Monday, June 30, 2008

Here Yesterday, Gone Today

Home Outfitters, the furniture store located at 815 S. Illinois, has gone bye-bye. The store was open when I left town for a few days last week, albeit with a big "Sale" sign in the window. This morning, the place is empty and there's a "For Rent" sign in the window. Not too surprising I guess, given the stock, or lack of it, shown in the catalog on the company's website.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Coal City Diner Open?

Not sure if this place is open for business or not. It has a big "Now Open" sign on the door but the sign is hung perpendicularly. It's hard to tell if it's supposed to announce the restaurant is open or blocking view through the door. A warning if you go to the website, music automatically starts as soon as the page launches.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Amtrak Cuts

Just received this email about the proposed cuts in the Illinois budget to Amtrak (which would impact us directly) and other mass transit cuts (impacting Carbondale indirectly):

On Tuesday, Governor Blagojevich shockingly threatened to eliminate two programs that matter to transit riders across Illinois. One program in danger helps fund free rides for seniors and reduced fares for students and people with disabilities-it would be completely eliminated.

The other elimination is the "Amtrak Illinois" program, which funds service between 28 cities and towns across the state. This program was doubled in 2006 and has far surpassed all expectations. Trains are frequently sold out.

The Governor's outline of the threatened cuts states that since 2007 Amtrak Illinois ridership has increased "from 42% to 67%, depending upon the line." To understand how small the existing program is, consider that IDOT recently received a special appropriation for road kill cleanup that was roughly twice the annual Amtrak appropriation. As it stands, these intercity services need to grow. It is outrageous that the Governor is threatening to cut them.

The threatened cuts are part of a bigger fight over the budget. It is hard to believe that the governor would cut transit funding and eliminate Amtrak Illinois services as gas prices march towards $5.00/gal, but it's what's on the table right now!

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Preservation Committee

As was pointed out in comments, the Historic Preservation Commission doesn't have the authority to authorize demolition of buildings, Rather it advises the City Council on ordinances and reviews applications for alterations and demolitions. If you're intersted, there are still two openings on the commission:

Historic Preservation Commission

The duties of the Preservation Commission are to investigate, hold public hearings and recommend to the City Council the adoption of ordinances designating certain properties, improvements and areas having special historic, architectural or community value as historic districts, landmarks and neighborhood preservation districts. Other duties are to review applications for alteration, construction, and demolitions affecting property(ies) formally under consideration for designation or designated historic districts, landmarks, and neighborhood preservation districts.

Members of the Preservation Commission are:

Evelyn Koine (Chair)

Mary McGuire (Vice Chair)

Shirley D. Booker

Kevin P. Clark

Dorothy Ittner

Helen Deniston

Ed VanAwken



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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dillinger's To Close

According to this story in the DE, Dillinger's Feed Store will close this Saturday after a 70+ year run. Plans are to sell the property to Dan Terry, who owns the adjacent Newell House building, for use as a warehouse during the remodeling of the Newell building. After that, the Preservation Commission has, according to the story, given permission for the building to be torn down after .


Simon for Mayor No More

I see the" Sheila Simon For Mayor" sign at her campaign office in the Island Building on S. University has finally come down, along with that of the now defunct Associated Artist's Gallery. What's it been, over a year since the election? Too bad. She could have saved some money if she decided to make another run at the office in 3 years.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

DTV Conversion

Just got this email from Rep. Costello (because you WILL have digital),

As you may know, on February 17, 2009, over the air television broadcasts will be transmitted only in digital formats. Analog-only televisions (those that use an antenna) will not work on or after that date. Owners of analog-only televisions must do one of three things to ensure that their sets work:

· Buy a TV with a digital tuner.
· Connect to cable, satellite or other pay service.
· Purchase a converter box.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is running a converter box program. The NTIA will provide two $40 coupons to help requesting households purchase converter boxes. Applicants must have a U.S. Postal Service address and all coupons expire three months after issuance. You can request coupons in one of four ways:
· Call 1.888.DTV.2009 (1.888.388.2009); deaf or hard of hearing callers may dial 1-877-530-2634 (English/TTY) or 1-866-495-1161 (Spanish/TTY). TTY Service is available from 9 AM - 9 PM Eastern Time Monday through Friday.
· Complete or download an application at
· Mail an application to P.O. Box 2000; Portland, OR 97208-2000
· Fax an application to 1.877.DTV.4ME2 (1.877.388.4632)
Why is the transition to digital television necessary? Primarily to reclaim portions of the analog spectrum (broadcast channels 52-69, also known as the 700MHZ band) currently occupied by television broadcasters. Digital television uses radio frequency spectrum more efficiently than analog, making space available for other uses, such as emergency communications.
For more information on this issue, visit or call 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322). For information on the converter box program, visit or call 1.888.DTV.2009.


Jerry F. Costello
12th District of Illinois


2 Boutique

Well, 2 Boutique made it a little more than a year. I noticed they had big sale signs in the window last week and, when I walked by yesterday, the pace is empty with a yellow "Mow Your Lawn" sign form the city stuck in the little garden next to it. Only things left are the signs and the pretty cool mural on the rear wall. So much for Big City Feel in Carbondale.


It's Suarez

If you picked up the Southern today, you already know that Michele Suarez got the nod as the new Alumni Director over Mayor Cole. So what does this mean for all the conspiracy theorists who thought Mayor Cole would get the position because of the $20 million donation? Maybe he was passed over because SIU wanted to show they hadn't been bought off? Or maybe he's been passed over now and he'll get a position there later? Or maybe....


Monday, June 23, 2008

Donated Salary

Missed this in the Southern last month. According to the article, Mayor Cole donates his entire mayoral salary to charity. Wonder if he'll continue to do that if he gets the Alumni Director position?


More Varsity Work

In case you're looking for something to do this week and are handy with tools, the Varsity Theater has more work:
Hello Everyone,

1.) You’ll notice a lot going has been going on, next time you’re working at the Varsity Center for the Arts—the intermission room has got some walls up and in the East Theater the movie screen is down. Here’s the upcoming work schedule:

2.) Stage Company members & friends, please join us in extending condolences to Jo Ann Hensley and family, at the passing of her mother.

3.) The McLeod Summer Playhouse opens this weekend. Go see a show. Go see TWO shows—art makes a full life.

Cathy Field

Or you could go lend a hand at Bucky's Dome. Looks like the new temporary plastic cover is on the ground after only a month.

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Minimum Wage Increases

As this story in the Southern indicates., the state Minimum Wage law raises the minimum wage to $7.75 in Illinois starting on July 1. then, next year, it goes up to $8 a hour. In 2010, it goes up to $8.25 and stays there unless the law is amended again.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

'Too Damn Early' in Prime Time

If you've yet to hear Southern Illinois's flagship experimental and avant-garde broadcast, "It's Too Damn Early," today is your chance! I'll be covering for the Jazz Kitten from 6-8 p.m, so I don't want to hear any excuses about being asleep, etc...

Be sure to listen in-- WDBX 91.1 FM. Feel free to call in requests: 618-457-3691.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dome Life

Bucky's Dome has another temporary plastic cover put on it after the spring storms tore holes in the previous temporary cover that had lasted for 7 years. I'm not privy to what the Dome BOD is doing as far as permanently fixing it and think it would be downright stupid to pull it down as I've heard a couple of people suggest. It would be nice if the Dome blog was updated more or the organization sent out press releases to let the community know what was happening.


Fruits of the Season

Blueberry Hill and Bass Farms, both on Hwy 51 by Cobden, still have strawberries as of yesterday. Blueberry Hill says their strawberry fields will only be open a few more days for picking. BH also has red raspberries available at $5 a pint for pre-picked. If you want a larger but can't get there until later in the afternoon, it's a good idea to call ahead and have berries held, as I was told they are selling out by mid afternoon.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Trevino to FIU

I caught an announcement on WSIU this morning that ex-Chancellor Fernando Trevino has been appointed dean of the Robert Stempel School of Public Health and School of Social Work at Florida International University. The Southern has an article today.

Apparently, Trevino applied for the FIU position at the same time as the Chancellor's spot and opted for the higher level position here However, I guess a deanship in Florida is more attractive now than a tenured professorship here. FIU Provost Ronald Berkman's memo announcing the appointment (dated last May 29th) is here.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mugsy's Closes Saturday

If you haven't seen this story in today's Southern, this Saturday is the last day for Mugsy's. I spoke with a local realtor who said she had heard (so this is at least second hand) that Maier was looking at the Pioneer Cabin restaurant location over in Carterville as a possible location as well as several other spots. Also, supposedly, the local Kia dealership is planning to expand onto the Mugsy's property.

There's also a lively discussion in the comments section of the SI article regarding who's fault it is that Mugsy's is closing. The property owners, Mugsy's owner, the city, Kevin Baity, Mayor Cole are all trotted out as having a hand in it.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

New Managing Editor at the Southern

As the story says, Mark Fitton is the new managing editor at the Southern. I found this statement in the story interesting:
Fitton will serve as a member of the newspaper's Editorial Board, lead final newsroom production of the daily paper, ensure the Web site is supplied with fresh news throughout the night and assist in long-range operational, organizational and financial planning for the newsroom.

This infers more emphasis on updating the website 24/7. In today's world that's gotta be a good thing. Now if they'd just get rid of Ann Coulter....


Park Board Meeting

The CPD BOD meeting starts at 5 p.m. this afternoon with public comments, followed by actual decisions being made after 6 p.m. So, if you want to see people complaining about not enough money being spent on their preferred projects and how the BOD is probably violating all sorts of rules, while the board members smile and nod politely, show up at the Civic Center around 5.


+20 Karma

Needing to build up your karma? Volunteer opportunities at the Varsity Center for the Arts AND beloved community broadcaster WDBX-FM are available soon-- check the preceding entry for the Varsity project times.

For those hoping to meet some WDBX staff, check out the new studio digs, or thank the DJs for all their hard work; WDBX will be having a "Repaint and Refurbish" clean-up day June 21, at 1 p.m.

If the Varsity Center's crowbar 'n sledgehammer plans sound a bit out of your league, this might be a little more low key! Call 529-2160 for more info.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

More Work at the Varsity

In case you've got some free time this week, and esp. if you're handy with tools:

Plans for the East Theater are in, and we’re ready for stage-builders at the Varsity Center for the Arts. We’re going to be working these hours listed below, in addition to our usual Wednesday & Saturday cleanups. Bring your tools!

Tuesday June 17, 9 a.m. -- 3 p.m.
Thursday June 19, 9 a.m. -- 3 p.m.
Saturday June 21, 9 a.m. -- 3 p.m.

Bill Crain and Lee Brackett will be directing this part of the project. It’ll be sledgehammers & crowbars first (putting in new exits) followed by construction of the new stage. If you know someone with building skills, please pass along this message.

A community project for everyone!

Cathy Field


Happy Father's Day

Though Father's Day dates back to 1910, it was only made official when Pres. Nixon signed it into law back in 1972 (or Pres. Johnson in 1966, depending on your source). And yes, it is true that Father's Day is number one when it comes to collect calls. However Mother's Day is number two and Valentines' Day is number three.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flag Day

Today is Flag Day, though you wouldn't know it by my block, not to mention much of Carbondale. When I left the house this morning, about 9:30, I only saw one flag on the block and that was mine. A friend and I drove to a number of garage sales on the south and west sides of the city and the only flags I saw were those around city hall. Rather sad considering this is an official day set aside by executive order to honor the flag.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Preservation Commission to Meet

Next Monday at 7 p.m. Apparently Dillinger's is still on the agenda, as well as a proposal for Illinois Ave. Here's the agenda if you're interested.

1. Roll Call

2. Approval of Minutes - May 19, 2008 (attached)

3. Communication and Reports:

A. Certificate of Appropriateness Committee

• Tuscan Lodge

B. Education and Technical Assistance Committee

4. Old Business:

A. Dillinger Feed Store

B. Train Inn, 406 East Stoker, plaque presentation

5. New Business:

A. Draft Annual Report

B. Illinois Avenue proposal

6. Comments by the Public, Commission Members or Staff:

7. Adjournment


Saturday at the Varsity

If you've a few hours free this Saturday morning, the Stage Company is looking for able bodies to help with the remodel of the Varsity building. Here's the email so consider yourself invited:

Dear Everyone,

This week at the Varsity Center for the Arts we’re continuing our reclamation of the walls in public areas, still scraping & scouring. We’ve had lots of people on the putty-knife & bucket detail, and the results are beginning to show.

We’ve also begun hauling junk out of the storage area behind the Main Theater, which is where the dressing rooms will go.

The East Theater crew is about ready to start putting up the stage, and will need as many skilled carpenters as possible. If you have expertise with a hammer, please let me know at once, along with the hours you’re available to work.

We’re also looking for licensed electricians who are willing to donate some time to this community project. Contact Jack Langowski at
201-5245 if you know one.

As always, open work days are Wednesdays & Saturdays from 9-11 a.m. Y’all come.

If you’re not a voting member of the Stage Company but would like to be, come to our monthly meeting Wednesday, June 18, 7:00 p.m., in the back room of the Mississippi Flyway. Bring $20 for dues (15 months for the price of 12!) and your best ideas. See you there!

Cathy Field

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Boys and Girls Club Scam

In case you missed it on WSIU this morning, there's a group (mainly kids) going around door to door in Carbondale, selling candy and otherwise collecting money for the Boys and Girls Club. According to the story, the B&GC does not solicit money door to door and anyone approached should call the police.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Goody's Closing

In case you missed it on the news this morning, our local Goody's will be closing soon as the company files for bankruptcy. Here's the list of the first 69 stores closing, probably by the end of summer.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Kroger West?

Was driving by the old Kroger West location over the weekend and noticed the interior has been cleared out. It looks like something may be getting ready to move in. Hopefully, we'll see CVS Pharmacy doing their long desired expansion.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Third Party Action

Guess who was out looking for petition action at the Murdale Farmer's Market yesterday? Representatives of the Libertarian Party seeking enough signatures to get on the ballot this November. Unlike the Green Party, the Libertarians haven't picked up enough votes in past elections to guarantee themselves a spot.

Speaking of the Greens, the Eurma Hayes Center is the place to be on Monday the 9th at 6:30 when the Green Party's presidential candidate, Cynthia McKinney, hosts (via speakerphone) a fundraising dinner. It's only $10 a plate and Congresswoman McKinney will answer questions.

Heck, she gets points as the only presidential candidate putting in an appearance in Carbondale so far this campaign. Closest any of the others have gotten is an appearance by Chelsea Clinton in Cape Girardeau a few months ago.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Building Boom? Or Lack Thereof?

Was out driving around town this morning and noticed that Central Plaza, over on Giant City Road, still only has the original four businesses that went in when it originally opened. No work has even started on the Shops at University Mall the Gator Automotive building was pulled down to make room for and the Silver Screen Video and Tanning space in the little strip mall at the corner of Grand and Wall is still empty.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Cole vs. Suarez

As was pointed out in comments, Mayor Cole and interim director Suarez are candidates for the position of Alumni Director at SIU. Comments on the SI article indicate most readers believe Mayor Cole is poised to get the position.

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Carbondale Park District and Hickory Ridge

Apparently the Carbondale Park District is going to be pretty short on cash for the next couple of years. I was talking with Park Board member Carmen Suarez yesterday and from what I understand, the funding problems date back to the way in which Hickory Ridge Golf Course was funded in 1993.

Building the course was controversial back then, so one of the selling points was paying off the loan on the course (and later the clubhouse) in 15 years, whereas a more typical loan would have ran 20 to 30 years. This meant significantly higher payments than normal and in recent years, the course has not generated sufficient revenue to make the payments. The loans have been restructured a couple of times to get caught up on interested and debt service but there hasn't been much principal reduction. Currently, Hickory Ridge generates enough revenue to cover operating expenses but that's it.

Currently the plan is to cover interest payments for the next couple of years until the loan can be restructured again in 2010. The loan's time frame will be extended and yearly payments will drop from around $400,000 to the neighborhood of $200,000, freeing up the difference for needed maintenance and other projects.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Arthur Agency payment

Was looking through the warrrents from the last city council meeting again and found this payment to the Arthur Agency. Apparently they did something worth 4 grand to the city:

01 41708 ARTHUR AGENCY INC 4,275.00 2966 9917 51608


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

New Asphalt at DQ

The downtown Dairy Queen is getting a new layer of asphalt on the the parking lot to the north of it. Apparently using non-union labor as there were a couple of pickets leaning on signs on the sidewalk. I have to wonder, given this, if they are actually union members?

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