July, 2023, marks 100 years since the birth of Lake Decatur! To save you from asking, no, I didn’t cover the groundbreaking for Lake Decatur for the Tribune! I’m not THAT old and neither is this newspaper. It only seems that way some days. (smile)
Anyhoo, a Cen-tennial Lake Fest & Grand Opening of the “Staley Basin” will celebrate the lake’s birthday on July 8 and 9, 2023. This event will feature lots of activities in the Marina and along the lakefront. “100 Years of Lake Decatur” is a collaboration between the City of Decatur, Decatur Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Decatur Park District, and Staley Family Foundation.
I’ll have more about it in the next edition. Also, since Lake Decatur is 100 years old, I’m taking another look at its history in the Scrapbook feature on pages 4 and 5 of this week’s print and online editions.
• I MENTIONED in this column a few weeks ago that, a way to reduce gambling’s impact on our city, is to require that any business with the gaming machines should not receive most of its revenue from the machines. For instance, in the case of a restaurant, a high percentage of its income would have to come from selling food, not gaming.
My column caught the attention of former Springfield Alderman Sam Cahnman who sent me the following email: “In a recent Tribune you bemoaned the opening of so many gaming parlors in Decatur where almost all the business is gaming and selling a few drinks and snack items is just an aside. You suggested a requirement that any new gaming establishment have to obtain the majority of its revenue from a non-gaming source. But wondered whether such would be legal.
“This is exactly what the city of Springfield did when I was Alderman (now called Alderperson). The ordinance states that no new gaming license can be given, except to an establishment that obtains 60% or more of its revenue from non-gaming activity, i.e. food & drink. This ordinance passed in my 2nd term, between 2011 and 2015, more toward the end of that term.
“Later a follow-up ordinance was passed to enforce it, including through audits. “Springfield’s Corporation Counsel determined both ordinances were legal; neither was challenged in court; and both are still on the books. You should be able to find those ordinances in city of Springfield code on the city’s website or at municode.com.
“Also, former Alderman Joe McMenamin is very knowledgeable about this. He was term limited, so couldn’t run for re-election April 4th.”
Apparently, according to Sam, Springfield exercised control over the gaming parlors by requiring most of its revenue not be from gaming. I would think the mayor and city council, and corporation counsel, might want to take a closer look at what Springfield has done as part of their effort to control gambling (I mean gaming) in Decatur and I’m confident they have looked at other cities’ efforts already.
• I WAS walking on North Park street, near the building where this newspaper was located, before we moved to our present location in the Millikin Court Building over a dozen years ago. A young woman, who came out of the alley next to the building, looked at me and then at the mural of the late Mike McElroy, my friend and close associate on council who was elected mayor in the next election following my retirement from the mayor’s office.
“Is that you?” she asked me. I responded that it wasn’t me but a former mayor and friend who served in the office after me. Mike “Tuna” McElroy passed away in 2015 while in office and the mural on the side of the building that once housed the Tribune was in tribute to his service to the community.
It doesn’t seem possible that “Tuna” has already been gone that long. We met and talked often during the years I served as mayor and during the years he served as mayor. We were close allies on the council. We were the two “new” members when I was elected mayor and Tuna was elected councilman in 2003. It also doesn’t seem possible that its been 20 years since we won our first terms.
The young woman’s question caught me off guard — and brought back a lot of memories of another time in my life. I still miss my friend “Tuna”.
• OOPS! Last November, when our newspaper delivery truck was totalled on a slick bridge near Lincoln, my oldest son pitched in to help get the Tribune delivered to the post office. He brought some bundles of that edition to the Tribune office and, when he went back to his truck a few minutes later, he had a ticket from the City of Decatur! I didn’t find out about the ticket until a few weeks ago, but apparently, there is an ordinance against backing your vehicle into one of the parking spaces in front of our building at 132 South Water Street!
Obviously, he backed in so he could unload the papers from the bed of his truck. Apparently, when he tried to protest the ticket, he was told they would not accept the protest and he should just pay the ticket! Kevin pitched in to help me out. Apparently, as the “twisted” old saying goes, “no good deed goes unpunished”, applied in this case.
I’ve been a businessman downtown since the 1960s and I didn’t know that it is illegal to back into an angle parking space! I’m not sure why that parking ordinance is in place. but I suppose it could be for the benefit of other vehicles parked on both sides of your vehicle — so they can see if traffic is coming before backing out. Still, I have to wonder if you are unloading something from the back of a delivery truck is it safer to unload when the back is next to the sidewalk, or when the back of the vehicle is next to the busy street where cars are going by only a few feet from where you are standing?
I guess a person never gets too old to learn something new. I never knew you couldn’t back your vehicle into one of the angle parking spaces. Apparently, a lot of other people coming downtown don’t know it either because, on my walk to the post office the other day, I walked by 3 vehicles backed into angle parking spaces in front of our building and in the next block north of us on Water Street.
• SINCE the Independence Day holiday is next Tuesday, we will be going to press a day earlier than usual so that we can still mail out and deliver to newsstands next week’s edition on Wednesday as is always the case. With everything going on next week (including the Lake Decatur celebration a few days after the Fourth) please enjoy but stay safe and have a happy and sane July 4th.
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00 to discuss the issues impacting our community.