People, Places And Familiar Faces
• IT’S BEEN A WEEK since it was announced but the community is still basking in the $3 million donation from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to support the construction of Heroes Hall, Law Enforcement Addition at the Children’s Museum of Illinois.
Howard Buffett and his foundation continue to invest in improving the “quality of place” in this community because he sees what many of us see in Decatur -- great people and great opportunities for the future.
Buffett’s love and appreciation for this community and law enforcement have been demonstrated over and over by his generosity and I am one, of so many, who appreciates what he has been doing for the community we love.
Three million thank yous to Howard Buffett!
• IT DOES NOT SEEM possible that it’s nearly time for the Decatur Park District’s Annual Lantern Parade in Fairview Park on Aug. 2.
It will be the 81st annual. (Honest, I haven’t been there for all of them.) It seems like the summer just began and we are into the lantern parade.
Activities begin with lantern making at 5:30 p.m. and will continue throughout the evening with a Greater Decatur Youth Band performance, Scovill Mobile Zoo, magician, and activity stations.
The lantern parade begins at 8:30 p.m. For more information, call 422-5911.
• MACON COUNTY CLERK Steve Bean has announced the signature requirements and the filing dates for candidates for the 2018 General Primary.
Republican candidates for the county-wide offices of county clerk, sheriff and treasurer will need at least 200 signatures to get on the primary ballot. The Democratic candidates will need 192 for same county-wide offices.
The signature requirements for each of the county board districts varies, so those who are planning on running for county board seats should check with Bean for the correct number either by going to the county’s webside at email@example.com or calling 424-1305. Each precinct committeeman candidate will need 10 signatures to be on the ballot.
Candidates can begin circulating petitions on Sept. 5th. Filing dates for the General Primary are from Nov. 27 at 8am until 5pm on Dec. 4, 2017 at the Macon County Clerk’s Office, 141 S. Main Street, Room 104.
• I’M STILL HEARING some grumblings about the 6-foot tall chain link fence that is going to be installed around the Decatur Celebration downtown Aug. 4-6. The admission charge is $8.00 at the gate or $5.00 if the admission ticket (or tickets) is purchased in advance. Children 12 and under are free.
That price is a one time charge for the whole weekend.
It’s not FREE like it was in the “good old days” but it is still the lowest price for a ticket for any event for three days and everything that is going to happen during the weekend!
I’m still not sure why the blood pressure is apparently so high for some past patrons of the event. As I mentioned in last week’s column, I’ve been downtown for every Celebration since it started over 30 years ago and certainly, during the years I served as mayor, two of the “fun things” about the position were to officially start the Celebration and riding in the Razzle Dazzle Good Times Parade each year.
I guess when something is free for so long, it’s hard to get some people in the mood for paying for it -- even when the price is ridiculously low.
The Decatur Celebration has lasted far longer than most festivals of its kind and producing it is far more expensive than when it started.
Thanks to a lot of hard work in raising funds through other methods and a lot of volunteers it is still here.
Now, it has to charge admission or it won’t be around much longer.
If charging admission doesn’t produce the financial help needed this year, odds are very strong, the Celebration’s long run will come to an end.
Will the Decatur Celebration survive?
We’ll know when the financial results of this year’s Celebration are known, so it is strictly in the hands of those who attend the event -- and good weather.
• KUDOS to Decatur City Councilman David Horn for donating 30 Decatur Celebration wristbands to the Northeast Community Fund last week. They will be given to members of families who are struggling financially, so they can enjoy the annual event.
• ANOTHER TAX INCREASE? Jim Tobin, President of Taxpayers United of America (TUA) stated last week that he believes Democratic leaders plan on “putting on the statewide ballot a proposal to convert the state’s already high income tax to an even higher graduated income tax.
“If put on the ballot, this income tax increase amendment to the state constitution will be presented to Illinois voters, and I can assure you that all state government employees, active and retired, will vote ‘Yes’ on this measure.
“If approved, as with previous state tax increases, almost all of the money will be pumped into the insolvent state pension plans for retired state-government employees.
“These retired state-government employees are enjoying lavish, gold-plated pensions, while a person in the private sector, who may not have a company pension at all, must scrape by with an average annual Social Security retirement benefit of less than $17,000.
“Nearly 100,000 Illinois government retirees collect annual pensions totaling $50,000 or more, and 17,000 of those former government employees collect annual pensions totaling $100,000 or more. This is outrageous.”
The above comments by Tobin should cause us to keep an eye out for any move to increase our state taxes even more.
Do I smell tea brewing?
Listen to the “City Hall Insider” hour with Paul Osborne on Byers & Co. at 7:00 every Thursday morning over NEWS/TALK 1340 WSOY. or visit our website at decaturtribune.net.
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GOD BLESS AMERICA
NEWS TO KNOW
Macon County Mental Health
Board Hires Timothy Macken
As Executive Director
The Macon County Mental Health Board is pleased to announce that Timothy Macken has been named Executive Director. With a 33-year career in behavioral health and experience pertaining to mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse, Macken is a valuable addition to the Macon County Mental Health Board. His first day will be August 7, 2017.
“I am excited and thankful for the opportunity to be the Executive Director of the Macon County Mental Health Board,” remarks Macken. “I have enjoyed working with the Board over the past 21 years as a provider of services. I am drawn to the mission of the Board which focuses on helping to ensure that there is a continuum of high quality behavioral health services available to the residents of Macon County.”
Macken comes to the Macon County Mental Health Board with 33 years of experience in behavioral health. Of those 33 years, the past 21 years have been with Heritage Behavioral Health Center, where he currently serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. He has a Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Western Michigan University and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Grand Valley State University.
The Macon County Mental Health Board of Directors and staff extend their gratitude to LeAnne Shoemaker for her service as Interim Executive Director. Shoemaker will resume her previous role with the organization as Director of Financial Operations.
The Macon County Mental Health Board looks forward to working with Macken to continue the mission of the organization while exploring new options to assure that a comprehensive and coordinated system of effective and efficient public mental health services is available and accessible to all of the citizens of Macon County in need of such services.
“It is my intent to continue the great work the Board has been doing for so many years under the direction of the former Executive Director, Dennis Crowley,” says Macken, “and to seek ways to further strengthen, improve, and grow services in Macon County over the years to come.”
For more information about the Macon County Mental Health Board, visit www.mcmhb.com or call 217-423-6199.
Decatur Police Department Announces Results From Illinois Click It or Ticket Mobilization
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois State Police and hundreds of local law enforcement agencies joined forces during the recent Click it or Ticket mobilization. The intensive campaign ran 24/7 from June 26-July 9, cracking down on seat belt law violators and impaired drivers in an effort to make Illinois roadways safer.
During this timeframe, the Decatur Police Department issued:
• 35 seat belt citations
• 2 DUI arrests
• 1 felony arrest
• 1 fugitive aprehended
• 4 suspended/revoked licenses
•14 uninsured motorists
• 6 speeding citations
• 1 drug arrest
"These numbers are more than statistics," said Sgt. Steve Hagemeyer. "They offer hard evidence that some people still choose to practice unsafe driving behaviors and that seat belt and impaired driving laws save lives."
IDOT data shows that between 2010 and 2014, 3,075 people riding in vehicles died in crashes. Of those, 1,492 (about 48 percent) were property buckled. That means more than 50 percent of those who died in crashes during this timeframe were not properly buckled.
Even though the Click It or Ticket mobilization had ended, officers enforce seat belt laws year round. Be sure to buckle up in both front and back seats, day and night, every trip, every time.
Illinois law also requires children to be properly restrained at all times while driving. Child passengers must ride in a car seat or booster seat until age 8, and passengers under 13 years old should ride in the back seat.
City Council Approves
Fence Around Decatur Celebration
The Decatur City Council by a 6-1 margin on Monday approved a Decatur Celebration request to fence this year's festival both to increase revenue and as a public safety tool.
This year event organizers will be charging admission both in advance and at gates for the street festival, set for August 4-6 in Downtown Decatur. Organizers for several years now have expressed concern about the event’s increasing expenses and declining revenues to the point of publicly speculating as to whether the event would be able to survive. In fencing the event, the festival will now be able to charge at 7 gates spread throughout the event’s outer footprint.
Festival organizer Lori Sturgill said that the fence will also serve as a tool to better monitor and control the potential for violent acts which, unfortunately, have occurred more regularly at large events across the globe.
In other business, council members voted 7-0 in support of an economic impact study to help optimize strategic investments in the region’s developing intermodal and multimodal transportation system. Most of the study’s $288,530 cost will be paid through a grant totaling just more than $230,000 from the State of Illinois.
City To Host Economic Development Forum July 27
The City of Decatur in conjunction with other community partners will hold its first Economic Development Forum from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, July 27 in the City Council Chamber of the Decatur Civic Center.
The forum is being held to discuss current economic development activities and opportunities within the Decatur community, to provide information related to job training possibilities and employer needs and to address community questions about local economic development. The goal is to provide a broad overview of the local development process and the state of our local economy and to give residents information about resources that are available to help persons seeking employment.
The Decatur Civic Center is located at 1 Gary K. Anderson Plaza. Contact Billy Tyus at 217-424-2727 for more information.