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Thumbs down to what very may become the most expensive governor race in U.S. history as Gov. Bruce Rauner squares off with J.B. Pritzker to become the next governor of Illinois. Predictions range from $250 million to $300 million spent on this governor's race — you don't have to tell us that the money could be used in a more productive way. We long for the days when the best politician got elected to office, not the one who has the most money. “This is a lot of the reason why many get out of politics, and one of reasons former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon got out when he did,” said John Jackson, part of SIUC’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. We agree, and we say that something must change. Our state, and our country for that matter, is worse off for it.

Thumbs up to a new restaurant opening in Herrin in the building that used to house the Frenchman’s Widow. Marlow’s Authentic Italian could be open by mid-April, according Tisha Kosco, who will own the restaurant with Mike Restivo. Kosco said she looks forward to bringing the flavors of her family’s table to hungry patrons. She said a number of the dishes will be from tried-and-true, century-old recipes from both Restivo’s family and her own. “I’ve always had a dream of owning my own place. I didn’t envision it to be an historic building in Southern Illinois with Italian food. I had always pictured a coffee shop on a beach somewhere,” Kosco said. Regardless, we’re happy to see her start in Herrin — and we’re happy she stayed in Southern Illinois.

Thumbs down to the fact that all three of the Towers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will be vacant next school year. University officials announced earlier this month that Mae Smith Hall and Neely Hall — 17-story, east-campus residence halls known as the Towers — would no longer house students. If you went to SIUC, you definitely know about the Towers — they’re an icon, so to speak, on campus. But, with falling enrollment numbers, residents weren’t living in the buildings — in 2017, Mae Smith Hall and Neely Hall were just 66 percent full, according to university data. “I don’t believe that the Towers’ role on our campus is finished. I believe that they serve our students and they serve our students well,” said Crystal Bouhl, assistant director of University Housing.

Thumbs down to an issue this week at Mueller Hill Cemetery near Pinckneyville. A company hired to mow the cemetery was told to pick up flowers that were bad or old and flowers that had blown off graves. Instead, employees removed everything at the cemetery except for the tombstones. The cleanup has saddened many whose loved ones are buried there. “Instead of adults being supervisors, they sent a bunch of high school kids out there,” said Kevin Hicks, who served on the cemetery board, although there is a sign in the cemetery that reads, “Only one ground floral per grave April 1 to Oct. 1. All others will be removed.” It doesn’t matter who’s at fault, it’s just a tough situation for everybody involved.

Thumbs down to Toys R Us in Marion closing. It’s never any good when any business closes, but it’s becoming as trend that these stores are becoming more and more in trouble because consumers are buying things online. According to the Associated Press, Marion’s Toys R Us is one of the 735 stores across the country. And who doesn’t love Toys R Us? I’m sure a lot of us can relate, but when we were all younger, a trip to Toys R Us was a highlight. The aisles seemed to go on forever. It’ll be sad to see it gone.

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