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Solving The Case Of The Vanishing Worker

Dear Editor:
In the article “Case of the Vanishing Worker” published in the May 11, 2015 edition of the Wall Street Journal, Peters and Leubsdorf highlight how many cities such as Decatur, Illinois are experiencing declining unemployment rates as a result of individuals moving, retiring, or dropping out of the labor force, as opposed to finding work.  Smaller cities that heavily rely on single industries such as manufacturing have experienced job declines in our global economy.
Companies must respond quickly to changing market conditions including job reductions during downturns.  In larger cities, job losses may be quickly absorbed by other growing businesses.  In smaller cities, the ability to create large numbers of jobs in short order can be limited, thereby negatively impacting their ability to retain workers who lose their jobs.
What smaller cities lack in size, they make up for in agility.  
For example, what makes Decatur, IL unique is that the city, its citizens, and businesses have worked together to help transform the city with over $1 billion in current and future investment.  These investments have included infrastructure improvement (i.e., increasing water supply), education (i.e., upgrading schools and workforce development initiatives), and private enterprise (i.e., facility improvements).
Simultaneously, Decatur has positioned itself to become a global leader in logistics and distribution through the establishment of the Midwest Inland Port.  The city has developed a
strong ethic of entrepreneurship establishing new initiatives to help small and mid-size businesses grow.  
Moreover, the city is surrounded by some of the best soil on Earth, and remains a global leader in agriculture.
By combining strengths in agriculture, growing its position in logistics and distribution, maintaining its manufacturing base, and fostering entrepreneurship, Decatur is creating a pathway to a growing and sustainable workforce that will be able to withstand future economic downturns.

David Horn

Dillers Market, Bud’s Were Popular Grocery Stores

Dear Editor:
I have been an avid reader of the Tribune for years.  I have read several stories on the many grocery stores from the past but don't recall any about two very popular stores of the past; Dillers Market and Bud's. 
Dillers was located on the old Broadway Street (now MLK), and Bud's Market was on the corner of Broadway and Condit. Bud and his wife Ruth ran the store for several years back in the forties and fifties. Their last name was Simonin. 
I went to St. Patrick with their daughter Mary. My brother and I played softball on the playground at Ullrich Park and a well hit ball over the center field fence would land in Bud's fruit baskets he had outside. I parked many a ball there. 
Dillers was run by a man named Ed. Another man who worked there was named Elmer and a lady named Hilda. This is back when they would add up your total on the side of your sack with a pencil.
Mom would send me to Dillers with a dollar bill for lunch for Mom, my brother and me. I generally got the same thing daily; pop, potato chips and a good sized sack of lunch meat. And yes, I always had change left over for candy. 
Talk about the good ole days!

Bobby R. McMahon

LETTERS above posted on 5/26/15

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Sick And Tired Of Military Being Talked
About In Negative Terms

Dear Editor:
     I'm sick & tired (S&T) of  people like Ron Adams dissing our military like he did in a recent opinion letter. His so called "facts", came from some book he read. 
I wonder if Mr. Adams has a problem recognizing fact from fiction, because if this is the same Ron Adams that evidently believed the garbage he quoted about President George W. Bush from a book by Michael Moore, it turned out it was all lies and fiction. I suggest that Mr. Adams check his facts, and use his head before he talks bad about the people risking their lives for him.
     I'm S&T of  people that refuse to admit that our president has severely damaged our country, and is still in the process of  damaging it further. 
I'm S&T of gullible left wingers refusing to admit that a president that routinely tells bald faced lies over and over is nothing more than an untrustworthy liar. Call it like it is. Unless of course if you are a Clinton and what the meaning of is is. Slick Willy and his wife are, in my opinion, accomplished liars, but can't hold a candle to our sitting president.
     I'm S&T of people and the main stream media for not raising hell with Barack Obama for doing nothing about corrupt people running our veterans administration. 
The same day the scandal came out about many of our veterans dying because of incompetence and corruption in the Phoenix, AZ. veterans hospital, our president was on a fund raising trip and passed near the hospital. He didn't even care enough to stop and investigate. Since it's been over a year and nobody has been fired it's obvious Barack Obama doesn't care about our veterans or active military. What really is beyond ridiculous, is the fact that many of the corrupt administrators have received large bonuses for doing a lousy job.
     I'm S&T of Obama negotiating with Iran about anything. We can't believe anything they say and they seem to have Obama Wrapped around their little finger like Russia did. When it comes to dealing with our enemies our president is so incompetent it's embarrassing as well as dangerous.
     I'm S&T of a lot of other things about left wingers, (mostly democrats), but now I'm S&T of typing, so I'm going to turn on Fox news, the people who expose Obama’s lies with news clips to prove them. 
So take that Ms. Stengel and Ms. Pittman. (Sort of a private joke). 
I feel much better now.

Robert Jenkins

Citizens Have Responsibility
To Prevent Cruelty To Animals

Dear Editor:
The Illinois Senate will soon vote on a bill that would allow both the hunting and trapping of bobcats. When former Governor Quinn vetoed a similar bill just five months ago, he said that allowing people to hunt bobcats would violate our responsibility to protect and preserve Illinois’ wildlife. Let us not violate that responsibility now.
Many animals who are shot by hunters are never recovered and are left to a slow, agonizing death. Trapped animals may languish in days before the trapper arrives to kill them. As the terrified animals struggle, they can injure themselves further; some, especially mothers with babies to feed, even resort to chewing or twisting off their own limbs in a desperate attempt to escape. Steel-jaw traps are indiscriminate—they catch any animal who stumbles into them, including “non-target” wildlife and companion animals.
Imagine your dog or cat succumbing to such a fate, and you can understand why we have a responsibility to prevent such cruelty to any animal.

Jennifer Bates
PETA Foundation
Norfolk, VA 

Letters Above Posted 5/19/20

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National Public Works Week A Great Time
To Thank Special People

Dear Editor,
  National Public Works Week (NPWW) is May 17 – 23; a great time to thank the many public works men and women that keep our communities healthy, safe and on the move. The services we have grown to expect like fire and police protection, community health, and environmental stewardship would not be possible without our public works professionals.
  We expect turning on the faucet and having a supply of clean water, a sanitation system that is always working, safe and diverse modes of transportation, and roads to keep us moving.  When a water main breaks, public works responds to the repair.  When there is storm damage, public works responds to clear the streets.   These services are the result of the quiet dedication of the public works professionals – our unsung heroes serving the public good every day.
  NPWW started in 1960 as a public education campaign to highlight the importance of public works in community life.  Many Public Works Departments will be hosting an Open House giving us the opportunity to meet the professionals and view the equipment and facilities needed to keep us moving.  I encourage everyone to take this opportunity to meet our unsung heroes and recognize all they do.
Mary Cave, P.E.
Project Manager
Chastain & Associates LLC

‘Doc Fix’ Legislation Ends Era Of Medicare Uncertainty
Dear Editor: 
Congress recently enacted a bipartisan solution that will end annual challenges to Medicare’s steep cuts in reimbursements to physicians and other health care professionals. The “Doc Fix” legislation ends an era of uncertainty for Medicare beneficiaries and their physicians by improving the way Medicare pays doctors.
  The legislation also includes a variety of efforts to fight Medicare fraud and abuse.
  Provisions that will help keep Medicare beneficiaries safe from fraud and identity theft, such as removing Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards, and the future development of improved incentives for Medicare beneficiaries to report Medicare fraud, mean an increased role for the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program under the law. AgeOptions coordinates SMP in Illinois with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living. 
  AgeOptions, with partner area agencies on aging, other Illinois organizations and dedicated volunteers, teaches people how to protect themselves from Medicare fraud through precautions such as not carrying Medicare cards in their wallets. Since the new requirement to remove Social Security numbers will be phased in over eight years, the SMP message continues – guard your Medicare card.
  We are pleased that the new law addresses consumer protection issues. Medicare beneficiaries are the best frontline defense against fraud and abuse, and this bill also highlights the role that SMPs and our volunteers can play in empowering beneficiaries to fight fraud. Medicare fraud and abuse not only steals taxpayer dollars, it can prevent people from accessing services when they need them.

Jonathan Lavin
President and CEO

It’s Time For A Change, Instead Of More Money,
To Solve Nation’s Problems

Dear Editor:
I feel sorry for the people of Baltimore who have been governed, for 40 years, by a one party system, whose leaders, seem primarily interested in getting re-elected.  It is also sad that American citizens try to blame others for their individual situation and fail to have a basic understanding how the economy works.
I hear them complain about Corporations failing to invest in their community.  CVS Drug store made an investment, in excess of two million dollars, and they burned the store down.  What did they gain?  Loss of convenience, loss of jobs, and the message to others, don’t invest here, we will destroy you.  Who would re-invest with that attitude?
Ask yourself, would you hire someone, who has difficulty reading, or writing or failure to count change at $15.00 per hour?  School choice would help along with Vocational Schools.
Simple moves could help: Tax credits to employees, who hire the unemployed.  Reduction in the minimum wage, to a local market rate, rather than a mandated national rate.  Reduce the amount of government regulations that stifle the economy. A 3 year moratorium on Income Taxes for all “new” businesses, which will help them to grow and add employees.
The EPA enforces mining, pipelines, oil drilling issues with regulations far exceeding their original mandates. Think about, how much Caterpillar Equipment is used in those areas.  Maybe we wouldn't have the layoffs at the local CAT plant if government regulations weren't so heavy handed.
Simplify the IRS income tax code.  Oh I forgot, IRS would have to reduce their 20,000 member staff if they did that.
We have spent over 15 Trillion Dollars on anti-poverty programs since Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” and yet poverty has increased.  Politicians need to address these issues, and I don’t mean more money. It is time for a change.
Milton Brahier

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Letters above posted on 5/12/15

Reduce Risk Of Stroke By Eating More Fruits 
And Vegetables

Dear Editor,
People may not wear ribbons during May in recognition of American Stroke Month, but everyone should know that stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Fortunately, research suggests that you can reduce your risk of a stroke by almost a third just by eating more fruits and vegetables.
Meat, eggs, and dairy products are high in cholesterol and saturated fat, which can clog the arteries that supply blood to your brain, leading to strokes. By contrast, fruits, vegetables, and other vegan foods are cholesterol-free and generally low in saturated fat. Studies show that vegans are much less likely to have arterial blockages that can cause strokes and heart attacks.
Vegans tend to have considerably lower blood pressure than meat-eaters do, too, which makes them far less susceptible to strokes. And the average vegan is 18 percent leaner than his or her meat-eating counterpart, which is significant considering that obese people are much more likely to suffer from strokes. For more information and free vegan recipes, see www.PETA.org.

Heather Moore
PETA Foundation
Norfolk, VA 

Baltimore Mother Graham Could Save This Nation
Three cheers for the Baltimore mommy who was slapping and whipping the heck out of her son. Mommy Toya Graham saw her 16-year-old son Michael in the rioting crowd with a hoodie and a mask this past week and immediately went to him and took him off the street. She should be America's poster mommy this Mother's day for parenting.
  Kids in this country are starving for a mommy and a daddy to step up to the plate and be real parents. As much as ever before the youth of America need to be loved, mentored, tutored through school, time with loving parents and then a good kick to the backside every now and then.
  My mother slapped my face once. She slapped me hard enough that I honestly don't remember what I sassed her about. She took me out to the peach tree and whipped me with a peach tree limb (switch) on more than one occasion. My daddy gave me the belt more than once. Honestly, these are not my fond family memories.
However, they were on the scene. They weren't missing in action. They were at home being parents. They cared enough about me to try to drive me in the right direction.
  I regret every spanking I gave my two sons. I wish I could go back and undo every swat I ever gave them on the rear end. I never enjoyed that. However, they both finished school, never have been arrested and both are serving our country today in the military. We had some tough times like all families do but God by his grace gave me enough strength and wherewithal to stay with my family and stay with my boys. 
Looking back I know they needed even more than what I gave but I am so glad I gave everything I did.
  During her childhood our youngest daughter would occasionally threaten that she was calling social services on us. This was usually due to our insistence that she do some homework, clean her room a little or just go to bed. It was amusing but we encouraged her to go ahead if she thought she could find a better deal. She backtracked on that threat.
  Like Toya Graham moms and dads are the answer to many of America's problems. We must step up to the plate and be adults. Take responsibility for our families welfare, education and what they are doing. And when necessary go to the warzone like Mommy Graham and take action in order to save our children and this nation. 

Glenn Mollette
Washington D. C.

Decatur Township Refuses To Accept Realities
Of Unnecessary Overhead

Dear Editor:
In an era of government spending reductions where municipalities and states are seeking to reduce budget deficits to avoid bankruptcy and the federal government is finally realizing it must do something about runaway deficit spending, Decatur township government refuses to accept realities of unnecessary overhead and spending.
Decatur's proposed budget indicates plans to spend $324,583 in salaries to distribute $329,000 through the general assistance program. The workload does not justify the amount of staff or spending currently utilized by the township. The township should look to reduce spending and cut staff to create a more efficient use of funds and perhaps provide a greater impact to those in need.
This type of inefficient Bureaucracy adds to unnecessary government spending that creates the type of pain that imposes a burden on the middle class and ultimately reduces the funds and services available to the poor.

Jerald Sebok

Above letters posted on 5/5/15

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Hillary Clinton Fails Personal Honesty Test
By Any Reasonable Standard  

Dear Editor:
Civil War General Sherman told people who urged him to run for president that "if nominated I will not run; if elected I will not serve." He continued for years to serve in the army so it was not a lack of energy or unwillingness to work hard, which prompted his refusal. 
Perhaps he looked within himself and judged he lacked "the right stuff" to be our president and loved our country too much to risk becoming a less than best possible leader. America will always need its best person in that job. But Sherman was making his refusal in the 1860's. How different it is today.
Our presidents must be truthful, hardworking, experienced and intelligent enough to be able to fulfill the needs of the job.
Who can reasonably believe Hillary Clinton, if she honestly looked into her own character, could believe she was fit to be president? She fails the personal honesty test by any reasonable standard.
Still, one can be truthful, hardworking, experienced and intelligent and still in good conscience step back from seeking the presidency. Our greatest president was all those things and much more but after two terms Washington stepped away. Many think he could have been president for life. 
So I view Jeb Bush's ambition as out of step with our best traditions. He has all the qualities needed for the job but ours is not to be a nation of dynasties. Perhaps he should have been president in lieu of George W. Bush but he wasn't and three Bushes would be too much.
Let's turn the historical page to a new generation for leadership.

John E. Fick

Citizens Should Express Their Views On
Decatur Township’s Proposed Budget

Dear Editor:
A detailed study of the Decatur Township's proposed budget reveals that they plan to spend $324,583 in salaries and benefits to a staff to distribute $329,000 through the general assistance program to those clients that qualify for transitional aid. This does not reflect the other administrative costs of the program. Each client receives a check of about $100 to $125 each month. There are probably a little over 240 clients each month to service. About 82% of that employee costs goes to only three staff members. The highest paid employee costs around $114,000.
These high salaries were established when the State of Illinois provided over a million dollars a year to the township. The State set the salaries in addition to providing the funds to go to clients. The State also set the rules and did audits on the township.
The State stopped their program and funding several years ago. Yet, the township is still paying these high salaries as if they were running the old state programs. In addition, they have created their own program based on the old state program. This is instead of using programs used by the majority of other townships. Most townships use programs designed by the Township Officials of Illinois. This organization even provides the operational manuals for their programs.
This budget has not been approved yet. Therefore, it can still be changed. That can happen at their May 6th meeting or sometime after that. They have until the end of June to vote.
For those citizens upset with the cost of government, this is a local issue you can act on now. 
Let your elected officials know how you feel. The township's website, www.toi.org/decaturtownship, lists the names and phone numbers of the Supervisor and the four trustees who will vote on the budget.

Tom Greanias

Decatur’s $1 Billion Capital Campaign

Dear Editor
Decatur is a city with its best days ahead. There may be no better indicator of this than the amount of public and private investment that has been made or committed recently.  Over $275 million in infrastructure improvements have or will be made by the City of Decatur, most notably the dredging of Lake Decatur.  
Nearly $750 million has or will come to Decatur and the surrounding communities from private industry including $300 million for initiatives at Caterpillar, over $200 million at ADM, and $150 million at Fuyao Glass.  
The Midwest Inland Port has the ability to transform Decatur into a global leader in logistics and distribution.  Smaller companies with large growth potential such as Akorn Pharmaceuticals, Parke & Sons, and Union Iron are making substantial upgrades to their Decatur operations.  
Illinois Health and Science is forging a path to become a national leader in nuclear medicine.  
Approximately $175 million is being invested in our schools, colleges, and universities.  This includes the renovation of our two high schools, a new Workforce Development Institute at Richland Community College, and an $85 million Transform MU campaign at Millikin University.  
Collectively, Decatur and the surrounding communities have embarked on a $1 billion capital campaign.  
Thanks to the Economic Development Corporation and its partners, we will be able to highlight these and other efforts and tell Decatur’s positive story.  Working together, we will transform Decatur into a vibrant city, and a model for growth.

David Horn

Letters Above Posted 4/28/15

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Decatur’s Overwhelming Need Is For Good Jobs

Dear Mr. Osborne,
I am grateful to the citizens of Decatur for allowing me the privilege of serving on the city council. I wish to acknowledge the dedicated service of retiring councilmen Larry Foster and Patrick Laegler.
The overwhelming need of our community is the need for good jobs. Yet, the dominant solution to our budget problems has been to cut, cut and cut. But the longer we delay maintenance, repair and replacement the more expensive the work becomes. We should consider grandma's wisdom: "A stitch in time saves nine."
Recent labor department statistics about Decatur reveal a loss of 600 jobs in construction and professional services; and over 1,500 people have left town. For 8 years recession and austerity have plagued our city. The time has come to abandon conventional wisdom. Instead our leaders must enact bold and innovative plans. Change deserves a chance.
As a councilman I have three jobs to: 1. inform 2. legislate and 3. oversee. I will need a lot of help from my neighbors and friends to get these jobs done. I invite your prayers, advice and counsel.
Finally, this is what I believe: the test for America and for our town is not which side will prevail - conservative or liberal, business or workers. The test is can we come together?  Thank you.

Bill Faber

Keeping An Eagle Eye On Surveillance

Dear Editor:
Recently in the news, was the issue of law enforcement officers wearing body cameras. Any warrantless surveillance cameras and/or audio used in neighborhoods, at red lights, in vehicles, or on persons by law enforcement is an egregious violation of the fourth amendment.
It shifts the burden of proof from innocent until proven guilty - so precious to the right of due process - to the idea that the individual is guilty, until he passes the camera's eye without incident, that is, if the camera is functioning properly and its evidence isn't corrupted in any way.
Meanwhile, in this Orwellian theory, the criminal moves to where the camera's eye isn't, and law abiding citizens have information on them taped, collected, and stored, a direct infringement on their rights. No matter how well intentioned or in the name of being transparent an elected official would have to deny his oath of office to raise fees, tax, accept gifts or donation, or apply for grants - to implement these surveillance programs.
Adding to budget woes would be equipment maintenance, updating, replacement, and storage of information and data collected on citizens which no one seems to know for how long. Another possible budget concern might be litigation for invasion of privacy. There is video already showing up on You Tube from FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests of law enforcement. For instance, imagine an officer wearing a camera while responding to a call at your home after you hear a noise in the middle of the night, video of the lay out of your home, perhaps a child's crib, valuables, or a gun cabinet, etc. collected incidentally as data, turning up for all to view on You Tube including someone who may plan a future home invasion.
Please call the city mayor, council, and chief of police and insist the older police vehicles, as well as the new vehicles recently approved by the council, not contain video or audio, also exclude the police body cameras that could come by the end of the year.
Follow with a call to the Macon County Board chairman and members, tell them not to budget for vehicle and/or body video/audio and their information storage at the Sheriff's Department. Let the sheriff know your concerns.
Finish by reminding your state senator and representative of their oath of office, ask them not to mandate, codify or budget for the above mentioned items even if it appears to help in a few cases, the long term ramifications to society and the rule of law must necessarily be devastating, if this isn't stopped.
America is exceptional because we adhere to the rule of law that protects us from these intrusions of governmental over reach. Other nations that didn't have these foundations and safeguards have ceased to be great or are long forgotten.
Many in our nation's history have paid dearly for our rights. Let's honor and respect the sacrifices of our soldiers and veterans and do everything we can to preserve and retain those freedoms.

Sherry Procarione

Teachers Should Be Role Model For Students

Hi Paul:  
I wanted you to know that I just read your article about a former teacher of yours, a “Miss Screamer”, and as a lifelong school teacher, I appreciated your story.  
The reason that I related to your story is that when I was in First Grade at Roach School, I had a sadistic teacher who summarily humiliated students in her class (including me) for minor infractions of her rules and I never got over it.
My only purpose in becoming a career school teacher later in my life, was to change schools and teachers from places kids were mistreated and hated to go, to a place where kids wanted to go, felt secure, were happy, and benefited from their experience; I failed miserably in my quest, of course, but I really tried and I never regretted my decision.
Because, I spent a lifetime enjoying learning with students and being respected by students as their equal and friend; that was my approach to teaching, and it worked for me.  I never had a ‘bad’ student that I couldn’t respect.
You said your mother’s idea of you falling from your chair as a result of ‘Miss Screamer’s’ yelling didn’t work, but I think it might have had more effect on ‘Screamer’ than you thought. 
In any event, I’m proud of you for your reaction to the teacher’s misconduct; your teacher needed to be advised that she is required to treat students with respect, because students deserve the same respect entitled every other human being, and that is what teachers are supposed to be teaching you students, with her acting as a role model.
Probably, that is what your caring mother had in mind!

Richard Blankenburg, Ed.D., 
San Diego, CA

Letters Above Posted 4/21/15

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Earlier Letters Are Below

Memories Of Attending 1945 State Basketball Tournament 

Dear Editor:
Memories and more memories!
In 1945 my father went to Decatur High at 7:00 a.m. for the drawing for tickets to the state basketball tournament at Huff Gym in Champaign. Dad came away with two tickets for the entire tournament.
He then got me excused from school for the tournament dates (Roosevelt Jr. High) and away we went to Champaign.
At that time the tournament consisted of 16 teams all played at one site with 8 games the first day. There was only one division that consisted of all of the Illinois Schools large and small. This would give Illinois a true complete basketball champion.
We were seated in the upper level just over a doorway below. I remember the excitement at the end of the Galesburg game just like it was yesterday. My father became so excited that he almost fell over the railing but a man sitting next to him grabbed him by the belt and saved him from what would have probably been a serious injury.
Is it not interesting that now 70 years later that I was able to be at the games for my new home town, Brimfield, as they became the new division "One A" State Basketball Champion.
I still have the ticket stubs from the 1945 games.
What great memories!

Ken Cochennour
Brimfield, IL

Discouraged With Much Of Today’s Television Programming

To the Editor:
We read your article, Paul, on March 6th about "Remember Basic Television Programming!" 
It was a delight and amusing to know you are also discouraged with the TV programming and all the long and many commercials of today. Maybe there are others also? 
We watch a lot of PBS, too, because of the trashy programs they call entertainment. Even the so-called "comedy" shows are trashy!
I hate to think what another 10 years will bring.

Jerry and Nancy Wade

Capistrano Has Its Swallows; Central Illinois
Has Its Grosbeaks And Buntings  

Dear Editor:
Every year southern Californians celebrate, with ringing bells, the return of the swallows at the San Juan Capistrano mission on or about St. Joseph’s Day, March 19th.  
A similar event welcomes the return of the vultures (often referred to as “buzzards”) at Hinckley, Ohio, on or about March 15th.  The celebratory return of these migratory birds is a welcome sign of spring.  
Central Illinoisans used to herald the arrival of robins each spring; however, that is no longer possible because robins that nest much farther north now spend the winter months here in central Illinois (this is  the “south” for them) and it’s difficult to distinguish a northern winter resident from a truly spring arrival.  But, the annual return of other familiar migrants such as the bluebird, Red-winged Blackbird and grackle, can still be used as good indicators of spring.
The spring season for migratory birds occurs over a four month period every year from late February through early June.  Throughout the season dozens of species, ranging from waterfowl to herons, hawks and shorebirds to gulls, and hummingbirds to a large variety on songbirds, return to or pass through Illinois to their nesting grounds.  Some, such as the swallows of Capistrano and the “buzzards” at Hinckley have become famous for their annual return within a day or two of a “specific” date.  Here in central Illinois diligent birders can often predict within a matter of two or three days when each species will first be detected; as an example, the first Ruby-throated Hummingbirds typically arrive about April 15th (so, that’s the date hummingbird enthusiasts are encouraged to place their feeders out to attract these birds). 
Two very colorful species that often appear at central Illinois feeders in late April and early May are the Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting.  Both have a fondness for seeds and since seeds are rather scarce at the time they return to central Illinois, they quickly respond to the handouts (especially sunflower seeds) readily available at feeders.  The males of these two species are easily recognized and widely reported each spring; the females, however, are not so easily distinguishable and are often passed off as sparrows or finches.  
Because the Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting are so colorful, prominent and popular at feeders, the Board of Directors of the Lincoln Land Association of Bird Banders (LLABB) is pleased to announce that those two species have been selected as Central Illinois’ annual poster birds and would appreciate community participation in reporting them.  For this designation, the definition of “central Illinois” has been limited to Sangamon and its adjacent counties (Macon, Christian, Montgomery, Macoupin, Morgan, Cass, Menard and Logan).  
LLABB looks forward to hearing from anyone observing either or both species at their feeders.  Reports, including the first day of observation and the maximum number observed at one time (dated photos along with the name of the photographer would be most helpful), should be sent by email to LLABBaves@gmail.com or to LLABB, P.O. Box 13442, Springfield, IL  62791.  At the end of the season, a compilation of all reports received will be prepared and made available to everyone requesting it.  
Thank you for your participation.

Vernon Kleen, President
Lincoln Land Association 
of Bird Banders

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Letters Above Posted April 14, 2015

‘Scrapbook’ Rekindles Memories Of Being ‘Car Hop’

Dear Editor:
    The recent article about local cruisin' rekindled memories.  During April 1944, due to relaxed labor laws during the war, Perry Bullock, owner and operator of the Steak and Shake at 22nd & Cantrell, hired me, at age 15, as a "car hop".
As noted, eventually he  dropped the franchise name and operated as Perry's. In 1944 that location didn't operate during the winter season so when I started to work he was opening for the summer season, which ended near the end of October.
   There wasn't much cruising during that period due to gasoline and tire rationing, plus new autos weren't available.  You had to preserve your existing car.
   I've always enjoyed working with numbers so I think that was the reason I remember menus and prices from that era.  I earned $2.10 plus tips for an 8 hour shift.  We also received a 70-cent food allowance.  That doesn't  appear to be much of an allowance, but when you learn steak burgers were 14c, cheeseburgers 17c, toasted cheese 12c, fries 12c, shakes 14c, malts 17c, etc. you realize it was an ample sum.
   You didn't always receive a tip but if you did, ten cents was a normal amount.  You were in "hog heaven" whenever there was a larger tip.
   In retrospect I feel very fortunate to have worked at a steady job during my early years.  It's too bad that currently there aren't more employment opportunities for today's teens.

   Clint Whitrock

You Can Do Something About Excessive Cable Bill

Dear Editor 
I read with great interest on your excessive cable bill. I too grew tired of the ever escalating bill and did something about it which you can too. 
We now stream TV. I have an antenna which allows me to view at least 6 over the air digital local stations. With some work you can get more and this cost me $30. I have basic internet service (sadly with Comcast) which I got back down to discounted price by cancelling and standing my ground. 
I bought my own modem to save the $10 a month they charge for theirs. We stream Netflix and Hulu plus at a cost of $7.99 each per month. and get other apps via our smart TV and blue ray player.  Total cost is under $50 per month, for internet, local channels, and two different streaming content services that offer tons of choices. 
A new choice for the sports fan called SLING TV is available for $20 a month. Add this all together and even with that you would still cut your bill in half and have most everything you want to see and more.  
Of course, Comcast will try to raise your internet to $66.95 a month at home when cancelling TV.  However if you stand up you can get it under $29.99 a month without modem costs. It’s a long process but even if they inflate your internet rates and you choose the lazy way to not fight for their discounted internet rate you still can cut 30% or more off your cable bill. Of course you do need a wireless network in your home but most everyone today either has a SMART TV or SMART enabled devices such as DVD players, gaming systems etc. And there are other choices for internet to compare prices on depending where you are in the city such as ATT and Frontier. Cut the chord! 
PS our city council had a hand in letting these rates escalate. All new TVs come with digital converters. However Comcast convinced city leaders we had to have boxes and you would get one free. Now residents pay for each and every box as well as tons of other fees and charges. 
Dan Calhoun 

Don’t Cut Funds For Illinois Supportive Living Communities 

Dear Mr. Osborne,
As one of Illinois Supportive Living (SL) communities, we strongly oppose Governor Rauner’s proposed Medicaid budget cuts to our program. The Governor’s budget proposal for State Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) contains an 8.85% rate cut to supportive living communities while also proposing to raise the qualification to become Medicaid eligible, which will make it more difficult for people to get the housing with healthcare and other services in supportive living. We understand measures are necessary to deal with a fiscal budget crisis, but it doesn’t make sense to cut rates on a program that is actually saving the state money and generating Federal-matching funds!
The average length of stay for a SL resident is 27 months, which is about a $60,000 per person SAVINGS compared to nursing home costs. Making these savings even more impressive is the fact that SL operators are paid at 52 percent of nursing home rates.
In Decatur or Macon County alone, there are 3 SL communities that serve low-income seniors and persons with disabilities. The Supportive Living program in Illinois has established itself as the best affordable assisted living program in the country. If these cuts take place, not only will it undermine what has been achieved on behalf of the vulnerable people we serve, but potential residents may be turned away and many of our current residents will be diverted to nursing homes or other less appropriate settings, which will add a further burden to the state’s fiscal woes.
Bottom line – our program is a proven success and it’s imperative that Illinois protect what is working during this fiscal crisis.

Amy Noonan
Marketing Director
Eagle Ridge of Decatur

Letters Above Posted 4/8/15

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