Council committee given update on proposed vet clinic, special events

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The Community Development Committee met Monday night, but was unable to take any action due to a lack of quorum. 

The committee received information about three special event permits and the second reading for the development known as Advanced Veterinary Center. 

A special event permit was submitted by Country Lane Produce for flower sales at 1790 W. Highway 50 for multiple dates in April, May and June. The business, Eagle TG, located 1728 Corporate Crossing submitted a special event permit for a weekly food truck through the end of the year, pursuant to the mobile food vendor ordinance set in place late 2018. The third special event permit request was from the Marie Schaefer PTO for the Fun Fest scheduled April 26, 2019 in which they are requesting road closure north of the school on Fifth Street for rides. 

No changes were made regarding the Advanced Veterinary Center due to a lack of quorum, but the applicant, Dr. Jim Bollmeier, addressed the committee asking for the council to consider changing the sign and fence requirement. The development will be located at 706 and 800 East Highway 50. The signage for the property at 706 no longer meets the city ordinance. Since the sign has been vacant for over twelve months, it must now meet ordinance requirements. Dr. Bollmeier is requesting an exception to allow the old sign to be used. 

The requirement for a six-foot, vinyl fence along the south side of the property has been changed a couple times since the filing of the application. Staff’s original recommendation was for a six-foot fence to be installed. The Planning Commission removed the fence as a condition when they approved the project on March 12. The Community Development Committee later added the fence back in as a condition which was approved by council on first reading on April 1. Dr. Bollmeier is requesting the fence requirement be removed, citing concerns for placement, erosion it may cause and cost. He did indicate a fence will be installed behind the property at 800 East Highway 50 because of dog walking area for the clinic.

First National Bank of Waterloo teaches St. Clare students about saving

First National Bank of Waterloo’s Marketing Director Laura Mergelkamp discusses the importance of saving with third graders at St. Clare School. (Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – As part of a national program designed to help kids develop savings habits early in life, representatives from First National Bank of Waterloo visited the third graders at St. Clare School on Wednesday, April 3.

The students learned about topics such as interest rates, debit cards and the basics of where money comes from. First National Bank of Waterloo’s Marketing Director, Laura Mergelkamp, said the most important message they are trying to teach kids is that it doesn’t matter how you save, but it’s important to start saving.  

“This is a really fun program to be a part of because, so often, kids have never thought about how the money in the ATM gets there,” said Mergelkamp. “You can see their wheels turning once we start explaining that their parents’ paychecks get deposited into the bank and then can be taken out of the ATM. It helps them realize that the money isn’t limitless.” 

Mergelkamp said the program also focuses on teaching kids to make smart financial choices on a daily basis. Mergelkamp uses a ‘money tree’ to explain how every financial decision they make requires them to make a choice between saving and spending.   

“I often use cereal as an example. Kids usually want to pick the one with the really pretty box but they don’t think about the fact that it costs $2 more than the same cereal in a different box. It’s a good visual for them to see how quickly the money goes depending on the choices they make,” said Mergelkamp.

First National Bank of Waterloo’s employees travel to ten schools throughout the Metro East speaking with kids about financial topics. The program reaches more than 800 students each year and continues to grow.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Janelle Hensler wins Ambassador Impact Chamber Salute to Business Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brad McMillin for O’Fallon’s historic City Hall wins Beautification Chamber Salute to Business Award

Developer Brad McMillin will be presented with the Chamber of Commerce’s Salute to Business Award for Beautification for his work restoring O’Fallon’s Old City Hall.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

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

Brad McMillin has a long history of development in the O’Fallon community. On Wednesday, April 10, McMillin will be recognized as a O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce Salute to Business award recipient for renovation of the historic City Hall. 

Along with the Old City Hall renovation, McMillin’s most notable developments are: 

• Beltone Hearing Aid Center – it was built 33 years ago, torn down and rebuilt 15 years ago. 

• Western Sizzler – it was purchased and remodeled in 1993. 

• The Econo Lodge (Quality Inn) – A new development for McMillin that was constructed in 2000

• The Peel building 

• Unity Yoga & Wellness – remodeled in 2016

• Old City Hall – Purchased and renovated in 2018

• 1st Street Exchange – currently under construction 

• TownPlace Suites by Marriott – currently under construction; expected to open late April of 2019.

“Unity Yoga & Wellness was certainly the most significant project to date,” McMillin said. “It holds a special place to me because my wife, Time McMillin owns and operates the business.” 

“I’m accustomed to remodeling buildings for myself or for others within the community, but working on this project was a labor of love for both my wife and I,” he said. 

McMillin said he grew up in a small town where there wasn’t a lot of development and growth. 

“Being apart of a community that plans for its future residents is not only inspiring, but it creates a great atmosphere for residents and business alike.” 

“For 33 years I have focused on growing the Midwest Beltone,” McMillin said. “Our corporate office in O’Fallon is the headquarters for what has become the largest Beltone dispenser.”

This year, Beltone will expand its offices to Florida and by the end of the year, Midwest Beltone will grow to over 130 locations. 

McMillin said he is lucky to have experienced the growth of O’Fallon first hand. 

“I watched cornfields transform into shopping malls and strip centers,” he said. “Corporations and hospitals have settled in for the along haul, making O’Fallon a career centered destination.” 

“But, what is heartwarming to see is the resurgence of downtown O’Fallon. It’s a place where you can spend time with your family, dine, shop and play,” McMillin said. 

“Brad McMillin is a champion of development in our community,” Chamber president Sid LeGrand said. “The renovation of Old City Hall is a wonderful testament to the history of downtown O’Fallon.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wolfersberger Funeral Home wins Community Service Chamber Salute to Business Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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. 

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. 

Local real estate professionals honored at annual luncheon

O’FALLON – The REALTOR Association of Southwestern Illinois (RASI) recently recognized members at its annual Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at the St. Clair County Club.

Steve Ellerbrake, Broker with RE/MAX Preferred in O’Fallon received the 2019 Professionalism Award. Professionalism is the backbone of the REALTOR Association of Southwestern Illinois. 

According to RASI, “Steve is a true professional. Through his commitment to the Association as a Director and a member of the Budget & Finance Committee, he is well-respected and was nominated by his peers for this award. As busy as this member can be, he will always take the time out of his day for you. His quick wit and his fun personality help make him the professional he is.”

Additionally, Whitney Wisnasky-Bettorf and Courtney Marsh, brokers at Red Door Realty Group of Progressive Property Network, received the Ruby Award. This award is reserved for teams that completed 80 or more transactions or over $15 million in sales in the calendar year. 

District 203 property tax rate to decrease next year

O’FALLON – At the O’Fallon District 203 meeting, superintendent Dr. Darcy Benway announced that the tax rate of the district will reduce. 

“We did receive an EAV from St. Clair County and our tax rate as a school district is scheduled to go down almost three and a half cents,” Benway said. “So the EAV is increasing, which will allow us to support the additional students coming into our district.”

Benway said no action needs to be taken because the tax levy – which was previously approved, will not be changed.

“It doesn’t mean peoples tax rates necessarily go down because it depends on the value of your home, it depends on all of the other taxing bodies and other things,” she said. “Our rate and portion of that as its charged against your assessed evaluation as tax payers is reduced.”

Benway said the taxable EAV figure is $969,443,656. 

During her report, OTHS Assistant Superintendent Dr. Martha Weld said the Feed the Future program, which started in January, has culminated in 186 lunch bags being given out to 62 different students. 

By grade level, 18 percent is given to freshman, 32 percent to sophomores, 27 percent to juniors and 23 percent to seniors. 

“There really isn’t a significant difference between grade level,” Weld said. 

Weld said 18 percent of students utilizing the program are not on Free and Reduced lunches. 

“Social workers have established relationships with them so that has been a real positive for us,” Weld said. 

There has been approximately $800 spent in the program. Funds are supported fully by OTHS staff and community donations. 

“We are trying to make students more aware of it, we are giving a flyer to every student — not just those who technically qualify because that would be stigmatizing.”

“We have expanded pick up locations to the nurses office and to our speech pathologist as well,” Weld said.

In other action… 

• District 203 board members approved an intergovernmental agreement with the City of O’Fallon regarding the MidAmerica St. Clair County Enterprise Zone. 

• The Board approved the Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of O’Fallon and O’Fallon Community School District No. 90 (regarding the MidAmerica St. Clair County Enterprise Zone).

• A motion was approved for the purchase agreement for land adjacent to Milburn School as presented, and to authorize the Superintendent to execute all related documents to effect the purchase of the property, subject to the review of legal counsel.

• A motion was approved for the Agreement Granting Ameren Illinois an Electric Easement

• A motion was approved for the the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Membership Renewal

Public Works approves funding plan for Seven Hills Road resurfacing

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The Public Works committee approved to go to council resolutions regarding 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. 

Public Works Director Jeff Taylor is hopeful to begin the resurfacing project next year. The grant is specific to the resurfacing of the road, so the city is working on preliminary plans for another grant to address traffic mitigation on that road. 

An amendment to an agreement with HMG Engineers Inc. was also presented, 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 committee 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.

Local nonprofit Swing Fore Hope raises money for cancer research through 12th annual golf tournament

O’FALLON – Swing Fore Hope, a local organization that raises money for cancer research, is helping local families throughout the O’Fallon community. 

Brett Gilliland, Co-founder and CEO of Visionary Wealth Advisors in O’Fallon, and his wife Julie Gilliland created Swing Fore Hope in 2007. In 2003, Julie’s maternal grandmother, mom and two aunts were diagnosed with breast cancer within a seven month period. Julie and Brett felt compelled to do something. 

“They were faced with that one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer over the course of their lifetime,” Kate Sollberger, Chief Operating Officer of Visionary Wealth Advisors and supporter of Swing Fore Hope said. Sollberger became involved with the organization after she started working with Brett in 2007.

Brett and Julie soon decided to raise money for cancer research and started the 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Swing Fore Hope. 

According to Sollberger, the main fundraising event for the nonprofit is a golf tournament held at Far Oaks in Caseyville. Additional fundraising efforts are done throughout the year with a lip sync battle and a live performance at an event called Rock Fore Hope. 

“Each year, 100 percent of the proceeds go toward cancer research and to support local families facing financial hardships that this disease may bring.” Sollberger said.

Local families have been assisted through mortgage payments, medical bills, transportation costs, therapeutic chairs, monthly expenses and many other miscellaneous needs.

Since its creation in 2007, Swing Fore Hope has raised and donated over $500,000 to The Siteman Cancer Center and local families. 

“2019 is sure to be our biggest year yet,” Sollberger said. “We held our Rock Fore Hope and Lip Sync Battle in January 2019 and are planning for our twelfth golf tournament on Monday, June 24 at Far Oaks in Caseyville, Illinois.”

For more information, to donate or volunteer, go to SwingForeHope.org.

Agreements for redevelopment in downtown, new veterinary clinic approved by committee

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The Community Development Committee approved to move to council 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. 

The committee also approved to send to council 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. 

Residents on Holliday Drive have raised concerns to the city and planning commission regarding drainage along the south side of the development, noise and odors from dogs outside, and buffer requirements. No residents were present at the community development committee meeting. 

The committee amended the conditions for the project before approval. The Planning Commission had removed the staff recommendation of a six foot vinyl fence to be placed along the south side of the property, the committee put that condition back in the agreement. The Planning Commission added a condition for the city to evaluate drainage issues and concerns along the rear of the property. The city determined there to be a couple of places along the south side of the property that need to be addressed to prevent further erosion of the creek bed. The committee asked for verbiage be added requiring the property owner to resolve the issues the city’s inspection identified. The city also indicated there is work budgeted for FY20 along the east side of the property to help with some of the drainage issues.