Thumbs down to the old idea of Southern Illinois seceding from the rest of the state. The notion resurfaced last week when New Illinois Inc., a nonprofit group, held an organizational meeting in Mount Vernon. We get it. It’s fun to think about towns like Carbondale and Mount Vernon being centers of power in the state. And, it’s nice to imagine not feeling overwhelmed by the political and financial influence of Chicago. But, every pleasant dream ends when you wake up in the morning. The reality is we here in Southern Illinois depend on Chicago and the collar counties. As this newspaper reported, a 2018 study by Southern Illinois University’s Paul Simon Policy Institute shows that Southern Illinois receives $2.81 for every dollar in tax revenue sent to Springfield. The notion that Southern Illinoisans are supporting Chicago is terribly misguided. That doesn’t mean someone won’t float the notion of secession again in a couple of years. It can be a pleasant dream … until you wake up.
Thumbs up to the life and legacy of former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Stevens, an Illinois native, was the third-longest serving Supreme Court justice in history, 36 years. In addition to his service on the court, Stevens was a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy. He enlisted the day before the Pearl Harbor attack. Stevens was awarded the Bronze Star for his work in breaking Japanese codes during World War II. He was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Gerald Ford.
Thumbs up to negotiations that could bring expanded air travel opportunities to Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois in Marion. The current contract with Cape Air provides air service to Lambert International Airport in St. Louis. Cape Air also has options on flights to Nashville, Tennessee. Other possibilities include airlines that would provide service to Chicago. Flights to Chicago and Nashville would greatly expand travel options available to Southern Illinois residents. “It’s a wonderful position for us to be in to have these options to consider,” said Doug Kimmel, airport director. “I am reserving judgment until we’ve heard from the individual airlines and heard from those throughout our region.” Connections to Nashville and Chicago would be a major step forward for Southern Illinois.
Thumbs up to the Union County Museum in Cobden for highlighting the region’s ties to the first lunar landing 50 years ago. The exhibit features artifacts belonging to Galen Weakley, who lived the final years of his life in Southern Illinois. Weakley, a manager of the Guidance and Control Systems project at IBM’s Cape Kennedy facility, died in 1995. The exhibit features several cloth patches from various Apollo missions, Weakley’s work ID, photographs, mementoes and newspaper clippings Weakley collected. The lunar landing is a seminal event for most Americans over 50. Members of that generation remember staying up late and crowding around small black-and-white televisions, to watch Neil Armstrong step foot on the lunar surface. Watching that historic moment left Americans feeling that virtually anything was possible.
Thumbs down to the announcement that popular downtown restaurant Thai Taste is for sale. We wish owner Tim Rachatanavin and his family the best. They are moving to Texas to pursue other business interests. Nonetheless, the announcement comes on the heels that several other Carbondale businesses, PK’s, Pagliai’s and Hangar 9 are for sale. For the record, none of the businesses, including Thai Taste, indicate they are closing. Owners are either retiring or pursuing other careers. It’s just that the timing is unfortunate. Southern Illinois University officials are working furiously to burnish the reputation of the school and the City of Carbondale recently completed a downtown facelift. For the good of Carbondale and all of Southern Illinois we hope these iconic businesses find new owners quickly.
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