A countdown of the top 10 local stories in 2012 continue with the eighth top story about marriage.
In June, the Jefferson County Board approved a resolution affirming its support as marriage defined as “a sacred union between one man and one woman.”
The measure was taken up although civil unions are legal in Illinois, and passed with Tommy Hayes abstaining and Jeremy Hall voting no. The move brought on protests of county board meetings for months from those who agreed with the resolution and those who were opposed to it.
Those opposed to the resolution took to the courthouse lawn first, and the board was asked in July by a delegation of residents to rescind the resolution. More than 50 people dressed in bright colors and carried signs and rainbow umbrellas in what they called a peaceful protest of the resolution.
In August, it was gathering of support of the resolution which brought more than 600 people to the courthouse lawn and adjoining streets. The crowd sported signs of support of traditional marriage values and were outspoken in their support of the resolution, which is still in effect.
Coming in at number seven is the city bonding and capital projects.
While many looked at the capital projects as positive, the aquatic center and Safe Routes to School sidewalk project brought residents to council meetings in protest. The city council approved issuing $36 million in bonds, leveraging sales tax receipts for capital projects. Bonds proceeds are being used to pay for the $5 million aquatic center; force main replacement near Continental Tire the Americas; a water main replacement on Main Street and Broadway; widening of North 42nd Street; roadway improvements to Airport Road; straightening the intersection at South 34th Street and Veterans Memorial Drive and widening the street to Harlan Road; widening Perkins Avenue from 10th to 12th street and realigning the 10th Street intersection; work on north 27th Street from Richview road to Illinois Route 37; work on South 27th Street from Jamison to Veterans Memorial Drive; North 34th Street to Central and Central to the Primary Center; infrastructure to support Mt. Vernon Township High School in the amount of $2.4 million; improvements to various parks; a housing incentives program; economic development incentives; multi-use trails; the branding project; and demolition of the former Horace Mann School.
The story coming in at number six is the opening of the new Crossroads Community Hospital and its expansion and renovation project.
Hundreds of people gathered Aug. 10 for the ribbon cutting of the $23 million expansion project.
“It is with pride I present this gift to you, the community,” CEO Ed Cunningham announced.
Dirt started moving on the project in February 2010, and the topping off of iron work was held in October 2011. The opening was the culmination of planning that went back more than 20 years. The project connected the northern-most and southern-most wings of the hospital, and a three-story structure was added. The expansion put all ancillary departments to the front of the building near the emergency and surgery departments. The first floor houses radiology and respiratory therapy, the laboratory and admitting area. The emergency and surgery departments were expanded and a 250-seat conference center built for healthcare education and community seminars. A new administrative suite is now located next to the conference center.
The ribbon cutting for the hospital expansion was held during one of the hottest parts of a hot and dry year. Coming as the fifth top story in 2012 is the drought and heat wave.
By the end of August, Jefferson County and Southern Illinois had received between 15 to 18 inches of rain — less than half of what it usually receives, according to the National Weather Service. July was the hottest July on record with the hottest temperature recorded at 106 degrees. The county was rated at D3 by the federal government for drought conditions — severe drought.
The NWS has predicted above-normal temperatures expected through March 2013, but that doesn’t mean Jefferson County won’t face cold temperatures, but the temperatures will fluctuate and average to above-normal, according to the NWS.