The Eclipse in Nature

by Steve Dunford

I was curious yesterday how the eclipse would affect wildlife, animals and the temperature change in general.

At my vantage point in West Frankfort, I noticed around 12:50 p.m. the cicadas and crickets began to holler and chirp.  The birds were going to their nests.  A few minutes the wind began to pick up, then there was a stillness like nightfall.

The Lake of Egypt before totality yesterday. (Photo from Bob Wilson, co-owner of Wilson McRenyolds Funeral Home in Marion, and Stone Funeral Home in West Frankfort)

I wrote a piece yesterday discussing some things that I thought would be really cool to experience during the event.  One of those was to be on a local lake.  At one time, I used to   I have read several accounts on social media that stated that fish began to feed and flop like they do in the evening before dark.  They began to jump close to and during totality, after the eclipse, the fish calmed down.

In the building that I live in, there are some people that have service dogs.  There is one that I pay close attention to is a black and white Shih Tzu.  At one time I had a dog like that.  I know they are very smart and sense things.

Around 1:00 p.m., I noticed that it was running in circles.  The other dogs seemed slightly agitated and a little nervous.  Close to totality they became very calm.

Jagger’s Doggie Day Care in Mt. Vernon is a sponsor of this page.  They committed to keep the dogs indoors during the eclipse.  I talked with Connie Olson, owner and operator with her husband Randy this afternoon.  She said on a normal day there are a lot of dogs that sleep in the afternoon because they play hard in the morning.  Yesterday, because they were thinking it was nightfall, 95% were asleep.

I mentioned that I would love to been on a farm, to see how the livestock acted.  Even though I grew up on Main Street in Thompsonville, our neighbor across the road that lived there until I was about 14, Gene Lager,  had cattle.

When there was a bad storm or other changes in nature, I always would remember they would act strange.  I would have liked to compare notes from my childhood or the times I have helped farmers out from time to time as a teenager in what I noticed.

The roosters did crow.  At first I said I was more interested in the things of nature.  However,  “God’s Light Show” was the greatest thing I ever experienced.

In the future Emergency Alert Days will be declared on the website

by Steve Dunford

Yesterday we witnessed an unprecedented event.  Every north-south thoroughfare in the county was tied up with people heading home after the eclipse, from several locations across Southern Illinois that experienced totality.

The average post during the traffic was reaching between 1,500 and 2,000 people.  During the flood and other severe weather events, there have been posts that have reached over 10,000 people.

This morning I went through and cleaned out several posts dealing with traffic.  During that, I was thinking other media outlets use words to key people in on what is happening.  For instance, KFVS issues a First Alert storm day.

On my walk today, I came up with a criteria to issue Emergency Alerts on the website.

  • If there is a watch or warning issued by the Storm Prediction Center or National Weather Service in Paducah.  This goes for all products issued with watch or warning in the title.  This will not be issued for advisories.
  • If there is a slight risk of severe weather (level 2 of 5 on the day of the event, or any forecast by the Storm Prediction Center, that has the region under an Elevated (level three of 5) Moderate (level 4 of 5) or High (Level 5 of 5) risk of severe weather.
  • If there is a situation like yesterday, where roads are jammed or to avoid a stretch of highway in the county.
  • If there would be an area that will be without utility service for an extended period of time.
  • If there is a situation in the county that will affect a multiple number of people, for example, when the bomb threat was called in at Franklin Hospital.

I, or if staff is added someone else,  will make a post with this clipart to the left, explain the emergency why an alert is issued, and the main focus of coverage during the duration will focus around why the alert was issued.  There could be other news, sports, and weather posted during the duration.  Yesterday it was hard keeping up with the traffic alerts.

During severe weather events, Channel 3 Meteorologist Jim Rasor uses the phrase he is not trying to make anyone afraid but aware.  I know the words “Emergency Alert” sounds strong, but when I use them, it is not for drama, but awareness.

In events like this, I encourage you to have at least two ways to receive information.  One media outlet might have some information that I might not have or visa versa.

I keep either directly or indirectly with emergency officials in the county.  Thank you for the trust you shown in me yesterday, I hope I can continue to keep that trust, and earn more citizens of Franklin and surrounding counties in the future.

God’s awesome light show

by Steve Dunford

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. (Psalms 19:1, KJV)

Picture of totality in West Frankfort

WEST FRANKFORT, IL –  From 11:45 a.m. until 12:45 P.M I monitored the sun every few minutes.  It was incredible to see the sun disappear by increments.

For the first time in all of our lifetimes, we were able to experience a total eclipse.

Again, there will be one on April 8,2024 crossing Southern Illinois

At 1:00 p.m. I was honestly surprised how much daylight there was.  The wind was starting to pick up.

Over the next few minutes by 1:10 p.m. the temperature began to drop by ten degrees.  The crickets started to chirp, and there was a dusk feel.

In the next ten minutes it was pitch black.  I was able to take a quick shot in totality without missing the show.  There was more of a spherical look than I expected.  It was one of the most incredible things I have witnessed in my life.

Images like we witnessed today, scream the majesty and power of an almighty God.

Feel free to share your experiences in your own words.



50 influencers of Rend Lake College: Honorary Degrees, A family affair

by Reece Rutland, Rend Lake College Public Information/Sports information Director

INA, IL – Throughout Rend Lake College’s 50 year history, the most influential people on the college’s campus have been the thousands of students that have called it home. And while every student has left their mark on the pages of RLC legacy, we’ve only got 50 slots on the influencer list.

To that end, on behalf of all the Warriors out there, we dedicate this 50 Influencer story to you by focusing on two local families that help demonstrate the symbiotic nature between the college and those who utilize RLC’s services to better their lives.

The college had 16 great reasons to honor Rose Maloney and Victor and Betty Rapp.
Between the two families, 16 children attended and graduated from RLC, in perhaps the two biggest displays of support in the college’s history.

While neither Rose, Victor nor Betty graduated from RLC, each and every one of their children took advantage of the close location and cheaper costs to jump-start their lives.

For their part, Rend Lake honored both the Maloney and the Rapp families by presenting Rose with an honorary degree in 1978 (the second in the college’s history). The Rapps were similarly honored in 1995 with the fifth honorary degree bestowed by RLC.

From an excerpt when Maloney was presented her honorary degree:

… A graduate already of the School of Hard Knocks, Mrs. Maloney received an Honorary Associate in Arts Degree for her critical role in seeing eight children graduate from RLC, and seven did so with high honors.

Recognized at the same time was 1978 grad Janice Loretta Maloney, one of only five Associate in Arts Degree recipients boasting perfect 4.0 grade-point averages.


Rose Maloney, 5th from the left, is pictured with her nine children, eight of which were RLC graduates at the time and Dr. Kenneth LaSalle, RLC Dean of Instruction. Maloney had just received the second honorary degree ever awarded by the college. (Rend Lake College photo)

Others in the Maloney household with Rend Lake College degrees are Geralyn Mary “Gerry” Maloney (A.A., Class of ’76), Thomas Gerard Maloney (A.A., ’75), Rita Gail Maloney (A.A., ’74), Ronald Maloney (A.A., ’73), Ellen Catherine Maloney (A.A., ’71), Theresa Ann Maloney (A.A., ’70) and Rosemarie Maloney (Mt. Vernon Community College / A.A., ’67).

“I was very honored and surprised,” Mrs. Maloney admitted later. “I’m pleased children can live at home and go to Rend Lake College.”

The family has lived in the RLC District 20 years, initially in Mt. Vernon and most recently in Dahlgren. Rose Maloney has worked the last three years for Hamilton County Telephone Cooperative as a Commercial Representative.

A member of St. John’s Church, she is Secretary of the Parish Council and participates in the church choir and St. Ann’s Altar Society. She also is a member of the Dahlgren Grade School PTO. When she is not enjoying the privilege of entertaining her two grandsons, she likes gardening, cooking and reading.

The youngest of her children, Sallie Maloney, has plans to attend Rend Lake College in the near future. Jan Maloney will continue her education at Eastern Illinois University; all seven older siblings went on to obtain their Bachelor’s Degrees.

Father Paul Maloney died in 1972.

Dr. Kenneth LaSalle, Dean of Instruction, told the Commencement audience Rose Maloney “is a mother, who with selfless devotion, has enabled her children to excel in the world of academics and to lead responsible lives in society.

“We would like to honor this tradition of excellence and love; more specifically, we honor the mother who has made it possible.”…

Fast forward to 1995…

… and a return trip to Dahlgren, where RLC graduate Anita Louise (Rapp) Brown (A.A., ’81) alerted Rend Lake College administrators to the almost-identical accomplishments of the Victor and Betty Rapp clan.

“At the time Rend Lake College was under construction, I remember taking a Sunday drive with my family to visit the campus. I remember my father remarking that, hopefully, all of us would attend Rend Lake College,” Brown indicated by letter.

The dream began with Karen Marie (Rapp) Perryman (A.A., ’77), and continued through Deborah Ann (Rapp) Rubenacker (A.A., ’78), Susan Elizabeth (Rapp) Mikel (A.A., ’80), Anita Louise (Rapp) Brown, David John Rapp (A.A., ’83), Paul J. Rapp (A.A.S. in Ag Production and Management, ’85), John W. Rapp (A.A.S. in Ag Production and Management, ’87) and Vickie Elizabeth Rapp (A.S., ’95).

And as if that were not enough, add to the family total in-laws – RLC grads Randy Rubenacker (’78) and Chassity Simmons Rapp (’92).

Rubenacker, of course, has gone on to sit on the Rend Lake College Board of Trustees and the Rend Lake College Foundation Board.

Victor and Betty Rapp, surrounded by their proud family of Rend Lake College graduates, were presented Honorary Degrees during the 28th Annual Commencement program Friday evening, May 12, 1995, by Dr. Stephen B. Tietz, RLC Vice President.

Pleasant Valley Baptist Church celebrates 150 years today

by Steve Dunford


THOMPSONVILLE, IL – The Pleasant Valley Missionary Baptist Church, between Thompsonville and Galatia will celebrate 150 years of continuous service to the Lord in their homecoming service this afternoon at 1:30 P.M.

The church will have Sunday School and Morning Worship.  They will have an old fashioned dinner after the services.

Sons of the Father will be in concert in the afternoon service.  The West Frankfort group recently announced their retirement from the road.  Les and Chris Snyder will still continue in the group, and sing locally.

Don Kragness, who was a music director in several local schools and churches will replace Brent Snyder.  Brent recently accepted a position of Minister of Worship at Calvary Baptist Church in Alton.

The church attendance is approximately 30 at Pleasant Valley.  The Southern Baptist congregation is members of the Franklin Baptist Association, and the Illinois Baptist State Association.  The church is pastored by Mark Cockrum of Galatia.

The church has recently added a fellowship hall and bathrooms on the ground floor.

The congregation would love to have you.  Just follow the signs going north off of Route 34 near the Saline/Franklin County line.

In the days of church closures, this is a testimony to the faithfulness of this congregation to the Lord.  Being a Southern Baptist myself, I believe the rural country churches are the backbone of our convention, and in all denominations the country as a whole.


This is the best simulation you’ll find of the upcoming total solar eclipse

NOTE:  This three minute video has been shared on Social Media by several people the last several days.  It is a simulation of what to expect on Monday.  It is excellent and explains a lot of things.  I hope you enjoy it.  – Steve

Heartland Eclipse 2017: expect temperature changes

KFVS Meteorologists Brian Alowrth left, and Bryan McCormick right, sporting eclipse glasses in the First Alert Weather Center. (KFVS TV-Photo)

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (From the KFVS =TV Meterologists.  Please click on the link above for the full story.  Here is an excerpt below.)

How much will temperatures fall during the eclipse?

When we give ‘temperatures’ during the weather forecast, we are talking about the temperature of the air.

During the daytime hours, the air is heated mainly by contact with the ground surface.
When the eclipse begins, incoming solar radiation will gradually be reduced to zero, and then will slowly increase again after the totality.

At some point, this will result in a cooling of the ground surface and a drop in air temperatures, but meteorologists are not certain just how much.

The consensus here among the KFVS weather team is that our temperatures will slowly drop somewhere between 5 and 10 degrees depending on where you are watching.

A few random thoughts about free speech, monuments and who’s next …

By Jim Muir

A few random thoughts about free speech, monuments and who’s next …

I worked in the news media for 25 years and during that time I wrote thousands of newspaper columns and op-ed pieces. I also hosted a weekly two-hour radio/call-in show that allowed listeners to voice their opinion about any topic. In both of these jobs I was used to readers and listeners voicing an opinion with me and many times against what I had said. I never took offense at those who disagree, because that’s the beauty of free speech. I can have my say … but you can have yours too.

I once got sideways with a listener when I said that, while I despise the vitriolic message of the Rev. Fred Phelps (I use the term ‘reverend’ very loosely here) and his hate-filled congregation … I still defend his right to say what he wants. You remember Phelps and his crew traveling the country hating on gays and protesting military funerals.

In the words of one caller, ‘I simply can’t believe that you would defend this group.’ It was a good question, so let me explain.

Again let me stress in the strongest terms possible, I despise, I loathe and I detest Phelps’ message, but if the politically-correct police tell Phelps to shut up and he is silenced, then who’s next? Is it me or you? Do the PC police soon say that they don’t like the comments of a small-town radio guy or an aging newspaper columnist and silence him? Or maybe that post you put on Facebook yesterday about the inept state government in Illinois or your dislike for Trump is deemed offensive and you’re silenced. In my thinking shutting down ANY free speech puts us all on a slippery slope of no return. So, while we hate the comments of some, in order to maintain the greatest freedom we have, we have to accept it. We don’t have to like it, but we must accept it, regardless! As Voltaire said: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’

I mention that today because in every way I believe this is exactly what is happening with the recent surge of monuments and statues that are being removed, vandalized, destroyed and torn down. Let me pose this question regarding what we’ve witnessed in the past week: where does the line stop for what type of monument, symbol or statue that ‘this’ person or ‘that’ group finds offensive?

At what point do those who are anti-Christian or atheist say that a cross that is attached to the steeple of a church is offensive? Or maybe even the steeple itself? What about the words ‘In God we trust’ that adorns our currency? Or a sign in front of a church? Or the words of a minister standing in the pulpit? The list of things that could be labeled as offensive to fringe groups all over the nation is endless. Again, tell me where the red line stops concerning what is and what isn’t offensive?

You might say that my comments are far-fetched and might even proclaim ‘that could never happen.’ To that line of thinking I would simply say – ‘don’t count on it.’ Take a good look around you – that red line is moving rapidly every day!

We’re already on the ‘slope’ I mentioned earlier and I believe it’s getting more slippery every day!


Local emergency officials prepared for the eclipse

by Steve Dunford

As Franklin County falls in the four county corridor of areas that will have increased traffic flow from the eclipse, I talked with several emergency officials throughout the county yesterday to check their contingency plans.

Ryan Buckingham, of Franklin County Emergency management agency said the planning over the last several months consisted of four areas:

  • Traffic Incident management
  • Communications
  • Increase in population for a few days
  • Resource management of personnel

Buckingham states the Illinois State Police will monitor the situation here in Franklin, as well as the other three counties.  Also the communications hub with the Franklin County Sheriffs office will be activated, as it is in severe weather events and other hazards.

Franklin County EMA has an eclipse resource page on the county website.  Here is the following link below:

Derek Johnson, Chief Operating Officer of Franklin Hospital says they are fully staffed and supplied for the expected patient increase in the emergency room.  He says with the increased traffic on Interstate 57, and the recent history of accidents on the interstate,  there is the potential to have more patients in the emergency room than normal.  There will be extra staff on call, and they will have multiple ways of communication in case the cell phone grid goes down.

With the hundreds of thousands of people ascending on Jackson and Williamson Counties, Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, Heartland Regional Medical Center of Marion, and Herrin Hospital might be overran with patients.  He said there can be an increased number of traffic for people seeking care migrating north.

Johnson also said that the Walk-in clinic might be over ran with patients as well.  He recommended you calling before coming in, as the wait could possibly be long.  He stressed the ER is there, if you need them in the event of an emergency.

Shane Cockrum, Fire Chief of the Benton Fire Department, says his staff will be mobile during the event, in case there is a fire or other emergency, especially if there is an accident on Interstate 57,

He said the communities might have to take care of their own, instead of relying on mutual aid because of the traffic.

Bill Southerd, Christopher Police Chief, said they really don’t know what to expect.  He said there would be extra officers on in Christopher, as well as Sesser and Zeigler.

With State Route 148 right in the middle of the interstate and US 51, there could be people migrating to 148, especially if Route 37 is backed up.

Starting Friday afternoon, I will closely monitor the traffic situation across the county.   Other than possibly leaving for church on Sunday and watching the eclipse on Monday, I will be passing along emergency information.  If I am overloaded, you might check the Facebook page first before the website.


Remembering Benton’s Storied Capitol Theater

Interior of the Capitol Theater in the 1920’s. (Gazette photo)

BENTON, IL – (Benton Gazette.  Please click on the link for the full story.  Here is an excerpt below.)

With the recently announced purchase of Toler Cinema in West City, many people have remarked about memories of another, sadly long gone, iconic piece of our community’s fabled past.

There’s few reminders left on the current site of the former Capitol Theater that once towered over the southeast corner of the Public Square in Benton. On its’ former lot now stands the Capitol Park Pavilion which was named in its’ honor and carries on its’ spiritual legacy as the host of live music and other entertainment during City festivals and happenings.

If you could time travel back nearly 100 years ago however, you would get a glimpse of the larger than life brick structure which was the hub of activity for Benton teenagers of the era. In the 20s, before the “talking pictures” had emerged, the theater served as the scene of many well-attended vaudeville acts, stage shows, and silent films—such as 1924’s “The Perfect Flapper” or D.W. Griffith’s “That Royle Girl” in 1925 which turned up in advertisements of the era.