Sunday, November 09, 2003

Countdown to Wednesday
Gov. Rod Blagojevich will unveil his economic development plan for Southern Illinois at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday in Ballroom D of the SIU Student Center in Carbondale. The Southern Illinoisan ran a preview story today interviewing Larry Woolard, the governor's point man in the region for economic development.

Without revealing details Woolard said the plan would include tourism (something we've heard from other sources) as well as include "specific projects."

Based on what we have been hearing from various sources inside state government, I wouldn't be surprised if the Old Slave House is one of those "specific projects." What's unclear is whether the governor will actually endorse our plan of action to immediately reopen the site or follow the "go slow, go steady, don't get in a hurry" approach typical of state government.

Remember, despite 57 years of state ownership, Illinois has never opened the Shawneetown Bank state historic site to the public. They're still pumping money into maintenance and limited restoration, but they no plans exist to open it.

A historic structures survey report may be needed (actually it is needed), but it still won't help Gallatin County and the rest of southeastern Illinois, if a quarter-million is spent on experts from outside the area, and the site isn't reopened.

Open it NOW! remains committed to the prospect that the site should be reopened immediately, not two, three, or five years down the road. The plan of action has been endorsed by numerous local governments and has the support of the people in Gallatin County. It can work.