Two Cents Worth – Dec 23, 2015

I find that each year it becomes harder and harder to figure out what to give people for Christmas. Theoretically it should be easy, determining what items your loved ones may want, but as many of you know, its anything but. Because they’re your loved ones you want to do something really nice and special for them, so the pressure is ON.

It’s beyond helpful when someone just tells me exactly what they want, but does that take the “special” out of the gift?  In a perfect world, you should take time to really think about the individual and what they might want. What interests do they have? What items do they need? What items to do they need and they don’t even know they need them? To get the perfect gift for someone is an art form.

My wife isn’t the biggest fan of gift cards. Oh, she doesn’t mind receiving them of course, but she hates giving them. She says its lazy. I disagree. Oftentimes I can’t think of a specific item someone may want, but I know they shop someplace a lot and may appreciate some spending cash at their favorite store. I think a gift card, while perhaps not as personal as a specific item, does show more effort than just giving cash because you acknowledge that they know where you like to shop.

With that said though, cash is king. Let’s face it, as much as politicians like to convince us that the economy is bouncing back, its still hard to make ends meet these days. Every time you get ahead, life comes along with another bill to help smack you back down. So while cash may seem like an impersonal gift, its easily the most universally helpful.

Personally, I have an amazon.com wishlist where I keep track of items that I have determined I’d like to own. I mostly do so for my own use so that I can remember things like books and films, and circle back to them later for purchase. However, my list is set up so my loved ones can look at it. They don’t have to use it, but its a crutch that’s always there. I wish everyone had a list of items you could fall back on…

Then there are those people you just can’t figure out at all. They’re the ones who buy themselves whatever they want when they want it so there’s never an opportunity for you to get them something. These are the people you really need to think long and hard about, and, more often than not, just get a gift card from someplace and hope they find something nice. I hate doing this but once that December 25 deadline starts getting close, you’ve got to figure out SOMETHING.

They say its the thought that counts, but what happens when that thought never arrives and you have to give something you’re not happy with? I wrestle with this every year. But, its a marathon, not a sprint. Maybe 2015 will bring a gift card, but hopefully 2016 will bring that inspired gift that really impresses.

But hey, it could always be worse for all of you busy little elves. I not only have to buy Christmas gifts for everyone, but that day is also my wife’s birthday. No pressure…

Stay safe and enjoy your holidays. Merry Christmas everyone.

Two Cents Worth – Dec 16, 2015

O’Fallon played host to another “Be the Match” marrow registry event the other day.  Unlike blood drives, at marrow registries you stop by, fill out some paperwork, swab your mouth for a bit, do a few other little things, and add your name and information to a registry of people willing to donate bone marrow if called upon.

The area held a registry event not long ago in support of City Administrator Walter Denton.  This time it was for a kindergartner, Elsa Wiemerslage, who was recently diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a rare form of pediatric cancer. Elsa will have to endure chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Elsa’s dad, Kevin, is an O’Fallon EMT.

Unfortunately, there is a direct need for folks to not only register, but also agree to donate bone marrow.  Events such as the one held Monday evening at the new O’Fallon Fire Department allow folks to take a few minutes and add their information to the registry, but they need to take the time to do so.

Nearly 80 people came out and registered on Monday, which is a great turnout.  It seemed every few seconds someone else was ringing the bell, designating a new name on the registry or signing a card for Elsa. The event Monday night was a rousing success by all means.

It really is a testiment to O’Fallon that when the call goes out that someone needs help, people immediately step up and ask how they can be of service. The folks that registered Monday night may never be called upon to donate a thing, but, by registering, there is the possbility they will be. I was thrilled and impressed when I was told so many of you came out Monday night.  Pat yourself on the bcak.

I’ve known Kevin Wiemerslage since he and I worked at the Wehrenberg St. Clair 10 Cine together in the late 90’s.  He’s a great guy and a great father who selflessly has devoted his life to helping others.  Now he and his little girl need all of our help.  So the next time there is a bone marrow registry event taking place in the area, please do me a favor and take 20 minutes to get signed up.  You never know whose life you’ll be potentially saving.

Oh, and one other side note, unlike blood which can be given to nearly anyone as long as the blood type is compatible, bone marrow can only be donated if a person is of the same race.  Currently there is a high percentage of caucasians on the registry list and significantly less minorities.  If you are any ethnicity other than caucasian, I would strongly encourage you to register with “Be the Match” because they need your help badly.

And if you’re looking for a way to help Elsa specifically, the O’Fallon EMS Department is hosting a toy drive for Elsa. New and unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the Public Safety Building through December 24 at noon.

Two Cents Worth – Dec 9, 2015

It can be hard to get into the Christmas season some years. Time just seems to fly from Halloween to Thanksgiving. Then, before you know it, Christmas has arrived.  Then a week later, you’re celebrating the new year.  The holidays tend to fly by.

In years past I’ve forced myself to go through the motions knowing that the Christmas season would hit me at some point.  What I mean, specifically, is that I make it a point to get my shopping done so that when its time for Christmas I’m not empty handed for everyone. Then I take it easy, embrace the season, and enjoy Christmas a bit… but that usually doesn’t happen until Christmas Eve or so.

This year has been a bit different. I’ve gone to quite a few Christmas events already this year for the paper and, while time is still flying by, I definitely feel like the holidays are in full swing.  There are food and toy drives taking place all over the area. Not to mention all the countless Christmas parties that are scheduled.

However, the Shop with a Cop event last Sunday was the one event so far that has exemplified the pure spirit of Christmas, at least to me. The O’Fallon Police took local kids who need a hand in having a good Christmas shopping for presents for their family members. Back in 2001 when the program began, the police department took 15 kids shopping and allowed them to spend about $100 each. This year, around 40 kids went shopping with police officers and were able to spend around $200 to $250 each.

I watched two kids, a bother and sister, shop around Walmart with Officer Adam Taulbee.  Officer Taulbee took the kids all over the store and helped them pick out a variety of presents for their family members.  One thing that stood out to me was that, at the top of the two kids’ Christmas lists, was a toy for Toys for Tots. Here were two kids that maybe didn’t have a lot themselves and they were looking out for even less fortunate kids at Christmas time. Those kids are being raised right.

The police department raises the money used for this program at their annual golf tournament and through the sale of Christmas ornaments.  People and businesses can also donate specifically to this program if they so choose.  Foe example, Walmart donated $2,500 towards Sunday’s shopping.

The Christmas season is about giving and love for one another. I’d be hard pressed to find another event that exemplified that more than the shopping with a cop program. My spirit has come a lot earlier this year.

Now if I could just find time to get started on shopping for everyone, I’ll really be ahead of the game.

Two Cents Worth – Dec 2, 2015

A while back I referenced a billboard in one of my rantings and how I was going to discuss its contents here soon. While its taken me a bit longer than I’d imagined, I’ve finally gotten around to writing about that billboard.

I saw this sign as my sports editor, Nathan Poignee, and I drove up to Chicago to watch the Panthers Football season opener. The billboard read in big red letters “NoAdTaxIllinois.com”. Now, given that I’d recently started a newspaper, the prospect of a new tax on advertising was something I was a bit interested in.

As it turns out, the geniuses in Springfield (both parties) have evidently decided that in order to get out of the financial hole they’ve gotten us into over the past thirty years or so, they’re going to consider some new creative taxes.  One of which happens to be on advertising. Evidently Governor Rauner and a group of legislators have proposed the idea of a 6.25 percent tax on newspaper, television, radio, and Internet advertising. Illinois would be the only state in the union to have such a tax.

Needless to say, we at the O’Fallon Weekly are against such a proposal for a variety of reasons.

First, as a small, start-up business, any hit to my bottom line right now is dramatically felt and a tax on the one source of revenue my paper has would be a big problem. We’re proud to be able to provide you, week in and week out, with good community news at no charge, but in order to do so, I need to make money from my advertising. I don’t need the state taking a portion.

Second, this ad tax, like most taxes, will result in an increase in the prices of goods and services. When the tax is implemented, I will be forced to raise my advertising rates to accommodate the state reaching into my pocket, passing that cost onto my advertisers. Those advertisers will then be forced to either absorb that increase or pass it down to their customers. More often than not, consumers are the real victims when business taxes are implemented or raised.

Finally, this seems completely counter productive to achieve what the Governor said his goal was when running for election. Rauner ran on a pro-growth, pro-business platform and implementing an ad tax goes against that philosophy. I get that there is a $4 billion budget hole to fill, but taxing businesses is the wrong thing to do. Illinois has done plenty over the past two decades to make neighboring states seem more attractive and drive families and businesses away. Let’s not continue down that road.

I realize I am not impartial on this issue. A tax on advertising takes money directly out of my pocket. But I’m sick and tired of our government, be it state, federal, or local, thinking it can just come along and take more of my hard earned money to fix whatever problem they’ve managed to get themselves into.

Please consider visiting www.NoAdTaxIllinois.com and writing a short note to your state representative or senator telling them to oppose an ad tax. We’d really appreciate it.

Two Cents Worth – Nov 25, 2015

It’s that time of year to take a moment to reflect upon our lives and take stock of what we’re thankful for.  After a bit of review, I’ve determined that I have quite a bit to be thankful for this year…

First, I am extremely thankful for you, the person who has picked up this paper and is reading this column. Since we launched earlier this year I have seen the O’Fallon Weekly continue to do better than I’d ever imagined it would this early.  I was told very early on by a friend of mine who owns a paper that you can put out the best product ever, but if the town doesn’t care, you won’t last six months.  You’ve shown that you appreciate our efforts and care to continue to receive papers each week.  And I can’t possibly thank you all enough for that.

Next, I’m thankful for all of the wonderful businesses, both large and small, that advertise in the O’Fallon Weekly. Without them, there would be no paper. So if you like what we do, please patronize our advertisers and let them know you appreciate their support of the O’Fallon Weekly. It helps us all.

Another huge blessing that I’m thankful for has been the wonderful people I’ve met this year. People like Jarad Jarmon, Nathan Poignee, and Angela Simmons, all of whom have been or are writers for the Weekly. I knew when we started that eventually this would become more than a one man show, but I didn’t know I’d be so lucky as to find such great people to help share the burden with.

With that said, I’m thankful for the great colleagues that have been so welcoming and generous with their knowledge and experience.  Jeff Egbert, David Porter, and John Galer have become my three wise men and have given me some really great advice and ideas. The readers of their respective papers are lucky to have such quality newspaper men working for them.

I’m obviously thankful for my family, as they have supported and helped me through this year in ways I can’t express. Their unwavering love and support has helped me push on through some very long nights to make sure the paper is finished and sent to print. They’ve picked up the slack in other areas of my life when I’ve been too busy to do something on my own. I couldn’t have done this without them.

I would be remiss in not stating how thankful I am for my partner in this endeavor, Jon McLean. I joke about how you can tell me to put a newspaper together and I’m off and running, but if you tell me to file an LLC, my eyes cross. But its true and it goes beyond that. The O’Fallon Weekly wouldn’t exist had Jon not challenged me to get off my butt during a period when I was unable to find any work and was getting complacent. He not only provided a sounding board for working through the creation of this paper, but we continue to bounce ideas off of one another today. He keeps me grounded, as I have a tendency to sometimes think we’re bigger than we are (hey, I put a lot of effort into this and so it means a lot to me), but he also sees the potential for how big it can become. Jon has been the best partner I could have ever asked for and I often think that all of the crap we’ve been through in other arenas has all been worth it if it led us here.

I am so incredibly thankful for my wife, Laura.  Not only has she been the stable force that has allowed me to go off and try this risky venture, she has encouraged me at every turn. At times when I fully expected and deserved to be lectured and told how scary an idea sounded, she never once discouraged me. Laura has been my biggest cheerleader and one of my best promoters and I couldn’t love her more for it.

Finally, I’m so thankful to be able to announce that the O’Fallon Weekly family will be growing again next year, as we prepare to add a cub reporter.  Laura and I are expecting our first child in May.  All is well and everyone is healthy. No, we don’t know if its a boy or girl, and we probably won’t find out. Laura wants the surprise. I won’t lie and say I’m not scared, but I know things will all turn out alright (However, I’m hedging my bets… to take out an advertisement in the O’Fallon Weekly, please contact Kathy Breger at (618) 580-8098). More to come on this situation as it develops…

What are you thankful for this year?

Two Cents Worth – Nov 18, 2015

I’d like to take a moment this week and explain a bit about our news coverage.

As many of you may know, an incident took place last week at O’Fallon High School where three girls were taken into police custody, and then released to their parents, after they got into a fight at school. Another boy was also taken into custody in an unrelated incident for allegedly ignoring a teacher’s safety directive.  Aside from this column, we have chosen not to pursue these incidents for our news coverage.

You may notice that we don’t feature a police blotter or much crime content. Occasionally we will run information related to an incident or crime as it is provided to us by the O’Fallon or Shiloh police departments.  However we generally make it a rule to do so when either A.) the public’s safety is at risk, or B.) when the police are requesting public assistance and need us to help get the word out. We will always support law enforcement and aid them whenever we are called upon to do so.

Since we launched we’ve made an effort to concentrate on the positive and good things taking place in O’Fallon and Shiloh.  There’s plenty of positive news to fill our pages that we’ve rarely needed to broach any of the negative aspects of the region.  And Lord knows you don’t have to go very far to find bad news, as it seems like the entirety of the media has adopted the “If it bleeds, it leads” mentality. Personally, I wonder if part of the reason we seem to have such a negative culture these days is because we’ve been fed nothing but negativity by our media. But I digress…

While some may argue that we are not accurately bringing you all of the information about the area by leaving out the crime related news, I’d argue that most of what makes up a police blotter is not information anyone really needs to know.  Do we really need to know a person was pulled over after having a few too many to drink the other night and slept it off in the drunk tank?  Do we really need to know that the couple down the street has marital issues and got into a fairly heated argument? It’s my belief that we don’t.

We all have our drama and problems that we’re dealing with. Some have it a bit worse than others. Those folks don’t need their personal issues printed in the local newspaper for everyone to read about.

Regarding the incident at the high school on Friday, we discussed internally whether or not to report on it for this edition. We chose not to because, ultimately, kids will be kids. Obviously, if a student is found to have committed a crime, something involving drugs or the threat of violence perhaps, that would be reported. However when a couple of high school students get into a fight, we, more often than not, will choose to let that be handled by the school, local law enforcement, and the parents and not report on it.

Maybe you feel differently and believe we should cover crime. If so, drop me a note at Nick@OFallonWeekly.com and let me know.  For the time being though, we will continue to focus on the positive side of our community.

Two Cents Worth – Nov 11, 2015

I enjoy the fall. It’s not a very long season in this area. Maybe a solid month or so at most, but its great while it lasts.

After sweating all summer long, its pleasant when the days turn a bit cooler. Although for those that know me, its always a bit sad when it becomes that time of year to pack away the shorts and start wearing jeans. That’s the benefit of being my own boss, everyday is casual Friday.

For me, fall starts when the football season begins. I know St. Louis is a baseball town, and I enjoy a good Cardinals game as much as the next guy, but once the NFL kicks off their season, baseball takes a big back seat. If baseball players are the boys of summer, football players are my harbingers of autumn.

Its pretty great when the trees turn all sorts of different colors and are very picturesque. Granted there are all of those pesky leaves to rake up when they eventually fall (hence the season’s name), but typically you’ve only really got to deal with the big dump load once and then its just touch-up work.

I also love Thanksgiving. Its honestly my favorite holiday, mostly because of my intense love of turkey and consuming it. The pie also helps too. Seriously though, try and describe to me a better holiday than one where I can sit around, watch football all day long, eat tons of fabulous food, spend time with loved ones, and top it all off with a tryptophan-induced nap. That’s what I thought.

Ultimately all of this great scenery, cool days, football, and turkey leads into the holiday season and winter. Then I start complaining about snow and ice… But for now, I can just enjoy fall and hope it sticks around as long as possible.

What are your favorite times of year? Why? Drop me a line at nick@OFallonWeekly.com and let me know.

Two Cents Worth – Nov 4, 2015

In the past I’ve written about how there are a lot of positive things taking place in O’Fallon and Shiloh. This past week a meeting took place at the Katy Cavins Center to discuss one possible project that would be a major benefit to the area.

Over 200 people attended a meeting put on by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss the possible re-location of the NGA facility currently located near the brewery in St. Louis. More than 3,000 people currently work at the St. Louis NGA facility and they could all be commuting to St. Clair County if the county is selected to be the NGA’s new home.  Not only would this project result in a large number of construction jobs while the facility is built, but it would also impact the local economies of O’Fallon, Shiloh, Lebanon, and Mascoutah in extremely positive ways over time.

St. Clair County is one of four sites being considered, with the other three being located in Missouri. On paper, we are far and away the most logical choice for the NGA.

We’re literally giving them the land to build on whereas they would have to purchase the land in Missouri. We’re locating them right next door to Scott Air Force Base, who they work very closely with and have to run some information cables from to their new facility. It would only make sense to have to run a cable 400 yards than across the Mississippi River.

Additionally, the NGA could begin construction immediately at the St. Clair County site, whereas at the other sites they would have to do some demolition or environmental cleanup. They also have to deal with current residents who don’t want to move and historic buildings that have to be addressed by the Missouri State Historical Society.

St. Clair County offers the best price, the best location, and the most convenience out of all of the sites under consideration.  So let’s tell the NGA that this choice isn’t really that hard of a choice at all.

Through November 23, the NGA is requesting public input on the site selection. Let’s flood them with letters supporting St. Clair County and its efforts.  This is a project that will be great for everyone and we should all take an active role in pushing it along.

Ways to provide comments:

• Submit comments online at http://nextngawest.com/site/index.php/comment.

• Email comments to nextNGAwest@usace.army.mil using the form at http://www.nextngawest.com/site/DEIS/NGA_DEIS_CommentForm.pdf.

• Mail comments to: United States Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District, Attn: Amy Blair, Room 529, 601 E. 12th Street, Kansas City, MO 64106 using the form at http://www.nextngawest.com/site/DEIS/NGA_DEIS_CommentForm.pdf.

The meeting last Wednesday was the second of three the NGA and Army Corps of Engineers held.  The night before, they held the same kind of informational meeting near the Mehlville site.  I was told by a representative of the Army Corps that only 40 people attended that meeting. St. Clair County had over 200. While that may not be a deciding factor, you can’t tell me it doesn’t register on someone’s radar to indicate how supportive the community is of the project.

While we can’t all fit in the Katy Cavins building, we can all write a letter.

Two Cents Worth – Oct 28, 2015

I’d like to take a quick moment to touch on the East St. Louis teachers’ strike, if I may.

“Doesn’t he know he publishes a paper about O’Fallon, not East St. Louis?”

Normally, I wouldn’t address issues solely affecting other towns, but the East St. Louis teachers’ strike became relevant this past week when none of the O’Fallon High School sports teams could play the East St. Louis kids.  All of the East St. Louis teams had to forfeit because they weren’t able to play. Granted, these forfeit matches count as wins for OTHS, which is good for the win-loss records I suppose, but its not the same.

When we posted to our Facebook page that the football game last Friday night had been cancelled, with the Flyers having to forfeit to OTHS, one commenter said that it wasn’t the way the team should want to win.  And while true, I’ve found myself thinking more about the students who are forced to accept losing before the game ever starts.

Let’s be honest for a moment, if you were to look at the lists of the best academic scores in the state, East St. Louis probably wouldn’t be in the top ten.  However, there are some phenomenal athletes that come from East St. Louis and are blessed with college scholarships due in no small measure to their physical abilities. Sports can be their way out of East St. Louis and their ticket to higher education. What happens now to the seniors who were looking forward to playing football this year so they could secure college scholarships?  School will resume at some point and they’ll graduate, but their senior football season has been taken from them.  Are any colleges still going to consider them? I’d assume maybe some of the local ones, but what about the big schools? Will they be willing to look at the very small sample size offered up by this year’s team when considering scholarships?  Only time will tell.

I won’t pretend to know the in’s and out’s of the teachers’ strike.  I don’t know what the teachers are asking for and I don’t know what the administration is unwilling to budge on. All I know is that the students of East St. Louis need to get back to school.  They need to get back to playing sports and competing.  And the teachers and administrators both would do well to remember the kids the next time they sit down to negotiate and take it seriously.

Two Cents Worth – Oct 21, 2015

As many of you may know I’ve been participating in the O’Fallon Citizen Police Academy since the beginning of September. While I’ll have a big recap about the program once its completed at the end of the month, I wanted to talk about one aspect of it in this week’s column.  My ride along with a patrol officer.

I was given the option of when I wanted to schedule my ride along.  I chose a Saturday evening shift (6 p.m. to 2 a.m.) with the hope that I would have a higher than average probability of seeing something interesting. My wife and mom didn’t really want that, but I was hoping for more than just a dull evening where nothing happens.

But what I learned this past Saturday is that the officers who patrol the streets have no clue what the evening will bring them. It could be a calm night where you may only pull over a few people, or you could have an extremely busy night.

During my ride along we responded to a few car break ins, pulled over a man who had a burnt out headlight, pulled over a person the officer suspected of DUI (he wasn’t), pulled over a man who ran a red light, and assisted another officer who had a car pulled over that he ended up searching.  Throughout all of these stops, we only wrote warnings with no fines.

That was the real part of the evening that stuck with me.  The officer I rode with opted to give warnings first, rather than issue the ticket and cost the other driver money. He explained to me how he feels its his job to keep the streets safe and not to create ill will between the residents and the police by running around town ticketing everyone. He took a very pragmatic approach to it all and I really appreciate it.

Now that’s not to say he wouldn’t have issued any tickets if the circumstances were different.  He told me that attitude is everything because the officer has the discretion to issue a ticket or a warning.  So the next time you get pulled over, remember, if you’re polite and accommodating, you might be lucky enough to get a pass.  No guarantees, but you know you will get a ticket if you’re rude.

Honestly, it seems like it could get pretty boring out there for the patrol officers, driving around town all by themselves at night.  I don’t envy much about their jobs…

When it all ended, we hadn’t arrested anyone. It seemed like a fairly calm evening, which I’m sure is how the police like it.

Now, according to the officer I rode with, every resident of O’Fallon can ask to go on one ride along. However, the time has to be scheduled in advance to see if there are any officers interested in taking you around. I’d highly encourage everyone to do so if they haven’t already.  It’s a blast and its good to see a night on the streets from the cop’s perspective.

I’d like to personally thank Officer Gottschall for taking me around for eight hours. He was welcoming and easy to talk to. He answered all of my questions, no matter how elementary they may have been.  He’s a great member of the O’Fallon Police Department.

Two Cents Worth – Oct 14, 2015

Karl and Carly   So anyone who read my column last week knows I went to Colorado to watch my friend Karl marry the love of his life, Carly.  Thankfully, none of you decided to take the opportunity to break into my house and steal all of my stuff.  For that, I thank you.

For the record, my wife and I had a wonderful trip.

We had an early flight out of St. Louis Thursday morning.  Our first stop was Salt Lake City, where we switched planes to head to Denver.  I’d like to take a moment and hope that someone who works at Delta Airlines is reading this so they can think about how flippin’ stupid that is.  Geography was not my strong suit in school, but even I know that to go from St. Louis to Salt Lake City, you have to PASS OVER Denver.  It’s irritating how impossible it is to get a direct flight anywhere out of St. Louis unless you spend another $100 or so per ticket.  But I digress…

I was warned that the oxygen levels in Colorado are less than in Illinois.  That whole mountain elevation thing.  When I stepped out into the open air, I remember thinking that it didn’t seem so bad.  However, I was reminded all weekend long every time I attempted to do nearly anything that there was indeed less oxygen, leaving me winded and out of breath.  And no, it’s wasn’t just because I’m pleasantly plump…

My wife and I took a tour of the Denver Broncos stadium, which was pretty neat.  One of the interesting points told to us during the tour is that 95 percent of the seats at Mile High Stadium are held by season ticket holders and that there is a wait list a bit over 53,000 people deep for their own season tickets. The approximate wait time to receive two season tickets is around 30 years.  If only the Rams received that much support locally, maybe they wouldn’t be looking at greener pastures.  And before anyone says its because of Peyton Manning, they have been at 95 percent and developing a wait list since the 70’s.

Friday night was the rehearsal dinner, where I got to see another guy I went to college with for the first time in 11 years.  To be honest, it’s hard to remember exactly why Joe and I stopped talking and drifted apart.  I’m sure there were reasons, but what was nice is that they all seemed to go away at that dinner last Friday evening.  We were talking about our lives and where we’re at now.  Joe really grew up a ton since we last spoke and I’m really glad Karl (the groom) put us back into the same room.

Saturday was the big day.  The groomsmen helped prep a few things but basically sat around in a cabin for most of the day.  To clarify, the wedding was at a state park and we had two cabins rented for the guys and girls to get ready in.  It had been so nice temperature wise during the whole trip, but of course, it decided to get hot when it was time to put on a tux and go trek up a mountainside to take a few photos.  I hope I’m not too drenched and winded in the wedding pics…

The ceremony was held outdoors, which ended up being very pretty.  However, holding a ceremony like that in a public park, you unfortunately have to deal with the public.  Like the group of guys who decided to start an impromptu game of shirts versus skins tackle football, or the guy walking the dog that needed to pop a squat right behind the line of groomsmen. Overall though the ceremony was very nice and Karl couldn’t help but start crying during it (I made it until after my wedding ceremony before I started to boo hoo).

We had a wonderful trip and great time at the wedding.  I only bugged Angela and Nathan a few times about stuff going on back here in O’Fallon. I caught up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a very long time and made a few new acquaintances in the process.

Heading home was a bit sad though (and not just because I had to fly from Denver to Salt Lake City, just to fly OVER Denver to get back to St. Louis). It always becomes so obvious at events like this that we allow people we were once very close with to drift far away and get away from us.  We always all intend to call each other regularly or keep in touch somehow, but we never really do.  Oh sure, we’re all friends on Facebook, but “liking” the occasional photo isn’t quite the same as sitting down and talking to a friend to find out what’s going on in their lives. And as much as I will tell myself that I’ll change and make a real effort, I know that’s probably not going to happen because I’m busy, my friends are busy, we all live in different time zones, and we all have our own lives to attend to.  However, that doesn’t mean I won’t try.

Additionally, this weekend allowed me to reflect upon past relationships and realize that when you completely shut someone out, there is the possibility they will change for the better and you won’t be around to see it. We were all goofy, stupid kids just over a decade ago at SIU Carbondale.  We were all too worried about going out and drinking, finding some good looking girl to go talk to at a bar (and then getting shot down in quick fashion), and playing video games all night long. We said things and did things that we’d probably regret today, if we could even remember them all.  For whatever reason, I shut out a guy that I was pretty good friends with and he changed into a much more mature, responsible, and stable guy than I knew.  And I missed it and regret that.  I’d like to hope that I grew up and changed since then too.  But most who know me these days probably are still waiting for me to grow up…

Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Karl Strappini and thank you for allowing me to be a part of your special day.

Two Cents Worth – Oct 7, 2015

This week is a big moment in the life of the Weekly.  I’m taking my first real vacation since it launched.  My wife and I are headed to Boulder, Colorado, to watch my friend Karl marry a gal we honestly all thought he paid to hang out with him.  It’s really the only explanation that makes sense as to why someone so sweet and great would hang out with a goober like Karl. But I digress…

Since we launched we’ve slowly added to our ranks.  Some people have come and left, while some are relatively new to the crew.  But this is their moment to shine and perform as I know they can.  I’m relying on the others to cover the happenings this week in O’Fallon and Shiloh so that there’s something to put into the paper next week.

Part of me is a bit paranoid that I’m forgetting to tell them something I wanted them to cover.  We’ve gone over what’s happening and what I’d like to have from them when I get back.  But I can’t help but think that something will not be done how I would do it.

And that’s my problem.

I’m being a control freak and I know it.  The other members of the Weekly family have done nothing but prove themselves time and time again.  There’s no good reason I should be worried at all.  It really is just a dangerous need to have control over the paper and what goes into it. And it’s not fair to the others to pre-judge them and their work.

Since April 29, the Weekly has grown significantly.  I look back at the weeks when I was putting out a 12 page paper and wonder how I ever did it.  At this point I couldn’t fit everything into even 16 pages if I tried.  So it was inevitable that as the paper grew I would need help assembling it.

Which brings us to this week. It’s the moment of truth.  I have to take a four day step away and trust that the others will handle things, as I know they can, so that you all have something to read next week.

I have every confidence they’ll do just fine.  You’ve got to let the kids walk on their own sometime. That doesn’t mean I won’t be periodically sending them text messages asking how things are going though…

Next week, tales from Karl’s wedding!

Alfa Foundation and Trinity Services hold 8th Annual Dinner and Auction

A group of O’Fallon residents took part in the festivities. Front row, from left: Denny Cowder, Katelyn Cozad, Nancy Morrison. Back row, from left: Linda Cowder, David Cozad, Linda Cozad, and Larry Morrison.

A group of O’Fallon residents took part in the festivities. Front row, from left: Denny Cowder, Katelyn Cozad, Nancy Morrison. Back row, from left: Linda Cowder, David Cozad, Linda Cozad, and Larry Morrison.

MASCOUTAH – Katelyn Cozad seems at peace at the Trinity Gardens and Farmstead, surrounded by nature and open skies.
Despite being developmentally disabled, Katelyn, the daughter of David and Linda Cozad of O’Fallon, and the rest of the residents at the Trinity farm are having the time of their lives in the country, taking part in a ton of different activities.
This past weekend Alfa Foundation and Trinity Services held their 8th Annual Dinner and Auction at the farm. The event was Oktoberfest themed and featured live music, wine and beer tastings, German food, and a silent auction. But it was also an opportunity for everyone to come together and look and see what a wonderful place the Trinity farmstead is.
Aside from the main building, which is decorated with beautiful pieces of artwork all made by the residents, there are two large houses where the residents live. They live on the farm and grow gardens and enjoy nature. Additionally, through Trinity Services, residents have gone on field trips, worked at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows and the Mascoutah Visitors Center, and stocked shelves at the local food pantry.
“They are the happiest people I know. They live their lives not judging others based on their race, gender, economic status, or appearance. They are accepting, loving, and inviting, and they’re a truly wonderful group of people,” said David Cozad about the residents at Trinity farmstead.
The Oktoberfest event raised funds to help support the programs taking place at the farm. While Trinity does receive some state funds, that money barely scratches the surface of the needs of the organization, causing fundraising to be so important.
Cozad said he hopes one day soon O’Fallon could have a place like the Trinity Farmstead.
“I know some people may be be uncomfortable with the idea at first, but once you spend time with these great kids, its obvious what a wonderful addition a place like this would be for O’Fallon,” he said.

Two Cents Worth – Sept 30, 2015

 

My prime suspect, Figaro, laying on the dog bed with a couple of his toys. She’s nothing but trouble and enjoys batting small things around the house.  I could easily see her playing with thumbtacks...

My prime suspect, Figaro, laying on the dog bed with a couple of his toys. She’s nothing but trouble and enjoys batting small things around the house. I could easily see her playing with thumbtacks…

I’m pretty convinced that one of my cats is out to get me.  Oh, its not one specific thing that makes me think that it’s trying to do me in, but rather a collection of little incidents that have me sure that it’s attempting to harm me.

It all started earlier this week when I woke up one morning.  After turning off the alarm clock I reached for my glasses. I’m pretty much blind as a bat without my glasses and depend on them quite a bit.  This specific morning I found that they were missing.  I tried to look around for them as best I could, awkwardly patting around the bed and nightstand for them, but they just weren’t there.  This meant my only real option was to immediately begin getting ready for the day and put in my contacts, instead of my normal routine of slowly waking up and eventually hitting the shower.

After getting my contacts put in I went back to try and find my glasses.  I discovered that they’d been knocked onto the floor and pulled under the bed.  And not just a bit under the bed, but rather a significant distance to about the middle of my mattress.

Now at this point I knew it was one of the cats, but which one?

Later in the week, as I was preparing to leave the house, I grabbed my shoes.  Anyone who knows me knows I wear slip on loafer shoes, or boat shoes as my wife likes to mock them. For whatever reason I opted to pick them up and put them on in another location instead of just slipping my foot in right then and there.  I’m so glad I did.  As soon as I picked them up I heard something very small rattle inside one shoe.  I thought maybe it was a rock or something.  Turns out it was a thumbtack off of a bulletin board in my office. One of the cats had decided to try and stab my foot with it.

Again, I knew it was one of the cats, but which one?

The most recent incident came just today. I went to feed the cats and the dog their dinner.  We have wood floors in the house.  As I walked by the animal dishes on the way to the food containers, I slipped and nearly fell on some water.  One of the animals had knocked over the water dish and left a puddle on the wood floor.

Still not sure who it was, but by now I’m convinced the critters have it in for me.

Maybe I’m paranoid, but then again maybe I’m not.  All I know is that I’m checking my shoes and keeping one eye open around my house.  It’s not safe anymore.