UPDATE: The remaining funds promised Crossing Healthcare were released Thursday and should be received in Decatur very soon.
Crossing Healthcare Still Waiting For Promised Funds
Gov. Bruce Rauner was at Decatur’s Crossing Healthcare on Feb. 2 when it was announced that Macon County Sheriff Howard Buffett’s foundation was donating $3 million to match the promised state funding for the facility.
Gov. Rauner also used the occasion to announce that he was releasing the $3 million state grant that had been frozen for nearly 3 years.
No surprise that Crossing Healthcare has already received the Buffett Foundation money, but the governor’s promised $3 million has not arrived -- at least as I am writing this column.
State Senator Andy Manar called out the governor to release the state money that he promised at the Feb. 2 news conference.
Manar said that, more than two months after the governor’s announcement, the Rauner administration has only approved $750,000.
“That’s unacceptable,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat whose district includes Crossing Healthcare and much of Decatur.
Manar added: “Let’s revisit the governor’s track record with money for this clinic. He froze its funding immediately upon taking office in 2015. He blocked negotiations on the Senate’s ‘grand bargain’ budget last year and repeatedly vetoed budgets that would have provided the money the center was owed and desperately needed,” Manar said.
“I have contacted the comptroller, and her office is prepared to release the full $3 million but can’t do that until Rauner submits the paperwork to do so. I would hate to think the governor could be so cruel as to dangle money in front of a clinic just so he could get in front of a TV camera.”
Manar said that Rauner previously froze a promised $3 million construction grant to the clinic for its Community Health Improvement Center.
Crossing Healthcare is a federally qualified clinic that served more than 19,000 patients in Decatur in 2016. Among its many services is treatment for opioid addiction and with the problems we are seeing today, with that addiction, the money is urgently needed.
“Gov. Rauner is going around claiming his administration is doing everything in its power to address the opioid problem. It’s baloney,” Manar said. “And, clearly, he’s not keeping his promises to Decatur.”
I know that Manar is a Democrat and Gov. Rauner is a Republican, and this is an election year, but Manar should be upset about the $3 million “delayed” in the “process” and “paperwork” between the governor’s office, the comptroller’s office and a few other “not my fault” offices in Springfield.
I’ve been around long enough to know how much political promises mean and, usually, they are not worth the space to print them.
Why in the world has $750,000 been approved and not the full amount? A promise to release $3 million should result in $3 million, not one-fourth of that amount.
Is state government now operating on the “installment plan”?
There’s been several local people who have gone the extra mile for Crossing Healthcare and they deserve better treatment than they are getting.
Maybe, from now on, when a politician comes to Decatur and pledges money for a project, he should bring a check with him, or considering the financial condition of the State of Illinois, maybe he should bring a Brinks truck with the cash inside.
I hope the governor will make sure the $3 million he promised in February arrives soon.
Howard Buffett and the Buffett Foundation promised $3 million and kept the promise.
Gov. Rauner promised $3 million and its being held up in “the process”.
That should tell us all we need to know about political promises and efficiency in government.
• BY THE WAY, how does it work that Illinois politicians continue to promise money and the State of Illinois is so deep in depth it’s about impossible to climb out?
Here’s a suggestion. Stop spending more money!!!!
I know that’s not a novel approach, but private citizens are smart enough to know that you can’t spend your way out of debt.
Why do we elect people who think they can?
• GOOD NEWS -- Pleased to hear that Huston Patterson in Decatur will be getting a new Koenig & Bauer Rapida 164 64-inch eight-color press with coating to be installed later this year at its 111,000 sq. ft. Decatur facility. (Story on page 22)
The investment signifies a continued commitment to Decatur. Three generations have maintained the business locally for over 115 years. That’s quite an accomplishment.
Tonya Kowa-Morelli is the third generation president of the firm.
Huston Patterson employs 70 people in various positions already but expects that there will be multiple jobs created because of this purchase.
The expected increase in revenue will have an impact on the local economy as well.
• CITY HALL Insider, my weekly hour on WSOY’s Byers & Co, will move from Thursdays to Wednesdays at 7:00 a.m. for May only.
City Hall Insider will not be on this Thursday, April 19th and next Thursday, April 26th.
It doesn’t seem possible that I’ve been chatting with Brian Byers on the issues that impact our community every week for the past 15 years -- since I was elected to my first term as mayor.
• SNOW on April 16th? That’s right, Decatur and Central Illinois had some snow flurries and temperatures with a wind chill factor of 18 degrees on Monday.
The first day of SPRING was almost a month ago!!
I wonder if the returning snowbirds think they came back to Decatur a month too soon?
Rep. Sue Scherer Shares Insights On Priority Legislation
I sat down with State Rep. Sue Scherer for some one-on-one discussion about what’s happening in her 96th District (which includes a lot of Decatur) and in the state capitol.
It’s apparent that she is involved in her busiest time in the five-plus years since she was elected to her first term and one of the reasons is legislator turnover.
“We have so many experienced legislators who are not running for re-election this time,” she told me. “That is putting a heavier load on those of us with fewer years of experience who have the responsibility of introducing and pushing through needed legislation.”
While she can’t introduce every piece of legislation requested, she has some top priority items that she is co-sponsoring such as H.B. 4710 that amends various acts relating to any university or community college district entering into an agreement with a credit card company to market credit cards to students.
Scherer said the amendment is necessary because so many students are ringing up huge credit card debt through the marketing efforts of the companies.
H.B. 4707 deals with the prescription drug abuse epidemic through amending the Illinois Controlled Substances Act in changing the classification of Hydrocodone from a Schedule II controlled substance to a Schedule I controlled substance.
H.B. 4706, which is sponsored by Scherer, deals with the growing shortage of substitute teachers in Illinois.
The bill, as stated: “Amends the School Code. Provides that a school board may require of new substitute teachers evidence of physical fitness to perform duties assigned and shall require of new substitute teachers evidence of freedom from communicable disease, and provides that evidence may consist of a physical examination by a health care provider (instead of treating substitute teachers like other new employees who are required to provide evidence of physical fitness to perform duties assigned and freedom from communicable disease through a physical examination by a health care provider).”
Scherer, a former teacher, said one reason for a dwindling number of substitute teachers is the hundreds of dollars they have to pay out of their own pocket for physical fitness tests to substitute for, sometimes, only a week or two. Many decide it is not worth it to substitute teach.
The house bills mentioned are three high priority pieces of legislation that Scherer is committed to seeing passed, but there are many other concerns and legislation that she continues to work on.
Scherer also told me that she is committed to helping make the East Beltway Project, around the south and east sides of Decatur, a reality because of the impact it will have on the local economy and the city’s future.
She talked about successful projects she has been involved in since she arrived in the state capitol, such as funding for Crossing Healthcare, the South Shores Bridge renovation and funding for other projects with some of that success coming in a bipartisan manner.
Scherer told me that many times, as she speaks to various groups in the district, she is told “You don’t talk like a politician. You’re more like a teacher.”
“Well, that’s what I did for over 30 years...was teach in a classroom,” she said.
• OPPONENT -- Sue Scherer faces Republican Herman Senor in the November General Election in her bid for another term.
Senor is a Springfield Alderman and indicated when he declared his candidacy that Scherer was a pawn in the hand of House Speaker Mike Madigan. He also said that she voted for the state income tax in-crease.
I am not sure most of you even knew her opponent’s name until I just printed it.
These comments about Senor are not meant to be disrespectful, but his campaign seems almost non-existent. There is no apparent campaign strategy that I see being displayed to get better known.
When a candidate is challenging an incumbent, getting known throughout the district is critical -- and that hasn’t happened with Senor, despite several solid pieces of advice from those who have waged campaigns of their own, and raising a couple of issues that might get him some consideration.
That’s just my observation on this race.
• THE FRIENDS of Sue Scherer reported on its D-2 Quarterly Report, Illinois funds available at the close of the last reporting period of $106,073.51.
Since filing that report, several $1,000+ contributions have rolled in totaling $22,000.
Friends of Senor, on their D-2 Quarterly Report, for the last quarter of 2017, reported less than $6.000 in funds on hand with no $1,000+ contributions reported to the Illinois State Board of Elections since the first of the year.
We will soon know the exact income and expenses of all of the campaigns because the D-2 Quarterly Report for the first quarter of this year, is due on Monday, April 16.
• SHOCKING! Our Decatur Tribune print edition front page article about the Taxpayer Education Foundation’s annual report, along with a list of the top 200 pensions of the State University Retirement System (SURS) has some shocking facts included!
I certainly don’t begrudge anyone a pension, but the dollar figures of these extremely high pensions are shocking -- and the amount taxpayers are kicking in to provide the pensions at our state universities, is unbelievable.
I don’t need to point out that, unless there is pension reform, whether you are a city, or state, there will either be higher taxes ahead or a total collapse of the pension system!
• THANKS so much to Macon County Sheriff Howard G. Buffett for the autographed copy of his new book: “Our 50-State Border Crisis”.
I also appreciate his personal inscription with his autograph.
Howard has done so much, in a relatively short period of time, for our city and county and I appreciate his impact for good that is so far-reaching.
Decatur Tribune Offices Are Located At:
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P. O. Box 1490
Decatur, Illinois 62523
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GOD BLESS AMERICA
Central Park Fountain in Downtown Decatur
Mac on Sports
Flaherty Resigns Eisenhower Girls Post
Sean Flaherty has a daughter, who is a freshman at Heyworth, and a son, who is in the fifth grade and who also plays sports.
With that as background, Flaherty has resigned his position after eight seasons as Eisenhower's girls basketball head coach.
"This will give me an opportunity to see them play more often," wrote Flaherty in his note to this writer that will be received by the Decatur school board at its meeting tonight (Tuesday, April 24).
While he is resigning to spend more time with his family, Flaherty also indicated that he is not ruling out a return to coaching girls basketball next season if the right opportunity presented itself. "I would not rule out coaching in the area."
Flaherty was reminded that the St. Teresa girls position is now available after Ashley VanEtten resigned Monday, April 16, where she is not leaving the cupboard bare for her successor and where the Bulldogs will be going after a three-peat regional championship next February.
Obviously, I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
Mac on Sports
Ridgeway New Clinton Coach
Chris Ridgeway is expected to be the new Clinton Maroons football head coach.
In a news release the Clinton district said Ridgeway will succeed Nick Blackburn, who coached there one year.
Ridgeway assisted Blackburn last year and has ties to Macon County football as he once assisted Michael Lee (2009 to 2011) at Sangamon Valley and after that to Andy Kerley at Cerro Gordo/Bement until last year when he assisted Blackburn.
Ridgeway still needs school board approval, according to the district's release.
"Chris believes that it's important to teach the athletes to become good young men, (and) build a rapport with the community and the youth football program," the release stated, adding, "His number one rule is to be respectful to family, community and staff."
I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
Mac on Sports
Bement School Board To Vote On Renewing six expiring cooperative sports agreements with Cerro Gordo
The Bement school board meets Wednesday night (April 25) in special session to take official action on the "renewal of the six expiring cooperative sports agreements with Cerro Gordo.
That's the word today (Monday) from Bement Middle/High School Principal and Athletic Director Doug Kepley.
The six expiring cooperative sports agreements are football, girls basketball, baseball, softball and boys and girls track.
Cerro Gordo Principal Jeremy Rodebaugh informed the Cerro Gordo school board approved the six coop agreements up for renewal at last Wednesday's (April 18) meeting. He said the agreements included some changes that were developed collaboratively by a joint committee made up of an equal number of school board members and administrators from Cerro Gordo and Bement.
"At this point we are waiting on Bement to approve the agreements," wrote Rodebaugh in response to our inquiry about the coop agreements between the two school districts.
I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
Local Residents Being Targeted With Telephone Scam
Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott has announced that local residents are being targeted with a telephone scam where the callers claim to be from a government agency, state that the intended victims have serious charges pending against them or that warrants have been issued for them, and threaten arrest by the local “cops.” The goal is to get the victims to send money in order to avoid arrest.
Numerous reports of this scam have been made to the Elder Fraud Hotline in the past few days. Residents are advised to hang up if this call is received, and to ignore answering machine messages demanding a return call.
“This is similar to other scams we’ve seen, like calls claiming to be from the IRS,” Scott said, “The callers hope to convince people that they’re in trouble and they have to act quickly.”
Report any suspected scams to the Elder Fraud Hotline at 217-615-7582. All calls are answered by State’s Attorney Jay Scott. For more information on scams, visit the State’s Attorney’s website at
St. Teresa High School MEGA Raffle Tickets Now On Sale
St. Teresa’s 23rd Annual MEGA Raffle tickets are now on sale. A total of $125,000 in prizes will be paid out with one lucky winner taking the grand prize of $100,000.
Individual tickets cost $100, or buyers can take advantage of the following ticket bundles: $200 - buy 2, get 1 free; $300 - buy 3, get 2 free; $500 - buy 5, get 5 free.
Tickets will be on sale through June 8 with the final drawing taking place that evening at 7:00 p.m. at Curly’s Sports Bar.
Opportunities for free tickets will be up for grabs during live broadcasts by WSOY Byers & Co. on April 6, May 4, and June 8. Two chances to win an instant $500 will also take place, one during the May 4 Early Bird drawing and the other one the June 8 last chance drawing - both to be announced on Byers & Co.
Tickets can be purchased at St. Teresa High School Advancement Office, online at www.sttmega.com, by calling (217) 875-7950, or at one of the local businesses throughout town. Look for the orange MEGA Raffle signs.
By Farm Bureau Ag, May 1-May 3
The Macon County Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom Committee will host Agucation on Tuesday, May 1 through Thursday, May 3 at Richland Community College. Agucation will be held 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. daily in the Shilling Center on the west side of the main campus.
Agucation is an annual event created to give students in the area a more vivid perception of the power of modern agriculture. Around 700 Macon County 5th graders have signed up to attend this year’s event, in which they will have the opportunity to be taken on two-hour tours.
Six area presenters will open the eye of the students by showing them the importance of agriculture both here in Central Illinois and worldwide.
If interested in covering this event, contact the Farm Bureau office.
For additional information, contact Betty Gosda at the Macon County Farm Bureau, 877-2436 or at email@example.com.
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.