The Carterville marching band entertained the crowd, veterans manned a color guard and a children's choir sung the Star Spangled Banner at the Operating Engineers Local 318's union hall on Marion's west side.
The governor's staff and state Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, had the legislation laying out on the head table with plenty of pens available for the governor to use. All that was missing was the governor himself.
Wicked weather forced the cancellation of 375 flights out of Chicago O'Hare this morning and delayed hundreds of others at both O'Hare and Midway, including the state plane scheduled to fly Quinn to today's event.
Bradley first announced a delay of one hour following the Pledge of Allegiance and the invocation. The governor had canceled the rest of his schedule this afternoon and would arrive eventually. Minutes later Bradley provided another update inviting the crowd of around 200 to come back tomorrow after flight officials told the governor he was looking a delay of 5 or 6 hours before being able to take off.
Wags in the crowd were quick to point out two things. First, if the governor resided in Springfield he could have made it as it was nothing but blue skies over the Executive Mansion this morning. Second, since he's such a big advocate of Amtrak he could have come by train (and still made it quicker).
In the end it won't matter though. He'll be quickly forgiven. Barring wind and wild weather he should make it to Marion and sign the bill in 12 hours or so and the wait will be over.
Now that we know he's going to sign it, the next question is how much developer Bruce Holland will be able to say tomorrow on what's actually coming. Word is dirt should start flying almost immediately on at least some aspects of the project.