Thumbs up to the news that Honeywell plans to reopen its Metropolis Works plant, which was shuttered in 2017. The company said on Tuesday it plans to restart the nation's only uranium conversion facility in early 2023, and preparations to do so will begin this year. Honeywell plans to hire 160 full-time employees and contractors by the end of 2022. Metropolis Mayor William McDaniel said the reopening is good news for his city, and the entire region — Honeywell was one of the largest employers in Massac County, and also employed workers from other Southern Illinois communities as well as Kentuckians. "I'm excited for our community and the region," McDaniel said. "Anything good for Metropolis is good for anyplace within driving distance to Metropolis." State Sen. Dale Fowler pointed out that the Honeywell reopening comes at the perfect time. “Now, after experiencing yet another major hit to our economy and workforce due to the COVID-19 crisis, it’s extremely encouraging that the facility is reopening and bringing much-need job opportunities back to the area,” Fowler said.
Thumbs up to Murphysboro Main Street's acquisition of the Old Depot, the former Mobile and Ohio Railroad station, in downtown Murphysboro. The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has fallen into disrepair and languished for years. The owners gave the building to Murphysboro Main Street, which plans a major renovation and restoration project on the building. When the work is done, the building will be used as office space for Murphysboro Main Street as well as a welcome center for visitors. "The Old Depot is more than a building, it is a part of the character of the Murpysboro Community," Mayor Will Stephens wrote in a statement to The Southern. That's exactly why MMS is the perfect owner to carry the landmark into a brighter future.
Thumbs down to the news that Carterville's Rise Above It Bakery & Cafe will close at the end of the month. Owner Crystal Lukens cited pandemic business slowdowns, as well as her health, as reasons for the closure. The bakery occupied space in a rehabilitated historical building, which won an award from Landmarks Illinois. At the end of the road for Rise Above It, Lukens stressed she does not blame the governor for COVID-19-related indoor dining shutdowns, but acknowledges the effects of the virus on her catering and bakery businesses have been untenable. Lukens plans to focus on preserving her catering business, Crystal's Catering, and expanding her salad dressing sales. The pandemic is officially changing parts of life more permanently than any of us imagined 11 months ago when we hunkered down for our first stay-home order. It's encouraging to hear Lukens' plans for the future, but it's still tough to see local businesses shut down.
Thumbs up to the new rules adopted this week by the Illinois House of Representatives under recently elected Speaker Chris Welch. One of the most significant changes is a rule that limits any individual to serving no more than five biennial sessions, or 10 years, in either the office of speaker or minority leader, according to reporting by Capitol News Illinois. Mike Madigan, of course, served as speaker for all but two years from 1983 to this past January. This editorial board for years has advocated for term limits for legislative leadership roles like speaker of the Illinois House. House Republicans said the new rules don't reform House operations enough. But term limits on the speakership will go a long way toward preventing one person from wielding the kind of power Madigan did for all those years, and that's a very good place to start.