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Thumbs up to the 33rd edition of the Fishing Expedition for Special Populations, which took place Wednesday at Bleyer Lake in Carbondale. Elizabeth Berumen, marketing director for The Bank of Carbondale, said 42 agencies and schools checked in at the event, with more than 700 participants and 300 staff members. About 200 volunteers, plus additional volunteers for parking, the fishing equipment area and kitchen, brought the number of people at this year’s fishing expedition to between 1,200 and 1,250. Keep up the good work, it’s always such a great event.

Thumbs down to an attempted abduction this week in Carbondale. At about 8 a.m. Wednesday, police officers responded to The Fields Apartments, where a teenaged girl was grabbed by a white male, possibly in his mid-40s, with blond hair and green eyes. Police also said he had a blond beard, spoke with a southern accent, and was last seen wearing a long-sleeved black shirt, blue jeans and Timberland boots. That’s scary stuff for anybody, let alone a teenager.

Thumbs up to Josh Shearer for getting a grant to start a new art program in the Century School District. Shearer, an art teacher in Anna and a Century alum, has been working on this for some time, and finally got word that the district was getting $9,325 to put together their plan. The grant is through the Arts and Foreign Language Education Grant Program from the Illinois Arts Council Agency and the Illinois State Board of Education. Getting arts into our schools is important, and is good to see it coming back at Century.

Thumbs up to Carmi-White County High School science teacher Adam Cross, who is a recipient of one of the 2018 Outstanding Beginning Teacher Awards. Cross was nominated by Southern Illinois University Carbondale for the award, which is presented by the Illinois Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Cross is a 2017 graduate of SIUC. Nancy Mundschenk, director of teacher education and licensure officer at SIUC, said in an email that Cross was chosen for the honor because of his commitment to building relationships with students.

Thumbs up to State Sen. Dale Fowler and his continuing efforts to bring a port to Cairo. Hopes for a port in Cairo got a big boost through a $100,000 donation from the Rauner Foundation and Fowler said he has 18 letters of support from businesses who would be interested in using the facility. Standing in the way of real progress is a $1 million price tag that would cover the necessary permitting and design costs. Regardless, it’s good to see Fowler keep going with this project. Cairo needs any help it can get, and hopefully Fowler can help provide it.

Thumbs up to Grant Williams, the new women’s soccer coach at SIU. Williams was named head coach Monday for the new program, which will compete in 2019 as an independent and play in the Missouri Valley Conference beginning in 2020. "Everywhere he's coached, he has been a part of successful programs, and I think we know about Evansville soccer. He's well-known throughout the Midwest as a great recruiter, and I always say, you're only as good as your players, and he's certainly known for that,” said acting director of athletics Jerry Kill. It’s exciting to see a new sports program at SIU, especially since soccer is so popular right now.

Thumbs up to all the students — college, high school, middle school — graduating this weekend and in the coming weeks. It’s an exciting time for all everyone, but it can be scary, too. But, take it from us: Don’t sweat it. Have fun, and enjoy your time in the sun. And good luck to all of our graduates in their next endeavors.

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