Smoke & Guns

This past week in Decatur saw some very smoky skies. In fact, Decatur had the second-worst air quality index in the world on Wednesday. I can’t recall, before this year, Illinois being so significantly affected by wildfires in Canada, or elsewhere.

We often get hazy skies from fires out west, but the smoke wasn’t has never been on ground level, that I remember. The last I checked, 20 million acres have burned in Canada this year. To put that in perspective, the state of Kentucky is about 25 million acres. Imagine an entire state losing all of its forests. That’s how bad it is in Canada. No wonder, even hundreds of miles away, we’re affected by it, too.

Hopefully, a wetter weather pattern will form in Canada to extinguish many of the fires.

On that note, I was sure happy to see rain return to Central Illinois. It had been mighty dry for quite a while. The brown lawns were a rare sight for springtime in Decatur. The dry spell was also bad for farmers since it affected the fields during growing season.

As nice as it was to see the rain, I sure wasn’t expecting the storms we got on Thursday. Thousands of homes and businesses across the state lost power for several days. My daughter was one of them near Springfield. She sure had her hands full with three young kids and no electricity for a few days.

The hospital lost power, too. We were in the dark for a bit before the generator kicked on. I’m sure there were a few heart-thumping moments in the operating room, with surgeries being in progress! The generator only supplies power to the most critical equipment and areas, so not everything was up and running for about an hour and a half.

We spent about 30 minutes in the hallway with the threat of tornadoes nearby. It reminded me of those grade school tornado drills. One nice thing about working in a basement in a multi-story building is that you’re pretty safe from storms. I wasn’t worried about myself, but much more so about my son and house.

Other than some big branches to cut up and haul to the road, there wasn’t any damage to speak of at my house. We also never lost power. I’m very thankful for that.


Also, last week, the Decatur Police Department was shot at when trying to disperse a mob of 200-300 people in the inner city. The mob was racing up and down the streets and being a public nuisance. The group was mostly teenagers and young adults.

The city recently enacted a new curfew for those 17 and under, as a means to prevent this type of behavior.

I have to give my thanks to the police department for the work they’re doing, considering the danger they face every day. It is sad what has happened to so much of Decatur’s inner city.

A few weeks ago, I drove home after attending a concert at the Devon, and made the mistake of taking Eldorado Street back to the west side of town. There were a few moments in which I was truly scared for my life. A car pulled up alongside me at a stoplight with its lights turned off and obviously up to no good. You never know if you’re going to be somebody’s target because they don’t like your driving, or they just enjoy killing people. The bigger worry is getting caught in the crossfire.

I won’t be taking that route again after dark. There were police present, with a couple squad cars having pulled over someone in a parking lot, but honestly, the police in this city are outgunned.

It feels like the city is being held hostage by thugs. Many neighborhoods in Decatur are quiet and safe, but the inner city is a nightmare. And, the inner city keeps growing in size like a cancer. I feel for the good people stuck there, especially the elderly, who have watched their neighborhoods decline so rapidly to gangs, drugs, and people without morals.

I’m all for a heavy-handed approach to taking the city back. There comes a time when you have to what you have to do. Either we live by laws, or we live in lawlessness.

I can’t help but be reminded of that scene in the Ten Commandments when Moses throws down the tablets on the golden calf and says with a thunderous voice, “You will either live by the law, or you will die by the law!”

There’s got to be some way to root out the scum. Maybe each neighborhood should have bylaws that state if you are found guilty of committing a violent crime, or being in a gang, then you can’t live there anymore. Maybe we need to exile people. Haha! But seriously, something major needs to be done.

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