Daily dose: Local history, Julia Rietz not interested in Congress, County officials' swearing-in

Daily dose: Local history, Julia Rietz not interested in Congress, County officials' swearing-in

Local history


In 1912, the new electric lighting line to Sidney of the Homer Electric Light & Power Co. is almost ready to be turned on. The poles are all up and the wires have been strung. The new lights will be a great boon for Sidney and will replace the various lighting systems now in place there. Any farmer along the way between Homer and Sidney also will be able to get electrical service. A transformer will be necessary at each farmhouse, as the line to Sidney is a high tension line. C.S. Thompson, the manager of the system, thinks the added number of patrons will allow him to furnish day service for the coming year, enabling customers to have power to run motors, fans, electric irons, etc.

In 1962, those Urbana policemen you see walking their beats with miniature earphones are not hard of hearing, nor are they listening to a rock ‘n’ roll disc jockey. They are sporting the newest thing in police communications — miniature radio receivers that they carry in the inside pocket of their uniform jackets. The equipment replaces the old-fashioned system of signal lights posted throughout downtown Urbana to alert the beat officer that he is needed. Formerly, the walking policeman depended on these lights, hung at 10 locations in the heart of town, to know whether to phone headquarters.


In 1912, work has begun on the erection of two new factories in Champaign: a replacement plant for the Textile company that burned down this fall and a new one-story building for the steel and foundry factory, the Burr Co. The Burr building is to be of brick and steel. Its completion depends upon  the price of steel. A low price means construction will be rushed; a higher price means it will be postponed. The site is that of the old cordage factory in the northern part of the city. The foundry department of the present Burr plant on Hickory Street will be moved to the new place.

In 1962, a group organized as the Vermilion Fishing Club has initiated plans to use the Illinois Power Co. lake north of Oakwood as a fishing facility. The 120-acre lake is adjacent to Illinois Power’s Vermilion power station. Ray Livasy of Champaign was elected president of the fishing club.


In 1912, a 48-inch woven fence is being installed around the gridiron at League Park 5 feet outside the playing field proper in preparation for the large crowd expected for Thanksgiving Day’s annual battle between the Champaign and Urbana high school football teams. Dope has it that Champaign will win by an easy margin, but the tie game that Urbana played with Springfield High last week upset many of the auguries of the wise guys of football. It had been conceded that Springfield would wipe the Earth with the Urbana team, but Urbana held them nobly.

In 1962, Santa Claus will arrive in three different places on Friday. He’ll come to Country Fair Shopping Center at 10 a.m. — by sleigh. At 10:30, he’ll arrive in downtown Urbana on a firetruck driven by Chief Vic Wimmer. And at 1:30 p.m., he’ll make his appearance in downtown Champaign atop the Flatiron Building at the intersection of Neil and Hickory. Again this year, he’ll work a magic trick and arrive in a puff of smoke and a burst of flame.

From Wednesday's column ...

Rietz for Congress? Nope.
     Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said that she heard the same talk I did: that she would make a good Democratic candidate for Congress in 2014.
     She’s a moderate Democrat whom Republicans didn’t oppose this year, who got a smaller number of undervotes (voters who just skipped over her race on Election Day) than the unopposed Republican candidate for coroner, and even continued to attract support in the black precincts that were considered dicey.
     National Democrats undoubtedly are already looking for a candidate to run against Congressman-elect Davis in 2014. And it would help the party to have a candidate from the northern tier of counties that make up a lopsided percentage of the district’s electorate. Among Champaign County (18.5 percent of the votes cast this month), Macon County (16.3 percent), Sangamon County (14 percent) and McLean County (6.7 percent), lie more than half of the district’s voters.
     But she just wants to say here and now: No.
    “That’s a very nice compliment, but no thanks,” said Rietz, who was re-elected to a third term on Nov. 6. “I love my job.”
    Furthermore, she, like everyone else, was turned off by the attack ads in this year’s 13th Congressional District race between Davis, Gill and independent John Hartman.

   “After watching that campaign from the sidelines, I have absolutely no interest,” she said.
    Congressional pay ($174,000 a year) isn’t much better than  she makes now as state’s attorney ($166,508). For that extra $7,500, she’d have to serve more than twice as many constituents in 14 counties rather than one, fly back and forth to Washington, D.C., dozens of times a year and be one of 435 congressman instead of head of her own county office.
     “There’s no financial benefit and absolutely no personal benefit,” Rietz said.
    Gill, though, has already said that he has not ruled out running for Congress for a fifth time in 2014.

County officers swearing-in
    All of the Champaign County officials elected to countywide offices earlier this month will be sworn in at 9 a.m. Dec. 1 by Presiding Judge Thomas Difanis at the Brookens Administrative Center in Urbana. That includes State’s Attorney Rietz, Coroner Diane Northrup, County Clerk Gordy Hulten, Circuit Clerk Katie Blakeman, Auditor John Farney and Recorder of Deeds Barb Frasca. A reception will be held following the swearing-in.
     County board members will be sworn in at a special organization meeting on Dec. 3.



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