Law changes mean the end of restaurant inspection scores

A change in policy regarding restaurant inspection reports in St. Clair County went into effect January of this year, a switch from the Illinois Food Service Sanitation Code to the FDA Food Code. 

The new code adopted by the county no longer issues numerical scores to restaurants based upon safety and cleanliness inspections. According to St. Clair County Health Department Director of Environmental Programs Sharon Valentine, the FDA Code is a detailed, written report based on the county’s inspection. 

Valentine said the county hasn’t changed its health regulations, they are only reported differently under the FDA Code. 

“The state of Illinois decided we would change from the Illinois Food Service Sanitation Code to the FDA Code because of the science behind the FDA Code,” Valentine said. “It’s updated every two years, so when we go to use the code, we don’t have to worry about it being out of date or no longer having the information we need.”

“The FDA Code is updated on a routine basis,” she said. “There is no longer a score.”

Valentine said restaurants could have the potential of two different sets of violations with the inspection. Within the inspection form, the top part is risk factors for food-borne illness and the bottom part are good retail practices. 

“There are 29 different items that are food-borne illness risk factors and public health interventions,” Valentine said. 

Valentine said the good retail practices are things needed to be corrected by restaurants within a period of time, while the food-borne illness risk factors and public health interventions need to be corrected while health inspectors are present at the facility. 

Per the good retail practices, Valentine gave the example of an individual or employee lacking proper certifications or training. 

“If the person that’s there at the establishment doesn’t have the proper certifications or the proper training, we’re going to give them 30 days to get that training,” she said. “Now it’s easy to do, you can get that training at a class or online and then take a proctored exam – but 30 days is sufficient to get enrolled, take the course and get that certification.”

“Scores gave the general public at a glance what we were seeing on that particular day,” Valentine said. “Now, what we have done because there is no score on the FDA Code inspection form, we have asked our restaurants to post that in public view.”

Valentine said the county began informing the public about the new FDA Code over a year ago so that people in restaurants had the opportunity to compare the code differences. 

“There are a lot more interactive questions when we come in and it’s more interactive with the restaurant than it actually was before,” she said. “It’s not something we can just run through and do very quickly. It takes a little bit more time now.”

“The actual violations are in a different place but they are basically the same type of violations that we had before.”

Valentine said the new FDA Code is helping both the restaurants and the public understand what actually causes food-borne illness and how it can be prevented. 

“It has a bigger education piece,” she said. 

According to Valentine, how often inspections take place depends on the restaurant and the food it serves. 

“Some facilities are inspected every four months, everybody is inspected every six months,” she said. 

“If they have food that is cooked, cooled and reheated then they are inspected every four months. If they just cook and serve, those are every six months,” Valentine said. “Unless there are complaints – then we will do those more often.” 

Valentine said restaurants in St. Clair County must have their health inspection report posted at their establishment. The general public can also request a copy of the food inspection from the county under the Freedom of Information Act as it is considered public record. 

Commission approves senior living facility, church in Vetta Sports

Gary Dial of Community Bible Church. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

O’FALLON – At a planning commission meeting on Tuesday, April 9, the commission approved recommendations for a senior living facility along Frank Scott Parkway and Community Bible Church in the Vetta Sports building on Hartman Lane. 

The senior living facility known as Keystone Place at Richland Creek would be located at 1050 Fountain Lakes Drive on the northwest quadrant of the intersection of Frank Scott Parkway and Fountain Lakes Drive. 

The applicant, Fernando Casey of Nascon, LLC, filed an application to the city of O’Fallon requesting a zoning amendment and planned use approval to construct the 152-unit, four story and 167,874 square foot facility. 

The applicant is requesting the property be rezoned from “B-1(P)” Planned Community Business District to “MR-2(P)” Multi-Family Residence Dwelling District. 

The 4.9 acre site is currently vacant and was previously approved for a retail center and restaurant but was never constructed. 

The senior living facility would offer three different unit types, including independent living units, assisted living units and memory care units. It would have 53 independent living units with 34 one-bed and 19 two- bed units, 75 assisted living units with 60 one-bed and 15 two-bed units and 24 memory care one-bed units. 

The O’Fallon planning commission approved staff recommendation for approval of the Keystone Place at Richland Creek project with the following conditions: 

• Parking requirements for the senior living facility move from 186 spaces to 115 spaces, per ITE recommended parking calculations for retirement facilities.

• If the cross-access easement is obtained, the easement and joint maintenance agreement/covenants will be required for the access points with the apartments and senior living facility. 

• There will be a park land dedication requirement of 0.528 acres, with the requirement being fulfilled through a fee in lieu of land in the amount of $26,928.

• The building will need to be constructed with fiber cement siding, not vinyl siding. 

Nick Burrus of Milano and Grunloh Engineers. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

Nick Burrus of Milano and Grunloh Engineers was present at the Tuesday meeting to show support for the senior living facility project. 

The commission then oversaw the application from Community Bible Church requesting a planned use authorization for a parcel of land at 590 Hartman Lane for a church in a B-1 (P) Planned Community Business zone district.

The building located on the property is currently used for Vetta Sports. The application indicates the proposal is for the reuse of the existing structure and parking lot for the church, including the use of the building for church services, offices and meetings.

Gary Dial of Community Bible Church said the intent of the church is renovate the inside for use and meet city requirements as well. “And to hopefully make improvements to the structure itself and provide benefits to the community.” 

Dan Polites, who owns property south of the Vetta Sports building, attended the April 9 meeting to show support for Community Bible Church and said it’s a “nice addition” to the O’Fallon community. 

The O’Fallon planning commission approved staff recommendation for approval of Community Bible Church with the following conditions: 

• The occupancy of the church shall not exceed the city’s minimum parking requirements for spaces provided on the property.  Based on the current 131 parking spaces — the maximum occupancy is limited to 327 people.  If at any time the church were to construct additional parking on-site, the city would reevaluate the maximum capacity.

• No expansion of parking or the building is permitted with this planned use.

• The property must be cleaned up and restored prior to occupying the building, including; street trees along Hartman Lane, all lighting standards shall be repaired and operational and the drainage ditch present along the southern property line will need to be cleaned up to ensure the parking space depths are achieved.

• No parking shall occur off-site.

• If the area to the east of the building is to be used for parking, it must be upgraded to new parking lot standards.

• Due to the nature of the nearby drainage ditch, encroachment could occur on the ditch; however, if the riparian area of the ditch is encroached upon by future development additional best practices for stabilizing and maintaining the ditch will need to be constructed in accordance with the Public Works Department. 

Holistic Journey serves community with massage and positive energy

The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce joined owner Jennifer
Deschene as she opens her massage and wellness business, Holistic
Journey, on March 20. (Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – Holistic Journey opened its doors in January and owner Jennifer Deschene is ready to serve the O’Fallon community with massage therapy and positive energy. 

Deschene first started her business out of her Belleville home in January 2010. At the same time, she was working as a contractor out of Scott Air Force Base. 

“After a year I was ready to transition into a store front,” Deschene said. “I started off in downtown on Main Street in Belleville.”

A few years passed and Deschene decided to close her store because of overhead costs and begin massage therapy school in Swansea. 

“That’s when it all came together for me,” she said. “I could use all of what I had learned from having this business that was promoting health and wellness and different complimentary therapies like reiki and put it altogether with massage.” 

Deschene said her business primarily centers around massage therapy with various techniques from Swedish to deep tissue and also what she likes to call “integrative.” 

“I love Myofascial release,” she said. “It is working with fascial to release restriction that has built up over a long period of time. It is also similar trigger point work.” 

Deschene’s love of body work came about after she sustained a hip injury during active duty.  

“My own personal experience has really guided my interest level and taking better care of myself has helped me understand the approach with other people that are dealing with pain and restriction of motion.”

Deschene entered the Army Reserves out of Belleville in 1998, having been activated right after September 11, 2001. Her injury occurred during a stateside activation to Virginia where she was a transportation coordinator. It was there that she tore cartilage in her hip while carrying heavy equipment on her back, an event that led to chronic back pain. 

“Unfortunately, the military didn’t find it and diagnose it,” she said of her injury. “I had to find out backwards many years later.” 

Deschene said she turned to massage therapy and reiki for relief. 

“It wasn’t one of those things that became very regular for me until 2006 but I did try it and reiki,” she said. 

Deschene described reiki as working with the energy system of the body. “It’s very subtle but it can have a calming effect.” 

Reiki, a form of alternative medicine, also promotes oxygenation of the tissue and is complementary of massage therapy. 

Deschene said she moved herself and her son to O’Fallon in part due to the school system. She worked in a chiropractor’s office while steadily growing clientele for her business. 

After finally opening her business in January, Deschene said she joined the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce. 

While Holistic Journey primarily focuses on massage, she also plans on offering reiki classes where people can learn to do it for themselves. She also plans on offering guided meditation classes. 

Deschene said an ideal client at Holistic Journey is “pretty much anybody that wants to take care of themselves a little bit better.” 

“I do like to see people that are willing to really improve their lives and their health and wellness overall,” she said. 

For more information about her services and classes, visit

Shiloh Middle School Drama Club presents “Death by Dessert”

SHILOH – Shiloh Middle School Drama Club presented Death by Dessert to a packed audience on Friday, April 5 at 7 p.m. 

Death by Dessert was directed by Leigh Meyer and the cast consisted of students from Shiloh Middle School and the elementary school. 

In New York’s Little Italy, the Duccedonni family have been feuding for a generation, while operating two competing Italian restaurants that share a common wall. The landlord was found dead at center stage, and everyone was a suspect from the old-world Italian business woman and mafia mobster, to the chefs and bumbling wait staff. 

Flashing back in time, the story was told by its victim, who alternately narrated and participated in the action. The audience was able to decide who they think poisoned the landlord, then drop their votes in the correct ballot buckets at intermission. 

O’Fallon Weekly photos by Annabelle Knef

Central 104 appoints new board member

Christina Ward takes the oath of office, becoming the newest member of the Central 104 Board of Education.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

O’FALLON – At the Central District 104 meeting on Monday, Christina Ward was appointed as a board member. 

Ward will be replacing former board member Brent Whipple, who retired his position. Ward was sworn during the April 8 meeting and read an oath before the Board of Education. 

Superintendent Dawn Elser said the Apptegy app will be ready within the next month. The app will be for Central District 104 students, families and staff with all school related information and news available to them. It will serve the same purpose as the school website, but more accessible and user friendly. 

Elser said after a recent survey was passed out to Central families about interest in summer camp programs through the district, the feedback was positive. 

The summer camp would be a nine- week program with lunch included and a field trip per week. The camp would cost $100 per week with a before and after “latchkey” time slot available before and after camp hours. The regular camp hours would be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

“I think the interest would be there,” Elser said. 

Ages for students participating in the camp would be five through 12- years- old. 

Elser said the camp would be open to local students around O’Fallon and not exclusive to Central District 104 students. 

Families would be able to sign up their students for whichever weeks they choose — each week would have a different theme from sports to academics. 

The board approved the the summer camp program and cost of $100 per week and the before and after camp sessions as the same price as the Central District 104 latchkey program. 

The board also approved the addition of a full day tuition preschool for the 2019-20 school year and for setting the monthly cost at $620 a month.

The hours of the pre-school program would be from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The Central board discussed the name change of Central Elementary to Dawn Elser Elementary School for the 2019-20 school year. 

Board president Sarah Svoboda said the district’s attorney recommended to make the name change in the month of June so the school would have the proper amount of time to change the school sign on the elementary building and to make other necessary changes. 

The cost of the sign for the elementary school building would be the only associated cost for the district to make the name change. 

“We would still remain Central School District 104, we would just be changing the name of the elementary school,” Svoboda said. “There would be no more confusion.” 

Board member David Swaney said it was a recommendation by former board member Brent Whipple to make the name change, and not prompted by Elser herself. 

The board will move the discussion to the next board meeting in May.

Easter eggs rain from the sky

SHILOH – Adding a new twist to the classic Easter egg hunt, Cornerstone Christian Church hosted its “Hop and Drop” event on Saturday, April 6 with over a thousand kids in attendance at two locations. 

On Saturday morning, helicopters dropped Easter eggs for children up to age 11 at both the church’s Shiloh location along North Green Mount Road and O’Fallon Community Park. 

Bounce houses, a petting zoo, giveaways and games were present at both locations. There were also food trucks on site with items for sale. 

O’Fallon Weekly photos by Annabelle Knef

Cope Marine wins Small Business of the Year Chamber Salute to Business Award

Ken Cope, right, and his son Shane are proud to be honored as the Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 43rd Annual Salute to Business Awards on Wednesday, April 10, at the Regency Conference Center.

Ken Cope of Cope Marine in O’Fallon said it’s nice to be recognized as Small Business of the Year for the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce Salute to Business Awards.

Ken and his family started his business in 1964 and moved to its O’Fallon location in 1969. Prior to that, the business was located off Highway 158 near Scott Air Force Base. 

According to Ken, the whole climate of the O’Fallon community has changed since he first started his business. 

“When I started, it was two lane highway then it got to be a three lane road and now a five lane road with all kinds of businesses and traffic,” Ken said. 

There are eight and a half acres of property that are dedicated to Cope Marine at their O’Fallon location. Cope Marine sells and services boats, motors and trailers. 

Ken said his ultimate plan for his business is for himself to eventually retire and have his son, Shane, take over Cope Marine. 

“Shane has worked here since about four years old and is an integral part of the business,” Ken said. “The design is to have him take it over.” 

“It’s nice to see the town recognizing us as people who have worked hard — local people that stayed in town and built a business and served a lot of customers from long ways away,” Ken said. 

Cope Marine operates at a second location in Branson West, Missouri, which is right by Table Rock Lake. They have been there for 21 years and in O’Fallon for 55 years. 

“It’s a very difficult task with two locations because there are 300 miles between the two stores,” Ken said. “We are busy at both locations.”

Ken said running his business is a challenge every day. What helps, he said, is quality help and finding proper employees dedicated to the workforce. Cope Marine employs approximately 30 people. 

“We are predominate in this marketplace,” Ken said. “We have everything that a person would want for a boat.”

“It’s nice to be noticed by our town. We are proud of that,” Ken said. “Very few family businesses endure for the time frame that we have endured.”

“It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of sweat equity, a lot of late nights and early mornings. There is no secret to it other than roll your sleeves up and get at it and do the best you can.”

“Cope Marine is one of the unsung heroes of business in O’Fallon,” Chamber president Sid LeGrand said. “For over 55 years, they have provided excellent boating equipment and services locally and to a nationwide market, while adding significantly to the sales tax revenue used to fund public services.”

Janelle Hensler wins Ambassador Impact Chamber Salute to Business Award

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 43rd Annual Salute to Business Awards on Wednesday, April 10, at the Regency Conference Center.

Janelle Hensler is recipient to the Ambassador Impact Award for the 43rd Annual Salute to Business Awards but insists that all credit goes to the “amazing Chamber staff.” 

“We are fortunate to have such a great O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce,” Hensler said. “The true credit should be for our amazing Chamber staff that work so hard to connect over 600 members and pull off countless events flawlessly.” 

Hensler said the Chamber Board of Directors and her fellow ambassadors who invest their time and talents make everyone in the community feel welcome. 

Hensler worked as the Director of Member and Fitness Services at McKendree Metro Rec Plex for close to three years before recently claiming a new positions as Patient Coordinator at Victory Men’s Health. 

“I am thankful for the opportunity to serve O’Fallon in any capacity,” Hensler said. “This community, its leaders and business owners model servant leadership daily. Their commitment to O’Fallon is contagious and you can’t help but want to be a part of this community.”

Hensler said the Chamber offers many learning opportunities such as Lunch and Learn, Chamber YOUniversity educational sessions, Book Club that focuses on professional development, leadership and business. 

“The O’Fallon Shiloh Leaderhip Institute (LeadIn) lead by Jessica Lotz has had the greatest influence on my development,” Hensler said.

The LeadIn program connects 20 young professionals under 40 years of age for a 10 month program. 

“This program exposed us to community issues, resources within the community, and opportunities to become more involved and serve,” Hensler said.

LeadIn is now in its third year and has now connected over 60 young professional that are committed to serve and make an impact in O’Fallon. 

“Chamber Ambassadors are the reason I continued to attend Chamber events,” Hensler said. “Networking events such as Business Over Breakfast and Business After Hours can be intimidating if you are new. Ambassadors do an excellent job of making new attendees feel welcome and connected with other businesses.”

Hensler said her greatest professional achievement is a commitment to be a lifelong learner and surrounding herself with likeminded professionals that challenge her growth and development. 

Debbie Arell-Martinez, Executive Director of the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce, said all chamber ambassadors are active and doing great things. 

“Janelle, a recent grad of our Leadership Institute, has been wanting to get more involved in professional development,” Arell-Martinez said. “When she heard of the possibility of a Book Club – she jumped at the chance to lead it. She went above and beyond just leading the book discussion. That’s how Janelle operates – she’s full-steam ahead and full of great ideas. I can’t wait to see what ideas she has next. 

Tye-Dyed Iguana wins Spirit of the Chamber Salute to Business Award

Tye-Dyed Iguana Owner Matt Smallheer handles one of the store’s many snakes. 
(Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 43rd Annual Salute to Business Awards on Wednesday, April 10, at the Regency Conference Center.

Tye-Dyed Iguana owners Matt and Stephanie Smallheer say that receiving the O’Fallon-Shiloh Salute to Business Sprit of the Chamber award is “humbling” and “surreal.”  

After quitting their jobs at the YMCA and opening their store in 2006, they say their lives became incredibly difficult. 

“The early days were wildly difficult for us,” Matt Smallheer said. “It was just the two of us for the first four years.” 

Matt said he would work open to close every single day for four years straight. As time went on, Matt and Stephanie were able to take days off such as Christmas and Thanksgiving. 

Stephanie said their son was only two years old at the time of opening Tye-Dyed Iguana. “He grew up living in our store and that’s all he knew.”

“It was a tremendous amount of sacrifice,” Matt said. “No one took us seriously.” 

“Here we are, 13 years later and we have been able to not only build a living for our family, we have 16 employees making livings off of what we are doing,” he said. 

While Matt and Stephanie were involved with the Chamber of Commerce when they opened their business in 2006, it wasn’t until two years later when Matt was asked to become a Chamber ambassador. 

“To be asked to represent the Chamber of Commerce was a defining moment,” Matt said. 

Being involved with the Chamber lead Matt and Stephanie to become involved with Rotary Club of O’Fallon. 

“I would attribute all success to those two organizations,” Matt said. He added that both organizations taught him how to give back to the O’Fallon community. 

“In those early days it was very survival-orientated,” Matt said. “I learned over time, the more you give, the more you get.” 

Matt said his business is centered in large part on the youth in the community – through summer camps, educational classes, after school activities, birthday parties and various free events. 

“It’s giving the community something to do and giving their kids something to hold onto and remember,” Matt said. “Now, we are at point where kids are coming back with their kids.”

Matt said the secret to Tye-Dyed Iguana’s success is that he and Stephanie knew that failure was never an option. 

“You can’t run a business as a hobby, it has to be your prime focus and dedication,” he said. “We both quit our jobs at the YMCA so if TyeDye would have failed, we along with our son at the time literally would have had nothing,” Matt said. “Failure is just not an option especially when you are trying to raise a family.”

“It’s really just doing something you are passionate about,” he said. “Exotic reptiles was always something we were passionate about. Even today, it’s just not work.”

Matt said in terms of the future, he plans on expanding Tye-Dyed Iguana’s section of exotic plants. He also plans on continuing to serve St. Clair County as county board member. 

Chamber president Sid LeGrand commended the Smallheers for building their business from the ground up.

“In doing so, they have invested much of themselves to make an innovative business successful,” LeGrand said, “Yet, they have excelled in community spirit with their volunteer activity in the Chamber and Rotary.”

Wolfersberger Funeral Home wins Community Service Chamber Salute to Business Award

Kim and Jim Sabella of Wolfersberger Funeral Home (Photo by Melissa Federhofer)

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 43rd Annual Salute to Business Awards on Wednesday, April 10, at the Regency Conference Center.

Community service comes naturally to Kim and Jim Sabella, owners and operators of Wolfersberger Funeral Home in O’Fallon. 

The Sabellas are recipients of the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce Salute to Business award for Community Service and will be honored at the 43rd Annual Salute to Business Awards.

“It is a natural thing for us to want to be involved,” Kim Sabella said. “It’s icing on the cake that I get to do all of these things with Jim.” 

Wolfersberger Funeral Home, located at 102 W. Washington, serves families throughout O’Fallon, Shiloh, Troy, Lebanon, Swansea, Fairview Heights, Belleville and Scott Air Force Base. 

Jim attributes their family’s community service in part to his upbringing. 

“It’s hard for me to say ‘no’ when someone asks for help,” he said. 

Along with offering guidance for families during their time of death and grief, the Sabellas consistently contribute to the betterment of the O’Fallon community. 

The Sabellas have hosted an annual blood drive for more than a decade, coordinating it, marketing it and scheduling people to donate.

In his spare time, Jim, retired Air Force veteran, volunteers as shuttle driver for local disabled veterans.

In July of 2018, Kim hosted her inaugural “Funeral Forum” – which now are ongoing events open to the community as a way to discuss funeral related topics in a comfortable setting, and not at time of need. 

“Kim does a lot of speaking to various group, she almost always has someone on the schedule whether it’s eighth graders at a career fair or church groups for confirmation classes,” Jim said. 

“People want to know how did I come to do this,” Kim said. “It’s really unique, especially for women. For me, that’s one of my favorite things to do is share my story and talk with people.”

“The funeral home here — it is an extension of our home. We do live upstairs and we want to be warm and welcoming,” Kim said. “If there is a goal that I have, I want to make you feel at home.”

Kim and Jim have four other employees – Katie Wilson, a licensed funeral director and embalmer, funeral assistants Bill Gehrs, Patrick Kuhl and Ruth Ann Britt. 

“Katie is really involved with suicide prevention and awareness,” Kim said. 

Katie also serves on the St. Clair County Suicide Prevention Alliance, and is a certified QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) trainer, who educates the public on how to respond when encountering someone who may be suicidal. 

“We are proud of Katie’s work with that,” Kim said. 

Kim said she is happy to keep building relationships with people in the community. 

“We love living downtown and we are so excited for the new O’Fallon Station,” she said. 

Kim described O’Fallon as a mobile and transient community due to the proximity of Scott Air Force Base, but also one that people want to come to and raise their kids here. 

“It isn’t just the people who were born and raised here,” she said. “They are here and are vital to contributing to the community but there are so many people with fresh ideas. As it continues to grow it’s bringing such an added variety of fantastic and creative people.” 

Kim said she was first invited to join the Sunrise Rotary Club of O’Fallon by one of Jim’s former coworkers when he was still active duty in the Air Force. 

“Initially I thought it would be a really difficult time commitment,” Kim said. “As that has evolved I don’t look at it as a time commitment, I see more of an opportunity to meet fun people and have breakfast with them and participate in projects to give back to the community.

“The Chamber has really helped us build relationships and just to get to know people,” she added.

“Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s so rewarding,” Kim said about her life as a funeral director. “We feel really fortunate, we love O’Fallon.” 

Chamber president Sid LeGrand remarked that the Sabellas are very familiar names in O’Fallon.

“Not just because of their business, but because of their dedication to the community,” he said.

“From being key members in the Chamber of Commerce, to leadership in Rotary, to shepherding the downtown clock renovation, to ringing the bells at St. Clare Church, they’ve done it all,” he said. “There’s never a need to ask, Kim and Jim are always there to lend a helping hand.”

Memorial Hospital East Medical Office Building, Phase 1 wins Economic Impact Chamber Salute to Business Award

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 43rd Annual Salute to Business Awards on Wednesday, April 10, at the Regency Conference Center.

Memorial Hospital East in Shiloh is a recipient of this year’s O’Fallon- Shiloh Chamber of Commerce 43rd Annual Salute to Business Award for Economic Impact for its medical office building. 

“We see the award as something we are thankful for,” Memorial president Mark Turner said. “Our objective as a full service community hospital is to meet the healthcare needs of the communities we serve.”

Turner said he’s honored to have the Chamber recognize Memorial Hospital’s creation of increased and improved access to care for their patients. 

“While we don’t have the ability to measure the economic impact created within the community, we know the volume that is going through our new medical office facility,” Turner said. 

Turner said the Memorial medical office building now has 40 full time employees. Since it was built in October of 2017, there has been more than 125,000 medical tests and procedures performed and more than 50,000 physician visits. 

Jeff Dossett, Memorial Hospital East Administrator, said the level of specialty care offered by the hospital is due in part because of its many partnerships. 

Some of those partners are Lincoln Surgical – the largest hub in the Memorial medical office building. 

“We also have nice opportunity to bring in partnerships that we can leverage through BJC with Washington University,” Dossett said. “We have the pediatric specialty care clinic that brings in pediatrics specialities that we have never seen in the Metro East.” 

“I’ve lived in the Metro East my entire life so to be able to have pediatric, cardiology, gastroenterology, neurology — to have that level of specialty care partnering with Wash U and have them right here on our campus is amazing,” he said. 

Also at the Shiloh location, Dossett said Memorial has partnered with Washington University to bring in neonatologists. 

“Partnering that with our level II nursery — we are able to provide care for some of the sickest babies and we are able to keep those babies right here in Shiloh and the Metro East,” he said.

“We’re doing so many good things throughout the community as we are continuing to develop our services,” Dossett said. “Every time I’m out in the community I hear about the level of service and quality we are able to provide in the facility.”

Construction currently under way is for a second new office building that will house the Siteman Cancer Center, which is expected to open in early 2020, he added, which is another example of the level of service and clinical expertise very rarely seen in the Metro East.”

Turner said that both the O’Fallon and Shiloh communities “have been very good partners and patients.”

Being involved in the community is “who we are,” Turner said. “Our roots is of a community hospital.”

“Our area has been truly enriched with the establishment of Memorial Hospital East and now its companion Medical Office Building in Shiloh,” Chamber president Sid LeGrand said. “Our residents now have more opportunities for excellent medical care due to Memorial’s belief in our communities.”

Local districts discuss school safety and active shooters at second board academy session

O’Fallon Police Captain Jim Cavins spoke about the department’s involvement within the schools to the assembled board members at the second board academy session.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

O’FALLON – School board members, superintendents and board candidates from local districts gathered at the O’Fallon Public Safety building to discuss school safety and security with law enforcement. 

The second School Board Academy session took place on Tuesday, March 26 and included representatives from District 90, District 203, District 85 and District 104. The O’Fallon Police Department spoke to those gathered about the importance of school security in today’s national climate. 

Captain Jim Cavins first spoke at the session about the O’Fallon P.D. and its involvement within the community and schools. Cavins pointed out the mission statement: “The O’Fallon Police Department is dedicated to proactively solving problems and protecting life and property through education, prevention and enforcement.  In striving to accomplish this mission, service to community is our commitment; honor and integrity our mandate.” 

Cavins then gave general information on the police department and its divisions, programs and organizations. 

O’Fallon Township High School School Resource Officer (SRO) Brian Riggar then spoke to board academy attendees about school safety and intruder defense training. 

Riggar is an officer assigned full time to District 203 throughout the school year. He is responsible for promoting positive relationships between O’Fallon P.D. and the students, parents and staff of the high school.

 A SRO’s responsibility is to assist the professional staff with the safety of students and staff, and also to evaluate the security of the facilities. 

Riggar said the elements of the intruder defense training is: Educate, Evade, Escape and Engage. 

“This is what we teach to all schools — every school district in O’Fallon,” Riggar said.

The intruder defense training or — active shooter training — is necessary due to the steady incline of school shooters since the year 2000, Riggar said. 

Riggar said the instructional training is “not preventative, it’s saving lives.” “The goal is to save as many as we can.” 

The average response time from a police department to a school with an active shooter is three minutes, Riggar said. 

In an active shooter scenario, Riggar said your body will do one of three things: fight, flight or freeze.

Because of this, Riggar said the school community needs to be involved in training. 

Training in schools involves a powerpoint presentation for staff and then the police department will run drills recreating an active shooter scenario. 

While school lockdowns were mostly used in past active shooter situations, “it’s time to do something else, either flee or engage,” Riggar said. 

Riggar said active shooter training can be applied to multiple places like the movie theatre, restaurants, church and businesses. 

Riggar said if a staff member were to disarm an active shooter to place the weapon in a garbage can. 

According to Riggar, none of the four E’s: Educate, Evade, Escape and Engage— are more important than the other. 

Dr. Darcy Benway, OTHS District 203 superintendent, said she thinks it’s important for board members to participate in the active shooter training if they are able to. 

“I think it’s very important for board members to participate because you are a vulnerable population when you are sitting in front of the public — sometimes board members have to make very difficult situations,” Benway said. “The public can become very angry.”

Benway referenced the Kirkwood City Council shooting that took place approximately 10 years ago that left six people dead. 

“It’s important that you start training your frame of mind as a board member,” she said. “Where are you going to go should someone come to a board meeting with the intent to do harm.”

Shiloh partners with Scott Air Base to improve water quality

SHILOH – At the Shiloh Village Board of Trustees on Monday, Mayor Jim Vernier was authorized to sign the lower silver creek watershed memorandum of understanding. 

The memorandum of understanding is a partnership between the Village of Shiloh and Scott Air Force Base to work together to encourage voluntary improvements to improve water quality and implement stormwater management practices. 

Shiloh trustees authorized Vernier to sign the voluntary memorandum of understanding. 

Trustees then authorized Vernier to sign the Yorktown Golf Course management agreement amendment for the 2018-19 contract. The contract will increase from $99,700 per year to $110,000. 

Trustees authorized Vernier to sign an agreement for highway construction and maintenance between the Village and St. Clair County for Shiloh Station Road sidewalks and for the bike path adjacent to Engelmann Farm Park.

The agreement is also for the streets in phases six, seven and eight of the Villages at Wingate Subdivision for maintenance. 

Vernier also approved improvements to South Second Street and East Street in Shiloh.

Despite rain, sixth annual 0.1K Fun Run raises money for local veterans

Left to right, all Post 805 Comrades: Post Commander Ed Martinez, Bill Kuehn, John Pietrusinski, Peter Magnus, Gabe Marrel, Race Director Paul Zinck.
(Photo by Ludmila Begley)

O’FALLON – The sixth annual 0.1K Fun Run took place on Saturday, March 30, in downtown O’Fallon. 

Dan and Net Elrod of O’Fallon were costume contest winners. (Photo by Sharon Zinck)

VFW Post 805 hosted the 0.1K and gathered a large crowd in their facility following the rainy fun run on First Street. Over $18,000 was raised by the 0.1K race this year for the VFW National Home for Children and the Post 805 Troop Support Fund.

Judy Brown and Russell Pryor of VFW Department of Indiana. (Photo by Russell Pryor)

The VFW saw an increase of participants in the race this year, 678 total which is 189 more than last year. Racers of all ages walked or ran across the finish line during the Saturday morning event. The start line was near the caboose in downtown O’Fallon.

Post 805 Comrade Kenna Melvin-Wittkowski and her son.
(Photo by Russell Pryor)

The VFW post is located at 221 West First Street.

Photos taken by Harold Rau

Photos taken by Annabelle Knef

JAMS student presents charity project to Board of Education

Joseph Arthur Midde School student Lydia Betzinger presented before the Central 104 Board of Education about a charity project she is involved into provide drinking water to people in South Sudan.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

O’FALLON – Joseph Arthur Middle School student Lydia Betzinger presented a charitable project she is participating in to get drinkable water in South Sudan to the Central 104 Board of Education at their recent meeting. 

“South Sudan needs more wells, they are struggling to find clean water. Since you can’t live without clean water, they are also struggling to survive,” Betzinger said. 

JAMS principal Tron Young said the study of water in South Sudan began as a class project, but Betzinger “turned it from just a general assignment to a call to action.” 

“They have very few wells in South Sudan so many kids are walking hours a day just to get water from wells,” she said. “We can start by helping the program Water for South Sudan.” 

Water for South Sudan is a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to create access to and monitor safe drinking water for communities located in remote rural areas of South Sudan. 

“They are helping get wells installed close to their homes,” Betzinger said. “Raising money will help.”

Betzinger said she plans on selling donuts for a dollar every Friday morning at JAMS to students and staff. 

While Betzinger has a goal to raise $2,000, which would be enough money for the nonprofit organization to begin the construction of a drinking well, she said it would be great if they raised even more. 

“I’m really excited for what she could do,” Young said. “She’s just one example of awesome things our students are doing.” 

Young said the Principal Advisory Council that was recently formed has come up with an idea to further recognize Central 104 teachers. 

Young said the council, made up of 12 fifth through eighth grade students, created the Five Start Teacher of the Month program, which recognizes a teacher every month who has a positive attitude, invests in students, builds positive teacher- student connections and engages with students. 

The Pennies for Patients program has also started at the middle school and supports the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 

Young said 10 teachers have volunteers and then students will place pennies in their separate boxes. Whichever teacher has the money money gets a pie in the face. 

Central Elementary principal Jayson Baker said it’s been a great last month for the school. 

For the week of April 1, Baker said the Illinois Assessment of Readiness exams will take place for third and fourth grade students. 

“They have knocked it down a couple sections of what we are used to,” Baker said. 

Graduation for eighth graders is Thursday, May 23 at 7:00 at Milburn. Should there be no more snow days, the current last day of school for Central school’s is Thursday, May 30.