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Thumbs up to the life and legacy of former SIU coach Lew Hartzog. Hartzog put SIU track on the map during his 27-year career. He coached 90 All-Americans and 14 Olympians. The current SIU track facility and the track at McAndrew Stadium were both named in his honor. However, Hartzog was more than a track coach. He served as interim athletic director and men’s golf coach during his tenure at SIU. Long-time friend and former SIU sports information director Fred Huff said Hartzog had a way of reaching athletes on a personal level. His ability to treat athletes as individuals made Hartzog both an effective coach and a lifelong friend.

Thumbs down to the “Church of Creativity” and the misguided human beings hiding behind that nom de plume for once again posting racist flyer on the campus of John A. Logan College in Carterville. While we appreciate the exercise of First Amendment rights, the message is both misguided and deplorable. We are living in the 21st century. These backward notions should have disappeared from our society centuries ago. We’ll defer to the eloquent words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” That should be the dream of every human being on the planet.

Thumbs up to the River to River Relay. The annual race from the Mississippi to the Ohio river annually draws 2,000 runners and another couple thousand spectators. Over the past 30 years the Relay has become one of the region’s iconic events. And, what’s not to like? The race mixes athletic competition with camaraderie and it (normally) takes place in the first warm days of the spring with the dogwoods and red buds in bloom.

Thumbs up to Franklin County voters for approving funding for a new courthouse. In the election earlier this month voters agreed to a 1 percent sales tax increase. The funding mechanism will be used to replace the current 150-year-old building. The tax will last no longer than 15 years or until debt on the new building is retired. Some county offices will be temporarily housed in a vacant building on the square during construction. The new structure will allow modernization of county offices as well as being a more secure facility for criminal court proceedings.

Thumbs up to Carbondale’s Harriet Simon, who just stepped down from the Friends of the Carbondale Public Library Board. She had served on the board since 1995. She became a fan of Carbondale’s library when she moved here with her husband and children in the 1960s. “I took the kids to the public library practically the minute we moved here,” she said. Simon got involved with the Friends of the Carbondale Public Library in the 1980s.

Thumbs up to Centerstone in Marion for opening its new Medication Assisted Treatment Facility. John Markley, Centerstone’s CEO, said the facility will provide the only access to medical treatment for opioid abuse disorders in the region. The next closest facilities are in Alton, Paducah and Cape Girardeau. Markley said patients who stay in their home communities for treatment have better long-term outcomes and are more successful in school or jobs. The 7,000-square-foot facility has medical treatment rooms, nursing, and physician office space as well as offices for counselors. The facility was funded in part by a $500,000 Opioid-State Targeted Response Grant through Illinois Department of Human Services. Centerstone is hoping the program is up and running within a month.

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