Thumbs up to Marion Center Project LLC, which plans to develop the Illinois Star Centre Mall in Marion into a multi-use area for shopping, eating and entertainment. Rodney Cabaness, owner and president of the group, who also owns the Black Diamond Harley-Davidson group in Marion, has been working for months on buying the property through bankruptcy court. Plans for the mall, which has been closed since 2018, include developing the mall into an expanded retail space, or an “oasis for fun” — a multi-use area for shopping, eating and entertainment. “If we can create a space which will make Southern Illinois happy, and ultimately bring tourists to Southern Illinois — whether it be for retail shopping or for entertainment, it is an absolute win,” said Jeremy Pinkston, director of business development. And we agree. Turning the Marion mall into anything productive will be a huge win for all of Southern Illinois, and we can’t wait to see it when it’s done.
Thumbs up to all the educators and school workers in the area — teachers, principals, aides, bus drivers, superintendents, everybody — who are getting ready to welcome students back in the coming days and weeks. We know it can’t be easy. Superintendents and other leaders of school districts across Southern Illinois have had to make some very difficult decisions in the past weeks. Some are having in-person classes. Some are going fully remote. Some are having a hybrid of both. We feel for these administrators because, quite frankly, there’s no playbook for what’s happening right now. We also see our teachers getting ready for a school year of uncertainty — and that’s equally difficult. Teachers have to be ready for anything: Teaching students inside the classroom and teaching them outside the classroom on a computer screen. It can’t be easy, and we appreciate everything you are all doing to make our students feel as comfortable as possible. We can’t guarantee that this will get any easier as times goes on, but teachers should take solace knowing all their hard work now will pay off down the road.
Thumbs down to the continued elevated COVID-19 numbers in our region. Last week, five Southern Illinois counties made the Illinois Department of Public Health’s “warning level” list for the spread of COVID-19: Jackson, Perry, Saline, Union and Williamson. That’s the heart of our readership area. We’ll see if any of those counties stay on that list, or if any others are added, on Friday when they’re announced. Regardless, we must continue to do what we can to rid our region of COVID-19. You’re probably sick of hearing it, but we’ll continue to beat this drum as long as we have to: Wear your masks in public, practice social distancing, and adhere to public health guidance. It’s on all of us — and that truly means all of us — to beat the virus. If we stop the spread, then it goes away. So, let’s all do what we can to keep our communities healthy.
Thumbs down to the SIU football team not being able to play a full season this fall. As of right now, the Salukis only have one game remaining on their schedule — against Southeast Missouri State — but even that is in flux. Late last week, the Missouri Valley Football Conference Presidents Council voted on Friday to postpone conference competition until the spring. That means the teams will play a full eight-game spring league schedule with the expectation to culminate the season with the playoffs, if there are playoffs. To be honest, that’s probably the best we’re going to get right now. But, it’s still a tough pill to swallow to have to go without, as of now, some college football this fall. Here’s hoping we can beat this thing and enjoy college football in the spring.
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