Still Watersthe em spaceWhere They StandBy the Numbers,

How We Stack UpWhat's Up With That?

Statue thoughts

Are we ready to swallow our pride?

By Mike Fak

[JULY 6, 2001]  Bear with me for a moment. I want to tell you a little story and then tie it in with a point I am trying to make. At least that is my plan as I bang on the keys.

Three decades ago, Walt Disney stood before the administrations of Orlando, Fla., and the surrounding counties. He proposed to take several thousand acres of unwanted property and turn them into what is now Disney World, Epcot Center, MGM Studios, et al.

Now if people care to delve into history, they will find that Walt wasnít the kind-hearted sweetheart he portrayed to millions of Americans each and every Sunday night for two decades. Walt, when it came to business, was as subtle as Vito Corleone was in "The Godfather."

During those meetings with officials, Disney promised to put the entire area on the world map. He promised to make the entire area an economic boomtown for years to come, with no costs to the taxpayers of the area. Disney did have a set of stipulations that were tough for local administrators to swallow. First, Walt wanted a promise to be left alone. He would handle security, ala a police force. He would have a fire department. He would even have his own sources of generating the incredible amounts of electricity needed to run Disney World on a day-to-day basis. Walt wanted no red tape. He didnít want inspectors breathing down his throat as he built thousands of condos and hotel rooms. In short, Disney promised a gold mine to the area residents, but he wanted to be, in effect, his own little country.

By margins as close as 5-4 and 7-6, Walt was allowed to have his way. What has happened to Orlando and all the towns within a three-hour drive of the megalopolis is, of course, history.

To anyone who has visited the area ó I have been there twice in the last five years ó it is apparent that a once-docile part of Florida is now an economic Valhalla replete with low property taxes, ample jobs and affordable housing.



[to top of second column in this commentary]

Now let me make my point. I believe the talk about building a giant Abe statue complete with theme park is a great idea. In the event nothing comes of it, the concept has still been an incredibly positive force on the beaten-up psyche of the inhabitants of Logan County. Talk of a major tourist attraction that wonít cost the taxpayers a dime can do remarkable things for an area just waiting to enter the good times of economic stardom. In the event something actually can come to pass, the effects, such as lowering taxes, increasing services and property actually going up in value like the rest of the state, would be enormous.

ButÖ. And this is a very large but. To assume, as the committee now seems to do, that they will be able to maintain control of what will eventually be created is not being realistic. The committee is saying they want a corporation to dole out up to $150 million, plus be on the hook for monthly expenses that will be millions and then not have complete say in what is to beÖ. Well, that is pushing the envelope way past actuality.

The committee needs to understand that in the event they find a player to harvest their dreams, the final result will be what the donor decides and not what they wish. It is the corporationís money and reputation on the line, not a group of citizens who are trying their best to help Logan County grow. It is the wealthy benefactor who will say the statue is too big or too small. It is this infuser of capital into our economic blood who will tell us what they will and will not do.

I hope the committee understands this. Orlando almost didnít 30 years ago. Imagine where they would be if they hadnít swallowed their pride back then. Everyone in the world could be booking reservations in Marietta, Ga., right now.

[Mike Fak]

Reply to Fak (not for publication):

Response to Fak's commentary: 

Sen. Madiganís replacement:
A nobody or nobody at all

By Mike Fak

[JULY 3, 2001]  We no sooner got over the rumors, stories, and twists and turns of discovering who would replace our state representative, John Turner, than we were met with another revelation, that Lincolnís own senator, Bob Madigan, was resigning the Senate to fill a lucrative position in the stateís hierarchy.

Being a neighbor of Madigan, I personally was delighted to see the man not only get a better-paying job but also get out of the dog-eat-dog Illinois Legislature. This is a terrible thing to say, but Bob Madigan is too nice a guy to have to spend his time with some of the individuals who work the machinery of Illinois law.

While many of you were starting anew the rumors, stories, twists and turns of who would replace Madigan, I was spinning my own scenario.

I have been saying that no one will. No one past the redistricting determination, that is, will take the senatorís seat. Now it seems, the State Journal-Registerís Doug Finke is stating the same possibility out loud. Hey, Doug, wait for me.

The idea is basic. Illinois must lose a downstate senator due to the latest census information showing there are fewer Illinoisans in this area. I donít know why we had to spend millions to prove that, but we did.

Now with Madiganís district centered in a part of the state that fields Republican senators who think the sun rises and sets on the governorís backside, who should be sacrificed as the one senator asked to bid fond adieu to the likes of Ryan, Philip, Mike Madigan and the others? Could it be a senator who had the guts and intestinal fortitude to vote "no" to the governorís Illinois FIRST program and may still be in Georgeís doghouse? It is only conjecture on my part, but rumors to the effect that Gov. Ryan keeps a list in his breast pocket of who said "the heck with him" concerning the $12 billion bilking of Illinois taxpayers are as common as flies during the county fair.



[to top of second column in this commentary]

Madigan, a good, honest man with 14 years of service to his constituents, couldnít just be sent to pasture without screams from constituents that even the deaf ears of the governor would hear. So what does Ryan do? How about appointing Madigan to an important job with higher pay and no need to worry about oneís own political backside.

What makes this possible situation all the more interesting is that regardless of the possibly shady reasons for moving Bob Madigan out of the Senate, Illinois residents will still be the winners. Time will show Madigan as a champion of the residents of Illinois. In his new capacity, it is possible he will have a potentially greater positive effect on our way of life then he ever could have as a senator who rubbed Ryan the wrong way.

In the event this situation comes to pass ó and realize this is just my opinion ó someone will need to temporarily fill the senatorís seat. That is, until redistricting says that the chair is now being folded up and placed in the legislative closet. To accept a political appointment that has the same duration of life as a mayfly is not an enviable position. The individual will show by his or her interest that the good of this area is at heart. I will remember that, in the event the person decides to run again someday for a seat that hasnít had three of its legs already sawed off.

You know, somehow, although I am truly happy for both Turner and Madigan, I find myself grimacing at the future of Logan County residents.

We have lost two exceptionally honest representatives. Jonathan Wright and somebody, or perhaps nobody at all, will have a tough time filling their shoes.

[Mike Fak]

Reply to Fak (not for publication):

Response to Fak's commentary: 

Districts: We get what we wished for

By Mike Fak

[JUNE 30, 2001]  So there you have it. For the first time in the storied history of Logan County, those few of us who vote for county board members will see our options dwindle even further in future races.

I was never too excited about picking six out of seven candidates. I look forward with even less anticipation to picking two out of three. For good or bad I enjoyed knowing that everyone on the board had my endorsement over others. Well, most of the time, that is. I find no serving of the public good with a new system that allows 10 members of the board to care little if any as to how I feel they are voting on issues that affect me as well as all of you.

Thursday, June 21, the board changed our system of representation from at large to districts. It was the proper thing for the board to do since it was mandated by the voters in this county. Well, it was mandated by the 20 percent of the voters who got off their kiesters on Election Day, that is. I fear we all now get what we wished for.

Six districts with two representatives each is how the ballots in Logan County will be prepared for at least the next decade. I have serious doubts if that will be a good thing.

Proponents of going to districts are quick to point out that nearly all of Illinoisí counties already are districted. My Irish grandmother used to tell me: "If everyone jumps off a cliff, it doesnít mean you need to." I wonder what wisdom she would tell me if still alive today?

The new board setup will mean a little more rural representation, but will it be a mandate from the people or simply more "pick me or nobody" as we just saw in the last Lincoln City Council election that presented five candidates to fill five district seats?

I have stated repeatedly that in the last 20 years, 82 percent of the rural candidates have been elected to the county compared to 74 percent of the urban candidates. Those statistics are indisputable and irrevocable. To date, no one who supports districts has debated these findings. Instead, like a federal politician, they ignore these facts and go on with their own diatribe of how rural Logan County is being left out in the cold.

Look at the last several elections and notice if you can a candidate running from Mount Pulaski.

How about an Atlantan running after Darrel Deverman decided to retire? How many New Hollanders besides Rod White have been a part of the selection process? Until Roger Bock, who initially was appointed, how many Elkhart residents have we seen on the ballot?



[to top of second column in this commentary]

Lloyd Hellman from the tiny town of Emden was the top vote-getter in the last election, but still I hear that rural residents donít think they have a chance to be elected.

We can all pretend this isnít the truth if we want to, but the aim of districting was promoted by rural proponents to get a larger foothold on the board. That isnít a bad thing, but it could be in the event rural members become increasingly negative to urban initiatives and are not answerable to a full 50 percent of the constituents. The coin can also become reversed, with rural residents feeling they are still being left out of the process with no future chance of voting rural candidates into offices held by urban members.

The board, I believe, was required to adopt this initiative because the voters of this county said so. In a democracy you have to follow the will of the people, regardless if it is the best thing to do or not.

No one wants to say it out loud, but the board is breaking into rural and urban factions. With a 12-member board, split evenly between rural and urban, I fear a great deal of deadlock on important issues is just over the horizon. I hope I am wrong.

Time will also tell if a field of candidates worthy of spending a minute in a polling place will be available to voters. I stand on record that in the event every district has more than two choices to pick from, I will apologize in this forum. In the event I do not see failures to progress due to where a board member lives, I will again apologize. Fair warning: In the event my fears on what will happen does occur, I will not be afraid to tell you: I told you so.

[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

Life without links?

Links are much more common than page numbers in my everyday work. Itís routine to make links, check links and fix the ones that arenít connected to the intended places.

The first few days of this month, several other kinds of links also came to my attention, some of them on a holiday when I didnít look at a computer screen and didnít visit a golf course either.

The first connection was at church on a morning when the Genesis record of creation was emphasized. Iím not sure if the phrase "missing links" was used, but thatís what came to mind when the sermon referred to long-term gaps in evolutionary theory.

A couple of days later, the links in question were not just theoretical, and they were only a few hundred years old at most. It was the best impromptu entertainment Iíd had in days when I found out about an exhibition and sale of these links. Since I donít want to offend the devotees, I should explain that it was the first thing in the morning and not at all the sort of material I expected to see just then. The more I read about all highlights of the event, the funnier it sounded. Until then I hadnít heard of collecting cuff links.

I shouldnít have been surprised at the idea, because people collect almost anything. I used to know of someone at work who collected pencils and attended conventions with other pencil collectors. If more than one of something exists, they can be collected.

Cuff links, of course, come in pairs, so one function of related organizations is to locate missing links and match up any singles. People can also get appraisals and find out whatever the experts know about cuff links.

Since theyíre small, cuff links are easy to store, and theyíre made of a variety of materials in a variety of designs for added interest. Collecting cuff links is described as affordable and as a hobby for successful people.

A late-night television screen brought up the next kind of link, the weakest one. I gathered that a person wouldnít want to be that kind, unless he or she enjoys unceremonious dismissal from the game.

A few links in my jewelry box had long since proved to be the weakest ones, but they werenít cuff links, although I did own a pair once by informal inheritance. I originally bought them myself in downtown Lincoln to fulfill a gift suggestion. When the sentimental value waned, I gave them away again, along with the shirt they fit, which didnít really fit me. The only links remaining in the jewelry box were in the chains of necklaces, two of them broken.

On the afternoon of the Fourth of July, those inexplicably became my top priority. Sitting with a pliers in hand, a magnifier nearby but no spare hand to hold it, and a bright light on the desk in front of me, I intended to put those broken links back together or at least give it a try. To justify the importance of the job, I had notes from a doctorís bulletin board copied on a piece of paper in the desk drawer. One of the tips for reducing stress and leading a healthier life is to fix anything broken. Never mind that these chains had been broken for months and that I had almost discarded the one my aunt brought back from Austria.

Trying to focus on those tiny metal connections and trying to hold my hands steady under the light bulb, I felt the perspiration running down my arms and noticed a big drop of sweat on the glass desktop. Talk about stress. At least half a dozen broken links later, both necklaces held together. (I didnít pull too hard when checking them.)

The money I saved by not buying a new chain could go toward a set of cuff links of my choice. I already decided against the $2,200 pair in gold and ruby. I didnít care for the appearance. Of course, there is one other fundamental problem. I donít have any cuffs that need links.

[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

Motor fuel taxes paid in August 2000

Local figures are as follows:

Logan County = $44,078.23

(Counties receive an allocation on the basis of motor vehicle registration fees, with the exception of Cook County, which has a percentage allocation set by law.)

Townships and road districts = $90,973.85

(Townships and road districts are allocated an amount computed on the basis of mileage in their jurisdiction.)

City of Lincoln = $38,003.84

(Cities receive an allocation based on population.)

[Source: Economic Development report]

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

Lincoln/Logan County numbers
5 Wards in Lincoln
17 Townships in Logan County
29 Officers in Lincoln City Police Department
20 Officers in Logan County Police Department
22 Firemen in the Lincoln City Fire Department
16 Rural Fire Departments in County
13 Members of Logan County Board
10 Members of Lincoln City Council
3 Colleges in Lincoln
44,850 Volumes in Lincoln Public Library
40,000 Volumes in Lincoln College Library
126,000 Volumes in Lincoln Christian College Library

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?

[Road construction is taking place up and down Woodlawn Road.]


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