CITY BEAT: MACON COUNTY HEADED WRONG WAY IN COVID-19 BATTLE
I knew when I received the notification that the Joint Crisis Communication Team (CCT) would be holding a press conference Friday in the Macon County Office Building that it would not be good news — and it wasn’t. The message delivered was: “Macon County continues to experience high transmission levels of COVID-19.” In fact, despite having a vaccine to effectively prevent infections, “we are experiencing similar numbers as last fall” when there was no vaccine available. Area hospitals and case numbers continue to show that younger individuals (including children) are being affected by COVID-19.
The Macon County Health Department is now reporting new cases Monday through Friday. The full infographic including all demographic information will be released on Fridays.
How bad is it getting in Macon County? “Since the MCHD’s last report on August 6, 2021, there have been 286 new COVID-19 cases reported in Macon County, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases to 11,681 since the start of the pandemic.”
Even more — as we are going to press the MCHD reported since the above paragraph on August 13, there were 147 new COVID-19 cases reported in Macon County. Saturday: 44 new cases, Sunday: 40 new cases and Monday: 63 new cases. The number of cases is disturbing. Nearly 60% of Macon County residents have not been vaccinated.
• WAND-TV carried the Joint Crisis Communication Team news conference and then had a ton of people comment about it. Apparently, there was some microphone problems leading to some “intelligent” Facebook comments claiming that the health officials probably did something to the mikes because they didn’t want people to hear what they were saying. Say what? If the health department officials didn’t want people to hear what they said, why would they hold a news conference in the first place? The news conference was to “inform” not to deceive people. There is no reason why the news conference would be held if it was to “mislead” people. Duh!
• THE DECATUR City Council has until Sept. 20 to select a replacement for Councilman Rodney Walker who officially resigned his position on July 20. Eleven candidates have applied for the position. They are: William Brennan, Jessica Cameron, Steven Christian, Dennis Cooper, Elijah England, Robert Owen, Stephen Payton, Terrence “TAT” Taylor, Derek Wallace, Chelsea Ray Walters and Marty Watkins.
Since the resignation of Walker left the council with no African American, there is a push by some in the community for the council to name an African American to the position. The council is in a tough position on its selection decision. If they agree that an African-American should be appointed to fill the seat, then non-African Americans have wasted their time in applying for the position because of their skin color. Although I certainly believe, considering the composition of the city population that appointing an African American to the position is wise, it smacks of reverse discrimination. Applicant Marty Watkins is an African American who may have the strongest argument for being appointed — he finished in fourth place in the last election for three city council seats and has run for council on a few previous occasions.
• JOSH TANNER has announced he will seek re-election as Macon County Clerk. “There have been many challenges in my first term and with the help of my staff and hundreds of election judges we have overcome those obstacles.”
Tanner was elected to his first term as Macon County Clerk in 2018. Prior to that he served as the Macon County Supervisor of Assessments for six years.
“I appreciate the opportunity that voters provided me in 2018 and I hope they will allow me to continue serving.”
• THE 75th Anniversary Air Show at the Decatur Airport over the past weekend celebrated the airport’s 75 years of operation and the weather was perfect for all of the activities taking place. The free event drew a lot of people from the area and beyond and those not attending could see activity in the sky over Decatur. The Decatur Airport is a Decatur Park District property and Tim Wright, Director of the airport does a great job in the operation of a great asset to our community.
• 4 MILLION…and counting. Since 1967 Scovill Zoo has provided wonderful, educational experiences for animal lovers of all ages. Yesterday (Tuesday, August 17) the zoo honored its 4 millionth visitor! The 4 millionth visitor chosen (the Trib went to press before the winner was announced) and his or her family will receive a prize pack worth over $500.
The zoo has come such a long way since its humble beginnings — 4 million visitors ago — and is another of our community’s great attractions.
• NEW FIRE STATION — The Decatur City Council unanimously approved a new fire station and two new fire trucks for the fire department. A new Station 7 will be built at 3530 and 3550 E. Chestnut Ave. in the R-2 district. The station will replace the current Station 7 at the Decatur Airport. As the geography of the city has changed over the years, response time has been slower than it should be from the station at the airport and the new location and trucks should improve response time. The city agreed to a $3.11 million contract with Bloomington-based Felmley-Dickerson Co. for construction of the new facility. It’s a good move by the council and something that needed to be done years before now.
• IF THIS week’s “Scrapbook” article in the print edition of the Tribune about Carl Watson, “The Tamale Man”, looks familiar, every few years, by popular request (including my own) I dig out the copy and photos and publish it all over again! Even though it has been almost 60 years since Carl sold tamales on the street that his wife had made in their basement at home, a lot of our readers have fond memories of eating those tamales when they were kids — including this kid.
There has never been a tamale, or tomala, made to match the taste of those we enjoyed so long ago — at least in my opinion. For me, the experience of writing the original story about 20 years ago, was so enhanced by being able to talk with Mabel Watson and go to the basement of her home and see where all of the tamales were made and the equipment used to make them. As a kid and teenager eating those tamales I had no idea where they were made or the story behind their creation and it was quite a revelation for me as an adult to put all of those pieces together in doing the story.
I’ve literally written thousands of “Scrapbooks” but “The Tamale Man” has always been one of my favorites. Isn’t it interesting that, even though it has been 60 years since Carl Watson (and Mabel, too) sold tamales in the five-points area of east Decatur, “The Tamale Man” is still fondly remembered by many — including this editor.
• I JOIN Brian Byers for the “City Hall Insider” portion of WSOY’s Byers & Co. program every Thursday morning at 7:00. I always enjoy discussing the issues impacting our community and country with Brian.