Still Watersthe em spaceWhere They StandBy the Numbers,

How We Stack UpWhat's Up With That?

Whoís on first?  County board
decision Tuesday may not tell us

By Mike Fak

[APRIL 17, 2001]  The straw vote at last Thursdayís Logan County Board meeting shows us that the change from at-large representation to districts is not as easy as some would have us believe.

That doesnít mean it shouldnít happen. How the county is broken into districts, however, is probably more important than the decision to go that route actually is.

With a board that seems to have a strong majority for rescinding the previous motion to retain the current system, but far less enthusiasm for voting yes for districting, one has to ask if the board members themselves donít already understand that voting for an abstract, which is what districts are at the moment, could cause a further rift between the urban and rural community. Several board members have explained that without a defined plan as to how the county should be segmented, it is difficult to just say: "Yes, letís go to districts."

The need to rescind the at-large continuance needs to be done expeditiously. Until a plan for new districts is formed, studied and meets approval by county residents as being fair and equitable, the motion to become districts should wait in the wings.


The movement to give voice to the nonbinding referendum recently mandating districts is not something that can be ignored. Not if a person believes in the voice of the people.

To assume such a major change will be quick or simple, however, is ignoring the point of the referendum in the first place. Residents feel they have been left out of the county decision-making process. A speedy decision to go to districts without vigilance to the boundaries of such districts could cause an even larger problem with rural residents.


[to top of second column in this commentary]

How the districts should be broken down is important. Should the city of Lincoln actually be split into districts needs to be asked. Is chautauqua to be part of the city or should it be in a western district, which goes out to New Holland? Does Mount Pulaski deserve its own representative, or will it be part of an area that encompasses other small towns? One has to ask if proper districts can remain within township boundaries or will some rural residents find themselves going to two different polling places on Election Day. Finally, the number of districts must be determined. Should the number of board members, currently at 13, be lowered or increased by a few to help balance representation?

All these questions will take some time and thought.

At Tuesdayís meeting the board should rescind its previous commitment to remain at large. The district vote should be placed on hold until a workable plan has passed through committee. Thatís the way it should be. Unless you all had so much fun with the last referendum that you want to see another one brought on by another group of disgruntled residents claiming they still are not represented.

We have time. Nothing has to be in place until this fall. Why donít we give the new district system a chance to show itself? Then we can say itís what the majority of us want.

[Mike Fak]


Reply (not for publication) to Mike Fak:

Reply as a letter to the editor: 



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A quick look at Lincoln
and Logan County issues

By Mike Fak

[APRIL 12, 2001]  Forgive me the pun, but it looks like the question of who should pay for the future sewerage system upgrades is nothing more than money down the drain. Potential expenditures of upward of $10 million tell all of us that what we send down the drain or flush is nothing to take lightly.

Although the cityís general fund is flush at the moment, the costs of refurbishing our system will mean borrowing funds from an agency such as the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to cover this huge expense. With the need to maintain standards for waste removal as well as having future capacity to lure new business, it looks like the upgrade is something we need to do before the costs rise still higher.

I found it amazing that a flow study showed our two prisons responsible for 40 percent of the solid waste sent through our plant, but that statistic should help in negotiations between the city and the Department of Corrections regarding how much of the bill prisons should foot. If the prisons use 40 percent of the system, they should pay 40 percent of the monthly cost of operating the plant


It seems there is an attempt to bring the old well on Fifth Street across from the Postville Courthouse back into use. The well, now in front of the VFW Hall, was once part of the landscape known to courthouse visitors as Deskinís Tavern. In the mid-1800s, many a hot summer afternoon found participants in the legal system taking a break to go across the street and draw a cool drink of water from the well.

Yes, you figured it out. That means the city could have a tourist attraction such as "Have a drink of water from the same well Old Abe used." I can just see us bottling the water as well and selling it to tourists to take home. I will leave a name for such a product up to others, but Abe-aid comes to mind in a hurry.

[to top of second column in this commentary]

Iím not sure if any issue, save perhaps the Central School referendum, caused more debate than the talk three years ago of consolidating our grammar schools. In Chicago, where I grew up, neighborhood schools were as much a part of the landscape as corner penny-candy stores. The candy stores are now only memories, and in many parts of the country, including Illinois, so too are the small schools. The principal reason for consolidation was stated to be a reduction in administrative costs. The chief reason for maintaining smaller schools was to keep local control over a childís educational process. Both points have validity; both points may soon be moot if the state Legislature creates new laws requiring further cutbacks to small schools. Is the concept good or bad? Let me know what you think.

Look for the county board to rescind their vote on maintaining the at-large system of deciding representatives. That is only the first move in a process that will take some time and thought. Districting or redistricting voter areas are never an easy process, but it appears to be certain to occur in Logan County.

Then we will have to wait and see if county residents who have been stating they have been left out of the county process do anything with their newfound representation. Changing to districts will only benefit the community if residents run for office.

Be forewarned, if the next election shows several seats having only one candidate, I will scream. In the event we have good, solid choices throughout the county, I will sing the praises of the referendum.

Regardless of what system we use, without active participation they are all worthless.

[Mike Fak]

Click here to comment on this article.

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

A view from the hill

This part of the country is flatter than the plains I first knew. It's fine to be able to look a long distance across the sameness of the land. I'm used to that. But every once in a while I like to be in a more hilly place where new sights come into view as a road dips and climbs.

One of the most obvious and closest hills to visit is, of course, at Elkhart, rising unexpectedly from the level surroundings almost like something artificial, but topped with trees. I hadn't been there recently, although there was a time when I made special trips to enjoy the unique setting. Once I got up early and drove down the road to see the sun come up from beyond the hill. I've also taken guests from out of town and out of state to see the place, to walk about in the cemetery on the hill and to note the town's connections with historic figures.

Those experiences made a Saturday outing to the Elkhart Chautauqua like a visit to a friend's house after an extended absence.

The hill had changed some, just as people's appearance changes. In this case, several home sites were the added wrinkles.

I'd never visited before when so many other people were there too, but I didn't feel crowded. The surroundings give it a quiet, sheltered atmosphere.

Usually I look for hints of unusual stories in the gravestone inscriptions, but this time I wasn't much aware of the cemetery setting except that one of the larger monuments was convenient to lean against for a few minutes, and I noticed a new, replacement stone for a woman who had had 17 children. Mostly it was just a peaceful place with trees and grass, animals and people, past and present mingling.

With most vehicles from the present in another area and numerous people dressed in styles of a century ago and more, there could have been a question whether folks from the 1800s were visiting the 21st century or the other way around. If you allow the possibility of a time warp, it could work in either direction.

Children and adults bought corn dogs across from a row of horses placidly chewing their grain. Speakers in costumes from other times and places wore clip-on microphones and transmitter units for the latest in sound transmission. Children's dioramas about pioneer life were accompanied with colorful computer printouts.

I watched bees behind glass, tried to peer down a paper chimney into a miniature schoolroom stovepipe and considered adjusting my pace to 10 miles of arduous travel in one day, as a veiled woman riding sidesaddle added a storybook air to the surroundings.

I had to chance to go inside the chapel I'd previously seen only from the outside. I sat on a padded bench, tried out a kneeler, counted the seven candleholders up close, felt the rounded smoothness of the blue, buttonlike circles in the stained glass, and deciphered names carved into the stone windowsills ó names of people who lived before my parents, before my grandparents.

I stood outside in front of the chapel, watching and clapping along as a mixture of adults and young people in contemporary and period dress did the Virginia reel down the cemetery drive.

I think the people buried there would have been pleased to know that we would gather on the hill generations later to experience the simpler pleasures of their times.

And after a few hours of viewing the past on a hill where I couldn't see much beyond the boundaries of the place, I rode back to the present with actual hilltop views along the way. That's part of why you go up a hill, after all. With parting glimpses of trees and fields at a misty distance, I headed home to the present, home from the hill.

[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

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?"



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.)



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


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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