Friday, November 30, 2012

Lights Fantastic

In case you are wondering about the Lights Fantastic parade tomorrow, here's the schedule of events.  Here's the list of stores particpating in the downtown cookie walk and here's the parade route so you can avoid street closures.  Police will start towing cars parked on the parade route at 4:30 with streets closing at 5 p.m.  Parade staging area will close to traffic at 3:15.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

City Council Candidates

Here's the official list of candidates running for the three open city council seats. Lee Fronabarger is the only councilman seeking re-election.  Of the rest on the list, Brent Ritzel ran for mayor during the last election, while Jessica Bradshaw and Jerrold Hennrich both sought council seats.  Navreet Kang serves as chair of the Planning Commission and Carl Flowers has served on the Carbondale Park District board in the past.  Pepper Holder is a long time community activist who ran for mayor in 2006, while Blaine Tisdale serves on the city's Human Relations Commission.  Not sure about the others.  Can anyone provide bonafides on them?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TIF Districts Redeaux

Given that the city will be discussing creating two new TIF Districts at its December 11 meeting, it is interesting to see them already listed as existing rather than proposed on the city's website.  I noticed this a couple of weeks ago when writing about the sale of the National Guard Armory but thought I had misunderstood and that council had already approved them.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Small Business Saturday

Just some thoughts about Small Business Saturday.  It's a good idea but some major problems in execution.

If you haven't heard of it, Small Business Saturday is a promotion by  American Express set the day after Black Friday.  AmEx makes a big deal of this, offering free advertising to participating businesses, listing them on a website and offering a $25 credit to AmEx using customers who register their cards and spend at least $25 in a participating retailer.

The idea is good, I am in favor of anything that drives business into local retailers.  However, I question the wisdom of placing it on the Saturday after Black Friday for a couple of reasons.

First, the Saturday after Black Friday is arguably the third busiest shopping day of the year, only topped by Black Friday itself and the Saturday prior to Christmas.  It doesn't need any additional promotion to draw more customers into local stores. They are out there and they are spending and Saturday gets a lot of additional spillover in terms of spending from Black Friday.

Second, having it on such a busy day makes it very hard to quantify the effect of all the promotion.  Were increased sales due to Small Business Saturday or due to the halo effect of Black Friday?  I can see if Small Business Saturday had an effect on AmEx sales as I can easily measure the number of purchases made with AmEx on SBS and compare them with a typical Saturday (FYI, it did bump AmEx sales up) but it would be much easier to quantify the effect on local business if AmEx would put this focus on a Saturday outside the holiday season.

Thirds, if you are a local retailer and doing anything with Black Friday, you are are trying to develop two promotions for major events that take place within 48 hours. That's a lot of work for a small retailer with limited hours, staff and funding.  Moving SBS to a different Saturday would allow greater focus by retailers on both events, rather than diluting the attention paid to each.

Still a good program but certainly think the date should be moved, but I don't think AmEx will pay that much attention to one blog post.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Carbondale Christmas Lights

Carbondale lampost Christmas lights and the lights around the Town Square are up now.  Bit early, but then we do have one more Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Eddie's Auto Service

In case you missed it, Eddie's Auto Service has moved into the location formerly occupied by Today's Technology at 1000 East Main, which, by this count, makes 63 places you can go in Carbondale to get your car repaired.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

National Guard Armory Sold

From what I have heard, it sold to one of the owners of Alpha Rentals who is remodeling part of the facility for storage and a maintenance shop for the rental business. A couple of other busiinesses in town are also using part of the facility as storage as well.

The city has included the area in the  TIFF district #3, which runs from the Armory building south on Oakland to encompass the old high school complex on the east side of Oakland.  Interestingly, the athletic fields, which are under consideration for development as state-subsidized housing, are not currently included in the boundaries of the district.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Slow News Day

Must be a slow news day at the Southern if succession makes the front page, above the fold even.  Let's see, there are 26.5 million people living in Texas and 90,000 of them signed a petition for succession.  13 million people in Illinois and 2,400 signed one.  Yep, that's a groundswell, all right.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Strategic Plan

Apparently "Southern at 150" has been consigned to the dustbin of history.  I am not sure how we are in a "different era for public higher education."  Does that fact that less money is floating around make it a different era?  Does this mean that, since Saluki Way was part of Southern at 150, work will cease on it while the university develops another strategic plan?

I get the feeling that, ever since Walter Wendler was forced out as Chancellor, the university has planned to scrap his ambitious (and tainted by charges of plagerism) strategic plan.  Now, quietly it has and we shall see what is presented as the next plan to lead SIUC back to greatness (or at least increasing enrollments.).

Monday, November 12, 2012

City Council Meeting

The City Council will meet on November 13 at 7 p.m.  Apparent "Plaquegate", as the Carbondale Times termed it in an issue last week, has proved enough of a burr under the saddle of several city council members that a ordinance outlawing the placement of plaques, statues, etc. without council approval has made it on the agenda. 

Also on the agenda, the extension of Carbondale Main Street's SSA (I understand that Herb Donow has been contacted regarding investments by CMS in the downtown area, including one signage grant to a tenant in his Island Building at 715 S. University).  Another ordinance sets more specifics for decorations and stones at Oakland Cemetery while a third will transfer a small plot of city property at the corner of Marion and Oak Streets to Common Greens to establish a community garden to raise fruits and vegetables for the benefit of the community.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Winter Farmer's Market

Looks as if we have a Winter Farmer's Market starting in the cafeteria of Thomas School the weekend after the Murdale Farmer's Market shuts down. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. December 1 through March 23.

Brick House Living

BrickHouse Living, which only opened its doors a couple of months ago on S. Illinois, appears to have shuttered.  No merchandise remains in the store and that white square on the door is a handwritten "Closed" sign.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Quizno's Closed

The downtown Quizno's on S. Illinois has limped along for quite some time and a reader of the blog let me know that it had finally shuttered its doors for good last week.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

Voted about 8 a.m. this morning and this is the busiest I have seen the polling place in several elections.  I don't remember this many people during the last presidential election.  Polling place workers are being more cautious too and checking IDs, though I didn't need to show a photo one and they didn't push it when one voter didn't want to show one.  Two people had problems with registration while I stood in line, both living someplace other than the address at which they had registered. Polling staff told them not to worry and got on the phone with someone immediately.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cole Plaques

Been amused by the recent (in the last day or so) kerfluffle over the placement of a plaque on the Public Safety Center honoring the death of officer Lenard “Lon” Sizemore in 1933 and a tribute to all officers that have served the city of Carbondale.  The plaque, apparently at the direction of Mayor Fritzler, was placed over a stone on the building bearing the building's name, date of completion and the name of former Mayor Brad Cole.  Three councilmemebers, Jane Adams, Don Monty and Corene McDaniels expressed concern over the placement with McDaniels sounding especially concerned:

It’s like acting as though Mayor Cole didn’t exist,” McDaniel said.

I don't see that having a chance of happening as at least six plaques in Carbondale bear the name of the former mayor including one installed inside the Public Safety Center

one at Friendship Plaza, 2 of the same plaque on the 2nd floor of City Hall, one at the Arena and one commemorating Daniel Brush on the town square.

By my count, former Mayor Cole has more plaques mentioning him alone than all other mayors of Carbondale combined.  I sincerely doubt his name has much chance of being obliterated.