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THUMBS UP! To Vinnie and Debbie Barbee and their ongoing generosity. On Easter Sunday, for the 17th year, the Decatur couple served up a free pineapple-glazed ham lunch at the Water Street Mission. The couple offers numerous shows of largesse during the year, and this is just the most recent. We appreciate their efforts.

THUMBS UP! To Macon County Help 4 Heroes, and the VA Illiana Health Care System. During visits Tuesday to the Decatur Veterans Administration, treats were handed to those coming in. Help 4 Heroes is a volunteer organization dedicated to helping veterans, and this is the most recent of their efforts. Help 4 Heroes founder Ayn Owens said it best. “It’s always a pleasure when we spread patriotism in the community,” Owens said. “When we actually get a chance to touch a veteran personally. It is important to do that and let them know we thank them.”

THUMBS DOWN! To the declining population figures for Macon County and Illinois. Macon County population is down 5 percent this decade, to 104,712. Drops have also been reported in Christian, Coles, DeWitt, Macoupin, McLean and Piatt counties. Illinois has ceded its spot as the country's fourth highest populated state, falling behind Pennsylvania. These numbers tie in tightly to the ongoing efforts we're asking our political leaders to get behind, job growth and neighborhood improvement. We must work at giving people reasons to stay, rather than excuses to leave. A strong effort in next year's census to get all our residents counted is also vital. That's a tool the federal government uses in its budgetary plans.

THUMBS UP! To the federal review of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's property tax controversy. Accused of receiving a property tax break of $331,000, Pritzker paid the amount to Cook County during the gubernatorial campaign. He said the payment acknowledged no guilt but was done to eliminate that distraction from the campaign. Additional suspicion was added at the revelation that one of the ways the break was acquired was because bathrooms were removed from the property, making it uninhabitable. The political fallout includes demands that Pritzker immediately withdraw his tax proposal. The detail didn't seem to influence many voters. We'll see whether the review exonerates him or if we have a fresh entrant in the Illinois Politician Hall of Shame.

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