Area Districts Cope With Missed School Days

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.

Alicia Rames and Erica McDowell enjoy playing in the snow in Cairo on Thursday. Severe weather in the area has prompted districts to apply for pardons from the state of Illinois. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Alicia Rames and Erica McDowell enjoy playing in the snow in Cairo on Thursday. Severe weather in the area has prompted districts to apply for pardons from the state of Illinois. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

Cairo Booster Society Aims to Make Changes in Town

The newly established Cairo Booster Society is making the positive change they want to see in the area.  Through recent beautification projects around Cairo and organization of meetings and events, the group aims to make Cairo a more enjoyable place to reside.

The Booster Society recently inducted 14 students from the 6th grade 4-H class at Cairo Junior High in an effort to spark interest among the younger population of the area.  These students will help with the ongoing projects planned.

President Tim Means stated that the first project planned for the City of Cairo is the rebuilding of a gazebo at the entrance of Halliday Park.

“It’s been a little cold lately so we’re really just waiting on the weather to break before we get rolling,” said Means.

The next meeting of the Cairo Booster Society is planned for 6 PM on March 13 at City Hall in Cairo.  All are welcome and encouraged to attend with ideas on ways Cairo can be improved.

 George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

The Week in Photos: March 6, 2014

The Visual Report for the week of March 6, 2014:

Deb Oldham, with Election Management Associates, conducts accuracy testing on Alexander County ballot tabulating systems. The public test was held at Alexander County  Clerk’s office on Thursday afternoon. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Deb Oldham, with Election Management Associates, conducts accuracy testing on Alexander County ballot tabulating systems. The public test was held at Alexander County Clerk’s office on Thursday afternoon. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Alexander County Sheriff and Cairo resident Tim Brown debates the issue of animal control with Mayor Tyrone Coleman at a community breakfast held at Cairo High School in October 2013 -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Alexander County Sheriff and Cairo resident Tim Brown debates the issue of animal control with Mayor Tyrone Coleman at a community breakfast held at Cairo High School in October 2013 — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Malik Hagler of the Century Centurions  motions to his teammates during game 4 of the regional tournament Thursday night.  -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Malik Hagler of the Century Centurions motions to his teammates during game 4 of the regional tournament Thursday night. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Jarvis Woodson drives past Meridian defense at Century High School on Friday evening. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Jarvis Woodson drives past Meridian defense at Century High School on Friday evening. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Players fight for possession of the ball during game 4 of the Century Boys Regional Basketball Tournament on Thursday in Ullin.  Cairo lost to Century with a score of 55 - 47. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Players fight for possession of the ball during game 4 of the Century Boys Regional Basketball Tournament on Thursday in Ullin. Cairo lost to Century with a score of 55 – 47. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

Bryce Gardener makes a play at the 1A Regional Championship held at Century High School in Ullin on Friday. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

Bryce Gardener makes a play at the 1A Regional Championship held at Century High School in Ullin on Friday. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Senior Center Bryce Gardner triumphantly holds the net from the 1A Boys Regional Championship game held at Century High School in Ullin on Friday.  The Pilots battled the Meridian Bobcats for the title  and were victorious with a score of 68 - 65. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Senior Center Bryce Gardner triumphantly holds the net from the 1A Boys Regional Championship game held at Century High School in Ullin on Friday. The Pilots battled the Meridian Bobcats for the title and were victorious with a score of 68 – 65. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

Amanda Cheek and Zachary Sauerbrunn were crowned Century High School’s 2014 Homecoming King and Queen on Saturday, February 22. -- Photo Provided | The Cairo Citizen
Amanda Cheek and Zachary Sauerbrunn were crowned Century High School’s 2014 Homecoming King and Queen on Saturday, February 22. — Photo Provided | The Cairo Citizen

 

 

County Clerk Kicks Off Alexander Co. Primary

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.

Deb Oldham, with Election Management Associates, conducts accuracy testing on Alexander County ballot tabulating systems. The public test was held at Alexander County  Clerk’s office on Thursday afternoon. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Deb Oldham, with Election Management Associates, conducts accuracy testing on Alexander County ballot tabulating systems. The public test was held at Alexander County Clerk’s office on Thursday afternoon. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

The Ramblin’ Man: Civics Education

Civilization. Being civil. Civic duty. All of those things have a commonality other than the letter sequence “c-i-v-i.” Unfortunately, civility and civic duty aren’t as common as they used to be.
I suppose you can be a good citizen without performing a civic duty. If you don’t steal from others and you pay your taxes, that’s being a good citizen. But civic duty requires more. Voting is the most basic civic duty. Participating in community organizations, showing up for jury duty and standing and taking your hat off during the national anthem are all elements of civic duty. But I think democracy, our American civilization, requires more.
I think we have a duty to educate ourselves and to try to understand civic issues without partisanship. I’m not suggesting that it’s wrong to be a Republican or a Democrat or to promote a political agenda, but if your information diet is fed by a single ideology, then you have assigned your personal responsibility to someone else. That begs the question: Who is manipulating you?
Holding a strong, political belief without being able to articulate why you think that way indicates you have weeds growing in the gray garden inside your head. I don’t blame the media for this. I blame you. Letting someone else do your thinking for you is on you.
Conservatives can blame the liberal media and liberals can blame Fox News. Maybe we’ve become so disenchanted with politics that we have just given up on trying to sort it all out, so we vote with our party if we vote at all.
Or, maybe our education system has not prepared us to be discerning consumers of information. Perhaps we lack the tools to sort it all out. After all, Illinois does not have a civics education requirement in our schools. The schools teach U.S. history and social studies, but civics is more than that.
On Feb. 21, a governor’s task force on civic education met for the first time to look at how civics is taught in other states and how it might be taught here. As scary as it may seem to many of you, I was appointed as the media representative on the task force, which includes educators and legislators.
My goal for the task force is to ensure that civic education leads to civic engagement. While we need a broad policy that preserves local discretion for schools, I think we need specific tools that schools can use to boost civic engagement, and we need to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of civic education.
This may seem like a ho-hum topic to some folks as there are far more pressing issues for legislators, such as pension reform, spending issues, tax relief and basic services for roads, police and fire protection and job growth. But we are never going to develop the best solutions to our problems if our young people do not become civic-minded and -engaged adults.
Dave Porter | For The Cairo Citizen

The Week in Photos: February 27, 2014

The Visual Report for the Week of February 27, 2014:

The Villa Ridge American Legion offered a fish dinner for residents of the area on Saturday evening.  Approximately 175 pounds of fish was prepared and fried, feeding numerous family and friends of American Legion members. The Legion’s kitchen and cooking trailer were occupied with a flurry of activity throughout the afternoon.  Members and volunteers took turns manning the cooking stations and running food from the outside fryers to the kitchen to be served.  While children played throughout the Legion’s yard, older members of the organization were given the chance to dine together, socialize, and catch up on the winter’s happenings. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
The Villa Ridge American Legion offered a fish dinner for residents of the area on Saturday evening. Approximately 175 pounds of fish was prepared and fried, feeding numerous family and friends of American Legion members.
The Legion’s kitchen and cooking trailer were occupied with a flurry of activity throughout the afternoon. Members and volunteers took turns manning the cooking stations and running food from the outside fryers to the kitchen to be served. While children played throughout the Legion’s yard, older members of the organization were given the chance to dine together, socialize, and catch up on the winter’s happenings. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Billy Coleman repairs a headlight on his truck in Cairo on Saturday. Coleman made the repairs in preparation for a road trip and enjoyed the company of his son and passing cats.  “At least it’s not so horribly cold out today,” said Coleman. With temperatures rising into the low 50s, many throughout the area took the opportunity to get out of their homes and accomplish some long delayed chores.  The warm up comes after several weeks of frigid weather for the state of Illinois. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Billy Coleman repairs a headlight on his truck in Cairo on Saturday. Coleman made the repairs in preparation for a road trip and enjoyed the company of his son and passing cats.
“At least it’s not so horribly cold out today,” said Coleman.
With temperatures rising into the low 50s, many throughout the area took the opportunity to get out of their homes and accomplish some long delayed chores. The warm up comes after several weeks of frigid weather for the state of Illinois. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
CPU workers began the task of converting old bricks possessed by the city into a fine mix.  The recycled mix will be used around town to fill holes and cracks in the roadway. “This operation is going to benefit the city in a very cost effective and positive manner,” said Mayor Tyrone Coleman. The bricks that have occupied lots on the Southeast end of Cairo are being grinded using industrial machinery rented with money Cairo’s demolition fund.  The process is expected to leave the city of Cairo in possession of over 10 tons of usable fill. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
CPU workers began the task of converting old bricks possessed by the city into a fine mix. The recycled mix will be used around town to fill holes and cracks in the roadway.
“This operation is going to benefit the city in a very cost effective and positive manner,” said Mayor Tyrone Coleman.
The bricks that have occupied lots on the Southeast end of Cairo are being grinded using industrial machinery rented with money Cairo’s demolition fund. The process is expected to leave the city of Cairo in possession of over 10 tons of usable fill. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Scott Henderson and Link Warren take a break from their work of repairing the upper windows of The Custom House in Cairo on Friday. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Scott Henderson and Link Warren take a break from their work of repairing the upper windows of The Custom House in Cairo on Friday. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
The Cairo Pilots battled Lovejoy Saturday as part of the High School’s Homecoming festivities. The Junior Varsity Pilots were victorious over Lovejoy with a score of 57 -50. The Pilots controlled the ball for a majority of the game, remaining in the lead throughout play.-- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
The Cairo Pilots battled Lovejoy Saturday as part of the High School’s Homecoming festivities. The Junior Varsity Pilots were victorious over Lovejoy with a score of 57 -50. The Pilots controlled the ball for a majority of the game, remaining in the lead throughout play.– George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Cairo High School crowned their homecoming royalty on Saturday.  Jarvis Woodson and Alexis Murray were selected by the student body as the 2014 homecoming king and queen.  The school held a dance after the Homecoming basketball game against Lovejoy. -- George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen
Cairo High School crowned their homecoming royalty on Saturday. Jarvis Woodson and Alexis Murray were selected by the student body as the 2014 homecoming king and queen. The school held a dance after the Homecoming basketball game against Lovejoy. — George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

 

 

 

 

 

Cairo City Council Meeting: February 25, 2014

The Cairo City Council met at City Hall on Tuesday evening. Council members Linda Jackson and Bo Purchase were absent.

During mayor’s remarks Tyrone Coleman informed those present that an employee from the Illinois Department of Natural Resource was in town to photograph Fort Defiance in preparation for the transfer of responsibilities of upkeep and maintenance away from Cairo.

Coleman also spoke of a recent meeting with the Humane Society in Cape Girardeau about the possibility of having the cost of animal control within city limits covered. Coleman stated that the possibility of having volunteers  help with animal control is a “very involved” process.  Coleman also pointed out that stray dogs have been taken to shelters by city residents.

Motions to approve the minutes of the February 11, 2014 meeting, payroll ending February 17, and the bill list through February 21 were passed.

The council approved the use of TIF funds to pay Mid-America Electric Motor Sales $2135.00 for the repair of the trash rack at the 28th Street pump station.

The Council decided to refrain from proposing a motion that would allow bids to be accepted for timber harvesting along the Mississippi River Levee.

“Getting it cleaned up and ready for use will benefit us in the long run as opposed to making some quick money,” said Richard Pitcher.

Councilman Philip Hodges informed the council of quotes the city has recieved on two snowplows and a salt spreader. Hodges also stated that the city mechanic is searching for a gas tank for the snow plow currently owned by the city.

Before adjourning Mayor Coleman chose to acknowledge those who have and continue to make an impact on society in honor of black history month.

Alexander County Board Meeting: February 25, 2014

The Alexander County Board of commisioners met at the Alexander County Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon fo a regularly scheduled meeting.

The Board approved the minutes from the February 11 meeting.

County Clerk Frances Lee reminded those present of the upcoming primary election ans stated that her office would be open to service early voters on Monday, March 3. Regular voting will take place throughout Alexander County on Tuesday, March 18.

Alexander County Highway Engineer Jeff Denny informed members of the Board that his department had began accepting bids from contractors on the demolition of the old Burkhart building in Cairo.  Denny also gave an update about the ongoing status of flood buyouts throughout county. Denny stated that the process is moving forward, with approximately 70 assessments completed at this time.

Payroll , recurring, and Highway Department bills were approved to be paid for .

Chairman Harold McNelly chose to appoint Lorrie Hesselrode and Danny Brown to the Southern 7 Health Department.

Chalen Tatem made the Board aware of a $1,032.00 credit that he is in the process of acquiring from the county’s telephone service provider.

George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

Pyramid Chess Club Teaches Members New Moves

The Pyramid Chess Club, a gathering of students interested in the game of chess, has become a positive resource for all who are involved.

The club allows students who are involved the chance to progress their chess-playing abilities as well as socialize with peers who share the same interests and love of the game.

Members of The Pyramid Chess Club plan to attend the upcoming 6th Annual Metro Saint Louis Class Championship held on February 22 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.

The annual tournament pits students of the same age groups against eachother over the course of three rounds.

Chess philosopher and editor of “The Chess Club Chronicles” newsletter Zayn Hollis describes playing chess as “seeing tactical patterns as a sphere rotating through the time-space continuum.”

While chess is seen merely as a game to some, others find the strategy and foresight utilized throughout the game as an ever evolving and progressing war between two opponents. Opponents command tiny armies and mount attacks, hoping to capture the other side’s king and queen.

“To me, chess is like a passport to wealthy living,” said Hollis.  I think of all the great minds and how they live and what they have done.”

The Pyramid Chess Club meets regularly throughout the school year and encourages those interested to check out what is offered.

Member’s of the Pyramid Chess Club pose for a photo with Mayor of Cairo Tyrone Coleman.  The club offers members the opportunity to progress their chess skills while playing with peers who share interest in the game. -- Photo Provided | The Cairo Citizen
Member’s of the Pyramid Chess Club pose for a photo with Mayor of Cairo Tyrone Coleman. The club offers members the opportunity to progress their chess skills while playing with peers who share interest in the game. — Photo Provided | The Cairo Citizen

George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

Chauncey Hughes Appears in Alexander County Court

Chauncey Hughes appeared before a judge in the Alexander County Courthouse on Tuesday, February 18.  Hughes, who has been in custody at the Tri-County Detention Center in Ullin since turning himself in State Police, faced multiple charges, some dating back to2012.

Hughes faced multiple charges of Aggravated Battery stemming from an altercation in the parking lot of Dollar General in Cairo as well as Possesion of more than  2.5 grams of Cannabis.

These charges add to the five counts of first-degree murder Hughes is facing in the death of his  wife Heather Davis.

Davis was found unresponsive  in her residence by the Cairo Police Department on the evening of November 1, 2013.  After being transported to St. Francis Hospital in  Missouri Davis was pronounced dead.

Hughes turned himself in to State Police District 22 Headquarters shortly after being named as a primary suspect by authorities.

At the hearing on Tuesday Hughes’ lawyer asked the judge to reschedule the jury trial for April, citing the need for more time to review evidence in the case  It was estimated that the defense need three more days to review taped interviews.

Hughes stated in court that he had no objection to the rescheduling of his trial.

The new date for the  jury trial has been set for April 29 at 10 AM in the Alexander County Courthouse. The pretrial is scheduled for April 1.

George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen

Defendant Chauncey Hughes is shown in a recent mugshot.   Hughes trial has been moved to April 29 with the pretrial taking place on April 1. -- Photo Provided | The Cairo Citizen
Defendant Chauncey Hughes is shown in a recent mugshot. Hughes trial has been moved to April 29 with the pretrial taking place on April 1. — Photo Provided | The Cairo Citizen