Refinery Salon celebrates five years in downtown O’Fallon

The staff of Refinery Salon (Submitted Photo)

By Kate Crutcher

O’FALLON – Starting a business is hard, and finding customers and keeping those customers for years on end is even harder. Refinery Salon did just that as they celebrate their fifth year in operation. 

“I wanted to create something that the industry needed and I had a great team to help me,” owner Whitney Leidner said. 

From nail care to makeup to hair styling, Refinery Salon is there to serve you. Located in the heart of downtown O’Fallon, along East First Street. 

“I was already working at another salon in O’Fallon and I knew, when I opened my own business, that I wanted to be in downtown O’Fallon,” Leidner said. 

With being open for five years now, Refinery Salon has seen some stylists come and go. Now with a staff of 16 stylists, three girls have been there since the very first day the salon opened; Deann Leonard, Taylor Baker and Rae Melton. 

“To be apart of something that is just so different in the industry, just got me so excited,” Melton said. 

Refinery Salon strives to provide a safe, inviting and comfortable environment to each guest that walks through their door. When talking to Leidner, its obvious Refinery Salon has a passion for beauty and health and that drives them to achieve the highest standard of excellence with every guest that sits in their chair. 

“I am excited about where O’Fallon is headed and I think there is going to be a lot of great things in O’Fallon. I believe it is going to be the destination that everyone would like it to become. We have a great group of stylists here. Their number one priority is making sure that the clients get the experience that they are paying for and deserve. The staff here is so dedicated to everyone,” Leidner said. 

Lebanon Auto Parts celebrates new leadership with ribbon cutting

Pictured from left: chamber President Missy Mitchell, Grant Evans with son Henry who has his back turned, Ted Weil from Christ brothers, Kelly Evans with the couple’s youngest son Charlie, Pat Evans (sitting), Bret Evans (on her lap), Angie Evans, Yvonne Green, and Don’s 90-year-old mother Rosemary Allen.
(Submitted photo)

The Lebanon Chamber of Commerce recently held a ribbon cutting celebration to commemorate the new leadership at Lebanon Carquest Auto Parts, located at 105 West McAllister Street. The car parts store had been run by Don Evans, who recently passed away. The location will now be run by Don’s son, Grant. 

Seventh Annual O’Fallon Design Challenge to take place this weekend

Swing on by the O’Fallon Design Challenge, located this year at 1206 Southview Drive, and see the rooms decorated by local consignment shops. (Submitted Photo)

O’FALLON – The seventh annual O’Fallon Design Challenge will take place this weekend at 1206 Southview Dr., with proceeds benefitting the community. 

The design challenge, also known as the “Souper” Bowl Open House, is being hosted by Whitney Wisnasky- Bettorf and Courtney Marsh, owners of Red Door Realty Group and will take place Friday, Feb. 1 through Sunday, Feb. 3. 

Wisnasky- Bettorf said the vacant house listing on Southview Drive will be staged with individual rooms being decorated by local consignment shops.

“Then, all of the items are for sale,” Wisnasky- Bettorf said. 

On Friday, there will be a preview night and wine tasting at the Southview home from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The wine is being supplied by Hidden Lake Winery out of Aviston, Illinois. There is an entry fee of $10 on Friday evening. 

The O’Fallon Design Challenge serves as a benefit to the community. As the event falls on the NFL Super Bowl Weekend, the entry fee for Saturday and Sunday calls for one can of soup or $1. All of the canned goods will then be donated to the O’Fallon Food Pantry. Cash proceeds will go to Veterans Community Project for Homeless Veterans and the O’Fallon chapter of Habitat for Humanity. 

Wisnasky- Bettorf said every year the event has raised between $700 and $1000 in cash and up to four shopping carts of food for the O’Fallon Food Pantry. 

“Not everybody is watching football,” she said. “The ladies come out, the husband may come with them.” 

“They will find different pieces that they fall in love with,” she said. 

“This house is a little bit smaller than years past but everybody that comes looks forward to it each year and gets excited for it,” Wisnasky- Bettorf said. “It’s always a fun weekend.” 

The O’Fallon Design Challenge will take place on Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. A loan officer will be on site to help individuals get prequalified for a home if they so choose. 

Local girl raising money for Randy’s Rescue Ranch

Delaney Hall and Randy Grim at Randy’s Rescue Ranch
(Submitted Photo)

By Kate Crutcher

O’FALLON – Over the course of the last six years, Delaney Hall from Delaney’s Donations, has helped a charity raise money for her birthday. Hall has chosen Randy’s Rescue Ranch as her charity of choice for her 13th birthday. 

Hall is a seventh grader who enjoys a variety of activities, some of which are volleyball, anime, drawing and horses. She has been helping charities for her birthday since she was eight years old. 

“I try to do a different thing every year. I have done dogs in the past and so this year I thought I could just do animals in general,” Hall said. 

Since 2014, Hall has helped; Gateway Per Guardians by gathering a van full of supplies and $300, St Louis Children’s Hospital by delivering 40 handmade fleece blankets, The Shoeman Water Project by donating 2,004 pairs of shoes and $103, Fontebella Maternity Home by delivering a half of a 14-foot box truck along with $1,215, and St. John Bosco/Caritas by donating $5,500 and games. This year Hall’s goal is to raise $6,000 for Randy’s Rescue Ranch. 

“It was a local charity and it is not like everywhere. There is only one ranch and it is specific to the O’Fallon area,” Hall said. 

This year, Delaney’s Donations, is teaming up with Dairy Queen and McAlister’s to fundraise for Randy’s Rescue Ranch. A poker night is in the process of being scheduled at the ranch to bring in the bulk of the fundraiser money. 

“Hopefully I will make my end goal of $6,000, ” Hall said. 

According to their website, Randy’s Rescue Ranch is a place of healing for both animals and people using progressive programs. The ranch was founded in 2017 by Randy Grim. 

“I’m the founder of Stray Rescue St. Louis, downtown, and it has been around for over 20 years, but rescuing really started when I was a kid. I was five years old when my brother and I rescued our first dog,” Grim said. 

Randy’s Rescue Ranch does have hopes of adopting out as many animals as they can, whenever they can. Most animals are adoptable, however some are what Randy calls “residents.” Which are the animals that are older and need more care, so they will stay on the farm until they pass on. 

“From cows, pigs, and horses to dogs and cats we have over 30 animals, here on the farm. We try and focus more on the larger animals, since we are equipped to handle them,” Grim said. 

The ranch is open to visitors on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There, you can visit the Welcome Center and schedule a tour to see for yourself the amazing animals. 

“It is a special place. Everyone says it is the place of miracles. The goal is to match the people with the right animal or the animal with the right person,” Grim said. 

Grim also wanted to add that farm “totally relies on private donations to be able to help these animals.” Some programs that are free for the community are; special needs adult programs on Fridays and Tuesdays are special need programs for children. Along with a new program starting on Thursdays for PTSD [Pst Traumatic Stress Disorder] survivors and disabled soldiers. 

To learn more about upcoming events where you can support Delaney’s Donations, visit her page on Facebook. 

Lebanon Council looks to move forward with flooding abatement

By Angela Simmons

LEBANON – The Lebanon aldermen will soon hear a presentation from an engineer on the state of flooding issues at Roger Drive and Merril Street. An engineering survey was obtained from Freeburg firm Rhutasel and Associates, Inc., and the council wants to hear a report directly from engineer Mark Rujawitz. 

The two decade long struggle with flooding issues has been a constant on the city’s “unfinished business” agenda for months, ever since worsening issues were brought to the council back in May 2018 by Noel Harpe, a Roger Drive resident. Harpe has faithfully attended every meeting since then, in hopes of finding some solution to the deep pools of water, sink holes, and property damage incurred by herself and her neighbors. 

Since Harpe’s May visit, Mayor Rich Wilken, Streets and Alleys Superintendent Jody McNeese and several aldermen have gone to the property and met with representatives from McKendree University, Illinois legislators and more to try to assist the residents, but there is no easy solution. A permanent solution is expected to cost upwards of $250,000. 

Wilken stated that the report has not been given yet due to searching for funding, and he has been working with Rujawitz on that subject. The pair recently found out that total funding from the Illinois Motor Fuel Tax funds would not be possible, “however, portions of the project will be able to be covered,” Wilken explained. 

Rhutasel has previously worked with the city, including a project in 2011 to relocate 4,000 feet of the Belleville Street water line. Relocating the eight inch line cost $200,000. 

The currently deteriorating line is three feet wide and on top of deterioration, is not able to drain properly, which causes flooding with each rainstorm. Residents on Roger and Merril have been coming to city council with concerns for many years, and there was even a petition to ask for assistance in 2016. 

Earlier in the meeting, the council and Clerk Luanne Holper had discussed projects not getting finished due to there being no designated point person. Holper suggested having the chairman of each committee be responsible for being sure to complete projects, as well as update fellow council members. In an effort to be clear moving forward, Wilken was designated as the point person for the Roger and Merill project. 

After he brings in Rujawitz for a council presentation, the project will be able to go up for bid and move forward. 

In Other News:

• Jeff Fairlie, chairman of the planning commission, spoke to city council about multiple recommendations by the members. The first was to approve an ordinance to allow for or create residential design districts. The concerns over holding developers accountable were answered by Fairlie explaining that the ordinance could expressly require covenants and indentures to hold someone accountable for upkeep. The council voted unanimously to create the ordinance, and then tabled a vote for the RDD to move forward until the ordinance is in place.

Fairlie also presented a recommendation to amend ordinances to streamline the process of applying for business licenses or permits and special use permits if listed uses are not currently allowed. “We don’t believe doors should be immediately closed to business owners. There should absolutely be no reason why they can’t come in and request a meeting to talk to us, and to see if that fits in line with the plan for our city. We want everyone to be heard and we want to be able to hear them,” Fairlie explained.

City attorney John Long will look into changing verbiage of existing ordinances and make a recommendation.

Fairlie also discussed the commission’s recommendation to update the comprehensive plan map to match the TIF district map to be sure that land uses match city zoning and plans, and asked for funding for a recording device for the planning commission.

• Alderman Rick Gale commended the efforts of Streets and Alleys Superintendent Jody McNeese, as well as the rest of the crews, for all of their hard work clearing snow from the most recent storm. Wilken said that a resident called him and complimented the city crews, and Water and Sewer Superintendent Penny Pinkstaff commended members of her department that assisted in the effort.

• Before the city declares a 2006 Ford F-250 as surplus and puts it up for auction, Pinkstaff would like to have it looked and get an estimate to determine if it could be repurposed for the water and sewer department.

• The council approved a $4,000 in kind donation to Friends of McAllister Park. The group was awarded two grants totaling $76,000, still leaving them $30,000 short of their goal for park redevelopment improvements. Belinda McAllister spoke to the council and added that Christ Brothers would be donating $6,000 in asphalt towards the new basketball court, and Rachel Royer, owner of Cedar Lodge, has offered $2,400 of stump removal through a family owned company. McAllister said their request from the city was $4,000 for water and sewer tap on fees.The water and sewer taps will be for new restrooms, which she noted would be the exact same as the restrooms in Horner Park.

The council unanimously approved the donation.

Council committee gives early approval to carwash project, Seven Hills Road development

Conceptual artwork for the proposed Rainstorm Car Wash.
(Submitted Photo)


By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The Community Development Committee went against the Planning Commission’s recommendation and approved to send to council plans for a development to be located at the northwest corner of Hartman Lane and Frank-Scott Parkway that will include a Rainstorm tunnel car wash and office buildings.

The Planning Commission met last week and voted 2-7 against the proposed development. During public comment at the Community Development Committee, the real estate broker for the property addressed concerns brought up by the Planning Commission regarding the necessity for another car wash in O’Fallon, traffic flow on Hartman Lane and the plan for the remainder of the land. 

Community Development Director Ted Shekell let the committee know the petitioner has been very reasonable to work with, and has gone above and beyond to accommodate requests of the city and county regarding traffic flow and future development proposals. 

The development has a single entrance located on Hartman Lane. It was recommended by the county the entrance be in-line with the entrance for the Circle K located across the street. To accommodate the request, the petitioner has made plans to purchase the parcel of land north of the original parcel to place the entrance in the desired location and provide more development opportunities. 

The city had raised some concerns with the latest proposed entrance to the car wash being too close to the development entrance on Hartman Lane. The developer had plans in hand at the meeting where a new design concept had already been developed based on the feedback from the city. 

The lone objector to the project on the committee was Ward 7 Alderman David Cozad. His main concern was this corner being one of the last marketable corners in O’Fallon and whether a car wash is fitting for that location. Ward 5 Alderman Christopher Monroe asked city staff if there have been any other interests on the property in recent years. Shekell indicated this was the first proposal they have received. The project will appear for first reading at the next City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 22. 

A mixed-use project on Seven Hills Road that received a lot of public attention at last week’s Planning Commission only had two questions from the public Monday night that involved water flow and retention. Both questions were answered favorable for those residents by the project’s civil engineer. 

The project being proposed 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. 

Closest to the road will be three office buildings, totaling 25,300 square feet, to be known as The Seven Hills Professional Center. Behind the office buildings will be 3-phased senior living center to be known as Vantage Pointe at O’Fallon. This will include a 92-bed assisted living and memory care facility, a 30-unit independent care building and 18 independent living cottages. Finally, the remaining 14-acres will be used for development of a 23-lot, two-family home subdivision to be known as Patio Homes North. This subdivision will be complimentary to the Patio Homes at Seven Hills development planned and approved off Wesley.  

Residents who spoke at last week’s planning commission raised concerns about current traffic, and the impact on traffic this project would have. City staff referenced a recent traffic study that has indicated a left-turn lane is currently needed from N. Seven Hills Road west onto Wesley Drive and from Wesley Drive south onto N. Seven Hills Road. The Public Works department will be working on developing a solution for that intersection in the near future.

The future land use map had this parcel as single-family homes, and staff said the current proposal would be a 75.99 percent decrease in potential traffic from the original land use map. The developer, Rich Gorazd, asked for committee and council support of the project saying “we’re bringing a retirement community…memory care and villas and older people who don’t have children. This is about as good of a development as you can ask for in an open field. Even single-family houses would certainly impact it more. When you’ve got an 80-acre track, something’s going to fill it up, and I don’t know that you could ask for something better than a retirement community.” 

The committee unanimously approved all agenda items related to this project. Those items were related to annexation, rezoning, amending the future land use map and preliminary plat approval. A public hearing for the annexation will be held at the next City Council meeting, all items will go before council on Tuesday, January 22. 

Other committee items approved to be sent to council:

• Zoning and a redevelopment agreement regarding the Central Park TIF for a Fairfield Inn hotel, to be located on Central Park Drive east of the Gold’s Gym.

• Zoning amendment for the Hartman Lane medical office to be located between Hardee’s and Mathnasium. Concerns were raised by committee members and council members in attendance regarding traffic on Hartman Lane. Staff indicated previous proposals for the vacant land have been for high-impact commercial properties like a fast food restaurant or grocery store. They believe a medical office building is an ideal, low-impact project that will provide development to land that has been vacant for many years. The left turn lane does extend to where the development entrance will be, and there will be cross-access with neighboring businesses for alternate entrances and exits.

• Special Event permit for Home Builders event at Gateway Classic Cars on February 22-24. 

• Special Event permit for the McKendree RecPlex to extend usage of temporary signs until the completion of roadwork will allow the construction of the permanent, monument sign ultimately planned for the development. The committee and present council members discussed the extension with relation to the roads to be built within the development, as well as the traffic signal and road expansion work on Troy-Scott Road. They indicated a desire to not provide any additional extensions to the temporary sign request, and are hoping the road work will be completed by the end of June, as projected by the developer. 


Angela Nelson, BSN, RN named Stroke Coordinator at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital

Angela Nelson, BSN, RN

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital recently named Angela Nelson, BSN, RN, Stroke Coordinator for HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Teleneurology Stroke Program. 

Nelson, a resident of Okawville, Illinois, has experience as a critical care RN in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab and Emergency Department. Her leadership roles in the Cardiology as well as Physician and Outreach Services have allowed her to explore clinical growth, leadership, development, and networking opportunities that ultimately focus on the best possible outcomes for residents in the area. 

She has been a Registered Nurse since 2006 and is currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program at McKendree University with a focus on Leadership and Management. Upon completion, she will apply to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. Her certifications include Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS),  Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) and Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC). 

In the Stroke Coordinator role, Nelson is responsible for developing clinical care standards and appropriate services for stroke care, tracking data and ensuring compliance with national stroke measures. Additionally, she aids in rapid response of acute stroke patients and assists with the use of telemedicine to provide comprehensive stroke assessment and treatment. 

 “It is my honor to serve St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and our region as a leader in acute stroke care,” said Nelson. “I plan to continue building our relationship with the community and EMS that will provide the education needed to help patients get to the hospital quicker, which can improve outcomes after stroke. It is a privilege to be part of a team that saves lives and gives second chances.”   

On January 6, 2017, Nelson was affected personally by stroke. “I was circulating a case when I received notification that my father suffered a massive stroke. He was doing what he loved most, writing stories for a community he loved. That day changed my life forever, however I have used that tragedy to focus on improving outcomes for patients over the entire region,” she noted. 

St. Elizabeth’s Hospital has served as an Emergent Stroke Ready Hospital for the region since 2014, as designated by the Illinois Department of Public Health. St. Elizabeth’s was the first hospital in the Metro East to gain this designation. The Emergent Stroke Ready Hospital designation ensures that St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is prepared to adhere to written emergency stroke protocols and is able, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to provide the following:

• thrombolytic therapy (tPA) used to break or dissolve blood clots,

• brain image testing (CT scans), and

• blood coagulation studies.

The American Heart Association (AHA) notes that strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, and is one of the most preventable causes of disability.  

Nelson additionally stresses that 80 percent of strokes are preventable by controlling risk factors like smoking, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.  

“It is important to catch a stroke early, but even more important to prevent strokes. Recognizing signs and symptoms of stroke and immediately going to an acute stroke ready facility, like St. Elizabeth’s, can make a difference in the number of treatment options available for stroke patients,” said Nelson. “A strong stand against stroke takes powerful collaboration and training. St. Elizabeth’s Hospital has assembled the right doctors, technology and stroke-ready team to treat a stroke FAST.”

The public is encouraged to learn the signs and symptoms of a stroke, which include: 

• sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.

• sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.

• sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Follow this F.A.S.T. acronym if someone is exhibiting any of the above symptoms:

• FACE – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

• ARMS – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

• SPEECH– Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

• TIME – If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately. 

St. Elizabeth’s also offers a free Stroke Support Group for patients and family members affected by stroke. To learn more or to attend, call 618-234-2120, ext. 52004. For more information on St. Elizabeth’s Emergent Stroke Ready Designation and Stroke Telemedicine Program visit, www.steliz.org. 

Chamber celebrates opening of Neena’s Jewelry

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce joined Neena’s Jewelry to celebrate the opening of their business at 1935 West Hwy 50, Fairview Heights. They celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony on November 28.

Neena’s Jewelry is an endeavor of Neena & Raj who purchased ‘Dollars for Gold’ a popular gold, bullion and coins buying shop that was in existence for the last 9 years in O’Fallon Plaza. This acquisition was with a view to add retail jewelry line at the same premises. Raj is a Diamond Graduate & Applied Jewelry Professional (AJP) from Gemological Institute of America, Carlsbad, California. Raj has been a diamond dealer with an office in Chicago. As more and more of his jeweler clients were established in Greater St. Louis Area, the couple decided to move to Metro East in Illinois in 2016 from Western Suburbs of Chicago.

Neena is a CAD Jewelry designer with a certification in Matrix CAD software from Indian Institute of Gems & Jewelry in Delhi. Over last few years, the couple has been serving jewelers in the area, helping them customized unique jewelry designs for their clients. They have executed over 100 projects. CAD (Computer Aided Design) is a powerful computer program that helps anyone achieve his dream custom design come to reality from the sketch stage. Neena’s Jewelry is now very excited to directly make custom designs for the end-customers.

For custom design, you may just walk-in or request for an appointment at: www.neenasjewelry.com 

The Retail Jewelry store will also have over a thousand live jewelry pieces in Gold & Diamonds for outright purchase. In addition, Neena’s Jewelry represents US’s leading Manufacturer Stullers’ entire range of premium ‘Ever & Ever’ Brand Jewelry.

Meanwhile, the sister company ‘Dollars for Gold’ that operates from same premises will continue to provide a stellar service to those who need to sell gold, diamonds, coins silver and used jewelry etc. Neena and Raj are very excited to be able to serve the community around with excitable designs and affordable service.

Morrill celebrates 43 years in business with chamber with ribbon cutting

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce joined State Farm – Mike Morrill as he celebrated 43 years in business and the opening of his new location at 102 Ruth Drive in O’Fallon.  They celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony on December 18.  

Mike Morrill and his team are committed to helping State Farm clients manage the unexpected and realize their dreams by protecting the assets they have worked hard to build. Mike has been an engaged member and small business owner in the O’Fallon community for over 43 years. His vast knowledge and experience comprised throughout his team allow his office to help with auto, home, life, health, and small business needs. The unique dual agency privilege also allows this office to service and protect residents in both Illinois and Missouri.

For more information, visit www.MikeMorrillInsurance.com.

Lebanon Library referendum fails to make the April ballot

Dr. George Fero, Sr. (left) listens as resident Roberto Roma (second from right) asks questions about the proposed referendum. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

By Angela Simmons

LEBANON – The Lebanon Library Board proposed a $4.16 million dollar referendum to the Lebanon City Council, and after a lengthy discussion and debate, it failed in a 5-3 vote. Library board members answered questions from council and community members about their dream project, and now have a new direction. 

As of last January, as specified by City of Lebanon Treasurer Paul Grob, the Lebanon Public Library became the owners of a building at 318 South Fritz that formerly housed St. Joseph’s grade school. The purchase price was over $50,000, and the move would allow the library to move from their 1,250 foot space on St. Louis Street to over 10,000 feet of space. The board has renderings and ideas for the new space on their website which include two floors of ideas, including a small cafe, a dedicated children’s area and several community rooms. 

Over the last several months, the board has mentioned several different numbers for the project that could be brought forth in a referendum on the April ballot, including most recently $2 million dollars. George Fero, Sr. presented to the council as they looked at preliminary design documents prepared this month, from Van Voyles of White & Borgognoni Architechts, P.C., located in Carbondale, Illinois. 

The documents include estimates for work to the existing structure, including demolition of much of the inside and abatement of environmental issues. “The first thing the structural engineer discovered was that the second floor could not withstand the weight of the books and stacks, and that that floor would need to be replaced. The approximate cost of that, currently in the estimate that you have, is about $400,000,” Fero said. 

Environmental concerns would cost another $97,900 for asbestos, mold and issues with bats, and another $14,350 would need to be spent on underground oil storage tank removal. The estimate includes just over $400,000 in electrical and plumbing work, and $358,248 for HVAC. 

The total for construction and design elements, such as a $3,500 clock, came to $2,656,338.93. The rest of the estimate includes contractor overhead and profits that near $200,000, almost $625,000 in contingency fees, and $414,089.41 in soft costs. Those costs include over $337,000 in architectural and engineering fees. 

The building would not be tornado or earthquake proof, but would be fireproof. Fero said the board was told by White & Borgognoni that the building did not have to be tornado or earthquake proof, and doing so would require a whole new structure. The building would also not be “turn key,” and would still need stacks and materials. Fero said the board planned to apply for grants to cover as much of those materials as possible.

The library board did do away with some wishes for the project to help lower costs, and noted that the presentation was of their dreams. Fero said “It will be a showcase facility for the city of Lebanon.” He added that bids may come in lower for the project, which could lower the tax that was passed forward to residents. Under the $4.16 million dollar referendum,

Alderman Rick Gale asked why the library needed 10,000 in square footage and if they could do with less, and mentioned that the new firehouse was under $2,000,000. 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.”

“We weren’t looking for a 10,000 square foot building, we just wanted something,” said Library Board Member Julie Ford. She explained that the board searched for a long time and examined the idea of building from scratch before purchasing the former grade school. 

Several community members questioned the estimate and space needs, but none of the community or council members denied that the library does need a new space to be able to have programs for the more than 1,000 residents that use their services. 

After a motion to place the referendum on the April 2019 ballot, only aldermen Landall Mack, Wilbert Jenkins and Al Gerdes voted to approve the motion. Gerdes said he wanted to give the Lebanon residents the chance to decide for themselves. Aldermen Frank Almeter, Rick Gale, Joe Diliberto, Bart Bartholomew, and Cheri Wright voted against the referendum. 

After the measure failed, Mayor Rich Wilken took the suggestion of one of the meeting attendees to put together a committee to start looking at the feasibility of a new civic center that would serve as a joint use facility for City Hall and the library. Volunteers from the audience included Teddy Sells and Roberto Roma, with volunteers from the council including Frank Almeter, Cheri Wright, Al Gerdes and Paul Grob. An opportunity to volunteer for the committee will be presented to the public, and meetings will be open and comply with the Illinois Open Meetings Act. 

The city council will meet on Friday, December 21 at 6:00 p.m. to vote on the purchase of a new dump truck, and then will not meet again until January.

Think safety when buying holiday toys

With many buying last minute holiday gifts, you may be considering what toys to buy for the children on your list.  But before you make those purchases, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon pediatricians at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital remind you to consider and check the safety and age-range of the toys. 

“We encourage you to be safe and selective when choosing what to gift during the holiday season,” notes Christopher Wangard, MD, with SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Pediatrics. “When choosing a toy for a child, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the toy be appropriate for the child’s age and stage of development. This makes it more likely the toy will engage the child – and reduces the risk it could cause injury.” 

According to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report, there were an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2017. Thirty-eight percent of these emergency department-treated injuries were classified as lacerations, contusions, or abrasions. Forty-four percent of the estimated injuries were to the head and face area, the most commonly affected area of the body.

Should any accidental injury occur, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, in partnership with SSM Health Cardinal Glennon, is here to provide excellent care to pediatric patients from birth to 18 years of age.  Specialized pediatricians are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer high-quality pediatric care at St. Elizabeth’s Emergency Department and Newborn Nursery.

Check out these tips from the CPSC to ensure your child is safe when playing with toys: 

• Make sure toys are age-appropriate.  Check the label before buying, and toys for older children should be kept separate from toys for younger children.

• Look for quality design and construction in all toys for all ages.  Also make sure the toy would not cause injury if it fell on your child. 

• Make sure all directions or instructions are clear and read all labels.  Look for and heed recommendations and other safety warnings on toys and dolls.

• Throw away packaging after the purchase (or gift opening).  Packaging can present a choking hazard.  Children can suffocate on plastic bags or choke on peanut-style packaging.

• Avoid choking hazards.  Never give balloons or small balls to young children.  Children three years of age and younger should not be given toys with parts smaller than the opening of a toilet paper roll. 

• Don’t allow children to play with magnet toys.  If swallowed, some magnets attract to each other internally, causing infection, blockage and ulcerations.  

• If it sounds too loud, it probably is.  Some toys produce sounds that are loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss.  Listen to toys before purchasing them, and be cautious in buying talking dolls, toy cars with horns and sirens, walkie-talkies, instruments and more. 

• Don’t allow children to play with long cords or strings.  Toys with long strings or cords are dangerous as they can become wrapped around a child’s neck, causing strangulation. 

• Make sure the toys do not contain toxic chemicals.  Awareness of toxic chemicals in toys has largely eradicated them from being used any longer, but it’s worth double-checking before you buy – especially if they’re little ones who might put it in their mouth. 

Wangard says, “Even with all the best planning and precautions, sometimes accidents, injuries and illness can happen but if parents, grandparents and loved ones understand smart purchasing practices, such as these, there will be less chance of visiting the Emergency Department during the holidays. 

To learn more about toy safety, visit https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Releases/2019/CPSC-Expands-Toy-Safety-Collaboration-Efforts-with-Retail-Toy-Industries-Safe-Kids-Top-Toy-Safety-Tips-for-Shoppers-This-Holiday-Season.

Program for aging adults coming to Shiloh in spring

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

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

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

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

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

Weiss compared the programs to a university for older adults. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tinsel Around Town encourages residents to shop local

O’FALLON – The third annual Tinsel Around Town event gathered local residents to downtown O’Fallon where there was holiday serenades, food vendor concessions and merchant specials lasting all afternoon. 

The event, which took place on Saturday, December 8 from noon to 4 p.m., encouraged local shoppers to support O’Fallon brick and mortar businesses. 

O’Fallon- Shiloh Chamber of Commerce president Debbie Martinez said that a lot of people jump on the “shop local bandwagon” around the holidays, but it’s important to remember that business owners are invested in the community year round. 

“We have to invest in them year round if we want them to continue to be here,” Martinez said. “By keeping your shopping here in Shiloh and O’Fallon, you’re supporting them.” 

Tinsel Around Town featured entertainment from the OTHS Madrigals — they roamed from business to business in downtown and serenaded shoppers. The event also featured funnel cake sales by the OTHS Band Boosters. To keep shoppers warm between their shop stops, the chamber placed different fire pits along First Street. 

Owner of Fezziwigs Marketplace, Ellen Leaf-Moore, expressed the same sentiment as Martinez in the importance of supporting local businesses year round. 

“Shopping small businesses is so important because most of the time it’s our livelihood. This is what we count on to be able to live,” Leaf-Moore said. 

She said that events such as Tinsel Around Town or Small Business Saturday are great projects that a lot of residents attend — but they may only be shopping local once a year.   

“It’s actually really important that they shop the other 11 months out of the year as well — especially for brick and mortar businesses because we have taxes we have to pay, we have rent, we have all kinds of permits that we have, we staff people and hopefully there is enough left over for us to be able to live on.”

Leaf-Moore said that spending just $50 per month in a small business brick and mortar adds a great deal of money to the local economy. 

Leaf-Moore used shopping at Walmart as an example. 

“If you’re shopping at Walmart, very little of your tax dollars stay right here and the rest of it goes to their corporate headquarters. If you’re shopping a small business like ours, so much more of your tax dollar stays here,” she said. “Tax revenue goes to our schools, local fire department, goes toward roads, police force, goes to all of those people that you are wanting to have better your communities.”

On the convenience of shopping online — “many of us have online businesses as well. When they are purchasing online, those tax dollars still stay here.” 

Owner of Refinery Salon Whitney Leidner said that shopping local is reinvesting in your own community. 

“When you shop at a local business, an actual person does a happy dance,” Leidner said. “It’s more interesting to shop at a local business. There is more of a relationship.”

Leidner said that it’s more fun to shop local. 

“We were just doing our yearly planning and we have Pretty in Pink day where we all wear pink and have the movie playing,” she said. “We do more personal and fun things. You don’t get that when you go to a big company.” 

Many O’Fallon residents chose Tinsel Around Town to complete their Christmas shopping and also took advantage of what local restaurants had to offer. 

Manager of Hollyhock House Boutique Victoria Caswell said that the shop has a great variety of gift options for shoppers. 

“We have everything from baby gifts to women’s fashion. We carry sizes extra small to 3X, so we have a little bit of everything for anyone out there,” Caswell said. 

“We are really happy to be in O’Fallon and support the community.” 

St. Elizabeth’s announces approval for a Radiation Oncology Clinic in O’Fallon

O’FALLON – HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, and its parent company Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS), announced Tuesday that they have received approval from the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board (HFSRB) to lease space for a radiation oncology clinic near their new, state-of-the-art hospital along Interstate 64 and Green Mount Road in St. Clair County.

President and CEO Patti Fischer stated, “St. Elizabeth’s delivers high-quality Franciscan health care, and we continue to develop plans to bring needed health care services to patients in our region. With the addition of this radiation oncology clinic, cancer patients will have the opportunity to receive the excellent care they deserve in a location that is close to home.”

The 11,750 square foot clinic will be constructed by Green Mount Enterprises, LLC with space being leased to St. Elizabeth’s.  St. Elizabeth’s services will offer patients access to personalized cancer care all in one convenient location. Technologies and treatment techniques will include a linear accelerator and CT-simulator, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), image guided radiation therapy (IGRT), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). Additional services such as cancer clinical trials from the National Cancer Institute, University of Chicago, NSABP Foundation, and other pharmaceutical trials along with genetic counseling, cancer screenings, wellness programs and cancer prevention education will provide ongoing support to the community.

Cancer Care Specialists of Illinois (CCSI), a medical oncology physician group, plans to lease separate space in the building where PET/CT services will be available.

St. Elizabeth’s is the only American College of Surgeons, Commission on Cancer designated cancer program in the service area of southwestern Illinois. “This comprehensive and multi- disciplinary patient-centered recognition, coupled with the advanced radiation oncology services offered in the new building, will bring innovative treatment and experienced cancer specialists to the community,”  Fischer added.

In addition to serving residents in the Metro-East, the clinic will benefit patients from smaller community hospitals within and outside of our system, including HSHS affiliate hospitals St. Joseph’s in Highland, St. Joseph’s in Breese, and Holy Family in Greenville, as well as Washington County Hospital, Sparta Community Hospital, Memorial Hospital of Chester, and others.

St. Elizabeth’s plans to open the new clinic in early 2020.

Lebanon considering ways to regulate fireworks

Fire Safety Compliance Manager Robert Wetzel explains the permit process pertaining to the Illinois Pyrotechnic Use Act in a presentation to the Lebanon Health and Safety Committee.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

By Angela Simmons

LEBANON – The Lebanon Health and Safety Committee listened to a presentation from a representative of the State Fire Marshal’s office regarding the future and current use of fireworks in Lebanon. Fire Safety Compliance Manager Robert Wetzel spoke to the committee about current policies, distinctions between pyrotechnics, fireworks and consumer products, and more. 

Wetzel provides oversight for the state’s sprinkler industry, the fire equipment industry, and the pyrotechnic and fireworks industry. “To be clear, I want to make a distinction between fireworks and pyrotechnics. When we talk about pyrotechnics, we’re talking about professionally displayed fireworks, TV and movie special effects, or arena special effects,” Wetzel said. 

Wetzel went over the different classes covered in the Illinois Pyrotechnics Use Act. Class 1 covers anything that will or might blow up. There are several subcategories. 1.1 covers military grade explosives, or those used in quarries. 1.3 covers professional pyrotechnic displays. Wetzel noted that anyone providing professional displays must have licenses through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as well as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Fire Marshal’s office. Class 1.4 is fireworks below the other threshold and managed by the Consumer Product Safety Committee. Consumer fireworks are those that are able to be used. Unregulated novelties are an even lower classification, and include sparklers, cap gun caps, cigarette loads, and more, including glow worms. Most retail stores sell the unregulated novelties, and consumers need no training or permits to use them, but local legislatures can restrict use on public property. 

“State legislature on one hand said ‘We don’t want to impede commerce, so we’ll allow sales of fireworks,’” said Wetzel, noting that his office registers those wishing to sell fireworks for $50 after successful completion of the application process. 

Applicants wanting a permit to put on a consumer display at their homes must have a permit that includes training sanctioned by the fire marshals, and the application must be applied for at least 15 days before it is to be used. 

“Until you get the permit in hand, it’s illegal to buy them, possess them, do anything with them. You have to have the permit in hand,” he explained. 

Wetzel also said that the permitted person would show their permit to the person running the fireworks tent, and then the sale would be legal, and added that Lebanon could add criminal background checks to any permits that they issued. “In order for someone to sell fireworks at the stand, they can’t do it unless the person they’re selling to already has a permit. That’s in the act. To buy them, you have to have a permit. To acquire them, you have to have a permit. And in order for someone to sell them to you legally, you have to already have the permit, otherwise someone would be selling them illegally, and the other would be purchasing them illegally,” he said. 

The permits are nontransferable, and anyone assisting with setting off the fireworks must go through the training and permit process also. Permits must also be signed by the fire chief and a city representative. Enforcement of this process and illegal sales fall onto local jurisdictions. Professional displays must also be licensed and the lead pyrotechnic must be on site. 

An audience member relayed that she had spoken with the owner of the fireworks stand in Lebanon, and was asking questions about the permits and processes. The stand owner accused her of trying to shut down all fireworks stands, and said that local police and fire departments don’t care and don’t have time to check everyone. 

Alderman Joe Diliberto, the chairman of the committee, said any lack of reinforcement, perceived or real, doesn’t relieve the owner of her obligation to be checking permits before each sale. 

In section 235.100 of the act, there are also very specific rules for space to set off consumer fireworks displays. There can be nothing within 200 feet in all directions, including spectators, buildings, and property lines, and must be clear of overhead obstructions. The space requirement adds to about a total of three acres of a round lot, or realistically four acres. Wetzel said that it’s almost impossible to meet the space requirement, and committee members agreed that there aren’t many, if any, places that qould qualify in Lebanon city limits. 

Stands selling certain arterial shells over a certain size are subject to being shut down and the shells would need to be picked up by a bomb squad. There are smaller chrysanthemum shells that fall into the consumer fireworks category, and Wetzel said some communities are even using those for community displays. 

Wetzel said he had looked at the Lebanon website for different codes, and “The best thing you could do would be to talk to partner communities and figure out how to proceed. The other thing is in your July 9 minutes, it says a state inspector inspected the stand, and said they complied. I don’t want to take issue, but I’m the only one from the state that would have inspected it, but I did not issue any reports.” Wetzel did visit the stand on July 1. 

Diliberto suggested going forward to the council and summarizing the presentation, then ask the council for a poistion on whether or not to allow continuance of the sales and whether or not to establish a permit process. The full council will meet December 17 at 7 p.m.