Thursday, July 19, 2018

No More Straws

A SIUC student is asking local businesses to only offer straws upon request. So far, businesses that have signed on for "Straws Upon Request" include Longbranch, Reemas, Tres Hombres, Quatros and El Greco's. Starbuck's is already phasing them out. Going strawless appears a national movement as there are several dozen communities that have either voluntarily or by ordinance made straws available only on reques.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Walker's Bluff General Store

I see Walker's Bluff has announced they are closing their general store and turning the space into operations, whatever that means.I would assume the store only made money during the times the facility had events and sat empty the rest of the time  costing the business payroll.

Friday, July 13, 2018

One Scalp Collected

Looks as if SIU President Randy Dunn will step down next week, collect a $200,000+ severance package and get hired as a visiting professor at SIUE next January. Plans are to hire retired SIU School of Medicine dean Kevin Dorsey as interim President

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Incoming Freshmen

Just heard that the current projected number of incoming freshmen at SIUC this fall is around 900. Contrast that with just over 2100 in 2016 and just over 1700 last year. Hoping that number shifts higher as actual enrollment date gets closer.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

No Confidence in Dunn

SIUC Faculty Senate cast a vote of no confidence in President Randy Dunn 25-1 with 2 senators abstaining. Of course, I don't think the Senate has much confidence in Chancellor Montemagno so I am not sure who they want running the place. It is also nice that the university is in such good shape that the various organizations can focus on stuff like this.

Dunn should not be focusing on shifting around funds until he gets SIUC stabilized. Nor should Montemagno work on restructuring the university until he accomplishes the same thing. Neither man has shown why either shift funds or restructuring will achieve the objective if increasing SIUC enrollment. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Dunn and Montemago

Well, it appears we have factions not happy with either President Dunn or Chancellor Montemagno. One faction thinks Dunn wants to split apart SIUC and SIUE with both of them on an equal regional footing. The other faction thinks Montemagno has been sent in to weaken SIUC at the behest of Gov. Rauner (see the letter on page 5 of this week's Carbondale Times) and return it to regional status as well and that Dunn is the only one standing in his way. It would appear that, based on this, SIUC is in trouble no matter who is in charge.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

More Video Terminals

City council voted to allow video poker terminals at truck stops within the city limits. Currently, the only locations to qualify are the Huck's on East Main and the Shell station on the west side of town. No idea if either one will apply for a permit or if they have the additional space they would have to provide for the terminals.
Revenues from the city's terminals have increased by about $25,000 from 2016 to 2017 despite 2 fewer units within city limits. Same number of establishments though and the growth in dollar amount collected indicates the market is not saturated yet.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Lone Star

From what I have heard, another Sergio's Mexican Restaurant will move into the closed and recently sold Lone Star Steakhouse location on East Main.

Friday, June 29, 2018

SIU President Not Exactly Neutral

Good story in the Southern today regarding the trove of emails released detailing communications between SIU President Randy Dunn, SIUE' s Chancellor and the Edwardsville members of the Board of Trustees.  What I found especially interesting what the reprimand from Dunn to SIUC Chancellor Carlos Montemagno for not following the chain of command. I'm not a big fan of Chancellor Montemagno but given how Dunn had left him out of the loop, chastising Montemagno seems a wee bit hypocritical:

I have read your attached memo,” Dunn wrote. “It is misleading at best and insubordinate at worst.”
He admonished Montemagno for sending the memo to the trustees without consulting him. Dunn said he had tried to support Montemagno’s leadership."

City Hall Streetscape

Work is starting on the streetscape in front of city hall

Work along Illinois Avenue, east of Carbondale City Hall, has begun as part of the Illinois Avenue Streetscape Improvements Project.
The contractor is removing existing sidewalk and steps. For your safety, visitors are asked to avoid this area as much as possible. In addition, parking will not be available along Illinois Avenue during contractor working hours
A temporary walkway will be in place until the new sidewalk is constructed. Visitors are encouraged to use the west entrance of City Hall.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Chamber Letter In Support Of Multi Modal Center

The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce sent the letter below to the DOT supporting the city's request for funding for the proposed multi-modal center. Not sure what will come of it due to the lack of any significant funding for infrastructure improvements from the current administration.:

The Honorable Elaine L. Chao, Secretary
United States Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20590
 
Dear Secretary Chao:
 
I am writing on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce to express our support of the City of Carbondale's application for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant for $14.64 million through the U.S. Department of Transportation, for the Southern Illinois Multi-Modal Station (SIMMS) project. This grant will allow the City of Carbondale to complete design and construction and will also help generate much needed economic activity within our region.
 
In a rural area like Southern Illinois, transportation is often cited as a key impediment to connecting qualified workers with jobs. SIMMS will provide an opportunity to improve public transportation throughout the region and doing so, will provide opportunities to many low-income residents to access jobs, educational opportunities, and healthcare. Collectively, these improvements will improve the quality-of-life for many of our residents.
 
In addition to the improvements that the SIMMS project will provide for public transportation, this project would be a significant infrastructure investment to our region and would generate many high-quality construction jobs for the area which will generate additional economic impact. As such, we strongly support the use of BUILD funds to help facilitate the development of this critical project for Southern Illinois.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Carbondale Whiners

The Belleville News-Democrat does not have a very charitable take toward the SIUC members on the SIU Board of Trustees. Of course, despite the approaching parity in terms of enrollment, SIUC has far more residential students than does SIUE and also grants doctoral degrees, which SIUE does not, and which require more intensive time commitment from faculty. Granted, I got my doctoral degree from SIUC a number of years ago, but I had to wait several years to enter the program, as there were too many doctoral candidates and not enough faculty available to advise them. Some of the backlog, so to speak, had to clear out of the channel before the program could admit new students.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Kevin Lucas

In case you are free this Saturday. From the press release:

Local musician Kevin Lucas will be hosting a benefit concert for the Good Samaritan House homeless shelter of Carbondale on Saturday, June 30, at 2 PM at Alto Vineyards.  This is the third year that Kevin is hosting this event and every year it has raised more money than previous years.  "This is the kind of thing that builds on itself year after year.  I am extremely excited about this year and Patty Mullen from Good Samaritan has been doing a great job of getting the word out", said Lucas.  With state funding being cut for homeless shelters, it is more important than ever to raise money for them in new and creative ways.

Friday, June 22, 2018

City Council Agenda

Here is the agenda for next Tuesday's city council meeting. In addition, the LCC will vote on renewing Fat Patties liqour license:

7. Consent Agenda of the City Council
 7.1 Approval of the Carbondale City Council Meeting Minutes of June 12, 2018
7.2 Approval of Warrant for the Period Ending: 06/04/2018 for the combined FY 2018 and FY 2019 Warrant 1331 in the Total Amount of $1,132,037.57
 7.3 Award Purchase of Police Vehicles and Ordinance Authorizing a Budget Adjustment to the Police Department FY 2019 Budget
7.4 Award of Purchase of MFT Maintenance Materials for FY2019
7.5 Ordinance Approving a Budget Adjustment to Increase the City Clerk's Budget for Memorial Day Expenses
7.6 Award of Contract for Springer Street Water Main Replacement, CIP No. WS1301, to Dean Bush Construction of Carbondale, Illinois, in the Amount of $457,167.98
7.7 Award of Contract for Oak Street Sanitary Sewer Upgrade (Wall St. to Poplar St.), CIP SA1501, to ACI X of Chester, Illinois, in the amount of $1,188,001.46
 7.8 Appointments and Reappointments to Boards and Commissions
7.9 Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Project Labor Agreement with the Egyptian Building Trades Council
7.10 Approval of Consent Agenda Items
8. General Business of the City Council
8.1 Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Submit an Application for a BUILD Grant Requesting $14,640,000 in Funding to Construct the Southern Illinois Multi-Modal Station (SIMMS) 8.2 Ordinance Amending Title 5 of the Carbondale Revised Code to Allow Video Gaming in Truck Stops
 8.3 Ordinance Providing for the Regulation of and the Application for Small Wireless Facilities
8.4 Ordinance Adopting a Prevailing Rate of Wages of Laborers, Mechanics, and other Workers Employed in Public Works as Certified by the Illinois Department of Labor

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Reef House for Sale

From an email sent out to the Arbor District mailing list:

Many of you are probably aware that the Reef House on the NE corner of Poplar and Cherry Streets is for sale. Arbor District member Susan Metcalf is the agent for Sosanya Jones, who was recruited by Howard University. It's a wonderful opportunity for her, but a real loss to our neighborhood.

The Reef House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by Jean Sternberg, wife of the founder of the SIU Press (1956), Vernon Sternberg. The house is thought to have been built by A.M. Etherton who built a number of the highly decorated Victorian houses that once dominated Carbondale's architecture. It's small but beautifully restored and upgraded.  It's priced to sell at $89,900.

Jean and Vernon raised their family there. Vernon died of a heart attack apparently from shoveling snow in the historic "blizzard of 1979"; Jean died in 2006 at 86. Jean was an activist, being a founding member of the Humane Society, serving on a number of City boards and commissions during Carbondale's heyday in the late 1960s-early 1970s, and taking a deep history in local and regional history. 

Gary and Susan Edgren bought the house from her estate in 2005 and did a wonderful job restoring it. Their son lived there until 2014 when Sosanya, a new faculty member at SIU, bought it. 

With the Varsity Theater on Illinois, the Reef House on Poplar, and the Bucky Dome on Forest, Cherry Street embodies much of the history of Carbondale.

If you know someone who might be interested, Susan says she's holding an open house this Sunday, 3 to 5 p.m.


South Dakota vs. Wayfair

The Supreme Court ruled in the case of South Dakota vs. Wayfair this morning, a case revisiting the collection of sales taxes by states and local communities.

The SCOTUS Quill decision, back about 1992, in the early days of online retailing, ruled that retailers without a physical presence in a state were not required to collect and remit state and local sales taxes. At that time, online retailing was a minor presence and the taxes lost were pretty small. However as online retailing has grown over the past couple of decades, accounting for about 10-15% of all retail sales, the sales tax revenue loss has impacted states and cities severely. Just ask anyone in management at Carbondale City Hall.

Under the South Dakota law, which was upheld today, any retailer doing more that $100,000 in online sales or with over 200 customers in the state, is required to collect and remit sales tax to the state. This ruling only affects South Dakota but opens the way for other states to enact similar laws or for Congress, under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, to enact some sort of national regulation. Since there is no national sales tax in place, I doubt we will see any national form of sales tax collection put into place though.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

SIUC Medicne SIH Groundbreaking

Good turnout for the groundbreaking for the new SIUC/SIH complex going in on West Oak. I estimated 150 to 200 people there. I imagine that eventually SIH will want to acquire the entire block, pull down the houses there and replace them with either additional medical facilities or rental properties for doctors and staff working at the hospital, or short term rentals for families of patients at the hospital.

Unfortunately, hospitals and universities, because of their focus on the most modern technology and facilities, tend to not consider the effect of their activities on the surrounding neighborhoods. Ergo, most are located on the outskirts of communities or in areas where they can expand without disrupting the surrounding residences.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Celebrate 618

Walked through the Saturday afternoon Celebrate 618 event a couple of times Saturday afternoon and saw very little foot traffic. Good idea but needs more of a draw to get people out on a 90+ degree Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Celebrate 618

I haven't heard much about it, but that it certainly no criteria, but the Celebrate 618 festival kicks off tonight by incorporating the Sunset Concerts into the event, then Steak by the Lake tomorrow night and a days' worth of events on Saturday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Founders Park Design Forum

SIUC Agriculture students' designs for the proposed founders park will be on display in room 108 of the Civic Center from 3 to 7 p.m. It would be nice if the city took advantage of the resources of the University and use one or a combination of the designs but, based on past experience, it will probably outsource the park design.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Most Underrated City in Illinois

Thanks to a reader for pointing this out. According to the Thrillist, Carbondale is the most underrated city in Illinois. Here is what the writer has to say about the town, although he appears to view the city as more of a home base from which to visit other parts of southern Illinois:

The case to be made for visiting Carbondale, and southern Illinois as a whole, is that it’s the polar opposite of the big-shouldered metropolis up north. Carbondale is a Podunk college town with the feel of Bourbon County. Take advantage of the multiple wine trails, Cache River wetlands, and Shawnee National Forest, home to the Garden of the Gods and vistas unmatched anywhere else in the state. Speaking of: Carbondale had a total (if cloud-obscured) view of the 2017 eclipse -- and will also get to see America’s next total eclipse, in 2024.
At night, stop in neighboring Murphysboro for 17 Street Barbecue, where champion pitmaster Mike Mills has been working his cherry and applewood-smoked magic on baby back ribs for more than 20 years. Count on catching a live show at Carbondale’s Hangar 9, a dual-level bar with a musical legacy rooted in bluegrass and rock acts pouring through. The spot is modeled after an old airplane hangar that burned down and rebuilt -- because who needs an airport when you can have a kickass concert venue and beer garden? -- Sean Cooley

Monday, June 11, 2018

Gwen Hunt Passes Away

According to this post on PK's Facebook page,  Gwen Hunt, the boss at PKs for more years than most residents of Carbondale have been alive, passed away Saturday at the age of 84. The bar closed yesterday and most of today in memory of Gwen but the staff figured it would probably annoy her they closed at all so reopened at 4 p.m. today instead of 8 a.m. tomorrow as originally planned.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Hazardous Waste Collection

Jackson County is collecting household hazardous wastes at the SIUC Area parking lot until noon today. Paints, lightbulbs, batteries, etc are accepted, no industrial waste and you have to have an id or utility bill showing you live in the county. Easiest way to get to the collection site is from the Pleasant Hill Road entrance to the Arena lot.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Historic Park Committee Meeting

I think this is a meeting to discuss planning a park behind the public safety nee police station.
 Next Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the city council chambers:

Introductions and roll call Special reports: Update on landscape displays in the Student Center New business: Discussion on setting up a 501 C3 foundation for the park Old business: Master plan schedule submissions (5 year) Maintaining the Facebook Page for the Park Continue discussion of Kiosks and historical information to be used/included. Consensus on landscape elements for the park Private/Public partnerships: Update on partnering progress

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Dunn Update

Randy Dunn may not go on administrative leave after all. At least one member of the BOT doesn't think the executive committee has the power to put him on leave. BOT Chair Amy Sholar says that removing the President is a duty reserved for the entire BOT, not for the Executive Committee and she does not believe it an important enough action to warrant calling the entire BOT into session.  Wanna bet there is more to come?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Dunn on Administrative Leave

SIU's BOD announced today that SIU President Randy Dunn has been placed on administrative leave and the BOD is looking for an interim President to take his place for the immediate future. Apparently the trustees received some additional information in the past week regarding Dunn that caused them to take this action which appears to have caught Dunn by surprise.  Since I bet Dunn is going on a paid leave of absence, SIU will have to pay salaries for both him and the selected interim at a time with the university is not exactly flush with money.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Fat Pattie's Liquor License

Fat Pattie's liquor license for 2018-2019 comes up before the Liquor Advisory Board this Thursday night. Looks like the only thing on the agenda.

Monday, June 4, 2018

New Chamber CEO

The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce has decided to name its interim executive director as permanent director. From the press release:


The Executive Committee and the Board of Directors of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce have voted to accept the recommendation of the Search Committee to hire Jennifer Olson as the President and CEO of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce.
Ms. Olson has been serving as the Interim Director since March 19. Prior to joining the Chamber, Jennifer had a 15-year career in Commercial Banking, primarily based out of Carbondale. Before banking, Jennifer spent five years as Marketing Director for University Mall.
“We are pleased to have Jennifer lead the Chamber, her Business background combined with her extensive knowledge of Public Relations, Marketing, and Special Events is sure to be an asset,” said Shane Carsrud, Chairman of the Board of Directors.
In addition to the position as President and CEO, Ms. Olson serves on several committees and boards for various organization. Most notable, Delta Regional Authority (DRA) Federal Co-Chairman Chris Caldwell recently asked Jennifer to Chair the Regional Advisory Council to the Delta Leadership Network of the DRA.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

PrideFest

In case you are looking for something to do this weekend, Pridefest kicked off Friday night and continues through Sunday. Events today and Sunday include:

Saturday, June 2nd:
PrideWalk - Carbondale Gaia house to Carbondale Pavilion, 11:00 a.m.
Festival - Carbondale Pavilion, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., with Mistress of Ceremonies, the Living Legend, Blanche Dubois! Performers Heather Hammers, Laura King Neville, Improv, DJ Keith Hughes, tables, activities and events for all ages.
Drag Queen Bingo: 4:00 - 6:30 p.m., the Varsity
YOUTH PARTY – Doors open at 6 p.m., shows at 7:00 p.m. - 11 pm, Carbondale Gaia House – Laura King Neville, Bad Ghost, drag shows, performance games and prizes. Ages 13-19
BENEFIT CONCERT FOR THE RAINBOW CAFE - Street Bar, 8:00 p.m. - featuring drag artists/ performers, including live bands Sleeping Tapes and Trophy Shop. Mistress of Ceremonies, Jodie Santana.

HIV and STD Screenings, Jackson County Health Department and The Community Action Place Mobile Unit, all day

Sunday, June 3rd:

Special Service at the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship, in conjunction with the Church of the Good Shepherd, CUF 10:30 a.m.
The Ralph Anderson Interfaith Dialogues (subgroup of Carbondale Interfaith Council): "Coming Out in Faith", 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship.
Film Screening, “Tangerine”, Big Muddy Film Festival, lLongbranch Cafe

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Hilton

The Hilton is slowly coming along. My guess is they will get it open sometime in late July or early August, about a year after the original projected date. Both it and Evolve will do a fine job of sticking out like sore thumbs among the much lower buildings that comprise the rest of the downtown area  From what I understand, under the new standards for downtown development, I gather neither building would be approved. However, given that the city really wants development in downtown, I would also bet that both projects would receive a waiver if they had asked for one. After all, both bring quite a few people to stay in the downtown area, Evolve for semesters at a time and the Hilton for several nights.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

S. Illinois Streetscape

The city has started work on the S. Illinois Streetscape project. I see a couple of the larger trees along the street have been cut down, I assume in order to make way for the newly redesigned sidewalks coming into place.

Incidentally, I have heard people complaining about the "wall" that now parallels the sidewalk after the street redesign and people's complaints about how difficult it is to step over. From my understanding, the divider was put into place in order to comply with ADA requirements, so that it is harder for people to go off the sidewalk. It also decreases the gradient of the sidewalk as well, reducing the slope on hills. If the city put steps or a break in the divider in order to make it easier for people to get from their cars to the sidewalk, in order to comply with ADA requirements, a ramp would have to be installed as well. Apparently, any new steps put in also have to have complimentary wheelchair accessibility and a ramp suitable for wheelchairs would stretch out some 16 feet.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Liquor Advisory Board

So can the city get rid of the Liquor Advisory Board now? since it will no longer review  liquor license applications, which was its primary function, there seems no good reason to keep the Board in place as its functions will be limited to, according to the article, "Other changes included new language that says the advisory board may be allowed to review new liquor applications if the licensee requests additional help in preparing their application. The board will also be involved in reviewing and making recommendations to the full board on renewal applications."

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Memorial Day

As you probably know, Memorial Day is a major event here in Carbondale. This year's festivities take place at 10 a.m. on Monday in Woodlawn Cemetary (of course).   From the city:

The Memorial Day Sesquicentennial Service will be held on Monday, May 28, at the historic Woodlawn Cemetery, located at 405 E. Main Street in Carbondale.

Civil War historian Gary Ecelbarger will be the keynote speaker at this year’s event. He has written multiple books, including The Great Comeback: How Abraham Lincoln Beat the Odds to Win the 1860 Republican Nomination and biographies of Civil War generals “Black Jack” Logan and Fredrick W. Lander.

Other participants include Carbondale Mayor John “Mike” Henry, storyteller Brian Ellis, the Red Bank Reunion Band and members of the Carbondale Fire and Police Honor Guard.

The service will begin at 10 a.m. and will be held regardless of inclement weather. Seating is limited, so you are encouraged to arrive early. Parking is available at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, Wendy’s, Bandana’s Bar-B-Q, Popeyes, Walgreens, First Southern Bank and Fastenal.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Incentive Areas

Carbondale city government announced the governor has approved 3 low income incentive areas for the city.  Nice to have but doubt if they will have much effect. From what I have read, and others with more experience are certainly welcome to chime in, TIF and similar tax reduction districts do little to actually attract business into a low income area 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Streetscape

The second phase of the S. Illinois Ave. streetscape project is scheduled to start this Tuesday with completion scheduled for August 10. This phase of the project will work on the blocks of S. Illinois between West Cherry (just south of the Varsity Theater) to West Monroe (north side of the Civic Center).  No eclipse this year to drive the deadline but there is a substantial non-completion penalty if substantially all of the project is not finished by the 10th.

Friday, May 18, 2018

South End

With 710 Bookstore moving over on East Grand, that leaves quite a few empty spaces at the south end of the Strip. The set of shops above Trax is empty, the strip where Printing Plant used to be is half empty and now the block at the south end is half empty as well.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Water Supply

One of the benefits of the city having its own water supply is that we don't rely on Rend Lake like many of the surrounding communities do. If you remember, there was quite a bit of controversy over Mayor Cole's proposal to privatize the city water system  during his administration. From the city:

 Carbondale residents are not impacted by the recent water main break at the Rend Lake Conservancy District.

If residents in surrounding communities are in need of water, the City has a bulk fill station at the Water Treatment Plant, located at 2401 S. McLafferty Road.

If you have questions or would like more information about the bulk fill station, call the City of Carbondale Water Treatment Plant at (618) 457-3241 or the 24-hour hotline at (618) 529-1731.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Casper Passes Away

In case you missed it, the Bookworm's cat, Casper, passed away just days after the store closed this past weekend. According to the post on Facebook, Casper had appeared in the store parking lot about 15 years ago and soon settled into his position as the store mascot.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Screenprinter

On the heels of the departing hair salon on West Main, it looks as if there is a Screenprinting shop opening in the empty space next door. Used to be a tattoo parlor if I recall correctly.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Hair Salon Gone

The little hair salon that opened up in the 100 block of west Walnut, behind Phoenix Cycle, has shut down and cleared out the space. It wasn't there long enough for me to even notice what the name of the place was. Saw it open a few times but not consistently. Hopefully, the owners found a different location at which to open.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Econo Lodge

Due to continued incidents of flooding, the city wants to tear down the Econo Lodge (formerly known as University Inn and Days' Inn) and replace it with green space. If the grant from the state is approved, the city would purchase the property for about $800,000, demolish it and return it to open space. It appears the motel sits in the flood plain for Piles Fork Creek and there is no way to prevent the parking area and first floor of the building when the creek overflows its banks, which happened almost never when I first moved here but has happened several times since the turn of the century. In recent years, the Econo Lodge has shifted from providing rooms to visitors to Carbondale to offering weekly or monthly rentals.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Halloween

Given city council's embracing of Halloween this year, (you can submit your festival logos here), I wonder if the local media will retire their film clips and photos of Halloween riots past? If  a discussion of  Halloween in Carbondale makes the local news media, you can bet it will come accompanied by videos and photos of Halloween crowds the city hasn't seen since the mid 1990s. Case in point, this recent article in the Southern. To be fair, the focus of the article was the party school image the university had during its heyday in the early 1990s, but still, similar photos appear every time a story about bringing back Halloween appears.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

city Council Meeting--Food Trucks

City Council meets tonight. Main item on the agenda appears a look at the ordinances regarding food trucks in the city and possibly relaxing them. Last year a dozen operated in the city and apparently enough more want to operate that council is considering making it easier for them to do so. More options are good, as long as all of them don't offer variations on the same thing.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Did Losing the Party School Image Cut Enrollment?

Front page story in yesterday's Southern asking  if losing its party school image contributed to the decline in enrollment. Unfortunately, posing the question and only asking 2 people for their opinion doesn't really give an answer to the question.

Omar's Food Mart

Looks as if the old Veach's Short Stop behind University Mall is getting remodeled into Omar's Food Mart. Likely planning to serve the residents living in the area behind University Mall. Not a great location for a gas station though, as drivers have to get off of eastbound 13 onto old 13 and go through a stop sign to get to it. Hopefully, food sales will prove strong enough to keep the place in business.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Freecycle

If you are looking to clear stuff out of your house, the Freecycle exchange returns to Carbondale at the end of the month:

Anyone looking to downsize or just clear clutter is invited to bring items (in good condition) that are no longer needed to a Freecycle Exchange at Gaia House, 913 S Illinois Avenue.  And anyone looking for household goods or clothing can come and browse and help themselves. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, May 24 - 26, between the hours of noon and 8 pm, the doors will be open for people to drop off or pick up re-usable items. At the end of the week, the Freecycle Exchange will close and all remaining items will be donated to the Thrift Shop at 215 N Illinois.

For more information on the Freecycle Exchange, call the Gaia House at 618-549-7387; Keep Carbondale Beautiful can be reached at 618 525-5525 or keepcb1326@gmail.com.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Thief

Carbondale police are looking for this chap who stole stuff from the east side Hobby Lobby

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Carbondale After Dark

A third edition of the history of 1960s and 70s Carbondale is now available, with three additional chapters.  The 1982 1st edition has come down in price significantly since the printing of the 2nd edition since I remember seeing the original commanding upwards of $70 for a copy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Graffiti



Vandals were busy about 4 a.m. this morning in Pickle's Alley, the alley that runs north and south from the Civic Center.  Got the Verizon building, the Castle Perilous building and a dumster further north.  Turned over video of the two men to the police

Monday, April 30, 2018

10,000 People

Still kind of mind boggling to think that Carbondale has lost 10,000 people since I came to town back in 1990, all due to the decline in enrollment at the university. Granted, I also thought that SIUC was much larger than the community or region could reasonably support but the amount of outreach done by the administration over the previous 40 years had really pulled people to Carbondale. I haven't seen that amount of focus from any of the leaders SIUC has had over the past quarter of a century. Even Glenn Poshard, arguably the leader with the closest ties to SIUC, couldn't turn the university around. SIUC doesn't need restructuring, it needs outreach, both to southern Illinois and to the rest of the region

Friday, April 27, 2018

Mall Movie Theater Closing

According to this article in the Southern, the Classic 8 theater in University Mall will close May 10th. Apparently the renovated University Place 8 across the highway has drawn enough traffic that it is no longer profitable to keep both open. That takes the city down to one theater showing first run films and the downtown Varsity showing classic ones.

Cardboard Boat Regatta

The Great Cardboard Boat Regatta returns to its original home, Campus Lake, tomorrow. For the past several years, the lake was too filled with toxic algae to allow people to boat in it, much less sink as most of the cardboard craft are wont to do. Good to see an iconic Carbondale event returning to its original home, in conjunction with the dedication  fo the new/remodeled Becker Boathouse. Now if they can just get Campus Beach open again.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Transportation Center

Carbondale is  working to get funding for the downtown transportation center once again. Need about $18 million to pay for the whole thing, which would move the bus depot to a remodeled train station, along with mass transit and taxi pickup and drop off locations.A centralized location would make it much easier for students arriving and departing from Chicago via Amtrak but no sure if the downtown area could handle the additional traffic.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wanna Work for SIUC... For FREE?

SIUC is recruiting alumni for a pilot program in which approved alumni join the SIUC graudate faculty as a zero time adjunct status for up to three years. Activities would vary across various academic units (the email doesn't refer to departments) but could include  "service on graduate student thesis committees, teaching specific graduate or undergraduate lectures in one’s area of expertise, service on departmental or university committees, and collaborations on grant proposals and research projects. "

Needless to say, this was not received well by SIUC faculty, so  Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Meera Komarraju   sent out the following:

"This is a proposed pilot project developed in collaboration with the SIU Alumni Association to connect qualified alumni with our students as mentors to enhance – not replace – the work of our faculty.
These alumni might deliver an individual lecture or lead a seminar discussion based on their expertise but would not teach entire courses. They might also participate in service roles such as mentoring students or adding expertise to thesis committees.
The goal is to create a pool of potential, volunteer adjuncts with advanced academic degrees who might contribute as needed for up to three years after their approval. Many departments welcome occasional adjunct faculty who bring special expertise that may add to the student experience and the overall expertise of the faculty. This approach is in compliance with university policy.
The project also engages alumni who are eager to give back to the university; they can serve as mentors, role models and future professional contacts for our graduate students.
The use of adjuncts is not unusual on our campus and in higher education generally. This exploratory project simply fosters the ability of academic programs to identify and connect with potential adjunct faculty already invested in the university. It benefits current faculty, students and alumni."

While the Interim Provost is correct in that the use of adjuncts is not unusual on SIUC's, or any other college campus, and in fact is quite often used when only one course is needed taught (or as a cost savings measure, since adjuncts generally teach on a year to year basis and do not receive all of the benefits full time faculty receive), using unpaid adjuncts on a contract basis certainly is.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

SIUC

Still not seeing how reorganizing SIUC will help the campus with its main problem:  not getting enough students. Reorganizing is done to make an organization run more efficiently, not to sell more, which is essentially what SIUC or any university does. I just haven't heard any reason or plan as to why students will want to come to the university once it gets restructured.

Monday, April 23, 2018

New WDBX Manager

After the controversy that resulted in previous station manager Dave Armstrong resigning, the WDBX Board has hired a new station manager. Hopefully, he has as long a tenure as Armstrong did

Friday, April 20, 2018

Movies

Nice to see movies shown at the downtown Varsity Theater again. It appears the plan is to screen older "classic" movies Friday nights for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Re-orgainzation

I would be a whole lot happier with the Chancellor's  proposed reorganization of the departments and colleges at SIUC if he could point to some places where this style of restructuring has proved successful in the past. So far, all I ever here is that we show do this. I guess someone has got to be first but before undergoing such a drastic restructuring, shouldn't the university try other things first. like maybe a strong effort at promoting itself? 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Saturday Cleanup

Spring cleanup of Carbondale this Saturday (assuming it doesn't snow):





What:  Please come together to beautify the Arbor District this Saturday!  
When: Saturday April 21 at 10am til noon
Where: Meet at the entrance  of the Catholic Church
Why:  Meet your neighbors! Feel good about doing something as a community! Make the neighborhood look better! Have fun! Get some fresh air!  

Monday, April 16, 2018

Saluki Gymnastics

Noticed that Southern Illinois Gymnastics, in the Eastgate Plaza complex, changed its name to Saluki Gymnastics. On the plus side, it reflects that Carbondale is the home of SIUC and the Salukis. On the downside, now they have to explain what  a Saluki is.

Friday, April 13, 2018

TIGER Grants

Carbondale applied for  a TIGER grant awhile back to fund the proposed downtown multi-modal transport center, planned to replace the current Amtrak station. Unfortunately, the city did not receive one. Illinois did get two grants in this region though, one to help fund expansion to I-57 and one received in conjunction with Indiana  that will replace a pair of rail bridges crossing the Wabash River.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Halloween

Apparently the city, having decided to embrace Halloween, has decided to embrace both present and past Halloweens and is seeking memorabilia of Carbondale Halloween's past. It appears they are only looking for photos of old Halloween items, not the items themselves.

The City of Carbondale needs your help tracking down old Halloween memorabilia.

We are looking for old t-shirts and posters to promote the return of Halloween.

Email your pictures with the words “Halloween” in the subject line to afox@explorecarbondale.com. You can also post your pictures and ideas on social media using the hashtag #HalloweenInCarbondale.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

City Press Conference

Seems the city is pretty concerned about the proposed shift of some $5 million in funding from SIUC to SIUE as there is a press conference at City Hall on the topic at 1 p.m. today. I can see why. Pulling $5 million directly out of the Carbondale economy would, if I remember the multiplier correctly affect an additional $35-$40 million in the region. A quick search of Google did not give me any figures as to how large the overall economy is down here but it is probably not large enough to absorb a $35 million or even a $5 million loss with no effect. I can see the justification in total number of students as the two universities approach parity in numbers, however, SIUC does issue doctorates and has a strong research tradition, which should account for something.

The City of Carbondale will hold a press conference on Wednesday, April 11 at 1 p.m. in Room 103 of the Carbondale Civic Center.

Carbondale Mayor John “Mike” Henry will be joined by regional leaders to discuss the recent funding proposal by the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees, and the economic impact it could have on the region’s economy. 

If you have questions or would like more information, contact Carbondale Public Relations Officer Amy Fox at (618) 559-1939.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Clean Up Carbondale

If you want to help with the city's spring cleaning Keep Carbondale Beautiful is looking for volunteers on April 21:

 Carbondale’s Annual Spring Cleanup and Recycling Day will be on April 21, and Keep Carbondale Beautiful is putting out the call for public participation.
KCB is looking for suggestions of “blight spots” that need attention.  The public is asked to call or email the locations. KCB Executive Director Sarah Heyer noted, “After last weekend’s Big Event, a lot of litter has been picked up in the central part of town. That should free us to get to spots that are further afield.  But we need help identifying those locations.” The general public can also help by providing their used two-handled shopping bags for individuals to carry so that everyone participates.  Larger bags will be provided.
KCB is also recruiting volunteers from the community to help with the cleanup.  Pre-registration is encouraged (go to keepcb.org) and increases points in the contest.  Start time is 9 am.  City crews pick up the bags, and volunteers from the Rotary Club of Carbondale weigh them. Prizes are given in several categories for the most litter collected.  T-shirts are distributed and lunch is provided, with the help of Arnold’s Market and others.
Critical to success is support from local businesses, as event sponsors and as donors of food, supplies, or prizes.  This year’s sponsors include Burkdell Mulch, Burris Disposal Service, CIMCO, Southern Recycling Center.  In-kind support comes from Silkworm, SIUC, the City of Carbondale, and the Carbondale Park District.
For more information, check the website at keepcb.org, call Keep Carbondale Beautiful at (618)525-5525 or email keepcb1326@gmail.com.  

Monday, April 9, 2018

Culver's Ground Breaking

In case you want to join the city and Chamber of Commerce in welcoming Culver's to Carbondale, groundbreaking takes place today at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Reeds Station Road and East 13. No idea if Butter Burgers will be offered:

 Culvers, a popular midwestern fast food chain is coming to Carbondale in summer 2018, and is celebrating with a groundbreaking ceremony Monday, April 9, 2018.
Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Interim Director Jennifer Olson and Carbondale Economic Development Director Steve Mitchell will kick off the ceremonies. “We’re always happy to welcome a new business to our community” says Olson. “There’s been a lot of excitement for Culver’s to come to Carbondale.”
The groundbreaking will be held at 1525 Reed Station Road at 11:00 a.m. on April 9. The event will include photo opportunities as well as gift bags.
The restaurant specializes in burgers made with beef and dairy from the Midwest and frozen custard. Culver’s first opened in 1984 in Sauk City, Wisconsin. Currently, they have over 650 restaurants across the United States.
The Carbondale City Council voted to approve Culver’s site plan on March 13, 2018. The restaurant will be located at the intersection of Reed Station Road and Route 13.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Letter to BOT

In case you would like to read it, here is the transcript of the letter sent on April 5 by the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce to the SIUC Board of Trustees regarding the proposed shift of $5 million in funding from SIUC to SIUE:

Dear Members of the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees,
It has come to our attention that a resolution that would shift financial resources from the Carbondale to the Edwardsville campus will be considered at the April 12, 2018 board meeting. Under Resolution GG-1, $5.1 million would be reallocated to Edwardsville in FY19 and a reallocation would continue annually for four years

. Our concern is two-fold. First and foremost, the initial reduction of $5.1 million dollars is just a few months away. In addition to the immediate cut, the shift to enrollment-based funding sets a precedent for continued reallocation in the future.

While we understand SIU’s overriding priority is to provide a quality institution of learning, we cannot overlook the fact that SIUC serves as an economic engine for southern Illinois. “For every $1 appropriated by the state to SIUC, it generates roughly $7.72 of economic activity annually in Illinois.” * The translation is that the initial $5.1 million reduction would have a negative economic impact more than $39 million. Our business community cannot afford any further decline of SIUC.

 Second, the funding model is decades old. Why take this action now? Just as the businesses we represent have had to make tough economic decisions, so has SIUC. SIUC is doing what is takes to grow enrollment, and therefore, revenue. Attendance at the most recent open house on the Carbondale campus was quite high. The administration and all departments have taken steps to reduce costs and eliminate duplication. SIUC has reduced its budget by more than $31 million since 2014, including the reduction of 500 employees.

SIUC is on course for enrollment growth in fall of 2019 and on target to end this fiscal year with a balanced budget. Remaining faculty and staff are committed to providing a quality education and the revitalization of SIUC.

We respectfully request that you give SIUC, and the region it impacts, time. Time, so that we might reap the results and rewards of the work currently in process. We assure you that this administration and business community are committed to seeing SIUC restored to its former glory.

2018 Board of Directors, Carbondale Chamber of Commerce

Pharmacy

From what I hear, the remodeling of the old gas station, Mexican grocery, doughnut shop on the west side of Carbondale is to make it suitable for hosting a Medigap or some other form of pharmacy.  Better use of the facility than as either a gas station or doughnut shop, as a pharmacy is more of a destination location than either of the other two.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

DQ Helping El Greco

In case you hadn't heard, El Greco's recently re-opened under new management and the downtown Dairy Queen has a sign up offering 15% off the purchase their when you show a receipt from El Greco's 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

News Democrat on Hollywood Lounge

The Bellevue News Democrat got the headline wrong in its story on last weekend's bar closures. Only one Carbondale bar closed because of the FBG Duck show, the other bar was located in Carterville. Media mistakes like that do not help Carbondale's image.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

More on Hollywood Lounge

Caught an interview with Mayor Mike Henry and  City Manager Gary Williams regarding the Hollywood Lounge license suspension. From what they said, and an article in today's Southern, someone at SIUC had booked the rapper FBG Duck to perform at the Student Center on March 30. However, it appears that FBG Duck is a bit enamored of guns, at least from his Facebook page, and a member of the Gangster Disciples to boot, so someone at SIUC canceled the space. The promoter also booked FBG Duck for an afterparty show at Club 262 in Carterville, which caused the Williamson County Liquor Commission to pull the club's liquor license until today, causing cancellation of the performance.

Carbondale Police meanwhile, contacted venues in Carbondale that had the space to host the performance to find out if the promoter had tried to rebook there. Hollywood Lounge had  been contacted and had booked the performance but after talking with the police decided to cancel the show. Due to worries that the performers and entourage might show up at Hollywood anyhow and the amount of attention the show received on social media, and with the implied consent of owner Bobby McBride, Mayor Henry, with the agreement of a majority of the Liquor Control Commission, suspended the establishment's liquor license until Monday.

The weekend passed peacefully so closing the establishments may have worked. Of course, there may not have been any problems anyhow. Carbondale Police and the Mayor may have overreacted. We will never know. However, if a shooting or other criminal activity tied into the the performance had occurred and the police had not taken preemptive action, they would probably have gotten castigated for not doing anything to prevent it.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Hollywood Lounge Permit Suspended

Mayor Henry, acting in his capacity as chair of the Liquor Control Commission, temporarily suspended the liquor license for the Hollywood Lounge, on the north side of the town square, from last Friday until noon today. According to the reports, the reason for the suspension was the booking of a "musical group from Chicago whose events have a history of violence". I did a quick search but cannot find any mention of which group was coming so assume the advertising for the group was through word of mouth (Hollywood Lounge's FB page has not been updated since 2016 and the website looks a placeholder).

Friday, March 30, 2018

StreetScape

In case you want to know more about the next stage of the downtown Streetscape project, be at City Hall on April 4 from 4 to 6 p.m.:

The City of Carbondale will host an open house on Wednesday, April 4 to present the plans to the public for the second phase of the Illinois Avenue Streetscape Improvements Project. 

This project is a continuation of the improvements of the sidewalks, streetlights and related improvements completed last summer along Illinois Avenue. The second phase will begin where the first phase ended, at Cherry Street, and will continue to Monroe Street on the north side of City Hall.

Plans will be on display from 4 to 6 p.m. in Room 103 of the Carbondale Civic Center. Community members are invited to view the plans and provide comments about the work. In addition, City officials will be on hand to answer questions.

Similar to last summer, work on the project is expected to begin immediately after Southern Illinois University Commencement in May and conclude in August.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

14%

That's the amount of staff the Carbondale city hall has cut in the past year, mainly through attrition and opting not to refill empty positions. Cist staff is moving the duties of those positions into other jobs in the hierarchy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Square Lights

I see the Christmas lights on the light poles around the square finally came down. I had hoped the city would leave them up year round, as they were white rather than Christmas colors and brightened up the Square markedly. With them down, the Square is measurably darker. Maybe next year the city will decide to leave them up year round.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

SIUC Outreach

Was listening to an interview with SIU President Randy Dun on WSIU this morning and he commented that SIUE, while down slightly, has taken nowhere near the hit that SIUC has in terms of enrollment. While I would attribute some of that to the ease of access that SIUE has to the metro-east area, I agree with him that SIUC's outreach has sorely laced over the last few decades. I see billboards in southern Illinois advertising SIUE, John A. Logan, Rend Lake, even SEMO but very little for SIUC,

Monday, March 26, 2018

New Kroger Hours

Looks as if the 24 hour thing for Kroger hasn't worked out as the store will start closing at 1 a.m. on April 1. Doubt if Wal-mart will follow suit but Schnucks might.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Dona Camilla Grocery

Noticed that Dona Camilla Grocery, on the north side of the square, has reduced its hours to the point that it only opens on the weekend. Sign in the window says that the kitchen has closed as well. Shame that they did not do better business as I had heard several people speak highly of the food there.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Evergreen Park

For some reason, the gates to the eastern (main) entrance to Evergreen Park were closed last week and Monday. Cars could still enter the park through the western entrance and visitors could walk to the playground area. No signs posted and have not heard any reason as to why these gates were closed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Voting

Don't forget to vote today. Caught on the news this morning that more people early voted this year in Illinois than voted in total in 2014.

Carbondale Solutions

Following up from yesterday's post, here is a list of proposed solutions advanced at last January's meeting, attended by, among others, SIUC's Chancellor and his wife, the head of SIUC's faculty association as well as local elected officials, city officials, doctors, lawyers, advertising executives, bankers, realtors, landlords, teachers, neighborhood and union activists:


·         Reassert that which is special about SIUC
o   have special programs [earth systems/sustainability/global values/communicators/diversity]
o   e-energize the renowned Rehab Institute and the John Dewey Center and elevate Buckminster Fuller’s legacy
o   revitalize campus life
o   adopt a common reader program at university (integrate with community issues?) – a  key book assigned to all incoming students for discussion and thought
·         Advertising and media
o   Focus on stories, unique programs (weekly column in the Southern on SIUC good news)
·         Recruit international students
·         Work on issues of structural racism which may discourage minorities, international students
·         Create permanent body to facilitate town/gown relations
·         Make the community welcoming to all – international, minorities, students
o   Home stay/adopt a student
o   Invite international students “home for the holidays”
o   International friends groups
o   Educate police about cultural difference of international students
o   Build a campaign of residents greeting students they encounter
o   Religious institution outreach
o   Assimilate students into the community (and not just for foreign students)
o   Create website/portal with employment/volunteer opportunities in the community for students – a place that students can post skills and residents can find workers to do yard work, house cleaning, etc. as well as volunteers for community groups. (“Help wanted” “Help offered”)
o   Create greater interaction between city officers, institutions and students
o   Seek fewer arrests, create more work/service opportunities for student arrests instead of monetary fines
·         Recognize that Carbondale is first and foremost a university town
·         Promote cooperation between university and town following the model of eclipse week
·         Community response to media to counter negative media reports
·         Market SIU as equivalent to U of I (not Eastern or Western)
·         Build on change already happening in elementary schools (new superintendent)
o   Publicize great students and achievement in K-12 schools
o   Build on ties (Spanish immersion program) between K-12 schools and SIUC
o   Community volunteerism in K12 schools
o   Bring local/regional students to campus early and often
o   Create collaboration between SIUC and CES 95 to address achievement gap between more affluent and poorer children
·         Use community to fill seats at university events – offer free tickets when stadium not full
·         Establish artists program (model of Providence RI, Paducah, Ky)
·         Enhance community attractiveness to students and residents with shared facilities that encourage interaction
o   Dog park
o   Skate Park