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Thomas Clatterbuck

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An important Lincoln artifact was returned to Springfield today. The former president is interred in the city’s Oak Ridge cemetery. After years of fundraising and conservation work, the book that proves it is here as well. “Interment Book One” would be just another cemetery interment record except for what is on page 22. That page lists Abraham Lincoln and his cause of death, “assassination.”

That line led to the book being repeatedly handled over the last 150 years. Any document that receives that level of attention for so long will have some unavoidable damage. But the real harm came from state archivists. When the book was unbound and digitized, the process was not done with the care the document needed or deserved. Poor storage after the unbinding caused Oak Ridge officials to seek conservation and better preservation for the book.

Restoring the book was no small undertaking. The Oak Ridge Board wanted the work to be done right, which required finding a qualified specialist. They eventually hired Graphic Conservation Co. out of Chicago to do the work. Hiring specialists takes money. Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder and the City helped the cemetery raise the nearly $30,000 that was needed to restore this document and the second book that recorded Mary Todd Lincoln. That book is still being conserved.

Once the book was restored, the next question was how and where to preserve it. The book itself is the property of Oak Ridge, and by extension the City of Springfield. Keeping legal ownership of the artifact was of great concern for the city. However, the city was also not in the best position to store the book. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library will house the book and keep it safe for the future, but they will not legally own the book.

If you want to see the book, it will be on display at the Abraham Lincoln Library from May 7th to May 17th. It will be then be on display Abraham Lincoln Museum for the rest of May. After that, it will be much more difficult to see the book. Due to the book’s importance and condition, it will only be on display for special occasions; so make arrangements to see it in May if you want to do so.

You can watch the full unveiling ceremony in the player.

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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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Southeast branch pickup is tomorrow

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Residents in the southeast quadrant are reminded to put out their branches tonight for the fall pickup. Branches need to be out by 6:00 AM to ensure they are picked up. The southeast quadrant is south of South Grand Avenue and east of Walnut Street, and includes the properties around Lake Springfield. This is the only scheduled branch pickup for the quadrant this fall.

You can also check out the city’s map to find out which quadrant you are in and other regulations about the pickup.

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City gets good budget news tempered with warnings

Thomas Clatterbuck

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The City of Springfield is on track for a budget surplus in FY 2019. Based on current revenue, the city may have a positive fund balance of $1.7 million. This comes as something of a surprise, considering the original budget had an estimated $2.6 million shortfall. At last night’s city council meeting, Budget Director Bill McCarty explained what caused the turnaround.

Numerous factors played into the turnaround. Early tax payments, a large settlement from Comcast, and a transfer from Fund 095 to the corporate fund were key on the revenue side. Hiring delays and stabilizing healthcare cost increases have been key on the expense side of the equation.

The city’s good management has been noted by outsiders as well. The S&P affirmed the city’s AA bond rating, which helps determine how much interest is paid on new bonds. A higher bond rating is a good indicator of financial health, and so avoiding a downgrade is very valuable for the city.

Clouds on the horizon

But while the current year is better than expected, the council was given several warnings about the future. Director McCarty pointed out that much of the surplus was due to a one time settlement. That extra million helps this year, but doesn’t represent a lasting increase in revenue. While optimistic about the long

Representatives from the Police Pension fund also warned about the growing pension obligations. Pensions already consume all of the property tax revenue in the city. McCarty said that where property tax used to pay for pensions and other things, now they only pay for pensions; and even other revenue sources are being tapped to make the required payments.

The S&P also noted these long-term challenges. So while the current AA rating was affirmed, the city’s outlook was downgraded from “stable” to “negative.” Although this will not impact current interest rates, it might make future borrowing more expensive.

You can watch McCarty’s presentation to the council which starts at 55:00. You can also watch his after meeting Q&A in the player below.

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LIVE | Springfield City Council October 16th

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council meeting. Local BSA troop 202 is present. Camp Care-a-Lot is being recognized for their work with under privileged students. Director McCarty will present on the city’s finances shortly.

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