• The Decatur Navigator

    The Decatur Navigator

  • The Decatur Navigator

    The Decatur Navigator

  • The Decatur Navigator

    The Decatur Navigator

Gary Sawyer, the editor for the Herald & Review, had an interesting article in today’s newspaper. It was about the sometimes rocky relationship between traditional media and these new fangled, sometimes controversial outlets, called blogs. Being a blogger, I’ve given some thought to what positive effect blogs have, if any, on current events. Sawyer was right when he said some blogs are just “downright disgusting”. This political season has brought out some of the nastiest qualities in humanity online for the whole world to see! I sure hope the Martians can’t receive Earthling broadband because we’re not painting the prettiest picture of ourselves over here! The most ridiculous discussion I’ve encountered lately, was some guy who called Hillary Clinton a slut, from a picture he saw of her during her college days – I’d link to the discussion but the language is just too disgusting. This guy was all upset because Hillary had “long, flat hair” and had the nerve to wear glasses and sandals of all things! Yes, that’s the picture that forms in my mind when I think of a dime-store floozy. Huh? I guess he prefers women with big hair! (Here’s the offending photo) Personally, I think she just looks like a nerd – actually, she looks like me! (I dig those groovy pants!)

I’ve pretty much given up on many blogs out there because it always ends up the same – people talking in circles defending their point of view while tearing down someone else’s. I’ve had second thoughts about having a blog of my own for several reasons; one, because I didn’t think anyone would really read it, secondly, because I worried that someone would read it 😉 and lastly, I didn’t want to make myself look like just another know-it-all jerkette. What does my opinion mean? No more than anyone else’s I suppose. But when you think about it, blogs are the purest form of democracy – just not the purest form of good humanity! “But you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have – the facts of blogs!”

Read more

Lake Decatur

(Above: I took this picture of Lake Decatur on a very windy day!)

The city of Decatur has been debating how best to increase Decatur’s water supply, for several months now, however no clear plan has yet been established on how best to actually accomplish that goal. One thing is for certain. It’s clear that we need to dredge our current lake at a much quicker pace than we currently are. Basically at the rate were dredging the lake now, we’re barely making progress at all for one simple reason; we take out about the same amount of silt that washes back into the lake every year. So we’re looking at a never ending dredging project! Clearly we need to speed up dredging but we also need to prevent silt from reaching the lake in the first place. Silt is basically just the dirt that’s washing down the Sangamon River from field run-off. There’s two ways to combat that and they both need to be employed. One is building a silt dam to collect the silt before it reaches the main lake; the second would require a change in farming practices in the Sangamon River watershed. The use of environmentally friendly farming methods would help prevent and/or drastically reduce the amount of soil run-off from farmland in the watershed area. Many farmers are already doing their part to prevent soil erosion but many simply aren’t doing enough. This would probably require a state-wide mandate of some sort, however I’d rather it be accomplished through education efforts. Admittedly, I’m not a farm expert but I don’t think it’s too unreasonable to require fields have so many feet of “green space” between tilled soil and nearby ditches, creeks and rivers. We’re losing great amounts of topsoil from some of the richest farmland in the nation every year because of current farming practices – we’re also putting our water supply at risk. It’s not just dirt that washes from the fields but also chemicals.

(Above: Photo of the approximate location for the second lake on the northeast side of Decatur. Photo taken from Greenswitch Road. No that isn’t the new lake! I think the new lake is supposed to be a tad bit bigger.)

The second major solution to increase Decatur water supply is a second lake. The various proposed locations of the lake has caused a little bit of controversy through the past couple of years. It was even suggested that the lake be located in Forsyth, even though Decatur water customers would be paying for it! That was a short lived proposition. The most likely location, or at least the one that’s still being talked about, is on the northeast side of town – just north of Mound Road near Stevenson Grade School. A portion of this lake would still be within Decatur city limits but the larger portion would not be. In a recent city council meeting it was estimated that out of the 300 homes that could be built around the lake only about 30 would actually be in Decatur’s school district. Personally, I would love the see the lake become a conservation area. There’s two very good reasons why I’d like to see this happen, one I’m a tree hugger 🙂 and two, this would eliminate the political battles that would inevitably erupt between Decatur and our communities to the north – who stand to benefit much more financially from the lake than Decatur – even though Decatur would be paying for it. Honestly, I care more about conservation than the money part. There is very little land in Macon County that isn’t either cultivated or developed and I want to make sure that we put some serious thought towards conservation for area wildlife and us two legged creatures. The north side of Decatur, and even Macon County, has very little undeveloped land for wildlife and recreation. I grew up not far from the proposed lake location and I’d like to see this area become something that future generations will appreciate – not just another money maker for developers. I don’t have anything against people wanting to make money but not at the expense of the land and wildlife. Yes, I’m a true environmental nut!

I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about water in the coming months and I’m also sure you’ll be seeing me, before the city council wanting more room for the critters! I don’t know if I’ll make any difference but I’ll be there!

Read more

I didn’t get the chance to watch the entire council meeting last night on tv but I did watch the last part of the Millikin “streetscape” discussion to get the gist of it. The council wasn’t too pleased that the actual bid for the project was $120,000 more than the what was anticipated. If I’m remembering correctly, the city has to match so much of the funds of the federal grant that was awarded to Millikin University for the improvements. The city’s costs are due mainly to infrastructure upgrades that are needed to accomplish the project. The problem is, this isn’t the first time costs have exceeded what was initially anticipated and that raised the ire of many on the council – understandably. Even if you’re in support of the project, the ever increasing price tag does rub the wrong way. However, it’s obvious that the West Main improvements are helping to improve the historic district. I drive and up down West Main and I see homes being repainted and restored and it’s due, in large part, to the major upgrades the city did to the road. Maye it would have been better if Millikin could have stepped up to the plate this time around and paid the $120,000 overrun. After all, they were the ones who sought the grant in the first place. I agree that the upgrades are going to benefit more than Millikin but well,…oh well… Maybe DMH could donate…no, on second thought, not a good idea!

A funny thing was said by the interim city manager last night. I think it was in regards to the Wabash Crossing deal. The mayor asked him at the beginning of the discussion, if he had anything to add regarding the project, and Mr. Smith said “No. It’s pretty straightforward.” Well, an hour later they were still discussing the “straightforward” project and Mr. Smith vowed to never categorize anything brought before the council as “straighforward” again! Nope, nothing is ever that easy in this city!

That was the last of the meeting I saw, because about then my three year old son began throwing up in the hallway – motherly duties always take precedence!

Read more

Obviously this nation is facing something it never has before – the real prospect of electing a black man for our president. If you read through any of my other posts, most of them anyway, you’ll quickly find out I’ve been a Hillary Clinton supporter from day one. However, I have a feeling I’m going to have to switch allegiance pretty soon to Obama, unless Hillary puts up some huge upsets in the remaining primaries. This has brought up some interesting thoughts on race – something that most people don’t want to talk about but I’m just crazy enough to discuss anyway.

I remember my first meeting with a client of mine, who is the pastor of predominately black church here in Decatur. I remember going into the office and seeing pictures of the pastor’s children on his desk and was amazed. “Black people take pictures of their children?” Then his wife brought me bottled water and I noticed the brand. “I buy that brand too!” I even noticed the hardwood floors and thought. “That’s the same species of wood as in my house!” How silly this all sounds but that’s what I was thinking. It’s kind of like Bill O’Reilly being amazed of seeing black people in a restaurant using utensils to eat their food. It’s dawned on me during this political season how truly segregated black and white people still are in 2008 and how completely ignorant we are of one another!

To educate myself better, I’ve even considered attending my client’s church some Sunday as sort of a “cultural exchange” mission. If I could stop looking at the floors and pews long enough from trying to discern their species of wood, I’d probably find that black and white churches have a lot of things in common besides the wood they use in their construction. I’d probably find people a lot like me – as scary as that may be!

Read more

(Above Photo: Exotic Imports Car Lot Movie Location – Downtown Decatur. This is an updated photo taken on Sunday, May 4th. Notice the snow! How cool is that!)

The Matt Damon movie “The Informant” is about to begin shooting in Decatur! The first visible sign of the movie that you can visit, is the old Firestone service center downtown, which has been temporarily converted into an exotic car sales lot. So far, the “exotic” cars haven’t appeared, so I’m assuming filming will start as soon as the Mercedes, Porsche’s and Lamborghinis roll in. I’m guessing Mark Whitacre didn’t shop for Chevy’s and Ford’s.

To think that my eyes have looked at a building that Matt Damon’s eyes will soon rest upon is just too much! I may have even walked upon sidewalks that his very feet have already touched. Forget about the Shadows of Lincoln monuments – we have Matt Damon!

May 8th Update

I saw a friend at my daughter’s orchestra concert held at MacArthur High School last night and she showed me a picture she had taken of Matt Damon with her cell phone at the mall. It was up close, personal and everything! So far, all I’ve been able to capture is the residual energy of his presence at the Beach House and the downtown car lot scene. I did drive my car through a puddle left behind by the melting snow though 🙂 …. Rumor has it that shooting will be going on this Saturday (May 10th) at the courthouse. I’ll be there, if I’m not carted away by security!

Read more