City Beat: Thoughts On Cowboy Heroes From The Past, Rodney Davis And The Hard To Reach Mary Miller
This week’s Scrapbook (pages 4, 5 of the print and online editions of the Decatur Tribune) takes another look at some of the best known cowboy heroes when many of us were kids in the 1940s and 1950s.
With all the violence in our world today, sometimes it is refreshing to reflect on another era, back to the childhood of many of us, and our heroes that came to us on radio, television and the movie screen. Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger, along with other major cowboy stars, rode into our hearts and impressionable young minds through presenting a wholesome image on and off the screen. Years ago, when I interviewed Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger) during his guest appearance at a Special Olympics event in Decatur, I was so happy to find out that Moore was as nice a person in real life as the character he portrayed. I’ve done a lot of interviews with politicians, movie stars and other well-known public figures over the decades, and have been disappointed by what I heard and saw from many of those who were known to me when I was a kid growing up.
However, the most satisfying and reassuring interview I’ve ever done was with my childhood hero, the Lone Ranger, and finding out decades later when I talked with him, that he projected the same positive traits in real life that I watched and believed in during my childhood. No doubt, what I saw as a kid, impacted my life.
• MY “Viewpoint” column (on page 3 of today’s print and online editions of the Decatur Tribune) is about renewing my driver’s license and I mention the crazy drivers I encountered on my way to the driver’s license renewal facility. If you have read this column for very long, you know I’ve often mentioned the speeding drivers on Route 51 South and other highways in and surrounding Decatur. I drive the speed limit and it seems every driver blows past me on my way to and from downtown!
Don Hildebrand, a long time subscriber in New Braunfels, Texas, sent me an email stating: “In your May 25th editorial on a lack of enforcement of traffic laws, the thought struck me that if ‘Murphy’s Law’ is working and strict law enforcement begins, YOU will be the first person arrested. ONLY A THOUGHT.”
Well, Don, that same thought has crossed my mind a few times.
• BY THE WAY, since I took a closer look at the driver’s license material because I renewed my license last week, it appears that, if you are pulled over for speeding, don’t think paying a speeding ticket is the end of it. When you have to renew your driver’s license, depending on the reason you were stopped by the police, you may have to go to the driver services facility on Woodford, take a “Rules of the Road” test, a vision test and a graded driving test — regardless of your age. Just thought I would mention those possibilities — as a public service.
• HOORAY!! The Illinois Department of Transportation announced last week that the 2.6-mile resurfacing project on Old U.S. 51 Business/North Water Street, from the Interstate 72 interchange to Illinois 121/Pershing Road, was set to begin this past Monday, June 6. According to information from IDOT, the work will reduce Old U.S. 51 to one lane in each direction at times, with traffic control utilizing dynamic message signs, arrow boards, spotters and barricades. The project includes resurfacing, curb repairs, sidewalk and signal improvements. The bridges over Spring Creek will have their joints replaced, and traffic will be down to one lane in each direction during these repairs.
Benefits from the project include providing a smoother road surface and improving pedestrian safety.
Motorists can expect delays and should allow extra time for trips through this area. Over the next six years, IDOT is planning to improve more than 3,500 miles of highway and 9 million square feet of bridge deck as part of the Rebuild Illinois capital program, which is investing $33.2 billion into all modes of transportation. Accomplishments through Year Two included approximately $5.2 billion of improvements statewide on 3,020 miles of highway, 270 bridges and 428 additional safety improvements.
• THE BID LETTING for the Route 51 South stretch from Cleveland Avenue to Elwin is scheduled for later this month. That’s the road I drive more than any other and right now, there are parts of it that qualify for “washboard” status. Considering how smooth it should be when the project is finished, those speeding now with all of the potholes, cracks and rough stretches, may reach warp-speed once there is a smooth surface.
• MACON County Sheriff Jim Root and his challenger, Cody Moore, constitute the major local race in the Primary Election on June 28. Both men are Republicans and there, essentially, is no democrat running for the office, so the Primary Election results on June 28 will identify the person who will be Macon County Sheriff for the next four year term — Jim Root or Cody Moore. I’ll have more on that race as Election Day draws near.
• CONGRESSMAN Rodney Davis was at the Tribune one morning last week and we couldn’t help but reminisce about the first time we talked when he was running in the Republican Primary ten years ago. I remember Rodney telling me back then that, if he was fortunate enough to win election to Congress, he would always stay in touch. He has kept his promise and has always been willing to talk to me about any issue over the years. In fact, it is usually his office calling to see if I have some time, or some questions, to meet with him. That’s unusual in my long experience as a newspaper editor. Usually, the only time a candidate is available is when they are running for re-election.
• RODNEY is running for election in the 15th IL District, against Congresswoman Mary Miller. Like the Macon County Sheriff’s race, the Republican Primary winner in the 15th is the same as being the winner of the General Election in November. While Rodney has always been available, Mary Miller has been almost invisible in Decatur and Macon County. I’m not sure why. Although I’ve received several news releases from her campaign, I have not talked with her, or even met her, which is highly unusual in my decades of experience in writing about candidates for office.
I have contacted one of her district offices and her office in D.C. and was finally told to send an email to her communications person, which I have done but have not yet received a reply. Other reporters I know have mentioned to me that Miller is a difficult interview to land. She has also never appeared (at least as I am writing this column) on my friend Brian Byers’ WSOY Byers & Co. program, which always has an open mike to candidates regardless of their views or party affiliation.
Hopefully, Miller will open up the lines of direct communication soon, because the primary election is less than three weeks away.
• AS FAR as my one-on-one discussion with Rodney Davis, I didn’t detect any major change in his politics or perspective on representing the district where I vote. He remains solid in fundamental political views including pro-life, pro-Second Amendment. He told me that he wishes he had a gun when he was one of the members of Congress attacked during a baseball game several years ago.
He has been characterized as being a Republican in name only because he has become “more liberal” in his views and is willing to “work with” members of the “other party”. My personal observation, after talking with Rodney for most of an hour, is that he hasn’t changed, but a portion of the Republican Party has moved further to the right, making him “more liberal” in their eyes. Rodney Davis has given the district he represents pretty solid results over the past decade.
When the votes are counted after the polls close on June 28, we’ll see where the Republican Party stands in the 15th District — with Mary Miller or Rodney Davis. The result of this race will tell us a lot about ourselves and the Republican Party.
• IT WAS great to see last week’s Macon County Fair have such excellent weather for its June 2-5 run.
• THE shootings and killings happening in Decatur (and across the nation) seem to be a daily occurence. I’ve never seen such a disregard for human life as we are presently witnessing. God help us!
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00 for the City Hall Insider.