Macon County Honor Guard Member Explains Reason For Not Being Able To Be Present For Every Veteran’s Funeral

Dear Editor:
This is to address the letter to the editor about the Macon County Honor Guard refusing to do a person's funeral. I usually let things like this article roll off my back, but this one just hit me hard.
I am a member of the Macon County Honor Guard. The guard is made up of mostly 60, 70, and 80 year old men who are retired or semi-retired. We receive no pay for doing a job that we feel HAS to be done. 
Each funeral takes approximately 3 1/2 hours if it is in town, out of town much longer (meeting, traveling to and from, time at the cemetery waiting there to make sure we are there before the family, standing in the bitter cold or burning heat, not to mention the rain and snow). 
We do this every day of the week except Sunday. This  week we had a funeral on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday and for next week we already have one for Monday and two for Tuesday. I am not complaining, I choose to do this by volunteering. Each funeral takes around 18 Honor Guard members. We have approximately 25 members, so you see we have pretty much a full time job with no pay (see below), other than the satisfaction of giving a veteran his just dues.
What Mr. Kellogg failed to mention, was that we (Macon County Honor Guard) agreed to do this funeral, and it was scheduled for 11:00  Saturday morning. He called the day before the funeral and changed the time to 3 PM. Our Christmas party had been scheduled for one year and the caterer had been paid for three month
I do agree this veteran deserved to have us there, but some things are just not possible and if Mr. Kellogg would begrudge us a little time with our family at Christmas then I guess we are the ogres Mr. Kellogg says we are.
Here’s the Macon County Honor Guard 2014 Report: A total of 163 funerals were provided; 21 doubles (2 in one day); 1 triple (three in one day); 50 out of town.
We traveled 4,216 miles used 3,549 rounds of ammunition, plus Memorial Day Service (2) Veterans Day Service, Pearl Harbor Remembrance, flag presentations/educations at schools, churches, colleges and conventions.
The Macon County Honor Guard was formed in 1995 and has since performed 3,358 funerals, traveled 93,886 miles, and have used 70,636 rounds of ammo.
Most people retire to play golf, fish, camp, go to Florida for the winter or to just chill. By volunteering we have given up our retirement. We choose to do this as we all feel our nation’s veterans and our comrades in arms deserve us to be there for them if at all possible. 
Letters like this one show the reason we cannot do every funeral. We just do not have the man power. The Macon County Honor Guard has traveled as far as St. Louis to honor a veteran. 
If we had more members maybe we would not have to turn down one veteran. As it is we had to turn down 50 veterans last year because of lack of people to take part in a veteran's last tour of duty.
Mr. Kellogg praised the Moultrie County Honor Guard and that he should, as he is from Bethany which is in Moultrie County. 
I wonder if Mr. Kellogg is a veteran, and if he is, why is he not on Moultrie County Honor Guard? I am grateful that Moultrie County could be there for this veteran as we could not, and every veteran deserves a military funeral if so desired. 
But my question is why belittle Macon County?

Ron Sloan

Councilman Takes Exception To Remarks In
‘Letter To The Editor’ From Another Councilman

Dear Editor;
     I must take exception to remarks made by Larry Foster in his recent Letter to the Editor that the mayor, the city’s former city manager and city staff have done a great job of moving the city forward under difficult times. Although I don’t disagree with the hard work of the former city manager and city staff, I strongly believe Mr. Foster left out two other very important groups of people.
     Unless something has changed that I am unaware of, there are six other city council members who have also been extremely important in keeping the positive momentum going in the community. The other members of the council besides the mayor, who only has one vote, have had the responsibility over the last several years to review, study, investigate, question and then decide to either approve or reject the proposed city legislation and projects brought to them by the city’s excellent staff.  
      Another key group that was also left out that has been extremely important to the ongoing community momentum and has been essential to the improvements to the city’s infrastructure has been the group consisting of community taxpayers, residents and local businesses who have taken on the extra burden of higher city fees to pay for that momentum.
      I, as well as the other council members who comprise the current city council, struggled with the decision in raising the city’s water rates, as well as enacting a new storm sewer fee, but the revenues were needed to ensure that the city had adequate water supplies and to stop further flooding of homes and properties with an updated storm sewer system to handle the future needs of local residents, present industries and future industries who will make Decatur their home.
     The other council members and I take our responsibilities as good stewards of the taxes and fees received from local residents seriously, and use those revenues responsibly to better improve the community 
     As a council member, I voted no on the proposed legislation in using City Water Funds in funding the improvements to the Beach House which is on park district property because I believe that using city water funds according to state law, which was cited in a recent court case involving the city of Harvey, Illinois, should only be used to fund City Water Fund Debt and operating expenses tied to a city’s water system.    
The present council, nor future councils, can ill afford to lose the trust of community residents in the use of limited city revenues that are needed to maintain and improve basic city infrastructure systems that both citizens and local industries depend on to ensure a high quality of life. 

Patrick McDaniel

Article On Bargaining Push Informative
But Failed To Address Real Danger

Dear Editor:
The H&R's (AP) article from Omaha, Nebraska on railroads' collective push to reduce freight train crews from two persons to one is informative yet fails to address the very real danger of equipment, mechanical or infrastructure failure.
  As a matter of record I am a forty year railroad conductor and chaired my unions state-wide Safety Board for sixteen years.
  Carriers' collective claim that "Positive Train Control" (PTC) is the, be all, end all, for safety in the rail industry, is at least misleading.  Although PTC will become a very effective tool in reducing serious accidents and therefore fatalities, it does nothing to address a train accident caused by defective rolling stock or infrastructure failure.  
Most freight trains carry some quantity of hazardous materials.  Currently when a derailment occurs it is the conductor's responsibility to go back, which can be almost instantaneous, assess the damage, determine the right course of action, notify the carrier and assist first responders in the event of hazardous materials involvement.  This is crucial to first responders since they do not have a consist (placement of cars in the train including other hazardous materials) of the train.  They rely on the knowledge, experience and documentation carried by the conductor when approaching a hazardous material derailment/release.   The conductor's involvement expedites proper handling and minimizes risks for all concerned.  
As an example, on December 30, 2013 there was a major derailment and subsequent fire  at Casselton, North Dakota causing the evacuation of anyone living within five miles south of the accident site.  The conductor with an engineer in the cab of the locomotive were able to take action to remove additional hazardous materials from the accident site.  Over 2000 residents were affected but no fatalities.
  A few other rail accidents of interest are;  Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada, 47 killed,  Lynchburg, VA evacuation, Weyawega, WI, 3000 evacuated and burned for two weeks, Fond du Lac, WI, 2 killed.  There were at least eight major rail accident within the past year.   
  In the event of a derailment, with a one person crew, the carrier has options; wait for remote assistance to arrive or have the engineer secure the train, possibly 20-30 minutes, then go back and assess the situation.
  The AP Article quotes a Kentucky engineer which leads the reader to believe most trains are routinely 7000 tons (approximately 50 cars).  Anyone who has been stuck waiting for a train to clear would beg to disagree. Reality is, every carrier packs every car possible on their trains - efficiency.  Trains average over 10,000 tons and can reach 20,000 tons in Illinois.
  If carriers are allowed to get these reductions and "when" an accident occurs in your community ask yourself if it is a reasonable tradeoff to expose your family and property to the hazards of living near (2 miles) a railroad just to increase their already lucrative profit margin?

Lloyd R. Holman

Thanks For Help In 80th Birthday Celebration

Dear Editor:
Thanks to everyone who helped me celebrate my 80th birthday. Also, thanks for all who sent birthday cards.

John Likins

Officer, Department Betrayed By Gov. Quinn’s Pardon 
Of Man Who Tried To Kill 4 Police Officers 

Dear Editor:
One of Gov. Quinn's last official, cowardly acts was to pardon a convicted felon by the name of Howard Morgan. This convicted felon was given a 40 year sentence for trying to kill 4 Chicago police officers. 
One of these officers was a former Macon Co. deputy sheriff by the name of John "Eric" Wrigley. Body armor saved Eric during this shootout as one of the rounds fired by Morgan struck him square in the chest. 
Wrigley also suffered a bullet wound in his forearm during the ordeal. Fortunately no police officers were killed in the incident and Morgan was struck multiple times by return fire but recovered. 
Morgan was tried by a Cook County jury and convicted of attempted murder. Morgan was serving his deserved prison term until Gov. Quinn chose to pardon him with no explanation. 
I was a sergeant with the sheriff's office when Eric Wrigley started with our agency and I found him to be an exemplary police officer.  I knew that Dep. Wrigley was destined for a much larger police department. 
Officer Wrigley and the Chicago  Police Department were betrayed by Pat Quinn. I have less respect for our recent governor over his two predecessors even though they were sent to prison. 
Shame on you, Pat Quinn.

Sheriff Jerry Dawson (retired)

Look Up The ‘Straight Scoop’ Before
Complaining About Congressional Pensions

Dear Editor:
Many of us complain about the excessive benefits politicians receive after being elected.  Two years ago when I complained to my representative, Aaron Schock of the 18th Illinois district, I was informed that many misconceptions exist.  Whereas, at one time wildly extravagant benefits were enjoyed, over the last decade, several changes have taken place. 
     In April 2012, he assured me that members of Congress are currently required to participate in the Federal Social Security program as do all other American workers.  They are subject to the same payroll deductions and the same rules governing the payout of benefits. Congressional pensions operate in much the same way as private sector pensions, with each member contributing a percentage of his /her pay to the FERS.  Retired members are eligible to collect benefits at age 62 if they have served 5 years.  Members of Congress participate the same as all other Federal employees.   
Although not long ago Members of Congress had a sweetheart deal regarding pensions, today Congressmen and Senators can look forward to an average pension of $40,000 annually, far below pensions of the past. 
     He also states that member pay is raised annually as a COLA adjustment, the same as many others, unless a vote is taken by the house or senate to decline  the raise. 
     To sum it up, Rep. Schock writes "With reforms over the past decade, Congressional retirement, participation in Social Security, and healthcare coverage are now all in line with other federal employees." 
     So the next time we get those e-mails complaining about Congress-ional benefits, maybe we should go to the Google and look up the straight scoop. 

Bob Kimmons 

The Decatur Public Library Needs Our Help

To the Editor:
For many years our country had libraries supported by the local citizenry without tax dollars. They understood the value of an informed public and the free flow of information. People from all economic backgrounds benefited from the use of those libraries.
Knowing its importance in the community and the practical reality that government can't (and I might add - shouldn't) supply all its needs, the Decatur Public Library would like your opinion in considering a proposal by the Decatur Public Building Commission, or DPBC. 
The Library would transfer its building title to the commission who would secure a 20 year loan for the library from its equity and then make library upgrades such as a needed new roof and geothermal power; as well as stabilize the library's projected long term budget. 
One concern not written in the contract is - What would happen if DPBC goes belly up during those two decades?
Voices from the past appear to be exonerated when they warned that the present building was too spac-ious…the commission would lease 40% of the unused library building to the county for its office space. 
On a separate note, if the almost paid off county building was sold to a private company, it could generate new revenues. The library need not go into debt with the commission if its needs could be met privately.
The library needs your help - would you consider making a direct donation, volunteer, hold a fundraiser, or perhaps you own a business that could donate a building upgrade? 
The Community Foundation who you can trust with your philanthropy can set up a fund to meet your specifications. 
Call Wegi Stewart at 429-3000. The American people always give generously when they know there's a need.

Sherry Procarione

Brighter Days Are Ahead  For The State Of Illinois 

Dear Editor:
For over a decade, one-party rule has run our state into the ground and made us the brunt of late-night TV comedians’ jokes. Jobs have left, our economy is in the tank, people have moved out, and neighboring states have taken advantage. In November, the people of Illinois made it clear it was time for a new direction, and last week Bruce Rauner was sworn to take the helm.
  What does that new direction look like? One that includes all of us. Republicans and Democrats. Chicago and downstate. Urban and rural. How refreshing it is to have a Governor that spent the weekend leading up to his swearing-in stopping in countless small towns and rural communities in downstate Illinois!  Throughout those stops, he hit on two main messages: jobs and good schools for our kids (and, oh yes, that he will actually live in Springfield!).
Moreover, in the appointments he made to various state posts over the weekend, you can also see an end to “business as usual” cronyism.  No more party hacks who have no expertise in the agencies they are being asked to lead.  Case in point, former Governor Pat Quinn appointed a former utility company executive (who happened to be a legislator who lost reelection) to head the Department of Agriculture.  Governor Rauner’s new choice for Ag is Phil Nelson, the past President of the Illinois Farm Bureau!  What a difference a day makes.  We now have a subject-matter expert running the agency that is tasked with overseeing Illinois’ number one jobs sector.
  Now, I am not going to sugarcoat anything. Our state is in a crisis and anybody reading this already knows that. It will take time and a lot of sacrifice to bring Illinois back and make it great again. There will be very difficult solutions to our problems. Let me emphasize that again. Very difficult solutions. The decisions that should have been made a decade ago, will now be made. The path back will not be quick either – righting twelve years of single-party rule will not happen overnight.
  But, as Governor Rauner said during his inaugural speech, we all will be asked to share in the sacrifice, but with the correct choices made and bearing the short-term pain that will come with them, Illinois will emerge stronger, ready to retake our place among the greatest states in our union.
  When one considers Governor Jim Edgar’s years in office, it is easy to draw a comparison.  As popular as Edgar is now, many forget that in his first few years in office, he wasn’t very popular due to the tough decisions that he made to right Illinois’ fiscal ship. But those tough decisions weathered tough economic times which, ultimately led to a billion-dollar surplus in the state budget and an unemployment rate of five percent.  Governor Edgar is remembered fondly now, despite the early tough choices he made. It is a very analogous situation to today, as Governor Rauner begins his work.
  Our state has so much to offer and so many talented people. The choices to be made will be difficult and the transformation back to an economically vibrant Illinois will not be quick.  But working together, we can restore Illinois! 

State Senator Chapin Rose 
(R-51st District)

Will New Governor See ‘The Writing On The Wall’?

Dear Editor,
Illinois just voted in a new Governor in hopes for change, but with a state that's billions in debt, one can't help but wonder if he will even be able to do anything or if this is going to be the old same-o song and dance.
With Corrections being one of Illinois biggest budget cost and busting at its seams I ponder if he is able to see the writing on the wall as the Federal Government has.
In November our Attorney General Eric Holder, in a signature reform, the Obama Administration lightened prison sentences for federal drug offenders for the first time since Ronald Reagan took office. The Federal prison population is shrinking with a savings of billions.
This Smarter Sentencing Act Bill that's now shrinking the Federal prison population was introduced by our very own assistant majority leader Dick Durbin. Is it possible maybe other legislators are also seeing that this "war on drugs" isn't working?
Under this new Federal Sentencing Reform the Justice Department has stepped down their sentences by two degrees with the average beneficiary receiving a two year reduction. This Act is expected to save taxpayers more then two billion. By 2016 it is projected to drop the Federal prison population by 12,000 --more then six federal prisons.  
In a September speech given by Holder on the harms created by this "drug war"  he stated: "Our system has perpetuated a destructive cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration that has trapped countless people and weakened entire communities."
With the Federal inmate population falling for the first time in 34 years, we can't help but wonder when Illinois legislators are going to wakeup and follow suit. Being that it wasn't only a couple years ago that the state’s Comptroller had over 39 million worth of past due bills for Corrections alone
In 2010 IDOC's budget was $1.4 billion and that was over four years ago at a population far less than it is now. No one wants to release violent criminals or threaten society safety, but there are policies that can be introduced for non-violent offenders that can lower the prison population without threatening society's safety.
One of our nation’s greatest strength is its belief in capitalism and America has reaped numerous benefits from accepting that one's own self interest is a driving force behind their productivity. But as I learn more and more about certain policies in Corrections I become more and more astonished.
As of April 2014 IDOC's population was 48,525 and projected to top 50,000 by March 2015 according to the IDOC quarterly report, out of the same report only 9,831 of the inmates were in an educational or vocational program. That left 38,694 inmates just sitting in cells being warehoused. In a 2009 IDOC annual report when the population was around 45,000 IDOC was housing over 10,000 just on drug charges, over 1,000 for retail theft, close to 700 for vehicle code violation, 1,300 for DUI. 
Can't anyone see that incarceration is not the answer for all society's problems...that employing half the society by locking up the other half is not financially or morally responsible.

James Paul Miller
Jacksonville C. C.

Six Quick Tips For Sub-Zero Winter Driving
Dear Editor,
  When it comes to winter car care, many motorists think of antifreeze and batteries, but vehicles need extra attention when temperatures drop below zero. These six quick tips will help your vehicle perform at its best during cold weather months.
  1)     Keep the gas tank at least half full; this decreases the chance of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.
2)   Check the tire pressure, including the spare, as tires can lose pressure when temperatures drop. Consider special tires if snow and ice are a problem in your area.
3) Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
4)     If you’re not trying to defrost the windshield or warm the interior, modern cars are ready to be driven right away. Idling longer than 30 seconds in most cases is unnecessary for the sake of warming up the engine. The best way to warm up your car is to drive gently at the start.
5)  Change to low-viscosity oil in winter as it will flow more easily between moving parts when it is cold. Drivers in sub-zero temperatures should drop their oil weight from 10-W30 to 5-W30 as thickened oil can make it hard to start the car. 
6) Consider using cold weather washer fluid and special winter windshield blades if you live in a place with especially harsh winter conditions.
  Sub-zero temperatures can have a real impact on your vehicle. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance and rough idling, and very cold temperatures reduce battery power. If you haven’t had your vehicle checked recently, a thorough vehicle inspection is a good idea so you can avoid the aggravation and unexpected cost of a breakdown in freezing weather.
  For more helpful auto care information, motorists can order a free copy of the recently updated 80-page Car Care Guide for the glove box at www.carcare.org/car-care-guide. 
Rich White
Executive Director
Car Care Council
Bethesda, MD 

Letters Above Posted 1/20/15

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Thankful For The Wonderful People Who Live In Decatur

Dear Editor:
With the new year starting, we all should be thankful for the wonderful people who live in Decatur, and the fact that they are the city's greatest resource. Decatur is a city with a warm and generous heart, with people who are willing to volunteer their time and energy to help their neighbors. Simply put, Decatur is a great place to live.
It was my honor to serve on the Decatur City Council for 15 years, and I am thankful to have met so many outstanding people who really care about our community. 
Our Mayor, City Manager, and his employees have done a great job of moving the city forward under difficult economic times. There is a positive momentum that is now taking place in our city and a vision for success that I have not seen in many years.
There are also many important causes in Decatur where volunteer help is needed - service clubs, charities, hospitals, churches, schools, The Salvation Army, Good Samaritan Inn, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the parks and so many more. The more that people share their time and talents, the better our community will be.
In this new year, let us resolve to think positive and continue to help make Decatur an even better place to live.

Larry W. Foster
Decatur City Councilman

Some Information About Ridglydale Dairy

Dear Editor:
Several weeks ago you received a e-mail from a Springfield milk bottle collector asking for info on the Ridglydale Dairy.
In 1930 Ridglydale was located at 127 E. Prairie. This is the first time it appeared as a business and listed as a dairy.
In 1933 the dairy was listed as Ridglydale Dairy Inc at 141-145 N. Church.
In the late 1930's, most likely 1938, Ridglydale Dairy purchased Decatur Producers Dairy (837 W. Harrison) and incorporated it into its business at 141-145 N. Church.
In 1943 the dairy purchased Burkholden Sanitary Dairy (105 S. Hilton) and also incorporated it into its business. 
In 1944 Jesse K. Burkholden became vice-president and general manager.
In 1946 Ridglyldale was sold to Taylor-Harder Dairy Co. (636 E. Wood). 
Mr. Ridglydale passed away in 1948 at which time the Taylor-Harder families combined both dairies into one which became the Sunshine Dairy at 725 E. Prairie. In 1962 Prairie Farms Inc. merged into Sunshine Dairy.
In 1987 Prairie Farms purchased Sunshine Dairy. Larry Taylor became manager for Prairie Farms.
Among collections Ridglydale is best known for their baby face cream up bottles. And on the many Sunshine bottles was listed Ridglydale, Taylor-Harder, Sunshine Decatur's oldest dairy along with a picture of a dairy plant.
In 1992 the late Jack Aldrich wrote a brief book "Dairying Decatur, Illinois 1871-1991". The Decatur Library had a copy Cat. 338.177. However under the last head librarian a lot of books were pulled and disapproved. Aldrich had also published a copy of Decatur's 1st City Directory 1871-72 and it is no longer in the library stock!
Hope this helps on the history of Ridglydale Dairy.
I enjoy the Decatur Tribune and have enjoyed it for many years.

Ray Davis

Thanks To Moultrie County Honor Guard And 
United States Navy

To the Editor:
On December 15th my Dad passed away. He was a World War II Veteran of (6 yrs.) on the ship U.S.S. Wichita this ship receiving 13 Battle Stars. In preparing for the graveside arrangements the funeral home contacted the Macon County Honor Guard to perform the rights that this veteran so deserved.
We were told they could not do this because on that day December 20th they were having a x-mas party.
We could not get them to take two hours from their x-mas party to honor a fallen Navy Veteran.
My future stepson contacted the Honor Guard in Sullivan which would be Moultrie County Honor Guard, along with the United States Navy, and they performed an outstanding ceremony.
For this I give a big thanks to my future stepson, the Honor Guard of Moultrie County and the U.S. Navy, and hope that the Macon County Honor Guard had a great x-mas party.

Larry T. Kellogg

National Guard Units Appreciate
Decatur Community’s Support

Dear Editor:
Operation Enduring Support once again wishes to express their grateful thank you to Decatur and surrounding communities for their continuing generosity with their contributions to our project of send Christmas packages to individual troops a success again this year.
All items and dollars donated are greatly appreciated by our deployed troops.  Many of the 325 boxes sent in four mailings during 2014 year were sent to individuals & units at combat outposts.
The support OES has received during the past from the community, veteran’s groups, school children, Churches, and special groups has been enormous.
School Children made Christmas cards, letters and drawings to be included in the boxes.  The troops really appreciated these cards. Local Churches donated items and dollars.  Local Veteran groups donated funds and many individuals donated to this project. A local manufacturing company’s donations allowed us to send packages for the first time for July 4th.  Only with your help is this project successful.  A big Thank You to all!  
We have received letters from our service men and women thanking us for not forgetting them and making their Holidays brighter.  Some of our deployed service men and women never receive mail.
All of these Thank Yous belong to you.  As your continued patriotism and support have allowed us to send care packages for 12 years.

Ann Irwin, Director
Operation Enduring Support

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Above letters posted Jan. 13, 2015

Letters Are Printed With The Most Recent Submissions First

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Decatur, IL 62525-1490.

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Looking southwest from the editor's office in the Millikin Court Bldg. downtown

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