Illinois voters unhappy with state’s direction; barely influenced by tax cuts: Simon Poll

Marijuana legalization and lobbyist restrictions also strongly favored

From SIU News Service 

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Illinois voters are not very sanguine about the overall direction of the state and nation, but they are much happier about the direction of their own town or city. Voters are also not impressed with the recent federal tax cuts and do not plan to let them influence their voting decisions.

Those findings are major conclusions of a recent poll released today by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. The poll also included questions regarding which party voters believe best represents their interests in Congress and two policy issues on Illinois’ political agenda – legalizing recreational marijuana if it is taxed and regulated like alcohol, and whether lawmakers should wait at least a year before becoming a registered lobbyist.

Voters believe nation, state are going in wrong direction

The SimonPoll™ shows that 64 percent of Illinois voters believe the nation is “off track and heading in the wrong direction,” with 27 percent saying the right direction and 9 percent indicating they didn’t know.

As for Illinois’ direction, 84 percent believe the state is off track and heading in the wrong direction, while only 9 percent said the right direction.

 “Voters have been more negative about the state of Illinois than the rest of the country since the inception of our poll in 2008,” said Charlie Leonard, an institute visiting professor and one of the designers of the poll. “It is notable that the state ratings are still 20 percentage points more negative than the national ratings and there is an 18 percent gap between Illinois and the nation on the ‘right direction’ option.”

Meanwhile, voters were more positive about the direction that their city or area is headed. A majority, 54 percent, chose right direction while 37 percent said wrong direction and 10 percent don’t know.

Majority of voters opposed to 2017 tax cuts

Well over a majority (53 percent) of Illinois voters opposed the 2017 tax cut passed by the Republican-controlled Congress and signed by President Trump.

About one-third (34 percent) supported the tax cut and 2 percent said “neither.”

The state is deeply polarized — 80 percent of Democrats opposed and 75 percent of Republicans supported the tax cuts. Among independents, 48 percent opposed and 36 percent supported the tax cuts.

Chicago voters opposed the tax cuts by a 63 to 28 percent margin, while downstate voters were more closely divided – with 40 percent in support and 41 percent opposed.  In suburban Chicago and the collar counties, 55 percent opposed the tax cuts and 33 percent supported them.

Tax cuts make it harder for Republican candidates to gain support

On whether the tax cuts will make voters more or less likely to vote for Republican congressional candidates in November’s general election, 56 percent said less likely, 33 percent said more likely, and 6 percent said neither.

Among Democrats, it was 85 percent less likely, while 80 percent of Republicans said more likely.

Among independents, 49 percent said less likely and 29 percent said more likely.

Downstate voters chose more likely over less likely by a 48 to 42 percent margin.

Chicago voters said less likely by a 70 to 19 percent, while suburban Chicago and collar counties voters chose less likely over more likely by 58 to 31 percent.

‘Solid advantage’ for Democrats on who represents voters’ interests

On which party “best represents your interest in the U. S. Congress” there was a solid advantage for the Democrats – 43 percent to 28 percent for Republicans.

The poll found 6 percent chose Libertarians, 2 percent chose the Green Party and 12 percent chose some other party.

Among downstate voters, 40 percent chose Republicans, 31 percent chose Democrats while 7 percent chose Libertarians and 2 percent chose the Green Party.

Chicago favored Democrats 55 to 15 percent over Republicans, while 6 percent chose Libertarians and 3 percent chose the Green Party. In Chicago suburbs and collar counties, there was a 45 to 25 percent edge for Democrats over Republicans, while 5 percent chose Libertarians and 2 percent chose the Green Party.

Voters favor legalizing recreational marijuana; lobbyist restriction

The poll found that 66 percent of Illinois voters favor legalizing recreational marijuana if taxed and regulated like alcohol while 32 percent are opposed. There were 3 percent of voters who were unsure.

Downstate voters favored legalization by a 58 to 40 percent margin. Chicago voters were 77 to 22 percent in favor, and suburban Chicago and collar counties voters favored the proposal 66 to 31 percent.

Democrats favored the proposal 78 to 20 percent; Republicans split at 49 percent apiece, and independents favored it by a 62 percent to 36 percent margin.

An overwhelming 85 percent support a proposal that Illinois should require lawmakers to wait at least a year before registering as a lobbyist. There were 10 percent were opposed and 5 percent unsure.

The proposal was favored by similar margins by identifiers with both parties and independents and all three major regions of the state.

Sample size and margin of error

The margin of error for the entire sample of 1,001 voters is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. This means that if we conducted the survey 100 times, in 95 of those instances, the population proportion would be within plus or minus the reported margin of error for each subsample.

For subsamples, the margin of error increases as the sample size goes down. The margin of error was not adjusted for design effects. Among self-identified primary election voters, the margin is plus or minus 6 percentage points in the 259-voter sample of Republicans, and 4.5 percentage points in the sample of 472 Democrats.

Benton Police make six recent arrests

BENTON – The following are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.

On March 1st, 2018 Benton Police arrested Brandon S. Ing, age 40 ,of Benton on an active St. Clair County warrant.  Ing was transported to the Franklin County Jail for further processing.

On March 2nd, 2018 Benton Police conducted a traffic stop in the 200 block of West Capital Street. Through investigation, police arrested  Hailey L. Winemiller, age 24, of Benton for unlawful possession of a controlled substance.  Winemiller was charged and transported to the Franklin County Jail for further processing.

On March 3rd, 2018 Benton Police arrested Bryan J. Adams, age 28, of Benton for driving while license suspended.  Adams was charged and transported to the Franklin County Jail for further processing.

On March 3rd, 2018 Benton Police were dispatched to the 900 block of North Commercial Street in reference to a domestic disturbance.  Through investigation, police arrested Kaylee Porter, age 21, and Donald Doerflein, age 44, both of Benton for domestic battery.  Both Porter and Doerflein were charged and transported to the Franklin County Jail for further processing.

On March 3rd, 2018 Benton Police conducted a traffic stop at the intersection of Frisco and Lawrence Street.  Through investigation, police arrested Kaysie D. Sanders, age 33, of Benton for unlawful possession of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.  Sanders was charged and transported to the Franklin County Jail for further processing.

On March 4th, 2018 Benton Police arrested Shane M. Tate, age 27, of Benton on an active Wayne County warrant.  Tate was transported to the Franklin County Jail for further processing.


Benton Fire Chief Goes Above and Beyond in cell phone tower rescue

Benton Fire Chief Shane Cockrum makes contact with a person who has climbed to the top of a cell tower. (William McPherson – Benton Gazette Photo)

BENTON – Thursday, Feb. 22, at 2:03 p.m. the Benton Fire Department received notice of an adult male who was climbing atop a cell-tower near a local health clinic.

Benton Fire Chief Shane Cockrum said dispatch received the call from employees at the clinic, noting that an employee noticed someone had climbed up and over the barbwire fence. At the time the Benton Police Department arrived on the scene, the individual had made it halfway up the estimated 140-foot tower and had indicated his intent was to take his own life.

Benton’s 805 ladder truck is 105-feet tall, Cockrum said, which left the Fire Chief approximately 30-35 feet below the man he was attempting to save. Cockrum ascended the ladder and began a nearly three hour life-saving conversation.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Please click on the link below from William McPherson of the Benton Gazette.

McDonald’s Starts Rollout of Fresh Beef Quarter-Pound Burgers, Cooked Right When Ordered, to U.S. Restaurants

Press Release from McDonald’s Corporate Office 

Rollout complete in approximately 3,500 restaurants in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Miami, Nashville, Orlando, Raleigh and Salt Lake City, concluding with the rest of participating U.S. restaurants by May

Also Unveils A New Fresh Beef Signature Crafted Recipe Soon to Join Menu

OAK BROOK, Ill.,  – Today, McDonald’s USA announced that fresh beef, cooked right when ordered, in all Quarter Pounder and Signature Crafted Recipe burgers is now available across approximately 3,500 restaurants in select markets and is on track for rollout to all participating restaurants in the contiguous U.S. by early May*.

The move to fresh beef quarter-pound burgers is the latest in McDonald’s food journey to build a better McDonald’s. It’s also one of the latest customer-led initiatives in the U.S. that builds on several other recent milestones, including All Day Breakfast, committing to only sourcing cage-free eggs by 2025 in the U.S. and serving chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine**.

“The switch to fresh beef quarter-pound burgers is the most significant change to our system and restaurant operations since All Day Breakfast,” said McDonald’s USA President Chris Kempczinski. “Over the past two years, we have been listening to our customers and evolving our business to build a better McDonald’s. We are proud to bring our customers a hotter and juicier quarter-pound burger at the speed and convenience they expect from us.”

In March 2017, McDonald’s USA announced the switch to fresh beef, cooked right when ordered, quarter-pound burgers as a part of a broader commitment to bring customers more craveable and delicious food offerings. The 100% fresh beef quarter-pound burgers are now available in approximately 3,500 restaurants across a number of markets including:

Atlanta Charlotte Memphis
Miami Nashville Orlando
Raleigh Salt Lake City

Over the next month, the company will be rapidly completing the transition to fresh beef quarter-pound burgers, cooked right when ordered, in additional markets, including Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and more, with full rollout to participating restaurants by early May.

The test markets in Dallas and Tulsa found customers love the hotter and juicier*** fresh beef quarter-pound burgers – the company saw a 90 percent customer satisfaction from customers who order the burgers, and 90 percent intent to repurchase.

All McDonald’s fresh beef quarter-pound burgers use 100 percent beef with absolutely no fillers, additives or preservatives. Quarter-pound burgers include the Quarter Pounder, Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Double Quarter Pounder and Signature Crafted Recipe burgers.

New Signature Crafted Recipe Sandwich

McDonald’s continues to innovate its Signature Crafted Recipes sandwiches, which feature premium ingredients and unique flavor combinations. Next month, McDonald’s will introduce another flavorful, premium sandwich – Garlic White Cheddar. This Signature Crafted Recipe sandwich is made with a fresh beef, quarter-pound burger or chicken (Buttermilk Crispy Chicken or Artisan Grilled Chicken) and will be available at participating U.S. restaurants.

  • Garlic White Cheddar: A mouthwatering, savory combination of creamy garlic aioli and crispy garlic chips piled up with a juicy tomato slice, crisp iceberg lettuce and real white cheddar cheese. Freshly prepared on a fresh beef quarter-pound burger or your choice of chicken (Buttermilk Crispy Chicken or Artisan Grilled Chicken) on a toasted Artisan Roll.

Other new Signature Crafted Recipes sandwiches are also expected to debut later this year.

* Not available in Alaska, Hawaii or US Territories.

** Farmers still use ionophores, a class of antibiotics that are not prescribed to people, to keep chickens healthy. 

*** Compared to prior ¼ lb. beef patty.

Power outage in Marion

MARION – There are approximately 2,700 customers in the city of Marion without power at this time.

According to Ameren-Illinois map, the outage is east of Route 57 and west of route 37.  The estimated restoration time is approximately 1:05 p.m. -Steve

Statewide tornado drill at 10:00 a.m. today

By Steve Dunford 

Dash cam still photo of the Tornado that struck near Mulkeytown, retrieved from Franklin County EMA Director Ryan Buckingham’s on board vehicle camera system. Observing severe weather at night can be particularly difficult and dangerous due to low visibility and other environmental factors. (FCEMA photo)

Today at 10:00 a.m. tornado sirens will be tested for the statewide tornado drill today.  Schools and some business will be participating as well.

With severe weather season approaching, it would be a good time to go over safety plans at home as well as your employer.

One thing that we need to keep in mind is we live in the midst of “Nocturnal Tornado Alley”  here in Franklin County and the rest of Southern Illinois.

We had an F-4 tornado clip the west side of the county on February 28 and the Harrisburg Tornado both occurred at night.

Since the Harrisburg Tornado hit just before 5:00 a.m., in many accounts NOAA weather radio saved the lives of many.

I have the ability to get warnings instantaneously from the National Weather Service in Paducah.  They will go up on the Website’s Facebook page at first.

Let me stress this, you need at least two sources to receive warnings.  During severe weather, one  or more sources might be inoperable.

There might be times during a severe weather event, I might not have time to post warnings on the website with information coming in so fast.  I learned  that during the February 28th event.

This is the criteria I use during severe weather events by posting warnings: 

  • Franklin County is top priority.  Information that needs relayed to the people of the county takes precedence.
  • The bordering counties is secondary: Jackson, Perry, Jefferson, Hamilton and Saline
  • Any county south of I-64 warnings and information will be posted

An Emergency Alert Day will be declared for the following:

  • If we are placed under an enhanced: Level 3 of 5 risk for severe weather.
  • If a Tornado Watch or a PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) Severe Thunderstorm Watch is issued.
  • If there is a cell that is producing damaging thunderstorm winds or large hail that is on a track to hit Franklin County
  • If there is a flash flood event that is happening in the county (I should have did this in our last one.  I have added it now)
  • If there is something non-weather related the citizens of Franklin County need to be aware of, such as the so called convicts escaping lat fall.

Be prepared as we enter this season of severe weather.


Beaver caught near the Sesser Opera House

By Steve Dunford 

Image provided by Sesser Mayor Jason Ashmore

SESSER-  There was a critter running loose tonight on Franklin Street in Sesser around 10:00 p.m. tonight.

There was a large beaver that was captured in front of the Opera House by Renee Hicks, John and Crystal Uranski, Police Chief Ryan White.

He was probably ran out of his dam by all the recent rain.  He could have been trying to get to the parade to cheer on the scholar bowl team, or he was wanting to see a show.

There was no harm done.  This reminded me when an eight point buck jumped through a picture window in town around ten or 15 years ago.

With all the school shootings, and some things we are facing in recent times, maybe the Lord sent this beaver to put a smile on our faces.

Sesser man passes in a pedestrian/semi accident on I-57

By Steve Dunford 

MT. VERNON- A Sesser man passes after he was hit by a semi on Interstate 57, at the 96 mile marker northbound,  just south of the 57/64 split.  This happened last night (Sunday) around 7:45 p.m.  Jefferson County Fire Protection District as well as Mt. Vernon Fire Department responded to the scene.

According to Illinois State Police District 13, David Grayton 50, of Sesser was standing in the middle of three lanes of traffic.

He was struck by, Christopher Stratton, form a unknown location in Kentucky.  He was unable to stop for hitting the victim.

Grayton was pronounced dead at the scene.

Prayers go out to Mr. Grayton’s family, the semi driver, and the EMS people that responded last night.

Reception to celebrate University Museum reopening set for Thursday

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois University Carbondale will host a Reopening Reception on March 8 at the University Museum’s north gallery in Faner Hall.

Public reception

Join Chancellor Carlo Montemagno and the museum staff for a reception from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday celebrating the reopening of SIU’s University Museum.

Welcome exhibits in the north gallery include works from local artists Aldon Addington and Larry Bernstein. Visitors can also enjoy “Afghan Treasures,” artifacts from Afghanistan that are part of the Museum’s permanent collection.

The reception, which is free and open to the public, will feature remarks by the chancellor and light refreshments.

Exhibits will shine spotlight on local artists

Aldon Addington came to Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1967 and taught sculpture and 3-D design until his retirement in 2001. While a faculty member, he presented many metal sculpture workshops, including ones at the Glasgow

Museum Interior – Images of people viewing the art work inside of the University Museum. (SIU News Service)

School of Art in Glasgow, Scotland, and at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland.

During the summers in the 1980s, he also presented workshops and demonstrations at Art Park in Lewiston, New York. Today, his art is represented at Cedarhurst Sculpture Park, the Illinois State Museum, the University of Lapland, and other locales, including private collections.

Larry Bernstein came to Southern Illinois University in 1962 to become a professor in the School of Art and Design. While a faculty member, he was a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts grant in painting and was a winner in The Seasoned Eye, Modern Maturity Magazine National Competitive Exhibition.

His work has been displayed in the Illinois State Museum, NAB Gallery and other locales.

An artistic exploration of Afghanistan

“Afghan Treasures” highlights artifacts from Afghanistan included in the museum’s private collection. Obtained in 1970 by Basil V. Hedrick, former museum director, many of the items on display are hundreds of years old.

Visitors can explore instruments, garments, jewelry, weapons and more from the Asian nation.

JCSO arrest juvenile threatening to shoot up his school

MT. VERNON –   Late Saturday afternoon the Jefferson County Sheriffs Office received a report of a threat on social media of someone threatening to shoot up his grade school, located in rural Jefferson County.

A few hours later they took a 13 year old male into custody.  He is charged with a Class X felony terriorist threat and being held in the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center pending court.

Jefferson County Chief Deputy Clint Taylor stated on Social Media that anytime of day, if the sheriff’s office discover threats, they will be immediately investigated.  If there is any evidence of wrongdoing an arrest will be made.   He said this nonsense can not continue and had high praise for his deputies. -Steve

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News