Thumbs up to One Shawnee, a new nonprofit organization that intends to address the “crisis level of rural poverty” plaguing the communities along the state’s southern border. The group describes itself as a group of dedicated Southern Illinoisans “working together to rebuild our home” through collaborative community development efforts. State Rep, Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, is president of the group, and it has 18 other members on the board who have backgrounds in tourism, education, banking, economic development, social services and government. The communities targeted make up all of or parts of Alexander, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Saline and Union counties. “The issues we’re facing in our region are not going to be solved in Springfield alone. We’re going to have to make change here in our area and work together collaboratively with the towns, villages, institutions in our area to help make the improvements we need to make our region a better place to live and work,” Windhorst said in a story in The Southern this week. We salute Windhorst and the rest of the group for tackling such an important initiative.
Thumbs up to Carbondale’s BlackOut Tuesday event, a localization of a national event that was aimed to be the next step in the greater conversation about race in the U.S. The event Tuesday in Carbondale was meant to demonstrate the power Black spenders have. “Our money is power,” Jerricha Griffin said Tuesday at the event. The event included a short march through Carbondale, and then a series of speakers discussed issues at First Christian Church. Alongside the march and program of speakers, there was also a Black business fair with tables set up outside the church for vendors to sell their wares and give out information about their services.
Thumbs down to Little Caesars sign-shaker Quentin Casler's departure from Carbondale. Casler had become a Carbondale sensation after his exuberant sign-shaking and infectious good mood radiated from the corner of Oakland and Main streets, where he stood and danced and sang and tried to entice customers inside the Little Caesars for a hot-and-ready pizza. (It turns out, correspondent Brian Munoz discovered, he is also a beloved member of his church, a musician, and all-around good guy.) He made a lot of us smile during a time of anxiety and hardship. But, Carbondale code enforcement cited the restaurant, referencing an ordinance that prevents dreaded antics like waving a sign around in a commercial district. Casler is now at the Little Caesars in Marion. We hope Casler is enjoying himself in Marion, and we hope the people of Marion are enjoying his presence as much as we did in Carbondale. We hope someday Casler might be able to come back to Carbondale, which would require the city to revisit this piece of code. Judging from the reaction to our story about Casler, we think that may be in order.
Thumbs up to the City of Murphysboro for potentially renaming Town Center Park after Carl Lee. Mayor Will Stephens announced Wednesday that he planned to make a motion to rename the park after Lee, who tried to integrate Murphysboro Township High School in 1916, and was also among the first Black graduates from then-Southern Illinois Normal University. “He was a person who was undeterred by obstacles. He was a person that believed in hard work and education,” Stephens said. The potential renaming will be taken up during the July 14 Murphysboro City Council meeting.
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