The summer is going way too fast but there is still a lot going on in our community. A major event, the 25th USTA/Ursula Beck Men’s Pro Tennis Classic, which runs July 31-Aug. 6 at the Fairview Tennis Com-plex in Decatur, began in 1999 and has developed into one of the premier tournaments on the United States Tennis Associ-ation Professional Circuit.
The Beck family has been the title sponsor for the entire history of the event. Each year, 70 players from over 20 countries participate in the seven-day event, battling it out for ATP professional ranking points and $25,000 in prize money.
Chuck Kuhle, the Tournament Director, continues to do an amazing job in making sure the event operates smoothly and it continues to have major impact in the world of tennis. Chuck Kuhle is a longtime friend and city council member and is dedicated to what is positive movement in the community.
The late Darrell and Ursula Beck were positive forces in supporting events and projects that made Decatur a better place to live. Back in the late 1990s, when I started an effort to replace the Central Park Fountain, which had become a shell of its former self, usually filled with stagnant water, Darrell Beck was one of the first persons to join my effort and he donated a $25,000 challenge grant to help get the project off of the ground — or, in this case, in the ground. Without his encouragement and commitment from the outset, I wonder if I would have achieved my goal of raising the funds needed to build a new fountain.
• MATT BECK, son of Ursula and Darrell, said of the tournament: “This tennis event represents an important way that our mother and father wanted to give back to the community. Although they were both committed to themselves and their family, never a moment went by where they would have wanted to distance themselves from the Decatur Community. “Ursula had a special place in her heart for the great game of tennis, and with our financial commitment to this event, it is another way for the Beck Family to give back to the community.” (A schedule for this year’s tournament is printed on page 10 of the print and online editions.)
• GONE — I’ve had to drive home a different way a couple of times the past few weeks because of road construction work and my drive has taken me by the location of where Woodrow Wilson Junior High School once stood. Of course, it was demolished a few months ago, and all that is left is a big bare place where it once stood. Each time I pass that location I think of the times I drove one of our sons there to let him off for his school day at the front of the building on my way downtown. It seems like only yesterday — and now the once beautiful building filled with voices and sounds of students and teachers, is gone — except for the memories that remain.
• ROAD WORK — The article about road projects in Decatur on page 6 of the print and online editions points to a lot of highway improvements underway in our community.
Happy to report the road that, in recent years, where a “whole lotta shakin’” was part of driving (Route 51 South from Cleveland Avenue to Elwin) is one of those projects and is expected to be completed in the fall. A lot of progress has already been made and parts of the road heading south out of Decatur are very smooth. When the project is completed it will be a pleasure to drive to and from the newspaper office downtown on a road that is as smooth as glass. Although I’m hearing complaints about the one-lane traffic due to paving work, I’m enjoying the slow traffic in one lane — with everyone driving at the same speed.
• EXTENSION — Last week, the Decatur City Council agreed to extend the moratorium on issuing any new video gaming licenses. The pause will continue until December 31, 2023, or until the moratorium extension is repealed, whichever comes first.
That seems to me to be a common sense decision. If you are not sure which way to go on an issue, delay the decision until the best option is better defined and understood. During its previous meeting the Council determined they wanted additional time to evaluate potential amendments to the City’s Alcoholic Beverage Code dealing with the regulation of video gaming in liquor establishments.
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co, every Thursday morning at 7:00.