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For all the publicity Shamokin has received lately for "bad news," especially the fatal fire and the cuts to the police force, the city's connection to positive news, and news that shines a national or even international light locally, never ceases to amaze.

We point out in particular the retirement of four-star general and Shamokin native C. Robert Kehler, and the story of the 1942 Shamokin graduate who was the recipient of letters from none other than Gen. George S. Patton - while he was carrying out his duties during World War II, nonetheless.

Kehler's retirement, which we featured in Sunday's edition, came after 38 years in the military. His final assignment was to lead U.S. Strategic Command, in which he oversaw America's nuclear arsenal and cyberspace operations. And this 1970 graduate of Shamokin Area reported directly to the secretary of defense and the president.

Impressive, to say the least.

Even more impressive was Kehler's nod to his Shamokin upbringing in our story: "I don't count my beginning time that shaped me for this job as starting at Penn State. It started in Shamokin Area School District and it was contributed to by friends and neighbors and people who live in Shamokin," he said.

Kehler's career and comments are the kind of news we're proud to share about Shamokin - at the top of the page, too, not "buried" inside - and we encourage readers to share such inspiration with their children and grandchildren.

As for the Patton letters, a story we published Thursday, who could imagine this general, famous for his toughness, would express such compassion in his letters to a "local" girl (although Mary Jane Krieger did live in Harrisburg at the time)? Collectors saw great value in the general's words, offering up $54,810 at auction, including $11,833 for one letter.

Two generals, two completely different stories, but both with a Shamokin connection. It proves once again - no one can predict the news.

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The News-Item's Top 10 stories for 2013 have been voted on by our staff. We'll publish Nos. 6-10 on Tuesday and Nos. 1-5 on Wednesday, New Year's Day, which has been the recent tradition.

As is the case each year, we were reminded of some of the bizarre and, of course, sad stories we covered in 2013, and predict you'll be saying, as we did, "Oh, I forgot about that one."

It seems it can't be avoided, and this year is no different, in that it's hard to find any positives stories in the top 10 list. With that in mind, I'll present a separate list of "good news from 2013" in this space next week.

(Andy Heintzelman, editor of The News-Item, writes "The Week In News" for each Saturday edition.)

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