Still Watersthe em spaceWhere They StandBy the Numbers,

How We Stack UpWhat's Up With That?

Keeping everything in perspective

By Mike Fak

[AUG. 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?

We 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.

Geez, 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.

Yeah, 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.

We 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

The 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 community.

The Idaho Falls Times writes about an arsonist who is burning the prairies and asks why the local law enforcement officials canít catch the guy.



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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.

We 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 protection.

I could write a book about other small towns facing strange but, to them, crucial issues. I trust I have made my point.

Yes, 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.

We 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 other.

[Mike Fak]

Reply to Fak (not for publication):

Response to Fak's commentary: 

Parking tickets need a little easement

By Mike Fak

[AUG. 3, 2001]  The handling of the handicapped-parking situation by citizen ticket writers is causing a schism in our community.

No, 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.

It 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 and regulations?

Changes 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.

Recently, 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.



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Our 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.

The 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"?

The 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.

The 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.

[Mike Fak]

Reply to Fak (not for publication):

Response to Fak's commentary: 

The em space is a staff writer's commentary section with observations about life experiences in Logan County and beyond.

ó Mary Krallmann

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 clear.

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.

[Mary Krallmann


Where They Stand

Where 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


By the Numbers

Population estimates in Logan County
30,798 Total population, 1990
15,380 Rural population - 49.9%, 1990
15,418 Urban population - 50.1%, 1990
2,875 Projected births, 1990-1998
2,736 Projected deaths, 1990-1998
3,143 Persons below poverty level - 11.8 %
258 Average marriages per year
135 Average deaths per year

Alexis Asher

Logan County high schools: 1960-2000
1962 Middletown High School consolidated with New Holland
1972 Atlanta High School became part of Olympia School District
1975 Elkhart High School consolidated with Mount Pulaski
1979 Latham High School became Warrensburg-Latham
1988 New Holland-Middletown High School consolidated with Lincoln Community High School
1989 San Jose High School consolidated with Illini Central (Mason City)

Alexis Asher

Lincoln High School history


Lincoln School District


School buildings in 1859


"Grammar school" in 1859


High school teacher, Mr. January, in 1859


Central School opened


High school building started


High school dedicated, Jan. 5


Cost of new high school


Election authorized community high school District #404


Dedication of new Lincoln Community High School, 1000 Primm Road, in auditorium, on Nov. 9

Alexis Asher

How We Stack Up

This feature of the Lincoln Daily News compares Lincoln and Logan County to similar cities and counties on a variety of issues in a succinct manner, using charts and graphs for illustration.

Racial makeup of selected Illinois counties


What's Up With That?


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