• GOOD NEWS! Monday afternoon Mueller Water Products hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at the Company’s newest foundry location at 2675 North Jasper Street in Decatur. The foundry will be one of the largest state-of-the-art, finished goods brass foundries in the world. The new facility will increase production capacity to meet current and future demands of the industry and the local community.
• MURAL BUSINESS — A side note to the “Decatur Mural” story on the front page of this week’s print edition, which I found interesting is the growth of a business out of the Decatur Mural Project. Since the artist, Eric Weatherford, created his first mural for the Project in 2017 he has gone on to create his own mural painting business called Oddwall Painting and has painted a number of murals around Central Illinois. I’ll print a photo of his work at the Eldorado/North Water intersection when it is completed.
•TRUCK TRAFFIC — I’ve had several comments (and letters) in recent weeks about semi-truck traffic and how it seems to me that more of the drivers are choosing to drive through downtown where they are prohibited, unless they are delivering product to a downtown store or restaurant. Several agreed with my observation saying they have noticed more semi-trucks heading through the downtown area. One former semi-truck driver called me to say that the semi-trucks are not moving as fast as some people think they are moving. He did say when he was driving semi-trucks before they were banned from downtown that he drove through at exactly 31 miles per hour in order to make all of the stoplights on green and avoid the constant shifting of gears from stopping and going from red lights. He said 31 miles per hour is not 50 miles per hour as some have indicated.
I know the speed limit on North Main Street before it gets to the downtown area is 35 miles per hour. The speed limit through the downtown area from Eldorado south is 25 mph, meaning that, today, 31 miles per hour would be over the speed limit. One of several reasons the semi-trucks were banned is because of the growth of sidewalk dining in front of some of the restaurants. It was difficult for diners to feel safe with semi-trucks passing so close to the tables.
• REPAIRS — If you have noticed some dirt from digging by the Central Park Fountain, that’s because a water pipe was found to be broken causing some problem in the fountain bowls. Actually, it was about time to turn off the fountain for the winter, so the repairs are not affecting the season. The fountain should be ready to go by the time the warm weather returns to Decatur next year. As I’ve mentioned before I think the fountain has looked more beautiful this year than any of the years since it was dedicated in 2002. Thanks to city workers for the great job they’ve done in keeping the fountain operating and looking great. It’s hard to believe that it has been 17 years since it sprang to life!
• LAST WEEK’s column about former Decatur City Manager Steve Garman passing away and the years I worked with him as mayor, drew some attention. It has been all positive. I really appreciated long-time friend Carla Brinkoetter’s comment posted on our website in response to the story: “Paul – what a great tribute to Steve. I know that your support and willingness to listen had a lot to do with his staying in Decatur as long as he did. Thank you!”
Thank you, Carla. Your comment means a lot to me.
• GOOD NEWS! The September Jobs Report shows the Decatur MSA is currently 1,000 jobs up from this time last year for an increase of 1.9%. “We have not seen this level of total employment since October of 2012,” said Andrew Taylor, Economic Development Officer for the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur-Macon County. “We are also seeing strong year-to-year gains in our Local Labor Force and Employment. This indicates that these new jobs are likely being filled by Macon County residents.”
Not only that but our average private hourly wage has increased to $29.23. That figure represents a 7% increase from the average just a year ago!