City departments begin presenting FY20 budgets

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – Budget presentations for the FY20 budget have started within the committees this week. The Finance & Administration, Community Development and Public Works committees met on Monday to receive detail on the proposed budgets for city departments tied to those committees.

The Finance Department provided an overview of the entire budget, leaving specific details to the individual departments. 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. 

Public Works projects represent 50.5% of the total proposed FY20 city budget. The largest item being upgrades and additions to the waste water treatment plan that were included in the city’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan. The project will include the installation of a sludge dewatering facility and the installation of filters to reduce phosphorus effluent levels. Approximately $4 million from the waste water reserve account will be transferred to help fund the $9 million project. 

Other public works projects planned for the FY20 budget year include sewer lining work and water main replacements in the Southview Gardens subdivision, the Rieder Road lift station, phase four of the presidential streets stormwater improvements, and drainage improvements along Smiley. Public Works is also requesting the addition of a full-time fleet mechanic. The city currently has one mechanic that services all city vehicles, to include police and parks vehicles. 

The Community Development Department is seeking a seventeen percent increase over last year’s budget. The increase is primarily attributed to the staff addition of another Code Enforcement Officer to help with the significant increase in property inspections and citizen code complaints, Phase Two of the city software platform City Works, and the addition of a new line item for developer-funded studies. 

The Finance Department also recommended each department add a line item for capital reserves as a way to plan for long-term projects. As an example, the Community Development Department placed $25,000 in the capital reserves line for a future comprehensive plan that will likely cost $100,000 when completed in the future. 

On March 11th, the Parks & Recreation and Public Safety committees will receive their departmental budget presentations. A final review will be done on March 25th by the Finance Committee. The City Council will vote on first reading to approve the FY20 budget on April 1st.

Shiloh trustees discuss special use permit for home daycare

Agustin Bramwell requested a special use permit from the Shiloh Village Board on Monday to allow a home daycare. The issue was tabled so Bramwell and his attorney could work with village attorney Terry Bruckert about how to proceed. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

SHILOH – At the Shiloh Committee at Large meeting on Monday, a Shiloh resident approached the board to solicit a special use permit for a home daycare at 2300 Lebanon Avenue. 

Agustin Bramwell said he bought a house five months ago off of Lebanon Avenue near Anderson Lane in Shiloh and wants to have the building turned into a home daycare facility.

Bramwell said the house was built in 1928 and is currently zoned commercially rather than residentially. Because it was built prior to 1999, Village administrator John Marquart said by current law it is able to be purchased and used as a single- family home. However, Bramwell would need a special use permit in order to operate the daycare because it is commercially zoned. 

“It’s not going to be a daycare center,” Bramwell said. “It’s going to be a house with a daycare business.” 

Bramwell said the difference between a home daycare and a daycare center is the size of the operation. He said his home daycare would be limited to six to eight children. 

While Bramwell said he would not reside at the residence, there is an individual hoping to rent the property. She would also be instrumental in running the daycare business. 

Mayor Jim Vernier noted the lack of fencing around the property may be dangerous for a daycare operation. 

Vernier said the discussion surrounding the special use permit would not be decided at the Feb. 25 meeting. He suggested that Bramwell’s lawyer and the Village attorney, Terry Bruckert, sit down and discuss the matter before they proceed. 

“I’m sympathetic to your cause and I appreciate that you’re wanting to do something like this, but we have to make sure it’s done right,” Vernier said. “We have to protect our interests here.”

In other action, Village trustees passed an ordinance that would regulate fishing in Three Springs Lake. 

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has recommended that fishing be allowed in the lake to maintain appropriate fish species levels, but yet not to over- fish and deplete certain species. 

The IDNR also recommends the Village restock the Channel Catfish population every three years, at 50 fish per acre beginning the end of 2020 or early 2021. 

Trustees also approved to move forward with the Three Springs Park Master Plan. The master plan is a multi-phase project to revamp and upgrade opportunities at Shiloh’s largest open space. 

The first stage in the master plan is to provide maintenance to current park facilities within the 80- acre space. 

The project will ultimately include welcoming signs at the park entrance, pavilions for families, widening of trails, tennis court improvements, a lake bridge, updated playground equipment and more.

Lebanon city council approves TIF district expansion

EDR Project Manager Daniel Schmidt shows the Lebanon City Council the additional 116 acres of property that were deemed able to use TIF development funding. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

By Angela Simmons

LEBANON – Lebanon City Council gave a final approving vote to the amendment to the TIF eligibility study. Economic Development Resources (EDR) Project Manager Daniel Schmidt made a presentation before the vote detailing just what the amendment would cover, and gave the results of the eligibility study that he conducted. 

The area originally voted into the Lebanon TIF District was between South Fritz and South Madison streets along Route 50, and contained seven parcels. The new area would be a significant expansion to 49 parcels, four of which are vacant. 

The part of the 116 acres inside the new TIF district that’s developed include “38 buildings, according to St. Clair County with more than 50 percent, something like 60 percent, being of the age of 35 years or more. That allows us to look to qualify the area as a conservation area,” Schmidt said. 

He explained undeveloped parcels have been subdivided and meet the definition of vacant land. EDR’s study led Schmidt to work hand in hand with the city to find things like asbestos and clay piping in utilities, lack of sidewalks, improper subdivision of parcels, low light levels and other issues that fall short of current development standards.

“The final factor that we have is a lack of growth and equalized assessed value,” said Schmidt, noting that similar conditions existed in the vacant land. He concluded his presentation by suggesting that the council consider expanding to include the newly analyzed areas to help with redevelopment before they became blighted. 

The vote to accept the study was unanimous, meaning the city can seek TIF redevelopment funds to help develop the area. Mayor Rich Wilken announced that he had spoken with Mike Elbe, and the grocery store project was in the hands of architects and engineers, and the store is still slated for a September 2019 opening. 

In Other News:

• Planning Commission Chairman Jeff Fairlie spoke to the board about the difference between Residential Design Districts (RDD) and Planned Unit Developments (PUD) after a recent vote by the council to have a subdivision development by Jeff LaDriere fall under the guidelines of a PUD. The planning commission had previously recommended adopting an RDD ordinance to allow the development to move forward.

Fairlie said adopting an RDD ordinance, which would be the first of it’s kind in the area according to Attorney John Long, “could be a shiny new penny” and “a draw” for the city. “We would have a new avenue and a new vehicle form to use. We also believe the guidance could be written in clear, new language that will best allow Lebanon to drive the community in the direction that we want to go,” Fairlie said. 

He reaffirmed that the planning commission reaffirmed their original recommendation of adopting an RDD, but that under a PUD, the commission agreed to allow the minimum size to be reduced from five acres to three. He added that the commission wanted to allow LaDriere to move forward with the development as soon as possible. 

The council voted to amend the PUD ordinance to reflect the acreage changes. LaDriere said he just wanted to “dig in the dirt and build some houses.”

• Planning Commission Member Don Burgett needed to step down. The council voted to appoint Jeremy Corbett to take the open seat. 

• The council unanimously voted to put Phase I of the Roger Drive project out for bid. Resident Noel Harpe thanked the council for taking a step forward. Harpe’s property has been subject of severe flooding and sinkholes for over two decades. Due to the hardships of Harpe and her neighbors, the council wanted to move forward with that part of the project first.

Committee gives early approval to liquor store, despite objections

The proposed liquor store would be located at 2020 West Highway 50, the former home of Creve Coeur Camera. Neighboring business owners Drs. James and Ellen Bollmeier spoke, along with a couple property owners near the location, regarding their concern for the type of business being proposed at that location.. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The Community Development Committee approved two plans for proposed businesses, including a package liquor store that will go into the former site of Creve Coeur Camera. 

There were many residents and visitors in the audience Monday night to speak in favor and opposition to a proposed business looking to occupy the location at 2020 West Highway 50 previously known as Creve Coeur Camera. The applicant, Davutnan Kilic, is hoping the council will approve the rezoning of the property to allow him to open a package liquor store. The planning commission voted 4-3 on February 12 against the planned use of the property. 

The property owner, Brad McMillin, addressed the committee stating Kilic is wanting to open a high-end liquor store, aimed at selling primarily unique wines and spirits. 

“We will work with the city regarding any fencing for security and aesthetically with landscaping, as well as lighting and cameras,” said McMillin.

Neighboring business owners Drs. James and Ellen Bollmeier spoke, along with a couple property owners near the location, regarding their concern for the type of business being proposed at that location. The Bollmeiers addressed current issues they have along the backs of their properties, Bollmeier Dental and 4Paws Animal Hospital, with trash, bottles, cigarette butts and occasionally finding strangers sitting behind their properties drinking alcohol. There is a portion of the fencing that does not connect, allowing people to enter the back of their property.

Staff noted this property, prior to Creve Coeur Camera, was a 7-Eleven convenience store which sold liquor. Because the planned use changed to a business that did not sell liquor after the 7-Eleven left is why the applicant is seeking a zoning amendment now. Should this business leave, another business that sells liquor could replace it without needing council approval of the planned use. 

Ward 4 Alderman Mark Morton made a motion for approval, with an amendment that the property owner will need to provide adequate fencing to separate it from the neighboring properties. The council will vote on this item for first reading at their March 4th meeting.

In other business, the committee also approved a planned use for Sunbelt Rentals at 8520 East Highway 50, a development that will include an 8,995 square foot building, 1,100 square feet of display/sales area and 5,000 square feet of warehouse/repair area. The committee approved an amendment requiring a decorative fence along the front of the property with an exception granted to have a black, vinyl-coated chain link fence in the back. 

Council will also see at their March 4th meeting two resolutions for subdivision of land. The first is a for a five lot minor subdivision along Lawn Avenue, just south of State Street, to be known as the Wallace Woods Subdivision. The applicant is proposing the construction of five, single-family residences. The second is for the office park known as Insight Professional Park, to be located behind Green Mount Road Harley Davidson. The subdivision of the office park will be for approximately six office buildings, with common maintenance of the parking lot and landscaping.

OTHS to hold Skilled Trades & Career Fair

O’FALLON – O’Fallon Township High School will be holding its first ever Skilled Trades & Career Fair. 

The fair will be held on Thursday, March 7, from 8 a.m. to noon in the South Gym located at the Smiley Campus. Over 20 programs will be in attendance to meet and discuss post high school opportunities with students. Students will have a chance to discuss career opportunities with individuals currently working in fields where jobs are in high demand. 

The fair is geared towards students who are looking to pursue a trade or certificate program out of high school or those who show a talent and interest in technical programs. Senior and junior classes are signed up to attend the fair as part of their classroom instruction. Many of the CTE classes have also opted to attend. Students are also able to sign up for an individual pass in guidance. The fair is open to all OTHS students at the Smiley campus. 

The fair is being organized by Christina Buehler, of the Special Education Department, and Tiffany Lugge, Guidance Department Chair. If you are aware of any programs interested in participating please contact Christina Buehler at 618-632-3507 extension 629. 

• Programs Attending: 

• Illinois Laborers & Contractors JATP

• Local 309 Electricians

• BSNSF Railway

• Paul Mitchell

• Universal Technical Institute

• Southern Illinois Builders Association

• Southern Illinois Carpenter’s Joint Apprenticeship Program

• Premier CDL School

• Ranken Technical Institute

• Illinois Department of Corrections

• Kaskaskia College Cosmetology and Nail Technician 

• O’Fallon Emergency Medical Services

• Building and Construction Trades Council of STL 

• Ameren Apprenticeship Program

• Department of Rehabilitation Services

• Southwestern Illinois College Programs in the following areas:

• Admissions

• Industrial Technology

• Aviation Mechanics

• Pilot

• Paralegal Studies

• HVAC

• Health Services

• Sign Language Studies

• Music Education

Cincotta presents to Sunrise Rotary, details downtown development plans

Photographer Salvatore Cincotta gives a presentation to the Sunrise Rotary Club about his businesses and plans for development in Downtown O’Fallon. 

O’FALLON – A world-renowned photographer with an eye for revitalization projects is investing big time in downtown O’Fallon. 

Salvatore Cincotta, who operates a photography business bearing his name at 226 West State Street, presented to the Sunrise Rotary Club of O’Fallon on Wednesday, Feb. 20 and discussed how he came to work in O’Fallon, his business ventures and his plans to broaden the community’s economy. 

Cincotta said he and his 40 employees begin their day at 8 a.m. and work until around 11 p.m. 

“We love what we do, we’re very creative, but there’s also this curiosity about what we do out of that building,” he said.

Originally from New York, Cincotta said the first question he gets from people is, “Why O’Fallon?”

“I worked in tech for about 15 years, bouncing all over United States in tech. I worked with Microsoft, Proctor and Gamble. I ended up in St. Louis and I had a friend who said ‘if you’re going to buy a home, you need to live on the other side of the river’,” he said.

“At Microsoft, I got tired of working for someone else,” Cincotta continued. “I loved photography. I said to myself, ‘I don’t care about how much money I make. All I want to do is what I love for the rest of my life.’ If I can wake up every day doing what I love, that’s not really working.”

Cincotta said that he started Salvatore Cincotta Photography 12 years ago out of his basement in his home on North Lincoln. 

“We weren’t quite sure how the photography thing would work out,” he said. “We would drive by the old furniture store and say ‘One day we will be in that building’ and that was our dream and aspiration as we were growing our business.”

Cincotta has a decorated resume, including a photography shoot with President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama at a fundraising event in Missouri. 

While Cincotta is widely known for his photography, including “high end” wedding photography, he quickly started evolving his business into other services. Cincotta produces Shutter Magazine, considered the largest professional photography magazine in the world. 

“It’s produced locally, printed locally and in Barnes and Noble around the United States,” he said. 

Cincotta said his company hosts a conference called Shutter Fest in St. Louis and brings in 3,000 photographers from all over the world. The conference is the third largest such conference in the world.  

Additionally, Cincotta said his company specializes in generating 30-second videos for small businesses geared to target younger generations.

“In my staff of 40, we have photographers, video, graphic design, web design and social media expertise,” he said. “We started realizing small businesses need help with social media.”

Aside from his businesses, Cincotta is interested in revitalizing parts of Downtown O’Fallon and bringing more to the area.

“We’re getting more involved with real estate,” he said. “We believe in developing O’Fallon.”

Cincotta purchased Paul’s Frame Shop at the corner of South Lincoln Avenue and East State Street with the intent to have it rehabbed, before he discovered it required $140,000 in lead paint mitigation.

Because of his love for historic buildings and his dream of the revitalization of Downtown O’Fallon, he said he decided to “putting our money where our mouth is” and invest in downtown. 

Since acquiring the building and discovering the lead paint issues, Cincotta also discovered that 1.5 feet of the building property is considered railroad property. Also, an additional issue is that there are power lines two feet away from the top of the building. 

“Imagine this conversation now with the city, Ameren and with the railroad,” he said laughing. 

Cincotta said there is a plan for Paul’s Frame Shop despite the delays.

“We have a plan now to knock the building down.”

Cincotta said that he would build a brand new structure that would be a historically styled building complete with brick and open windows. He said it would be the perfect building for an insurance company, a doctor’s office or a lawyer’s office. 

Cincotta also owns the white building next door to Ice Cream U Scream at the corner of Cherry and State Street. 

“As we get through Paul’s Frame Shop we want to put a 36,000 square foot building there that is three stories,” he said. The plan he envisions would include a restaurant in the first floor of the building, loft apartments on the top floor.

Cincotta recognized that parking downtown will present an issue with his future growth aspirations – especially as he plans on doubling the number of his employees from 40 to 80 within a five year time span. “Without a doubt, there is a parking problem downtown.”

Cincotta said he ultimately wants to invest in Downtown O’Fallon. 

“I want it to be exciting to live in Downtown O’Fallon.” 

Siteman Cancer Center celebrates future Metro East opening

Siteman Cancer Center celebrated the start of construction of its newest facility at Memorial Hospital East with a reception on Friday. 

Siteman Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute- designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the region and is originally based at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. 

At the reception, cancer patients and their physicians came together to sign a steel support beam that will become part of the building. 

Construction is now underway on the $38 million, 70,650 square- foot medical office building at Memorial Hospital East in Shiloh, 1404 Cross St. The facility will replace a temporary location at 4000 N. Illinois Lane in Swansea, where Siteman has been operating since last year. 

The emcee of the event was Tom Calhoun, announcer for the St. Louis Blues and Gateway Grizzlies. The invocation was given by Dr. Doug Munton, senior pastor of First Baptist Church and member of the Memorial Hospital East Board of Directors. 

Speakers of the event included Mark Turner, president of Memorial Regional Health Services; Joan Magruder, BJC Healthcare Group President; Mark Kern, Chairman of the St. Clair County Board; Dr. David Perlmutter, Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs at Washington University School of Medicine; Tracie Kent, cancer survivor and resident of the Metro East and Timothy Eberlein, Director of Siteman Cancer Center. 

Washington University physicians that signed the beam include: Dr. William Popovic, Dr. Guillermo Rodriguez, Dr. John Visconti and Dr. Susan Laduzinsky. 

Entertainment for the event included jazz pianist Kara Baldus and vocalist Keisha Gwin-Goodin. 

“What a privilege it is to be in Southern Illinois,” Eberlein said. “Siteman Cancer Center has long wanted to be an even bigger part of this great community. Siteman at Memorial East will offer a welcoming, calming environment where patients will receive the most advanced cancer care.”

The new facility will accommodate multidisciplinary care with radiation oncology and chemotherapy services, and will provide access to therapeutic clinical trials, which are designed to evaluate the effectiveness of innovative cancer therapies. By participating in a clinical trial, patients can gain access to investigational therapies that are not widely available to the public. For the convenience of patients, the new location also will include a diagnostic laboratory and a pharmacy.

“We are very excited to bring Siteman Cancer Center to the Memorial East campus,” Turner said. “This will provide convenient, world-class cancer treatment services to residents throughout the entire region.”

BJC HealthCare, which owns and operates Memorial Hospital East, is building the three-story structure, which also will include clinical space for non-cancer care providers affiliated with Memorial and BJC Medical Group of Illinois. The anticipated completion for the facility is early 2020. 

O’Fallon Weekly Photos by Annabelle Knef

Police investigate robbery at motorcycle dealership

A window was broken out at MetroEast Motorsports, located at 1714 Frontage Rd., O’Fallon.

O’FALLON – On February 22, 2019 at approximately 2:26 a.m. the O’Fallon Police Department received a burglar alarm call at MetroEast Motorsports, located at 1714 Frontage Rd. O’Fallon, IL 62269.

Officers responded to the alarm within minutes and discovered a window had been broken out and an overhead garage door open. The building and area were searched, but no suspects were immediately located.

A review of video surveillance showed 5 suspects entered the business and stole five motorcycles. One motorcycle was loading into a dark colored mini-van. The four other motorcycles were driven from the scene.

The stolen motorcycles were identified as:
•Green 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX14R
•Green 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX14R
•Green 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 636
•Green and black 2019 Kawasaki Ninja Z650
•Silver 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R

Two of the motorcycles were witnessed driving west bound on I-64, near Hwy 111, shortly after the theft, at a high rate of speed. All of the suspects were wearing helmets at the time of the offense.

The O’Fallon Police Department is currently investigating the burglary and would ask anyone with information to contact Detective Sergeant Craig Koch at 618-624-9551 or ckoch@ofallon.org.

City, School Districts discuss possible use of MidAmerica Enterprise Zone and tax incentives for developers

The planned development consists of 1,500 acres north of Scott Air Force Base, located between Interstate-64 Exits 19 and 21. The City of O’Fallon will invest over
$3,000,000 for public infrastructure.  (Submitted Photo)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – Representatives from the City of O’Fallon met with board members and superintendents from O’Fallon District 90 and OTHS District 203 on February 12th to discuss the districts’ voluntary participation in a property tax abatement incentive for new, commercial projects in the Mid America Enterprise Zone. 

The city was approached by developer TriStar Companies regarding the development of approximately 200 acres within the 1,500 acre enterprise zone. Vice President of Construction and Development, Bobby Klucker, presented at the meeting the company’s initial design plans and why the property tax abatement incentive is a critical component for their development to take place. 

The city has envisioned this area for years as the Mid-America Commerce Center, with businesses in light manufacturing, engineering and a distribution center to diversify the economy of O’Fallon and provide more local jobs for residents. The area is generally located north of I-64 between exits 19 and 21. The city is currently in the process of annexing several parcels in the enterprise zone to be able to bring sewer to the area to make it more attractive to developers. 

The enterprise zone was established in 2000 and will terminate on December 31, 2030. State law will allow for the reapplication of the zone, starting in the 28th year, for a 15-year term with the possibility for a 10-year expansion after that. The enterprise zone currently offers several economic development incentives for commercial projects, to include sales tax exemption of building materials, investment tax credits, job creation tax credits, utility tax exemption and manufacturing machinery sales tax exemption. Property tax abatement has not been an incentive offered in the MidAmerica Enterprise Zone, but will be added upon approval of the ordinance amendment being sent to the state by the municipalities within the zone. The city of O’Fallon will approve the ordinance on second reading at their February 19th council meeting.

The property tax abatement incentive is for ten years, with a declining scale in abatement. Property tax years one through seven will be at 100 percent abatement, year eight at 70 percent, year nine at 40 percent, and year ten at 10  percent. The abatement is applied on a per-project basis, and the ten-year period does not start until the “first assessment year in which the improvements are fully assessed.” The property tax abatement incentive would terminate at the time the enterprise zone terminates, regardless of what year of the abatement schedule a parcel would fall. Should a new enterprise zone be established, the taxing bodies would have the opportunity again to choose whether or not to participate in the property tax abatement incentive. 

There is not a requirement for all taxing bodies within the zone to participate in the property tax abatement incentive. City staff and Klucker have indicated that the project TriStar Companies is proposing will not happen without both school districts’ participation in the abatement incentive, since their portion of the tax bill represents such a large percentage of the overall bill. 

As part of the presentation, Klucker described a similar development TriStar has done at the Gateway Commerce Center in Madison County, with businesses like Proctor & Gamble, Unilever and WorldWide Technology and a primary focus in the warehousing and logistics industry. A study done in 2017 by the SIUE School of Business that focused on the three large logistics centers within Madison County, the Gateway Commerce Center, Lakeview Commerce Park and Northgate Industrial Park, indicated their combined economic impact to be over $1.3 billion, with nearly 6,000 workers and approximately $6 million in property taxes in 2016.  

TriStar Companies is proposing their initial project to be a six-phase construction of 100,000 square foot distribution centers, with construction beginning as soon as Spring 2019. For the developer to close on the property and begin construction, the taxing bodies will first need to approve a resolution to abate their portion of the property taxes. Klucker spoke to the group to explain the need for property tax abatement saying “we don’t need it to pay for the additional development costs, what we need tax abatement for is strictly as a pass-through to the tenants. For us to draw tenants to this area, we have to compete with other adjacent cities, other adjacent counties and other adjacent states.”

Businesses wanting to reduce their transportation costs through supply chain management are looking to put in distribution centers, and they are looking within a 400-500 mile radius at areas like Memphis, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Chicago. These locations currently offer some sort of incentive program, typically property tax abatement or industrial bonds. For TriStar Companies to be competitive when quoting rates to tenants, Klucker said property tax abatement has to be in place for something to happen off of Rieder Road. He also believes that the lack of property tax abatement in the enterprise zone since its establishment is likely the reason nothing has developed out there over the last 20 years. 

As an incentive to the school districts for their participation in the property tax abatement for the Enterprise Zone, the city “shall immediately declare a surplus in the Special Tax Allocation Fund for TIF #1 (Rasp Farm).” Upon the declaration of a surplus, the funds would be distributed to all taxing bodies within the TIF accordingly. 

TIF #1 expired June 19, 2018, and the funds remaining in the TIF account are currently earmarked by the city to install a sewer line to the west portion of the Enterprise Zone. This sewer line would not service the portion of the Enterprise Zone where TriStar is proposing development. That area will require a sewer line from the city to be installed along Rieder Road which could ultimately service the entire area and negate the need for the sewer line on the west side of the Enterprise Zone. If the districts do not participate in the property tax abatement, the city has indicated they will still consider going forward with the sewer line on the west side of the zone since it falls within the TIF #1 boundaries and the funds can be used for public infrastructure. 

School district administrators are concerned about how the increase in Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) from the developments will ultimately affect their state funding. The rate-setting EAV with St. Clair County will not include the properties in the Enterprise Zone, but administrators believe the state will still include the EAV increase when calculating the state’s payments to the districts with the new evidence-based funding model. The previously used General State Aid model allowed the districts to be held harmless for abated property taxes in an enterprise zone, which would remove the EAV from their tax rolls for funding calculation purposes. The evidence-based funding model takes into consideration a district’s ability to meet funding needs on a local level when determining the amounts the state pays. A significant increase in EAV for the districts could result in lower payments from the state. 

The other main concern for the districts involve timeliness of property assessments by the county. Since the abatement schedule does not start until the assessment on the property is done upon substantial completion, the districts do not want to lose out on future property taxes due to inefficiencies at the county level. OTHS superintendent Dr. Darcy Benway has requested the verbiage in the resolution reflect assurances and protections to the districts that assessments will be done in a timely manner, or alterations to the schedule be allowed when assessments are delayed. City staff indicated they will look into whether or not language can be added to the resolution or if the assurance needs to be put in place another way. 

Property tax revenue are the school districts’ primary means of funding, representing approximately 65 percent of their operating fund budget. In the preliminary budget for FY20, the city of O’Fallon indicates property tax revenue represent roughly three percent of their general fund budget. The city’s primary revenue sources are sales tax, state income tax and utility tax, revenue streams not available to school districts. 

The school boards will vote on the resolution at their March school board meetings. District 90 will hold their meeting on Tuesday, March 19 and OTHS will hold their meeting on Thursday, March 21. Discussion of the resolution may be on the agenda for their February meetings. The city has indicated they will proceed with approaching the other taxing bodies to ask for their participation in the property tax abatement incentive. 

Lebanon’s Roger and Merril project will soon be up for bids

By Angela Simmons

LEBANON – Mayor Rich Wilken presented the map of the proposed engineering changes to flood zones on Roger Drive and Merril Street to the streets and alleys committee. A current 24 inch pipe will be removed and 160 feet of larger pipe will be laid to help increase flow. 

The map of the project, as created by Mark Rujawitz of Rhutasel and Associates, Inc, was long awaited by city council members. They recently requested that Mayor Wilken request the visual to help move the project forward. The map details multiple areas of need, including grading, new culverts, bends, multiple manholes, and large sections of new pipe. 

Wilken proposed beginning with the laying of the largest section of pipe to help alleviate deep flooding water and sinkholes on the property of longtime resident Noel Harpe’s home, along with several of her neighbors.

“It would start on the west side of Roger in front of Ms. Harpe’s land, and go to the discharge into the ditch behind her property. To the west of her property. The next phase would be the culvert on McKendree Park. When the engineer was here, he said it’s kind of cattywampus in there,” Wilken said. 

Wilken has been heading up the project alongside Streets and Alleys Supervisor Jody McNeese. The pair has met with representatives from McKendree University, federal and state organizations, and retained Rujawitz to create a plan of attack to solve an issue that spans more than twenty years. 

“I had discussions with Jody and Mr. (Landall) Mack trying to brainstorm a bit. We really believe that we need to get out for bids and get this project going. In our discussion, we thought we’d like to recommend going out for bids and to try to get the job done in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. This is kind of a lean time for income inside the city, and if financing is a problem, we do have the $80,000 line of credit that the treasurer got for us. It’s just sitting there unused, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to need it for what we had thought. We could dip into it, and when we go into the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the minute that all the real estate tax money comes in and our general fund gets healthy again, we can make a choice whether to pay off the short-term note immediately so we have that $80,000 line of credit in case of emergencies again, or we can pay off part of it or something. When this project is done, hopefully in this fiscal year, in 2019-2020, we can look at getting the other part of the project done so we can finally put a period on this all too long of a sentence,” Wilken explained.

The line of credit was originally set to use for the demolition at 124 St. Louis Street and legal fees if needed. Alderwoman Cheri Wright believed that the money was partially used, but Wilken says it hasn’t, and the city was able to use other funds to pay for the demolition. Alderman Al Gerdes questioned whether or not the line of credit was also supposed to help the city have a buffer “needed for down at the grocery store.”

“It was in case we needed anything for EDR or if we needed more money to pay legal fees for 124 St. Louis Street. We’re going to court next week for that, and we have not had to touch the line of credit. We may not need any money for this project. I’m just saying that it’s there, and we aren’t paying any interest on it. If we did need it, we have it there to use,” said Wilken. 

When Alderman Mack asked if they gave their recommendation that the city council put the project out for bid, Gerdes quipped “I’m all for it. It’s been long enough. Too many wet socks.”

Staff and patients celebrate Cardiac Rehabilitation Week at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital

Last week staff and patients celebrated Cardiac Rehabilitation Week at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, as part of February’s ongoing activities for Heart Health Month. 

The highlight of the week came on Friday, February 15th during the celebration and recognition luncheon for all current and past Cardiac Rehab patients. The heart-themed luncheon served patients a heart healthy menu and offered St. Elizabeth’s staff an opportunity to thank the patients.

“Being Heart Month and Cardiac Rehab week, we truly just wanted to celebrate these individuals. This luncheon is a sign of our love and support for each patient who walks through our doors and chooses us to help in their recovery,” said Program Facilitator Nicole Toennies.

St. Elizabeth’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program serves men and women of all different ages and health backgrounds. Patients have had heart attacks, coronary blockages, open heart surgery, heart transplants, heart valve repair or replacement and heart failures. It is a medically-supervised exercise and education program that assists patients in returning to normal activities such as work, hobbies and regular exercise, with the ultimate goal of improving their confidence and well-being to living a longer and much healthier life.

The Cardiac Rehab staff at St. Elizabeth’s has a combined experience of more than seventy-five years in cardiac rehab alone. Staff is involved in the recovery process for each patient starting at day one of their hospitalization. The cardiac rehabilitation program is offered in three phases. 

Phase One begins while the patient is still in the hospital. A follow-up with the patient once they have returned home starts Phase Two which is the outpatient, monitored rehab program. Phase Three is the maintenance program for individuals who would like to continue exercising within a supervised environment. 

Patients also have access to weekly education classes, provided as individual and group sessions. Classes discuss heart healthy tips and ways to prevent future heart disease, as well as sessions with the registered dietician and pharmacist. Additional specialized programs are provided to the patient through a stress counselor, respiratory therapist and spiritual care. 

The program also has developed camaraderie between the patients and lasting relationships with the staff.

“This program becomes more than just a gym membership. Some of the patients we see weekly… we get to know them and meet their families. We have so many past patients who even just drop in to say hi when they are visiting,” said Toennies. 

Toennies says the program schedule allows for relationships to be built not just between the physicians and the patients, but between the patients themselves.

“We have set class times and the patients come early so they can hang out and chat in the waiting room. It is so neat to see these individuals connect and build relationships. If someone is off for the day, other patients are worried about them,” said Toennies. 

Cardiac Rehab Week also serves as a celebration of the staff. 

“To say we each love working in Cardiac Rehab, is an understatement. Upon completion, patients often say they feel better than they have in years. Seeing their progress from day one to program completion is the ultimate reward. It is obvious that the staff truly care about each individual. As the Coordinator, I couldn’t be prouder,” Toennies said.

The program requires referral from a patient’s personal physician, and a majority of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services are covered by most insurance carriers. Insurance verification and registration is done within the department for convenience for patients. Contact program facilitator Nicole Toennies at 618-234-2120, ext 12947 for more information.

Stifel advises Lebanon mayor about city’s low bond rating

By Angela Simmons

LEBANON – Lebanon Mayor Rich Wilken recently heard back from Stifel Public Finance about the status of the city’s bond rating. The mayor enlisted the firm to perform the inquiry in an effort to move forward with a joint facility for city hall and the Lebanon Public Library. 

In a December city council meeting, the council voted 5-3 against a $4.16 million dollar referendum for a new 10,000 square foot public library facility at 318 S. Fritz. The building was formerly St. Joseph’s grade school, and needed environmental and structural repair, in addition to design elements, new materials and more. 

After George Fero, Sr. presented to the council at the December meeting on behalf of the library board, Alderman Bart Bartholomew said “We need a new City Hall, too. Why couldn’t that be combined? If we build a new City Hall, we would have to have another bond issue. We could combine them to have one bond.”

When the referendum failed to get the council’s approval, Wilken took audience suggestions to start a committee to look into feasibility of a joint use facility. Volunteers from the community and city council spoke up to join the committee, and Wilken had plans to seek more volunteers. 

He then took Bartholomew’s comment and decided to enlist Stifel to see what the city’s rating would be for a bond for a facility. The nearly month-long review recently returned to the mayor’s desk

“They advised me that there are ten standard bonding levels, starting at AAA…. We are sitting in their estimates, looking at our last three years, we have qualified for a triple A three. Out of the ten classes, we are in the ninth category,” Wilken explained. 

He continued that the representative from Stifel said “It’s not terrible for a city of your size, and we aren’t at a junk bond status, but he said obviously, the level that you’re at can have some effect on the interest rates. As we look further into this, that’s information that the committee needs to be aware of.”

Wilken said the next step is to continue seeking volunteers for the committee, discussing the use of bonds and more intricate details of the possible joint use facility. City Treasurer Paul Grob had to leave the meeting early, and there was no further discussion from the council on the status of the city’s bond rating.

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital accepting application for Rotating Art Exhibit program

 Artist Sharon Aach and husband Douglas Aach, MD, of Lincoln Surgical Associates Ltd.

Art can play a powerful role in bringing comfort and relief to those receiving treatment or care in a hospital setting.  HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is proud to showcase the work of local and regional artists to further enhance the healing environment inside their newly built facility.

St. Elizabeth’s is announcing a Rotating Art Exhibit program to provide public space at the hospital for visual artists to display their work an extended period of time, approximately five months per show. 

The art exhibits will be displayed along the hallway off the hospital’s main lobby on the first floor.  

The hospital hosted its first inaugural rotating art exhibit this past November which showcased the work of Sharon Aach, a local artist who donated several of her works to St. Elizabeth’s when the new facility opened in 2017. 

A self-taught and self-representing artist from the Belleville area, Aach employs a reverse painting technique with mixed media materials behind glass panels to inspire and share joy through her uplifting vibrant glass paintings. Considered to be somewhat experimental and unconventional, being self-taught has thoroughly allowed her to develop her own pure organic style. Inspired by music and nature, she has developed her own creative process that is both automatic and emotional.

While Aach has created art in various forms throughout her life, it was not until 2014, after retiring from a 25-year medical career, that she started composing her art on a full-time basis. 

Aach’s work is still on display at the hospital and the public is welcome to view it. In addition, people can view more of her art at www.SaachArt.com. All pieces in the current exhibit are available for sale with 15% of all proceeds from art sales to be donated to HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Foundation. Prints are also available. If you are interested in purchasing any items, contact the artist directly at sharon@saachart.com.

Artists interested in participating in St. Elizabeth’s Rotating Art Exhibit program must complete an application, available at www.steliz.org/art, by March 15 for the next exhibit scheduled in May. Future exhibit dates are also noted online. A portfolio of work is required and a committee of colleagues, community members and local artists will oversees the art program to choose exhibitors. As St. Elizabeth’s is a Franciscan health care ministry, all work must be appropriate for a public building and complement the healing atmosphere of the hospital. More detailed guidelines are noted in the application. 

Council gives final approval to city’s newest carwash

During Monday’s City Council meeting, O’Fallon Police Chief Eric Van Hook and Sgt. Eric Buck, along with Mayor Herb Roach, presented Timothy and Tina Leadley with the Southern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission Civilian Award for their assistance in life-saving efforts with an accident that occurred on October 7, 2018 on Milburn School Road at Pausch Road with a very serious motorcycle accident. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon City Council gave final approval Monday night for the city’s newest tunnel car wash, Rainstorm Car Wash, to be located at the corner of Frank Scott Parkway and Hartman Lane. 

The proposed development has received much discussion over the last month. The project was not recommended by the city’s planning commission on January 8, but was approved by the community development committee the following week to proceed to council.

Comments made during community development meetings have primarily focused on traffic concerns. The development will have a single entrance/exit located on Hartman Lane. The project was not given approval for an additional entrance/exit on Frank Scott Parkway. 

Traffic was again discussed during Monday’s council meeting, with Ward 4 Alderman John Drolet indicating he is fully supportive of business’s being able to develop a property in the manner they see fit, so long as it conforms to the city’s standards. “The problem is the city has an obligation to make sure that traffic flow that is a result of that property does not interfere with traffic on either Hartman Lane or Frank Scott Parkway, and this layout is just trying to squeeze something into an area that just doesn’t fit.” Drolet, along with Ward 5 Alderwoman Gwen Randolph voted against approving the preliminary plat for the project. Randolph did not indicate why she was opposed to the project. 

Randolph’s fellow Ward 5 Alderman, Chris Monroe, spoke in favor of the project reminding council that “they (Rainstorm) have bent over backwards to do everything we’ve asked them to do, they follow every ordinance. Traffic is not their problem, it’s the city and the county’s problem.”

In other council action:

• Approval of the preliminary plat, annexation agreement, amendment to the future land use map and zoning for the development and land known as Seven Hills Mixed Use Development. The mixed-use project is for approximately 27-acres that sits just north of Wesley Drive on the east side N. Seven Hills Road, and will consists of office, senior living and residential land uses. 

• Approval of the subdivision of land to be known as the Regency Park Medical Offices Minor Subdivision.

• Approval of the annexation of approximately 213.27 acres on the northwest quadrant of Shiloh Valley Township Line Road and Rieder Road.

• Approval of resolutions tied to the new investments approved recently by the investment committee with PMS Financial Network, Inc. and PMS Securities, Inc and the Declaration of Trust of the Illinois Trust. 

• Approval on first reading of the ordinance limiting parking on the east side of North Smiley Street north of Wesley Drive during the hours of 8:00am to 4:00pm when school is in session.

• Approval on first reading of the ordinance amendment that adds a property tax abatement incentive to the St. Clair County MidAmerica Enterprise Zone. The mayor indicated a public meeting with the District 90 and 203 school boards and superintendents will be held to discuss their voluntary participation in the property tax abatement incentives on February 12 at 5:00pm at OTHS.

New downtown business aims to make O’Fallon more pet friendly

Furchild owner Julie Hughes with her two schnauzer’s sitting in front of a portrait of her father and inspiration, General John Hughes, U.S. Air Force. General Hughes passed away in August. He is pictured with his dog named Lucky at Lake Michigan while on a date with Hughes mother, Ellen Hughes. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

O’FALLON – A specialty pet boutique is now opened in the heart of Downtown O’Fallon, and owner Julie Hughes is anxious to give back to her community as a tribute to her late father. 

Furchild opened in December of 2018 and offers self washing stations for pets, grooming products and organic food and treats for cats and dogs.

Hughes moved to O’Fallon in 1999 after her dad’s unit was moved from O’Hare Air Reserve Station in Chicago to Scott Air Force Base. 

An O’Fallon Township High School graduate of 2008, Hughes went away to college in Colorado and was impressed with the number of self-wash facilities for pets. 

“When I was thinking of opening this, that’s where the idea came from. I hadn’t seen anything like that here,” Hughes said. 

Furchild, located at 105 East First Street, is an open space with floor to ceiling windows. Hughes said that dogs do well while in the store due to the open, uncluttered space. 

Hughes felt a desire to reconnect with her community after her dad, General John Hughes, died in August after a hard fought battle with cancer. 

“It was rough,” Hughes said. 

“He inspired me to be more connected with the community and I wanted to do it in a way that I liked,” she said. “I’m really big into philanthropy too and doing things for our community and I figured this would be the perfect spot in the heart of Downtown O’Fallon.” 

Furchild offers a wide variety of products, including clothing designed to help dogs warm in these cold days.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

“I wanted to make O’Fallon a little bit more pet friendly and have a place
where people could walk their pets.”

Furchild offers many benefits to the community including discounts for military, educators and city employees. 

On Wednesdays, Furchild offers half price services for military and first responders. 

There are two packages offered for the pet bathing stations — one is a $15 shampoo and conditioner option and the other is a spa package of $20 that includes additional, luxury spa products with the wash. 

There are also heated dryers and fur combs offered, included in the package price. 

Hughes said that while it is self- service, she is able to help with pet bathing should anyone need it. 

“We hope to offer grooming at some point,” she said. “It’s just not going to happen yet.” 

“We also do rescue affiliations,” she said. “We are constantly collecting things for shelters in the area.” 

Hughes said that she would encourage O’Fallon residents to bring in collars and pet toys if they are in good condition for 10 percent off an order. 

While she doesn’t have a background in entrepreneurship or sales, Hughes said that she has always been obsessed with animals. 

“It was a natural fit,” she said. 

Hughes said that she knew she had to move forward with her business after she saw the space available for rent on First Street. 

“It was probably 90 days from when I signed a lease,” she said. “It’s been a seamless process because of all of the help we have had. Everyone has been phenomenal to work with.”

Hughes is now a member of the O’Fallon- Shiloh Chamber of Commerce and has already experienced the benefits of being a downtown business. 

“It has been nothing short of what I expected and anticipated, which was that people would be really happy about us being here and supporting local business.” 

Hughes said that Furchild offers services that cannot be found elsewhere, especially larger businesses that provide pet care. 

“I like to follow up with people personally,” she said. “It’s not something I feel forced to do by any means but it’s natural for me.” 

“When you shop local, you are supporting someone in the community that is able to give back.” 

Hughes said that her goal for Furchild is to become a solid part of the community and to be a “link in the chain of O’Fallon.”