How are you holding up in this holiday season that is the strangest that I’ve seen in my entire life? About all of the Christmas gatherings, traditional holiday events and the usual family gatherings have been postponed or cancelled because of COVID-19. I have been following the recommendations of the medical and scientific experts, as is my wife, and staying away from any kind of holiday family gatherings choosing a “safe” holiday season this year.
This will be the first year in my life that I haven’t gathered with family members for Christmas and I will miss them greatly — and I know many of you are experiencing the same feelings. Those of us who are especially at risk because of age, pre-existing conditions and other factors, have to go to extra lengths to make sure that family members don’t remember us next Christmas as casualties of the COVID-19 holiday season of 2020.
Christmas is going to be an especially lonely time for many this year, but we will get through it and be able to appreciate even more our future gatherings with family and friends. Even this year, we should remember the true “reason for the season” and count our blessings. Please stay safe this holiday season.
GOOD NEWS — Macon County Treasurer Ed Yoder sent me the following information which is good news during these tough economic times: “Earlier this year, I, the Macon County Treasurer, reported to the Macon County Board that the ongoing COVID pandemic may have a serious impact on the amount of property taxes being collected. However, as this extremely trying year comes to a close and the Macon County Treasurer’s Office conducted its final property tax payment collection count, this is not the case. In the ten years since I have been the elected Macon County Treasurer, this year’s property tax collections experienced the lowest number of delinquent property tax payments.”
That really is good news during a year of a lot of bad economic news.
• ANOTHER COVID casualty — I have been notified, along with the rest of the news media, that the 2021 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. luncheon and march held annually in January have been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. Hopefully, next year, when COVID-19 is behind us, we will be announcing the return of the luncheon and march — along with so many other events that have long been parts of our community. I think a lot of events that have been somewhat taken for granted in recent years, will come back with a renewed purpose and meaning. Since last March, we have reported so many cancellations.
• WHILE there are still some people in our community who won’t wear a face mask or practice other safe conduct to prevent the spread of COVID-19, I am pleased to point out that I have seen more people with face masks at the few places I have to go in publishing this newspaper — than I was seeing up until this time. I believe there is more awareness of their importance in the health of our community and that’s a good thing. Keep it up and lives will be saved. Thank you.
• THE RACE for three seats on the Decatur City Council in the April 8th election has been set for a few weeks since we learned the order the names of the 12 candidates will appear on the ballot. As is usually the case, during the holidays, there’s not much publicity about the candidates because everyone is thinking about Christmas and New Year’s Day and what’s ahead. After we get into next year, more about the candidates will be known and voters will be able to narrow the field to their three choices. Listed first on the ballot will be incumbent David Horn, followed by incumbent Chuck Kuhle, Marty Watkins and Ed Culp. The third council position that 1s up for election presently belongs to Councilman Patrick McDaniel, who is not running for re-election. The other eight candidates, and the order their names will appear on the ballot are: William (Will) Wetzel, Elijah England, Aldophia D. Cooper, Hardik J. Shah, Jacob Jenkins, John Phillips and Marc Girdler.
The problem the unknown candidates face is that COVID-19 has cancelled so many public gatherings, parades and opportunities to meet in person the candidates that it is hard to get their message out as to why a voter should select a particular candidate. Those with good name recognition, including the two incumbents running will have an advantage because it doesn’t appear that things will be back to “normal” during most or all of the campaign. Considering everything that has happened in our community during the past nine months, the race for those three city council seats will be one of the most important ones that I can remember.
• PETITIONS for other offices in our community are being accepted this week. Filing started Monday for candidates seeking election for local school boards, community college. park and village boards and will continue until the close of various offices on Monday, Dec. 21. Four of the seats on the Decatur School Board are up for election including Beth Nolan, Kendall Briscoe, Courtney Carson and Beth Creighton. There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the present board regarding policies and a few other items. It will be interesting to see which board members will choose to run for re-election and how many challengers will run for the expiring seats. School board petitions should be filed with the Macon County Clerk’s office at 141 South Main Street.
The Decatur Park Board has two seats up for election — those presently held by Stacey Young and Bob Brilley. The terms are for six years and petitions should be filed at the Decatur Park Administrative Office at 620 E. Riverside.
Richland Community College has three seats up for election. They are presently held by Vicki Carr, Randy Prince and Tom Ritter. Candidates may file nominating petitions with the secretary of the RCC board.
Time does fly. I can’t believe so many years have passed since I interviewed many of the candidates presently serving on the various boards — especially the six-year terms.
• BAD SPELLING and punctuation are in this email that City Councilman Patrick McDaniel received from an irate area resident Sunday morning in an email. Here’s the exact message as it was sent: “your a tyrant and a pig i wish only bad things for you. Tighten your bow tie a litter tighter each morning and we would be rid of you..it does go well with you pencil neck and you bald head even your hair was disgusted by you and fell out.”
Do you still wonder why a lot of qualified people refuse to run for public office? It’s getting pretty nasty out there. I can’t figure out if the writer (I know his name) was wishing Pat a Merry Christmas or thanking him for his 10 years of dedicated service on the city council. (He never got around to mentioning why he was so mad at Pat and wishes he would die.)
• MORE THANKS — Last week I printed a note from a soldier from New Berlin, Illinois, that was sent to Ann Irwin, director of Operation Enduring Support (OES) expressing thanks for the care package he received from the group. Here’s another received from a Decatur soldier: “Thank you, all of the support staff, and donors! Your care package has reached me somewhere in Iraq! Thank you very much for taking the time to send packages, like the one I just received, to the men and women of our US Military. It goes a long way to brighten the spirits of those who are away from family during the Holidays! Merry Christmas and happy New Year to all of you back home in Decatur, Illinois. Hope to be home soon, Go Illini!”
Thanks to Ann and everyone who works with and supports Operation Enduring Support for this very special mission — brightening the Christmas holiday for our military men and women serving far from home. COVID-19 has not stopped this project or the cheer it brings.
• VIRTUAL CHECK-UP — I had my first virtual routine check-up from my doctor last week and I found it really fascinating. With precautions against a personal visit to the doctor’s office because of the spread of COVID-19, I took my i-phone into my conference room at the Tribune, was given a link and appointment time to my doctor, and we had a virtual visit about my check-up. Within 15 minutes of my virtual visit the doctor’s office sent a summary of my visit to My Chart to read. That is very quick!
I’m sure it is not for everybody but since it was a regular check-up it accomplished the purpose without making physical contact. When things get back to “normal” whatever that will be, I’m sure the visits will be in person but I really liked the virtual appointment.
Wow! I am a member of a generation that didn’t even have a telephone in our home when I was a kid until we got a phone on a “party line” which also carried the conversations of about half of the neighborhood. I never dreamed that I would some day make a visit to my doctor’s office with a screen on a phone. In fact, I never heard of an iphone until its discovery in 2007 (obviously). Now it seems about everybody has one Anyhooo, it’s amazing what we can do on our phones and computers today — and a little scary to many.
• WAND has announced that the “Best of Millikin Vespers” will air on COZI and WAND TV. Vespers features various songs from around the world in a wonderful holiday spirit. Their performances over the years have been beautiful and uplifting and WAND is proud to bring you the “Best of Millikin Vespers”. Christmas Eve Day, December 24, 2020 “Best of Millikin Vespers All Is Bright” will air on COZI (17.2 over the air) at 6:30am. The show will air on WAND that night at 10pm. On Christmas Day at 5:30am and 11am the show will air on WAND. WAND has been airing the Millikin Vespers since December 2015. Thank you, WAND, for the announcement. The “Best of Millikin Vespers” is a great addition to the holiday season when so many events we love have been cancelled.
• THE DECATUR City Council sent a message by its 4-3 vote Monday night that businesses that have gotten into trouble by violating rules to control the spread of COVID-19 will still be eligible to receive financial assistance during the allocation of money given to the city by the federal CARES Act. According to the council’s decision those who have been involved in violating the rules will not be at the head of the line, but preference will be given to businesses that have followed the city ordinances. Makes sense. That’s not going to make some people very happy and that’s why there was a 4-3 vote, instead of the council’s action being unanimous. I would think those businesses who had a very minor unintentional violation should also be considered before those who intentionally worked against the city ordinances. But, that’s my opinion.
• RANKED FOURTH —Nicole Bateman, President of the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur-Macon County let us know that Decatur was recently ranked fourth in the nation as a best place to work in manufacturing in 2020. SmartAsset ranked the nation’s “Best Places to Work in Manufacturing” by comparing nearly 400 metro areas across the following metrics: manufacturing as a percentage of the workforce, job and income growth between 2015 and 2019, job and income growth between 2017 and 2018, housing costs as a percentage of income, and unemployment. From these findings, the financial technology company concluded that Decatur, IL saw income for manufacturing jobs increase by 33.08%, the fourth-highest increase in the study. The ranking also mentioned Decatur’s affordable housing was the fifth-lowest rate for the metric across all 378 metro areas. “There is a popular belief in America today that Manufacturing is something that we once did,” said Andrew Taylor, economic development officer of the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur-Macon County. At 22.5% of our employment base, Macon County is living proof that it is something that we still do.”
For more information on the 2020 Manufacturing Report and SmartAsset, visit smartasset.com. To find local careers in manufacturing, visit CareersDecatur.com.
• CONGRATULATIONS to Neuhoff Media for being honored with the Macon County Legacy Do Something Great Community Partner Award.
“This prestigious award honors Neuhoff Media for their partnership with the nonprofit sector in leveraging their resources, expertise and talent to lead and to make a positive impact,” said Natalie Beck, CEO of The Community Foundation of Macon County (CFMC). “We salute Neuhoff Media for their dedication to corporate social responsibility and their shared value for philanthropy.”
The award was presented virtually to Brian Byers, Neuhoff Morning Show host and VP of development.
“This has been an incredibly tough year for our community, our country and our world,” said Byers. “I’m very proud to work for a company that doesn’t just give out information but rolls up its sleeves and makes an impact on this place we call home. Our team has never lost sight of the needs in our community and has remained committed to making the world a better place. On behalf of all the Neuhoff Media employees, we are humbled and honored to receive this award.”
Macon County Legacy is a membership group of local charitable organizations and professional advisors.
Certainly the efforts of Neuhoff and Brian Byers deserve recognition — especially for their efforts to inform and help in a time of serious need for our community because of COVID-19.
I always look forward to talking with Brian every Thursday at 7:00 on WSOY’s Byers & Co. and very happy to see great community service rewarded and I appreciate so much those who are always ready to help. A complete list of those honored is printed on page 26 of this week’s print edition of the Tribune and also elsewhere on this website.. Congratulations to all award winners and thank you for your efforts to make us a better community.
• STAY SAFE everyone and keep on working together so that we can move forward towards better days when COVID-19 is a bad memory.