The last print edition of the Decatur Tribune that is printed each year is always an extra special one for me. That’s because the announcement that I had purchased the Decatur Tribune, and would be its new editor, was published on Dec. 24, 1969 — 54 years ago last Sunday.
This week, I started my 55th year at the helm and I have more information about how that happened in this week’s “Viewpoint” column on page 3n of the print and online editions. By the way, this week’s column is my 2,809th and there is also a photo included showing how young I looked when I wrote my very first “Viewpoint” that was published in the Tribune. (I don’t remember ever looking that young.)
In addition to starting my 55th year as editor/publisher of the Decatur Tribune, 2024 will mark the 60th anniversary of officially launching my publishing business in Decatur on July 15, 1964 — five years before purchasing this newspaper. During 2024 I’ll look back, from time to time, in a few articles about the experiences I had (good and bad), the people I met and why Decatur and Central Illinois have always been so close to my heart. Thanks to all of you for supporting this newspaper and its publisher over the decades. I am thankful for your support not one day, but 365 days a year.
• I’VE PRINTED Psalms 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”, in every edition of the Decatur Tribune, even though I was advised in the early years to stop printing that “God stuff” if I wanted to be successful. That “God stuff” is what I believed then and what I believe even more now — after having it tested for well over a half century. I’m certainly far from perfect, both as a man and as an editor and publisher, but I believe in the One who is perfect. I’ve worked hard, along with others, to make this newspaper successful. However, I know the Decatur Tribune would not be here today, without God’s Blessing along the way. I have no doubts about that!
• POPULATION DECLINE — Illinois’ population declined by 32,826 residents from July 2022-July 2023, according to estimates released Dec. 19 by the U.S. Census Bureau. This marks the 10th consecutive year of population decline for Illinois, according to census estimates. The only state that’s population has been in decline longer, West Virginia, currently is suffering its 11th consecutive year of population decline.
According to Illinois Policy: “Surveys of those who have left the state – where taxes are not a response option – showed the major reasons Illinoisans have chosen to leave the state have been for better housing and employment opportunities, both of which have been made worse by poor public policy in Illinois. “High taxes were the No. 1 reason why Illinoisans considered leaving the state.
Polling from NPR Illinois and the University of Illinois found 61% of Illinoisans thought about moving out of state in 2019, and the No. 1 reason was taxes. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute found 47% of Illinoisans wanted to leave the state, and “taxes are the single biggest reason people want to leave” with 27% of respondents citing taxes as the motive for departing in 2016. More recent polling conducted by Echelon Insights in 2023 substantiated those sentiments.”
• TAXES in our community continue to be “concerning”. Two couples I know recently decided not to build a new home in Decatur because of the high real estate taxes they would have to pay to live here — especially when compared to the community where they presently live. We must get a grip on our real estate taxes which are discouraging some couples to build or buy here.
• I WILL be back in the usual 7:00 Thursday morning slot on WSOY’s Byers & Co., starting on Jan. 4 following a radio break for the holidays.
BEST WISHES to all of you for a great, prosperous and healthy 2024. I look forward to meeting you each week on the pages of the Decatur Tribune.