The People Speak In This Week’s “Letters To The Editor”

Steel Towers Replacement Along MLK Impacting Trees, Vegetation

Dear Editor:

     Ameren Illinois is replacing the steel towers along Martin Luther King Dr between Pershing Rd and Mound Rd with single steel poles. As a result, Ameren has contracted the work which includes removing vegetation and trimming trees that are in the easement of the existing power line. I have family that has been impacted by this work. Trees in this easement even though they are not under the existing power lines are being drastically trimmed or remover just because they are in the easement. Property values are taking a hit. I wonder if upper management at Ameren are aware of the destruction taking place.

     The power lines on the existing steel towers run horizontally. On the new steel poles, I believe they will be mounted vertically which would provide greater clearance for trees in the easement.

William Blazier, Decatur

Casual Contact With Animals Can Land Kids In The Hospital — Or Worse

Dear Editor:

     Michigan officials identified pigs at the Fowlerville Family Fair who tested positive for swine flu (influenza A). The department of health reached out to those who visited the barn to notify them of possible exposure and alerted area healthcare providers to watch for patients with respiratory symptoms who visited the fair. While no one has reported being sick yet, multiple bacterial, viral and parasitic agents have been associated with animal contact, including E. coli, salmonella, ringworm, campylobacteriosis and rabies.

     Parents are often shocked to learn that casual contact with animals can land their kid in the hospital—or worse. Last month, a 2-year-old toddler died after contracting E. coli after visiting a petting zoo at the San Diego County Fair. Let’s also remember the other victims of petting zoos: the animals who are hauled around and forced to interact with crowds of people all day long.

     There are plenty of ways to enjoy your local fair without putting your child’s health at risk or supporting cruelty to animals. Stay away from petting zoos, pony rides, animal photo ops, or any other type of display that uses animals as props.

Jennifer O’Connor, PETA Foundation, Norfolk, VA

Illinois’ State-Run Pension Systems Are Unsustainable

     Since July 1, Illinois’ state-run pension systems added 651 newly retired government workers who started collecting benefits. They are projected to average $1.3 million in lifetime pension benefits during their retirements. They contributed an average of just $105,000 toward their retirements while working. But to really understand Illinois’ pension crisis, focus on the 174 new retirees classified as “career workers” because for at least 30 years they were in pension-eligible positions. That group will average $2 million during retirement – despite having contributed an average of just $146,000 toward their pensions.

     The average annual benefit among all July retirees is $40,000 for the first year of retirement. But for many, excessive annual cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, grow those benefits faster than the state can afford. In Illinois, public pensioners enrolled in a Tier 1 plan automatically receive an annual 3% compounding raise throughout retirement, regardless of how low inflation may be.

     Altogether, these 651 new pensioners will cost the state pension funds $26 million – no small cost for a state with $137 billion in pension debt. Importantly, Illinois’ pension problem is not the fault of government workers or retirees. Rather, it is lawmakers in Springfield who created the unsustainable system. Consolidation of the pension funds cannot solve Illinois’ pension problem, as more workers continue to enter retirement systems that are fast approaching insolvency. The only solution to restore state finances – and protect pensioners’ retirement security – is constitutional pension reform.

Adam Schuster, Director of Budget and Tax Research, Illinois Policy

Firefighters And Police Commended For Response, Skills And Teamwork

To the Editor:

     On Friday, 12 July 2019, I was one of the first people to come upon a motor vehicle accident on Route 121 in Mt. Zion. I would like to commend the Mt. Zion firefighters and Mt. Zion police for their prompt response and their amazing skills and teamwork as they intervened in this horrible accident. The team effort which included Decatur Ambulance, medical helicopter teams from Springfield and Champaign, Long Creek Fire Department, Decatur Fire Department, Macon County Sheriff’s Department, Illinois State Police, Lugari Auto and Truck Service, Decatur Emergency Communication Specialists, and Village of Mt. Zion workers as well as many others was extraordinary, and proved to be lifesaving.

     We are so blessed to have these dedicated first responders in our community to help provide excellent care to those in need. May we all take time to honor and give thanks to these men and women who serves each and every day.

Daniel B. Smith, M.D., Decatur

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