Decatur Tribune Online


Vote For Ritter, Prince For Richland Board Of Trustees

Dear Editor:
I urge you to vote for Tom Ritter and Randy Prince for Richland Community College Trustees on Tuesday, April 7th.  
As a lifelong educator, I know the value in having high quality leadership at the Trustee level.  
Tom has been active with the Meridian School District Board for several years.  He is a great leader and currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Richland Community College Board of Trustees.  
I have known Randy for twenty five years and have witnessed his leadership ability.  He is a past chair of the Richland Board and helped in the effort to secure the new job training wings which provide training in everything from nursing to welding.  
Both of these candidates stand for a continued strong Richland to provide excellence in job preparation for its students which will, in turn, strengthen the community.  
Please join me on Tuesday, April 7th and vote for Tom Ritter and Randy Prince for Richland Community College Trustees.
Chuck Shonkwiler,
Regional Superintendent 
of Schools (retired)

Bill Faber For City Council

Dear Editor:
I urge everyone to vote in the upcoming election and ask that you mark your ballot to elect Bill Faber to serve on our city council.  
Bill is a man of integrity who will work for the good of Decatur and its citizens.  He is a good and honest person who uses his head as well as his heart.  
However you vote, VOTE.  
Our city faces many challenges and it's everyone's responsibility to participate in directing the future of Decatur. 
Mary Jo Comerford

Cast Your Vote For Ritter, Prince For Richland Board

Dear Editor,  
Please vote for Tom Ritter and Randy Prince for Richland Community trustee on April 7th.
I have known both of these outstanding people for over 25 years through the Farm Bureau.   Tom was the Macon County Farm Bureau president after Emmett.  He would be so proud of Tom following in his seat again at RCC.
Randy has been a close friend and very special to our family since coming to Decatur.
These two offer the best choices for our District in the April Richland election.  Both of them do a fine job leading the college and providing choices for our community’s education.
Please join me on Tuesday April 7th and vote Tom Titter and Randy Prince, for Richland Community College Trustee.

Joann Sefton
Dalton City

Thanks To Many People For Helping Celebrate 
60th Anniversary

Dear Mr. Osborne,
We recently celebrated our 60th anniversary and want to thank you for putting our picture in the Decatur Tribune. 
A big "thank you" to all the many people of the community for thinking of us with cards and phone calls. A big heartfelt thank you.

Billy and Norma Jean McPheron

Strongly Disagrees With Column On Dentists

Dear Editor:
I'm originally from Moweaqua - born and raised there. Thirty years ago we chose Englewood, FL as our retirement home. It was a good decision.
Recently, Tribune columnist Rick Stephenson admitted that he is a new resident of Englewood. I don't think he is qualified to judge who is or is not a "qualified" dentist here. It surely doesn't seem reasonable to judge quality dentist by the size of a building or the model of the cars in the parking area.
My first experience choosing a dentist in Englewood 30 years ago was prompted by the recommendation of my sister-in-law who had been a resident of Englewood for a few years. She recommended a young Englewood native just fresh out of dental college.
He was in a small office with some other dentists. Later they had a beautiful office building built with "state of the art" equipment and many other amenities.
My dentist has provided me with excellent care for 30 years and I've never doubted his ability or integrity regardless of the size of his office. I've never shopped around because I found satisfaction in my young dentist who will take care of my teeth until I die. I hope the 70 year old dentist is around to serve Rick in 30 years. His indicators for how to select a dentist lead me to believe he only wanted his teeth cleaned. He apparently got what he paid for. A good dentist is also invested in preventive dentistry which is more than cleaning your teeth.
As far as charges are concerned, my expense has always been covered by insurance so they apparently have not been unreasonable or the insurance company would have only paid a portion of the charges.
I smiled when Rick mentioned he received a roll of floss. My dentist gives us a brand new toothbrush plus floss. Perhaps Rick needs to start checking for a younger dentist in an old office and by all means check the cars in the parking lot. Rick really turned me off and I'm sorry that I have gone into such a lengthy rebuttal to his stupid theory. 
Perhaps I got my point across.

Betty J. Carlock
Englewood, FL

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Letters Above Posted 3/24/15

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Faber Is The Choice For City Council

Dear Editor,
I choose Bill Faber as candidate for City Councilman.
I most admire Mr. Faber for his selfless volunteer work. He puts many hours serving the Decatur Community through the Legal Aid Clinic at the Community Church of God. 
Through this program, Bill Faber saved my home. 
Mr. Faber has experience working with local legislation, exhibited when he started conversations about the reformation of Decatur's foreclosure process. I believe he works hard to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
With proud enthusiasm, I support Bill Faber for City Council. Please vote April 7.

Tommie Turner 

Statistics Are Used To Beat Policemen Down

Dear Editor:
Anyone who knows to come in out of the rain knows the Democrat party is anti-America's police departments, deny it though they may. African Americans overwhelmingly influence Democrat policies toward police departments. Look at what the Holder Justice Department just did to Ferguson, MO. 
Statistics are used to beat policemen down. 
If 30% of a policing area is of a minority, police must not arrest or even stop day in and day out more than 30% of individuals of that minority. What shall the policeman do? 
Here is the perfect answer. At police headquarters, each day's stop and/or arrest is at once counted and the daily percent of minority encounters immediately radioed to all policemen. As soon as 30% figure is reached each day the police merely stop all such minority encounters until the next day. They have their quota.
Since Holden's true opinion (although he will never say it) is minorities do not commit a greater percentage of offenses than they represent in the greater population the problem is solved. Why didn't he think of that?

John E. Fick

World-Renowned Band Playing At Decatur
Civic Center March 21

Dear Editor:
This is an invitation to Decatur area residents to see Davina & and the Vagabonds who will be performing at the Decatur Civic Center on Saturday, March 21. 
Davina plays the keyboard. In fact, she "tears up" the keys with blues, jazz, boogie boogie and sings, surrounded by her band, which includes trumpet, sax, trombone, drums, and standup bass. 
This world-renowned band has added Decatur to its USA tour. We need to support Davina so we can continue to see entertainment of this caliber coming to Decatur, Illinois. 
Call Decatur Civic Center for tickets: 217 422-6161.

Patsy G. Brodnicki

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Above Letters Posted March 17, 2015
Cursed Is The Nation Who Has Removed
The Lord From Its Land

Dear Editor:
What has happened to the United States?  Why is this country in such a sorry state and constant turmoil?  Maybe it could be the removal of God from out national culture.  We’ve made no professed renunciation of God, nor do we have any public or calculated atheism, and no boastful irreverence.  
What we do have in this country is a much deadlier heresy – namely, keeping God as a “sign” but paying no acknowledgment to Him.  We are worshipping Him in outward form, but knowing nothing of the guiding and directing power of His righteousness.   This phenomenon is to be dreaded even more than any intellectual difficulty of a theological kind.  Dead consciences, prayerless prayers, and boring and tedious formalities are the obstacles which have overturned the order, goodness and progress of this great country.  
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”.  
The other half of the equation is, cursed is the nation who has removed the Lord from its land.  
The citizens of this country better pay attention and realize that when God was reverenced here, the United States was the greatest nation ever in the history of the world.  We could continuously see the hand of God guiding the affairs of our country.   Now, however, after the removal of God, we are the joke and laughing stock of the world.  We’re in desperate need of men and women who exhibit Godly and honest characteristics and people of character and integrity to be elected to all offices – national and local.  
The time for political correctness and touchy, feely, good “solutions” is over.  Let’s use our minds and vote intelligently so we can restore the United States to its former glory.

Steve McGuire

Harmless Threats  
Dear Editor:
Remember how America used to roll, a while back? We used to face threats head-on, with little or no hesitation.  We know Iran is trying to build a nuke, and most likely will use it on Israel. Does it mean anything to anyone, that Iran calls for the “utter destruction” of Israel and the U.S. the “Little and Great Satan.” 
Yeah, we’re the big “Lucifer” their referring to. Iran’s religion “is” their all-encompassing political stance, foreign and domestic policy, the very “essence” of their law. There exists no separation of “Church and State”, they are one in Islamic law and practices, period. Anyone who is not cognizant of this concept, especially when attempting to negotiate with them, is dismally misguided.  For Iran, the destruction of Israel is not just optional, or a desired result, it’s an “absolute religious mandate!” Israel completely understands this.
  For those of you that are not fully apprised of these hard and bitter facts, some abrupt enlightenment; Just like our Christian faith is anchored in Jesus Christ, the Muslim’s 12th Imam, the final “Mahdi” born in 868 A.D., is prophesized to return, as “The Rightly-Guided One,” that will rid the world of evil, set up “world-wide domination” with their caliphates ruling the entire planet, and “must occur” before “Judgment Day.” 
The problem Israel faces and the most compelling fact being ignored; there can’t be an Israel existing per this Islamic prophesy! 
There exists no other option with these folks, but complete annihilation of Israel. Oh yeah, we can’t be here either, according to this Islamic prophecy, which is an inherent belief among them also. 
Are we or Israel to disregard their avowed contentions? Anybody out there thinks their joking? One perspective that can be applied here is, most or all of us Christians don’t joke about our Bible’s contents, think their not serious about their Koran. Maybe we could substitute the word “fanatical” in place of “serious”.
If you can’t imagine why an expert on “Islam” hasn’t addressed a joint session of U.S. Congress on this dire Islamic belief, one just has; Benjamin Netanyahu. He knows exactly what and more important “why” Iran is building their bomb, and the intended purpose. 
Some members of that serene body decided to “boycott” his address and called it “theatrical”. I’m sure they wonder why a country like Israel, surrounded by much larger, hostile neighbors, should even be worried. Tiny Israel is about the size of New Jersey by the way.  
Yes, but not our President who has expert Islamic advisors, who had to have told him the same things Netanyahu has stated.  
How would you like another country negotiating with your sworn enemy and you’re not privy to the details? Sound like a sweet deal folks? 
Let’s not be surprised when Israel is forced to hit Iran’s nuclear facilities, and Washington isn’t informed. 
I’ll still be standing firmly with Israel! That’s how we should all roll when unquestionably threatened.

Mike Polka
New London, IA

Above Letters Posted 3/10/15

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Bill Faber Is Good Choice 

Dear Mr. Osborne:
We have had a lot of elections lately. But the most important election is the one for Decatur City Council. Their decisions directly affect our lives.
The Council needs qualified candidates. That is why I am going to vote for Bill Faber. He has been a lawyer for a long time. He knows how to listen to people and solve their problems.
I am going to vote for Bill Faber for City Council on April 7th. Thank you.
Robert Gordon

Mayor Of City Needs To Reach Out To All

Dear Editor:
The Mayor of our city needs to reach out to all, regardless of social status or walk of life. By reaching out to all residents it gives a sense of belonging, that their opinion is wanted. 
The Mayor of our city must be available to everyone that has ideas, concerns, or problems and do the best job possible to help them when possible. I want to help with job creation, and more importantly prepare the residents of our city to take the jobs that are created. It is the city, the schools, and most of all a personal responsibly to be prepared to go into the workplace. 
As Mayor, I can only do so much when it comes to preparation for jobs. I can lend a helping hand, speak with residents about their personal problems, and finally empower them to make a lifestyle change that will enable them to flourish at their job, and in our city. After that, it falls on residents to be committed to seeing the change through. I want to put them in the position to make that change. 
As Mayor, you can bring most people to the table to listen about the issues. Buy into a great vision for Decatur, which will make residents care about our city more, and themselves more. It gives people a reason to work harder, when it is a shared goal. 
Our city is poised for economical expansion. Our image will only be as good as the effort we put in.

Dustin C. Chapman 
Candidate for Mayor of Decatur

Bill Faber Will Not Turn 
His Back On Citizens 

Dear Editor:
Community Caretaker and neighbor, are words we use to describe people who make meaningful contributions to lives. Neighbors and community caretakers, should establish themselves in those roles, long before they ever determine that they are going to run for office. Bill Faber is indeed that person.
Long before running for the post of Councilman, Bill Faber was walking home through the streets of Decatur, much like he does most everyday. On that sunny, warm day in June 2008, Bill Faber witnessed a bicycle accident involving an eight year old boy. 
The young boy mistakenly perceived that an approaching car was going to be too close to him as he raced down a hilly roadway. The youth attempted to brake and pulled off the asphalt onto the grassy shoulder to avoid being hit by the car. 
The rapid change in roadway surfaces and his speed caused the boy to lose control of his bike, crashing through a series of bushes and ejecting the youth back into the roadway.
Bill saw the crash and ran to the boy's aid. He immediately noticed that the boy was bleeding from several lacerations, his helmet was scratched significantly but undamaged. The youth had no serious injuries, but was crying feverishly and unable to stand or walk. Bill was able to ascertain, fairly quickly, where the boy lived. That summer day, Bill Faber, carried my bruised and bleeding son home. Nearly two blocks, Mr. Faber carried a crying, distraught and bleeding young man to the front steps of my house. Mr. Faber wasn't worried about the dirt and small amount of blood that he might get on his clothes. He only worried about assuring the youth that he would be okay and getting him home to his loving parents as a soon as possible. Innately as parents, when our children are injured and crying, we go into our own rescue mode. 
So, while I was tending to my son's wounds, Mr. Faber left before I could say thanks. About 15 minutes later, Mr. Faber returned with the remains of my son's bicycle which he had carried back another two blocks. My family has been involved in law enforcement in Decatur for over 75 years which makes my 8 years on the Decatur City Council seem paltry. During that time, I've been pleasantly amazed by many people in Decatur who rise to the standards of servants and community caretakers. 
Bill Faber is that type of person even if he isn't already a public servant. Decatur will benefit by having a true neighbor on the city council. 
I plan to vote for Bill Faber for Decatur City Council, not just because he carried my injured son home that June day, but because he is intelligent, caring and I know Bill isn't the kind of person that will turn his back on citizens. He will listen when someone needs help, and willingly get his hands dirty if necessary to make the tough decisions.

Shad Edwards

Faber Is Committed To Strengthening Neighborhoods

Dear Mr. Osborne,
Our neighborhoods are what make our city, that's why I belong to the West End Neighborhood Association (WENA).
With the City Council election coming up I want candidates who are committed to strengthening neighborhoods.
Bill Faber is a candidate for City Council. He is a member of WENA too. He believes in neighborhoods.
I will vote for Bill Faber on April 7th.

Herb Dreier

Letters Above Posted 3/3/15

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John Davis For Decatur Park Board

Dear Editor:
John Davis and I attended St. Louis University at the same time - 1966-1970. John was getting his Law Degree and I was getting my Bachelor of Science in Marketing.
  I lived all four years on campus in the GRIESEDIECK Hall Complex (including Walsh Hall and Clemens Hall)…total student population boarding 920…..where John was a Resident Assistant for two years. 
This was the first time I had ever met John.  R.A’S could be intimidating, however, on an everyday basis I found John to be pleasant, approachable, professional, attentive to detail, plus affable and kind, yet firm and reassuring.
  John always knew my name and any family member that came to visit my dorm, including my mother!
  Fast forward 45 years; John has improved with age - I’m quite sure by now he knows every animal’s name at Scovill Zoo.
That being said, I love what The Park Board does to continue to make Decatur exciting and know John Davis would be a good ingredient to an already outstanding mix!
 Tom Nolan

Vote For Stacey Young For Decatur Park District Board

Dear Editor
As Decatur moves forward it is refreshing to see individuals like Stacey Young working diligently to help our community reach its full potential. Stacey is a life-long resident and community advocate. She has a collaborative approach to problem solving and a strong work ethic. I'm excited to see her continued enthusiasm and leadership on the Decatur Park District board. 
I encourage the residents of Decatur to vote on April 7 to retain Stacey Young on the Decatur Park District board. 

Kendall Briscoe 

Letters Above Posted 2/24/15

How Would It Help Our State If Unions Were Eliminated?

Dear Editor:
Proverbs 14:31: He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their creator!
I wasn't going to respond to the newly elected governor's ideas, mainly because he has been voted in by the people of Illinois and that's the process of election of office in the U.S.A.
However, my response is because good common sense, reality and compassion tells me that working people, union or non-union, are already having problems making ends meet. Minimum wage workers and others on a lower pay scale have to pay the same price for housing, groceries gas, cars and any thing else, that millionaires, C.E.O.'s presidents and other successful people pay. 
If unions are eliminated and workers make less money and can't buy houses, cars, groceries and can't afford things, how could this help our state? If we aren't careful, things will reverse to the way they were in share-cropping days, the rich getting richer on the backs of the poor. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? A man or woman needs to receive an honest day's pay for an honest day's work.
If more jobs are brought to Illinois and business owners are allowed to pay minimum wage, we'll have more jobs, but the same negative results. People won't be able to raise their children properly or afford the necessities of life.
By the way, is it asking too much to ask the leader of the State of Illinois to raise his right hand and put his left hand on the Bible, when being sworn in, instead of just the opposite?

Joe Roundtree

How Long Could You Remain A Member Of Any Other Association If You Did Not Pay Your Dues?

Dear Editor:
Gov. Rauner believes you should not have to pay union dues if you don't want to!
How long would you remain a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Manufacturing Association or the Farm Bureau if you did not pay dues?
He ain't heavy - He's my brother!

Gary G. Brennan
Editor Local 751 UAW
Retired Not Dead Yet

Rauner’s Executive Order Is Grossly Unfair

Dear Editor:
  Unless Rauner's Executive Order exempts his non-Fair Share state employees from receiving union representation and automatic union-negotiated wage increases, it is grossly unfair. 
When I was in college, I supported Right-to-Work. After I got a job in the real world, I found it to be unworkable. 
I worked where the union (AFSCME) only had about 1/2 the employees. 
I was one of those not in the union for about 5 years, then joined and became a steward and bargaining committee member.
  There was no fair share, so it was difficult to negotiate and represent grieved employees. Yes, even without fair share, the union was required to provide a steward to represent non-union employees and pay for their grievance procedures.
After management actions angered enough people to get almost all of them in the union, we were able to get a Fair-Share provision in the contract. Both representation and negotiations were easier and faired then.
AFSCME had a provision (I've been retired 14 years) for refund of fees or dues used for non-bargaining purposes. 
I used the provision twice. I think I got about $8 refunded. AFSCME also has a separate deduction for political purposes, which must be signed up for separately by the member. Union dues were not used for political campaigns.

Glenn Portwood

Disappointed In Amount Of Litter In Neighborhood

Dear Editor,
  In reading the letter from Terry Howley in the February 3rd edition of the Tribune, I have also noticed multiple copies of the "Prairie Shopper" in driveways, in yards and in the streets as I walk my neighborhood in South Shores.
  I regularly pick up litter as I walk and am disappointed in the amount of litter that is on the streets.  I
am really disappointed that the "Prairie Shopper" litter is allowed to continue.
  I agree with Mr. Howley as one who wants Decatur to be as litter-free as possible.  
I do not think residents should have to opt-out of this litter on their property but rather they should opt-in to receive and accept picking up this advertising.
  I would think the City Council or Police Department could take steps to stop this unsolicited litter as the source in known.
Denny Grace

Above Letters to the Editor Posted 2/17/15

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Park District Board Candidate Optimistic About Community’s Future

Dear Editor:
I am so very fortunate to have lived virtually all of my life here in the town that I am so proud to call my home Decatur, Illinois. To me the 40s and 50s are a memory. For many who live here now those years are ancient history. And I suppose I understand that because to me the Civil War was ancient history and it ended a short 77 years before my birth. So during my life time I have lived and experienced much of our country’s history, and that of Decatur, Macon County, Illinois.
I have also experienced the good times and the bad times here in my town. In the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, things in Decatur were good economically. Jobs were so plentiful that industry leaders had to physically go out of town looking for people to work in the factories.
Going downtown on Saturday was an adventure. The stores were so crowded Mom had to wait in line to check out her purchases. While she shopped us kids went to the Empress, or The Lincoln or any one of the others; Avon, Rogers, Varsity and the Alhambra. I lived and loved the Sunday afternoon family reunions at the Nelson Park pavilion; the boat rides on the lake and the Rock Garden ... and Fairview Park from which I grew up a half block away. The bears, the Lincoln court house, Dreamland Lake, all of this in my town. Us kids walked through the park on the way to Dennis School. We lived in the park morning to night all summer long.  
And I remember the bad times for Decatur too. The Hickory Point Mall going to Forsyth because the city council thought they knew more than the developers did. The school boards that created an antagonistic atmosphere with the teachers. The terrible, terrible union strikes we went through in the 90’s. The loss of Firestone, GE plant, Signal Depot, Marvel-Schebler. It was a bad time. 
I recall the wide spread comments that Decatur is a place of high crime and evil. If you go downtown you are likely to be mugged or even killed, many thought. This of course is absolutely false and I know. For 29 years I served the people as Judge of the Circuit Court. Champaign, Springfield, and Bloomington had us (and do now) consistently beat to hell on the number of crimes committed.
Now things are changing. I sense a new beginning in my town. I sense an enthusiasm that I have not seen in years. And I see a chance for Decatur and surrounding towns and our parks to all come together and bring Decatur back to a place of destination and not a place to go through. 
I have been witness to all of this and I want to be a part of the future as well. I am so excited about the future of our home. I want to bring that enthusiasm to the Decatur Park District Board of Commissioners. I want to give back some of what has been so good to me. I want to help to preserve the image that Decatur, and the parks within it, is a wonderful place to live, work and play 

John L Davis

American Workers Should Always Have
Priority On American Jobs

Dear Editor:
It has been reported, that almost 500 American citizens are losing their Information Technology (IT) jobs at SCE, California’s largest utility, to H-1B foreign guest workers from India. The IT workers who are losing their jobs are furious and who can blame them. 
Can you imagine the betrayal these nearly 500 workers must feel, not only from SCE but the federal government? To add insult to injury, some of those workers are required to train their foreign guest worker replacements. It’s bad enough that President Obama has illegitimately granted amnesty to a reported 5 million illegal aliens, but Obama is a big supporter of H-1B worker visas, in spite of 22 million unemployed and under-employed Americans in the U.S. 
"This SCE outsourcing is yet another, in a long line of injustices where American workers are being replaced by H-1Bs" stated Ron Hira, a public policy professor at Howard University. Americans should be outraged that many of our politicians have sat idly by while outsourcing firms have hijacked the guest worker programs. President Obama often claims he is a friend to middle class Americans; frankly, I’m very suspect of that claim.  
The H-1B program guest worker program is supposed to be used for jobs that American workers can't fill; not one of these jobs being filled by workers from India is a job that a SCE employee wasn't already performing.  
Long time Senator Dick Durbin is partly to blame for this; he is always willing to support increases in H-1B foreign "guest" worker visas while getting campaign contributions from the companies abusing the H-1B program. 
Traitor Durbin claims to be a friend of the American worker, with friends like him who needs enemies! American workers should always have priority for all available American jobs and not have to worry about keeping their home!
Roger German

Supports Candidate Bill Faber’s Proposal To Raise Minimum Wage For Decatur Workers

Dear Mr. Osborne:
I write in support of Bill Faber who is candidate for Decatur City Council.
He is experienced and qualified to serve on the council.
I support his proposal to enact a $10 per hour minimum wage for Decatur workers. Families need a raise now, not years from now. Thank you.

Ruth Donelson

Decatur Township General Assistance
Office Needs Changes

Dear Editor:
After reading the article in the Herald & Review (1-29-15) about Decatur Township and General Assistance (GA), I looked up my research from last year (April 2014). The current budget (2014-2015) to run the GA office is $272,353 with 3 full time employees.  
The office processes 217 cases monthly which amounts to 2.21 hours at a cost of $104.00 PER CASE.   I have questioned the need for 3 full time employees to process so few cases each month. 
The GA Administrator (current annual salary $108,647) has stated cases require lots of time to evaluate any changes even though the clients are the same each month.
Decatur Township GA guidelines are from an outdated program when State of Illinois funded the GA accounts. Out of the 1433 Illinois townships in Illinois that use current procedures, Decatur Township is not one of them. I see the 100 years of combined experience has passed for our township GA workers.  
After contacting Capital Township GA office (which deals with Springfield and surrounding townships) they reported 6 staff members handle 60-70 cases DAILY.  
Decatur Township staff of 3 may handle possibly 3-5 cases DAILY and I can understand why Supervisor Stanley wants to show prudent use of taxpayer’s money.  Township officials take an oath to responsibly manage and allocate our resources.  Being decision makers and fiduciary stewards of tax revenues comes with being a Township Trustee.  
As a taxpayer, I see the need to reduce case workers to be aligned with the current case load.

Kent West

There’s Middle Ground In Ambulance Service Debate

Dear Editor:
Last evening I decided to watch our city council meeting and came away a bit dismayed concerning the study session regarding Decatur Ambulance and the possibility of the city getting into the ambulance business. 
I think for the most part the folks involved in the discussion are well meaning and fair minded. Most all know the meaning of compromise. 
I truly believe there is middle ground all will agree with. I urge the fire chief, mayor and Decatur Ambulance to quickly meet and start coming to a compromise. The citizens of Decatur deserve no less.
Steve Grimm 

City Should Not Undermine Decatur Ambulance Service

Dear Editor:
Last Monday, I attended the Council meeting and listened intently to the debate regarding the City Fire Department offering ambulance services. After hearing the positions of the Decatur Ambulance Service and the City staff I left the meeting grateful for the heroes who serve our city, our police, firefighters, and other first responders, and concerned for a business that has provided exceptional service to our community for more than fifty years.
  By all accounts, Decatur Ambulance Service does an excellent job serving the people of Decatur. They continually improve their services to incorporate new technology and best practices. 
After studying the issue, I believe the City’s request to enter this market is dangerous both for Decatur Ambulance Service and for our community at-large. Leaders of Decatur Ambulance Service have tried to explain that they operate on a low profit margin, and that taking some of their business undermines the rest of their business.
  City government should be removing barriers to help local businesses succeed, not devising new ways to compete for revenue. City staff has not made a persuasive enough case that their proposal will make our city safer, and I fear it may have the opposite effect, particularly if it weakens a well-established provider. 
As your Mayor, it will take a great deal more than a new revenue stream to persuade me to undermine a local business. 

Dustin Chapman
Candidate for Decatur Mayor

Governor Rauner Should Step Back From
Divisive Rhetoric, Reboot Messsage

Dear Editor:
Recently, so called right-to-work laws are a topic of discussion in Decatur.  Governor Bruce Rauner chose our city as an example of where right-to-work zones, or Employee Empowerment Zones as he now calls them, would be an effective tool for economic development.  
Ironically, a 2013 study from the University of Illinois concluded that right-to-work actually drives economic regression and that it has no proven record of stimulating meaningful economic growth.  Additionally, the study finds a decrease in earnings across all sectors as well as minority populations, resulting in declining state income tax revenues.  
While the term right-to-work may sound appealing, it’s important that everyone understand exactly what right-to-work means in basic terms.  Currently, to create a union in Illinois, a majority of workers choose union representation and the employer voluntarily recognizes the union as the sole representative of their employees.   The workers then elect their leadership, vote on collective bargaining issues, and determine the general direction of the union; all through a democratic process where everyone has a voice and a vote.  
There is no such thing as “forced unionization”.  In a right-to-work scenario, a non-dues paying worker enjoys all the benefits of collective bargaining, such as wage increases, safe working conditions, employee protections, and general representation all while the dues paying members foot the bill.  Consider this for just a moment.  No other groups or organizations operate in this fashion.  
An individual isn’t allowed to join a Country Club and use the golf course, swimming pool or banquet facilities without paying membership fees.  Likewise, a business owner cannot receive the benefits of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association or the local Chamber of Commerce without paying membership dues.  Right-to-work has absolutely nothing to do with the right of an individual to work or have a job.  
This initiative is purely a ploy being pushed and financed by extreme right-wing organizations and large corporate interests.  Their goal is to restrict the ability of organized labor to function and represent their members.  
Labor unions are not the enemy or the problem in Illinois.  Decatur residents already know this all too well.  Union members are involved in our community, coaching youth sports, serving as church leaders and on numerous boards and commissions.  They deposit their paychecks in local banks and buy groceries and gasoline from local stores.  We are your friends and neighbors.  Decatur area Unions have a long history of volunteering numerous hours and giving money to great causes and local organizations.   
Instead of focusing on real solutions to the fiscal problems that exist in Illinois, Governor Rauner chose to vilify organized labor as the root of the problem. He uses polarizing terms such as union bosses and forced unionization while attempting to sell his slash and burn corporate strategy.   History shows the only proven means to empower workers are Labor Unions.  Workers are empowered when they have safe workplaces, good wages and benefits, and quality time with family.  Even Todd Maisch, chief executive of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce recently stated “Illinois doesn’t need right to work to compete with its neighbors”.  
I suggest Governor Rauner step back from his divisive rhetoric and reboot his message, because the people of Decatur know and deserve better.

Shad Etchason, Business Manager
Electrical Workers Local 146

Supports Fire Department Ambulance Service

Dear Editor:
I would like to voice my support to the initiative to have DFD obtain and run a ambulance in the Decatur area.   
My experience with Decatur ambulance has not been as positive as others have mentioned.  I have always found their staff to be some of the most arrogant first responders I have ever seen or dealt with.   In my neighborhood when a emergency takes place the fire department (1.9 miles)  is almost always on scene long before the ambulance (1.7 miles from garage)  and it appears that it is the DFD that is doing most of the work on scene, while the ambulance shows ups to take the credit, the patient, and the payment.   
I also feel that since Decatur Ambulance service is essentially a monopoly, the people of Decatur really have no clue if their service is good or bad, it simply is what it is.  
I believe that competition is generally a good thing, and will ultimately drive better service and lower cost.  It's about time Decatur quits wasting its resources on "paper studies", and actually takes timely action.  They can then study actual results.   
I'm sure Decatur Ambulance made a great case with the same arguments made that have been made by AT&T, Standard Oil, Microsoft and other monopolies all while its the consumer looses out. 

Dave Schnauffer 
Speak Out Against DFD Ambulance Service
Before City Takes Action

Dear Editor:
No one will argue against saving lives.
Saving lives is the premise given by Decatur’s interim city manager to justify the city fire department getting into the ambulance business. Who isn’t in favor of saving lives?
Decatur Ambulance Service has been in the lifesaving business for 55 years. With more than 100 paramedics on staff, thousands of dollars and hours of training have been dedicated to saving lives.
Now the city wants to jump into the ambulance business and go head to head with trained paramedics who have worked alongside firefighters every day, doing their jobs.
Is that the role of the city…to save lives? Is it about saving lives, or saving jobs at the firehouse? Because for every firefighter who will have to be trained, an already-trained paramedic with DAS will likely lose his/her job, if a tax-supported ambulance service competes with the privately-owned DAS.
So those trained paramedics will be put to pasture so the city can train other people to do the job? Wouldn’t it make more sense for DAS and the city to work together to save lives and livelihoods? Have lives been lost because of poor response times? If the city thinks DAS ambulances have poor response times, they should have gone to DAS and had a discussion. Instead, they’re willing to sacrifice a longtime Decatur business and service to residents for the possibility of an additional revenue stream for the city.
It would be a different story if there was no ambulance service in Decatur. We thought job creation and retention was important to the city…saving the livelihoods of those who save lives.
Saving lives should be left to those who are trained to do that, who have spent their careers honing their skills. If the city really gets creative in saving lives, maybe they should open a church or fitness center. 
If you feel strongly about this, please speak before the city takes action.
Thank you.

Bill and Erin Valentine

Above Letters Posted 2/10/15

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Response To Letter Promoting Minimum 
Wage Raise In Decatur

Dear Editor:
I am writing in response to the letter to the editor by Gary Minich.  
Yes, let the city council take up the issue. Let the members show where they stand.  
With the federal minimum at $7.25 this would be quite a jump.  One issue that is seldom addressed is where is the money going to come from.  I have worked in fast food before as an assistant manager.  The ones getting the minimum wage were the teenagers, this being their first job, and they seldom stayed very long.  
The older workers would have gotten raises as their hard work and faithfulness earned them the increase above minimum wage.  
All of those in the city who have worked hard and been faithful to their jobs and have already reached the $10.00 per hour would suddenly find all of their hard work gone as once again they would be making minimum wage.  
Their employers would not have the financial ability to raise everyone that extra $2.75.  
Under the guise of helping the "poor" the middle class would once again shrink.  This only increases the number of those on minimum wage and causes those who have worked hard to get out of that stigma to lose hope. 
Where will the call for a higher minimum stop?  Should it be $20, $30 or maybe it should be $50.  
Whatever it is it is still minimum wage the bottom of the job market.  Can you image going to McD's and talking to a robot who will cook your food and put it in a sack because they can no longer afford employees?  Notice how many fewer employees there are now from what there use to be. 
Just think this will increase the number of people on welfare who can then vote for those who will bring a higher minimum wage and more welfare benefits for them.  

Philip Wilson 
Fort Scott, Ks 
formerly of Decatur 

Is The Decatur Fire Department Overstaffed?

Dear Editor:
It appears that the Decatur Fire Department is overstaffed and has time on their hands to run an ambulance service, which is now run by a very good private firm.
In addition to an ambulance service, the City should make full use of the fire department manpower to add a garbage truck or two, and put a snow plow on the front of the trucks, like is done in Boston, New York and other cities.
The firemen could run the garbage trucks and snow plows on their down time instead of sleeping and playing cards or other games. 
Thus, the City of Decatur could run a garbage service out of town on a rail. In addition the city fire department could fill pot holes on the streets near to the fire stations, since the city has trucks, and save money by laying off some of their current employees that fill pot holes.
I believe that William Faber and his horse will add some horse sense to the city council, since it appears the City of Decatur Council is losing some of their common sense by wanting to compete with a very well run private service and run them out of town on a rail.  
The City should make better use of their firemen by helping out other City departments in their down time, and reduce other employees that are not needed.
Now, the City wants to add another tax to the citizens of Decatur. What a shocker that is, since everything else has received a raise in fees, or additional taxes have been added to water, sewer, etc.
What is all the revenue that the City is receiving from video slot machines, going toward? Is it being put in some sort of slush fund? 
The City should be reducing taxes, since they are getting additional revenue from other income, and the public does not know what is happening to the slot money.
What is the status of the temporary utility taxes? Temporary is not lasting forever, but for a short period of time. How many years has this tax been around?
Why is the City hiring a firm to find a new city manager, and throwing good money after bad? The City has Mr. Billy Tyus as an Assistant City Manager, and he has served as an assistant a number of years. 
I believe that the City is not using Mr. Tyus for reasons unknown. Mr. Tyus has no idea of who I am, I just believe that he should have received the job. After all the City just promoted a new fire chief and a new police chief from within their ranks and Mr. Tyus should have been promoted. Mr. Zientara should not serve as the interim city manager and the financial director, which I believe is a conflict in interest.
Please vote NO, NO and NO on any more taxes.

Vernon Mercier

Much Of Decatur Township Staff’s
Experience Based On Old Programs

Dear Editor:
A newspaper reported that the Decatur Township is considering offering an early retirement program to long-term employees. This proposal suggests a cost savings. However, this letter is not directly about this saving to property taxpayers. The details have not been made public.
The topic here is that one of the Trustees expressed reservations in the general assistance area. She stated "then we lost over 100 years of experience". In most cases this could be a major concern. But, in this township that is probably not the case. Decatur Township is an unusual situation compared to most of the approximately 1,400 townships in Illinois.
For many years Decatur Township was one of about 30 townships that received special funding from the State. The State provided over a million dollars a year for special programs to Decatur. However, the State cut off these dollars a few years ago. Yet, the general assistance administration in the Decatur Township has continued to use modified versions of these programs.
First, if the State could not continue to fund these programs, how can the Decatur Township property taxpayers support such programs? Second, the State provided specific rules and audited the townships. Who is doing this now?
The alternative for the township is to adopt programs recommended by the Township Officials of Illinois (TOI). They developed rules and the manuals to implement these programs. Most of the 1,400 townships use these programs. Both new and old employees have been able to implement them
Hence, the argument that "over 100 years of experience" should not be critical. Much of the  Decatur staff's experience is based on old programs. The important question should be "What new  cost effective programs are best for the recipients of general assistance and the people who directly or indirectly pay property taxes?"

Tom Greanias

What Is Wrong With City’s Ambulance Service Picture?

Dear Editor:
Is there something wrong with my arithmetic? The City wants to purchase a new ambulance to cover an "uncovered area". They would not have to hire new employees - just work their present  staff overtime (at a cost). 
The fine ambulance service that has served us many years, and served well, would have to retire one of their ambulances and lay off eight or so people. Do we need to substitute one for the other?
That way the city could pay firefighters for overtime (without hiring anyone new) and our loyal  ambulance service would have to put eight or so people out of work. 
What is wrong with this picture?

June Wray

Governor Rauner Displays Political Flip Flop

Dear Editor:
Despite repeatedly assuring voters during the General Election that he was not anti-union and that right-to-work was not his focus, on Tuesday, Jan. 27, Gov. Bruce Rauner displayed the type of political flip flop that makes average voters so cynical. While standing in front of slick charts provided by the ultra-conservative Canadian Fraser Institute may make for good theater, it will not pass the smell test in Decatur.
Decatur residents, regardless of politics, know that squeezing the middle class is not the way to rebuild our city. The same good paying middle class jobs, union and non-union, that organized labor champions are exactly those that Rauner's right to work scheme will harm.
A 2013 study, by the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and University and Michigan-Ann Arbor concluded that right to work laws reduce earnings in the private sector, have a negligible effect on job growth, increase wage inequality, and drastically reduce employee benefits. Even Todd Maisch the CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce stated earlier this month "Illinois doesn't need right to work to compete with its neighbors".
Middle class eradication doesn't pass for economic development. We need a governor who champions the middle class, not one who cheers our race to the bottom. We will vigorously  oppose this attack on the middle class.

Carl Draper, President
Decatur Trades & Labor Assembly

Man Takes Issue With Some Statements
Made In Letter To The Editor

To the Editor:
In regards to Mr. Sloan's letter to the editor, my father passed on Dec. 15th. On Dec. 16th I made the funeral arrangements. Dec. 17th the funeral home phoned me and said he spoke with Mr. Escobar and was told they would not be able to make the Dec. 20th funeral because of a x-mas party they had planned for the day, Sat. 20th.
This hit me hard. On Dec. 18th I phoned Mr. Escobar and he said (and I quote), "I (Mr. Escobar) gave the men Friday, Dec. 19th and Saturday, Dec. 20th off to prepare for the x-mas party Saturday".
I was unable to get two hours out of him to do this ceremony. I am not sure who said they agreed to do this but this is not true.
The funeral was scheduled for Sat., Dec. 20th at 2:00 p.m. and never at 11:00 a.m. and never was it changed to 3:00 p.m. Not sure where Mr. Sloan got his information. I never was out to belittle the Macon County Honor Guard.
I have been to many of their ceremonies for families and friends and they do an outstanding job. I was just left hanging and yes, I am from Moultrie County but my father, H. D. Kellogg has lived and worked in Macon County most of his life, and as I said in my letter of that Saturday, Dec. 20th, I hope they had a very nice x-mas party.
Never did I fail to mention anything nor did I have my facts wrong. This was graveside only and Moultrie County Honor Guard was there for one hour and it was over and they were given a $200.00 donation.

Larry T. Kellogg

What Happened To Metal Benches At The Mall?

Dear Editor:
What happened to the comfortable plentiful metal benches at the HickoryPoint Mall? There was nothing wrong with them, yet they were removed and replaced with fewer and uncomfortable wooden benches. 
I thought money was the name of the game. You might as well have taken the money spent on the ugly uncomfortable benches that no one sits on, because they ARE ugly and uncomfortable, and lit a match to it. Or flushed it down the toilet. 
Perhaps, you have never heard the expression, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". Now this cost willl be passed on to the store rent, who will raise their prices to make up for it, which will be passed on to us, as if the rent weren't high enough in your over-heated mall (another foolish expense). 
I have medical problems, I try to keep going, but I need to sit every so often as I go shopping, what little I do there, through the mall. 
Now I've got no place to sit, that I can tolerate, anyway. Guess I won't go. I have always preferred to drive the one hour farther to Springfield or Bloomington any way. 
No wonder you have more people walking out there than you do shopping. Now bring back the MORE comfortable metal benches,unless you did something
doubly stupid like throw them out when there was nothing wrong with them.

Jean Stables

Get Educated Before Going To The Polls

Dear Editor:
I can say I am more interested in this race for mayor and council than I have been for many years. 
Maybe it is from candidates that are coming from all walks, maybe it's from a clean campaign so far. I'm not sure, I know I'm not alone with this just from other people I have talked with. 
I can honestly say I was hesitant on a couple of candidates, one being mayor candidate Dustin Chapman, based on age I had my questions. 
A few days ago he came to my house to introduce himself and ask if I had questions for him. After speaking with him briefly I can say I feel much more comfortable about his candidacy. He knows what he wants to do, and is willing to listen to all sides I believe. Decatur needs to pay attention and get to know the people that will be running our city. In this age it is easy to get with them also. 
I have personally heard five of the candidates for mayor and council give out cell phone numbers to call. Be plenty educated before you go to the polls. 

Linda Hall

Ask Publication To Stop Unsolicited Papers 

Dear Editor:
Recently I have noticed multiple copies of newspapers lying in our neighbor's yards for several weeks.  Upon closer inspection, I found that these are copies of the locally printed "Prairie Shopper".  
These advertising supplements are delivered by vehicle many times a year according to the editor.  Unfortunately, many of these are not picked up by the homeowner and become a littering issue. 
I was told today by the editor of the publication that anyone can call or e-mail them to have this stopped.  
One can phone 429-5151 or e-mail Gary Sawyer at the Herald & Review if you should want this practice of unsolicited papers thrown onto your property to cease. 
As one who wants Decatur to be as litter-free as possible, I would encourage those who do not want these papers delivered into their yards to take the editor's advice and cancel. 

Terry Howley

Above Letters Posted 2/3/15

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Hopeful Neighbors Will Extend Welcome To Residents 
Of CILA Group Home

Dear Editor:
I attended a meeting at the Mt Zion Town Hall on January 19, 2015 where they were voting on re zoning for a special permit use for a CILA Group home. The Concerned Citizens Of Mt. Zion had left a note in my mailbox encouraging my attendance.  Since I believe this is a wonderful environment for a small group of developmentally disabled persons to live in a residential community and I didn’t see the need for concern, I wanted to attend the meeting in support of the CILA Group Home. 
As I arrived at the meeting I realized that some of the residents of the neighborhood were up in arms about this group home.  While they expressed that they cared for the disabled persons, they had concerns at the same time.  What if the residents were to wander off?  Would there be parking issues?  Will it cause increased traffic?  Will this home purchase and use decrease property values? 
I don't see any of these concerns as issues.  If a resident wanders off you contact the local law enforcement, just as you would if one of the neighbor’s children wandered off.  As for the parking, the home has a driveway with garage space for 4 cars.  It was stated that the staff will park in the garage and even though 5 cars are allowed on the street, that parking should not need to be utilized.  
I feel this is very similar to the other homes on the street where the parents park in the garage or driveway and the rest of the licensed drivers and company park on the street.  The home will provide transportation to the resident’s place of employment, just like the school bus picks up the neighborhood children for school.  
Property values are determined on the square footage, condition, location and amenities of the home so no one should notice a decrease in their personal property values, in fact, the home was sold for $12,000 over the asking price.  
I was embarrassed, for our community, that these "concerned citizens" have so little empathy and regard for our disabled and want to discriminate under the guise of concerns.  Yes, many of them know and love these individuals, but they don't want them in their neighborhood?  I don't understand! They have the right to live in a residential community, just like you and I. It is not the Dark Ages anymore, where you simply keep the less than perfect hidden.  What are they teaching their children?  
I wonder how many of them would feel differently if it were their loved one that needed help on a day to day basis to allow them the freedom of living in their home.  Many of these concerned citizens may need someone to come into their home one day to help care for them, I hope their neighbors don't get upset that there may be additional traffic on the roads or that one of them may become forgetful and wander off.  
I personally applaud Mayor Donald Robinson for his rebuttal of the concerns and the 5 of the 6 Trustees that voted in favor of the zoning. The CILA Group home residents will prove that in spite of the daily challenges they face, they will be good neighbors.  I sincerely hope the neighbors extend a welcome to the residents.

Phyllis Bodine
Mt Zion

City Council Should Take Up Faber’s
Challenge To Raise Minimum Wage

Dear Editor:
  Decatur’s City Council should take up lawyer, and council candidate, Bill Faber’s challenge to raise the minimum wage within the city to $10.00 an hour.
  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know all the arguments against doing so:  it would cause employers to lay off workers, dampen enthusiasm for new businesses to consider locating here, drive others to Forsyth or Mount Zion etc. etc. etc.
  Maybe so. Maybe not. Some states and municipalities that have raised wages have experienced stronger economic growth after doing so.  That makes sense.  Ours is a consumption economy.  We need more people with the means to buy more: better housing, newer cars, school clothes, groceries … even big screen TVs, if they like.
  The council could exempt start-ups and sole proprietor small businesses with, say, fewer than five employees.  But McDonald’s, Hardees, Arby’s and others need to pay better wages.  Let them compete on skill sets that exclude slave wages.
  I, for one, am tired of subsidizing Wal-Mart, whose full-time employees cost us billions in food stamps, medical care, housing subsidies and other benefits created for those at the foot of the economic ladder.  If Wal-Mart had to pay a fair wage, maybe locally owned businesses could compete selling appliances, groceries, clothes, pet food or whatever.  
We were certainly a stronger community when downtown was full of merchants, and working people had more money in their pockets to spend.
Gary Minich

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Above Letters Posted 1/27/15

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)

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