Thumbs up to milk — more specifically, a thumbs up to glass milk bottles returning to select Farm Fresh stores in Southern Illinois. Several independently owned Farm Fresh stores linked up with Oberweis Dairy to carry on the years-old Southern Illinois tradition. Chester Dairy, long the supplier of milk in iconic half-gallon glass bottles under the Farm Fresh label, closed its dairy operation last month. Locally, the glass-bottle milk can be found in Farm Fresh stores in Carterville, Du Quoin and Murphysboro, as well as in locations in the Metro East. So, we raise a hearty glass of milk in honor of this tradition not going by the wayside.
Thumbs down to yet another store closing in Southern Illinois. On Monday, it was announced that Macy’s was closing its University Mall store. “The decision to close a store is always a difficult one, but Macy’s is proud to have served the Carbondale community over the past 29 years,” said spokeswoman Carolyn Ng Cohen in a story in The Southern. The store employs about 40 people, and regular, non-seasonal employees who are unable to be placed at nearby Macy’s stores will be eligible for severance. Macy’s has not established a closure date, and a clearance sale will begin this month and run for about eight to 12 weeks. This just follows a national trend of stores closing, and it’s sad to see. More importantly, those are local people losing jobs, and that’s never good to see.
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Thumbs up to Italian Village in Carbondale as it celebrates 60 years of business in Southern Illinois. The walls of the restaurant are wallpapered with graffiti and autographs, photographs of famous guests, and other Southern Illinois memorabilia. Older folks who remember hanging out there — and writing their names on the wall when they were young — now bring in their children and grandchildren to carry on the tradition. Who doesn’t like that? And we’re not even mentioning the food. It is indeed some of the best in Southern Illinois. Cheers to the past 60 years, and here’s to 60 more.
Thumbs down to the fact that 123 children died in the past fiscal year despite having contact with the Department of Children and Family Services, according to a report that is published each January by the department's inspector general. It was the highest number since the fiscal year ending in 2005, when the number was 139 deaths. The lowest it was during that that time was 84 in the fiscal year ending in 2010. “We, Illinois, must do better. We need to do more to support families early on, before they get into deep trouble. But when families are broken, we need to act decisively to protect children,” said Meryl Paniak, acting inspector general, in the report. The inspector general is right. We have to do better. And it should start immediately.
Thumbs up to SIU for naming softball coach Kerri Blaylock as the athletics department’s senior woman administrator. The SWA designation is to promote meaningful representation of women in the leadership and management of college sports, and is involved in senior-level management decisions. SIU AD Liz Jarnigan made the announcement Thursday. Blaylock has 693 Division I victories, and has led SIU to seven NCAA postseason appearances and four conference titles in 21 seasons. "Kerri has done an amazing job leading our softball program and will continue to do so for many years to come. Her wealth of experience working with student-athletes made her an obvious choice for the SWA designation and we're fortunate to have an administrator with her expertise to step into this role," Jarnigan said in a news release from the university.