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This letter is in response to the article of Dec. 15, entitled, "Downs safety behind study," (Page A1).

Mayor Jeff Schwartz of Downs is concerned for the safety of the people of Downs because of the number of cars that pass through Downs on a daily basis. I, too, am concerned for their safety, so I offer several suggestions to Mayor Schwartz for ways in which that number could be reduced.

1. Change the sign as you enter Downs from "Welcome to Downs" to "You are not welcome in Downs," and the sign as you leave, from "Come back soon" to "Never come back." Be honest, let people know how the mayor's really feels.

2 Strictly enforce speed laws, Downs will become known as one of those notorious "speed trap towns" that people avoid.

3. Tear up Seminary Street; begin the long-promised but neglected sewer project in Downs. Rough streets and detours will keep anyone away.

4. Install traffic signals or four-way stop signs in the middle of Downs. People will do anything to avoid waiting for a traffic light or stop sign.

However there is one problem for which I have no solution: It is shorter to go through Downs than it is to go Towanda-Barnes, and with gas at $3 a gallon, people are still going to go through Downs.

I am concerned that the mayor has not done anything for the safety of the people of Downs except to talk about it and spend $60,000 for a survey in an effort to spend millions on an excellent road that already exists, Towanda Barnes/County Highway 29. But I am mostly concerned because I live on Towanda-Barnes. What is Mayor Schwartz mostly concerned about?

George Wells

Rural Bloomington

Missed major story on voting in Iraq

Once again The Pantagraph missed what I think is one of the biggest stories of the year.

For many months Americans have been fighting and dying in the war in Iraq to give the people of Iraq the opportunity that they want to have a free, elected government. In the last few days, millions of Iraqis have once again defied the naysayers and the terrorists and voted for men and women to represent them in a free nation.

Those who support President Bush's efforts to support the Iraqi people in this fight for freedom think the free election just held with little problem is a major accomplishment for the Iraqi people, the U.S. military and the president .

I guess The Pantagraph doesn't agree because I noticed no major story. Pity.

Dr. Bruce Anderson

Rural Bloomington

Secretary of state

I would like to applaud secretary of state candidate Dan Rutherford for his comments regarding the current Secretary of State Office's technology incompetence that resulted in hundreds of thousands of unhappy Illinois motorists.

According to the current SOS office, nearly 200,000 Illinoisans were hit with the new Blagojevich late fee by failing to renew their license plate on time. This new fee has hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans terribly upset since they did not receive any notice from Jesse White's office that their license plate was about to expire.

Published reports indicate that the SOS office admitted that changes in mailing systems resulted in large numbers of Illinoisans not receiving their advance notice. Rutherford emphasized that it is inexcusable for the customers of the SOS office to not receive their plate-expiration reminder, but to then be penalized by the new Blagojevich late fee only adds insult to injury. Rutherford also stated that Illinoisans are customers and deserve to be treated with respect and efficiency.

Senator Rutherford continued, "By not having correct systems in place is yet another example of the inefficiencies of the SOS." Compound this most recent failure with the ridiculously long lines and waits at SOS Driver Service Centers around the state and it is obvious that the office is not well run. The SOS office is the agency of Illinois government, which directly serves more clients annually than any other.

Rutherford is an advocate for greater efficiencies in the SOS office by bringing in the next generation of technology. Having worked as an executive with America's premier service company, Rutherford knows what it is to deliver good customer service. This is why Rutherford is running for secretary of state. He has the experience and know-how to deliver the efficient, timely and friendly service you expect.

Stephen Mote

Odell

State could hold other checks, too

State employees only receive 50 percent of their normal pay when they are injured and go on disability. They still have federal taxes taken out of this 50 percent. Now the state wants to hold their pay back until October 2006.

Why doesn't the state hold back all those welfare checks? Hold back pay raises for all the state employees , including the governor and all the other "highly paid" state staff? Why don't they cancel all state building and road contracts? Why don't they pay back the money they have borrowed from state pension funds? What happened to all the money the state makes from motor fuel taxes and gambling ?

Maybe the governor should move to Springfield, the "seat of government," like the state of Illinois Constitution states, and we wouldn't have the extra expenses to move between Springfield and Chicago. Maybe we just need someone honest with common sense to run the state. Good luck!

Lynn C. Shindel

Rural Bloomington

'Holier than thou' views not acceptable

Every time I read The Pantagraph, the first page I turn to is the Opinion Page. Mostly, the purpose is to gander awestruck at the amount of letters referring to Jesus and/or God. I see a letter almost every day in which people try to convince everyone else that their views are the "right" views.

I consider myself an atheist. I also consider myself a decent and moral man. Which, in my opinion, is the only thing that is really important in this life. I do not care either way if a store's holiday signs read Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah or Happy Kwanzaa.

I also do not try to force my views of the world down people's throats. I've come to my outlook on life through careful debate and observation, utilizing all the available facts.

Let people figure out their beliefs on their own, and please stop with the "holier than thou" act, so to speak.

Chase Stout

Pontiac

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