Wednesday, December 31, 2014

LCC Meeting

The Liquor Control Commision meets next Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Not much on the agenda save the quarterly report on liquor law violations from the various city departments:

Consideration of First Quarter Reports (July-September) from Building and Neighborhood Services, Fire Department, and Police Department for Liquor License Year 2014-2015

Monday, December 29, 2014

No Coffee Shop in Downtown

It looks as if the proposed coffee shop in the old Country Goddess location, corner of College and Illinois, has fallen through. The remodeling permits on the windows are all gone and there is now  "For Rent" sign on the building.

It would have been rather hard for another coffee shop to go in at that location, given the Café Melange location right across the street and Blend just a couple of blocks away. Carbondale could probably support another coffee shop but not in the downtown area. West side of Carbondale, in the Murdale Shopping Center, now that's another story.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Popeye's Open

See that Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen had a soft opening yesterday. The sign says "Opening Soon" but soon apparently means "Now", though the restaurant wasn't quite as busy as I expected.

Update:  Drove by Popeye's around noon today and the parking lot was packed. The drive-through has a line of cars backed up almost out onto Highway 13.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Closings

Noticed several small retailers in town and the surrounding area closing the weekend before Christmas and staying closed all Christmas week. I can understand wanting to take time off to be with families but given the amount of traffic generated by Christmas sales but I found it strange they would pick arguably the busiest shopping week of the year to close up. Maybe they have tracked that weeks sales in past years and found that sales dropped off this week to the point that it did not justify remaining open.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

618 Vape

Following up on yesterday's post about the Vape Shop moving and further showing the growth in the e-cigarette category, since regular cigarette sales have been flat for about a decade, 618 Vape  opened on East Grand about the beginning of December. With sales of electronic cigarettes roughly doubling every year, I would expect to see a third or even 4th shop to open in Carbondale in 2015.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Vape Shop

Another business has moved out of downtown. The Vape Shop, which sells electronic cigarettes and refills, had a location in the Campus Shopping Center net to where New Kahala Fast Foods used to sit. However, when time for lease renewal came, the business opted to relocate to West Main, in the old Subway building.  Better parking and, I would bet, lower rent.

Friday, December 19, 2014

BrightFilelds Meeting

Not sure what attendance was like at last night's meeting regarding the proposed BrightFields solar installation on the contaminated Koppers' property but it appears those that showed were vehemently against it.

The BrightFields installation will bring construction jobs, generate property taxes and is the sort of development that has successfully repurposed contaminated sites in other areas. There was little complaint or concern shown about the property during the years of the cleanup. , only now, when someone wants to use it , are opponents getting noisy.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

State of the City Address

For those of you that missed it, Mayor Don Monty's State of the City address from last Tuesday is now posted as a PDF on the city website.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Most Dangerous City

According to the FBI, Carbondale ranks as the 4th most dangerous city in Illinois and the 66th most dangerous city nationwide, based on crimes per 100,000 population. Neighborhood Scout lists all 100 cities ranked based on info gathered from FBI statistics. Though Carbondale is down a couple of spots from the 2013 list and you can argue that Neighborhood Scout is not the most reliable of sources, the figure is still a statistic that gets a lot of attention in the press and does not help advance Carbondale's image to those looking at going to school or locating a business here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Henry Challenge Rebuffed

It only took about 5 minutes for the Electoral Commission to vote unanimously against the objection to Mike Henry's candidacy for mayor.  The city attorney will prepare a document outlining the Commission's reasoning, which should be available within the next two days.

Only about half the seats in the courtroom were taken this time and only Channel 3 had a camera and reporter, though both the Southern and the Carbondale Times had reporters in place. A brief spate of handclapping and cheers came from the right side of the room, where most Henry supporters sat.

State of the City Address

Whadyawanna bet that the state of the city is "Good"?

Carbondale Acting Mayor Don Monty will present his “State of the City Address” as part of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce’s regular monthly membership luncheon at noon, Tuesday, Dec.16 at the Carbondale Civic Center.
     The acting mayor, as well as city department heads, are expected to speak on current and planned developments for the city. The event is open to the public, but lunch reservations are required. The event is $15 for Chamber members and those RSVP and $20 at the door. A portion of ticket sales will go toward scholarships for Carbondale Community High School students who choose to attend Southern Illinois University.

Electoral Commission

The Carbondale Electoral Commission returns from recess this afternoon at 3 p.m. (hope they got in a good game of kickball) to deliver its verdict on the complaint challenging whether mayoral candidate Mike Henry meets the residency requirement for the office. The  challengers argue that, since Henry did not change his voter registration or driver's license until late into 2014, he maintained official residency at his Carterville house.

Henry maintains he demonstrated Carbondale residency by having his mail forwarded to his home, paying utilities at the home and, well, living there for the past year. Most people I have spoken with think the Commission will rule in favor of Henry but I expect the courtroom to be packed. Hopefully, the Commission won't take 2+ hours to deliver their decision.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Gigabit Project

In case you saw the story in today's Southern  about the upcoming Gigabit project, there is a kickoff ceremony at 3 p.m. today at the Carbondale Main Street offices. Apparently, when completed, internet speeds in Carbondale will be 50 times faster than now, meaning that you will be able to download porn at lightning fast rates.  The article says that Frontier is the lead company for the project, in partnership with SIU and the city so am not sure if that means you will have to be a Frontier customer to take advantage of it.

It also appears that Carbondale's WiFi will get an upgrade, which would certainly benefit downtown as well. The city has some wireless access around the town square but it is generally hit or miss.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Electoral Commision

Electoral Commission reconvenes this Monday at 3 p.m.

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that: On December 15, 2014, at 3:00 p.m., Donald D. Monty, Acting Mayor; Jennifer R. Sorrell, City Clerk; and Corene McDaniel, City Councilwoman, constituting the Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the hearing and passing upon of objections to nomination papers for candidates in the City of Carbondale, will reconvene the hearing of December 8, 2014.

I have heard second hand that the plaintiffs in the case are not expecting to prevail in their challenge to Mike Henry's candidacy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Two Businesses Closed

Locally Important Produce Store and Illusions Barber Shop, both in the 200 block of West Walnut, just behind Phoenix Cycle, have closed down and both businesses have "Space for Rent" signs in their windows. Locally Important had not opened, at least that I ever saw, for over 2 weeks. However, I saw customers inside Illusions just a few days ago so the vacating of the building happened pretty quickly. A sign posted in Illusions window directs potential customers to Blade Kings on S. Illinois.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mike Henry Challenge Hearing

Sat in on the the Electoral Commission hearing for the challenge to Mike Henry's candidacy for mayor this afternoon.  That's Henry sitting in the witness stand. Darryl Dunham is in the black coat with his back to the camera, SIUC Archaeology Professor Andrew Balkansky in the grey jacket,  and Henry's lawyer is the woman in the dark jacket to the right. Mayor Don Monty, Councilwoman Corene McDaniel and City Clerk Jennifer Sorrell facing the camera.

About 3 dozen onlookers and three cameras filled the room behind the railing, almost all of them pro-Henry. A number of them snickered several times at comments Henry made in response to Dunham's questioning and two gentlemen behind me kept running commentary on Dunham, all negative.

Dunham, as the one questioning Henry's status, spent most of his time questioning Henry and introducing various documents into evidence, including a water bill, voter registration card, tax bill and driver's license, all to show that Henry still maintained his primary legal residence in Carterville as of late 2014, well past the date by which he had to establish residence in Carbondale in order to run for mayor. Dunham also cited the case of Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel, who faced a challenge to his Chicago residency when first running for mayor, indicating that Emmanuel proved residence by just these documents, therefore they should be applicable in proving Henry still had a Carterville residence.  Henry claimed these were all either oversights or, in the case of the water bill, a malfunctioning meter showing water usage after Henry said he had moved out of the Carterville residence.

Henry's lawyer, whose name I did not catch, introduced a number of documents and bills into evidence, all showing Henry's residence as a W. Hill St. address. She also put Henry's wife Terri on the stand to testify that she had properly changed her voter reregistration and driver's license to the new residence, arguing that previous court cases had ruled that other members of a family unit could provide evidence of residency. She also introduced some $10,000 worth of improvements to the property and the testimony of neighbors as to Henry's continuous residency into evidence.

Shortly after 5 p.m., Mayor Monty recessed the hearing. Since either members of the commission or the lawyers were unavailable the rest of the week, the commission will reconvene Monday, Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. and issue its ruling.

Municpal Election Board Meeting Today

From the city:

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that:  Donald D. Monty, Acting Mayor; Jennifer R. Sorrell, City Clerk; and Corene McDaniel, City Councilwoman, constituting the Municipal Officers Electoral Board for the hearing and passing upon of objections to nomination papers for candidates in the City of Carbondale, to be voted upon by the electors of the City, will hold a meeting of the Municipal Officers Electoral Board on December 8, 2014 at 3:00 p.m., which is required by law to meet and pass upon objections to nomination papers in the City of Carbondale, to be voted upon at the Consolidated Election to be held on April 7, 2015. The hearing will be held in the Courtroom located in Carbondale City Hall, 200 South Illinois Avenue, Carbondale, Illinois.

I hope they don't find anything wrong with Mike Henry's residency as I want to see voters have a choice in the April mayoral election.  However, if his residence does violate state law, I hope the commission does not vote to override. If you are going to put a law into place, only just to override it, why bother with the law in the first place?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Koppers Update

Here's the monthly report on cleanup at the abandoned Koppers site.

Items Performed/Completed Since Previous Report:
 On November 26, 2014, Beazer submitted to USEPA a Human Health Risk Assessment that was
prepared consistent with the approach described in the October 1, 2014 Work Plan developed in
conjunction with the USEPA.
 Beazer, USEPA and others participated in a corrective action coordination conference call on
November 13, 2014.
 Beazer and USEPA participated on a conference call and WebEx on November 24, 2014 to discuss
potential modifications to the groundwater monitoring program for the Site.
 Beazer continued post-construction OMM activities (e.g., DNAPL thickness measurements/removal,
CAMU leachate monitoring/removal, Site inspections, etc.).
 Beazer collected approximately 121 gallons of DNAPL from the barrier trench and approximately 31
gallons of DNAPL from recovery well RW-23 during this reporting period. The approximate total
DNAPL volumes collected through November 2014 are 18,755 gallons from the barrier trench and
7,563 gallons from RW-23.
Items Anticipated to be Performed/Completed over the Next One to Two Months:
 Beazer and USEPA will participate in discussions regarding the Site groundwater monitoring program.
 Beazer, USEPA and others will participate in conference calls to discuss Site corrective action and
redevelopment activities.
 Brightfields will hold an additional public information session for solar land use at the Site, including
attendance by representatives of Beazer, USEPA, and the City.
 Beazer and Brightfields will continue to advance/support potential future solar land use at the Site.
Items Anticipated to be Performed/Completed over the Next Two to Six Months:
 Beazer will continue to advance proposed future Site uses, including conservation land use and solar use.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Henry Challenge

The challenge to Mike Henry's residency and its impact on his mayoral candidacy should prove interesting if it turns out he fails to meet the residence requirement of living a year within the city limits prior to the election. That throws the decision about the next mayor into the hands of city government. Does the three member commission follow state law and declare Henry ineligible to run for mayor, essentially handing the position to Jane Adams, unless someone mounts a strong write in campaign? Or does it override the law, as is its option, essentially saying that giving votes a choice is more important that adhering to the residency requirement.

I hope the challenge comes to naught and that Henry is found eligible, simply because it would be easier on the process but I have to admit, 'twould be interesting to see how the Carbondale Election Board would rule.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


City council voted to amend the city code last night extending the time  businesses may hang banners outside their buildings from 60 days to 100 days. This applies to off-premises banners as, according to what I have been told, businesses have always been able to hang banners on their buildings for any length, it was free standing banners, such as those staked out alongside a street that violated city code.

Wow, first A-frame signs and now banners!  The city is really loosening up.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Taxi Service

Ace Taxi Service is requesting a taxicab business license from the city.  Their presentation will be at 1:30 this Thursday afternoon. Not really sure why anyone needs a license to drive a person from one location to another but there you are:

A public hearing regarding an application from Kevin Samuel, Carl Barnett, & David Woods d/b/a Ace Transportation at 319 North Illinois Avenue, requesting a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (Taxicab Business License) will be held in Conference Room A at the Carbondale City Hall/Civic Center on Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 1:30 p.m.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Shopping District or the Lack Thereof

Was talking with a business owner in Carbondale the other day and it came up that both of us agreed that a major problem that downtown Carbondale has is the lack of a shopping district. Downtown has a pretty good entertainment district, not as lively as it was a decade or so ago when Stix, Gatsbys and Boobys all drew good crowds but still good for a night out, especially if you are a college student or in your 20s.

However, the retail stores are destination stores, great for the store but not so good for the district. People who come to downtown to go to 710 Bookstore or Town Square Market or Carbondale Cycle,or any other place selling products or services  in downtown, only come downtown to visit that store. I go downtown to get apparel from 710, I leave. I go downtown to eat at Harbaugh's Cafe, I leave. I go downtown to get my hair cut at Kampus Kuts, I leave and so forth. There are no clusters of similar businesses. like the antique stores in downtown Cape Girardeau or the gift shops in downtown Arcola to encourage me to move from one store to another to see what each one might have (and keep me in downtown longer to spend even more money).  Another gift/crafter shop opening up to complement Dayshift would certainly be a good start, but I am not sure how to go about encouraging one to move into the downtown area.