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City Beat: Some This And That From Here And There



Paul Osborne

     VALENTINES — Last week Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski launched her “Valentines for Veterans” program, encouraging families across Central and Southern Illinois to show appreciation for local veterans by making homemade Valentine’s Day cards. Congresswoman Budzinski will distribute the cards to veterans in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District.

     I think that is a great idea, as is anything we can do for our veterans to show how much they are appreciated. Budzinski said: “Veterans from across Central and Southern Illinois have put their lives on the line to protect our country – it’s so important that we show our appreciation. I’m excited to launch my ‘Valentines for Veterans’ program as a small way to say thank you to the bravest folks in our community and I encourage residents across Illinois 13th Congressional District to participate!”

     The deadline to submit cards to Congresswoman Budzinski’s office is Friday, February 10th. Cards can be dropped off or mailed to Congresswoman Budzinski’s Springfield office at 133 S 4th Street, Suite 300, Springfield, IL 62701.

     • MORE HEARTS — Another Valentine effort to express love and lift the spirits of local seniors, has been announced by State Senator Doris Turner who is collecting store bought or handmade cards to deliver to long-term care facility residents for Valentine’s Day. More details are on page 15 of this edition. I like reporting activities by area residents and public officials that make our veterans and vulnerable senior citizens feel better by knowing they are not forgotten.

     • THANKS to retired Herald & Review Reporter Judy Tatham, who reads her Decatur Tribune in Arizona, for mailing me several postcards from the past, including Roosevelt Junior High School, which I attended, as did our youngest son, Kyle.

1908 postcard of Transfer House

     Another card that attracted my interest  was one that featured the Transfer House in Lincoln Square, which was mailed from Decatur to a Springfield resident on Aug. 20, 1908. Judy assured me that she is not in that 1908 photo! (Neither am I.) The postage cost to mail the 1908 postcard? One penny! It’s always great to hear from Judy who did a great job as a Decatur newspaper reporter years ago, which is where I first met her.

     • LAST Wednesday morning I was driving to the office on Route 51 South before dawn and visibility was about zero due to wind blowing the snow almost horizontally at my windshield. Wouldn’t you know it? Two large pick-up trucks passed me at a high rate of speed without any thought of the visibility. The drivers could have easily smashed their trucks into a stalled motorist or someone walking! Apparently, some drivers maintain the same illegal speed regardless of the weather or visibility.

     Remember when there used to be bumper stickers on trucks with a phone number on them and the admonition to call if the driver wasn’t driving in a safe manner? Maybe the phone lines of companies that wanted to hear about the driving of their truckers got jammed from all the complaints and they decided to remove the stickers!

     Maybe we could invite Governor JB Pritzker to Decatur and officially dedicate the stretch of Route 51 between Elwin and Cleveland Avenue, just north of the Lake Decatur as “Route 51 Speedway”!

     By the way, how many more years are we going to wait for that road to be resurfaced? We’ve got five state representatives, three state senators and two Congresswomen representing Macon County and that highway’s resurfacing still remains in the future after years of waiting.

     • I WAS waiting in my car on for the traffic signal on Main Street, at the Wood Street intersection next to the Macon County Office Building, to change to green one evening last week. Suddenly, I heard a siren and knew that it was an ambulance heading east on Wood at about the same time my traffic signal was ready to turn green.

     As the ambulance approached the intersection, and the Main Street light turned green, a car in the lane next to where I remained stopped, whizzed by me and narrowly-missed crashing into the ambulance! The Macon County Office Building on the Southwest corner of that intersection blocks vision of eastbound Wood Street traffic, and what seems like several times a day, an ambulance heads east on Wood from its facility on West Wood, with its sirens blasting away warning traffic on Main Street that it is coming through the intersection, regardless of the traffic signal being red or green!

     I can also see that intersection from my office windows a block away and I usually glance up at it when I hear the sirens — and hope that everyone heading south on Main Street stops as the ambulance passes through. Be extra careful when heading south on Main Street in that part of downtown.

     • A QUESTION Macon County voters are going to be asked when we cast our votes is whether or not we should do away with the Macon County Auditor’s Office. The Macon County Board voted to put the future of the auditor’s office in the hands of the voters during its Jan. 12th meeting.

Macon County Auditor Carol A. Reed

      If the voters decide to eliminate the office, it would not happen until Dec. 1, 2024, when current auditor Carol A. Reed completes her present term. What makes preserving the auditor’s office somewhat difficult is that it is not as prominent in the public’s mind as are offices like county clerk, sheriff or treasurer.

     So, what responsibilities are handled by the Macon County Auditor? Here’s the explanation from the Macon County website: “By statute, the Auditor is the general accountant for Macon County Illinois, recording all financial transactions and reporting on financial results to the County Board and all other interested parties and individuals. The Auditor examines and pays claims, maintains a comprehensive file of all contracts, and provides continuous internal audit. In addition to these statutory duties, the Auditor also processes all payroll and administers all employee benefits.

     “The Auditor also provides staff support for the County Board in their preparation and adoption of the budget, has purchasing and printing functions, and serves as the Director of Insurance including risk management and human resources responsibilities.”

     That’s a much heavier load that most Macon County residents realize and begs the question: “Who is going to handle those responsibilities if voters decide to eliminate the auditor’s office?” It seems to me there will have to be some hiring of either an outside firm, or beefing up present employee numbers, to handle the additional workload shifted to another county office.

     The work presently handled by the auditor’s office will have to be done by someone(s), which makes voters wonder about the amount of savings that will actually come to the county as a result of eliminating the office.

     I’m sure that an explanation of what happens to the responsibilities of the auditor’s office if the office is eliminated, would be helpful to voters before a choice is made on April 4th.

     • I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00. for the City Hall Insider. We’ve discussed the issues impacting Decatur and our area about every Thursday for the past 20 years.

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