Still WatersBirdís-Eye View,  the em spaceWhere They Stand,
  By the NumbersHow We Stack UpWhatís Up With That?


Commentaries posted do not necessarily represent the opinion of LDN.  Any opinions expressed are those of the writers.


Rousing rally, comparative analysis, growing House support give hope

By Mike Fak

[JAN. 14, 2002]  I broke a cardinal rule of journalism Saturday. Itís OK since Iím not a journalist. That rule is someone reporting a story should not become part of the story. Accordingly, I shouldnít have spoken to the crowd at the LDC rally and then written an article as well as preparing a report for Channel 15.

I understand the concept quite clearly and agree with it just about most of the time. But not this time. Not this Saturday.

The people at LDC, through their union, felt I should be among the political figures, resident guardians and community leaders who were given a few moments to help employees of the beleaguered institution realize that they are not alone in their fight to keep the institution open. If I were asked to speak a thousand times at this rally, I would have said yes just as many.

In the event you feel my observations are now biased or jaded, I will, as always, leave that up to you. This is what I saw. This is what I heard. Most importantly, this is what I felt.

I felt like I had gone back in time to an old fashioned 1960s union rally. Aggressive words used to excite an audience to become part of the rhetoric filled the auditorium that day. To some on the stage, I could sense a discomfort. This wasnít a quiet "meet the candidates" forum. This was an old-fashioned "You take my job over my dead body" kind of gathering. In 20 years, I have never seen the likes in Logan County.

I sat on stage between more political candidates than you can shake a stick at. There were Davis and Bomke and Wright. There were even Klingler and Brady and Mitchell on the folding chairs around me.(*) Yes, I should say their full names, their party affiliation and where they live, but I feel like breaking another rule of proper reporting today.

Most important in my mind was the fact that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Vallas was there. The man got up and stated for the record that as governor he would fix LDC and keep it open. The political correctness of the statement was, of course, self-serving but the repercussions could be immense. To date no candidate for governor has come out from behind the curtain to even acknowledge the LDC issue. Vallasí comments may cause those more timid than he to realize a block of voters is awaiting their input now, not come next spring.

State Rep. Jonathan Wright advised us that a full 96 percent of the reportable observations at LDC ended with positive conclusions. Wright stated that was an A in his book. It is in mine as well. As I sat next to Jonathan I constantly felt bad that he will be lost to us so soon as our state representative.

 

[to top of second column in this commentary]

I listened intently as AFSCME Deputy Director Roberta Lynch reported on how other institutions and community homes in a 50-mile radius have been faring in fulfilling their state-mandated mental health residency requirements. I was shocked to hear of bathrooms with no toilet paper or soap, of defective sprinkler systems and smoke alarms with dead batteries. I listened as reports of poorly trained staff and improper medication safeguards came from her speech. I have always wondered why there has been no comparative analysis made as to how LDC stands among its peers. Here was the telling information I have been so dearly trying without success to obtain myself.

As I listened to Lynchís report, I became angry at the media. Throughout this entire story, only what has been spoon fed to the press has made the news. WhyI have to ask, hasnít anyone in the media sought this information out themselves. Isnít another rule of journalism to ask questions and to seek both sides of a story. Are all the reporters, especially in area television, simply now like waiters, who write down what they are told without a single question or effort to go farther.

I hope others at the rally walked away with the same feelings I did. I can base it on nothing substantive, but it seems that it is becoming "en vogue" for politicians to come to the aid of LDC. That is what it is going to take to keep the center open. We as residents of Lincoln can do just so much. A united General Assembly taking up the cause is the only true means of winning this battle. I think I saw the birth of just that this past Saturday.

[Mike Fak]

 

*Ed. note: Officials referred to are Mayor Beth Davis, Logan County Board Chairman Dick Logan, Illinois Sen. Larry Bomke, and state Reps. Gwenn Klingler, Dan Brady, Bill Mitchell and Jonathan Wright.

 

Reply to Fak (not for publication):

mikefak@msn.com

Response to Fakís commentary:

ldneditor@lincolndailynews.com 

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2001 reveals strength and
solidarity in Logan County

By Mike Fak

[DEC. 31, 2001]  And so it is that another year has passed. I have always been amazed how a bad day can seem to last forever, yet the year, like an early snow on a warm fall day, can disappear from our lives so quickly.

Again, as always with any year, we have had our moments. Logan County had its share of good and bad, fair and biased. Like all Americans throughout this land we have again fought for our individuality, all the while hoping to be one with each other. For some of us the ledger of life remained balanced, while others found good fortune offsetting those among us who saw better moments, better years in their lifeís journeys.

As a nation, we have seen the darkest days in our country enfold before our eyes, yet have gained a sense of pride in our collective humanity and compassion that we long ago forgot ourselves capable of expressing. For just a moment in this countryís life, we realized that beliefs and faith in our system and ourselves could bridge the gaps of political parties, of regions and ethnicity.

On a local level, we found that we could come together as a community to try to save an institution that for 124 years was taken for granted by so many of us.

As with all years there were many stories that are now marked by the scale we call 2001. Each day 33,000 new chapters were added to the lives of those who have chosen to call this community our home. For many of us the stories of 9-11 and LDC took pre-eminence over all the other innumerable moments that created our personal histories.

The World Trade Center attack has to be the lead story in our community this year, even to those of us who were 1,500 miles away from the disaster. The effects, the concept that foreign invaders could take away from us what we had honestly earned and strived for, carried beyond the borders of a city called New York.

At the "Public Expression of Patriotism," perhaps 1,500 of us gathered on the courthouse square to tell ourselves as well as the world that all the protections we have in this great country, although often taken for granted, are not and have never been taken lightly. With dollars and tears and prayers, this community said for all who would listen that we are our brotherís keepers.

 

 

[to top of second column in this commentary]

In the days that followed, the concern about whether it is appropriate to burn an American flag was replaced with the issues of where can I purchase one and what is the appropriate way to display Old Glory. The difficult-to-sing "Star-Spangled Banner" was replaced at events throughout the nation with "God Bless America," as those who wish to keep God and country separate stayed their lips as we reassembled our countryís spirit. How many of us sang that song these past few months as we never did before. How many of us wiped the mistiness from our eyes as, gathered with others, we found ourselves feeling special because we help make up the collective called America.

The plight of the Lincoln Developmental Center galvanized this community like no other issue I can recall. Employees, ridiculed and assaulted with lies and half-truths concerning their actions toward their wards, looked to all of us for strength and support. That is what we gave and continue to give. None of us went to purchase assault rifles or formed militias. We didnít attempt to commandeer an airplane or blow up a building that houses our detractors. As Americans we used the promises of the Constitution to express our opinions. We used the freedoms of speech and assembly to give voice to our words. We used the right to petition and addressed our grievances through thousands of letters to those in power who needed the gentle reminder that they are where they are only by our graces. We learned that in a community that seems to be able to divide on issues as seemingly obvious as whether gold has more worth than manure, that we could in fact come together.

In the year 2001, Logan County learned what Thomas Carlyle knew 150 years ago: "In the midst of my winter, I finally realized there was in me an invincible summer." All of us have an invincible summer. The year 2001 was necessary to make us realize that. How unfortunate that this knowledge had to be purchased as it was.

[Mike Fak]

 

Reply to Fak (not for publication):

mikefak@msn.com

Response to Fakís commentary:

ldneditor@lincolndailynews.com 



Birdís-Eye View


Spring fever starts in January

I didnít check with a doctor, but I think I was well on the way to a case of spring fever by the middle of January. Even if my body temperature wasnít unusually high, some of the readings I saw on the outside thermometer were.

I question whether spring fever is an entirely legitimate condition to claim until after a more severe case of winter, but signs started showing up. It wasnít just the temperature.

I could have identified the warmer spell as a January thaw instead of attributing it to spring fever, except that Iím not sure about the reasonableness of a thaw without snowbanks to melt. From a meandering trail, I did see ice on the surface of a greenish-looking lake on one of the warmest afternoons.

Near the lake I noticed signs about robins. One said that male robins are the first to arrive in the spring. Another mentioned nests made so well that they hold water. Additional nature notes on the outdoor bulletin board described the typical appearance of male and female robins, identified the range they cover from arctic regions to Mexico, and explained that robins move their heads while feeding to get a better look at food prospects.

Signs of spring in the planting world arrived in the form of an advertisement. Seed catalogs are an encouraging delivery for winter-weary spirits, of course, but one day I opened an unsolicited mailing about tillers. I actually read the materials, including reports that the lightweight tiller also worked for digging a goldfish pond and making holes to plant trees. The warranties were impressive too. You can imagine that the opening testimonial must have been a good one to catch my attention, considering that I have nothing to till. I looked in vain for prices, which was just as well. Buying a plot of ground in order to make use of a terrific tiller would confirm the diagnosis of spring fever going to someoneís head.

Iíve heard that only the wind says spring. One windblown piece of paper I picked up gave detailed directions to an unidentified residence in another area. There was just enough spring in the air that the written notes had the makings of an adventure, like finding a treasure map. Although I didnít get in the car and follow the directions, I thought it could bring a surprise story to life for an impromptu traveler and the people at the destination.

Sometimes the wanderlust of spring canít figure out where it wants to go. It just wants to go somewhere else, away and away. I thought of that again as I watched sheets and towels blowing in the wind on an unseasonably warm day. I thought it was a good excuse to try out a new length of clothesline, more flexible than the old. I didnít know that the laundry tugging at the clothespins would remind me of myself, trying to break free but held by everyday connections. I realized that if a stray item did fly off the line, it could easily become discarded litter, out of place where it landed, instead of serving its useful purpose.

The best cure Iíve found for the restlessness of spring-that-isnít-here-yet is a natural one. Wait until it gets colder again. I think that makes sense. A fever goes away if the temperature goes down.

[Mary Krallmann]


Where They Stand

Where They Stand is a commentary section addressing specific issues in the community. Informed individuals present their position with facts, opinions or insights on the issue. The material is posted unedited, in its entirety, as 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.


Local teacher announces her candidacy for regional superintendent of schools

By Jean Anderson, candidate

[OCT. 31, 2001]  My name is Jean Anderson and I am announcing my intent to be a Republican candidate for the office of Regional Superintendent of Schools for Logan, Mason, and Menard counties.

I am a graduate of Lincoln College and Sangamon State University (now the University of Illinois, Springfield). I have a Masterís Degree in Educational Administration and hold the Type 75 certificate, both requirements for the position of Regional Superintendent. I am currently employed by Lincoln Elementary District #27 Schools as the eighth grade Language Arts teacher at The Lincoln Junior High School, a position I have held for the past seventeen years. I also serve that school as its Discipline and Attendance Officer.

A member of the First United Methodist Church of Lincoln, I was its organist for over 22 years and currently serve on the Board of Trustees. I am chair of the Communications and Bargaining committees and treasurer of the Lincoln Elementary Education Organization, and also belong to the Illinois Education Association, the National Education Association, and the Lincoln Junior High School Parent-Teacher Organization.

The daughter of Lincoln residents Paul E. and the late Helen Musa Rankin, I have resided in Lincoln and Logan County for my entire life. My husband of thirty-two years, Mike, is a Logan County Highway Department employee. We are parents of Jonathan Anderson, Director of Instrumental Studies at The Victoria College, Victoria, Texas; and James Anderson, a kindergarten teacher at Mt. Pulaski Grade School, Mt. Pulaski, Illinois. My sister, Susan Rohrer, and her family also reside in Lincoln.

Although I am a political novice, I believe I would be an effective Regional Superintendent. For one, I am a strong written and oral communicator, due to many years of teaching and music performance. I have a working knowledge of school law and the many issues educators currently face. Having spent seventeen years in the classroom, I am very much aware of the concerns felt by today's teachers. I have received formal training in negotiations, employer/employee team building, and conflict resolution, and have served as chief negotiator for our district's bargaining team. Our last three contracts have been settled amicably, without mediation or work-stoppage. In addition, I am organized and work well both independently and in group situations.

 

 

[to top of second column in this section]

Teacher recertification is an important new issue in the education field. I am currently serving as a member of my district's Local Professional Development Committee, a group responsible for overseeing and assessing the state-required recertification requirements of our teaching staff. I received training for this position through the Springfield Regional Office of Education. Part of my duties as Regional Superintendent will be to provide local training for the teachers of Logan, Mason, and Menard counties, and assist them in the recertification process. I also plan to work with local school districts that want to become Providers, a designation that allows them to bring on-site training for their staff rather than sending them to another location for training or paying an outside group for facilitating the process.

When elected, my intention is to continue in the professional and dedicated manner of our current Regional Superintendent George Janet. Not only has his leadership been outstanding, the fact that he is a resident of this county has been a definite advantage for all Logan County citizens, and he has represented the Republican party well. I believe that it is advantageous for this tradition to continue. Therefore, I feel that my party affiliation, my residency in this county, my strong ties with area schools and school personnel, and my knowledge and dedication to current issues make me a strong contender for the position of Regional Superintendent.

Sincerely,

Jean Anderson

 


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

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


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

 



Whatís Up With That?

 

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