Thumbs down once again to the State of Illinois for its ham-handed method of handling finances. Just weeks after passing a two-year overdue budget, the state has taken dead aim and shot itself in the other foot. The General Assembly passed a bill equalizing school funding, but allowed the bill to languish for several weeks before presenting it to Gov. Bruce Rauner. Rauner, who had seemingly taken every possible position on the bill, used his amendatory veto to carve our funding for Chicago public schools. The action means there is no mechanism to fund any schools in the state. With classes scheduled to start in the next two weeks, schools find themselves in limbo. Some Southern Illinois schools say they only have enough money to operate for a couple of days. This is no way to run a state, and certainly no way to set an example for our school children. There is nothing more reprehensible than using children, and their education, as pawns in this tiresome political game.

Thumbs up to Carbondale Public Library Director Diana Sussman, who was the 2017 recipient of the Illinois Library Association Librarian of the Year Award. The award recognizes a librarian’s service in Illinois libraries. Sussman, has led the library for the past seven years, and under Sussman’s leadership, the Carbondale Public Library offered close to 550 programs for children, teens and adults in the last year. “Our foot traffic last year was 127,679 people, and our program attendance was 8,354. That’s a lot of traffic. That’s a lot of attendance. Our programs are often so large that they don’t even fit in our meeting rooms — they have to be out in the middle of the library,” Sussman said in a story this week. Congrats to Sussman on the great honor.

Thumbs down to the number of traffic fatalities that have occurred in Southern Illinois this summer. Particularly concerning is the killing field that Interstate 57, from Mount Vernon south to Interstate 24, has become. It seems there is a serious accident in that stretch of highway nearly every week. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for the spate of fatalities. The road is generally straight and flat. The area has seen extension construction over the past five years, but there is little construction occurring this summer. The Illinois State Police have had a pronounced presence in the area, but it hasn’t seemed to help.

Thumbs up to Richard Marascola, Chris Vendel, James H. Foster and Dieter and Betty Krieghoff. Those names probably don’t ring a bell with most Southern Illinoisans. They are the five inductees into the Trapshooting Hall of Fame, now located on the grounds of the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta. They will be inducted Aug. 8. It’s hard to imagine, but two decades ago very few Southern Illinoisans gave trap shooting a second thought. Now, thanks to the WSRC, and the newly opened Trapshooting Hall of Fame, Southern Illinois is the epicenter for the sport. Residents of the area who still have not experienced the Grand American have until next Saturday to watch some of the finest shooters in the world.

Thumbs up to Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens, who was selected to the sixth class of Edgar Fellows, a group culled to help inspire "respectful and collaborative leadership" in the state. Stephens is part of the 40-person class of 2017 fellows, which includes civic, business and community leaders from throughout the state. He and the other fellows will meet next week in Champaign for an intense training program hosted by former Gov. Jim Edgar and the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs. It’s a wonderful opportunity and a great honor for one of Southern Illinois’ young leaders.

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