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Local Editorials

From our archives: Sterling preserves summer concerts

What we thought: 25 years ago

Note to readers – Sauk Valley Media reprints editorials and articles from the past as a regular Monday feature. The following items appeared in the Gazette on Feb. 15, 16 and 17, 1989.

Music, music

in the park

It looks like Sterling and environs still can look forward to those beautiful, moonlight musical evenings this summer. Ten of them.

That eventuality became a certainty this week when the Band Commission and city officials agreed not to cut back the concerts from 10 to six. The sticking point, of course – so, what else is new – is a budgetary one.

The rising cost of instrument repairs, insurance and related expenses has left the Sterling Band Commission with a projected deficit of $5,621 for the upcoming season. A reduction in the number of concerts would result in a $2,754 budget surplus.

But, to their credit, both the commission and the city council in their special session opted not to take the easy way out: They rejected the idea of any reduction. Instead, the idea of a fundraiser was broached, with details to be worked out. Solicitation of foundations was mentioned by City Manager Rich Mays as an initial initiative.

The fundraising approach seems to us the sensible – and only – way to go.

Another approach, naturally, was to raise the commission’s tax levy, which would generate about $7,500, but not in time for this season’s concert schedule.

On top of that, of course, we have the specter of the tax base being eroded even more because of appeals filed by the mill and other local manufacturing firms. ...

The next few months will give us a chance to see just how much the folks in Sterling and from surrounding areas who attend the summer concerts really care. – Feb. 15, 1989

Welcome back,

Lynn Martin

As she said in her news conference Monday. U.S. Rep. Lynn Martin, R-Ill., is taking advantage of Congress’ February holiday break (don’t we wish we had one, but that’s another editorial for another snowy February day) to return to the home district and catch up on the needs of the district.

Her Rockford press conference was a good start. As always with Rep. Martin, the exchange was candid and lively. Unlike many politicians, our congressional representative at least gives direct answers to direct questions.

The congresswoman’s upcoming appearance at the Lincoln Day Dinner at the Brandywine, Saturday night, is another good sign. True, this is a Republican Party event, but at $15 a head, it’s not exactly a high-priced fundraiser. And it does give the average citizen – the dinner is open to the public – an opportunity to meet and talk with the one person who represents the 400,000-plus residents of her district.

More important than her return to her home district, however, is the fact that she has brought much of her Washington staff with her. These are the people who, Martin said, do most of her research, answering the myriad questions that flood her Sterling-Rock Falls, Rockford and Washington offices.

“For example,”she said, “we’ve been talking for years in Washington about welfare reform. But we don’t even know how to go about applying for welfare.” Doing that kind of basic research, finding out [whether] the system works, and if it doesn’t, why not, is the nitty gritty of representing a congressional district in a republican form of democracy.

While some aides will be probing human services, others will be working with other members of her constituency. Today at noon, a legislative aide was meeting with members of the Whiteside County Airport Board, apprising them of the status of the quest to fund the Essential Air Service program that keeps passenger air service at Bittorf Field.

In short, what Martin and her staff are doing is homework.

Whether it’s a visit to Sundstrand or sifting through the welfare bureaucracy, it has to be done, whether the congressional representative is a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative.

Too often, citizens perceive their legislators as an inaccessible elite, and too often, their legislators are an inaccessible elite.

Rep. Martin spent a good deal of the fall on the political stump for President Bush. With four terms in the House under her belt and back in Washington for a fifth term, she is acquiring stature and seniority, even as she contemplates a potential run for the U.S. Senate.

From what she had to say Wednesday morning, she not only has not forgotten the needs of her district, she is directing her staff in researching them.

Actions speak louder than words, but apparently, Rep. Martin is taking action.

We may not always agree with her politics, but in this case, we think she is on the right track. – Feb. 16, 1989

Our communities

on the right track

If Dr. Harry A. Springer, president of the Illinois State Medical Society, is correct, Sterling and Rock Falls are doing the right things in combating the problem of adolescents driving under the influence of drugs, including alcohol.

The two key elements, according to Dr. Springer, are setting a good example and education.

We don’t have the statistics about what kind of example we are setting for our children, although we are sure there is always room for improvement in this area. But in the education realm, we see positive signs.

First, there is the DARE program, as administered by representatives of both the Rock Falls and Sterling police departments. ... Then there are the continuing education programs in the high schools in our area, in particular Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), Sterling’s Parent Network, and the steps taken by area schools to monitor drug and alcohol use among students in general, and student athletes in particular.

Much to our regret, we don’t think underage drinking, smoking and drug use will ever disappear. But the fewer youngsters we have driving under the influence, the more lives we can save. – Feb. 17, 1989

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