• DECATUR’S best known sculptor, John W. McClarey, died in a car crash west of our community on January 19. He was 88 years old.
Mark W. Sorensen, the Official Macon County Historian who also served with John McClarey on the Board of the Illinois State Historical Society, is the author of this week’s “Scrapbook” feature (pages 4, 5 in the print and online editions) about the life and legacy of McClarey.
McClarey’s sculptures are seemingly everywhere and I probably there are very few people reading today’s column who have not seen his work — especially in Decatur.
He had a special talent and his legacy will live on in the appreciation of present generations and generations to come.
• NICE CHAT — I enjoyed my conversation with Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski, who came to my office to discuss her first year representing the 13th Congressional District, which includes Decatur.
To point out that she has accomplish a lot her first year is probably an understatement. She hit the ground running and has been picking up speed in serving the people of her district, and beyond.
During her first year she introduced 15 bills and cosponsored 298 more with a focus on the needs of our community.
“I’ve joined bipartisan legislation that supports working families, improves access to rural health care, expands critical veterans’ benefits, grows markets for our family farmers and addresses the mental health and substance use crises impacting too many of our loved ones,” she said.
“Along the way, my team and I have responded to more than 26,000 calls, letters and emails, returned more than $435,000 back to constituents and secured more than $320 million in grants for our communities. We’ve also been able to resolve more than 700 constituent cases to help folks get the Social Security, Medicare and VA benefits they deserve.”
In addition to all of that, I received 3-4 pages from her support staff listing everything she has done for Decatur during the past year and its sizeable and proveable.
I like her closing comment in the assessment of her work after one year. She said: “In the year ahead, you’ll continue to find me engaging regularly with local leaders and community organizations to find opportunities to support their work on the federal level. I’ll continue to stay focused on working across the aisle on legislation that will help our communities.”
• BUDZINSKI represents a vast area in the 13th Congressional District, which includes Decatur, but not all of Decatur.
I am impressed with her knowledge of, and contact with, local leaders and her desire to help our community in whatever way she can through her office.
I also find it refreshing that she works with members of both parties, as much as is possible these days, with the good of the people of her district as her goal.
There’s no question that there are issues that Congresswoman Budzinski and I do not agree, but I totally agree with her perspective of working hard to help the people of our community at all levels and to focus more on what unites us instead of what divides us.
I enjoyed talking with her and learning more about her goals in representing the people of her district.
She has packed a lot of success in that first year and I didn’t detect any weariness or lack of resolve in helping the people in the 13th Congressional District in her second year.
• THANK YOU — Jack Sunderlik, a member of the 1962 Stephen Decatur High School State Basketball Championship team sent me an email following my recent publication of the “found” trophies and plaques.
He wrote: “Thank you for your help in relocating the IHSA State Trophies and Plaques from Decatur High School/ Stephen Decatur. Without your help we would all still be wondering about the existence of these historical awards. “What makes these trophies and plaques even more meaningful is that during the 1960’s the city of Decatur had 5 high schools. The talent was spread out through the district and for one school to dominate in basketball as Stephen Decatur did was remarkable. “Long live the ‘Runnin’ Reds’. The Scrapbook you printed in the Tribune was a great tribute to the ‘Runnin’ Reds’ and the city of Decatur. Thanks again.”
Thanks, Jack. Actually, the thanks belongs to you because you were the one who sent me that email weeks ago wondering what happened to them.
If you hadn’t asked, I probably would never have looked into it.
I’m so glad they were found and will now be secure. They speak to significant high school history in Decatur.
• CONGRATS to the officers and board members of the Macon County Fair Board who announced last Thursday the 168th Annual County Fair which is set for June 5 – 9th.
Everyone involved with the fair has worked really hard to bring the longtime event back from when it barely had a pulse a few years ago.
The Macon County Fair was drawing its last breath but it has been brought back to life and is getting better every year.
Last week, it was announced that, among the entertainment for this year’s fair, will be Southern Rock’s the Marshall Tucker Band that will be on stage June 6 as the grandstand act.
There’s going to be a lot more going on as the county fair will have so many of the events that made it so outstanding for so many years.
Contrary to what some may believe, I wasn’t there 168 years ago for the first one, but I was there several years as a teenager and later also covered the fair for this newspaper for many years.
I am so pleased that the Macon County Fair is continuing to grow into a great event once again for our area.
Tickets for grandstand and track shows and events are already on sale at maconcountyfair.com.
• POTHOLES — I would like to know how many area residents had a tire(s) on their vehicle damaged by running over a pothole on an area road.
I know that Brian Byers, my Thursday morning WSOY Byers & Co. host, did damage to one of his car’s wheels when he hit a pothole and Bryan Smith, former Town Clerk at Long Creek Township, damaged one of his car’s tires when he hit a pothole.
• REPAIRS — The Illinois Department of Transportation is advising the public that maintenance crews are out patrolling and repairing potholes on state highways and interstates across the state, requiring drivers to slow down, use caution and move over for workers. Non-emergency patching operations usually take place during nonpeak travel periods and often require temporary lane closures.
“Recent heavy snow, rains and freezing temperatures have caused an increase in potholes throughout the state. Potholes typically are caused by water getting into or underneath the pavement. During freeze and thaw periods, the moisture causes the asphalt or concrete to shift, buckle or break.
“When vehicles drive over these weakened areas, they leave those dreaded potholes.”
• I JOIN WSOY’s Brian Byers every Thursday morning at 7:00 for the City Hall Insider half-hour of the program. That’s something we’ve been doing for over 20 years and there is never a shortage of any topics to discuss.
• THERE’S lot more to City Beat and more news and views in the print and online editions of this week’s Decatur Tribune. If you are not a subscriber, you can subscribe via credit card elsewhere on this website.