Sunday, December 31, 2017

Closed for New Year's

Rather amazes me how many downtown restaurants close up during the week from Christmas to New Year's, especially New Year's Eve which is a night that people really want to go out for a nice meal. This is the time of year when visitors are in town and people have time off and are more likely to want to go out to eat, or so I would think. Maybe, after years of experience, however, restaurant owners know otherwise.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Nest Closing

Nest Arts, the local artists boutique on the Carbondale, is closing its doors. Apparently, despite sales being up nationally over the Christmas season, the store's sales were not strong enough this holiday to carry it into 2018. It looks as if the store will close for most of January, then reopen at the end of the month for a liquidation sale of store displays and merchandise not owned by the artists that had them on display.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Eclipse Co-ordinator

Hopefully the city will hire a full, or at least part time, eclipse co-ordinator in 2018. The city has 7 years to plan for the next eclipse so they cannot say they didn't have any advance notice and having someone working on it now means they can start cor-ordinating with stakeholders such as SIUC and Walker's Bluff, which both operated pretty independently of the city's plans this year, at least as I can tell. One comment I heard during one of the wrap up meetings was that SIUC's activities ended at the campus boundaries and were focused on keeping people on campus as much as possible. We will probably have another 50,000 people coming to town, more than any other event Carbondale puts on will draw so now is not too early to start planning.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Lights

Drove around looking (or hoping to look) at Christmas lights last night and, as I have found in pass years, only about a quarter of the houses in the southwest and central parts of town had lights on them. I was reminded of the screen in Scrooged when Bill Murray's character is driven to his childhood home in the past and all the houses surrounding his were lit while his remained dark, only this time in reverse, with one lit house surrounded by darkened houses.

The Chancellor had made mention of putting up an elaborate set of lights around the Old Main part of campus but I guess he meant for Christmas 2018 since that area remained dark last night as well.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

El Greco's Closed

Originally, El Greco's had announced they were closing on Dec. 23 but apparently pushed the day up a week. Reasons given were declining student population, unfriendly city business practices and the construction downtown, which made it harder for customers to get to the restaurant  last summer.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Brand Presentation

In case you would like to take a look at the branding presentation for Carbondale presented by NorthStar, you can look it over here. Today's Carbondale Times also has some more background on the logo, including that the purple/maroon top part is actually a C, representing Carbondale and maroon for SIUC.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Firehouse on Agenda

Remember the fire station on S. Oakland that the city sold for use as studio space? The purchasers are requesting a Special Use Permit  at tonight's  council meeting for a "drinking place with alcoholic beverages" i.e. a tasting room and also indicate they plan to apply for a beer garden permit at a future date. Due to neighbors' concerns about essentially a bar operating at that location, Due to those concerns, the Planning Commission stipulated that "”the sale and consumption of alcohol be limited to the interior of the old firehouse building as indicated in the applicants’ proposal." However, the resolution coming before the Council removes that stipulation due to Deas and Smith's expressed plans to apply for the beer garden permit at a future date.

Here's the agenda item with background:

John Deas and Alison Smith are requesting the rezoning of two parcels of property totaling roughly 0.92 acres (40,070 sf) located at 300 South Oakland Avenue from R-1-8, Low Density Residential, to NB, Neighborhood Business. This application has been put forth in order to facilitate the applicants’ desire to use the property and buildings as creative working, gallery, and social space for Carbondale’s artistic community. The applicants are further requesting a Special Use Permit for a tasting room, classified as a drinking place with alcoholic beverages, at this location.

A public hearing regarding both the rezoning and special use request was held on November 29, 2017, by the Carbondale Planning Commission. During this meeting, the Planning Commission moved to recommend the properties' rezoning along with the approval of the Special Use permit with the following conditions:
  1. The hours of operation be limited from 7 AM to 10 PM as dictated by the standards outlined in the Neighborhood Business District.
  2. That the sale and consumption of alcohol be limited to the interior of the old firehouse building as indicated in the applicants’ proposal.
In addition, the Commission recommended that the stormwater drainage from the parking area, which adjacent property owners indicated has been a problem, be remedied by the City of Carbondale prior to the properties' sale.

Since the public hearing, more information regarding the development of the site has been provided by Mr. Deas. In particular, the applicants plan to apply for a beer garden permit in conjunction with their liquor license application. To accommodate the applicant's request this condition has been removed from the attached Resolution.

Attached for City Council review are the following:
  1. An Ordinance approving and a Resolution denying the rezoning request from R-1-8, Low Density Residential, to NB, Neighborhood Business.
  2. A Resolution approving and a Resolution denying the Special Use Permit for a drinking place with alcoholic beverages.
  3. A copy of the unapproved minutes of the Planning Commission for PC 18-09.
  4. A copy of the staff report to the Planning Commission for PC 18-09.
Additional Information:
  1. Constituent/Advisory Body Impact: The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on November 29, 2017, and voted (4-yes, 1-no) on a motion to recommend the approval of the rezoning request. The Planning Commission further voted (4-yes, 1-no) on a motion to recommend approval of the Special Use Permit for the subject property. A notice of public hearing was published in the Southern Illinoisan newspaper on November 12, 2017, and twenty-three (23) property owners within 250 feet of the subject property were notified of the hearing by certified mail. The applicants were present, two people voiced general concerns, and three people spoke in opposition to the request.
  2. Financial Impact: None.
  3. Staff Impact: Staff will be responsible for all applicable permits and licenses.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Scary Numbers

A reader of the blog pointed out the following comment by Chancellor Montemagno in Thursday's Southern:

Montemagno pointed to the precipitous decline in SIUC’s enrollment and said next year’s freshman enrollment is projected to sink below 1,000 students.

From my reading of this, it means the university projects having less than 1000 new students, excluding transfers, next fall. That is scary. Unless we see lots of transfer students coming in, numbers like these do not bode well for the long term health of SIUC and by extension, Carbondale

Friday, December 15, 2017

State of the City Speech

A couple of comments on Mayor Henry's State of the City Speech:

1.  Carbondale's crime rate is the lowest it has been in 2 decades. This needs to be emphasized in everything the city sends out to people. One of the major comments I hear from people who live in Marion and Murphysboro (and other areas in Southern Illinois) is that it is not safe to come to Carbondale. It even came up in the rebranding sessions the city hosted.The perception that Carbondale is dangerous is wrong and the city needs to work to counter that perception.

2. 50,000 people in town for the Eclipse. Great numbers and pretty close to what was projected. We got a lot of people into town for 2 or so days. Now, what do we do with that? I have no idea how much contact info was gathered during the period but I hope Carbondale Tourism has a lot of those names and will be emailing or otherwise contacting them regularly. We have another opportunity in about 7 years and should take this time to figure out what we did wrong, what we did right and what we could do better.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Carbondale Logo

Above is the new Carbondale logo.  Below it you will typically find the words "Carbondale " and "All Ways Open".  According to Mayor Henry, the logo represents Carbondale's position as both the eclipse crossroads of the nation and Carbondale's position as the "Crossroads of Southern Illinois", with an opening in the center indicating Carbondale's openness to the new. The city paid about $98,000 to the brand development company for this. A few thoughts:

1/  The logo, which will appear throughout the city over the next several months, does not identify which Carbondale. There is a Carbondale, Colorado and a Carbondale, Pennsylvania, along with at least 10 others. Since Carbondale has no iconic imagery incorporated in the logo, it will really need the word "Illinois" to accompany it.

2.  It is pretty bland. I think it looks like a doughnut and I have heard others comparing it to the X-box logo. There is nothing there that could not apply to any other community. Maybe the branding company has their justifications but I see no reason why they could not have incorporated a geodesic dome as a nod to Buckminister Fuller's residency here or replaced the white stripes (roads) with railroad crosshatching, calling to mind Carbondale's past as a rail hub.

3. "All Ways Open" rather sounds like a slogan that could apply to Las Vegas:  "Always Open". Once again, pretty non-specific. Why not refer to something unique about the city like "Gateway to the Shawnee" or "Crossroads of Southern Illinois"?

I'm hoping the city makes Northstar's branding study available. I would like to read through it.

Chamber of Commerce Board Members

New members of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Darren Berger has announced the results of the annual election for members of the organization's Board of Directors. Elected representatives who will begin their three-year terms in January are:
Tena Bennett
SIU Student Center
Tena Bennett is the Director of the Student Center at Southern Illinois University where she oversees the facility and dining operations as well as a variety of programming efforts.  A resident of Carterville, she has lived in the community for 11 years and worked at SIU in various roles within Student Affairs.  Tena currently is a member of the Chamber's Ambassadors Committee and is pursuing her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at SIU.
Jeremy Clow
Founder and CEO
Saluki Craft

A resident for over six years now, Jeremy Clow grew up in Effingham, IL before coming to Carbondale in 2011 to attend SIU. He graduated from SIU in 2015 with a Bachelors in Architecture and again in 2016 with a Masters. Jeremy is the founder and current CEO of Saluki Craft Co. established in April of 2014. He strives for partnerships with fellow businesses and promotes all economic development in Carbondale, especially the downtown. He is a block captain for Carbondale Main Street and served for two years on the Downtown Advisory Committee. Proud to be a Saluki, he continues to support various programs at SIU: sponsoring "Start Seeing Pink" at the Student Center, Sunset Concerts, various design affiliated RSOs, and most importantly Touch of Nature Environmental Center. 
Jolene Falat
Assistant Vice-President and Branch Manager
First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust
Jolene Falat is the Assistant Vice-President & Branch Manager of First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust in Carbondale. Prior to moving to the Carbondale Branch she was AVP/Branch Manager of the Murphysboro branch for 7 years. While in Murphysboro, Jolene served on the Murphysboro Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, serving as its President in 2015. She was also the Treasurer of the Board of the Science Center of Southern Illinois from 2012-2014. Since relocating to the Carbondale branch in late 2015, she has served as the Chairperson of the "Chef Clash in the Arena" (formerly "100 Men Who Cook") annual fundraising event that benefits several local charities. Jolene attended the University of Illinois and completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Mid-Continent University. 
Diane Hood
The Furniture King
Diane Hood is the manager of The Furniture King in Carbondale. She and her husband, Estus, have been Southern Illinois residents for 30 years. Diane serves on the board of directors for the Women's Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale, the Carbondale Community High School Foundation, the SIH Foundation and the NAACP. She is active in Toys for Tots and was named the 2016 Carbondale Citizen of the Year.
Jim Jacobs
Jacobs Air Conditioning and Heating

Jim Jacobs is the owner of Jacobs Air Conditioning & Heating, a Carbondale-based company established in March 2000 and moved the firm into it's current facility in Carbondale's Bi-Centennial Industrial Park in 2005. He is an active member of the Carbondale Chamber for the past 12 years, serving on the Ambassadors Committee and the Board of Directors. Jim is married to Deann, his wonderful wife of 30 years and they reside in rural Carbondale. He is also the proud father of two sons & three daughters. Jim is a member of Vine church, enjoys exercising, golfing & outdoor activities. Jim has been re-elected for his second term on the Board of Directors.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

City Slogan

Only caught the last 5 minutes or so of the State of the City address, which could be boiled down to "Shop local and be nice to each other". Will have to watch the entirety later. The new city slogan, however, is "All Ways Open". Not great but certainly better than Cape Girardeau's "Where The River Turns a Thousand Tales", which led to a short-lived storytelling festival

State of the City

Mayor Henry will give the State of the City address starting shortly after noon today at the Civic Center.  I bet the state of the city will be "good"

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Payday Loan

Apparently Carbondale can have too many payday loan places. The one located across E. Main from Vogler Ford has shut down. Signs in the window indicate it has relocated to Mount Vernon.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Rendleman Orchards

Rendleman Orchards, in Alto Pass, will close for the season on December 17. It would appear they have quite a few apples left as their remaining stock was half price when I stopped in earlier this week.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

State of the City

The Mayor will give the annual State of the City address during the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce lunch on Dec. 12. According to the city, if you just want to attend and not eat, you can do at no cost:

The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce will host the 2017 State of the City Address on Tuesday, December 12 during their monthly luncheon.
Carbondale Mayor John “Mike” Henry will unveil the City’s new logo and branding. He will also highlight the City’s progress and accomplishments over the last year as well as discuss plans for 2018.
Lunch will begin at noon in the Carbondale Civic Center located at 200 S. Illinois Avenue. Tickets for the event are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Reservations can be made by calling (618) 549-2146.
Proceeds from the event will go toward the Mayor’s Scholarship Fund which provides scholarships for Carbondale Community High School students attending Southern Illinois University.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Clean Streets

Took a walk down Illinois after the Lights Fantastic Parade Saturday night and was amazed at the lack of trash on the street. Given the thousands of people that watched the parade, I had expected to see a lot more garbage but either the city did an exemplary job of cleaning up after the parade finished or that many people were exceedingly litter conscious during the event.

Friday, December 1, 2017

But Will They Use Them?

SIUC Design students have completed landscaping designs for downtown Carbondale and those designs will be on display in the Old Train Depot tomorrow evening from 4 p.m to 8 p.m. There have been a number of designs done by SIUC students displayed over the years and never have used any of the concepts developed. Given that we have the resources of a university here, it seems a shame for the city not to make better use of it. From the email:

The Carbondale Founders Park Committee will display student design proposals for landscaping elements on Saturday, December 2 at the Carbondale Civic Center.

The SIU Landscape Design & Architecture class has completed conceptual drawings for the "Founders Park" property located behind the police station. Design proposals will be on display during the Lights Fantastic Parade from 4-8 p.m.

Everyone is encouraged to come and see what the students have envisioned for a future outdoor recreation space. Public comments are welcome.