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Seeing Springfield with
the first lady of Arkansas

By Lynn Spellman

[MAY 21, 2001]  On Wednesday, May 9, I had the pleasure of a whirlwind tour of Springfield sites with Janet Huckabee, first lady of Arkansas. A fun time, it was also a lesson in how effectively a title can open doors.

Huckabee was the featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Illinois Manufactured Housing Association. Since last August, when she chose a triple-wide house made by Champion Homes of Indiana as a temporary residence during restoration of the Arkansas governorís mansion, she has become an enthusiastic spokesperson for the industry.

After Huckabeeís luncheon speech, association chairman Roger Huddleston assigned Lucy Anderson and Dianne DeRosa, both of Springfield, and I the delightful task of taking her "wherever she wants to go." We were a party of six in the DeRosasí Lincoln. Dick DeRosa, Dianne and Lucy sat in the front, and in the back were Janet Huckabee, I and Dustin, whom we were told to introduce as "an Arkansas state trooper."

Our first stop was the statehouse. Dianne had some trouble unfastening her seat belt, and Huckabee ran around the car calling, "I can help." Inside, IMHA Executive Director Chris Kratzer guided us through the rotunda, the Senate legislative chamber and a meeting room with a hearing in session. We met Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, in his office. Then an aide to Gov. George Ryan escorted us to the governorís office. Though Ryan was in Chicago, as we admired the richly decorated office we were joined by former Gov. James Thompson, who stepped out from a meeting to chat with us.

As we exited the governorís outer office, Huckabee noticed an arm cover had fallen off the chair by the door and stooped to replace it. We then hurried to our car and drove to the Lincoln Home, with Lucy on her cell phone making arrangements. "The first lady of Arkansas is in town," she said. "Sheíll be at your facility in five minutes and would like a tour." Meanwhile, the high-energy Huckabee was on her own cell phone, checking on the status of a $2 million grant application. It turned out she had received only $1 million. "Thatís pretty good," she said, "except that I know who got the other million."

 

[to top of second column in this commentary]

Classes of grade-school children waiting for tours watched as we immediately entered the Lincoln Home. Our guide was especially skillful at presenting the house from Mary Todd Lincolnís point of view, and Janet Huckabee was liberal with her thanks, as she had been at the governorís office. Our tour continued to the Dean House, where we examined models of the Lincoln house in its various stages of expansion.

Then it was on to the Old State Capitol. In the car I learned that both Gov. Mike Huckabee and his wife had grown up in Hope, Ark., and knew Terry and Mickey Becherer, formerly of Lincoln.

Again we were met by an excellent guide who led us between school classes. We moved quickly through the offices and legislative chambers but not so quickly as to miss learning the origin of the term "red tape." In Lincolnís day legal documents were folded and placed in file drawers about 4 inches square on the end. When a drawer was full, the documents were tied together in bundles using flat red fabric tape because it did not cut as string did. So a person looking for a specific document often had to go through a lot of red tape.

After thanking our guide we considered a quick pass through Oak Ridge Cemetery to see Lincolnís tomb, but it was 4 p.m. and the first lady had to be ready by 5:15 to hostess a reception at the Illinois executive mansion. Even she, with her ability to pack a great deal into a few minutes, acknowledged that there wasnít time. We had made our tour in about two hours, evidence of how much you can accomplish when all the doors are open.

Janet Huckabee, first lady of Arkansas, has the energy level to take advantage of the opportunities available to her. At 8 p.m. she planned to drive to St. Louis, fly to Little Rock, sleep briefly and be ready to fly to Texarkana, Ark., for a full schedule of appointments the next day.

[Lynn Spellman]


Is it Illinois FIRST or
friends of the governor first?

By Mike Fak

[MAY 24, 2001]  Letís go back in time for just a moment. Two and a half years ago when George Ryan took the helm of governor of Illinois, I was at great odds with his immediate change in stance from a campaign platform of no new taxes to the largest fee increases in state history. His $12 billion Illinois FIRST program was not what we had believed would occur when we went to the polls to elect Ryan. The governor stated he had changed his mind. The fact that such a huge collection and disbursement system was already in place told me that Ryan had not changed his mind. He had from the beginning planned this whole new program long before he was elected governor.

I also was at odds with the fact that although Illinois FIRST claimed to be a massive infrastructure, education, roads-and-highway repair-and-rebuild program, the catchall phrase "quality of life" was included in the Illinois FIRST guidelines. Such terms as "quality of life" allow politicians to spend money on anything without fear of breaking a rule. After all, buying oneself a baloney sandwich could come under the heading of improving quality of life. Giving money to political cronies for any purpose under the sun, however, also fits under this wide-open guideline. From what I have been reading, I fear that the latter is what is happening to a serious amount of the Illinois FIRST funds.

I am having a problem understanding why some requests are being granted, such as a $150,000 grant to Waukegan to refurbish their fish-cleaning station, while other requests, for economic development, sewer upgrades and the purchase of essential city and county equipment, are being bypassed.

In the event a person cares to understand the vastness of Illinois FIRST and what $12 billion dollars can do, just go the website http://
www.state.il.us/state/ilfirst/ilfirstmap/default.htm
. You will find a site carrying more than a thousand pages explaining who received money from the program, how much and under what program heading the grant was considered acceptable. Unlike the state treasurerís site or the state comptrollerís site, there is no balancing of the books available to the reader. Nowhere in the Illinois FIRST information is the dollar amount of what has already been doled out made available to the reader. I again have to ask why. With over a thousand pages of grants, it would seem to be only a matter of course to define the current spending on the program. Unless, of course, the amount is not desired to be part of the publicís right to know.

I am not against any community receiving financial aid to better their surroundings. What I am saying is that in a state that has thousands of miles of poor roads ó in a state that has school buildings crumbling ó in a state that has hundreds of communities, including Lincoln, in need of water and sewer upgrades ó why is it that items such as parking lots in the districts of influential legislators receive funds before the obviously necessary projects do?

DuPage County, home of the powerful state Senate President "Pate" Philip has over 30 pages of Illinois FIRST financial gifts. "Pate," of course, is a piker compared to what House Speaker Michael Madigan of Cook County was able to get for his constituents and special interests. Cook County takes up 197 pages of the financial bonanza provided by Gov. Ryan and backed, of course, by both of these gentlemen.

Now it is obvious that counties with larger populations should receive more funds than smaller counties. But some of the grants are for items that should be so far down the stateís wish list that I have to wonder how these items could have taken precedence over others.

Some of the sums and the purposes for these monies is disheartening to an individual living in Logan County or any other community that seems to be on the outside of the Illinois FIRST barrel. Again, without trying to bore you with details, letís look at a few of these allocations.

DuPage County:

Roseland Little League Baseball Association ó $100,000 for new ball diamonds

Roselle Park District ó $100,000 for landscaping

Glen Ellyn Childrenís Chorus ó $50,000 to promote involvement

Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra ó $50,000 to build and promote website

City of Hinsdale ó $350,000 to renovate old church

Jazz Museum of Chicago ó $250,000 to promote museum

DuPage County ó $5,000,000 to reconstruct the Oak Meadows Golf Course

 

[to top of second column in this commentary]

Like I said, there are 30 pages of largesse going to friends and neighbors of Philip, so I will leave the information as it is. Want to be more disheartened? Just go to the site yourself.

Now letís look at what Cook County has been able to garner with the support of Michael Madigan and, no doubt, the blessing of our governor.

Oak Lawn ó $501,000 to purchase land for business development

Homewood ó $300,000 to purchase land for an industrial park

Lincolnwood ó $650,000 to pave city parking lot

Kenwood-Oakwood neighborhood communities ó $1,000,000 for economic development

Stickney ó $1,000,000 for a new village hall

Cook County ó $5,000,000 to employ full-time staff to aid distressed communities

Art Institute of Chicago ó $1,500,000 to renovate their front stairs

Thatís enough of that. The numbers are too staggering, and 197 pages of the same is just too much for someone living in Logan County to deal with.

In the Illinois FIRST website, the words "critical infrastructure needs" are part of the explanation of the purpose of funding allocations. The question has to be asked how something like consulting fees or funds to build monuments have been deemed more critical than road, sewer, fire and police equipment upgrades.

Again I wish to state that I am not finding fault with any of these communities or agencies for getting back the fees their own residents have been forced to give under the Illinois FIRST system. What I am asking is what the regimen is that is used to decide who gets how much and for what. It obviously is not based on dire community needs. Not when a fish-cleaning station gets funding.

It seems the question has to be asked if Illinois FIRST money is being used fairly to repair the stateís infrastructure or is being used as a financial tool to repay legislative power brokers and their constituents for being a "friend" to what appears to be a monstrous pork barrel. Is the governor being so clever as to grant small sums to every community to cover up much larger sums for such extemporaneous causes as building storage sheds for others?

Now Gov. Ryan has stated that a new Illinois FIRST program needs to be implemented, funded by new fees and taxes, because Illinois FIRST cannot handle all the needful projects in this state. These comments came two days before he approved $75,000 in Illinois FIRST money to fund a bass-fishing tournament.

[Mike Fak]

 

Reply (not for publication) to Mike Fak:

mfldn@lincolndailynews.com

Reply as a letter to the editor:

ldneditor@lincolndailynews.com 


Welcome to the em space, a staff writer's commentary section with observations about life experiences in Logan County and beyond. Enjoy your visit.

- Mary Krallmann


Between tomorrow and yesterday

Thanks to those who saw to it that Memorial Day comes with a three-day weekend and thanks to those who like to remember that the observance used to be a specific date (May 30) instead of a specific day of the week (Monday), one of my calendars labels both. That leaves a nondescript day in between. It's either one day after Memorial Day or one day before, depending on your allegiance to current or past traditions.

To mix up the situation a little more, the day with the older designation comes after the newer, though older things usually precede the new. On the other hand, I suppose it's natural for the newer to be ahead of the times and for what's older to be a few steps behind.

The in-between day is what interests me. I think it's a fitting symbol for the regular transitions that happen about now. The exact times vary from person to person and from year to year, but the period is typically in May or early June. While the impact is strongest for people with school connections, almost everyone can identify with the changes when academic sessions end and graduations fill the calendar.

The time comes when the person who was a fifth-grader isn't attending fifth grade anymore but not yet going to sixth grade either. A new graduate is finally past student days but is still in the process of applying for jobs. Another graduate has a job lined up but won't be moving to the new place for a few weeks. Regular school activities wind down but summer activities aren't yet in full swing. We've had a taste of hot weather, but there are times when it feels good to wear a jacket. Some children have finished with classes until fall, but, as a friend in a neighboring state wrote me, her area had so many snow days that school there will extend through June 8.

There's a mixture of fulfillment and restlessness in the air. It's an unsettled period, with people in different stages of the school-to-summer transition, whether it's from school to vacation, school to work, or simply a seasonal shift.

The graduation ceremonies and parties, along with the holiday weekend, give us ways to mark the in-between phase. When we're at the edge of what has gone before and the verge of what's coming, it's comforting to pause before we cross the bridge. It's a chance to just enjoy the present.

A few weeks ago, when I thought about sending a note in response to a reunion invitation, I looked up the graduation section in one of my scrapbooks. I saw the graduation folder, an invitation, pictures of the 39 class members and more cards than I remembered from people in that small community.

One page has a copy of what a 17-year-old me wrote about the occasion. It explains that the class chose the motto "In this ending is our beginning"; that the term "graduation" emphasizes the ending and "commencement" the beginning.

That theme continues to play itself out every year at this time. A part of the past ends; a part of the future begins.

At the very end of the scrapbook, after the page with the tassel taped on it, I copied the Ecclesiastes section that begins, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."

The endings and the beginnings have their seasons, and they often overlap. At any given time, all we really have is the here and now ó the link from the past to the future ó the temporary in-between.

[Mary Krallmann

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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 ldneditor@lincolndailynews.com.


District vs. at large

April 3 ballot proposition:  "Shall Logan County be divided into districts equal in population for the purpose of electing County Board members to serve on the Logan County Board commencing in the year 2002?"

YES!

 

In January of this year, citizens throughout Logan County circulated petitions to place this issue on the ballot. That effort was successful with more than 10% of registered voters signing within a two-week period (2569 total/2000 needed). The referendum has been certified by the Logan County Clerk and will be on the April 3rd ballot throughout the county. The citizens were successful and will be able to voice their opinion on this matter for the first time in 30 years!

Illinois law states that every ten years each county in Illinois with a township form of government shall determine whether board members shall be elected "at large" from the county or by county board "districts".

A "YES" vote on this issue will indicate that residents of Logan County want to have their County Board members representing all areas of the county. Each district must be divided equally in population and will guarantee that all areas are represented! The present "at large" system allows for all 13 County Board members to be elected from one area, while the remainder of the county could end up with no one. In fact, the east side of our county (from Mt. Pulaski to Atlanta) does not have representation at the present time! All of the counties surrounding Logan are in districts. Menard recently changed from "at large" to "districts" with an overwhelming vote. The greater majority of counties in Illinois are in districts and have been for several years. We are not the only county with this issue on the ballot. Bureau County recently passed a referendum to go to single member districts. Champaign County has a similar question, as does Adams County.

Remember that this question asks how the make-up of the County Board should be for the next ten years. Under a district system the voter is more likely to know the person they are voting for. This is your opportunity to voice your opinion and let your county governing body know how you feel. If the referendum produces a result in FAVOR of district representation, then measures will be introduced on the floor of the Logan County Board to accomplish that goal.

óRodney J. White

 

 

(Rodney White is a member of the Logan County Board.)

NO!

 

Itís rather interesting and enlightening to note the places of residence of people appointed to the Logan County Board to fill terms of members who have died, moved away, or resigned.

Mr. Robert "Bud" Behrends was appointed to the Logan County Board March 18, 1975, to finish out the term of Robert E. Downing, and Lloyd Hellman was appointed November 15, 1994, to finish out Robert "Bud" Behrends term on the board. Mr. Behrends grew up in the Hartsburg area, and spent most of his life in Lincoln, and Mr. Hellman, who replaced "Bud" has spent most of his life in the rural Emden area. Mr. Downing was a rural Beason farmer.

The emphasis on appointments was the type of person needed to effectively function on the board; not where they resided. A Beason resident (Mr. Downing) was replaced by a Hartsburg/Lincoln resident (Mr. Behrends), who was replaced by Mr. Hellman, an Emden resident.

The above appointments donít look like "district" representation. It looks like desire on the part of the replacements and their ability to effectively function on the Logan County Board.

Mark H. Werth resigned from the board December 31, 1988. L. Buckles was appointed to replace Mr. Werth, February 20, 1989. Both were from rural areas -- Mr. Werth, rural area north of Mt. Pulaski, and Mr. Buckles, rural area south of Mt. Pulaski.

Mr. Earl Madigan, who lived southeast of Lincoln, was replaced by Dwight Zimmerman, who farmed for years just east of San Jose and later lived in Lincoln. That certainly wasnít a "district" appointment. That was an appointment based on the desire of the person to serve and his ability to serve.

Mr. Edward L. Spellman, resigned from the board March 18, 1976, and Mr. Don Smith was appointed to take his place. both came from Lincoln, Both were successful business people and served well on the board.

Mr. Robert Welch died in office November 18, 1998. He was a resident of rural Beason. Mr. Roger Bock of rural Williamsville was appointed to replace him. Again, not a "district" appointment, but one based on desire and ability.

To my knowledge, no proponent of the district plan for electing members of the Logan County Board has ever submitted a plan, so my question is: If the at large system of electing county board members is not flawed, why fix it?

If the system is working well and the members are getting the work of county government done, why change?

Will a district election plan, which apparently is only floating around in the minds of a few people and has not been committed to paper, better serve all the people of all the county?? I think not!!!

óDick Hurley

 

(Dick Hurley is a former member of the Logan County Board.)


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

1859

Lincoln School District

5

School buildings in 1859

1

"Grammar school" in 1859

1

High school teacher, Mr. January, in 1859

1870-71

Central School opened

1898

High school building started

1900

High school dedicated, Jan. 5

$20,000

Cost of new high school

1920

Election authorized community high school District #404

1958

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

Alexis Asher


Lincoln/Logan County numbers
(2000)
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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