Today is Wednesday, Jan. 16, the 16th day of 2013. There are 349 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Jan. 16, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia blasted off under extremely tight security for what turned out to be its last flight; on board was Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon. (The mission ended in tragedy on Feb. 1, when the shuttle broke up during its return descent, killing all seven crew members.)

Glancing Backward Locally:

25 years ago - 1988

Athens attorney Jonathon Foster is the choice of Sayre Borough Council's administration committee to be the next borough solicitor.

Construction bids were awarded by the Canton Area School Board recently so work can soon begin on the Handicap Accessibility project scheduled for the high school.

Celebrating her birthday today is Mrs. Octavia Andrus of Towanda, who is 92 today.

50 years ago - 1963

Robert Houseweart was elected president of the Wysox Volunteer Fire Company at its meeting recently.

Three locally owned mutual insurance companies recently merged and formed a new company to be known as the Tuscarora Mutual Insurance Company. Tuscarora Mutual was formed by the consolidation of the Susquehanna Mutual Insurance Company, the Abington Mutual Insurance Company, and the Farmers' Mutual Insurance Company of Tuscarora.

The Community Facilities Administration yesterday announced in Washington that it had approved a grant of $40,000 for Towanda Borough to renovate the new borough building and fire station on South Main Street, the former Sylvania building.

Elsewhere on this date:

In 1547, Ivan IV of Russia (popularly known as "Ivan the Terrible") was crowned Czar.

In 1883, the U.S. Civil Service Commission was established.

In 1912, a day before reaching the South Pole, British explorer Robert Scott and his expedition found evidence that Roald Amundsen of Norway and his team had gotten there ahead of them.

In 1920, Prohibition began in the United States as the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution took effect, one year to the day after its ratification. (It was later repealed by the 21st Amendment.)

In 1935, fugitive gangster Fred Barker and his mother, Kate "Ma" Barker, were killed in a shootout with the FBI at Lake Weir, Fla.

In 1942, actress Carole Lombard, 33, her mother Elizabeth and 20 other people were killed when their plane crashed near Las Vegas, Nev., while en route to California from a war-bond promotion tour.

In 1944, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower took command of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in London.

In 1969, two manned Soviet Soyuz spaceships became the first vehicles to dock in space and transfer personnel.

In 1978, NASA named 35 candidates to fly on the space shuttle, including Sally K. Ride, who became America's first woman in space, and Guion S. Bluford Jr., who became America's first black astronaut in space.

In 1987, Hu Yaobang resigned as head of China's Communist Party, declaring he'd made mistakes in dealing with student turmoil and intellectual challenges to the system. Broadway columnist Earl Wilson died in Yonkers, N.Y., at age 79.

In 1991, the White House announced the start of Operation Desert Storm to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.

In 2007, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., launched his successful bid for the White House.

Ten years ago: AOL Time Warner chief executive Dick Parsons was tapped to be the media conglomerate's new chairman, succeeding Steve Case.

Five years ago: President George W. Bush closed out his Mideast trip with a brief visit to Egypt, where he was welcomed by President Hosni Mubarak. Archbishop Earl Paulk, the 80-year-old leader of a megachurch, pleaded guilty in Atlanta to lying under oath about his sexual affairs and was sentenced to 10 years' probation.

One year ago: Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney fended off attacks from rivals during a debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; hours before the debate, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman withdrew from the race and announced his support for Romney despite their differences. Jimmy Castor, funk and soul saxophonist, singer and songwriter whose tune, "It's Just Begun," morphed into an anthem for generations of musical acts, died in Las Vegas at age 71.

Today's Birthdays: Author William Kennedy is 85. Author-editor Norman Podhoretz is 83. Opera singer Marilyn Horne is 79. Hall of Fame auto racer A.J. Foyt is 78. Singer Barbara Lynn is 71. Country singer Ronnie Milsap is 70. Country singer Jim Stafford is 69. Talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger is 66. Movie director John Carpenter is 65. Actress-dancer-choreographer Debbie Allen is 63. Singer Sade is 54. Rock musician Paul Webb (Talk Talk) is 51. Rhythm-and-blues singer Maxine Jones (En Vogue) is 47. Actor David Chokachi is 45. Actor Richard T. Jones is 41. Actress Josie Davis is 40. Model Kate Moss is 39. Rock musician Nick Valensi is 32. Actress Yvonne Zima is 24.

Thought for Today: "There are three ingredients to the good life: learning, earning, and yearning." - Christopher Morley, American journalist (1890-1957).