Getting Personal: Dale A. Righter

Here, 49-year-old state Sen. Dale A. Righter of Mattoon chats with The News-Gazette's Paul Wood. The Republican is also an attorney and a coach.

What interests you the most at this very minute?

UI has commode accommodations already in place

URBANA — Some new signs have popped up outside selected restrooms at the University of Illinois.

They have the familiar wheelchair icon for accessibility, and an image of a toilet (just to make things clear).

But they don't say "men" or "women." These bathrooms are labeled "all gender."

Kind of like your bathrooms at home, as one employee points out.

It's Your Business: Boarding, baking in Monticello

A new combination bakery and boardinghouse is opening in a historic Monticello home this summer.

Samantha Koon said her new business, the Zybell House Bakery and Market at 117 N. Independence St., will begin operations in July.

The boardinghouse was built in the 1860s. Koon even has a framed photograph of the original house.

Letter from Birdland: Experiencing a plethora of plants

In Birdland, it's cool, and we're not used to having the heat kick on in the middle of May, but there it goes again.

We seem to be getting rain every day. It's not good all the way around — some of the corn will need to be replanted, and if it doesn't get a little drier soon, the whole crop will not develop deep roots, making it susceptible to being blown over in a windstorm

Top of the morning, May 22, 2016

I'm happy to report that Wayne Foran is indeed alive, well and a very good sport.

Earlier this week, we published a brief about the latest additions to the Bement High School Hall of Fame, a class that we wrote included "the late Wayne Foran (Class of 1943)."

Foran, 90 and still living on the outskirts of Bement, "had a good laugh over it," said his wife of 62 years, Claudette.

'I have the least amount of brain cells of anybody in this school'

As area 12th-graders wrap up their high school careers, we'll highlight graduates with unique stories to tell. Email ideas to education reporter Nicole Lafond at

This day in history, May 21, 2016

Today is Saturday, May 21, the 142nd day of 2016. There are 224 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On May 21, 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh landed his Spirit of St. Louis monoplane near Paris, completing the first solo airplane flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 33-1/2 hours.

Sandra Mason: The battle against borers

If a tree dies from borers, is it dying from boredom? Unlikely, considering the eventful lives of trees.

Since our 2016 spring produced plenty of rain, it's easy to forget that trees can still be recovering from the drought of 2012 and late summer drought of 2013. Add a severe winter in 2013-14, and trees endure many events.

Area history, May 21, 2016

Today is Saturday, May 21, 2016. Here are news reports from this date 100, 50 and 15 years ago:

Bob Swisher: Vermilion County business makes unique furniture

Almost smack dab in the middle of Forest Glen Preserve near Georgetown is a small building called Pine Ridge Studio, which is the home of handmade furniture and home decor.

This studio is owned by artisans Dean and Dawn Dawson. The nearby area is also their home.