Friday, September 28, 2007

Chonda Pierce in Concert Oct. 12

Christian Comedian Chonda Pierce will be in concert Friday, Oct. 12, at the Williamson County Pavilion as part of a benefit for the Williamson County Child Advocacy Center.

Tickets can be purchased in the Williamson County Tourism Bureau's office at the Pavilion from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

General admission tickets are $15, Preferred Seating - $20 and Artist Circle Seating - $25. Tickets can also be ordered online ($1 processing fee added to each ticket).

General Admission - $16 each

Preferred Seating - $21 each

Artist Circle Seating - $26 each

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Marion to St. Louis Air Service to Resume Nov. 4

The Southern Illinoisan is reporting that air service between the Williamson County Regional Airport and St. Louis' Lambert Field will resume November 4. This will end eight months of no flights to St. Louis after the Federal Aviation Administration shut down RegionsAir.

Great Lakes Airlines took over the contract in June but was unable to secure the planes necessary to make the flights.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin made the announcement yesterday.

Besides the service to St. Louis, Williamson County also hosts flights by Mesa Airlines to Chicago Midway.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Developments Break Ground

Marion's west side continues to develop with nearly $8 million new building projects breaking ground this summer.

JWL Properties broke ground late last week for a new strip shopping center immediately north of the old Barnett Furniture building between Wal-Mart and the Illinois Centre Mall.

This is a $1.3 million construction project that should provide about another 20,000 square feet of retail space and possibly another restaurant. The address will be 2801 Civic Circle Drive on the inside loop around the mall.

Building permit applications show $4 million for the new Marion Toyota dealership on Route 13 across from Heartland Regional Hospital. The dealership will move the Toyota operation to the new site and keep the other automotive lines at the existing location.

On West Main Street the Bank of Herrin's new $1.8 million facility has started on the the steel work above ground. The new bank is beside its current facility (the originally TCBY building) across from Pepsi Mid-America and next to Comfort Suites.

At the corner of Route 13 and Halfway Road, Newcomb Oil Company's new $770,000 convenience store is will on its way as well. They buried the fuel tanks last week and the building will soon be fully enclosed. It's a very impressive design so far.

We're hoping there will be some more announcements soon as well, particularly in the travel side of the business.

Meanwhile what we do know is that Farmers State Bank is still presumably looking at building a new facility in front of Wal-Mart (they bought the land last winter) and Russell Oil Company may be looking at a new station on East DeYoung St. They took out a building permit earlier this year on a $285,000 project at 309 E. DeYoung, but haven't started construction.

Developer Still Eyeing Perry County

Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting today that the proposed Branson-like development targeted for Perry County appears to still be on the way.
Some state lawmakers have expressed concern at the continued lack of hard information from the enigmatic company. But political leaders around Pinckneyville — a rural community of 5,400 about 60 miles southeast of St. Louis — remain optimistic.

"I really believe it's going to happen. They've spent so much time and money already. ... This is really going to go,'' said Perry County Board Chairman Jim Booker. He said company president Anthony Watkins met with him in nearby Du Quoin last week to assure him the company was still pursuing the project.

The company wants to build a $100 million convention resort complex in the vein of Branson, Mo., which would include music venues, golf, a BMX bike-racing facility and other amenities. The project could ultimately involve 5,000 acres of land — roughly 10 times the acreage of Six Flags amusement park in Eureka.

Meanwhile the only official news release on the company's website dates back to Oct. 4, 2005 when the titular Toney Watkins was about to make a presentation to the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce on his MetroEast development project.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sign's Messages Shine Bright

The new sign for the Williamson County Pavilion is up and working at the intersection of Route 13 and Williamson County Parkway.

This was one of those projects that took a whole lot of effort over a very long period of time. Most of the credit goes to two of the board members of the tourism bureau and the Williamson County Events Commission, the entity that actually owns the Pavilion.

Jeanette Sollami took on the long-delayed project last fall when she served as the bureau's interim director. Bruce Troutman, the treasurer for the commission (as well as the county), stepped in when it came time to secure the land for the sign. Kudos for both.

Of course, none of it would have been possible without the generosity of Steak 'n Shake which donated the few square feet necessary in a lease in order for us to have a place to erect the sign.

We still have a few minor items to complete around the base of the sign before it's finished but most importantly the message board is working.

I did a quick check of the traffic count on IDOT's website Some 21,200 vehicles a day pass along that stretch of Route 13 in front of Steak 'n Shake.

By the way, the website also showed that more than 11,000 vehicles get off Interstate 57 every day at Marion; 8,500 use Exit 54 at Route 13 and 2,650 use Exit 53 at Main Street.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Right Attitude in Murphysboro

Last Thursday's Southern had a good article on state Rep. Mike Bost's recent presentation to the Murphysboro Chamber of Commerce where he talked up tourism and the region's growing wine industry.

Midway through the article Adam Testa inserted a quote by Barbara Dallas, Murphysboro's Tourism Commissioner, who noted that while help from the state was appreciated, "local relationships need to be improved before tourism can reach its full potential."
"We need to get over Friday Night Fever," she said. "We need to realize it's not Murphysboro versus Carbondale versus Marion. The only way we're going to build tourism is regionalization."

She's right on target!

New Owners Serve Up Lick Creek General Store

This week's Carbondale Times has a nice story on the old Lick Creek General Store off of Interstate 57 at Exit 36, 18 miles south of Marion in northeastern Union County.

The store had been transformed into a unique restaurant some years ago, but had closed. Carbondale Councilman Lance Jack and Emily Taylor reopened the restaurant earlier this spring, but have held off on their grand opening until today for their Labor Day Party.

"Up until now we have been relying on word of mouth and calls from the past," Jack said. "We have done no advertising whatsoever until this past week. We have been passing out fliers. We were working on a soft opening to make sure that we had all of our ducks in a row. Emily and I have known each other for years now but we want to make sure we could work together.

"We have come to the conclusion that we can work together without killing each other," he joked. "She likes to call me the best husband she's never had."

The restaurant is known for its unique nine course meals.

For more information contact them at 618-833-6360. They are located 1/8th of a mile east of the interstate on Lick Creek Road.