'Rewarding' year in Afghanistan for colonel in Army Reserve

CHAMPAIGN – In a yearlong tour rebuilding parts of Afghanistan, Army Reserve Col. John Vavrin slept on a cot in his office, traveled in convoys and kept an eye out for "the bad guys."

It's not the same sort of engineering that Vavrin – at 51, old enough to remember slide rules – does in his day job as a mechanical engineer at the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign, where he has been since 2001.

Manzella's marks 50 years of keeping food in family

CHAMPAIGN – The kids have been dropped off at their schools, the pizza dough is rising in the kitchen and there are three hours yet before customers start coming through the doors.

As it does for many, the Manzellas' day begins over cups of hot coffee.

Joe and Nickie Manzella, John and Cindy Manzella, Mary Manzella, and sometimes Frank and his wife, Ellen, gather around the tables or booths of their Italian restaurant.

Injured Mahomet soldier handed keys to his new house

MAHOMET – As Army Sgt. Cameron Crouch toured the inside of his new home on Saturday, he smiled as he shared his favorite part of the specially designed building.

"The elevator; I'm going to go ride that thing," he said, in reference to the custom-made elevator that will aid him in accessing his full, but unfinished, basement.

Music educator Willie Summerville again teaching class

CHAMPAIGN – Longtime music educator Willie Summerville will again teach a music class starting Monday that focuses awareness of diversity issues. The University of Illinois class is open to community members.

"Harmonizing Differences Using African American Sacred Music" will help people wanting to learn the appropriate sacred music for special occasions and African-American holidays, Summerville said.

100th Labor Day Parade planned

WESTVILLE – The Westville Lions Club is gearing up for its 100th annual Labor Day Parade and celebration set for Aug. 28 through Sept. 7.

The club is seeking entries for the parade to be held at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 6. The parade theme is "Honoring Our Heritage – Connecting the Past to the Present." The event will especially honor those who work, volunteer and serve.

Fisher man helps to bring comfort to Haiti

FISHER – A Fisher man is among the naval personnel who have begun providing medical care to earthquake victims in Haiti.


Corpsman Jake Roberts, 23, of Fisher, is on board the USNS Comfort, the Navy's hospital ship, which started taking Haitian quake victims on Tuesday night.

Man had lifelong love affair with the Georgetown Fair

GEORGETOWN – Donald "Bussy" VanBuskirk didn't know a stranger and didn't want to, not when he could take the time to get to know you.

Mr. VanBuskirk, 86, died Sunday after complications from a fall at his home, but he will be remembered and asked after for years to come by those associated with the Georgetown and Illinois State fairs.

Sarge's quarters almost finished

MAHOMET – Sgt. Cameron Crouch earned the gratitude of his future Mahomet neighbors through his service in Iraq, and this weekend it's coming back to him.

Pastor uses King Day speech as Danville's call to action

DANVILLE – The Rev. B. Lamont Monford used his speech at Danville's Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration service as a call to action for the community.

The pastor of the Philippian Missionary Baptist Church in Lima, Ohio, used humor, movie trivia and a Bible story to get the audience into his message.

Georgetown teen decides to stay in Haiti to help

GEORGETOWN – A Georgetown teen who has been on a mission trip in Haiti for the past 10 days could be coming home in about a week, her mother said Monday.

Kim Stanton said her 16-year-old daughter Amanda, a Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School junior, had a chance to fly home with other members of her trip this past weekend, following the devastating earthquake in Haiti. But she chose to stay another week to continue her work.

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