Rumor has it that this issue is to center on Jacksonville tourism but most of the articles contained here are probably written by folks who live here. Nice people all, but hardly an objective “Source,” so let me give an outsider’s viewpoint.
Top Ten Reason for Visiting Jacksonville!
1. It’s not Springfield. Oh, there’s nothing wrong with that town just east of us, but Springfield does contain a governor, lobbyists, and way too many restaurants serving those cardiac pounding horseshoe sandwiches.
2. Bruce Surratt is . . . uh. . . interesting. Bruce is the head of our Parks and Lakes and Trees and Squirrels Department and in fact he’s actually been one of these. To find a municipal official with a sense of fun and humor is as rare as discovering a horseshoe sandwich that won’t kill you. You might think that Bruce would take offense at my listing him as a local attraction, but I once had the guy in class and I know enough dirt to bury him . . . deeply.
3. We have the state’s most meaningful monument. Drive by the abandoned Jacksonville Development Center and you’ll see our area’s most telling symbol of state government. Neglect, waste, foolishness with really cool trees.
4. County Market. Nothing against all the other grocery stores, but it’s a joy to have a huge market that remains a friendly place to shop. The time between when I look lost and when someone steps up to say, “Can I help you?” is about 2.5 seconds. I should note that I perhaps have more contact with the County Market employees than most people since I was born with that look slapped perpetually on my face.
5. Our Town Square is now exciting. I’m not speaking of the influx of new and established businesses, but the thrill of trying to decide which lane you’re in while driving around the statue. I applaud the genius who came up with the lanes that have no meaning. Like a Rube Goldberg machine, they seem to lead nowhere and every all at once. You start out in the middle lane, which mysteriously becomes the center lane, which on the other side of the square becomes the left turn lane. It’s stinkin’ magical!
6. We call our Mayor “Andy.” That’s a happy name. Springfield has Mayor Houston. No one calls him Mikey. Quincy’s is Mayor Moore. I doubt than anyone greets him on the street with “Hi Kyle!” But it’s not unusual at all to hear our local chief referred to as simply Andy. Sure, when the town’s water pumps are flooded or the snowplows can’t make their way down ice-packed streets it’s not always a cause for celebration, but ain’t it great to know that you can make a phone call and simply say, “Uh…Andy… the west end of town just blew away. Could you send somebody?” Andy would.
7. Jacksonville’s Chief of Police looks scary. I don’t know Tony Grootens personally, but I’ve seen him on Channel 20 news and he looks formidable. I think that’s what you want in a police chief, isn’t it? I don’t want my chief law enforcement officer to resemble the lady from Welcome Wagon. His countenance ought to say, “This is my town! Don’t screw around!” He’s worked in both Alaska and Texas so maybe that explains his bulldog features. Whatever the reason, it suits his job nicely.
8. My dentist lives in Jacksonville. Okay, this won’t make any of the Jacksonville Tourism brochures, but I think it’s pretty cool to be able to have my broken crown fixed within twelve miles of the chicken bone that caused the problem. I’ve only had two dentists in my life, Dr. Herr and Kurt Heller. Both of these guys were thrilling. Herr’s office was once high atop the Farmers Bank building so as a little guy I got to ride my first elevator, and Heller’s the best drummer I know.
9. Passavant. Nothing takes as much ribbing as a community’s hospital, but I’ve rushed enough wounded students to the ER over the years that my appreciation for a nearby professional healthcare facility goes beyond any joking. It’s a local treasure. And if you’re stumbling into the emergency entrance you may run into the medical version of Bruce Surratt. His name is Cal Foreman.
10. Two great newspapers. Both the Journal Courier and The Source serve our area well. Yes, both pay me to write for them, and if you don’t like it then send me your name. I’m making another list.