Thumbs down to more layoffs in the region, this time in the Perry County Sheriff’s department. On Tuesday, Perry County Sheriff Steve Bareis announced Tuesday that his office has had to lay off several employees and will be looking to further restructure the department in the future as a result of budget cuts. The county in August began its regular budgeting process, and County Clerk Josh Gross said county officials realized they were at a shortfall of about $550,000. He attributed this in part to a rising cost of services and salaries as well as insurance costs. “A number of people awaiting trial that cannot make bond are incarcerated and they automatically have their Medicaid cards revoked and the Sheriff’s (Office), (and) thus the county taxpayers are on the hook for poor decisions from Springfield and Washington, D.C.,” Bareis said in a news release this week. It’s bad enough that people in our region are getting laid off at an alarming rate, but losing police officers makes it worse. You can’t just go without police officers.
Thumbs up to the West Frankfort City Council voting to approve a resolution to support Crosswalk’s community development block grant application. And, also, a bonus thumbs up to the Crosswalk Community Action Agency for giving the options to folks out there to make quality of life upgrades to their homes. “We are right on track,” said Jake Wach, Crosswalk's housing specialist for the Housing Rehabilitation Program, of his progress in applying for $450,000 to help renovate at least 10 homes in West Frankfort, Orient and Zeigler. That sounds good to us.
Thumbs down to the chronic pollution that is happening at Pyles Fork Creek in Carbondale. In 2017, volunteers hauled 900 pounds of trash out of the stream — previous years saw as much as a ton of trash. That’s too much, and, quite frankly, uncalled for. Keep Carbondale Beautiful and Green Earth Inc. hosted the most recent cleanup in September, and already, islands of detritus have accumulated in the waterway. Carbondale’s stormwater is not treated, but drains directly into creeks. About a third of the city’s drainage system dumps into Little Crab Orchard Creek, and the other two-thirds bleeds into Pyles Fork. Again, too much. “A couple of years ago, before I had this job, I saw a great blue heron flying in that creek, and I thought, whoa, this is a nice creek. There are fish in there sometimes, enough for a great blue heron. So it made me feel like something should be done,” said Sarah Heyer, executive director of Keep Carbondale Beautiful. Kudos to the groups for trying to keep the waterway clean, but that much pollution is enough.
Thumbs up to Hopewell Baptist Church in Carbondale and its annual Christmas Community Concert, for which proceeds will go toward relief for those impacted by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The events is at 4 p.m. Sunday at the church. Performers include State Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie and her daughter, Lilly; Mark Anderson, pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church in Murphysboro; the Hopewell Restored Worship Dance Ministry; Phillippa McCutchen, of Zion Temple Church of God In Christ in Murphysboro; and Matthew Wilson, local gospel singer. It sounds like a great event with proceeds going to an even better cause, and it could really kick off the holiday in season in Southern Illinois.