News-Democrat readers had plenty to say -- via telephone, email and Facebook -- about the retirement last week of U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville:
* Natalie Jablonski: I remember the first time my son received a letter of congratulations from Rep. Costello for making the honor roll. I'm sure thousands of these were sent to children over his service in office, but to that one young boy embarking on his academic journey it had a huge impact. Thank you for inspiring our youth!
* Jacqueline Brazier: He cares about his constituents ... He called the state's attorneys office about my brother's murder. I won't forget it.
* Jane Leigh: I was volunteering at a fundraising event for the senior's day program in Centralia. They were in need for funds to get a new van for the meals on wheels program. Rep. Costello came in with a very large group of people for dinner and each paid well over the suggested price for their meal to help the program achieve its goals. Later on that night, after we had closed up, the "gang" went for a drink to celebrate the success of the evening. In came Costello's group and he bought everyone in the bar a round of drinks. I realize now that it was probably an election year, but I still believe this was more than what was needed by him. He could have just came in and shook hands with everyone, but he not only stayed to eat for a cause earlier in the night, but stood around for couple hours with the people, visiting, laughing, and just living with the people later on in the night.
* Abby Murphy: My mom is ill and had been fighting to get Social Security Disability Insurance. After contacting his office, it was a matter of weeks before it was approved. I believe that he saved my mom's life by helping her.
* Ronda Tanksley-Whittington: Though it may seem like such a small gesture, it meant a lot to me when Rep. Costello sent his handwritten condolences on the death of my father eight years ago. My father did not know him personally, nor did I, yet he still took the time. That says a lot in my book.
* Christy McKinnon Bashaw: He came into the restaurant I was working in and heard me talking about the problems I was having with my child support at the time and he took my info and set up an appointment. Within a couple weeks it was all taken care of. He even came back to the restaurant a few weeks later and checked on me. He is a good man, hate to see him go. But thankful for all he has done.
* Jennifer Arnold: We were two days away from departing on a vacation with our extended family and my son's passport had not come in. Our other passports had arrived more than a week prior, but, because his father and I are divorced, my son's took longer to process. In a panic, I called Rep. Costello's office for help. The next day, I received a call from the congressman's office telling me that the passport had been located and could be picked up in the Chicago social security office. It wasn't nearby (I lived in Belleville), but it was done and our trip was saved. I arranged for a family member who lived in Chicago, and was also going on the trip, to pick it up. What a relief! I have always been very grateful to Congressman Costello's office for the help.
* Kia Gunter: Got the run-around in his office regarding re-entry into the armed forces as a veteran. His office gave me a complete run-around, then spelled my name incorrectly on official correspondence...
* Steven Paul: One of the nicest guys I've met in my life. He also helped push through some military paperwork for me ... Nice guy. Thank you, Mr. Costello, for your years of service.
* Sandy Boyd Dell Phelps: Thanking him for all the work he helped to get for the area through Local 520. We live a good life, thanks to that local and all they have done supporting the work for local union workers. Thank you Jerry for all you have accomplished for the working class of people! Joe and Sandy Phelps. (full-time RV'ers)
* Gertha Randle: My brother, an Air Force veteran, was very ill, it was in 1993. He had gone on dialysis and then he had both hips replaced ...The VA wanted to put him in a home that was far away from my home in East St. Louis. I wrote a letter to Costello asking if they could put my brother in a place that was closer....Congressman Costello said we could put him in a place that was closer -- the hospital at Jefferson Barracks ... I think Congressman Costello is a very caring person.