Mix Up With My Mail

For a while now, I have been getting my neighbor’s mail and just this morning, my neighbor called me and said he got my mail. I do not understand why this has become such an issue when the addresses are so clearly marked. When our last postmaster, Ed, was in charge, these things did not happen. I cannot put the blame solely on the postmaster, but there is surely something wrong. In the past three months, I have had to go to the utility company to find out what I owe. I got the notice to pay or shut off but not the bill itself. Am I the only one that has to deliver other’s mail while missing my own? I really hope not. When I get a bill, I pay it. Yes, I agree that I should pay better attention to what is due and when, but I have become accustomed to them being delivered and paying them when I get them. Please, Mr. Postman, deliver me my mail.

Christina Punches

Understanding Illinois: Gambling at the R Bar

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

I walked recently down the main street of my hometown to the R Bar tavern to try out the new video gaming machines. Not a gambler, I did so for research on this column about why the state of Illinois pushes gambling onto its citizens in such an unseemly way.

The small, dimly lit bar (aren’t they all) has three machines; the maximum is five. They are all electronically tied to the state’s computers somewhere; after all, the state government is operating these games in order to fleece its own citizens out of their money.

Legal gambling is the only state activity in which the state’s citizens must lose in order for the state to generate revenue. Read More

It’s Just Golden…A Baby’s First Christmas

Golden Column Photoby John Golden
NP Columnist

T’was just Christmas of last year when I found out that I was going to be a dad again. The jolly old man Santa, his plethora of handy little elves, and his eight flying, magic reindeer had delivered to me a major gift. This particular gift came as a big, joyful surprise. Because it was something that I did not necessarily ask for on my personal Christmas list, I was caught somewhat off guard. Yet, this miracle of a gift was absolutely wonderful.

To say that I was shocked last holiday season would be a spectacular, super-duper understatement. I was not sure at first if I could be completely happy with the “Honey, I am pregnant” news. And, to be perfectly honest, I was not happy in the beginning, for many reasons.  Read More

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

It’s been 116 years since Virginia O’Hanlon sought the truth about Santa from the New York Sun.

In over a century, the lives of children — and their parents—have increased in complexity by a factor of ten.

Man landed on the moon, communism rose and fell, countries changed names and borders, Elvis begat Jagger, who in turn led to “gangsta rap”. The kidnap and murder of children, which made world headlines for the Lindbergh family, now touches the lives of hundreds of families annually. Children begin learning at ages two and three about “stranger danger,” AIDS and sexual abuse.

The age of innocence is gone.

But that doesn’t mean that Virginia O’Hanlon’s innocent question to an anonymous editor is irrelevant in today’s world. Far from it.

Today, more than ever, we all need to be reminded of the good that dwells in even the meanest spirit, of the hope that fires our most ambitious dreams. That, yes, there is a Santa Claus, and he lives in all our hearts.

So here, as a Christmas gift to us all, is Francis Pharcellus Church’s editorial response to Virginia, first printed in The New York Sun on Sept. 21, 1897. Merry Christmas.

“We take pleasure in an-swering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

‘Dear Editor:

I am 8 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

Papa says, ‘If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.’

Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?


Virginia O’Hanlon

115 West 95th Street’


Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world around him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as & dreary as if there were no Virginias. There  would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We  should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, not even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

Letters to the Editor 12.18.13

A Welcomed Salute To Service

I wish to relate to you a small observance which took place on November 11, 2013 at Sullivan High School on the lawn next to the building’s front entrance.

A teacher on the high school staff Ms. Becky Lawson, in her visits to Greenhill Cemetery to pay her respects to her neighbors who were buried there, noticed a lonely grave in the area. Inscribed on the stone was the name Corporal Harold Marble, a birth date, and a death date of Dec. 10, 1944. Being an inquisitive soul, she decided on a quest to learn more about the long dead soldier.

Her exploration resulted in information coming from a student in France, contacts with Harold Marble’s cousins and eventually the commemorative service mentioned in the first paragraph above.

Ms. Lawson learned that Corporal Marble had attended school in the Liberty area of the county and high school in Sullivan. He played the coronet in the band and belonged to the Future Farmers of America.

Harold Marble enlisted in the army infantry and was trained as a mortarman. Marble landed in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944 as a member of the 359th infantry regiment, 90th infantry division of General Cortney Hodge’s 1st army.

Marble was killed December 10, 1944 outside of Aachen, Germany while serving his mortar. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

Corporal Marble’s body was repatriated to the United States where it was entered on July 28, 1948, in Sullivan’s Greenhill Cemetery.

Ms. Lawson invited those family members who were living to the service along with her co-teachers, principal Young, as well as student advisory groups. Corporal Marble, after 69 years, was remembered once again.

The students were models of deportment and conduct. They are worthy of recognition. Seeing them in positions of responsibility makes one’s mind rest at ease as to the leadership in the Sullivan community.

Ed LeCrone, Sullivan
2nd Cousin of Harold Marble

P.S. I watched as a man who was attending the junior high school’s tribute to the veterans. The junior high service had not yet begun. The student band at Marble’s service had just begun the playing of the National Anthem. The man stopped, removed his hat and started singing. I ask, ‘Can you find a better community than Sullivan?’


Bewildered From “No Job Left Behind”

As a 1972 Sullivan High School alumni I had the opportunity to read the recent article, “Area Educators and Businesses Meet to Discuss “No Job Left Behind” by Christina Whitford. It left me bewildered.

I am a retired physician who has also been a home-schooling mother, so I do know a little about education, albeit not in the traditional sense. Having taught chemistry and biology to several students, it is apparent that not all children learn in the same way.

In total disclosure, I am the sister-in-law of the recently booted auto mechanics teacher, Joe Scribner. Some of the students who had not done well in “traditional” classes excelled in the auto mechanics class. Some who had been labeled as “trouble-makers” were well behaved, engaged in learning. His class was so popular that the students themselves united to try to save it.

Even so, the superintendent decided that due to financial restraints, the class had to be cancelled. So when I read that, “many local employers and educational leaders met to discuss…how to get a new generation of young employees ready for the workplace…to teach students how to be a successful employee,” I had to marvel.

Upon reading the statement by Stepheny McMahon, executive director of Sullivan Community Economic Development, “We want to make sure each student is taught a marketable skill, has a good work ethic, and good attendance,” I had to ask myself if she had just moved to Sullivan with no knowledge of recent administrative educational decisions.

When I read that, “students having just graduated from high school oftentime have an unrealistic expectation of what the workforce entails and the responsibilities that come along with being an employee,” I had to chuckle. Apparently the powers in charge of the limited monies for the school district felt that putting that money toward Sullivan Singers made more sense than continuing the auto mechanics class. Who is it who really has the unrealistic expectations?

Please don’t misunderstand. I do believe that the arts are quite important; but not at the expense of learning daily living skills. Almost every adult drives a car and must maintain it; not too many adults sing and dance around–at least not in public.

I realize that Superintendent Tuttle was not the superintendent at the time of the decision, but as high school principal and incoming superintendent he was intimately involved, and I also know that every school board member voted in agreement to cancel the auto mechanics class. So I have a suggestion for those citizens of Sullivan who care about the future of local education. Sometimes things seem clearer to those looking in at problems from afar. Next time elections are held I would hope that citizens who actually care about all students will step up to run for the school board. Every one of those school board members who proved that they simply are “yes” votes for poor administrative decisions needs to be replaced. And I hope one of those to step up will be Joe Scribner.

Carol Hopper-Hill
Diamondhead, Mississippi

Understanding Illinois: Is There a Deer in Your Headlights?

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

I was recently driving along on a rural state highway, minding my own business (as they say), when out of nowhere (as they say) darted a white tail deer that seemed intent on colliding with my car, which it did.

The damage wasn’t much, though more than $1,500 to fix (heavy breathing on a car probably results in more than $1,500 to repair at the auto body shop). Read More

Spring Illinois Legislators

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

This spring Illinois legislators will face the issue of whether the state should require labels on foods that have been “entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering.”

The lawmakers will have a difficult time separating the wheat from the chaff on an issue that is generating increased interest nationally, much to the chagrin of Monsanto and a handful of companies that control the hybrid seed market.

There is no middle ground in the debate between the “naturalists” and the big seed companies over the touted evils and virtues, respectively, of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Read More

Understanding Illinois: The State Budget in 750 Words

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

I was challenged the other day when I heard an expert say that no one has—or could—explain the Illinois state budget clearly, even to capable readers of newspaper opinion pages. So here goes my attempt to do so, without your eyes glazing over (well, maybe that is too much to ask):

According to the Illinois Office of the Comptroller, in 2012 Illinois spent $67.8 billion and took in revenues of $64.5 billion (maybe that is part of our problem). Read More

A Biography

DanColumnby Dan Hagen
NP Columnist

“The supermarket is still open. It won’t close till midnight. It is brilliantly bright. Its brightness offers sanctuary from loneliness and the dark. “You could spend hours of your life here, in a state of suspended insecurity, meditating on the multiplicity of things to eat. “Oh dear, there is so much! So many brands in shiny boxes, all of them promising you good appetite. Every article on the shelves cries out to you, take me, take me; and the mere competition of their appeals can make you imagine yourself wanted, even loved. “But beware — when you get back to your empty room, you’ll find that the false flattering elf of the advertisement has eluded you; what remains is only cardboard, cellophane and food. Read More

Guest Column: From the Superintendent

by Brad Tuttle
Superintendent of Sullivan Schools

Readers may have noticed the legal ad in today’s newspaper regarding a Truth-in-Taxation hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, December 9 at our next Board of Education meeting (pg 4). I wanted to let people know why, after years of levying below the maximum allowed for our school district, we have reached a point where we now need to increase the school tax levy. Read More