As many now know, the Circuit Court ruled in favor of the “mega” dairy near Warren & Nora. What you may not know is, he can’t operate without fulfilling all requirements from the Illinois EPA, the USEPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, and the court decision may be reversed by the Appellate Court in Elgin.
Many of the local media articles imply that the battle is over, have quit printing letters or articles about it, and in part, may have affected the outcome due to apathy of that public.
So - it’s assumed that all of the citizens of JoDaviess Co., Carroll Co., and Stevenson Co. that supported opposition to the dairy, or donated to the cause, will forget the environmental issues, throw their hands up in defeat and walk away, allowing this millionaire and his big ag. buddies to force a 5,000 to 10,000 cow mega dairy on the communities and on JoDaviess Co, which voted 11 to 5 against allowing a construction permit.
I believe that now that this travesty is one step closer to reality, HOMES, the plaintiffs and the mega dairy opponents will dig their heels in even deeper and will lend even more support to those courageous few who are fighting to keep our area counties a desirable place to visit and a welcoming place for the small family farmer.
The alternative is dismal.
Stockton, IL 61085
The People’s Choice
It came to me while reading Poopy’s letter to the editor about staying open on Christmas Day (“Better Late Than Never,” Feb. 10), that all those “narrow-minded” folks he is attacking can always go somewhere else for a meal. That applies any day of the year.
(Publisher’s Note: The Savanna City Council approved an ordinance allowing the sale of liquor on Christmas Day at the Feb. 9 regular meeting (see page 3, Feb. 17 issue of The Prairie Advocate). The issue that Poopy initially wrote about was the City prohibiting the sale of alcohol at his establishment and throughout Savanna, not specifically about staying open on Christmas Day.)
A Businesswoman’s Perspective
I attended a recent city council meeting to have Christmas Day opened for liquor sales as well as Sunday 6-12:00 noon. Even though the council voted in agreement the Mayor was mad, upset that it had passed. I then asked about Sundays. In the last 30+ years you had to be closed Christmas Day and 6-12:00 Sunday. Then at one point if you paid a fee, an extra licensing they opened it for sales for your business. Sounds a little like “grease my palm” that was just for Sundays. Sounds like the mob doesn’t it?
After the meeting I was told the Mayor was upset and “just let’s take care of Christmas and we will deal with Sundays later.” However the Council needs to know, as well as the Mayor, that church/religion can not be the reason we are closed. They should advise him, mad or not, they are opening themselves up to a lawsuit. They may want to keep this “their little paradise” but we have to be brought up to speed as the rest of the country has.
You see if the city opens the businesses on Christmas they will generate more sales tax, if they open us on Sunday they will lose the licensing specifically for that day. Now if they would like to recover that lost revenue they could license all businesses like the appliance store and let them share in the fun. We both receive the same fire and police protection but we get to pay $1,000.00 extra for our license plus extra for Sunday. Why? Why pay more to change the ordinance twice? And yes I am one of those “lazy Main Street business owners that are too lazy to help themselves.” Our illustrious leader dropped that at one of his meetings.
Was he referring to the graffiti ordinances recently passed which fines the victim? My building was hit five times. Four times it was painted over but the last time it was on my yellow brick wall. I had the city notice on my door and instructed Chief Moon not to paint my brick wall. The Mayor told me in San Francisco this is the way it works. But we do not have front doors that open 200 times a day which would allow us to sandblast regardless of the expense. How can you compare Savanna to San Francisco? I pay taxes for police/fire protection but obviously was not protected at least five times for sure.
An ordinance, until tested, is only a bunch of words on a piece of paper. Maybe someday it will be tested in court. Mr. Mayor, when you were referring to helping myself, did you mean you wanted me to sit in my parking lot through the night armed to protect my property because no one else did? I can.
Did you mean to help myself when the council passes a ridiculous ordinance, I should come and question it? I did!
Did you mean to help myself when some of the council is still in the dark ages as far as church and state I should come and question their position? I did.
Or did you mean to help myself by seeking outside employment to help a business stay open when our city has repeatedly licensed, ordinanced, fee’d and fined us to death? I have!
There is more to running a city than ordinances, engineering studies and all the cop outs found at our many meetings where so many times things are tabled. No wonder we have no new businesses or industry. Recently I and many others saw five new businesses open in an area town and yes, I as a lazy main street business owner called and asked how they did it. I found out they offered just what I had suggested to our city officials: free water/garbage incentives, “perks,” from the city.
Can we do that? No! Can our city see the need to contact some of the vacant building owners and try to work out a plan between the owners and the city to promote our city and encourage someone to come join our lazy main street business owners? I just want to ask who is lazy or are you consumed with doing everything so right nothing gets accomplished?
We have more to offer than ten communities put together with the river and the state park, yet we have continually struggled. I remember one summer while driving through town, some of the businesses had put tables with table cloths out in front of their businesses. I thought, “how fantastic and inviting.” The city put a stop to that. Go to San Francisco, Mr. Mayor. Better yet, just drive to Chicago, of course on a Thursday, and see the tables on the street.
Those lazy main street business owners put a little effort out and of course there was a regulation or ordinance that we could reference to put a stop to it, so we did. Just who’s lazy?
P.S. Very glad we are getting an evidence room so we can store all the graffiti evidence no one used to solve the crimes. Better make it big enough.
You’ve Got to be Kidding!
I hope you’re sitting down when you read this. The City of Savanna just received the “Engineering Study” - a term they seem to love using - on the remodeling of the old medical building into City offices. My figures might be a little off because I don’t have the study in front of me, but they are close. The bottom-line figure for remodeling the building per the City of Savanna’s specifications is approximately $460,000.
This figure does not include the $125,000 quoted in the paper as having paid for the building. Now the total has jumped to approximately $585,000. I’m not sure whether or not this figure includes the cost of the “Engineering Study” or asbestos abatement, but if not, the total is now approximately $600,000 or more.
To my knowledge, there is only about $400,000 in the building fund. If this project is continued, where will the City obtain the additional money? Maybe it will come from the same source as the additional $30,000 needed over and above the $159,000 grant awarded to the City for the refurbished boat ramp we didn’t need, out of your and my pocket.
I may be stepping on people’s toes, hurting someone’s feelings, or making someone angry - for that, I’m sorry. But the City needs to spend this kind of money on something more important than new offices. Maybe the “Engineering Study” should have been completed BEFORE the building was purchased. It could be spent on alleviating parking problems, improving roads and sewers, improving the water & sewer plants - all of which might attract business and residential development and, in doing so, lower the tax base. New City offices alone won’t do it.
Based on the responses I have received from people on the street and in the stores, I know some of you agree with me and I certainly appreciate the support. However, if your comments aren’t directed toward those who can and should do something about them, then every time Savanna is mentioned in the surrounding communities, people will laugh and say, “You’ve got to be kidding!”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like it.
Guest Commentary . . .
Historic Preservation Commission Message
As members of the City of Morrison’s Historic Preservation Commission and lifelong residents of the community, we take this opportunity to sincerely address questions, complaints, misinformation, misunderstandings and distrust about the impact and benefits of historic preservation issues. Historic preservation, or, more accurately, heritage conservation, is often perceived as a “feel good” endeavor intended merely to preserve items, places, or spaces just for the sake of keeping them. Indeed, historic buildings are the physical manifestation of memories, but modern preservationism is much more about economics, than about ethereal notions of “maintaining our past.” Heritage conservation is about using the tangible assets of history in financially responsible ways. Morrison’s beautiful structures and welcoming streetscapes attract people, increasing property values and retail sales. Some say that “restrictive ordinances” deter business development. Simply put, such an argument is putting the cart before the horse. Commercial retail businesses don’t draw new residents. People draw commercial retail businesses. First comes the need to have a population of consumers, and from their presence, appropriate business will come. Preservationists have proven time and again that there is a real and palpable monetary return on investment in preserving and even rehabilitating older structures and, thus, maintaining the resulting ambiance they combine to create. Through a number of initiatives--an historic preservation ordinance, taking on the project to repair 101 West Main Street, and contracting with a consulting firm to garner National Register status with the United States Department of the Interior--the Morrison City Council has clearly set a direction in favor of maintaining our past for the economic benefit of us all. Like any policy decision, whether it is the national deliberation on health insurance reform, the Illinois legislature’s discussion on the State’s budget crisis, or our local efforts to pull ourselves up by our collective bootstraps, this program is certainly the subject of legitimate public debate. None of the Council’s initiatives guarantees success, and certainly none will bear fruit overnight. Understanding what is afoot and buying into the plan take vision and trust, and [they are] certainly not the only efforts at play in our community. The Morrison Area Development Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce, and many others also work hard at helping to bring success. While we certainly should not rest our hopes only on the economic strategies of the City Council, what they have begun should be discussed in good faith and in light of what the same could add to our lives here. In Morrison, besides our people, one of our most significant assets is our beautiful architecture. We have been told by experts that our community is very unusual in this regard. In fact, it is believed that our downtown inventory of nine 3-story common-walled buildings may be the largest and most extraordinary of any rural community in Illinois, and our homes and commercial buildings lining the old Lincoln Highway are among the most impressive along that storied road. We need to protect these real and tangible assets, not just for future generations to treasure, but also for our present economic well-being. How many times have we all heard or read it from visitors and those from neighboring towns, “Oh, Morrison. I have been through there, and you have the most beautiful buildings along the highway and in your downtown.” This is a piece of the puzzle that encourages folks to consider moving, living, and raising their families here--particularly as, hopefully, many new employees from Thomson, at excellent wages, consider our community as their new home. Morrison’s new historic preservation ordinance applies to the real estate lying within the “Morrison Downtown and Lincoln Highway Historic District” and to those properties outside of the District designated as a “Local Historic Landmark.” All of the areas comprising the District were contained within two historic districts for many years, but last year the Council combined them into a single one. By some it is said that there was no notice of this historic preservation legislation. This is simply not true. All that is required by law was to publish a “public notice” in the [local paper]. The notice not only described the ordinance, but also included the reason for its passage, links to sources of additional information, potential economic benefits for property owners, and a map of the District. Out of courtesy this was followed up with a mailing to all owners of property in the District as revealed by the City’s water billing records. The mailing included a summary of the ordinance itself, where and how to obtain a full copy of the ordinance, directions for presenting questions or comments to the Historic Preservation Commission at its next meeting, and the steps to take to request the removal of a property from the Historic Preservation District. The provisions of the ordinance itself are not all that involved. It is, nevertheless, important to note [where] these conditions do, and do not, apply. The code does not apply to anything done within the interior [of] a building. The articles only apply to the exterior of edifices, and, even then, “cosmetic surface refreshment” (painting and replacement of existing brick, siding, or stucco, etc.) [and] routine maintenance (re-roofing, etc.) are excepted. Whether it be significant exterior remodeling, rehabilitation, or new construction, the work must conform to stated minimal standards that conform to the building’s and its neighboring structures’ architecture and scale. In this way, attempts are made to keep up the integrity and beauty of our entire community’s attractiveness to potential new residents and businesses. A present owner may continue to keep his building in tip-top shape and want it to continue to add to our beautiful streetscapes. However, a subsequent owner may not be of the same mind, and this ordinance is designed to protect the visual effect of what we have throughout ownership changes. Without a tool to preserve and protect what we have, our magnetic streetscapes will, one by one, unquestionably, disappear. We have even heard the opponents bemoan the loss of buildings like the train depot, the City coliseum, the old high school, Senator Gray’s former homestead, and the theatre. Had we an ordinance in place back then, we would not have lost these magnificent and magnetic edifices. Protecting these structures also brings with it a possible direct monetary benefit. Should the City be successful in gaining acceptance to the National Register of Historic Places and become a “Certified Local Government,” the owners of contributing structures would be eligible for large rehabilitation income tax credits, property tax relief, and, possibly, the award of public and private grants. The ordinance will directly help our local businesses. Just like a zoning code, the Morrison Historic Preservation Ordinance and its associated Building Improvement Program encourage downtown merchants to beautify their stores and, hopefully, ward off intrusive business buildings that detract from the visual impressions and atmosphere that will draw customers. The new ordinances are designed to return existing buildings to a high level of usefulness and reassert the vibrancy of our commercial district. As Donald Rypkema, one of the world’s leading experts, said in testimony last March, “One of the most impressive economic characteristics of heritage conservation is how the investment in one building tends to spur investment in nearby buildings.” For our collective benefit, the visual gateway to our community must be preserved, and the core of our commercial district must be returned to a high level of vibrancy. As a community, we have too much to lose and virtually nothing to gain by allowing our building inventory to degrade any further. We invite and encourage our fellow residents to stop by City Hall and read the preservation ordinances. We think you will find they are rooted in common sense and fairness. You should also feel free to contact any one of us with questions or concerns.
The Morrison Historic Preservation Commission
By Tim Slavin, Chairman
Subscribed to by Barb Benson, Roger Grau, Don Mulnix, and Bill Shirk
By Jim Sacia, State Representative 89th District
Perhaps it happens as we grow older we become more critical of issues we don’t agree with. Case-in-point: yesterday, while getting my oil changed I was in the waiting room with the television on. I didn’t wish to watch it. I’m trying to do paperwork. I’m easily distracted (when I was a kid it was called “not paying attention”). One of the “Judge Judy”-type shows was on and I could hardly believe what I was seeing. Has time passed me by? Ruby Sue who is sleeping with Billy Bob is angry because when she came home yesterday Billy Bob was in the shower with Betty Jo. How does she know? She asked Billy Bob’s stepson who was playing on the living room floor and he said “He’s in the shower with his friend.” So Ruby Sue is mad and wants to be reimbursed for the big screen TV she bought. No, I couldn’t finish my paperwork. I was too dumbfounded. I hope no one was looking at me as I’m sure my mouth was hanging open.
I don’t know how the judge eventually ruled, nor do I care. What I do care about is what is happening to us? Young children just getting home from school are watching this garbage.
I woke up at 4:30 this morning, grabbed the remote and turned on the national news which informed me that Howard Stern, (possibly the most foul-mouthed person on the planet) is negotiating and probably will get millions of dollars per year to host a reality show which will play in prime time. What a wonderful, positive role model for our young people.
Yes, I’m square. I grew up watching actor Ronald Reagan host the General Electric Theater on Saturday nights (the only night we could watch TV), followed by Walter Cronkite hosting “You are There.” Cronkite’s words still resonate in my mind: “What sort of a day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times. All things are as they were then except you are there.” For the next 26 minutes we would be mesmerized watching a historical re-creation about building a part of America. As a young soldier I watched the same Walter Cronkite tear-up on live television on that fateful November day in 1963, as he reported that President Kennedy was dead. At that time Walter Cronkite was considered the most trusted and respected person in America.
Television shows can leave an impact on us for years. 40 years from now people will reflect back and remember watching how Ruby Sue got her big screen TV back and that “Shock Jock” Howard Stern was a national hero. No, we can’t legislate morality, but don’t we have an obligation to revolt against this?
As always, you can reach me, Sally or Barb at 815/232-0774 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit my website at www.jimsacia.com. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you.