Straight Talk | Can’t believe it



For more than 35 years, my wife and I and our two sons lived in Wardcliffe and traveled multiple times each day on the two lanes of Forrest Hill from Lehman Road to University. Finally, due to speeding and congestion, the city decided the road needed to be brought into the modern century. Millions of taxpayer dollars were spent changing Forrest Hill from two lanes to five with sidewalks. We saw the same transformation with Sterling Avenue that took place later for the same reasons.

I was flabbergasted when I learned the city wants to change Forrest Hill to two lanes because some residents complained about speeding cars. Many have said the same about Sterling, University, Knoxville, Sheridan Road, Glen Avenue, North Adams, Gale Avenue and every neighborhood in the city as well as I-74.

Immediately, someone in the city rolled out a plan to change the configuration of Forrest Hill, and it’ll cost only $10,000. Are you nuts? Traffic lights, used to control traffic, are located at Forrest Hill and University, Dries Lane, Gale and Sterling. How about trying radar to remind drivers of the 35 mph limit? The police department has a map showing areas with high crime. Police presence is higher in those zones and a similar response should be on the table before reducing a heavily traveled main East to West thoroughfare to two lanes.

A public hearing was held at the former Woodrow Wilson School renamed Dr. Maude Sanders. My source told me about 75 people were there and the feeling was most didn’t want to change Forrest Hill from five to two lanes. Not everyone in the audience lived on Forrest Hill. There are 49 homes between Dries Lane and Sterling. Thousands drive on Forrest Hill each day. It’s the only East to West road besides Nebraska and Glen.

My advice is leave it alone unless you want to make it worse. Sterling is far more dangerous with far more cars and a longer list of fatal accidents.

Can’t believe it –– Part II

When I learned the city council voted to spend $90,000 to hire a call center to answer complaints about charging fees to help fund public safety pensions, I almost lost my lunch. The vote was a narrow six in favor and five against, demonstrating at least five council members recognized answering taxpayer phone calls is part of earning their salary of $21,300 a year. City manager Patrick Urich justified the expense by claiming the city doesn’t have the staff to answer phones and besides they only have 47 lines. Truth is, Urich, city employees and the six council members don’t want to hear people yelling and complaining. I was in public relations for more than 25 years, and it’s no fun to have to listen to people moaning and groaning. But, it’s your job. If you can’t handle it, quit rather than pass the buck to taxpayers.

A better idea would’ve been to direct your public relations office to recruit and train some volunteers such as retirees from Caterpillar and other local businesses. Then purchase an additional 20-25 lines and try it. During my tenure at Methodist Medical Center, I started an adult volunteer group and established a training program. It exists today saving the hospital over the years thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, people love to spend taxpayer money. Shame on the city council for not only wasting $90,000 but spending it with a company outside Peoria. Bah Humbug!

Media goof!

Some rough weather rolled into Peoria, and our local TV stations went crazy by cutting away from normal programming to prove they can read a weather map showing a chance we could have a tornado. All three stations caught hell from viewers and for good reasons. Football fans were angry not only for interrupting the viewing, but for doing it during a key part of the game. They also were upset because the weatherman went on and on, repeating and repeating the same things. He was like the performing Chinese magician, On tu lon.

A simple solution was to do a split screen with the game on one side and the local forecaster on the other with audio. “No way. Can’t happen,” said the non-apologetic TV folks in response. “We don’t have the technical ability to do it,” they claimed.

Okay. How about leaving the game on the screen, but using the audio of the forecaster along with a weather crawl on the bottom of the screen? I know you can do that with no problem. But, you didn’t.


WMBD-TV bragged about the story originating on its CBS network featuring the mother of the 9-year-old boy charged with five counts of murder for starting the fire in a Woodford County trailer park that claimed the lives of two adults and three children. The child had never been named by the media. Good for them. That all changed when CBS interviewed the mother and, for whatever reason, announced it was her son. Channel 31 excitedly jumped on their “exclusive” and repeated the little boy’s name as did the sensationalists at the Peoria Journal. WEEK-TV and WHOI-TV did not.

Neither did we on our morning show on FM 90.7. We talked with someone who counsels children about what CBS and WMBD-TV did. She said broadcasting the identity of the child was wrong and inappropriate. Apparently, someone in the judicial system in Woodford County agreed. The mother reportedly was slapped with a “gag order.”

Quote of the month

“To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do.” –– Victor Hugo

It was a year ago Thanksgiving when I lost my wife. I give thanks for the nearly 60 years we had together.

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