Gubenatorial Candidates Face Off in Thursday Debate

Gubenatorial Candidates Face Off in Thursday Debate

September 21 – Gov. Bruce Rauner clashed with Democrat J.B. Pritzker in the first televised debate of an increasingly expensive Illinois gubernatorial race along with two third-party candidates vying for a chance to get their message out to voters.

The state’s candidates for chief executive argued their case Thursday evening on NBC 5 and Telemundo Chicago. NBC 5 Political Editor Carol Marin put tough questions to each. Pritzker was asked about removing his toilets in his house for a tax break while Rauner was pressed on his comments about not being in charge of the state.

Rauner, the first-term Republican who is seen as the most vulnerable governor in America, was quick to blame House Speaker Michael Madigan for blocking his agenda through a stranglehold on Illinois politics.

Pritzker has taken criticism for his ambiguity during the campaign, refusing to give any details about how much more the wealthy would be taxed and who the billionaire considered wealthy for that matter.

The Chicago billionaire stuck to that script Thursday, promising investment in infrastructure, higher education and other projects while also lowering property taxes and income tax for middle-class Illinoisans. He said that it’s all possible by changing Illinois’ constitution to allow for a progressive income tax.

“Illinois has the most unfair tax system in the entire nation,” Pritzker said. “We need to ask the wealthiest people like Bruce Rauner and me to pay a higher rate and we need to provide a tax cut for middle-class families and those who are striving to get there and lower local property taxes.”

Marin tried several times to get Pritzker to talk about the rates he envisions for the graduated tax. Pritzker wouldn’t talk numbers. Rauner pounced on Pritzker’s ambiguity.

“Mr. Pritzker is dodging your question because he doesn’t want to tell the truth to the people of Illinois,” he said. “He is proposing a massive new income tax hike on all the people of our state. He doesn’t want to talk about it because the truth is so painfully unpopular.”

Rauner said the state cannot tax its way out of existing fiscal and economic realities. The governor took criticism from all three other candidates for his role in the state’s historic two-year budget stalemate that shuttered social service providers and hobbled the state’s higher education institutions.

The candidates were asked what they would do to stem the tide of outmigration that’s struck Illinois in recent years. Pritzker said the state should invest more in schools, convincing students to attend and stay in the state. Rauner said the state needs to lower the tax burden on people and business.

“The challenge is lack of economic opportunity,” Rauner said. “That comes from a broken system of deficit spending and, to cover it up, higher and higher taxes.

Marin asked the union-backed Pritzker about Chicago hotel workers who are on strike, many of them from Hyatt group hotels. Pritzker’s family founded and manages the hotel chain. He said he doesn’t have a say in the management of the hotel chain. He took criticism for that and anti-union actions by other companies he has an interest in.

Both Conservative Sam McCann and Libertarian Kash Jackson took shots at the front-runners.

There was a heated exchange between McCann and Rauner after the governor accused the state senator of acting as the spoiler at the behest of Madigan.

Jackson had a couple memorable one-liners about not only the big-government philosophies of both of the state’s major party candidates but also the protectionism against third-party candidates and the amount of spending that Rauner and Pritzker have spent on the campaign.

“I spent $25,000,” he said. “You two gentlemen spent $200 million to get on this stage. Who’s the fiscally-minded guy?”

The election is Nov. 6.


Still Time to Vote in the America In Bloom Video Contest

Still Time to Vote in the America In Bloom Video Contest

September 19 – The ongoing efforts to improve Decatur’s appearance and appeal hope to add another $1,500 through the video contest portion of the America In Bloom competition.

Ellen Hearn, the Decatur AIB Chair, is continuing to urge people to vote for Beautify Decatur’s YouTube video promoting the city and the team’s America In Bloom experience. You can vote HERE

“It’s important to watch and vote it because if we have the most views and they like the video – it has to be a combination of both – then we will receive $1,500 that we can bring back to Decatur for more beautification,” she said.

Judges will evaluate videos on the effectiveness of summarizing the benefits of AIB, effectiveness in achieving the goals of the video, its use in promoting the community, and video quality in addition to factoring the number of views. The winner will be announced at the America In Bloom Symposium on Sept. 29.

Hearn said the beautification efforts began more than 14 months ago.

“We built the team, identified our profile, put together our tour, practiced our tour, identified what we were going to do clean up the community, brought more volunteers to the table,” she said. “Decatur really stepped up their game. We actually won just because we were a part of the process.”

AIB judges Kristin Pategas and Mary Hertel came to Decatur in July to tour the city.

Hearn said the efforts to improve the aesthetics of Decatur won’t end when the competition does, with enhancing the city’s corridor among the goals.

“We want to sustain the momentum, which means we need to be focusing on more volunteers and more funding,” she said. “We’re going to be focusing on litter prevention, which was a major issue for us; we had our volunteers out there on a regular basis picking up that stuff.”

For more information, visit


Bells Ring In Constitution Week

Bells Ring In Constitution Week

September 18 – The sound of bells chiming 231 times echoed across Fairview Park at 3pm Tuesday afternoon. The ringing of the bells marked the 231st anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States on September 17th 1787. The event, organized by the Stephen Decatur Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution took place in the shade under the big pavilion at Fairview Park. It marked the beginning of Constitution Week. The DAR petitioned Congress in 1955 to set aside the dates to celebrate the signing of the historic document, the cornerstone of democracy in the country. The Resolution was adopted by Congress and signed in to law August 2nd, 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Constitution Week runs through Sunday, September 23rd.

Coroner Identifies Decatur Bicyclist Killed Saturday

Coroner Identifies Decatur Bicyclist Killed Saturday

September 17 – Macon County Coroner Mike Day has released the name of a Decatur bicyclist who was tragically killed Saturday morning. 71 year old William Logue III was pronounced dead at 8:38 Saturday morning in the emergency room at Decatur Memorial Hospital. Shortly after 7:45am the Macon County Sheriff’s Office responded to Harristown Boulevard near Glasgow Road for a report of a crash involving a vehicle and bicycle. Mr. Logue was riding his bicycle on Harristown Boulevard when he was struck by an eastbound pickup truck. According to the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, no arrests have been made and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office Fatal Accident Investigation Team continues to investigate the incident. An inquest is pending.

Special Needs Resource Fair Spotlights Agencies and Services

Special Needs Resource Fair Spotlights Agencies and Services

September 16 – For parents and caregivers for those with disabilities navigating the resources and services available can sometimes be a daunting challenge. For Lashonda Anderson, those challenges lead to the founding of Saturday’s Special Needs Resource Fair at Pershing Early Learning Center.

The free event brought organizations such as Macon Resources, Special Olympics, Not Forgotten, Crossing Healthcare, Prairieland Service Coordination and others, all under one roof. Anderson said the goal was to connect special needs families with organizations that provide resources and services for children with disabilities.

Anderson said Saturday’s fair came about as the result of an initiative that she began in 2017. “Last year I started a program called Macon County Parent Leadership Initiative. As part of that program, they gave us the tools to be an advocate in our community, to be that change agent in the community. As part of that program one of the assignments was to do a community project. As a mom of two special needs kids I thought this would be a great project to do. To educate parents about special needs services and programs available in our community.”

With over 25 agencies on hand Anderson said attendees left with a wealth of knowledge about navigating the paths available to them for their special needs son or daughter. She said with the variety of agencies and services available, parents don’t have to feel they are alone. The support is there, and the Special Needs Resource Fair was just one way of getting the word out to parents and caregivers.

For more information contact Lashonda Anderson at


Arts in Central Park Continues in Downtown Decatur

Arts in Central Park Continues in Downtown Decatur

September 15 – Downtown Decatur’s Central Park is full of unique handcrafted pieces of art from local and out of state artisans for this weekend’s 56th annual “Arts in Central Park.”

“Arts in Central Park” has been a community staple for 56 years, and while it originated under a different name there has been a juried fine arts show in Decatur for many years and it has been located in Central Park for over 25. It was originally organized by the Barn Colony Arts and others and then eventually was passed on to the Arts Council and Gallery 510. Along with offering a vast array of crafts and pieces in a variety of mediums, another aspect of the annual event is inspiring young artists in the Kids’ Art Activities Tent.

“Arts in Central Park” in Downtown Decatur continues Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., kids activities get under way at 11 a.m. under the tent, and inside the Madden Arts Center at the Arts Council building in Downtown Decatur.

Decatur Bicyclist Killed in Saturday Morning Accident

Decatur Bicyclist Killed in Saturday Morning Accident

September 15 – Shortly after 7:45 Saturday morning, the Macon County Sheriff’s Office responded to Harristown Boulevard near Glasgow Road for the report of a crash involving a vehicle and bicycle. The preliminary investigation indicates that an eastbound pickup truck struck an eastbound bicyclist just west of the intersection. The bicyclist, a 71 year old Decatur resident, later died at an area hospital. No arrests have been made at this time and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office Fatal Accident Investigation Team continues to investigate the crash.

IEMA Swiftwater Search and Rescue Team Dispatched to North Carolina

IEMA Swiftwater Search and Rescue Team Dispatched to North Carolina

September 15 – Governor Bruce Rauner has dispatched a 13-member Swiftwater search and rescue team, and the required mission equipment, to North Carolina to assist with water rescues due to the catastrophic inland and coastal flooding caused by Hurricane Florence. These first responders hail from the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) IL-Task Force 1 Swiftwater Team from northern Illinois and are made up of members from various fire departments throughout the state. The team will be deployed to the Tar Heel state for 10 days.

The Swiftwater team conducts search, rescue, and recovery missions for humans and animals in flooded environments. In addition, the team is capable of providing on-the-spot emergency medical care, emergency transportation for medical necessities and supports helicopter rescue operations and urban search and water rescue (SAR) in water environments.

“Hurricane Florence is expected to inflict a long and agonizing assault on the Carolina coast,” Rauner said. “Florence’s relentless rain, storm surges and hurricane force winds have resulted in hundreds of water rescues in extremely dangerous conditions. Our Illinois crews have trained year-round for these types of rescues and will be a valuable resource for the Tar Heel state.”

The MABAS team left Friday night from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Springfield after receiving event identification, mission and safety briefings and mobilization assistance. This process ensures the accountability and readiness of personnel and state assets prior to departure.

This deployment is the second from Illinois in response to Hurricane Florence. On Thursday, ten Illinois Army National Guard soldiers and two helicopters deployed for a ten-day mission to support relief efforts in North Carolina. Both deployments were in response to requests submitted by the Tar Heel state through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). All costs associated with these deployments will be paid for by North Carolina.

Petitions to Serve on the RCC Board of Trustees Available Beginning Monday

Petitions to Serve on the RCC Board of Trustees Available Beginning Monday

September 13 – Nominating petitions for people looking to serve on the Richland Community College Board of Trustees will be available during regular business hours beginning Monday, September 17th. Petitions can begin to be circulated Tuesday, September 18th.

The petitions may be picked up in the Office of the Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Room N155, at Richland Community College, One College Park between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The nominating papers may be filed with the Secretary of the Board of Trustees from beginning Monday, December 10th, through Monday, December 17th, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. A Statement of Economic Interest must be filed with the Macon County Clerk’s Office as well. The receipt provided by the clerk must be filed with the Secretary of the Board by close of business no later than Monday, December 17th.

To be eligible to seek election to the Board of Trustees, one must, on the day of his or her election, be a citizen of the United States, 18 years of age or older, and a resident of the State of Illinois and the Community College District for at least one year immediately preceding his or her election.

The positions on the Board of Trustees which will appear on the ballot in this election are two full six-year terms for seats that are currently held by Dr. David Cooprider and Dale Colee. The election is set for Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019.

Community Foundation Names Natalie Beck President and CEO

Community Foundation Names Natalie Beck President and CEO

September 12 – After a nationwide search, The Community Foundation of Macon County has announced Decatur resident and community leader Natalie Beck has been named President and Chief Executive Officer. Beck was selected by The Community Foundation Board of Directors from a score of applicants that included both local and regional candidates with a wealth of fundraising and leadership experience. The position opened after current President Louise “Wegi” Stewart announced her retirement earlier this year. Beck officially begins her new position October 8, 2018.

“We are very fortunate in this community to have leaders like Natalie with diverse experience and skills in this arena and we’re excited she has accepted the position,” Community Foundation Board Chairperson Cathy Mansur said. “This role is extremely important for both the foundation and the community and we’re confident Natalie will do a tremendous job in working with donors and community organizations to continue the growth and build on the impact The Community Foundation has experienced over the last 18 years.”

A seasoned fund development executive, Natalie Beck has worked with local non-profit organizations for the past 25 years, fostering donor engagement, managing endowments and developing and implementing fundraising campaigns. Most recently Beck worked as Director of Donor Services and Marketing for the Decatur Family YMCA. She has served as a community volunteer for a number of organizations over the last two decades and currently serves on the Decatur Park District Foundation Board of Directors.

Beck earned her bachelor and Master’s degrees at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  She continues her education through the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University and earned her Certified Fund Raising Executive Certification in 2016. In addition to her professional experience, Natalie and the Beck family have been involved in The Community Foundation of Macon County since its inception.

“I have had the opportunity to experience the incredible impact The Community Foundation of Macon County has from a donor perspective. Professionally, I am uniquely positioned to continue the work this foundation does in the community, fostering relationships with donors and applying past experience in fundraising and leadership to build the investment funds and do more for organizations that address critical community needs,” Beck said. “I am encouraged and inspired by the work Wegi and her team have done over the last eight years and am excited to build on their accomplishments and position the foundation for future growth and success.”

The CEO ensures the foundation complies with the intents and purposes of the Articles of Incorporation, the bylaws, and the policies of the governing board of directors. In her role, Beck will be responsible for providing executive leadership and leading initiatives with strategic and operational oversight across the organization. She will also develop and maintain collaborative relationships with the board of directors, professional staff, and the community as a whole.

Beck and her husband Matt, owner of BARBECK Communications, live in Decatur and have three married daughters and 11 grandchildren.