Retail outlets with eclipse glasses in stock

by Steve Dunford

The following list does not guarantee the quality, or if no longer in stock. is not liable for any malfunction of the glasses.

Franklin County


Casey’s (East Main Street Location)

Heartland office supply – free with a can good donation

Benton Gazette

Walmart is sold out and they do not anticipate receiving any more


Hometown Shirts and Graphics

Bowlin’s Foodland






Mom’s Milk

West Frankfort Gazette

West Frankfort Public Library (Free to patrons with a library card)

Perry County


Walmart – They have a limited supply

Available tonight from 7:30-9:00 p.m. at the Alder Planetarium Mobile Crew Show at the St. Nicholas Hotel

Williamson County





Franklin County businesses are prepared for the eclipse

by Steve Dunford

Several emergency officials has labeled the Interstate 57. US 51, Illinois 13 corridor in Jackson, Williamson, Perry, and Franklin Counties, for having heavy traffic and an influx of tourists coming to see the total eclipse,  which the path will cut right through Southern Illinois on Monday.  Estimated totals will say hundreds of thousands will ascend on Little Egypt.

Carbondale McDonalds at University Place Shopping Center, that has was purchased by Moreland/Bishop enterprises.  Their corporate office is in West Frankfort  (File photo)

Moreland-Bishop enterprises, based out of West Frankfort, owns a chain of McDonald’s restaurants across Southern Illinois, including two that the company recently required in Carbondale in February.   They also own stores in, Benton-West City, West Frankfort, Johnston City, Herrin, Carterville and two in Marion, in the four county area that will experience the extra tourists.

Late last week, I spoke with John Moreland, who with his wife Mary, and daughter Stephanie who has been long time owners of the franchises.  In the conversation he told me that coupled with the eclipse, SIU students will be allowed to move in the dorms on Thursday, as classes start next Tuesday.

He said this is unprecedented, but they are going to have extra staff, shuffled from other stores.  Management has been meeting for months to prepare for this weekend.   Their suppliers are prepared to make extra runs to the stores if necessary.

Moreland was concerned about the weather, and people might go elsewhere   At the time, The Weather Channel, predicted showers and thunderstorms for Southern Illinois on Monday in their 15 day forecast.  The storm system forecasters had their eye on will hit the region on Saturday.

He said, “No matter what, there will be people here,” citing that most hotels in Jackson and Williamson counties were requiring at least a three night stay.

To deal with communication issues, he said all of the company cars are General Motors vehicles, and they will rely on OnStar if local cell services go down.

Moreland told me their family will be guests to several friends and relatives during that time, coming from as far away as Texas.

Moreland gave me a story suggestion, follow up with businesses and officials to see what went right, and what went wrong.

“We are preparing for a typical fourth of July Weekend.”  says Bob Brothers, Store Manager of Benton-West City Walmart.  He says the reason being with the campgrounds are full at Rend Lake during that time and he expects a similar bump in sales.

Brothers said the store will be well stocked, and nearly every register will be going for the weekend.  They put emphasis on extra camping supplies and emergency management supplies,  such as batteries and generators, in case the power grid would be overloaded.

He says some sales will be determined by how heavy the traffic is on Interstate 57, barring whether people will exit to avoid the congestion.

Brothers also said they are sold out of eclipse glasses, and do not expect to get any more in.

Karen Freeman of Benton KOA says there are no vacancies for camping spots.  It has been that way over a year now.  “Several are staying five and six days and making a vacation out of it, Freeman said.”

Trudy Phillips, Store Manager of Sesser Casey’s, says at this time they will not have any extra staffing.  The store just received more eclipse glasses in stock though.


SESSER, IL – The City of Sesser is proud to be distributing free solar eclipse sunglasses for the upcoming solar eclipse for all residents of the city.

They are available at City Hall & the Library. Limit 2 per person unless you have more people with you.

The Custard Stand in Sesser part of the Illinois Ice Cream Trail

This Mouthwatering Ice Cream Trail In Illinois Is All You’ve Ever Dreamed Of And More


Please click on the link above from the website, for the story by Elizabeth Crozier.  There are several pictures of the Illinois Ice Cream Trail.

There are several pictures.  All the places featured are from Southern Illinois.  The trail goes from Marion to Centralia.


Bonnie High School

Photo provided to Illinois HS Glory Days by Wayne Arnold

NOTE:  There will be an excerpt of a piece submitted to Illinois High School Glory Days by long time Rend Lake College instructor Wayne Arnold.  He was a graduate of Goode-Barren Township High School (Now Sesser-Valier.)

When I was the pastor of East Side Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon, Wayne had family that attended there.  We became well acquainted.  At the time, he was still a season ticket holder for Sesser-Valier sporting events.

Please click on the link above for the full story.  –  Steve

Severin to Hold Satellite Office Hours in Sesser on August 1st

Press Release for the office of State Representative Dave Severin

MARION, IL –  State Representative Dave Severin (R- Benton) will be holding satellite office hours at Sesser City Hall, 302 W Franklin St, in Sesser from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Tuesday August 1st.

Rep. Severin’s staff will be available to meet with constituents to address concerns and receive feedback on the issues most important to them.

If you have any questions, please contact Rep. Severin’s District Office at (618) 440-5090 or through the contact form on his website at


J & C Produce and Pies – Hit at local Farmer’s Markets as well as their stand at home

by Steve Dunford

SESSER, IL –  There have been several circles in my life, that brought me in contact with Jim and Carleen Roberts of Sesser.

Jim and Carleen Roberts

When I was working my way through college at McDonald’s in West City, I worked with Carleen, as well has her two kids Julie and Craig.  She was one of three “McDonald’s moms from the Sesser area.  Mary Lou Galloway was another one at West City.  When I transferred to West Frankfort to be a shift manager, I worked with Kay Wangler in Sesser.  They served as a mother figure to all of us teenagers that worked there.

Carleen would bring goodies for us kids to eat, especially around Christmas time.  She has made pies for people as long as I can remember.

With my dad being a long time Free Will Baptist preacher, I would run into their family at denominational events as well.  The family has attended Bear Point FWB Church, just west of Sesser-Valier school.  Their children grew up in the church until they moved from the area.

The couple spends the winter in Frostproof, Florida, which several people from Southern Illinois spend there.  Jim always posts pictures of nice crappie, and occasionally some bluegill that he catches down there.  Here in Franklin County, it is not frost proof there.  When we had the freezing rain event last winter, Jim posted a nice mess of fish.  I was a little jealous and my mouth was watering.

After Jim retired from Consolidated Coal north of Sesser, (formerly Inland Steel), along with the couple snowbirding south for the winter, Jim comes back home and plants a huge garden,  He as well,  rents some empty lots in Sesser.  Carleen specializes in fried pies.

Jim was a presenter for the University of Illinois cooperative services in seminars for vegetable farming.  Jim and Carleen attend the West Frankfort Farmers Market since the beginning on Tuesdays, and the Benton Farmers Market at the Civic Center on Thursdays.

Over the years, I have consumed a lot of fried pies.  On most Tuesday’s since I moved to WF, I make the six block trek to the park to consume some fried pies.  From looking at me you can tell I like to eat, and it is a well two bucks spent.

The couple has ran a vegetable stand at their home on the north side of Sesser for years.  I didn’t buy much veggies off of them over the year because I had my own garden.  It is something that I miss since I live in an apartment now.  There is nothing like planting your own food like watching it grow.  Next year, I might do some “Oliver Wendell Douglas farming”

The West Frankfort Farmers Market is every Tuesday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the park, in the shelter behind the Aquatics Center.  Carleen’s pies go quick.  Next Monday, I will run a story on all the venders and what they have for sale.  The market is well supported.  If you have not been there, check it out.

Danny Thomas, our Song Leader and deacon at Calvary Baptist Church has a saying when someone is a good person, they are one of the good guys or gals.  This fits Jim and Carleen.

Information about the heat…updated list of cooling centers

by Steve Dunford

The Heat Advisory is still in effect until Sunday.  I would not be surprised if the National Weather Service ups it to an Excessive Heat Warning.  The NWS in St. Louis has had one for two days.

Here are some area temperatures and heat indexes across the region

  • Mt. Vernon 96 degrees/heat index 109
  • Marion 95 degrees/ heat index 103
  • Carbondale 93 degrees/ heat index 103

Here is an updated list of cooling centers across the county:


City Hall

Fire Department

Township Community Building

West Frankfort:

Police Department


City Hall – Please use the police department entrance.


First Baptist Church will be having the lunch program between 11am till 1pm.  Kids 18 and under ear free.  Adults it is $3.00


Cooling centers in the region

by Steve Dunford

As long as the heat wave lasts, I will pass on any emergency information on a timely basis.

I would appreciate any information that you might have.  Over the last few months, and especially during the flooding in late April, the citizens of the county has trusted to be a reliable source of information in the county.

The site has good numbers in the Jefferson, Williamson, Perry, Hamilton and Saline counties as well now.  Franklin County will be the top priority, but I will start sharing info from those counties as well.

Please contact me at 513-1274, 937-0253, send me a message on Facebook or email me at



City Hall – 8:00 to 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday

Benton Fire Department

Benton Community Building


City Hall – Please use the police entrance


First Baptist Church is hosting their summer meal program, free for kids 18 and under.  For adults the cost is $3.  The time is 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. You are welcome to come and cool off.








Missing Perry County man home safely

by Steve Dunford

Kenneth Mohr, a Pinckneyville area man was reported missing earlier this afternoon.

I just spoke with a family member a few minutes ago, and he is safely at home now.  Thank you all to everyone that helped.