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Opinion | Voice of The Southern

Voice of The Southern: Thumbs up to Jerry Sloan, thumbs down to Jackson County spike
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Voice of The Southern

Voice of The Southern: Thumbs up to Jerry Sloan, thumbs down to Jackson County spike

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Thumbs up to the life of Jerry Sloan, a McLeansboro native and basketball coaching legend who died last week at age 78. Sloan has a storied career in basketball. He was a two-time All-NBA player for the Chicago Bulls in the 1960s. He led the University of Evansville to two college Division II national championships. He coached the Utah Jazz for 23 years, winning 1,221 games — the fourth-most in NBA history. He was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. That’s quite the resume. But Sloan was fiercely loyal to Southern Illinois. "More than anything else, he still thinks as Southern Illinois and McLeansboro as his home. And he never left that … He's just so dedicated, and he was loyal. Loyal to the Jazz, loyal to McLeansboro. You won't find a better person as far as loyalty than Jerry Sloan. If there's anything that should be on his tombstone, it should be loyalty,” said longtime friend David Lee last week in a story in The Southern. Sloan, 78, leaves behind his wife, Tammy, and son, Brian Sloan, and daughters, Kathy Sloan Wood and Holly Sloan Parish, and stepson, Rhett. Jerry Sloan was married to his high school sweetheart, Bobbye, for 41 years before she died in 2004 of pancreatic cancer.

Thumbs down to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Jackson County. The county health department in the last seven days has reported 65 additional cases — that’s a quarter of the county’s total coronavirus cases reported in just the last week. Illinois is moving into Phase 3 of its reopening plan following two months of a stay-at-home order that has taken its toll on many of our incomes and social lives. But the reopening isn’t a free-for-all. Jackson County Health Department Administrator said this in a news release Sunday: “I know people are anxious to return to work and to get out of the house, and we want those things for people too. They should not let their guard down completely though; continuing to practice social distancing, wearing facemasks in public, and all of the other oft-mentioned guidance remains applicable.”

Thumbs up to Don Cooper for making a dream a reality in Harrisburg with “Little Arlington,” a memorial dedicated to Saline County veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Cooper got the idea when he attended the first Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois. On Monday, Memorial Day, a plaque was unveiled that names the memorial at Don Cooper Veterans Park “Little Arlington.” The crosses are installed on two large concrete pads with a grassy area between them, and they will put granite pavers that can be engraved with the names of veterans in that grassy space between the crosses. “They’re finished with it for now. It’s beautiful. It’s all for those 242 men who died from World War I through Afghanistan and Iraq,” Cooper said.

Thumbs down to — stop us if you’ve heard this before — continued dysfunction in Springfield. This past weekend, the state legislature approved a state budget. Yeah, that sounds like great news (remember, it doesn’t always happen in Illinois, and definitely doesn’t always happen on time in Illinois), but it probably isn’t. First, the budget relies heavily on getting federal money to help. Second, it keeps spending nearly the same as it has been despite the fact revenue is going to be down drastically. “Well there's no doubt that we're going to have to revisit the budget if the federal government doesn't come through,” Pritzker said Sunday. While that is true, the state really needs to look hard at making cuts when revenue is going to be so far down. It’s long past time tough decisions are made to get Illinois back into good financial standing.

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