Community leaders, District 203 begin discussion on closing student achievement gap

District 203 Superintendent Dr. Darcy Benway and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Martha Weld greet and speak with parents following last Wednesday’s meeting at New Life In Christ Church. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

Community members and leaders came together last Wednesday evening at a town hall meeting at New Life In Christ Interdenominational Church. Representatives from O’Fallon Township High School District 203 were there to discuss issues separating races at the high school, especially among achievement, expulsion and suspension, and diversity in staffing.

Bishop Geoffrey V. Dudley, Sr. welcomed everyone to the meeting, then introduced Superintendent Dr. Darcy Benway and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Martha Weld.

“We want to be collaborative partners to be part of the journey that we want our community to be on. One of the ways that we do that, that we accomplish that, is have a multi-disciplinary approach to education. That means working together,” Dudley said.

He further explained the goal of the evening, saying “We want to talk about diversity in staffing, professional development. We want to talk about the achievement gap, suspension and expulsion rates for African Americans, in particular, African American males. We want to talk about how the community can get involved and make a difference. Finally, we want to talk about the bigotry of low expectations. Those are the things that we would like to begin this conversation, and indeed, it is a conversation.”

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O’Fallon Aldi to be closed five weeks for remodeling

Area shoppers will have to make alternate plans for over a month while the Aldi in O’Fallon temporarily closes it’s doors. The store, located at 1635 West U.S. Highway 50, will be undergoing renovations.

Aldi officials confirmed that the store would be closed for five weeks, beginning on October 8, and that they would reopen to the public on November 13.

The grocery, owned by the Albrecht family, is known for it’s deep discounts and exclusive brands. They have grown considerably since it’s beginning in Germany in 1961, and first United States store in 1976. It’s estimated that by 2018, there will be 2,000 stores across the U.S.

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Shiloh Elementary School students send help to a Texas school

First graders at Shiloh Elementary school have adopted an elementary school that was impacted by Hurricane Harvey. To help the students return to normalcy, the three classrooms, led by teachers Sarah Wehrle, Brooke Sterns, and Teresa Beeler, have been collecting school supplies to send to Jones Clark Elementary School in Beaumont, Texas.

“In first grade we start with a unit all about me and get to know one another. We move on to talking about our neighborhood, community and community helpers. We talk about ways we can give back to our community and read a book called The Littlest Volunteer. As children were witnessing the news about the hurricane their families wanted to know how we could help others. We thought this was the perfect opportunity to tie this into giving back to the community. We did some research on how to donate and found a website that would let us adopt another school like ours. From there we asked our teachers and families to donate specific items that our school needed. They are a school of about 750 students. Their greatest needs at this time are school supplies and school uniforms. With that being said, we have decided to focus on school supplies and are currently collecting supplies based off of their school supply list given to us by their district,” explained Wehrle.

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There’s a new lawman in town – Shiloh Village swears in new Chief of Police

Shiloh’s new Chief of Police Richard Wittenauer and Mayor Jim Vernier (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

In front of a large crowd of family, friends, and several officers from both the Shiloh and Collinsville police departments, Mayor Jim Vernier swore in Shiloh’s new Chief of Police, Richard Wittenauer, at the Shiloh Committee at Large Meeting on Monday night.

Wittenauer began his career in Cahokia and has been with the Collinsville Police Department since 1994, rising to the rank of the Assistant Chief of Police. Throughout his career, he has attended numerous trainings, including the FBI Training Academy at Quantico, and the Northwestern University School of Police and Staff Command. He has also won numerous awards, but one that he’s most proud of is one that he didn’t win by himself.

“I’ve been fortunate to go to a lot of training and gotten a lot of opportunity, but when I was a Sergeant over the Detective Division in 2008-2009, we won the city’s Team of the Year Award. I’m really proud of that because there was a bunch of us working together for it. You can get a lot more done with other people than you can just by yourself,” he said.

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Auffenberg gets the green light from Shiloh committee

The relocation of the Auffenberg Automall from O’Fallon to Shiloh made smooth forward progress at the Shiloh Committee at Large meeting, after a special session of the Shiloh Planning Commission.

As a minor oversight, the vote for the preliminary plat was left off of the Planning Commission’s September agenda, so members Jim Stover, John Lee, Vince Kwiatkowski and Chairman Brian Manion met briefly in a special session. The four members unanimously voted to approve the preliminary plat, yet they noted that they wished the previously planned traffic light would still be installed, even though the traffic study didn’t warrant one.

The study, done by Dustin Riechmann, Principal Engineer at the Lochmueller Group, showed that the roughly 300-500 trips per day would not significantly impact traffic enough to necessitate the signal. Riechmann did call for a side street stop control, and a “dedicated eastbound left-turn lane should be provided on Frank Scott Parkway to facilitate safe and efficient ingress to the site.”

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Hometown Heroes will soon grace O’Fallon lamp posts

An example of the banners by the Fource Group, including O’Fallon resident Airman First Class Zachary Ryan Cuddeback who was killed in Germany. (Submitted Photo)

Familiar faces of veterans will soon grace the streets of O’Fallon through the Hometown Heroes project. O’Fallon resident Rosemary Furfaro is heading up the project with help from City of O’Fallon officials.

Through the project, anyone can purchase an 18 by 36 inch banner to honor any active duty military members, honorably discharged or retired veterans, or fallen heroes. The banners have a picture of the veteran, as well as their name, rank, branch, era served and years served. They are hung from light poles, traditionally in downtown areas of cities. The heavy duty vinyl banners, made by the Fource Group, will hang for nine months, and then when they are taken down, will be returned to the purchaser as a keepsake.

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Lebanon Steps Back to Victorian Era for Dickens Fest

Anslie and Regina Ireland of O’Fallon created their costumes and came out to Dickens Fest to tour the Mermaid House. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

The streets of downtown Lebanon returned to the 19th century this past weekend with the inaugural Dickens Fest, a nod to one of the town’s most infamous visitors, Charles Dickens. Dickens visited Lebanon, Illinois in 1842 and spent the night at the Mermaid House Hotel, even referencing his stay on the Looking Glass Prairie in his book American Notes.

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Shiloh District 85

District 85 excited about new state funding law, passes budget

Shiloh District 85SHILOH – Shiloh District 85 is thrilled with the new Senate Bill 1947 that recently passed in Springfield. The district, which has been in dire financial straits, is glad to know that they will be getting definite money from the state.

Board Member Phil Brunner mentioned that Superintendent Dale Sauer gave an overview of the bill at the finance committee meeting on September 6.

“It’s a pretty complex school funding reform, and we don’t fully understand what the implications are going to be but the good news is that under the new bill, no district is supposed to get less money than they did last year, so that’s encouraging, and we feel that we’re in a much better spot than we were at this time last year,” Brunner said.

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O’Fallon woman is on a mission to provide safe births in Mexico

Victoria Wood stands in front of the mountains of Tlaxcala, Mexico, her future home. (Submitted Photo)

Victoria Wood wants to help as many babies as possible be born safely. The O’Fallon resident will soon embark on a journey to become a Missionary Midwife in Tlaxcala, Mexico.

Missionary midwives are faith based individuals that seek to help give the best prenatal, birth, and postnatal care possible to many who cannot afford such care around the world. Wood first heard about the practice from a friend.

“A friend of mine in Ghana, Africa shared a story of his friend who, because she was a village girl, did not receive adequate medical assistance when she was in labor. She did not have options to choose which hospital to go to, which doctor she was most comfortable with or whether or not to do birthing classes before labor. She was uninformed and scared and her birth experience was a terrible one. She never received prenatal or postpartum check-ups. Her baby later died by unknown cases (what we would call SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). She was overlooked and uncared for. My heart broke and I knew I wanted to be a part of the solution,” she explained.

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A Day for Remembrance: VFW hosts annual POW/MIA ceremony

Monty Jackson sings the national anthem as members of the Korean War Veterans Association post the colors. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

The O’Fallon VFW Post 805 Hall was packed for an emotional 26th annual POW/MIA ceremony. Veterans, active military members and civilians, plus four former Prisoners of War and families of those still listed as Missing in Action came together for the Scott POW/MIA Council Ceremony.

Geoffrey Bambic, founding member of the Scott POW/MIA Council spoke about the honor and sacrifice of each of those who have been imprisoned while serving their country, and said that there would be ceremonies until everyone listed as missing is brought home to their families.

Four men attending the ceremony were ex-POW’s. Robert Teichgraber and Wilbert “Vince” Rolves were both POW’s during World War II. Rolves, 93, an Oklahoma National Guard Veteran, was captured in Italy and imprisoned in Stalag 13D in Nuremberg from 1943 to 1945. Teichgraber, 97, a U.S. Army Air Forces Veteran, weighed 90 pounds when he was rescued by the British Army on April 19, 1945, 453 days after his B-24 was shot down.

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Dots of Fun at O’Fallon Public Library Event

Adult Services Librarian Eleka Smith shows attendees how to attach their leaves to her tree painting.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

All anyone saw were dots at the O’Fallon Public Library on Sunday as the children’s department celebrated International Dot Day. The celebration occurs every September and over ten million people participate in festivities in 169 countries around the world since 2009. The festivities are all based in the children’s book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, and serve as a reminder to children to make their own unique mark on whatever they try.

Children and their families attending the library’s festivities watched a YouTube video animated reading of The Dot, and learned about Vashti, a little girl who says she cannot draw, but then becomes an artist after her teacher encourages her to begin by simply placing a dot on a piece of paper and signing it. Youth Services Manager Teri Rankin helped the children make parallels to their own lives, whether they felt like they weren’t the best at drawing, or other activities like playing soccer, and told them to start somewhere and just try. She said “The important thing is to begin somewhere, even when you feel like you can’t, or even when you think someone might do it better than you can.”

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Central District 104 welcomes new board member

New District 104 Board Member, David Swaney, swears in at their September board meeting. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

O’FALLON – Central School District 104 has a new board member. David Swaney was sworn in on Monday evening at their regular September board meeting.

At the August board meeting, long time board member and former board president Chris Monroe stepped down from his position, saying he could “no longer be an effective board member due, in large part, to decisions and collective actions of this board,” and citing “inability of the board to make unbiased decisions.”

Monroe would have been up for reelection in April of 2019, so Swaney will need to run at that point to hold on to his seat.

Swaney has triplets in first grade at Central Elementary School and is looking forward to being involved with the school board.

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Auffenberg Auto Mall rezoning approved by Shiloh Planning Commission

Developer Terry Johnson goes over the preliminary plans for the Shiloh Auffenberg Auto Mall at Monday evening’s Planning Commission meeting. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

SHILOH – Shiloh Planning Commission voted unanimously to rezone property along Frank Scott Parkway for the new Auffenberg Auto Mall.  Developer Terry Johnson also discussed why there will not be a traffic light, and that there will now be a fifth car company added to the auto mall.

Johnson made sure to note that the agenda stated that only 32 acres would be rezoned, when it was actually 35.6 acres. 32 acres are owned by BJC and 3.6 acres are owned by Darwin Miles. That acreage is west of 2001 Frank Scott Parkway and was rezoned from B4 General Business to PB Planned Business. A second piece of property, Lot 5A of Parkway Sixty-Four Corporate Center Re-Subdivision, was also rezoned from B4 to PB.

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Shiloh Homecoming 2017

O'Fallon Weekly Photos 
 by Angela Simmons


 

Vote changes end in approval for luxury apartments

Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier, center, introduced the new village police chief, Rich Wittenauer, at left, at Tuesday night’s meeting. Also pictured, acting Shiloh Chief Gary McGill. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

SHILOH – The Shiloh Board of Trustees approved rezoning 26.44 acres of property from R-2 and B-3 to multifamily. The approval came in a somewhat confusing and contentious meeting.

The Savannah, a luxury residential apartment complex, proposed by developer Crevo Capital, asked for the rezoning. Conditions, in an amendment to the final motion to approve the rezoning, include having only 300 total units, which would then allow for some of the buildings on the east side of the project to be two story and not three, additional fencing and screening on the rear and southeast sides abutting adjacent property, and a public utilities stub for future connection to Hideaway Hollow.

As relating to traffic concerns, when 100 units have been leased, the proposed traffic light at Tamarack Lane and Cross Street will need to be installed and operational before any more units can be approved, and construction traffic must enter and exit from Old O’Fallon Road.

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