SHILOH – At the Shiloh Committee at Large meeting on Monday, a Shiloh resident approached the board to solicit a special use permit for a home daycare at 2300 Lebanon Avenue.
Agustin Bramwell said he bought a house five months ago off of Lebanon Avenue near Anderson Lane in Shiloh and wants to have the building turned into a home daycare facility.
Bramwell said the house was built in 1928 and is currently zoned commercially rather than residentially. Because it was built prior to 1999, Village administrator John Marquart said by current law it is able to be purchased and used as a single- family home. However, Bramwell would need a special use permit in order to operate the daycare because it is commercially zoned.
“It’s not going to be a daycare center,” Bramwell said. “It’s going to be a house with a daycare business.”
Bramwell said the difference between a home daycare and a daycare center is the size of the operation. He said his home daycare would be limited to six to eight children.
While Bramwell said he would not reside at the residence, there is an individual hoping to rent the property. She would also be instrumental in running the daycare business.
Mayor Jim Vernier noted the lack of fencing around the property may be dangerous for a daycare operation.
Vernier said the discussion surrounding the special use permit would not be decided at the Feb. 25 meeting. He suggested that Bramwell’s lawyer and the Village attorney, Terry Bruckert, sit down and discuss the matter before they proceed.
“I’m sympathetic to your cause and I appreciate that you’re wanting to do something like this, but we have to make sure it’s done right,” Vernier said. “We have to protect our interests here.”
In other action, Village trustees passed an ordinance that would regulate fishing in Three Springs Lake.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has recommended that fishing be allowed in the lake to maintain appropriate fish species levels, but yet not to over- fish and deplete certain species.
The IDNR also recommends the Village restock the Channel Catfish population every three years, at 50 fish per acre beginning the end of 2020 or early 2021.
Trustees also approved to move forward with the Three Springs Park Master Plan. The master plan is a multi-phase project to revamp and upgrade opportunities at Shiloh’s largest open space.
The first stage in the master plan is to provide maintenance to current park facilities within the 80- acre space.
The project will ultimately include welcoming signs at the park entrance, pavilions for families, widening of trails, tennis court improvements, a lake bridge, updated playground equipment and more.
O’FALLON – VFW Post 805 in O’Fallon honored and recognized World War II veteran Doyle Treece on Monday, Feb. 26. Present at the ceremony were local dignitaries and also the French General Council of the Midwest Guillaume Lacroix.
Lacroix presented Treece with the French Legion of Honor medal due to his time carrying supplies to Southern France during the war.
O’FALLON – A world-renowned photographer with an eye for revitalization projects is investing big time in downtown O’Fallon.
Salvatore Cincotta, who operates a photography business bearing his name at 226 West State Street, presented to the Sunrise Rotary Club of O’Fallon on Wednesday, Feb. 20 and discussed how he came to work in O’Fallon, his business ventures and his plans to broaden the community’s economy.
Cincotta said he and his 40 employees begin their day at 8 a.m. and work until around 11 p.m.
“We love what we do, we’re very creative, but there’s also this curiosity about what we do out of that building,” he said.
Originally from New York, Cincotta said the first question he gets from people is, “Why O’Fallon?”
“I worked in tech for about 15 years, bouncing all over United States in tech. I worked with Microsoft, Proctor and Gamble. I ended up in St. Louis and I had a friend who said ‘if you’re going to buy a home, you need to live on the other side of the river’,” he said.
“At Microsoft, I got tired of working for someone else,” Cincotta continued. “I loved photography. I said to myself, ‘I don’t care about how much money I make. All I want to do is what I love for the rest of my life.’ If I can wake up every day doing what I love, that’s not really working.”
Cincotta said that he started Salvatore Cincotta Photography 12 years ago out of his basement in his home on North Lincoln.
“We weren’t quite sure how the photography thing would work out,” he said. “We would drive by the old furniture store and say ‘One day we will be in that building’ and that was our dream and aspiration as we were growing our business.”
Cincotta has a decorated resume, including a photography shoot with President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama at a fundraising event in Missouri.
While Cincotta is widely known for his photography, including “high end” wedding photography, he quickly started evolving his business into other services. Cincotta produces Shutter Magazine, considered the largest professional photography magazine in the world.
“It’s produced locally, printed locally and in Barnes and Noble around the United States,” he said.
Cincotta said his company hosts a conference called Shutter Fest in St. Louis and brings in 3,000 photographers from all over the world. The conference is the third largest such conference in the world.
Additionally, Cincotta said his company specializes in generating 30-second videos for small businesses geared to target younger generations.
“In my staff of 40, we have photographers, video, graphic design, web design and social media expertise,” he said. “We started realizing small businesses need help with social media.”
Aside from his businesses, Cincotta is interested in revitalizing parts of Downtown O’Fallon and bringing more to the area.
“We’re getting more involved with real estate,” he said. “We believe in developing O’Fallon.”
Cincotta purchased Paul’s Frame Shop at the corner of South Lincoln Avenue and East State Street with the intent to have it rehabbed, before he discovered it required $140,000 in lead paint mitigation.
Because of his love for historic buildings and his dream of the revitalization of Downtown O’Fallon, he said he decided to “putting our money where our mouth is” and invest in downtown.
Since acquiring the building and discovering the lead paint issues, Cincotta also discovered that 1.5 feet of the building property is considered railroad property. Also, an additional issue is that there are power lines two feet away from the top of the building.
“Imagine this conversation now with the city, Ameren and with the railroad,” he said laughing.
Cincotta said there is a plan for Paul’s Frame Shop despite the delays.
“We have a plan now to knock the building down.”
Cincotta said that he would build a brand new structure that would be a historically styled building complete with brick and open windows. He said it would be the perfect building for an insurance company, a doctor’s office or a lawyer’s office.
Cincotta also owns the white building next door to Ice Cream U Scream at the corner of Cherry and State Street.
“As we get through Paul’s Frame Shop we want to put a 36,000 square foot building there that is three stories,” he said. The plan he envisions would include a restaurant in the first floor of the building, loft apartments on the top floor.
Cincotta recognized that parking downtown will present an issue with his future growth aspirations – especially as he plans on doubling the number of his employees from 40 to 80 within a five year time span. “Without a doubt, there is a parking problem downtown.”
Cincotta said he ultimately wants to invest in Downtown O’Fallon.
“I want it to be exciting to live in Downtown O’Fallon.”
At the Shiloh District 85 meeting on Tuesday, Ipek Ridgley and Tim Jorn were recognized for their time served with the district and given plaques to honor their retirement.
Tim Jorn, Shiloh Elementary custodian, is retiring at the end of February after 25 years with the district.
“He’s loyal, he’s unwavering, he is dependable and not the least of which – he does an exceptional job,” Superintendent Dale Sauer said. “We will miss the constant that is Tim here and the great work that he does.”
Ipek Ridgley, seventh and eight grade special education teacher, is retiring at the end of February after 20 years with the district.
Sauer read a note from Ridgley’s colleague that described her as loving, organized, trustworthy, kind and patient.
“You will be deeply missed,” Sauer said.
At the Feb. 19 meeting, Board Vice President Phil Brunner said at a finance meeting earlier this month, the committee discussed Shiloh substitute teacher rates and how they are on the “lower end” compared to other local districts.
“We discussed increasing those rates and what the costs associated would be,” Brunner said.
The Board approved the substitute pay raise to $90 per day.
According to Sauer, the Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) test has replaced the previous PARCC testing.
“It’s reporting to be the same in every way but a little shorter,” Sauer said. “It has a different name but supposedly the same format.”
Sauer said for the next Board meeting in March, there will be a proposed calendar prepared for the 2019-20 school year. He said the aim for the calendar is to have aligned with other local districts to continue in the self- transportation operation process.
“The more we align, the more we can shorten and decrease the number of routes and those are cost savings we would all share,” he said.
Shiloh Elementary principal Tiana Montgomery said teachers recently decorated their doors in honor of Black History Month.
“At Shiloh Elementary, we are definitely celebrating Black History Month, not just because it’s February – we celebrate black history because it’s everyone’s history and it’s part of our history every day,” Montgomery said.
At the Lebanon Community Unit School District 9 meeting on Feb. 13, Robert Roma, parent of a Lebanon High School soccer player, addressed his concerns over the soccer program and its coaching.
Roma said he feels the Lebanon Board has been kept “completely in the dark” about what he said transpired in the 2018 soccer season.
Roma described incidents that took place over the season – many of which include game sustained injuries and negligence from the program’s head coach, Cameran Keepper.
In an away game against Salem High School, Roma said a player sustained a season ending injury to the knee.
“Cameran lazily made his way out to the field,” Roma said.
According to Roma, the coach from Salem was the one to assess the player and carry them off of the field.
“Cameran failed to ensure first aid supplies were present,” he said.
Roma said he himself assisted the player and made a splint from the players shin guard as there were not first aid supplies present.
Roma then referenced a letter sent to Superintendent Patrick Keeney by a grandparent of a soccer player, Eric Mills.
In his letter, Mills claimed Keepper used the team water cooler “as his personal ice chest.” Roma, referencing Mills letter, said Keepper would take his beverage and then put it back in the ice chest – “the same water our kids are expected to drink.”
There also was an “ongoing belittlement of players,” according to Roma.
“Some reported to me and some incidents I was actually able to hear from the stands,” Roma said.
Roma summed up Mills letter by stating it addresses Keepper’s lack of training, soccer team safety concerns and the lack of attention to injured players.
In a Sept. 20 home game against East Alton High School, Roma said a player received two blows to the head during the game, “which should have been enough for any coach to pull a player from the game.”
Roma said Keepper chose to put the player back in the game “even though it was evident the player was unsteady,” he said.
“While I was positive he had sustained a concussion from first impact, I was shocked when I learned he also had a perforated ear drum,” Roma said. “I will argue it was Cameran’s negligence that lead to that injury.”
Roma and Mills – who was also present at the Feb. 13 meeting, expressed frustration that the discussion surrounding the soccer program was not added to the agenda prior to the Board meeting. Roma said his attendance to the Board meeting was discouraged by members of the Board and superintendent.
“I feel like the Board would be dropping the ball if they didn’t take some action,” Roma said.
“That individual is a detriment to the school district, to the school and to the kids and I don’t feel the individual should be in this position,” Mills said.
Keeney thanked Roma and Mills’ for their comments and said the Board would take them under advisement.
In other action at the Feb. 13 meeting,
The Board approved Mike Berne as After School Reading and Math Tutoring Director.
The Board approved the resignation of Shannon Connors as Lebanon School District Aide and Post.
The Board approved the Yearly Running Start Intergovernmental Cooperative Agreement.
Keeney said the intergovernmental agreement is between the district and SWIC and allows for high school juniors and seniors to attend SWIC full time and receive an associate degree when they graduate from high school.
“They would meet requirements for high school graduation as well as when they finish the two years they would have an associate degree,” Keeney said.
Funding from the state pays for half of the student’s SWIC tuition and the student would be responsible for the other half.
Students would still be able to participate in social aspects of high school such as sports and prom.
The program is open to five students and has criteria including test scores and grade point average.
Doyle Treece was only ten days past his 18th birthday when he was tapped for military service which would take him from his quiet hometown of Anna, Illinois, to fiery bombing missions over Europe in the waning days of World War II.
“I got out of high school on the 25th of May (1943) and got the call to go into the military on the 28th of May,” Treece said. He wanted to get into the Army Air Corps as a radio man, and while he received some initial radio training in his preferred military branch, it was his slight build and the fact that he was an enlisted man that earned him a spot as a tail gunner.
His service began in Chicago, then on to basic training in Amarillo, Texas, radio school in South Dakota, and more training in Mississippi.
“I had the option of finishing radio school or go to Texas for gunman school. All enlisted men had to go to gunman school,” he said.
While there, Treece said he was one of the few men that qualified as a tail gunner.
A tail gunner is a crewman on a military aircraft who functions as a gunner defending against enemy fighter attacks from the rear of the plane.
“Nobody would do it,” Treece said. “They say the life of a tail gunner is always two minutes near combat.”
With his slight 135-pound frame, he was a good fit for the tight space at the tail end of a fighter plane.
“I thought ‘it makes no difference to me – when I get though here, I’m going back to radio school,’” he said. “(But), it didn’t work out that way.”
Treece said he was then sent to Nevada, where they already had a crew made up that was looking for a tail gunner.
The crew’s pilot, Lt. William F. Jackson, was from Quincy, Illinois and chose Treece to be his tail gunner.
After completing 300 hours of flying time with his crew and picking up their brand new B-24 airplane in Fresno, California, they were given orders to go to the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska, which was a fiercely contested battleground in the Pacific between Allied forces and the Japanese.
Once there, Treece said their orders were changed and their new orders called them to Foggia Air Base in Southern Italy.
Treece was part of the 451st bomb group in the 15th Air Force in Italy.
During his time overseas, Treece and his crew completed 19 missions, his 18th and second to last mission, Treece and his crew lost one of their own, a nose gunner, while bailing out of their B-24 due to an onslaught of enemy aircraft fire.
“They told us before we left that if we had any trouble to head for Switzerland or Russia. We got over the Alps and the engine quit. Our pilot told us to bail out,” Treece said.
After Treece parachuted, he momentarily blacked out due to hitting his head. The crew’s nose gunner’s parachute never opened.
“The parachutes aren’t like the ones they have nowadays. We got 20 feet above the ground and they just folded up,” Treece said. “They always taught us to never look down, if you look down it looks like the ground is coming up. I didn’t look down.”
As tail gunner, Treece had to wear shoes made from cardboard, while his real shoes were tied to his parachute. When he opened his parachute, Treece made a mistake of releasing his shoes before he hit the ground. They were gone.
The crew landed in Southern Yugoslavia, a territory occupied by northern German “underground people,” resistors to the Nazi regime, according to Treece.
After he landed, Treece said that one of the underground people was standing over him with a large knife.
“The underground people got three of us after we landed. They picked us up and put us in a place with a bunch of civilians,” Treece said. “After seven days, there was a boy in the group and he said his dad was with the underground Americans. He said he knew where his dad was.”
Treece said that he and his few crew members were held in boxcars along with Jewish civilians. The boxcars would eventually go to Germany.
The boy Treece described said he was “going to make a break for it” and wanted to know if they would go with him.
“We didn’t believe him, we thought he would get us killed,” he said.
Treece went anyway, along with his crew members, and they were lead right to where the boy’s father was hiding.
“We had to walk at night and sleep at day,” Treece said. He said that snow was several feet deep and the tail gunner cardboard shoes he was wearing “didn’t last five days.” He then had only a heavy pair of socks.
They walked across the Alps, heading toward Italy.
“It took close to 30 days,” Treece said.
Treece said the underground people he traveled with had a sack filled with mutton, sheep’s meat, and that was their only sustenance.
Treece and the others eventually made their way to Italy. There, they proved their identities as Americans and were sent to a hospital. After that, they were flown back to their base in Southern Italy.
After a seven day leave to the Isle of Capri, Treece completed his final mission.
But it again was a perilous one. His crew was mistakenly shot down by Russian aircraft because Russian radios were not working.
“They didn’t know we were Americans and didn’t want to take any chances. They didn’t hold us like we were prisoners, they just wouldn’t let us leave the country.”
At this time, the war was close to ending. It was the spring of 1945. Treece and his crew eventually got a truck to take them to Yugoslavia and to the American Embassy.
After two back to back tough missions, Treece said that “we had enough combat.” An Air Force colonel told Treece and his crew “you’re going home.”
After a long journey back to the United States, Treece had a five month stint as a skeet shooting instructor in Texas.
“I did that for four or five months, got tired of it – I put my orders in to go to bombardier school. Then, orders came in for the whole military to report to base. We went back to the base and they said the war was over,” Treece said. “It felt good.”
When it was over, Treece found his way back to Anna and worked at his uncle’s trucking company, a stint that lasted 19 years.
Later, his wife Bonnie’s job took her to Scott Air Force Base which led them to settle in O’Fallon for more than two decades. Treece went on to work at Granite City Steel for 23 years. He then moved to Swansea and has resided there since 1983. Bonnie passed away in 2008.
Treece said he and his old crew members and military friends had a reunion every two years beginning in 1986, taking them to places such as California, Virginia and Chicago.
“When my wife died, I quit going to them because I didn’t want to go by myself.”
Treece is the only surviving member of the 451st bomb group out of the 15th Air Force.
“The last person in my crew, the pilot, died early of last year. All of the other nine guys have all passed away. I’m the only one still living.”
Treece said that for a long time after the war, he wasn’t able to sleep at night. “I still have a hard time talking about it.”
Treece will turn 94 this March. He still plays golf often, attends church and enjoys making clocks in his home. He also boasts, “I only take one pill a day.”
Treece will be honored with a medal on Monday, Feb. 25, at 3 p.m. at O’Fallon’s VFW Post 805. The award he will be given is based on his time carrying supplies to Southern France during World War II. Present will be the French General Council of the Midwest Guillaume Lacroix, along with other local dignitaries.
O’FALLON – A minimum wage increase to $15 is now a reality for Illinoisans, as Governor J.B. Pritzker signed it into law on Tuesday — meanwhile, local business owners fear for their livelihood.
Josh Martie, owner of Creative Landscapes in Fairview Heights, said the reality of the minimum wage increase could mean a potential shut down for his business.
“The reality of the $15 per hour increase would mean we would have to raise our labor pricing dramatically or shut down,” Martie said. “I believe our material costs would have to increase as well to compensate for the increase my suppliers would take on with the increase of their labor force.”
Martie said over the last couple of years, he has done research and planning for what he thought was the potential of a minimum wage increase. He said his business can try to adapt to the new law but the reality of the minimum wage increase “would affect everything.”
“Employees who now make $15 per hour are going to want a pay raise so they are not making minimum-wage,” he said.
Martie said about the tax credit offered to small businesses to compensate for the increase in labor costs: “I don’t think that will be enough”
“If the state would visit our workers’ compensation insurance costs maybe it would allow a small landscaping business take on this labor increase,” Martie said. “We already pay the highest workers’ compensation insurance in the country.”
“If minimum-wage goes up work compensation goes up. My payroll will double. It might work fine in the Chicago area but it won’t work for Southern Illinois. I don’t believe people realize how expensive things will get. We will no longer be able to compete with the box stores and the guy in a truck,” Martie continued.
Scott Federhofer, owner of Homeworx Pro in O’Fallon, said about the minimum wage increase: “It’s horrible for me.”
While Federhofer doesn’t employ minimum wage workers except for occasionally during busy months, his workers that are paid $20 to $25 an hour may feel “disgruntled” if their pay isn’t raised.
“Inevitably, what’s going to happen are prices are going to go up,” he said. “All of our goods and materials.”
Homeworx Pro, a veteran owned construction business, offers home repair, renovation and remodeling services. Federhofer also takes care of a property management company with more than 1,200 properties.
“I’m a growing business, I’ve been doing this myself on the side for 25 years and I quit my job over a year ago to start my own company – and here I am.”
Federhofer said the minimum wage “was never designed to be a living wage.”
“Let’s be honest, I’ve had minimum wage people working for me before – they don’t stay long,” he said. “They are moving on to bigger and better things and making more money somewhere else and that’s great.”
“If they want to stay with me, they are going to make X amount dollars until they develop the skills – then I can I give them more money and make them more useful,” he said. “Truly, when I hire minimum wage people, they have more of a negative impact on my business than they do a positive one,” Federhofer continued.
O’FALLON – A vote to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour has moved to the Illinois House of Representatives after passing in the Senate on Thursday, Feb. 7, and the director of one of the city’s largest departments is worried about the consequences.
The current proposal would phase- in the increase over six years, starting with an increase from $8.25 to $9.25 an hour on Jan. 1, 2020 before increasing to $10 an hour on July 1, 2020 and $11 an hour on Jan. 1, 2021. After that, it would increase by $1 every year until it hits $15 in 2025.
The last minimum wage increase in Illinois took place in 2006, raising the minimum wage to $8.25 by 2010. Senator Kimberly Lightford has been working to increase it further since 2011.
The current Illinois minimum wage of $8.25 per hour amounts to $16,500 per year for full time employees. At $15 per hour, full time employees would make approximately $31,200 per year.
The minimum wage proposal passed in the Senate in a 39-18 vote and will now move to the House, where Democrats have a super majority.
Mary Jeanne Hutchison, O’Fallon Parks and Recreation Director, said the O’Fallon organization will be severely affected by the proposed $15 minimum wage.
As Parks and Recreation employs mostly teens and young adults, Hutchison said the wage increase would impact nearly the entire workforce, except for a small percent that are under 18 and work less than 650 hours per year.
“Most of our teens work more than 650 hours. I will estimate we have to raise prices 68 to 78 percent over the next six years,” she said. “That is without including the cost of equipment, overhead costs and other amenities.”
If the measure passes, Hutchison said that she would have to break everything down over the next year to prepare for the increase.
This fiscal year, ending April 30, 2019, Hutchison said it’s projected that she will use the equivalent of 31 full-time employees for seasonal labor, which equals 64,480 hours.
Some employees are paid more than minimum wage depending on their position and qualification. Seasonal Parks and Recreation employees include lifeguards, water safety instructors, crew leaders for park maintenance, camp leaders and more.
Hutchison said that most Parks and Recreation programs “recover all direct cost.”
“What that means is we build a menu of costs associated with each program. That is how we develop the price. This means the parents — the adult program users — will be choosing if they participate in as many programs or any,” she said.
“It will affect maintenance of our parks, and horticulture areas, it will affect our camp, pool, park maintenance, all the way down to the splash pad monitor. It will affect everything.”
Hutchison said that the Parks and Recreation Department receives utility tax and property tax to maintain the parks and facilities.
“New park development is funded by hotel and communication tax. A large amount of our funding comes from direct program fees or facility usage fees.”
Hutchison said under the minimum wage proposal, prices would have to increase in order to afford increased labor costs.
“We will cut some programs, we will raise prices and adjust levels of service unless another funding source is available,” she said.
Hutchison said sporting tournaments utilizing Parks and Recreation facilities bring in around $5 million in economic impact each year.
“I anticipate we will have to raise our field rental and tournament prices to cover the cost of field prep, trash pickup and concession clerks,” she said. “So this could reduce our tournaments if we price ourselves out of the midwest market.”
“This will impact every full-time staff person as well. All the full-time staff salaries will have to be adjusted as this process develops,” Hutchison said. “The compression of salaries becomes an issue when you have an entry level seasonal position making a few dollars less than a five to ten year experience employee with a degree plus a Master degree.”
O’FALLON – The O’Fallon Athletics Department honored its past athletes last Friday, recognizing the 2018-19 inductees into the O’Fallon Township High School Walk of Fame.
During the halftime of the boys varsity basketball game on Feb. 8, past student athletes from the cross country team, football, soccer, golf, wrestling and basketball teams were recognized.
• Cadian Lawrence, graduate of 2001, was inducted into the Walk of Fame by his achievements with both the OTHS cross country and soccer team.
Lawrence was an all state, 18th Regional champion, all conference individual champion in 2000 and all conference/ all area in 1999 for cross country.
For soccer, Lawrence took home an all- conference/ all- area/ all- sectional award her junior and senior years. In 2001, she was recognized as the OTHS Athlete of the Year.
After OTHS, Lawrence was a NCAA Division I student athlete at Campbell University and competed in the Atlantic Sun Track and Field Conference Championship in 2002 and also was a NCAA Women’s Soccer College Cup participant in 2004.
She led her team with four game winning goals her senior season and completed her career with 13 tallies and five assists.
• Daniel Moore, graduate of 2005, was recognized by his achievements on the OTHS football team.
Moore was a 1st team all conference, all- area and all- state champion and was an OTHS record holder for139 career solo tackles as a middle linebacker.
Moore graduated earning his bachelors and master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin. He was a starter as a defensive tackle for the number one ranked run defense in the Big 10.
• Josh Boemecke, graduate of 2007, was recognized as having 51 career goals and 24 assists during his soccer career at OTHS.
Boemecke also captained and led his senior year team to their first trip to the state finals in school history for the soccer program.
Boemecke played at St. Louis University his freshman year then played at San Jose State University. He was recognized as Newcomer of the year his sophomore year (2008) and Offensive MVP (2010) and received college soccer team of the week honors (2010).
• Jason Dowdy, graduate of 2000, was recognized for his achievements on the OTHS Wrestling Team.
Dowdy was recognized for 12x career tournament championship, 6x tournament championship, 4x conference champion, 4x sectional qualifier, state qualifier his senior year. He had an overall record of 135-27.
He was considered the Most Valuable Wrestler his junior and senior years and finished his career at OTHS as record holder for: Most takedowns in a season (176), most career takedowns (436), most tournament championships in a career (12), most tournament places in career (20), most wins in a season for a sophomore and junior, most team points in career (633).
• The 2006-2007 Panther Boys Basketball Team and its players were recognized Friday evening.
The Basketball team had a record of 28-8 and took runner up in the IHSA Class AA State Tournament, were IHSA Regional Champions, IHSA Sectional Champions, IHSA AA Super Sectional Champions.
They placed first in the Belleville East Conference Challenge, beat Edwardsville for the first time as a member of the SWC, won the Regional Championship but lost to Derrick Rose and Chicago Simeon, resulting in a second place finish in the state of Illinois.
The 2006-2007 team head coach was Rick Gibson and assistant coaches were Eric Meinkoth, Ryan Blaha, Brian Muniz and LP Wills.
Student athletes on the team included: Beau Benton, Keith Burton, Brock Conley, Brad Copelin, Terrance Gaddy, Malcolm Hudson, George Huff, Chris Hursey, Arsenio Johnson, Kenneth Leverette, Jon Levin, Mike Malat, Cameron Meyer, Wesley Philips and Jared Woolfolk.
Managers included: Kevin Bayus, Adam Hicks and Matt Lezon.
• The 1992-1993 Panther Boys Golf Team was recognized for their achievements on Friday.
The Golf team had a record of 20-0-1 and were Edwardsville Invitational Campions, Conference Champions, IHSA Sectional Champions – the first in school history – and 11th place in the IHSA State Tournament.
The head coach for the 1992-1993 team was Dan May and assistant coach was Jeff Yates.
Student athletes on the golf team included: A.J. Adams, Jason Akley, Brian Bent, Brian Conley, Jeff Johns, Andy Villegas, Rob Reidelberger and Todd Hancock.
All athletes were recognized during the Friday halftime ceremony and given plaques.
O’FALLON – A specialty pet boutique is now opened in the heart of Downtown O’Fallon, and owner Julie Hughes is anxious to give back to her community as a tribute to her late father.
Furchild opened in December of 2018 and offers self washing stations for pets, grooming products and organic food and treats for cats and dogs.
Hughes moved to O’Fallon in 1999 after her dad’s unit was moved from O’Hare Air Reserve Station in Chicago to Scott Air Force Base.
An O’Fallon Township High School graduate of 2008, Hughes went away to college in Colorado and was impressed with the number of self-wash facilities for pets.
“When I was thinking of opening this, that’s where the idea came from. I hadn’t seen anything like that here,” Hughes said.
Furchild, located at 105 East First Street, is an open space with floor to ceiling windows. Hughes said that dogs do well while in the store due to the open, uncluttered space.
Hughes felt a desire to reconnect with her community after her dad, General John Hughes, died in August after a hard fought battle with cancer.
“It was rough,” Hughes said.
“He inspired me to be more connected with the community and I wanted to do it in a way that I liked,” she said. “I’m really big into philanthropy too and doing things for our community and I figured this would be the perfect spot in the heart of Downtown O’Fallon.”
“I wanted to make O’Fallon a little bit more pet friendly and have a place where people could walk their pets.”
Furchild offers many benefits to the community including discounts for military, educators and city employees.
On Wednesdays, Furchild offers half price services for military and first responders.
There are two packages offered for the pet bathing stations — one is a $15 shampoo and conditioner option and the other is a spa package of $20 that includes additional, luxury spa products with the wash.
There are also heated dryers and fur combs offered, included in the package price.
Hughes said that while it is self- service, she is able to help with pet bathing should anyone need it.
“We hope to offer grooming at some point,” she said. “It’s just not going to happen yet.”
“We also do rescue affiliations,” she said. “We are constantly collecting things for shelters in the area.”
Hughes said that she would encourage O’Fallon residents to bring in collars and pet toys if they are in good condition for 10 percent off an order.
While she doesn’t have a background in entrepreneurship or sales, Hughes said that she has always been obsessed with animals.
“It was a natural fit,” she said.
Hughes said that she knew she had to move forward with her business after she saw the space available for rent on First Street.
“It was probably 90 days from when I signed a lease,” she said. “It’s been a seamless process because of all of the help we have had. Everyone has been phenomenal to work with.”
Hughes is now a member of the O’Fallon- Shiloh Chamber of Commerce and has already experienced the benefits of being a downtown business.
“It has been nothing short of what I expected and anticipated, which was that people would be really happy about us being here and supporting local business.”
Hughes said that Furchild offers services that cannot be found elsewhere, especially larger businesses that provide pet care.
“I like to follow up with people personally,” she said. “It’s not something I feel forced to do by any means but it’s natural for me.”
“When you shop local, you are supporting someone in the community that is able to give back.”
Hughes said that her goal for Furchild is to become a solid part of the community and to be a “link in the chain of O’Fallon.”
O’FALLON – The O’Fallon Township High School Endowment Fund has continued to turn the aspirations of students and teachers of O’Fallon into reality.
Operating as a nonprofit organization independent from the OTHS Board of Education, the Endowment Fund provides funds at Milburn and Smiley campuses with extended educational activities not provided by the school district.
It was established in 1999 to give alumni, community members, businesses and others an opportunity to enhance the quality programs offered to students at the high school. Funds contributed provide OTHS students with scholarships, computer software, hardware and other resources.
Dan Jackson, current president of the Endowment Fund Board, said school districts often have limited resources due to decreasing government funding within the last decade.
“What we try to do is to provide additional resources to ensure that OTHS is able to offer the quality education it has always had,” Jackson said.
Jackson said the biggest fundraising event for the Endowment Fund is the annual golf tournament that takes place the first Saturday in May. There is also the brick walk at the entrance to the OTHS Smiley campus. Individuals are able to purchase bricks for a sum of either $100 or $200.
“OTHS is a public school and people are probably surprised to hear that we do have an endowment,” he said. “A lot of public schools aren’t as fortunate.”
Today, the Endowment Fund generates more than $40,000 annually for classroom grants.
An original Endowment Fund board member Doug Distler said that grant funding through the endowment is growing “leaps and bounds.” He said the purpose in creating the Board in 1999 was to provide additional financial resources for the high school with funds that weren’t available through the budget process.
“A lot of it has been technology, but there has been a variety of different programs we funded,” Distler said. “It’s important in this day and time, with budget cutbacks and cutbacks in funding from the state that there is something like the Endowment Fund that can fill the gap or need.”
Distler said there is a donor board near the entrance to the Smiley campus — it’s purpose is to recognize large donors to the fund.
“We have seen the endowment fund grow. All of the contributions made to the endowment fund — the only money we use for grants every year is the income dividends — it keeps growing year after year.”
The current balance of the OTHS Endowment Fund is a figure of $1,573,000.
“The more we can grow it, the more that we can do.”
Erin Baskett, who served as the Endowment Fund Board president from January of 2011 to January of 2019, said that as an alumni of OTHS, it is exciting to see the high quality of education that is still offered at the high school.
“It is extremely rewarding to help give back to future graduates,” she said.
“You can help support the Endowment Fund by buying a brick for the brick walk outside of the OTHS Smiley campus or by participating in our nine hole golf scramble coming up on May 4th at Tamarack.”
Dr. Martha Weld, who is the OTHS assistant superintendent and also the Endowment Fund Liaison, said the philosophy of the Endowment Fund is “truly to focus on improving the academics and the opportunities of the students of OTHS.”
Weld said the Endowment Fund board is “a group of people that just donate their time and work really conscientiously and with passion and full heart.”
“They really want to make a difference in the lives of kids,” she said.
Weld said the Endowment Fund has proved to be of importance in times of economic crisis.
“When 2008 hit, our funding went down from both the state and the community. The Endowment Fund stepped in and they were giving grants to our teachers.”
“We weren’t able to continue to buy lab equipment. All supplies were cut,” she said. “The Endowment Fund was allowing us to continue to buy supplies to meet the needs of our students by giving grants to the teachers. That was putting supplies directly in their hands.”
“It was a very powerful and heartwarming time for me. It was so hard but they were right there.”
Weld said the Endowment Fund philosophy reaches many facets of education programs at the high school — from music, library services, math, science, at risk students and high achieving students.
“They really try to make sure that the grants they award cover all aspects of students at OTHS, not just one end or the other.”