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Richard Sitler, The Southern 

Belleville Althoff senior Chase Bittle wrestles Carbondale senior Zach Willard for the 126 weight class championship in the 57th annual Murdale Wrestling Tournament at Carbondale Community High School on Saturday.

Byron Hetzler, The Southern  

Statues of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas along with a commemorative plaque mark the site of their Sept. 15, 1858, debate in Jonesboro. The Jonesboro debate was the third of seven between the two candidates for the U.S. Senate seat.

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Union County Bicentennial: 200 years in 20 pictures


JONESBORO — Duane Hileman wore a red and white checkered shirt that was opened at the neck, slate grey warm-up pants and dark boots, completing his period look as he sought to portray John Grammer, the man credited with donating 20 acres to build the county courthouse in Jonesboro.

Had guests to yesterday's celebration really been around in 1818, they may well have seen Grammer shoeless. It seems he did everything barefoot, Hileman explained.

In his period dress, Hileman and Lillian Milam, who also donned period dress to portray Grammer's wife, Julia, entertained the crowd as they talked about their lives and the land donation and Grammer's eventual election to the state legislature.  It seems when he was elected to office, several people in the county came together to buy fabric to make clothes for him.

This bit of history about Union County was shared and celebrated at the Bicentennial celebration of the county, which several at Saturday's event were quick to share was formed slightly before the state of Illinois was; Union County was founded on Jan. 2, 1818; the state of Illinois on Dec. 3, 1818.

This past Tuesday, Union County turned 200 and kicked off its bicentennial celebration on Saturday.

"They will learn about the people who set up our local government," said Hileman, a retired educator from Anna district schools. "These people were also instrumental in setting up our state government, because they became representatives to our state capitol."

To celebrate the county's birthday, here is a look-back at some notable events and accomplishments through the decades.

• Decade 1: 1818 to 1828

Jan. 2, 1818, Union County is founded, created from adding a part of Pope County to Johnson County. The population was estimated to be about 1,800. The creation of the county precedes the founding of the state, which comes months later, on Dec. 3, 1818.

SouthernEnviron / STEPHANIE ESTERS The Southern 

Lillian Milam, who portrayed Julia Grammer, wife to John Grammer, the first elected representative from Union County, points out a county founder in one of the historical documents on display at the county's Bicentennial Celebration at the Union County Courthouse in Jonesboro, Ill., on Saturday, 6 Jan. 2018.

• Decade 2: 1828 to 1838

Around 1835, Union County is beginning to grow, spurred on by agriculture and mills and the businesses they generated. The first steam saw and grist mill in the county was built in 1836 by Willis Willard, according to "History of Union County." The county included five shoemakers and saddlers; one tailor; two wagon makers; two carpenters; one cabinet maker; two hatters; 11 blacksmiths; and three tan yards, 12 distilleries, and one horse and ox mill.

SouthernEnviron / STEPHANIE ESTERS The Southern 

Duane Hillman and Lillian Milam portray John and Julia Grammer, at the Union County Bicentennial celebration on Saturday, 6 January 2018, at the courthouse in Jonesboro, Ill. The Grammers donated 20 acres of land that was used to build the county courthouse on after the county was formed in 1818.

• Decade 3: 1838 to 1848

As the white settlers continue to move into Union County, the Cherokee Indians are forced to leave their homeland and travel to set-aside government land west of the Mississippi, in Oklahoma, in what has become known as the Trail of Tears.

Richard Sitler, The Southern 

This area of the cemetery at Campground Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Anna is believed to contain the graves of Cherokee children who died during the forced removal of native Americans along the Trail of Tears. The cemetery and other Trail of Tears sites have been added to the National Historic Register.

• Decade 4: 1848 to 1858

The town of Anna was platted in; it was founded in 1854 by Winstead Davie, and named after Davie's great-great-granddaughter, Anna Willard Davie, according to the book "100 Years of Progress: The Centennial History of Anna, Illinois."

SouthernEnviron / STEPHANIE ESTERS The Southern 

A record for Winstead Davie, in a Dover, Tennessee, store ledger, was one of the historical documents exhibited at the Union County Bicentennial celebration on Saturday, 6 Jan. 2018, at the courthouse in Jonesboro, Ill. Davie moved into Union County in 1820 and founded the city of Anna in 1864.

• In 1859, brothers Cornwall and Wallace Kirkpatrick started Anna Pottery in Anna. Their work became well-known and later, collectors' items; one of their most descriptive pieces was a pig from which wine could be consumed. The business ran until 1900, according to an exhibit at the Union County Historical Society Museum in Cobden.

SouthernEnviron / STEPHANIE ESTERS, The Southern 

Anna Pottery at Union County Historical and Genealogy Society Museum in Cobden.

• Decade 5: 1858 to 1868

On September 15, 1858, presidential hopeful and native son Abraham Lincoln traveled to Jonesboro for a debate with challenger Stephen A. Douglas; the debate is credited with helping Lincoln "gain momentum" for his fight, according to the Mr. Lincoln and Freedom website .

Byron Hetzler, The Southern  

Statues of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas along with a commemorative plaque mark the site of their Sept. 15, 1858, debate in Jonesboro. The Jonesboro debate was the third of seven between the two candidates for the U.S. Senate seat.

• The Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865, and the county had its fair share of residents fight in the conflict.  In the end, Union County lost one-sixth to one-seventh of its population to the Civil War.

One of the most noteworthy groups in the battle was the 109th Volunteer Infantry regiment — comprised mainly of Union County residents — which had several officers arrested and dismissed, Patrick Brumleve told The Southern. Eighteen percent of the regiment — some 171 soldiers — was recorded as having deserted. Though Brumleve said that note could make one think that Southern Illinoisans were not loyal to the Union, there was a great deal of support for the Union among Southern Illinois and among the men who served in the war.

Some officers who were dismissed were later reinstated and paid for their time served, but Brumleve said the humiliation they experienced made a lasting impression.

Guns and other relics from the Civil War are part of the permanent exhibit at the Union County Historical and Genealogy Society and Museum in Cobden.

• Decade 6: 1868 to 1878

Union County is known for its agricultural production. One of those most known today got its start in 1873, when John and Isabelle Rendleman started Rendleman Orchards.

The farm evolved with each subsequent generation, according to the company website, with the couple's youngest son Grover, and his wife, Iva, taking over the farm in 1906. They raised asparagus, rhubarb, sweet potatoes and corn, according to the company's website. Grover also started a fruit-growing operation. The Alto Pass-based operation is now run by Grover's grandson, Wayne Rendleman "Ren" Sirles and great-grandson, Wayne and his wife, Michelle, and their children.

There are other fruit orchards and vegetable farms and vineyards in the area, including Blueberry Hill Farm and Flamm Orchards and Rancho Bella Vista (of Darn Hot Peppers fame), all in Cobden.

Richard Sitler, The Southern 

As her husband Art stands by her, Shirley Murphy of Shelbyville, takes a picture of Diane Davis and Davis' grandchildren Maddie, 8, and Preston, 5, of Carbondale, in front of the Farm Market at Rendleman Orchards in Alto Pass on Wednesday.

• Decade 7: 1878 to 1888

Chicago White Sox rightfielder Albert Michael "Red" Kelly is born in Union County in November 1884. He is a football and baseball standout, going to Notre Dame University, where he helped his 1909 Fighting Irish team defeat University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, 11 to 3, according to the book "Notre Dame: Baseball Greats: From Anson to Yaz." The next year, he is playing for the Chicago White Sox.

Marilyn Halstead / MARILYN HALSTEAD The Southern 

Workers with Sonshine Amusements set up carnival rides for the 137th Union County Fair, which runs Aug. 18 through 27 in Anna. 

• This is also the decade that the Union County Fair starts; in 2017, the fair celebrated its 137th edition.

• Decade 8: 1888 to 1898

This decade saw the birth of Frank Henry Willard (1893), who grew up to become a cartoonist for the syndicated newspaper comic strip "Moon Mullins." At its peak, the cartoon was carried by more than 250 newspapers, according to a page link for the Frank Willard Cartoons collection at Syracuse University. After his death, one of his long-time assistants took over the cartoon, working it until 1991. He died in 1958 in Los Angeles.

• Decade 9: 1898 to 1908

Union County enters the 20th century with a population of 22,610 people The county's estimated population, as of July 2016, was 17,212, according to

• Decade 10: 1908 to 1918

• This decade dawns, in 1909, with whites in the town reportedly driving out the 40 or so black families who lived in Anna, after the lynching of a black man in a nearby town for the rape of a white woman, according to James W. Loewen's book "Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism."

• This decade also saw men from Union County, in addition to other parts of the country, joining the U.S. forces to fight in World War I, from 1914 to 1918.

SouthernEnviron / STEPHANIE ESTERS The Southern 

Men from Union County fought in WWI; some of their weapons and gear are part of the permament exhibit at the Union County Historical and Genealogy Society and Museum in Cobden, Illinois.

• Decade 11: 1918 to 1928

Lewis Bakeries, the makers of Bunny Bread, is founded in 1925.

Lewis started the company with a $300 loan against his mother's house, and by 1987, the company was reportedly earning $80 million in annual sales. Founder Jack Lewis died in September 2001 at the age of 91.

Bunny Bread itself was created in 1947, according to the Bunny Bread website.

• Decade 12: 1928 to 1938

This decade ends with the beginning building of the historic 111-foot Bald Knob Cross, a majestic cross arising from Bald Knob Mountain in Alto Pass, the highest point in Southern Illinois. The cross becomes a beacon of hope and invites people of all faith to visit, especially for its historic Resurrection Sunday sunrise services on the hillside.

Richard Sitler The Southern 

The Union County landmark the Bald Knob Cross of Peace is seen in the distance at dusk from the roadside park and lookout on Skyline Drive just outside of Alto Pass, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. Easter sunrise services have been held on Bald Knob since 1937, and on Easter of 1959 a ground breaking ceremony was held for the construction of the cross. The construction of the cross was completed in 1963, and it was restored in 2009.

• Decade 13: 1938 to 1948

After he expressed his concerns about the industry of coal, Clyde L. Choate was encouraged by President Harry S. Truman to run for office. He did, and in 1946 won, serving 30 years until he left the state legislature in 1976. He was the Illinois Democratic chairman for the 1972 presidential elections and a decorated soldier from WWII, from which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The Southern File Photo  

Among those landing by helicopter on Aug. 11, 1959, to help in the oil industry’s century celebration were Speaker of the House Paul Powell (left) and Majority Leader of the House Clyde Choate (middle). Choate is shaking hands with Illinois Oil & Gas Association President Oil & Gas Association President Howard Brockman.

Steve Matzker, The Southern 

An image of Clyde Choate on display in Union County Museum in Cobden.

Steve Matzker, The Southern 

Clyde Choate's Congressional Medal of Honor is on display at Union County Museum in Cobden. Choate was awarded the medal while commanding a tank destroyer near Brueyers, France, during World War II. Choate's actions prevented a battalion command post from being captured. Also pictured is a German dagger Choate brought back to the United States.

• Decade 14: 1948 to 1958

The decade opens with Union County, traditionally Republican-leaning, being among those voters to return President Truman, who'd been Vice President when Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office in 1945, back to the Oval Office.


Lifelong photographer Irma Duncan, 90, of Du Quoin, shares a photo she captured of President Harry Truman during a campaign.

• Decade 15: 1958 to 1968

Codben's Appleknockers, called a "Cinderella Dream Team," advanced to the 1964 state basketball championship, losing by five points to their competitors. Nine of the team's basketball players were taller than six feet, according to a 2014 online article in "Humanities," the magazine for the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2014, the team's members were the first inductees into the Cobden High School Hall of Fame.

• Decade 16: 1968 to 1978

This decade opens with Union County turns 150 years old, celebrating its sesquicentennial with a special souvenir medallion, embossed with the county's name, the years 1818 to 1968 and the county’s seal.

SouthernEnviron / STEPHANIE ESTERS The Southern 

State's Attorney Tyler Edmonds looks at the Union County sesquicentennial coin from 1968 and commemorative stamped envelopes for sale at the end of Saturday's Union County Bicentennial celebration at the county courthouse in Jonesboro, Ill.  Selling the items is Patrick Brumleve, president of the Union County Historical and Genealogy Society and Museum.

• Decade 17: 1978 to 1988

In 1984, the first of what will eventually become a series of wineries opens in Union County, Alto Vineyards. Over the next few years, other vineyards start — Pomona Winery in 1991 and Owl Creek Vineyard — all of whose owners are credited with helping to open up the county as a tourism stop with the Shawnee Wine Trail in 1995. Today, the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail has 11 member wineries.


Ted Wichmann checks out the grape buds at the Blue Sky Vineyard. Wichmann, one of the forces responsible for helping create the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, did consulting work for many of the vineyards in Southern Illinois.

• Decade 18: 1988 to 1998

The 1990 census reveals that Union County's demographics now reflect the presence of Hispanic population: 182 people who identify as Hispanic in a county of 17,619 people. Almost 25 years later, the county Hispanic population has increased to five percent (897 people) of the county's total population of 17,447, according to the Pew Research Center's report "Hispanic Trends."

• Decade 19: 1998 to 2008

Union County's Cobden area has began to attract artistic types and art shops and is becoming known as an artists' enclave, a place where people can make and sell their arts and crafts — and find a market.

One of those businesses that opened up near the end of this decade was the anthill Gallery, created by a couple who wanted to showcase others' art, as well as their own. Sadly, those owners announced that they would be closing their gallery at the end of 2017 to pursue their own art projects.

SouthernEnviron / STEPHANIE ESTERS The Southern 

Husband and wife Bob Hageman and Linda Austin are planning to close the anthill, an art gallery and novelties shop they have run for 10 years in Cobden.

• Decade 20: 2008 to 2018

• Some say a more youthful leadership and a more open government begin to be ushered in in Union County, with the election of Tyler R. Edmonds as State's Attorney; The 27-year-old Edmonds was elected in 2008, taking office in 2009. Joining Edmonds in the county's leadership are Darren Bailey, the county's treasurer, and Rollie Hawk, an IT specialist who is appointed as the county's Chief Information Officer. The three are credited with helping to push the county's business matters into transparency. In a 2012 review of the county's transparency, the men's work is credited with moving the county's transparency grade from an "F" to "C."


• Union County turned 200 on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, and leaders and residents and friends celebrated the grand bicentennial on Saturday, 6 Jan. 2018.

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Illinois Bicentennial Series
Illinois 200: Coal mining has a deep history in Southern Illinois

Editor’s note: The weekly Illinois Bicentennial series is brought to you by the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors and Illinois Press Association. More than 20 newspapers are creating stories about the state’s history, places and key moments in advance of the Bicentennial on Dec. 3, 2018. Stories published up to this date can be found at

Louis Joliet and Pere Marquette, returning from an expedition on the Mississippi River in 1673, were the first explorers to notice the combustible material that would shape the Illinois economy. The coal just sat there on the surface like low-hanging fruit near Utica along the Illinois River.

The first mine appeared near Peoria not long after, but it wasn’t until 1830, when coal from Belleville found a market in nearby St. Louis, that the industry took off, according to Keith Weil and Alvin K. Grandys, who wrote the 1976 Illinois Coal Digest, a publication from the Illinois Department of Business and Economic Development.

Coal grew by leaps and bounds over the decades. In the 1850s and 1860s, railroads opened lines to new customers and the Civil War. Later, Weil and Grandys write, the formalization of geology and the appearance of the steam engine made coal easier to find and dig.

The mines attracted tens of thousands of workers, many of whom were exposed to the dangers of an unchecked industry. As mine collapses and explosions claimed hundreds of lives, new vitality sprang into labor unions that went on to fight for better safety and health care.

Photos: A historical look at coal mining in Southern Illinois

Early mine collapses, the result of apathetic owners, encouraged miners to organize but still produced few gains, according to Rosemary Feurer, a history professor at Northern Illinois University. Reforms went unenforced, and even a nascent form of workers’ compensation, the victory of a particularly deadly episode in Cherry, in the northern part of the state in 1909, barely compensated widows from a legal judgment.

Every law “was written in blood,” said Bernie Harsey, president of the United Mine Workers of America Local 1825 in Du Quoin.

Harsey also fought for a better way of life for miners. In 1993, management wanted to reduce health care benefits, so the union went on strike, and Harsey was out of work for six months. If the strike didn’t happen, he said, he didn’t think he would have health insurance coverage.

Harsey, who started in the coal industry in 1973, said he’s used between $2 million and $3 million in health insurance to cover his family for everything from cancer to a kidney transplant.

History of Herrin, Energy grew from region’s coal mining roots

Throughout the last century, coal fueled Southern Illinois, both literally and figuratively. Communities were built around mines, businesses thrived and men brought good paychecks home by digging the precious natural resource out of the hills and valleys day after dangerous day.

“We wouldn’t have that without our labor disputes,” he said.

Health care was one of the items that miners fought hardest for, and in 1946, John Lewis, the leader of the United Mine Workers of America, negotiated legislation that secured cradle-to-grave health care coverage for its members that was guaranteed by the federal government.

Recently, that compromise came under threat when Peabody Energy filed for bankruptcy in 2016, the latest in a series of coal companies to fail. After a temporary stopgap that saved health insurance for 22,600 retired miners, their widows and children, Congress finally saved the deal in April 2017.

Today, the “Promise of 1946,” a term the Krug-Lewis Act acquired relatively recently, seems sacrosanct, but miners at the time wouldn’t have seen it that way, Feurer said. Throughout Lewis’ tenure, the UMWA grew closer to management, and the organization became more bureaucratic. Inspired by these trends, a more rebellious wave of labor action in the 1960s won the Federal Mining Safety Legislation of 1974, an improvement to narrower and weaker bills passed in 1951 and 1969.

For as much as miners sacrificed for their benefits, others who weren’t covered sometimes sacrificed just as much, as companies pit workers against themselves by bringing in different ethnic groups to undercut wages of more established groups. The 1922 Herrin Massacre stands out as the one of the most violent episodes of labor violence in which union members shot and killed 19 strikebreakers.

The first people to mine in Illinois were slaves, Feurer said. Other early groups to settle the area were English, Scots-Irish and Irish, people who’d struck out with the poor soils of Appalachia, according to David Conrad, a history professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. From 1890 to the early 1920s, eastern and southern Europeans settled the area next. After the Civil War, African-Americans came north only to find that “southern Illinois was not greatly different,” Conrad wrote in “Tell Me A Story: Memories of Early Life Around the Coal Fields of Illinois.”

As evidence of coal’s importance to the economy and culture of Southern Illinois in particular, the first mining union, the American Miners’ Association, began in West Belleville in 1861.

Since then, Illinois has produced many generations of miners, and today, as a lack of opportunities clamps down on the region, it ensures that only an eager, if smaller, generation will continue the dangerous work.

Photos: Face of coal mining today

Only, they won’t belong to the UMWA anymore, Harsey said. Not a single member works in any mine in Southern Illinois.

About 98 percent of workers who belong to the Local 1825 are retired now. The other 2 percent, about 10 people, are waiting for work on the inactive list. It’s been this way since 1997, when the mine reached the end of its property and there was nothing more to dig.

“We knew the day was coming,” Harsey said. “You just get on with life.”

The future of coal mining in Illinois is bleak for workers, and although many believe the industry’s free fall began only recently, it peaked in the 1920s, and has been declining since, Conrad said.

In 1930, a whopping 185 coal mines employed 51,200 people who produced 52 million tons of coal. By 2015, just 19 mines employing 3,600 people produced 55 million tons of coal, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

While coal production varies from year to year, the number of workers has declined steadily. Technology and natural gas, the two biggest culprits for the industry’s current decline, were blamed 100 years ago, too, as trains became more efficient and other fuels found new markets.

After Harsey’s mine shut down, many workers were let go, but some stayed on for the next five years to work on land reclamation. Harsey worked with the operating engineers’ Local 5 for 10 more years.

“For me, only working (seven or eight) months out of the year, I was more fortunate than the others,” he said.

Local 1825 may be out of work, but it still celebrates the history of Illinois coal mining. Every year on April 1, it gets together to celebrate the victory of an 8-hour workday. In 2017, about 175 people showed up.

“We had a good turnout,” he said.

The Undocumented Immigrant Next Door
The Undocumented Immigrant Next Door: U.S. immigration system presents big challenges, stirs emotions

WEST FRANKFORT — There are an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States.

The story of Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco, who was detained last February, and the West Frankfort community that rushed to his aid, made international headlines. But while there are unique aspects to his case, much of it is also rather ordinary.

“In addition to Carlos’ case, there are reports of other individuals with longstanding ties to their communities, who are now, because of previous missteps and mistakes, coming under scrutiny,” said Fred Tsao, the senior policy counsel at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Tsao said part of the reason for the increasing volume of stories that share common threads with Hernandez’s is that arrests are up significantly under the administration of President Donald Trump, who is approaching the one-year anniversary of his swearing in on Jan. 20. “This is a reflection of the harsher tone and harsher policies that the new administration is taking,” Tsao said.

Though many of Hernandez’s friends and West Frankfort neighbors are cheering for his pursuit of legal status without having to be removed from the country for a long period of time, support for his case is not universal in Southern Illinois. Far from it.

Many here are passionate supporters of Trump’s decision to follow through on campaign promises to crack down on people living in the country without authorization. Even though Hernandez would leave behind a wife and three young children, all of whom are American citizens, if he’s deported, a popular response to that scenario has been “decisions have consequences” and “the law is the law.”

Jesse Crider, of Herrin, shared an opinion on the case that has been echoed by numerous newspaper readers and social media commenters this week in response to The Southern’ s weeklong series “The Undocumented Immigrant Next Door” that concludes today.

“There is a process. It’s been the law for years,” he said.

Crider said the fact that Hernandez has immediate family members who are U.S. citizens does not change Crider’s point of view on the matter. “It wasn’t fair to my family when we had to be separated and I was getting shot at, so don’t tell me about separation,” said the 80-year-old Army veteran who served a tour in Korea after the conflict ended, and two tours in Vietnam during the war.

Hernandez said it’s frustrating to him that people who have spoken out against him do not seem to understand or care how long he has tried, and how much money he and his wife have spent, to gain legal status, only to have run into numerous roadblocks in their application for a family-sponsored visa. The application was put in nearly 10 years ago, right after they were married, he said.

Hernandez’s case is complicated by the fact that he has two drunken driving convictions on his record from 2007, both misdemeanors, and that he was apprehended attempting to illegally cross the border in 2003, and in 1998.

Priorities for deportation 

Because of the large number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., the federal government has a long history of prioritizing who it targets for deportation, generally those with serious felony convictions or believed to be a serious public safety or national security threat. Generally, immigration courts look strictly at a person’s record, and do not consider how long ago a conviction occurred and what that individual has done since then to turn his life around, Tsao said. It’s a tough system for those who get caught up in it — and is growing stricter.

Five days after his swearing in, Trump signed an executive order expanding the categories of unauthorized immigrants prioritized for removal.

Under the administration of President Barack Obama, the focus was on people with serious criminal convictions on their records, especially felonies, but also some serious misdemeanors, and others believed to pose a threat to public safety, which could be interpreted broadly.

Thousands of undocumented immigrants without any criminal records or low-level offenses were deported under the Obama administration, though the number of noncriminal deportations increased significantly last year under Trump. Violating America’s immigration laws is generally a civil rather than criminal offense.

Advocates, many of whom also were critical of Obama, nicknaming him the “Deporter-in-chief,” argue that Trump’s executive order expansion of priorities is so broad that it could be interpreted as applying to anyone living in the country without papers. And for many people like Crider, that’s exactly how they think it should be.

Issues of fairness 

Crider said he does not think there is anything wrong with America’s immigration system, advocates for officials to enforce the immigration laws to the letter, and is opposed to amnesty in any form, saying it’s unfair to those who immigrated legally.

“You become an American or forget it,” he said.

Gus Maroscher, of Marion, said his opposition to allowing people like Hernandez to avoid deportation because they have family here also is about fairness. "It’s a moving story, but hardly compares to what other immigrants have endured," he said. Maroscher, who was born in historical Translvania, which is now a region of Romania, said his family immigrated to the U.S. in 1952 when he was 12 years old. For years, he said, the family attempted to flee horrendous conditions on the Communist side of the "Iron Curtain" in post-World War II eastern Europe.

"The Red Army was on the move. We were strafed by fighter aircraft and repeatedly carpet bombed. The refugee camps were horrific. We were infested with lice and internal parasites, subjected to freezing conditions and starvation diets. Diseases such as diphtheria were common. Medicine — nonexistent," Maroscher wrote, via email. 

"Then we were herded into a hell hole. East Germany. The regime was indescribably brutal, yet somehow, my mom provided for us, while I attended political-indoctrination classes disguised as grammar school. As children, we saw and experienced things that can never be unseen or unexperienced."

Maroscher said the family escaped for a second time, walking through woodlands in the middle of the night in pursuit of western Germany.

"My dad, having seen combat in three different armies, had finally been released from a Russian prison and had also escaped to the West. Miraculously we were all reunited," he said. Because of their father's military experience and their indoctrination, Maroscher said the vetting process lasted four years before they were granted permission to immigrate. "And yes, we paid for our passage on the troop ship, USS General C.C. Ballou," he said. 

By the numbers 

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s website, 143,470 unauthorized immigrants were arrested in the 2017 fiscal year, up about 30 percent from 110,104 in the 2016 fiscal year. The federal fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.

According to a Dec. 5 Reuters article, which offered a closer analysis of the Department of Homeland Security’s latest statistics, arrests increased 42 percent under Trump, based on a comparison of arrests from Jan. 20, when he assumed office, to Sept. 30, 2017, to the same prior-year period. While arrests were up, the number of people removed from the country, according to the DHS data, declined by about 6 percent between the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years.

A couple of explanations have been offered for this, including that immigration courts are growing immensely more clogged by the expanding number of interior arrests, while fewer people were detained attempting to cross the border in secret or with fraudulent papers, and therefore fewer people were apprehended at the immediate border. 

Hernandez’s last appearance before an immigration judge was in November, for the purpose of establishing a timeline for his case. His next appearance at the immigration court in Kansas City, Kansas, is scheduled for April 2021 — more than three years out. His case is one of more than half a million cases pending before America’s 58 immigration courts. That the enormous and quickly worsening backlog means cases can take years to settle is one of the few things people on all sides of the immigration debate agree is troubling about the system.

Richard Sitler, The Southern 

Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco and his family gather for a family photo in the living room of their home in West Frankfort Sunday, April 9, 2017. From left are Kharloz, 9, Carlos, Gianluca 7, Elizabeth and Maximus, 2. 

According to the Pew Research Center, about 66 percent of undocumented immigrants of adult age in 2014 had been in the U.S. for a decade or longer. Mexicans made up half of all unauthorized immigrants in 2016. The number of Mexican undocumented immigrants, and their share of the total, has been declining in recent years, and 2016 was the first year they did not account for a clear majority, according to the nonpartisan organization.

The immigration debate has long been highly politicized and deeply emotional for many people, including over the language that is used to describe people living in the U.S. without papers. Crider, of Herrin, said that, as he sees it, "illegal alien" is the proper term. He said liberals created the term "undocumented immigrant" for political purposes, in an attempt to make people forget that people who come across the border illegally or overstay their visa are lawbreakers. In everyday language, people often shorten that term to simply "illegals." Immigrant rights' advocates, on the other hand, say such terms are dehumanizing and intentionally prejudiced. 

Whose place did he take? 

But Maroscher, of Marion, said that for him, he sees every person who enters illegally as gumming up the process for someone trying to do it the right way. 

"The number of immigrants allowed to enter the U.S. is, in part, determined by how many people enter this country — both legally and illegally," he said. "Meaning, the more people entering our country illegally, the fewer legal immigrants are allowed entry.

"Sadly, we will we never know the name of the person who had his place in line snatched by Mr. Hernandez. We will never know the hardships endured by the person who had his place in line taken by Mr. Hernandez, nor will we know about the dreams, aspirations and contributions to America of that unknown immigrant who Mr. Hernandez robbed. What made Mr. Hernandez more special?"

Hernandez said there is no line for people like him. If there was, he said, he'd be in it. Immigration advocates note that the line people refer to only exists for a narrow classification of people -- something that is regularly misunderstood -- and where it does exist, navigating the system is often a long, slow and vexing process. 

As budget talks continue in Washington, the possibility of a government shutdown still looms as the Jan. 19 deadline to pass a budget or another stopgap measure approaches. Among points of contention is that the Republicans are seeking funds for the construction of a border wall — the White House has asked for $18 billion — in exchange for an agreement with Democrats to pass protections for young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children with their parents. 

After previous failed attempts to move the Dream Act through Congress, Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program via presidential memorandum. In September, Trump announced he was ending the DACA program as of March 5, allowing time for Congress to work out a legislative solution, which is how it became the bargaining chip for Trump’s campaign promise to enhance border security. 

Only time will tell whether Trump achieves his campaign promise to build a "wall" — and on which side of it Hernandez ends up. 

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City manager says Carbondale followed procedure for branding plan; admits poor job on logo rollout
Provided by the city of Carbondale 

Carbondale's new logo, developed by North Star Destinations Strategies, was revealed at the 2017 State of the City address. 

CARBONDALE — Amid rumors and accusations that the city of Carbondale did not follow proper procedure when it requested services to start its recent rebranding, City Manager Gary Williams and Public Relations Officer Amy Fox said Wednesday that is not the case.

Williams said the city has formal contracting procedures when it spends more than $10,000, which is usually for public work projects like the downtown streetscape, sewer projects and sidewalk projects. There is a public notice published, invitation to bidders and the bids are opened in a public setting in front of those who submitted bids.

There are exemptions to the formal bidding process. In the case of hiring Northstar Destinations Inc., out of Nashville, Tennessee, to do the city's rebranding project, the city code says the formal bidding process is not required when the services required are for professional or artistic skills pursuant to a written contract.


Still, Williams said, it published a request for proposals for the rebranding effort on professional websites like the American Planning Assoication and LinkedIn.

“Consultants scan those sites every day,” Williams said. “The real issue is that the city is accused of not being transparent, but we are doing these things to be more transparent than we have to be. We could have went and hired anybody we wanted.”

Another issue raised in several social media circles is the idea the city spent $98,000 for the logo. The logo was released during Mayor Mike Henry's State of the City Address in December.

Fox said the logo was only about 5 percent of the work done by the consultant.

Provided by Amy Fox 


“It was very, very small. The bulk of it was spent on the research, which was $44,000,” she said. “The project was divided into two phases. The first phase was strictly research, analyzing that research, and the results of that research.

“The second part was the creative process, and we are still in the midst of that.”

Williams said one of the biggest goals with the research portion was for driving marketing, branding and tourism for a number of years.

“It has the raw data that we will use to operationalize later to drive marketing plans,” he said, referring to the 243-page report generated by Northstar.

The report is available at

“It was very extensive,” Fox said. “This process began in February and we didn’t get done generating this research until the end of July.”

Nathan Colombo

Former downtown advisory board member Nathan Colombo wants the city to acknowledge the negative reaction to the logo and take the steps to listen to residents.

“If they would simply acknowledge the people who do not like this and say we would like to better understand the real cross-section of the community who don’t like it,” Colombo said. “If you can spend thousands of dollars to survey the community before you make the logo, you can spend a little bit of time to survey the community after you’ve released to see what people actually think of it.”

He disagrees with the notion that several comments on a post on social media couldn't be indicative of a larger community.

“A small cross section of folks can be large enough to represent larger, broader public sentiment. When you stretch this across three comment sections or five comment sections and it's getting kicked up to a national television station to make light of,” Colombo said, “eventually, we need to evaluate if we made a mistake, because we were seeing feedback not just from a single core group but several sources.

“These posts would not have happened and the communication wouldn’t have gone out if there wasn’t a problem with this logo and tag line.”

Williams admitted the city made a mistake in the initial rollout of the logo, saying “it put the cart before the horse.”

“I think that if we had all the deliverables, the logo, and the strapline were seen in the context of a bigger marketing plan, it would make more sense,” he said. “The nature of marketing and rebranding, there is always going to be a percentage of the community that isn’t going to like it, and I think that is consistent with our findings with what has happened all over America.”

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but at least if they had all the facts of how the process went, I think that it speaks volumes,” Fox said.

Outside of the logo, the city will receive graphic designs for billboards, magazine ads, social media ads, business cards and economic development packets as part of its contract with Northstar.

The city plans to do another rollout of the logo once the consultant is completely done with all of the work. Fox said the graphics on the other deliverables are still in “draft mode.”

Colombo says he thinks something good will come out of this whole process.

“I think that this whole process — regardless of the logo and where we are now — is going to lead to positive change,” he said. “Because the logo had a negative reaction to it, people are going to be paying closer attention to it now.”

Richard Sitler, The Southern 

Carlos Hernandez holds and comforts his 2-year-old son, Maximus, at their home in Frankfort, Tuesday, April 9.

Provided by the city of Carbondale 

Carbondale's new logo, developed by North Star Destinations Strategies, was revealed at the 2017 State of the City address.