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What’s New. What’s Next. A two-part special section focusing on the progress Southern Illinois is making, from major issues to small towns with big hopes for the future. See how far the region has come in meeting today’s needs and preparing for the future.

Today, October 11, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Education & Schools Southern Illinois University Community colleges New and improved playing fields Tri-C, Mount Vernon, Perry County

Health Care Southern Illinois Healthcare St. Mary’s Good Samaritan and Crossroads Logan Park in Herrin Heartland Women’s Healthcare

Arts & Entertainment Cedarhurst Center for the Arts That’s Agritainment SI Music Festival Flood murals in Cairo

Community Revitalization Streetscapes: Benton and West Frankfort Our changing downtowns Sesser’s a bedroom community

Growth & Expansion Transportation projects Regional churches Reed Station Road in Carbondale Amtrak Broadband expansion Changing media portals Agriculture Advancements Local food movements Green movements

Tourism & Recreation Wine country / Visitor hospitality Mount Vernon’s new bike trail Marion’s Recreation Center Casinos / Carbondale’s Splash Park World Shooting & Recreational Complex The Beer Trail / Southern Illinois Miners Public Safety Southern Illinois Enforcement Group New National Guard armories New county jails Union County Courthouse


Education & Schools


Though times are tough today, our tomorrow is looking bright nyone who follows the news understands the challenges facing Southern Illinois. But there is an encouraging story about the region that doesn’t get the same attention as layoffs, planned prison closures and dwindling state money for education. Take a good look across the region and you will uncover an amazing story of progress in our transportation



infrastructure, in local schools, community colleges and Southern Illinois University, and in the region’s business community — to name a few areas of growth and development. It may be an inconvenience for drivers today, but the ongoing widening and roadway improvements to Illinois 13 will ease and increase travel in the most heavily developed

Marion to Carbondale section of the Harrisburg to Murphysboro commercial corridor. Take a look at The Hill in Marion and envision the impact of a planned destination development on adjacent land. We’re also reaching for the skies with the newly opened $62 million SIU Transportation Education Center at Southern Illinois Airport, which is

developing as high technology and innovative manufacturing district. Check out this special report today and next Thursday to learn about a region building better tomorrows. GARY METRO is the editor of The

Southern Illinoisan. He can be reached at 618-351-5033 or gary.metro@

Mount Vernon moving ahead with plans for high school BY JOE SZYNKOWSKI FOR THE SOUTHERN


A student studies on the second floor of SIU’s Morris Library.

SIU campus growing BY CODELL RODRIGUEZ The Southern


hile SIU Carbondale continues to take on challenges such as enrollment, the campus itself is growing with new buildings. The university has recently completed large-scale projects, such as the Transportation Education Center and Saluki Stadium, and is continuing to see new additions, such as the Student Services Building. Chancellor Rita Cheng said there are plenty of other projects on the horizon, such as an Alumni Building, paid for through donations to the SIU Foundation, and other ongoing projects, such as refurbishing Thompson Woods and reorganizing Lincoln Drive.


SIU senior David Hug (left) holds the rope tight while Rotary Youth Exchange student Margo van der Veldt of the Netherlands ascends to the top of the climbing wall at the SIU Recreation Center.

Completed projects The latest completed project for the university is the TEC Building, located at the Southern Illinois Airport and housing the aviation and automotive programs. Cheng said the new building is a fitting home for two nationally recognized programs. “The TEC Building out at the airport is just an awesome building,” Cheng said. “It just gives a sense of the quality of work being done and the investment in our students.” The building includes state-ofthe-art classrooms and new equipment for students to learn with. The move was especially welcome for the Automotive Department because the previous facility in Carterville was built in 1938 as a temporary military installation and was supposed to be a temporary home for the department when it moved in 60 years ago. Michael Behrmann, department chair, said in a previous university news release, that the move would be extremely welcomed. “Getting this program into the Transportation Education Center will allow faculty and students to operate more safely and in a learning environment that appropriately represents our industry, our University, and our students,” Behrmann said in the news release. The university also renovated Morris Library during the past several years with upgrades including new computer labs, makeovers to multiple floors, a new café and the John C. Guyon Auditorium. While the library does look much different, there

are still books sitting in limbo in the McLafferty Annex. Cheng said state funding finally has been released and work will begin on the sixth and seventh floors of the library to move the books back in. While the academic programs are benefitting, the university has also seen an upgrade in sports facilities with Saluki Stadium and the renovated SIU Arena. The stadium replaced the ancient and dilapidated McAndrew Stadium, which was more than 70 years old and the oldest football facility in the Missouri Valley Conference. Cheng said the facilities look nice but, more importantly, it’s a major upgrade for “student athletes and various programs.”

Ongoing projects The most visible project under way on campus is probably the Student Services Building, which has had much of its skeleton already constructed. The building, scheduled to open in the fall of 2013, is located on the site of the former twostory parking garage near the Student Center and is designed to create a more convenient transition for new and transfer students while also creating an easier experience for current students. The building will house programs such as enrollment management, admissions, the bursar, the University College and University Housing. Cheng said the building is another way in which the university is investing in student

success. Katharine Suski, director of admissions, said in a past interview that the admissions process will become much easier to navigate. “You’re going to walk in, and it’s all going to be open,” Suski said. “The building itself will be more accessible.” She said the building will also be great for recruitment because of increased storage space for recruitment materials and multipurpose rooms where local high school students can see presentations during campus visits. Plus, she said, the building will help bring in students simply because it’s going to look so good. “This is really going to give students a great impression,” she said. “The first building they’re going to see is the newest building on campus.” The university is also working on renovation Pulliam Hall to house the art and design department, supplying some much-needed studio space. Cheng said it was controversial to close down the swimming pool but a new space is more fitting for a “nationally ranked” program.”

On the horizon Upcoming projects include renovations to Abe Martin Field for Saluki Baseball. Planned changes include new turf, lights and safer bleachers. Cheng said fundraising for the renovation is under way. There is also a plan to build the Alumni Building on the site of the former McAndrew Stadium. A presentation at the

September Board of Trustees meeting in Edwardsville showed off a classic design to the building which will contain departments such as the SIU Alumni Association and the SIU Foundation. Other features include a great hall to host alumni and a lounge. Cheng said after the meeting that the $30 million cost would be paid for through donations and there is not set timeline for the facility to be completed. She said there is still a possibility that the campus could add new classroom buildings in the McAndrew area “as funding comes forward for those needs.” Students will have some new places to stay by way of a plan to construct new student housing on the east side of campus. The housing plan is set to take place throughout 2023. The three buildings known as the Triads have already been demolished, and the Brush Towers will go down in the next 10 years. The new dorms will be four-stories high, contain the same amount of room and look similar to Thompson Point. “It’s certainly an improvement and will create a living environment with more green space, smaller clusters of students in each residential building with the potential for living, learning communities,” Cheng said in a past interview. “In summary, the community could be designed to be very much like Thompson Point.” 618-351-5804

Mount Vernon Township High School recently purchased 82 acres on Wells Bypass to construct a new school, moving the project one step closer to completion after years of challenges. The property, purchased for $1.2 million, is located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Wells Bypass and Ambassador Lane. Site work is planned to begin by next summer. According to a Mount Vernon school board news release, numerous sites were considered for the new school site and were judged on a variety of criteria, including size, access, adjacency of utilities, existing and needed infrastructure and development cost projections, among others. The final approval for purchase closed 11 months of research, collaboration and negotiations. Mount Vernon will use $47.6 million in state funds to replace an aging high school campus that consists of 11 buildings ranging from 38 to 106 years old. The district was originally on the state’s 2002 list for funding, but was bumped due to failed referendums approving local funding. The new school will be a two-story, 95-classroom, 320-square-foot facility with a projected opening date of fall 2015. The school district covers 250 square miles of Jefferson County, and 12 feeder schools will send students into the new high school. The new and improved high school is a vision that Mike Smith, superintendent of Mount Vernon Township District 201, shares with the many stakeholders who have helped drive the project. “It’s good not only for the community of Mount Vernon, but Jefferson County in general,” he told The Southern in February. Smith aligned his mantra — “We need a 21st century building to provide a 21st century education” — with the interests of voters that resoundingly approved a $19.8 million referendum in 2011. The vote was a reversal of 2007’s referendum rejection. The referendum milestone was followed up by the news Feb. 16 that Gov. Pat Quinn released $623 million for school construction projects, including $47.62 million for Mount Vernon.

DETAILS Plans: Two-story, 95-classroom high school Capacity: 2,700 students in grades 9-12 State funding for project: $47.6 million





Community colleges thriving THE SOUTHERN

All institutions of higher education are weathering tough times through the state financial crisis, but community colleges are finding ways to grow. John A. Logan College saw a nearly 150-student enrollment increase this fall, growing from 6,257 students in 2011 to 6,400 in 2012 as of the 10-day headcount. Most of the students come from Marion, followed by Carbondale and then Herrin. “Clearly, our numbers are bucking a statewide downturn in head count and credit hours,” JALC President Mike Dreith said in a college news release. “It is encouraging that our enrollment has stabilized and appears to once again be moving upward. This data affirms my belief that John A. Logan College is continuing to make strides as a low-cost, high-quality provider of higher education.” Other new opportunities at the college include a new Southern Illinois Healthcare nursing residence program that could create a bridge between the classroom and entry-level nursing positions. “They (selectees) will continue to learn from basic to specialty with specific opportunity for clinical practice,” SIH System Director of Nursing Education Cindy Sims said in a previous article. The college has also recently constructed the new Communications Wing and Harrison/Bruce Historical Village. Rend Lake College recently announced that its graduation rates are among the best in the country. A Chronicle of Higher Education study

showed that 50.3 percent of RLC students complete degrees on time, ranking fifth among peer institutions. While RLC is among the best for graduation rates, President Terry Wilkerson said in a news release that there is room for improvement. “We need to continue to strive to improve on this,” Wilkerson said. “The fact that 50 percent makes us fifth in the nation is not acceptable. That’s not good enough. We are going to keep focus on our students and their success and work hard to help them accomplish what they come here to do.” The college also recently began offering a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, partnering with Missouri Baptist University. Wilkerson said in a news release that there is a high demand for criminal justice programs in the region. “The partnership between Missouri Baptist University and Rend Lake College makes perfect sense,” Wilkerson said. “Bringing this bachelor’s degree program within easy reach of our residents adds to the access they have to advanced degrees. We are happy to work with Missouri Baptist to increase the opportunities for affordable higher education in our district.” Retiring Shawnee Community College President Larry Peterson said in a recent interview that the college has made a lot of improvements in the last several years, including the addition of an extension center in Anna, numerous construction projects and a partnership with SIU to offer National Science Foundation grants.


Jimmy Stevens uses a tablet during an Introduction to Technology for Education class at John A. Logan College.

“I really feel like we’ve moved this college forward,” Peterson said. “The college has a strong foundation and it continues to grow.” Southeastern Illinois College is continuing to drive on, despite taking a beating in the Feb. 29 tornado. The storm caused about $1.3 million in damages to the college’s baseball and softball fields. The college was also recognized in early 2012 by the Higher Learning Commission for having one of the most affordable tuition rates in the state, inviting administrators to a presentation on achieving financial stability during an economic downturn. All of the local colleges recently began a new marketing strategy through the Illinois Community College Board to reach out to new students and alumni. Students from all three


Rend Lake College sophomore Adam Brookman (right) of Mount Vernon does his accounting homework in between classes at the Learning Resource Center at the Ina campus.

colleges recently marched in the Du Quoin State Fair parade with the new message, “A million reasons why.” Elaine Johnson, vice president of Academic Affairs and Workforce Development with the Illinois Community

College Board, said this is the first attempt by the board to embark on such a strategy, which includes reaching out through social media, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. She said the meaning behind the slogan is from

the millions who have benefitted from community colleges. “We have millions of alumni we want to reach out to, so there are a million reasons why students should join a community college,” Johnson said.


Education & Schools


Student-athletes get new, impressive places to play BY PETE SPITLER THE SOUTHERN


Kim Lietz talks to her class at Pinckneyville Community High School.

Perry County students enjoying new learning environments BY JOE SZYNKOWSKI FOR THE SOUTHERN

There is a youthful enthusiasm surrounding the opening of Perry County’s two state-of-the-art high schools in Pinckneyville and Du Quoin. That excitement has spread to administrators, as well. “The whole thing seems very surreal,” said Keith Hagene, Pinckneyville Community High School 101 superintendent. “I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would graduate from the old school and be involved in the design, construction, and now completion of the new school.” After a decade of challenges, Pinckneyville is now home to a $20.5 million, 56,000-square-foot facility. “The students are enjoying the way the building flows and the ease of moving between classes,” Hagene said. “The new spaces are being utilized very well, too.” The new spaces include the multipleuse room combining a gym, auditorium and cafeteria. Sitting between a larger and smaller room is a movable stage for use in either space, depending on the size of the expected audience. Off the front entrance of the building is the new learning community center, laden with books, two computer labs and wireless Internet access. Teachers are enjoying new technology features in their classrooms to foster more advanced learning environments. “The teachers have been very excited about their new classrooms,” Hagene said. “The environment is much more inviting due to the increased amount of natural light and the air quality of the building.” Over in Du Quoin, builders have completed the phase of the $18 million high school project that includes the majority of the new 100,000-square-foot facility. Work is still being completed on the area that includes the nurses’ area, guidance office, administrative offices and new main entrance lobby.

‘Our community has been a great supporter of our projects and more so for the benefits that our students will enjoy now and in the future.’ GARY KELLY DU QUOIN COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT 300 SUPERINTENDENT

“The phase that consists of the new academic areas, classrooms, labs, media center, commons, additional athletic areas, is now completed and preparations are under way to move into the part that is now completed,” said Gary Kelly, Du Quoin Community School District 300 superintendent. Plans were in place to move learning materials, furniture and equipment into the new building over the Columbus Day weekend. Next up is demolition of the older facility and construction of the new office areas and on-site parking areas. “The students and faculty have been very excited about the move to the new high school,” Kelly said. “We have also seen excitement from our students during the past two years for being able to enjoy the modern athletic facilities provided for them.” Like Pinckneyville, Du Quoin suffered plenty of setbacks and funding challenges over the last 10 years. Kelly said the patience exhibited by students, faculty and the community helped keep the project on track. “Our students have been great during the construction process,” he said. “Their patience in occupying the present school, with its continued problems, and going through the new construction process on the same site has been tremendous. “Our community has been a great supporter of our projects and more so for the benefits that our students will enjoy now and in the future.”

The recent availability of state funds combined with local tax initiatives have given rise to a new era of school construction across Southern Illinois within the past five years. New buildings in Pinckneyville, Carterville and Johnston City have been completed, while a new high school in Mount Vernon is being built and renovations at Marion High School are set to begin in 2013. Capitalizing on more than $100 million in capital development funds released through the Illinois Jobs Now! program, the respective school districts have taken advantage of the opportunity by upgrading their sports facilities as well. “It’s phenomenal,” said Johnston City football coach Dan Mings of his new $5.3 million athletic complex. “I can’t even tell you how impressive it is with the lights on. “I figure we had 40 to 50 people come out just to see it with the lights on for the first time.” Paid for out of a combination of state funds and a 1 percent Williamson County sales tax, the complex features a new softball field, press box, weight room, concession stands and locker room. Ralph Davison Field also underwent significant upgrades with a turf playing surface, six-lane track and video scoreboard. “Johnston City was its own spectacle because people backed up their cars to the field,” Mings said. “We’re going to miss that, but I think we have something to be extremely proud of, and I think people in the community are excited for it.” On Sept. 4, Pinckneyville Community High School students began classes at their new, $20.5 million, 560,000square-foot facility that included a new track, lights and FieldTurf playing surface for its football field, Quillman Field. The only thing remaining to be completed is the press box, which is still in the bids process.


Du Quoin High School has a new baseball field (top). Du Quoin (middle) and Pinckneyville have new football fields.

“We didn’t start out intending to do turf,” said Pinckneyville coach and co-Athletic Director Tod Rushing. “We did the track, and competition for jobs is so intense right now that the (construction) bids came in low.” It can be argued that Carterville school district started it all in 2008 with the construction of Lions Field. Located next to Tri-C Elementary School, the $1.5 million facility, which includes a turf football field and eight-lane track, was part of a 2003 bond referendum that yielded almost $8 million. After almost two decades of planning and

waiting, the completion of a new Carterville High School, replacing the one that had served public education since 1923, was finished in 2011 at a cost of $25 million. In Marion, the Unit 2 Board of Education voted in April to approve a $64.5 million plan to renovate Marion High School to ease overcrowding. The original facility was built in 1964 with additions in the 1970s and 1990s. Construction is set to begin in 2013, with the addition of new bleachers, track and turf at the football field. 618-351-5073 On Twitter: @PeteTheSouthern

New junior high school next for Carterville BY JOE SZYNKOWSKI



Coming off the heels of the completion of its new $34 million high school, Carterville is moving on to building its new junior high school. Construction is under way for the 50,000-square-foot facility at the site of the old high school in the 800 block of South Division. Beginning in the fall of 2013, when the new junior high school will be ready, Tri-C Elementary School will house kindergarten through thirdgrade students, while the intermediate school in the 300 block of School Street will be dedicated to grades four through six. The new junior high will incorporate grades seven and eight. The restructuring of the Carterville school landscape has been a long, collaborative project. Approval of bids in February showed a total construction cost for the new junior high at $9.9 million. It was a cost savings of $1 million after board members and administrators agreed the initial bid amounts in the

Plans: 50,000-square-foot facility Construction cost: $9.9 million this year. Carterville is able to manage its growing student population through the timely development of new facilities, thanks to previous district board assessments and action. The new high school has been a hit. Through the first year in the new building, teachers, students and administrators have enjoyed the luxuries of the new amenities offered by the stateof-the-art, 225,000-squarefoot facility. From basketball games in the new gymnasium to technological advancements in the classrooms, the school has THE SOUTHERN FILE PHOTO enhanced the educational The new education complex in Carterville includes an elementary school and high school along with athletic fields. experience for Carterville’s youth. The school’s 750-seat junior high students and faculty neighborhood of $11 million were cut out for us. There are not as auditorium has also played host with a learning environment too high for what was projected. many resources available now. to several major events, thanks comparable to the new high “We had to go through a value But, we’re meeting each to its full orchestra pit, large school at 1415 W. Grand. The challenge successfully that’s adjustment and rebid three stage, expansive backstage high school has a capacity of coming up.” categories,” Superintendent dressing area and impressive 750 students, and reported an Prusator and his school staff Robert Prusator told The enrollment jump to 525 students acoustics. are excited about providing Southern. “We’ve got our work






Little Big Town performs on the final night of Southern Illinois Country Fest in Sparta.

Southern Illinois features some of country music’s best living in Music City and traveling the country with artists like Lee Greenwood, Tracy Lawrence and John im Gentile didn’t Michael Montgomery. He necessarily see a bright returned home to Southern future for the group of Illinois a few years ago and female country singers he opened 326 Productions booked for HerrinFesta Italiana; recording studio in Anna. he made the decision based on He’s helping to promote finances. regional music competitions, “I picked them because I saved such as the recent Southern $500,” Gentile, executive Starr contests, in hopes of director of the annual festival, finding the best the region has said of signing the Dixie Chicks to offer. Having competed on for an appearance. “Then, one the “You Can Be a Star” day, I’m reading about the television series in the late success they were having. I 1980s, he understands the value realized I made a pretty good of that kind of exposure. pick.” “It does open up doors,” he As it would turn out, it would said. “It opened doors for me. be the first of many good There’s nothing wrong with choices that Gentile and his growing a fan base locally, but I team would make throughout think everyone needs to go to the years. From that moment on, Nashville at some point.” HerrinFesta became a place THE SOUTHERN FILE PHOTO But, for what it’s worth, where fans could see up-andEddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry perform as Montgomery Gentry at Walker’s Bluff in Carterville. Hornbeak is also bringing a slice coming talent as they sat on the of Nashville to Southern Illinois. “We were probably a year early have visited the region, drawing every weekend that someone verge between relative unknown He frequently hosts nationally could make a mini-vacation,” massive crowds. For some who on that guy,” Gentile said. and breakout success. touring back-up bands at his Hoffard said, noting the days of have followed the Southern Gentile’s success with Having hosted the Dixie Illinois country scene for a long having to drive to places like St. studio, allowing local musicians HerrinFesta is only part of a Chicks and promoting ties to chance to record with Louis or Nashville to see toptime, they know that wasn’t larger development that has between Herrin and renowned tier performers seem to be over. renowned musicians. Currently, always the case. been picking up steam in Nashville songwriter David Lee “It’s come to us. You don’t have he’s working with Eli Tellor and “I can remember when big Southern Illinois through recent Murphy gave the small-town former Miss Illinois Ashley to make a two-day trip. If you stars would come and perform years. The region is quickly Southern Illinois festival solid wait long enough, someone will Hatfield. at the Egyptian Drive-In,” said developing a reputation as a footing in the entertainment Hornbeak said it amazes him come here that you want to see.” Vince Hoffard, Flipside hotbed for country music, and industry. to look at the quality of music There’s more to Southern columnist and country music it’s not isolated to any one city “We became a serious festival emanating from his home Illinois’ country music scene, aficionado. “They would hire or area. for promoting a new artist,” region, something he never though, than just the visiting these legitimate stars, and no From the SIU campus in Gentile said. “We’d become a noticed while growing up here. stars. The region has also been one would come.” destination for up-and-coming Carbondale to the World He wants to help Southern producing quality singers, But, now, something has Shooting and Recreational country musicians.” Illinois’ best and brightest songwriters and musicians for changed. Promoters are Complex in Sparta to the The streak continued as succeed; and, as such, his goal is years. Writers like the capitalizing on outdoor HerrinFesta stage and Walker’s names like Blake Shelton, Billy a simple one. aforementioned Murphy of concerts, creating more of a Currington and Phil Vassar took Bluff winery in Carterville, “I would love to make Herrin and Kendell Marvel have festival atmosphere. Fans are several local venues have hosted to the regional stage during the Memorial Day weekend festival. top name country music acts of coming in droves, often camping found a spot writing for many of someone in this area famous,” he said. “There are going to be out and enjoying the shows. And Nashville’s top performers, This year, a young performer by yesteryear and today in recent while others are still looking for some big acts to come out of this there’s no shortage of events to months. the name of Hunter Hayes area in the next five years.” that breakout opportunity. choose from. Performers such as Kenny performed at HerrinFesta. Last Steve Hornbeak, who was “Now it seems like there’s Rogers, Willie Nelson, Tim month, he reached No. 1 on the raised in Tamms, spent 25 years / 618-351-5031 always something going on Billboard country music charts. McGraw and Dierks Bentley

BY ADAM TESTA The Southern


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Arts & Entertainment



Pumpkins are lined up at Bandy’s Pumpkin Patch in Johnston City.

Nature playing greater role in entertainment BY ADAM TESTA THE SOUTHERN

Agriculture has long played an important role in Southern Illinois’ economy, but lately, it’s gained traction as a source on entertainment, as well. From the wineries throughout the region, which host a variety of different events and festivals, to orchards, a number of venues are inviting the public to come have fun on their rich, fertile soil. In addition, there are seasonal aspects of the region’s “agritainment,” such as pumpkin patches in the fall and berry harvests in the spring and summer. Wineries across Southern Illinois have capitalized on chances to draw in crowds of both locals and visitors alike, as they host everything from weekly concerts to murder mystery dinners and cooking classes with local celebrity chefs to


Half pecks of peaches sit on the shelves in the market at Rendleman Orchards in Alto Pass.

ethnic festivals. When it comes to music, it’s not only local musicians taking the stage, either. Well-known performers like Charlie Daniels, Montgomery Gentry, Heart and Shirley King, the daughter of B.B. King, have played in Southern Illinois recently. Walker’s Bluff in Carterville has been leading that charge, aiming to establish itself as more

of a destination than just a winery. The venue has hosted major events and concerts, bringing thousands to its evergrowing village of shops and entertainment offerings. In the winter, Walker’s Bluff even offers the region’s only ice skating locale. Gone are the days of turning only to the bars, bowling alleys and movie theaters for entertainment


Paul Renzaglia of Alto Vineyards points out some of the changes taking place at the winery.

and fun, both through the week and on the weekends. Look across Southern Illinois on any given evening and discover something going on at a

winery, an orchard or other outdoor venue. The expansive landscape of Southern Illinois is filled with fields and forests, but that doesn’t mean they’re

limiting adventure and fun. The region’s agritainment expansion helps combine the best of both worlds as it relates to economics and entertainment.

Murals give Cairo a link to its history THE SOUTHERN


Heather Amundsen of Paducah (top) works on a mural at the Cairo floodwall on the Ohio River. One of Amundsen’s murals is

The city of Cairo has a rich past, and the efforts of one local teacher are ensuring it won’t go ignored. Janet Rose, a sixth-grade teacher at Cairo Elementary School, recognized that there simply wasn’t much in town for students to embrace. But, knowing the history of the area, which was a key strategic location in the Civil War, she wanted to bring that to the forefront of her students’ minds. Rose started the process by collecting artifacts, drawings and photographs that showed the glory days of Cairo, when the city bustled with businesses and people and steamboats stopped there as they traveled up and down the lengths of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. As she shared the stories with her students, they began to take interest in their city’s roots and the tales of the past many of them had never heard before. She decided to turn it into a class assignment, having the students write songs about the town and then combine the best parts from each to make one class-written song about Cairo’s past and present. But, that wasn’t the end. Rose knew that she was onto something with potential, and she wanted her students to play a bigger role. “I wanted them to dream big; we need something big here,” she said. “I want them to own the town, to be proud of the town.” Rose’s students designed and sold T-shirts to raise money to fund a new project. They decided to illustrate Cairo’s history in the form of murals throughout town. Their efforts paid off, as they raised enough funds to hire an artist, Heather Amundsen of Paducah, to help create the first mural on the side of a building at the corner of 34th and Sycamore streets. The mural, depicting the U.S.S. Cairo, an ironclad gun boat built in Mound City and used by the Union during the Civil War, was completed in 2011. It sparked more motivation and inspiration among the group. Rose then challenged her students: What if they could paint the entire floodwall along the river with historic murals? That’s the goal now, and with each class the passes through Rose’s hands, she’s continuing to spread the spirit and the mission. “If those kids can take on the town as a priority, then




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Arts & Entertainment


Cedarhurst: A gem for lovers of the arts BY ADAM TESTA THE SOUTHERN

Cedarhurst Center for the Arts has become more than a gallery; it stands as a premier representation of culture and the arts in Southern Illinois. The 90-acre Mount Vernon campus invites guests to explore five different galleries, as well as a performance hall, sculpture garden, hiking trails and other special attractions. “The main draw is the opportunity people have to experience different elements of art,” said Sarah Sledge, communications director for the venue. “We have visual arts, the art of nature and performing arts. We have quilters, we have woodcarvers; we have opportunities for every kind of art you can imagine.” Cedarhurst has provided those opportunities for nearly four decades. The center will celebrate its 40th anniversary next fall. It began as the vision of local philanthropists John and Eleanor Mitchell, who founded it as place for enjoyment and education. The Mitchells were active collectors and acquired a highly prized collection of late 19th and early 20th century American paintings, sculpture and decorative arts. Upon their deaths, they left their entire estate for the benefit of the people of Southern Illinois. Pieces of their collection remain on display in Cedarhurst’s permanent collection gallery. The other four galleries rotate exhibits a few times each year. New exhibits opening later this month include a contemporary glass exhibit, two photography displays and a showcase of handmade wire sculptures and designs. Most exhibits hosted at Cedarhurst are free, but some — like the upcoming glass exhibit — have a nominal entrance fee. Cedarhurst also continues to expand its programming to reach different audiences. The venue has now partnered with WSIU-TV, a Carbondale-based PBS affiliate, to promote two


‘Kimball,’ a horse fashioned from chromed car bumpers by John Kearney of Omaha, welcomes guests to the Mitchell Museum.

DETAILS The 90-acre venue features art galleries, performing arts stages and a sculpture garden. Cedarhurst, 2600 Richview Road in Mount Vernon, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 618-242-1236. family events featuring characters from PBS’s “SteveSongs” and “Dinosaur Train.” “It was wonderful,” Sledge said. “We had people from all over Southern Illinois.” The Happening is another recent addition to Cedarhurst’s programming. The semi-regular events aim to attract an audience between the ages


Fairgoers look around a photography display at the Cedarhurst Craft Fair in Mount Vernon.

of 21 and 40. Events feature a themed based on art but also incorporating elements that will be of interest to that age group. In addition, the venue also hosts performing arts,

including the six-concert Chamber Music Series, which begins Saturday, Oct. 13. That series is the highlight of the year, but other performances will be announced as the

time approaches. And in keeping the vision of the Mitchells alive, Cedarhurst also serves as an educational center, hosting art classes for people of all ages, from

children to adults. Classes are offered focusing on everything from pottery to knitting to glass blowing. 618-351-5031

SI Music Festival brings diverse acts THE SOUTHERN

Summer is a season of tradition. In Southern Illinois, one annual event has established itself as a centerpiece of the summer schedule and continues to grow in scale with each turn of the calendar year. For seven years, the Southern Illinois Music Festival has highlighted local arts and attracted several special guests into the region for rare performances. Performers from across THE SOUTHERN FILE PHOTO the globe have Edward Benyas conducts the Southern Illinois Music Festival descended upon Orchestra as they rehearse at First Baptist Church in Marion. Southern Illinois to Carterville High School auditorium. But, share the beautiful sounds of their it’s not all centralized in Jackson and instruments and voices with the public. Williamson counties. For festival organizer Edward Benyas, Cities like Cairo, Cobden and Sesser conductor of the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra, diversity is the key also host performers, making the experience easily accessible by anyone in to making, and keeping, the festival Southern Illinois. successful. Each year, a variety of styles With each passing year, the Southern of music are highlighted in various Illinois Music Festival grows bigger and forms, from orchestra performances to becomes more successful. Benyas said he ballets and operas and concerts. hopes to see it continue to expand and The festival also offers events at a diverse range of venues, from the historic for more Southern Illinoisans to use it as a means of experiencing the fine arts. Shryock Auditorium to the brand-new


Performers dance at a rehearsal of the ballet ‘The Firebird’ at Marion Cultural and Civic Center.





Homeowners flock to Lake of Egypt for waterfront property BY MARY THOMAS LAYTON

retiring from corporate life in Chicago, they could have retired anywhere in the world. Waterfront property. “I always said I wanted Certainly a factor that to live in the mountains or inspired growth on Lake of Egypt, construction of on a lake,” Mike said. The couple discovered new homes continues on their new home by its 90 miles of shoreline. accident. En route from Six miles south of Mississippi to Chicago, Marion, Little Egypt covers 2,300 acres along a they had stopped in the Lake of Egypt area to hike hilly terrain. Owned by and explore the wine trail. Southern Illinois Power Cooperative, the lake was They ended up buying more than just wine. created 50 years ago by Their purchases during damming a section of the trip included a chunk Saline River to supply of waterfront property. cooling water for the Sharon Hughes tells a power plant. similar story. She and her Lake of Egypt spans husband, Alun, also from several zip codes, including those in Marion, Chicago, were looking for retirement property. They Creal Springs and Goreville, and accommo- had planned on heading north to Wisconsin when dates 37 subdivisions. they learned about Lake of Within the last 10 years, Egypt. Luxor Landing has “Our children fell in developed in the Goreville love with it for the area. Mike and Marty camping,” Sharon said. Hinz were the first to “They told us we had to build at Luxor Landing. see it.” “There aren’t a lot of They did. And, that’s all lakes in Illinois that you it took to get them to can actually live on,” said move. Now, they are living Marty, editor of Lake of in Eagle Point Bay, the Egypt Association of largest and oldest Property Owners quarterly newspaper, The subdivision on the lake. Alun is the newly elected Anchor. She and her president of LEAPO. husband, both natives of Washington State, have lived all over the U.S., as 618-351-5071 well as England. After



A construction worker halts traffic on the Interstate 57 on-ramp from Illinois 13.

Worth the wait: Road construction brings money, jobs the interstate to six lanes from I-24 to I-64, north of Mount Vernon, to The Southern increase capacity, improve safety, create jobs and enhance the f building roads and other economic development potential of transportation infrastructure the region, he said. really does play an important The additional lane would be role in economic development, the constructed in segments for path to prosperity is being paved in continued use. Southern Illinois. The first segment is a 4.7-mile The region is experiencing a stretch of I-57/I-64 in Mount construction boom on its major Vernon. roads, with lane additions, new “This $30 million project will bridges and other improvements provide many jobs to all the trades under way or recently completed. directly working on the project, as Some of the biggest projects are well as all the producers and on Interstate 57, the north-south mega-route that bisects the region. material suppliers on the project. On average, about 35,000 vehicles The increase in capacity will also travel the interstate between Marion alleviate congestion and improve safety on the interstate around and Mount Vernon each day; 33 Mount Vernon,” he said. “The next percent of that is truck traffic. segment is under way in Marion and “Due to the high volume of is part of the I-57 and Illinois 13 traffic/trucks, the section of I-57 interchange reconstruction project.” between I-24 and I-64 is an In addition to the interchange interstate highway identified by improvements in Marion, state and federal government for construction has begun on dual consideration regarding an additional lane,” Illinois Department structures that will carry Illinois 13 traffic over the BNSF Railway and of Transportation spokesman Josh Marathon Drive; intersection Kauffman said. improvements and frontage road “The additional lane on I-57 is construction have also started. essential for the expansion of Work continues on the Illinois 13 commerce in Southern Illinois, as widening project, with the longthe potential for future economic range plan of widening the highway growth and job creation is between Marion and Carbondale. dependent on an interstate that is “Transportation is vital to the safe and free of congestion to attract economic development of the new business and support region. Economic development expansion of existing businesses; this project will improve safety and depends on the efficient movement of people and goods throughout the capacity.” region,” Kauffman said. “Illinois 13 An additional lane on the is a crucial link in the transportation interstate between Interstates 24 and 64 is on IDOT’s wish list, he infrastructure of Southern Illinois. said. The overall vision is to expand The six-lane expansion of Illinois 13



and access plan will address immediate congestion, improve safety of the motoring public, and provide adequate capacity for operational needs and future developments.” The project will see the addition of a lane in each direction to expand 13 to a six-lane urban expressway, he said. “Through multiple segments — some already complete, in progress and others yet to begin — this $100-plus million Illinois Jobs Now! capital bill project will expand Illinois 13 to six lanes, improve intersections and safety, and build some frontage roads from Illinois 37 in Marion to west of Greenbriar Road in Carterville.” IDOT is conducting a Phase No. 1 engineering study to add an additional lane in each direction between Giant City Road in Carbondale and west of Greenbriar in Carterville. Marion Mayor Bob Butler knows the importance of a good transportation infrastructure when business and industry looks at sites for future location. “I don’t think you could overemphasize the importance of what it’s meant to Marion to be at the junction of Interstate 57 and Illinois 13, and just six miles south is Interstate 24,” he said. “The geographic location is important, but the transportation network has meant so much. It’s been crucial to expansion, growth and prosperity.” 618-927-5633 / On Twitter: @beckymalkovich


Ed Collins with SM Communications, LLC of Campti, La., rolls fiber optic cable into a figure eight pattern as it is pushed up through inner duct tubing at the corner of West Walnut Street and South Illinois Avenue in Carbondale.

Broadband accessibilty expands BY CALEB HALE

becoming more and more important, said Ray Cagle, chief operating officer of Clearwave Six years ago, only Communications in 25 percent of Southern Harrisburg. Illinois households had “You’re seeing quite a access to high-speed bit of increase we didn’t Internet, and only see two, three years ago,” 12 percent of them took Cagle said. advantage of it. Today, For that reason, 70 percent of households have access, and roughly Southern Illinois is working rapidly to lay the 45 percent of them are infrastructure to bring connected. broadband Internet to all Those figures from corners of the region. Steven Mitchell, Clearwave itself has Southern eTeam been a major factor in Coordinator for Broadband Illinois, show this expansion, having received a $31.5 million how the availability and grant in 2010 to lay more demand for service has expanded in a fairly short than 740 miles of fiber cable throughout amount of time. Southern Illinois. The “I would be willing to goal is to connect more say nearly every incorporated community than 200 institutions – schools, hospitals, etc. – in the lower 20 counties to a high-speed network has at least one form of capable of delivering broadband available to connection speeds of up them, but there are a to 10 gigabits per second. number of households Cagle said the that do not have it, so the company is more than work is not done,” halfway through the Mitchell said. project and will be He hears from those continuing its expansion who don’t have access of broadband access in every day, and their the area even after it is desire to get it is very finished. high. In a social network and Netflix world, accessing 618-351-5090 high-speed Internet is



Traffic grinds to a halt along Interstate 57 at its interchange with Interstate 64, south of Mount Vernon.


Growth & Expansion


Number and size of churches on the rise BY LES O’DELL

Carbondale has nearly 450 members, says administrator Chris Parton. He believes the church has grown because of Faith is alive and growing in members’ desire to love people Southern Illinois with a variety and tell them about Christ in a of religions, congregations and way that is hopeful and Christfellowships available to local residents. In fact, there are more centered. A Marion-based congregation, than 50 faith congregations Cornerstone Church first started available in Carbondale alone. in 1999. Today, it has three Southern Illinois Southern Illinois campuses, congregations vary from small including congregations in churches in historic structures Johnston City and Carterville. to decades and century-old The church recently purchased churches enjoying new buildings, all the way to younger the former Walmart building to serve as its Marion worship congregations in noncenter and base. traditional church buildings. Church leaders say the growth Many are community-focused is a byproduct of three simple and, while none of the larger things. congregations are “mega “We call it the irreducible churches,” some do refer to core,” explains executive Pastor themselves as regional Gregg Donaldson. “Churches churches. can do lots of things, but they “We are definitely a regional have to do these three. If not, church,” says Barry Steed, administr-ative pastor of Little they’re not going to grow.” He says the three core tasks Chapel, near Harrisburg. He are “loving God, loving others says the 1,000 people who worship at the church each week and making disciples.” Donaldson says most churches come from all walks of life and a do a good job of loving God number of communities for a through worship, but fewer are church, which offers strong adept at the other two. programming for children and “Loving others means going what he calls a freedom to outside the walls of church, not worship. to promote or recruit, but to Five-year-old Life Church in


serve just because other people are special to God,” he says. “The third is about how you systematically help people grow spiritually.” Donaldson says it is vital for churches to stay focused on the core principles, and, he says, many local churches are. “We believe that there are a number of churches that are doing things just as well,” he says. Carbondale’s Vine Church now counts more than 1,800 worshipers each Sunday. Despite being one of Southern Illinois’ largest congregations, the church has, in many ways, flown under the radar. “I think that we want to quietly be about the business of making disciples, preaching Jesus and watching them grow in their faith,” lead Pastor Sándor Paull says. “It’s more about personal relationships and less about marketing.” Like Cornerstone, Vine has a goal of creating new churches, not in the region, but rather in university communities outside of Southern Illinois. Over the last dozen years, Vine has planted churches in Athens, Ohio; Bloomington, Ind.; Bloomington; Saint Louis and

‘We have a lot of momentum. It seems a lot of the churches are seeing some growth and there’s some real excitement.’ BRIAN ANDERSON EASTLAND BAPTIST CHURCH, METROPOLIS

‘I’d rather have 10 real disciples than 1,000 people. We’re not about drawing a crowd. Our hope is that people are really being changed by Jesus.’ SÁNDOR PAULL VINE CHURCH, CARBONDALE

Seattle. Yet, Paull says the goal is not growth. “I’d rather have 10 real disciples than 1,000 people,” he regularly tells church members. “We’re not about drawing a crowd. Our hope is that people are really being changed by Jesus.” It’s not just “young” churches that are reaching out. Many more established or older congregations also are growing and changing with the times. Several Union County churches have, or soon will move into, new buildings after outgrowing previous facilities. “Church growth experts tell us that when your building reaches 80 percent capacity, you’re

considered full; we’ve been there. Now is the time for us to move forward,” Ed Falgout of First Baptist Church in Cobden says. Three Baptist churches in Metropolis are all exchanging buildings, finding ways to serve one another with structures that are a better fit for each congregation. Brian Anderson, pastor at Eastland Baptist Church, which is participating in the church swap, says there is excitement behind all that churches in the area are doing. “We have a lot of momentum. It seems a lot of the churches are seeing some growth, and there’s some real excitement.”


A southbound Amtrak train pulls into the station in Carbondale.

Amtrak: The lifeline between Chicago and Carbondale BY LES O’DELL FOR THE SOUTHERN

One of the driving forces behind economic development, tourism and the recruitment of college students chugs through the region multiple times a day. With each stop in Southern Illinois, Amtrak national rail service brings business and opportunity down the rails. In fact, the three passenger trains in the region are vital not only to the residents of Southern Illinois, but also people from neighboring states. “The last few times I’ve ridden the train back from Chicago, I’ve talked with people from out of state who also have boarded in Carbondale,” says Carbondale City Manager Kevin Baity. “These are people from Missouri, Arkansas and Kentucky, who are parking here for the weekend and using Amtrak.” Baity says those passengers often spend the night or enjoy a meal prior to catching the train, bringing an economic boost to the area.

essential transportation service that gives the people of Southern Illinois DETAILS more options.” Many train passengers are Southern Ridership: Fiscal year 2011 Chicago-Carbondale ridership was 310,000, up 18 percent Illinois University students whose homes Three trains: The Illini and The Saluki (Chicago to Carbondale with stops in Du Quoin are upstate. SIU Spokesman Rod Sievers and Centralia) and The City of New Orleans (Chicago to New Orleans with stops in says that Amtrak service is essential in Centralia and Carbondale). attracting students to attend the university. added to the schedule in 2006. The passenger train service, which “It is very important to bring students “Adding that third train has only makes three daily runs to Chicago and here and to take them home,” he says. “It increased the number of riders,” Baity one south to New Orleans, continues to is reliable and offers a fair price. When says. “We thought that we may see grow in popularity, Baity explains. students know that they can get to and numbers stabilize and not see an increase from the university with ease and in an “We have seen significant increase in when it was added, but that wasn’t the ridership for the last five or six years on affordable way, it’s good for case.” Amtrak,” he says. recruitment.” All of the passenger services continue In fact, ridership on the two trains Baity says the passenger service is so to be a popular option for residents and which make the Chicago to Carbondale popular, there have been suggestions that students. run with multiple stops in between — Amtrak add a fourth train between “I think the Amtrak service we have called The Illini and The Saluki — grew Chicago and Carbondale, making limited has been extremely well received and is more than 18 percent in fiscal year 2011 stops between the two cities. over the previous 12 months. In total, the very widely used,” David Coracy, owner But, he adds, talks are in the very of B & A Travel Service in Carbondale, two trains carry more than 310,000 initial stages and any additional says. “Many people these days look at passengers annually. service would require state funding, as Amtrak as a budget way of getting to and well as permission from a number of The Saluki — Amtrak train 391 southbound and 390 northbound — was from places. To us, it is part of the entities.





Advances in technology make getting news simpler BY CALEB HALE THE SOUTHERN


Southern Illinois Airport has seen a lot of expansion in the last few years.

SI Airport: Ever-expanding, ever-important BY BECKY MALKOVICH THE SOUTHERN

The opening of the new SIU Transportation Education Center highlighted a year of growth for Southern Illinois Airport. Students began using the three-building complex, which houses three SIU applied sciences departments — aviation management and

flight, aviation technologies and automotive technology — this fall. The airport also opened a $2.7 million Public Safety Building for aircraft rescue, firefighting and snow removal equipment, bringing a number of emergency response components under one roof for the first time in the airport’s history. The projects, along with the

new Armed Forces Reserve Center that opened last year, as well as other technology and infrastructure improvements, represent more than $70 million in new construction that has taken place at the airport in the last few years. Airport officials are also working with entrepreneurs, economic development experts, educators and elected officials, including Jackson

Growth Alliance and the Entrepreneurship and Business Development Center at SIU Carbondale, on developing a high-tech zone with a special focus on manufacturing innovation at and around the airport. The high-tech zone would capitalize on existing strengths in the region, such as aviation and automotive programs at SIU.


A Cape Air passenger plane sits on the ramp outside the terminal at Williamson County Regional Airport.

Improvements continue at Marion airport BY BECKY MALKOVICH THE SOUTHERN

Growth continued at Williamson County Regional Airport this year. The number of passengers flying to and from the airport on Cape Air grew, airport manager Doug Kimmel said. “This is a service that continues to be utilized and increasingly so,” he said. The airport improved

infrastructure and laid the groundwork for future improvements. Repaving of runways and taxiways was completed, and construction of a new fire station access road to the airfield is almost finished, he said. Also completed was the design and layout for additional hangar development on the airport’s west side. In its initial phase,

the project will include infrastructure to access the west side, additional taxiway, aircraft ramp parking area and a small hangar. “We’re waiting for the goahead from the state and hope that is forthcoming this year,” Kimmel said. A new terminal is also in the sights of airport officials. A new, more efficient terminal would replace the existing terminal built in 1972.

Officials began assessing the need for a new terminal several years ago, Kimmel said. “Of all the options out there, we determined a new terminal construction, adjacent to the one we have now, was the best option,” he said. Officials hope to complete design of the terminal this year and proceed with construction within two to three years, he said.

People want to be entertained and informed; that much hasn’t changed over the years. What has, however, is the means by which they get the information, and that’s meant a great number of changes to local media organizations in Southern Illinois. The Southern Illinoisan embraced the digital revolution at its onset and today boasts a 24/7 digital news report available online and through mobile apps. Gary Metro, editor of The Southern, said the traditional daily newspaper remains the company’s best-known brand, which is further strengthened though the company’s digital and niche products. Since 2007, The Southern has expanded its presence online into an award-winning website that delivers local, state, regional and national news. Other digital offerings include videos and expanded opportunities for people to view extensive photo galleries created by staff photographers. Both print and online products also feature the region’s best coverage of high school sports, and comprehensive coverage of SIU athletics. Mobile apps further expand the reach of The Southern, while an electronic, E-edition of the newspaper and niche print products devoted to business and lifestyle news appeal to readers who want more than traditional newspaper coverage.

“Our business is supplying local news and information about Southern Illinois, and the events and trends that shape our daily lives,” Metro said. “Our mission as a media company is to gather the news and information and present it in a format that best suits an individual’s busy schedule. We make it easy to stay well informed.” The company’s research indicates 75 percent of the people in The Southern’s market use the company’s news and information, either through the newspaper or digital products. In addition to the website, The Southern has also expanded its range of publications into a quarterly magazine that focuses on the finer points of living in the region, Life & Style in Southern Illinois, while its monthly business magazine, the Southern Business Journal, expanded its reach through distribution in the newspaper on the first Tuesday of the month. Other projects are in the planning stage, according to Metro. “With the pace of today’s life and the ever-increasing demands for immediacy in the information age, about the only thing that can be counted on is continual change and improved methods of distributing the region’s best news products,” Metro said. Greg Petrowich, executive director of WSIU Public Broadcasting at SIU Carbondale, can boil down most of the change into one word: Digital. And that comes in two parts, Petrowich adds. “One is the transformation of our delivery method to digital, which has been us delivering multiple program streams, high definition … and we’ve had to put in equipment to do that,” he said. “But the other side is thinking about the fact and the change that consumers now can watch and listen to things based on their schedule.” On-demand media is the new mandate for a broadcasting group that’s always held to its own set schedule. Petrowich said WSIU is working to expand the range and scope of content they can deliver to people that’s available whenever they want it. Like all public broadcasting across the country, a third of WSIU’s funding comes from federal government resources, a flow of money that’s remained largely static in recent years. The growing funding line, Petrowich said, comes from local contributions from viewers. That trend is likely to continue in the future, and Petrowich said part of WSIU’s challenge is to make people aware there is quality programming available to people without a cable or satellite subscription. “If it airs on WSIU, it’s going to meet a certain standard, and I think because it meets that certain value, it translates into financial support,” Petrowich said. 618-351-5090




Helping Shape the Future of Southern Illinois

One Student at a Time. One of the Best Educations in the Country






The area around Reed Station Road is seen in this aerial photo.

Reed Station Road is booming BY LES O’DELL

Carbondale City Manager Kevin Baity says ongoing development of Reed Station Crossing is beneficial to both Joel Sambursky says he thinks he has found the perfect TRACE BROWN the community and the CHARLIE BROWN AND ASSOCIATES surrounding area. location for his new office. The “From an economic financial adviser and founder of this feels like a middle ground, standpoint, any time you can “When the Hampton was Illinois 13 and Reed Station Liberty Wealth Management a meeting spot that serves all of increase the retail or tax base, build, people thought it was Road. The area is being was looking for a centralized, them,” he adds. “This location crazy, being out here,” said that provides additional funds upscale location, and he says he developed by Charlie Brown and the office space itself, is a Trace Brown, president of and Associates of Carbondale, for the city,” he says. “At Reed found it in the Reed Station win-win. Clients immediately Charlie Brown and Associates, which purchased the 63-acre Station, we have some of the Crossing development east of feel comfortable here, and it adding that all of the track in the mid-1990s. Their best hotels in Carbondale, Carbondale. has a nice, high-end feel development has benefitted goal was to bring an upscale quality restaurants and “I don’t think there is nicer A former president of the Carbondale. “This is one of the commercial subdivision to the convenient offices. It’s a good office space in this area,” Carbondale Chamber of first things you see now when thing for the community.” Sambursky says of his location city. Commerce, Sambursky says the you come to Carbondale. The Hampton Inn was the Brown says his company is in the Office Place, a building entire development has many first addition to the property in Ninety percent of the traffic working on bringing what he of professional suites for coming to town comes from the possibilities. 2000. In the years that calls a “campus of care,” to the business, commercial or “I’m excited because there is development to include medical offices. “This building followed, other businesses have east. This development and still undeveloped land here,” he medical and rehabilitation these businesses are good for opened in the area including is definitely one of the nicest says. “Since it is in the city the community.” Golden Corral and Houlihan’s facilities as well as an assisted places in Southern Illinois.” Sambursky says he found the limits, it’s going to bring restaurants, Holiday Inn in living center. The building is one of many growth possibilities in terms of 2006 and Office Place in 2008. location especially attractive. “That may take up much of new developments in the last “I’m fortunate to have clients employment, hotels and other the balance of the dozen years for the area, which Marketplace Shell gas station offerings.” from all over the region, and was completed in 2011. development,” he says. sits at the northwest corner of

‘Ninety percent of the traffic coming to town comes from the east. This development and these businesses are good for the community.’


Destination development still a work in progress BY BECKY MALKOVICH THE SOUTHERN

Progress continues in the quest to turn Marion into a prime destination for thousands of shoppers and tourists. Interest is still high in the proposed destination development in the city’s STAR bond district, Marion Mayor Bob Butler said. “Some major players are diligently involved, checking out real estate and demographics,” he said. “It’s been slow, but there is movement.” Confidentiality agreements preclude the release of names of those companies interested in locating in the development, but Chad Holland, partner in Millennium Development, told The Southern Illinoisan in July that developers are working with a destination user, water park/hotel and traditional retail users for the site. Presidential politics

may be affecting the decision-makers looking at the development, Butler said. “For whatever reason, some of the principals have slowed down. They want to wait for the outcome of the election. I’m not sure what bearing it has, but they are reluctant to move until after the election,” Butler said. While movement is simmering on the destination front, the area surrounding the site is booming. A new hotel and several restaurants have opened or are under construction, and the city is experiencing a minihousing boom, Butler said. “It could be a combination of locale, as well as anticipation of the STAR Bonds project. We also do everything we can to provide a favorable business climate,” he said. 618-927-5633 On Twitter: @beckymalkovich


The area near the water tower in the lower left corner of this aerial photo from Sept. 16 is where the proposed STAR bond development is scheduled to be built.



Agriculture & Natural Resources


Community food market going strong S THE SOUTHERN

outhern Illinois has a rich agricultural history, and traditional ideas and practices have been reborn in a modern society. From farmers markets and self-pick berry farms to local food movements and organizations keeping traditional farming practices alive, agriculture is progressive in Southern Illinois. Carbondale Farmers Market stared in the 1970s with a small group of farmers responding to the issue of hunger. Since that time, it has grown to become a popular community market offering a variety of local goods. Ann Stahlheber, market manager for Carbondale Farmers Market, first got involved with the market in 1977, two years after its creation. In its first year, the market had about five farmers selling produce. By the second season, many farmers changed their attitude from skepticism to enthusiasm. Since 1975, the market has had four locations. Beginning near Dillinger’s, it moved to Southern Illinois Avenue and Grand Avenue. Then it moved to a lot south of the SIU Arena before settling in Westtown Plaza Mall. This season marks its 37th year, and it is open 8 a.m. to noon Saturday from May through November. Stahlheber said quality foods and goods, as well as an appreciation for locally grown foods, have helped in the market’s longevity. “I just think the community really appreciates locally grown fruits and vegetables, and it’s grown from that,” she said. But that wasn’t always the case, Stahlheber said. When the market first started, there weren’t many farmers, or customers, but there was plenty of produce leftover at the end. She said a number of factors allowed the market to grow and prosper, including more sophisticated farming techniques that extend the growing season, a community atmosphere and a push to buy local fresh food. “The community has grown to love the atmosphere, being able to talk to the farmers and knowing where their produce is coming from,” she said. “Through the years, it’s really taken off. I think all the extra advertising that’s happened with the push for fresh foods and vegetables, and knowing who your farmers are, is really helping our market.” Besides produce, the market offers plants, flowers, crafts from local artists, including jewelry and wood crafts, soap, baked goods, honey and


SIU Chef Bill Connors points to a ripe tomato on the Foodie Fun Tour put on by the Neighborhood Co-Op Grocery at the Vermicomposting Center, part of the SIU Farms system in Carbondale.

organic beef, to name a few, Stahlheber said. Charles Stadelbacher owns Blue Berry Hill Farm in Cobden, which offer pre-picked and self-picked berries. The farm offers strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries from May to July. Although picking berries in July requires some tolerance to the summer heat, there is a sense of nostalgia involved with spending an afternoon picking berries with the family. “I hear a whole lot from parents that bring their children out. They’ll say, ‘Back when I was a kid, mom and dad brought me out,’” Stadelbacher said. Knowing where your food comes from, who grows it and how it is grown are important factors for one locally grown food movement. Food Works is an organization whose mission is local, sustainable food systems development for Southern Illinois. The organization works to educate the public about the locally grown food movement and its benefits to the consumer and community. Food Works offers a number of programs and workshops. Most recently, it hosted a Foodie Farm Tour, which toured three local farms. Participants gathered fresh food from each farm, and dishes were prepared. Food Works also expanded a farm beginnings program, thanks to a grant from the state. The Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings program is a year-long program


SIU second-year grad student Laura Williams talks to visitors on the Foodie Fun Tour.

beginning farmers form a one-on-one relationship with an experienced farmer; and a series of eight classes that teach the budding farmers business planning and marketing. Bradley said it is crucial for farmers in the programs to develop a sound business plan and strong marketing skills. He said the program is the third of its kind in Illinois and part of a wider network of farm beginning programs known as the Farm Beginnings Collaborative, which was started by the Land Stewardship Project in 1997 and has expanded to seven states. Bradley said a study by the Illinois Food Farms and Jobs Task Force found that the state needed more growers. He said the average fruit and vegetable travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate, and he JOEL HAWKSLEY / THE SOUTHERN believes an agriculturally rich state, such as Illinois, Christie Bennett of Marion checks out a tomato plant on the Foodie Fun Tour. dedicated to helping local and regional beginning and transitioning farmers. Jerry Bradley of Food Works said the program is comprised of three components: a series of field days where topics affecting farmers are covered; a mentorship component where

can do a better job of providing locally grown fresh produce. “If we get more production in this area, then people are going to get access to high-quality food,” he said. “It’s good for economic development in the area; rural revitalization ideally will create jobs as farmers need help in the field. People will buy from the farmers, so it’s going to help with the local tax base and it’s going to keep all that money in the community.” Bradley said there’s an environmental, economical and social aspect to the Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings program. He said with farmers markets becoming more commonplace, the public is savvier to the source of its produce. “People, more and more, are wanting to know where their food comes from,” Bradley said. “So, putting a face to the farm is really

important to us. People can know their growers, they can trust where their food comes from and that it’s grown sustainably. The social element is really important to us.” The goal of Food Works is to preserve the purity of food, whereas, the goal of the American Thresherman Association is to preserve the purity of traditional agrarian practices. The association conducts summer and fall events annually at Perry County Fairgrounds. Deb Schrader, secretary of the American Thresherman Association, said the 53rd annual August show was bigger than ever — attracting people from 10 states. “We like to show people the progress … to preserve the heritage of progress of power from hand work to horse, to the steam engine then on into the gas tractors,” she said.




Agriculture & Natural Resources


Katelyn Wiggs points to a carton of plums as she offers more information about the fruits at the Carbondale Farmers Market.

Local food: It’s everywhere you look BY STEPHEN RICKERL THE SOUTHERN

As people across the nation become more conscious of health, environment and economic issues, many are looking more closely at their food and where it comes from. Locally grown food movements are springing up across the nation. And, in Southern Illinois, Carbondale is leading the region in raising awareness of the benefits of locally grown foods. Dayna Conner, executive director Food Works, said the organic and local foods movements have many similarities and some crossover, but are distinctly separate movements. That can be confusing for almost anyone who begins exploring the two concepts. Professionally, Conner can speak on the local foods movement. In 1972, a number of organizations joined to form the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements; however, the locally grown movement is more recent, beginning in the 1990s and rapidly growing in recent years. Conner began working on community food systems in 1998. At that time, there was already a large group of leaders coalescing nationwide. For better or worse, Conner said, the movement has reached the point of success to where institutions and large corporations have begun co-opting the concepts, which she said can dilute the meaning. At its fundamental core,


Chef Bill Connors makes his way through the gathering of local food growers at the Carbondale Farmers Market.

Conner said the local foods movement is about creating community around vital nourishment. An indicator of that core is the growth of farmers markets both nationwide and in Illinois. Carbondale has been a leader among communities in Southern Illinois in the development of the locally grown movement, which can likely be attributed to the university. Conner said university towns tend to have the demographic of citizens attracted to healthful and sustainably produced food, and a greater progressive population that supports businesses such as natural food cooperatives and large farmers markets.

Nearly 90 percent of consumers at the Neighborhood Co-op Grocery in Carbondale are college educated; more than 40 percent of those have a master’s degree or higher. About half of these consumers have household incomes at least double the median for Jackson County, according to Conner. Carbondale’s leadership role in the local food movement can also be attributed to a strong effort of promoting the movement through education at the SIU Local and Organic Gardening Initiative of Carbondale and Chef Bill Connors through student housing and food service procurement. Food Works was

established in 2008 with a mission of developing local and sustainable food systems. “We educate about the many benefits of locally grown and raised foods to our personal and community health,” Conner said, “and provide education and support to experienced growers, as well as those just getting into farming.” Conner said the movement is supported by growing evidence of the detrimental environmental and social impact of a global industrialized food system. “People in the U.S. continue to demand that food cost less and less at the great expense of natural and human

communities,” she said. “Though the movement is gaining momentum, we still have so much work ahead to shatter the cheap food myth.” Citing a study from Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, Conner said for every $100 spent at a chain store, only $14 returns to the community. Spending the same amount at a local business brings $45 back to the community and tax base. “Results of many studies show that buying locally is one way for rural, economically depressed communities such as ours to work towards recovery and greater self-reliance,” Conner said. “Supporting ‘locally grown’ is

supporting a positive, non-extractive industry that encourages natural and human health and builds on the pride of our local communities.” She said buying local doesn’t mean choosing a chain store because it’s closer to home. It takes effort to go to the farmers market and buy local produce, eggs, cheese or beef from a farmer who lives close by. It means talking with the farmer about the ways they preserve and protect natural resources, and it may mean spending a few more cents on the food. But, overall, the community is stronger and more resilient. 618-351-5823

Southern Illinois working to help world go green THE SOUTHERN

education event will be at 7 p.m. today in Lawson 141 and features Southern Illinois is showing it a lecture by author Tanya Cobb, can be a leader for a greener who examines the relationship state. between food, health and the As a cornerstone of progress in environment. the region, SIU has a number of Schachel said, through the sustainability initiatives aimed Green Fund on campus, the at becoming more sustainability council has been environmentally friendly. able to pitch green propositions Kris Schachel, sustainability to business leaders in the coordinator at SIU, said the community. One project has university hosts events that already taken root on campus. educate the public and get The project included Elkay students and the community hydration station — water active in becoming green. One fountains that have a sensor and

a special spout that can refill reusable water bottles. Through the green fund, the sustainability council was able to have the system installed in the Student Center. The idea caught on, and the university decided that as water foundations around campus needed replacing, they would be replaced with hydration stations. Another green initiative on campus has student farmers at the Local Organic Gardening Initiative of Carbondale growing

herbs and vegetables to use in campus dining halls. Schachel said the initiative it is part of the local food source movement and helps to close the loop. Schachel said the university had 400 people sign a sustainability pledge this fall. Additionally, the university will host a campus sustainability day offering information on various initiatives from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 24 in the Student Center. “As a leader in the community, it’s just really part of preparing students to have an active role

beyond graduation and while they’re still here,” she said. “It’s about having these sustainability issues develop in people’s minds and consciousness.” But, environmental friendliness isn’t limited to SIU. Jackson County Health Department recently celebrated its 10-year milestone in recycling electronics. The program was one of its kind in Illinois. This year, JCHD expects to recycle more than 800,000 pounds of electronics.



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