O'Fallon Library

Deadline approaching for O’Fallon Public Library mascot contest

O'Fallon LibraryO’FALLON – Deadline for entering an O’Fallon Public Library art contest to depict its new mascot – an owl – is fast approaching.

O’Fallon residents have until the end of Tuesday, July 31 to submit their drawings. Then, the library staff will pick their top three favorites, which will be posted to Facebook on Aug. 1.

Program and social media coordinator for the O’Fallon Public Library Jessi Baker said that she originally came up with the mascot and art contest idea out of a desire to find more interactive ways to showcase library resources.

“I plan to do activities with the mascot- such as posting a photo on social media of the mascot somewhere in the library and seeing if patrons can guess or find where it is at,” Baker said.

She also said she plans to “hide” the mascot on the library’s website and social media pages.

“We will put an image of the mascot on one of our pages on the website, and patrons will have to click through the different pages until they find it,” she said. “We thought this would be a good way for patrons to view pages or links they might not ordinarily look at.”

Having an owl serve as mascot seemed like an obvious choice, Baker said.

“Owls are known for being smart and I also liked the play on words or pun ‘O-Fowl-On,'” she said.

Baker said she came up with the art contest, believing there is an abundant supply of talent among the library’s patron base.

“I also thought it would be really neat to have a special mascot that no one else would have,” she said. “We have so many talented and creative patrons, I had to tap into those resources for great ideas.”

“Patrons and Facebook followers will vote with likes as to which drawing they want to see as their new mascot,” she said.

On Aug. 8, a final design will be chosen.

“From there, I will upload the image and imitate it as closely as I can into a digital, clear format that can be used on our newsletter, display slides and social media,” she said.

O’Fallon teen harassed for wearing MAGA hat

Ashton Hess shows the spit on his “Make America Great Again” hat during his YouTube video that shows an altercation he had with two Seattle residents over it. (YouTube)

By Annabelle Knef

SEATTLE – O’Fallon Township High School student Ashton Hess was drinking a coffee with his family while on a vacation in Seattle, when his head was suddenly hit, causing his “Make American Great Again” hat to be knocked to the ground. 

According to Hess, the hat, which shows support for President Donald Trump, was picked up by a young woman and thrown to a man who “took off with it.” 

“He spat on it and then threw it into the street,” Hess said. 

Hess said that the man then continued to “curse and flip off” his family. 

The 17-year-old and his family were waiting for a ride outside of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery when the incident took place. Hess was using his cell phone at the time and quickly began to take a video of the altercation, which he has posted to his YouTube account.

“I did absolutely nothing to provoke anyone around, and was completely blind sided when I was hit. He was quick to run away after my dad, my brother, and I started walking after him,” he said. 

At one point in the video, the assailant tells Hess “Get the f- – – out of this city. You’re not welcome here.”

Hess said that he doesn’t know specifically why the incident took place since he wasn’t provoking anyone. 

“I do believe that my first amendment rights were attacked. I should have the right to wear and express my political opinions and who I support. When someone attacks you for doing just that, it is an attack on your rights,” he said. 

Hess said that he will always stand for what he believes, and he encourages others to do the same. 

“Everyone should be allowed to have their own opinions, and no one should be attacked because they disagree with you. We need to encourage civil and healthy conversation, not violence,” he said.

Hess is the latest person to be challenged when wearing “MAGA” hats in public, including a Texas teenager who had his hat stolen and replaced by the President. 

Locally, Hess was one of six high school students who attempted to take part in a March For Our Lives rally in O’Fallon on March 24, 2018, while dressed in pro-NRA and Republican Party clothing. Hess stated then that he and his friends also supported an end to gun violence, but just had a different view of how to achieve that than many of the others present.

A life cut short: Grandmother seeks Justice for Kane

By Annabelle Knef

“Justice for Kane” signs have been popping up in areas across the county. Lori Friess of Belleville wants everyone to know the heart-wrenching story behind those signs both as a part of her grieving process.

Friess’s grandson Kane Wiley-Friess died at age two as a result of two skull fractures on April 13, 2017. The child’s mother’s boyfriend, Gyasi Campbell, 24, was indicted in January – eight months after Kane’s death – and charged with first-degree murder, court records indicate.

What has Friess outraged is a judge’s ruling on April 2, 2018, nearly one year after Kane’s death which reduced Campbell’s bail from $1 million to $150,000 – of which he only needed to post ten percent of the bail, or $15,000, to be released while awaiting trial. Court records indicate that trial is set to begin on January 7, 2019.

Circuit Judge Zina Cruse

The judge who has presided over Campbell’s criminal case and reduced his bail is Circuit Judge Zina Cruse of the 20th Judicial Circuit.

Friess said she began a grass roots movement, in which she now has nearly 12,000 followers on a Facebook page called “Justice for Kane”, to honor Kane by sharing his story and holding the judge who drastically reduced Campbell’s bail, accountable.

“First and foremost it’s to get his story out there,” Friess said. “What happened was sickening to me. The fact that the gentleman accused of doing this is happy and having a great life – he’s not in jail because of the judge.”

Friess said she finds it “pathetic” how Cruse reduced the bond based on what she referred to as “a few character references.”

“She should’ve looked into the people who were giving the character letters before reducing the man’s bond,” Friess said.

One character reference for Campbell came from Friess’s daughter, Kane’s mother, Lindsey Friess.

Lindsey Friess wrote a three-page letter to the judge on behalf of Campbell. It reads, in part, “I believe there’s a proper charge and sentence for the death of my son and I do not believe first-degree murder is that charge.”

Friess described her daughter as “very unstable.”

As she was reading her daughter’s letter, Friess said that she thought “surely this is somebody else because from the beginning to the end it has been nothing but lies.”

Friess said that her daughter is still in a relationship with the accused murderer of Kane.

“I personally think the man is using her for everything he can get out of her to make it look like they’re a happy family and that she supports him,” Friess said. “I don’t know if she’s scared to death of him.”

Lindsey Friess has two other children – her oldest son is named Eli, whom she had with Travis Crouse. She had youngest daughter Arabella with Campbell and Kane with Teague Jr. (T.J.) Wylie.

The Justice for Kane organization is now considered a non-profit, with a benefit being planned for September 29.

“It’s an unbelievable response in how many people are falling in love with Kane and want him to get justice on their own,” Friess said. “The outpour from the community with donations is unbelievable.”

“I thought if I could raise $100 I’m doing something. I have a huge feeling it’s going to be more of that,” she said.

Friess said all of the money collected through the event will go to the St. Clair County Child Advocacy Organization in Belleville.

When Friess goes to court hearings she said it’s a terrible reminder that Kane is gone, “and he’s never coming back.”

“When I do these benefits, he’s still alive and his memory is still alive. It’s something I need to do for him and for myself.”

Friess said the movement needs to “conquer” the five counties that Cruse presides over, including St. Clair, Randolph, Monroe, Perry, and Washington counties, in order to get the judge unseated. Cruse is seeking retention in the November election and must receive an affirmative vote totaling 60 percent or more of the ballots cast.

“This woman has a history of letting these criminals off. I don’t understand how she’s getting away with this,” Friess said. “They waited until the one year anniversary of Kane’s death to bail [Campbell] out of jail. That was another slap in the face.”

The O’Fallon Weekly contacted Judge Cruse’s office, but our requests for comment were not answered.

Friess said she has stopped going to pre-trial conferences.

“I cannot take seeing him. It takes every ounce of energy out of me. All of my good thoughts. When I see him, it just goes out the window,” she said.

She said she will attend the trial but it’s not something she’s looking forward to.

“I can only imagine what’s going to be brought up. It plays over in my head constantly – what my grandson went through for those three hours that he was alone with this monster,” Friess said.

Campbell’s story about what happened with Kane has changed several times, from which room the injury took place to how the injury was sustained, Friess said.

According to the medical examiner, Kane had two skull fractures, which were not injuries that were consistent with Campbell’s original story.

With apparent emotion, Friess described how she thinks Kane should be remembered.

“Kane was such a lover. He loved giving hugs, he was just so sweet. His blue eyes would light up a room. He loved his brother and sister. He just adored them,” Friess said.

“He didn’t get a real chance to be around his sister, Arabella, but he did with his older brother Eli. They were 16 months apart. I had such big plans for them,” she said.

Friess said that she doesn’t communicate much with Kane’s father and paternal grandparents, apart from collaboration at vigils and court dates.

“T.J. (Kane’s father) is really quiet. I know he’s having a difficult time with this. I know it has to hurt him every day waking up. He’s been quiet throughout all of this and keeping to himself but I think about him every day.”

Friess’s mother passed away Christmas day in 2016, only three months before her grandson died.

“I have no clue how I’m doing this. People ask me every day how I’m doing this and say that I’m their inspiration and a strong person. My mother raised me to be a strong person and not to give up and quit,” Friess said.

District 90 to hire safety security monitors, four new teachers

By Annabelle Knef

O’FALLON – The District 90 Board of Education took action to hire safety security monitors for its buildings and four new teachers. 

During the July 17 meeting, Board Member Steve Springer said that he thinks it’s time the board moves forward with security personnel. The option to hire SRO’s, safety security monitors and hall monitors has been discussed by the Board since April, and is based on the multi-phase Security Improvement Plan.

“To me, there are a couple major differences between SRO’s and a safety security monitor. The very obvious difference is a SRO is a current active O’Fallon Police Department officer. The price tag for that is very expensive,” Springer said. 

Springer said that the difference in price between hiring a SRO versus and safety security officer is 50 percent. 

“If we could hire two officers for the price of one, I think that would make a huge difference,” he said. 

Springer said that the safety security officer hired would still have to be “the right person with the right personality.”

The hall monitor would be considered a lower position compared to a SRO or a safety security officer and would be paid $11.74 an hour. 

A motion was carried to hire two safety security monitors, as opposed to SRO’s, for the 2018-19 school year. 

Springer said that he is not in favor of the board hiring hall monitors for the 2018-19 school year. 

“The job description doesn’t say anything about interpersonal skills or crisis prevention skills,” Springer said.

Wagnon said that he is not opposed to updating the job description of the hall monitor position. 

The motion to hire hall monitors for the 2018-19 school year with the current job description was not carried. 

A staffing consideration was proposed by Superintendent Carrie Hruby to hire four teachers if class size is at capacity. According to the board of education meeting agenda, “Due to the fact that the August board meeting will be held after the start of the school year, the administration recommends the board provide permission to hire up to four teachers if class sizes are close to the caps.” 

The cost of each position would be approximately $35,000 base salary plus insurance benefits for each teacher. 

“If we add a second grade teacher at (LaVerna) Evans then we obviously wouldn’t just reduce all of those second grade classes, we would also try to reduce them across the district and transfer students over,” Hruby said. “It gives us a little flexibility in trying to keep our class sizes low.”  

The district has hired teachers in a similar manner, on a one-year contract, before in order to balance class sizes.

The motion to hire four new teachers before the 2018-19 school year was carried. 

Bost calls for review of NGA site selection

By Annabelle Knef

Congressman Mike Bost (IL-12) has given local leaders renewed hope for recapturing one of the biggest development projects the region has ever seen – the National Geosptial-Intelligece Agency (NGA) – that was lost to north St. Louis in a bidding war in 2016.

On July 9, Bost indicated he had raised concerns with NGA director Robert Cardillo regarding the integrity of the site selection for the new western headquarters “amid allegations that a key developer of the North St. Louis site engaged in tax credit fraud and other misdeeds in securing the property,” a press release from his office states.

According to the St. Louis Post-Disptatch, last month Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley sued developer Paul McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration LLC, accusing it of keeping $4.5 million in state tax credits “despite failing to complete the purchase of more than $5 million worth of properties in north St. Louis.”

In a letter to Cardillo, Bost asked that federal funding for the project be delayed until a better understanding on how the alleged fraud impacted St. Clair County’s ability to receive fair and equal consideration during the site selection process.

Bost, who has asked for a personal meeting with Cardillo, implied in his letter that legal action could be taken to prevent the $1.75 billion project from going any further in north St. Louis.

“I’ve never had a doubt that the land adjacent to Scott Air Force Base was a far superior site for NGA to achieve its mission,” said Bost.  “The decision to award the new campus to North St. Louis never passed the smell test, either in terms of cost or public safety.  It now appears our concerns were warranted.  The people of Southern Illinois deserve to know that a decision as important as this one was made fairly and with access to the full scope of information about both locations.  I don’t see how the agency has any choice but to delay construction, as well as reconsider its selection of North St. Louis, amid this cloud of doubt and legal uncertainty.  Simply put: St. Clair County should be back on the table for NGA.”

Later in the week, Bost issued another statement, continuing to ask for answers related to the NGA site selection.

“If you planned to build a house and realized it was on unstable ground, you wouldn’t keep building just because you had a blueprint and some two-by-fours. You’d stop construction, review your plans, and consider safer alternatives. That’s all I’m asking NGA to do. Are we throwing good money after bad because it’s too inconvenient to do the right thing? The short-term inconvenience of reevaluation is well-worth the long-term cost savings to our taxpayers and, most importantly, ensuring the strength of NGA-West as a national security asset,” Bost said in a statement.

O’Fallon community remembers Jennifer Mueller at memorial 5k run

By Annabelle Knef

O’FALLON – The inaugural “Jennifer Mueller Memorial 5k Run/ Walk” took place on  July 14 at St. Nicholas Church in O’Fallon.

A total of 230 individuals participated in the 5k event that began and ended at St. Nicholas Church to honor Jennifer Mueller of O’Fallon, who died on Jan. 17, 2018.

Mueller, age 35, was the daughter of Gary and Cathy Mueller, owners of the Egg & I restaurant in O’Fallon. Mueller was director of operations at the restaurant and oversaw marketing and community relations.

Mueller was active in the O’Fallon- Shiloh Chamber of Commerce and was also a recent graduate of the Chamber’s Leadership Institute.

In 2010, Mueller was diagnosed with Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma (FHC),  a rare and aggressive form of liver cancer that is seen in less than 200 people each year.

At the Saturday morning event which honored Mueller, tents were set up around the church parking lot, some offering food, including an Egg & I tent offering pancakes to returning runners.

Following the 8 a.m. run, approximately a dozen children participated in the “Kids Fun Run,” which consisted of a loop around the church.

For the overall women’s division 5k results, Jacqueline Sommer, age 34, came in first place with a time of 20:24. Nicole Wilcox, age 31, took second place with a time of 20:54. Jennifer Coverdell, age 44, came in third place with a time of 20:57. 

In the men’s division, Hayden Ybarra, age 18, came in first place with a time of 16:30. Jay Black, age 19, took second place with a time of 16:44. Jon Yoch, age 29, came in third place with a time of 17:55. 

Race proceeds from the Jennifer Mueller Memorial 5K will provide scholarships to the local high school(s), as well as Mueller’s college alma mater, Colorado State University.

Lebanon Firemen’s Picnic shortened by bad weather

By Annabelle Knef

LEBANON – In spite of inclement weather that abbreviated activities, the Lebanon Emerald Mound Fire Department (LEMFD) held a picnic July 13 as a way for families, friends, and businesses to come together and celebrate the Lebanon community.

The event kicked off Friday night at 6 p.m. with a firemen parade on Alton Street. A band performed and carnival rides and games were enjoyed by the Lebanon youth. Food and drink vendors were also plentiful.

The picnic was originally planned to take place on Saturday, July 14, as well. But due to inclement weather, the Saturday parade and picnic was canceled.

Abby Murphy, president of the Lebanon Woman’s Club (LWC), said that the club donates to the LEMFD every year. This year, Pam Martin, who was the LWC chair for the picnic event, worked to collect donations to put together a prize package. Because of the canceled picnic on Saturday, Murphy said that ticket sales were “only about half of the average amount.”

“Because all of the LWC’s sales proceeds go to the LEMFD, this means less money to help them. Add in decreased food and beverage sales from the bad weather, and it’s a huge hit to the department,” Murphy said.

Murphy set up a GoFundMe to raise money for the fire department. So far, the campaign has raised $615 of its $1000 goal. To donate to Murphy’s campaign, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/lebanon-emerald-mound-fd-il

Wolfersberger Funeral Home hosts inaugural discussion forum for community members

Wolfersberger Funeral Home Owner and Funeral Director Kim Sabella answers
questions about the funeral process during the inaugural Funeral Forum.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

By Annabelle Knef

O’FALLON – More than a dozen community members gathered last week at the historic Wolfersberger Funeral Home in O’Fallon to have a casual discussion about funeral related topics.

The first ever “Funeral Forum,” designed to make a difficult subject less uncomfortable, has been an idea long in the making, according to funeral director Kim Sabella.

“We have kind of been throwing this idea around for a while,” Sabella said.

Sabella said that she wanted the funeral forum to be an informal gathering in a comfortable environment with a conversation that some may find “taboo.”

“I know that people have questions, and we think that we have most of the answers. This is going to be a good time to think about those sort of things,” Sabella said. “I want to put the myths to rest and we really want to be open, frank, and honest about what goes on at a funeral home.”

Sabella said the forum served as a way “to get people to talk more openly about [funerals.]”

Along with hors d’oeuvres and drinks, the event also featured a funeral term and definition matching game, and a Q&A with Sabella regarding end-of-life plans, the evolution of the funeral and various services that funeral homes offer. The night concluded with Sabella and her husband, Jim, giving a tour of the funeral home.

Sabella said that people shouldn’t think of funeral homes as mysterious.

“There’s nothing we do that is secretive or weird,” she said. “We are hoping that by having these open conversations, we can make it less taboo to talk about.”

Sabella said that she plans on hosting more funeral forums in the near future.

The building where Wolfersberger is located, 102 W. Washington, was designated an historical landmark in 1973 by St. Clair County and in 2005 by the City of O’Fallon. The Sabellas, owners-operators of the funeral home, also call it their home.

Shiloh teacher to accept St. Clare Catholic School assistant principal job

By Annabelle Knef

SHILOH – After 14 years at Shiloh elementary school, Christina Howard is leaving behind fond memories of the relationships she has fostered with her students.

Howard was hired in 2004 to teach the third grade at District 85, only three days before the school year started.

“I taught third grade for one year, and then moved to fourth grade and have been teaching the fourth grade ever since,” Howard said.

Howard said that she always knew that she wanted to work with children.

“I knew that if I became a teacher, I would be able to make a difference in the lives of so many children, and I felt in my heart that’s what I was meant to do,” she said.

Howard said that the most satisfying part of her job is the relationships that she has built with her students and their families. She said it’s rewarding to see her students work hard and then seeing them “succeed and grow up into outstanding adults.”

During her time at Shiloh, Howard coached the Shiloh Middle School (SMS) cheerleading squad for six years, but stopped in 2010 because she wanted to spend more time at home with family.

Howard said she loved “every minute” of her time spent teaching students at Shiloh.

“I loved building relationships with families, especially when I was blessed to teach more than one of their children,” she said. “I was a part of that community for so long and have built many lasting relationships with students, parents, teachers, and administrators that I have worked with.”

Howard said that one of her favorite memories at Shiloh was from 2006 when a student, Ryan Kemp, gave her an illustrated book that was made for her titled “The Original Universal Monsters starring Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Ygor, The Wolf Man and The Creature.”

“He said that one day he was going to be an artist or illustrate books and sure enough, he did it,” she said. “He is an illustrator, and I still have the book he made for me. I brought it home with me when I cleaned out my classroom on Monday.”

Kemp, who currently works at Painting with a Twist in Shiloh, has designed a sculpture for O’Fallon Township High School and has painted a mural for Schmitty’s bar in Smithton.

Howard said that there are many children that pop into her mind when she thinks about her time at Shiloh.

“I hope that I have made as much of an impact on their lives as they have on mine,” she said.

Howard said that she will miss her students coming to her classroom at the end of the day to tell her how their day was. She said she will also miss seeing the Shiloh parents that volunteer and “work so hard for the school.”

“And, I’ll miss my coworkers who became very good friends of mine,” she said.

Howard said that she is “very excited” to start her new position as assistant principal for St. Clare Catholic School in O’Fallon for the 2018-19 school year.

“St Clare School is very close to my heart,” she said. “When going through old pictures at my grandparents’ house last year, we found a picture of my grandma, Genevieve Daniels, and her class sitting at their desks in their classroom at St. Clare School. My father then attended St. Clare along with his siblings. Then, I attended St. Clare along with my siblings and cousins. Now, my two children and their cousins are the fourth generation of my family to attend St. Clare School.”

Mayor encourages community to get involved as council openings approach

Mayor Herb Roach encouraged those interested in running for City Council in April to begin to get involved in the community and its affairs now, if they aren’t already. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

By Annabelle Knef

O’FALLON – Mayor Herb Roach said that the City of O’Fallon will need to fill between five and seven city council positions in the coming months and encouraged the involvement of community members interested in continuing their growth “and the operations of our community.”

At a town hall meeting on July 11 at the O’Fallon Fire Department where Roach announced vacancies would open in the next five to eight months, he said the forum was for the community to ask city officials any questions they may have regarding city projects.

“This is your meeting and the idea is to give you information and answer the questions that you may have,” Roach said.

Discussion at the town hall mostly focused on road projects.

Director of Public Works Jeff Taylor informed those who gathered that a consultant hired by the city analyzed every road within city limits and based off of that information, they were able to determine which roads needed attention. He pointed out different construction activity currently taking place around the city, most notably the new roundabout at Milburn and Old Collinsville Road.

Taylor reported that good progress has been made at the Milburn-Old Collinsville roundabout since construction started shortly after Memorial Day, and expects it to be completed in August before schools are in session.

A second project that just began yesterday is intersection improvements at Central Park and Greenmount Road, according to Taylor.

“That project just started, what you’ll see initially are temporary traffic signals,” Taylor said. “We’re hoping that will be completed sometime later this fall.”

He said that during the construction of the intersection, there won’t be any lane closures.

Assistant city administrator Grant Litteken said that the city is working hard to provide additional parking throughout O’Fallon.

“The first and easiest one to provide additional [parking] spots will be next to the Chamber of Commerce,” Litteken said. “This was done by relocating a bus route in coordination with St. Clair County.”

Litteken said that the parking construction should be complete by the end of the month.

He also said that beyond public investments and projects, there is an “extensive” list of private investments taking place around O’Fallon.

One investment includes Marcus Theatre- which has been approved for an expansion of two “high quality” IMAX screens.

Another is McDonald’s on Highway 50 in front of Walmart, which is getting ready to remodel its interior and exterior, Litteken said.

He also acknowledged the recent successful opening of Lion’s Choice in the old Tim Horton’s location.

“We’re working hard to continue the growth in O’Fallon,” he said.

Litteken added that the city is working on a website that’s “going to help market the city of O’Fallon a little bit better.”

The future holds a lot of re-development as well, he said.

Southview Plaza is one area that Litteken said is on its way to a “demolition and remediation of the environmental contamination from a laundry mat.”

Regarding the city council openings expected in the coming months, Roach encouraged the group to consider becoming involved.

“I think you’ve got to want to do this for the right reasons, you have got to want to do this because you care about the community and you want to see this community be the place where families want to come and where businesses want to come,” Roach said.

Roach said that the family aspect of O’Fallon is what makes it the “most popular location in Southwestern Illinois and one of the most popular in the greater St. Louis area.”

“This city is my family,” he said.

Roach said that potential city councilmen should be prepared to put in the time for the job.

“This is not something where you’re just going to come to a meeting once or twice a month,” he said. “You’re going to dedicate every Monday night.”

“You have got to be prepared to speak your mind if you feel strongly about something,” Roach said. “Because the only way we really come to the best result is when you hear both sides of an issue.”

Roach said that an individual on city council has to think about more than people in just their ward.

“The tricky part is you have to stop and think ‘well maybe that’s good for my ward but is it really good for the overall community,’” he said. “You’re representing the people of your ward who elected you but you are also representing the entire community.”

Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier delivers upbeat State of the Village address

Jim Vernier, Shiloh Mayor

By Annabelle Knef

SHILOH – Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier delivered an upbeat report at last Wednesday’s State of the Village address, saying “things are going well.”

He said the village continues to operate on a fiscally sound footing, made possible in part by the growth of new medical-related businesses that supply healthy tax revenue.

“We’re experiencing growth in our sales tax numbers brought on by all the new employees at these medical facilities both in O’Fallon and Shiloh,” Vernier said.

Vernier said that sales tax receipts are up 20 percent over last year.

He acknowledged the success of Memorial Hospital East in Shiloh and recognized that it will soon be one year since the opening of its first additional medical building.

“That facility houses all types of health services from minor surgeries to therapy, X-ray and MRI services, it’s all in that facility,” Vernier said.

He noted that the Memorial medical building with its approximate 200 employees “are also spending money in our community.”

“The best thing” he said for future development is a Siteman Cancer facility.

“Siteman Cancer Center is a nationally recognized facility. Their oncologists and doctors are known throughout the country- and the world for that that matter. They have submitted their site plan and their grading permit, and that is with our engineers for review,” Vernier said.

The center is estimated to cost $45 million, according to Vernier.

“I’ll add that I had little to do with BJC deciding to build the Siteman Cancer facility in Shiloh, I just happened to be the mayor. I thank God I don’t need their services but I know so many people who do,” he said.

“This I truly believe is the greatest addition to overall healthcare in our region in decades and I for one couldn’t be happier for the Siteman Cancer coming to our area in Shiloh- but it’s going to be here for all of us. It will treat people from Springfield to Southern Illinois and it will save a lot of families a lot of grief.”

Vernier said that the facility “should be going under construction very soon.”

Vernier also recognized the Village’s success in opening the new VA Clinic on Fortune Boulevard.

“It’s about two and a half times the size of the one in Belleville,” he said. “It’s a beautiful facility.”

Vernier said another project that is underway in Shiloh right now is construction of The Summit subdivision.

Vernier said that it’s “probably the largest subdivision in the region under construction right now.”

“It’s a good investment in our community,” he said.

Vernier said the project will cost nearly $100 million, which includes the estate homes and street construction. “They’re also going to have a large swimming pool up near the entrance. The pool will accommodate 150 people and the clubhouse is a two- story facility.”

Two additional projects that are under construction in Shiloh, according to Vernier, are The Villages of Hartman Lake, and The Savannah, both new multi-family community complexes.

Vernier said that units in both complexes are expected to be “top of the line” and that the developers of both projects are hoping to attract health care professionals as well as military personnel from Scott AFB.

Vernier said that the Village has hired a ‘master planner’ for Three Springs Park.

“They’re going to be designing a new entry- way. It’s going to be nice. It’s long over due,” he said.

Vernier said with the growth of Village employees, they are very “cramped and crowded” in the Village hall.

“We have hired FGM Architects. They are designing for us a new Municipal complex. We decided to keep the administrative offices and the police department in the same building,” he said.

Currently serving his fourth term as mayor, Vernier was first elected in 2001 and was re-elected to consecutive terms in 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2017. Vernier’s record of public service began in 1985, when he was elected as a Village trustee.

“I must have been here a long time,” Vernier said.

In his address to the community, Vernier recognized O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach, as well as village officials that were in attendance.

“We don’t have a large staff, we are up to eight employees in the Village hall,” Vernier said.

Vernier said that the village recently hired two new police officers, which brings the Shiloh Police Department up to 20 full time officers.

“Our public works department is up to eight staff members there,” he said.  “I get most of the attention but all of these fine people are what make our community work day after day and I want to thank them for the service that they provide our community.”