Thursday, August 31, 2017

Eclipse Forum

There is a follow up discussion regarding the Carbondale Eclipse today at the Downtown Design Center (Old Train Depot) from 4 to 6 p.m. Looking to hear your experiences, feedback and suggestions as to how to prepare for the next one.

City Brand

Here is the new brand for the city that North Star Destination Strategies, the branding firm hired by the city, developed after months (since February) of research and discussion with city businesspeople, residents and members of the city government:

"For those wanting the progressiveness of a college town and the solidity of the Midwest, Carbondale, home of Southern Illinois University and bordering the Shawnee National Forest, is where compassion is seen as strength and an inclusive and artistic community inspires engagement so you’re encouraged to both be yourself and express yourself."

You can see the presentation on it here. Busy at the moment but will have some more to say on the city brand later.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Fire House

It appears the original price the city was asking for the fire house at the corner of Oakland and Walnut was $82,000 and the city had received a bid for that amount but decided to go with a lower $50,000 offer instead. Sale was supposed to take place at Tuesday night's council meeting but was pulled from the agenda and will be reconsidered at a later date:

 The Carbondale City Council, pursuant to Carbondale Revised Code 1-13-8, Sections C & E, will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, August 29, 2017, at 7:00pm in Room 108 of the Civic Center, 200 South Illinois Avenue, to consider the proposed sale and conveyance of certain real estate. The real estate proposed to be sold is described as follows: Parcels #15-20-279-012 and 15-20-279-011, commonly known as 300 South Oakland Avenue, City of Carbondale, Illinois, to be sold to John Deas and Alison Smith for $50,000.00, pursuant to Section E, the property will promote economic development. The real estate parcel is no longer used by the City and the sale will promote economic development and benefit the community at large. 20614975 8/18

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

New Medical Offices

Ribbon cutting on August 30 by the Chamber of Commerce to welcome Athletico Physical Therapy to the community. From the press release:

The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce will hold a Ribbon Cutting at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 30 for Athletico.

Athletico Physical Therapy provides the highest quality orthopedic rehabilitation services to communities, employers and athletes in over 370 locations throughout nine states with more than 4000 employees.

The new Carbondale location is located at 900 E. Walnut St., near Heartland Women’s Health and Sunny Street CafĂ©.

Representatives of the Chamber, City and business will participate in the ceremony. The event is open to the public.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Street Bar

That's the name of the new bar going in where the late, lamented Pony sat on East Main. No idea as to the theme but I rather wonder if Club Traz is making a comeback. I saw a sign for Club Traz in the Street Bar parking lot last week and thought they were bringing back the even later Club Traz.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Free Alcohol Charge

No, you cannot promote giving away alcohol in the state of Illinois, which apparently a representative of Hollywood Lounge did back in May. From the agenda of the Liquor Control Commission for next Tuesday's meeting:

Charges were presented to the licensee, Hollywood Lounge, that on or about May 14, 2017, Thomas Michael Newell, agent of said licensee did knowingly promote “free alcohol” on social media in breach of Ill. Admin. Code tit. 11, § 100.280, a violation of Section 2-5-10 of the Carbondale Revised Code.

A hearing was held on August 3, 2017, regarding charges that the Hollywood Lounge staff did knowingly promote “free alcohol” on social media, which is a breach of Ill. Admin. Code tit. 11, § 100.280, and a violation of Section 2-5-10 of the Carbondale Revised Code. As a result of the hearing, the City Manager has made recommendations to the City Council.  The City Council can accept, dismiss, or modify the recommendations of the Hearing Officer.

SIUC Survey

New SIUC Chancellor Carlo Montemagno has posted a survey asking for feedback on where the university should be in 2025

Friday, August 25, 2017

Record Sales

According to what I have heard and read, Longbranch, P. K.'s , McDonald's and Town Square Market all had record sales during the Eclipse weekend. People were standing 4 deep on the sidewalk outside P. K.s Sunday evening and lines out the door at both Mary Lou's and Harbaugh's in the morning. No word on how profitable Harbaugh's evening openings proved.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

50,000 People

The city estimates that the projected 50,000 people expected for the eclipse did show up. Things started off slowly on Friday and Saturday with sales about that of a typical weekend and some restaurants that had overstaffed sending personnel home. Traffic picked up markedly on Sunday and Monday with lines, albeit short ones, at most downtown restaurants.m Although vehicular traffic was back to normal on Tuesday, there were still a large number of tourists in town, pushing sales to above average levels. Happily, there were very few problems requiring police or hospitalization, with visits to the emergency room, according to what I have been told, lower over the weekend than on a typical one. From a press release sent out by the city.

The City of Carbondale estimates approximately 50,000 people came to Carbondale to see the total solar eclipse on August 21.
The Carbondale Eclipse Marketplace, Family Fun Zone and Shadow Fest all saw an increase in attendance throughout the weekend as more people arrived in town leading up to the eclipse.
“Thanks to long-term planning, we had a very successful event in Carbondale. We had people in attendance from all parts of the world. We’re looking forward to doing this again in seven years,” said Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry.
Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams said, “I’m extremely proud of City staff, volunteers and the community for working so well together to host a successful event. Our hard work has prepared us well for future events and 2024.”
The Carbondale Police Department had no reports of any significant incidents related to the eclipse.
“Our eclipse planning came together with the assistance of all of our regional, state and federal public safety partners who each played a vital role in the single largest event Carbondale has ever experienced.  For the last four days, they worked hard to make sure our residents and visitors alike had a great and safe experience.  I am very proud of all of them,” said Carbondale Police Chief Jeff Grubbs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse Attendance

Driving up Hwy 127 yesterday, I saw around 250 cars parked at Alto Vineyard and about 150 -200 at Von Jakob Vineyard and Rendleman's Orchards. Plus from what I understand, there were another 700 or so up at Bald Knob, so a lot of Eclipse attendees scattered throughout the region

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Weekend

Friday and Saturday were about normal in terms of foot and vehicular traffic. Saturday afternoon and evening were about equal to a late weekday afternoon in terms of vehicular traffic and a bit heavier than normal in foot traffic.Restaurants that had added on staff on Saturday in anticipation of heavier than normal crowds were either sending them home or moving them to "on call" status.

Sunday both car and foot traffic in downtown was way up. Though it was easy to find seats at restaurants earlier in the evening, there were lines at both Reema's and Bombay Olive by 8 p.m. Rather surprisingly, service was very quick at the Dairy Queen.

Eclipse Comic Con drew about 1000 people on Saturday and between 500-1000 people on Sunday. Lots of cosplayers and people walking the floor but not a huge amount of merchandise being bought.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Roads Closed

Just a reminder that only 2 roads will close in Carbondale during Eclipse weekend and only part of those.  Washington between Main and Walnut will close for the Eclipsefest concerts and Hospital Drive between Illinois and University will close for the Marketplace. Incidentally, Hospital Drive is the short street that runs just north of the FirstMid Bank building and is so named because Memorial Hospital used to stand on the grounds where FirstMid is located:

The City of Carbondale would like to remind eclipse goers that all major roads in Carbondale will remain open during the eclipse.
Washington Street between Main and Walnut streets will be closed starting on Friday, August 18 at 7 a.m. due to preparations for Shadow Fest. The closure will remain in effect until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, August 22.
A portion of W. Hospital Drive between S. Illinois and S. University avenues will also be closed starting on Friday, August 18 at 7 a.m. due to preparations for the Eclipse Marketplace. The closure will remain in effect until Monday, August 21 at 9 p.m.
Route 13, U.S. Highway 51, Illinois Avenue and all other main thoroughfares are planned to be open throughout eclipse weekend.

Carbondale Makes Time

The Magazine that is. Time is billing the city as "The Solar Eclipse Crossroads of America".

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hwy 127 Roadwork

In another nod to the upcoming eclipse, IDOT has posted there will be work on Hwy 127 just north of Alto Pass but not starting until the end of the month. Apparently we don't want to risk slowing traffic through southern Illinois this weekend.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Street Closures

Despite rumors, the only street closing during Eclipse Weekend is Washington Street between Main and Walnut. Everything else remains open, unless something happens:

 The City of Carbondale would like to remind eclipse goers that all major roads in Carbondale will remain open during the eclipse.
Washington Street between Main and Walnut Streets will be closed August 19-21 for Shadow Fest.
Route 13, U.S. Highway 51, Illinois Avenue and all other main thoroughfares are planned to be open throughout eclipse weekend.

Pony Hiring

Sign on the long-closed Pony building is advertising someone is hiring managers, bartenders and waitstaff. No indication if they will be hiring dancers though or even if the business will re-open under the Pony name. I have heard it will move to more of a bar and grill with out the dancers.

Monday, August 14, 2017

School Funding

This week's State Week in Review is an interesting listen on the whys and wherefores of the recently vetoed school funding bill. One reason for the Legislature to hold off sending the bill to the Governor for his already announced veto was that, if negotiations had panned out between the two sides, the bill would have only needed an amendment to incorporate any negotiated changes, then the Governor could sign the amended bill. As it stands now, with the veto, there can be no changes to the bill.  If the House overrides his veto, the school funding bill goes into effect as written.

The discussion also points out that, although Gov. Rauner only mentions the funding for Chicago teacher pensions as his reason for vetoing the bill, his amendatory veto also made a lot of changes in the way payments to school systems are calculated. Currently, according to my understanding of the discussion, since they don't generate any funds for schools, TIF districts and property tax caps are not considered when calculating how "rich" a school district is for purposes of calculating state funding. Under Gov. Rauner's changes, the value of TIF districts and total property valuation in excess of caps would be considered when determining funding, meaning that even poor districts would now have access to much more valuation, at least on paper.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Streetscape ribbon cutting

There will be a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of the streetscape project along S. Illinois next Friday, August 18 at 4:30 p.m. followed by an "official" cash mob. I am not sure how an official cash mob differs from an unofficial one but certainly the businesses along the strip will happily take people's money, especially after the drop in traffic that the streetscape work caused.  Might be an exaggeration but I heard figures of 80-90% drops in customer traffic along S. Illinois during the construction.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Highway 146

Looks as if the Illinois Department of Transportation is taking local eclipse traffic seriously. There is a small bridge on Highway 146 between Anna Jonesboro and Ware that was scheduled for repair starting at the end of July. Just before then, a new sign went up stating that the starting date for construction had moved back to the end of August. Given that hotel rooms are sold out in Cape Girardeau, I bet the IDOT expects a lot of traffic eclipse weekend from Cape to the Carbondale region.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Connect 2 Compete

Sat in on a presentation by Mediacom today and one of the topics discussed was the company's Connect 2 Compete program. Designed to help lower income families get home internet, qualifying families can participate in the program in Carbondale (or anywhere Mediacom services) for $9.95 per month (plus taxes and fees). Participants receive broadband access at up to 10 Mbps and a Wi-fi modem with no rental fees.

To participate in the program, as I said earlier, you have to have Mediacom internet service, which Carbondale does, have at least one student in grades K-12 living and home and have at least one child qualifying for the National School Lunch Program. Families cannot currently subscribe to Mediacom and have not been a customer in the past 90 days, nor have any outstanding bills with the company.  Broadband internet access for $120 a year sounds like a pretty good deal.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Gigabit Broad Band Coming

If you are free at 2 p.m. tomorrow, there is a discussion of the gigabit broadband (which sounds really good) coming to Carbondale:

The City of Carbondale is excited to announce the arrival of new broadband technology to benefit Carbondale residents.
Mediacom is expanding its network to deliver 1-Gigabit-per-second Internet speeds in Carbondale.
The public is invited to learn more about this new technology on Wednesday, August 9 at 2 p.m. in Room 116 of the Carbondale Civic Center.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Eclipse Clean-Up

In case you have a hankering to help clean up downtown before the estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people descend on it, Keep Carbondale Beautiful is looking for volunteers for the weekend:

Eclipse Clean up #1 

Sponsored by Keep Carbondale Beautiful
Saturday August 12

Time: 9 am
Location: Town Square Pavilion 101 N Illinois
Contact Person and Phone: Sarah Heyer 618 525 5525
Volunteer Responsibilities: get street assignment and supplies; pick up litter
Additional Information: wear closed-toe shoes; bring water bottle; dress for weather

Eclipse Lodging

From what I am hearing, Carbondale has no motel rooms for rent, nor do any of the "collar" communities surrounding the city. The cloeses available motel rooms are located in Paducah and Effingham. SIUC is renting floor space in the Arena and primitive camping sites on local farms, essentially a 15' x15' plot, rent for up to $100 per person for 2 days, maximum 6 people per site.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Arbor District Clean Up

The Arbor District, that part of the city with tree names, will host a clean up and barbecue next Saturday

Greetings Arbor District neighbors and friends!

Next weekend, please come out to help clean-up the Arbor District ahead of the Eclipse.  Afterwards, we'll be having a Barbecue at the home of our newest Arbor District board member, Kate Poulos, to thank everyone for coming out.

Clean-up Starts at 10:00am Saturday - Saint Francis Xavier Church
Meet us Saturday, August 12 at 10:00am at Saint Francis Church in the Poplar Street parking lot, as we do each year.  Grab a bag, break into teams, and we'll choose your streets on the map. Bring your friends and neighbors!

The Arbor District is working in coordination with Keep Carbondale Beautiful who will be providing bags and gloves. You may want to bring your own durable gloves.

BBQ starts at NOON Saturday - 906 W Schwartz Street
Beverages, Brats and Dogs will be provided, but if possible, bring a side dish or dessert to share with your neighbors. Or if you're unable, please come as you are!  We'd love to see you.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Kroger Ribbon Cutting

After spending the summer remodeling and adding on pick up services as well as more in-store dining options, Kroger will have a ribbon cutting at 8 a.m. tomorrow to celebrate. Incidentally, supermarkets setting up operations like this is one reason for the decline of the mid-range restaurant. Fast food and fine dining aren't hurt from supermarket encroachment into their space but it is cutting into fast casual:

The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce will hold a Ribbon Cutting at 8 a.m., Friday, Aug. 4 for the newly renovated Kroger at 501 E. Giant City Rd.

The Ribbon Cutting is part of the grocer’s Grand Re-opening following a $ 6.6 million renovation and remodeling.

Representatives of the Chamber, City and business will participate in the ceremony. The event is open to the public.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Hollywood Lounge Reopening

The Hollywood Lounge, which closed for a couple of weeks when the city pulled its liquor license after a shooting, will reopen tonight with a higher admittance age than any other bar in town. You have to be 30 or older in order to get in. Guess they figure that it is the younger crowd that is more likely to carry a gun and also more likely to use it if they feel they have been insulted or get into an argument.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

City Eclipse Notice

About 20 days until the Great American Eclipse. According to Carbondale Tourism, all the hotels and motels in town are booked up, as is Touch of Nature and Schneider Hall on the SIUC campus. Local farms are now renting out 15' x 15' camping plots on their property for $100 per person, maximum of 6 people per tent. Bald Knob also rented out camping space and has sold out, with people coming in from 19 different states.  Here's the press release the city sent out yesterday:

With thousands expected in Carbondale for the eclipse, the City wants to remind businesses and residents to prepare ahead of time.
To avoid long lines and empty shelves, get your grocery shopping done a week or two in advance. Stock up on emergency supplies like batteries, flashlights and first aid kits.  Plan to pick up prescriptions early to avoid crowds.
Schedule your appointments at the beginning of the week. Traffic will begin picking up on Wednesday, August 16 for SIU move-in and will likely remain busy until the Tuesday after the eclipse.
If you have to drive during eclipse weekend, allow extra time to get to your destination. Traffic will be heavy, so plan accordingly.