By Lindsey Rae Vaughn
An eclipse meeting was held at Vienna Diner on Thursday, Feb. 9.
Since the three Johnson County commissioners were present, a special meeting was called.
Southern Illinois is in the path of a total solar eclipse that is set to take place on Aug. 21 of this year.
Calvin Stearns, south operations manager at the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, gave a presentation to a packed room full of county officials, school officials, emergency management personnel and citizens of Johnson County.
Stearns explained that a total eclipse of the sun happens when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth and casts the darkest part of its shadow or umbra on the Earth.
Totality is experienced when the sun is completely covered and a “diamond ring” effect can be seen.
This is the first total solar eclipse to cross America coast to coast since 1912.
Southern Illinois will experience the greatest duration of darkness with 2 minutes and 40 seconds.
Southern Illinois is also the only place that will be the intersection of this eclipse and another eclipse in April of 2024.
NASA is setting up headquarters in Carbondale. They are estimating about 100,000 people will come to Carbondale for the event.
One point of interest that Stearns emphasized was migration either to or from Johnson County in a short amount of time if clouds are blocking the view of the eclipse.
A big concern for Johnson County officials is local traffic.
Also, on the interstate, cars might pull over to see the eclipse while it’s happening and that can cause accidents.
All Johnson County School’s will be out on Aug. 21 and court has been canceled for that day.
Vienna Depot manager Phil Morris said he’s received phone calls as far as Germany who wants to reserve a spot in the park.
Johnson County 2000 also discussed renting out spaces on five acres they own and asked if it would create a problem.
Not many questions on the local end were answered, but chairman Ernie Henshaw said officials would gather a few more times to create a plan for the major increase in tourists.
Henshaw said he would rather by over-prepared than not prepared enough.