Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fire Station

The old fire station at the corner of Oakland and Walnut was due to get approved for sale at tonight's city council meeting. The city wanted $82,000 for it and that amount was offered by Joshua Klarer who wanted to open a restaurant and microbrewery in the location. However, unless something changes, the city has opted to accept a bid of $50000 from John Deas and Allison Smith who plan to open studio space and a tasting room at the location.

The city cited the residential nature of the neighborhood, which has hosted a fire station there for decades, and the difficulty of access to parking, only available from off Walnut Street, which doesn't seem to bother any of the restaurants located on South Illinois, also a one way street.

I have no problem with the "secrecy" with which the discussions were held, though more input from the community might have been helpful. As the mayor points out, such decisions should be made without undue influence and council members should vote in private. My major concern is that, in a time when sales tax revenues in the city are down, the city has opted to take a facility that, if the restaurant opened, would generate sales tax revenues, while artist studios will not. Given that, due to budget needs,  the city voted to extend a sales tax due to sunset this year, an extra $32,000 in city coffers might be helpful. Additionally, if the city might have to suit Klarer's needs, as stated in the article, why are those spaces not equally suitable for Deas and Smith's studio?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Thai Taste Reopens

Thai Taste reopened for business last Saturday at lunch time after closing for 2 days while repairs were made from an accident wherein a car, doing a 180 after getting clipped on the rear end, smashed into the restaurant's north wall. Repairs to a smashed drainpipe were completed Friday and, while Tyvik still covers the hole in the wall, the restaurant reopeend with a clean bill of health Saturday.

Friday, September 15, 2017

True Value Hardware Sold

To Cotton Hardware out of Columbia IL

An anchor of the Carbondale retail sector will soon be changing hands. George Sheffer, who, along with his wife Diane, has owned Murdale True Value for more than 35 years, has announced plans to sell the store to Cotton Hardware effective Dec. 1.

“We appreciate so much all of our customers and friends from Carbondale and throughout Southern Illinois, and especially all of our team members,” Sheffer said. “We have so much to be thankful for.”

Under his leadership, Murdale True Value has grown to one of the flagship stores in the True Value organization and is often used as an example for other stores to follow. The store has won numerous honors both nationally and locally, including being named the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year for 2016. Murdale True Value has been an active supporter of community and charitable causes including Southern Illinois Athletics, the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale, St. Francis Animal Care and many others. Sheffer said that new ownership has expressed a desire for the store to continue community involvement.

“Cotton Hardware cares about their communities. They are very locally-focused,” he said.

Sheffer, who has owned Murdale True Value since 1985, added that current employees will continue with the store following the sale.

“Utmost in our thought process was our team members here – to make sure they continued to have good jobs and are able to support their families. Everything will be the same here,” he explained.

The Sheffers will continue through the ownership transition – a process expected to last two months. He added that he will remain in Carbondale.

“This is our home,” he said. “We will still be living in Carbondale and will remain active in the community.”

Columbia Illinois -based Cotton Hardware owns ten other retail locations. The Carbondale store will be the first to include a locksmith service, appliance department and rental.

The Cotton family stated, “We are looking forward to working with the great residents and businesses in the Southern Illinois Region. Giving back and supporting the local community has always been a cornerstone of our business model. It is our intention to continue the great service and support that you have come to expect for Murdale. We are truly blessed to be a part of your community.”

Sheffer said the coming months for him will be a time of reflection and appreciation to the community. 

“All of our great customers have made everything possible,” Sheffer said. “We will be forever grateful to all of them.”

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Trick or Treat Hours

Mayor announced hours for Trick or Treating in Carbondale this year. Happily, we are continuing to do trick or treating on actual Halloween rather than pushing it to the last Saturday in October as some places have done. Halloween belongs on October 31, not on a weekend night:

 Carbondale Mayor John “Mike” Henry is excited to announce trick-or-treat hours for Halloween.
Kids can trick-or-treat throughout Carbondale on Tuesday, October 31 from 5-8 p.m.
Residents wishing to hand out candy to “trick-or-treaters” should light up their porches and driveways.
“Trick-or-treaters” are encouraged to wear reflective tape or clothing and have their parents check their candy for potentially harmful objects.
Mayor Henry and members of the City Council ask for the cooperation of all residents in making this a happy and safe occasion for our community.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Accident at the corner of Main and Illinois tonight about 7 p.m. From the video, it appears the car in the photo got clipped by another car heading north on Illinois, spun around and went through the wall of Thai Taste. At least one person in the hospital and Thai Taste has closed for the rest of the evening. Very hard to serve customers with a 15' hole in the wall.

We're Number 86, We're Number 86

Alarms.org compiled a ranking of the top 100 safest colleges and universities in the US and SIUC came in at #86. The ranking is based upon statistics gathered from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting and the National Center for Education Statistics. Colleges that made the list reported both low levels of crime both off and on campus. Take that, reputation of Carbondale as an unsafe city.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Turning The Corner

One of the terms I kept hearing people use during the after-eclipse forum was "turning the corner", as in the eclipse traffic helped downtown turn the corner towards revitalization. We shall see but SIUC's administration has used the same phrase to describe university enrollment and strategy for almost two decades now and the only result I have seen is the continuing decline in enrollment. While I was happy to see the traffic and emphasis on downtown prior to the eclipse, it looks still to early to say if downtown has "turned the corner" yet or not.