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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.

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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Springfield Police’s “Bridging the Gap” BBQ this weekend

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PRESS RELEASE | The Outlet in partnership with the Springfield Police Department invite the community this Saturday, September 22 for the annual Bridging the Gap BBQ. This free, family-friendly event will take place at Jaycee Park, 2400 E. Monroe Street, from 12-noon to 3:00 p.m.  This event brings the community, law enforcement and first responders together for an afternoon of food, fellowship and fun for the entire family.

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LIVE | Springfield City Council meeting September 18th

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council meeting. The mayor’s youth council is being presented to the city council.

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LIVE | Public Utilities Committee Meeting September 17th

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Follow along live with the CWLP Public Utilities Meeting. They will be discussing CWLP’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), as well as other business.

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