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Southwest Illinois News is a weekly news publication spotlighting attractions, events, entertainment, tourism, jobs and business developments in Southwestern Illinois
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Alton Celebrates 100th Annual Halloween Parade
ALTON, IL (, October 26, 2016 - It's been a favorite family tradition for nearly a century. On Monday, October 31, beginning at 7:30 p.m. residents and visitors will dress in their best to celebrate with a parade in the "Most Haunted Small Town in America".

Alton's scariest costumes and comical characters can be seen with over 80 participants including floats, bands and parade flair beginning at the corner of Washington Avenue and Broadway and continuing on Broadway to Piasa Street. The parade will then turn right onto Piasa to 9th Street. For more information, call 618-462-7527.

Pere Marquette Lodge to Host Wine Festival
GRAFTON, IL (, October 26, 2016 - Guests at Pere Marquette Lodge will sample dozens of wines from around the world and are challenged to find their favorite at this giant wine tasting event, Sunday, November 6, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Participants can enjoy dozens of wines, listen and dance to live music, munch on free appetizers, check out unique vendors and relish in a day full of wine all for a good cause. Pere Marquette Lodge will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the Wine Festival to the Friends of Pere Marquette State Park Foundation.

Guests, 21 and up, must have a valid ID to obtain entry pass into the festival at $15 per person. Wine tasting tickets are 2 for $1. For more information, call 618-786-2331.

Annual Art & Wine Walk in Belleville
BELLEVILLE, IL (, October 26, 2016 - The St. Clair County community in downtown Belleville will host a celebration of one of the greatest pairings of all time - Art and Wine, Saturday, November 5, from 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Guests can register anytime between 5 pm - 7 pm at the Regions Bank lobby, 19 Public Square. Then stroll through the shops of downtown Belleville while enjoying artwork from area artists and sampling a variety of different wines. Place wine orders (cash or credit card accepted) anytime from 7:00-9:00pm at Governor French Academy, 219 West Main Street.

Drawing for attendance prizes will be held at 9:00pm at Governor French Academy (Do not need to be present to win). For more information call 618-257-7022.

Mississippi River MapGuide National Geographic Launches Landmark Geotourism Website
ALTON, IL (, October 12, 2016 - A landmark geotourism website, Mississippi River MapGuide, was recently launched highlighting communities, attractions and businesses, including the Bissell Mansion.

The Mississippi River Geotourism MapGuide is a partnership project with National Geographic Maps. The landmark project has taken two and a half years to plan and execute and is a historically significant digital asset for everyone who visits or lives in the 10 states along the Mississippi River.

Over the last 18 months, people along the Mississippi River have contributed almost 2,000 nominations of communities, sites, attractions, festivals, events, and small businesses for inclusion on the website.

"We are telling the story of what's so special about the people, places and businesses along the River," said Kimberly Rea of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "The website is now live and is a great resource to help attract visitors. They can use the website to guide them to both the popular places and to the lesser known gems that are waiting to be discovered."

The Mississippi River Connections Collaborative and the Meeting of the Rivers Foundation were among the many local partners involved in the development of the website.

Free Veteran's Day Screening of "Thank You for Your Service"
BELLEVILLE, IL (, October 2, 2016 - Operation Honor will host a free screening of the award-winning documentary, Thank You For Your Service, on Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, from 6 to 8 p.m., at Faith Family Church, in Shiloh, Illinois.

The movie screening and panel discussion kick off the No Family Left Behind Behavioral Health Conference and Connection Fair, Nov. 11-12, sponsored by Allsup.

"Nearly 25 percent of suicides in Illinois and Missouri involve a veteran," said Brian Russell, conference director and Iraq and Afghanistan veteran. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, three primary mental health concerns for veterans are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and traumatic brain injury.

"The need for an event like No Family Left Behind can't be overstated," said Russell. "As a community, we've got to show up, listen, and show our veterans they have not been forgotten."

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), PTSD is the third most common service-connected disability among current VA disability recipients.

"PTSD can cause problems with trust, closeness and communication," said Allsup Veterans Disability Appeal Service® and VA-accredited Claims Agent Brett Buchanan. "Survivors may feel angry, detached, or worried in their relationships, and this can put enormous stress on families."

Buchanan added that veterans often have medically complex issues. In addition to PTSD and other psychiatric conditions, they may have orthopedic conditions, cancers, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

"There has been a 200 percent increase over the last 10 years in original VA disability claims that contain eight or more medical issues," said Buchanan. "These are not easy issues being decided. There are special laws and regulations for Gulf War illness, combat veterans, PTSD claims and total disability due to individual unemployability."

No Family Left Behind is designed to help veterans and military families connect with resources to address these and other issues and improve their quality of life. The Connection Fair features local and national organizations that provide products and services to veterans and their families, including employment, mental health services, VA disability appeals, financial planning and more.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Mark Russell, founding director of the Institute for War Injuries and Social Justice of Antioch University, featured in Thank You for Your Service.

Conference registration is $10. To register, visit the website at or call (618) 277-0232. Scholarships are available. Continuing education units are available for professional counselors and social workers.

IDOT Hiring Temporary Workers in Preparation of Winter Weather
SPRINGFIELD, IL (, September 25, 2016 - The Illinois Department of Transportation is in the process of hiring temporary help to assist with snow-and-ice removal throughout Illinois this winter. These seasonal employees will be hired on a full-time and an on-call basis.

The department's annual "snowbird" program requires employees to promptly respond to weather situations, assisting in snow-and-ice control and working in emergency conditions at any time, including weekends, holidays and nights. Applicants must have a commercial driver's license and submit to a criminal background check. A pre-employment physical, vision testing, drug and alcohol screening also are required.

Applicants will be selected based on availability, job-related experience and qualifications. Veterans are strongly encouraged to apply. For additional information, including details on pay and the potential for benefits, please visit:

Fourth Annual Sequins, Suits & Sneakers Gala
EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (, August 28, 2016 - The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation will host its Fourth Annual Sequins, Suits & Sneakers Gala at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 27, 2016.

The Gala is a fun-filled event which allows you to wear your finest cocktail attire with your bling sneakers.

The year's Gala will focus on showcasing the programs and activities of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation. The Gala allows the Foundation to continue helping children and families access the tools they need to achieve their dreams.

In 2016, the Foundation served nearly 3,000 children in quality programs such as summer camp, after-school, leadership and character education programs using the Winning in Life curriculum developed by Jackie, as well as sports leagues for: wrestling, football, soccer, cheerleading, baseball, softball and basketball.

For more information, call 314-749-5606 or the Foundation Office at 618-274-5437.

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