I drove through the shooting complex this evening and there was definite feeling of a ghost town. The trap lines disabled, the campgrounds with the exception of one or two leftover campers were empty. The single action shooting targets closed up. No targets in the once lovely archery range.
Desolate. It’s a desolate and lost feeling that permeates the very blacktop of the roads throughout the complex.
The closure has happened just as Governor Rauner declared weeks ago that it would. Yet it’s not exactly closed and shuttered. The boat ramps remain open because they are federally funded, the huge Main Event Center remains open and has been running full page ads in local papers declaring they are open for business and please please book your event with them, the permanent vendors such as J and J Guns and Knives and the restaurant remain open.
Layoffs of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources employees at the WSRC have been halted pending a lawsuit from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, so the employees are still there - but the complex is closed? Likely this lawsuit will take months to resolve, and in the meantime, the WSRC will sit in some strange limbo closed, but not exactly.
According to an IDNR press release ,closure at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex is limited to shooting sports events. The main event center, restaurant, Amateur Trapshooting Association Hall of Fame and access to boat ramps for fishing will remain open.
The revenue producers are gone while state employees will be paid but not allowed to do their jobs. Any revenue that would have been brought in by shooters and campers will be lost as the state continues to pay its employees to be at a closed facilty creating an even larger loss in a time when any loss of revenue can hardly be afforded.
It’s no secret that Amateur Trapshooting Association is on the verge of seeking a new location for next year’s Grand American shooting event, taking jobs and approximately $14 million away from Southern Illinois. It’s no secret that all shooting activities that were scheduled after October 1 were canceled. These other shooting and civic organizations I suspect will be unlikely to return any time soon as well.
This makes no sense.
Why only remove the revenue producing items from the shooting complex? If it’s going to keep a few things open and keep employees on the site why on earth would the closure only really close out the shooting activities?
This only serves to destabilize the entire southern Illinois economy as well as make it clear to potential users of the WSRC that things are iffy at best in this state and if you are looking for a first class venue to hold your shooting sports event, well you might want to look somewhere else because who knows what will become of the WSRC. Go ahead - be brave, book your event and sign that contract. It might be honored, but then again it might not. The WSRC complex might be open - but then again it might not.
It all depends I suppose on what kind of foot stomping, hissy fit, pissing match is currently taking place in Springfield.
While Governor Rauner continues to send out the message that this is due to the budget impasse, I feel that the message this whole debacle is sending out that the state really doesn’t honor it’s commitments and contracts, and will cut it’s proverbial nose off to spite it’s face.
We look foolish and inept and are being used as an example of what not to do when managing a facility such as the WSRC.
THIS MAKES NO SENSE!
Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration said Tuesday it has halted the planned layoff of more than 100 state workers;
the positions included approximately 65 employees at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, 9 employees at The World Shooting and Recreational Complex and 33 Conservation Police Officers..
Following the filing of legal action in St. Clair County, Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said Tuesday that the layoffs are delayed pending the court action, but indicated they could proceed at a later date.
According to Sean Smoot, Director & Chief Legal Counsel PB& PA of Illinois, “On Friday September 18th, the Conservation Police Lodge represented by the PBPA and the State of Illinois agreed to defer implementing any layoffs while the parties continue to discuss and/or litigate the propriety of the proposed layoff of conservation police employees. Accordingly, we have been assured that the layoffs will not occur as scheduled on September 30. We have been told that official notification of the agreement is being sent to the affected agencies and employees today. (Tuesday, September 22) The state also agreed to defer proposed layoffs of employees represented by AFSCME and the IFT.”
Left to Right; Keith Bergmann, Dwayne Durr, Jason Schlesinger
We all have that opening morning memory; that one year that it all fell together and was everything we had been hoping for happened.
2015 early goose opener was one of those mornings.
Early goose snuck up on me this year – even though every trip to the river to shoot fish, and every drive around the neighborhood I had been watching the number of geese rise, and was instinctively making note of their travel, flight and feeding patterns all at once it was the night before opening morning and I realized I was woefully unprepared. So woefully unprepared that I neglected to even get my duck stamp. That relegated me to shooting only with a camera instead of with a gun.
While it seems like almost everyone I know is in high deer season prep mode, waterfowl is where it’s at in my circle and I had the pleasure of being able to accompany two of my favorite waterfowl pro staffers and guides, Dwayne Durr and Jason Schlesinger, out for opening morning.
Schlensinger unloading decoys in quiet pre dawn hours
Durr had been watching a field near his house for a week or so and felt pretty sure we could scratch a few out. I always learn from both of these fellas, and sitting in the back seat of the truck as they discussed what would work best, little did they know I was mentally filing away all the whys and wherefores of their plan.
setting up the go pro
“Okay Dwayne, if these geese don’t get here soon, I’m going start shooting these doves!”
In nothing flat, the decoys were set out, the truck stashed and we began our wait for shooting time at the edge of the corn. Another hopeful goose hunter from the neighborhood, Keith Bergmann soon joined us.
Durr told us that the geese had been coming to feed around 6:30 every morning. Almost like clockwork, about 6:25 Schlesinger said “I hear ‘em – get in the corn!” and in they came. The first round knocked down 5.
As the fellas walked out to pick up the downed geese, suddenly there were more coming and the familiar “Get down! There’s more!” And down came number six.
Durr doing what he does best - putting birds in the bag
By 6:45 we were picking up decoys and heading home.
“Now that’s the kind of opening day I like” laughed Schlesinger, “Limited out and I’ll still be home in time to take baby girl school!”