Secret Santa: Big or small, all are blessings to United Way

December 23, 2010 Vonda Oberbeck, director of the United Way of Independence County, didn’t know what to think on Wednesday when she opened the envelope with no return address and discovered a stack of cash and Ben Franklin staring back.Pulling the money from the envelope decorated with Christmas stickers and postmarked Tuesday with a routing ZIP code of 72401 (Jonesboro), Oberbeck’s mouth dropped when she discovered the stack contained not one but 20 $100 bills.The United Way pledge card inside let her know the $2,000 was to be used

Letters to Santa

December 23, 2010 Children from Batesville and surrounding areas share their letters to Santa Claus with the Batesville Daily Guard this holiday season.Dear Santa,I am a little boy 2 1/2 years old. I have been very good this year and hope you come to see me. I would like to have a Buzz Lightyear 4 wheeler, a Woody doll, some cars and trucks and a sleeping bag.

Group lists tips for tree disposal

December 23, 2010 QUINCY, Mass. — The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is offering reminders to keep folks fire-safe as they wind down the holiday season. Roughly one-third of home fires and home fire deaths occur in December, January and February, according to NFPA.Although Christmas tree fires are uncommon, when they do occur, they are often serious; one out of every 21 reported Christmas tree fires results in a fatality. One-third of Christmas tree fires occurred in January.

2010’s world gone wild: Quakes, floods, blizzards

December 23, 2010 This was the year the Earth struck back.Earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts killed at least a quarter million people in 2010 — the deadliest year in more than a generation. More people were killed worldwide by natural disasters this year than have been killed in terrorism attacks in the past 40 years combined.“It just seemed like it was back-to-back and it came in waves,” said Craig Fugate, who heads the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. It handled a record number of disasters in 2010.

Gulf oil spill voted top news story of 2010

December 23, 2010 NEW YORK (AP) — The massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, triggered by a deadly blast at a rig used by BP, was the top news story of 2010, followed by the divisive health care overhaul, according to The Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.The oil spill received 54 first-place votes out of 180 ballots cast for the top 10 stories. The health care bill was next, with 30 first-place votes. The U.S. election was third.In fourth place was the U.S. economy, which had been voted the top story of 2009.Here are 2010’s top 10 stories, in order:

Mom honors son’s memory

December 23, 2010 MELBOURNE — Jason Frazier loved Christmas, but always waited until the last minute to do his shopping. This year, his Mom started planning early. Because of her love for her son and to honor his memory, 43 kids in Izard County will be opening gifts they might not have otherwise received.Theresa Weaver of Melbourne held a benefit trout tournament for her son, Jason Wayne Frazier, who died in 2005, with all of the proceeds going to the Izard County Angel Tree.———Jason arrived in this world just three days after Christmas 1981. He was Theresa’s only child.

Midnight Latin Mass scheduled

December 22, 2010 CHEROKEE VILLAGE — The Latin Mass Community of Cherokee Village announces the following schedule for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Cherokee Village:• Friday — 10 p.m. Matins of the Nativity of Our Lord, followed by Midnight Mass. The choir will sing Missa Segunda by Hans Leo Hassler (1562-1612).• Saturday — Mass at Dawn around 1:30 a.m. (Low Mass).Following the Midnight Mass there will be a Christmas party (“Reveillon”) downstairs in the parish hall with Christmas carols, coffee, pastries and miscellaneous beverages.

Holiday lights can mean more

December 22, 2010 A string of illuminated glass bulbs, hung for the holidays, may seem like no big deal, so common it’s easy to pass them without really noticing. But we humans are simple beings who sometimes communicate best in the most basic ways.Lights on a cold, dark night can be a welcome, even heartwarming sight. And in gloomy economic times, or other trying circumstances, they can mean even more.

Car thefts reported

December 22, 2010 Two vehicles have been stolen in the past week, according to reports filed with the Independence County Sheriff’s Office. A 1999 Chevrolet Blazer was stolen from the Moose Lodge early Sunday morning. Ashley Rogers of Mountain View said the car was stolen sometime between 2:35 and 3:18 a.m. Tonya Medlock reported going out of the lodge at 2:35 to talk on her cell phone and saw two white men standing by the Blazer with the doors open. Medlock said she did not pay much attention at the time because she did not know the vehicle belonged to Rogers.

Man who wouldn’t put up pit bull at cops’ request jailed

December 22, 2010 A Newark man who refused officers’ requests to contain his pit bull was arrested Sunday and charged with obstructing governmental operations. The incident began when Independence County sheriff’s deputies were wrapping up a pursuit and officers Michael Moody and Shawn Stephens attempted to inventory the contents of a truck involved in the pursuit.