After many weeks of operating in a coronavirus lockdown mode, our community has been slowly moving forward in opening up and, so far, the reopening has been positive. Although some restrictions, such as wearing a face covering and social distancing, remain in effect, there is more activity in government, recreation, the religious and business communities and all of that is certainly welcome news to all of us. Three months ago, the news we were printing in our newspaper was about cancellations of meetings, events, church services and everything else that defined our community. Now, the news is about reopenings and adjusting back to what our community was about before COVID-19 posed a threat to all of us. Although the impact of what happened to us and much of the world has taught us some valuable lessons, it will be a long time, maybe never, before “normal” will be totally back in our lives.
• PARKING CHANGE — Police Chief Jim Getz announced on Friday that the previous order suspending enforcement of time limited parking on the public parking lots, alleys and streets in the downtown area would end Monday, June 8th. That means, as you are reading this column the City of Decatur has started enforcing those violations. “As a courtesy, we will provide a few days of grace period before issuing fines,” said Getz, which means that grace period is now over, or close to being over. By the way, the City’s parking ticket amnesty program will be expiring on June 15th, so if you have outstanding fines with the City, contact staff to discuss this prior to that date.
• POSITIVE METRICS — An update from the City indicated that Macon County still has positive health metrics to move from Phase 3 to Phase 4 towards the end of June. “In fact we are currently on a downward trend in number of cases,” indicated the report. “Please continue to wear a face covering and practice social distancing as we continue to relax the rules and more activities re-open here in Decatur.”
• THE CITY is preparing to reopen the Civic Center on Monday, June 15th, but residents are still encouraged to continue doing as much online as possible.
• VOLUNTEERS needed! The United Way of Decatur & Mid-Illinois is calling for volunteers tohelp with Food Box Drive Up Day June 20. In partnership with Central Illinois Foodbank, they will be providing free food boxes for our community. Volunteers are needed to load boxes into cars, manage traffic, and to provide flyers to residents. The event, which will be held in the Decatur Civic Center parking lot, at #1 Gary K. Anderson Plaza, in Decatur, will begin at 10am and run until boxes are gone (anticipating 1pm). For more information contact Debbie Bogle at 217-422-8537 or email here at firstname.lastname@example.org This is a great opportunity to volunteer to help others.
• AS FINANCIAL institutions continue to re-open their lobbies to the public I see about all of them have adopted very similar rules to keep their staff and customers safe. For instance, CEFCU Illinois Member Centers re-opened June 5 during normal business hours with social distancing guidelines and safety measures in place. A news release from CEFCU stated: “Employees, members, and guests will be required to wear masks inside the Member Centers. Members will be asked to temporarily remove their mask for security and identification purposes. Plexiglas barriers for each active teller window, Member Service Represent-ative booth, and the receptionist desk will be in place. Floor signs will mark where to stand and each Member Center will establish limits for the maximum numbers of members allowed in the branch at one time to ensure social distancing. Member Center drive-ups will continue to be available for member transactions during normal business hours. Vestibule ATMs remain available with 24/7 member access.” That’s about what financial institution customers can expect as their bank or credit union opens up.
• NOT CERTAIN — I’m not exactly sure when our newspaper office will open up to the public and staff will return as before the lockdown. Although we have published every week since the lockdown began, it has been very difficult and I’m certainly ready to have more help at the office. Thanks for your patience and support during this difficult period. Your understanding is appreciated.
• FOR some reason, the following song has been lodged in my mind in recent weeks and I find myself, at times, humming the lyrics:
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red, and yellow, black, and white,
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
Guess what? He still loves all of us when we grow out of childhood.
• I WOULD not want to live in a city like Decatur if the police department was defunded and abolished. I would not be able to afford the home or business insurance premiums. Plus, who are we going to call when we need help — ghostbusters?
• THE COLOR of a person’s skin should never be a factor in an arrest or part of the judicial process. PERIOD!