Illinois high school students are urged to enter the Bicentennial Essay Contest, which is sponsored by Egyptian Board of Realtors. The deadline is Feb. 15. Check it out at www.IllinoisRealtors.org/Bicentennial.
Be sure and vote for Marion Carnegie Library at www.janbrett.com and a famous children's author just might come to visit. At 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7, anyone 18 and older can make vintage valentines at the library; materials are provided.
Those in the 8 to 12 age group are invited to make valentine heart trees from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12, at Marion Carnegie Library. At 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, those 18 and older can enjoy a murder mystery, Heartbreak Theater, at the library. All events are free. And, a story hour is held at 10 a.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday for preschoolers.
The city of Marion, in partnership with Marion Chamber of Commerce, is sponsoring a weeklong trip to Kanie, Japan, from Aug. 2 to 7, for adults and students. Cost will be about $2,000 for students and $2,500 for adults. An informational meeting, for those with reservations, is set for 5:30 p.m. on March 5 at The Pavillion of the City of Marion. The deadline to make reservations is March 1. Contact Jared Garrison at (618) 993-2657 or Jared@The Pavillion Events.com.
For those who missed seeing the Super Blue Blood Moon, there won't be another until Jan. 31, 2037.
A new business opened in town with a grand opening last Friday and Saturday. It's another Casey's General Store, located at 400 E. DeYoung. For a chance to win free gas, enter at caseys.com/freegas through March 4.
If you choose not to give jewelry or chocolates to your favorite valentine, Little Egypt Barbershop Chorus has another idea. The group is again offering singing valentines from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 13 and 14 for a special treat. Cost is $40 in the counties of Union, Jackson and Williamson. Call Norm Bauer at (618) 697-1046.
Good news for those who are gluten intolerant. A gluten-free pizza is now available at Walt's on South Court Street. It is made of cauliflower and available only in thin crust.
The Sons of American Legion will be holding a dinner and dance from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, at Marion American Legion, 11720 Longstreet Road. The menu will include rib-eye, baked potato, salad and dessert. Cost is $15 for one or $25 for a couple. The dance, which starts at 7:30 p.m., will feature music by Danny and the Dreamers. Call (618) 997-6168 for reservations.
Marion Professional Firefighters Local 2977 will sponsor its first Cash Bash from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, at Black Diamond Harley-Davidson Event Center. Each ticket is $100, which covers dinner for two, plus entry into a drawing for a grand prize of $3,000. Tickets can be purchased from any firefighter or at the fire station at 204 N. Court St. Proceeds will go to the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois.
It has been interesting to read in the newspaper all about former Mayor Bob Butler's illustrious career. We want to send along congratulations to Louetta and him for all they have contributed to the city for so many years. Enjoy the retirement!
If cabin fever has struck, get out and enjoy movie night at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, at Cache River Wetlands Center in Cypress. This is family-friendly and free. The subject of the nature film will be bison and buffalo. Call (618) 657-2065 for more.
A guided winter walk in the woods will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, at Giant City State Park Visitor Center. Call (618) 457-4836. That same day, from 1 to 3 p.m., a Kids in the Woods event, "Owls Eat What?" will be at the visitor center.
Local Girl Scouts continue to sell their cookies. Did you know that the first Girl Scout Cookies were homemade and sold by The Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, at a local high school cafeteria as a service project? The original sugar cookie recipe was distributed to 2,000 Girl Scouts in the Chicago area in 1922. And, in the 1940s, 29 commercial bakers began baking the cookies, and today there are only two bakers, ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers, that turn out all of the Girl Scout Cookies. Thin mints, anyone? By the way, I have a copy of the original cookie, if anyone wants it.
• DIXIE TERRY would like your community news from the Marion area. Contact her at (618) 995-2491, firstname.lastname@example.org or 101 Sidney Lane, Goreville, IL 62939.