In the end, it's all just 'stuff'

What would you take?

With minutes — even seconds — to choose, what mementos of your life, your children’s lives, would you save?

As we prepared to take cover during last week’s tornadoes, I was more focused than usual on that question. This fast-moving storm felt different somehow, more threatening, with warnings all around us.

As school resumes, officials vow to help Gifford recovery

GIFFORD — Officials are just beginning to grasp the enormity of the recovery their village faces.

The little village hall has been condemned and is no longer available for board meetings, the water plant is operating but a boil order probably will remain in effect for months, and the town's landmark water tower may have to be demolished.

Donations start flowing to those in need

GIFFORD — The United Way of Champaign County announced Monday more than $82,000 has been collected in the past week for its Gifford Area Relief Fund.

United Way President and CEO Sue Grey said donations to the fund were being distributed Monday to local organizations assisting with the tornado recovery efforts in Gifford.

Family Life: Some thoughts on Alzheimer's Awareness Month

By Chelsey Byers

One in three people know someone with Alzheimer's disease, but I have found that this is a topic no one wants to learn about until they are in crisis.

Letter from Birdland: Leaf bales will help keep our flock warm

In Birdland, we dipped our toe into the bitterness of winter with a snowfall that initiated us into the season. For two days, the snow squeaked and crunched as it does when the thermometer dips down into the 20s.

But now we are back into a milder climate with sunny warm days and the snow all melted, dampening the piles of leaves under my walnut tree.

Getting Personal: Jeff Helgesen

Each week, we offer an email Q&A with a local personality. Today, Melissa Merli chats with Jeff Helgesen of Champaign. He is the production manager for Research Press Publishers by day and a freelance musician by night. He also maintains a jazz calendar at

Reluctant Townie: The proper etiquette for taking a selfie

In the same week, the Oxford University Press awarded its 2013 Word of the Year honor to "selfie," Justin Bieber launched a selfie-only social network and I discovered the photoblog "Selfies at Funerals."

It has been the week of the selfie, in the year of the selfie, in the Gilded Age of Narcissism.

Some of you may be asking yourself, "What in tarnation is a selfie?"

For the retirees, Nov. 24, 2013

For information about services available to older adults, contact Karen Bodnar, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 48 E. Main St., Champaign, IL 61820, phone 359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Senior Center are administered by Family Services of Champaign County.

Mahomet, UI grad a 'city boy' for CMT show

LOS ANGELES — Travis Leonard gets paid to walk around without a shirt on.

If you remember him from his sports career at Mahomet-Seymour and the University of Illinois, you might not recognize him on "Sweet Home Alabama," a CMT reality show where buff boys woo a Southern belle.

Brothers finally get together after almost five decades

Chuck Eighner and Eric Cunningham were born in Danville, grew up an hour away from each other and played prep football against each other in the same conference. They've had friends in common.

They even have the same smart-aleck sense of humor, a friend said.

But it took nearly 50 years for the brothers to find each other.