Decatur Tribune Online

PAUL OSBORNE, EDITOR 

NEWS TO KNOW


Paul Osborne's

City

BEAT


Central Park Fountain in Downtown Decatur


Decatur Tribune Offices Are Located At:
132 South Water Street 
Suite 424
P. O. Box 1490
Decatur, Illinois 62523


Hours: 
Mon.-Thurs. 9:00-4:30
Phone: 217/422-9702
Fax: 217/422-7320


Submit your news 
to the editor at:
decaturtribune@aol.com 
or to: Decatur Tribune, 
P. O. Box 1490, 
Decatur, IL 62525-1490.

Fletcher Park Kids Club ‘Valentines For Doodle’ Feb. 13

    Mt. Zion Fletcher Park Kids Club will present "Valentines for Doodles" on Saturday, Feb. 13. Doodles the Dragon, Granny Giggles, Princess Mallory and the Gary Strong Marionettes will cohost the event at 2:00 p.m. in Fletcher Park Recreation Center.
    The program will feature two classic cartoons, valentine games and prizes.
    Coloring contest entries will be displayed at the event and winners will be announced in March.
    Children attending are asked to bring signed valentines for residents in the nursing home and assisted living in Mt. Zion.
    The January grand prize winner was Lexie Damery, 8, from Decatur.
    Adult admission is $4 and children admission, $1. All proceeds will benefit the Fletcher Park Splash Pad project.
    For addition information, call 864-5424.
​​

Tickets on Sale for Dueling Pianos at Mt. Zion Convention Center

    Mt. Zion Parks and Recreation Commission will have a valentine dinner fundraiser for the splash pad at Fletcher Park on Saturday, Feb. 13 at the Mt. Zion Convention Center. The event will feature the Midwest Dueling Pianos. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7:00 p.m., and music at 8:00 p.m.
    Tickets cost $40 for single and $75 per couple and may be purchased at Village Hall, online at www.mtzconventioncenter.com, Kenny's Ace Hardware and Sav-Mor Pharmacy in Mt. Zion. Ticket sale will end Feb. 10.
    For additional information, call (217) 864-5424.

GOD BLESS AMERICA



Ken Norman: Another Decatur High School Basketball Legend Passes Away

















Ken Norman, who led Decatur High School to its fourth place finish in the 1951 state tournament and who was the tournament's leading scorer, is the latest DHS basketball player to pass away, dying Jan. 5 in Effingham. After graduating from DHS, he went on to play for the University of Colorado on a basketball scholarship, playing only one year before entering the military. (Photo courtesy of Colorado sports information department.)

Check out Sports Editor J. Thomas McNamara's story in this week's (Feb. 3) print edition of the Decatur Tribune.​









Macon County Clerk: Law Allows 17-Year-Olds To Vote In March Primary Election

Macon County Clerk Steve Bean sent out an advisory today informing 17-year-olds they could vote in the March Primary Election.

Here's what Bean wrote:

Are you going to be 18 years old on or before November 8, 2016? Under Illinois law on the even years you can sign up to vote and cast a ballot in the March 15th General Primary Election.

How can you sign up to vote?
Go on line to the Illinois State Board of Elections site and register to vote on line.
Visit the Macon County Clerk’s Office, 141 S. Main Street, Room 104 to sign up.
Bean's office will be open both state holidays, Lincoln’s Birthday (2/12) and President’s Day (2/15) for individuals to register to vote and/or cast their Early Voting ballots.

For more information call 424-1333 or visit the county website (co.macon.il.us) look for information under the Elections/Voting Section at the top of the page or scrolling bar.



Shocker!
Decatur Police Chief's Employment With City Of Decatur Is Terminated   

Decatur City Manager Tim Gleason issued the following statement today (Feb. 4)

 Effective February 4th, 2016, the employment of Brad Sweeney as an employee of the City of Decatur is terminated.This is a personnel matter and there will be no additional comment.

    Deputy Police Chief James Getz has been appointed interim Police Chief for the City of Decatur.






















Stephen Decatur High School's Runnin' Reds Team Of 1966
To Be Honored On 50th Anniversary Of Finishing Fourth In Illinois State Basketball Tournament
  







 The era of the 1960s was the greatest in Decatur high schools' sports history with the Runnin' Reds of Stephen Decatur winning a state basketball championship in 1962, finishing fourth in 1966 and making several appearances in the "Sweet Sixteen"
    It's been 50 years since that 1966 finish and Decatur Tribune Sports Writer J. Thomas McNamara takes a look at how the team is going to be honored to mark the anniversary. Check it out in this week's print edition of the Tribune. 








​​





 

Look Out!  City Council Ready To Impose Another Tax -- This Time On Motorists


   Following a study session Monday evening, the city council appears ready to vote for a motor fuel tax to raise revenue to repair our streets. (Details elsewhere on this site.) Even though the reason for the tax is understandable (many streets are in terrible shape), residents of Decatur are weary and angered by all of the fee and tax increases in recent years.  A sunset on this new tax won’t mean much -- and it probably won’t make the public feel any better about it.   
    This will be a permanent tax  (with or without the sunset) because there will always be a need for street repairs.  This tax will address the need, but only a portion of it.  I think the greater concern should be how much more the motor fuel tax will increase in the future because more money will be needed to deal with the bad streets problem than this tax will provide.
    
  
 • REMINDERS -- Retired Pastor Robert Walters, a Decatur native who now lives in Clarkston, Michigan, responded to a recent City Beat column and made some interesting observations.
    Following is part of what he wrote and sent to me:
    “Your City Beat of January 6, 2016, rang a bell for me.  You were so right about Decatur's need of physical reminders of its Lincoln heritage.          “Several years back, our adult son, Bob, and I took a personal history trip to central Illinois.  (He's a vice president for Quicken Loans here in Detroit and his company has done much to resurrect downtown Detroit.)  
    “Of course we spent time in Springfield and New Salem.  But when we came to Decatur, there was so much history and so few physical reminders of that history.  
    “There needs to be a replica of the family cabin in the Lincoln Log Cabin State Park.  And downtown Decatur needs a building where folks can celebrate what happened here:  the family lived here, he gave his first political speech here, he practiced law here.          

     “Thank you for your efforts to make that happen on Lincoln Square.  I hope leadership will rise up to try again to give Decatur a physical Lincoln presence fitting of his impact on our country and the world.”
    Thanks to Robert for sharing his perspective about Decatur and our link to Abraham Lincoln.
    While our city certainly has some statues of Abraham Lincoln, some plaques and storyboards, we need a more aggressive outreach using the technology of our age.
    We need interactive sites that visitors, especially younger generations, expect to see in this era. (A plaque on a rock is no longer enough.)
    There’s a lot that can be done to enhance our Lincoln connections and make them compelling enough that people who travel to Springfield to “see” Lincoln will also stop in Decatur to “see” Lincoln here, too.
    While they are here, they will produce a revenue stream that the city certainly can use.

    • CASINO FIGHT -- How intense is the religious opposition to the city council moving ahead with any kind of action to locate a casino here?
    As I mentioned in last week’s column some pastors have come out stronger on the issue than I’ve seen them do on any issue in a long time.
    Some church bulletins carry articles on why members should be opposed to the casino and pastors are also speaking out on the subject.
    What kind of an impact is all of this having?
    It’s hard to gauge, but after they attended Sunday morning church services, a couple of readers who had submitted “letters to the editor”, in favor of the casino, contacted me and requested that I not use the letters.
    They indicated they might submit another letter in the future...

  
 • DRY RUN -- If you are wondering why you have been seeing City of Decatur snow plows in your neighborhood, when there isn’t any snow, well, beginning Feb. 2, the plows have been on a “dry run”.  
    The purpose is, according to the city, “to verify the accuracy of recently installed radio reporting sensors on the plows and spreader systems.  The best way to verify the accuracy of these systems is to put the trucks in actual snow response situations.”
    We shouldn’t view this explanation as a “snow job”.  (Sorry, I couldn’t resist using that sentence.)

    
• ENTRIES -- Jim Wrigley has let me know that he is looking for participants for the annual Saint Patrick's Day Parade to be held at 11:00 AM in downtown Decatur on Saturday, March 12th. 
    To join the parade, contact Jim at James_Wrigley@Yahoo.com or call 217-685-0696. All community organizations and businesses are invited to join. There is no fee to be in the parade. 

  
 • MUSEUM CLOSED -- Nathan Pierce, executive director of the Macon County History Museum has notified us that it will remain closed until Tuesday, February 23, to continue working on construction projects as well as the archives.
    
  
   
Listen to the “City Hall Insider” hour with Paul Osborne on Byers & Co. at 7:00 every Thursday morning over NEWS/TALK 1340 WSOY, visit our website at decatur tribune.net and also find us at our Decatur Tribune Facebook page.


Churches Take Firm Stand Against Any City Council Move Towards Casino 

    The possibility that a casino will be coming to Decatur is attracting a lot of attention from many members of the religious community and they have asked members of the city council not to approve such an operation.
    In a letter to the editor to this newspaper last week, several Methodist Church pastors stated: “We ask the members of the City Council to vote ‘NO’ to any proposal that would indicate willingness on the part of the city of Decatur to receive such a casino.”
    The pastors spelled out their reasons for the opposition and made some valid points.
    The strongest part of the letter stated: “We have seen the destructive results of gambling in those whom we counsel, both in and outside of our churches. Those who stand to gain financially from this proposal have ignored the societal cost and harm.
    “The gambling industry has tried to take the ‘bl’ out of the word ‘gambling,’ changing it to the word ‘gaming’ as though gambling is just an innocuous game to be played. But gambling is destructive to the quality of life in a community and negatively impacts individuals and families.         

    “Please have the courage to do what is right and defeat the mirage of a casino as part of the solution to the economic doldrums of our community. To say ‘yes’ would be short-sighted, fool-hardy, and harmful in the long run.”
    That’s pretty strong language which indicates the pastors will fight this issue for they believe gambling is not good for our community.
    Actually, it is kind of refreshing to see some pastors speak out publicly on what they believe would be bad for the community.
    Such voices have not been publicly heard much in recent years.
    I have been informed that more churches will be joining in to fight a casino coming to Decatur because they believe that it is morally wrong for the community -- because it creates some serious problems for families.

    • THE proposed casino, as it stands now, would be located at the Decatur Conference Center & Hotel.
    According to Illinois gaming sites it is estimated that the city could earn $3 million in taxes and that 200 jobs would be created. 
    If the proposed casino is approved, the next step would be to seek approval from state legislators to receive a gaming license.
    Presently, there are 10 casinos in Illinois. 
    
    • IRONY -- The ironic aspect of this battle is that some of those who will also come out against the proposed  casino are those who already own gaming establishments in Decatur.
    The owners of those businesses are concerned about the loss of revenue for them if many of their customers head to a new casino. 
    Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe has been very firm in stating the city council should not be anxious to propose that Decatur be chosen as a casino site until the issue is studied so council will know what the city is getting into with such an action.
    Of course, the City of Decatur is starving for more revenue to avoid more taxes on its citizens, but there are a lot of side issues that need to be discussed before Decatur asks to be chosen.
    I think those who were on city council when the gaming licenses were issued to local businesses never dreamed how quickly those locations would spread across the community.
    It now seems like gaming places are on every other corner.
    I mention this because that’s what some of the council members told me who were there when the decision was made to allow gaming.
    I think, for that reason, they want to be extremely careful on how they proceed with the casino issue.

    • THE CASINO project is shaping up to be extremely controversial with a lot of passion flowing on both sides of the issue.
    If the public outcry against it is substantial, that certainly could influence the council in backing away from the idea.
    If the council moves ahead with the proposed casino project and votes to be a casino site, a high level of opposition could also spook the state and elected representatives into killing any chances of Decatur getting the casino.

    • THERE WILL be strong arguments on both sides of this issue and the city council will have a tough vote  -- that’s why it is important for the members to be very informed about everything revolving around the proposed casino project. 
    When they have all of the facts and input, the community has a right to expect them to make the decision that is best for Decatur.
    That’s the critical part of their job.