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MARION VA UNDER INVESTIGATION: Congressional subcommittee looking into allegations of mismanagement

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By Holly Kee

Less than a decade after a federal investigation into the Marion Veterans Affairs Medical Center resulted in wholesale changes to its surgical department, the Marion VA is again under investigation.

The Veterans Affairs Congressional Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee is looking into allegations made by whistleblowers and other informers from within the Marion facility — among them that radiology tests were misread and the mistakes were covered up; that employees who complained about what they considered mismanagement within the VA were bullied or in some cases reclassified or fired; that nepotism has figured into some hirings; and that in general the culture inside the VA is not transparent.

Centralia runs through Terriers 42-21

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Chris Barron
Carbondale Times

The Carbondale Terriers scored 21 points in the first half against the preseason South Seven Conference favorite Centralia Orphans. However, giving up 28 points in that same first half, isn’t the way to win conference games. 

Friday’s 42-21 loss again revolved around another talented quarterback. This time it was Javon Williams, who ran and passed for 357 of the Orphans’ 460 total yards and accounted for five of its six touchdowns. 

Nevertheless, Terrier Head Coach Bryan Lee was upbeat about his team’s defense — especially in the first half.

“It’s the best effort we have shown in the three years I’ve been at Carbondale,” Lee said. “Especially in the second quarter where we grabbed a lead.”

Ryan Neal named MVFC Defensive Player of the Week

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Saluki Media Service

SIU football defensive back Ryan Neal was named Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Week, the league announced Sunday evening. Neal led SIU to a 35-17 win at Southeast Missouri on Saturday night. 

Neal had an interception, a fumble recovery and a game-high eight tackles in the victory. He returned his interception 52 yards, and his fumble recovery set up an SIU touchdown. Neal led SIU’s defense, which held SEMO to 278 yards of total offense and less than four yards per play.

Neal is SIU’s first MVFC Player of the Week this season, and he is Southern’s first MVFC Defensive Player of the Week since Brandon Williams on Sept. 26, 2015. 

Special teams and defense lead to a Saluki win

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Chris Barron
Carbondale Times 

The 2015 away game against Southeast Missouri State and this past Saturday’s away game in the same stadium, both started off with a turnover by SIU. However, the reaction of those two teams was worlds apart.

In 2015, SIU emotionally folded after an interception by Mark Iannotti and went on to turn the ball over six more times (four fumbles, three interceptions in total) in a 27-24 loss to the Redhawks.

On Saturday, SIU’s Daquan Isom put the ball on the turf on his first carry. This time SIU’s veteran team just bowed its figurative football neck and scored the next 21 points — to basically win the game. Winning in Football, like any other sport, is a good part mental and emotional — not necessarily about who has the best talent.

Walt Frazier returns to highlight ‘Heroes, Myths and Traditions’ at SIU’s homecoming

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Christi Mathis
SIU Media Service

Walt “Clyde” Frazier, one of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s legendary alumni, returns to campus next month as “Heroes, Myths and Traditions” are celebrated during Homecoming 2017 festivities, Oct. 8-15.

Frazier, the homecoming grand marshal, will participate in the parade at 10 a.m. on Oct. 14.

Welcome to Carbondale

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Dustin Duncan
Carbondale Times

So, I’m not sure if people in Southern Illinois know this, but there’s an eclipse coming Monday. Additionally, this little event called SIU Move-In weekend, well, week started Wednesday in an attempt to clear the streets in time for tens of thousands of people to infiltrate our university community.

As the region braces for the one of the largest events it has ever seen, let’s not forget that Carbondale will be front and center for the entire world. The city of Carbondale has been making improvements around the downtown area to present a good face for visitors. Let’s do our part as residents to be a friendly and welcoming community to those coming to see this once-in-a-lifetime event — or twice-in-seven-years event in this case.

Dale’s Burger Shack to be open 24 hours

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Nathan Colombo
Carbondale Times

Carbondale boasts an ever-changing cycle of locally-owned restaurants. While new restaurants open, other restaurants change hands, switch locations or even close. 

It’s a cycle that afforded the owner of Carbondale’s newest restaurant, Josh Leitchy, an opportunity to open Dale’s Burger Shack, 1709 W. Main St., in a location that is purpose-built to be a restaurant.

“They did an auction of the property that was abandoned here,” Leitchy said. “We picked up two pieces of equipment at that auction. The majority of it went away.”

As for his other equipment, he said he looked far and wide to make things fit his new digs and budget. 

“I traveled all over the Midwest to get good stuff, to get good deals, and to get things that would fit perfectly for the spot because it’s a small location,” he said. 

Leitchy, who opened Dale’s Burger Shack in July, has been a team member and manager at establishments throughout Carbondale’s restaurant industry. He hired staff who he has worked with before, and he serves customers who he has served at other establishments.

Little Makanda bracing for hordes of eclipse-watchers

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There are no super highways or billboards to mar the natural beauty of the hills surrounding Makanda.  

From the south, a winding, two-lane highway with steep hills and blind curves levels out at a railroad crossing next to the post office and a park. 

From the north, alongside Giant City State Park, the trees part around the railroad tracks, opening to a view of the boardwalk with shops that look like the stage of an 1800s-era Hollywood western.

Makanda has seen its share of changes in 172 years, but it remains stubbornly lost in time, for generations remaining one of southern Illinois’ best-kept secrets.

The secret is about to be out. On Monday, thousands of umbraphiles — eclipse chasers — are expected to arrive for the greatest show on Earth, a total solar eclipse. 

What’s more, the international eclipse spotlight will shine brightest on Makanda, where totality will last 2 minutes and 40 seconds, longer than anywhere else in the United States.

Schimpf, Bryant to hold senior fair

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Carbondale Times

Senior citizens from throughout the area will find a range of services and information available at the annual Senior Fair July 20 in Carbondale.

State Sen. Paul Schimpf, State Rep. Terri Bryant and Mayor Mike Henry will serve as hosts for the event, which will run from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Carbondale Civic Center, located at 200 S. Illinois Ave.

All interested senior citizens are invited to attend for information and demonstrations on quality-of-life issues. More than 50 area vendors will be in attendance to provide services to area seniors.

Group address county board about safe communities

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Colleen Frease
Carbondale Times


Members of the Southern Illinois Immigrant Rights Project addressed Jackson County officials about the need for immigrants to feel welcome all through the county.

Cities across the nation have been pushing for resolutions to create safe and welcoming communities for immigrants and their families. Carbondale passed such a resolution in April. The Rights Project was a driving force behind its passing.

O’Brien signs pro contract with Finland team

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Chris Barron
Carbondale Times

Before 1994, the Finnish basketball team that just signed 2016-17 Saluki Sean O’Brien was named after the Finnish town it is located in — Uusikaupunki.

The team’s new name now, Korihait is reference to the “hai” part of the name, which translates to “shark.”

Nevertheless, more important matters abounded for O’Brien after he signed. He knew he’d have to get ready for a European professional basketball life. That prep would entail getting ready to produce from the moment he landed in Finland.


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