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Caution leads to conflict regarding Lincoln Interment Books

Thomas Clatterbuck

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It all started so well. Two months ago, the city proudly unveiled the newly restored Lincoln Interment Books. These documents record President Lincoln being laid to rest in the Oak Ridge Cemetery. After having been badly handled in the past, the books were back in excellent condition. Although the books belong to Oak Ridge, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library agreed to store them. Not only is it fitting that a Lincoln document be in his library, they have far better capabilities of preserving the document than the City or Oak Ridge does. After the ceremony, the books were moved to the library for display and safe keeping.

There was just one last detail to iron out: the actual legal agreement. Oak Ridge wanted to make sure that they retained legal ownership of the books; a sentiment shared by the City Council. Standard deposit agreements with presidential libraries often have provisions that items change ownership after a certain period of time. The City, wanting to avoid that possibility, needed a special agreement to be drafted. Getting the wording exactly right has taken several weeks. Alderman Theilen explained that they wanted the language to be perfectly clear for future leaders. He stressed that none of the caution on the part of the council was due to mistrust with the library or its staff.

But in that timeframe, the leadership at the Museum became increasingly frustrated. They were doing the City a favor by holding the books, but felt that good will was not being properly reciprocated. They also felt the media coverage was unfairly casting them in a negative light. Mayor Langfelder was sympathetic to this view, given how long it took the city to approve the agreement. So while the agreement was still in committee, the library issued a letter saying they intended to rescind the sharing agreement while the City figured out what it wanted done with the books.

The timing of the letter was unfortunate because the City Council did approve the agreement at tonight’s meeting. However, since the letter had already been issued, the mayor will have to meet with the library’s director to sort out the final details. Hopefully, tonight’s vote will sooth the Library’s concerns and the books will be allowed to stay in the safest environment for them. Mayor Langfelder did say there is a plan B if the books are return, but would rather be optimistic that a more permanent agreement with the library can be reached. Langfelder will meet with the library’s director next week.

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Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

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LIVE | Springfield City Council meeting February 19th

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council meeting February 19th, 2019. The FY20 budget will be up for final discussion and vote.

DSI also discussed the plans for the upcoming concert series supported by the Levitt Foundation. Springfield won a nationwide Levitt AMP contest for a $25,000 grant.

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LIVE | Springfield City Council committee of the whole February 13th, 2019

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council committee of the whole. This meeting was moved from the 12th for Lincoln’s birthday. Brian McFadden from Sangamon County spoke about the animal control situation and the county’s policies.

UIS baseball coach Chris Ramirez was recognized for his team’s achievements. Ramirez was awarded coach of the year.

This meeting was preceded by a special City Council meeting, where $1.2 million in TIF funding was approved for the Poplar Place Redevelopment Project. This money will go towards road infrastructure for the area. The council was unanimous in their support for the project, and looks forward to the multi-million dollar development.

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Boy Scout day at Jacksonville City Council showcases parliamentary procedure

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City council meetings can be a intimidating event for the first time visitor. The procedures that help the meetings run smoothly can be difficult to understand or track if you don’t know what’s going on. But at last night’s city council meeting in Jacksonville, local Boy Scouts got a hands-on look at why the council does things this way. This chance for the scouts to take part in the council meeting is an annual event.

The meeting’s agenda was routine. Claims were paid, and the liquor ordinance was amended. But the lack of action was a chance for Mayor Ezard and the aldermen to explain the procedure for the meeting.

During the workshop, the parks and lakes department also discussed a grant they are trying for to expand the trails at Lake Jacksonville. You can watch that discussion in the player below.

 

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