Opinion | Voice of The Southern

The Southern’s editorial board members are: Terra Kerkemeyer, publisher; Tom English, executive editor; Les Winkeler, sports editor; and Alee Quick, local news editor

Voice of The Southern: Thumbs up to local retiree market, football teams
Voice of The Southern

Voice of The Southern: Thumbs up to local retiree market, football teams

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Thumbs up to the Carbondale-Marion area being recognized as one of the most welcoming places for retirees. USA Today listed the region as one of the “30 Best Cities for Older Americans in Retirement.” The obvious reasons were stated — the temperate climate, the entertainment and educational opportunities offered by Southern Illinois University and the natural beauty of the Shawnee National Forest, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge and the dozens of state parks in the area. But, the social life and friendliness of the region are probably the biggest selling points. USA Today’s ranking noted that the Carbondale area has 18.2 social associations for every 10,000 people. Twice the national average and the fifth-highest concentration in the country. And, finally there are the people. As reporter Gabriel Neely-Streit pointed out in his story Sunday, newcomers to Carbondale receive personal visits from members of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce’s Attracting and Retaining Residents Subcommittee and a welcome bag that includes a personal note from Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry. The committee has visited more than 120 new residents since the initiative began in April. That’s Southern Illinois Hospitality.

Thumbs up to the Southern Illinois University football program. Du Quoin native Nick Hill has resurrected the program, putting together the first winning season since 2009. Now, Hill and his Salukis are on the verge of the first NCAA playoff appearance in a decade. The Salukis aren’t a shoo-in, but their resume is strong. SIU is currently 7-4 and is one of just three Football Championship Subdivision schools to own a victory over a Football Bowl Subdivision school (the big guys). SIU will play the biggest home game in a decade Saturday when top-ranked and unbeaten North Dakota State comes to Saluki Stadium. National pundits indicate the Salukis have probably already done enough, the team is ranked 25th in the nation, to get into the playoffs, but a win over NDSU would make the Salukis impossible to ignore.

Thumbs up to the Murphysboro and Nashville football teams for their deep runs into the Illinois High School Association playoffs. The Red Devils (Class 4A) and Hornets (2A) have reached the semifinal round. Murphysboro plays at Effingham on Saturday while Nashville travels to Decatur St. Teresa. The winners advance to the state championship games at Northern Illinois University on Nov. 29. No team from the Southern Illinois coverage area has advanced to a state championship game since the Du Quoin Indians placed second in 2008. High school sports has a unique way of galvanizing the people in small towns, and Southern Illinois is no different. Driving through Murphysboro and Nashville, it is obvious something special is happening with the Red Devils and Hornets. Continued success to Murphysboro and Nashville tomorrow.

Thumbs up to the recent ProPublica story that reminded us of an uncomfortable truth — the racist history of Southern Illinois. While the Pro Publica story focused on Anna’s history as a “sundown town — a locale where people of color were warned to be out of town before the sun sets” — Anna was not the only Southern Illinois town to bear that distinction. Although stories like this are uncomfortable to read, especially since open discrimination was still occurring as little as a generation ago, it is important to know that history, to confront it. Remarkable as it may seem, there remains a strong undercurrent of racism in our nation. And, in these days of social media, some racist elements do little to disguise their intentions. The racist groups remind us that we cannot take anything from granted. We have to be ready to speak up, to do the right thing.

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