Thumbs down to the dysfunctional State of Illinois. Just a few weeks ago it appeared as if our state government was veering, albeit in a wobbly manner, toward sanity. False alarm. Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly are at it again, unable to decide how to disburse funds to Illinois’ schools. A funding mechanism, SB1, finally wound its way through the House and Senate. The bill, which equalizes funding throughout the state, is largely supported by school administrators throughout the state. Yet, depending on the day, Rauner has indicated he may or may not sign the bill into law. He has vowed to veto the bill in its current form. As a result, the bill has not been sent to his desk. So, this is the depth to which we have sunk. Kindergarten kids are now political pawns in Illinois. It's shameful. It’s also ridiculous that once again we have to remind our elected officials they are the adults in the building. Get our kids to school!

Thumbs up to the Amateur Trapshooting Association’s Grand American. The 11-day shooting extravaganza will being thousands of visitors to Southern Illinois from throughout the world. The Grand American is preceded by the ATA’s AIM competition, which brings about 1,500 youngsters and their families to Sparta’s World Shooting and Recreational Complex. The two weeks of shooting pumps $10 million to $12 million into the local economy each year.

Thumbs up to area residents Jim Koonce and Becky Mueller who founded Honor Wreaths for Veterans, a nonprofit organization based in Marion. The organization is asking individuals to donate $30, an amount that will purchase two wreaths to be placed on graves of veterans. The organization will match the donation, meaning each $30 donation will honor four veterans. Last year about 1,000 graves at Mound City’s National Cemetery were decorated. The cemetery contains 9,000 graves.

A well-deserved thumbs up to seven Franklin County residents — police officers Jeff Tharp, James Trogolo, Jason Yunker; firefighters Gary Little and Matt Morthland; and laymen Dustin Shelton and Scotty Daniel — who were honored this week by the Illinois House of Representatives and Rep. Dave Severin for their heroic acts on April 29. The men helped rescue a motorist whose car had been swept off the road in a flash flood. They are the embodiment of “serve and protect.”

Thumbs down to the mire that swirls Cairo, Illinois. A series published over the last several days — the final installment is on today's front page — attempted to answer why utility costs are so high in Illinois' southernmost town. Our reporters found there is no simple answer to the "why" of it. And it appears there is no simple solution, either.

Thumbs up to Koby Altman, former assistant Saluki basketball coach, for being named general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Altman, who also coached at Columbia University, was a graduate assistant under Chris Lowery during the 2009-10 season. He had been assistant general manager at Cleveland before his promotion.

Thumbs up to the Growing New Energy Jobs Downstate conference that was held at John A. Logan College this week. As the nation moves toward alternate sources of energy it is important for Southern Illinois to diversify its economy. The conference underlined the fact that funds are available through the Future Energy Jobs Act. “That money is real, and it is available, but there is a process to get it. In the next six months or so, you will see organizations like community colleges begin to form their programs and apply for the money to fund them,” said Shannon Fulton, Straightup Solar Director of Business Development.


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