NEWS TO KNOW
David K. Jackson
FirsTech Unveils New Space and New Website
FirsTech, Inc., an innovator in payment processing solutions in Decatur and St. Louis, Missouri, held an open house Thursday afternoon at 265 South Park Street in downtown Decatur.
The newly renovated service center and a new version of its website, firstechpayments.com were introduced as a way of better serving its customers.
FirsTech celebrated both achievements with Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe, Ryan McCrady, President of the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of Decatur & Macon County, and attendees at the open house and ribbon cutting.
The building renovations, which started in the spring of 2016, included: remodeling the interior and exterior of the FirsTech buildings at 253 to 265 S. Park St.; demolishing the old drive-thru and buildings at 254 E. Main; and building a new drive-through at Busey Bank, 130 N. Water St.
With the investment, FirsTech will keep 50 jobs in the community.
“The EDC greatly appreciates this investment into our community by First Tech,” said McCrady. “This is another shining example of how enterprise zone benefits can help local employers expand their workforce and continue to support and build our economy in the central business district.”
From structural to digital renovations, FirsTech also launched its newly redesigned website, firstechpayments.com. With vibrant and inviting imagery, the website is not only easier to navigate, it outlines innovative payment capabilities for and brings readily accessible support to clients in various industries—including utilities, insurance, financial services, telecom, healthcare, government and non-profit.
“As the payment industry's partner for business success, FirsTech recognizes innovation as essential to providing service excellence for customers. As we grow forward, we embrace our innovative spirit with an inward focus,” said Howard Mooney, President & CEO of FirsTech. “Remodeling our service center in Decatur and revamping our online presence at firstechpayments.com ensure future and current customers can access support for their unique payment processing needs.”
To learn more about its innovative payment processing solutions, visit firstechpayments.com.
Richland Community College Partners With ILETSB To Operate New Law Enforcement Training Center In Decatur
Officials from Illinois Law Enforcement and Training Standards Board and Richland Community College announced today (Tuesday) an operations agreement in anticipation of the opening of a new law enforcement training center in central Illinois. The Macon County Law Enforcement Training Center (MCLETC) is scheduled to begin law enforcement training after October 1, 2017.
Through the initial concept and generous financial support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The two-structure site sits along U.S. Route 51, south of Decatur near Grove Road. The facility includes a two-story residential dormitory, large training building, and outside track. The training building contains multiple classrooms, scenario-based training rooms, large multi-faceted physical skills and exercise room, indoor firing range, administrative offices, and a conference room.
Upon completion, the Macon County Law Enforcement Training Center (MCLETC) will be owned and managed by the Training Board. Operations at the facility will be maintained through a partnership with Richland Community College. Richland leadership and the Board of Trustees has entered into an agreement with ILETSB to run and maintain the facility.
ILETSB would like to thank the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and RCC officials for their continued support. “Without the partnership with Mr. Buffett and Richland Community College President, Dr. Cristobal Valdez, this state of the art facility would not be possible,” stated ILETSB Director Brent Fischer.
“We were very pleased when Director Fischer and his staff approached us with this unique and mutually beneficial partnership concept. Richland strives to meet the educational and training needs of the region and working with ILETSB in this endeavor will afford us that opportunity.” said Richland President Cris Valdez
Additional information, including start dates and contact names/numbers, will be released as the opening date nears.
City Council Approves Brush College Road Corridor Agreements
The Decatur City Council on Monday approved agreements that members hope will strengthen future funding requests for Brush College Road corridor improvements, part of a region where significant travel and access barriers hamper current travel and future growth possibilities.
Members approved an agreement with Crawford, Murphy and Tilly to perform land acquisition services for the project and authorized a second agreement with the State of Illinois to use Illinois Jobs Now grant funds to help pay for the acquisition costs. The Brush College Road project is made up of multiple phases with the acquisition work approved on Monday associated with planned construction of a Fairies Parkway and Norfolk Southern Railroad overpass and interchange.
In April 2016, the City applied for $20 million in funding through the federal TIGER VII Grant program to design and build the Brush College Road/Faries Parkway Grade Separation and Improvement Project. Upon learning that its application was not selected, the City asked for feedback to learn how to improve funding applications going forward. The most significant short-coming listed was that the City was not far enough along on the project and representatives were advised that one of the ways to move forward was through acquisition of needed right away.
'Cruise 11 To Remember 9-11' Car And Bike Show Entries Being Sought
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GOD BLESS AMERICA
Mitchell Said He Had Made It Known That This Term Would Be His Last -- Long Before His State Tax Increase Vote
State Rep. Bill Mitchell, who announced two weeks ago that he would not run for another term in the 101st District, told me that anyone who thinks he is retiring from office because of the negative feedback on his recent vote to increase state income taxes, is wrong.
Mitchell told me that he announced at some of his town meetings, long before his tax increase vote, that he would retire at the end of his present term.
Mitchell also said that he told the late mayor of Decatur, Mike McElroy, several months before McElroy’s death that he was going to retire to give him a “heads up” about his intentions because he knew that McElroy had always wanted to serve in the General Assembly. McElroy was defeated by Andy Manar in his race for the senate but had his sights set on state representative.
McElroy passed away in 2015 while serving as mayor of Decatur.
As far as any belief that Mitchell is retiring so that he can be appointed to a state job, he told me, “I have no interest in being appointed to a position and working for the state.”
• HAT IN THE RING -- Todd Henricks of Cerro Gordo is the first to publicly announce his candidacy for Mitchell’s seat in the 101st District. Henricks has served as both president and board member for the Cerro Gordo School District and Piatt County Museum.
Hendricks made his announcement last week at a press conference in the multi-purpose room of the Cerro Gordo Elementary School.
• ZOWIE!! -- I finally got a look inside FirsTech’s renovated building at 263-265 South Park Street and there’s been an incredible transformation, not only on the outside but especially on the inside!
FirsTech held an open house last Thursday and I think there wasn’t anyone who attended who could appreciate the transformation of the building, especially the second floor, more than I did. I spent a lot of time doing live and recorded programs when WDZ occupied the second floor, going back to 1960, when I was a teenager. Later, I was on the air one day a week with Lois Howlett on “Hotline”. Following WDZ’s move to another location, this newspaper had the entire second floor as our home for many years and even built a television production studio for our “Newsline” program.
So, I was anxious to see the interior of the building and how it had changed since we were there over 20 years ago. I write about what I especially wanted to see in my “Viewpoint” column on page 3 on this week's print edition of the Decatur Tribune..
• VERY FAST -- This has to be the fastest summer that I can remember. It seems like we’re just getting started and already kids are heading back to school and Scovill Zoo’s “fall hours” started Monday, Aug. 14.
Students started returning to Millikin University's campus Monday. Move-In Day for First-Year Millikin University students was Tuesday with First Week taking place Aug. 15-20. Returning students will be moving in throughout the First Week period both on and off campus. Classes at Millikin University will start Monday, Aug. 21.
The Millikin University Police Department will be stepping up vehicle and pedestrian enforcement in the area focusing on speeding, crosswalks and distracted driving (cell use).
• WAIT TIME -- I don’t know if this is typical, but one of our senior readers who had to take her driver’s test at the Secretary of State’s Driver’s License Facility in Decatur, recently spent 3 hours and 20 minutes there from the time she walked through the door until she left.
Apparently, the facility had a shortage of staff that day and a lot of people were there for renewal of their driver’s license.
Wow! 3 hours and 20 minutes. Maybe she just picked the wrong day to go. I hope the shortage of staff was not normal because that’s a lot of time to spend getting a driver’s license renewed -- and it also seems unfair to the employees of the facility.
• I HAD to call the Illinois Department of Revenue last week regarding a letter I received stating my business owed some money to the state because enough had not been deposited to equal the reported amount.
We were also assessed a fine.
I knew that we didn’t owe the money but calling the Illinois Department of Revenue created about the same amount of enthusiasm in me as having a tooth pulled without my gum being numbed!
Anyhooo...I called the IDR and, to my surprise, it only took about 30 seconds to get through and talk to a real live person about our account.
The woman couldn’t been nicer to talk with and, after being asked several questions to verified that I had access to the company’s books, we found out that a “one”, which was read as a “nine” had caused a problem.
We didn’t owe the money, or the penalty -- and the error, which obviously changed the amount withheld, was really our fault -- and not the state’s fault.
She instructed me on how we could file an amended return (which we did) and was extremely pleasant throughout the whole conversation.
I actually felt good when I hung up the telephone. How many times does that happen when dealing with a state or federal department, or a large corporation?
While most of us dread any contact with tax agencies, I will have to admit that, this employee representing the Internal Revenue Service was a shining example of customer service and she deserves a raise!
• SAY WHAT? -- An elderly woman approached me in Steak ‘n Shake last week and asked me what I thought of Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe.
I told her that Julie has been a friend for many years and I thought she is doing a great job as mayor.
Her response surprised me!
“That may be true, but I think being mayor is a man’s job and we should never elect a woman to do a man’s job.”
Talk about a flashback to the city’s past -- I nearly choked on my bowl of chili beans!!!!
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.
Central Park Fountain in Downtown Decatur