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bhetzler / Byron Hetzler, The Southern 

A red-winged blackbird sings its song while clinging to a cattail stalk in Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday morning. More sunny skies with warmer temperatures are forecast Wednesday and Thursday before cooler, rainy weather returns on Friday.

Walmart donates wheelchairs to Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois

MARION — Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois received a donation of 25 wheelchairs from Walmart’s Southern Illinois Market, which includes 11 stores in Southern Illinois.

Bryan Questelle, chairman of Southern Illinois Honor Flight, thanked Walmart for the donation and the associates at the individual stores.

“We are very pleased to support honor flight. It’s a really worthy organization,” Jamie Tylka, Walmart Southern Illinois Market manager, said. “We look forward to a really good partnership in the future.”

Tylka said the area covered by Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois is almost identical to the Southern Illinois market.

“Walmart is very supportive of veterans, probably the most supportive organization out there for veterans,” Tylka said.

A member of her management team told Tylka about honor flight, and she took it to the store managers. They unanimously voted to support the organization.

Tylka added that she believes everyone got behind the idea because it is easy to feel great about supporting veterans.

“We didn’t want anything from Honor Flight. We just want to support them. They didn’t come to us; we came to them,” Tylka said.

At their first meeting with Honor Flight, the Walmart representatives learned that the organization had to borrow wheelchairs for veterans on the flight. They decided they could meet that need. The store sells wheelchairs in its pharmacies.

Walmart also offered ideas on fundraising and will provide volunteers. On Wednesday, the Marion store manager agreed to provide food for a meeting between guardians and veterans later this month.

“Walmart does big things big. There is nothing we cannot do when we put enough people behind it,” Tylka said.

Questelle said they first met with Walmart on March 9. "We told them we need lightweight wheelchairs for 60 to 70 veterans. Here we sit with 25 more chairs. Now, we’re up to 75,” Questelle said.

Retired Vice Adm. Nancy Brown, vice chairman of Honor Flight, explained to the Walmart managers why wheelchairs are so important, saying some veterans would not be able to go without them. Some veterans use chairs all the time, while other tire easily and need them at some point during the trip.

The next honor flight departing from Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois will be April 24. Sixty-nine veterans will be on the flight. This will be the group’s third flight.

The group is selling banners for the wheelchairs. They may honor a deceased or living veteran, and cost $100 each.

The group also is selling tickets to win a motorcycle, which will be given away April 24. Tickets are $10 each, and only 2,000 tickets will be sold. They are available at Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois.

For more information or to donate, visit

Pinckneyville Community Hospital now offers 3D mammography

PINCKNEYVILLE — Women in Southern Illinois have a new option for breast cancer screening, as Pinckneyville Community Hospital has announced it is offering 3D Mammography.

Breast tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, offers a comprehensive breast scan. The machine takes a series of low-dose X-rays as it moves over the breast. A computer puts the images together into a three-dimensional picture.

Pinckneyville Community Hospital is the only rural, acute care hospital within a 50-mile radius to provide 3D mammography, hospital CEO Randall W. Dauby said in a news release earlier this month.

Dr. Robin Bierman, a radiologist at Clinical Radiology who provides radiology services at the hospital, said the technology is a more accurate way to check breasts. The system offers 3D screening, diagnostic and biopsy capabilities in every phase of the examination.

“The technology of 3D Mammography allows for fewer callbacks than with the two-dimensional scans. This means patients won’t have to experience the stress of making another appointment and waiting longer for results. Before now, individuals would have to travel outside of the county for this technology,” said Jennifer Barbour, hospital spokesperson.

The cost of the equipment was paid with a memorial gift from the William K. Crawford Jr. Trust that the hospital received at the end of last year.

“William Crawford was the president and chairman of Murphy-Wall Bank & Trust," Barbour said.

She added that Crawford was a silent contributor to many projects in and around Pinckneyville during his lifetime. Crawford died April 24, 2017, at the age of 96.

Making an appointment for the new 3D mammography is easy — call 618-357-5909. Appointments are available Monday through Friday. When calling, individuals are asked to have their insurance cards and phone numbers for their insurance company available, allowing hospital staff to check with insurance regarding coverage.

Carbondale City Council discuss ideas for Bleyer Field, Walnut Baptist Church

CARBONDALE — The City Council discussed ideas on Tuesday surrounding city-owned property, the process in which it sells public property and the idea of bringing on an exclusive broker to list city property throughout the country.

The discussion started with Bleyer Field, which the city purchased in July 2016 from GELCO property management. The city purchased the 10.6 acre lot for $250,000. On Tuesday, the council discussed a concept for the property that included several single-family home sites. The idea was to seek input from council members for desired development so city staff could market the property, City Manager Gary Williams said.

The concern for additional housing was brought up by the council. Councilman Adam Loos said he would like to the surrounding neighborhood to weigh in on the process of what to do with the property.

“We are not asking for approval on this. This is just an idea,” Mayor Mike Henry said. “We are not going to develop this, some private developer (will).”

Williams said a developer could come in and purchase all of the lots, or half of the lots. A deal could be negotiated many ways.

“We were more focused on design and getting a feel for what everybody would like,” he said.

Councilwoman Jessica Bradshaw said she was concerned with the amount of homes for sale in the city already, adding that it doesn’t need any more rental property.

“I’d hate to see it get developed and then not sell,” she said.

Loos said it seems that the demand is not there at the moment.

“It’s good to get a plan together and have it on the shelf, but I would hate to see us put any kind of money into infrastructure until we are ready to roll on it,” he said. “Personally, I’d rather see that lower part (the track) be developed into a park.”

Walnut Street Baptist Church

The city purchased the Walnut Street Baptist Church, just behind City Hall, in January 2016 for $220,000. Since then, the city has been in contact with several groups expressing interest in the property, but Williams said Tuesday no entity has stepped forward with a feasible plan.

Councilman Tom Grant said there are several parts throughout the building that are valuable, which could be a way to offset the cost if the city decides to remove it.

Loos said he would be completely against knocking it down because it plays a role in the city, as a landmark in the city’s downtown. Simply turning the space into additional parking would be something he would oppose.

He said it could be used as an incubator, noting the city shouldn’t run it, but that is the type of use it could benefit from. He said many times new businesses need older buildings because they don’t have the capital for new construction right away.

Councilman Jeff Doherty said it would be best to sell the property as soon as the city could to get it back on the tax rolls and in the hands of a private developer.

Selling property

When the city approved the sale of the old Carbondale firehouse at 300 S. Oakland, there was an uproar from residents about the process the city uses to sell property. There were also talks about the city not being transparent enough about proposals in the city’s possessions, or if the city is publicizing whether or not a property is for sale.

Loos said it could be a good idea to hold a public meeting when the city has property it is attempting to sell, and see if the public has any good ideas about what to do with it.

“I would like to have an option for that, in addition to what we got,” he said. “For us to think about what can we do to go beyond what is required of the law, and really make the effort to make sure people know what we are doing.”

Doherty said the current code provides enough flexibility for the city to sell property. He said he agrees with Loos that there could be an accepted marketing approach of the properties available.

“Create more of an outreach to the public that these properties are available,” he said.

Doherty did say he is very comfortable with the current code and doesn’t want to see any changes in that. But, more information could be made available to the public.

Henry said signage on the property will help a lot, just so people know a property is for sale.

Hiring a broker

The final discussion from the council about selling property came in the form of hiring an exclusive real estate broker to list the city’s available properties on multiple listing services.

The city had a letter of interest from Mark Krones of Century 21 House of Reality.

During discussion, Councilman Navreet Kang said he didn’t think it was a good idea for the city to be involved in an exclusive contract with a broker, adding the city has an economic development office for that reason.

Henry said having a commercial broker is the way to get the city’s properties listed nationwide.

Councilwoman Carolin Harvey suggested listing the properties in a nationwide magazine and website where the city lists its open positions, like the police chief and city manager, when doing a national search.

She suggested doing the search for six months to a year and then switching gears if the group isn’t happy with the results.

This ended up being the consensus of the council as it decided to direct city staff to bring back legislation to list the properties for six months — with the option to reevaluate after that time frame.


Carbondale City Hall is shown in November 2017.