Enjoy this year in review of the news that made headlines in 2020. The review will conclude next week.
JANUARY• City OKs additional regulations on adult use of cannabis: Lines have been drawn and boundaries have been set for the anticipated adult use of cannabis and where it can be used. Ordinance 2019-28, approved by the Metropolis City Council on Dec. 23, amends Chapter 156 General Provisions, Section 156.001 Purpose and Objectives; Chapter 156 Pertaining Uses, Section 156.345 Permitted and Accessory Use Table; Chapter 156 Adult-Use Cannabis and Chapter 156 Supplemental Regulations. All adult use cannabis facility centers, including craft growers, cultivation centers, dispensing organization, infuser organization processing organizations and transporting organizations may not be located within 500 feet of the property line of a pre-existing public or private schools, day care centers or residential home care centers.
• Death inquiry: Illinois State Police (ISP) is still investigating a hit and run, which occurred Dec. 31 on Butler Street, killing Jackie D. Laird, 48, of Metropolis. According to ISP, an unknown white passenger vehicle was traveling south on Butler Street and struck Laird, who was walking on the street. He was transported by ambulance to Massac Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased. This case remains unsolved. Anyone with information is asked to contact ISP District 22 at 618-845-3740.
• MCDAC earns five-year grant: The Massac County Drug Awareness Coalition (MCDAC) announced on Jan. 10, it is a recipient of $125,000 per year grant from the Drug-Free Communities Support Program for each of the next five years. The funds will be used to prevent substance abuse among youth in Massac County.
• Community mourns the passing of Massac County band director: In the last few weeks, residents of Massac County rallied around Massac Unit One Band Director David Hannan, who had fought a cancerous brain tumor since 2015. Hannan had been a music teacher for the Unit One school district for 18 years. Hannan passed away on Jan. 19 at his home, surrounded by family.
• The Old 1892 Bank Building on Ferry Street: History torn down: Many people gathered along Ferry Street on a damp, chilly Friday morning, Jan. 24, to witness another piece of Metropolis’ history come crashing down. The two-story “Old Bank Building,” as it was known by many, came down at the hands of Drew Quint, of Quint Utilities and Excavating, behind the controls of the excavator.
• Two MCHS students receive congressional nominations: Illinois Congressman John Shimkus has announced a list of 21 future leaders he has nominated to one of the nation’s military academies. Those young men and women were invited to a Jan. 2 reception at the Effingham Elks Lodge. Among those 21 nominees was Svenja Lindquist and Matthew Brown, both of Metropolis and students at Massac County High School. Lindquist, the daughter of Lars and Leila Lindquist of Metropolis, was nominated to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Brown, the son of Eric Keith Brown of Metropolis and Norma Marlene Cuellar of New York, was nominated to the U.S. Military Academy.
FEBRUARY• Back-to-back state champs: It was a wild, harrowing ride Saturday afternoon, Feb. 1, but the Lady Trojans of Massac County Junior High made it two in a row, and three of the last four, in the SIJHSAA Class L championship with a convincing 47-38 win over the Tigerettes of Centralia Junior High.
• Illinois first state to test for novel coronavirus: The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is now able to conduct testing for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), making Illinois the first state to be able to do testing in state. Once specimens from individuals are received at the Chicago IDPH laboratory, test results are typically available within 24 hours. IDPH is in the process of bringing testing for 2019-nCoV online in its Springfield and Carbondale laboratories.
• Little support in Springfield for Blagojevich commutation: There was little support Tuesday, Feb. 18, at the former stomping grounds of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich for President Donald Trump’s decision to commute the remaining years of the disgraced former Democratic governor’s 14-year corruption sentence.
• Unit One hears details of proposed new elementary school: Massac Unit One school board members got their first look at a possible new elementary school at Monday night’s board meeting, Feb. 24, where Ryan Dodd, project manager from Baysinger Architects in Marion distributed project books and went over the design of a building. The building would be large enough to accommodate students from Franklin, Jefferson and Unity Elementary schools and would also house a separate administration wing, with a separate entrance.
MARCH• Number of state coronavirus cases hits 19: Illinois health officials on Tuesday, March 10, announced the first cases of coronavirus illness in people outside Cook County: a McHenry County resident in his late teens and a Kane County woman in her 60s who are likely the state’s first cases of “community spread.”
• Unity wins 6th grade tourney: This past weekend, March 7, saw the completion of the Massac County 6th grade basketball tournament. On the boys’ side, Unity took the title game with a nail-biting 28-26 win over the Metropolis Elementary School blue squad. Unity ended its season with a 13-1 record.
• Massac County businesses, events shaken by pandemic: March madness is in the air this year, but it is definitely not basketballs on the court. It is a deadly virus the nation is trying to battle and in the process the steps being taken to combat it, have caused panic, fear, confusion and cause some people to hoard groceries, toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Within a matter of weeks the deadly coronavirus, which originated in the WuHan province in China in December 2019, has now spread into all 50 states in America leading many governors to declare states of emergency and U.S. President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency on March 13. Also on March 13 Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker mandated schools be closed for at least two weeks, from March 17-31. At that time the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had recommended limiting contact to groups of 50 or less. On March 15, in a press conference Pritzker mandated all Illinois bars and restaurants to close, with some restaurants still offering drive-thru or curbside delivery.
• Groundbreaking held at site for SMTD’s future Metropolis depot: Shawnee Mass Transit District (SMTD) busses have traveled more than 24 million miles since it first began in January 2001. In nearly two decades, the transportation district has continued to expand within the five-county region, and it will grow again with a new depot facility located in Metropolis. SMTD employees, along with state and local representatives, gathered in the pouring rain on March 11 at the future site of the depot, in the Metropolis Industrial Park. The new depot facility will be 2080-square-feet housing an office space and a drivers’ lounge, plus a 720-square-foot garage, which will be used for minor bus maintenance issues.
• Leaving the Planet behind will hurt for awhile: Reporter Michele Longworth announces she’s leaving the Metropolis Planet after 21½ years.
• Youth football players attend training in Dallas: In late December, Massac County Youth Football League (MCYFL) players Jacob Smith, of Joppa, and Kyle Williams, of Metropolis, traveled to Dallas for a week of football after being invited to play in the Bret Cooper Junior All-American Academic Bowl. The two eighth-graders were nominated by MCYFL coach Kevin Towery for this honor based on their academics and character.
• Chamber cancels Superman Celebration for 2020: The COVID-19 virus circulating the country has canceled multiple events and gatherings, including the 2020 Metropolis Superman Celebration scheduled for June 11-14. The announcement was made March 19.
• City council, mayor declare state of emergency: Following suit with other municipalities in the region, the Metropolis City Council and Mayor Billy McDaniel declared a local a state of emergency at its Monday night meeting, March 23, in light of the coronavirus COVID-19. This step will give the mayor permission to make certain decisions in an emergency situation without the consultation of the council, but his spending limits set in place will remain the same. On March 20, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker mandated all residents to shelter, ordered all non-essential businesses to close by 5 p.m. on March 21 and banned any gathering of more than 10 people, which includes houses of worship.
• Mayor of Brookport issues declaration: At a special called meeting March 18, Brookport Mayor Tami Wessel issued a declaration of a state of emergency due to the recommendations by the federal government to try and slow the transmission of the virus COVID-19. No cases have been detected in Massac County as of that date. By passing the declaration, the city will be in a better position for state and federal help.
APRIL• Virus strikes Massac County: Resident tests positive for COVID-19: Southern Seven Health Department was notified April 1 a Massac County resident tested positive for Coronavius (COVID-19). The individual, a female in her 60s, has been notified. This is the first laboratory confirmed positive of COVID-19 in the Southern Seven county region. This individual is thought to have been exposed to the novel coronavirus through travel and is currently in isolation at home.
• Local HCE earns state awards at conference: Massac County Home and Community Education (HCE) earned five state awards during the 96th Illinois Association of Home and Community Education (IAHCE) State Conference held in Effingham March 10-12. The most prestigious recognition was earning the Grand Award in Family and Community Issues for local members’ work in Nutrition and Food. Massac County HCE also earned third place IAHCE County of Year in the 75 or less membership division. Massac County HCE also earned IAHCE Education Awards in the areas of public relations, international and cultural enrichment.
• Doing their part during pandemic: Several local women are following a call to action to help produce personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic. After seeng a post on Facebook by Jill Shelton requesting face masks to be made and donated to the National Woman’s Relief Corps (NWRC), Sabrina Beck immediately wanted to help. The NWRC is a patriotic organization that provides assistance to veterans of all wars and extends needed aid to widows and their children of those that gave their freedom. So far, Beck has sewn over 50 masks with plans to continue making them until she is out of fabric.
• Awards ceremony canceled: Scholarships will still be awarded: For the first time it its 35-year history, the Academic Awards Ceremony has officially been canceled due to the shelter-in-place order by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker. The order bans gatherings of more than 10 people during the current coronavirus pandemic.The awards ceremony, held annually in April, is hosted by the Metropolis Kiwanis and Rotary clubs and recognizes seniors from Massac County High School and Joppa High school with awards and scholarships.
• Third COVID-19 case reported in Massac: On Tuesday, April 14, the Southern Seven Health Department reported the third case of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Massac County. The individual is a male in his 20s, and is being isolated. The other two cases are a male and a female, both in their 60s.
• MMH establishes temporary site for respiratory testing: Massac Memorial Hospital has established a temporary drive-thru respiratory testing site where a clinical team member will safely and conveniently, swab referred patients for influenza, COVID-19 and other respiratory issues.
• Art students earn summer scholarships: Three Massac County High School students have been chosen as recipients of summer art scholarships. Eden James is a recipient of a two-week studio experience at the Paducah School of Art. Two other students, Alex Swafford and Clara Stewart, received a scholarship from the School of Art in Chicago (SAIC) to attend the Early College Program Summer Institute on the Chicago campus in July. Only 15 scholarships were awarded. James is the daughter of Rhonda James and Steven James. Swafford is the daughter of Zach and Kelli Tirey. Stewart is the daughter of Carl and Dacia Stewart.
• City extending local state of emergency: In its first-ever teleconference council meeting, the Metropolis City Council approved Ordinance 2020-10 on April 13 to extend the local state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders to May 22. At that time, the state of emergency will be reviewed. Local state-of-emergency declarations help local governments receive more state and federal funding during crisis and disaster.
• Clinic renovations still underway: Even in times of a pandemic, construction continues on the Massac Medical Clinic expansion, located at 1204 W. 10th St. The foundation has been poured, a retaining wall has been built in the back of the property and contractors are beginning to build out the steel frame of the addition.
• Pritzker extends state stay-at-home order with modifications starting May 1: Gov. JB Pritzker announced last Thursday, April 23, he is extending Illinois’ stay-at-home order through May 30 with certain modifications taking effect May 1, including opening up state parks, expanding essential businesses and requiring masks in public.
MAY• First teen case of COVID-19 confirmed in Massac: On Tuesday, May 5, the Southern Seven Health Department confirmed another case of the coronavirus in Massac County — a male in his teens. To date, as of May 7, of the six cases in Massac, three individuals have fully recovered.
• Regional, phased-in plan for reopening economy unveiled: Gov. JB Pritzker unveiled a plan Tuesday, May 5, for the gradual reopening of the state’s economy on a region-by-region basis, but he suggested it could take several months or even a year before the state fully reopens.
• Dufour hired as J-MG’s new principal: During a special called meeting of the Joppa-Maple Grove school board on May 7, Dr. Jeffrey Dufour was hired as the new principal of Joppa High School and Maple Grove Elementary School. Dufour was hired on a three-year contract, beginning July 1, for the 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years. He was employed as the physical education teacher at JHS during the 2019-20 school year.
JUNE• Metropolis slowly reopening following pandemic shutdown: The State of Illinois has now entered Phase 3 of of Gov. JB Pritzker’s five phase reopening plan after the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. On Friday, May 29, restaurants were allowed to open for outdoor service and non-essential retailers opened to shoppers, both under special guidelines.
• Brookport signs $1M bond for waterworks: At a special called Brookport council meeting held May 29, an ordinance was approved unanimously to issue $1 million in revenue bonds for partial funding of the water works system for the City of Brookport. Jim Brown of Brown & Roberts Engineering was present to formalize the signatures.
• Area students earn AAC scholarships: In a non-traditional way this year, the Academic Awards Ceremony (AAC) scholarships have been awarded to eight high school seniors at Massac County and Joppa High Schools. The ceremony, which was scheduled for April 16, was canceled due to the shelter-in-place directive from Gov. JB Pritzker stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. The ceremony is hosted jointly by the Metropolis Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs. A total of $12,500 was awarded to Gracie Stewart, Owen Westbrooks, Dawson Troutman, Madalynn Coakley, Jessie Lewis, Kaylee Fraser, Kalissa Cox and Anna Thompson.
• Ice cream truck returns to Metropolis: American Ice Cream, a Marion-based, old fashion ice cream truck company, has added Metropolis, Brookport, Joppa, Karnak and Macedonia neighborhoods to its list of communities it currently services.The truck began services to Massac and Johnson counties on June 6.
• City treasurer will no longer be elected position: Beginning in May 2021, the Metropolis city treasurer will no longer be an elected position by the residents, but will be appointed by the mayor with the approval of the city council. 65 ILCS 5/3.1-20-5 allows municipalities with under 10,000 residents to use an appointed treasurer. The council passed Ordinance 2020-17 Monday night, June 22, which provided for the appointment.