• The Decatur Navigator

    The Decatur Navigator

  • The Decatur Navigator

    The Decatur Navigator

  • The Decatur Navigator

    The Decatur Navigator

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Last night Decatur city manager Tim Gleason presented his suggestions for improving Decatur.  Many of the priorities focused on neighborhood redevelopment, though “aggressive” annexation of 450+- properties was also suggested, as well as improving customer service and relationships between city employees and residents.

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From Decatur City Council Presentation

Three new revenue streams were also proposed, a 4-5 cent motor fuel tax, increased gaming & liquor revenue, and ambulance service revenue.  The council had discussed the city possibly getting into the ambulance business to generate revenue but that idea was shot down because it pitted the city against a privately-owned ambulance service in town.  The council nixed the idea this time too.  Councilwoman Ray went as far as saying, “Let it die.”  However, the motor fuel tax will more than likely happen, as well as increased gaming & liquor license fees.  Gleason also suggested taxing each individual gaming machine.

The gaming & liquor revenue was projected to generate $750,000 annually to fund demolitions, brush & weed clean-up, land banking & vacant land reuse, and a housing committee.  The motor fuel tax would fund badly needed road repairs on Decatur’s secondary streets, largely in neighborhoods, as well as repairing/installing sidewalks and curbs as an incentive for new housing development and investment.  Projected revenue from a 4-5 cent fuel tax is $1.2 – $1.5 million annually.

Gleason also spoke about targeting specific areas for redevelopment including demolitions and saving homes that are still salvageable.  Much of this targeted area is along the US 51 north corridor, which is a highly visible area.

The Wabash area, directly to the northeast of the Water Street viaduct is being targeted as a social services campus.  A recently constructed public health center was completed earlier this year at the location.

Overall, I was okay with the suggestions.  Actually, many of them I suggested this spring, though I was more aggressive and off-the-wall with my thinking – as usual.

I’m not crazy about a fuel tax but I don’t see any other viable tax revenue option.  I’m no fan of video gambling machines either.  Councilman Dawson said that he personally hates them too but would let the market limit their numbers.  They’re a necessary evil now that the city is depending on them for revenue.

I’m interested in seeing a much more detailed plan and like Councilman McDaniel, a packet containing all of the presented information would have been helpful.  Hopefully one will be coming soon.

I’m interested in finding out what $750,000/year for our neighborhoods can actually do.  I’d also like to know the costs and benefits of the proposed annexations.  There was a map of the proposed areas the city would annex and I’ll try to get a hold of that.

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A focus group will hold a meeting on November 10th at 5:30 pm at the Scovill Golf Course to discuss the state of golf, challenges and efforts to “right size”, and options for the future.  Decatur’s golf courses continue to lose money and efforts to generate interest in golf, which has waned considerably 10-20 years, haven’t succeeded.

The Decatur Park District currently has three golf courses:  Red Tail Run, Hickory Point, and Scovill.  I don’t know what options are being considered but it’s possible that closing one of the golf courses is on the table.  So, which one, hypothetically speaking, should that be?  I don’t know.

Admittedly, I’m not a golfer.  The only course I’ve ever played was Wildwood, which became Red Tail.  As a family we go miniature golfing once in a while but that’s mostly as an excuse to eat at Cherry Berry. I don’t think golf even crosses people’s minds much anymore.  Who on a Sunday afternoon thinks about golf as something to do?  I never have.  Just like I wouldn’t think about quilting or churning butter, golf just doesn’t seem to fit in with the modern world for whatever reasons. So what does fit in?

From a 2013, Outdoor Participation Report, conducted by the Outdoor Foundation, the outdoor activities that Americans are participating in have a lot to do with water sports and fitness.  Stand-up paddling, board sailing, kayaking, rafting are all on the top of the list with adventure racing, jogging, trail running, climbing, and bicycling amongst many others.  Golf didn’t even make the list as an outdoor recreation activity in the report.

I have noticed when I travel that stand-up paddling is very popular as are many other water sports.  Too bad we can’t attach wheels to the bottom of the boards and golf with them.  So, I guess it’s good news if we want to market Lake Decatur as a recreation destination but it still doesn’t help our golf courses – unless we flood them.

Golf courses across the nation are experiencing a decline in interest.  It isn’t just a Decatur thing.  I’ve seen glow-in-the-dark golf advertised and all kids of gimmicks.  Decatur has tried different things too.  Maybe nude golfing would raise someone’s interest but considering the average age of a golfer is over 65, I don’t think so.  I think it’s just come time to realize that golf just isn’t that interesting anymore and begin focusing on outdoor activities  people are interested in.

I’m not going to suggest or support anything yet until I hear the options.



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Well, I’m back after about a month of thinking about what I wanted to do with the blog.  I kept going back and forth in my mind as to whether to continue with the blog or move on and I decided to do both.  I am continuing the Decatur Navigator and working on a new blog, which I’ll be sharing soon.

For quite a while, I wanted a blog that wasn’t tied to Decatur specifically because I have so many other interests that never seemed to quite fit in with the Decatur theme.  It was difficult to target a specific readership without a clear focus.

Mostly, I brought the blog back because I think there is a need in the community for alternative viewpoints to be expressed and discussed.

Unfortunately, when I backed up the site before taking it offline, I failed to backup the last year and a half of posts! I could kick myself for that.  I still need to upload a boatload of photos too.  Many of the posts are missing them and I’ll try to get that fixed.

Right now the blog is very minimalistic and I’ll probably be keeping it that way.  I’ll also be allowing comments again.  A few years ago I turned off commenting because of all the spam that I grew tired of seeing in my mailbox.  Hopefully, a better commenting system will alleviate that.  We’ll see.

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Today my family and I dug into the basement to sort through 19 years of accumulated memories stuffed into plastic tubs and cardboard boxes.  It was a chore we we’re all dreading because the task before us was immense. I knew I would be in pain after carrying up tub after tub of things we no longer had use for but still an attachment to.

Even the silliest thing can bring back a flood of memories and remind me of times in my children’s lives, and my life as a parent, that I had totally forgotten about.

There were things that my mom had bought our daughter and I kept many of those.  She passed away when I was pregnant with my son.  There were things that my father-in-law had bought for his grandkids, and many of those were kept as well.  He passed away last year.

That’s why so much of the stuff had remained in the basement.  Cleaning out those old things was like giving away part of who we had been as a family, and letting go of things that reminded us of family members we had lost.

We all took it in a different way.  My husband was quick to toss most everything because most of the stuff didn’t have much meaning to him.  He’s worked 60 to 70-hour weeks for pretty much our entire marriage.  He simply wasn’t around the kids that much, especially when they were very young.  For me, I can remember so much more.  Seeing a book I read to my daughter, when she was a baby, had so much more meaning for me.  It was hard to let go.

It was most difficult on our 9-year old son, who wasn’t too happy to see so many toys packed up and given away.  It was kind of traumatic for him, though he still has enough toys for about ten kids.

Even our teenage daughter got nostalgic and for the first hour or so we only managed to put about eight items, out of about four thousand, in the “donate” box.  We realized we were going to have to be a little less sentimental and let things go, or we’d never be rid of the clutter.

I did well until we actually unloaded everything at the thrift store.  Seeing so many familiar items of our lives sitting on a lonely loading dock was sad, sadder than I had imagined but goodbyes always are.

I’m proud of myself because I only saved one plastic tub of items, mostly baby toys, and they will stay with me until I’m gone.  If I ever have grandkids, they’ll get to play with them.

I don’t regret getting rid of those things because, after all, they are just things and I know life has to keep moving forward.  More importantly, as I have gotten older, I’ve been around long enough to know that every year is a “wonder year”.  I can look back on my 20s and 30s with the same amount of wonder as my childhood. I can look back on the hard times with just as much amazement and gratitude as I have for the good.  It’s funny how time does that.

There are so many more years to experience and appreciate.  Lord willing.  There are so many more things to accumulate in my basement.  Lord forbid!









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There was a time when writing about the Decatur City Council was fun.  I looked forward to watching the meetings every other Monday when the council was composed of warring factions during the Change Decatur time period.  If you don’t remember Change Decatur, it was an attempt to change Decatur’s city government style from the present city manager system to a strong mayor and alderman system.

To make a long story short there were legal challenges and missteps along the way that led to the voters of Decatur not deciding on a strong mayor system but a commissioner form of government.  It was a mess but it was fun to write about and watch.  This council doesn’t give me any good material to work with at all.

I was against both the commissioner and strong mayor forms but I did like the idea of a hybrid form that was proposed as a last-minute option before the election.  It was an appeasement approach to turn voters off on the commissioner form.  This option would retain the city manager and “weak” mayor but the council would be composed of members elected at-large and some by district.  I remember the discussion on that idea lasting about 4 and half seconds by the newly elected council, after the voters had shot down the commissioner form.  The hybrid form was never really discussed in an amount of seriousness but everyone was sick of all the drama at that point.

The current council has been on cruise control for the past couple years while the city has seen some recovery from its worst economic years.  There’s still so much more work to do but Decatur is improving.  Downtown has never looked better and downtown businesses are doing well.  Lakefront projects aren’t just sketches displayed in a PowerPoint presentation but being built. I don’t want to gloss over things but there’s something happening here that I haven’t seen happen in the past 25 years:  Good things are finally happening.  I don’t attribute that success to the city council necessarily.  I think Decatur only had one way to go and that was up. Ha!  Whatever the reasons, I’m ready for new glory days.  Decatur had a great past, a lousy stretch from the mid 1980s to early 2000s, and now we’re in a rebuilding period.


With all that said, it’s important to have a city council that won’t screw things up too badly.  Personally, I’m ready for some new blood on the council with new ideas and a new perspective.  It’s never good to go stale.

I’m looking forward to learning about the new candidates as they announce their intent to run.  Lisa Gregory announced today and I’m sure we’ll hear more names very soon since petitions will be out and about.



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