This week’s “Scrapbook” (pages 4, 5 in print edition) feature on the Michl’s Cigar Store that was once located on the east side of the 100 block of North Water Street, brings a lot of memories to my mind.
Nearly 40 years ago, when it was announced the building was going to be demolished, to make more room for First National Bank’s parking lot, I editorialized against it and protested its destruction to community leaders. Obviously, pointing out Michl’s significance that reached all the way back to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, and how that could be marketed in our downtown of the future, didn’t have much impact — except make a few bank officials upset with the negative publicity about what they were about to destroy.
I don’t think it is any secret that I’ve always been a preservationist, not only because I would like to see Decatur’s history kept real, but, even more important, certain historic buildings can be marketed, or be a part of an overall tourism marketing plan and generate revenue for the city coffers. Preserve and market enough of our history and Decatur becomes a tourism destination.
I certainly don’t believe that every old building should be saved. I recognize that, as a city moves forward, it is necessary to remove some structures that are beyond repair so that new ones can be constructed that better serve the needs of a changing, forward looking community. However, a mixture of historic and new can create a special environment for those who visit downtown areas — our downtown area. I believe our leaders are more sensitive to our past than they once were when “old” meant “tear it down”.
We lost the Carnegie Library (what city ever demolishes a Carnegie Library?) due to a lack of vision. The site of the Carnegie Library at Eldorado and North Main is a parking lot for the bank building that occupies part of the space. Even if you are someone who doesn’t care about our history — you should care about the revenue potential of certain sites in our community.
• GOOD TO HEAR — Decatur School District #61 issued a statement last Thursday afternoon regarding contract negotiations between District #61 and the Decatur Federation Of Teaching Assistants (DFTA) indicating that a mediation session has been tentatively set for next Thursday, November 21, 2019. Let’s hope something positive comes out of that session for the sake of everyone concerned. As is always the case, there really isn’t anything going to be resolved between District #61 and the DFTA unless they come together and talk. By the way, some outrageous comments made to the school board during last week’s public meeting at Eisenhower High School were from a few people who have joined themselves in the public dialogue and they were more than highly inappropriate. They were offensive and several family members of teaching assistants told me the words spoken by those few did not represent their views or conduct. As I indicated during my appearance on WSOY’s Byers & Co. last Thursday, the few who were there to support the union, who made vicious remarks about the school board members, are similar to a well-meaning group holding a peace march and a few gof the peace marchers get into a fist fight during the march for peace! The cause, no matter how noble, is damaged, not helped, by vicious rhetoric that doesn’t solve anything.
• JENNIFER YBORRA, candidate for Macon County Circuit Clerk is holding a fundraiser tonight (Wednesday) from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM at Door 4 Brewing Co., 1214 W. Cerro Gordo St., in Decatur. Candidates holding fundraisers as campaigns head for the 2020 elections should let us know and I’ll let the public know.
• OUR CITY is going to have smoother roads, thanks to the state’s new construction program. Hooray! Presently, when I drive the speed limit on some of the roads that are going to be resurfaced, literally every car and truck on the road flies by me! The only factors that keep them from driving even faster are the potholes that serve as speed bumps. When those roads have new surfaces, and the pothole speed bumps are gone, the speeders will probably reach warp speed! Oh, well, it will just get them to the next stoplight a little quicker, where I usually find them waiting for me as I “putt putt” up beside them.
Editor Paul Osborne discusses the issues confronting Decatur with Brian Byers most Thursdays at 7:00 AM on the “City Hall Insider” hour on WSOY 1340.