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Thumbs up to Horizon Developer Group of Aurora, Colorado. Rondell Swope, Horizon’s CEO, announced earlier this week that he will open four new businesses in Cairo. The company is leasing the building that formerly housed a Subway restaurant. The new businesses will include a Mexican restaurant, a coffee shop, a laundromat which will include a dry cleaning service and a children’s indoor play center. Swope is coming to Cairo because it reminds him of his home town. “I see how Cairo is and I saw the plight of Gary,” he said. “When I came into this town, it reminded me of Gary. Nobody spent money in Gary. They would go to neighboring towns and spend their money. I see that happening here and we have to be able to change that direction.”

Thumbs up to Jacob Marnin and Jeremy Chinn of Southern Illinois University’s football team. Marnin was named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s All-Academic first team. Chinn was a second-team selection. Marnin, a junior, is a three-year starter on the offensive line. He has a perfect 4.0 GPA in criminology and criminal justice. Chinn, a junior safety, was named to the All-MVFC first team Monday, added the academic honor to his resume. He has a 3.58 GPA in exercise science.

Thumbs up to Southern Illinois University’s ingenuity and its engineering department. It was recently discovered that anchors supporting lane dividers in the Rec Center pool were wearing away. Since the manufacturer had gone out of business, replacements weren’t readily available. That left the university with three options, having parts custom made, retro-fitting the entire pool or thinking outside the box. The Rec Center staff reached out to Bruce DeRuntz, a professor in the Department of Technology. He enlisted the aid of students Nick Sjoberg and Kyle Wente. Using 3-D printers, they duplicated the worn out parts. The cost to the university – about $25. “We wouldn’t have had to have something custom manufactured or had the pool retrofitted,” said Jamison Tryggestad, who tends the pool. “Either option was likely going to be expensive.”

Thumbs up to the Newman Catholic Student Center for 50 years of serving Thanksgiving meals. The event began modestly enough, feeding students who weren’t able to return home for the holidays. “We prepare for 1,000 and generally serve 700-800 people, including home deliveries,” said JP Dunn, who coordinates the event. Preparations begin Monday to serve the Thursday meals. The Knights of Columbus chapters in St. Clair and Clinton counties donate 90 turkeys. About 60 or 70 of those birds will be prepared for the Thanksgiving feast. The others are frozen and used to feed Southern Illinois at Christmastime.

Thumbs up to Du Quoin school superintendent Gary Kelly. Kelly was recently honored as the Illinois Association of School Administrator’s superintendent of the year. Kelly has been in education 33 years, serving 22 years as a superintendent. As a superintendent Kelly has worked on passing school referendums, building new school facilities, acting as an adviser to the Illinois General Assembly on its new school funding formula. “Dr. Kelly is a student-focused leader who cares about our students and demonstrates that attitude at all times,” said Du Quoin school board member Larry Valier.

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