... to all the "new year's" babies out there, whether they were born Jan. 1 or waited a few days to show up.

Either way, welcome to the world!


... and bless you. The flu has arrived, so some hospitals are restricting visitors to keep patients from getting unwanted bugs.

If you don't feel well, hold off on your visits until you've recovered. That goes for visiting hospitals and nursing homes, attending school or going to work.

If you're sick, the rest of us prefer you keep your germs to yourself.


... to Eric Hanson, who started this week as assistant city manager for the town of Normal. He succeeds Pam Reece, who became city manager following the retirement of Mark Peterson.

Hanson most recently worked in Ballwin, Mo., but previously worked in Monmouth and in Iowa.



... to Billy Tyus, who starts Feb. 7 as assistant city manager for the city of Bloomington. He succeeds Steve Rasmussen, who left the job in October.

Tyus most recently worked as interim city manager in Decatur, where he worked with current Bloomington City Manager Tim Gleason.



... to news that gas prices could surge to $3 a gallon by April.

Gas already has crept up a few pennies in the last week and it's disheartening to learn we could be in for an expensive spring and summer.

Drive smart to use gas wisely: Don't jackrabbit your starts, brake gradually, maintain a constant speed as much as possible. Make sure your car or truck is well-maintained, including regular oil changes and properly inflated tires.

Ride your bike. Take a bus. Share rides.


... as well to news that tax forms could be processed late because of the government shutdown, leading to the possibility of delayed refunds.

The game of chicken at government's highest levels is taking a toll on government workers who also need paychecks, and it's affecting taxpayers who do what they're told only to suffer as a result of gamesmanship.


... and thanks to the hardworking postal employees who staffed counters, stuffed postal boxes or delivered mail and packages over hill and dale over the holiday season.

Same goes for the employees of all delivery services and counter workers of those businesses. With so many of us buying online and relying on services to deliver either to our house or to grandma's house, delivery help is crucial — whether it's bringing it to your doorstep or taking your package and sending it on its way.


... to our own Michelle Pazar, named president and publisher of The Pantagraph, Decatur Herald & Review and Mattoon-Charleston Journal-Gazette Times-Courier.

Michelle has been part of the The Pantagraph family since she graduated from Illinois State University and we're proud to have her recognized as our new group leader.


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