Eye On Illinois: Could new HBO doc drive more visitors to Starved Rock?

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If lawmakers want to profit on HBO’s newest documentary, they’d better move quickly.

A three-part true crime film, “The Murders at Starved Rock,” debuted this week, focusing on a 1960 triple homicide, one of the state’s most notorious incidents at one of its most popular attractions.

On Dec. 6, Shaw Media’s Tom Collins reported Starved Rock is on pace for its fifth-best year in terms of visitors, about 2.4 million. Nearby Matthiessen State Park is likely to surpass 500,000, establishing a new single-year record.

Not a single one of those visitors paid to enter the parks, even the out-of-staters. Meanwhile, Illinoisans have to pay to visit recreational areas in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota. In June, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources told lawmakers the state needs 2,500 employees to manage 330 state-owned and leased facilities, but only has funding for 1,170.

If Starved Rock attendance spikes in 2022 without a fee in place, it’ll be another missed opportunity.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Today marks the 105th birthday of Ruth Johnson Colvin, a Chicago native and graduate of Thornton Junior College in Harvey and Northwestern University who in 1962 founded Literacy Volunteers of America, a nonprofit organization now known as ProLiteracy Worldwide. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan gave Colvin the President’s Volunteer Action Award.

In 2006, a day before her 90th birthday, President George W. Bush gave Colvin the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civil honor. Invoking another prominent literacy advocate – his mother, Barbara – Bush called Colvin “a person of intelligence and vision and heart, and she has earned the gratitude of many and the admiration of us all.” He also quoted Colvin, who said, “The ability to read and write is critical to personal freedom and the maintenance of a democratic society.”

Colvin delivered a college commencement address in May 2018 and published her 12th book in September 2020.

MAILBAG: Reader Robert Kosin shared thoughts about candidates who don’t fully grasp the office they seek: “One job title not often referenced for the Secretary of State is Chief State Librarian. All those historic records of the path of Illinois history from 1818 to now are the responsibility of that office. Contemporary issues may be found in the records of indigenous citizens during the Indian Relocation Act, legislative actions during the Fugitive Slave Act and records of the coal labor strikes. And it’s not just the past but the operation of public libraries in Illinois, which leads to the contemporary public question of what the children should find on those bookshelves.

“Maybe the test for office is to show a library card on April 22, National Librarian Day, or as said in the commercial, what’s in your wallet?”

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

via Shaw Local

December 16, 2021 at 08:47AM

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