Friday, June 23, 2017

Gander Mountain Still Closing

Gander Mountain, which opened with much fanfare in Marion in 2015, still has "Store Closing" and "Prices 30 to 60% Off" signs hanging in front of it. Sture taking its time for a store that announced its closing back in May

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Homegrown Stage Lineup Announced


So we have the cover bands playing the corner of Washington and Walnut the Saturday and Sunday before the eclipse and we have the local bands on the stage the day of the eclipse. Well, quite a few of them will perform during the merchant's mart in the First National parking lot the weekend of the 20 and 21 so there will be a lot of local music playing. Still find it bemusing that the Homegrown Stage performances didn't get announced until after the cover bands were announced following the fall through of the national acts on the 20 and 21.
From the press release:
The City of Carbondale and Carbondale Main Street are excited to be adding another day of music to Shadow Fest.
The Homegrown Stage will feature a variety of local bands on Monday, August 21.
The lineup will be as follows:
·        11 a.m.-noon, Hey Honey, Americana
·        Noon-1 p.m., Cave Futures, Indie Rock
·        1:30-2:30 p.m., Tawl Paul & Slappin Henry Blue, Blues
·        2:30-3:30 p.m., Porchfire, Country
·        3:30-4:30 p.m., Buzzard, Hard Rock
The stage will be located at the corner of Washington and Walnut Streets from 11a.m.-5 p.m. Admission to ALL of the concerts areFREE.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Help Brand Carbondale

The city is looking for resident input on developing a brand for Carbondale so is asking people what makes Carbondale special. I sat in on a forum a couple of months ago and the two things that stood out were SIUC and ease of access to the Shawnee National Forest and other outdoor sites. We are also moving towards becoming a more bike focused city and you cannot find a wider variety of music anywhere in the region. From the press release:

The City of Carbondale is working with North Star Destination Strategies Inc. to develop a community-wide brand for Carbondale. But, we need help from our residents to determine how to best communicate what makes our community so special.
The Community Survey will determine Carbondale’s strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities. All Carbondale residents are encouraged to participate.
“This branding project is critically important in moving our city forward,” said Carbondale Mayor John “Mike” Henry. “We hope the majority of Carbondale residents will take the time to give us their input.”
To access the online survey, visit www.brandingcarbondaleil.com. Printed surveys will also be available at City Hall (200 S. Illinois Avenue) during normal business hours. All surveys must be completed by Monday, July 10.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Progressive Patio Tour

Coming next month:

Carbondale Main Street is hosting another Progressive Patio Tour on July 13, 2017 from 6 to 10pm. This will be a chance for the public to visit participating establishments and try popular items off of their menus.
There will be a $20 fee that will include transportation, free samples at each spot and brief histories on buildings and patios from business representatives as the tour goes along. Participants may also purchase cocktails and other menu items in addition to the free offerings. Stops will include Carbondale Community Arts’ Artspace 304, Global Gourmet and Sabor de Mel, all in downtown Carbondale. There will be a free after-party held at the brand new Traxx.  
The intent of the Progressive Patio Tour is to make more people aware of great spaces where then can relax in the spring, summer and fall seasons. This will also help these establishments showcase what they have to offer. For more information or to reserve your spot (there are only fifty- five bus seats available), call 618-529-8040 or email info@carbondalemainstreet.com.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Eclipse Q&A

Carbondale Tourism and the City have posted answers to what some of the many questions that have been asked about the Eclipse and surrounding events over the past few months. A couple more questions I would like to see answered:

1. Will there be charging stations for various smart items available? Given the number of people expected to descend on the community and all of them with smart phones, some places to charge them would be a good idea.

2. If Monday's Local Stage Day has been in the planning for quite some time, why is there no information on it in either the FAQ or under local events?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sales Tax Talk

Today's Carbondale Times has a pretty lengthy article on the request by local restaurants to lower the recently approved  2% sales tax on food and beverages purchased within the city limits. Coupled with the 1% county wide sales tax that goes into effect July 1,  the sales tax on food and beverages within the city limits will reach 11.75%. Needless to say, local restaurants are not particularly thrilled about this and have blamed the increased taxes at least partially on softening sales.

Dairy Queen Hours

I see the downtown Dairy Queen has extended its hours until 11 pm on Thursday Friday and Saturday. The new hours start this week.  Still closing at 10 p.m. the rest of the week.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Chicago It Up Not Opening

Chicago It Up, a Chicago style hot dog restaurant that has been advertised as opening in Murdale Shopping Center since 2015 apparently won't be opening up as the owner has skipped town and the installed equipment will be auctioned off to cover the unpaid rent. Meanwhile, if you have a taste for buying a hot dog from a cart, you can find Saluki Dogs ensconced at the intersection of Walnut and Illinois most week days.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Historic Park Advisory Committee

Did you know we have a Historic Park Advisory Committee? I sure didn't, but then I didn't even know we had a historic park. If you want to find out more, the next meeting is this Monday:

The Historic Park Advisory Committee, will be meeting on Monday, June 12, 2017 at 7:00 p.m., in the City Hall/Civic Center, Room 112, at 200 South Illinois Ave., Carbondale, IL 62901.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

SIUC Museum Closing

In case you missed it, not only did the SIUC Univeristy Museum lose accreditation last March but the university announced today that it will close indefinitely starting July 1, due to lack of funding coming from the state. With a lack of funding coming for the Women's Center threatening its future operation and other state funded programs coming under the knife, the lack of a state budget is sure going to do some long term damage to the state.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sidetracks Demolished

In case you missed the news today, Carbondale's iconic bar, Sidetracks, got demolished today to make way for downtown parking. Despite the way it sounds, there really wasn't much choice in the matter. The bar's lease expires in 2019 and the railroad, on whose right of way the Sidetracks building sat, had already said it would not renew the lease as the building sat too close to the tracks for safety.

So, Sidetracks gets help from the city to move across the street into new digs in the old Gatsby's building, the city gets some much needed downtown parking just in time for all of the expected visitors coming into town for the Great American Eclipse and the railroad has one less liability it has to worry about. Save for the fact that Carbondale has one less unique building, and there was no really feasible way to move the building, everybody comes out ahead.

Concert Updates

Received this press release from the city regarding ShadowFest. From what I understand, most, if not all of the bands are out of St. Louis so not the nationally known acts originally planned.  Given the number of bands playing in Carbondale, I wonder if any outreach has been made to them to at least open.



Six vibrant performances, two days of music and one FREE weekend of fun. The City of Carbondale and Carbondale Main Street are excited to announce the lineup for Shadow Fest.
The festival kicks off on Saturday, August 19 with performances by American Idiot, a tribute to Green Day; Big Love, a tribute to Fleetwood Mac; and Elevation, a tribute to U2.
On Sunday, August 20, it’s all about the 80s. Johnny Rock-ittThat 80s Band and Superjam will take to the stage for the ultimate 80s experience. Festival goers can expect to hear hits from Kiss, AC/DC, Journey, Madonna, Prince and more.
Concerts will be held along Washington Street, between Walnut and Main Streets, from 5-11 p.m. Admission to all of the concerts is free.
To learn more about the bands performing at Shadow Fest, visit the American Bands Entertainment website at http://ambandsentertainment.com/.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Eclipse Meetings

For those wanting to keep up with what the city and university have planned for the Carbondale Eclipse, there were be two open forums this month on on the 20th and the second on the 22nd. Given that we have a projected 50,000 additional people descending on town the weekend before SIUC starts, knowing what is going on might prove helpful


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Eclipse Music Festival

The city is going in a "different direction" for the proposed Eclipse Music Festival. No idea as to what that direction is though. Hopefully they are in contact with some of the event bookers for the local bars as well as whomever is in charge of booking acts for the Arena and Shryock Auditorium, as well as the Carbondale Music Coalition. Better to work with people who have already done what you want to do, rather than starting from scratch.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Eclipse Street Festival

Looks as if the planned $1 million Eclipse Street Festival has hit a snag as the promoters have not been able to arrange for the level of talent they had promised and have pulled out of the promotion. Maybe the city will contact the Carbondale Music Coalition regarding taking over the festival.

The problem with attracting "top tier" acts to Carbondale is the city's location. We can get them, but not at a desirable time for attendees. Much like Cape Girardeau, Carbondale is located roughly halfway between two major metropolitan centers, so a major act can play one weekend in Indianapolis, load up the bus(es) and head to St. Louis for the next weekend's set of shows. If the performer wants to pick up an extra paycheck, they can swing off the interstate for a weeknight performance in Springfield or Carbondale. According to the director of Cape's Show Me Center, this is how the Center books a lot of its big name shows as the performers are traveling from St. Louis to Memphis and stop for one night in Cape.

NASA Eclipse Numbers

NASA disagrees with the numbers projected by the Great American Eclipse website and has told the city that the organization expects roughly 50,000 people to descend on Carbondale during the time of the eclipse, so the city is making plans based on that figure rather than the much higher ones estimated by the GAE site.

One major concern will be parking. Currently, from what I understand, the city has arranged for parking and transport for roughly 3000 vehicles and assumes that most of the visitors to Carbondale will arrive via multi-passenger transport. This is fine if visitors arrived dozens at a time in tour buses but much more problematic if they come 4 to a passenger vehicle.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Eclipse Numbers 2

As Audrey pointed out in her comment, the folks behind the Great American Eclipse website have crunched some numbers and posted their estimates as to visitations to various spots along the path of eclipse totality. The site estimates Illinois should see somewhere between 93,000 and 372,000 people. If those numbers prove accurate, then Carbondale should receive the lion's share of visitors as we are the largest city in the path once it moves beyond the East St. Louis and the one putting in the most effort, as far as I can tell, to attract visitors to our location.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Scoopz Opening

Scoopz Ice Cream and More will host its grand opening tomorrow May 30th in the Grand Avenue Mall. Summer is a good time to open a new ice cream shop but since the shops at Grand Avenue mainly cater to students, most of which are gone for the summer, I don't know if the beginning of summer was the best time to open. Hope it works for them.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Eclipse Numbers

The problem, as I see it, in preparing for the eclipse is that we don't have any idea as to how many people might show up. Last I heard, we still had a few (highly priced) rooms available, although rooms have been sold out for miles around Carbondale for several month. Of course,t his also happens during SIUC's graduation weekend as well. I have heard numbers floated anywhere from 5000 or roughly graduation weekend, to 50,000 to 100,000.

Fact is, we don't know how many people will show up. Carbondale is in competition with communities across the nation hosting events for the Great American Eclipse.  We are listed along with 9 other communities  as top places to see the eclipse and, while we are closest to the spot of longest totality, communities further to the west are projected to have better weather. Longest totality won't mean much if we have heavy cloud cover that day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Government as Business

Been doing some reading on entrepreneurship and got to thinking about the whole idea that government should be run like a business. When you think about it, that is really a flawed concept since the two constructs are vastly different. Could Carbondale city government run more efficiently?Most likely but government and business differ significantly.

Consider.  I run a business here in the 'dale but my needs are quite different from the needs of Thai Taste half a block away from me or Wal-mart on the east side of town or Murdale True-Value on the west. Each of us focuses on our own organization's needs and take actions that we believe will enhance our operations. I do not take into consideration the impact of my actions on Wal-mart, just as I am sure, Wal-mart's management does not take into consideration the impact of its actions on me. As long as they remain within the law, business is free to take whatever action it wishes without regard or consideration for other businesses.

Carbondale city government does not have that freedom. It is charged with balancing the needs and desires of a large number of consistencies, many of which are at odds with each other. Consider Carbondale bars. In order to increase profits, the liquor store owner wants to sell as much alcohol, within the law, to as many people as possible. However, people consuming alcohol have their inhibitions lowered, causing them to act more recklessly, endangering themselves and others. City government is tasked with balancing the desire of the liquor store owner to increase profits, with the homeowner who does not want drunk people throwing up in their yard. Eliminating alcohol sales is Carbondale would be one way of accomplishing that, at the cost of a a good chunk of the business sector. Requiring home owners to maintain vigilance on their own property against trespassers. Government's job is to create a reasonable balance between the desires of the two groups.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gold Diggers

Not sure what hours Gold Diggers (located in the old Blue Martin/Social House location) is keeping, but it sure isn't the posted ones.  Posted hours are 5 p.m. to around 2 a.m. 7 days a week but the last few times I gone by there about 9 p.m. , the place has been locked up tight. Doesn't look as if the operation has shut down as everything still looks in place but no sign of life and no posts to the business' Facebook page since mid April.

Monday, May 22, 2017

City Council Meeting

I am a bit late commenting on last week's city council meeting but better late than ever, says I. Most of what took place was covered on the consent agenda. I came in too late to catch the first part of the meeting but there were a few interesting items on it.

$29,500 contract awarded to Rawson Excavating for demolishing the old Sidetracks building. The building sits what is today considered an unsafe distance from the railroad tracks, so the railroad declined to renew the lease, causing Sidetracks, now renamed Trax, to relocate to new digs in the old Gatsby's building. The demolished area will become more downtown parking.

Resolution authorizing the city manager to purchase materials, property, services etc. from Henry Printing. Yes, owned by our Mayor Henry. I assume this was discussed prior to my arrival at the meeting and figure they wanted to get an authorization by council on the record approving    potential purchases from the mayor's printing company.

$27,420 to CivicPlus to update the city website, which, below the front page, apparently hasn't been updated in about 20 years. Also roughly $5000 per year for website maintenance. No idea if this is an open ended contract or not.

Apparently the questions over the parking lot next to the Interfaith Center got answered as the contract for redoing it got awarded to Samron Midwest Contracting.

However the big discussion of the evening is the plan to provide roll out trash carts to all residents of the city. Any city resident who get trash pick up from the city will receive a standardized trash cart. These carts are designed to allow city waste trucks to latch onto and automatically dump them, rather than require a human to pick up the trash and throw it in the truck, speeding up trash pickup.Concerns regarding costs of the receptacles was expressed by some residents as larger families will generate more trash but may have problems paying the cost of the additional receptacle needed. Council agreed to address these concerns before bringing the ordinance up for a final vote

Friday, May 19, 2017

Rent College Pads

Been seeing a lot of these Rent College Pads signs around town. Apparently it is an online search engine for students looking for rentals in over 100 university towns across the nation. Info about the communities for each college is provided on the search page but is pretty sketchy and apparently not updated frequently. In case you are coming to Carbondale, be aware that Fujiyama Japanese Steakhouse is not within walking distance of campus and Social House's location is now occupied by Gold Diggers

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Chicken Coops

Did you know you can keep chickens within the city limits? The ordinance got passed a few years ago after several years of work and our city streets have not been taken over by raging flocks of poultry. If you would like to see some of the coops and get inspired to host your own flock, good news! There is a chicken coop tour coming up in June though I am not sure how beautiful they will be. I  had to clean out chicken coops in my misspent youth and they get messy:

Keep Carbondale Beautiful is planning a tour of “Chicken Coops of Carbondale”, set for Saturday, June 3rd from 2 to 5 p.m.  Chicken coopers are still being sought to participate.  The tour will run like previous garden tours:  The self-guided tour will begin at the  Old Train Depot/Carbondale Main Street (121 S Illinois Ave), where maps and tickets will be available for $5.  More information will follow.  Coop owners who are willing to show off their chickens are asked to contact Sarah Heyer at 618 525 5525.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

We're #2, We're #2 (and #3) (and #1)

Here is a link to the actual website that ranks Carbondale as the 2nd best small city in the US in which to start a business. Although we rank near the middle of the 1261 cities examined in the research in terms of business environment, our ranking in the top 20% in terms of costs of operating a business and especially our #3 ranking in "access to resources" pulled the city up. Incidentally , Carbondale comes in at #1 in the rankings in terms of low labor costs. Good if you are starting a business, not so much if you are working to support yourself.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Terri Bryant Call In

Listened in on a call in with Rep. Bryant, Rep. Price and Sen. Schimpf tonight. The two main points I took away from the discussion was that they believed that both sides need to compromise, that most of the problem is due to Mike Madigan and that we need to revive the coal industry (because it is cleaner now).

Compromise is fine, Madigan appeared to have no problem working with Republican governors in the past and, unless the price of natural gas skyrockets, we aren't seeing any revival of the coal industry soon.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Radio Shack Closing

The "Store Closing" banner hanging in front of the Murdale Radio Shack would indicate that the store has finally succumbed to the closing virus to which most of the rest of the chain has surrendered..

Streetscape

There has been talk for about a year regarding installing flower beds along the south end of the Town Square. Glad to see the project is moving out of the planning stage and into the installing stage.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Seat Belt Enforcement

Looks as if the Carbondale Police will be cracking down on seat belt scofflaws over the Memorial Day weekend.


As summer kicks off and travel increases, the City of Carbondale Police Department is partnering with the Illinois Department of Transportation to remind motorists to Click It or Ticket. The national seat-belt enforcement campaign will take place May 22 through June 4, concurrent with one of the busiest travel and holiday weekends of the year. Click It or Ticket enforces seat-belt and car-seat use to keep all motorists safe.

Hwy 127 Closed

IDOT has a notice up that High 127 is closed south of Alto Pass. There is a pretty back crack in the road there that needs repairing and and no quick way to detour around it. For the immediate future, traffic wanting to use 127 should detour down Highway 51 instead.

Friday, May 5, 2017

City Council Meeting

Attended the May 2 city council meeting, which had a very short agenda and was completed in about 45 minutes. It would have taken even less time except that various council members removed items from the consent agenda for individual consideration, meaning that the only thing approved when the consent agenda was approved was the minutes from the previous meeting.

The results for April's election were announced and Mayor Henry took special note that, of the registered voters in Carbondale, only 1848 turned out to vote for city council.

A separate resolution commended Lee Fronabarger, who lost his bid for a second term on council, for his six years of service, two appointed and 4 elected, as a councilman.

The final item considered separately was the proposal of the awarding of contracts for parking lots where the old Sidetracks' building stands and reconstructing the parking lot next to Gaia House. The reason it was pulled from the consent agenda was that Councilwoman Jessica Branshaw had concerns about the construction of the lot, as when it had been built, as a temporary lot a couple of decades ago, the construction had caused flooding in the basement of Gaia House when it rained during the construction. She, Hugh Muldoon and Charlie Howe, all spoke in favor of holding off on awarding the contract until potential flooding problems were address in the design of the new lot. Council agreed and postponed voting on the lot work until the next meeting .


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Coffee with a Cop

In case you want to discuss policing in the 'dale, the next Coffee with a Cop is scheduled for May 9 at 8 a.m. at Mary Lou's

On Tuesday May 9th, 2017 officers from the Carbondale Police Department and community members will come together in an informal, neutral space to discuss community issues, build relationships, and drink coffee

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Lee Fronabarger Honored


City council passed a resolution at the May 2 meeting honoring Lee Fronabarger for his years of service on the council. Bet he would have rather had another  4 years. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Dunkin' Donuts Parking Lot


Due to all the rain, the Dunkin' Donuts/Subway parking lot collapsed sometime early yesterday. No one injured as far as I know but both stores were closed for most of the day.

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.