Shiloh teacher publishes book with first grade students

First grade students at their Publishing Party with student- teacher Alissa Wieman

Shiloh first grade teacher Brooke Sterns recently published her second book in collaboration with her students titled “Happiness Is.” 

In the spring of 2018, Sterns first grade students were studying butterflies and came up with the idea to create the book “Come Fly With Me” through the website https://studentreasures.com

“Come Fly With Me was about each child becoming a butterfly and writing about where he or she would fly to,” Sterns said. “I took their pictures, gave them a butterfly body, glued their picture to it, they decorated it, and wrote about where they would go and what they would do.  Many students put facts about butterflies in their book.  Many of them stopped on their journey to suck nectar from different colored flowers.”

Sterns said that the Come Fly With Me book turned out so great, she had to do it again with her 2018-2019 students. 

In November, Sterns said that she was trying to come up with the theme of the second book that would go with the approaching holidays. 

“I didn’t want to do gifts they want and I have the Peanuts book Happiness Is…so we read that book, listened to the song, and talked about all the things that make us happy.  I thought it would be a great gift and keepsake for parents who ordered the book,” she said. 

Studentreasures Publishing sent Sterns all of the materials after she requested them on the website. 

“Once we had all the pages ready to go I mailed it back in and they published the book for us.  They sent a video that showed the kids how they make the books and sent us a congratulations email.  Parents were able to pre-order the book and they can still purchase a book now through the website.”

Sterns mailed their finished product by Nov. 2. On Nov. 26, Sterns classroom had a publishing party with ice cream sandwiches. Each student took a turn reading their page aloud.  

“It is a hard back book, so I know after seeing it they were very proud. It was a great process.  We talked a lot about the writing process and how everyone makes mistakes and how important it is to make several drafts until you have your final draft that is perfect,” Sterns said. “We read each others and they helped each other make changes and make sure they made sense. When they had a great final draft, they then copied it onto their paper for the book. We talked a lot about describing words and parts and how when we read books we want them to sound interesting with lots of details.” 

Sterns said that some of her favorite quotes from the book are: 

  • “Happiness is reading the best book ever.
  • Happiness is a cold drink of chocolate milk.
  • Happiness is getting a kiss before bed.
  • Happiness is extra recess on a sunny day.
  • Happiness is playing soccer with my dad and snuggling with my mom.” 

Sterns said that she would recommend Studentreasures Publishing to other teachers. 

“It is a great way to go through the writing process together.  It is a lot of work, but getting the book pays off at the end,” she said. “It is great for the students to see and hold something they are so capable of doing. They all have something to be proud of.”

Happiness Is is written and illustrated by Mrs. Sterns and Miss Wieman’s first grade class at Shiloh Elementary School


Adult soccer league forms in Metro East

A newly-formed and adult only outdoor soccer league began serving the communities of O’Fallon, Belleville, Collinsville, and Edwardsville at the start of the year. 

Metro East Football Association (FA) launched an inaugural soccer league for adults of all ages and was created by players, referees and coaches. 

The first adult outdoor soccer league is a seven versus seven league that began play earlier this month at the O’Fallon Sports Park. 

Laurin Thienes, who is helping with the soccer league startup, said that since the closing of Vetta Sports, there is no longer options for adult soccer leagues in O’Fallon and Belleville. 

“This leaves adults with very few options,” Thienes said. 

Thienes said that indoor options in the Metro East are limited to The Sports Academy in Glen Carbon or Powerhaus in Columbia. 

“For outdoor soccer, the options are even more limited on this side of the river with nothing offered outside of super competitive leagues composed primarily of college players.” 

“I, myself have been driving to Maryland Heights once a week to play in an outdoor coed league,” he said. 

He said that due to the recent installation of field turf fields at the O’Fallon Sports Park, they decided it was time to fill the absence of adult soccer and thus start Metro East FA.  

“We might be a little crazy starting in January playing outdoor but that is what hats, gloves and warmups are for,” Thienes said. “With all- weather fields, there is very little that will force us to cancel games.” 

The adult soccer league is open to both men and women, and while it is not technically a coed league due to no specific female player requirements, Thienes said that the intent is to eventually have both a coed league and a mens league. 

Thienes said that because adults often don’t have a network with enough willing players to form a complete team, Metro East FA allows people to signup individually to be added to a “house” team. 

“Our main goal is to promote soccer culture in the community,” he said. “We believe that the addition of adult programming will help further O’Fallon as a destination community, drawing individuals from communities in the 25 to 30 mile radius to spend time and money with businesses in this area.”

To find out more information about the adult soccer league, visit www.metroeastfa.com

Troy- O’Fallon Bike Trail expected summer of 2019

Construction on Troy- O’Fallon Trail is expected to be complete in the summer of 2019

O’FALLON- A bike trail development along Troy- O’Fallon Road can be expected around the beginning to mid- summer, according to Metro East Parks and Recreation District Executive Director Bryan Werner. 

The development is a seven mile trail that will extend from Troy south to O’Fallon. The trail will go past the intersection of Simmons and Witte Road. 

While there was a previous delay in construction due to the need of steel for bridges, Werner said that construction is now “well underway.” 

Werner said that the need for steel “is no longer an issue” and that it should be delivered and installed on necessary bridges in coming months. 

While Madison County Transit is overseeing construction of the trail, Metro East Parks and Recreation District is providing the necessary funding for the project. 

“As far as we know as an organization, it is still anticipated to be completed in the early summer,” Werner said. “Just like any project that continues through the winter time, mother nature and snow plays a part.” 

Werner said that there is a high probability of bike trails to be connected throughout neighboring communities. 

O’Fallon assistant city administrator Grant Litteken said that once the Troy- O’Fallon bike trail is complete, the city will look for ways to create connections with existing trail infrastructure.

According to Litteken, the City’s Capital Improvements Plan includes future construction of a trailhead near Kyle Road.

Litteken said that the city is looking forward to the day when someone can hop on their bike and travel to O’Fallon from neighboring communities.

Werner said that the Metro East Parks and Recreation District website has a page dedicated to bike and pedestrian infrastructure plans as they currently exist. He also encouraged individuals to visit the website to check out current and future trail maps. 

Central 104 Board hears report about five-year plan for elementary school

O’FALLON – Central Elementary School Principal Jayson Baker informed the Central 104 Board of Education that Central staff recently spent time discussing a five year plan for the school. 

Baker’s report, which was given at Monday evening’s Board of Education meeting, was positive and expressed optimism. 

“We got a really good dialogue going,” Baker said. “We narrowed in on four big goals for our school.” 

According to Baker, the four items that Central Elementary wishes to improve upon over the next five years are as followed: 

• Increase collaboration time as a school

• Increase community involvement/ influence outsider perception of the “great things” going on at Central and make the public more knowledgeable about District 104

• Adopt/create a school-wide/district-wide Social-Emotional Curriculum with an emphasis on Growth Mindset

• Review, improve and customize spiraling curricula to include more student-led learning situations

In other business…

• Board member Laurie Burian spoke about her experience at the 2018 IASB Conference in November. 

During the conference, Burian listened in on key address by Civil Rights icon Ruby Bridges. Burian described it as “inspiring.” 

Prior to the conference, Burian said that she read a book about school desegregation from a historical and legal perspective. 

“To hear Ms. Bridges talk about desegregation from a child’s point of view was inspiring. Her experiences showed that true social change is not only achieved by legislative remedy but may require the personal courage, commitment and sacrifice of everyday citizens who, only later, are viewed as heroes,” Burian said in her conference report. 

Burian said that she also attended the Legal & Administrative Perspectives on Transgender Students.

Burian said that a panel of two social workers shared their experiences and outlined best supportive practices to ensure the safety and availability to learn for transgender students. 

She said that they summarized the existing legal framework as well as recognized the current political climate which has led to a lack of clarity regarding policy and procedures.

 Burian outlined the key points of the report: 

• Identify student needs. 

• Identify access options. 

• Identify privacy options for all students.

“They also stressed the need to be aware of community sentiment as well as modifications that may be needed to school facilities to accommodate effected students,” Burian said in her conference report. 

• Superintendent Dawn Elser said that Central 104 has hired a new Director of Technology, Erica Sandman, and that she has “hit the ground running.” 

Elser said that Sandman has already made calls and received new cameras for the district. 

• According to Elser, the Board Academy Series will start on Jan. 22 at the Public Safety Building, 285 N. 7 Hills Road, at 5:30. The topic will be School Board Governance instead of Community Engagement.

Topics covered at the Jan. 22 board academy will be: Policy development, Roberts Rules of Order, Board member relations, Communication, IASB services. Board presidents from local districts will be presenting. 

After the first board academy meeting on Jan. 22, sessions will begin to be held at the O’Fallon City Council Chambers, 255 S. Lincoln, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 

• Principal of Joseph Arthur Middle School (JAMS) Tron Young said that the Conference Spelling Bee was held on Friday, Jan. 11 and that the middle school team came in first place. 

Eighth grader Kourtnie Macon came in second place overall and fifth grader Jeremiah Reed came in third overall at the Spelling Bee. 

“I’m really excited that the top six — three of them were from Joseph Arthur. They did an awesome job there,” Young said. 

• Young also said that students from JAMS Student Council collected over 1000 cans for the O’Fallon Food Pantry in the month of December. 

Local churches invited for competition to benefit O’Fallon Food Pantry

Local O’Fallon and Shiloh churches are invited to participate in the 13th annual “Souper Bowl” competition to benefit the O’Fallon Food Pantry. 

The Souper Bowl competition invites participating churches to collect cans of hearty soup at their services the weekend of Feb. 2 though Feb. 3 and then those canned goods will be donated to the OFP. The charitable competition is a play on the NFL Super Bowl, which takes place on Sunday, Feb. 3. 

Cans will then be counted by volunteers at each church — each church then transports their collected cans to the OFP or a pantry of their choosing. 

The OFP will be open Monday, Feb. 4 from 9 a.m. to noon or Tuesday, Feb 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The church with the most cans collected per members of the congregation will have their name put on the traveling trophy. 

This year, the Souper Bowl is being organized by St. Clare Catholic Church and also by congregation members Karen Truran and her daughter Kate. 

Truran said she had been looking for a way to give back to the community and she feels “blessed” to have the opportunity to organize the Souper Bowl event. 

“On a weekend where so many are enjoying food with company, it’s important to think of those who do not have that opportunity,” she said. “I am looking forward to having my daughter work with me to be of service to those in need.”

To participate in the Souper Bowl or for more information, contact contact Karen Truran at 618-541-6009 or ktruran@kahoks.org.

Planning Commission recommends development along Seven Hills Road

Seven Hills Road resident Robert Dawson expressed concern about the projects being proposed along his road and Wesley Drive. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

O’FALLON – At a meeting Tuesday evening, the O’Fallon Planning Commission approved a recommendation to the City Council to move forward with three separate developments on Seven Hills Road. 

The future land use and developments include: a professional office complex, a senior living facility and a patio home development. 

The three developments would take up approximately 27 acres of land northeast of the intersection of Seven Hills Road and Wesley Drive. 

The professional center being proposed would consist of a 25,200 square foot office complex, which would include three buildings and 109 parking spaces. 

Community development assistant director Justin Randall said that in terms of traffic concerns, two points of access into the development are being proposed. 

There will also be a sidewalk that is extended along Seven Hills Road and signage that will meet city regulations.

The 9.5 acre senior living facility, Vantage Pointe at O’Fallon, would be developed over three separate phases. 

The first phase to be developed would be a 92-bed assisted living and memory care facility in a two story building. The second phase consists of a 30-bed independent living facility in a two story building. The final phase is ten attached independent living townhomes. One hundred and twenty two parking spaces would be required per city regulations. 

The third Seven Hills Road development, Patio Homes North, consists of 14 acres and 23 lot space for attached single-family residences. 

Primary access to the development would be from East Wesley Drive. Randall also noted a future extension of the street would take place and connect to adjacent properties.  

“CBB along with our Public Works department looked at what will Wesley (Drive) do in the future. It makes sense for Wesley to begin to move North,” Randall said. 

According to the traffic study recommendation discussed at the meeting, the existing traffic volumes on Seven Hills Road indicate that a left turn lane on Seven Hills to Wesley Drive is warranted. 

“That is something that this project doesn’t have anything to do with. This is something that existing conditions are warranting,” Randall said.

The traffic study also recommends that in long term, the intersection of Seven Hills Road and Wesley Drive will need to be restructured to accommodate existing traffic and the potential connection of Wesley Drive to Scott-Troy Road. 

It also recommends for a left turn lane from East Wesley Drive to southbound Seven Hills Road.

Community Development Director Ted Shekell said that the CBB traffic study did not recommend a traffic light for Scott Troy Road and Wesley Drive. 

At the Jan. 8 meeting, O’Fallon residents voiced their concerns about the proposed developments for Seven Hills Road. 

Homeowners off of Seven Hills Road and surrounding property owners expressed to the Planning Commission that they were not informed about the proposed projects until hours before the Tuesday meeting. 

According to Larry Sewell, Chairman of the Planning Commission, only homeowners within 250 feet of the proposed developments were required to be notified. 

A homeowner off of Seven Hills, Robert Dawson, said that he is concerned over the mixed usage of land being proposed near Wesley Drive. 

“We’re making a decision about opening Pandora’s box right now that impacts the entire community of citizens here, not just the people who live within 200 feet of this proposed development,” Dawson said. 

Patricia Lauderdale, a homeowner on the corner of Wesley Drive and Seven Hills, expressed frustration at the existing condition of traffic on her street. 

“I can tell you that traffic is nuts,” Lauderdale said. “I can look out my back door in the morning and traffic is backed up from Carriel school to the roundabout and down on Vincennes Trail.”

“I am one small homeowner on the corner — I bought this house and it was an expensive house. I planned on living there forever but that’s not going to happen because we have people that want to build more office buildings,” she said. 

Sewell addressed members of the community and said that the discussion on the developments is the first iteration of the proposals. 

“What this commission will do is make a recommendation to the City Council and after that the council will have several iterations and discussions that would include the public and residents like yourself to weigh in on that issue,” he said. 

The Planning Commission voted to recommend the proposed developments for Seven Hills Road. The next discussion on the developments will take place at the Community Development Committee meeting on Monday, Jan. 14 and then the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Shiloh soldier surprises daughter with return

Geoffrey Kinney hugs his daughter Lorelai after surprising her in her classroom

SHILOH – One local girl received the best Christmas gift when her father, who was home on leave from deployment, surprised her at school.

Geoffrey Kinney is a Chief Warrant Officer for the United States Army and has spent his time in Korea for the past five months supporting the Medevac mission as a Blackhawk pilot. 

Kinney surprised his daughter, Lorelai, while she was in class at Shiloh Elementary School on Thursday, December 20.  

The Kinney family

Kinney is set to return to Korea and will stay there until July.

District 90 approves tax levy, approves intergovernmental agreement for transportation director job posting

At their meeting, the Board of Education recognized Lujuana Bruner, of Moye Elementary, as the “D90 Support Staff Member of the Month”, sponsored by O’Fallon Fraternal Order of Police.
Her principals said, “Lujuana is a genuinely good person who is always willing to work and help any student who is in need. Overall, Lujuana is an outstanding person of high character, integrity, and dedication. She is definitely an asset to District 90.”
Pictured from left: Detective Brian Gimpel, Assistant Principal Rudy, Ms. Bruner, Principal Williams, and Board President Wagnon. (Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – At the O’Fallon District 90 meeting on Dec. 18, the board approved the 2018 tax levy as it was presented. The amount raised through the 4.99 percent levy will be $17,671,817.50.

$9,494,269.81 will be applied to the education fund, while $2,712,648.52 will be for operations and maintenance purposes. 

$813,794.55 will be used for transportation purposes and $339,081.06 will be applied to the working cash fund. 

$525,143 was levied for Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund purposes and $601,231 for social security purposes. 

$339,081.06 will be applied to fire, prevention, safety, energy, conservation, handicapped accessibility and school security purposes, while $2,371,855 will be used for tort immunity.

Finally, $135,632.43 will be applied to special education purposes, and $339,081.06 will be used for leasing of educational facilities or computer equipment.

According to the board agenda, Dina Thurlow of the St. Clair County Clerk’s office believes the anticipated EAV (estimated assessed value) growth will be an increase of about 3.783 percent for the district. 

In other business…

The board also approved an intergovernmental agreement between District 85, District 104 and District 203 to post a job for a shared transportation director. 

The agreement came as a way for the districts to provide transportation services for all of their students more economically and efficiently by sharing the services and costs associated with providing such services among themselves. 

Under the agreement, District 90 would be the employer of the transportation director and also establish the job description for the position. The other districts within the agreement will share the costs associated. 

The Board of Education recognized Karen Baxter, Evans Kindergarten teacher, as the “D90 Teacher of the Month”, sponsored by O’Fallon Fraternal Order of Police.
Principal Ryan Keller said, “Mrs. Baxter is one of those exceptional educators who take great pride in her profession and expects nothing in return. Children love to be in her classroom and parents sing her praises often. She is very focused on presenting content, skills and assessment in her classroom each day. Karen is respected by peers at Evans School and across the district also willing to take a leadership role in district grade level team meetings and the School Leadership Team. District 90 is fortunate to have her on our team.”
Pictured from left: Detective Gimpel, Mrs. Baxter, Principal Keller, and Board President Wagnon (Submitted Photo)

“We have the most routes, the most students, the most busses — so it makes sense for us to be the administrative agent,” Superintendent Carrie Hruby said. 

“There are a lot of districts that do it themselves and there are a lot of districts that take this on, so we think we owe it to the public and to our district to take it seriously.”

The board also approved the job description of the transportation director.  

Board President John Wagnon said that the upcoming board academy will have its first session on January 22 at the O’Fallon City Hall chambers.  

“I’m really excited about the board academy,” Board Member Mary Baskett said. “I really compliment the people that worked so hard on it.” 

Hruby said that there will be speakers at the first board academy session. The sessions will be open to the public and prospective board members are encouraged to attend. 

Board Member Rebecca Huller said that the district’s mental health board met on Thursday evening, Dec. 20. 

The mental health board consists of people from the community and the district and its goal is to “see what the community can do together to help support District 90 students.” 

Hruby said that there are mental health professionals, such as psychologists, therapists and psychiatrists within the mental health board. 

O’Fallon Girl Scout receives state wide honorable mention for environmental project

On November 20, 2018, Victoria Birchem was honored at the Governor’s Hometown Awards at the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield, Illinois. (Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – Victoria Birchem, 13-year Girl Scout member and OTHS alum, recently was nominated by the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois for an Illinois Governor’s Hometown Award (GHTA). 

Birchem first joined Girl Scouts in Kindergarten as a Daisy Scout and said that over her years of service, she has been able to explore different hobbies and career fields, which she wouldn’t have been able to do if it weren’t for the organization. 

“I have had so many opportunities through Girl Scouts that I haven’t had otherwise,” she said. 

The GHTA is a program that recognizes those who contribute to projects that improve their community’s quality of life. Projects are sponsored by local government and they have strong volunteer support, met a need and made a definitive impact and generated a positive outcome in the community and the state. The program is administered by the Serve Illinois Commission, the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. 

There are six project categories for the program that are reflective of Serve Illinois’s national service mission areas. They include disaster services/public safety, economic opportunities, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans/military families. 

Birchem said that she is fortunate to represent the city of O’Fallon as she was chosen as Honorable Mention in the Environmental Stewardship category. 

“I represent O’Fallon in many things I do, especially as a very active student in high school at OTHS, and now as a student in St. Louis,” she said. 

The Environmental Stewardship category includes projects regarding energy and water efficiency, renewable energy use, at- risk ecosystems and behavioral change leading to increased efficiency. 

Birchem, now 19-years-old and a student at SLU, completed her Girl Scouts Gold Award after her senior year at OTHS, the summer of 2017, with the O’Fallon Garden Club. 

She said that she originally wanted to do a Gold Award project with the O’Fallon Community Garden because a Girl Scout leaders suggested it. 

“I came into contact with the club, and then we discussed what projects the garden most needed done,” she said. 

Birchem first restructured the garden’s catalogue and its plants and which beds they belong in. She also researched, ordered and installed new and improved garden identification labels to replace the old, worn-out labels that the garden previously had.

“I also planned and lead educational tours of the community garden. Three different Girl Scout troops came to complete a craft, enjoy snacks and goodie bags and walk through the garden while learning about the different plants and their importance in our local ecosystem,” she said.

Birchem said that she felt ecstatic to be nominated for the award. 

“I completed my project over a year ago, so I was shocked that I was still receiving recognition for it, but this time on a state level.”

She said that through her project she learned that she is capable of doing anything she strives to do.

“I also learned how invested other people were willing to be in my project,” she said. “I gained so much support from my community and family, and it makes me happy to see my community come together.” 

Birchem said that the O’Fallon Garden Club President Sterling Garnto was her mentor while completing her project. She said that her Girl Scout leaders Karlene Hoefener and Penny Pejka, her parents Mary and Bryan Birchem and her fellow Girl Scout and friend Sydney McAuliffe were also instrumental in helping her complete her project.

A sophomore accounting student at SLU, Birchem said that she loves living in St. Louis but also being close to her hometown of O’Fallon. 

“I’ve always thought it would be fun to be a Girl Scout leader myself,” she said. “There is a large need for adult volunteers in the St. Louis area, so I would love to eventually get involved with their Girl Scout council.”

Birchem will be presenting her award to the city of O’Fallon at the city council meeting on January 7, 2019. Along with a plaque, she was awarded a large metal road sign for the city to display. 

Reflecting on 20 years of service

Former County Board Members Craig Hubbard and Dave Tiedemann

For the first time in two decades, the St. Clair County Board held a regular meeting in December where neither Republicans Craig Hubbard or Dave Tiedemann were elected members.

Hubbard, who was narrowly defeated in the March primary by Matt Smallheer, and Tiedemann, who chose not to run again for his Shiloh area seat, sat down with the Weekly to reflect upon their time in county politics.

For Craig Hubbard of O’Fallon politics has always been a way of life.

Looking back on 20-plus years in public service that also included a term as an O’Fallon Township trustee, Hubbard said that before he took elective office he was an avid “observer.”

“I would go to local county meetings and attend them but I never had the itch to run until I was asked,” Hubbard said. “I’ve been involved with politics for a long time.”

Hubbard said that a transition from township trustee to county board member was a natural step – graduating up to politics on a larger basis with greater responsibilities.

“People don’t realize it’s hard work, if you do it right,” Hubbard said about running for a seat. “Apparently I did it right because I was on for 20 years.”

Over the past two decades, Hubbard has faced nearly a dozen elections – some in which he faced Democratic opposition and several times unopposed.

“When you have competition, you have to get out and work,” he said.  “My work was I had flyers and walked door to door in my district.” Hubbard represented District 18.

While he may not have accomplished all that he had hoped to do on the St. Clair County Board, Deve Tiedemann of Shiloh is satisfied that at least he helped “move the pendulum.”

Tiedemann was elected to represent District 19 in 1998 and served for two decades before retiring in November.

He was initially encouraged to run for the seat by former Shiloh Valley Township supervisor and District 19 County Board member, the late Richard Bossler. Tiedemann had served as a Township trustee for ten years before his election to the county board.

“He was in his late seventies and was wanting to retire,” Tiedemann recalled. “He wanted it to go to somebody who had his same views.”

District 19 includes most of the Village of Shiloh, with the east bordering Silver Creek and the west bordering Green Mount Road.

Tiedemann has lived most of his life as a farmer in an unincorporated area of Shiloh, on an 88-acre tract that he calls his home and livelihood.

Public service runs deep in Tiedemann’s family. His great grandfather, grandfather and great uncle all served terms as mayors of O’Fallon. His father also served on the Mascoutah School Board for close to 15 years.

Tiedemann said that he had some misconceptions when he first began his term as a county board member. He framed it as “being naive and not knowing how things work.”

Tiedemann said that the St. Clair County Chairman at the time he was elected, John Baricevic, called board members in to discuss what committees they were interested in.

“He would call you in on big issues and even if we didn’t agree, we would have a conversation prior to meetings,” Tiedemann said. “Now with Mark Kern, it’s his way or the highway.”

“The thing about John (Baricevic), he was black and white. He never lied to me nor me to him — we knew what our differences were,” he said. “Mark Kern operates in the gray area and he really doesn’t tell you what he thinks one hundred percent. It’s not uncommon to think you know where he’s coming from and you get to a board meeting and it’s totally different.”

Recalling his time on county board, Hubbard said that one of the decisions made during his tenure that he was opposed to was the construction of MidAmerica St. Louis Airport near Scott Air Force Base. The airport is widely criticized as an enormous drain on taxypayers – having cost more than $300 million to build and millions to operate – without much of a return on the investment.

“It was built obviously to get passengers – but it was a relief airport for TWA (Trans World Airlines). Then 9/11 hit and TWA went out of business so the airport is sitting there empty,” Hubbard said. “I was against the airport totally because it cost us $5 to $8 million a year [to operate].”

Hubbard said that “because of the makeup of the county board with nine Republicans and 20 Democrats” he knew his and other fiscally conservative voices on the board were not going to be heard.

“I tried to make people aware of the cost and what was going on and I was pushing for professional management as opposed to hiring somebody political for the airport,” he said. “That never got anywhere because there is an appointee in there.”

Hubbard said that he also worked against the election board in East St. Louis. He said that the county was required to give the election board a sum of $32,000 per year for operations.

“Ironically, the way the statute is written, the elected officials set their own salary,” he said. “We’re giving them $100,000 a year for the East St. Louis election board.”

“I made a point about that every single year and voted against (it in) the budget.”

Over the course of his term, Tiedemann said that big moments for him revolved around agricultural issues and “preserving land versus wiping out fertile farm ground to put homes on it.”

Tiedemann played a role in having the county purchase the Engelmann Farm property –  off Shiloh Station Road – which now features a paved walking trail, and also the Silver Creek preserve.

Tiedemann said that the county took 240 acres of ground “that was always flooded” and planted all of it back to trees. He said that they paid $2,100 an acre and noted with pride that today it would be worth approximately $8,000 to $10,000 an acre.

“There’s actually migrating song birds that come from South America up to Silver Creek. These birds have to have a two mile wide forest to live and nest in,” he said. “We gave the migrating song birds some more habitat — with predators and sunlight they have to be deep in the woods.

“People will say Republicans don’t give a damn about the environment — but that’s not necessarily true.”

Tiedemann said that some challenging moments on county board revolved around issues with the county budget.

“Eight years ago we probably had $220 million in the reserves,” he said. “Since Mark Kern has been there, we are down to a $100 million in reserves.”

Tiedemann said that the disappearance of cash reserves came from different funds such as the landfill surcharge fund. He said that money in the landfill fund was supposed to be used for environmental matters but was instead used toward the county sheriff patrols.

“For the previous eight years (Kern) would say we were passing a balanced budget but he was draining five or $10 million a year on reserves.”

Tiedemann said that he voted 20 times against proposed budgets out of balance.

“I have a perfect record,” he said.

Tiedemann said that residents in the county are going to have to be “very vigilant” about their own property taxes and “keeping the assessor’s office in check.”

“I don’t see St. Clair County getting out of this hole we are in financially,” he said. “They are always going to be strapped for cash. They are always going to raise property taxes on off years.”

Tiedemann also spoke about a recent expansion to MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, which he voted against from the start. He described the airport as an “amenity to the community,” but that “making money from the airport is not going to happen.”

Hubbard also spoke about the “nepotism” that he says is rampant at the county courthouse.

“I had nothing to do with it but I tried to make notice of it” Hubbard said, speaking of nepotism. “They have a lot of family members at the courthouse.”

Tiedemann said that the biggest problem with St. Clair County is the “one-party rule.” 

“We have 29 county board members and now only eight Republicans,” he said.

Regarding his accomplishments serving on county board, Hubbard said he was proud to make the public aware of the airport expenses and the East St. Louis electoral board expenses.

Hubbard said that while he has no regrets about his time served, he would have liked to have seen the management of the airport privatized, which he believes would have gotten other airlines in the airport and increased its overall revenue.

“When you’re in a minority situation, it’s very frustrating. You have to take it for what it is,” he said.

As he was known as the “agricultural” board member, Tiedemann said that his background was useful in representing local farming groups over the years.

“I probably took as many phone calls from farmers over the years than I did from my own constituents,” he said. “I had two hats on the whole time.”

When asked what he will miss, Hubbard said that he will miss the relationships he has with other board members the most.

“I had a good relationship with all of the board members and I enjoyed that. I will not miss all of the meetings, stress and frustration of seeing nepotism in hiring and not being able to do anything about it.”

Tiedemann said that he will also miss some of the good friends he has made while serving on county board.

Asked why he chose to retire, Tiedemann said that when he ran for county board in 1998, he was going to give himself 20 years “to get things fixed.” He said that while he may not have fixed things county wide, he “moved the pendulum.”

“I ran the course and knew what I could and couldn’t get done,” he said.

Tiedemann said that he plans on taking a hiatus from any and all politics.

Since politics has been such an integral part of his adult life – will Hubbard stay involved on the sidelines?

“I’m out,” he said, enthusiastically.

VFW Post 805 hosts holiday dinner, recognizes O’Fallon first responders

O’Fallon Firefighter Richard Palmer was presented with the prestigious 2017 VFW Department of Illinois Firefighter of the Year Award by Jeffrey Hastings, the VFW Department of Illinois State Commander for 2017. Pictured from left: Police Chief Eric Van Hook, EMS Supervisor Tim McClain, Palmer, and Hastings (Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – Nearly one hundred visitors enjoyed a complimentary holiday meal held by VFW Post 805, where the post also recognized the city’s top first responders. 

Many of the attendees were invited and provided transportation to and from area Veterans Homes so they could take part in the dinner, which was held on Thursday, December 13. 

The OTHS Air Force Junior ROTC was also present to assist with the event, chaperone visitors and pass out tokens of gratitude.  

After the holiday meal, and after introductions by O’Fallon Chief of Public Safety Eric Van Hook and Interim Fire Chief Tim Claxton, VFW Post 805 Commander Ed Martinez recognized and presented annual awards to one winner in each of three categories of community First Responder personnel.  

Supervisor Tim McClain received an award for being the VFW Post 805 2018 Emergency Medical Services Professional of the Year; Police Detective Brian Gimpel received the award for the VFW Post 805 2018 Law Enforcement Professional of the Year; and Fireman Pete Maclaughlin received the award for the VFW Post 805 2018 Firefighter of the Year.

 All three will now compete with other first responder nominees from throughout the state for VFW Department of Illinois-level awards, with selected nominees then advancing for consideration for VFW National-level awards.

O’Fallon Firefighter Richard Palmer was also recognized and presented the prestigious 2017 VFW Department of Illinois Firefighter of the Year Award by Jeffrey Hastings, the VFW Department of Illinois State Commander for 2017.

At the conclusion of the meal and presentations, Martinez said, “It is a great honor for our Post membership to recognize the great work the O’Fallon first responders do on a daily basis. What is remarkable is that in addition to accepting the risks of their position and protecting our lives and property with excellence, the vast majority of O’Fallon first responders are heavily involved within the community where they serve as mentors to our youth and contribute to charitable causes everyday.  We are very grateful to all of our first responder personnel and will aggressively advocate for them during follow-on awards consideration processes — and within our community everyday.”

Regarding the 2017 VFW State-level firefighter award presented to Fireman Richard Palmer, the 2017 VFW Department of Illinois Commander Jeffrey Hastings said, “I can tell you first-hand the VFW Department of Illinois received many compelling nominations for 2017 Firefighter of the Year.  What stood out in Fireman Palmer’s case was not only his fantastic contributions to one of the very best all-volunteer Fire Departments in the State of Illinois, but also his obvious commitments to fellow public safety personnel and the citizens of our city both on and off-duty.  It was an honor to present him with the 2017 VFW Department-level Firefighter of the Year award and I am convinced all of the 2018 winners recognized tonight will compete very well again this year.”

Additionally, VFW Post 805 Auxiliary President Marcia Crawford, lead co-planner and choreographer of meal preparation and overall events said, “Nothing kicks off the holiday season better for me than this event. It makes me very grateful to be joined by our more distinguished and experienced veterans for a holiday meal while recognizing our first responders that work so very hard for us everyday. It is also an honor to work with the Junior ROTC team, who represent the very best we have to offer for future generations. To be able to be a part of this annual event really is the best Christmas present of all.”

Shiloh board of trustees discuss possible overlay of Linden Drive

Trustee Kurt Burrelsman led the meeting in Mayor Jim Vernier’s absence and discussed the costs associated with overlaying Linden Drive, Linwood Drive, and Hereford Drive. The work is expected to cost around $133,000. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

SHILOH – Shiloh village trustees discussed the costs associated with overlaying Linden Drive, Linwood Drive and Hereford Drive during their monthly Committee of the Whole meeting, held December 17. 

The overlaying project would cost approximately $84,000 for Linden Drive, $37,000 for Linwood Drive and $12,000 for Hereford Drive. 

Village administrator John Marquart said that the total estimated cost of the overlay project would be $133,000. 

In a memo addressed to the Village of Shiloh, Director of Public Works Megan Fuhler said that Linden Drive and its side streets are in poor condition and warrant mills and overlays. However, Marquart said that he recommends staying on track with the current plan to wait another year to complete the overlay project. 

Trustee Kurt Burrelsman said that he was okay with planning the project for next year’s budget. Marquart said that the project will be outlined in the 2020 budget.

In other business, the Board of Trustees chose to put a variety of items up for sale in a surplus auction. The items include a pavement cutter, a John Deere F911 tractor, Goosen chipper/ shredder, MTD yard machine edger, a push mower and a propane tar kettle and ASTM roofing tar.

The board also approved the modification of the existing cell tower at 107 Oak Street. The modification requested calls for the installation of two additional fiber cables to the existing cell tower equipment. There will be no change to the tower height or compound size. 

Trustee Burrelsman filled in for Mayor Jim Vernier at the meeting.

O’Fallon-Shiloh EMS hosts annual Christmas for Kids event

O’FALLON – The Metro-East Paramedics Association and O’Fallon-Shiloh EMS held its Christmas for Kids event this year at Walmart in O’Fallon on Sunday, Dec. 16th.  

This year, with the help of local school administrators, 20 children were selected from Shiloh Middle School, O’Fallon District 90, and Mascoutah. During the morning event, MEPA members and local EMT’s and Paramedics shopped with each child.

Jeremy Sherman, Paramedic Supervisor for the City of O’Fallon EMS department and coordinator of Christmas for Kids said that they first focused on daily necessities like clothes, shoes, school supplies and healthcare products. 

“After we take care of those important items, we shop for any toys the kids pick out,” Sherman said. “This year, MEPA spent over $8500.”

“MEPA has been around for 17 years. It’s composed of first responders from the area, along with members from their families. We volunteer at events such as the St. Louis VP fair and NHRA events at Gateway International. Money collected are dispersed to local charities and organizations.”

Sherman said that MEPA funded Christmas for Kids and has also donated to The Life Initiative — a program developed to help purchase 3D imaging ultrasound machines, and the Michelle Heap Paramedic Scholarship Fund. 

District 85 receives public risk grant

At the Shiloh District 85 meeting on Monday, superintendent Dale Sauer said that the district was awarded a grant from the Illinois public risk fund.

“It was for $253 more than we thought we could possibly get. I don’t attribute that to any skill on my part, they must have had more money to allocate,” Sauer said. 

Sauer said that the grant money, equaling $2,953, will go toward camera installation at Shiloh Elementary as well as replacement of AED pads and additional two- way radios. 

Board vice president Phil Brunner said that the district’s EAV is expected to rise approximately two percent this year, which will result in a lowering of the tax rate by half a cent. 

Brunner also discussed the disabled veterans exemption, which will cost the district approximately 7.2 percent of the EAV affecting this year’s tax levy. 

“Since that exemption has been put into place by state legislators, it has cost us roughly $535,000,” he said. 

Brunner said it’s a “much deserved exemption.” 

“They deserve anything and everything that we can do for them,” Sauer said of disabled veterans. 

Sauer said that the Shiloh school improvement team has now held their third meeting, which took place on Dec. 11. 

“Our conversations continue to be very candid, open and all centered toward progression the kids,” Sauer said. “Our focus last meeting was discussing the needs to update the consistency of our in- house assessments.”

Shiloh Elementary principal Tiana Montgomery said that the school did a door decorating contest as a fundraiser for Shiloh families in need. Students brought in money for their favorite classroom decorated door. Montgomery said that $600 was raised due to the “collaborative effort” between the students and staff. 

Middle school principal Darin Loepker said that the kindergarten through fourth grade Christmas concert took place on Dec. 11. 

“It’s always nice to see the elementary schoolers come over to the middle school.” 

“We put 400 seats on the floor and they were all full. The stands were all full. I would say we had close to 1,000 people at the event,” Loepker said. “I have been doing Christmas concerts as an administrator for 12 years and I have never seen one this well attended. It was great.” 

In other action, the Shiloh District 85 board unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement between District 90, Central 104 and  District 203 to post a job for a transportation director. 

Program for aging adults coming to Shiloh in spring

SHILOH – Aging Mastery, an Oasis St. Louis program that leads to improved health, stronger financial security and overall wellbeing for older adults, is coming to the Village of Shiloh in the spring of 2019. 

Oasis, a national nonprofit that was founded in St. Louis, promotes healthy aging through lifelong learning, active lifestyles and volunteer engagement. Oasis’ vision is to see that adults over age 50 and older across the country have opportunities to pursue vibrant, healthy, productive and meaningful lives. 

Paul Weiss, President of Oasis, said that Oasis operates in 40 cities across the country and that the nonprofit has over 700 partners. 

Weiss said that there are three separate columns of ways Oasis serves older adults. The first column being “life long learning.”

“Out our (St. Louis) center we do education with a broad range of topics,” he said. “It can be art, history, foreign language, music, dance, technology literacy, current events and politics.”

Weiss compared the programs to a university for older adults. 

“The content is pretty consistent across the whole country. The pricing structure varies a lot based on who we are serving.”

The second column of programs is health and wellness related. These programs include topics like disease prevention or management, fall prevention, health education, behavior change and exercise. 

The third column is “purposeful volunteering” for older adults. 

Weiss said that the biggest volunteer effort Oasis organizes is the intergenerational literacy tutoring program. 

“We train older adults – the average age of our tutors is 67 or 68 – to do literacy and mentorship during the school day in kindergarten through fourth grade,” he said. “We are looking to expand this to the Metro East.” 

Weiss said that Oasis is looking for a federal funding grant to bring the tutoring program to East St. Louis schools along with other possible districts in the Metro East. 

“Our focus is really on under served schools where a lot of kids have a literacy challenge,” he said. 

Weiss said that Oasis has an “incredibly diverse” funding structure. 

“We have family and private foundation support. BJC Healthcare in St. Louis is a very significant partner and supporter. Around the country, we have health care partners. Some evidence based programs are federally funded.”

Partnerships are a lot of time municipal partners, such as the Village of Shiloh, according to Weiss. 

The Aging Mastery program is an educational behavioral change program with 10 sessions over 10 weeks, with each session being two hours. 

“The focus is good health, longevity, developing sustainable behaviors, stronger financial security and wellbeing focused. Topics include exercise for older adults, nutrition and eating/ food choices and cooking and how to deal with sleeplessness,” Weiss said. 

Weiss said that a program he teaches is advanced planning, which includes topics like healthcare proxies, living wills and DNR’s. 

“It’s usually not the cheeriest topic,” he said. “The truth is the ambiguity people have around those end of life decisions are incredibly stressful. We take them through all of the choice and give them a guide and materials.”

“By end of class you have really excited people that feel like they are starting to solve some of the things they stress about and have ambiguity about,” he said. “That’s what the Aging Mastery program is about – demystifying all of these elements on how to age better and healthier.”

The Aging Mastery program is free and will take place at the Shiloh Senior Center from Tuesday, March 6 to May 7, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. 

Weiss said that Oasis will also start offering a technology program called “Managing Your  Digital Footprint.”

“A big portion of our work is technology literacy for older adults,” he said. “We want people to get to use the internet as a way to avoid social isolation.” 

The technology program will also take place at the Shiloh Senior Center and will begin Monday, April 8 – 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and there is a fee of $15. 

To register, call (314)862-4859, ext. 24. You can also go to STLoasis.org for more information. 

“The folks at the Village of Shiloh are really great to work with, Weiss said. “They are interested in their community. Not all municipal partners are so fun and immediately welcoming.”