The first ribbon cutting for a grand opening of a local business that I did after becoming mayor was for Pastabilities, an Italian restaurant located at 134 East Main Street. The restaurant was successful for many years, and I was a frequent customer since it was about a half block from my office and it had extremely great food. Then, after several years in business, the young co-founder tragically fell ill and passed away — and the restaurant closed. The building is in view from my office windows and often over the years I’ve glanced out and wondered if another restaurant would someday occupy the space. A non-Italian restaurant tried operating there for a very brief time but didn’t make it. Then, one day last week, I saw the windows being washed and colorful signage being put up. When I walked to the post office, I detoured by the building and asked one of the window washers what was going in the building and got a long-awaited answer — an Italian restaurant. Then, over the weekend, the name “Napoli’s” went up on the building. I checked its website and learned that it has several locations in Illinois and Iowa and it is spreading out due to its popularity. It is going to be a great addition to downtown dining and provide more choices for our community.
I’M REALLY pleased that we have another restaurant downtown that is so close to our offices. On the other hand, I will admit, since I’ve been careful about what I eat following my medical emergency a few months ago, it is going to take double the will power not to jump the diet ship every time I look out my office windows and see my favorite kind of food being offered in a place that’s right in my line of sight. I may have to close the curtains so I won’t see it. Before I finished this column I walked over to the restaurant and the doors were still locked and I was unable to reach anyone by phone, so they were still in the process of getting ready to open. I’m not sure when Napoti’s will open, but I see workers carrying in items and getting ready for the big day. A big welcome to Napoti’s to downtown Decatur and a wish for much success!
• GET BASIC FACTS. My “Viewpoint” in this week’s print edition of the Decatur Tribune is about some of the “Letters to the Editor” that I receive that do not contain simple facts that are easy to obtain. For example, one recent letter against Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe had the letter writer indicating that Moore Wolfe should enjoy her time as mayor because she would only be a one-term mayor. I guess it was too much trouble for the writer to find out that Mayor Moore Wolfe is in her third term — being appointed to her first term, then elected to a 2-year term and re-elected to her present 4-year term. The letter writer didn’t even know a basic, easy-to-find fact — that Mayor Moore Wolfe is years beyond her first term! The writer also blamed the mayor for what is happening in the Decatur School District, even though the mayor and our city government do not have any authority over the school board. That’s another elected body, which the letter writer apparently didn’t know.
The writer has a right to her opinion on the job that our mayor or any other public official is doing.
However, we seem to live in an age when people can be more informed about what’s going on in their community, and the world, than ever before. Unfortunately, it is also a time when there’s a huge amount of misinformation spread around to gullible people who never take the time to check basic facts before they open their mouths to speak, or fire off a letter.
• STATE SENATOR Doris Turner (D-Springfield) has opened a district office in Decatur at 1210 S. Jasper St. A ribbon cutting event was held Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of the office. Turner said: “I am very excited about the opening of our new offices and I am eager to get out and meet the community.” It is good to have that contact point with Turner in our community.
• GOOD NEWS — Outreach 101 and State Representative Dan Caulkins (R–Decatur) presented a check in honor of Bill Horve, Sr. to the Macon County Honor Guard. This coincides with the 2021 Central Illinois Day of Giving to support Operation Honor Guard. An Honor Guard is a group of veteran volunteers who stand guard and perform military rites at a veteran’s funeral, and they serve in all types of weather and any time of day. Bill Horve, Sr., who passed away this last year, was a member of the Macon County Honor Guard, and Outreach 101 donated to this worthy cause in his honor. The presentation was held at Dawson & Wikoff Funeral Home, 4020 N. Water St. on May 13. Caulkins created Outreach 101 to benefit his community using his legislative salary. To date, Outreach 101 has given $87,000 to support the citizens of the 101st district. If you have a community project that needs help, email email@example.com and tell Outreach 101 about your project.
• MASKS on or off? Not too much has changed locally since President Joe Biden, with the recommendation of the Center for Disease Control that people who had been fully vaccinated could stop wearing their masks in most places, announced the masks could come off. The signs instructing people to wear face coverings in public places are still on our office building entrance doors at Millikin Court. Governor JB Pritzker has moved towards “opening up” Illinois, and there is more information about his decision elsewhere in this edition. Of course, a lot of people still have not been vaccinated and need to continue to wear their masks to keep from spreading COVID-19. I think I’m going to stick with the same caution and mask wearing I have been doing for months — especially since we are constantly getting mixed messages from the nation’s capitol, the CDC and the state. Although optimistic about the progress, it is better to be safe than sorry.
• MILESTONE — Happy Birthday wishes for our Sports Editor J. Thomas McNamara who will be 80 years old on Saturday, May 22. The McNamaras will celebrate at a later time after Tom’s recovery from his kidney surgery. Tom and his wife, Nancy, have a married daughter Michelle (Tim) Robinson and a son, Brian McNamara. They have six grandchildren—Kaylee Robinson, Madison McNamara, Sydney McNamara, Allie Robinson, Ryan Robinson and Gavin McNamara. It doesn’t seem possible that Tom was in his mid-30s when he started working for me as the newspaper’s sports editor. How time flies!
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSPY’s Byers & Co. for the City Hall Insider every Thursday morning at 7:00.