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In Carterville, Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne takes the stage as sun enters total eclipse
Carbondale Southern Illinoisan
Tuesday, August 22, 2017  |   Article  |   Marilyn Halstead
Parks, Recreation Fowler, Dale--State Senate, 59

CARTERVILLE — As the first diamond ring of the eclipse appeared, Ozzy Osbourne walked on stage at Walker’s Bluff and began to sing “Bark at the Moon” as the shadow of the moon swept across the crowd.

The crowd welcomed the cooler temperature and breeze that accompanied totality.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in this part of the world before,” Osbourne told his fans. “I love you all. Thank you for coming to see me.”

Osbourne sang through the end of the eclipse, with only a few short breaks because of the heat. In addition to “Bark at the Moon,” he played a nice mix of hits from across the decades of his career, from his days with rock group Black Sabbath through his solo work.

The crowd was delighted. At some times with songs such as “War Pigs” and “No More Tears,” Osbourne sang one line, the crowd sang the next.

“It was awesome. It was dark and Ozzy was like ‘Bark at the Moon.’ It was so worth it,” David McDaniel of Jacksonville, Florida, said.

Phil Kappes of Pompano Beach, Florida, has been an Osbourne fan since his dad took him to see to see Osbourne in 1983. He was 11 at the time. He is such a fan that he has a picture of Osbourne tattooed on his right shoulder.

“Since 1983, I’ve seen Ozzy at least once a year,” Kappes said.

Kappes went to college in Missouri and Illinois, but had never been as far south in the state as Carterville.

“This is really cool. You are on two-lane roads and small towns, and all the sudden, you’re at this big vineyard,” Kappes said.

Fans were also excited to see guitarist Zakk Wylde. After Moonstock tickets went on sale, Osbourne announced Wylde would join him for his 2017 shows. Wylde has a 30-year history with Osbourne, playing with him three different periods from 1987 to 2009.

"A lot of people have seen Ozzy, but how many have seen Ozzy during a total solar eclipse?" Kappes asked. 

Kappes said he bought his ticket early, before the announcement that Wylde would join him. He said that was a bonus. 

John Bunch, whose dad and stepmom own Walker’s Bluff, had some free time between his “official” duties to visit with a friend and grab a bite to eat in The Tasting Room.

“This is the biggest event we’ve had out here,” Bunch said.

Erica Garcia of Mission, Texas, flew to Chicago and spent a few days at the city’s breweries. She then took a five-hour train trip to Carbondale and an Uber ride from the train station to Walker’s Bluff to meet friends from Texas who drove to Southern Illinois.

“I’ve been to a lot of metal concerts and Ozzy’s the biggest,” Garcia said.

She said everyone she has met has been nice. The Uber driver even loaded her beer into his truck and unloaded, so she would not have to lift it. She also became an instant fan of Big Muddy beer.

Organizers expected nearly 12,000 people to see the eclipse and Osbourne at Walker's Bluff. Final numbers will not be in until later this week, but they seemed to be within a couple thousand of that number. 

Cynde Bunch, owner of Walker’s Bluff, said one-fourth of the tickets sales were from outside the U.S.

“In the campground, we have 30 campers from different states and 12 camp sites rented by people from outside the country,” Bunch said.

The heat provided a few challenges for both organizers and fans attending the concert. A few people required treatment by emergency medical personnel. The response was quick and efficient.

Bunch said they worked with State of Illinois Auxiliary Police, meeting every week just before the event.

“They’ve done their job and done it well,” Bunch said.

"Wow. This is absolutely awesome," State Sen. Dale Fowler said. 

Fowler added that the event had an incredible turnout. Moonstock shows why it is important to continue to lobby for a resort at Walker's Bluff, he said. 

"Imagine the economic impact for the area, then think about the impact a resort would have," Fowler said.


Morning Spin for Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Chicago Tribune
Tuesday, August 22, 2017  |   Editorial  |   Editorial Board
Education Funding (36a)

Illinois' legislative leaders are set to meet again Tuesday about the state's continuing inability to send money to schools.

The last meeting on Friday didn't create a lot of public information about any progress or lack thereof, besides descriptions that it was "productive."

House Republicans led by leader Jim Durkin released a statement Monday outlining their point of view:

"Any compromise should include significant mandate relief, provide flexibility for schools and more school choice for children who come from low-income families," the statement read.

“It is unfair for Chicago to continue to receive excessive advantages that are not afforded to any other school district in the state," it said. "In addition, Chicago continues to divert money from classrooms through the use of TIF districts, which should be addressed in negotiations as well."

How Tuesday's meeting goes might be aired on Wednesday, when lawmakers return to the Capitol for a plan by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan to vote on an override of Gov. Bruce Rauner's education funding changes.

 

What's on tap

*Mayor Rahm Emanuel will have a morning appearance at Arthur E Canty Elementary School to talk about test scores.

*Gov. Bruce Rauner's public schedule wasn't available.

*Democratic candidate for governor and state Sen. Daniel Biss will have stops on his statewide tour in Elgin and Rockford.

 

What we're writing

*Chicago aldermen consider stiff regulations for self-driving cars.

*Homeless group close to suit over bike path plan in Uptown.

*$1.6m VFW raffle drawing halted amid "ordinance issue."

 

What we're reading

*It got a little darker outside briefly Monday.

*Solar eclipse time-lapse at North Avenue beach.

*Why are Chicagoans so obsessed with Italian sausage on pizza?

 

Follow the money

*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real-time here and here

 

Beyond Chicago

*Trump unveils his plan on Afghanistan.

*McConnell: "Most news is not fake."

*Probe ordered after Navy collision.

*U.S. embassy in Russia stops issuing tourist visas for eight days.


Rauner misses opportunities with veto of debt-transparency law
Daily Herald
Tuesday, August 22, 2017  |   Editorial  |   Editorial Board
Rauner, Bruce

We can understand why Gov. Bruce Rauner senses a whiff of political partisanship around a bill that would enable more of a real-time look at the state's debt picture. But his decision to veto the law is an unfortunate overreaction that misses two not-insignificant opportunities.

One is the chance to demonstrate some spirit of collaboration on a significant bill that, although not preponderantly bipartisan, at least attracted notable Republican support from legislators as diverse as moderate David Harris from Arlington Heights and conservative Jeanne Ives from Wheaton.

The other, even more important, missed opportunity was the chance to stand behind a process that would give Illinoisans more up-to-date reports of the state's financial picture and help the person responsible for paying the estimated $15 billion backlog of past-due bills prioritize which agencies to pay first.

House Bill 3649, known as the "Debt Transparency Act," was an initiative of Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza, sponsored by Hoffman Estates Democratic state Rep. Fred Crespo. It would require state agencies to report monthly -- instead of yearly -- what bills they are holding and estimate the amount of interest and penalties that will be paid on them. That, presumably, would give the comptroller, who writes the state's checks, a more realistic picture of who is waiting to be paid and whether any payments could be made to reduce interest and penalties.

In a statement defending his veto, Rauner said the bill "more closely resembles an attempt by the comptroller to micromanage executive agencies than an attempt to get the information most helpful to the monitoring of state government."

But in truth, micromanaging payment of the state's bills, within the context of the law and court orders, is precisely the job of the comptroller. Regardless of party, whoever is in that role needs to have a financial snapshot more frequently than once a year. What's more, lawmakers need a more definite picture of the state's financial status as they contemplate legislation, and taxpayers need to have that as they evaluate lawmakers and the actions of government.

The past-due balance of bills on the state's ledger is an unqualified embarrassment for everyone in state government. It is reported to have produced $800 million -- and constantly counting -- in penalties alone.

No action is going to get such a huge backlog under control immediately, but no opportunity to make the process more manageable should be overlooked. This one could have been undertaken while simultaneously demonstrating the governor is not reflexively opposed to any meaningful legislation Democrats support.

Unfortunately, that leaves it to lawmakers to override the governor in yet another show of contention and discord. We're disappointed by the appearances, but agree that lawmakers should take it on themselves to create a more reliable and up-to-date system of accounting for the state's bills.


Businesses hope for eclipse payday
Effingham Daily News
Tuesday, August 22, 2017  |   Article  |  
Business (10) , Economy (34)

It’s no secret that hotels in southern Illinois have few if any vacancies left ahead of Monday’s total solar eclipse. But for $1,200 a night between Sunday and Tuesday, you can rent a four-bedroom house in Salem, about 45 miles south of Effingham.

Salem, like Effingham, is outside the path of totality in Illinois. But Mistie Urdaneta, who owns a wedding business called A Fair Barn, decided to rent the house at the urging of a friend.

“She said, ‘My gosh, you ought to be doing this,’ said Urdaneta. “'Hotels are booked up in St. Louis. You really should rent your house out.’”

Urdaneta typically rents the house as part of the overall wedding venue, which includes a barn that's more than 100 years old. Most weekends she’s booked. But this weekend she isn't yet. She's still hoping for an eclipse payday.

“We had people calling us to see if we would rent it, so then we called some of the local hotels,” explained Urdaneta. “Usually they are $60 a night in Salem, but they were $300 a night and there weren’t any rooms for Saturday, Monday or Tuesday.”

Hearing rumors that vacancies are costing travelers as much as $2,000 a night, Urdaneta decided to list her house on the website airbnb.com for $1,200 a night. Normally, the house rents for $1,350 for the weekend.

“It might be a way to make some quick money,” said Urdaneta.

The closer you get to Carbondale, which is the nearest city to the point of totality, the steeper the prices.

One listing is for a one-bed private room in an apartment building for $2,500 a night. Another is a six-bed house for $5,600 a night, with solar eclipse glasses for each guest.

Along with a shortage of rooms, those eclipse glasses have become hard to find. Wal-Mart in Effingham got a small supply Friday morning. They didn't last long.

“They were gone in about an hour,” said Bob Lakin, the manager. “We had some on order, but I don't think they produced as many as they thought they were going to sell.”

Lakin wasn't sure if any more glasses would be available before Monday.

Effingham Fire Chief Joe Holomy said his department gave out 2,000 sets of glasses at city hall on Tuesday morning.

“We started giving them out at 9 and we were out of glasses by 11:30,” Holomy said.

Some businesses have been running popular eclipse-related promotions. The owner of the Pizza Man restaurant in Effingham, Greg Addis, started giving out eclipse glasses with the purchase of a large pizza on Tuesday. Customers had gobbled them up by Friday afternoon.

“We ran completely out of them,” Addis said.

Local restaurants are also getting ready for the possibility of an influx of eclipse-goers in light of the fact all of the local hotels are booked Sunday, the night before the eclipse.

Effingham Steak and Shake General Manager Kevin Uphoff has scheduled extra crew in anticipation of extra business.

“We've added a couple of people, of course we are busy all the time,” Uphoff said.

Another restaurant close to Interstate 57, Niemerg's Steak House, is also taking extra steps to prepare for eclipse-goers.

“We have extra people scheduled to work on Sunday and Monday,” said co-owner Dennis Sandschafer. “On Monday evening, we think a lot of people will be traveling. We are treating this like a holiday Monday.”

As of Friday afternoon, Urdaneta’s $1,200-a-night house hadn’t been reserved, though she said two families from Chicago had come close to booking it.

“I told them I couldn’t guarantee they’d get to Carbondale unless they left in the middle of the night,” explained Urdaneta, citing concerns about road congestion on I-57. “We’ll be able to see it here but they were wanting to travel to Carbondale.”

Urdaneta plans to stay at home during the eclipse. She figures a near-total eclipse is close enough.

“I’m not going to Carbondale,” she said. “I’ll probably just stand in the front yard and look up.”


A budget surplus? MHS could be in the black this year
LaSalle News Tribune
Tuesday, August 22, 2017  |   Article  |  
Education Funding (36a)

MENDOTA — If the Illinois House of Representatives overrides Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1, then Mendota High School might have its first year in the black since Jeff Prusator became superintendent.

“Hopefully this is the last year of this guessing,” he said to the school board Monday night.

Prusator said SB1 could bring an additional $151,000 in revenue to the district and even without the bill’s approval, Prusator said the school district is seeing some state payments that were overdue. That’s why he’s predicting a nearly $50,000 surplus by this time next year. As Prusator noted, $50,000 isn’t a lot in a $10 million budget, but it’s a huge improvement over recent years of deficit spending and uncertainty from the state that left the district $90,000 in the hole last year.

The critical vote is currently scheduled for Wednesday in Springfield.

 X + 289=A+: Prusator said the high school has started meeting with Mendota Grade School District 289 and Holy Cross about offering ninth-grade algebra to eighth-grade students. This would give students the opportunity to enter high school and begin taking geometry in their freshman year.

Prusator said they are currently considering offering the course at the start of the school day. The students would be eligible for bus transportation because the high school is on a highway. Students probably will be charged a fee for taking the course but it would give them an advantage.

Prusator said Anita Kobilsek, principal at Holy Cross, wanted to know if the high school wanted to move forward so Holy Cross could make changes in its seventh-grade math curriculum before the students are entering eighth grade. Prusator said MHS also received enthusiastic support from Mendota Grade School district administrators.

The meeting also addressed students who continue to struggle with math. Principal Denise Aughenbaugh said the district offers a freshman pre-algebra class, but some students continue to struggle. She said they would like to consider offering some sort of summer school pre-algebra class to help these students learn algebraic concepts before they fall behind.

“We felt that these pre-algebra students needed some sort of bridge or summer school program,” Prusator said. 

But, summer school attendance for remedial courses doesn’t always attract good attendance, Aughenbaugh admitted when questioned about the district’s current summer school programs.

Prusator said it’s important to reach these students early and help them pass courses since it’s not like grade school. If they don’t pass a course, then they must take it over whether it’s algebra or another course.

“It doesn’t click with them that if you don’t pass freshman English, then next year,,. They’re chronologically a sophomore but still in freshman English,” he said. “We’ve had teachers tell the students ‘I don’t get better a second time’.”

Aughenbaugh said some students will cruise through almost four years of high school and not pass enough courses to graduate.

But, they still expect a diploma and it doesn’t work that way, she said. Of the 568 students currently enrolled, 11 of them are fifth-year seniors still working toward a diploma.

The board agreed working with eighth-grade students could help them gain an advantage when they enter high school and continued discussions with the grade school district and Holy Cross were approved.

Employee shuffle: Sean LeRette has resigned as scholastic bowl coach to take a postion as tennis coach at the school Principal Denise Aughenbaugh said LeRette has coached tennis before. She believes they will be able to fill the Scholastic Bowl position from existing staff.

Kevin Wohrley has returned as cross country coach. He had coached the sport for many years and then resigned for a few years.

New school year: Aughenbaugh reported 300 freshmen students and their families attended an orientation night. The district also rolled out the Chromebooks ahead of the school year which also went well. The school currently has 568 students enrolled which is very close to last year’s enrollment.

New buses: At least two lightly used buses will be purchased at a total cost of $130,000. The two buses have low miles and the district will trade in two old buses, including one with a missing back door. Prusator said the district also needs to consider purchasing a van for transporting special needs students. The transportation committee will meet at the bus garage to prioritize a list of buses that will need replacement.


State owes PC schools nearly $300,000 for last fiscal year
LaSalle News Tribune
Tuesday, August 22, 2017  |   Article  |  
Education Funding (36a)

GRANVILLE — The state of Illinois still owes $294,418.64 to Putnam County schools from the last fiscal year.

“It is really complicated right now; it is really a mess,” said superintendent Carl Carlson. The district received the third categorical payment for last fiscal year, but the district hasn’t received the fourth payment.

Carlson said he’s not sure when or if they will receive the fourth payment.

He said that there are no current funds for this fiscal year flowing to the schools from the state. 

Money has been budgeted for schools across Illinois, but Carlson said no mechanism has been approved to release the funds. Carlson said he spent the majority of Monday contacting state Rep. Jerry Long (R-Streator), state Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris), other superintendents and the entire Putnam County school staff about the matter.

Other news:

Enrollment is up 25 students from last school year. There are 875 students in prekindergarten through 12th grades. Trends from past years had shown enrollment had been declining, “so this is a nice shift,” Carlson said.

The board approved Dan Wujek as the new board treasurer.