Monday, February 27, 2012

Apathy over SIUC Sports

This article in the Post Dispatch is attracting some attention, especially for the focus on the downturn the SIUC basketball program has taken under Chris Lowrey, which has gone from  NCAA Tournament appearances in the early years of his coaching career at SIUC to a record 22 losses so far this year.  Of not is Lowrey's salary, $762,500 per year, almost double that of SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng, who makes about half that, $368,000 per year.

Unfortunately, to buy Lowrey out of the remaining two years of his contract would cost the university over $1.4 million dollars, which, while some in the administration would probably love to do, as the performance of the sports programs reflects badly on the $70 million spent for the new sports facilities.  However, the university can ill afford to buy him out, given its current financial difficulties.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Church Damage

Sombody last Wednesday night took a dislike to two churchs  located on South Poplar.  A window was broken in one and graffiti written on the walls of the other.  Though the police report doesn't specify, from the locations given it looks as if Calvary Campus Church and St. Francis Xavier were the targets.

Update:  Just received this email forwarded from Fr. Bob Flannery, pastor at St. Francis Xavier:

Unfortunately I need to let you know that a large pane of glass in the entrance way to the front of Xavier Hall had a brick thrown through it shattering the window. Also, the large wooden cross in front of church with a long purple cloth for Lent was moved around and disturbed. Finally, the Fish Fry sign attached to our church sign was removed. Actually, we had the church sign toppled over a couple of months ago as well. Just wanted to let you know. A heck of a way to celebrate Ash Wednesday! We reported to the police, but a report was not written up (at least on site) nor were any pictures taken.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wedding Chapel and Beer Garden

Last night's council meeting produced a bit more controversy than I had anticipated. The request for beer garden status for Sports Blast's new outdoor patio cum wedding chapel ran into a roadblock when Councilpeople Adams and Monty, long with Mayor Fritzler, voted against granting approval, splitting the council vote 3-3, meaning approval was not granted.

Sports Blast's location was the sticking point. Currently, beer gardens in Carbondale have no restrictions on noise level during weekend hours.  People living on Giant City Road can often hear music coming from Pinch Penny Pub's garden during the weekend, even though Pinch Penny is located about 2 miles away.  Sports Blast is located in an area zoned agricultural, adjacent to the high school and a planned Hindu temple, with a number of residences and apartments nearby.  Given complaints about noise from other beer gardens Monty, Adams and Fritzler expressed concerns about the possible noise coming from the new facility disturbing residents of the area. 

The application contained language indicating the SB planned to play "soft entrance music" for when the bride arrived and exited the ceremony and expected to play music only between 5 p.m and 11 p.m.  However, under the Liquor Code as currently written, beer gardens are exempt from sound level ordinances over the weekend.  Ergo, if the beer garden license passed, the city could do noting legally should Sports Blast play music more loudly than anticipated or past 11 p.m.  When asked if he would include the language regarding time and music constraints as part of the application, making them legally enforceable, Sports Blast demurred, saying they felt it unfair to treat them differently from other beer gardens in the city.  After this, the vote went ahead with Fronabarger, Wissmann and McDainiels voting to approve and, as noted earlier, Fritzler, Adams and Monty voting again (Jack had to recuse himself, due to his ownership of the beer selling Fat Patties).  Wissman and McDaniels made a point of saying they felt it important to encourage business growth as much as possible within the community.

Sports Blast then, upon invitation from the city attorney, had a private discussion with him, and, when they returned to council chambers, announced the company was willing to restrictions as enforceable parts of its application.  The beer garden application went before council again, this time passing unanimously, though Wissmann and McDaniels both made a point of saying they would have preferred to pass the application as originally written.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

LCC and City Council

Meeting tonight at 7 p.m.  Doesn't look like an especially exciting one, but you never can tell.

Liquor Violations

The Police Department report on liquor violations for the 1st and 2nd quarters makes for interesting reading, if you are into that sort of thing.  A surprising number of bars and liquor stores had no violations, including Pick's Liquors, ABC Liquors, The Cellar, Hangar 9, Royal Plaza, Tres Hombres, Warehouse Liquor Mart, Westroads Liquor, Old Town Liquors, Pinch Penny Liquors, Sports Blast and P. K.s. 

Champ among violators has got to be Stix, with 79 during the 6 month period, over half of which were for underage possession. Next, and a relative piker with only 47 violations, again mostly for underage possession, was Pinch Penny Pub with 47.  Cali's only had a dozen, Copper Dragon 5, Sidetracks 8 and Gatsby's 2, only 2.

If you scroll further down the report,  you will find the fire department's report (everyone clear except Appleby's, which got a write up for emergency lights needing repair)  and Building and Neighborhood services inspection report.  One thing interesting on that one was the notation of a wedding chapel apparently under construction at Sports Blast.

Monday, February 20, 2012

More on CCTB Budget

If you missed it, the Carbondale Times has a breakdown of where the money goes for the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau.  The CCTB's total budget runs a hair over $405,000 with most of that ($317,500) coming from the C'dale hotel/motel tax. The rest comes from the county, state and various grants

47% of that goes for salaries. Another 30% goes for insurance, administration, rent and technical support (which I assume includes the CCTB website). That leaves about 23% of the budget for promotional activities and special projects.  Since from what I see from the CCTB's strategic plan, most of its focus is on promoting Carbondale and the region, I would think a greater percentage of the budget would focus on those activities.

Mayor Fritzler's proposal to pull $120,000 from the CCTB budget would reduce the CCTB budget by 30%. According to CCTB executive director Debbie Moore, if this cut takes place, the Bureau would have to eliminate the following:

 --match a $37,500 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to support the use of locally grown specialty crops.

-- a proposal to the  Illinois Office of Tourism for a tourism attraction development grant.

--cultural heritage partnership project  for a proposed single-day heritage festival in the city. Among event sites listed were the Varsity Center for the Arts and the Fuller Dome Home.

--community youth golf team and expanded efforts to bring Amateur Athletic Union tournaments to the park district's Hickory Ridge Public Golf Center.

--CCTB's  development of arts-centered marketing designed to bring cultural tourists to the city.

--New visitor guides

--Community contributions to Lights Fantastic Parade, July 4 fireworks display, and CMS Friday Night Fair

From what I see, if the proposed $120,000 cut goes through, the CCTB would, at least according to Executive Director Moore, cut almost all of its promotional activities, which is the primary reason for the organization's existance in the first place and rely on the Bureau's website for outreach and promotion.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Theft of Food

This is one you don't see much in Carbondale, or at least it doesn't get reported to the police that much.  Apparently the people pictured ate their fill at a unnamed restaurant on West Main and left without paying.  Pathetic set of individuals.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mexican Market

Looks like  A&B Mexican Market, which had a sign up on the old Subway building for a few days, has moved to a new location.  At least the sign is now up on the empty Doctor Donuts building.  This looks a bit more certain as the Doctor Donuts signs have been removed from the site.

This looks like a much better location for the business as the new El Vaquero restaurant is located across the parking lot from the grocery.  I imagine the feeling is that people going into El Vaquero for a Mexican meal will come out inspired to do their own Mexican cooking and stop off in the grocery for supplies before heading home.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Practice Pad Moving

A blog reader emailed to say  The Practice Pad is moving into the old Mr. Fredrick's location on N. Illinois. The photo on their Facebook page shows the new location.  Estimated date of opening in the new location is March 1

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Zoning Board Meeting

For those interested in such things, the Zoning Board of Appeals meets Wednesday at 7 p.m.  It appears that Murdale Baptist Church either installed a sign out of variance with zoning regulations or would like to install one that violates them.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

New Business?

Looks as if some construction and remodeling work is going on inside 116 N. Illinois, site of the closed Mr. Frederick's Hair Salon.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wine Tourism Impact

A blog reader pointed me towards this study on southern Illinois wine tourism published the fall of 2010, co-authored by Nicole Davis, the daughter of CCTB director Debbie Moore. 

There are a few interesting things in the paper. First is something that was left out.  I'm rather surprised to see no research on how wine tourists heard about the area, as that would give indications as to where local wineries, B&Bs and the CCTB could best spend advertising dollars to reach this comparatively high income group.

Secondly, out of town visitors split their time roughly equally between stays in hotels and bed and breakfasts while a surprisingly large number of local wine fanciers opt to book rooms in B&Bs or camp, skipping hotel lodging completely.  I'm not surprised that they are foregoing hotels, but rather at the large number that choose to stay in a B&B, rather than go home after visiting the winery.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More about Chickens

Just got an email from city senior planner Chris Wallace clarifying a few things regarding the chicken ordinance.

The coop and enclosure do not need to be covered by mesh.

While there is a minimum floor area, there is no minimum height for the coop. There is a maximum height of 8' for the coop.  The minimum height for the enclosure for the chickens is 5', not the coop itself.

City Council Meeting

Sat in on part of the city council meeting last night.  Missed the vote on the chicken ordinance but it passed, though with a limit of 20 licensed coops in the city at any one time.  Some of the details from the ordinance:
oops and enclosures must be covered in mesh, and they must be kept dry, clean, odor-free and in a sanitary manner.

- The odor of chicken waste must be contained to the property of the chicken owner. No more than three cubic feet of chicken waste may be stored on property at any one time. Composting of chicken waste is encouraged.
- Coops may not be located in side or front yards, and they must be at least 15 feet from the property line and 25 feet from neighboring residences.
- Coops must have at least 4 square feet of floor space but no more than 40 square feet. They must be at least 5 feet tall, but cannot be taller than 8 feet.

No indication who will handle inspection of the coops.

Discussion of funding of assorted community organizations took up the couple of hours of the meeting, with the main focus on Mayor Fritzler's proposal to pull $120,000 in funding from the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau's and distribute it among other organizations, several of which had apparently been asked in January to present proposals for what they would do with additional funding.  Apprently, cutting the hotel/motel tax was not given consideration.

Councilwoman Jane Adams had a number of questions for Bureau Director Debbie Moore, most of which, of those I caught, concerned the Bureau's website. Adams appeared especially concerned that Moore devoted more time to her personal website than she did to the CCTVB's site and that Moore's website ranked higher in Google rankings than did the Bureau's.  Moore responded that the Bureau's website was under construction and appeared to take offense at Adams' questions regarding her personal website.  It does appear that the current version of the  Bureau's website is fairly recent, as the event calendar shows no events in the area prior to this month and several of the pages (favorite food events, camping, favorite grocery shops) are blank.

Mayor Fritzler cut off Adams' questioning before she had finished, appearing to want to give other council members time to ask questions of the CCTVB.  However, Councilpeople McDaniels, Monty, and Jack, preferred to make comments about the proposed shift in funding from the CCTVB.  All three were opposed, or at least concerned that not enough time had been devoted to the proposal.  Still seems there is acrimony between Fritzler and Jack as both men accused the other of interrupting him.

Several people got up to defend the CCTVB, includingformer mayoral candidate Sam Goldman, CCTVB Board chair Trace Brown (and owner of the Holiday Inn), and the manager of the Super 8, as well as a student in the SIUC Hospitality program, who spent much of his time behind the podium attacking Mayor Fritzler for stating on his official biography that his only goal as mayor was to help SIUC (it's not, you can read the whole thing here), then wanting to strip money away from CCTVB which would harm the Hospitality Management program at SIUC, and the organizer of a Marine reunion in Carbondale last year, who said the CCTVB had been quite helpful in organizing their reunion last year.

A couple of people, including me, got up to say that the CCTVB had not been particularly helpful in putting gone events in Carbondale (I have helped put on annual gaming conventions since the early 90s in Carbondale and have gotten little if any help over the years from the CCTVB, so am likely viewing the CCTVB with a jaundiced eye).  Had to leave soon after that, so am not sure what time the meeting wrapped up.

Monday, February 6, 2012

City Council Meeting

The City Council meets tomorrow night at 7 p.m.  Not a lot on the agenda, but I expect quite a few community organizations to show up to defend their various requests for funding.  The Convention and Tourism Bureau, which is funded by a hotel tax, some of which Mayor Fritzler has proposed directing into the city's general fund, has requested $317,500, more than all the other organizations combined

The other organizations requesting funding, including unsolicited requests of $40,000 from the Varsity Center for the Arts and $35,680 for Attucks Community Services, totaling, by my count, a bit less than $290,000.  I see a couple of interesting requests:  $9,900 for the I Can Read program, funding for which was removed then reinstated when former Mayor Brad Cole funded a summer reading program in conjunction with the Carbondale Elementary School, $1000 for the Spirit of Attucks annual school reunion, and $14,045 for Saluki Express, which was launched and is primarily funded by student fees but does provide transport throughout Carbondale.

I expect to hear the most discussion over the unsolicited requests from Varsity Center for the Arts and Attucks Community Services, as they account for roughly 25% of the requested non-Convention and Tourism Bureau funding.  I would expect Councilwoman McDaniels to argue strongly for restoring funding for Attucks Community Services as she has typically supported funding services the organization provides.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Arrest Statistics for Polar Bear

The Southern has the arrest figures for last week's event. Based on the estimated attendance of 6000 I heard, the figures indicate a fairly well behaved crowd, with a fraction over 2% of the attendees receiving citations and an equivalent percentage arrested. The seven bars in the area received a total of 105 citations, averaging 15 per bar, with Pinch Penny receiving the most, 40.

The city put an extra 8 officers on duty over the weekend.  From what I have heard, in several cases officers parked just outside Pinch Penny, waiting for attendees to stagger out, then arrested them.

With nearly every hotel room in town filled by the event, Polar Bear generated a lot of tax revenue for the city.  However it flies in the face of SIUC's desire to eliminate the "party school" image it has worked towards for the last dozen years (thought the university appears much less concerned about that in recent years as fall break has moved away from Halloween weekend).

Friday, February 3, 2012

Wine and Beer Sales

Short interviews with Francis Murphy of the Neighborhood Co-op and Darla Lubelt of Kroger on the effects of allowing grocery stores to sell beer and wine.  It's interesting to compare Kroger and Schunucks beer an wine areas as Kroger has not jumped into the area with the same enthusiasm as Schnucks did.  Within days after getting the license, Schnucks had cleared out the are that used to be their video department and stocked it. Then a month or so after that, cleared out 2 full grocery aisles and converted them to beer and wine, along with reseting most of the counters throughout the rest of the store.

Meanwhile, Kroger still only has the half of one aisle that it devoted to beer and wine, with no refrigeration set up for beer yet.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Yet More on Polar Bear

Not wanting to beat a dead bear, so to speak, but had the opportunity to talk to a staffer that was on duty during Polar Bear.  According to them, approximately 6000 people attended the event, up from 2011.  However consumption of Corona did not hit the estimated 2000 cases quaffed last year, mainly because the bar also offered a drink special on Bud Light. They saw only one fight break out during the time they were on duty and staff and security quickly quelled it.

I haven't found any figures yet regarding the number of arrests for underage drinking and open container violations, but from what I have heard, the event ran smoothly, at least as smoothly as an event focused on consuming large quantities of alcohol can.  The Carbondale crime map shows a pair of assaults in the area an hour or so after midnight the day of the event and the residents of the nearby Creekside Apartments acted pretty stupidly but overall, if the downtown bars brought forward a proposal to control patrons in their bars as they did with Polar Bear, worked with the city to help control people after the bars closed and started discussions with city council and the Liquor Advisory Board now, I think they could get the Halloween bar closures reversed.