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CITY BEAT: ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF IMPORTANT HISTORY THAT WAS MADE HERE

Paul Osborne
Editor/Publisher

    • THE GRAND ARMY of the Republic (GAR), the national organization for veterans of the Union Armed Forces of the Civil War, was formed by Benjamin F. Stephenson, M.D., in 1866 in Decatur.
     Dennis Jewell authors this week’s “Scrapbook” on pages 4 and 5 of the print and online editions which details the history of the GAR which grew to more than 400,000 members at its height, before the last member died in 1956 — 90 years after its founding in Decatur.
     As I’ve written so many times, Decatur has a sizeable number of historic connections and contributions to this nation’s history going back into the 1800s.
     Of course, one of the biggest connections to history is all the links Abraham Lincoln had to Decatur and Macon County — second only to Springfield and the nation’s capitol.

     • ON MY way to the downtown post office one day last week, I stopped by the location of the building on South Park Street where the GAR was organized in 1866.
     For several years, our newspaper offices were located on South Park Street, next door to the building where the GAR was founded, and my private office was no more than ten feet away from the spot where that history was made so long ago!
     One of the reasons I’ve really enjoyed all the decades I’ve had the newspaper downtown is that so much history that impacted our nation was made within feet or yards of offices I have occupied.
     When I returned to the site of the GAR founding last week I shot a photo of the plaque that is largely ignored by those passing by on the street.
     The wording which begins “Birthplace Of The Grand Army Of The Republic” is very faint to read because of time and weather’s impact on it.
     There is a “Looking For Lincoln” message board under it in front of the building which I have reproduced below.
     The next time you are walking on South Park Street (across from the Transfer House) stop and read the message board and check out the plaque on the front of the building.
    I love writing about the history made in downtown Decatur.

     • ELECTION judges needed! Macon County  Clerk Josh Tanner has let me know that his office is in need of election judges for the March 19th General Primary Election.
If interested, or just curious, election judges must:
• Be registered to vote
• Attend a two hour training prior to Election Day
• Set the polling place up prior to Election Day
• Work all day (approximately 5:00 am to 8:00 pm) on Election Day
• Election Judges are paid $200.
     If you are interested, contact the Macon County Clerk at 217-424-1305.

     • EARLY VOTING started last Thursday and, locally, there’s not a lot of races with choices in this election.
     The Republican Primary for Macon County Coroner seems to be the strongly-contested race locally.
     Present Coroner Mike Day decided to retire from the office after a couple decades being elected and re-elected and a field of three Republican candidates (Michael Burkham, Jeffrey Kashefska and Whalen Vancil) are seeking to win in the primary on March 19th and move on to the General Election in November where the winner will face the only Democrat in the race — Tiffany Hall.
     There is some hard campaigning going on and quite-a-bit of advertising. (Check out all three candidates’ ads on pages 14 and 15 of this week’s print and online editions.)

     • THANKS so much to the family of Kelly Ann Beckham for expressing their appreciation for the column I wrote about Kelly’s passing earlier this year.     Kelly’s obituary was published in our Jan.17th edition along with my “Viewpoint” column about all of the years she brightened my day, and the days of so many others, as an employee of First National and then Busey Bank at the downtown location.
     As my column’s headline read: ‘Kelly’ Brought Sunshine To The Day Of Bank’s Customers.
So many of you have stopped me on the street, or made a comment about how much they appreciated the column because Kelly also was someone that brought positive energy and lots of friendliness in their contact with her.
     As the family wrote in part of the thank you brought to the office: “Thank you for writing the beautiful article about our loved one, Kelly Beckham, in the Decatur Tribune.
     “It was a lovely tribute that captured Kelly’s positive outlook on life.
     “We were truly touched to read it and thank you for sharing how Kelly touched your life.”
     I don’t write to receive any recognition but I was genuinely touched by the family’s reaction to my column and have a little mist in my eyes as I’m writing this part of City Beat.
After knowing her at the bank for decades, I never knew Kelly’s last name until she passed away.
     Believe me, now that I know it, I will never forget it.
     She is, and was, a reminder that, in all of the rude and ugly behavior we see reported in the news, there are so many people who spread goodness and kindness, like Kelly, in our community and the world.
     We should never forget that and seek to be just like them.

     • PASS IT ON — I have to admit I never get tired of watching, or being inspired, by the Pass It On commercials on television from the Foundation for a Better Life.
     The Foundation for a Better Life is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization which was founded in 2000 to “promote good values”.
     According to its website: “The foundation creates public service campaigns to share with others its interpretation of values, including honesty, caring, and optimism in order to create better social paradigms.”
     I love its message of passing on kindness and so many other “good values”.
The video and music combination cause me to stop whatever I’m doing and watch the message.
     There is no other commercial on television that gets that reaction from me.

     • HEATWAVE! When I walked to the downtown post office last Friday it was 65 degrees — in February in Decatur, Illinois!
     I was still wearing a winter coat but I saw several people on the street and a couple in the post office lobby wearing shorts and t-shirts!
     Probably some people jump the season a little too soon when there is a mild day, but, after that 20-30 degrees below zero wind factor days that we had a few weeks ago, even a freezing temperature of 32 degrees above zero now seems like a heatwave!
     Anyhooooo, I’m going to keep wearing my winter coat just to be on the safe side.

     • I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00 to discuss what’s happening in our community.

     • YOU CAN read all of the stories, plenty of columns and the “Scrapbook” feature each week by subscribing to the print and/or online editions of the Tribune.  The subscription form can be found elsewhere on this website.

 

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