TUSCOLA –After 35 years, an Arcola High School graduate and Army soldier is finally getting recognition for the service to his country that took his life in Vietnam.

But that recognition is not coming from the government as family members had hoped.

Paxton man gets his wish: A New Orleans-style funeral

PAXTON – Before Bob Pence died, he knew exactly how he wanted to be buried – with jazz playing in the background.

So when Mr. Pence died on Jan. 11 at the age of 74, Royce Baier of Ford-Baier Funeral Home in Paxton geared up for a New Orleans-style funeral, complete with a Dixieland band and horse-drawn hearse.

Man who saved 4-year-old hears screams of others who died

GEORGETOWN – Terry O'Toole tries to sleep to escape the memories of a Jan. 5 mobile home fire in Westville that killed two boys and severely burned their mother.

But when he closes his eyes, he sees the flames. Then he hears the screams.

Danville unveils plans for cultural celebration center

DANVILLE – A plan to permanently celebrate Danville's own civil rights leaders was unveiled Monday to the nearly 350 people who came to celebrate the pioneer of civil rights – Martin Luther King Jr.

A service Monday at St. James United Methodist Church culminated a weekend of events, including a banquet and a march, hosted by the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee. During his opening remarks, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer revealed the proposal to build a cultural celebration center at Carver Park on East Williams Street, which will house a collection of articles, memorabilia and video.

Area families worried, but many approve of larger deployment

President Bush's plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq has struck right to the heart of several area soldiers and their families.

Kay Pierce of Rantoul said she wept while she watched the president's televised speech Wednesday night.

Rantoul teen already has joined National Guard with college plans

RANTOUL – When Sarita Taylor arrived at Rantoul Township High School as a freshman, she decided to leave behind her past attitude problems.

But her freshman year was rocky. She had emergency surgery, missed a month of school and had to struggle to get her grades up to her own standards. She wore only black. She struggled to find common ground with her classmates.