Decatur, Illinois

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Decatur, Illinois
City
Decaturillinois121.JPG
Decatur Downtown
CountryUnited States
StateIllinois
CountyMacon
Elevation677 ft (206 m)
Coordinates39°51′6″N 88°56′39″W / 39.85167°N 88.94417°W / 39.85167; -88.94417
Area46.91 sq mi (121 km2)
 - land42.22 sq mi (109 km2)
 - water4.69 sq mi (12 km2)
Population76,122 (2010)
Density1,969.7 / sq mi (761 / km2)
Founded1823
Date1823
TimezoneCST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST)CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code62521
62525
Area code217
Location of Decatur within Illinois
Location of Decatur within Illinois
Wikimedia Commons: Decatur, Illinois
Website: www.ci.decatur.il.us
 
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Coordinates: 39°51′6″N 88°56′39″W / 39.85167°N 88.94417°W / 39.85167; -88.94417
Decatur, Illinois
City
Decaturillinois121.JPG
Decatur Downtown
CountryUnited States
StateIllinois
CountyMacon
Elevation677 ft (206 m)
Coordinates39°51′6″N 88°56′39″W / 39.85167°N 88.94417°W / 39.85167; -88.94417
Area46.91 sq mi (121 km2)
 - land42.22 sq mi (109 km2)
 - water4.69 sq mi (12 km2)
Population76,122 (2010)
Density1,969.7 / sq mi (761 / km2)
Founded1823
Date1823
TimezoneCST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST)CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code62521
62525
Area code217
Location of Decatur within Illinois
Location of Decatur within Illinois
Wikimedia Commons: Decatur, Illinois
Website: www.ci.decatur.il.us

Decatur /dəˈktər/ is the largest city and the county seat of Macon County in the U.S. state of Illinois. The city, sometimes called "the Soybean Capital of the World", was founded in 1829 and is located along the Sangamon River and Lake Decatur in Central Illinois. In 2000 the city population was 81,500, and 76,122 in 2010, due to continued population decline. Prior to massive population loss, Decatur was the sixth-most populous city in Illinois. Now Decatur is listed as number fifteen among Illinois cities, as it lost 20.2% of its population from 1980 to 2010. According to Sperling's Best Places, Decatur's violent crime rate is twice the national average.[1]

This city is home of private Millikin University and public Richland Community College. Decatur is a college town with treelined streets and vast industrial and agricultural processing production and is located in the Interior Plains of North America. Decatur is home to the corporate headquarters of international agricultural conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland. ADM made national headlines Sept. 23, 2013 as it announced 2014 plans to move the world headquarters out of Decatur after the past year's 1,000 layoffs and the sale of Hickory Point Bank by ADM.[39] Crain's Business reported December 17, 2013 that the ADM World corporate headquarters will move out of Decatur to Chicago without any requested Illinois State Tax Incentives.

Decatur and Macon County's most notable resident was Abraham Lincoln, who settled with his family west of town in 1830. He later practiced law in the city after moving to nearby Springfield.

Geography[edit]

Decatur is located at 39°51′6″N 88°56′39″W / 39.85167°N 88.94417°W / 39.85167; -88.94417 (39.851636, -88.944228).[2] Decatur is three hours southwest of Chicago, and two hours northeast of St. Louis by car.

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 46.91 square miles (121.5 km2), of which 42.22 square miles (109.3 km2) (or 90.00%) is land and 4.69 square miles (12.1 km2) (or 10.00%) is water.[3] Lakes include Lake Decatur, formed in 1923 by the damming of the Sangamon River.

The Decatur Metropolitan Statistical Area (population 109,900) includes surrounding towns of Argenta, Boody, Blue Mound, Elwin, Forsyth, Harristown, Long Creek, Macon, Maroa, Mount Zion, Niantic, Oakley, Oreana, and Warrensburg.

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
CensusPop.
18603,839
18707,16186.5%
18809,54733.3%
189016,84176.4%
190020,75423.2%
191031,14050.0%
192043,81840.7%
193057,51031.2%
194059,3053.1%
195066,26911.7%
196078,00417.7%
197079,2851.6%
198094,08118.7%
199083,885−10.8%
200081,860−2.4%
201076,122−7.0%
Est. 201275,407−0.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
[4][5]

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 81,860 people, 34,086 households, and 21,099 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,969.7 people per square mile (760.5/km²). There were 37,239 housing units at an average density of 896.0 per square mile (346.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.59% White, 19.47% African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.66% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.43% from other races, and 1.65% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.19% of the population.

There were 34,086 households, out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.1% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.1% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.0% under the age of 18, 11.1% from ages 18 to 24, 26.0% from ages 25 to 44, 22.5% from ages 45 to 64, and 16.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 87.9 males. For every 100 females aged 18 and over, there were 83.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,111, and the median income for a family was $42,379. Males had a median income of $36,920 versus $22,359 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,009. About 12.1% of families and 16.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.1% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.

Civics[edit]

The city's motto is "Decatur, We Like it Here". The old motto was "The Pride of the Prairie". "The Soybean Capital of the World" is the un-official, but popular motto.

Decatur was awarded the All-America City Award in 1960.

The city's symbol is the Transfer House, an early-20th-century Victorian structure located originally in the center of town where the city's mass transit lines met. The Transfer House was moved in 1963 to save it from possible destruction as increasing automobile traffic flowed through the highway routed through downtown.

Sister cities[edit]

Since 1966, Decatur has been Sister Citied with Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan. In July 1972, the administrations of 19 independent smaller municipalities were merged to form Decatur's second Sister City, Seevetal, Lower Saxony, Germany. The 19 towns and villages forming Seevetal were Beckedorf, Bullenhausen, Emmelndorf, Fleestedt, Glüsingen, Groß Moor, Helmstorf, Hittfeld, Holtorfsloh, Horst, Hörsten, Klein Moor, Lindhorst, Maschen, Meckelfeld, Metzendorf, Ohlendorf, Over and Ramelsloh. The Decatur Sister Cities Committee annually coordinates both inbound and outbound High School students, who serve as ambassadors between the three cities. Since mid-2012, the City of Decatur and City of Camajuaní in the Province of Villa Clara, Cuba have worked to develop Sister City relations. As of March 2013, both governments have approved the relationship, but no formal agreements have been signed.[7]

Government[edit]

Between 1829 and 1836 the county commissioners court had jurisdiction as it was the seat of Macon County,.[8][9] By 1836 the population reached approximately 300, Richard Oglesby was elected president of the first board of trustees.[8] Other members of the board of trustees included Dr. William Crissey, H.M. Gorin and Andrew Love as clerk,.[8][9]

In 1839 a town charter was granted to Decatur that gave power to the trustees "to establish and regulate a fire department, to dig wells and erect pumps in the streets, regulate police of the town, raise money for the purpose of commencing and prosecuting works of public improvement.",.[8][9] Those who served as president of the town of Decatur were: Richard Oglesby (1836), Joseph Williams (1837), Henry Snyder (1838), Kirby Benedict (1839), Joseph King (1840), Thomas P. Rodgers (1841), David Crone (1846–47), J.H. Elliott (1848), Joseph Kauffman (1849), Joseph King (1850), William S. Crissey (1851), W.J. Stamper (1852), William Prather (1853-54), and Thomas H. Wingate (1854–55).[8]

In the winter of 1855-56, a special city incorporation charter was obtained,.[8][9] This charter provided an aldermanic form of government and on January 7, 1856 an election was held for mayor, two aldermen for each of the four wards, and city marshall,.[8][9] This aldermanic form of government continued until January 18, 1911 when Decatur changed to city commissioner form of government,.[8][10] The new commissioner system provided a mayor elected at large and four commissioners to serve as administrators of city services: accounts and finance, public health and safety, public property, and streets and public improvements. The mayor also served as Commissioner of Public Affairs,.[10][11]

The mayor and commissioner system prevailed until a special election on November 25, 1958 in which the present council-manager form of government was adopted.,.[9][11] According to the city website, the "City of Decatur operates under the Council-Manager form of government, a system which combines the leadership of a representative, elected council with the professional background of an appointed manager."[12] The mayor and all members of the council are elected at large. Their duties include determining city policy, receiving nominal annual salaries, and as representatives of the city in public ceremonies.[13] The appointed manager handles all city administration and is the council's employee and not an elected official.[11] Since 1959, the following have served as City Managers: John E. Dever, W. Robert Semple, Leslie T. Allen, Jim Bacon, Jim Williams, Steve Garman, John A. Smith (acting), and Ryan McCrady.

The Decatur Transfer House in the background in downtown's Central Park

The current mayor of Decatur is Mike McElroy, a former councilman and local business executive.[14] McElroy was originally elected in April 2009 to finish the term of former mayor Paul Osborne. McElroy defeated Stephen Daniels in that election. He works for a liquor distribution company and therefore defers the responsibility of liquor commissioner normally held by the mayor.[15] In April 2011, McElroy ran unopposed for a full term as mayor.[16]

Ryan P. McCrady has served as city manager of Decatur since October 2008.[17]

2008 Government Transitions[edit]

Decatur faced a tumultuous year in 2008. City Manager Steve Garman announced in January that he would leave the job at the end of his contract in October 2008. That announcement came two weeks before a special election to consider changing the form of city government and eliminate the city manager position.[18] Garman acknowledged the challenging nature of his job in his resignation letter.[19]

The February 2008 special election was held at the instigation of a group called ChangeDecatur, which wanted to create a strong mayor/alderman system and eliminate the city manager position. Under Illinois law, such a change was not allowed at the time of the election so the group instead endorsed a switch to the city commissioner format as a transition to its favored system.[20] Voters chose to retain the current council-manager format by a 59% margin. In the aftermath, Mayor Paul Osborne said that some of the issues raised during the election could be addressed by creating geographical council districts.[21]

After nine years of service, City Manager Steve Garman resigned May 2, 2008, six months before his contract expired.[22] The City Council appointed assistant city manager John A. Smith to fulfill Garman's responsibilities during the search for a replacement.[23]

Then Mayor Paul Osborne resigned June 1, 2008 after over five years of service.[24] Osborne cited health issues as well as the increasing conflicts between his job as mayor and his role as editor of the Decatur Tribune.[25]

Councilman Michael T. Carrigan served for nearly a year as Mayor after being selected by the City Council in June 2008.[26] Carrigan was in his fourth term as a council member when he was selected.[27] Carrigan brought to the job of mayor his seniority, his connections and his clout as president of the Illinois AFL-CIO.[28] Following elections in April 2009, Carrigan and three departing city council members were honored for their years of service.[29]

Mayors[edit]

Those who served as president of the town of Decatur were: Richard Oglesby (1836), Joseph Williams (1837), Henry Snyder (1838), Kirby Benedict (1839), Joseph King (1840), Thomas P. Rodgers (1841), David Crone (1846–47), J.H. Elliott (1848), Joseph Kauffman (1849), Joseph King (1850), William S. Crissey (1851), W.J. Stamper (1852), William Prather (1853-54), and Thomas H. Wingate (1854–55).[8]

During the winter of 1855-56, a special incorporation charter of Decatur as a city was obtained providing for an aldermanic form of government.[8]

  • John P. Post (1856)[8]
  • William A. Barnes (1857)[8]
  • James Shoaff (1858)[8]
  • Alexander T. Hill (1859)[8]
  • Sheridan Wait (1860)[8]
  • E.O. Smith (1861)[8]
  • Thomas O. Smith (1862)[8]
  • Jasper J. Peddecord (1863-1864)[8]
  • Franklin Priest (1865–66; 1870, 1874, 1878)[8]
  • John K. Warren (1867)[8]
  • Isaac C. Pugh (1868)[8]
  • William L. Hammer (1869)[8]
  • E.M. Misner (1871)[8]
  • D.S. Shellabarger (1872)[8]
  • Martin Forstmeyer (1873)[8]
  • R.H. Merriweather (1875)[8]
  • William B. Chambers (1876-1877; 1883-1884; 1891-1892)[8]
  • Lysander L. Haworth (1879)[8]
  • Henry W. Waggoner (1880-1882)[8]
  • Michael F. Kanan (1885-1890),.[8][30]
  • David C. Moffitt (1893-1894)[8]
  • D.H. Conklin (1895-1896)[8]
  • B.Z. Taylor (1897-1898)[8]
  • George A. Stadler (1899-1900)[8]
  • Charles F. Shilling (1901-1904)[8]
  • George L. Lehman (1905-1906),[8][31]
  • E.S. McDonald (1907-1908) [8]
  • Charles M. Borchers (1909–1911; 1919–1923)[8]
  • Dan Dinneen (1911-1919)[8]
  • Elmer R. Elder (1923-1927)[8]
  • Orpheus W. Smith (1927-1935)[8]
  • Harry E. Barber (1935)[8]
  • Charles E. Lee (1936-1943)[8]
  • James A. Hedrick (1943–51)[8]
  • Robert E. Willis (1951-1955)[8]
  • Clarence A. Sablotny (1955–59)[8]
  • Jack W. Loftus, Acting Mayor, (1959)[8]
  • Robert A. Grohne (1959–1963)[8]
  • Ellis B. Arnold (May 1, 1963 to April 30, 1967)[8]
  • James H Rupp (1966–1977)[8]
  • Elmer W. Walton (1977-1983)[8]
  • Gary K. Anderson (1983-1992)[8]
  • Erik Brechnitz (1992-1995)[8]
  • Terry M. Howley (1995–2003)[8]
  • Paul Osborne (2003–2008) (resigned)
  • Mike Carrigan (2008–2009)
  • Mike McElroy (2009–present)

High Crime Rate[edit]

Sperling's BestPlaces says the violent crime rate of city of Decatur, Illinois indicates a level twice the national average: on a scale of 1 to 10, has a property crime rate of 7 and a violent crime rate of 6, both of which are twice the national average of 3 and is very close to the ratings given to Chicago (both 7).[32] The metro area, however, has a violent crime rating of 2 and a property crime rating of 3.[1]

Sperling's BestPlaces also reports 200 average days of sunshine for the Decatur metro area, which is near the national average of 205.

Merchant St, downtown Decatur IL, July 2013

Culture[edit]

Decatur Municipal Band[edit]

The Muni band was organized September 19, 1857, making it one of the oldest nonmilitary bands in continuous service in the United States and Canada.[citation needed] It was originally known as the Decatur Brass Band, Decatur Comet Band and the Decatur Silver Band until 1871 when it was reorganized by Andrew Goodman and became the Goodman Band. In 1942 it was officially designated as the Decatur Municipal Band.

Library[edit]

The Decatur Public Library was originally built with a grant from Andrew Carnegie. The original library was built in 1902 and opened to the public in 1903. The building served the community until 1970 when the library moved to North Street at the site of a former Sears, Roebuck & Co. store. In 1999 the library moved to its present location on Franklin Street, also an abandoned Sears building. The library is part of the Illinois Heartland Library System.

Sports[edit]

Decatur was the original home of the Chicago Bears, from 1919 to 1920. The football team was then known as the Decatur Staleys and played at Staley Field, both named after the local food-products manufacturer.

From 1900 to 1974, Decatur was the home of the Commodores, a minor-league baseball team playing at Fans Field.

The USTA/Ursula Beck Pro Tennis Classic has been held annually since 1999. Male players from over 20 countries compete for $10,000 in prize money as well as ATP world ranking points at the Fairview Park Tennis Complex. The tournament is held for ten consecutive days at Fairview Park concluding on the first weekend in August.

Starting in 2007, Decatur has hosted the Rodney T. Miller Lakeside Triathlon. This sprint-distance triathlon is presently scheduled on the first weekend each July.

In 2009, Prairie Land Competitive baseball was formed and looking for baseball players to join a new league fit for all skill levels 18 years or older and will compete with local teams and against teams from cities such as Champaign Urbana, Bloomington-Normal, Springfield, Lincoln, Monticello, Clinton, Pana, and Mattoon-Charleston.[33]

Professional Golf[edit]

Decatur hosts the annual Decatur-Forsyth Classic presented by Tate & Lyle and the Decatur Park District. The tournament is traditionally held in June.[34][35]

High School basketball[edit]

The Decatur High School [later Stephen Decatur H. S.] "Reds"/"Runnin' Reds" won the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) State Basketball Championship in 1931, 1936, 1945, and 1962. In addition, they were 2nd in 1937; 3rd in 1964; and 4th in 1912, 1951, 1960, and 1966. For many years they held the overall record for appearances in the "Sweet 16" and the "Elite 8." They were consistently one of the premier high school basketball teams in America. Legendary coach Galen Kintner was at the helm for the first three titles.

Softball[edit]

The following Decatur men's fast pitch softball teams have won national championships:

ADM[edit]
Decatur Pride[edit]

Media[edit]

Newspapers[edit]

Magazines[edit]

Television[edit]

AM radio[edit]

FM radio[edit]

Economy[edit]

Decatur has production facilities for Caterpillar, Archer Daniels Midland, Mueller Co., and Tate & Lyle (previously A. E. Staley). The corporate world headquarters for Archer Daniels Midland, the leading agricultural processor and ethanol producer, is in Decatur;[36][37][38] however, ADM announced on September 23, 2013 that it is seeking to relocate its global headquarters.[39] Other large employers include Millikin University and the Norfolk Southern Railway.[citation needed]

A large former Firestone factory is currently being used as storage space for Caterpillar Inc.. Caterpillar Inc. has one of its largest manufacturing plants in the U.S. near the former Firestone facility. This plant produces off highway trucks and motor graders. From 1917-1922 Decatur was the location of the Comet Automobile Co., and the Pan-American Motor Corp.[citation needed]

The main shopping district is centered around the Hickory Point Mall in nearby Forsyth. The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 15, 2014 that the Decatur area JC Penney department store, anchor store of Hickory Point Mall in Forsyth would be 1 of 33 stores closed due to poor annual retail sales in 2013. The Decatur Tribune reported on Jan.5, 2014 of the closing of Kentucky Fried Chicken in Downtown Decatur, IL.

Education[edit]

Colleges[edit]

Public schools[edit]

K–12 public education in the Decatur area is provided by the Decatur Public School District #61. High school athletics participates in the Big 12 Conference.

Private schools[edit]

Infrastructure[edit]

Parks[edit]

Local Macon County park resources include Lake Decatur, Lincoln Trail Homestead State Memorial, Rock Springs Conservation Area, Fort Daniel Conservation Area, Sand Creek Recreation Area, Griswold Conservation Area, Friends Creek Regional Park, and Spitler Woods State Natural Area. Decatur, at one time was dubbed "Park City U.S.A." because it had more parks per person that any other city in the country.

Transportation[edit]

Decatur Airport is served by three daily commercial flights on Cessna Grand Caravans to and from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport on Air Choice One. The airport facility has hosted notable visitors Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, Vice-President Dan Quayle, and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev (at the invitation of his long-time friend, Dwayne Andreas, former CEO of Archer Daniels Midland).

Interstate 72, U.S. Route 51, U.S. Route 36, Illinois Route 48, Illinois Route 105, and Illinois Route 121 are key highway links for the area, as well.

The Decatur Public Transit System (DPTS) provides fixed route bus service as well as complementary door-to-door paratransit service for people with disabilites, who are unable to use the bus system, throughout the City of Decatur. Under an agreement with the Village of Forsyth, service is also provided to the Hickory Point Mall area in Forsyth.

Trolley transfer station in its original location at the intersection of Main and Main streets; from a postcard sent in 1906

History[edit]

The city is named after War of 1812 naval hero Stephen Decatur

Decatur has become an affiliate of the U.S. Main Street program, in conjunction with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Post No. 1 of the Grand Army of the Republic was founded by Civil War veterans in Decatur on April 6, 1866.

The Edward P. Irving House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright[40] and built in 1911, is located at #2 Millikin Place, Decatur. In addition, the Robert Mueller Residence, 1 Millikin Place,[41] and the Adolph Mueller Residence, 4 Millikin Place,[42][43] have been attributed to Wright's assistants Hermann V. von Holst and Marion Mahony.

Abraham Lincoln[edit]

Statue of Abraham Lincoln in downtown Decatur on the site of his first political speech. The plaque reads “Abraham Lincoln’s first political speech: Lincoln mounted a stump by Harrell’s Tavern facing this square and defended the Illinois Whig party candidates near this spot at age 21 in the summer of 1830”

Decatur was the first home in Illinois of Abraham Lincoln, who settled just west of Decatur with his family in 1830. At the age of 21, Lincoln gave his first political speech in Decatur about the importance of Sangamon River navigation that caught the attention of Illinois political leaders.[citation needed] As a lawyer on the 8th Judicial Circuit, Lincoln made frequent stops in Decatur, and argued five cases in the log courthouse that stood on the corner of Main & Main Streets. The original courthouse is now on the grounds of the Macon County Historical Museum on North Fork Road.[citation needed]

On May 9 and 10, 1860, the Illinois Republican State Convention was held in Decatur. At this convention Lincoln received his first endorsement for President of the United States as "The Railsplitter Candidate." In commemoration of Lincoln's bicentennial the Illinois Republican State Convention was held in Decatur at the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel on June 6 & 7, 2008.[44]

ADM price-fixing case[edit]

In early November 1992, the high-ranking Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) executive Mark Whitacre confessed to a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent that ADM executives, including Whitacre himself, had routinely met with competitors to fix the price of lysine, a food additive.

The lysine conspirators, including ADM, ultimately settled federal charges for more than $100 million. ADM also paid hundreds of millions of dollars [$400 million alone on the high fructose corn syrup Class Action case] to plaintiffs/customers that it stole from during the price-fixing schemes.[45][46][47][48] Furthermore, several Asian and European lysine and citric acid producers, that conspired to fix prices with ADM, paid criminal fines in the tens of millions of dollars to the U.S. government.[49] Several executives, including the Vice Chairman of ADM, did federal prison time.

The investigation and prosecution of ADM and some of its executives has been reported to be one of the "best documented corporate crimes in American history".[50] The events were the basis of a book named The Informant as well as a film named The Informant!

Consecutive tornadoes[edit]

On April 18 and 19, 1996, the city was hit by tornadoes. On April 18, an F1 tornado hit the city's southeast side, followed by an F3 tornado the following evening on the northwest side. The two storms totaled approximately $10.5 million in property damage.[51]

Jesse Jackson protest[edit]

In November 1999, Decatur was brought into the national news when the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition protested the two-year expulsion of seven African American students who had been involved in a serious fight at an Eisenhower High School football game under a recently enacted "zero tolerance" policy. Six of the students were arrested but not charged after the fracas. Four were later charged as adults with mob action, a felony. Jesse Jackson intervened in the incident, bringing the controversy to national attention, protesting both the severity and length of the punishment and also alleging racial bias (schools in Decatur in 1999 had an enrollment that was about 44 percent black and five of the six Decatur students expelled in the prior year were black).[52][53] Jackson pointed out he was invited by the students' parents and that he spoke with them, the kids, ministers and teachers before protesting the zero-tolerance severity of the punishment: "No one can survive zero tolerance," Jackson said. "We all need mercy and grace."[54]

Outside of Decatur, public support was largely against the School Board's decision but changed once a videotape of the incident surfaced filmed by a parent at the game. Broadcast on national TV news, it showed a melee that swept through one end of the grandstands, with kicking and punching, as some of the fighters tumbled over the rails. The game was stopped and players gawked at the fighting in the bleachers. Ed Bohem, the principal at MacArthur High School who attended the game, described it as a riot: "I feared for the safety of our people -- my parents, my students," Bohem said, referring to the crowd in the bleachers. "You had people pushed through bars, people covering little children so they wouldn't get hurt. It was violent."[54][55] Jackson and his Rainbow PUSH Coalition organized marches that included hundreds of people bused in from outside the area, criticizing the school board for what Jackson said was unfairly harsh treatment of the boys over a fight. Jackson was arrested and detained briefly; however, charges were later dropped.[56][57] School officials say the students involved in the fighting were known as truants, described three of them as "third-year freshmen", and noted that the seven students combined had missed 350 days of high school.[55]

The issue dissipated when the school board reduced the original expulsions from two years to one year and agreed to let the students earn credit while attending an alternative school.[58]

The students involved in the fight have since taken different paths in life: with one being sentenced to state prison for 10 years for a 2004 felony drug conviction; another having finished college (helped by a Rainbow PUSH scholarship); another working as a butcher; and a fourth being arrested for home invasion in 2009.[59] Jesse Jackson was criticized for turning what could have been a legitimate criticism/discussion of the effects of "zero tolerance" policies into national debate by attempting to present the seven youths as victims of bigotry.[60]

Firestone Tire plant closing begins turmoil[edit]

Decatur was named the top small metro area in 2000 by Sperling Best Places, due to its park system, 2 local colleges and vast manufacturing. The subsequent Firestone Plant closing in 2000 caused layoffs of over 5,000 workers and large numbers of foreclosures and abandoned homes, beginning an era of turmoil and crisis. In May 2000, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contacted Firestone Tire about the high incidence of tire failure on Ford Explorers, Mercury Mountaineers, and Mazda Navajos fitted with Firestone tires. Investigators found that several models of 15" Firestone tires (ATX, ATX II, and Wilderness AT) had very high failure rates, especially those made at Firestone's Decatur plant.[61] Investigators also found that the failure rates were brought down to normal levels when installed on other sport utility vehicles.[citation needed] The plant opted to pay off the lawsuits rather than recall the tires. This was one of the leading factors to the closing of the Decatur plant.[61] Another leading factor that led to the closing of the plant, was the age of the facility and the equipment. Firestone officials have been quoted saying that the plant was going to be closed in the near future anyway and it happened to coincide with the tire failures.[citation needed]

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

Books[edit]

Music[edit]

Movies[edit]

Television[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Decatur Metro Area, Illinois". Sperling's Best Places. Fast Forward, Inc. 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  2. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  3. ^ "Places: Illinois". 2010 Census Gazetteer Files. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-05-03. [dead link]
  4. ^ http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=PEP_2011_PEPANNRES
  5. ^ http://www2.illinoisbiz.biz/communityprofiles/profiles/DECATUR.HTM
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ "Decatur Sister Cities Official Homepage". Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb Irwin, Dayle Cochran. Decatur: Serving Others, pg. 9
  9. ^ a b c d e f Banton, Oliver Terrill. History of Macon County (1976), pg. 275
  10. ^ a b Banton, Oliver Terrill. History of Macon County (1976), pg. 276
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  54. ^ a b The Bloomington Pantagraph: "Decatur's scars still show decade after expulsions" November 23, 1999
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  56. ^ CNN: "Jesse Jackson arrested in Illinois high school protest" November 16, 1999
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