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100 years ago, Dec. 21, 1917

MATTOON -- The old roundhouse at the local shops of the Illinois Central Railroad has been wrecked preparatory to beginning work on the south half of the company's new roundhouse. Half of the new roundhouse, seven stalls, was put into service a week ago. The old roundhouse was partially wrecked last May during the tornado. The stalls in the old roundhouse were only 60 feet long. The turntable was only 65 feet long. Stalls of the new roundhouse are 100 feet in length. The new turntable is 85 feet long. The largest engines operated through Mattoon are 76 feet long... MATTOON -- Forty-nine young men who have attended the Mattoon Business College are now in the service of their country, either in camps in this country or at the front in France. Mr. Utterback, proprietor of the college, was well aware that a number of his "boys" had joined the military, but was not fully aware of the exact number until this morning when a service flag containing 49 stars was presented to him by Rev. A.H. Kelso. 

50 years ago, 1967

MATTOON -- Temperatures in the 60s, thunder, lightning and heavy brain. These terms sound like midsummer thunderstorms, but they were Mattoon's early morning weather scene on this 21st of December. Severe winds lifted a wooden building at Mattoon's sewage disposal plant and deposited it in one of the settling basins at the plant. At Charleston, strong winds broke windows in the courthouse. Overnight rainfall in Mattoon totaled 1.06 inches. Precipitation for the monthn of December now stands at 6.29 inches. After a high temperature yesterday of 65 degrees and a reading of 61 earlier this morning, the thermometer should drop to the 20s tonight and is not expected to climb much above 30 tomorrow... MATTOON -- An estimated 55 children participated when the Mattoon Jaycees, incooperation with the Kiwanis Club, held their annual Christmas shopping tour for children. Jaycees and Kiwanis members and their wives helped the children select gifts for parents and brothers and sisters. Following the shopping, a party was held at First Methodist Church. Santa Claus distributed gift bags of fruit and toys to the children.

25 years ago, 1992

CHARLESTON -- Local artist Ernie Whitworth loves working with pewter. “It’s reusable and the metal melts on your kitchen stove. It really is recyclable,” Whitworth said, discussing the pewter items he creates. This year he has been commissioned by Gov. Jim Edgar to create Christmas ornaments with the image of the Governor’s Mansion outlined and etched into each piece. Whitworth said he participates in an art show in Springfield each year. Edgar and his wife Brenda, longtime Charleston residents, met Whitworth at the show and asked about a Christmas ornament. Whitworth said he created more than 100 of the ornaments for the Edgars… MATTOON -- Gospel singers David Fritts of Mattoon and his brother Philip of Mount Clemens, Mich., will perform at the White House on Dec. 27. During the Pageant of Peace, the lighting of the National Christmas Tree celebration, the brothers will be performing at the Ellipse Theater at the White House complex. At the White House, the brothers will perform songs with a holiday theme. David Fritts also plays saxophone and is a former band director. He also is a medical services technician with the U.S. Air Force Reserve located at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

100 years ago, Dec. 22, 1917

MATTOON -- A service flag containing 64 stars was suspended this morning from a steel staff extending over the platform at the main entrance to the Big Four Railroad division headquarters and passenger station building. The St. Louis Division employs 283 men who are of draft age, and additional stars will be required from time to time. The stars represent the men who are serving their country in training camps now and at the front in Europe... MATTOON -- Christmas shoppers were out in force today. Among them were many from the farming communities. The jewelry stores, which are supposed to reap a harvest at Christmas season, have been crowded all day. Clothing stores have been thronged. Dry goods stores have been selling heavily. Santa Claus is going to visit many Mattoon homes, judging from the number of parents who have visited the toy stores... WASHINGTON -- Distribution for Christmas of government allowances and soldiers' allotments to dependents has been started by the war risk bureau. By Christmas Day, thousands of wives, widowed mothers and other dependents of soldiers will have their first payment. Most checks are for $20 or $25, representing about half of the monthly pay of the enlisted soldier with added government compensation.

50 years ago, 1967

MATTOON -- Winners of the Christmas Lighting Contest sponsored by the Mattoon Jaycees were announced today by Arthur Willaredt Jr. and James Nadolski, co-chairmen of the annual event. Winner of the most original category in the residential division was Harold Davis, 1401 Annis. Winner in the most elaborate category was David R. Stewart, 3217 Western Ave. In the best religious category, the winner was Lester Smith, 412 Crestview. In the business division, Anaconda American Brass Co. took first place. Judges were Mr. and Mrs. David Paul, Mrs. Randall Best and Mrs. James Nadolski... MATTOON -- Temperature and rainfall records apparently have been broken here in the past couple days. Yesterday's high temperature of 65 degrees brojke a Dec. 21 record for Charleston, according to Dalias Price, local weather observer. Rainfall in yesterday's storms totaled 2.14 inches, shoving the December total to 7.55 inches, an all-time December record, Price said. Today, the mercury is hovering around the 20-degree mark, certainly more in keeping with the first official day of winter.

25 years ago, 1992

ARTHUR -- A 4-month-old boy was killed and five family members riding in a buggy were injured in an alcohol-related accident Sunday night, Illinois State Police said. Kevin Gingerich of rural Arthur died yesterday morning in a Decatur hospital after the accident on Arthur Road. His mother, Katie, is in critical but stable condition. Also injured were Dorothy Gingerich, age 2, Richard, 5, and Treva, 4. Their father, Richard Gingerich, also is in stable condition. The buggy they were riding in was struck in the rear by a car driven by Cindy R. Plummer of Arthur. Both vehicles were northbound on the Arthur Road, which connects Arthur and Atwood. Plummer was issued a citation for driving under the influence. The horse pulling the buggy was killed, police said… SPRINGFIELD -- After making one last decision and issuing their final report, members of Illinois’ independent low-level radioactive waste disposal facility siting commission have resigned. As its last official act, the three-member commission rejected a motion by two proponents, the City of Martinsville and a citizens group, to reopen consideration of a site near the city for the disposal facility. After 71 days of testimony, commission members said the site’s geology could not guarantee that local drinking water supplies wouldn’t be contaminated.

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