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Domestic Violence, Distracted Driving, $36 Mil Property Taxes, and more | Dec 15, 2023 Decatur Illinois News

Meta Report written by Reed Sutman on . Updated .

Decatur Illinois Police have increased distracted driving enforcement, and plan to continue. Domestic Violence may increase during the holidays. DPS61 will levy $36 million in property taxes, and other stories from the week of December 15, 2023.

Domestic Violence (WAND) - Domestic violence may increase during the holidays due to additional stress and interaction. Learn about the signs & how to support loved ones who may be victims of domestic violence. Dove's hotline is open 24/7. See the link for more information & phone numbers.

Distracted Driving Crackdown (DPD) - Decatur Police Chief Shane Brandel writes in a Decatur Police Department Facebook post that "DPD conducted a directed enforcement effort from November 10th [2023] through December 10th. In that time, DPD made 80 stops and issued 76 citations for [improper cell phone usage while driving]."

The enforcement campaign included, but was not limited to: "undercover vehicles, stationary observers, and regular patrols." DPD wrote that distracted driving is a "major concern" that was "voiced in the surveys and interactions with our staff." DPD writes "For the remainder of the year, we will continue our efforts and focus on disobeying traffic control devices (running stop lights/signs), speeding, and cell phone use" and that they will release enforcement statistics in early 2024.

One commenter wrote "Needs to start using the cameras at intersection and mail tickets to the ones doing wrong." to which the Police Department Facebook page replied "That would be nice, but the State of IL only allows red light cameras (or traffic cameras of any kind) in a few counties, Cook being one of them."

Mt. Zion Turf Upgrade (H&R) - A letter to the editor states that Mt. Zion School District is considering a "$1.4 million upgrade to turf on two baseball fields" that may cost up to $800,000 in maintenance very ten years. (I have not verified their claims)

Decatur Public Schools to levy $36 million in property taxes (H&R) - A more conservative increase of $35,108,890 might allow a possibility of a reduction in property taxes, but even then, if property values increased, tax rates could too. Will Wetzel voted no on the $36 million, but all other Board members approved the $36 million. See Board Member comments & additional context in the article, including discussion of the District's surplus funds.

Fire at ADM (H&R) - Decatur Firefighters arrived, though ADM staff had it under control. The article provides additional context and links to OSHA: Archer Daniels Midland failed to inspect safety systems in April explosion that injured 3.

64 New State Laws (WAND/NBC Chicago) - NBC Chicago reports on 64 new Illinois State Laws "which run the gamut from consumer protection to child welfare to addressing climate change and much, much more" and go into effect on January 1, 2024. These 64 were selected from "at least 318 laws" as ones that would have the "biggest impacts on the lives of state residents".

18 New Education Laws (WAND/NBC Chicago) - A similar report highlights education-related bills, citing 'new benefits for community college students, bonuses for teachers in “hard-to-staff” schools,' and more.

"Local kids shop with firemen" (WAND) - "Decatur Firefighters Local 505 shopped with local kids during their annual shop with a fireman event."

Geminid Meteor Shower Watch Party (WAND) - "The Macon County Conservation District is hosting a watch party for this years Geminid Meteor Shower." See the link to for more information & to sign up.

Gifts for Gun Violence Victims (WAND) - Shemilah Outreach Center is giving "Christmas gifts to children that have been affected by gun violence in the area."

Coats for Kids (WAND) - In Dove & WAND's Coats for Kids Drive, 2,569 coats were collected this year. See the link if you wish to donate or need to access Dove's clothing room.

Decatur Vote Updates

I'm working on some investigative stories, so I don't have any new original reporting at this time.

I've filed FOIA Requests, responsed on Requests For Review, attended an online non-profit news startup meeting (thank you to an anonymous sponsor of the $15 ticket!), asked Hootsuite to sponsor a free account (no reply yet!) and received some disappointing FOIA responses/denials.

What I'm Reading

Last week, I discussed a de-classified U.S. document on South Korea from 1969.

This week, I read a fair chunk on the CIA's official history about "CIA's ill-fated April 1961 attempt to implement national policy by overthrowing the Fidel Castro regime in Cuba by means of a covert paramilitary operation".

The report discusses extensive efforts to infiltrate political groups in Cuba, using commercial interests as cover, and plans to setup a "provisional government (approved by State and controlled by CIA)", among other things.

It's fascinating. I read about 40-50 pages of Volume 3.

This is an article about the topic Weekly Decatur News Recap.