* From a November 8th article in the Southern Illinoisan…
The following political leaders have visited Cairo since the public housing crisis in Illinois’ southernmost city came to a head:
• Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson • U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, both Democrats • U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro • Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill • State Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg • State Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie, D-Elizabethtown • Former State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Eldorado • Former Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, of Lemont • State Treasurer Mike Frerichs • Democratic gubernatorial candidates J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy and Daniel Biss and former candidate Ameya Pawar
Meanwhile, one prominent Illinois political leader has not visited Cairo since HUD announced in April its decision to relocate about 400 people from two derelict public housing complexes that have been deemed beyond repair:
As you will see, that one stung him but good.
* A week later, Rauner was in the region for a hastily arranged press conference to announce a project that few knew was coming…
In 1993, the Sahara Coal Co. closed its doors and some 300 miners lost their jobs.
On Wednesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner visited that company’s reclaimed strip mine near Carrier Mills and announced that the state plans to develop a 26-mile off-highway vehicle trail system here, the first-of-its kind on state-owned land in Illinois.
* As we’ve already discussed, the Southern wasn’t impressed by the visit…
Gov. Bruce Rauner made a cameo appearance Wednesday in Southern Illinois, appearing at a hastily-called, bizarre press availability at Sahara Woods State Fish and Wildlife Area near Carrier Mills. […]
Assembled media members fired questions at Rauner after the announcement. His response, or lack thereof, was reminiscent of an absentee father bringing elaborately wrapped gifts to his child’s birthday party, but having absolutely no idea what was inside the packages.
It wouldn’t have taken much thought to anticipate the first two questions — how many jobs will be created by this project and when will ground be broken. Yet, Rauner didn’t have these most basic answers. […]
The number of jobs will be determined when construction plans are finalized. And, no timetable for construction was announced, although Rauner did say he hopes it will open in the first half of 2019.
Yet, the governor assured us that the track would be an economic engine for the area.
Pardon us if we’re skeptical.
There are two similar commercial operations nearby — Little Egypt Off Road, located in Williamson County, and Williams Hill Pass, which is southeast of Harrisburg. While both contribute to the financial health of the region, calling the two entities economic engines would seem to be a stretch.
Opening a government-operated off-road vehicle trail that will compete with two privately owned trails seems a bit counter-productive, but whatever.
* Anyway, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Rauner was back in the region this week…
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner stressed the importance of economic growth and investing in education during a special luncheon Wednesday at Rend Lake College.
The event was held in honor of a delegation from the Japanese Consulate’s Chicago office which toured Jefferson County to learn more about the region’s economy. Rauner and Japanese Consulate Consul General Naoki Ito were featured guests at the luncheon.
Governor Bruce Rauner joined Japan’s Consul General to the Midwest at Rend Lake College for a workforce and education roundtable.
* But the governor also faced questions while he was down there about a project he launched over a year ago that hasn’t yet gotten off the ground…
The proposed re-purposing of the Illinois Youth Center facility in Murphysboro is taking longer than originally announced.
In October 2016, Governor Bruce Rauner said he wanted to re-open the center as a life skills and a re-entry facility. He expected it to open in about six months. But, 13 months later, the facility remains closed.
Rauner was asked about it during a visit to southern Illinois Wednesday. The governor said he doesn’t know when it will re-open, but as far as he’s concerned, the sooner the better.
“I don’t want to give you an exact date. But, I’m pushing this fast. I want it open yesterday. I’m going to push as much as I can.”
He said it’ll be an important economic engine for the region and help keep communities safer.
* From October 14, 2016…
This facility — expected to open in six months — will house about 300 prisoners on the verge of re-entering the community and employ about 120 people, Rauner said. It will be managed under the Pinckneyville facility, which is managed by Warden Jacqueline Lashbrook, who was also at Friday’s news conference.
It was built in 1997 and closed in 2011.
“This facility should never have been closed,” Rauner said, to a spattering of applause from some of those assembled. “We’ve got budget trouble, but we have to make sure our facilities are run well.” […]
At the news conference, the governor did not specifically say where the money would come from to finance the project. Rauner’s press secretary said later that it would cost $800,000 to reopen and repurpose the facility.
* 1 year after Rauner pledged to reopen IYC as adult re-entry center, open date remains unclear