Just 1 Question: 2019 Miss Illinois County Fair Queen finalists

Ahead of the 2019 Miss Illinois County Fair Queen pageant, which begins Thursday at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield, staff writer Tim Mitchell asked seven area county fair queens: What makes Illinois a great state?

On The Town: Ties & Tennies

The Ties & Tennies fundraising event at The Virginia Theater in Champaign on January 10, 2019

In the Garden | Breathing easier

The last thing any homeowner wants this time of year is a cold draft from the outdoors. We humans have become exceedingly good at sealing up all of our indoor spaces in the interest of trapping heat during the winter or cooled air during the summer.

Religion calendar, Jan. 11-18, 2019

To submit items, visit and click "Add an event" under the miniature calendar on the page. You must be logged in, then fill in appropriate fields and submit. Deadline is noon Tuesday before Friday publication.

My Amish Home | A dreary, spider-filled start to 2019

"Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Family Checkbook | In 2019, let's sit down and talk about money

Adults share the responsibility of helping youths, and young adults learn how to manage their finances well.

Conversations with adults help young people understand the importance and power of money management, and learning to be a good manager of your money is a lifelong process. How can adults help young people develop positive attitudes about money and healthy financial behaviors?

Kelly Strom | Join a book club in 2019

A new year and a new purpose! Besides the usual efforts to lose weight, abolish bad habits or travel more, try joining a book club.

There are lots of independent book clubs in the Champaign area, including two here at our library for adults.

The Law Q&A | Fair Labor Standards Act focuses on wages, rights of workers

Following the 45th U.S. president's executive recent order freezing government workers' pay after the new year, the American Federation of Government Employees union sued POTUS 45 claiming violations of federal wage law.

The claim is based on the Fair Labor Standards Act. What the heck is the FLSA?

Letter from Birdland | My chicken can get a little squirrely

The light is coming back to Birdland, and so are the eggs. Most days, we still get only two from our three grown hens, but the days with no eggs or only one are getting fewer, and occasionally we find a third in the nest.

Patricia Hruby Powell | A devastating story sprinkled with humor

Charlie Bobo is an oversized 12-year-old boy, the son of sharecroppers living in 1858 South Carolina in "The Journey of Little Charlie" (Scholastic 2018) by three-time Newbery Medalist Christopher Paul Curtis.

Because Curtis is African American and has always written black characters, I was taken aback when Little Charlie bartered with the sheriff.