Girls Lacrosse team undefeated after three big wins last week

OTHS Lax vs Ladue- #14 Maddie Dalonzo (Photo by Tim Grout)

The OTHS Girls Lacrosse team continued its winning ways this past week. Currently the team is undefeated, 6-0, heading into this week.

Last week, the team took the field first on Tuesday, March 26, to take on Ladue. The Lady Panthers made short work of Ladue, defeating them 11-1. 

Zoe Hicks was named the Player of the Game for three ground balls and two caused turnovers.

Brooke Thomas was named the player of the game on Wednesday, March 27, when the Lady Panthers lacrosse team took on Oakville. OTHS would win 16-5. 
(Photo by Tim Grout)

Then on Wednesday, March 27, the team took on Oakville and continued their winning streak, winning 16-5. 

Brooke Thomas was honored as the Player of the Game against Oakville for her two goals, 100 percent shooting percentage, one draw control, and three ground balls.

Finally, on Friday, March 29, the Lady Panthers won a hard fought victory against St. Joseph’s Academy, 12-8.

OTHS Lax vs Ladue- #9 Adler Maher
(Photo by Tim Grout)

Maddie Dalonzo was named the Player of the Game on Friday for her hard work and hustle, scoring six goals on nine shots, getting two assists, six draw controls, three ground balls, one interception, and one caused turnover.

The girls will take the field again this week and attempt to keep their undefeated streak alive, first on Wednesday, April 3, against Nerinx Hall and then versus John Borough’s School on Friday, April 5.

OTHS Lax vs Oakville- #28 Mia Colebrooke
(Photo by Tim Grout)

View of the Past: O’Fallon water tower construction in 1987

This week’s view shows the construction of the $546,000 O’Fallon water tower off of Behrens Drive, near the Seven Hills Road roundabout, in late October 1987.  Before being assembled, the curved sides of the tower were on the ground facing up.  Local kids discovered that they made good skateboard ramps.  As a result, the sides were soon flipped over, to the skateboarders’ dismay. 

Contributed by Brian Keller, O’Fallon Historical Society

Women Orthodontists Join Together to Donate Over $400,000 in Braces to Area Kids

St. Louis, MO – The Bistate Women’s Orthodontic Network (BWON) is preparing to change the lives of local children in need, by sponsoring the very first bi-state screening event to donate over $400,000 in braces to kids in their communities through the nationally renowned nonprofit Smiles Change Lives.  

The following female orthodontists, who are leaders not only in their communities, but their industry, are participating in this unprecedented event: Dr. Lauren Hood-Olsen, O’Fallon, IL, Dr. Christine Brinley and Dr. Jaclyn Kostelac, Maryville, IL, Dr. Brandy Burgess, Imperial, MO, Dr. Mary Ellen Helmkamp, Sunset Hills and Manchester, MO, Dr. Jodi Hentscher-Johnson, Columbia and Waterloo, IL, Dr. Sue Hong, Richmond Heights and Hazelwood, MO, and Dr. Jaclyn Scroggins, Kirkwood, Mo. Each will be joining together at two office locations to screen children for treatment at their respective practices. Registration is encouraged and is currently open to children whose families are struggling to afford necessary orthodontic treatment. 

On average, braces cost $6,000 per child, making them out of reach for many hard working families. Further, orthodontic treatment has long been considered cosmetic by insurance companies, providing little assistance, even for those that are insured. As a result, many children and teens suffer unnecessary discomfort and embarrassment from their misaligned teeth. 

“We are thrilled to be working with BWON, which has committed to donate over $400,000 in orthodontic care,” says Alexis Barclay, Director of Provider Services, Smiles Change Lives. “To make a difference in a child’s health and self-confidence feels great and is the reason we are so excited about this event.” 

Smiles Change Lives is a national nonprofit formed in 1997 under its original name, the Virginia Brown Community Orthodontic Partnership. Virginia Brown grew up during the Great Depression, and her parents could only afford to pay for orthodontic treatment for one of their children. Virginia’s sister was able to get braces, while Virginia endured years of teasing and self-consciousness until she finally received treatment during high school. Virginia and her son, Tom Brown, established Smiles Change Lives to help children today avoid the physical and emotional difficulties that Virginia herself suffered as a child. 

To qualify for the program, a child must be between the ages of 7-21, have good oral hygiene, not be wearing braces currently, have a moderate to severe need for braces, meet certain financial guidelines (e.g., for a family of 4 in St. Louis area, their household income must be below $61,500), and be willing to pay a $30 application fee and $650 program fee if accepted and placed for treatment with an SCL orthodontist.  

The Open House event will be held on Saturday, April 6, 2019 from 10:00am-2:00pm at the following locations: 

Olson Orthodontics, 741 W. State Street, Suite #2, O’Fallon, IL 62269, and 

Junction Orthodontics, 209 S. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood, MO 63122

Families should preregister for the event at https://www.smileschangelives.org/BWON-screening-event/ where they can find out more information about the locations and qualifications for treatment through Smiles Change Lives.  

If a family can’t attend the event but is interested in the program, they are encouraged to contact Smiles Change Lives at info@smileschangelives.org, or to apply directly online at www.smileschangelives.org

To date, Smiles Change Lives and its network of orthodontists have helped more than 12,000 kids receive braces in the United States and Canada. Please watch this short video to learn more: http://www.smileschangelives.org/scl-overview-video.

About Bistate Women’s Orthodontics Network:  An organization consisting of eight female orthodontists in the St. Louis area, in both Missouri and Illinois.  For more information on each of the participating orthodontists, please visit www.brinleyortho.com, www.burgessortho.com, www.pickhelmortho.com, www.hentscherjohnsonortho.com, www.aostl.com/, junctionortho.com, www.olsonbraces.com

About Smiles Change Lives:  Smiles Change Lives provides access to life-changing orthodontic treatment for children from families that cannot afford the full cost of braces. Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, the program has treated more than 12,000 children since 1997 through its network of over 800 partner orthodontists. With its origin as the Virginia Brown Community Orthodontic Partnership, Smiles Change Lives has emerged as the nation’s leader in providing access to orthodontic care for qualified children. For more information, visit www.smileschangelives.org.

OTHS Baseball takes two wins over Chicago area schools

The team congratulates the players from Adlai Stevenson on a good game. 
(Photo by Marci Lowery)

The OTHS Varsity baseball team continued their season with two more wins over Chicago area teams, Adlai Stevenson and Wheaton Warrenville South.  

The Panthers scored three runs in the bottom on the fifth inning to come from behind and defeat Adlai Stevenson 4-3.  Luke Gasser started on the mound and earned the win allowing three runs over five innings.  Logan Lowery pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings to record the save. Lowery and Josh Gibson each collected two hits and Gibson also had 2 RBIs to lead O’Fallon.  The Panthers also defeated Wheaton Warrenville South 4-0 as two pitchers combined for the shutout.  Ben Koenig threw six innings, allowing five hits and no runs.  Drew Tebbe threw one inning in relief out of the bullpen.  The Panthers tallied nine hits against WWS, including a double by Kyle Becker and two hits each for Logan Lowery and Luke Biehn. 

O’Fallon Varsity ended the week with a 4-1 loss to Christian Brothers College (CBC), one of the top ranked teams in the St. Louis area.  Vonner Panek started on the mound for the Panthers and allowed seven hits and four runs over six innings.  Lowery threw one scoreless inning in relief.  Kyle Becker lead the Panthers, going 2-3 at the plate.  

The Panthers will begin conference play April 2 at Belleville West.  O’Fallon will then play West at Blazier Field on Thursday, April 4 and Civic Memorial at Blazier Field on Friday, April 5. 

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital to host baby safety class focused on safe sleep

Lori Winkler, Injury Prevention Nurse Coordinator for Safe Kids St. Louis at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital (Submitted Photo)

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and the Pregnancy Care Center are hosting a baby safety course on Monday, April 22, presented by SSM Health Cardinal Glennon.

Lori Winkler, Injury Prevention Nurse Coordinator for Safe Kids St. Louis at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, said the two-hour baby safety class teaches caregivers the importance of safe sleep for infants. 

Winkler said while the class is primarily for underserved populations, anybody can register for the class. Winkler said the class is targeted toward prenatal mothers who are preparing for the arrival of their child as well as fathers, grandparents and infant guardians. 

At the class, caregivers will receive a bag of safety items, a folder with educational information about caring for your infant and a Pack ’n Play (some restrictions apply).

The baby safety class is funded through a grant Cardinal Glennon has from Kohl’s Cars and is free to all of the mothers and caregivers attending. 

“I do these classes all over Missouri, St. Clair County and Madison County,” Winkler said. “I like to get [mothers] in the pre-natal stage because we like for them to be prepared instead of when they are in the hospital and saying how they don’t have a car seat or that the baby would have to sleep with them,” Winkler said. 

Per guidelines for sleep safety for infants, Winkler said babies should never sleep in a bed with an individual. She noted Pack ’n Plays are the “gold standard recommendation” for sleeping infants. 

“With a Pack ’n Play, it will fit in the same room as parents,” Winkler said. She said the baby should be in the same room with its parents for the first six month of life up to the first year. 

“Never are they to be in the same bed with anyone,” she stressed. 

“A lot of parents will get bassinets but the problem there is that the bassinets are only going to last that mom for about the first couple of months and then the baby gets too big for it,” she said. “The peak time when babies are at most risk for dying from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is two to four months.”

Winkler said in some households, babies may outgrow their safe sleep environment at a critical age and with limited resources available — babies may wind up in the bed with a parent. 

Another benefit to Pack ’n Plays, according to Winkler, is that they are portable. 

Because a lot of parents are moving from place to place or have another family member watching their baby, Pack ’n Plays offer flexibility. 

Winkler said those attending the baby safety classes may vary from first time parents to those on government assistance with limited resources available to them. 

“I will never turn someone away that states they do not have a safe place for their baby to sleep,” Winkler said. 

Winkler said infant mortality rate is very high nationwide. “Nationwide, about 3600 babies will die under the age of one year old from a sleep related death,” she said. Sleep related deaths includes SIDS and also accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed. 

“About 1575 babies will have the cause of death listed as SIDS — that means over 2000 of these babies are dying from something that is preventable,” Winkler said. “That’s suffocation.” 

The baby safety classes also focus on child passenger safety, poison prevention, home safety and gun safety. 

“If anyone has a firearm and does not have a lock, we have gun locks available that we will provide them at no cost,” she said. 

Winkler said an important takeaway from the baby safety class that all parents should know is that infants should always sleep alone, on their backs, in an approved sleep environment. 

The baby safety class, in partnership with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, will take place April 22 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the Belleville Health Center fourth floor education room at 180 S. Third Street. 

Registration is required by April 11. You can sign up at the Pregnancy Care Center or call 314-268-2700 ext. 1309 and leave name and phone number to confirm your reservation. 

Van Hook presented with Illinois Senate Certificate of Recognition

Pictured from left: Mayor Herb Roach, Chief Eric Van Hook, State Senator Jason
Plummer.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Kate Crutcher)

By Kate Crutcher

O’FALLON – O’Fallon Police Chief Eric Van Hook was honored Monday with a certificate of recognition from the Illinois Senate for being named the 2019 Chief of the Year by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. 

Van Hook will be accepting an award during the Annual Awards Banquet in Oak Brook, Illinois, on April 26. The award is for Van Hook’s leadership in the community and his police department. During Monday’s presentation, State Senator Jason Plummer recognized Chief Van Hook for being selected as Illinois Chief of Year. 

“I want to thank everyone because southern Illinois is a great place to live. If you go into the communities that are growing and where families are settling down, it is the law enforcement that makes the difference. O’Fallon goes above and beyond and is a great place to be. It is not an easy job, but the entire state of Illinois is proud of the chief and what the department has done,” Senator Plummer said. 

Van Hook has served as the Chief of Police for O’Fallon since 2013. His career as a police officer started in 1990. After leaving for 15 months, to help out the neighboring town of Collinsville, he returned to O’Fallon to not only manage the O’Fallon Police Department, but also the EMS. There are 50 full-time sworn in officers, along with 31 civilians. 

“We are so fortunate to have Chief Van Hook as a leader of public safety and the team that he built through the ranks. Chief, the whole community thanks you,” O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach said.

Van Hook obtained his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Sterling College and his masters in human resource development from Webster University. 

“It is extremely humbling to be recognized. It isn’t an ‘I’ sort of thing, it is a ‘we’ sort of thing. I am the one person getting the award, but I feel like 150 people from all walks of life in O’Fallon should also be getting the award. One person is not responsible for where we are today. I am just blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing people,” Chief Van Hook said.

40th Annual Fiddle Contest and Bluegrass Show this Saturday

O’FALLON – George Portz of Shiloh will be hosting his 40th Annual KC Fiddle Contest and Bluegrass Show at the Knights of Columbus Hall in O’Fallon on Saturday, April 6. 

The Thunder & Lightning Cloggers open the show at 5 p.m. The fiddlers contest begins at 6 p.m. The contest is also known as the “Contest of Champions” as 18 past champions and place winners have gone on to perform on WSM’s Grand Ole Opry.  

A full bluegrass and country music show featuring the Friends of Bluegrass with special guest singer, Lit’l Miss Country, Ruby Pearson at 8:30 p.m. and followed by the Contest Awards at 9:30 p.m.

Full dinners, sandwiches and desserts are served all evening.  The KC Hall is located at 402 East Highway 50 across from the O’Fallon City Park.  Admission is $7 for adults and $3.50 for children. 

For more information, please call (618) 632-1384.

County gains access to Bi-State security footage to assist law enforcement

By Pam Funk

BELLEVILLE – The St. Clair County Board unanimously approved a one-year agreement with Bi-State Development Agency of the Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan District for the Sheriff’s Department to be able to view Metro’s video footage. 

The terms and conditions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) allows the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department to access copies of any video recording made by Metro Transit.  Authorized personnel from the Sheriff’s Department will have remote access to Metro Transit’s CCTV devices for real-time monitoring of video surveillance footage from cameras installed on Metro Transit’s light rail platforms and other facilities as well as have the ability to request copies of video surveillance footage from buses and light rail cars.  

Metro Transit will provide the software and connectivity, at no cost to St. Clair County, that will be housed at the Sheriff’s sub-station located at the Emerson Park MetroLink Station in East St. Louis.  The need for future locations will be decided by both parties.  

The MOU specifically states that the Sheriff’s Department only has a limited right to use the video and must be used strictly for law enforcement purposes.  Any other use of the video is prohibited. The Sheriff’s Department can’t record, download, copy, save, or distribute any video. If a copy of an event is needed by the Sheriff’s Department, a request will need to be submitted to the Metro Public Safety Department who will send the copy to the Sheriff’s Department authorized representative. Under the MOU, the Sheriff’s Department will not be able to share the video with any third party such as local law enforcement departments.  

In other action at the March 25 meeting, the Board unanimously passed the renewal of the property and casualty insurance for MidAmerica STL Airport. The renewal annual cost is $372,547, a decrease of $59,198 from the current cost. The effective date of the renewal is April 1, 2019 and expires April 1, 2020. Coverage will remain the same with the same insurance companies. Lockton, the County’s broker, will receive a $71,000 service fee that is included in the annual cost.

OTHS brings the Hunchback of Notre Dame to life

By Kate Crutcher

O’FALLON – The students of OTHS brought the classic tale, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, to life on stage during their performances on March 28-30. 

Leading up to opening night, the actors and actresses put in many hours of rehearsal time. Additionally, behind the scenes, the stage crew worked hard creating the sets by hand.

“I’ve been in 20 different shows and this one has shocked me. I’ve never seen a show come together so beautifully. It’s a story about love and friendship of the kids, and deeper topics for the adults,” Bennett English, an OTHS student who played Quasimodo, said.

O’Fallon Weekly photos by Kate Crutcher


Council gives first approval to annual budget

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – City Council approved several resolutions, the Fiscal Year 2020 budget on first reading, and a development known as Advanced Veterinary Center, LLC at Monday’s meeting. 

The FY20 budget will begin May 1, 2019 and run through April 30, 2020. The proposed budget reflects a twelve percent increase from the previous year totaling $84,102,168, primarily due to several, planned public works projects. A public hearing and the council’s second reading for the budget will be at the April 15th meeting.

A resolution declaring surplus of funds in the city’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) accounts for the 2017 tax year was approved. The surpluses for TIF #3 (Central Park Drive), TIF #4 (Highway 50/Troy-Scott Road – Metroplex), and TIF #5 (Central City) represent the agreed pass-throughs. 

The final surplus was for TIF #1 (158/Rasp Farm) which expired June 2018. As part of an agreement for their participation in the property tax abatement incentive in the enterprise zone, the city agreed to declare a surplus for the remaining funds in TIF #1 and distribute the balance proportionally to all taxing bodies instead of using the balance for a sewer project within the TIF area. The balance for TIF #1 is $300,343.06 for the 2017 taxes. 

Council approved an Intergovernmental Agreement with school districts 90 and 203 for the Mid-America Enterprise Zone. The two districts voted last month to participate in the property tax abatement incentive for the enterprise zone. This agreement defines their participation and contains verbiage specifically requested by the districts regarding the start of the abatement schedule when the city issues the occupancy permit versus assessment. It was also requested to have clarifying verbiage regarding the expiration of the enterprise zone so the district’s voluntary participation would also expire at that time, regardless of where a property was in the ten year abatement schedule.

Resolutions were approved for two redevelopment agreements for properties on East First Street in Downtown O’Fallon. The agreements allow for the developers to receive reimbursement of eligible expenses from the Central City TIF. The first is for the redevelopment of the building at 105-109 East First Street, one space is currently leased by Furchild Pet Boutique. The second is for the development of the project known as First Street Exchange, to be located at 131 East First Street. Construction is ongoing, with half the space pre-leased to a popular, local coffee and cupcake bar. 

Additional resolutions were pertaining to upcoming Public Works projects. Two resolutions were specific to the Seven Hills Road resurfacing project. The city has received federal grant money to cover seventy-five percent of the construction costs, $434,250, and IDOT requires specific engineering studies to be performed to receive those funds. The resolutions were for $77,000 for engineering services from Oates Associates and approval to use Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) funds to pay for the services. 

An amendment to an agreement with HMG Engineers Inc. was also approved, increasing the costs from $409,500 to $505,750 for Phase 2 of the wastewater treatment plant improvements. The increase is due to the IEPA recommendation to include new filters to reduce phosphorus effluent levels. The new plans and redesign will include the new filters and remove the addition of a third clarifier from the previous plan. 

The council also approved an engineering agreement with Dixon Engineering, Inc. for $50,176.10 for water storage tank improvements for the State Street and Seven Hills Road water towers. Inspections completed last year indicated both towers need exterior painting and interior painting of the State Street water tower. The agreement is for plans and specifications to bid the work and construction observation. 

Council approved on first reading a development known as Advanced Veterinary Clinic, LLC to be located at 706 and 800 East Highway 50. The properties were previously occupied by Memorial Healthcare. The applicant is Dr. Jim Bollmeier. The larger building will be used for veterinary exams, surgical procedures, and limited boarding of patient animals. The smaller building will primarily be used for day boarding and grooming. 

History Made At COTA With Herta Win

Colton Herta at COTA
(Photo by Chris Owens)

IndyCar’s inaugural race at the highly regarded Circuit of The Americas in Austin was won by the youngest driver in the field for his first career win in the series, in only his third NTT IndyCar race.

Colton Herta (Harding Steinbrenner Racing, Honda) delivered a solid day’s driving to capitalize on Will Power’s (Team Penkse, Chevrolet) misfortune to become the youngest winner of an IndyCar race, less than one week shy of his 19th birthday, 

Oh my God, this doesn’t feel real,” he said as he coasted around the track after taking the checkered flag.

Power, who started on his 56th career pole position, took command from the green and looked as if he was going to walk away with the win on the 3.41-mile, 20-turn permanent road course. His only constant challenger was Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosports, Honda) who last experienced this track during his Formula One days. The two of them were readying for their final pit stop of the race when on Lap 45 it all changed with the only full-field yellow. 

Jockeying for 10th position James Hinchcliffe (Arrow Schmidt Peterson Racing, Honda) hit the rear of Felix Rosenqvist (Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda) sending Rosenqvist spinning into the inside barrier at Turn 19.

During this caution the leaders came into the pits. As Power was accelerating to leave his car stopped and wouldn’t engage due to mechanical issues. His team frantically tried everything, including pushing the car, but it was done. After leading 45 of the 60-lap race Power climbed out of the car. 

“It feels like an input shaft,” he said. “It felt like it snapped. Massively disappointed, man. If the yellow didn’t get us, the driveshaft did.”

Herta, who was in fourth at the time of Power, Rossi and Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda) pitting, inherited the lead. When the race restarted with 10 laps to go the rookie launched like a seasoned veteran leaving Josef Newgarden (Team Penske, Chevrolet) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosports, Honda) behind by as much as 4 seconds.

At the end Herta claimed victory by 2.78 seconds over Newgarden followed by Hunter-Reay. Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Honda) and Sebastien Bourdais (Dale Coyne Racing, Honda) rounded out the top 5. 

Next on the NTT IndyCar Series schedule is the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday, April 7.

Naeelah Chism is Selected for Fulbright U.S. Student Program Award

(LEBANON, IL.) — McKendree University senior Naeelah Chism has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Grant to be an English teaching assistant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for 10 months. The highly competitive Fulbright program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange initiative. Each year, more than 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals are offered grants to study, teach English or conduct research in more than 160 countries. 

“I was first drawn to Malaysia after learning more about the Vision 2020 plan that is currently underway to help Malaysia achieve developed nation status by 2020,” said Chism. “This country hopes to develop in a variety of areas and this includes economic development, sustainability, strengthening infrastructure, improving well-being for all, and enhancing inclusiveness toward an equitable society. I found this most interesting about Malaysia.” 

Students are chosen for the Fulbright based on their academic merit and leadership qualities. Chism, of Fairview Heights, Ill., will graduate from McKendree University in May with a bachelor’s degree in political science and minors in gender and legal studies. She is a 2019 recipient of the university’s Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award, which recognizes compassion, understanding, tolerance and participation in service programs. She volunteers at the Christian Activity Center, is an assistant resident director, a leader in the United Feminists group and active in the “It’s on Us” week on campus. In 2018, she went to Washington, D.C., to advocate for sexual health education and women’s rights. 

Upon her return to the U.S., she plans to pursue a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy. 

The Fulbright Program is the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program, designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries. Since its inception in 1946, it has provided more than 380,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and other professionals with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Fulbright alumni include 59 Nobel Laureates, 82 Pulitzer Prize winners, 72 MacArthur Fellows, 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, and thousands of leaders across the private, public and non-profit sectors. 

The program is federally funded and overseen by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in more than 160 countries and the U.S. also provide direct and indirect support.

McKendree Students to Perform ‘Dead Man’s Cell Phone’ Apr. 4-7

(LEBANON, IL.) — A man dies in a quiet café. His cell phone continues to ring incessantly until the woman at the next table picks it up—and gets caught up in his troubles. So begins “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” presented by the McKendree University Theatre Department, Apr. 4-7 at the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts. The Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday’s matinee starts at 2:30 p.m.

Admission is free but reservations are required. Contact the Hett box office between noon and 4 p.m. at 618-537-6863. The Hett opens for general admission seating 30 minutes early.

Written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Sarah Ruhl, “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” premiered in 2007 and won a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play. The play explores modern technology’s ability to both connect and isolate people, said Director Michelle Magnussen, associate professor of theatre.

Cast members are Loren Terveer as Jean; Andrew Letscher as Gordon, a dead man with lots of loose ends; Brittany Thompson as Mrs. Gottlieb, his mother; Amanda Morgan as Carlotta; JD Lindley as Dwight, Gordon’s brother; and Korenna Anderson as Hermia, Gordon’s widow.

Makenna Kramer and Hunter Tucker are stage managers for the show. Assisting Technical Director Douglas Magnussen is crew member Elizabeth Birkner.

SWIC to host Spring Job Fair April 4

Belleville, IL. – If you’re looking for a new job or just want to explore your employment possibilities, it’s time for you to attend the Spring Job Fair at Southwestern Illinois College.

The fair runs from 9 a.m. to noon, Thursday, April 4 in the Belleville Campus Varsity Gym, 2500 Carlyle Ave. All job seekers are welcome and should arrive dressed to impress with plenty of copies of their résumés. The job fair is open to the public. 

More than 120 employers representing a variety of career fields are expected to attend the fair.

For more information about the fair and the entire list of companies attending, visit swic.edu/career-services and click the 2019 Spring Job Fair Employer List link.

For more information, call Career Services at 618-235-2700, ext. 5562, or toll free in Illinois at 866-942-SWIC (7942), ext. 5562.

Get paid to start your health care career

Lleyna Gorka, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital’s Patient Care Tech program facilitator congratulates Cailey Smotts for completing the training program. 
(Submitted Photo)

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health care occupations is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.4 million new jobs. Health care occupations are projected to add more jobs than any of the other occupational groups but the costs of getting trained for clinical care positions may be higher than some can afford. HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital looked at this issue and developed a new program to create a bridge into the industry. 

The hospital’s new Patient Care Tech (PCT) program began as an opportunity for current colleagues to train on-the-job to open additional job paths within the hospital and HSHS system. Its start-up success has led to opening up the application process to the public. 

The PCT program is an 8-week paid training program that combines classroom education with hands-on clinical experience. The program consists of two classroom days every week for four weeks. Time is also spent working on a hospital unit for the first four weeks, followed by a four-week internship supported by preceptors. 

Some patient care technician programs require students to pay for the program, which could be cost prohibitive to some who are working full-time already and may not have the means or time. St. Elizabeth’s program is somewhat unique because participants learn on the job and, upon successful completion of the program objectives, have a position at the hospital. 

“The initial idea was to have a mechanism for our internal colleagues, who already had the heart and compassion for clinical care, with on-the-job training to provide the next steps towards a fulfilling career in hands-on patient care as a patient care tech,” said Regina Peterson, DNP, RN, Division Director Clinical Education and Professional Development, SID Float Pool and SID RN Residency. 

The first cohort of the PCT program started in January and the students celebrated their transition ceremony, a form of a graduation for the participants, on March 19, 2019 to celebrate the completion of the program. 

“If it wasn’t for the PCT program, I would not be here with you today,” said Cailey Smotts at the transition ceremony. A member of the first PCT cohort, Smotts worked in many health-related fields including in a pharmacy, a physical therapy clinic, as medic in the army and currently as an EMT but her previous experiences, though valuable, didn’t translate a into the necessary certification to get hired as a clinical nurse assistant or other patient care positions.  

“The first cohort was composed of beautiful people from many different backgrounds who came together to build a small family,” Smotts said. “St. Elizabeth’s Hospital made it apparent to us quickly that we were not part of something ordinary or small, but rather we were joining a family that had a larger mission.”

Program facilitator Lleyna Gorka, RN, BSN, shared that many of the first cohort had the passion for caring and this gave them the opportunity to bring their joy and mission-driven personality to a higher level of care. Members included current employees from Environmental Services, Food and Nutrition Services and other clinical support departments within the hospital. 

“It’s a paid opportunity to learn,” said Gorka. “This program provides experiences, tools and onsite training to enhance skills students may have gathered from past positions and give them added support to grow in the clinical care field. I’m truly proud of the first group and very excited to continue to grow the program.” 

“With St. Elizabeth’s PCT program, we are instilling not just the clinical skills but the culture and tradition that comes with the long history of service that St. Elizabeth’s has,” she added. 

The second cohort will start in April 2019. Applications are currently being accepted for the next cohort of the PCT program. Applications are available online at www.hshscareers.jobs. To learn more about the program email Gorka at Lleyna.Gorka@hshs.org or call 618-234-2120, ext. 12548.