From Left Field

    There is hope, folks. Honest to goodness hope.     If Don Spice has his way, maybe sometime this spring the tall building on the corner of Second and Monroe streets once famous for its Holthouse Drug Co. business — but now the one most referred to as "the eyesore" — will be renovated, cleaned up and functioning as a business ... or businesses.
    Spice, a former Geneva resident now living in Decatur, is purchasing the long-vacant building from Dwayne Skaggs of Bluffton. Since he's in the construction business, Spice figures he can get the place ship-shape in a reasonably brief amount of time, then go from there.
    So you're buying and renovating the building, he was asked this week via phone? "Definitely; definitely. I'm in the process, anyway. I'm doing the construction work on my own own. I have a construction business and a heating and air conditioning business."
    But isn't it going to require a ton of work (and maybe capital, as well) to get the place into shape? After all, pieces of the roof have been blown off during storms two, maybe three times. And those who have been inside have said mold is a huge problem.
    "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," Spice quickly replies. "I don't think it's (the condition of the building) all that bad. I really think I can turn it around rather quickly."
    Spice operates the heating and air conditioning business with Mike Mitchel. The plan is to "get it (the building) renovated and then set up our businesses in there, then rent out space to other businesses," he explained.
    A couple of people already are interested in locating in the building, according to Spice, who added: "I really hope to create some business downtown for Decatur. I've talked to the mayor, John Schultz, a couple of times. He's a good man."
    How quickly can he get the building squared away to be opened for business?
    "It depends on funding," Spice replied. "Right now I'm taking it day by day. I'm thinking maybe 60 days if I can get some sales (by the businesses) done to generate some money."
    He hopes to have the purchase of the building completed soon. "It depends on some minor details. I'm doing some work for Dwayne Skaggs to get the cost down and that's what it's about (finishing the work)," Spice said.
    He hopes, we all hope. Hope that the eyesore can be cleaned up and put to good use ... maybe in time for the city's 175th birthday celebration?

Take a bow, city workers
    A round of applause, please, for the City of Decatur employees.
    They haven't had a pay raise in a couple of years, they've lost their city-sponsored Christmas party, and no doubt work with some failing equipment. But they've done a damn fine job of getting things done and done right — while at the same time saving taxpayers' money.
    It was announced at the latest city council meeting that the various city departments have not spent a total of $614,000 they had in their budgets for 2010.
    That's even $133,000 better than the savings provided by city employees the previous year.
    The $614,000 reverts to the general fund for 2011 and will help ease to a degree the ongoing financial burdens this city — like others across the nation — must deal with.
    Good show, folks. Take a bow!

Card game
    Great. Just great!
    Under a bill working its way through the Indiana House, store clerks would no longer be required to check the identification of those who appear older than 40 when buying alcohol. That would be a revision to a much-ridiculed law that took effect last summer requiring everyone — regardless of age — to be carded for carryout alcohol.
    We've been stopping in at Dan Kaczmarek's Belmont places every now and then to make a purchase — just to get carded! Now they're probably going to take away all that good feeling.