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The powerful prayer hidden in 'Pomp and Circumstance'

By Dean Close · 8:52am May 24th, 2015
To the graduates of the Vinton-Shellsburg Class of 2015, and those who will celebrate with them today – and to those from Center Point-Urbana, Western Dubuque and any other place where the empty seats in gyms or auditoriums sit as stark reminders of the unimaginable horrors a community has suffered and survived: You deserve a graduation message more personal than “Two roads diverged in the woods,” more relevant than “Be the very best version of yourself” and more candid about the scars your crises have left tha...

Mighty Casey: A 21st Century revision for youth league parents

By Dean Close · 10:05am May 5th, 2015
Yogi Berra said, or has been quoted as saying, “Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.” More recently, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, in between his retirement as a player and before he became the Cardinals' skipper, managed a youth baseball team.

The kids just want to fit in

By Valerie Close · 12:50pm May 1st, 2015
Have you ever heard this jingle: Laugh, laugh. Thought I'd die. Die? That means funeral. Funeral? That means flowers. Flowers? That means money. Money? That means work. Work? ME WORK? Laugh, laugh... Raising kids has been one of those "experiments" that while we haven't always gotten it right, sometimes we just get it right and are amazed at how well the kids have turned out.

To the Editor: Funeral home thanks community for response after tragic accident

By Frank Van Steenhuyse And Gail Wood · 5:14pm April 29th, 2015
Thank you to all the people who came forward to offer prayers, assistance and support to the families of the victims, and to us, following the recent tragic accident. The Center Point-Urbana and Vinton-Shellsburg School districts' show of support was indeed touching. The setting may have been unusual, but the funeral service for Quentin, Triston, Hunter and Zoey was a loving, fitting and dignified tribute.

The Muddy Morning Blues

By Valerie Close · 10:46am April 28th, 2015
It seems that I write too much about sleeping, or the lack of enough sleep. Maybe because, as the joke goes, "I'm sleeping like a baby...up every 2 hours." In my case it's usually up all night until the wee hours of the morning and then up in a couple hours when the hubby gets up.

A brief, beautiful message above Victory Lane

By Dean Close · 3:11pm April 17th, 2015
If you are among those who have spent the past week mourning a friend or relative who died in last week’s awful accident – and especially if you are among those who had already attended way too many too-soon funerals in the past year – I have a story for you. I chose to attend today’s funeral for the last four of the Urbana 5 as a friend, not a reporter.

The Favorite Aunt

By Valerie Close · 2:42pm April 11th, 2015
Now, I have lots of aunts. Quite frankly each aunt had their own thing that I liked about them. My Aunt Helen, I would see a lot, and I would greet with "There's my FAVORITE Aunt!" to which she'd always laugh and reply with, "Yeah, right!" My aunt has been one that when I was a kid, we would see a lot of because we both lived in town and we babysat my cousin so we'd see her most days.

After 150 years, there still is much to learn about the Civil War

By Dean Close · 8:00am April 8th, 2015
Imagine a war that claims the lives of 6.5 million Americans. You can’t. I can’t. Nobody can. It’s unthinkable. What kind of conflict would require that many casualties? The Civil War – which officially ended 150 years ago tomorrow – was that kind of conflict. More than 600,000 soldiers -- 2 percent of all Americans – died between April 1861 and April 1865.

To the Editor: Thanks to our local 'quiet contributors' that make Vinton better

By Frank Van Steenhuyse · 9:08am April 3rd, 2015
The signs of spring are everywhere. Some are very evident. Some are less evident. There is a quiet, behind-the-scenes, hard-working group of people in town who contribute so much to our community yet they go mostly unnoticed. Some work alone. Some work in groups. Some belong to clubs. They spend a lot of time on their knees.

To the Editor: How education funding differs from private sector

By Mary Jo Hainstock, V-S Superintendent · 1:34pm March 31st, 2015
Dear Editor, Many people have been following March Madness in high school and college basketball. In my world, I have been watching the March Madness that is occurring at the Capitol in Des Moines where politicians are debating the future of education. Our school board recently met to discuss the 2015-16 budget.

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