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Thumbs up to the life and legend of Erv Coppi. Coppi, 92, a Royalton native, died earlier this week. Coppi made his mark in Southern Illinois radio and television beginning in 1951. After high school graduation in 1943, he attended Southern Illinois Normal University for one year before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge under the direction of Gen. George Patton. After the war, Coppi attended the Columbia College of Radio and Drama. A lifelong resident of Royalton, Coppi was a familiar voice on the airwaves of WFRX, WGGH, WJPF and WSIU. Coppi’s “Egyptian Ballroom” program on WGGH simulated an actual ballroom. His last broadcasting job was hosting a weekend movie series on WSIU television. Coppi’s voice was well-known to several generations of Southern Illinois residents.

Thumbs up to normalcy, or at least what passes for normalcy when you are a 4-year-old battling cancer. Blakleigh Grace Lipe now attends preschool, rides her bike on the driveway and plays with her dog in the backyard. That wasn’t the case last year when doctors discovered a malignant tumor in her liver. After chemotherapy failed to reduce the size of the tumor, Blakleigh was selected for a treatment that was generally limited to adults. The treatment shrank the tumor to the point it could be surgically removed. The surgery was completed early this year and she remains cancer free. While we’re at it, an additional thumbs up to residents of Murphysboro and surrounding communities who raised more than $22,000 to help offset the family’s medical expenses.

Thumbs down to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for continuing issues with public housing. In a story published Sunday, Southern Illinoisan reporter Isaac Smith outlined issues that arose for families after they were moved out of the shuttered public housing complexes in Cairo. After moving to new apartments, resident learned rent guidelines didn’t include allowances for car payments or incidental income. Kristen Simelton, one of the affected residents, said HUD provided little financial information to residents forced to move from the Cairo facilities.

Thumbs up to Southern Illinois’ deer season. To those who live outside the region, that might sound ridiculous. But, to those of us who call Southern Illinois home, we know it’s a big deal. Schools dismiss classes for opening day of the season. And, without a doubt, it’s great for businesses. Hunters from all over the state, all over the Midwest, converge on Southern Illinois during the seven-day firearm season. Golconda has had a festival dedicated to deer season for nearly 60 years. The economic deer bump is evident if you visit restaurants, convenience stores or drive past motel parking lots. If you don’t live here, trust us. It’s a big deal.

Thumbs down to the closing of Marion’s Illinois Star Centre Mall. The mall, which opened to great promise in 1991, has struggled to remain viable for years. After changing hands several times, owners of the mall finally announced this week that remaining retail outlets inside the mall will be closed Dec. 16. The closing not only creates a massive white elephant in Marion, but it comes just days before Christmas. As Christa Ramsey, a hair stylist at Hair Gypsies said, “What am I going to do? I have children.” The one nugget of good news, Dillards and Target will remain open. Although physically attached to the mall, they are independently owned.

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