Friday, April 28, 2017

Carbondale Times and NIghtlfe Sold

Paddock Publications, a privately held publisher  located in Chicago, announced it had purchased the Carbondale Times, Weekend Times and Nightlife, as well as the commercial printing business of Thomas Publishing. Paddock assumed ownership of the papers yesterday.

This brings to 8 the total number of southern Illinois papers Paddock owns, as it purchased papers located in Eldorado, Harrisburg, DuQuoin, Benton and Marion last summer as well as 4 papers in communities located just south of Springfield.

The motto of the company, according to the website of its flagship publication, the Daily Herald, is "To fear God, tell the truth, and make money"

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Autopsy

It looks as if the new clothing store located at 201 West Walnut is called Autopsy. Either that, or that is the name of one of the brands of clothing it sells.  The shop has a signboard out in front with a list of clothing brands topped by "Autopsy", so would guess that is the store's name.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

City Council Meeting

Sat in on last night's city council meeting for about an hour. Despite the number of cars in the parking lot, not that many people attended the meeting. It looked like more of them were there for the reading meeting down the hall.

The Liquor Control Commission's part of the meeting was pretty uneventful, with Hangar 9 getting warned about an overcrowding incident earlier in the year. No fine and no court costs.

During the meeting proper, council on several things without much argument:

1. Created a Class F3 license allowing 3rd party vendors to sell liquor on SIUC property. The university has control over its own selling of alcohol but the city regulates 3rd party vendors. This new licence is designed to streamline procedures and give the city some imput into campus alcohol sales where warranted.

2.  Adopted the new design standards for downtown. It appears that due to some comments from businesses in downtown, inspectors will have greater leeway in enforcing standards in the "entertainment district" south of West Elm. North of Elm, the standards will be more strictly enforced. I did find out that if a building is destroyed by fire or storm, rebuilding the structure to its original design would not be allowed. The building would have to be rebuilt complying with the new standards. Incidentally, neither Evolve nor the downtown Hilton would meet the new design standards so it is a good thing they were completed/started before the standards were enacted.

3.  Authorized just over a million  to move utility lines to the rear of buildings and install new lighting along Illinois Avenue. Assuming the "perfection fallacy" doesn't kick in, the redesign should be "substantailly completed" by August 10, about 2 weeks before the Carbondale Eclipse. Given that students will hit town right about then and the city will see an additional 5000-50000  people in town in a week and a half, here's hoping downtown is still not under construction during the Eclipse.

I skipped out before the budget discussion but assume that passed as well.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Message from the Mayor

Clean up your property, especially if you are a business, is the word from Mayor Henry. The city wants the city to make a good impression on the thousands or tens of thousands expected to arrive for the eclipse

With less than four months until the solar eclipse, the City of Carbondale is encouraging all businesses to give their properties some extra attention as the community prepares to welcome thousands of visitors.
Improvements include touching up paint, landscaping upgrades, repairing sidewalks and repainting parking lots. 
Carbondale Mayor John “Mike” Henry said, “If we all work together over the next few months, it will make a big difference in how people perceive Carbondale.”
The total solar eclipse will reach its greatest point of totality just south of Carbondale on August 21.
For more information about the solar eclipse, contact Carbondale Tourism at (618) 529-4451 or visit www.carbondaleeclipse.com.
###

Monday, April 24, 2017

America's Best Value Inn

Got word from a reader of the blog over the weekend that the owner of the America's Best Value Inn has been served with a nuisance warrant under the new nuisance ordinance.  Fines start to add up if nothing is done.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Police Calls to America's Best Value Inn

According to this story from the WSIL 3 website, Carbondale police have responded to over 200 calls to the America's Best True Value Inn on East Main in the past year. That's a lot of responses. The reviews on Google indicate problems as well, with an average rating of 2.2 and a lot of 1 star ratings.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Carbondale In the 1960s

The Carbondale Civic Center currently is hosting a display of photographs of Carbondale taken during the 1960s. Photos include shots of the Arena under construction, the tear gassing of protesters on University Avenue and an aerial shot of Murdale Shopping Center with undeveloped land to the west and south of it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Electricity

Got an notice about Carbondale's electrical program this week. Unless something changes at city hall , the city will probably renew the contract with Homefield Energy this June. If you don't want to participate and would rather negotiate your own rates, you have until May 5th to opt out.

Rates are pretty good and, if the city opts to stay with the program, they will drop slightly for the period of June 2019 through December 2020.

Another benefit of the program, not that it really matters too much to the average energy consumer, is that 100% of the energy sent to Carbondale comes from renewable sources. I believe, under the last contract, in order to support the region's history of coal mining, several of our surrounding communities opted to go with a percentage of their electricity generated from coal. However, Carbondale being Carbondale, the city chose to go renewable all the way.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Eclipse Hotel Pricing

Still a few hotel rooms available for the Great American Eclipse in Carbondale. Unfortunately, they start at $250 per night and run up to $499 per night with a three night minimum.  Will certainly be interesting to see if we have any rooms left come the Eclipse and what they prices are at the time of the event.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Police

Strong police presence along N. Oakland last night about 9:30. I counted at least 6 cruisers parked between the 200 and 700 blocks, all with flashers going. Learned later that a delivery driver had been held up in the area by a thief with a gun. Criminal with a gun running through residential area so no wonder the heavy police appearance.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Easter Weekend

Well, it is Easter weekend, which means that most city government offices are shut down as are NGOs such as Main Street, the Chamber of Commerce and the Carbondale Tourism office. On the plus side, this means no parking meter charges in downtown.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Safe and Welcoming City


Was at the standing room only city council meeting for about half an hour last night during discussion of a resolution declaring Carbondale a "safe and welcoming" (not a sanctuary) city. Most of those standing along the wall in the top picture were holding signs supporting the measure, the first time I can remember protestors with signs at a city council meeting.

The bottom picture was taken just after Mayor Mike Henry asked those in attendance who supported the measure to stand to show their support. Well over 3 quarters of those in attendance promptly stood. Two did speak in opposition to the resolution, one expressing concern regarding how it would affect the city's relationship with the federal government and the other bringing up the example of an illegal immigrant who was arrested and released 5 times before committing a murder in San Francisco.

The resolution passed 6 to 1, with only Councilman Navreet Kang in opposition.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

City Council Meeting

Carbondale City Council meets tonight at the civic center. Lots of stuff on the consent agenda and a discussion of the budget during the general meeting. Among the items on the consent agenda:  approval of lighting for downtown streets and funding for a bikeway from Giant City Road to Reed Station Road.

From what I have heard from IDOT, the plan is for a bikeway to extend eventually all the way from Carbondale to Marion along Hwy 13.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Power Poles Moving

Not quite the same thing as moving the power lines underground, in order to make the downtown more attractive, work starts this week on moving power lines from the street front to alleyways behind the buildings along South Illinois. According to a press release from the city, this should take 4-6 weeks, then I would assume West Walnut and West Main as the main focus of the move is to improve the downtown streetscape.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Thoughts on City Council Election

Before the recent council election, I would have bet a steak dinner that Lee Fronabarger would get reelected, showing how good my political prognostication skills are. Hindsight being 20/20 though and looking at the results, I think I see where I went wrong.

About 4200 people voted in the election or just under 17%, In an off year election like this, only the most avid or conscientious voters will turn out.. due to his years of activity in the community and the number or organizations and events with which he has involved himself, he has a pretty broad base of support.

Bradshaw, Harvey, and Doherty, due to their activities and focus all draw support from much narrower bases but the members of those groups are more strongly involved in the areas that each of the three represent, moreso than the average Carbondale resident. The more involved you are in an area or subject, the more likely you are to take action, in this case getting out to vote.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Bike Friendly City Hall

According to this press release, Carbondale City Hall has recognized as a Bronze Level Bike Friendly Business. After reading it, I looking into what it would take to get a business designated as one. The 15 page application proved pretty daunting:

The League of American Bicyclists has named the Carbondale Civic Center/City Hall a Bicycle Friendly Business at the Bronze level.
This award is presented only to businesses who are dedicated to encouraging a more welcoming atmosphere for bicycling employees, customers and the community.
There are currently 1,315 Bicycle Friendly Businesses in 49 states and Washington D.C.
To learn more about the program or to apply, visit www.bikeleague.org/BFA.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

LAB Meeting

Not much on tomorrow night's Liquor Advisory Board meeting:

1. Roll Call
2. Discussion regarding proposed amendment to Title Two allowing alcohol sales to occur on university property during university-related events
3. Citizens’ Comments
 4. Board Comments
 5. Adjournment

Allow alcohol sales, more people attend bringing more money with them.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

91.7% In

With 91.7% of the vote in, Harvey still maintains about a 150 vote lead over Bradshaw with Doherty about 50 votes behind her and Fronabarger about 50 votes behind him

City Council Election

With 83% of the votes counted, here are the current standings for city council:

Number of Precincts 24
Precincts Reporting 20 83.3 %
 Times Counted 1256/13795 9.1 %
 Total Votes 2904
LEE M. FRONABARGER 628 21.63%
CAROLIN HARVEY 867 29.86%
JESSICA BRADSHAW 721 24.83%
JEFF DOHERTY 688 23.69%

Carbondale Township Highway Commissioner

Number of Precincts 23
Precincts Reporting 19 82.6 %
 Times Counted 1483/15672 9.5 %
 Total Votes 1347 BRADLEY H LAM DEM 872 64.74%
 RUSS KRAMER GRN 475 35.26%

Carbondale School District 95

Carbondale ESD 95
Total Number of Precincts 27
Precincts Reporting 21 77.8 %
Times Counted 1395/14907 9.4 %
Total Votes 3887
CATHERINE FIELD 670 17.24%
CARLTON SMITH 636 16.36%
NATASHA ZARETSKY 752 19.35%
LISA MARIE SMITH 400 10.29%
GRANT R MILLER 414 10.65%
STEPHEN L COMPTON 245 6.30%
CHRISTOPHER PAYNE 268 6.89%
GARY K SHEPHERD 502 12.91%

Vandalism at Bowen Gym

Carbondale Police reported a third incident of graffiti spray painted inside Bowen Gym, where the new Southern Illinois Pharaohs basketball team plays. The vandalism took place sometime between Sunday night and Monday afternoon. 

Vote Early, Vote Often (Joke, That's A Joke)

Polling places in Jackson County opened at 6 a.m. today and will close at 7 p.m. Here is a link to locations. If you want to know more about city council candidates, the most recent issues of the Carbondale Times have good profiles of the four of them.

Without a mayor on the ballot, I expect a pretty small turnout. It will surprise me if it breaks 15%, though I was happy to see a 1 person line in front of me when I stopped off to vote about 8 a.m., with three of the voting booths occupied.

Monday, April 3, 2017

We Are Still Excellent

For the 24th year in a row, the city has received a Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting.  I guess that's good. From the press release

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) has awarded the City of Carbondale the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the City’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for fiscal year 2016.

Individual departments or agencies are responsible for meeting the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) requirements for CAFR.

This is the 24th consecutive year the City has received the award.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Bost Poll

Rep, Bost solicited responses regarding support for the Keystone XL pipeline in a poll last week. The responses he received are below. A bare majority, 51%, support building the pipeline, which rather surprised me, given the wording and the focus on energy production in southern Illinois. I would have expected it higher:


Friday, March 31, 2017

City Council Elections

If you haven't had much time to familiarize yourself with the candidates for next week's City Council elections, last Wednesday's Carbondale Times has 3 pages worth of interviews with the four candidates, as well as an article on the candidates for Highway Commissioner. Copies are still available in finer newspaper racks around town

 Meanwhile, I haven't seen much on local elections, expect for the 4 page insert listing all of the candidates for regional elections, in the Southern, though I see a piece on the school board elections in Pickneyville in the March 31 issue..

Saluki Funder

Given the current state of state finances and how they have impacted SIUC, it's not surprising to see that SIUC has set up a crowdfunding site for special projects on campus. Named Saluki Funder, there are a total of 10 projects listed on the site, 3 of which have already funded , 1 that failed to fund and 6 more still seeking funds, including the SIUC Food Pantry, which just launched a campaign

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Eclipse Hotel Bookings

Sat in on the city's presentation/talk regarding preparations for the upcoming eclipse. On thing I find interesting is that no one has any real idea regarding how many people will show up for the event. I heard figures from 5000 to 50,000 to 100,000 tossed around. One figure I found interesting was that roughly 90% of the hotel rooms in town, excluding the new Hilton, are booked. Rooms are still available at the Holiday Inn, Days Inn and America's Best Inn. Normal occupancy rates in Carbondale during the summer are around 55% so, based on that, we should expect about a 40% bump in population during the 3 days of the eclipse festival.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

AirBnB Regulations

The city expects use of sites like AirBnb and HomeAway to skyrocket later this summer as the eclipse gets closer and the 500+ motel rooms in Carbondale get booked, so it sent out this reminder that householders using those sites and renting their rooms out for less than 30 days need to get a permit:

With vacation season right around the corner, the City of Carbondale wants to remind residents about new regulations for Vacation Rental Units.
The ordinance, passed by City Council in December, requires residents to obtain a license through the City’s Development Services Department when transient guests are staying at a Vacation Rental Unit for less than 30 consecutive days.
Some of these units are being listed on popular websites like Airbnb, Vacation Rentals by Owner and HomeAway.com.
Applications are available online at www.explorecarbondale.com.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

City Council Candidates

We have 4 candidates running for city council in a very quiet election taking place next week. If you would like to find out more about their platforms, here are links to their Facebook and or web pages, if the campaign has one:

Jeff Doherty

Jessica Bradshaw

Carolin Harvey

Lee Fronabarger

I could not find anything on Carolin Harvey's positions, so if anyone has a link to a source for them please send it to me.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Bost Statement

Here is Rep. Mike Bost's statement regarding the postponement/collapse of the vote on the ACHA. Would like to point out that it took over a year of crossing the country and talking to people before enough support was generated for the ACA to pass. The congress wanted to pass this act with just of two weeks of discussion:

U.S Representative Mike Bost (IL-12) released the following statement regarding the decision to postpone a vote on the American Health Care Act in Congress:
“Today’s decision to postpone the vote does not dismiss the fact that Obamacare is broken. This law has led to higher costs, fewer choices, and less access to the quality care that people need. These trends just aren’t sustainable. The American Health Care Act was to be the first step in a multi-step process to fix our health care system. I am hopeful that the White House and Congress will continue working to find solutions that restore health care decisions to patients and their doctors and not the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.”

Friday, March 24, 2017

Terri Bryant Survey

In case you are interested in giving feedback to her, our State Representative Terri Bryant has a survey posted on her website soliciting feedback from constituents. Some of the questions do reflect just a wee bit of bias.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Police on St. Patrick's Weekend

Carbondale Police reported no arrests for DUI during their stepped up enforcement over the St. Patrick's Day weekend, though several people did get arrested for not wearing their seatbelts, driving while using a cell phone and speeding.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tree Sale

Want to reforest your lawn. Keep Carbondale Beautiful will sell  native trees and shrubs at the arena this weekend. Just avoid Sweet Gums.


 Keep Carbondale Beautiful will be selling 43 kinds of native trees and shrubs in the SIU Arena Parking Lot, outside the Southern Illinois Home and Garden Expo on Saturday March 25 and Sunday March 26.  Among the highlights are natives that can go from wet to dry – esp. Blackgum, Bald Cypress, and Buttonbush; and plants that provide food, mostly for wildlife, like Chokeberry, Hazelnut, and Elderberry.  There will be seven types of oak, two magnolia, and two viburnum.
Most of the plants come from Forrest-Keeling Nursery, outside of St. Louis.  Others come from Tabor Nursery, south of Carbondale.  All are native to this area and thus are more likely to thrive and to provide food and habitat for wildlife.
The sale is outside the Home Show; no ticket is needed.  The public is invited to use this opportunity to learn more about native plants.  For more information, go to <keepcb.org> or contact KCB at 618-525-5525.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Uber and Lyft

Both Uber and Lyft, seeking to expand their market share, have come to Carbondale and the city council has responded by requiring those wanting to drive for either company to get permits and undergo a background check. Both companies have fought similar regulation in larger markets so will be interesting to see if they choose to comply with the regulations, fight them or abandon Carbondale as a market :

Individuals looking to drive for a transportation network company (TNC) in Carbondale can now pick up an application in the City Clerk’s Office.
Applicants must provide a copy of their Illinois driver’s license, proof of insurance coverage meeting the state requirements outlined in 625 ILCS 57/1 et seq. and pay $45 for a criminal history check.
In addition, a vehicle safety inspection form signed by a City-certified ASE-approved mechanic must be submitted at the time of application. A registry of approved ASE-certified mechanics is available in the Clerk’s Office.
Once those requirements have been met, the City Clerk will issue qualified drivers a TNC license and a vehicle sticker valid through the end of the year. Both items must be present in the vehicle at all times.
Applications are available online at www.explorecarbondale.com.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Mike Bost Town Hall

For those of you who missed Rep. Mike Bost's telephone town hall last Wednesday night, his office has posted it here. Runs about an hour.

Rep. Bost has also posted a form where you can give feedback or your experience with the Affordable Care Act, which is its real name, not Obamacare. I have read incidents where people have in one breath called for the repeal of Obamacare, while in the next breath saying how much the ACA helped them.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

City Council Forum

In case you feel like listening to and quizzing the candidates for city council, the Arbor District will sponsor a forum with them tomorrow at 3 p.m.  Seems like a lot less interest in this election than the last one, perhaps because we don't have a mayor on the ballot:

A reminder that we will be sponsoring a forum for city council candidates on Sunday. Please join us if you can. 

Here are the details:

3:00pm, Sunday March 19, 2017
First Christian Church
306 W Monroe St.
Carbondale, IL 62901

Friday, March 17, 2017

Water Bill Changes

The city is dropping the postcard format for its water and sewage bill in favor of a envelope format, which will include a self-addressed envelope for returning the bill and payment. A bit more expensive format but will probably increase the numbers of people who pay on time as now they will be able to easily drop a check in the mail as compared to having to make the trip to city hall or one of the other payment points. You can also play your bill online at the city website as noted in the press release but doubt that the same people who forget to come to the office to pay their bill will remember to go to the website. The press release is below:

The next time a Carbondale resident receives a water bill in the mail, it may look a little different.  
Water bills will now come in a letter format, folded and in a sealed envelope as opposed to the old postcard format. Customers will receive a pre-addressed envelope with their bill. However, a stamp will still be required.
The City hopes the new format will help cut down on a number of delivery issues.
Payments can still be made at City Hall, online at www.explorecarbondale.com, by mail or at select area banks (First Southern Bank, First Bank, First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust and The Bank of Carbondale).

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mike Bost Town Hall

Representative Mike Bost hosted a telephone town hall meeting that lasted an hour earlier this evening. Makes it easier to not face crowds of unhappy constituents and allows screening of the questions, as well as the opportunity to cut off the questioner should the questioner get obstreperous on the phone:

   Ineed to hear from you! To give as many constituents as possible the opportunity to share your concerns regarding issues before the United States Congress and the federal government, I will be hosting a tele-town hall meeting at 6:15pm CT on Wednesday, March 15. I will provide an update on health care reform, the economy, immigration, veterans, and any other issues you would like to talk about.  I look forward to taking as many questions as our hour together allows. Sign up on my website HERE.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

For Rent Signs

In another sign of the declining student population, I have seen farm more "For Rent" signs around town that in past semesters. Usually, retail properties are gone or the landlords have given up this late in the semester but the same signed have been out in front of a number of properties since December. For the first time that I recall, there are For Rent signs in the yard in all three of the four-square style houses in the 200 block of West Walnut. I have seen 1 sign there int he past but never signs in the yards of all three at the same time.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Downtown Design Standards

If the proposed design standards for downtown building get approved by city council, the Evolve building, as currently designed, would not have been built as the standards require  any floors above the second to be set back further than the first 2 floors.. The exterior siding would likely not have passed muster either.

Additionally, any new building going into the primary downtown area would have to be two stories tall. Already established buildings would, of course, be grandfathered in.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Phone Scam

Someone is working a scam in the area in the name of the fire department:

The Carbondale Fire Department wants to warn residents about a possible impersonation scam circulating throughout the community.
A resident recently reported receiving a call from a person who claimed to work for the Carbondale Fire Department. The caller wanted to know if the resident had a smoke detector, fire extinguisher and escape plan.
Residents are reminded that firefighters do not call homeowners and try to sell them anything.
If you receive a call like this, contact the Carbondale Police Department at (618) 457-3200. Never give out any personal information over the phone such as credit or debit card number. When in doubt, hang up. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sen. Schimpf Telephone Town Hall

In an amusing coincidence after this morning's post regarding the Mike Bost op-ed, I received a robo-call this evening from State Senator Paul Schimpf inviting me to join in on a telephone town hall. Rather, I received a robo-call telling me he was sorry he had not been able to reach me to join his town hall and that he was still available via phone and email.  I would have happily joined in on the call had Sen. Schimpf but his robo software decided I wasn't there when I picked up the phone.

Mike Bost Op Ed

Geez, two posts on Rep. Mike Bost in a week. Rep. Bost has taken some heat for opting to not host open meetings with his constituents, choosing instead to have either meetings with smaller groups and organizations or to host a "telephone town hall". In an op-ed in today's Southern, he defends the practice because of all those disruptive people coming out to face to face open meetings.

However, I found this line in the piece especially striking:  "We don’t limit those calls to only Republicans or only supporters."

He is making it sound like a point of pride that he allows people who aren't his supporters on these calls. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

City Council Meeting

City council meets tonight. Should be interesting given the discussion about inflatables and air walkers.

Monday, March 6, 2017

City Council Candidate Conclave

Elections for city council are coming up sooner than you'd think and the Arbor District will host a forum with the announced candidates on March 19th:

The Arbor District Neighborhood Association will be holding a City Council Candidate Forum at the end of March and would like you to invite you to attend.

3:00pm, Sunday March 19, 2017
First Christian Church 
306 W Monroe St.
Carbondale, IL 62901

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Mike Bost Survey Results

Received an email from Rep. Mike Bost today and found these survey results intersting


Most of the respondents to a particular question want to see more jobs and the economy grow faster while they second largest number wanted to see reformed/improved health care. No interest in repealing the ACA, just wanting it improved.

Also I found interesting that the largest number of people wanted Bost and Congress to focus on some other topic than the ones listed.

Friday, March 3, 2017

New and Moving Businesses

New unnamed Japanese restaurant moving into the old Show-Me's building on East Main.

Don Taco moving about a block east from its current East Grand location to a new building getting built on the site of the now demolished Capp's Law Firm building.

El Sol moving into the old Fujiyama Steak House location on Giant City Road.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Inflatables Regulations

The city is proposing allowing the use of inflatables and air dancers for advertising by businesses throughout the city, except, of course, for some reason, for the downtown business district. This is a good move, except, of course (and you knew there was going to be another "of course") for the time limit. Businesses will only be able to use inflatables and air dancers to promote their business  for 2 48 hour periods or one 96 hour period per year. This pretty much guarantees no business in their right mind will spend the money to invest in something it can only use 4 days a year.

Carbondale has a pretty undeserved reputation as a city unfriendly to business. Enacting an ordinance with this short a time frame on the used of an advertising tool does not help mitigate that image. If the city must put a time limit, make it 90 or 120 days in order to justify businesses investing in them, though even better would be no time limit at all.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Power Lines

It certainly will be nice if downtown Carbondale and the rest of the city can get the powerlines buried underground sometime in the next year or too. It often seems as if the city power grid is so sensitive that a few drops of rain can shut the power down in a fairly large section of the city.

Monday, February 27, 2017

New Clothing Store

Noticed a new clothing store opened at 201 West Walnut in the group of storefronts behind Phoenix Cycle. So new all it has in the window is an Open sign. Glancing through the window, it looks focused on athletic wear and sneakers, though of the casual and streetwear variety, rather than athletic wear for the serious athlete.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

School For Sale

I noticed that the old Royal Knight Inn on the west side of town, which has served as an outpost of a Caribbean medical school for the past couple of years, has gone up for sale. I guess the revenue for the medical students didn't cover the cost of the building.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wither Mike Bost

Have seen this flyer posted on a number of phone poles and other locations in downtown Carbondale this week. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Signage

Looks like the city council will be looking at adjusting signage ordinances to allow businesses to use more streamers and pennants and some use of inflatables and air dancers, which I thought were already allowed in town since I have seen them used off and on in town over the years. Also bemused by the fact that the plan is to add an amendment to the current ordinance, rather than just rewriting the original one and adopting it. This is why so many communities have laws that make no sense in today's world. It is easier to add another layer of rules to the ones we already have than it is to rewrite the existing ones.

"The Carbondale Planning Commission will meet at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 22 in the City Council chambers. Among items on the agenda will be a request from the Chamber for a text amendment relating to certain types of prohibitive signs.

This text amendment is the result of a sub-committee of the commission which included Chamber representatives as well.

This action would allow businesses to use streamers and pennants and would allow for some uses of inflatables and "air dancers."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mat Kaplan to Host Eclipse

If you wake up early in the morning on Saturday or Sunday and listen to WSIU, you likely catch Planetary Radio. Mat Kaplan, the host of the program for the past 15 years, will host eclipse events at SIUC on the 21st. Should expect some promotion of the university and the event on the show over the next few months.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Architectural Design Standards

From a press release from the city. Looks as if the architectural design standards will be discussed the evening of March 1. Will be interested to see if the city puts any enforcement measures in place eventually or if these will remain recommendations. One way for the city to have buildings meet the standards is to make getting a loan from the revolving loan fund contingent on the buildings meeting the standards.

The City of Carbondale will host an open house on Wednesday, March 1 to discuss the newly developed architectural design standards for downtown Carbondale.
Dozens of comments were generated at a community meeting in October regarding the kinds of materials, colors, architectural details and other building features citizens feel are best suited for Carbondale.
This process was initiated by City Council in June as part of the Downtown Master Plan. The goal is to expand the City’s minimum design standards which currently consist of building height, size, setbacks and other general characteristics.
The open house will be held at the Old Train Depot (121 S. Illinois Ave.) from 4-7 p.m

Vision Placard

Following up on yesterday's post, most experts I have read agree that if you have goals, you are much more likely to accomplish them if you post them where you can see them on a regular basis.

The city worked on residential areas a few years ago by enforcing zoning ordinances on mobile homes much more strictly than it had been. Most of the mobile homes in residential areas in town were put there almost 50 years ago during a time of booming enrollment, lax zoning and shortages of housing. The homes were not designed to still be in use 50 decades later and many have deteriorated significantly.

Improvements to downtown in recent months included installing additional bike racks and removing decaying trees along main streets with plans to replace them later this year. Also the demolition of the mold infested Holiday/Horizon Inn and the new Casey's going up across the street.

Small steps, but steady ones.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

Shadow Fest

Apparently Carbondale is calling all of the celebration surrounding the upcoming eclipse :  Shadowfest  Certainly better than "Eclipsy McEclipseface":

The City of Carbondale is excited to announce “Shadow Fest” as the official name for the solar eclipse street festival.
More than 100 votes were submitted online and dozens of original festival names were posted on social media, thanks to a community-wide poll conducted by The Southern Illinoisan.
The three-day festival will be held in downtown Carbondale August 19-21. It will feature arts, crafts, food, live entertainment and more.
The total solar eclipse will reach its greatest point of totality just south of Carbondale on August 21.
For more information about the solar eclipse, visit www.carbondaleeclipse.com or call (618) 529-4451.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Statue

Normally the city has pulled down all the Christmas decorations in downtown Carbondale by this time but the memorial statute put up at the beginning of the season remains. Wonder if this mean the city plans to leave it up year round in order to add something unique to downtown year round?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Academic Calendar

I got the date wrong for the start of the Fall semester SIUC in yesterday's post. According to the calendar for Fall 2017, the fall semester starts on the 21, the same day as the eclipse. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Eclipse and SIUC Start Date

The much ballyhooed solar eclipse takes place on August 21. According to the Academic Calendar classes at SIUC start on August 21. Talking with people who were looking for a place to stay during the eclipse festivities, almost every hotel room within about 100 miles is booked for several days prior to the eclipse and those still available in town want $500 per night for a room.

We will have an estimated  30,000-50,000 people in town for the eclipse, plus families moving students in for the start of classes the day after the eclipse. Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell was supposed to make a statement regarding what, if anything, the University would do to adjust for this but I have not found anything in his messages and the University's academic calendar still lists August 22 as the start of classes.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Super Bowl Weekend Crackdown

The C'dale Police cracked down on drunken drivers over the Super Bowl weekend but doesn't seem they saw any great increase in alcohol related infractions. There was one DUI and i citation for illegal transportation of alcohol. There were other citations but none alcohol related so not sure if the additional arrests were worth the extra effort. certainly did not see the amount of alcohol related violations the city saw during Polar Bear weekend.

Monday, February 6, 2017

New Home Buyer Seminar

Carbondale is still about 70% rental property. The city is working to slowly increase the percentage of home owners with various loans and programs, including this seminar this Saturday, sponsored by the Carbondale Neighborhood Action Group and the Egyptian Board of Realtors aimed at potential new home buyers"

The Carbondale Neighborhood Action Group is teaming up with the Egyptian Board of Realtors to host a free home buyer seminar on Saturday, February 18.

The event will be held at the Carbondale Public Library from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. The library is located at 405 W. Main St. Realtors, mortgage lenders, home inspectors and title companies will discuss a variety of topics associated with buying a home. This includes selecting a relator, finding the right home, selecting a lender, home inspections, contingencies and post-purchase maintenance.

Lunch will be provided to all attendees and light refreshments will be available throughout the seminar. Activities for kids will also be available. This event is free, but registration is strongly encouraged. To sign up, visit

http://goo.gl/forms/pLGXoQFyyrO30bZu1.

For more information, contact Daniel Presley at (626) 487-9747 or CarbondaleHomeBuyer@gmail.com.

Southern Illinois Pharaohs

Sign on the side of the old school on North Oakland promoting it as the future home of the Southern Illinois Pharaohs.  Not sure why the designer opted to go with a skull motif in the logo. Maybe it goes along with the other team logos in the league?

One problem I see with this location is the lack of parking. The Pharaohs's gym is at the west end of the complex and most of the parking is located at the east end. Will attendees be willing to park there and then walk the couple of blocks to the Pharaoh's gym? There is also the potential for a lot of congestion in the area as the streets there are not well designed for heavy amounts of traffic.

Friday, February 3, 2017

There's an Eclipse Coming

In case you missed it, the Carbondale area has a solar eclipse coming this August.  The city made this video looking at how some local businesses are preparing to greet it.  I understand the asking price on some of the remaining rooms in town is $500 a night.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

More Polar Bear

Sent to me by a reader of the blog, this shot was taken showing a house on S. Poplar mid afternoon on Polar Bear Saturday. According to the sender, there was property damage as well as public urination.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Town Square Lighting

According to a tweet I received from City Manager Gary Williams, the city is looking into lighting the Town Square year round, rather than just at Christmas. Would certainly brighten the place up and make it more friendly at night.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Polar Bear Citations

Carbondale Police reported 91 citations during Polar Bear weekend, given to 89 people. Underage consumption of alcohol was the most often cited offense and most of those took place on public property. Only 7 took place inside a bar, 3 at Levels, 2 at Pinch Penny Pub and 2 at Stix.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Polar Bear

In case you missed it, the annual Polar Bear "celebration" took place this past weekend. This is a shot of the rear of a house in the 800 block of West Main about 2 p.m. on Saturday. I estimated between 300-500 people in the back yard and quite a bit of foot traffic in the area. When I drove by the location about 4:30 later in the afternoon, the revelers had all cleared out.

Not sure how many arrests took place over the weekend. I drove by the East Grand epicenter of the event Saturday night and the lot was packed with cars  but there was not a huge amount of foot or vehicular traffic in the area.

The downtown parking lots were pretty full both Friday and Saturday nights and the foot traffic was definitely up Saturday night with a line half a block long waiting to get into Stix. Did not see any similar lines at any of the other downtown bars though.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Tree Removal

The city has cut down several trees bordering Main Street that were rotting out. Plans are to replace them with new trees this spring. Incidentally, you can see, just past the speed limit sign, the remnants of a light pole, the base of which rusted badly enough that it collapsed during the ice storm, blocking traffic on West Main until it could be removed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Farmers' Markets Down?

Although there is no research to support it, anecdotal evidence leads the departing head of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance to say that shoppers at farmers' markets in Illinois have dropped significantly over the past few years. Anyone connected with the Murdale Farmers' Market have any thoughts? When I go, crowds seem really good on sunny days and noticeably sparse on cloudy ones.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

We're Number 18! We're Number 18!

Uhaul ranks Carbondale at number 18 in its list of growth cities with a population between 10,000 and 50,000. At first I thought this was based on the sheer number of rentals in the city and given the problems with the state budget and the decline in attendance at SIUC I thought it was due to the number of people renting a Uhaul to move out of the city.

Nope, Uhaul bases its number on the difference between one way trips originating in the city and terminating there. It appears we have more people renting a trailer to move here than they do to leave.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Coffee with a Cop

In case you want to "Coffee with a Cop" tomorrow, join the Carbondale PD at 8 a.m. at Longbranch Cafe and Bakery. I assume you're buying:

"The Carbondale Police Department wants to remind residents that next Coffee with a Cop will be held tomorrow, January 24th, 2017 at 8:00 a.m. at Longbranch Café and Bakery located at 100 East Jackson Street in Carbondale, IL

Southern Illinois Women's March

I had estimated about 1500 attendees at the march but apparently I overestimated by  a factor of 2 as the DE says that about 800 people. People started showing up to the event about 9 in the morning and peaked between 12 and 1 in the afternoon.  Last few protesters trekked across the Civic Center parking lot about 5 p.m. that evening.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Gold Diggers and Hollywood Lounge

Looks as if Gold Diggers and Hollywood Lounge both had soft openings.  Hollywood Lounge has been open for several weeks now and had maintained a fairly regular schedule of opening late in the afternoon, though I am not quite sure what the official hours are yet.  They appear to be doing business as several cars are parked in front of the location the nights it is open.

Similarly, Gold Diggers opened quietly about a week ago. at least based on the pictures on the business' FB page.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bombay Olive Parking

When you do not have any parking for your customers, what's a new restaurant to do? In the case of downtown's Bombay Olive, you make arrangements with the bank in the same block, which has way too much parking for its customer's needs.  The east half of FirstMid's parking lot sits empty for most of the day and all evening so why not generate some revenue by leasing parking spaces to the neighboring restaurant?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Parking Permits

The city might sell more of its parking permits for downtown parking if it promoted them more. There is not a single sign in the downtown area, of which I know, promoting the availability of the longer term permits. Promoting the permits more would certainly put more parking lot money in the city's coffers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Wanna Buy a Home

Given that, last time I checked, roughly 70% of Carbondale property was owned by absentee landlords, the city would definitely like to encourage more people to buy their own home. To help with this the Carbondale Neighborhood Action Group and the Egyptian Board of Realtors will host a free home buyer seminar on February 18. The PR is below

The Carbondale Neighborhood Action Group is teaming up with the Egyptian Board of Realtors to host a free home buyer seminar on Saturday, February 18.
The event will be held at the Carbondale Public Library from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. The library is located at 405 W. Main St.
Realtors, mortgage lenders, home inspectors and title companies will discuss a variety of topics associated with buying a home. This includes selecting a relator, finding the right home, selecting a lender, home inspections, contingencies and post-purchase maintenance.
Lunch will be provided to all attendees and light refreshments will be available throughout the seminar. Activities for kids will also be available.
This event is free, but registration is strongly encouraged. To sign up, visit http://goo.gl/forms/pLGXoQFyyrO30bZu1. For more information, contact Daniel Presley at (626) 487-9747 or CarbondaleHomeBuyer@gmail.com.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Ice Storm Follow Up

In case you missed it, last Friday's ice storm knocked out power to about 40% of Carbondale homes. By 6 p.m. Saturday, due to yeoman work by Ameren linemen, power was restored to all by about 3% of them.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Ice Storm

Streets in Carbondale are fine, though steps can be a bit slick. Tree down on a power line on North Oakland, just north of the intersection with West Sycamore. According to the Amerin website, just under 40% of the residences in the 62901 area code war without power

It Lives

Looks like Interstate 66 nee the Shawnee Parkway still lives. According to the meeting of the Sierra Club I attended, this time the plan is to propose building the Parkway in segments, thus lessening the apparently environmental impact when the necessary studies are completed. After all, short segments of Interstate highways cause less environmental damage than does a full stretch of highway through wetlands.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Podcast

No, not me.

Carbondale will launch its own bi-weekly podcast starting next week. Should prove interesting though I am not sure how it will differ from WDBX's "Talk of the Town", save for the fact that it is a podcast whereas TOTT has to be caught live as there are no archives.

The City of Carbondale and WDBX 91.1 FM are teaming up to launch a bi-weekly city podcast.              
“Inside Carbondale” will feature interviews with city officials and community leaders. The goal is to provide residents with the latest information about projects and events going on in the community.
The podcast will be available at www.wdbx.org and www.explorecarbondale.com.
The first episode will go live on Wednesday, January 18 at 9 a.m.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sales Tax Perception

Carbondale needs to work on getting out the word about the new sales tax and the upcoming one. I got told today by someone who lives in Anna and comes to Carbondale mainly for the music scene that the Carbondale sales tax is now 12%. It is high, thanks to the county, but not quite that high.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Discount Parking

In case you park a lot in downtown Carbondale and don't want to keep feeding the meters, the city is offering a 20% discount on parking permits if you purchase them between January 16th and 27th. You have to purchase permits for at least 4 months and some restrictions, of course, apply.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Golden Corral Sales Tax Flyer

The local Golden Coral decided to post this prominently around their restaurant. Not sure what good they think it will do, unless maybe some of their customers will contact the city to complain. Seems to me it would more likely just encourage their customers to go eat in another community.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Chuckin' Clouds Gone

Well, that didn't last long. The Carbondale outpost of the Chuckin' Clouds Vape Shop chain, located at 715 S. University, has closed up as quietly as it opened. No idea if it moved to another location in town or if the owners decided having a Vape Shop opeing up less than a block away was too much competition.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

We're Number 315! We're Number 315!

Like many other publications, the Wall Street Journal ranks colleges, both public and private and according to the newspaper, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale ranks 315 out of a total of 1061 ranked, putting SIUC in the top third of colleges ranked. That's pretty impressive when you think about it.

Chat With the Chancellor

Following in its current trend of alliterative meeting titles, the city presents "Chat with the Chancellor", an opportunity to meet with Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell at the Civic Center this Monday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Not sure how much of this will be Colwell talking to attendees and how much will be listening though. From the press release:

The City of Carbondale and the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce will host “Chat with the Chancellor” on Monday, January 9 from 6-8 p.m. at the Carbondale Civic Center.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell and members of his leadership team will facilitate a community conversation about SIU, its direction and its relationship with the region.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Meet The Mayor

The first Meet the Mayor event at Harbaugh's Cafe this morning looks as if it had pretty light turnout. However, given that today is only the third day of the year and a drizzly grey one at that, I expect future ones to boast better attendance.  Both this and Coffee with a Cop are excellent outreaches by the city.