Thumbs up to the Anna-Jonesboro High School football team. On Saturday, the undefeated Wildcats will travel to Pleasant Plains for a Class 3A state semifinal game, with the winner earning a trip to DeKalb for the state championship game. Now, they say there’s no cheering from the press box, but we’ll have to excuse that rule for a week. It’d be great to have a team from Southern Illinois make it to a title game, something that hasn’t happened since Du Quoin lost the Class 3A title to Carthage Illini West in 2008. A Southern Illinois team hasn’t won a title since 2000, when Harrisburg beat Oregon, 41-13, to capture the Class 3A title. Let’s end that streak this weekend. Go Wildcats, keep up the winning ways and let’s bring a title back to the region.
Thumbs down to the passing of former Williamson County State’s Attorney Chuck Garnati, who died Tuesday at age 65. Southern Illinois lost a good one in Garnati. Garnati was elected state’s attorney in 1984 and held the seat through eight consecutive terms. “Chuck had a passion for what he was doing. He always wanted to be state's attorney. That was his goal in college to be state's attorney,” said longtime friend Jim Kirkpatrick in a story this week. His record as a prosecutor was impressive — he prosecuted 30 murder trials and secured convictions for first-degree murder in 29 of them, and the other ended in a conviction for manslaughter. But he was so much more. He was a passionate advocate for the community, especially abused and neglected children. He was founder of Garnati Golf Day, an annual tournament that raises money for Williamson County Child Advocacy Center and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Williamson County. The tournament provides $10,000 to $15,000 annually for each organization. “Garnati is a legend and his legacy will live on,” said Williamson County Commissioner Brent Gentry. We agree — Garnati will truly be missed.
Thumbs down to the closing of the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Du Quoin. The store, which has called Du Quoin home for about eight years and will close for good today, will be shuttered because of budget problems, according to Jack Wang, a spokesperson for the Salvation Army. He attributed the need to close the facility to “the rising cost of operating.” The store has always been a valuable asset for low-income communities, especially in Southern Illinois. “It always is because for so many small towns, the thrift store is how the citizens connect with the Salvation Army,” Wang said. The Salvation Army will still run local stores in their locations in West Frankfort, Marion and Harrisburg.
Thumbs up to Carbondale for selecting Parrish Park as its first home for a public dog park. The Park District Board of Commissioners was also considering Hickory Lodge, but went with Parrish Park after a meeting earlier this week. Kathy Renfro, executive director of the Carbondale Park District, said the board felt that Parrish was the better location because the project wouldn’t impact any residential properties at that site. “We’re excited. … We’re just so glad to have site selected so we can start moving forward with the project,” Renfro said. Jane Adams, president of Friends of Carbondale Dog Parks, said the park will be located in the field north of the LIFE Community Center, although the exact location has not yet been determined. This is a good thing for Carbondale.