With the hot days we’ve been experiencing the past few weeks, my thoughts have turned to memories of when Dog ‘n Suds was in Decatur at 2804 North Main and at 3666 East William Street Road. That’s the reason that one of our “Scrapbook” features this week (page 4 in print nd online editions) is about how Dog ‘n Suds got started and how it spread across the nation like wildfire!
Dog ‘n Suds had 650 locations in the United States at the height of its success, but now, only fifteen remain. Dog ‘n Suds appeared on the scene at a time when most people, including this editor, did not have air conditioning at home, school, church, car or anywhere else — except for a few restaurants that proclaimed in large letters “Air Conditioning”. Many people would take a drive to cool off and the Dog ‘n Suds Drive In was an oasis for refreshment. Back then, hot summer days would have been less tolerable without Dog ‘n Suds, Elam’s on Eldorado and other drive-ins that dominated the area scene back when I was a teenager.
• SPEED ZONE — Lynne Winick of Decatur sent me a note the other day mentioning something I hadn’t noticed. Lynne wrote: “I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but going south on South Main Street (South of Decatur St.) the speed limit is 40 mph. However, during the latest road construction the speed limit was raised to 45 mph! Made me smile.”
When I headed home the evening after receiving Lynne’s note, I noticed for the first time that the construction speed was higher than the normal speed limit! That may be the only case where motorists can drive faster in a construction zone than they normally do when there is no construction.
Anyhooo, regardless of the speed limit signs, when there is construction and paving underway on our roads, drive with caution.
• HOT ZONE — Workers who are repaving Route 51 South between Decatur’s Cleveland Street and Elwin worked through some pretty hot days last week. Apparently they got an earlier than usual start because they were al-ready hard at work shortly after 6:00 a.m. when I came through the area. Starting at daybreak, when the weather is somewhat cooler, just made a lot of sense. Anyone working outside around asphalt or concrete in the kind of hot weather we had last week had to be “drained” by the time they quit.
Also, I think it would be next to impossible to be working at roofing a house in that 100 degree heat we had last week. I know from personal experience through working for my uncles, who were contractors, one summer when I was in high school, that roofing shingles get very soft in extremely hot weather — and scuff up real easily. A special salute to anyone who was working outside on those hot days of July last week.
• GREAT IDEA! —In an effort to improve customer service and eliminate the unpredictability of wait times at Illinois DMVs, Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias will begin implementing a Skip-the-Line program starting September 1. I think that’s one of the best ideas to come from a state official in a long time. The worst part of going to the DMV facility has been the long lines and wait times that often greet those who need to appear in person — especially to renew their driver’s license. It can take hours out of a day!
The Skip-the-Line program includes: • Simplified Online Services — Customers are encouraged to take advantage of the many services offered online at ilsos.gov, including renewing their driver’s license or ID card and license plate sticker online. • Appointment Scheduling — Customers will be required to make appointments for in-person visits at 44 of the busiest DMVs including all Chicago and suburban locations and some central and downstate DMVs (including Decatur) for those seeking REAL ID, driver’s license and ID card services, and in-car driving tests. Those seeking vehicle-related services, such as title and registration or renewing their license plate sticker, do not need to make an appointment and can just walk in. Upon arrival, customers will check in with DMV staff and “Skip the Line,” eliminating lines and unpredictable wait times. Illinoisans may visit ilsos.gov or call (844) 817-4649 to schedule an appointment.
• New Extended Hours of Operation — All DMVs statewide will extend hours of operation, with 16 facilities open six days a week – Monday through Saturday. All DMVs will change their days and hours of operation from Tues-Sat to Mon-Fri, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. 16 DMVs will also be open on Saturday, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., as noted below.
“Customers will save time by skipping the line,” said Giannoulias. “Our goal is to eliminate the Time Tax that has plagued Illinoisans for years, forcing them to stand in long lines wasting time – just to conduct basic services. Extending hours at all DMVs and requiring appointments at our 44 highest-volume facilities is the most efficient way to get the services you need quickly and without the headache of unpredictable wait times.”
The appointment-only facilities include 24 Chicago and suburban DMVs and 20 DMVs in central and downstate Illinois that are within 10 miles from a population center of at least 25,000 residents. Of course, that includes Decatur’s facility on North Woodford where I go to renew my driver’s license.
Last year, when I went to the facility 15 minutes before it opened, there was a line waiting at the door that stretched along the front of the building. I got into line thinking that it was going to take me forever to take a vision test and the driver’s test. When the door opened every person in the line was at the facility for something other than the driver’s test and I was the first one for that department! I was in and out of the office within 45 minutes. Normally, it takes much longer. The next time I have to go to the facility, it will be by appointment and not through hoping the line will not be long.
I think the service of the Secretary of State’s office became more convenient several years ago when I could order my license plate and stickers online. I really applaud the latest service improvements that start Sept. 1. It should be less time consuming and less stressful than the “waiting in line” routine.
• TOO FAST — Is this summer going too fast or what? It seems like last week we were observing Memorial Day — but that was at the end of May and here we are the first week in August! The first day of school is not that far away! It seems the older I get the faster time flies by!
• HOT FESTIVAL! — I couldn’t help but think that, if the Decatur Celebration was still an annual event, last weekend would have been Celebration weekend — and the opening day would have been 100 degrees plus — walking on those downtown streets making it even hotter! As I recall, we had a few of those really hot days during some of those Celebration weekends!
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00. to discuss the issues impacting our community.