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Zoned or not

By Mike Fak

[AUG. 25, 2001]  The city council broke tradition Monday evening with an 8-2 vote overriding the planning commission’s rejection of a variance. The council, often rubber-stamping the decisions of the commission, this time went with what they feel is best for Lincoln. Well, what they feel is best for a large portion of Lincoln. The decision to approve the Casey’s location perhaps was summed up best by Steve Fuhrer when he said the council either is for new business or is not. The vote seems to say that the council this time kept their campaign promises of helping new business locate in Lincoln.

To many the issue is not as cut and dried as the council made it seem. The zone change requested by Casey’s met with three primary objections from citizens. One group, concerned with the effect of a modern convenience store across from Postville, didn’t want the structure in that neighborhood. A second group of homeowners did not want to see their neighborhood subjected to further residential deterioration by another commercial venture. Others felt that the decision by Casey’s to be on Jefferson Street was a thinly veiled attempt to take over the established business of the Citgo Convenience Mart and the Bruns service station.

To those who are upset with the decision based on historic aspects or neighborhood concerns, I am sorry but I have no words to console you with. To those who feel the Casey’s will hurt established businesses, I say, "Only if you let it."

Often during the night, the statement "free enterprise" came up in the debate. Free enterprise is a two-way street. In America we should allow businesses to start and grow and prosper or fail according to their own efforts. Free enterprise also means that we have a choice to use any business we want for whatever reasons we so desire. Just because a Casey’s moves to the area doesn’t mean we need to send farewell flowers to either the convenience store or the Bruns service station.


We at Lincoln Daily News and Channel 15 visit with hundreds of merchants in the area. They are our friends and our neighbors, but we always make a concerted effort to patronize those who help keep us online and on the air. This subtle but primary decision by us is because we appreciate those who allow us to give you folks the news and programs you want. Sure we move our monies throughout the community, but we always make sure that our sponsors get a significant share of our business. Grandpa said, "Always remember who buttered your bread." It seems that Jim and Jan at Lincoln Daily News, and Jim and Tim at Channel 15 and everyone else associated with these businesses must have had the same grandpa.


[to top of second column in this commentary]

The question of Casey’s as a major chain offering cheaper prices on some items, more so than perhaps any business throughout the city, is valid. In a day and age when costs for everything escalate every day, it is important to stretch a dollar as far as possible. It is just as important to remember which businesses are important to a consumer and those that are important to the way of life in this community.

Now I will never be so forward as to tell any of you where you should trade. I will ask you, as I always have, to remember who the businesses are who buy your chances or take out an ad in a school or organizations brochure. Remember who donates items for auctions or free food to community fund-raisers. Remember which businesses gladly put the jars on their counters to help still another worthwhile cause.

Dollars are important to all of us. We must be judicious in how and where we spend our ever-dwindling finances. In context I have to ask, "Are a few pennies as relevant?" I recall grandpa also telling me never to forget who brung me to the dance.

[Mike Fak]

Reply to Fak (not for publication):

Response to Fak's commentary: 

National chains are great
income generators, but...

[AUG. 20, 2001]  I just hate it when this happens. The "to be or not to be" situation with Casey’s trying to pop up a store next to the Postville Courthouse should be a real lip smacker for a curmudgeon like myself who likes to chew on such tasty issues. It should be, but the issue involved is so large and carries so many twists and turns that I just can’t get a good bite on the whole question of whether it is "nobler in the minds of men" to say "Build it and they will come" or to say "Not in my back yard."

On its face, it seems ludicrous to turn down a national chain that will bring potential property and sales tax to a city that does nothing but line out businesses that have said goodbye to the tax rolls of Lincoln. For years the Postville Courthouse shared a venue with a less-than-attractive home on the site in question. When the home was torn down, the vacant lot, replete with a berm of soil and native weeds, sat silently next to Postville No. 2 and then Postville No. 3 for several years. I don’t recall any concern regarding historical import at that time. I guess, "Times they are a-changing."

Now it seems some Lincolnites, including Mayor Beth Davis, are concerned that a modern-looking store next to the Postville site will be a visual detriment to the hoped for surge in tourists who they believe will soon be coming to visit the site if not the building per se.


I don’t see the problem or issue here. According to state and federal guidelines it will not be possible to make the area a historic district. It won’t be possible because the homes and businesses surrounding Postville, although lovely and functional, are by no means historic. Both agencies it seems are sticklers for following this guideline. Maybe that is why they call such things historic districts. My picture of tourists following signs to a historic district and then seeing such non-storied structures as Dick Logan’s, O’Donoghue’s Radiator, the 5th Street Food Mart, and both the Bruns station and the modern business mall across from it will only cause people to ask what the heck we’re talking about.


I also don’t understand the thinking that says we will tell a business where it would be best to locate in our town. National companies have their own research teams to determine locations. To continue to assume we can keep a posture of asking businesses to become part of our community when and where we think the majority of the town will approve means we aren’t really interested in becoming part of an economic expansion.


[to top of second column in this article]

Saying all this, I still have an extremely large "but" in my efforts to form an opinion. I have to ask why Casey’s wants to build just down the block from the convenience store and the Bruns station. I wonder if Casey’s believes that the neighborhood is capable of maintaining additional, similar business. Or have they noticed active businesses with plenty of customers that they believe they will be able to attract away from these established merchants. The question is rhetorical. I don’t imagine my calling the Casey’s main office will produce an answer to my conundrum. Especially since a Casey’s spokesperson said they have studied the Lincoln market for three years but were unaware of a Casey’s having been on Limit Street. I can’t buy that one.


I wonder if a Casey’s would move the market to a greater competitive stance in gasoline or simply end up being a new player while Lincoln loses one or two others to the power of a national chain’s pricing strategy. One new business up, one or two old ones down, is a habit we seem to have turned into an economic science in Lincoln.

Will we ever know how many businesses Wal-Mart caused to close in this town? Will we ever see competition for them that will cause them to price their products at the same low levels Wal-Mart stores in Bloomington and Springfield are forced to meet? National chains are great income generators for small communities, but their cutthroat business approach carries a dark side to their establishments as well.

Like I said, so many questions, and for the life of me I can’t determine the answer. The city council will give us their decision tonight. I have to be honest. Whatever they decide, I have no idea if it is correct or not. Maybe I’m just getting old.

[Mike Fak]

Reply to Fak (not for publication):

Response to Fak's commentary: 

This is the em space, a staff writer’s section with observations about life experiences in Logan County and elsewhere. Enjoy your visit.

— Mary Krallmann

Five score and six years from washboard
company launch to balloon crowds

One hundred six years ago, it was 1895. Grover Cleveland was president; the Columbus Washboard Co. went into business; and a child was born who would live until Lincoln’s balloon festival weekend in 2001.

It’s not common anymore to read obituaries of people born in the 1800s, and it’s one of the novelties of the new millennium that people with the most longevity among us have lived in three centuries. When the recent death notice came, I was surprised to see that the person hadn’t just squeaked by with that record but spent several years in the 19th century.

Neither the death nor the special activities in town turned out to be a major focus for me over the weekend. Despite the local festivities, I felt more like a basket case. Celebrating on Friday night, I even bought whole-wheat crackers that had a woven look — a purchase made primarily because it was only 99 cents. Possibly the combination with vanilla yogurt and a small pizza unbalanced the biochemistry in my brain.

By the next evening I was fed up with things past, present and future, despite the once-a-year events all around. I was tired of thinking about festivities; tired of signs, crowds and traffic.

When I heard the fireworks that I’d forgotten about popping in the distance, and I still hadn’t caught up on the basic duties of the day and the week, I just hoped I’d have enough energy to shower and get through the process of washing, drying and curling my hair sometime between then and the next morning.

I took a little time out to sit on a parking bumper and feel the breeze. That’s when I decided what to do. The time had come for a "mad adventure," to imitate the name of a visiting balloon.

I had only Sunday afternoon to work with, but that was a reasonable opportunity for a quick jaunt.

At the last minute I changed my intended destination and went to a smaller town instead of a larger city. I’d been wanting to buy more of a certain kind of birthday candleholders and had a place in mind. I hadn’t found it on a previous trip but took the exact address along for another try. The elusive candleholders weren’t available, but a novel style of candles that didn’t need holders looked like a good substitute.

Nearby I saw packages of "beautiful balloons" in several "super translucent" colors. Not one to pass that up on the festival weekend, I picked yellow.

As I wandered around in other aisles, I came across the reminder of life in 1895. I felt sure the products are used primarily for decorative purposes today, but it was still a surprise to see the two washboard selections — the standard family size, No. 2072, and the pail size, No. 2133, which packs easily into a traveling bag, so it said. Admittedly, I’ve never remembered to take a washboard along on a trip.

In better humor by then and mindful of an art fair in progress elsewhere, I even bought a watermelon souvenir made by someone in Lincoln.

The next stop was a grocery store with sale-priced pork and beans, just in time for Labor Day. The store had an unfamiliar but appealingly named product line from a company dating back to 1904. A tree design marked the cans, cartons and paper sacks. I chose a box of Our Family corn flakes, in line with my grandpa’s cereal preference.

I felt right at home. There was plenty of space to maneuver in the parking lot. Customers were few. Carts didn’t jostle for position in the aisles, and there were no lines at the cash register. The quiet stores were balm for my crowd-weary spirit.

It was 2:22 when I parked at the small-town shopping area and 3:33 when I turned off the car key back at home. In that hour and 11 minutes, I found something I didn’t know I was hungry for. It wasn’t a wild adventure but mirrored the peacefulness of riding the air currents.

I set the new watermelon spoon-holder on the kitchen counter and tied big yellow balloons outside to tumble in the breeze. The afternoon sun shining through them sent a glow over my work area inside. Every once in a while I heard one pop, but that was only another 16 cents’ worth of mad money used up.

[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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