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Christopher Kays, For The Southern 

Josh Patula of Marion attempts to clear the bar in the high jump at the Marion Relays at Harry S. Crisp Sports Complex on Friday, in Marion.

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Carbondale | Special Olympics Spring Games
At Southern Illinois Special Olympics Spring Games, friendship is more important than winning

CARBONDALE — Austin Jones and John Henley are good friends and co-workers, but one thing will make them competitors — the shot put contest at Special Olympics.

So, they were indeed competitors Friday afternoon at the Region K Special Olympics Spring Games at Lew Hartzog Track and Field Complex at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

“We’ve probably been friends for 30 years,” Henley said.

John seemed a little worried that he would be up against his friend, Austin. He likes to help Austin celebrate his successes. He also likes to win gold medals.

Austin Jones (left) and John Henley who are friends and competitors are pictured after the medal ceremony for shot put at Region K Special Olympics Spring Games Friday at SIUC.  

That’s the thing about the athletes of Special Olympics — they like to win almost as much as they like to see their friends win. They are there to compete at their personal best and have a good time while doing it. Winning is extra.

Before the competition, Austin, John and other athletes went over the process for shot put. During competition, they clapped for each athlete’s throw.

In most competitions, there can only be one winner, but this is Special Olympics. Gold medals were awarded in seven divisions.

In M4 division of shot put, John Henley took home the gold medal. Austin received a silver. They congratulated each other and posed for a picture. Austin took off for his next event, and John headed to get lunch, then to cheer on his teammates on the Lightning Bolts.

Austin Jones competes in shot put at the Region K Special Olympics Spring Games Friday afternoon at Lew Hartzog Track and Field Complex at SIU.  

Other gold medal winners in shot put were J.C. Noble (M1), Austin Sweitzer (M2), Connor Craig (M3), Jereth Ennis (M5) and Johnnie Taylor (M6).

Shane Bennett, assistant director of Special Olympics Region K, said more than 550 athletes were expected to compete during the day. Athletes come from as far as Chester and the western border of Illinois to east of Marion and from Benton south to Cairo.

“Winners from today have the opportunity to move on to the Summer Games at Illinois State University,” Bennett said.

Athletes competed in a variety of track and field type of events, including events focused on running, throwing and jumping.

Marty Allega (left) of Centerstone's Special Olympics team, receives his second place medal for 15 meter run from Trooper Tim Baker of Illinois State Police District 22 during the Region K Special Olympics Spring Games Friday at Lew Hartzog Track and Field Complex at SIUC.  

Cody Williams of Community Integrated Living in Anna took home a gold medal in the 15-meter dash.

“I tried to be a little slower, but it didn’t work,” he joked just after receiving his medal.

Deran Johnson of START did not seem to mind how fast Williams ran. Johnson finished just behind him in second place. Trooper Tim Baker of Illinois State Police District 22 placed the silver medal around Johnson’s neck, and Johnson did a little dance to celebrate.

Cody Williams shakes hands with Trooper Tim Baker of Illinois State Police District 22 after winning a gold medal at Region K Special Olympics Spring Games Friday at SIUC. 

The athletes bring coaches, chaperones and family to cheer them on.

Proud grandpa Milton McDaniel was cheering on granddaughter Sheridan Coleman and her teammates.

“This is a good day,” McDaniel said.

Rich Henley of Marion is coach of the Lightning Bolts and John Henley’s dad.

“They are doing wonderful just to be here,” Rich Henley said.

Lightning Bolts athletes train for their competition, but their coaches also train. Henley explained coaches for Special Olympics have to be trained, and Millikin University hosts a large training each year that he and his wife, Jane, attend.

“No matter how good you think you are, there is always more you can learn and pass on to your athletes,” Rich Henley said.

Special Olympics turns 50 this year. Did you know it has roots in Southern Illinois?

CARBONDALE — Eunice Kennedy Shriver is often credited for founding Special Olympics and the first games on Soldier Field on July 20, 1968, but she did not work alone. She enlisted the help of one Southern Illinois resident who was experienced in working with the intellectually disabled in the field of recreation, the late Dr. William H. Freeberg.

He added that once you are a coach, you cannot quit, joking that this was like the Mafia. Henley was serious, too.

“You cannot turn your back on these kids and walk away,” Rich Henley said.

For more information on Special Olympics Illinois, visit

N. Korea glorifies summit with South; analysts less sure

GOYANG, South Korea — North Korea's state media today trumpeted leader Kim Jong Un's "immortal achievement" a day after he met South Korean President Moon Jae-in and repeated past vows to remove nuclear weapons from the peninsula and work toward a formal end to the Korean War. Despite the bold declarations, the leaders failed to provide any new measures on a nuclear standoff that has captivated and terrified millions, and analysts expressed doubts on whether the summit represented a real breakthrough.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency, in typically fawning language, reported that the leaders exchanged "honest and heartfelt talks" at a summit that "was a realization of the supreme leader's blazing love for the nation and unyielding will for self-reliance." The state propaganda arm said Kim's "immortal achievement will be brightly engraved in the history of the Korean nation's unification."

Even if the substance on nuclear matters was light, the images Friday at Panmunjom were striking: Kim and Moon set aside a year that saw them seemingly on the verge of war, grasped hands and strode together across the cracked concrete slab that marks the Koreas' border.

The sight, inconceivable just months ago, allowed the leaders to step forward toward the possibility of a cooperative future even as they acknowledged a fraught past and the widespread skepticism that, after decades of failed diplomacy, things will be any different this time.

On the nuclear issue, the leaders merely repeated a previous vow to rid their peninsula of nuclear weapons, saying they will achieve a "nuclear-free Korean Peninsula through complete denuclearization." This kicks one of the world's most pressing issues down the road to a much-anticipated summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in coming weeks.

"There is no reference to verification, timetables, or an attempt to define the word 'complete.' It does not reiterate or advance Pyongyang's unilateral offer to halt nuclear and ICBM tests," said Adam Mount, a senior defense analyst at the Federation of American Scientists. "In practice, this statement should enable a U.S.-North Korea summit to detail specifics about what, when, and how denuclearization would occur, but it has not offered a head start on that process. All of the negotiation is left to a U.S. team that is understaffed and has little time to prepare."

On Friday, Trump claimed credit for the inter-Korean summit, but now faces a burden in helping turn the Korean leaders' bold but vague vision for peace into reality after more than six decades of hostility.

Trump must contend with two nagging suspicions: first about his own suitability to conduct that kind of war-and-peace negotiation and succeed where his predecessors have failed; secondly, whether Kim really is willing to give up the nuclear weapons his nation took decades acquiring.

"It is still unclear whether North Korea still believes that it can have its cake and eat it too," said Victor Cha, who until January had been in the running to become Trump's choice for ambassador to South Korea. Cha said that while the atmospherics of the inter-Korean summit got an "A'' grade, the meeting had failed to clarify whether Kim is willing to give up his nukes or is interested in just freezing his programs in return for sanctions relief and economic and energy assistance.

At a White House news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump basked in the afterglow of the feel-good meeting between Kim and Moon, and said he has a responsibility to try to achieve peace and denuclearization.

"And if I can't do it, it'll be a very tough time for a lot of countries, and a lot of people. It's certainly something that I hope I can do for the world," he said.

The summit produced the spectacle of two men from Korean nations with a deep and bitter history of acrimony grinning from ear to ear after Kim walked over the border to greet Moon, becoming the first leader of his nation to set foot on southern soil since the Korean War. Both leaders then briefly stepped together into the North and back to the South.

The summit marks a surreal, whiplash swing in relations for the countries, from nuclear threats and missile tests to intimations of peace and cooperation. Perhaps the change is best illustrated by geography: Kim and Moon's historic handshake and a later 30-minute conversation at a footbridge on the border occurred within walking distance of the spot where a North Korean soldier fled south in a hail of gunfire last year, and where North Korean soldiers killed two U.S. soldiers with axes in 1976.

Standing next to Moon after the talks ended, Kim faced a wall of cameras beaming his image live to the world and declared that the Koreas are "linked by blood as a family and compatriots who cannot live separately."

The latest declaration between the Koreas, Kim said, should not repeat the "unfortunate history of past inter-Korean agreements that only reached the starting line" before becoming derailed.

Trump tweeted Friday, "KOREAN WAR TO END!" and said the U.S. "should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!" Both Koreas agreed to jointly push for talks this year with the U.S. and also potentially China to officially end the Korean War, which stopped with an armistice that never ended the war.

breaking featured
The movie theater in the Carbondale mall is closing

CARBONDALE — After May 10, there will be only one movie theater in Carbondale.

AMC CLASSIC Carbondale 8, inside University Mall, will have its last day of operation on Thursday, May 10, AMC Spokeswoman Kimberly Sanden said on Friday.

She confirmed the closure, but said there was no additional information at this time.

In April 2016, AMC announced it would be renovating University Place 8, across the street from Classic Carbondale. The renovations included the addition of hundreds of luxury, red-leather recliners in each theater and a bar called MacGuffins.

AMC obtained a Class K liquor license created by the city of Carbondale for the renovations. The license allows for customers of the theater — age 21 and up — to purchase alcohol before or during movies at a bar in the theater’s lobby.

At the time, AMC said it had no plans for renovation at the mall location.

The newspaper has reached out to another AMC spokesperson and University Mall for comment but had not received a response by press time.

Illinois House passes amendment to law that adds consent to sexual education; bill heads to Senate

Phelps Finnie

CARBONDALE — A tweak to a sexual education law was passed in the Illinois House of Representatives Tuesday and now is officially in the Illinois Senate.

The amendment, co-sponsored by Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie, D-Elizabethtown, adds that all classes that teach sex education and discuss sexual intercourse in grades 6 through 12 shall have an emphasis on the workplace environment and life on a college campus.

Additionally, there must also be a discussion on what constitutes sexual consent and what may be considered sexual harassment or sexual assault.

The bill received 101 yes votes and 2 no votes in the House. All Southern Illinois representatives voted in favor. The two no votes came from Rep. Jerry Lee Long, R-Streator, in the 76th District, and Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, in the 71st District.

“This may well may not be necessary for most entities, but from what we learned, there are still some that don’t really define sexual harassment very well or don’t take it seriously,” Phelps Finnie said. “We need to make sure this is on everybody’s radar and that it is a priority.”

Already included in the law is that course material shall teach honor and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage and it shall place “substantial” emphasis on both abstinence, including abstinence until marriage, and contraception for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among youth.

The law says the course must have a discussion of the possible emotional and psychological consequences of pre-adolescent and adolescent sexual intercourse, and the consequences of unwanted adolescent pregnancy. Classes must also stress that sexually transmitted diseases can be contracted from sexual intercourse, and cover statistics of such diseases.

The current law says it must be taught to pupils to not make unwanted physical and verbal sexual advances, and how to say no to such advances. Pupils must also be taught that it is wrong to take advantage of or to exploit another person.

Phelps Finnie