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Local Columnists

TALKING POINTS: Annoying, irritating, shouting reporters

The shouting and yelling of questions by reporters aimed at a president or other high official at almost any level of government in a packed room during photo ops has seemingly replaced the well-organized, more frequent news conference.

To some folks it’s annoying and even rather disrespectful, but if that’s the way public officials will make themselves available to a free press more frequently so be it.

And, thank goodness for a free press that still has the ability to shed more transparency on public officials’ actions beyond their twitter feeds.

Time to get to work

Good luck to Ottawa’s first new mayor in 20 years and to the newest city commissioner.

New Mayor Dan Aussem and newly-elected Commissioner Marla Rodriguez along with re-elected commissioners James Less, Tom Ganiere and Wayne Eichelkraut Jr. hit the ground running last week.

While most local governing bodies didn’t see major changes in the April election, Aussem is the first new Ottawa mayor in 20 years with the retirement of Bob Eschbach.

May Ottawa continue to grow and prosper under your new administration Mr. Mayor and city commissioners.

Row row your kayak gently down the canal

Good news from Springfield last week in the form of a $100,000 grant from the state for Ottawa’s Illinois and Michigan Canal re-watering project.

Moving forward with this project is going to take some time, patience, lots of volunteers, and it’s going to cost some big bucks, not only to complete but to take care of it when it’s finished.

It is a pretty ambitious undertaking started under former Mayor Eschbach.

May he be the first to launch a canoe or kayak when it’s completed.

Ottawa fireworks

Hometown pride among Starved Rock Country communities sometimes has each boasting about which one has the best fireworks on or near the Fourth of July.

Frankly they’re all pretty good, but the fundraising effort for Ottawa’s annual fireworks at King Field is probably second to none. One $20 ticket offers a chance at each of the raffle drawings from Mother’s Day last week through July 4. Maybe the big winners or at least the top prize winner would consider donating some of it back to the I & M Canal fundraising project.

Meanwhile get ready to enjoy all of the area’s summer celebrations, especially the big bangs on or near the 4th of July.

JIM FRENCH, of Ottawa, is retired after 43 years in radio broadcasting, including 33 in Ottawa. You can reach him through The Times by emailing

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