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Thumbs up to Marion resident Thanet Natisri for his role in rescuing 12 youngsters and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand. Natisri, a groundwater expert, was in Thailand doing charitable work, helping rural residents’ water problems, when he got the call for assistance. The rescue operation used Natisri’s expertise to help keep water levels in the cave at a minimum. He found sources of water running into the cave and helped divert it, allowing divers to reach the youngsters. Natisri provided his services at no charge to the Thai government.

Thumbs up to the SIU Faculty Senate for its vote of no-confidence regarding SIU President Randy Dunn. The Faculty Senate voted on a resolution that stated Dunn had worked to undermine the SIU system and has failed to meet the requirements of his job description and “has lost the trust of the Carbondale faculty.” The same resolution encouraged the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees to remove Dunn from the presidency as soon as possible. The Board of Trustees is not scheduled to meet again until September. The resolution passed by an overwhelming majority, 25-1. The vote demonstrates once again that Dunn has put himself in an untenable position.

Thumbs down to the recent escape of prisoners from detention centers in Franklin and White counties. The three fugitives from White County were at large for more than a week before being recaptured. In the meantime, three juveniles escaped from the Franklin County facility Wednesday and remained at large at press time. The escape in White County has already resulted in increased security at the White County jail. A 10-foot fence topped by razor wire now surrounds the facility.

Thumbs up to Southern Illinois Miners Chance Shepard, Kyle Tinius and Romeo Cortina for their selection of the Frontier League All-Star Game this year. The game was played Wednesday night in O’Fallon, Missouri. Under the new format this year, Shepard and Tinius were members of the Experienced team. Cortina made the Rookie squad. The Experienced team had a real Southern Illinois flavor with manager Mike Pinto and his staff coaching the team.

Thumbs down to the Illinois Star Centre mall for continuing to be an albatross for the City of Marion. At this week’s city council meeting, officials voted to begin the process of filing a lien against the mall for not paying city taxes. “We’ve been pushed into a corner way too far, way too long over this mall,” said Marion mayor Anthony Rinella. The matter will now be referred to the mall’s bankruptcy judge.

Thumbs up to Laura Kiehna of Steeleville for winning more than $30,000 on Jeopardy, the television game show. Kiehna, who has a Ph.D. in English, won big the first day, taking home more than $31,000. The second day of her reign was less successful, netting her just over $1,000. “At that point, I had a ‘go big or go home’ philosophy. I’d been playing for a while, and it’s fun, but it is difficult. And it’s not just the actual game that’s difficult … there’s just the whole ‘being on camera’ thing. For me at least, that was a big challenge, to make sure that I was cheerful and spoke loudly enough and engaged in the whole thing. So, doing that for two whole days, I was not really super disappointed to have lost.”

Thumbs up to SIU associate professor Erin Perry for her work in maximizing efficiency and minimizing risk to search and rescue dogs. “When dogs deploy into the field, there are a lot of issues regarding deployment and management conditions in the field, this you just can’t fix,” Perry said. “The area they work in is dangerous; it’s unpredictable; it’s scary; it’s stressful; it’s dirty and it’s contaminated. While we can’t make the environment any better for them, maybe we can help protect them or help prepare them better to work in this type of dangerous environment.”

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