LAST WEEK’S victory for the opponents of building a new school in Lincoln Park came as a result of the Decatur Park District throwing in the towel and deciding not to sell the land to the Decatur School District. As I wrote in last week’s column, which rolled off of the press a short time before the Decatur Park District announced it would not sell Lincoln Park to the Decatur School District, I sensed the school district had the votes to move ahead and build a new school at the Lincoln Park site. As I discussed with Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. Thursday I had written in that column that what could stop the project was if the Decatur Park District decided not to sell the property to the school district — which is what happened. I wrote in last week’s column: “Whether you agree, or disagree, with the decision, the school board has the final, and only, vote on the issue. “Of course, the Decatur Park District Board must be willing to sell the park to the school district. “I haven’t seen any movement to the contrary as I’m writing this column — but things could change by the time you read these words.”
Obviously, things did change with the park district’s decision leaving the school board without a vote on moving ahead at the Lincoln Park site. Over the years, the Decatur Park District has always been sensitive to negative criticism. I think all elected officials should be sensitive to criticism even though it is not pleasant, but the park district has seemed to me, as a newspaper editor, been more sensitive than the other public bodies. That’s just an observation based on the calls I’ve received over the years from someone in the park district regarding items that appeared in the Tribune.
The opposition didn’t have much impact on the city council when several attended council meetings to ask the council to take a stand against the Lincoln Park site. The city council was, and is, not directly involved in school district decisions beyond providing necessary services such as water, sewers, etc. regardless of where a new school is built. The opposition also went in force to school board meetings and may have affected a few of the board members but it appeared the majority of the board was ready to move ahead with the Lincoln Park site. Obviously, the opposition found fertile ground in their contact with the Decatur Park District and shut down any further conversation about building a new school in Lincoln Park.
The final sentence of my June 6th Viewpoint column, which was about the “composition of the opposition”, stated my final view: “I’m not a betting man, but, if I was, I wouldn’t bet against the neighbors winning this battle.” Three weeks later, the opposition won and the Lincoln Park site for a new school issue was dead.
The Decatur Public Schools Board of Education Finance Committee had planned to hold a meeting Aug. 2 to discuss the feasibility of using the Woodrow Wilson Junior High site for a new Dennis School, but due to flooding at several DPS facilities, including the Keil Building, the meeting was postponed until a later date.
• BEST WISHES to Shelith Hansbro who has been selected by the Decatur Park Board of Commissioners to fill the unexpired term for a park board commissioner seat. Shelith will complete the remaining term ending in April 2023. I’ve known Shelith for a lot of years and she has the experience and temperment to be an asset to the park board.
• ANOTHER TERM — Republican Jim Root has not had an easy road to serve as Macon County Sheriff. After winning the 2018 sheriff’s race against Democrat Tony Brown, it took him three years to prove that he actually had more votes (16) than Brown, and by that time, he only had a year left on the term instead of 4 years. He won his Republican Primary Election battle against Cody Moore and, for many, since there wasn’t a Democrat on the primary ballot, it was believed the race was over and the November General Election would only be a formality since his name would be the only one on the ballot for sheriff. Last week, the Macon County Democrats announced that Shannon Gutierrez Seal would be the Democratic candidate for sheriff as she would attempt to be the first female sheriff in the State of Illinois. Two days later she was forced to withdraw from the race because she had voted in the Republican Primary for Cody Moore, so she couldn’t run as a Democrat in the general election, There is some legal wrangling going on regarding another Democrat taking her place on the ballot — but she was never on the ballot so… I don’t see anyone, at this point, beating Jim Root for another term in the sheriff’s office in November.
• ROAD REPORT — One thing I can admit about the speeders on Route 51 South — they drive at the same high speed even when there is a heavy fog! The “no visibility fog” we had one early morning last week did not result in any cautionary driving that was apparent as the vehicles whizzed by me. Thank goodness there wasn’t a car stalled on the road somewhere in the fog in front of them! Maybe it is just me, but I was driving down South Main Street one afternoon last week and a city bus whizzed by me obviously going over the speed limit! One of these days, if a bicyclist blows by me going over the speed limit, I may turn in my car keys and walk to the office!!!! (smile)
• LAST week’s “Scrapbook” feature about Decatur’s first “motor wagon” resulted in an email and photo from subscriber and former resident George Irish. George wrote: “I enjoyed your article on Hieronymus Mueller’s Benz Motor Wagon. The attached photo is of the Mueller brothers with Bryan and my great grandfather, M. C. Irish apparently in the vehicle mentioned in your article. “I’m enjoying the Tribune from afar. Unfortunately I recall many of the names and places you feature … must be getting older.”
Thanks, George, for the email and historic photo. The photo is reproduced on page 14 of today’s edition of the Decatur Tribune.
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00 to discuss the issues confronting our community and Central Illinois.