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Local Columnists

TALKING POINTS: Remembering 41 in Starved Rock Country

As the country bid farewell to the late President George H.W. Bush last week, local folks may well have been remembering his September 1988 campaign visit to the area.

The then-Vice President visited Central and Northern Illinois with a stop in Ottawa’s historic Washington Square and at a La Salle-Peru truck stop for a late lunch just off Interstate 80. He also paid a visit to Mendota.

President Bush was among several candidates who were eventually elected president who are known to have visited Ottawa at one time or another including, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, then-State Senator Barack Obama and Dwight Eisenhower. Several presidents and candidates for president are known to have passed through Starved Rock Country on the railroads as well.

Sadly, it seems the local area has gone from pass-through to fly-over country lately.


There didn’t seem to be a whole lot of interest in last week’s official 200th birthday party.

While historians and tourism promoters from one end of the state to the other were all over the significance of the bicentennial, it appeared most of the state’s citizens could’ve cared less. Perhaps many were put off by the politicization of the event or their disgust with high taxes and the state’s awful history of corruption?

Maybe they were just too busy with their phones???


La Salle County was recently recognized as part of our now 200-year-old state’s Lincoln Community heritage area.

That’s quite an honor and the appropriate presentation was made at Ottawa’s historic Reddick Mansion.

There was no public 200th birthday party for Illinois held in Ottawa or La Salle County, which was and is so much an important part of the state’s history.

Maybe next year Starved Rock Country and our new Lincoln Community can have a party for Illinois’ 201st birthday?

Just a suggestion.


Many local taxing authorities are or will be asking more in local property taxes. Pension obligations and other factors are part of the reason along with rising costs for everything.

How much it will cost you depends on the value of your property, who taxes you and at what rate. You certainly have the right to object. Use it.

And before you panic and back up the moving van remember, in the long run the grass isn’t necessarily greener somewhere else.

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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