Thumbs down to the low Census response rate across Southern Illinois. As of Monday, only about 46% of Carbondale households had responded to the 2020 Census survey. Throughout the region, most Southern Illinois counties have a response rate significantly below that of the overall Illinois response rate of just shy of 69%. In Jackson County on the whole, the response rate to date is 56%. Three counties — Alexander, Pope and Hardin — have response rates under 50%. Hardin County’s is the lowest, with more than two-thirds of households not responding. We cannot stress this enough: That’s not good. It is putting at risk millions of federal dollars for infrastructure improvements, education and social service programs, plus a low response rate could also dilute the region’s political representation in Congress and the state legislature as maps are redrawn following every decennial census count based on population. The message here is simple: Respond. People who have yet to get counted are encouraged to do so by returning a paper packet by mail if they received one, filling out the form online at my2020census.gov or by calling 844-330-2020 for English-language speakers; 844-468-2020 for Spanish-language speakers; or 844-467-2020 from a TDD phone system for the deaf or hard of hearing.
Thumbs down to the four counties in our region still on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s warning list for COVID-19. Those counties — Jefferson, Perry, Franklin and Union — are among 14 counties at a warning level statewide. Yes, three local counties — Jackson, Saline and Williamson — fell off this list, but it doesn’t mean they’re in the clear. We all still have to wear masks. We still have to practice social distancing. We still have to be smart. After all, counties can be added back to the warning list, as it is updated each Friday. Worse yet, the Southern Illinois region could go backward as part of Gov. Pritzker’s plan — just like what happened in the Metro East earlier this week. We don’t want that. So, let’s all try to be responsible and practice social distancing.
Thumbs up $39.5 million in grants from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for capital improvement projects around the state, including a $1.2 million grant to the City of Carbondale to improve accessibility at Evergreen Park. The improvements at Evergreen Park include replacing the bathrooms, paving all the roads and parking lots within the park, and adding sidewalks to make the park more accessible. The city plans to begin the work within 90 days. DCEO is hopeful the grants will boost summer employment and attract economic development in underserved communities all across the state.
Thumbs down to the thieves who stole tools and equipment from a Jackson County Habitat for Humanity project site in Murphysboro. It doesn’t get much lower than this. This past weekend, the work trailer at the site was broken into and about $1,500 worth of tools and equipment were stolen. “They took our nail guns, they took our drills and drivers, they took one of our drywall guns,” said construction coordinator Jim Nesler. The stolen equipment doesn’t put at risk finishing the job, but Nesler said that $1,500 for new tools will have to come from somewhere to help on Habitat for Humanity’s next project.
Thumbs up to Virtual Employment Summit 2020, an event geared toward teaching teens and young adults how to prepare for professional life. Carbondale United is heading up the virtual summit, and other partners include Man-Tra-Con, Pepsi, the Aisin Group, IGP, The Women’s Center, Aces for Youth-My Brother’s Keeper, African American Museum of Southern Illinois, Carbondale Branch NAACP, Carbondale Public Library, Southern Illinois Moms Demand Action, Carbondale Community High School, Race Unity Group of Carbondale, Carbondale Human Relations Commission and Zeta Amicae of Carbondale. The event is scheduled for 1 p.m. Aug. 27 and registration can be completed online at carbondalepubliclibrary.org or by calling 618-306-5885.
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