Friday, February 28, 2014

Walnut Street Baptist Church

I see that the "For Sale" sign is up again on the Walnut Street Baptist Church building at the corner of Walnut and University.  Unfortunately, I think it will be a hard sell as most churches are moving to the outskirts of town, which allows them to expand their parking lots to provide space for their members to park.

Unfortunately, since the building is a church, located in the heart of downtown, they will have a hard time selling it as its design makes it pretty hard to re-purpose into anything else.  It it sat closer to the hospital, I would expect Memorial to buy it and pull it down for expansion purposes. As it sits now, I rather bet it gets razed in a couple of years for more downtown parking.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Corene McDaniel Newest Old Council Member

I did not make it to council meeting last night but probably would have meant a lot of sitting in the antechamber while council met in closed session. According to the schedule, council met in open session for about half an hour to take citizen comments regarding whom should be appointed to Don Monty's empty seat, then moved to closed session to vote on the three candidates. Former council member Corene McDaniel emerged the victor

As I told someone last week, if I was betting a significant amount of money, I would have bet on McDaniel getting the nod from council. She has served on council before, is a known quantity and familiar to most of the other council members. Grant hasn't been particularly active in governmental affairs since leaving his position with the city and, while Kang serves on the Planning Commission, it acts in a purely advisory capacity, with no regulatory power, ergo no idea how he would act in a rule-making.  For the next 15 or so months, I imagine McDaniel looked like the safest bet.

Updated:  According to this report, McDaniel will only serve out the remainder of Monty's term and will not seek re-election. This does make the election to fill the seat for the full term more fair as if Kang or Grant had been appointed, they would have had a significant advantage, as will Monty, in seeking a full term on the council.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Chamber Pick for City Council

Looks as if the Chamber of Commerce members plumped for Tom Grant to take Don Monty's seat on city council as he received a plurality of votes in a poll taken by the Chamber over the weekend:

Thomas Grant is the preferred finalist to fill the empty seat on the Carbondale City Council according to an unscientific poll conducted by the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce of its membership.
            Grant, a former Carbondale Building and Neighborhood Services manager, was named by 45.4 percent of respondents to a survey emailed Friday to the primary contact person at Chamber-member businesses and organizations. The survey, which asked each respondent to select one of the three finalists, was open for responses until noon today.
            He received 30 of 66 votes in the survey. Finalists Corene McDaniel and Navreet Kang both received 18 responses in the survey (27.2 percent each). All three finalists appeared today on “Talk of the Town,” a joint Chamber-City radio program airing each Monday morning on WDBX-FM to make their case for appointment.
            Chamber leaders said the results of the poll will be shared with the members of the city council prior to Tuesday’s special council meeting at which one of the three will be named to the vacancy.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spring Coming to Carbondale

It may not feel like it yet but spring is just around the corner here in Carbondale.  How do I know this, despite the 27 degree temperature outside.  The downtown Dairy Queen opened for the season this weekend and once the DQ opens for business, warmer weather is not far behind

Thursday, February 20, 2014


New panhandler working the downtown area.  She is short, about 5" or so, with short brown hair, age late 30s or early 40s.  she has been going into businesses asking staff and customers for money, so much so that New Kahala has a banned order against her filed with the police.  She has even gotten in front of cars driving through the alleys behind Mary Lou's and Curbside, stopping them and asking the drivers for money.  Unfortunately, she gets enough that she keeps repeating what works.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

City Council Finalists

According to the Chamber of Commerce and Councilwoman Jessica Bradshaw, the council voted last night to advance Navreet Kang, Tom Grant and Corine McDaniel to the next step of the process of deciding whom will take Don Monty's council seat.

I have to admit I was a bit surprised to see Corine McDanial's name on the original list, given that she had expressed the desire to step back from governmental activities when she opted to not run for re-election.  I am not surprised the council voted to advance her, as she is a known quantity.

I am not particularly surprised with the choices of Grand and Kang either, as both are active in civic affairs as well as bringing a business viewpoint to council.  I think that weighed against the other strong contenders, George Maroney and Brent Ritzel, as both have a long track record of working with not for profit organizations, employees of which are already over-represented on council.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pravin Varughese Search

Police are still searching for Pravin Varughese missing since the evening of February 12.  Carbondale police will have a press conference updating the status of the search at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

Update:  Press release from the C'dale Police Department regarding the discovery of Varughese's body this morning: 

     Hello and thank you for coming.  On February 13, 2014 our Department received a report of a missing person, Pravin Varughese. We immediately began to follow leads on Pravin’s whereabouts and we requested the assistance of the Southern Illinois University Department of Public Safety to aid in the investigation.  Pravin is a sophomore at SIU.   
             Officers and investigators learned that Pravin was last seen in the area of the 600 block of West College Street at approximately 11:00 p.m. on February 13, 2014.  Investigators from both Departments have worked numerous hours and followed numerous leads to locate Pravin.  We have been assisted by the Illinois State Police Aviation Unit, Black Diamond Aviation, and local search and rescue K-9 teams.  We deployed every available resource to locate Pravin.

              I regret to report that Pravin was found deceased at approximately 9:45 a.m. this morning in the 1400 block of East Main Street in a wooded area.  Investigators learned while on West College Street Pravin accepted a ride from a recent acquaintance on February 12, 2014, just before midnight.  Following a dispute, Pravin exited the vehicle in the 1400 block of East Main Street and fled into the wooded area.

              The difficult terrain and low temperatures are believed to have contributed to Pravin’s difficulty finding his way out of the wooded area. Pravin’s exact cause of death is still being investigated with the assistance of the Jackson County Coroner’s Office.  No foul play is suspected at this time.

              On behalf of the the City of Carbondale and the Carbondale Police Department we extend our sincere condolences to Pravin’s family and friends.  Mrs. Rae Goldsmith, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer from Southern Illinois University will now speak on behalf of the University.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Honda Dealership

As a reader of the blog pointed out, it appears there is a new (or expansion) Honda dealership moving to the west side of Carbondale.  There is a Honda sign up on the old Aldi's building, which has sat empty since Aldi's moved to its new location in 2009.  Good for the west side, not so much help for the Dollar General Store that moved there, planning to take advantage of the traffic generated by the Aldi's, only to have Aldi's change locations soon after the Dollar General opened. Generally, those out shopping for a new car do not also plan to pop in for some toothpaste and toilet paper.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Potential City Council Members

The city has posted the list of those interested in taking Don Monty's spot on the city council:

  • Ms. Lorie Allen; 1008 West Sycamore Street; Certified Holistic Touch Practitioner and Certified Personal Trainer
  • Ms. Judy Cunningham; 509 N. Oakland Avenue; Retired Registered Nurse
  • Mr. Thomas Grant; 5370 Springer Ridge Road; President, Grant Consulting Company, President Mulberry Hill Farm, and former Building and Neighborhood Services Manager for the City
  • Mr. Navreet Kang; 613 South Terrace Drive; Owner/ Manager local State Farm Insurance Agency
  • Mr. George Maroney; 37 Pinewood Drive; Retired Administrator, Memorial Hospital of Carbondale
  • Ms. Ruth Corene McDaniel; 516 East Jackson Street; Former three-term City Council Member (until 2013) and Retired Cosmetologist
  • Mr. Adrian Miller; 500 Saluki Drive; Undergraduate Student at SIUC (Political Science Major) and President of Undergraduate Student Government for 2013-2014
  • Mr. Brent Ritzel; 801 North Springer Street; Graduate Student at SIUC (Masters of Public Administration Program) and Graduate Research Assistant at Morris Library Special Collections Resource Center
Of the above, George Maroney ran for mayor during the last election, while Navreet Kang and Brent Ritzel ran for council seats, with Ritzel barely losing out to current council member Jessica Brandshaw.  Corene McDaniel served on council for about a dozen years, before declining to run again at the end of her last term.

Of the others, Tom Grant was Building and Neighborhood Services Manager for the city for a number of years and currently runs Mulberry Hill Farm.  I am not particularly familiar with Adrian Miller, Judy Cunningham or Lorie Allen.

Of those seeking the seat, Brent Ritzel probably has the "best claim" to it, as he and Kang were the only two to actively seek a seat in the last election and he lost to Branshaw by only a few votes.  However, putting Tom Grant on the council would have two benefits:

1. Having worked for the city for a number of years, he would bring more knowledge of city operations to council than any of the interested parties except Corene McDaniel

2. As the proprietor of Mulberry Hill Farm, he would bring an active business perspective to council, as everyone else on council, with the exception of Lance Jack, is either retired or employed by the university.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Concerned Citizens of Carbondale Letter

The city has posted a copy of the  letter of questions it has received from the Concerned Citizens of Carbondale group, along with the city's response to said questions.. I found the first question asked to set the tone for the following 8 questions:

What is/are the reason(s) that the Carbondale City Council is not allowing the toxic waste site to
be cleansed as thoroughly as possible, in accordance with EPA standards/regulations: an
estimated eight years of continuous sterilization work facilitated through aggressive

Needless to say, the city has not impeded the clean up of the Koppers site.  One of the major reasons it has taken so long is that the EPA continually changes the requirements it has set to certify the site as clean.  I have listened to and read several of the reports from Beazer which indicate the EPA has oversight of cleaning the site.  The city has no input or affect on how quickly or slowly the cleanup process moves.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

City Council and Budget

City Council meets tonight at 7 p.m.  On the agenda are a communication from the Concerned Citizens for Carbondale regarding their ongoing concerns over the BrightFields/Koppers development and a discussion of the 2104 budget.  Given the stated shortage of funding the city forsees, I hope they take a close look at the funding and determine if it is really necessary for a department to get the new vehicle for which it asked for funding or if the current vehicles will serve for awhile longer.

Monday, February 10, 2014

John A. Logan Union

It looks as if the last non-unionized unit at John A. Logan College will vote to unionize in the next couple of week. Regular staff at the college, as well as both faculty and adjunct faculty already have membership in various unions, leaving the non-teaching staff as the only group unrepresented.  From talking with a member of the non-teaching staff, JALC administration apparent planned to adjust or refigure pensions (I didn't catch the details). This bothered non-teaching staff members enough that talk of organizing surfaced.

Administration pulled the proposed pension adjustments but apparently too late to quell interest in the union.  Organizers feel they have enough support among non-teaching staff ratification of the union should pass when brought to a vote.

Unions don't occur where employees are satisfied with their jobs. Treat them well and you do not have a union problem. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

City Council Seat

Just to clarify, the reference information referred to in Wednesday's post is a letter of reference from each of the three references you submit in your letter of interest.  That means you need to turn in 5 documents, a resume, a letter of interest and 3 letters of reference,  to the Mayor's office (paper copies only, please) by Noon CT Friday February 14.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fitness Cluster

With the opening of Carbondale Martial Arts and Fitness yesterday, downtown C'dale now has a fitness cluster to rival its spa cluster.  Crossfit, Carbonale Martial Arts and Fitness and Shotokan Karate are all located within half a block of each other., almost rivaling the 4 or so spas and stylists in the same area.  I can understand the concentration of bars and restaurants in the downtown area, but find it bemusing that we have so many salons and fitness centers groups so closely to each other.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

City Council Seat

In case you are interested in taking Don Monty's seat on the city council (and who isn't), here are the qualification a candidate must satisfy:

Persons desiring to be considered to fill the vacant City Council seat must submit an application by “hard copy” to the Office of the Mayor by no later than Noon on Friday, February 14, 2014. The application shall consist of 1) a resume, 2) a letter of interest and 3) reference information. The letter of interest shall contain the following information:
A statement affirming that the person meets the following requirements: 1) He/she is and has been a registered voter in the City of Carbondale for at least one year next preceding February 14, 2014; 2) she/he currently resides in and has been a resident of the City of Carbondale for at least one year next preceding February 14, 2014; 3) he/she is not a defaulter of the City (i.e. is not arrears in payments of property or other taxes or bills or other indebtedness to the City; and 4) she/he has not been convicted in any court in the United States of any infamous crime, bribery, perjury or other felony;

  • A statement as to why the person desires to become a member of the City Council;
  • A Statement as to why the person believes he/she is qualified by background and experience to serve on the City Council  and  why she/he should be selected to be on the City Council;
  • A statement of the person’s primary areas of concern for the community, and the City government in particular, and what the person would propose that the City government do about those issues;
  • The name, address and contact information for at least three personal references; and
  • The applicant’s residence’s street address, mailing address (if different from street address), telephone number(s) and e-mail address, unless this information was included in the resume.
Your paperwork is due by noon Feb. 14.  So far, I have heard Brent Ritzel and George Maroney express interest in the position, though Ritzel is the only one, to my knowledge, that has actively pursued the spot.

West Sycamore Repairs

It looks as if the long awaited repairs on West Sycamore have started up again.  When I spoke to the Dept of Public Works last fall,  they expected the contractor to get back to work on them in November and have the street back to normal by Thanksgiving.  Now Sycamore east of Allyn is closed as the contractor works on long needed repairs and upgrades to the water mains but no idea how long the work will take.