Hoisting the City of Decatur replacement flag on Monday are, left to right: City Councilman Patrick McDaniel, Civic Center Manager Chris Brodnicki and Civic Center Maintenance Manager Zack Burris.
As I wrote in this column a few weeks ago, McDaniel had purchased with his own money, and with the approval of the city council, an official City of Decatur flag a year-and-a-half ago, but when I went to the civic center to shoot a photo of it, there was no flag.
McDaniel told me that it had been recently removed and a replacement had been ordered. McDaniel told me Monday: “The City of Decatur this week was once again able to proudly hoist the official city flag up the flag pole in front of the Decatur Civic Center.
“Thanks to the help of the local printing company Trump Direct we were able to find a flag manufacturer who produced individual specialized outdoor flags that are made of material that are better suited to handle the outdoor elements.”
The cost of the flag, which features the City of Decatur official logo, was paid for by the City of Decatur, the Decatur Civic Center and Councilman McDaniel. This story began with a question asked by a Decatur Tribune reader: “Does Decatur have an official flag?” Now we can see the answer proudly flying in front of the civic center.
• THIS WEEK, in the “Scrapbook” feature on pages 4 and 5 of the print and online edition of the Decatur Tribune, I take a look back at two buildings that stood for decades at opposite ends of the 100 block of North Franklin Street. For as long as I can remember the buildings, back to back, stretched the entire length of the block. Needless to point out, a lot has changed downtown since the 1960s when I started my business, but that’s true in most downtown areas across the nation — some have changed for the better, and others, for the worse.
The Van Praag Building on the corner of Franklin and East Main Street disappeared under a wrecking ball a few years ago. The former DeWitt Building, on the opposite end of the block on the corner of South Park Street and Franklin, was extensively remodeled a few years ago and is now in pristine condition.
I spent most of my years as editor of this newspaper in both buildings, moving from one to the other when First National Bank (Busey Bank) bought the East Main Street building, where this newspaper was located for several years. So, as the “Scrapbook” article relates, we leased the entire second floor of the other building, which was located at the other end of the block — the corner of South Park and Franklin, where WDZ had been located for many years.
After many years at that location we had to move to the other side of Central Park to the three story building that was located next to the parking garage. The bank bought the building on South Park. Lots of memories were made in the former WDZ studios and we even built a television news show production facility in the place. (That information can be found in the Scrapbook piece.)
• TODAY, the location of the building at Main and Franklin is a parking lot for Busey Bank. The building where WDZ, and later this newspaper, was located, was completely remodeled and preserved and is a prominent structure, with a long history, on the corner of South Park and Franklin. While it’s true that we’ve lost a lot of buildings in the downtown area over the years, many improvements have also been made, and continue to be made, on existing buildings — and some new buildings have been erected.
A few years ago, when Firstech held an open house at the building where the second floor was formerly occupied by WDZ and the Decatur Tribune for so many years, I was amazed at the transformation! The building, with all of its improvements, looked better than it had ever looked in my memory.
• I CERTAINLY love writing about Decatur’s history and its downtown area but I think, even though I have such fond memories of the people and stories we covered all of those years in those buildings, times change and communities, including Decatur, must change. As we are now witnessing, some things go, some things stay and are improved and other structures are built. Decatur history is a great place to visit, but we should realize that we can’t live in the past. We live in the present and plan for the future and if the public bodies that serve us and plan for our future don’t have that vision, the community is held back.
I’ll get down off of my soapbox now, but I have to admit, every time I walk in the 100 block of North Franklin on my way to the post office each day, I look across the street and see what was… and what is… and feel good about it. I like the direction the city is moving — preserving our past in a meaningful, even marketable way, and planning to make the future even better.