em space, Where They Stand,
How We Stack Up,
Up With That?
everything in perspective
8, 2001] Well,
fellow Logan County residents, what do you feel like chewing on this
week? Old buildings that need the subtle touch of a bulldozer?
Perhaps a few buildings that have a color palette that even a French
impressionist painter would say is a bit much? How about another
case of a business, say a Caseyís, trying to come to town but
being told not to build where they think they have a chance to make
a go of it?
can talk about being the only city in Illinois that thinks itís a
good idea not to give second chances to handicapped citizens for
parking violations, or we can ask why a county board canít get an
easement from a city council to enter the age of the Internet.
that should be enough for any cityís plate. In fact it looks like
we have our own buffet of problems in this city of 13,500 in a
county of 33,000.
it is. But you know what? In the event we decide to talk about these
issues, in the event we decide to actually determine the majority
opinion on what should and should not be part of our present as well
as our future, we might just get through all this. We might get
through all this until the next crop of strange and special problems
grows in Logan County.
are not alone, however, in living in a topsy-turvy kind of
community. In fact if we decide to take the boxing gloves off just
long enough to put our glasses on, we might read that strange and
divisive issues are the norm in small communities
Cullman Times in Alabama tells the tale of farmers in the Joppa area
trying to prevent a petroleum pipeline from going under their
fields. Urban residents ask how anyone can argue about a pipeline
and pumping stations that will bring new jobs to a depressed
Idaho Falls Times writes about an arsonist who is burning the
prairies and asks why the local law enforcement officials canít
catch the guy.
[to top of second column in
Wisconsin, the Chippewa Falls Herald reports with dismay that
"Americaís dairy land" has imported a record amount of
waste from surrounding states and worries about contamination as
well as landfill capacity becoming overburdened.
may choose to read the story out of the Morrisville News and Citizen
in Vermont. It seems that the rural area has one sheriff to patrol
several towns. It also seems that some towns donít feel this
one-man police force spends as much time in their town as anotherís
and says they wonít throw their money into the kitty to fund this
lone ranger. In an all-or-nothing agreement between the areaís
towns, removal of financial tithes could mean no one has police
could write a book about other small towns facing strange but, to
them, crucial issues. I trust I have made my point.
Lincoln and Logan County have their own special brand of problems.
But they are no more or less than other small communities, or for
that matter, larger ones as well.
will survive. We will endure. Just as long as we communicate with
each other and thoroughly chew on the issue rather than each other.
Remember, the day after tomorrow, we still have to live with each
(not for publication):
to Fak's commentary:
tickets need a little easement
3, 2001] The
handling of the handicapped-parking situation by citizen ticket
writers is causing a schism in our community.
it is not a chasm between those who are disabled and those who are
not. The monumental gap, and thus animosity, between handicapped
individuals and "normal" citizens isnít being caused by
those insufferable individuals among us who are too insensitive to
honor handicapped-parking places. It isnít being caused by the
countless numbers of individuals who have received legitimate
handicapped-parking privileges but should not have them. It is being
caused by handicapped individuals giving tickets to other
handicapped individuals for minor infractions of parking in
designated areas ó infractions that the trainers of ticket writers
have stated are not what the job should entail. Couple this with a
city administration that wonít allow a police chief to make
decisions on whether a ticket is valid or not, and you end up with
the situation we are now in.
seems that tickets are being written for having wheels just a few
inches over a yellow line. Forgive me, but my son who is handicapped
and learning to drive might be guilty of this infraction. Donít
for a second tell me that he should pay a $100 fine. Tickets are
being written for handicapped-parking cards being blown off a
rearview mirror onto a dashboard or a seat of a car. Can you
honestly tell me this is the essence of the handicapped-parking laws
need to be made in the "real" world. That quoted word is
from an intolerant school administrator, not me. But in order to
make changes we need to come together as one. Creating a war between
those who are and those who are not isnít going to help either
side. Creating a war between those who are handicapped and those who
are also handicapped will guarantee that the handicapped cause in
Lincoln will grind to a halt.
a contractor working on the Mutual Bank building, which has been
dormant for several years, was written up for having his vehicle in
a handicapped-parking spot in a lot that isnít open to the public.
One of the jobs the contractor was doing inside the structure was
building a handicapped-accessible bathroom on the first floor of the
building. A bathroom, by the way, that isnít required by the law
that is the law.
[to top of second column in
mayor has refused to allow our police chief to use his discretion in
throwing out some of these tickets. Tickets that I promise you will
be thrown out of court in a heartbeat.
result is tales such as the ones in Mondayís Courier of people
whom the laws were created to protect and give convenience to,
having to fight for justice. Is this what we want the city to
become? A war zone between those who legitimately park in
handicapped-access areas and still receive $100 dollar fines and a
city administration that gives a quote to the Pantagraph that
"the law is the law"?
mayor has been quoted as saying the city lost $10,000 in fines last
year due to the previous chiefís decisions to throw out many of
the citations. In the event they are anything like the cases
mentioned in the Courier, they should have been torn up, because
they are not deserving of adjudication. Instead we find citizens
needing to take the time out of their day to argue the injustice of
their tickets. All the while we tie up the police chief, mayor and
city attorney, who has recommended these tickets go in the
wastebasket anyway. I canít believe we all donít have something
better to do with our time.
complete, entire and total purpose of the handicapped-parking laws
in this nation is to create a deterrent to scofflaws from parking in
the closest areas to a storeís entrance, reserved for those among
us who need a little help. Nothing else is important. Nothing else
is what the law was intended for.
(not for publication):
to Fak's commentary:
space is a staff writer's commentary section with observations about life experiences in Logan County and
Four eyes times four
As I made a quick trip to
the grocery store one night, the numbers on the carís instrument panel
looked uncommonly clear, which I was happy to see. Iíd just been feeling
a bit annoyed with getting used to my newest lenses. The prescription was
especially for distance vision, but apparently the improved view farther
away came with slightly less clarity for things up close. I hadnít
thought of that. As the saying goes, you should be careful what you ask
for; you might get it.
With the brand-new glasses,
sometimes I had a tendency to look twice or blink at the gauges inside the
car because they didnít appear the same as before, but it was a minor
difference. Whatís out there on the road ahead is more important to see.
The figures on the dials
always looked fine after I took my glasses off, but here I was driving,
using lenses, and the numbers on the speedometer were as sharp as could
be. Almost immediately it became clear what was wrong. Yes, the numbers
inside looked stronger than with my newest lenses, but the words and
numbers on the signs outside were harder to read.
Earlier Iíd been
comparing how things appeared through the newest glasses and the previous
pair, and I must have inadvertently switched them at the end of my
informal testing session, leaving the older set in the new case in the
car. The two pairs are almost the same size and shape, and I hadnít
noticed the difference when putting them on in the darkness.
I decided it was time for
further comparison of the four pairs of glasses I have available. I wanted
to see which are useful for what and which are due to be given away. Iíd
almost forgotten I still had the oldest of the four. I do like to keep at
least one pair in reserve in case of breakage or loss. Also, itís handy
to have a pair in the car and another in the house, in case I want to
vegetate in the corner chair and read whatís on the television screen
across the room. One pair of glasses appears to be just right for that
distance but not for much else.
I laid out all the glasses,
put them on and took them off over and over while checking different
distances, and made a chart.
If I wanted the lenses
primarily to consult the phone book, I should give them all away. Reading
is almost hopeless with three of the pairs and works with the
second-newest mainly at armís length. Iím glad naked eyes are allowed
and still adequate so far.
When it comes to reading
the instructions for my newest watch, I think the sales plan must have
been to encourage purchases of magnifying glasses along with the
timepiece. All the eyeglasses I have were hindrances to seeing the print,
but, setting them aside, I got most of the basics into focus eventually.
Considering that the 60 words describing how to set the alarm were printed
in a space smaller than my cheapest return-address labels, I canít see
that normal people should be worried if the letters arenít crystal
Proceeding to the
visibility of the numbers on the bedside alarm clock, I determined that
from the doorway it was easier to read the time with any of the glasses
than with my eyes alone. Fortunately I donít sleep in the doorway.
Moving on to the mirror, I
evaluated the ugliness quotient, or UQ, of each pair. I donít think Iíve
ever come home with a design I was thrilled about, but every time the
buying issue comes up, I try to pick one and get it over with. Styles and
personal opinions change, but in my latest rating the second-oldest pair
ranked as the worst.
My chart wasnít showing a
clear pattern, but the next stop, the front porch, gave me a chance to
compare views of an actual road sign. There the newest glasses and the
oldest came up as the winners. The newest and oldest lenses also did the
best job of letting me zoom in on the lettering on a distant building ó
lettering I normally donít notice.
Just then a multi-colored balloon appeared
between the trees, and that was the prettiest sight of all.
They Stand is a commentary section that poses a question about a
specific issue in the community. Informed individuals present their
position with facts, opinions or insights on the issue. The
following commentaries have been printed, unedited, in their
entirety, as they were received. If you have further comment on the
issue, please send an e-mail message, complete with your name,
address and telephone number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
estimates in Logan County
||Rural population -
||Urban population -
||Persons below poverty
level - 11.8 %
||Average marriages per
||Average deaths per
County high schools: 1960-2000
High School consolidated with New Holland
High School became part of Olympia School District
High School consolidated with Mount Pulaski
High School became Warrensburg-Latham
High School consolidated with Lincoln Community High School
Jose High School consolidated with Illini Central (Mason City)