Thumbs up to the region's county clerks. Election season is stressful for all of us — this year especially so. The challenges brought by the pandemic this year, and the mail-in and early voting that surged along with them, made things complicated for county clerks. But, we applaud them and their staff members for their hard work. Many clerks in the region, along with the required mail-in ballots, offered curbside voting and drop-boxes for mail-in ballots, allowing voters to make their voices heard while maintaining safety in this incredibly strange and often scary time. Hats off to our local county clerks.
Thumbs down to the continued spread of COVID-19 in Illinois and around the country. Illinois on Thursday reached the grim milestone of 10,000 COVID-19-related deaths since the pandemic began. The state's reported COVID-19 cases broke the single-day record on Thursday, as well. As we head into the holiday season and the dark, cold days of winter, it's going to be tough to adhere to the public guidelines we know work to stem the spread of the virus. Many of us are going to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas away from our loved ones. It's going to feel bad this year, but it's the right thing to do. Let's not get complacent. Wear your mask if you must be close to others. Wash your hands. Maintain social distancing. What we do now does affect the future.
Thumbs up to the new restaurant in Cairo. Molly Parker reported last week that Tacos 2 Go and More opened inside a building on Sycamore Street that most recently housed a Subway. The building had been vacant for several years. Ron Swope, the CEO of the development group behind the new taco joint, has been working on moving four businesses — the restaurant along with a laundromat, children's play center and laundromat — to the town on Illinois' southernmost border. “We promised this a while back when we sat down and said what we wanted to put into this building and it’s now coming to fruition,” Swope said. “We thank God for what we’re getting here today. And I think the town is going to love it. I think they’ll love what we’re doing, I truly do.”
Thumbs up to the career of movie rental king R.J. Ihle, the owner of R.J. Electronics and Video in Murphysboro, who is planning to retire and close his storied shop. Ihle announced his retirement late last month, and also announced he would be selling thousands of the DVD titles he's collected over the years. Ihle opened the shop in 1966 as a hobby shop, and in 1984 added "Video" to the store's name and started offering movie rentals. As Isaac Smith wrote in The Southern of Ihle's legacy: "As places like Circus Video, Blockbuster and Family video came and went, R.J.'s shop was always there, and with it, his signature bag of popcorn."