Thumbs up to The Varsity Center showing movies once again ... albeit on a limited basis. For generations The Varsity was “the” spot to see a movie in Carbondale. Now, classic movies can be seen on the big screen at least once a month. "Friday the 13th" is showing tonight, which coincidentally is Friday the 13th. Cult classic "The Big Lebowski" plays next Friday. "Bull Durham," the classic baseball movie, played at The Varsity last month. It’s a bit of nostalgia for more seasoned Carbondale residents and an additional bit of downtown entertainment for residents of any age.
Thumbs down to the impending closing of The Bookworm, an independent bookstore in Carbondale. The bookstore has been operated by Carl and Kelly Rexroad for the past 17 years. The Rexroads had hoped to sell the store in preparation for retirement, and to maintain the needed presence of an independent store in a college town. After a proposed sale fell through earlier this month, the Rexroads announced the store will close in early May.
Thumbs down to the rash of deaths and illnesses sweeping northern and central Illinois as the result of people using synthetic marijuana. The Illinois Department of Public Health said more than 100 people have become ill after using the product, which was likely laced with rat poison. “Each day we’ve seen the number of cases rise,” said director of the IDPH Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. "Synthetic cannabinoids are unsafe. They are not regulated and people don’t know what chemicals may be in them, like rat poison. While efforts are underway to get the contaminated drugs out of circulation, it’s possible they could re-emerge. We urge people not to use synthetic cannabinoids now or ever."
Thumbs up to the Saline County board for agreeing to pay insurance costs for two county employees, Kathy Cummins and Julie Dunn, recently fired by outgoing Saline County Clerk Kim Buchanan. Both are Democrats and were working in Buchanan’s office. A Republican, Buchanan dismissed both women, but failed to give a reason for their dismissal. Dunn is running for the County Clerk’s position. Buchanan was recently defeated in the Republican primary.
Thumbs up to the additional $350 million in school funding released by Illinois comptroller Susana Mendoza this week. The money is part of the evidence-based funding formula approved by the General Assembly last year. It directs money to the neediest districts first with an emphasis on state funding to fill gaps where local resources cannot. Mendoza will continue making state payments to the state's 850 school districts once more in April and four times in May and June. There's nearly $50 million more due to the schools from the new funding formula that has not yet been distributed.
Thumbs up, and congratulations, to U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. Duckworth became the first U.S. senator to give birth while serving in office. A retired Army lieutenant and a double amputee, Duckworth and her second daughter, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, are doing well.
Thumbs up to the SIU Forced Air Composting Facility. The facility takes tons of scraps from dining halls on the SIU campus and turns the food waste into compost that is used on campus. In addition, the facility employs student workers. “When we first started offering positions for this, I did not expect anybody to want to work out here,” Michelle Sullivan, University Farms coordinator said. “It’s a little stinky, and it’s kind of a monotonous chore. … But what’s cool about it is that over time, as they have worked out here, we’ve even had students that have become so interested in it that they are talking about graduating and then finding a place like this where they can work.”