- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Aug. 27, 2017

The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan

Southern Illinois put on an impressive show

What. A. Show.

We’re talking, of course, about the eclipse that happened Aug. 21. But, it also goes for the City of Carbondale and the rest of Southern Illinois.

Sure, the sun and the moon had the leading roles in this movie, but local officials deserve a Best Supporting Role award for their efforts.

Bravo, Carbondale. Bravo, Southern Illinois.

Officials estimated that 50,000 people came to Carbondale for the eclipse, and that 200,000 people traveled to the 16-county region we call home.

That’s a lot of people - and it took a lot of planning and hard work to pull it off. In our eyes, it was done right and well worth it.

“We probably over-prepared a bit, and normally I’m not an advocate for over-planning, but in this case I think we had to, just because we didn’t know how many people were coming to Carbondale,” said Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams at a news conference. “But looking back, I wouldn’t have done it any differently.”

Again, bravo.

This could be a fantastic jumping-off point for Carbondale and the rest of Southern Illinois. It’s the opportunity the region needed to put it back on the map, so to speak.

Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry said that he “wish(es) we had another one of these next year.” Well, why not?

Of course, we’re not going to have another eclipse next year - we have to wait until 2024 for that. But, we can have another celebration or major event here next year. And the year after that. And the year after that.

It was just proven that it can be pulled off. Why not make an annual event of some sorts?

Why not do this for every SIUC move-in weekend? Or even another time? Maybe a big alumni event? It doesn’t matter, but we do know it’d be a great thing for the region. And we know we can do it.

There were a lot of local folks who stayed away from the festivities around the region. For whatever reason, some locals were scared off by what was going on.

“I feel like there were a lot of our local people who might have normally come out to the events but were really scared away by all of the media hype about how awful traffic would be . and so a lot of our local people opted to stay home, and we missed out on them and they missed out on everything that we had planned for this weekend,” said Carbondale Tourism Executive Director Cinnamon Wheeles-Smith.

Well, we believe it was their loss, because everything was perfect.

Sure, it took a while for our visitors to come - most showed up Sunday and Monday of that week - but that’s OK. And really, when you think about, nobody really knew what to expect.

Again, it was perfect. In Carbondale, there were no significant incidents. In fact, Carbondale Police said it only issued three minor citations. That’s incredible considering the amount of people who were in town.

Going into the weekend, it seemed everyone was concerned about traffic congestion. Again, this proved to be minor as well - unless, of course, you’re talking about leaving town after the eclipse. The traffic was heavy - but that was to be expected.

Those involved with the eclipse - from Henry, Williams, Bob Baer, Carbondale Public Information Officer Amy Fox, Carbondale Police Chief Jeff Grubbs and everyone in between - should be proud of what they accomplished. And pardon us for leaving out any names, there’s not enough space here for everybody. But we saw you, and we’re impressed.

We’re proud of what Carbondale, Makanda, Goreville, Alto Pass - all of Southern Illinois - accomplished. It was a sight to behold - even for the unlucky ones who had their views of the eclipse boxed out by that darned cloud.

Kudos Carbondale. Kudos Southern Illinois. We can’t wait for what’s in store for the near future - and 2024.


Aug. 24, 2017

(Arlington Heights) Daily Herald

30 minutes a day that can save your life

The statistics help tell the story. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in Illinois. More than 25,000 people in the state died of heart disease in 2015, the latest full year available. Illinois has the 20th highest death rate from cardiovascular disease in the country.

Those are the statistics available from the American Heart Association. In addition, stroke is the No. 3 killer in Illinois — 5,709 people died of stroke in the state in 2015.

With that as a backdrop, if you or a loved one are suffering any heart or stroke symptoms, it’s vitally important that you see a doctor immediately.

That’s the message Dr. Agnieszka Silbert imparts when she talks about heart health at workplaces, churches and social clubs and once a week on a Polish radio station. Daily Herald staff writer Elena Ferrarin featured Silbert in an article.

“The way I practice cardiology, the most important thing is lifestyle,” Silbert said. “It’s not just the medication; it’s a holistic approach.”

Losing weight is one way to lower risk, she notes. But bad sleeping habits mean some people are too tired to exercise. So she gives them tips on meditation, stretching and nighttime breathing machines that will lead to them having more energy to focus on exercises that will help them lose weight.

Ferrarin tells the story of 53-year-old Neal Belcher who ignored troubling symptoms in 2015. He had unexplainable bouts of fatigue, his legs were swollen from water retention and he was short of breath walking from the parking lot to the Elgin factory where he worked.

Only when he heard Silbert list common symptoms of an unhealthy heart did he realize he was at risk. He ended up having open-heart surgery to correct a narrowing of his aortic valve.

“I might have waited too long to see a doctor,” Belcher said. “I would probably die.”

Think it can’t happen to you? Remember this: approximately every 40 seconds, an American will have a heart attack. The same is true for people having a stroke.

So listen to people like Dr. Silbert and pay attention to the warning signs. And look for ways to change bad habits.

For example, in West Chicago, Mayor Ruben Pineda is hosting a monthlong series of walks in September to “get people on the road to a healthier heart.”

“I understand that we are all busier than ever with the demands of work, family and social commitments,” Pineda said, “but according to the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke, if we can find just 30 minutes a day to walk, we may add years to our lives.”

Just 30 minutes. Concentrate on that statistic — for yourself and your family.


Aug. 24, 2017

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register

Time for politeness to return to politics

It is disturbing, but all too easy in today’s political climate, to picture the reality state Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez recently found herself in.

A spectator yelled “We hate you” at Jimenez, her husband, 4-year-old twins and mother as they walked in the Illinois State Fair parade. One of her sons asked his grandmother if the man hated him; she downplayed the incident, and the boy theorized perhaps the man was upset because he didn’t get any candy.

That may pacify the child now, but as he hears more insults hurled at his mother, how do his parents explain that a growing number of Americans have enthusiastically embraced the misplaced notion that incivility toward an elected official is a duty?

Jimenez, R-Leland Grove, recently told the SJ-R that there have been many examples where people were “inappropriate in their approach to me and my family.” Politics right now, she said, is “much more hostile than it’s been for a long time.”

Another example: House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, was dining recently at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Springfield when a man approached him. As detailed on the Capitol Fax blog, the man bent over the speaker’s table and pointed his finger at Madigan as he reportedly “chewed” out the state representative.

Even a polarizing figure like Madigan deserves to have a meal without someone getting in his face.

Politicians are not immune from critique. We should demand they be transparent and hold them accountable when they are not. Constituents have the right to discuss with their elected officials their concerns.

But it can be done with respect and in the proper venue. What does yelling obscenities or hateful statements accomplish? Nothing fruitful, although maybe the person verbally spewing garbage has a few moments of self-congratulatory happiness, and can bask in the praise from friends who applaud such actions in person or over social media. Case in point: Photos of the man in the Madigan confrontation were posted on Facebook, and the majority of the comments cheered him on.

Our country cannot remain in a place where it’s OK to demonize those we disagree with politically. It was a prominent trait of the 2016 presidential election cycle that has unfortunately continued; just look at the almost daily examples at the local, state or national level of incivility over a multitude of issues.

And incivility can escalate into violence, such as when a Bernie Sanders supporter shot and wounded several people at a Congressional Republicans baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, before being killed by Capitol Police. U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, was there but escaped injury.

Davis, who has described the shooting as his “breaking point,” has advocated since then to tone down the heated political rhetoric. We need more prominent elected officials of all political stripes to follow his lead. Too often party leaders on both sides fan the flames, as they let their competitiveness guide them if it means they could score a political win - even if it comes at the expense of compromise that would benefit the people they represent.

We fear this need to belittle those now perceived not just as opponents, but enemies, will lead good people - those who truly could make a difference - to not seek public office. If we had to bet, the man who yelled at Jimenez during the parade was angry about her votes that ended the budget impasse. He has a right to be upset with her, but there must be respect that she clearly voted her conscience.

Jimenez is one of a dozen state lawmakers who have indicated they will not seek office again in 2018. Another two resigned early from their terms. Not all are departing due to the political tone, but a few have said it has contributed to their decision.

Politics has never been perfect, and perhaps we are waxing nostalgic, but it seems there once was a desire to come together in bipartisan compromise on the majority of issues to benefit the most citizens. Is that too much to ask for?

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