Thumbs up to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and State Sen. Dale Fowler for announcing $40 million in state funds for Cairo’s proposed port project. The project is one that is hoped to revitalize the city and the region. Immediately, the state will give $4 million in grants for the project. Officials say they need $75 million for the project, and the remaining $35 million will come from private investors. “Thank you to everyone who never gave up hope,” Fowler said this week during an event where the governor announced the funds. Speaking of Fowler, a bonus thumbs up goes out to the Republican state senator. Fowler, since being elected to his seat in 2016, has taken up Cairo’s revitalization as a personal project. He has said on more than one occasion, Tuesday included, that the port will be a shot in the arm not just to the city but for the region. A total of 500 direct jobs will be generated when the project is complete, which is obviously good for everybody.
Thumbs down to the worsening COVID-19 situation in Southern Illinois. In the past week, The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday issued a coronavirus disease warning for seven Southern Illinois counties: Gallatin, Jackson, Johnson, Perry, Randolph, Saline and White. That means that each of the counties experienced an increase in two or more COVID-19 risk indicators from the state’s COVID-19 Resurgence Mitigation plan. And, on Wednesday, the Egyptian Health Department hosted a news conference begging residents to follow health guidelines in order to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus. Look, we’ve said it here often, and it seems that it needs repeating: Wear a mask. Follow social distancing standards. It’s not hard. And, no, this isn’t a political thing. “Rather than a community divided or this being a political issue, we are asking everybody to come together and do the right thing,” said Angie Hampton, CEO of the Egyptian Health Department, during Wednesday’s news conference. Well, we couldn’t agree more. The only way we’re all going to get past this is by following the rules.
Thumbs up to Walter Wit, who in the past month became the new owner of PK’s bar in Carbondale. Wit has worked in some capacity at PK's for the better part of a decade, started as a janitor and has worked his way through every position. The 65-year-old bar had been operated by family after PK's matriarch Gwen Hunt died in 2018. Wit also said this week that there’s not going to be overwhelming change, and that the bar will still adapt with the times as it always has, but he doesn't have anything drastic planned. “I’m not going to start taking credit cards and (opening) tabs,” Wit said. Good luck, Walter, we’re all pulling for you.
Thumbs up to SIU Carbondale grad Kris Rey, whose new film, “I Used to Go Here,” debuts this week. What’s more interesting is that the film is loosely based on SIU and Carbondale. “I can’t speak highly enough of how great my experience was and how much I love that town,” Rey said in a story this week in The Southern. “I Used to Go Here” is about a woman named Kate, played by actress Gillian Jacobs, who is a struggling author who finds herself with slower-than-expected sales for her debut novel and suddenly has her book tour cancelled. Returning back to her alma mater, a thinly veiled SIU, Kate explores her old stomping grounds of Carbondale. Rey said she wanted to make a movie that reflected the college experience she personally had in Carbondale. Rey was slated to debut the film at the acclaimed South by Southwest film festival, but COVID-19 had other ideas. We hope the film does well and brings some positive exposure to Southern Illinois.