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Well, I think when I chose to shut down the blog late last year I was probably making a wise decision.  I think I knew things were changing for me.  There’s not many topics I haven’t tackled regarding Decatur.  I’ve pretty much said what I’ve wanted to say.  Yeah, there are other things I could say but it’s like a TV show that stuck around a season too long or a sermon that would have been more effective if it had ended 20 minutes sooner, I think it’s just time for me to officially move on.

In about a year, I’ll be pounding the pavement looking for a job and more than likely I probably won’t find it here in Decatur or anywhere too close.  I have no idea where I’ll be, assuming I find my dream job out there somewhere.  I might stay in Illinois and I might not.  I just don’t know!  Either way, I’ve moved on in other ways.  I’ll continue writing and blogging on my other blog and I’m looking forward to the day when I can devote more time to it.

Anyway, there were a lot of good times writing this blog and I enjoyed interacting with some really good and smart people.  I’ve always been amazed that I never once was treated badly by any reader.  That surprises me because I probably wrote some dumb things here and there!  You all were very forgiving. The blog was always good to me and I wish Decatur the best.

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TheJournier.com

Over the past few months I’ve been working on another blog and though I haven’t had as much time to devote to it as I would have liked, it is off the ground.  You can find it at thejournier.com.  I’m still developing the niche of the blog but it is mainly about delving deeper into a variety of topics.  Being a science geek, I enjoy researching topics and looking at things from different perspectives.  In a world dominated by social media that barely scratches the surface of anything of much significance, I enjoy digging into  topics and not just stating my opinions based upon scant knowledge but rather finding out what experts have to say…and then stating my opinions based upon a little bit more than scant knowledge!

I’m also a tech geek and I love gadgets, so I will be reviewing any and all that I can get my hands on, especially anything related to photography, fitness, or the outdoors.  Recently I purchased an action camera to take with me on the trail and hope to share some of my field study experiences.

Humor will be a part of the blog as well.  There’s nothing that I enjoy writing more, even if it only entertains me.  The last half of 2015 was rough on me.   I found myself dealing with major depression, which is something I’ve never had to deal with before.  I was in no condition to be of much help to anyone, so I took some time to take care of myself.  Anxiety, I have plenty of experience with but I never knew what depression was all about.  I sure learned and I have to say, it stinks!  It really threw me for a loop and I can’t even explain why it happened or how but I’ll be researching many topics related to mental health and hope to help others by incorporating some humor into the findings.

It is a little daunting starting over from scratch with a new blog and trying to find an audience.  I don’t expect much of one for quite a while but I’ll keep plugging away.

And I still haven’t found the look I want for the site, which is why I hadn’t introduced it yet but over the next year I’ll be focusing primarily on creating  content anyway.  The look will come later.  You’re welcome to check the site out and I will try to add new content every week.

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I don’t know if I’ll have to time over the next week to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, so I’ll do so now.  I have two hours before I have to attend my son’s Christmas recital at school.  This is a rare down time for me this month.  It’s been crazy.  My daughter’s high school graduation party was last night and in less than a week she’ll be moving to Florida.  Her plan is to eventually enter Miami-Dade’s physician assistant program.  Of course she’s excited to be moving to Florida and her dad and I are of course what parents usually are when their child leaves home.  Wrecks.

I’m hoping my next quarter at Oregon State isn’t nearly as demanding as the last one.  There was hardly time to breathe let alone blog.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, I chose three of the most demanding classes in my program to take and all at the same time with a couple extra classes to boot.  With everything else going on, it was, well, torture!

There are many topics regarding Decatur that I want to get to in 2016.  After watching the last council meeting, there’s a lot of things that need to be said about the direction the community is heading.  Most of it isn’t good.

I do want to take the time to make a statement about Caterpillar.  Most of us are aware of their current struggles in the mining sector of their business.  In spite of that the company did give their employees raises except for those union workers on the lowest pay scale.  The local media may choose to remain silent about it but I’m not.

What Caterpillar did was uncalled for and morally wrong.  It was a slap in the face to those employees who have been hurt the most by their downturn, besides those laid-off permanently.  My husband has seen his pay reduced by almost 25% in the past year after being bumped down to a lower job classification.  He and fellow workers who were also bumped down learned this past week that they were the only ones not getting a raise next year.  What kind of logic justifies such a decision?

Well, on that joyous note, I’ll end this post wishing everyone a more peaceful, prosperous and blessed New Year.  Oh, I just remembered the presidential election.  Okay, 2016 is gonna suck but I wish us all the strength and wisdom to get through it and for heaven’s sake, if you have any functioning brain cells, DON’T VOTE FOR DONALD TRUMP! :)

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There are quite a few things I will be discussing on the blog in the next couple weeks.  For one, I want to discuss the failed increased liquor and gaming machine revenue proposal and what it means for redevelopment plans.  Also, with the recent decision to not rezone US 51 and Ash Avenue for Aldis, I think the community needs to develop a very clear economic development plan for the north side of town.  That’s where most of the action is.  We don’t have a good plan right now. There’s no shared vision between those working in economic development and northside neighborhoods.  That needs to change.

And then there’s the likelihood of Scovill Golf Course closing. I want to discuss what may become of the property and what the best uses would be.  I have ideas of course and would love to hear yours!

These are all topics that I want to discuss in much more detail but I’m in the midst of writing two 25-page term papers, which are major projects.  I also have several other term assignments coming due and finals.  In other words, I’m busy.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been paying attention.  I have!

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in and let everyone know I’m still alive and I’m still here.

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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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