Luxury apartment complex gets official green light, despite pending litigation

Village Attorney Terry Bruckert explains that there is no conflict of interest regarding the vote on the Savannah Project. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

The Shiloh Board of Trustees approved an ordinance that gives an official green light to the luxury apartment complex, The Savannah. The trustees held one final discussion prior to the vote at their regular November meeting.

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New Youth Services Librarian Lights Up Science Curiosity

O’Fallon Public Library’s new Youth Services librarian, Edward Gillman, introduced himself to area youth in an innovative way. He held a science themed event called “Science With Edward” where he showed kids how to make a lemon battery and more.

“The event was used as a science demonstration to introduce me as the new Youth Services Assistant at the library, particularly since I’m taking over the Board and Builds program. I plan to have the B&B program incorporate mini-lessons and projects that focus on the sciences, including STEM and STEAM activities,” Gillman said.

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Illuminated Christmas Parade cancelled

Santa arrives at the end of the Christmas Parade 2016. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo)

UPDATE (3:45 p.m.) – The O’Fallon Weekly has spoken to Mayor Herb Roach about the cancellation of the Illuminated Christmas Parade.

“We were totally caught by surprise,” Mayor Herb Roach said.

He went on to explain that he was hoping to have Christmas lights at City Hall and along First and State Streets that would light as part of the parade to add to the tradition.

“I had three different firms come in and give us bids on doing that, and my planning was to try to have those lights come on when the first band or vehicle hit the stop signs next to City Hall. So, when this came up, this totally caught me by surprise.”

Roach is also speaking with as many people as possible in an attempt to save the parade.

“I’ve reached out to three different groups here in town to see if we can do something; If one group, or the other, or all three of them can help do something. I’ve reached out to the Van Ettens to see what we can do, and to see if we could get the floats and so forth to do something. I’ve got a meeting with one group tonight, the group that’s helping me try to regenerate the Homecoming in O’Fallon, to see if they would be interested in helping. We’re trying to do whatever we can to try to save this,” he said.

Roach also talked about his own experience with the holiday tradition.

“It’s always been a fun thing. I’ve driven my vehicle and had lights on it for a number of years, and my granddaughters would sit in the back and throw candy out. We’re going to see what we can do. I can’t promise anything, but we’re going to see what we can do. Maybe that means the city acquiring the float beds or whatever to see what we can have stuff available so that we can have parades in the future, and then we have the equipment right here.”

– – – END OF UPDATE – – –

O’FALLON – The annual O’Fallon Illuminated Christmas Parade has been canceled. The private committee in charge of the event spoke to the O’Fallon Weekly about the surprising move.

“As a committee, we have decided to give it up. It was getting harder and harder to get people to work, to build floats,” Dee Van Etten explained. She and Roger Van Etten have done much of the work on the floats in previous years, and she cited her age and Roger’s physical limitations as contributing factors, along with financial constraints.

“We’ve just come to the point where we just can’t do it anymore. We’ve advertised for float builders, and no one is responding. We’ve put a lot of our own money into it. We just can’t do it anymore,” she continued.

Van Etten became emotional when talking about the parade, which has been a tradition for many decades.

The parade, which has been an annual tradition since the early 1990s, took place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, heralding Santa Claus’s official arrival to O’Fallon. It wound through the city streets before ending downtown next to Santa’s Hut. Santa would then be available for visits and photos with children.

“I think it’s a very looked forward to and treasured O’Fallon tradition at Christmas time, and I think it will be sorely missed. It’s just a fun time,” O’Fallon Historical Society President Brian Keller said.

“It really is a downtown tradition. I’m hoping that someone will take it up, but I don’t know if that will happen or not. It’s no small thing to put on a parade. Especially with floats, and the illuminated floats. That’s a lot of work, and someone’s got to do it. It is very said,” Keller continued.

Keller explained the history of the parade, and noted that Santa’s Hut, which has been around since the 1950s, has operated independently of the parade before, and would continue to do so.

“Santa used to arrive in a fire truck, but Santa’s Hut was always separate from the parade except for opening up that night. It may not open that night following the parade, but other than that, as far as I know, Santa will be at Santa’s Hut during the usual hours this holiday season,” Keller said.

He did acknowledge that the Downtown O’Fallon Plaza project could soon put a wrench into the Santa’s Hut tradition as well, saying “With that project still in the development stage, we just don’t know moving forward what that area will look like. We’ll just have to wait and see how that area will be redeveloped.”

Keller also noted that even with weather concerns, people still attended the event.  “One year, the city had lost power due to some weather issues, and many people came just to have something to do. No matter what it was like outside, people came out to watch the parade. It will definitely be missed.”

The parade is not a City of O’Fallon run event, however the Weekly did reach out to Mayor Herb Roach and is awaiting comment. The city did post to their social media with the following statement: “The City of O’Fallon was saddened to hear the news that the O’Fallon Homecoming Association decided to cancel the annual Illuminated Christmas Parade. The City of O’Fallon does not know the reasons behind the cancellation, but must respect the decision of the O’Fallon Homecoming Association. While the City of O’Fallon has not been involved in the organization of the event or the decision to cancel the event, since hearing of the cancellation, Mayor Roach has been having discussions with a number of individuals that would be interested in preserving the parade.”

Ward 3 aldermen hold Semi-annual meeting with residents

Aldermen Kevin Hagarty and Matthew Gilreath speak with Ward 3 residents at their semi-annual meeting. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

Aldermen Kevin Hagarty and Matthew Gilreath held their semi-annual Ward 3 meeting this past week at City Hall. Topics of discussion ranged from traffic and construction concerns to the city’s new mobile app, which Gilreath advised residents to use as a tool for faster service times.

The app, called O’Fallon On Demand, is able to be downloaded from the Apple or Google Play stores.

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Halloween parade a huge success despite the cold temperatures

Despite the cold and wind, the streets of downtown O’Fallon were full of children and families in costume for the O’Fallon Rotary Halloween Children’s Parade. Led by the O’Fallon Police Department, the parade lineup included Mayor Herb Roach, Miss O’Fallon Ava Hipskind, children, families, pets, and floats.

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“Who you gonna call?” – Local paranormal investigators speak to residents

From Left to Right, Ara Robbins, Lorri Weeks, Jenni Moehlmann, and Mark Foster share information about local cases that Moonlite Paranormal Investigations has taken on.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

The community room at the O’Fallon Public Library was packed with residents hoping to hear spooky tales of the paranormal from Moonlite Paranormal Investigations team members.

Owner and founder Mark Foster, along with Jenni Moehlmann, Ara Robbins, and Lorri Weeks, spoke about MPI cases and personal experiences, as well as shared equipment, photos, video and audio clips with attendees.

Foster has been doing paranormal investigations for over 20 years, ever since he had a negative personal experience at age 13 that not only scared him, but also led to him receiving stitches after being thrown across a room. The incident, which is featured on Season 2 of Paranormal Survivor, changed Foster’s life. “I vowed that I would never let anything like that happen to another kid,” Foster said. He began investigating soon after.

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Shiloh residents plead for help to stop possible scam artist

Becky Rasmussen, Manager of Valley View Estates, addresses the Shiloh Board of Trustees and Mayor Jim Vernier on behalf of a group of residents who lost thousands of dollars to a potential scam artist. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

Becky Rasmussen, the Manager of Valley View Estates, asked the Shiloh Board of Trustees and Mayor Jim Vernier for help in stopping a man from allegedly scamming residents out of thousands of dollars.

Several residents of the manufactured home community, owned by Boatman Homes, Inc., were present for the meeting to serve as a collective voice in stopping the theft from happening to anyone else.

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School board congratulates Shiloh Middle School Girl’s Softball team

The Shiloh Middle School Softball team was recognized for their trip to the State tournament. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

The Shiloh Middle School Girl’s Softball team went to the state championship, but was knocked out in their first game against Christopher Junior High at the tournament in Pinckneyville. The Shiloh District 85 school board celebrated the team at their October meeting, and congratulated them on a great season.

Coach Jason VanAusdall spoke to the board, saying that he couldn’t take any of the credit, but spoke of the girls’ hard work, great ethics and great family support. VanAusdall said he worked the girls hard, practicing six days per week.

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Council addresses permit requests

City Hall

Late permit approvals frustrated aldermen at the October 16 O’Fallon City Council meeting.

The first permit that came up was Vest Farms, which was given approval for a permit for a pumpkin patch. The pumpkin patch, located at 1250 North Lincoln Avenue, applied for a permit from October 1 – October 31.

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Central Board celebrates as Auffenberg wins Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award

Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award winner Emily Auffenberg (middle) stands with
JAMS Principal Tron Young (left) and District 104 Superintendent Dawn Elser (right).
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

Central School District 104 celebrated Mrs. Emily Auffenberg at their October board meeting for winning the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award.

Principal Tron Young said “Mrs. Auffenberg is commended by her fellow teachers that she displays a passion for teaching and commitment to her students that seldom is exceeded by her colleagues. She brings enthusiasm and excitement into her classroom, and is a model for everyone, students and teachers.”

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Fall Around Town: Halloween events around the area

The O’Fallon YMCA held a Trunk or Treat event on Friday, October 13, in their parking lot. Kids of all ages went from vehicle to vehicle for candy, and then inside to take part in games and activities. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

Whether you want to get the most mileage possible out of your little goblin or ghoul’s Halloween costume, practice for trick or treating, or  get out in the community and volunteer, there are a number of upcoming fall and Halloween themed events for area residents to enjoy.

Several local churches are also using this opportunity to help bring in donations for area organizations, as well as hurricane victims. Grab a few extra non-perishable and household items to bring with you to give thanks as your family takes in all of the fall fun around town.

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O’Fallon PD hold Coffee with a Cop event

The morning after they held their Night Out event, the O’Fallon Police Department offered the community a second opportunity to visit with police officers at their Coffee with a Cop event at McDonald’s.

Officers met with residents to discuss community concerns and to relate to them on a personal level.

The department holds these types of events periodically, so check out their Facebook page for details on the next opportunity for fellowship.

A Night Out with O’Fallon PD

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

Residents of all ages enjoyed mingling with law enforcement officers and firefighters at the O’Fallon Police Department’s National Night Out event. Held at O’Fallon Community Park, the free event offered the opportunity to check out police vehicles and gear, a smokehouse, complete a scavenger hunt, and more.

The scavenger hunt was to obtain autographs from O’Fallon Police Officer Wagner and Officer Hurt, as well as O’Fallon Firefighter Lindlow. Once children had all three signatures, they were able to get a free detective kit that included a badge, notebook, and a magnifying glass.

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Council approves Old Collinsville, Milburn School Road development

City Hall

O’FALLON – City of O’Fallon aldermen approved the commercial development at the corner of Milburn School Road and Old Collinsville Road at their first regular October meetSing. The ordinance for the development was amended after previous meetings to place several conditions on the rezoning, including removing a drive-thru.

The revised plan for the now B-1 zoned 4.13 acre property is for a combined total of 17,900 square feet building space, including a retail building and sit down restaurant with outdoor dining. Several conditions were placed upon the rezoning, including that hours of operation cannot be outside of 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., “removing the drive-thru and call box for the restaurant land use, allowing packaged alcohol sales in the pharmacy retail building, and additional landscaping along Old Collinsville Road and Milburn School Road.”

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Shiloh Board receives presentation from special Air Force guest

SHILOH – Shiloh Village Board welcomed special guest Colonel Ray Smith, Commander of the 932nd Operations Group, to their October board meeting. Col. Smith has been partnering with Village Administrator John Marquardt through a community and Scott Air Force Base collaboration project.

“At Scott Air Force Base,  Col. Laura Lenderman, previous commander of 375th initiated a program called the Honorary Commanders Program where various individuals from different communities team up with officials from the base and learn the missions of the base, and vice versa, those individuals learn things about our communities. Our commander is John Marquardt and his liaison is Col. Ray Smith with 932nd Wing Command. Ray is the Operations Group Commander and he’s in charge of the 73rd Airlift Squadron, the 932nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, the 932nd Operations Support Flight and the 12th Operations Weather Flight,” explained Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier.

Col. Smith explained that there are four total groups in the 932nd Unit, and those groups, like the one he commands, are then composed of squadrons and flights.

Smith’s group flies four C-40 airplanes, and he said “You guys live here, you’ve seen them. They’re the gorgeous blue and whites, and we take them everywhere.”

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