Thumbs up to the friends and neighbors of Ben Arbeiter of Murphysboro. Arbeiter lost his life in an accident in August. Earlier this week, nearly two dozen friends and family harvested Arbeiter’s soybean crops and transported them to market. The kindness and generosity exhibited by Arbeiter’s friends are a testimony to a life well-lived. The selflessness displayed by his neighbors, who are also harvesting their crops, is a lesson in humanity that is sorely needed at this time. Reading this story, a story of the inherent goodness of people, rejuvenates the human spirit and reminds us of the good all around us. "This isn't about us," said Alinda Heron, Arbeiter’s sister. "It's about the community, the farmers that came together."

Thumbs down to the Franklin County men charged with cruelty to animals this week. The men were charged with stealing several piglets, then torturing and killing the defenseless animals. In today’s world, one almost expects man’s inhumanity to man, but the wanton torture of innocent animals … there are no words.

Thumbs up to the City of Carbondale for not taking no for an answer. The City Council agreed to resubmit a Transportation Investment Generating Economy Recovery (TIGER) grant application. The grant would be used to expand Carbondale’s Amtrak facility. It would also include a two-story parking garage and retail space, including a café. “Folks need transportation along the Route 13 corridor, especially people who don’t have a car of their own, and they need affordable transportation to be able to broaden their job prospects,” said Carbondale mayor Mike Henry.

Thumbs up to the generosity of Saluki football fans who donated to SIU’s Black Out Cancer game. This was the sixth year of the promotion, the brainchild of former SIU All-American Mike McElroy. The 2017 Black Out Cancer promotion raised more than $28.000 for cancer research.

Thumbs down to the recently released report on the condition of the McBride and Elmwood housing projects in Cairo. Just when it seems this story can’t get any more exasperating, more information comes to light. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Real Estate Assessment Center conducted an inspection in September. The recently released report outlined 1,376 deficiencies. Let that number sink in for a moment — 1,376. The report indicated problems with mold, infestation, lead paint and structural issues. It’s mind boggling that conditions were allowed to deteriorate to this point. HUD’s most recent report also cites inadequate cooling and heating systems, the latter of which causes many residents to heat their homes with their ovens, a highly dangerous practice that could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Thumbs up to another successful Southern Illinois Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Days. This was the 30th year the event was held at John A. Logan College in Carterville. Unseasonably hot weather limited the crowds, but once again parents and their children enjoyed a couple afternoons of fishing, wildlife shows, archery and BB gun ranges, calling contests and dock dogs. The event will welcome its one-millionth visitor next year.

Thumbs up to Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois for receiving a $1,287,462 grant to replace aging lighting systems at the airport. The airport recently opened its new terminal. The grant monies will be used to replace a 30-year-old system of taxi-way lights and airfield sign systems. Normally those systems have a 20-year lifespan. “We have a nice new terminal, and now we need nice new lights on the airfield. It isn’t as flashy, but is required for safety of pilots,” said airport director Doug Kimmel. The grant will fund 95 percent of the project. The project is scheduled for completion next summer.

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