John Bosecker was appointed as Chief of Police for the city of Cairo last week.
Bosecker returns to the post he held for 16 months about six years ago.
“I’ve learned a lot since I was here last,” said Bosecker.
“My main goal, right now, is community policing and police presence. We want to teach the public that we are there for them and trying to make it a safer place. Police presence is a deterrent and we can learn from the residents how we can better serve them – how Cairo can better serve them.”
Bosecker started police work in 1999 and has been his career ever since.
He also has over 10 years in the National Guard and Army Reserve, starting in artillery in the Guard and moving to Military Police in the Reserves.
According to Bosecker, the public can expect the policies and personnel to remain mostly unchanged.
“The policies are pretty good,” he said. “It’s enforcement. Expect to definitely see increased enforcement and special duties assigned to officers.”
“The public expects protection and that is what we are going to give them.”
Primary elections were held across the state of Illinois on Tuesday, March 18. The election gave voters the chance to influence who will represent them at the state and local levels.
Early and absentee voting began in late-February and March for Alexander and Pulaski Counties and was wrapped up over the weekend. Alexander County Clerk and Election Authority Frances Lee opened her office on Saturday to accomodate the last of early voting in the county.
Af 11:00 a.m. on Saturday only five voters had come through the office. The low numbers correlated with state-wide predictions of a low voter turnout.
“It’s been very quiet so far this election,” said Lee. “I think a lot of people have stopped caring. John Q. Public is sick of the back-and-forth fighting between the different sides.”
Lee also cited the small amount of campaign advertising in the area as a factor in the low turnout.
“Usually there are signs and advertisements everywhere,” said Lee. “That’s how people know that there’s an election approaching. There isn’t much of that around this year.”
Monday afternoon saw the distribution of election equipment. Election judges for the county picked up their precinct’s ballots and M100 voting systems. The judges are responsible for the delivery as well as the return of the equipment after the election.
As the voting machines began leaving the County Clerk’s office late Monday afternoon, workers and election judges milled about and conversed with eachother.
“I’m starting to get all nerved up,” said Ellen Henderson-Bigham, a candidate for Alexander County Clerk.
The most closely watched race in this year’s primary election is that for representation in the election for Governor of Illinois.
With five candidates on the ballot in Alexander County, three being Republican, the possibility for change throughout the state is a possibility.
Election judge Vernon Stubblefield had only nine voters come through his precinct at the Alexander County Courthouse by 2 p.m. The slow trickle of voters left judges time to converse and offer ther opinions on the primary election.
“You would think that because of the number of Republican candidates on the ballot there would be more people from the party out voting,” said Vernon.
The Cairo Airport had only 14 voters come through the precinct by 2:30 in the afternoon.
“Some people would sure help the time go by quicker,” said Curtis Jones, and election judge at the Cache precinct.
As polling wound down, workers in the Alexander County Clerk’s office began counting and processing absentee ballots. The process involves comparing records and signatures on previously submitted documents to weed out anyone attempting to vote more than once. Approximately 165 absentee and early ballots were processed and then added to the final tally by the County Clerk’s staff.
By 8:30 p.m. ten of the eleven precincts had reported back with a total eligible turnout of 14.5 percent. Thebes, which struggled with tabulation issues, reported at 9:05 p.m.
A closely watched aspect of the election was the race for Illinois Senate representation. Senator Durbin was opposed by Republicans Jim Oberweis and Doug Traux. Strong opposition to Democrats has been major local news in recent months.
Senator Durbin ran unopposed on the Democratic ticket for position of senator and garnered a majority of votes in Alexander and Pulaski Counties.
Oberweis was victorious on the Republican side of the Senate race with 64 percent of the vote in Alexander County.
Tio Hardiman upset Pat Quinn for nomination to represent the Democratic Party for Illinois Governor in both Alexander and Pulaski Counties.
The complete tabulation revealed that 19.36 percent of eligible voters in Alexander County voted, just shy of the predicted 20 percent. In Pulaski County 18.64 percent of eligible voters took a trip to the polls.
1,082 total votes were cast in Alexander County and 864 in Pulaski County.
George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
The beginning of Lent was marked by Ash Wednesday this week. People throughout the country attended extra church services and received blessings as well as the ceremonious application of ashes to the forehead.
The ashes serve as a reminder of human mortality and as a sign of repentance. The ashes are usually derived from the burning of palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday.
A topic on the mind of many at this year’s Ash Wednesday was the shrinking number of places for worship. With congregations throughout the state consolidating due to closing parishes, many in the region attended the Ash Wednesday mass held at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Cairo.
Mary Caballero, a member a new member of the St. Patrick’s congregation stated that although the changes of venue have caused some difficulties, things are proceeding in a normal manner.
“Everybody’s ready for a new beginning,” said Cabellero. “We’ve all been getting to know some new faces and it’s been a positive experience for the most part.”
Friar M.C. Mujule led the year’s Ash Wednesday mass and spoke of the changing of seasons as well as the journey that the season of Lent signifies.
“We devote ourselves during Lent as a way to experience what Christ went through,” said Mujule. “We do this through prayer, fasting, and arms giving.”
Mujule highlighted the importance of caring for others throughout the season and reminded those present of suggested canned and other food items which can often be important in a time of need. Nonperishables and canned meats and vegetables are always accepted at St. Patrick’s in Cairo.
Sunday mass for Alexander and Pulaski County Catholics takes place weekly at 11:00 a.m. in Cairo.
George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Harsh winter conditions have forced schools in Alexander and Pulaski Counties to close for multiple days this year. While snow days are generally allotted to each school, persistent extreme weather has caused many districts to surpass their original rations.
Currently, the Cairo School District has missed 11 days of school due to severe weather. The District quickly surpassed the five allotted days however, have been granted forgiveness by the State of Illinois for four of the days so far.
Superintendant Angie Evers explained that because Illinois as a whole has experience a rough winter, Act of God days, which are applied for by the district as a means of forgiveness, are being approved more liberally than usual.
“I’m quite certain that we’ll be granted the other days which are pending at this time,” said Evers. “We were scheduled to have Monday off for Casmir Pulaski so that didn’t effect us.”
The biggest concern for the school is the effects on I-SAT testing that is scheduled to begin this week. With the week before the tests shortened, preparation and scheduled curriculum are being squeezed into fewer hours.
“It’s a delicate balancing act,” said Evers. “I desperately want children in the classrooms but you have to consider keeping people safe when they’re trying to get to school. Mother Nature has really been working against us.”
At this time the last day of school for the district is planned for June 4.
“We’ve got our fingers crossed,” said Evers.
Pulaski County schools are in much of the same situation. Weather caused closures throughout the week for Meridian schools.
Elementary principal Brent Boren stated that at time of printing the district has been out of school 18 days due to winter weather.
“We’ve lost almost a full month of school,” said Boren. “It’s been detrimental in respect to the time we’ve had to prepare for state testing.”
Boren also spoke of the toll missed school days take on student’s retention and comprehension.
“When children miss school it takes them out of the rhythm of education and can often break any momentum they have going for them,” said Boren.
A major factor in determining whether schools remain in service are the road conditions. Administration agreed that student’s safety is the number one priority when it comes to deciding whether school will close.
“It’s most important to keep the children safe,” said Boren
Temperatures have began to rise across the region, giving many hope that the end of the brutal winter Illinois has experienced is in sight.
“We’re just going to keep plugging along and sooner or later it’s going to improve,” said Boren.
George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
On February 27th County Clerk Frances Lee held the public testing of automatic tabulating equipment in her office at Alexander County Courthouse.
The testing of equipment was run by Deb Oldham of Election Management Associates and saw that the precincts of Cairo #1, Thebes, and Tamms were in accurate working order.
Spread about the back room of the County Clerk office were several Automark Systems, ready to be placed at each precinct in the county. The systems are computerized and required by the Attorney General to assist handicapped voters.
The primary election in Alexander County began early voting on Monday, March 3. Registered voters are able to vote for their choices after signing an affidavit with the County Clerk’s office and having their eligibility verified.
The County Clerk’s office will be open on Saturday, March 15 to service early voters.
“I’m not usually open on Saturdays but we need to give people a chance to get their voting taken care of if they’ll be absent on election day,” said Lee.
The primary election gives area voters the opportunity to influence the county and state through their choices of candidates. This influence can often mean the difference in state and federal policies that have long-standing effects on the economy and population.
Alexander County residents are encouraged to cast their vote in the general primary election on March 18 at one of the 11 polling locations in the county.
George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen