Friday, July 30, 2010

Wal-mart Remodeling

Here's Wal-mart's take on the remodeling of their Carbondale store. I'll leave it to others for the non-biased take on the new look

Pizza Hut

I don't know if this means they are wanting to present a more family friendly image, cutting back on their menu, cutting back on expenses or possibly shutting down, but the C'dale Pizza Hut has not applied for a renewal of its liquor license for this year.

Licquro Control Commission

The LCC meets next Tuesday at 7 p.m, mainly to get questions answered about Chartwell's plans to sell beer and alcohol only in the luxury boxes and suites at the new (unsponsored) Stadium and Arena.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Local Restaurants & Students

After the recent run down of C'dale by students in the DE, 'twas nice to find this list of one student's favorite local restaurants, along with why.

Socialists and the SHAC

Even the Socialists are getting involved with SIUC's proposal to shut down the Student Health Assessment Center.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The DE and Downtown

The DE has laid the smack down on downtown Carbondale over the last week with a front page article featuring negative student comments about Carbondale in general and downtown in particular, followed by an editorial calling for more focus on student needs in the city's comprehensive plan. Today's issue has a story focusing on the closing of Melange, without mentioning that owner Mark Garwin announced Sunday, three days before the story ran, that the restaurant will remain open with limited hours for the foreseeable future. I see other stories from today's paper have made it to the DE's website but not that one.

I did want to address a couple of points the DE makes. First, the city doesn't have a lot of say in what business do or do not come to town. The business looks at the economic base and how strong the economy appears, then decides whether or not to locate there. Local government may offer tax incentives in order to entice the business to come in, as C'dale did some years ago with Old Navy, but in general, the city usually winds up giving more to the incoming business than it recoups in jobs and taxes. The city has not made any additional tax rebate offers and, according to city manager Alan Gill, has zero plans of doing so in the future.

The second point is the call for university input into the direction the comprehensive plan, and by implication the city, takes. A committee of local citizens, including at least one representative from SIUC staff, spent over a year discussing and shaping the comprehensive plan. I sat in on a number of meetings and, while the SIUC representative attended 90% of the meetings I did, I never saw a single student show up. If you want the community to reflect your wishes and needs, you need to show up to have a voice in it.

The third point is that students vote with their dollars what businesses they want in downtown. They have chosen, over the past 20 years to transfer their business to the mall, Wal-mart and the businesses on the east side, and to a lesser extent west side, of town. The bars and restaurants currently in downtown are the ones the community has said, with its dollars, it wants there. If, as the article above indicates, students want grocery stores close by focusing on international foods, they need to patronize the two on the north side of the square or International Foods at Murdale. Saying you want those type of stores in Carbondale, then not patronizing the ones here is a sure bet to discourage others from opening in the community. Business open where they see other businesses being successful. That's why a Walgreen's is opening on the west side while a Chili's is opening on the east side. They are not moving into a location where they think they will fail. Like follows like.

More Road Closure

From the city:


Reed Station Road will be closed to all traffic at Old Route 13 (Walnut Street). This closure is scheduled to begin Wednesday, July 28th and will be in effect until further notice. It is anticipated to last for several weeks. All access to the businesses along Reed Station Road will be from the north off Illinois Route 13.

You may call the City’s Engineering Department at 457-3270 for additional information.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More on Melange and Downtown in General

The SI ran a story on Melange's closing this past weekend. The thing I found notable about it was asst. city manager Kevin Baity's comment:

"It's sad to see a business close," Baity said. "We like to see our store fronts full; it adds to the vitality of downtown. One business closing is not an indicator of a trend."

But that's three long time downtown businesses that have closed up in the past year: Kaleidoscope, Booby's and now Melange, with nothing moving in to take their space. Jazzy Pops closed up after only a couple of months. Granted both Pagliai's Pizza and Jimmy John's moved to new larger locations recently, but nothing has moved into their old locations yet. The rebuilding of Hanger 9 is coming along, but still, that's a business rebuilding in its same location. I've heard talk for the past year about businesses moving into the open grassy area at E. Walnut and S. Washington for a year now, but nothing is happening. Same thing with the empty houses at the corner of S. Illinois and Mill. We're seeing businesses move out and the only businesses I've seen move into downtown in the past year have been a pair of barber shops, Kampus Kuts and Blade Kings. downtown needs a lot more than that to fill up the empty spaces.

Jeffery Reopen

The Jeffrey Laundromat on West Main has remodeled and reopened after the fire that gutted much of the first floor interior. Now if they could just refurbish the sign. Don't replace it as it still looks very retro but it could certainly use a new coat of paint.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Melange Open

In the ongoing Melange saga, apparently, due to the number of phone calls and customer comments, yesterday they decided to remain open for the immediate future with reduced hours. Of course, now we'll have to see if the customer calls are backed up with customer spending. All the customer goodwill in the world won't pay the bills from your suppliers, so if you want them to remain open, go in there and spend some money.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

CrossFit Gym

Crossfit Gym will be moving into the old Saluki Central location just south of Melange. Not certain if the planned remodel of the Melange building has anything to do with the gym or not and no one seems to know for certain.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Business Financing

From an email sent out by Jeff Dougherty:

Jackson County Businesses Are Eligible for Tax Exempt Financing

Businesses in Jackson County have a unique opportunity to borrow money at lower interest rates for capital projects. Jackson County has been designated as a Recovery Zone under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and has been allocated $8,061,000 for tax exempt Recovery Zone Facility (RZF) Bonds.

RZF Bonds are tax exempt private activity bonds that can be used by private businesses for depreciable capital projects such as buildings and equipment. Financing projects with RZF Bonds can be through banks or through the open bond market. The bonds are issued by Jackson County; however, the county does not have any financial liability associated with the issuance of or repayment of the bonds

Projects that use RZF Bonds must meet the definition of a “qualified business”. A “qualified business” is any trade or business with certain exceptions including the rental of residential real property (unless part of a mixed use project) or the operation of certain non-favored facilities such as golf courses, massage parlors, gambling facilities and stores primarily selling alcohol for consumption off premises.

There are additional costs involved with issuing RZF Bonds as compared to traditional private financing. The benefit of the tax exempt status of the financing method is best in projects over $300,000; however, smaller projects may benefit depending upon interest rates and loan terms and RZF Bonds should be considered for those projects.

Parties interested in learning more about Recovery Zone Facility Bonds may contact Jeff Doherty, Executive Director, Jackson Growth Alliance at 618-713-9210 or

City Clerk Announces Retirement

From the email:

Carbondale, Illinois -- Long-time Carbondale City Clerk Janet Vaught has announced her retirement effective February 18, 2011.

Vaught, 58, who has worked for the City of Carbondale since 1976 and has been City Clerk since 1979, announced her retirement to the City Council in a closed City Council meeting on July 20th. She also announced that her husband, Chuck, 60, who has worked in the City’s Finance Department since 1975, will also retire from the City on February 18th.

“Chuck and I met when I went to work for the City in 1976 and a year later got married,” Mrs. Vaught said. “He was ready to retire and I just couldn’t imagine working in City Hall without him. We both want to travel and I have promised him that I will take up golf so we can play together. Most importantly, we want to spend more time with our grandsons.” Said Mr. Vaught, “Our family and friends will tell you that we’ve been thinking about this for a long time. There are things we want to do and not enough time to do them. We finally decided the time was right.”

In response to City Clerk Vaught’s announcement, Mayor Brad Cole said, “Janet has been one of the people at City Hall that you could always go to for an answer about why or when something happened. She is a true professional and the Council will miss her.”

The City Clerk is appointed by the Mayor with the consent of the City Council. Plans for replacing Vaught have not been announced.

Melange Update

Latest I have heard on Melange is that the owner has sent out an email announcing closing this Sunday at 3 p.m, but I'm hearing second hand that it's closing for remodeling, said remodeling to start on the 26. Whether it reopens as Melange or under another name and when it might is anybody's guess.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

City Council Meeting

Apparently there was quite a turnout for tonight's city council meeting, but everyone had left by the time I got there.

The vast majority of them came for the first time on the general business agenda, a rezoning request for the northeast corner of the intersection of old and new Highway 51. The trust owning the property, on which now sits the Beadle dentist office, got grandfathered in when the city annexed the area, which is currently zoned Rural Residential and General Agriculture. The trust appears to have gotten some inquiries about further commercializing the property (a gas station/conveneince store would be my guess) and wanted to take tentative steps towards making that possible. However, residents of the area turned out en mass to protest the rezoning, citing increased traffic, additional lights and declining property values. At the request of the trust which had made the proposal under a misapprehension of the zoning status of the property, the council removed the ordinance from the agenda.

A similar fate befell the next ordinance under consideration, making E. College two way and establishing No Parking along the street. The rational for this is to increase access to the new Police Department building, going in on the south side of East College. Owners of rental property in the area turned out for this one, since a number of them rely upon E. College to provide parking for residents of their rental properties and that making it a "No Parking" zone would render their properties unrentable since many of them didn't have enough space on the properties to add parking (no mention was made by any of them of turning one of their properties into parking space for the tenants in the area. Go with the taxpayer subsidized street parking appears the preferred option). Council decided on its own to pull the item from the agenda and meet with the landlords to see what can be worked out.

The last item, rezoning a property in the 1200 block of E. Walnut from Planned Unit Development to Professional Administrative office, almost sailed through. The owner plans to donate the property for construction of a Hindu Temple. The only concer, I gathered was that there might be difficulty with water from a pond there formed by the building of Sports Blast Road. Don Monty (sp?) tookt he podium to suggest the city build a culverty under the road to alleviate any potential drainage problem. This agenda item got approved unanimously, so it looks like C'dale will soon have a Hindu temple and less taxable property.

Mayor Cole dismissed us at 8:40.

Sexual Assault Charges

Wow, a couple of sexual assault charges against fairly high profile members of the southern Illinois Community.

City Council Agenda

Here's what's on the agenda for tonight's exciting city council meeting. Apparently there's going to be a heck of a lot of denying going on tonight:

1. Roll Call
2. General Announcements and Proclamations
3. Citizens’ Comments and Questions
4. Public Hearings and Special Reports
1. Public Hearing on Annexation Agreement With V.A. Beadle Trust at 4 Crown Lane
5. Consent Agenda
1. Approval of Minutes of the Regular City Council Meeting Held on June 22, 2010
2. Approval of Warrant for Period Ending: 05/31/10 FY 2010 Warrant # 1097
3. Approval of Warrant for Period Ending: 05/31/10 FY 2011 Warrant # 1098
4. Approval of Warrant for Period Ending: 06/14/10 FY 2010 Warrant # 1099
5. Acceptance of Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees
6. Resolution Rescinding the Policy Established in Resolution No. 90-R-34
7. Ordinance Amending Title Two, Chapters One and Four, of the Carbondale Revised
Code Relative to Liquor Licenses for Bed and Breakfast Establishments
8. Ordinance Adopting the Prevailing Rate of Wages of Laborers, Mechanics and Other
Workers Employed in Public Works as Certified by the Illinois Department of Labor
for the Annexation Into Williamson County
9. Resolution Affirming the Award of Contract for Computer Programming and
Engineering Services for the Water Treatment Plant SCADA System, CIP No. WS1101
10. Award of Purchase of SCADA Hardware for the Water Treatment Plant CIP No.
11. Award of Purchase of a 2010 Model Special Response Vehicle/ Mobile Command Unit
for the Police Department
6. General Business
1. Ordinance Approving and a Resolution Denying V.A. Beadle Trust’s Request to
Rezone a 1.36 Acre Parcel Located at 4 Crown Lane From RR, Rural Residential and
AG, General Agriculture, to SB, Secondary Business and an Ordinance Initiating an
Annexation Agreement Between the City of Carbondale and V.A. Beadle Trust

2. Ordinance Providing for Two-Way Traffic on East College Street, Establishing Stop
Signs on East College Street and Establishing “No Parking” on East College Street

3. Ordinance Approving and Resolution Denying Patterson Industries LLC Request to
Rezone a 5.39 Acre Parcel Located at 1209 East Walnut Street From PUD, Planned
Unit Development, to PA, Professional Administrative Office

7. Council Comments
8. Closed Meeting
1. Closed Meeting to Discuss Personnel, Collective Negotiating Matters, the Sale,
Purchase or Lease of Real Property, Pending or Imminent Litigation and to Review
Closed Meeting Minutes
9. Adjournment

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cole Statement

Since Mayor Cole's statement on the dismissal of charges against Elijah Lacy has gotten quite a bit of press today, I thought I'd post the entire statement. From the Carbondale Police department's website:

Carbondale, Illinois – Following Judge Ronald Eckiss’ dismissal today of murder and home invasion charges filed against Elijah Lacy, in the 2007 killing of Falon C. Taylor, Mayor Brad Cole issued the following statement:

“We are obviously disturbed by the ruling to dismiss on a technicality. The City of Carbondale Police Department works hard to pursue all individuals responsible for crimes and, while we believe in and respect the judicial process, we feel strongly that the victims deserve their day in court. We will continue to actively seek closure on unresolved murders and other crimes and we encourage anyone with information to come forward to assist us in that effort.”

Melange Closing

Via the Beer Philosopher:

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I've just learned that Melange on Carbondale's Strip is closing its doors on Sunday, July 25th at 3:00pm for good. This is a real shame, as Melange had a lot to offer but couldn't seem to keep a consistent clientele for whatever reason.

I had noticed a sign posted on their outside menu board this afternoon that people were noticing but didn't take the time to stop the car and take a look.

Earthquake Readiness

Got curious about how well Carbondale would fare in the event of a major earthquake, certainly a concern given the presence of fault lines in both the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys so checked with the city. Turns out we're in pretty good shape.

Assuming they are still structurally sound, most wood and steel framed buildings in the city should withstand the effects of an moderate earthquake, though newer buildings will suffer less damange than older ones. Ergo, the residential sections of Carbondale should come through relatively unscathed. However, the older areas closer to downtown, such as the Arbor District, would suffer more damage than the newer expansions to the west.

Buildings erected in the last 20 years have had to adhere to stricter seismic codes so recent developments such as the new apartment houses to the south and east should readily withstand most shocks. Public buildings such as the Civic Center/City Hall and the eastside fire station should withstand all but the most drastic shocks. Memorial Hospital and Dick's Sporting G00ds were also retrofitted during their recent remodels to make them more seismically resistant.

The area most likely to suffer sever damage in the event of an serious earthquake would be the downtown business district as the masonry and brick structures there are not particularly flexible and have not been reinforced to withstand seismic shocks. Carbondale could expect to see the greatest percentage of damaged buildings within this area.

Buidling inspector John Lenzini believes that, due to Carbondale's enforcement of building codes, the city is in better shape than surrounding communities to withstand earthquakes. City inspectors examine plans before building starts and inspect the property regularly work continues.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Spotlight Grill/ Coal City Diner

Looks like the Spotlight Grille/Coal City Diner has give up the ghost. The restaurant tried going the latenight breakfast route for a few weeks, opening about 11 p.m. and closing about 10 the next morning. The plan was to attract late night workers and those students (and others) closing up assorted bars. The Grille had a menu out with the breakfast offerings on it but never made much of a push to promote the new hours or menu. Now all signage is gone from the windows and I've not seen any sign of life there for the past month.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blue Fish Open

Without a lot of fanfare (or if there was, I missed it), Blue Fish Liquor and Cigars has opened in the shopping plaza on Sweets Drive. Surprising lack of attention given the amount of controversy its planned opening attracted last spring.

Liquor Control Commission Meeting

The LCC meets next Tuesday at 7, just before the city council meets. Only topics on the agenda are the requests for Class A1 liquor licenses by Chartwells for the new Arena and football stadium.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


In case you're looking for a new ringtone, the State Journal-Register offers you Gov. Blago's greatest hits, now for your phone.

Luchtefeld Again

Got the opportunity to sit in on an hour long conference call with Sen. Dave Luchtefeld last night. MOst of what he had to say repeated his comments from the Chapber of Commerce lunch yesterday i.e. the state is in lot of financial trouble, we need serious budget reform, a good chunk of it is Michael Madigan's fault for focusing on staying in power rather than doing things that might cause the Democrats to get voted out.

I was bemused to hear several of the callers ask him questions and comment about getting out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and not touching Social Security, since he has nothing to do with either of them. Guess some folks just wanted to vent. State pensions were another popular topic, with several people asking what could be done, if anything, about reducing them.

Jerry C. on Health Care Fraud

Got this email from Rep. Jerry Costello regarding Medicare and health care fraud:

Following the passage of national health care reform legislation earlier this year, many seniors have already taken advantage of the new benefits provided by the law. For example, Medicare Part D beneficiaries in our area who enter the prescription drug coverage gap – the so-called “donut hole” – have already begun to receive their $250 rebate check in the mail. A total of more than 4 million seniors who face the donut hole will get checks throughout the rest of the year.

With these important benefits in mind, I wanted to let you know about new efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration on Aging and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to give seniors the information they need to protect themselves against scams and fraud when it comes to their Medicare benefits. As part of this educational campaign, seniors are being encouraged to keep the following in mind:

  • There are no forms to fill out to receive the $250 rebate check once you qualify for it. Medicare will automatically send a check that is made out to you. You do NOT need to provide any personal information such as your Medicare, Social Security or bank account numbers to get the rebate check.
  • Don’t give your personal information to anyone who calls you about the $250 rebate check. Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to report anyone who does this. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

You can visit to learn more about how Medicare is working with law enforcement to stop scams against seniors. The more seniors know about health care reform and the steps they can take to stay on guard against scams and fraud, the easier it will be to take full advantage of the new benefits being made available to them.

For more information about the benefits of health care reform, I encourage you to visit my website at

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bost and Luechtefeld

Sat in on the lunch talk by State Rep. Mike Bost and State Senator Dave Luechtefeld put on by the Chamber of Commerce yesterday. It was billed as a look back at the past legislative session but the two spent very little time talking about that, instead spending the hour discussion Illinois' financial problems and what's going to have to happen done to fix them. The stat's about $130 billion in debt, second, I believe, only to California. Bost and Luechtefeld put a lot of the blaime at the feet of ex Gov. Blagoyovich and House Speaker Mike Madigan, Gov. Blago because he enacted a number of programs that, while they were certainly beneficial to Illinois residents, were not paid for and with no plan for how to pay for them and Madigan because nothing in the past 30 years has been passed by the state legislature without his approval. Madigan is directly responsible for about 3000 state employees having their jobs.

Two things Bost suggested would help start digging Illinois out of its hole are moving Medicaid to a manage care program like that in Iowa, whihc he says would save the state about $3 billion a year. The second thing is enacting PAYGO, meaning a legislator proposing a new program must also include the source of the funding in the bill.

Luechtefeld followed up on the theme, telling of an encounter with Jim Edgar's budget chief, Steve Schorr(sp?), and Schorr's response when Luechtefeld asked him about the budget. Schorr responded that there was no short term fix and five things needed to happen to get the budget back into balance:

1. cannot start or enlarge any programs for the next several years.
2. hope the economy comes back.
3. cut some programs, especially from the Blago years.
4. make the state more business friendly
5. after the others are done, look for new revenue streams

Neither man sees much stomach in the state legislature for the painful cuts needed to fix things because any program cut has supporters who will come out and lobby to defend it. For example, witness the number of college students that came out when the legislature considered cutting MAP grants. The legislature quickly backpedaled on the proposed cuts and I'd expect a similar response and result with any other proposed cuts, especially given the likelihood the same people will return to office in the legislature after the November elections.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Toyota and Gilbert Behind the Scenes

This article by the AP gives an interesting look at the pressure, real and implied, Toyota applied to SIUC and SIUC instructor underwent during the flap over unexpected acceleration in Toyota vehicles. Haven't heard much about it in recent months, though.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sounds Interesting

Dave Armstrong, host of Sounds Like Radio on WSIU Sunday morning, will pull a double duty hosting gig this Sunday, July 18. To celebrate the first World Listening Day, Armstrong plans a special edition of Sounds Like Radio during the regular 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. time slot, then at 10:30 a.m., he will guide a Sunday Morning Soundwalk through some of the unique "sound environments" at SIUC. The walk is free, just meet at the north end of SIUC's Student Center by 10:30 a.m.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Death of Pizza (Places)

As Startling Moniker points out in the comments, the local Godfather's Pizza shuttered its doors about a month and a half ago after about 20 years at the same location. Surprising to see such a long time resident of C'dale fold its tents and silently steal away without any more notice. Godfather's had been at the same location for over 15 years, however, most people opted for their pizza buffet, I don't recall ever hearing anyone say they were ordering Godfather's for delivery.

On the cheap pizza end, Gumby's Pizza also closed down about a month ago, apparently leaving quite a mess and even some rotting meat at their ex. South Illinois location. Very class act.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wil Maring

In case you're not familiar with her, here's a good article on local musician Wil Maring from 2007.

Sergio's Bar and Grill/ El Greco's

It appears that Sergio's Bar & Grill has fallen through. The company had applied for a liquor license last year and planned to go into the La Bamba/Express Burrito & old Jimmy John's locations on South Illinois, across the street from El Greco's. There's been no work done on either the exterior or interior of the two locations and the liquor license the company received last year has lapsed. So no Sergio's and no sign anything is going in there in the immediate future.

Across the street, El Greco's is negotiating with the city to turn the empty plot of ground where the American Tap used to stand into an outdoor dining area. Apparently the sticking point is the city's desire to lease the property to El Greco's, while the restaurant wishes to buy it outright.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Apparently there's an upcoming weekend music festival in Carbondale called Handsomefest which will feature a large number of independent bands playing at venues through out the town. That's not why you need to find a copy of the program book though. You need to find a copy of the program book, available at a number of places in downtown, though not for much longer as they are being snapped up like loose dollar bills, because it has the markings of a piece of treasured Carbondale ephemera. Why, you ask? Because, says I, they feature a playing card bearing the faces of Strip notables Jason Tanner, Time Lloyd, and Vacation, coupled with the visage of Mayor Brad Cole. A collector's item, to be sure.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bike Laws

I'm glad to see laws outlawing this kind of behaviour. It's unfortunate we even have to pass laws to enforce what should be appropriate behavior by auto drivers towards bicyclists but there you go.

Still bicyclists need to realize they are riding a much smaller vehicle and act accordingly. In any dispute between a car and a bicycle, the bike is going to lose. The bike may have the right of way at an intersection, but it's not worth getting run over to win an argument with the driver in the car that really wants to go first.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Gov. Quinn's Raises

Looks like Gov. Quinn, despite preaching shared sacrifice, has handed out a number of raises to staff over the last year and a half. Look for both his opponents to make electoral hay with this story.

Military at SIUC

Looks like SIUC ranks number 37 in the nation in terms of military personal attending and getting tuition assistance. There are about 1400 active military and veterans getting tuition assistance in their studies at the University, with 750 student veterans attending classes on the Carbondale campus.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sales Tax

Just a reminder that the C'dale sales tax increases by .5% today to 8.25%. The extra money will go to cover projected short falls in the city budget.

Bagel Man Moves

Winston's Bagels has had two pushcarts dispensing delicious grilled bagels for quite some time now, originally on S. Illinois in front of Gatby's for a couple of decades, and a second cart in more recent years on East Grand, across from Pinch Penny Pub. Apparently, the downtown location is no longer as profitable as there has been no cart there for several weeks and a check of push cart licenses indicates only one for Winston's Bagels, for the East Grand location. So, no more hot bagels for those frequenting the Strip late night.

There are indications that Curtis Conley, former Arnold's butcher and bartender at PK's, may move a hot dog cart into the S. Illinois location, but if so, he hasn't filed for a pushcart license yet.