• PLEASED to see Macon County’s law enforcement agencies employ another tool in making our roadways safer with the No-Refusal Program that was announced last week. Big THANKS to Macon County Sheriff Tony Brown, Decatur Police Chief Jim Getz, and Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott. Impaired driving is dangerous and a threat to the safety of our residents.
• SCOTT REEDER has an especially interesting column on page 3 of this week’s print and online editions on why people are leaving Illinois which has lost 160,000 residents since 2010 — one of only two states in the nation to lose population. West Virginia is the other. As Scott points out, Illinois has the second highest property tax in the nation, just behind New Jersey and the biggest reason people give for leaving our state is high taxes. Yet, the tax and spend cycle continues — along with the exodus of people who are fed up with it and “politics” in Springfield.
• SPECIMEN ballots for the March 17 Primary Election are on pages 22 and 23 of this week’s print and online editions with some other election items from Macon County Clerk Josh Tanner’s office in this edition. This year, Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott and Macon County Circuit Clerk Lois Durbin are not running for re-election so don’t look for their names on the ballot.
• THE FIFTH and final McElroy Memorial Golf Outing at South Side Country Club will be held July 17, 2020 — exactly five years to the day when Mayor Mike McElroy died following a medical emergency while driving. Among his many involvements in the community, he served on the Decatur City Council when I was mayor and was a strong ally and friend. After I left the mayor’s office “Tuna’ ran successfully for mayor in the following election.
It’s hard for me to believe that he’s been gone nearly 5 years already. We talked often before and after I left the mayor’s office and he was in my office here at the Tribune discussing city issues only a day or two before his death at the age of 63 — way too young to leave us. I will never forget the words that then-City Manager Tim Gleason said to me when he called only minutes after Tuna’s passing. “We’ve lost the mayor,” he told me, which took me a few seconds to comprehend because I didn’t equate “lost” with “death”. But then, when Gleason said a few more words I understood that Mayor McElroy had died. It was a very shocking death to me and so many others — and I still feel sad when I think about it.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Decatur Family YMCA’s Y for A Better Us annual campaign which provides financial assistance for Y programs to youth, adults, seniors and families in Macon County. For more information contact Abby Helm at 217/872-9622, ext. 147, or email abby.helm@decatur ymca.org.
• A RIBBON cutting and Open House at the new Fire Station 5 at 3808 Greenridge Dr. in Decatur will be held Tuesday, March 10 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
• MEMBERS of the Decatur Federation of Teaching Assistants (DFTA, IFT Local 4324) and the D61 Board of Education met last Wednesday night for 3 hours, but no final agreement was reached. (Comments from both sides are on page 31 of this week’s print and online editions and also elsewhere on this site.)
Most of the grumbling about no resolution I’ve heard from people on the street seems to blame the board for not reaching an agreement and they want the matter put to rest and for the district to move on.
• THE DECATUR City Council does not meet again until Monday, March 16, the day before the primary election. Last week’s meeting was very productive with city council members approving more than $2 million in road repairs at various locations throughout the city. The money for those projects comes from state and local motor fuel taxes.
I join Brian Byers on the “City Hall Insider” hour on WSOY’s Byers & Co., each Thursday morning starting at 7:00. I always enjoy talking about Decatur issues with Brian — and we’ve been doing “City Hall Insider’ for the past 17 years.