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GOD BLESS AMERICA
Memories Of Coal Mines Under Decatur
CLIFF Lingenfelter (pictured above) came to my office last week to share some old newspaper clippings and photos about his dad, Bruce Lingenfelter, who was the Macon County Coal Company’s chief engineer back in the days when coal was a very important part of the local economy. In this week’s print edition of the Decatur Tribune, our “Scrapbook” article (pages 4, 5) is on the mines and mine tunnels under Decatur that I published several years ago.
In our conversation, Cliff told me that he believes he is the last person alive of those who were in the mines when they were operating.
He was just a boy when he went down in the mine to help feed the donkeys who worked and lived in the mine.
“They were blind,” he said, “because of being in the darkness of the mine about all of their lives.”
He did add that the donkeys were sometimes taken out of the mine so they could exercise.
Cliff is a direct link to the era of the coal mines and I’m pleased he made an appointment to share his memories.
• IT WAS nice to look out my office windows last week and see a very tall crane in the skyline of downtown. It was being used to remove a tower on top of the Heritage Behavioral Health Center a couple blocks away from my office on the southwest corner of the intersection of North Main and East Prairie. A lot of renovation work is being done at the facility which will not only enhance its services, but the downtown area.
For those of you who have been away from Decatur for many years, the building’s tenant a half century ago was Linn & Scruggs.
• I WAS a member of Future Farmers of America (FFA) when I was in high school and served as president of the chapter my senior year.
Back then, girls were not taking Ag courses and were not in FFA. The high school girls were members of FHA, Future Homemakers of America.
The high school boys would be farmers, or in some related business, and the girls would be homemakers.
Obviously, that was another era.
That’s why a story posted elsewhere on this site, regardling last week’s 90th annual Illinois State FFA Convention in Springfield, grabbed by attention.
When the officers were elected, they were all young women -- not a young man among them.
There is also a photo elsewhere on this site with the five officers posing in their FFA jackets. When I was in high school, the only way a high school girl would be wearing an FFA jacket was if she was wearing her boyfriend’s.
As the article indicates, “This marks the first time in the Illinois Association FFA’s 90-year history when all major state officers are women.”
By the way, I still have my FFA jacket hanging somewhere in my home -- although I haven’t worn it since high school. (I seriously doubt that it will fit.)
• THE ALL-Female FFA State Officers Team reminds me all all the changes I’ve witnessed during the nearly half-century of being editor and publisher of this newspaper,
I remember when I first started covering the city council where a woman had not served on the city council -- it was a man’s domain.
Carol Brandt was the first woman to be bold enough to run and win a seat on the city council and, over the decades, others have stepped forward.
Today, three of the seven council seats (including the mayor) are filled by women.
Julie Moore Wolfe, our present mayor, is the first woman elected mayor of Decatur.
Today, voters involving all local public bodies look upon the candidates for office based on qualifications, not gender.
One of these days I’m going to put together a list of all the positions in our community that have been, or presently are, occupied by women, which once was a man’s domain.
• BEST WISHES to Decatur City Manager Tim Gleason who was selected for the city manager’s position in Bloomington, Illinois. The announcement was made Monday.
Gleason was one of three finalists for the position from a ton of applicants from Illinois and many other states.
Gleason, who was first appointed Decatur City Manager three years ago, had his contract extended through 2020 by the City Council in March with a salary of $176,507.
The Bloomington City Council is expected to approve Gleason’s contract with a salary of $185,000 at its June 25 meeting. Gleason’s first day
on the job will be July 23 at nearly a $10,000 increase.
It's really a great move for Gleason, both personally and professionally.
Listen to the “City Hall Insider” hour with Paul Osborne on Byers & Co. at 7:00 every Thursday morning over NEWS/TALK 1340 WSOY.
A Little Of This
And That From
Here And There
• I’VE BEEN seeing an increasing number of semi-trucks heading through downtown on both Franklin and Main streets.
Such vehicles are banned from the downtown area unless they are being used to deliver supplies to restaurant or retail facilities.
When I was walking to the post office the other day, I saw two semis moving through downtown on Franklin St., crossing Wood St. and straight through to crossing Eldorado St. (the south and north boundaries where such trucks are not permitted) and they made no stops to deliver anything.
I’m sure it is a lot easier for semi drivers to go straight through downtown than to turn right onto Wood St., and turn again at MLK before heading north -- but there was a definite purpose in banning semi-trucks from downtown.
The ban was to make it safer for those sitting at restaurants’ sidewalk tables, pedestrians walking in the core area and angle parking -- to name a few reasons.
No one wants to sit at a sidewalk table (like those on North Main Street), eating his or her food with a semi blasting through a few feet away!
• MACON COUNTY CLERK Steve Bean has released the following information: “The Voter Participation Center (VPC) will again be sending out direct mailings to potential voters in Macon County. The mailings will be going to unregistered, but eligible, voters who have moved into the state or from one county to another since the last election. The mailings will be sent approximately mid-June.”
• A FEW WEEKS ago, I published the amount of taxes that Macon County property owners are paying in real estate taxes and pointed out that the City of Decatur’s tax percentage of our overall tax bill is lower than many others named on the 23-item list and indicated it was also lower than the Decatur Park District.
In a conversation I had a few days ago with Bill Clevenger, executive director of the Decatur Park District, he pointed out the Park District’s rate is actually lower when the city’s pensions are lumped with the city’s rate.
Separate line items for police and fire pensions and the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (those employees not included in police and fire) constitute a sizeable amount, and added to the low City of Decatur line rate, make the overall City’s rate higher than the Park District.
As mentioned in the earlier article, the City of Decatur not only receives a portion of the real estate taxes, but benefits from other taxes during the year, unlike the Park District.
• USUALLY when a person changes employers it doesn’t attract much attention.
When the mayor changes jobs it does attract some attention -- as happened last week when it was announced that Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe was accepting a position with HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital and leaving Decatur Memorial Hospital where she has worked for the past ten years (earlier post on this website and story on page 7 of this week's print edition).
The fact that she is going to work for a competitor of DMH added an extra touch of interest.
However, I thought DMH President and CEO Timothy D. Stone Jr. was very gracious in his response to Moore Wolfe leaving.
Stone said: “We are saddened by her decision to leave, but wish her the best in all of her future endeavors and genuinely thank her for her years of devoted service
“The healthcare industry is multifaceted and diverse. And being new to healthcare, Julie was always a quick study. I enjoyed working with her.
“She has a unique grasp on the importance of healthcare to our community and the concepts important to our city
“I speak for the entire organization when I say that even though I am saddened to see her leave, it is gratifying to know that she has chosen to continue to further the important cause of healthcare in our community.”
Those were some very positive comments from Stone because it had to sting a little to have the mayor leave DMH.
Julie has been a friend of mine for many years and I certainly wish her the best in her new position and in her continuing efforts as mayor.
• I DON’T think most people realize that, although the mayor is the spokesperson for the City of Decatur, the salary is $8,000 per year (city councilmembers receive $4,000 per year) so serving as mayor is a matter of public service. (Contrary to what some believe, the mayor receives no pension or health insurance regardless of how many years he or she serves.)
That’s why, unless a person is retired, a mayor in this form of government, must have another job because I don’t know of anyone who would give up a position to serve as mayor for $8,000 with no other source of income or benefits.
• SORRY to see the closing of IHOP on East Pershing Road.
I thought they had a great menu, but I must admit, that I had been there only a few times in the past few years.
It received some bad publicity following a shooting incident in the parking lot involving an employee awhile ago.
The last time I was there, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed only one car in the parking lot and wondered if it was still open.
It was open, but an employee met me at the door and told me something had happened to the air conditioning -- and it was a really hot day.
I then understood why they had no customers -- and I also left. It was really warm inside!
• FINALLY, the local naysayers club took a real hit last week when ground was broken for the $220 million beltway project that many naysayers over the years said wouldn’t happen.
Naysaying is just not what it used to be in Decatur and Macon County.
Central Park Fountain in Downtown Decatur
Recently, Jamylon Beasley (left) and Zac Davis of Boy Scout Troop 81 received Scouting’s highest rank, Eagle. Jamylon, a junior at Eisenhower High School, is the son of Debbie Sheets. Zac is a senior a Eisenhower High School, and the son of Rodger and Sherri Farris. Jamylon’s Eagle Scout project was clearing nine paths for a local archery club. Zac’s project was completing phase 1 of an outdoor classroom at Parsons Elementary. Both young men have been involved in scouting since they were six years old.
Decatur Family YMCA to Host 3rd Annual McElroy Memorial Golf Outing July 20
The Decatur Family YMCA will host the 3rd Annual McElroy Memorial golf outing, presented by Skeff Distributing, Friday, July 20 at Hickory Point Golf Course in Decatur, IL.
The McElroy Memorial golf outing honors the legacy of Mayor Mike McElroy, paying tribute to a man who worked tirelessly to improve lives throughout Macon County.
Event proceeds benefit the Y’s annual campaign, ensuring all children and families – regardless of background or income – have a chance to benefit from the YMCA’s life-changing programs and services, such as swim lessons, summer camp, LIVESTRONG at the YMCA for cancer survivors, licensed daycare, preschool and afterschool programs.
The format for the McElroy Memorial is a 4-player scramble. A “Toast to Tuna” evening ceremony, sponsored by Team Soy, will be held immediately following golf.
Registration fees are $150 per golfer and $600 per foursome, which includes lunch provided by Jimmy John’s, dinner provided by Mac’s Pigskin Diner and 4 drink tickets. Golfer tee gifts are a keepsake Toast to Tuna koozie and drawstring backpack.
For team registration and sponsorship opportunities contact Natalie Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-872-3835, ext. 129.
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
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.