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MARION VA UNDER INVESTIGATION: Congressional subcommittee looking into allegations of mismanagement

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By Holly Kee
hkee@bentoneveningNEWS.com

Less than a decade after a federal investigation into the Marion Veterans Affairs Medical Center resulted in wholesale changes to its surgical department, the Marion VA is again under investigation.

The Veterans Affairs Congressional Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee is looking into allegations made by whistleblowers and other informers from within the Marion facility — among them that radiology tests were misread and the mistakes were covered up; that employees who complained about what they considered mismanagement within the VA were bullied or in some cases reclassified or fired; that nepotism has figured into some hirings; and that in general the culture inside the VA is not transparent.

Centralia runs through Terriers 42-21

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Chris Barron
Carbondale Times

The Carbondale Terriers scored 21 points in the first half against the preseason South Seven Conference favorite Centralia Orphans. However, giving up 28 points in that same first half, isn’t the way to win conference games. 

Friday’s 42-21 loss again revolved around another talented quarterback. This time it was Javon Williams, who ran and passed for 357 of the Orphans’ 460 total yards and accounted for five of its six touchdowns. 

Nevertheless, Terrier Head Coach Bryan Lee was upbeat about his team’s defense — especially in the first half.

“It’s the best effort we have shown in the three years I’ve been at Carbondale,” Lee said. “Especially in the second quarter where we grabbed a lead.”

Ryan Neal named MVFC Defensive Player of the Week

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Saluki Media Service

SIU football defensive back Ryan Neal was named Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Week, the league announced Sunday evening. Neal led SIU to a 35-17 win at Southeast Missouri on Saturday night. 

Neal had an interception, a fumble recovery and a game-high eight tackles in the victory. He returned his interception 52 yards, and his fumble recovery set up an SIU touchdown. Neal led SIU’s defense, which held SEMO to 278 yards of total offense and less than four yards per play.

Neal is SIU’s first MVFC Player of the Week this season, and he is Southern’s first MVFC Defensive Player of the Week since Brandon Williams on Sept. 26, 2015. 

Special teams and defense lead to a Saluki win

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Chris Barron
Carbondale Times 

The 2015 away game against Southeast Missouri State and this past Saturday’s away game in the same stadium, both started off with a turnover by SIU. However, the reaction of those two teams was worlds apart.

In 2015, SIU emotionally folded after an interception by Mark Iannotti and went on to turn the ball over six more times (four fumbles, three interceptions in total) in a 27-24 loss to the Redhawks.

On Saturday, SIU’s Daquan Isom put the ball on the turf on his first carry. This time SIU’s veteran team just bowed its figurative football neck and scored the next 21 points — to basically win the game. Winning in Football, like any other sport, is a good part mental and emotional — not necessarily about who has the best talent.

Walt Frazier returns to highlight ‘Heroes, Myths and Traditions’ at SIU’s homecoming

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Christi Mathis
SIU Media Service

Walt “Clyde” Frazier, one of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s legendary alumni, returns to campus next month as “Heroes, Myths and Traditions” are celebrated during Homecoming 2017 festivities, Oct. 8-15.

Frazier, the homecoming grand marshal, will participate in the parade at 10 a.m. on Oct. 14.

Police investigating two shootings from weekend

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Carbondale Times

The Carbondale Police department is investigating two different incidents involving firearms this past weekend.
First, at about 10:07 p.m. on Aug. 25, police responded to the 500 block of South Ash Street in reference to shots fired. Officers found one individual with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. The victim was taken to the Memorial Hospital of Carbondale for treatment. That person’s name was not released.
Police say there are no suspects in custody as of Monday, and this appears to be an isolated incident and is not related to SIU.
Next, at about 5:04 a.m. on Sunday, responded to a residence in the 200 block of East Oak Street due to a report of a home invasion that just occurred.
Officers learned two masked suspects entered the residence displaying firearms and demanded money from the victim. One suspect was described as a black male in his early 20s, about five feet, eight inches tall, with a slender build and about 150 pounds.
The second suspect was described as a black male, also in his early 20s, about the same height, with a medium build and weighing about 150 pounds.

Saluki Family Weekend has several activities

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Christi Mathis
SIU Media Service

Saluki Family Weekend, a time for fun and making great memories, is set for Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 at Southern Illinois University.
The weekend’s activities include campus tours, a craft sale, an outdoor movie, crafts, rock-climbing, photo opportunities, a brunch, a 5K race, tailgating, football and much more. “It’s Good to be a Saluki” is a fitting theme for this year’s fun-filled celebration.
Family weekend registration is set for 6 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 29 at Saluki Stadium and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 30 at the Student Center. Check in, regardless of whether you’ve registered in advance, and pick up pre-ordered T-shirts and football game tickets.
Catch a free outdoor showing of “Despicable Me 3,” a family friendly movie, at 7 p.m. on Sept. 29 in Saluki Stadium. Or, anyone age seven or older may enjoy climbing the Student Recreation Center’s rock wall for free. The wall will be available from 7 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 29 and 2-4 p.m. Sept. 30.

Annual church giveaway Sept. 2

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Colleen Frease
Carbondale Times

Fall is a time for yard sale signs to be seen all over town as people take advantage of the cool weather. But how many people give things  others truly need away without charging any money?
The Carbondale Church of Christ will be hosting its annual Community Giveaway Day from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2, at this Saturday, Sept. 2 at 1805 W. Sycamore St.
The church has been hosting this giveaway for more than 20 years.
Throughout the years, they collect household goods and kitchen items. For Community Giveaway Day, people can come and take what they need. There is no charge, people are just asked to not take more than they need and be mindful of others.
For a family that cannot afford dishes or silverware, this is an opportunity to get items that will make a difference in their everyday living.

Businesses look to benefit from streetscape project

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Nathan Colombo 
Carbondale Times

The first phase of the downtown streetscape project is set to be ready in time to welcome visitors from all over the world. New street lamps cool the space with white LED lighting at night, trees and plants brighten up the days, and restaurants have stretched their sidewalk cafes to the sidewalk walls that line the streets.

Jason Buehner, owner of The Printing Plant, hopes the temporary struggle businesses faced during construction will be offset when commerce begins to pick back up.

“During the construction time it definitely hurt business because people didn’t want to come downtown because it was a big mess,” he said. “The light at the end of the tunnel is that it should be good for business, because somebody has to take the initiative to get downtown going in the right direction.”

Buehner, who recently expanded his business along South Illinois Avenue, sees this as possible catalyst for stakeholders in downtown to reinvest in their own properties.

Nathan Colombo
Nathan Colombo

SIU grad creates app for the eclipse

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Dustin Duncan
Carbondale Times 

 

Cell towers may go down this weekend, but an SIU alum has developed a mobile application to help visitors and residents get around Carbondale without service. 

Jeremy Packer, founder of Packer Labs, launched the SI Eclipse app Monday.  The application was sponsored by SIU’s Research Park and it doesn’t need an Internet connect to work. 

The app, Packer says, is a useful tool for visitors that will provide information about events, businesses and services in the region. Additionally, Packer says the app will be able to communicate with visitors via push notifications, something he says he is not aware of in other tools available to visitors.

“When cellphone reception is available, which is hopefully all or most of the time, we’ll utilize the app to push notifications to visitors with general information or emergency announcements,” Packer said. “If cellphone connections fail during eclipse weekend, we won’t be able to send out notifications, but people will still be able to use the map and information provided through the offline capabilities we’ve created.”        

Dustin Duncan
Dustin Duncan

Vigil held in response to Charlottesville attack

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Nathan Colombo 
Carbondale Times

Residents from Carbondale did their part Sunday to speak out against violence happening throughout the country and specifically the incidents from Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

A vigil was organized at Gaia House in conjunction with the Women United Network. Local officials, as well as members of the community, gathered in support of the victims and in opposition to white supremacist ideology. 

Mayor Mike Henry was first to speak in support of the vigil.

“This is what Carbondale is about,” Henry said. “Getting together and letting people know that we’re a community that embraces diversity. We’re an inclusive community. We have to speak out on things like this, even when they’re very, very far from us.”

Emily Kircher, a community member, spoke to the crowd about what the vigil meant to those who gathered.

“We stand here today to say that we do not accept this violence, this hatred, and we will not be terrorized by white nationalist bullies,” she said. 

Nathan Colombo
Nathan Colombo

Where to park or get a ride in Carbondale

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Dustin Duncan
Carbondale Times

With thousands of people expected to flood into Carbondale this weekend, one burning question remains — where is everybody going to park? 

Two Jackson County Mass Transit buses will each make two trips per hour from designated locations. The buses will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday through Monday. The Jackson County Mass Transit buses will be from the Civic Center and the SIU Student Center only. 

Shuttles will be available for those wanting to park on the outskirts of town and ride into the main entertainment venues in Carbondale. The parking lots for the shuttle transportation are at Carbondale Community High School, 1301 E. Walnut St., University Mall 1237 E. Main St., and Oakland Cemetery, corner of Oakland Avenue and Ready Mix Road. The city said riders will be able to use the service for $5 if paying cash per vehicle. The price will be $7 if using a credit or debit card. This route will run from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. 

City to try open container ordinance during eclipse

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Dustin Duncan
Carbondale Times

 

In hopes to create more of a festival-like atmosphere this weekend, downtown Carbondale will allow individuals to move within a certain boundary with open alcohol containers. 

From Friday to Monday, alcoholic beverages purchased from a licensed liquor establishment downtown may be possessed in plastic containers between Jackson and Mill Streets, and University Avenue and Washington Street from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. 

The city says coolers and outside beverages will not be allowed. When purchasing an alcohol beverage within an establishment and you want to take it outside, simply ask an employee if they will pour your drink in a plastic cup and you’re free to wander outside. There will be signs posted to tell individuals where alcohol is permitted. 

Preparing for visitors: Arbor District, Keep Carbondale Beautiful clean up litter

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Dylan Homoya 
Carbondale Times

Carbondale will soon receive a host of visitors for the solar eclipse and many new residents this week for the start of the fall semester at SIU. 

In anticipation of these events, two organizations teamed up Saturday to pick up litter around the streets of Carbondale. 

Volunteers from both Keep Carbondale Beautiful and the Arbor District Neighborhood Association came together to clean up trash in downtown Carbondale and the Arbor District neighborhood.

Keep Carbondale Beautiful does these cleans up frequently, but it is typically only done by the Arbor District when students are about to return to class or when there is a big event nearby. This time of year, it so happens that a big event and classes start at the same time.

The upcoming solar eclipse is a big part of why both groups came together. It is the goal of the groups to make Carbondale look more presentable to visitors, 

Dylan Homoya
Dylan Homoya

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