Saturday, November 30, 2019

Black Friday

Avoided the east side of Carbondale on Black Friday, which is where most of the mass merchants congregate. Driving on the west side, traffic seemed no more heavy than a typical Friday morning, though the Murphysboro Wal-mart's lot was packed.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Trash Collection Changes

The city will move to fully automated trash collection starting January 20th. Starting Dec. 16th in order to prepare for the changeover, the city will ask that you place trash bins at least 3 feet from any possible obstruction such as a tree or light pole, face the wheels of the cart away from the street, position trash carts at least 1 foot away from each other and not put anything on the lids.

The cans arrived designed for automatic pickup but the city's refuse trucks apparently were not set up to perform auto pickup until January.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Holiday Shopping Data

According to this survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, over 80% of Americans already started holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, with just over 40% making purchases in October or earlier. The average shopper plans to spend about $1048 in total, with $659 of that going for gifts, $227 on food and decorations and $162 on other holiday spending such as new clothing.

Clothing is the most popular gift item, followed by gift cards in second place and toys in third. Overall, the NRF expects consumers to spend about 3% more than last year.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Handicapped Parking Stings

Police statewide will be checking on people parking in public handicapped parking spaces this weekend, making sure that the person to whom the tag is registered to is in the car and gets out of the car when they have parked in the space.  The person to whom the tag is registered to has to leave the car when it is parked. They cannot sit inside in it while the driver or passenger gets out to run into the store.

Note that this only applies to reserved spaces in public parking lots, such as the town square lots. Spaces on private property, such as in the Kroger or Schunck's parking lots, will only be checked by police if someone calls the police. The law requires private parking lots to provide a certain number of disabled parking spots but does not enforce them.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Pot Sales

City council will take up legal sales of pot in Carbondale at the meeting tonight. Unfortunately, it appears that legalized pot and CBD sales are not proving the pot of money for growers and taxing agencies hoped for. Illegal pot sales are still strong, likely because the taxes imposed still make black market marijuana profitable while CBD production is running into bottlenecks in that there are not enough plants set up to take the raw hemp and convert it into CBD products.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Geese Population Decline

Caught on WSIU over the weekend that the geese population wintering in southern Illinois has dropped by about 99% over the past 20 years. In 1990, roughly 1 million geese came to southern Illinois to winter and support a thriving hunting industry. This year, the expected number looks about 1000.

Primary reasons for the drop are warmer winters, the rise of no-till farming and the floods of 93 and 94. Geese only fly as far south as they need to in order to find open water during the winter and the warmer temperatures make them able to find that further north than here.

No-till farming means more forage left on the ground, compared to prior years when farmers plowed it all under while the 93-94 floods reduced a lot of feed in the area for the geese, causing them to look for other locales, with more food, to winter over.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Retail Space Filled

Always glad to see empty retail space in downtown filling. After several rotations of tenants, the three storefronts behind Phoenix Cycle have occupants. Two are actively open:  an event planner and a hair salon. The third, Quall's Hats and Company has slowly been adding merchandise but no indication as to when it will officially open.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Amtrak Delays

According to a bill just introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin, Amtrak service to Carbondale is reliably unreliable. Trains from Chicago to Carbondale arrive on time only 17% of the time while if you leave Carbondale for Chicago, you will arrive on time only 6% of the time. Last time I took the train from Carbondale to New Orleans a number of years ago, it arrived over an hour late.

According to this article in the Southern, a good chunk of the problem comes from freight trains not yielding the right of way to passenger trains, accounting for a good 60% of the delays

Friday, November 22, 2019

Holiday Lights Contest

Holiday decorations are going up already. Normally I do not see decorations on houses until after Thanksgiving but have already seen some lit homes. The city has announced its second Holiday lights contest.  Winner gets a $50 gift card from Ace Hardware and a yard sign.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Shop Local

Sat in on a presentation by Foodworks today and was reminded once again that shopping local puts back into the community. Paying sales taxes on local purchases is how we fund such services as the police and fire department, street repair, sewage and water and other local governmental functions. also, when you buy from a local business, 40 to 67% percent of what you spend stays in the local community.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Cape Electric

Looks as if Cape Electric on East Walnut may be closing. A quick look inside the windows indicates the interior pretty empty. Will take a closer look tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Patronize Restaurants

I was talking with the owner of one of the local restaurants up for sale. He mentioned a "customer" who called in, wanting to know when they were closing the business so they could pay a visit before it shuttered.  The owner told him they had no plans to close the restaurant (except at regular closing time, of course) and wanted to know if the customer wanted to put in a order or make a reservation. The customer's response:  "Oh no, I just wanted to eat there once more before you closed."

If you want local restaurants to stay open, you need to patronize them. I still remember the owner of Mississippi Flyway saying if they had gotten the business regularly that they did after announcing the restaurant was closing, it could have remained open. Similarly, the first time El Grecos closed, they had lines out the door for the last week. Nice, but it takes regular customers to keep a restaurant open Don't wait until the doors shutter and then wish it had never closed. If you want a restaurant to stay open. eat there.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Empty Rentals

Article in Sunday's Southern looked at the state of rentals in the city. With 70% of housing in Carbondale in rental property, an estimated 30% of that remaining empty is pretty disheartening. A lot of them are up for sale too. A three building complex on East Grand sold for just over $1.5 million last July, Home Rentals appears to have over $9 million in properties listed for sale as a group and the owners of The Quadrangle complex have listed it for $2.6 million

The problem, of course, is that most of these properties were built for a time when the student population at SIUC hit over 24,000. Currently , there are only about 11,700 students enrolled this fall. From what I have heard, the new Evolve building in downtown has never managed more than a 60% occupancy rate and there are rumors of at least 2 more apartment complexes planned for the south side of town in the next couple of years.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Dairy Queen

In case you would like one more fix of Dairy Queen soft serve, today, Nov. 17, is the last day in 2019 to get any as the stand will close for the winter today. The store still has bags of sandwiches and bars on sale and has bags of 6 orange Dilly Bars on special for $4.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Fire Trucks

Expect to hear about another large fire on the west side of town tomorrow. At least 4 fire trucks with sirens headed west on Main street early this afternoon.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Delinquent Real Estate Taxes

In case you missed it, a list of property owners with delinquent real estate taxes appeared in yesterday's issue of the Southern . Maybe not so surprising but several Carbondale rental property owners appeared numerous times on the list, a couple owing well in excess of $50,000

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Transit Hub

Looks as if the plans for the downtown transit hub call for the complex to extend south from Walnut Street to where the Amtrak station currently sits. This means the demolishment of the buildings that have housed Carbondale Cycle and Family Hair Center for years. City has been in negotiation with the owner of the buildings for several years but the recent $14 million grant for the transit complex likely pushed those negotiations along.  Much more of this and the Varsity Center for the Arts will be the only "old" building remaining in downtown Carbondale.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Shop southern Illinois

If you happen to follow the Shop southern Illinois Facebook page, there is a weekly contest running giving away a basket of prizes from various Chambers of Commerce. Like, comment and share each week's post for a chance to win that week's basket

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Snow and Ice

I guess we want to be very careful with buses on the roads these days but it sure does not seem like it takes very much in the way of snow to warrant a complete shutdown of the school systems throughout southern Illinois.

However drivers didn't do very well yesterday, which may account for the caution. State police reporter over 70 accidents due to the weather in southern Illinois

Monday, November 11, 2019

Gas Stations

Had to put gas in the car last night and it got me thinking about the locations of gas stations in Carbondale. Now there are plenty of locations if you travel east to west or vice versa along Highway 13. However, if you travel north to south on 51, once you get past the Pleasant Hill intersection on the south side of town, there is no place to get gas along Highway 51 until you reach DeSoto. South of Pleasant Hill, there is no place to get gas until you reach Anna

If you look at north 51 as it exits  (or enters) Carbondale, the area it runs through is all light industrial with little draw for consumers. It also has the lightest traffic flow of any of the four major entrances to Carbondale

Sunday, November 10, 2019

West Side Restaurants

Since I had a request after the post regarding the razing of the old Westside McDonald's building, here are a list of places of which I know where you can get something to eat on the west side of Carbondale. Except for EZ Street, Burger King and Subway, they are all sit down or carry out locations. Feel free to add any spots I might have missed:

EZ Street
Burger King
Dale's Burger Shack
Pita Alley
Neighborhood Food Co-op
Key West

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Campus Drug Use

According to this article in the current Daily Egyptian, black SIUC students are referred for drug related offenses to SIUC's Student Rights and Responsibilities office twice as often as white students, primarily for the odor of cannabis. 65% of SIUC students identity as white while less than 15% are black. Nationally, black and white Americans use marijuana at about the same rates, so, assuming enforcement was racially neutral, one would expect about 4 times more white students than black referred to the SRR for marijuana use.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Day's Inn Razed

The city is moving right along with tearing down blighted buildings as the flood prone and now abandoned University Inn on East Main is rapidly approaching rubble. Still no confirmed plans as to what will happen to the space, although I have heard talk of turning it into green space in order to avoid problems with future flooding

As far as I can remember, flooding is something that has only plagued the property in recent years. I do not recall any problems with flooding in that location during the 1990s and early part of this century.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Westside McDonald's Razed

The McDonald's building on the west side of Carbondale is getting torn down after closing a couple of years ago.No idea why or what will go in there but from what I have heard, the interior of the building had deteriorated enough during the years closed that there was little likelihood of it reopening as a McDonald's or any other business.

Not that it changes things much, but the only places to get food on the west side of Carbondale now, without getting out of your car, something we Americans are loath to do, are Subway and Burger King.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Police Cars On Main

Heard and saw 4 police cars head west on Main Street shortly before 9 p.m. this evening. I expect we will wake up in in the morning to a story about something requiring police attention on the west side of town tonight. 2 murders in town in the past week has probably made a lot of people concerned about shootings and other violent acts in town.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Pinch Penny Pub closing

The owner of Pinch Penny Pub announced that, assuming the sale goes through, Pinch Penny Pub and the Copper Dragon will close at the end of the year. The bar has been quietly up for sale for the past 2 and a half years, rather like Pagliai's Pizza and Thai Taste but a couple of former SIUC students appear to have made a serious offer.

From the article, it sounds as if the new owners do not plan to continue operating the bar but rather will demolish it for more housing (which Carbondale really does not need) or a hotel, which would help attracting more large multi-day events to town, as well as providing close to campus lodging for parents visiting SIUC students.

Of course, this means that one of the other bars in town will likely start hosting the annual Solar Bear and Polar Bear events as 'twould be a pity to let revenue generators like them die.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Gas Taxes

For all the complaining about higher taxes in Illinois, gas prices are not that much higher than those in Missouri. Here, when I checked over the weekend, gas in Carbondale ran about $2.56 per gallon. Today in Cape it was $2.29 a gallon. Cheaper yes, about 10% so, but probably not enough to make someone make a special trip to Missouri to gas up.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Illinois University Enrollment Declines

SIUC is not the only university in the state of Illinois to post declines in enrollment. Save for UI Champaign and UI at Chicago, every public university in the state posted an enrollment drop. Maybe, instead of looking for outside saviours, SIUC's Board of Trustees ought to look at what those universities are doing and emulate which of their practices SIUC could adopt.

Saturday, November 2, 2019


Rather surprised that Rendleman's Orchards announced a closing date of October 31 this year. Usually it stays open through Thanksgiving, selling and shipping gift boxes. Apparently that didn't bring in enough revenue to justify staying open the extra month after the apple season ended.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Warming Centers

Given the 28 F temperature this morning, getting the Carbondale Warming Center open is a good idea. Looks like it will have significant upgrades, including better insulation and indoor plumbing. Wonder if the civic center will operate as a daytime warming center as well? Never saw it get much use in the past and it seems as if people need heating more at night than during the daytime.