LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Posted February 23, 2018
I am writing to offer my support for Randy Keith, Republican candidate for 101st State Representative.
I have known Randy for more than 10 years, first when I was a member of the Piatt County Zoning Board, and more recently as a fellow Piatt County Board member. I have personally witnessed his hard work and dedication as he has worked through the issues facing Piatt County with great results.
Randy Keith has strong family values, and a positive view that reflects that of most of the constituents in our district. As our state representative, he will represent all people of our district honorably and ensure that our voices are heard in the State Capitol.
The people of our state are not just looking for answers, they are looking for the truth, and we can trust that Randy won’t lie or sidestep that truth. Randy has a common-sense approach and the motivation required to make a difference in the future of Illinois.
Please join me on March 20 in voting for Randy Keith as the Republican candidate for the 101st State Representative.
Randy D Shumard
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Posted February 18, 2018
I’am not usually into politics but after attending the last couple of land use committee
meetings it has aroused some interest in me.
Back in the early 1960 a company decided to start buying up swamp land in Florida keeping it secret as long as possible and ended up purchasing around 27,000 acres of land. Some of it very cheap until people caught on and then the price increased. They ended up purchasing 30,000 acres.
From that land this company built a theme park.
In 2009 I guess trade winds started leasing ground around a small community to start a theme park of their own on about 30,000 acres.
I guess you may say that I sort of like going to the park in Florida. Everyday around dark they light up Main Street with thousands of lights on the buildings and trees and it makes for a very nice evening at the park. If you decide to stay around between the hours of 8-10 depending on the time of year they have fabulous fireworks and light shows. They last around 15 minutes or so and everyone seems to enjoy them and always wish they lasted longer.
Back to trade winds theme park they want theirs to be bigger and more spread out covering the whole 30,000 acres (Florida’s park has only developed one forth of their land ) with towers up to 600 ft tall. Once the sunsets over the horizon and mother nature’s colors are gone they will also have a light display however theirs will not bring smiles to anyone’s faces unless you you like hundreds of flashing lights or are employed by trade winds and unfortunately will last way to long.
So I guess that the next time I visit my favorite theme park I will have to pick up a few pair of of the ears so I can cut them off and mount me a tiny windmill on top so I can sit on my deck and curse the flashing red pains in my _ _ _.
Like I said to start I’am not into politics but after ambush that Melonie took at the last meeting I had to give my opinion.
The motion to send wind energy ordinance revisions to full board with no recommendations or changes was a joke as everyone in the gallery knew as soon as he opened his mouth that there had been a private meeting before the real meeting started.
I know that is the way politics are run but when there is something as important as this that will effect this county for years to come you can’t get to much information.
I know I don’t need to worry because the chair person said she knows everything about the towers. She needs to share that information with the rest of the taxpayers in the county. I have read several articles and don’t think I could make a decision that would effect the lives of so many so please inform us.
As for Tom the head man with trade winds if you have been paying out two million dollars since 2009 and don’t know how many towers there are and where they are located if you worked for me you would be unemployed.
Trade winds a little bit of honesty would go a long way.
Clinton Il 61727
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Posted February 16, 2018
I am pleased to write in support of Randy Keith's candidacy for State Representative in the 101st District. I have observed Mr. Keith in his role as chairman while serving with him on the Piatt County Board. I am most impressed by his leadership ability. Mr. Keith has a talent for assessing a situation and moving forward decisively with what is best for the people we are elected to serve. Tough decisions must be made, and a good leader focuses on what needs to be accomplished while making sure those with differing points of view are included and given a voice. He is a Republican with conservative core values. Mr. Keith is extremely attentive to others' opinions, yet decisive when embarking on a course of action. He is never vindictive toward those opposed to his ideas and is always looking ahead. This skill set will serve him well in Springfield where he will reach across the aisle to achieve consensus on issues that currently divide the legislature.
As an individual who genuinely likes people, Mr. Keith will serve all residents. During this campaign, he has tirelessly worked to meet as many voters as he can. If elected, he will continue to interact with individuals and small groups of constituents to make sure their voices are heard and their concerns are addressed. Piatt County's loss of a valued county board chairman will be the 101st District's gain. It is refreshing that Randy has pledged to serve just two terms and then return home. During those four years, he will make a difference in changing "business as usual" in Springfield. I hope voters in the 101st District will join me in voting for Randy Keith on Tuesday, March 20.
Ray C. Spencer
White Heath, IL
Letter to the Editor
Posted October 3, 2017
I am writing this letter with a concern after attending the City Council meeting of October 2, 2017. At this meeting the Mayor orally put on file an Ordinance changing the Liquor Code. (It was not on the agenda prior.) He did state that the proposed ordinance was to allow liquor to be sold at our local theater. This change will be voted on at the Council’s October 16th meeting. I have appreciated the fact that I could take my grandchildren to the Clintonia Eagle and not worry about liquor consumption and the obnoxious behavior and language that sometimes accompanies this allowance.
The proposed ordinance allows for alcoholic sales during the same hours as our other venues in Clinton that sell alcohol. As a result, there is no restriction for the theaters that show children and youth rated movies, nor the free movies that are shown during the summer. With no restrictions, the guardians who bring the children to the free movies would be allowed to purchase alcohol.
For underage youth with older friends, when the lights are dimmed, who will monitor the theaters to make sure that those to whom the liquor was sold are the only ones consuming it?
In case you are not aware, several months ago, the Council amended the Liquor Code and the Video Gaming Code with no open discussion and mention of what was being changed. The original restriction of one bar license in Clinton to restrict the amount of video gaming coming into our community was changed to allow an unlimited number of bar liquor licenses to be issued. A bar or pour liquor license is required to apply for up to five video gaming machines and was thought to discourage mini casinos. Currently the only local requirement to have five video gaming machines in a storefront is that a physical bar is constructed and that a bar license can then be issued, whether the business sells alcohol or not. This change has caused the proliferation of video gaming machines in our community and it appears this trend will continue. The Council also changed the video gaming code to remove the local restriction that restaurants were not allowed to have the video gaming machines because they had not had the old illegal ones prior. The code was changed to allow any restaurant with a liquor license to have up to five video gaming machines.
One of the owners of a local restaurant who regularly approached the City in the prior administration about changing the restaurant restriction, finally got his desire with the change of administration. He got his five machines, but they were not enough to keep him in business as he claimed.
I would like to see us as a community lean toward family friendly opportunities and activities and try to keep what we have. Will the next requests be made to allow open liquor in our parks and at the youth baseball league games? Will we need to offer a beer tent for Celebrate Clinton’s Fourth of July Celebration to draw more people to it?
Adults have the right to make choices on their consumption of liquor, but we still need to protect the children and youth of our community from the exposure at every turn and show that it is not necessary for liquor to be offered in every venue, business or event our city promotes to make it worthwhile.
Carolyn A. Peters
Posted September 20, 2017
This is Miller Media Group president Randal J. Miller, here to remininise about our 10 years serving our listeners and advertisers in Clinton, Monticello, Lincoln and the surrounding area.
It was October 16th, 2007, that I took over management, then ownership, of what was then WHOW AM 1520 and WHOW-FM 95-point-9.
In the 10 years that have ensued, we've installed new transmitters, remodeled the studios at the Big Red Barn, the moved the new transmitters into the Barn, then in spring of 2013 we remodeled the entire building.
In December 2008, WHOW-FM 95-point-9's call letters were changed to WEZC. And, in June of 2009, WHOW THE BIG 1520 AM got a new sister station, repearing WHOW's programming at 92-point-3 FM in DeWitt County.
We thank God for opening the door for our family to come to Clinton 10 years ago. We are blessed with countless friends, business relationships, and people that have been there for us in good and bad over this past decade.
There are 2 special relationships we've worked hard to build over the past 10 years, and that is with our listeners and our advertisers.
Every day, we strive to create compelling local content that attracts listeners. And, every day we offer the listenership we've worked hard to build, to local businesses in giving them an opportunity to effectively attract customers to their business.
As we begin the next 10 years of service, I want you to personally know how much YOU are appreciated, and that everything all of us at the Miller Media Group do every day, is to serve YOU.
THANKS for 10 great years...and here's to many, many more!
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Posted August 29, 2017
There have been a lot of rumors flying around about Senate Bill 31. Some have said it’s a Sanctuary State bill that looks to create so called “safe havens” for illegal immigrants, preventing our boys in blue from doing their jobs. This could not be further from the truth.
Chicago may want to be a “sanctuary” for illegals, but Governor Rauner stopped Illinois from becoming a sanctuary state. He fought to keep sanctuary language out of this bill and ensured that SB 31 have one purpose: assist law enforcement in fighting crime in our communities.
That’s why law enforcement supports the signing of SB 31. This bill encourages immigrants to cooperate with law enforcement. While local authorities continue to fully support and assist federal agents in detaining illegal immigrants who have broken the law.
The rumors of amnesty for illegals, sanctuary status, and federal interference are absolutely false. The liberal media doesn’t want to give Governor Rauner a win on this common sense bill – so they’re distorting the truth. Don’t buy into their bias. SB 31 is good for law enforcement and good for Illinois.
Clinton, IL 61727
To The Editor:
I have stayed pretty quiet about all the complaining going on, not because I have anything to hide or have done anything wrong, but because I know that whatever is said on social media automatically becomes true to some people no matter what facts they are presented with. I have just figured it is better to say nothing and try to ignore the worthless drama. I always try and be respectful to others and portray a Christian attitude, but that is really being tested with the comments being made. There is enough hate and discontent in this world, why do a number of you have to bring it into our community? It is such a waste of time and energy. A year ago I put out a statement in a local paper, and I invited anyone to come out and I would explain what we do here, but instead you would rather make statements on social media that are not true. You know how many people showed up to ask questions? Two. I have heard people say it smells to bad to visit. There are days we have between 50 to 100 people stop by here to do business. Some days it smells here, a lot of days it does not. It is a poor excuse to no come by. So, here are some statements that are NOT true.
1. I try and save money and not treat the waste water.
2. I don't run the aerators enough. They have been called regeneration pumps but I don't know what that is.
3. There was never a problem before I bought this business.
4. The smell is constant all year and covers the entire city.
5. The ponds are being overloaded.
6. I don't care.
Here are TRUE statements.
1. Since I have bought this company I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment and products to put in the water.
2. The aerators that were already on the lagoons were only able to be used when the temperature was above freezing. In the last 2 and a half years I have added 2 different types of aerators that run underwater and can be run all year. I run them constantly. The only time they might be shut off is if we are doing maintenance to them.
3. The previous owners had problems from time to time also, and it is documented. They had to constantly work on it to keep it in balance also.
4. The smell is not constant and does not cover the entire city. I will comment more on this later.
5. While we do wash more trailers and use more water than the previous owners, we probably put the same or less of actual product out in the lagoons. I have put tanks here on site to catch a lot of our solids. When we catch a certain amount then they are hauled off and disposed of. The lagoons have been here for a number of years and have accumulated sludge over this time. With the procedures I have put in place it has stirred them up and is taking a while to get them balanced again. Unfortunately there is a lot of trial and error that we go through.
6. The statement that I don't care is absurd. This is constantly on my mind. I have been seeking advice and purchasing products from 5 different waste water experts along with constant contact with the EPA trying to find a good solution. I am by no means an expert on waste water, but I am learning as I go.
I would like to return to the claims of the potency of the smell. I will not deny that there could be times that it can be smelled in town, in the spring, and depending on the wind. I can say for sure that a constant year round smell is not coming from H&M. I am in town everyday and all times of the day and night. I have smelled it around the schools on the west side of town very few times in the 4 years that I have owned this business, and that is it. I do business with multiple places around town and their consensus is the same as mine. I can say that I have been able to smell odors in town from other locations around town, and even as far away as Decatur at certain times. This is the affect of our way of life. Without these places that may cause an odor at times we would not have the communities that we do. It is a way of life. I would be pretty certain that any business owner would agree with me in saying that in no way do I want to be a nuisance to anyone with the work that I do. If any of you legitimately feel that I have ruined any of your days, I apologize. I will continue to work to solve this problem that I have until it is resolved. The problem is I feel most of the complaints are no more than a domino effect of face book. What is offensive to me, way more than any smell, is the way people can respond to a situation in such a negative way. Other people watch us, and more importantly our kids learn from us. What kind of lesson is learned from name calling and spreading hate?
Once again I extend the invitation to come talk to me instead of hiding behind a computer screen. Believe it or not, we grill lunch outdoors 4 or 5 times a week here. Come out, talk, have a hamburger, I promise not to poison it.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Posted December 14, 2016
This is an open letter to all area businesses that are not yet members of the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau:
Please consider joining Chamber members who pay their modest dues each year for the betterment of our community. The value of the Chamber was recently showcased in its relentless effort to keep Clinton Power Station open. The Chamber recognized this threat to economic stability in the area and had an undeniable role in the seeing the passage of the Future Jobs Energy Bill.
Also worth noting is that dues support Chamber sponsored activities such as Maydays, Business Expo, Farmers Market, Christmas Parade, Agri-Business Banquet, and the celebrated and award-winning Terror on Washington Street, to name a few.
I urge you to stop by the Chamber office today and pledge your support.
Francis Jackson, owner Big “D” Food and Liquor
Letter to the Editor
Posted November 15, 2016
The November veto session is the last chance for the passage of legislation that would save the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants, which are threatened with premature closure due to their inability to compete with heavily subsidized wind and solar energy sources and historically low natural gas prices. The proposed legislation, known as the Future Energy Jobs Bill, would level the playing field by treating all sources of clean energy equally.
Closure of the Clinton and Quad Cities plants would cause Illinois to lose nearly a quarter of it’s clean energy — a change that would be the equivalent to adding about 2 million cars to the road. Closure of these two plants would result in the loss of about 4,000 jobs, which would be devastating for Clinton, the Quad Cities, and surrounding regions.
Please take the time today to contact the governor and legislative leaders to show your support for the Future Energy Jobs Bill. Failure to pass the legislation that will save these plants would not only have a negative impact on the economy, it would also be a major step backward for the environment.
To learn more about the Future Energy Jobs Bill and to send a message to your legislators please visit NuclearPowersIllinois.com.
Stefanie Ellis Wrage
Wapella, IL 61777
Letter to the Editor
Posted October 10, 2016
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I want you to take a moment and imagine this: every hour of every day, all you think about is pleasing him. You live in a constant fear of what will happen if you mess up, if you step out of line. You feel like he can hear every thought in your head, see every move you make, as if he is as much a part of your mind as you are. Every decision you make from the clothes you buy to the music you listen to, even the people you talk to are based on what he thinks. Maybe, you think, if you please him, you will finally be worthy of his friendship, his ‘love’.
Love is just one of the many reasons why victims stay in an abusive relationship. Other such reasons include money, children, love, religious and cultural beliefs, fear of retaliation, and fear of the justice system. Every 9 seconds a woman is battered in the United States. To put this into perspective, by the end of this hour long program 420 women will have suffered at the hands of their abuser. Every year more women are injured by domestic violence than muggings, rapes, and car accidents combined. Every year more than 10 million children witness domestic violence in their homes.
With alarming statistics like these, odds are, you likely know someone who is experiencing domestic violence. It could be a sibling, parent, friend, co-worker, congregation member, or student. I encourage everyone who reads this to please attend our annual Candle Lighting Ceremony that will be held on Monday, October 10th at 7:00 p.m. It will be held at the Lane Christian Church at 4794 Lane St, Lane, IL 61750. We will honor both the survivors and victims of domestic violence.
Dove DeWitt County Coordinator
I read an article which states that the current Circuit clerk has a full time job which prevents her from being in the office during what any sane person would consider normal office hours. The duly elected clerk stated that she does come to the office several nights a week on sometimes on weekends. She is being paid a salary by the citizens of this county ($58,000.00 + a year). The county board chairman said he was aware of the situation. The clerk stated she had a legal opinion on the matter. What she does not have is any sense of decency or respect for the citizens who pay her salary. She should be asked to resign immediately. Those public officials who were aware of this might want to apologize to the citizens for this outrage. Monetary greed is more important than ethics and honorable elected service. Shame on you.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Posted July 8, 2016
We would like to thank the Clinton Rotary and the City of Clinton for our new pickle ball courts at Rotary Park. The courts are fantastic and more than we ever hoped for here in Clinton. The new playground equipment is also a great addition to the park. The park offers us a place to not only play pickle ball but to create new friendships and a sense of community. Come out and try pickle ball at our beautiful new facility..
Dick Graves, Jan Herzog, Bonnie Taylo, Rennie Cluver, Bill and Steph Boyd and all of our pickle ball players
Submitted by Stephanie Boyd, Clinton, IL
Another tragedy in the United States and another “pass-the-buck” to guns, people, Christians, conservatives, veterans, etc. Please note, the aforementioned are not the problem. The problem is the removal of God from our society. When God is removed Satan immediately fills the void. There is no neutral ground here. All of us do have the Truth, because since the creation, God’s existence is clearly seen, so we are without excuse, period. We have willingly excluded God’s existence from our perception of reality because God’s existence has serious implications on our lives. Since we don't want to change our morality and ethics, we have to reject God’s existence, which is a volitional act of our will. Our governmental leaders and the press have willingly suppressed and imprisoned the knowledge of God. These ungodly people have exchanged God’s Truth for Satan’s lie, and even worse, have condoned and encouraged this destructive behavior in our society. Until all of us face up to this truth and vote these godless men and women out of office our country will stay on the path of self-destruction. We have given over our sovereignty to the enemy and we're now being crushed and are slipping into a national anarchy as witnessed by the lies and cover-ups in the government and witnessed by the crime, stabbings, murders, and the listlessness of big populations on the dole in every city. Hardly a day goes by that we don't read of debauchery, crimes against women and children and corruption in industry, local, state and national government. We have become a huge welfare state taking from the productive and giving to the lazy idlers. It’s called legal plunder. This has to stop, and only a moral and educated populace can vote this incompetence out and replace them with men and women of character and honesty. It’s imperative we go back to the Constitution if this country is to survive.
Decatur, IL 62521
Many people in our community, and all over the world, have been personally affected by brain tumors. Kadence Taylor, Clinton Junior High honor roll student and cheerleader, has battled brain tumors on her cerebellum for the past six years. Last July, Weldon Springs Site Interpreter, Carol Thompson lost her fight to a stage IV glioblastoma.
More recently, Brian Kruse - father of the Clinton Community YMCA Arts and Humanities Program Coordinator, Monikka Fuller - lost his life to lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain.
“Today, nearly 700,000 people in the United States are living with a primary brain tumor, and approximately 78,000 more will be diagnosed in 2016. Brain tumors can be deadly, significantly impact quality of life, and change everything for a patient and their loved ones. They do not discriminate, inflicting men, women, and children of all races and ethnicities.” - braintumor.org
"The National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) is fiercely committed to finding better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for people living with a brain tumor today and anyone who will be diagnosed tomorrow.
The NBTS is strategically positioned at key junctions in the drug development pipeline to leverage their collective resources and knowledge for the greatest impact. From catalytic funding to intensive research collaborations to advocating for policies that impact those affected, they are ensuring change on every level."
Awareness, advocacy and research are essential in finding a cure for brain tumors. Currently, the National Brain Tumor Society is not formally represented in Illinois. Help to bring the NBTS to Illinois! Join us at the Clinton Elks, Wednesday, March 30 at 6 PM, in our fight against brain tumors.
As a group, along side the National Director of Field Operations for the National Brain Tumor Society, Craig Strenger, we will collaborate ideas to contribute to advocacy, awareness and fundraising throughout Central Illinois. If you have any questions, please email Lauren Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information regarding brain tumors or the NBTS, please visit www.braintumor.org.
I received written permission to use the information (verbatim) available from the NBTS website.
To the Editor:
A comment was made regarding my letter to the Editor today concerning “Better Government for Dewitt County” the comment was removed I am sure accidentally before I could respond. It would be impolite to not answer the question asked.
Steve Arteman asked me “Bill, are you running for a position? If not, why not?”
My response is I am an Activist, changing from Activist to Politician is what would be required, I have never considered myself a Politician, Political careers are a true labor of love. The mastering of the political process is usually looked upon as a lifelong commitment. On the other hand activism in my view is a responsibility of ever able American. Illinois finds itself short on Activist and long on Politicians, Illinois has the largest local government system in the history of the world, we have more elected officials then we know what to do with. Maybe in Illinois everyone thinks they do not have to be involved in activism since we have a Politician standing on every corner watching out for us. My belief is more Politicians don’t fix a broken government only activism can. Everyone needs to become involved, reach out to your elected officials and let them hear what you have to say.
Thanks Steve for asking, every little bit of activism helps.
To the Editor:
Election season is here again, but this Dewitt County election may not be an election that our nation was founded on. The people of this United States enjoy a two Party System, not a Single Party System. The Dewitt County Board race has been divvied-up by the combined parties before the primary, no reason for holding the primary election as no seats will be challenged. This election will be just a formality it will only take one vote in the primary to decide the final election. This primary will leave No Democrat or Republican running against each other in the main election. Voters will have no choice in elected officials for county board in this year’s election.
Question: Is “Better Government for Dewitt County” really a front for a Single Party System? Is combining the Democrat and Republican parties a good idea?
One-party governments justify themselves through various means. Most often, supporters of one-party governments argue that the existence of separate parties runs counter to government’s unity, it all just works better with one party, we can all get along that way. Others argue that only one party is the true leader of the people, and therefore its right to rule cannot be challenged. Governments ruled under the one party system will either straight out outlaw opposition parties or limit them to operate as a branch of the ruling single party.
Why do we the people of the United States have a two party system and not a single party system? First it allows two separate parties to make efforts to seize control of the government; a single party government always has control of the government permanently.
In a two party system each party creates its platform and recruits members including raising money for the support of its nominees and candidates that reflect its platform. Single party governments have no need for platforms or elections.
Party members in a two party system work within their own party during elections and in the government to get their policies implemented that reflect their party platform. Single party governments have no problem with implementing any policies as there is no opposition to its policies, as it has no other party or platforms to worry about.
At first glance single party system sounds pretty good, no back stabbing mudslinging name calling, the only drawback might be all the back slapping for a job well done.
Maybe we should look at some famous single party governments before deciding if we want to change to a single party system. Some of them include parties with the names “Peoples Republic” “Communist Party” “Workers Party” I think they are in countries named China, Russia and North Korea.
Choice is what a two party system gives us; a single party system takes choice away from us. I can live with rough and tumble elections like all Americans that love their freedom to choose.
I am writing to urge voters in DeWitt County to vote for Michelle Van Valey for Dewitt County Circuit Clerk in the upcoming Republican primary March 15. Her years of experience working in and around the courthouse are invaluable to our county government and to us as taxpayers. She embodies the positive changes our county has worked toward since being overrun by Reform Coalition members, including Circuit Clerk incumbent Pam Barnes.
Under Barnes, the circuit clerk's office has seen 12 employees leave the six-person office in the last three years. This instability only hinders growth of both the staff and making progress to better our community.
Michelle Van Valey will bring stability and customer service back to that office. She has the full support of Better Government for DeWitt County, a bipartisan group of local citizens, and an organization I am now proud to lead as chairman.. I want to encourage everyone to vote Van Valey March 15 to help bring positive change back to DeWitt County.
Better Government for DeWitt County Chairman
This letter is in response to David Newberg's letter recently directed at me and my candidacy for the office of DeWitt County Circuit Clerk. A few months ago Mr. Newberg came to my office and wanted to sit down and chat. He stated that he looked forward to working with me in the future now that he was Dewitt County Chairman. This would have been a perfect time for Mr. Newberg to describe to me how I had been rude with residents, but he failed to do this.
As Chairman of the DeWitt County Board I would have expected that if indeed people had come to him with a complaint that he would have had the common courtesy to tell me what the complaints were about but he decided to wait until a week before the election to bring this to the public's attention - great timing. Prior to meeting with the finance committee chairperson in November 2015 I was told that all departments were being asked to make substantial cuts. I promptly submitted a budget that was far more than the 3% cut suggested to help the county get back on its feet. I had nothing to do with the "reform coalition's" decision which led to Area Disposal's withholding their million dollar a year fee to the county.
I was not permitted to hire a 6th employee in my office because the county finance committee went against a memo from Judge Finson which stated that he was of the opinion that 6 deputy clerks were necessary in my office.. Something that Mr. Newberg fails to mention is the fact that I offered the county board an annual payment from one of my accounts to retain a 6th employee but they turned that down.
Therefore, I have had to do without a much needed 6th employee in my office. Before I took office, Lori Berger had 6 deputy clerks and 2 part-time clerks. We have faced high turn-over because times have changed. Most of my past and current employees consisted of single moms who struggled to pay their bills, provide a decent home and food for their children.
When I took office the employees starting pay was $9.50 per hour for a 35 hour per week pay period - after taxes and insurance deductions there's not much to take home to pay the rent, utilities and buy food. I researched this issue and presented the county board with all the necessary documentation and requested that the starting salary be raised to at least $10.00 per hour; I got it raised to $9.79 per hour which is where it is at to date. Try hiring and retaining an employee who has to be part attorney/part court liaison for that amount of money. The raise that my employees get is usually 3% per year which is barely enough to compensate for the cost of living. Most of the employees have resigned due to getting a better paying job offer. I don't blame them for that - they have children to think about.
Family always comes first in my book. I care about my employees and this county. If that makes me unfit for office, then that's a sad commentary on life in DeWitt County. I firmly believe in a strong work ethic. Excessive absences, lack of attention to detail and using the county's computer to e-mail a lover explicit sexual content during work hours doesn't cut it with me and I have had to let employees go for precisely those reasons. I have a responsibility to the Court, constituents and the County. I am not going to retain an employee who exhibits a lack of commitment to their job just for the sake of retention.
I currently have the best staff I have hired yet. I have worked hard to bring about change already in my office. When I took office, I wasn't satisfied with the performance of the current collection agency that was based in Florida and went in search of a collection agency based in Illinois. I entered into a contract with Credit Collections Partners, Taylorville, Illinois and their performance has been outstanding. Credit Collections Partners has collected $27,156.79 in less than a year. That money is paid out to municipal, county and state in fines, fees and restitution owed to Dewitt County and it's citizens. The previous collection agency only collected about a 1/3 of that in prior years. I also painstakingly reviewed several divorce and family files and found several thousand of dollars that were owed to DeWitt County. Due to my efforts my hard-work has collected $42,671.96 for the county in unpaid Guardian Ad Litem fees.
I also recently signed a contract with the Illinois Comptroller's office to begin collecting unpaid fines, fees and restitution by intercepting tax refunds and state employee wages. I am the first DeWitt County Circuit Clerk to sign this contract with the Illinois Comptroller's Office. Yet Mr. Newberg states in his letter that I lack "oversight". Mr. Newberg I don't understand how you have failed to see the benefits of having an employee like me. Most people who have worked hard and stayed after hours several nights a week to produce what I have produced would be overjoyed to have me on their team.
I'm sorry I don't fit your criteria as a model employee. Instead, you have chosen my opponent who seriously lacks the experience to supervise an office of 5 employees, has no knowledge of the complex computer system of my office and who has already alienated herself with all of my employees by her remarks that they are rude to our clientele and don't have attention to detail. You have a serious lack of judgment.
DeWitt County Circuit Clerk
The election is coming fast and on March 15th, I urge all of Dewitt County to vote for change in voting Michelle Van Valey for Circuit Clerk. These local elections are very important to the citizens of Dewitt County. This is where your vote truly counts and your opinion matters. Mrs. Van Valey sincerely cares about the residents of Dewitt County. She makes it her mission to help out in the community anyway she can by volunteering her time to help others and organizations aimed to make a difference in this County. She also donates to several charities because she has a passionate heart and truly wants to makes positive changes in the community she grew up in and loves.
Michelle Van Valey is honest, hard working, dedicated, and truly knows how to manage an office. She has been with the Dewitt County States Attorney office for over 10 years and been a great asset to the courts and citizens over this time. She has had no problems learning new things as she has dealt with change herself in the transitions of new States Attorneys due to the former ones moving on. She adapted quickly and is very intelligent. I have no doubt that Michelle Van Valey will be able to turn the Circuit Clerks office into a smooth, friendly, and professional atmosphere.
It is no secret that the some of the past situations in the Circuit Clerks office have been met with discontent. We need a change and that change starts with your vote for Michelle Van Valey for Circuit Clerk.
I write this letter not as county board chairman, but as a concerned DeWitt County citizen.
The race for DeWitt County Circuit Clerk is an important one which affects us all. That's why I urge you to vote Michelle Van Valey March 15.
Incumbent Pam Barnes, a product of the failed Reform Coalition, is running under some misconceptions that I would like to clarify.
She claims she voluntarily reduced her budget when in reality, reckless budget tactics of the Reform Coalition forced our current board to cut her budget in order to right the ship and get our county finances back on the right path. She also claims she's running a more efficient office with one less employee, however, due to the budget cuts, Barnes was not permitted to hire a replacement after a recent vacancy.
Barnes lacks oversight of the office - something I feel is important when working for the taxpayers. For the last three years, we've faced high employee turnover in the circuit clerk's office, and often get reports of Barnes' rude interactions with residents when they visit the office.
Barnes is not the best fit for DeWitt County Circuit Clerk. As a republican, I support Michelle Van Valey because she has a wealth of county experience and a desire to bring about the changes needed in the circuit clerk's office.
Thank you Pam Barnes for running a Clean Campaign.. You're not the type of person to stoop to the level of running a negative campaign. Nor will you ever.
The sign that was posted in your office was in good humor and funny. Those that were offended should read it again because it's the truth. Like it or not.
The flyer that I received from your opponent's campaign also criticized you for hiring your daughter in law (my daughter ).Anybody who has worked with her knows how good of a worker she is. Voters should ask people who have worked with her at your office and RR Donnelley what kind of person she is. Then they will know the truth. All Ms. VanValey's campaign did is anger people who know her work ethics.
Bringing our grandson into it was pitiful. Shows voters desperation in Ms. VanValey's campaign. When Mr. Kammeyer was asked to remove our grandson's picture from Ms. VanValey's website, his response was to state he felt threatened and then after three attempts of requesting the picture to remove it the pictures were scribbled out, then when it started to become heated the post were all deleted.
I personally contacted Ms. VanValey asking her to stop attacking my child her response was -I didn't have anything to do with that. Really? And she wants to run a county office? Manage people? Ever hear of accountability? Parents or grandparents of a child in that position would not see that as being very professional. Simply might be someone with "keyboard courage " stirring the pot , but costing her votes. My daughter is not running for office so why is Ms. VanValey and Mr. Kammeyer attacking her? I would like to also mention that Ms. VanValey is also related to the "daughter n law" that she and her campaign manager are attacking, but where was that ever mentioned?
My family has never been into politics , never really cared about politics, for your opponent to drag my family members into an election is reprehensible, despicable and pitiful.
I have just finished reading my opponent’s flyer that I received today in the mail and I would like to set the record straight. David Holt was NEVER my campaign manager in my prior campaign. I managed my campaign on my own from beginning to end.
I hired my daughter-in-law in 2012; a full two years before she married my son and they were not even a couple when I hired her.
The DeWitt County Circuit Clerk’s office handles hundreds of cases being sent to the collection agency and occasionally a case may get mistakenly sent but corrected immediately upon notification of the error. Mistakes happen. No office in the county is immune to making mistakes.
When I first took office, the starting salary for a deputy clerk was $9.50 per hour for a 35 hour week (take home pay = $332.50/week). I tried to convince the County Board to raise their starting pay to at least $10.00 per hour but all the County Board was willing to pay was $9.79 per hour which is where the starting salary is at this date. It’s difficult to retain employees to work for this amount when they can go somewhere else and make more money.
The majority of the employees have left due to finding better paying jobs, one girl moved back home to Kankakee, and yes, I fired some employees due to excessive absences, failing to follow instructions after repeated training and one for improper use of her e-mail account during working hours. I had a couple of really bad years due to the fact that I wasn’t able to hire people with a legal background due to the salary being so low.
I believe that DeWitt County residents deserve conscientious, hard-working employees who have good attendance. I have had many DeWitt County residents and attorneys remark to me that they appreciate the courteous, respectful and competent help they receive from my staff. My current staff is the best staff I’ve had yet. You can sling mud at me all you want but please don’t criticize my employees because they don’t deserve it.
Before I took office I knew several of the past county board members; I count Keith Koons as part of our family because my daughter dated for several years and is now married to his nephew. I have known Pete Daugherty and Sherrie Brown for a long time. I’m not going to allow anyone to choose my friends for me – that would be puppetry.
The sign in my office was meant as a joke. If it offended anyone, I apologize. However, most people looked at it and laughed because they knew it was a joke or they didn’t notice it at all.
I am committed to running a clean, honest and honorable campaign. It’s disappointing that my opponent has chosen to do otherwise.
Libel is a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation. The allegations that my opponent has made are irresponsible, incorrect and insulting.
So much for being competent and ethical.
The March 15 primary election is fast approaching, and I want to encourage DeWitt County residents to get out and vote for Michelle Van Valey for DeWitt County Circuit Clerk.
Since taking office, incumbent Pam Barnes has led an office wrought with dysfunction and questionable staffing decisions that affect the taxpayers. It's time for a change.
Hiring and training new people costs the county money and that's exactly what Barnes has done since she took office. Instead of cross-training employees and working to manage their workload, Barnes has fired or lost 12 employees in the three years she's managed the circuit clerk's office. Those employees that do stay are treated with disrespect and are ridiculed when seeking Barnes' guidance.
Barnes also seems to favor only family, as her daughter-in-law was hired, and shortly thereafter was promoted to bookkeeper. What's more distressing is the fact that Barnes and her daughter-in-law serve as the only two signatures necessary on county checks.
Barnes was supported by the Reform Coalition, which counts former board chair Sherrie Brown, and board members Terry Hoffman and Ron Savage as members. These people drained our county's coffers, putting us in financial crisis. Even though Brown, Hoffman and Savage currently sit on the county board, they refuse to work with other board members and are leaving their constituents underrepresented.
I urge you to help make DeWitt County government better by voting Van Valey March 15.
The current Democratic Party and debates remind me of going to a family gathering. One candidate seems to be the grandfatherly type who loved you as a child, still cares about your well-being, gave you straight answers when you asked him some of life’s toughest questions, and seems annoyed when he has to deal with stupidity.
The other candidate appears to be the aunt who occasionally comes to family gatherings. She’s nice enough, and very competent, but you don’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling around her. She talks a lot about her career and what she has done.
The family knows not to mention her husband’s philandering when she is around. She remained the “good wife” and didn’t divorce him years ago. Some family members think that she made that choice to further her own career.
Darrell L. Sy
Fairview Heights, IL