Thumbs up to the City of Marion and the Southern Illinois Miners for landing the PONY Baseball Colt League World Series. The games will be played in 2018 and 2019 at Rent One Park in Marion. “Marion being the hub of the universe, it’s a logical place for the Colt World Series to be played,” Marion Mayor Bob Butler said Monday at the news conference announcing the event. For 47 years, the Colt League World Series has been played in Lafayette, Indiana, and Steve Miller, vice president of PONY North Zone, said the economic impact of the tournament to the area was more than $1 million. Attendance is expected to be between 10,000 and 13,000. That sounds good to us; it’s always good to have that kind of impact here. It’s also good to see an international sporting event come to the region as well. I think we’re all looking forward to seeing how fun the tournament can be.
Thumbs down to State Sen. Ira Silverstein, who was accused this week by a crime-victims advocate of sexually harassing her last year as they were working together on legislation. Denise Rotheimer, who's running for a House seat in 2018, told the Personnel and Pensions Committee that the Chicago Democrat, who is also the Senate's Majority Caucus Chair, sent her unwanted social media messages, called her late at night, described her as "intoxicating" and told her, "I like having meetings with you, because you're pretty to look at." It led to such emotional distress, she said, that she considered admitting herself to a hospital. Silverstein’s comments about it were just as troubling. "There were no mind games, no power struggle. I was working the bill. That was my job, to work the bill. She might not like how bill was proceeding. Maybe that's the issue here. I apologize if I made her uncomfortable," he said in an Associated Press story this week. Working the bill? Really? Hopefully, that’s not commonplace in Springfield.
Thumbs up to Southern Illinois University Carbondale Chancellor Carlo Montemagno deferring the decision on the Africana Studies major for a year. The planned removal of the Africana Studies B.A. has been hotly disputed by students and faculty members since it was recommended in the Financial Sustainability Plan presented to the SIU Board of Trustees in July. The chancellor said in an email to Africa Studies faculty last week that he “believes it is important to look at the program itself alongside our broader goals for ensuring the cultural competency of every student who graduates from SIU.” Father Joseph Brown, an Africana Studies professor who has served in the department since 1997, said the announcement didn’t do much for him. “What it says is, we’re not going to close it down now because there’s so much controversy,” Brown said in a story last week. Here’s hoping SIUC can find a way to keep the important major.
Thumbs up to SIUC for receiving grants for three of its agriculture-related projects. In all, 10 projects in the state were awarded a total $550,000 from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, through the most recent federal Specialty Crop Grant Program. The grants will go to programs that will study such issues as the best produce washing and handling techniques for farmers and look to give the poor greater access to fresh produce. Illinois Agriculture Director Raymond Poe says it is important to support the state's specialty crop industry — which includes fruits, vegetables, nursery crops, tree nuts, horticulture and dried fruits.