'Beyond the four walls'

Four views of the Rev. Samuel Hale, Jr., retiring after 34 years as pastor at Zion Missionary Church.

"My concept of ministry was always beyond the four walls, yet my ministry was building up what was inside. If you don’t have a strong base, you can’t have a strong outreach,” Hale said.

Coverage for hearing aids

Hunter Martin, 10, has been working with Illinois legislators to pass a law that mandates insurance coverage of hearing aids for children. HB4516 has passed both the House and the Senate and is awaiting Gov. Bruce Rauner's signature.

Player of the year

Karly Bruntjen is the 2018 All Prairie Volleyball Player of the Year. Bruntjen was  photographed at her home in rural Montgomery County.

Historic legacy

John Roberts has taught history at Lincoln Land Community College since it opened in 1970. Roberts, 76, is retiring from the college as the longest-serving employee and faculty member in the college’s history.

Lots of Lincolns

The Association of Lincoln Presenters helds its 24th annual convention in Freeport. About 45 members of the organization who portray Abraham Lincoln and Mary, as well as a couple Union Army generals, toured historic sites in Freeport, attended symposiums and a gala.

Civil service ministers

Shaun Lewis, left, is Executive Director, and Curt Fleck is Ministry Director of Civil Servant Ministries. The ministry exists to engage the political arena with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Access denied

Before Cynthia Bly used up the last of her prescription of pain pills in January, she was able to do the dishes, cook meals and take short walks with her husband outside their rural Springfield home.

Now that the 64-year-old former office worker no longer has access to hydrocodone, an opioid pain reliever, the pain from her chronic back problems and other medical conditions is too overwhelming for her to enjoy those simple activities. She spends most of her days in a recliner or wheelchair and uses a portable commode to avoid the pain and risk of falling on the way to the bathroom.

Taste of freedom

Bill Amor was convicted of an arson and murder he did not commit. Attorneys with the Illinois Innocence Project say that in 1995, Amor gave a false confession after 15 hours of questioning by police.

In February 2018, Amor was acquitted in a retrial, and traveled four hours to Springfield to personally thank the staff of the project who fought for his innocence on his behalf. Amor sat with Angel Gonzalez, left, who the project helped exonerate in 2015, and Larry Golden,  director of the project.

Recycled Records

An authentic downtown Springfield landmark is up for sale. Mark and Gary Kessler, co-owners of Recycled Records, are hoping to find a buyer for the used record store they began 40 years ago using a portion of their parent's furniture store.

Honor Flight

Land of Lincoln Honor Flight, part of the national Honor Flight network, has flown more than 3,500 central Illinois veterans to Washington, D.C. since 2009, including 76 more on Tuesday, Sept. 12. They visited the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial, along with Arlington National Cemetery and other historic sites. For the men and women who served, the flight offers honor, and for some, closure, and it was a privilege to document the day.

The Black Sheep Cafe

The owners of Springfield's Black Sheep Cafe, a popular "do-it-yourself" music venue celebrating their 12th anniversary, and uncertain about its future.

The 2017 solar eclipse

For me, what happens in space is in the abstract. It's impossible to relate to the movement of sun, moon and the stars. But during a total solar eclipse on August 21, standing at a point in Southern Illinois where totality lasted longer than anyplace else in the U.S. (granted, by milliseconds), it was no longer an abstract concept. Watching the moon slowly slip across the face of the sun, in perfect alignment, and cast the world around me into the dim light of totality, was magical. 

Extraordinary effort

The extraordinary story of the group effort to save David Burtle's life after he suffered a massive heart attack during a group bicycle ride, hit close to home. Although I wasn't there the night David collapsed, I frequently ride with David and the others who were there that particular evening. Six individuals, including three doctors also on the ride, administered CPR or monitored David for almost 25 minutes until paramedics arrive. David is alive today recovering at home with his wife Missie.