Why Isn't Central Park Fountain Operating?
The Central Park Fountain is still not operational as of today (May 17) and I've been asked several times by people I talk with on the street and in the hallway of our building why it is not running.
Usually it is on in April and I think this is the latest we've gone without seeing it alive and gushing water.
I contacted Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus today about the silent fountain and he responded: "I checked and the fountain was being prepared to be turned on when it was discovered that one of the controllers had gone bad. The part has been ordered and was projected to be here either today or tomorrow and once we receive (the part) it shouldn’t take long to get the fountain up and running barring any other problems.
"Just to be safe I’d say by early next week but could be sooner."
Thanks for the fountain update, Billy.
Who Controls What? Is Important Factor
In Lake Decatur Gas Dock Feedback
I’m not sure that I’ve ever received as many negative comments on a local decision in all of the years that I’ve been editor of this newspaper -- than what I received from the Decatur Park District’s decision to close the gas dock on Lake Decatur.
As the article on the front page of this week's print edition (and elsewhere on this site) explains, the Park District Board of Commissioners made the decision to close the gas dock on Lake Decatur because “operating expenses significantly exceed fuel revenue, and it is no longer possible to maintain the building and provide this service”.
The phone calls, emails and on-the-street conversations I’ve had with our readers are about all negative regarding the closing -- and some downright angry.
I’ve reprinted some of the comments from our Facebook site in this week's print edition to indicate how the majority of people who commented on the closing, feel about it. There was hardly a positive comment. (You can check them out on our Facebook Page)
As is usually the case, when a lot of people angrily comment on any subject, especially on Facebook, there is a lot of misinformation included.
A few comments indicate the writers feel that City Manager Tim Gleason’s recent raise should have been dedicated to the gas dock, instead of to him. It should be remembered that the City of Decatur, Decatur Park District, Decatur School District and Macon County Board are all separate public bodies, and all members are selected by voters.
The City of Decatur controls the lake. The Decatur Park District controls Nelson Park next to it.
Blaming the city manager for something another other elected board did, is like blaming the Supt. of Schools for a decision the city council made.
• KUDOS to Decatur Park Board Commissioners Stacey Young and Chris Harrison for responding to some of the Tribune Facebook comments with a few facts about the decision.
Christal Little asked: “How can the park district afford to renovate the entire park, but ignore existing structures? Why not lease out the fuel pumps to someone that would want to make money?”
Park Commissioner Stacey Young responded that “Lake Decatur is an asset/revenue for City and not Park District. We explored private ownership but the volume of gas sales are low and not appealing to private owners. If you used this service, I apologize for inconvenience; I would suggest expressing concerns to City.”
Greg Mason asked: “Why do we pay launch fees, dock fees, and pay for boat stickers? Terrible business decision made by those not qualified to do so. Did notice the top level managers all got raises recently. Residents are being used and abused.”
Park Commissioner Chris Harrison responded: “Launch fees, dock fees and boat stickers are not paid to the park district. Just to clarify.”
When Tom McGarry asked “Why did they let the SNACK SHACK deteriorate to this level?” Park Commissioner Stacy Young responded: “The lake is asset/revenue for City not park district. We were providing this service with no revenue and no reimbursement. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
There may have been other clarifications made by Young and Harrison by the time this is in print, but I appreciate the effort they made to clarify a few points.
Other comments by residents (and non residents) show the degree of anger some have over the closing and, to a certain degree, it is understandable.
• ALTHOUGH we no longer have a boat, during the years that we used Lake Decatur for relaxing and water skiing, I used the gas dock most of the time and really appreciated it being there.
If I still had a boat, I would miss the gas dock.
However, as a taxpayer, I am concerned the dock is an expense, instead of a plus and can understand why the decision was made.
Having stated that, I also see the facility (with improvements made) as part of a growing appeal of the area as the new projects are completed and more people will be visiting the area. Many will bring their boat to Lake Decatur as part of their complete day in and around Nelson Park.
While the gas dock may not have enough customers now, I see the presence of an updated facility as being another plus to the Lake Decatur/Nelson Park complex.
The absence of that service will likely not create a good feeling for boaters who bring their crafts to Decatur to enjoy a day on the water and entertainment on land.
It would be great if something could be worked out to make that service available -- even on a trial basis once the attractions in the park are nearing completion.
• HERE’S a look at the D-2 reports filed last month for the first quarter of the year involving candidates who serve parts of Decatur.
In the 48th Senate District, incumbent Democrat Andy Manar has an impressive campaign fund balance.
Funds available at the beginning of the reporting period were $392,519.49 with total contributions during the quarter of $166,844.58. After reported expenses, Manar had funds available at the close of the reporting period of $481,071.66.
That’s not too shabby!
Manar’s opponent in the November General Election is Republican Seth McMillan and his D-2 reported funds available at the beginning of the period of $3,030.78, with total receipts during the period of $7,885.00. Deducting expenses during the period, McMillan had funds available at the close of the reporting period of $4,398.60.
• IN THE 51ST Senate District, the other senate seat representing some of Decatur, incumbent Republican Chapin Rose of Mahomet had a fund balance of $157,098.60 as of March 31, including over $9,000 raised during the quarter.
Rose has no opponent in the Nov. 6th General Election.
Last Week's column:
Decatur City Council Rejects Forsyth Classic Golf Tourney Sponsorship
The Decatur City Council’s vote Monday night not to be a $20,000 sponsor of the LPGA Futures tournament at Hickory Point Golf Course surprised a lot of people.
Although I knew there was some opposition on council against it, because of the city’s deficit budget, I thought the votes were there to pass it.
Actually, the vote was 3-3, and with the tie-breaking vote of Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe missing (she was out-of-state in a job-related trip), the measure failed.
Council members voting for sponsorship of the tourney were Lisa Gregory, David Horn and Chuck Kuhle.
Council members voting against the funding were Bill Faber, Pat McDaniel and Dana Ray.
Last week, I printed a copy of the letter that Tournament Director Cindy Deadrick Wolfer sent to the mayor and council members a few weeks ago, that stated, since she hadn’t received the $20,000 from the City of Decatur, the tournament had been renamed as the Forsyth Classic, dropping Decatur’s name.
Forsyth is contributing $90,000 to the tournament this year -- up $20,000 from last year.
Apparently, from what she said, in explaining her vote Monday night, Dana Ray voted against the sponsorship because the tournament had already been renamed before finding out if Decatur was going to participate.
I know the letter from the tournament director didn’t seem to be helpful in getting a “yes” vote, but, as I mentioned in last week’s column, the City seemed to be dragging its feet on making a decision whether or not to approve the funding, and the tournament was running out of time.
I think the tournament funding issue could have been handled better on both sides of the issue.
The vote probably raised some concerns for other groups and events the City of Decatur funds.
Best wishes to the Forsyth Classic.
• DEMOCRATS have first position on the ballot. Macon County Clerk Steve Bean has announced that, at 4:00 Friday afternoon, in the county clerk’s office, Austin Township Clerk Craig Culp pulled out the red ping pong ball with “D” out of the hat meaning the Democratic Party will have first placement on the ballot for the November General Election.
The Republican Party was represented by Republican candidate for County Clerk Josh Tanner and the Democratic candidate for County Clerk Amy Rueff represented the Democratic Party.
Macon County Ballot Order:
• I ENJOYED speaking at the All States Club meeting at the Hickory Point Golf Course Banquet Facility Thursday.
What a great club!
I always enjoy talking about all of the positives in Decatur and why I love this community so much and believe in its future.
Thanks to Leeann Grossman and the All States Club for the invitation -- and listening to me.
• I KNOW the November General Election is several months in the future but I took a peek at the candidates’ D-2 Quarterly Reports that were filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections and found some interesting reading.
In the 101st House District, which includes some of Decatur and Macon County, and which is being vacated by Republican Bill Mitchell of Forsyth, the Committee To Elect Dan Caulkins (the winning candidate in his party’s primary) reported that out of the $40,350.00 in receipts during the first quarter of this year, $35,000 of that was loaned to the campaign by Dan Caulkins. $56,632.34 was spent on the campaign during the quarter, leaving an ending balance of funds available on March 31 of $5,550.11. Beginning balance of the quarter was $21,832.45.
The figures do not include the enormous amount of outside money spent by SuperPAC Liberty Principles, which amounted to a couple hundred thousand dollars.
Caulkins won the Republican Primary over Randy Keith, who raised over $72,000 and Todd Hendricks, who raised nearly $30,000.
Caulkins faces Democrat Jen McMillin in the November 6th General Election.
Friends of Jen McMillin’s D-2 reported funds available at the beginning of the reporting period of $763.58 with total receipts of $3,223.58. Since she was unopposed in the primary, she had total expenditures of only $680.73 during the first quarter and closed the reporting period with $2,542.85 in funds available.
Citizens for Bill Mitchell showed on its D-2 funds available at the beginning of the reporting period of $62,326.17, total receipts during the period of $2,902.48 with total expenditures of $4,378.48, meaning funds available for his campaign of $60,850.17.
Mitchell has far more than both the Democrat and Republican candidates -- and he is not running for re-election.
I haven’t talked to Bill about it, but what happens to the $60,850.17 when he leaves office? Does he turn it over to the Republican Party, give it to charity or keep it?
• INCUMBENT Democrat Sue Scherer of Decatur in the 96th District, which is the other district (besides the 101st) that includes Decatur, dominates her race.
Friends of Sue Scherer’s D-2 Quarterly Report showed funds available at the beginning of the last quarter as $106,073.51 and funds available at the end of the quarter as $123,072.70.
Her Republican opponent, Herman Senor of Springfield, showed funds available at the beginning of the period of $100 and funds available at the close of the reporting period of $7,825.00.
• REMEMBER, my City Hall Insider hour on WSOY’s Byers & Co. is on Wednesday mornings at 7:00, instead of Thursday. for the month of May only,
There’s a lot going on in May!
GOD BLESS AMERICA
Central Park Fountain in Downtown Decatur
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LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT MEMBERS STOP VEHICLE, FIND OVER QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS IN COCAINE
Driver Flees But Is
On Wednesday afternoon members of the Decatur Police Department / Macon County Sheriff’s Office Interdiction Team, which are assigned to the Decatur Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit, stopped a vehicle in the vicinity of the 152-westbound mile marker off of I72. During the traffic stop, contact was made with the driver (in his 30’s) and sole occupant of the vehicle. Another Interdiction Detective responded with their K-9 partner and conducted a free air sniff around this vehicle, upon which the K-9 alerted to the presence of illegal drug odors emanating from the vehicle.
During a subsequent search of the vehicle, Detectives located a concealed compartment which contained 2 packages, the total of which was later discovered to be approximately 2,596 grams of field tested positive cocaine. While attempting to arrest the driver following the discovery of the packages in the concealed compartment, he ran from Interdiction Detectives and fled into a wooded area.
Following the response from other Decatur Police Officers / Detectives, Macon County Sheriff’s Office Deputies / Detectives, Illinois State Police Troopers, Illinois Conservation Officers and an agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the subject was apprehended near the area of Parr / Klamath Roads southeast of Argenta, IL. He was taken into custody at approximately 1740 hours on 5/16/2018.
The arrested received some minor injuries due to fleeing from Detectives through densely wooded areas. He was transported to a local hospital where he was treated for these minor injuries, as well as symptoms of apparent heat exposure. The individual faces arrest for Manufacture / Delivery of Cocaine Over 900 grams. The street sell value of this cocaine is approximately $259,600.00.
The Decatur Police Department and Macon County Sheriffs Office thanks the additional above listed agencies and area residents for their assistance in ensuring the apprehension of the driver.
Mac on Sports
Saunches Retires as Bombers Baseball Coach
With more than 30 decades in the third base coaches box at Argenta-Oreana diamond and around other fields in central Illinois, Tom Saunches is retiring from the game.
Saunches has told Argenta-Oreana officials that he will retire at the end of this season as the Bombers boys baseball coach.
I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune, including an in-depth interview with him following completion of the Argenta-Oreana baseball season.
He is also the Decatur LSA boys basketball head coach which he will remain doing.
Mac on Sports
Bond Picks Monmouth
Isaiah Bond, the all-time second leading scorer in St. Teresa's storied basketball history with 1,466 points, announced this afternoon (Sunday) that he will continue his academic and basketball careers at Monmouth.
Bond will sign Monday morning in ceremonies outside the school cafeteria/all-purpose room at the south end of the school.
Head Coach Tom Noonan advised me that Bond and his grandparents were blown away by their visit to the Monmouth campus.
Indiana State and Bradley wanted him to walk-on there according to Noonan.
Of 185 Decatur and Macon County 1,000 point scorers, Bond's 1466 ranks 41st.
We are awaiting word soon on where his teammate, Manny Green, will announce his college intentions.
I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
Mac On Sports
Riebock Returns Home to Coach Lady Dawgs
She's coached college basketball at different levels, she came highly recommended by the recently-retired Millikin women's basketball head coach, Lori Kerans, and she was among those who led former coach Bill Ipsen's St. Teresa women's team to a state championship in 2003-04.
And the next year she played point guard on Kerans' 2004-05 Millikin national championship team.
Riebock-Dorsey is excited about returning home to coach the lady Bulldogs during this transition time that involves some healing of open wounds on how former coach Ashley VanEtten resigned.
"She's a great choice and I was afraid she wouldn't accept," exclaimed Daly in his chat with the Decatur Tribune late this morning (Thursday, May 3rd).
She was one of three Daly and his search committee interviewed.
Her brother, Bill, also played athletics and graduated from St. Teresa and her father, Jim, was instrumental in building the Jonathan Madding softball field south of the school. Father Riebock also coached the lady Dawgs softball team for years before retiring from the coaches box and dugouts.
I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
Macon County Environmental Management Announces Dates For Unwanted Household Paint Collection
Unwanted household paint may be dropped off during collection events operated by Macon County Environmental Management. Residents who register for an event may drop off up to twenty containers of paint at no charge during their appointment time.
Latex-paint, oil-based paint and most stains and varnishes in originally labeled containers will be accepted. Due to regulatory directives, specialty paints and paints other than those generated from a household cannot be accepted. Residents are reminded to dispose of dry paint and empty cans in the trash rather than bringing these items to the collection.
Six collection events are scheduled for the 2018 spring season. The collections are by appointment at Macon County Environmental Man-agement’s Recycling Center at 1750 N. 21st Street, Decatur, Illinois
Tuesday, April 10
Tuesday, April 24
Tuesday, May 8
Tuesday, May 29
Saturday, June 9
Tuesday, June 26
Residents may register for an appointment by clicking on the “Register for Collection Events” button on Macon County Environmental Management’s website at www.MaconGreen.com or by calling the department at 217-425-4505.