By BOB SHRALUKA
Mayor John Schultz expressed it best: "Will anything come of it, I can't say. But we put our best foot forward. Maybe something will (come of it) some day down the road. I hope so."
Speaking at this week's city council meeting, the mayor was referring to the visit by two Chinese businessmen which had ended earlier on Tuesday. Arriving late Sunday night, the two men spent all of Monday and part of Tuesday looking over three of the city's major industries, the hospital, schools, and much more.
The initial contact was made in China recently when Schultz and county Economic Development Director Larry Macklin were part of an Indiana delegation which traveled there. So this week, Qian Changshang, chairman of a couple of Chinese companies, and John Zhang, president of the companies, checked out Decatur and Adams County.
Will the visit lead to doing business here? Perhaps building here? No one can say. No one really has any ideas. But as Schultz and Macklin will tell you, there is no loss to making an attempt to lure some form of business to our area.
Two things seemed to stick out following the visit: 1. The contributions of the local business leadership in, as Schultz described it, putting "our best foot forward." 2. The impression our labor force left with the Chinese visitors.
Macklin and Schultz are effusive in their praise of the leadership at Fleetwood, Gold Shield and Bunge North America. Each, without hesitation, opened their facilities to the visitors, answered all questions and made superior presentations. The theme of all three was, "What's good for Decatur is good for all of us."
The mayor and economic development director will also tell you about the strong impression the local workforce made on Changshang and Zhang. They were genuinely impressed and said the business community here should be pleased to have this type of worker available.
So we go back to the starting point: The city put its best foot forward and if that's good enough for some development and/or sales down the line, wonderful. If not? Well, all that's lost is the effort.
Orange, be gone!
If snow falls on the equator, hell freezes over, and the orange construction signs finally and at long last depart our fair city today ... well, hard to say which one is the safest bet to happen.
But a state highway — INDOT, to be official — representative has vowed the signs will be gone today. After all the promises that didn't come to pass with that rough and rugged rail crossing on S. 13th St., though, one would will be ill-advised to hold one's breath until the signs go away.
Hopefully, no one mistook them for a sculpture on last night's sculpture walk.
They've been a pain in the youknowwhere to a lot of people, but the folks with the big oranges in their yards are the ones for whom we feel the most sympathy. How would you like to look at that big thing, glowing orange, when you leave in the morning and it's still shooting orange at you upon returning in the afternoon from another round at the daily grind?
Gotta feel sorry for the city guys, too, since they've had to both work around the signs and often move them as well. Someone in city government, maybe the mayor, suggested at one point that the city start billing INDOT for every time they've had to move the signs and sandbags weighting them down.
The things have been here since December, for cryin' out loud. A Christmas present that just kept giving and giving and giving. Eight months!
The signs arrived way ahead of the project to put new traffic lights on Monroe St. INDOT stood 'em up here and in Gas City, then did the Gas City project first. Now, the project in Decatur is only 99.5 percent or so complete. Thus, going by the ol' book, the signs can't be removed until the numbers read 1-0-0 percent.
The word out of City Hall is that Street/Sanitation Superintendent Jeremy Gilbert convinced the INDOT rep to get the signs out with the story – very plausible — that with a lot of people around for the Kekionga fun this weekend, someone could fall over or run into one and call Blackburn & Green.
Anyway, to INDOT we'd like to say, "Thanks for the modernization of the lights, folks. Appreciate it. And to show our appreciation we have some orange signs we'd like to give you!"
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The signs were gone that Friday.)