In November, the Marajen Stevick Foundation — which owns The News-Gazette and our radio stations — put up $25,000 to match tornado relief donations to the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois. This week — as Gifford continues its long road back — we'll spotlight acts of generosity en route to that $25,000, which I'm happy to report was raised quickly.
Bill Keaton hopes to see his cousin at this summer's Corbin Bailey family reunion in Champaign. And he hopes Alvin Bailey doesn't come alone.
"I'd like to see a Super Bowl ring on his finger," Keaton said.
Not that they've asked for advice. But candidates who plan to participate in our primary forums Feb. 19-21 in Champaign might want to huddle with Kirsten Blackford before reaching the podium. It's clear the Miss Fisher Fair Queen knows how to work an audience.
Not that long ago, Paul Klee was covering Illinois basketball for The News-Gazette. This week, he's reporting on Super Bowl XLVIII as columnist for the Colorado Springs Gazette (check out his Twitter feed:@Klee_Gazette). We convinced him to break away from his Peyton Manning coverage to fill us in on what it's like:
Last time I caught up with Barry Houser was in the fall at the Esquire for "The News-Gazette Sports Page," where the director of the Marching Illini and his crew entertained at our Monday night radio show. Their next gig is a bit more exotic: a spot in the annual Dublin St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 17 in Ireland.
On Saturday, we hit a Twitter milestone.
Monticello's Ryan Boone (@ryanboone75) became our 10,000th follower since we set up the Twitter account (@news_gazette) in October 2008.
"I like to know what's going on locally," Boone said. "I feel The News-Gazette does a great job with that."
Tom Ewing, who turned 100 in November, has a few years on Peyton Manning.
So if matched against the veteran Broncos quarterback on the football field, Tom knows his limitations.
"Even though (Manning) is getting older," Tom said, "I don't think I could catch him."
In Sunday's News-Gazette, our MIKE HOWIE catches up with former Iran hostage PAUL LEWIS as the centerpiece to an extensive "Whatever Happened To" package. Now 56 and still doing business in the area, Lewis was forthright in his interview, describing everything from the flight home to freedom to his dinner options in Tehran. "Some of the food was awful.
Most area schools called off classes and extracurricular events Thursday as winter weather continued to cause havoc. One superintendent, Don Owen of Urbana District 116, used his blog — "View from Here" — to explain.
There's a celebrity on campus. But Illinois freshman Summer Robbins isn't giving it away by wearing her Miss Illinois County Fair Queen crown while strolling down Green Street.
"Social media and newspapers have been flaunting my crown plenty," she said. "Therefore, I am keeping it safe and sound in its box!"