COMMUNITY NEWS

Sheriff’s Office Warns Of Phone Scam 

Today (July 23) the Macon County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous phone calls from Decatur and Macon County citizens in regards to a person identifying themselves as a representative with itsdepartment.  
The individual indicates the person has failed to appear for jury duty and to avoid being arrested they have to send the caller various amounts of money.  The amounts of money have varied between a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
These phone calls have been confirmed as a scam.  
The Macon County Sheriff’s Office never calls a person who has missed jury duty and inform them that if they pay a “fine” they will not be arrested.  
Citizens who receive this type of phone call are urged to simply hang up the phone and not send the individual any money.  
If a person has fallen prey to this scam, they are urged to contact their local law enforcement agency to file a report.

 

Council Approves Alternative Sediment Use Project


Sediment taken from the bottom of Lake Decatur will be reclaimed and used as part of a demonstration alternative-energy planting site following action by the Decatur City Council Monday night.
Council members voted 7-0 in favor of an agreement with Hutchens Bulldozing to move 11,000-12,000 cubic yards of dry sediment taken from the lake as part of the city’s ongoing dredging project. The sediment will be taken from the sediment storage site in Oakley to the former Corley Landfill at the intersection of U.S. 51 and South Side Drive with sediment spread over parts of the 11-acre parcel and bio-energy grass planted.
The project is expected to begin in August and both the sediment relocation and planting will be funded mostly through an Illinois Department of Natural Resources “Mud to Parks” grant for $245,770. The grant is designed to help fund beneficial uses of sediment dredged from lakes and rivers in Illinois.





Councilman Larry Foster

Councilman Larry Foster Will Not Run For Re-Election

Decatur City Councilman Larry W. Foster has announced that he will not seek re-election next spring.
Foster said he wants to spend more time with his wife, his business, grandchildren, traveling and other community activities.
Foster is president of Foster Financial Services, Inc., an insurance counseling and fi-nancial planning firm.
The Decatur native said he has no plans to leave Decatur or seek another office.
“Serving on the Decatur City Council has been enjoyable and rewarding,” said Foster. “It has been an honor to serve my hometown and I really like playing a part in helping to make things better in Decatur.”
Foster is proud of the list of the council accomplishments during the time he has served, including completing or starting projects such as the new police department facility, addressing the need for more water storage capacity and the downtown streetscape project.
Foster served on the city council from 1977 to 1981 and, after returning from California where he lived for several years, he was elected in 1995 serving until 1999.  In 2008 he was appointed to serve the remainder of an unexpired term and then ran for a two year term in 2009, then ran again for the current four year term that will be completed next April.
Foster also said he is a strong supporter of the present council/manager form of government.
He also said that he’s always felt “it’s important to give back to a community that gives to you.  I try to impart that philosophy to everyone I work with.  If people can become more positive and give back, it’ll be a better community.  I believe there have been a number of positive things that have happened over the years I have served.”
Foster said that he believes one of the biggest needs in the community is “economic development and creating new jobs.”
He said it is disappointing to see so many Decatur residents out of work and said he hopes the city’s economic development plans will lead to increased employment opportunities, adding that Decatur also needs to improve the inner-city.
Foster was the capital fund chairman for the Salvation Army in its successful $5 million fund drive in 2008.  He is currently in the Decatur Rotary Club, on the Salvation Army board and is a Trustee of Central Christian Church.  He is past president of the Decatur Club, Webster Cantrell Hall and the local Red Cross Chapter.  He has been chairman of the local Boy Scouts leadership breakfast the past two years.
Foster and his wife, Debbie, have five children and 14 grandchildren.

Human Relations Commission Seeking Members

The City of Decatur is looking for residents to serve as members of the Decatur Human Relations Commission to fill what will be four vacancies on the nine-member board.

       The Commission is appointed by the Decatur City Council and charged with addressing claims of unlawful discrimination within the community. The Commission also works within the community to provide educational opportunities as it relates to fair treatment and attempts to prevent discriminatory practices through community outreach and other efforts. Persons interested in serving on the commission should send a resume or background biographical information to mayor Mike McElroy at:

City of Decatur

One Gary K. Anderson Plaza

Decatur, L 62523

            Residents can also call 217-424-2708 with questions.

            The city and commission have been working in recent months to make changes to the process for handling discrimination complaints following the retirement of former Human Rights Officer Mark Barthelemy. Both the commission and the Decatur City Council agreed that reducing the size of the commission from 13 to 9 members would be helpful both in successfully obtaining a quorum for meetings and from an organizational standpoint. The Council also directed city staff to utilize $20,000 in budgeted funds to provide investigative services in support of the Human Relations Commission.
            Funding will be used to pay for the services of a separate investigative party to determine whether a complaint warrants further action by the Commission. Protected classes covered by Decatur City Code include classes of race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, disability or unfavorable military discharge.


Senator Manar hears community concerns as Capitol on Your Corner program visits Decatur

DECATUR – State Senator Andy Manar (D–Bunker Hill) continued his series of local discussions known as Capitol on Your Corner on Wednesday (July 9) at Mrs. K’s Community Center in Decatur. Approximately 75 residents attended the meeting, including local officials Melverta Wilkins and Gary Minich of the Macon County Board, Pat McDaniel of the Decatur City Council, Sherry Perkins of the Decatur School Board and former State Rep. John Dunn. Topics of discussion ranged from economic development and neighborhood violence to road repair and SB16 – Manar’s school funding reform proposal that passed the Senate in May.

 

Photo -- Senator Manar talking to Macon County Board member Melverta Wilkins (left) and Decatur resident Marguerite Walker (right) after the event was over.



City Reports Lake Decatur Dredge
Project Is Moving Ahead

DECATUR – Residents got a look at what they can expect to see as the city’s new dredge project continues to ramp up as part of a Decatur City Council study session Monday night. 

The massive public improvement project continues to progress with workers now assembling piping, staging equipment and performing earthwork to rehabilitate the Oakley Sediment basin to store piped-in dredge material. The work is being done as part of a $90.4 million project with Great Lakes Dredge & Dock to remove silt from basins 1-4 of Lake Decatur, increasing water supply by 30 percent and adding between 3.5 and 6 feet of depth to various areas. 

Jon Nieman, Vice President of the Great Lakes Rivers and Lakes division, said that he hopes to begin actual dredge operations during the first week in September in Basin 1, channeling from the current staging area near Lost Bridge Road towards the South Water Treatment Plant. Crews are now assembling what will eventually be 8 miles of piping to be submerged in the lake along with power cable and boaters are urged to exercise extreme caution when transiting the lake.

Pipeline and power cable will be marked with buoys and warning signs will also be placed throughout the lake near dredge equipment. Lake users should avoid all buoys and dredge equipment and observe all lake warning signs.

Nieman also announced that Great Lakes will hold a vendor fair July 22 in hopes of attracting local vendors to assist with the project. Eighteen of the 20 hourly employees now working on the Oakley Sediment Basin rehabilitation and 11 of the 15 hourly employees now assembling pipe and performing other project duties have been hired from the local area.

In other business, Council members voted to amend City Code Chapter 28 dealing with procedures for addressing unlawful discrimination. As had been agreed upon by the City Council and supported by the Decatur Human Relations Commission, substantial changes to the code are as follows:

• Reducing the size of the commission from 13 to 9 members

• Removal of the requirement to fill vacancies in 60 days

• Allowing the commission to use the services of a separate investigative party (other than the Human Relations Officer) to determine whether a complaint warrants further action by the commission

• Allowing the commission to include investigatory costs as part of public hearing fees charged to the respondent if they are found in violation of Chapter 28

Council directed city staff at a May 5th Study Session to utilize $20,000 in budgeted funds to provide investigative services in support of the Commission. 


Two Arrested In Connection With Huffman
Lumber Company Burglary


On July 5th at approx. 3:20am, Macon County deputies were detailed to a burglary in progress at the Huffman Lumber Company, located at 110 N. Hickory in Maroa.  Two area witnesses reported the burglary to the sheriff's department and were able to provide dispatchers with a description of the two individuals involved as well as the vehicle they were traveling in.

 While responding to the scene, Dep. Bart Hickey was able to locate the vehicle, a white Chevy Trailblazer traveling southbound on Rt. 51 from Maroa.  Upon stopping the Chevy in the 500blk of Loma Dr. in Forsyth the two occupants, Joshua Deavers, 36 years old of Clinton and Megan Shaffer, 35 years old from Clinton, were positively identified by the eye witnesses as the individuals responsible for the burglary.

 The business owner confirmed the business and a trailer on the lot of the business were burglarized and an undisclosed amount of currency was taken.  The owner reported the suspects forced entry to the business and trailer.

 Deavers and Shaffer were taken into custody and transported to the Macon County Jail where they were booked on preliminary charges of Burglary, Possession of Burglary Tools and Criminal Damage to Property.  Deavers and Shaffer’s  bond was set at $30,000.00.


Board Names Dugan Eisenhower Principal
 
By J. Thomas McNamara
 
    At tonight's (Wednesday) meeting, the Decatur school board named Michael Dugan 
the new Eisenhower principal.
    Dugan presently is principal of Crete-Monee High School.
    He succeeds Charles Hoots, who retired at the end of June and is 
now superintendent of a Christian school outside Baton Rouge, La.
    The Decatur Tribune will have more on Dugan's appointment in a 
future print edition.

City Council Ok’s Fire Contract,
Gets Economic Update

The Decatur City Council on Monday unanimously approved a labor agreement with local firefighters that will extend through 2016.
The agreement is the result of interest based bargaining, mediation and traditional negotiations and Monday night’s Council action follows approval by members of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 505 rover the weekend. Contract terms include but are not limited to:
Annual across-the-board wage increases of 2.25% for each of the first two years, 2.0% for the third year, and 1.5% for the final 8 months;
A reduction in monthly sick leave accrual, maximum sick leave accumulation. Increases in sick leave payout at retirement.
Payment of sick leave and vacation benefits at retirement into the employee’s Post employment Health Plan (PHEP) account and annual adjustments in employee health insurance contributions for single and family coverage in the same percentage as for the plan itself.
A health insurance opt-out provision for employees.
Assorted changes in language regarding EMT-I temporary assignments, the Kelly Day cycle, the splitting of a vacation day, the notice to be required for use of sick leave, the grace period for apparatus engineer training, and the use of the term “fiscal year”.
The last agreement expired April 30, 2013 and the new agreement extends for 3 years and 8 months following that date through the end of 2016.
In other business, the council received an economic update from Economic Development Officer Patrick Hoban. According to the report, there has been more than $20 million in investment in Decatur since January 2014 based upon the number of building permits secured, 246 new project inquiries and 89 new retail and non-retail projects started. Hoban emphasized that sometimes projects can take some time to come to fruition once they begin.
Additionally, Hoban reported that the local unemployment rate has fallen considerably to 9.1 percent, which is the lowest level in six years according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. That rate falls to 8.4 percent if the additional people actually employed in Decatur who don’t live within the city’s borders are tallied as part of local employment totals. 
Hoban added that there were 7,006 job openings in Decatur and Springfield as of May 2014.

Police Need Your Help In Solving  With 'Crime Of The Week'

The Decatur Police Department needs your help in solving this week’s crime of the week. 
On June 26th at approximately 8:00 AM, a home invasion occurred at a residence in the 900 block of N. Folk St.  The victims were held at gunpoint and tied up inside the residence.  The suspects stole the victim’s 2002 red colored Ford Mustang, bearing IL registration, P419191.  This vehicle has not been recovered as of June 30th.  They also stole cell phones and a Sony Playstation.
The victims described the suspects as both being black males, 6’ 1/thin builds.  The victims advised the suspects had coverings over their faces.
The Decatur Police Department needs your help in solving this crime.  If you have any information about this crime, please call crime stoppers at 423-TIPS.  You do not have to give your name.  Crime stoppers will pay $500 or more for information that leads to an arrest on the crime of the week.  
Crime stoppers will also pay cash for information that leads to an arrest of any person responsible for a felony crime in Macon County.

Search Warrant Results in Arrest

On June 26th, at approximately 11:08 AM, Macon County Detective Brian Hickey, along with the assistance of the Macon County Special Response Team (SRT) and the Decatur Police Street Crimes Unit, executed a search warrant in the Oakland Apartment Complex, 1454 West Mound Road.
Seized during the execution of the search warrant was approximately 12.5 grams of crack cocaine, 7.7 grams of powder cocaine, and U.S. currency. 
The search warrant resulted in the arrest of Saville D. McKnight-Byars Jr. for Possession of a Controlled Substance with the Intent to Deliver, Possession of a Controlled Substance with the Intent to Deliver within 1000 feet of a church, and Possession of 15-100 grams of a Controlled Substance.
Lieutenant Walker of the Decatur Police Department, Criminal Investigations Division, stated the Decatur Police Department and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office continue to be proactive in the removal of drugs within the Decatur, Macon County area.

Annual Water Quality Report Now Available

DECATUR — The City of Decatur is pleased to report that drinking water delivered to residential, commercial and industrial customers last year either met or exceeded all state and federal drinking water requirements.

The City has issued its 2014 Water Quality Report which details an exemplary record of compliance with United States Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency water quality standards. The City met all testing requirements during the past year, providing high quality water while keeping rates amongst the lowest in the state. The City has not received a drinking water violation since 2002 even though water quality requirements have become significantly more stringent since that time.

The City pumps an average of 20 million gallons per day from Lake Decatur, providing water to approximately 31,400 service connections and 82,000 area residents.

“The city council continues to make the protection of our water supply one of our top priorities,” said Mayor Mike McElroy. “That includes not only making sure that we have adequate water supply but also making sure that the water we have is safe for our residents.”

“This report lets everyone know that we are doing a great job of providing high quality drinking water.”

The report is posted on the City’s website at:         

            http://ci.decatur.il.us/watermanagement/2014 Water Quality Report.pdf

Copies are also available at the South Water Treatment Plant, Decatur Civic Center, Decatur Public Library and the Municipal Service Center.

For further information contact Don Giger, Water Production Operations Supervisor at 424-2866 or Randy Miller, Water Services Manager at 875-5704.

Scherer-Backed Legislation To Improve Early
Childhood Education Signed Into Law 


To help ensure children in Illinois have access to high quality, affordable education, state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, supported legislation that was recently signed into law by Governor Quinn to increase funding for early childhood education.
“After spending over 30 years in the classroom, I recognize how important it is to provide students with a solid foundation prior to entering kindergarten,” Scherer said.  “By properly funding programs to encourage children and parents to learn and grow together, we are preparing them for a life of success going forward.”
Studies published by the Ounce of Prevention Fund, a leading organization in early childhood education,  show that at-risk students who do not receive a high-quality early childhood education are 40 percent more likely to become a teen parent, 60 percent more likely not to attend college, and 70 percent more likely to be arrest for a violent crime. House Bill 4440, which passed unanimously out of the House and was signed into law this month, broadens access to early childhood education by raising the level of funding in the Early Childhood Block Grant from 11 percent to 14 percent.
Scherer also sponsored Senate Bill 1307, which lowered the age where by students must start school from 7 to 6. This bill was signed into law to help make sure students do not fall behind their peers, and to allow teachers a better opportunity to observe and assist students who may have difficulties.
“To get our state back on the right track, we must continue to invest in our greatest resource, our children,” Scherer said. “Devoting resources to at-risk children during the early stages of their lives will help our state both socially and financially in the years to come.”
For more information, please contact Rep. Scherer’s constituent office at 217-877-9636 or by emailing StateRepSue@gmail.com.

Charles Hoots Retires as Eisenhower Principal
For Superintendent Position in Baton Rouge Area
 
By J. Thomas McNamara
 
    Charles Hoots is retiring as principal of Eisenhower High School to become superintendent of a small private school of approximately 400 students in the Baton Rouge, La. area.
    "I've always wanted to be a superintendent," said Hoots about the opportunity that presented itself to the educator with 37 years service.  He is leaving Decatur Eisenhower for Central Private School which is outside Baton Rouge.
    "I handed in my retirement notice last week to Superintendent Taylor," said Hoots, whose last work day will be Friday when he begins his vacation for the rest of June.
    Hoots came to Eisenhower on July 1, 2011 after April Hicklin resigned.  "I have completed three full years here.
    Speaking with the Decatur Tribune this afternoon, Hoots quipped, "If I see another box, I'll scream."
    And he's probably serious because of what he's experienced in the last two years.  "When I came to Eisenhower I was asked to implement the SIG $5.6 million grant program, School Improvement Grant," said Hoots.  "In June of the next year (2012), we moved out of Eisenhower to Stephen Decatur Middle School as they began our renovation and modernization project.  And then we moved back here last December."
    As a result of this building program, Hoots said he became more acquainted and worked more closely with Mike Sotiroff and Randy Dotson than he normally would as Eisenhower's principal.
    "It's been a very difficult three years," said the retiring educator.  "Administering and implementing SIG was very time consuming."
    Hoots came to Decatur from the Springfield school district office and is a former principal of Springfield High School, a position he held for six years before moving into the capital city's school district office.
    "This has been a very good experience for me," said Hoots.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Police Take Man Into Custody After Shots
Fired On North Water St.


According to Police Lieutenant Brad L. Sweeney at 7:44 June 18, the Decatur Police Department received a call from a female guest of the Decatur Inn stating that a male subject staying at the Decatur Inn had a gun and was possibly trying to kill himself. The caller informed the dispatcher that she had already heard a gunshot. Decatur Police Officers immediately responded to the Decatur Inn at 3035 N. Water Street.

Upon arrival Decatur Police Officers heard gun shots coming from room 113 of the Decatur Inn. Decatur Police Officers immediately evacuated all guests of the Decatur Inn, evacuated and closed nearby businesses (McDonald's, Wendy's, Bob Evans) and stopped all traffic flowing northbound on 3000 N. Water. The evacuations and street closures were done to protect the community from the suspect's gunfire.

While Decatur Police Officers were on scene, the suspect fired a Remington rifle ten times. The Decatur Police Department's Emergency Response Team was deployed to handle the incident. Upon arrival of Decatur's Emergency Response Team, negotiations by telephone began between a police negotiator and the suspect. The negotiations ended with the suspect agreeing to surrender to police. The suspect was taken into custody at 9:04 am.

The general public was not harmed in this incident. The suspect was not harmed. There were no police officers injured in the incident.

The suspect has been identified as Stephen Hathaway, 69. He has been a guest of the Decatur Inn for approximately two years. The suspect has been taken to the Decatur Police Headquarters where detectives are continuing their investigation.

The Decatur Police Department is very appreciative of the surrounding businesses that evacuated and closed their businesses. Their cooperation with the Decatur Police Department helped bring the matter to a safe ending.

City Council Approves Medical Marijuana Zoning Language

Monday, the City of Decatur became the latest in a list of Illinois communities to plan for 2014 changes to state law allowing for the medicinal use of cannabis for certain health conditions.
     Decatur City Council members voted 7-0 to amend the city's zoning ordinance to include definitions for both medical cannabis dispensing organizations and cultivation centers. Both are now permitted in Illinois as part of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program that allows medical professionals to prescribe the medical use of marijuana for a list of 40 specific illnesses listed as "debilitating medical conditions. The product must be grown indoors at state regulated cultivation centers and distributed from state regulated dispensing organizations.
Both cultivation centers and dispensing organizations would be allowed as land uses in the city's M-1 Intense Commercial - Light Industrial zoning district as part of the zoning ordinance changes made on Monday in addition to having to meet other state requirements. As an example, cultivation centers must be registered and may not be located within 2,500 feet of the property line of a preexisting public or private preschool, elementary or secondary school or day care center, day care home, group day care home, part day child care facility or an area zoned for residential use. Dispensing organizations must also be registered and may not be located within 1,000 feet of the same kinds of establishments or areas zoned for residential use.
A number of state communities have enacted varying levels of zoning allowances in response to the Act while others are now publicly discussing the new law.
In other business Council members heard a first year report on the city’s program to create a more reliable water system and discussed both the condition of and potential options for repairing and maintaining local streets.
The City in April 2013 approved a program to update the local water system designed to stabilize the water system, provide a stable water supply for job band business growth and to replace an aging local water system among other goals. The program represents the largest capital improvement investment to the local water system since the creation of Lake Decatur and is being funded through a series of water utility rate increases spread over multiple years.
There have been a number of projects started or continued as part of the program including:
Energy and Water Efficiency Services Project: In June 2013 the City Council authorized this $17.1M project with Johnson Controls. All lighting energy efficiency improvements and the majority of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) energy efficiency improvements have been completed at several city facilities.
Lake Decatur Dredging Basins 1 through 4: In February 2014 the City Council authorized an $89.3M contract to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock (GLDD). Work has begun to rehabilitate the Oakley sediment storage basin to store the sediment from Basins 1 through 4.
Nelson Park Basin Marina Management: A request for qualifications from experienced marina management firms was issued in April 2014.
Water Distribution System Hydraulic Model and Master Plan Update: In April 2014 the City Council authorized this $110K project with Strand Associates. Fire hydrant flow testing and other preliminary work has begun. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
As part of a study session the council also discussed the current condition of the city’s 825 lane miles of pavement and strategies for funding preventive maintenance and repair. The last several years have seen a level of decline in the condition of streets and council discussed possible methods for funding repairs.
One method used by other home rule cities in Illinois to raise funds for road projects has been to establish a local motor fuel tax, which several surrounding cities have done including Bloomington, Champaign, Urbana, Peoria and Danville among others. While expressing concern about implementing such a tax, members were also conscious of the need to make road repairs and supported discussing the possibility of partnering with Macon County if possible to attack the problem regionally.

Submit your news
to the editor at:

decaturtribune@aol.com 
or to: Decatur Tribune, 
P. O. Box 1490, 
Decatur, IL 62525-1490.

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The above photo shows part of the Farmers' Market on North Water Street across from Central Park.

            * * * *
Decatur Tribune Offices Are Located At:
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Decatur, Illinois 62523

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Phone: 217/422-9702
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