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Editor Paul Osborne

     The Annual WSOY Community Food Drive has been a favorite event of mine since the time it started and it always has my support. The annual event is coming up on Friday, Oct. 2. It is really a ‘feel good” event each year and especially this year, because of COVID-19, the need is greater than ever. I “feel good” in giving because I know that every cent collected goes to help others. There aren’t any administrative costs involved. Those receiving the help “feel good”, not only because of the food they will receive as they face difficult times, but they know that people who give care about them and what they need.

     As indicated in an extensive article about the food drive that recently appeared in the Tribune, because of COVID-19 safety measures, only monetary donations will be accepted.

     Following are some points from food drive organizers that appeared in our recent article about the event that I think are important to consider in knowing what those monetary donations can mean:

     • Purchasing Power – Thanks to a partnership with the Central Illinois Food Bank, Decatur foodbanks will be able to purchase food for .19 per pound. This means $1 can purchase 5 pounds of food!

     • Avoiding Waste – Going to a “cash” only system allows the pantries to purchase goods they need the most on an as-needed basis and as their space allows, eliminating the need for off-site storage and the risk of expiration and contamination.

     • Minimizing Manpower – The WSOY Community Food Drive has always been blessed with hundreds of volunteers. However, due the risks associated with COVID, we feel it is necessary to minimize the amount of manpower on site. By collecting monetary donations only, we can cut our manpower by over half.

     • Minimizing surface contact – Though the risk of COVID-19 through surface contact is considered minimal, the number of hands that must handle donated food goods during the drive is immense. By allowing a drive-up cash donation system (card processing, checks, phone and online donation options will also be available), we can minimize the surface contact with items collected from the public.

     “Last year, over 1.5 million pounds of food and cash were collected during our twelve hours of broadcast. This year, we hope to exceed that amount through your monetary donations! Every cent raised goes to the purchase of food!”

     I am so pleased that the pandemic, which has shut down so many events and causes, has not stopped the WSOY Community Food Drive. It is not only good for the stomachs of the hungry, but for the hearts of all involved! Help to make it a great success and show that spirit that really defines our community and Central Illinois.

     • WARNING: Effective last Friday, (Sept. 25), Macon County is now considered to be at a warning level for COVID-19. According to Brandi Binkley, Public Health Administrator at the Macon County Health Department: “A county is put at warning level when two or more risk indicators increase. In Macon County, the number of cases per 100,000 people has been over 50 and the weekly number of deaths has increased more than 20% for two consecutive weeks. At this time, other indicators are within target in Macon County.

     “The intended use of this data is for community residents to more strongly consider their behaviors including but not limited to: hosting or attending gatherings; what types of activities in which they choose to participate; and strongly implementing all precautionary measures.

     “There are numerous ways a county reaches warning level. However, some common factors for an increase in cases and outbreaks are associated with large gatherings and events; bars and restaurants; refusal to wear a mask or cloth face covering appropriately; long-term care facilities; schools; lack of following public health guidance; and cases among the community at large. Community transmission is also increasing.”

     • APPROPRIATELY: I have highlighted Brandi’s use of the word “appropriately” when it comes to wearing a mask because I’m seeing more and more people not wearing masks appropriately. The mask is not covering their nose and with increasing frequency, not even covering their mouth. Some have the mask on their chin and others have it around their neck. That doesn’t do anything to stop the spread of COVID-19. I have yet to read that a person covering their adam’s apple or the their chin stops the spread of the virus! The “appropriate” way to wear a mask is covering both the nose and mouth. You don’t prevent much, if anything, by wearing a mask where it is “convenient”.

     “Many mitigation measures have been taken prior to this warning level status. However, the healthcare system and community leaders call on all community residents to do their part to prevent the spread of this virus. All members of the public should be avoiding large gatherings; social distancing even if wearing a cloth or face covering; wearing a mask or cloth face covering the correct way; participating in contact tracing if contacted by the health department; adhering to isolation and quarantine guidance if directed; staying home if they are sick; and strictly adhering to all public health guidance. All members of the community must do their part in this pandemic to protect the lives of Macon County residents and visitors. The metrics referenced are updated weekly, from the Sunday-Saturday of the prior week.”

     • SHUTDOWN? Even though the one-on-one in-person communication channel is pretty limited for a newspaper these days, I still talk with a lot of fellow business owners and managers via phone and emails.

     Here’s what I’m hearing: A few will not last much longer before closing their doors due to a lack of business. Although they have found some creative ways to stay open, they are not getting enough business to keep from going further into debt. Also, if there is another lockdown as happened before, long-time business acquaintances told me they will close the doors permanently. Several are at retirement age and they cannot afford to keep going and will be financially better off retiring. Considering selling their business with what’s happening regarding COVID-19 is not even an option.

     Of course, all of this will not only have major impact on our business community and company employees, but also on our city’s coffers, which will have a greatly diminished amount of tax revenue flowing in from what were once thriving businesses. Friday’s announcement that our county is at a warning level either is a wake-up call for those who refuse to obey safety measures from the Health Department, or a preview of a coming health and economic disaster! The health and economic future of our community depends on the “appropriate conduct” of those who live here or visit here. You can argue politics and “fake news” all you want, but this community, like so many others, is at a tipping point and we need to do the right thing!

     • SAD NEWS —The Decatur Breakfast Sertoma Club, which has been active since chartering in 1972, will be dissolved effective today Sept. 30, 2020.  Over those 48 years, I was the guest speaker at several of the club meetings, first as editor of this newspaper and then, as Mayor of Decatur. I always enjoyed giving those speeches and loved the question and answer period after I was finished talking about the newspaper or city business. The club has done so much charitable work in our community over the years and has written an important chapter in helping others.

     • OVER the past 20 years (maybe longer) I’ve noticed a decline in membership of most of our service clubs and that’s too bad. The fellowship, spirit of giving and helping the community, speak to another time for most clubs when it was a requirement of some businesses that an employee belong to a service club. I noticed, during the years I spoke to the various clubs, the average age of the membership grew older as the number of younger members coming in dwindled. I guess there’s just too much going on in our lives today and other ways have been found to help the community without the time commitment.

     • LONG LINE — I’ve been seeing a long line outside of the Macon County Office Building as many residents are taking advantage of early voting. I never thought I would live to see the day that how to vote would pause a problem in choosing whether to mail in a ballot or early vote. This year has been so ‘different”.

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