Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Libraries and Museums Offer Gems for Genealogists

With Memorial Day coming up next month and ever warming days, genealogists can now get out for those fun family history research trips.

The Williamson County Historical Society operates a great research library in their Jail Museum at 105 S. Van Buren Street in Marion.

They are open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays, as well as open until 8 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. Tours of the museum are given on Thursdays with the last tour starting at 2 p.m.

In Herrin the expanded city library has developed a great local history room under the guidance of retired high school librarian Linda Banks. The library honored her last Sunday by naming the room the after her.

The Herrin City Library is located at 120 N. 13th St., one block east of Park Avenue which is Route 148.

The Frankfort Area Genealogy Society also operates another major local research library in the old Logan School in Frankfort Heights on the east side of West Frankfort at 2000 E. St. Louis St.

It's open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Although located in Franklin County this museum and library includes a lot of information about Williamson County, particularly the north portion the county. Historically, Williamson County was a part of Franklin from 1818 to 1839.

The genealogical collection of the Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois is available for researchers at the John A. Logan College library in Carterville.

Other good sites for research include the following:
  • Morris Library, SIU-Carbondale
  • Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD), Carbondale
  • Saline County Genealogy Society's Library, Harrisburg City Hall (open weekday mornings)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bald Knob Cross Meeting Set for Tuesday

A public meeting is set for 7 p.m. tomorrow (April 15) in Alto Pass where an engineer from E.T. Simonds Co. will release a report on the structural integrity of the interior of Bald Knob Cross.

The report will be made during the regular monthly meeting of the Friends of the Cross group.

Last month the Southern Illinoisan quoted the group's president, Bill Vandergraph, passing along the initial reaction of the engineer.
"He says it's considerably worse that what most people say," Vandergraph said, adding that cost estimates and specifics had not yet been given.

The Alto Pass Civic Center is located at 19 Elm Street in Alto Pass.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bucky Covington Rocks the Pavilion

Rising country music star Bucky Covington proved his idol status last night at his concert in Marion at the Williamson County Pavilion.

Covington performed along with opening act South 70 out of Atlanta.

Tonight Keith Anderson, Chris Young and the Lost Trailers are performing at the Pavilion in their "Raisin' the Bar" tour.

Another night of concerts is scheduled for Friday, April 25, featuring three rising Nashville acts — Smokey Lonesome, Mammoth Jack and Cole Prather.

Tickets can be purchased at Black Diamond Harley-Davidson here in Marion or online using the "Buy Tickets Now" button below.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Public Meeting Set for Rend Lake Issues

Just received this news release this afternoon:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Rend Lake has announced plans to host a public workshop to discuss the changes that will be implemented in the operation of the Corps of Engineers managed areas at Rend Lake during the 2008 recreation season.

The meeting will be held at the Rend Lake Visitor Center on Saturday, April 12, 2008 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. The informational workshop will provide individuals with lake information for the 2008 recreation season and provide the public with the opportunity to ask question of the Corps about area closings and reduced services that will be in effect at Rend Lake.

For more information feel free to contact the Rend Lake Project Office at 618-724-2493.

These meetings are in response to the budget cutbacks and the effects on the upcoming summer recreation season.

Birding Fest Set for Later This Month

The 7th Annual Birding Fest is scheduled later this month on April 25-27, down in the Cache River Basin with guided tours, mini-workshops and a host of other activities throughout the weekend.

A Birding Blitz is scheduled for Friday and programs will take place throughout the weekend at the Cache River Wetlands Center located on Route 37 in southeastern Johnson County.

Activities include guided canoe tours, birding hikes, live bird demonstrations, wildlife photo exhibits and "much more."

For more information check out their website at

The event is sponsored by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Southern Illinois Audubon Society, Friends of the Cache River Watershed, The Nature Conservancy, Shawnee Audubon Society and Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau.

Country Inn & Suites Breaks Ground

Jim Zeller, owner of Zeller Construction and the new Country Inn & Suites coming to Marion this fall broke ground yesterday at the site of the hotel on Halfway Road about halfway between Route 13 and The Hill.

Yours truly was there along with other city officials and members of the Marion Chamber of Commerce.

The heavy rains this spring haven't helped the construction season. Zeller said he's likely to move the opening date until sometime in November for his new three-story 66-room hotel.

The new lodging facility will be located at 1306 N Halfway Rd north of America's Best Inns and south of 17th Street Bar & Grill.

For more on the plans check out this article from the announcement of the hotel back in February.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Update on New Golf Trail Idea

Representatives from the proposed Abraham Lincoln Golf Trail met with pros from the top courses in Southern Illinois yesterday at Rend Lake. The goal was to brief them about the trail idea as well as to secure their buy-in with the program.

The Southern's Karen Binder has more...
"Northern Illinois goes to Alabama, Florida and South Carolina," Granberg said. "If this works we can expand this to become whatever we want it to become. We want to tie in with wine trail, state lodges, restaurants and everything else. This is about economic development."

...The idea is to make the Web site a virtual office for the trail, allowing golfers to make tee times, lodging reservations, learn about other area attractions, see course layouts, check out golf packages and even eye the weather forecast.

Todd Ely, a Springfield economic development consultant, said targeted marketing and advertising, such as billboards and article placement in golf publications, would drive golf traffic to the site.

From the site, "we want to cross-promote everyone," Ely added.

Check out the entire article on the Southern Illinoisan's website.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Update on Rend Lake Water Levels

The latest from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineeers:
As of 1:00 p.m., Friday, April 4, the current pool elevation at Rend Lake is 411.72 feet NGVD. The lake is expected to crest on Saturday at a level slightly lower than 412.0 feet ngvd.

The Rend Lake dam received approximately 1.49 inches of rain last night which did not substantially raise the level of the lake. All Corps of Engineers campgrounds remain open, however the Honker Point access road has been closed due to high water. Campsites are available in the Shady Rest and Lakeview camping loops within the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park. The Rend Lake Resort remains open with accommodations available in the resort, conference center and motel.

Although rainfall totals in the area fell short of predicted amounts, motorists are reminded to use caution when driving in low-lying areas which are still prone to flooding. Rural roadways may have been damaged during the recent heavy rains and may be hazardous to vehicle traffic.

For more information on lake levels go to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rend Lake Web site at or call the Rend Lake Project Office at 618-724-2493.

Gem & Mineral Show This Weekend

The Southern Illinois Earth Science Club will hold its free gem and mineral show this weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday here in the Williamson County Pavilion.

Vendors will be showing off include exhibits of minerals, fossils, Indian artifacts, gemstones, jewelry and lapidary work.

The Ben E. Clement Museum from our sister city of Marion, Kentucky, will feature minerals from their world-class collection and the Illinois State Geologic Survey will also have maps and guides for sale.

There will be working demonstrations of lapidary skills, arrowhead making, rock painting and related crafts.

A silent auction will also be held, along with numerous chances to win door prizes.

DuQuoin State Fair Goes With Jungle Theme

The Southern Illinoisan is reporting this afternoon that the theme for this year's DuQuoin State Fair will be "It's a Jungle in Here".
The fair will feature a free jungle theme park north of the two permanent homes in the fairgrounds. The theme park will host three structured shows on each day of the fair. Tigers, cougars, monkeys and various types of snakes will also be available for viewing.

The fair will run from Aug. 22 through Sept. 1.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Presidential Golf Trail About to Debut?

We know Bill Clinton likes to golf. Forty years earlier it was Dwight Eisenhower's game that made the news, but I admit I really hadn't thought about the combination of Abraham Lincoln and golf before yesterday when a reporter called me about it.

Turns out this was a case where the reporter knew more than I did. Apparently state Rep. Kurt Granberg, D-Centralia, has this idea of a seven-course Abraham Lincoln Golf Trail to be modeled and advertised much like the Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama, which is to golf trails like the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail is to wine trails.

Tessa Culli wrote about it last month in the Mount Vernon Register-News and I missed it.
MT. VERNON — A proposed Southern Illinois golf trail which includes the Rend Lake Golf Course is just the beginning of a bigger plan, according to state Rep. Kurt Granberg.

“It’s hard to market just one course,” Granberg said. “If you want to attract a lot of people, start in the Metro East area, go downstate, hit lodges where you can utilize state lodges and parks. The golf trail is part of a large economic development blueprint for the region. The golf trail is just one part.”

Besides Rend Lake the article notes he is also including Kokopelli Golf Club here in Marion and Stone Creek Golf Club in Makanda definitely in the plan and "would like to add the Gambit Golf Club in Vienna.

In addition to the local golf clubs there are two to four more in the MetroEast and along the I-64 corridor.

There's a meeting next week where Granberg is expected to unveil more details to the golf courses.

What's not known at this time is how this will impact the Southern Illinois Golf Trail.