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FILE PHOTO. Ice Cube performs at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2017 in Austin, Texas. He performed at SIU Arena this past Saturday.

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SIU acknowledges small crowd at Ice Cube concert, saying the show was an investment for the future

CARBONDALE — For those in attendance at SIU Arena Saturday, it was a good day, as rap icon Ice Cube took the stage. Those same people leaned back with Fat Joe and were warmed up by the DJ skills of Kid Capri.

Lori Stettler, vice chancellor for student affairs at SIU Carbondale, said the nearly 2,000 people at the concert were treated to a great performance.

“It was great to see the arena rocking and seeing people engaged with the artist,” she said. “I truly believe the concert sets the tone for get us back in the game.”

Stettler said event organizers knew it wasn’t going to be easy getting back in the concert game with all the competition across the region. She said the numbers weren’t where the university would have liked them to be, but the artists did not disappoint.

“He (Ice Cube) played as if that place was packed to the gills,” she said.

Ashley Wright, director of special events ticketing at SIU, said the university’s first blockbuster show in several years wasn’t expected to be a sellout, but more shows will be coming to SIU Arena.

“It is an investment and we are building on that,” she said. “We are committed to continuing that.”

Wright said Ice Cube’s team complimented SIU officials on their hospitality and professionalism during his short stay in Carbondale. She said the artists’ team even emailed the university after returning home to confirm their satisfaction.

Ice Cube himself seemed not to be bothered by the small crowd. He showed his satisfaction with the region earlier in the day by tweeting about SIU legend Dick Gregory. Then, while on stage, he acknowledged the small crowd size by telling the audience that everybody who didn’t show up missed out on a great show.

Wright said Ice Cube posed with fans and stayed very engaged in the audience throughout the night.

“He was as good as we could have ever hoped,” she said.

Stettler said the artist fee to bring Ice Cube to SIU Arena was $150,000. However, this does not reflect the revenue generated from ticket sales, sponsorships, concessions, and beer sales. She said in order to bring quality entertainment to Southern Illinois, SIU needed to make a significant financial investment. The university was also listening to many years of requests from students and communities for such entertainment. 

For comparison's sake, Wright said there were early talks about trying to book Chance the Rapper, however, he has been refusing offers of $500,000 and SIU can’t compete with that type of offer.

“We have to start somewhere and build,” she said.

Stettler said the university went with a performer like Ice Cube because he resonates across generations. He started his career as a rapper in the 1980s, started acting in the ‘90s, and has been active in both medias ever since. She said the thought by the university was that the act would do well with the community and the students.

Stettler said the university is working with other artists already for the school’s next show. She said the next shows will most likely be in the country or classic rock genre. She said an announcement could be made in as soon as four to six weeks.

“We think our next shows will be more successful at putting people in seats,” she said. “We want to continue to build on the energy and excitement that the Ice Cube concert brought to the community and to the region.”

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Brendan Kelly
Congressional candidate Brendan Kelly hosts town hall on marijuana

CARBONDALE — Democratic congressional candidate Brendan Kelly sat down with with 12th District voters Monday evening to discuss the future of marijuana policy in the United States.

Seated in a circle in Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Morris Library Rotunda, about 30 people shared their thoughts on legalization with the St. Clair County state’s attorney, who hopes to unseat incumbent Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, in November.

Kelly said his job as a prosecutor has required him to make decisions based upon the evidence, and that research shows that legalizing marijuana for medical purposes would be beneficial — particularly for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Throughout the hour-long discussion, Kelly made it clear that he isn’t sold on the idea of recreational marijuana, but believes the drug should be removed from the Schedule 1 list. Everyone present was in favor of some form of legalization.

Kyle Baker asked how Kelly would sell other lawmakers on the value of legalizing cannabis if he is elected.

Kelly said the issue seems to transcend party lines.

“I got some Democrats who are against it. I know some Republicans who are for it. That’s Southern Illinois. It’s not so simple. There’s a lot of crossover,” Kelly said.

Kelly said that in a time when even former House Speaker John Boehner is in favor of legalization, there is “a tremendous opportunity to develop a consensus no matter what side of the aisle you’re on.”

He said the policy must be implemented appropriately and that marijuana should not be available to kids. Later, one attendee pointed out that marijuana can be effective for treating children with epilepsy, and Kelly conceded the point.

Olivia Hajnos said she suffers from Arnold–Chiari malformation Type I, a brain condition that causes the cerebellum to descend through the base of the skull and crush the spine. The defect has led to a host of problems for her, including chronic pain. She has started using medical marijuana, but she said she feels like a criminal every time she goes to the dispensary. 

“I can’t talk about it openly as much as I’d like to, because of stigma and all that stuff. And I don’t want to be, I guess, guilty that I’m getting my medicine,” Hajnos said.

She said she has completely stopped taking opioids and that using medical marijuana has been “a miracle.”

“A huge number of overdoses, from heroin, fentanyl, it all starts with prescription opioids,” Kelly said. “ … When they (big pharmaceutical companies) are pushing back so strongly on further research into cannabis, that to me is a tell — that they know the benefits of this change in public policy. And you, to me, are the living example.”

After the forum, Kelly told the newspaper that he hosted the event because he believes people who are running for office should be available to talk with their future constituents, whether they agree or disagree. (In the past two years, Bost has been widely criticized for his unwillingness to host in-person town halls.)

“As an elected official, or someone who is aspiring to be an elected official, you should be able to look people in the eye and have a conversation with them, hear what they have to say … and express the way you may feel about an issue and also be willing to listen and inform your views about a particular issue,” Kelly said.

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Poshard Foundation
Poshard Foundation hands out 30 grants totaling $100,000 for abused and neglected children

CARTERVILLE — The Poshard Foundation on Monday handed out more than 30 grants totaling about $100,000 to Southern Illinois agencies serving abused and neglected children.

The grants were given to Southern Illinois agencies to be used for services directly helping abused, abandoned, and neglected children in the Southern Illinois region.

Those organizations are: Baptist Children’s Home, Carmi; Boys & Girls Club of Carbondale; Cairo Women’s Shelter; Caritas Family Solutions, Carterville; Caritas Family Solutions, Mt. Vernon; CASA of Franklin County; CASA of Jefferson County; CASA of Saline County; CASA of Williamson County; Centerstone; Children’s Home and Aid, Herrin; Children’s Medical and Mental Health Resource Network, Anna; Department of Child and Family Services, Southern Region; Family Counseling Center, Golconda; Franklin-Williamson County Child Advocacy Center; Healthy Families Illinois – Shawnee Health, Carterville; Hoyleton Ministries, Hoyleton; Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, Marion; Lutheran Social Services of Illinois Prison & Family Services, Marion; Mentors4Kids, Harrisburg; Perry-Jackson Child Advocacy Center, Pinckneyville; Pregnancy Matters, Carbondale; Southern Illinois Coalition for the Homeless; Spero Family Services, Mt. Vernon; The Amy Center, Mt. Vernon; The Guardian Center, Carmi; The Night’s Shield Children’s Crisis Shelter, West Frankfort; The Women’s Center, Carbondale; Two Rivers Child Advocacy Center, Anna; and Williamson County Family Crisis Center, Herrin.

“The theme for April 2018 Child Abuse Month is ‘Everyone has a role to play.’ Child abuse is above the state average in 20 of our Southern Illinois counties,” Jo Poshard, a co-founder of the foundation, said. “We need to build awareness in our communities and recognize that getting involved can change a child’s life forever.”

According to the Poshard Foundation, its co-founders Glenn and Jo Poshard believe child deserves a safe person, a safe place and a safe community. The children who are abused, neglected, and abandoned are those the foundation seeks to help.

bhetzler / Byron Hetzler, The Southern 

Glenn (right) and Jo Poshard of The Poshard Foundation speak prior to the distribution of $100,000 in grants to 30 Southern Illinois agencies serving abused and neglected children as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month on Monday at John A. Logan Colllege in Carterville.

For more information about the foundation or the grants, call the foundation at 618-985-2828 ext. 8564 or email

bhetzler / Byron Hetzler, The Southern 

Pinckneyville's Mariah Clark connects for a two-run home run in the fifth inning against Steeleville on Monday in Pinckneyville. Pinckneyville went on to win 5-0.

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SIUC notifies unions it could lay off as many as 44 housing employees

CARBONDALE — Southern Illinois University Carbondale has notified two unions that the university could lay off as many as 44 housing employees due to the closure of facilities on the east side of campus.

Rae Goldsmith, SIUC’s chief marketing and communications officer, said the layoffs would affect four civil service employees represented by the Association of Civil Service Employees and 40 workers represented by AFSCME Local 878.

The university announced in March that it would shutter east-campus buildings — including two 17-story dormitories, Mae Smith Hall and Neely Hall — to consolidate housing on the west side of campus.

Goldsmith said the layoffs will likely amount to fewer than 44 people because the university will try to move workers into other positions.

“We will do everything we can to lower this number by placing employees in other positions whenever possible, and we will ensure that affected employees have access to employment counseling and other resources,” she said.

Anthony Travelstead, president of the Civil Service Council, said he expects many individuals will be placed into new positions, but he is concerned about food service workers, as the university will be going from two dining halls to one.

“These folks all have family, husbands, wives and children, people they take care of, so it’s a big concern,” Travelstead said.

Affected employees have not yet received notice, but letters went out to the two unions late last week, Goldsmith said.

Bret Seferian, a Uniserv director with the IEA-NEA who works with several of SIUC’s unions, said the university is required to give advance notice if there might be layoffs in the future, but it doesn’t always follow through with the cuts.

“This might be like the third or fourth year that somewhere we’ve gotten some kind of heads-up that there might be layoffs, but there haven’t always been layoffs,” Seferian said.

The layoffs would be effective June 30.

bhetzler / The Southern File Photo 

Students make their way to and from Schneider and Mae Smith halls on the SIU campus in 2016.

White House delays tariffs on EU, Canada and Mexico

WASHINGTON — The White House said Monday it would postpone a decision on imposing tariffs on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico for 30 days, avoiding the potential for a trade battle with Europe as the U.S. prepares for tense trade talks in China this week.

The Trump administration said it had reached an agreement with South Korea on steel imports following discussions on a revised trade agreement, the outlines of which were previously announced by U.S. and South Korean officials. And the administration said it had also reached agreements in principle with Argentina, Australia and Brazil on steel and aluminum that will be finalized shortly.

Announcing the trade actions, the White House said "in all of these negotiations, the administration is focused on quotas that will restrain imports, prevent transshipment and protect the national security."

Facing a self-imposed deadline, President Donald Trump was considering whether to permanently exempt the EU and Mexico, Canada, Australia, Argentina and Brazil from tariffs that his administration imposed last month on imported steel and aluminum. The White House provided temporary exemptions in March and had until the end of Monday to decide whether to extend them.

The EU has said if it loses its exemption it will retaliate with its own tariffs on U.S. goods imported to Europe.

The confrontation stems from the president's decision in March to slap tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum. Trump justified the action by saying it was needed to protect American metal producers from unfair competition and bolster national security. But the announcement, which followed an intense internal White House debate, triggered harsh criticism from Democrats and some Republicans and roiled financial markets.

At the time, Trump excluded several vital trading partners — the European Union, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Argentina and Brazil — from the tariffs.

That meant the steel tariff covered just 30 percent of all imports, according to Oxford Economics. If all the exemptions were ended, it would have deepened the impact of the tariffs on American companies that use steel and potentially affect financial markets. Stock prices fell nearly 2 percent when the tariffs were announced.

Two people familiar with the process said the Trump administration had been considering whether to provide a short-term extension of the exemptions to allow for more time to review the countries' efforts to secure permanent exemptions.

One of the officials said the U.S. trade representative has been overseeing the process for all of the countries except for the European Union, whose tariffs are being evaluated by the Commerce Department.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations.

The EU and others had been asked to spell out what limits they could accept on the amount of steel they export to the United States, how they would address the issue of excess production of steel and aluminum and how they would support the U.S. before international bodies like the World Trade Organization. Security relationships with the U.S. have also been part of the criteria.

South Korea agreed to limit its exports to the United States as part of broader discussions involved in updating its bilateral trade agreement with the U.S. and was granted a permanent exemption.

China, Japan and Russia haven't received exemptions from the duties. That will likely reduce steel shipments from those countries over time. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said late Friday that quotas on imports from Europe and other countries are necessary so imports from those countries don't simply replace Chinese imports. The goal of the tariffs is to reduce total steel imports and boost U.S. production, Ross said.

"If you let everybody back out of the tariff, and you let them out of any kind of quota, how would you ever reduce the imports here?" Ross asked at a conference of business journalists. 

Germany, the EU's largest steel exporter to the U.S., accounted for about 5 percent of U.S. steel imports last year. South Korea made up the largest share, shipping about 13 percent of U.S. imports, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute analysis of government data.

The EU has compiled a list of retaliatory tariffs worth about $3.5 billion it will impose if its steel and aluminum isn't exempted.

In a separate trade battle with China, the United States has threatened to impose tariffs on $150 billion of Chinese goods in retaliation for what it argues are Beijing's unfair trade practices and its requirement that U.S. companies turn over technology in exchange for access to its market. The White House also wants China to agree to reduce its $375 billion goods trade surplus with the U.S.

China has said it would subject $50 billion of U.S. goods to tariffs if the U.S. taxes its products. Trump has announced that an administration delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and trade adviser Peter Navarro will visit Beijing for negotiations on Thursday and Friday this week.