Those Who Served: 'The Germans zeroed in on us pretty good'

URBANA — With a shell-shocked soldier for a companion, Ray Heckler drove a Jeep near the Rhine River as shells landed all around the road.

"The youngster went to pot every time the artillery went off, and it was my job to get him out, on a train," says Heckler, 93, who spent most of his adult life in the service, and faced death in World War II.

Local author will discuss latest work

A local author's new book is the focus of a talk sponsored by the Modern Greek Studies program at the University of Illinois.

UI graduate and novelist Peter T. Tomaras will read an excerpt from his recently published novel, "Innkeeper," and discuss the challenges of writing fiction.

C-U haiku, Feb. 14, 2016

Edited by Lee Gurga/For The News-Gazette

again the snow falls

each flake holds a shining light

a blanket of stars

— Viktoria Ford, Urbana

Susan McKinney: 'Crooked House' hard to put down

"The Crooked House" by Christobel Kent is a psychological thriller about an isolated British village and an abandoned house that harbors secrets of a crime from the past.

Alison is trying to live an anonymous life, getting close to no one except her boyfriend and a co-worker. She works in a job that keeps her away from the public.

Rob Kanter/Environmental Almanac: Birding abroad, part 2

Although the other members of my family enjoy a range of outdoor activities when we travel together, I like to spend more time birding than they do. I especially enjoy staking out a spot near where we stay where I can spend some quality time with my camera early in the morning.

Alice B. McGinty: A few more award winners to enjoy

As promised, this column features the American Library Association's 2016 Newbery Medal winner, "Last Stop on Market Street" (2015, G.P. Putnam's Sons, written by Matt de la Pea, illustrated by Christian Robinson, ages 3-7).

Photo contest: Flashes of brilliance

This is the 15th year for the Champaign County Camera Club Best in Show Photographic Print Competition, and as always, it drew many entries — 507 to be exact — from amateur photographers in East Central Illinois.

Reluctant Townie: Looking for election love? Cupid for hire

It had been over a decade since Cupid took up residence in Las Vegas. With marriage rates declining and hookup culture on the rise, it seemed fitting that he take it easy on himself in the 21st century.

Getting Personal: Phillip W. Edwards

Getting Personal is a Q&A with a local personality. Here, 49-year-old Savoy resident Phillip W. Edwards, Urbana's fire marshal, chats with The News-Gazette's Paul Wood.

How did you become a firefighter? Do you have a military background?

A spin on the Grammys

WHAT: The live television broadcast of the 58th annual Grammy Awards, featuring performances by, among others, Adele, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, Carrie Underwood, Sam Hunt, Little Big Town, TheMavericks, Joey Alexander, Highly Suspect and The Takacs Quartet, plus the cast of the Broadway hit "Hamilton." Comedi