O’Fallon City Council approves food truck ordinance, tax levy

Mayor Herb Roach and Mayor for the Day Ryan Lotz presented retiring council members Matthew Smallheer, Richie Meile and Andrew Lopinot with plaques for their service to the O’Fallon community. All three aldermen were elected to St. Clair County positions in last month’s elections. Lopinot has served Ward 5 since May 2017, Smallheer has served Ward 4 since May 2015, Meile has served Ward 1 since May 2011.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon City Council approved the mobile food vendor ordinance Monday night with a vote of 8-4. Discussions surrounding regulation of food trucks, specifically in downtown O’Fallon, has been ongoing since September.  

At the last city council meeting, a motion was approved for the ordinance to be sent back to the Community Development Committee for a second reading. Lengthy discussion took place at last week’s Community Development Committee meeting between committee members, other council members, staff and residents. Ultimately, the committee voted to send the ordinance to council for second reading with no changes. 

The ordinance establishes that each food truck will be required to get an annual mobile food truck license through the city that will cost $125, as well as a $25 annual food license. The license will be issued by the City Clerk’s office and will require appropriate permits from the county health department before issuance. The license covers from May 1st – April 30th of each fiscal year. 

A special event permit will be required for a food truck to operate at any time in the city of O’Fallon. The permit will be issued through the Community Development Department, after approval by City Council. The council will review each event permit (for at least the first year) and will be able to put in place any specific restrictions (location, time, date etc.) necessary at that time and on a case-by-case basis. The special event permit may be requested by an individual food truck or the event organizer, this will include events organized by the O’Fallon Parks and Recreation Department. It was clarified at the committee meeting that multiple events, at the same location by the same organizer, could be approved under one special event permit. 

Ward 3 alderman Matthew Gilreath took time during discussion at Monday’s council meeting to explain why he would be voting no on the ordinance. Gilreath expressed intent to take care of the people that have been in town and invested in our town, but also recognized we have a community where new things can happen and we can have opportunities to have new developments and new businesses. 

“I think we’re getting into too much government reach. I think we need to definitely have things like licenses…traffic control and where they are allowed to set-up. Putting it into our hands with the special event permits gives us too much oversight. I don’t think we need to pick and choose who we allow and who we don’t allow. I think if somebody has private property, and it’s zoned for business, and somebody wants to have a food truck up there that should be their right.”

Gilreath also reminded council he has brought up at previous committee meetings a desire to see some exemptions in place regarding food trucks for businesses that have brick and mortar locations in O’Fallon. 

Ward 6 alderman Ned Drolet also mentioned his problem with the perception of a portion of the ordinance, and that he would also be voting no. Aldermen Smallheer and Meile resigned prior to the meeting, so they were unable to vote. Ward 2 Aldermen Jerry Albrecht and Bob Kueker joined Gilreath and Drolet in voting no, but there were enough votes for the ordinance to pass. 

Council also approved the 2018 tax levy. The proposed tax levy request is $6,688,900, a 0.86% increase from 2017. A tax levy request is based on a dollar amount, not a rate, so the city tax rate will be determined upon final calculation by the county of the City’s total Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) from property assessments. The tax rate will not be set by the county until April 2019, so it is unclear what the actual rate will be at this time. Despite the 0.86% increase to the levy, staff is projecting the city’s tax rate to go down slightly from last year because of the 1.1% total increase to the rate setting EAV currently estimated by the county assessor’s office.

Key Housing Market Statistics in the Metro-East Released

SHILOH, IL – The Metro-East housing market shows that home sales are still on a steady rise for 2018. 

Home Sales 

The number of homes sold in most of the Metro-East increased in October over September. Home sales in St. Clair County increased by 2.29 percent, while Clinton County saw a rise of 9.52 percent, and Randolph County home sales rose 30 percent. Macoupin County saw a leap of 52.38 percent, while, Jersey County saw a rise of 33.33 percent, and Madison County recorded a 19.08 percent. 

As for a year-to-date comparison, homes sales in Clinton, Monroe, and Jersey, increased 7.1 percent, 6.23 percent, and 5.75 percent. St. Clair, Randolph, and Madison Counties followed closely behind with increases of 4.01 percent, 3.64 percent, and 3.16 percent, compared to the year-to-date home sales from October 2017. 

REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois President, Judy Ross thinks “seeing an increase during October is a good thing and hopefully we will continue to see an increase. People should not be discouraged from selling their home during the later part of the year, even though things seem hurried. That just means people are in a hurry to purchase a home as well.” 

Home Prices 

Home prices in St. Clair County held steady compared to October 2017 with a 0.31 percent increase, compared to Monroe County home prices that rose 4.67 percent. Jersey and Macoupin Counties saw a much bigger increase of 16.28 percent and 34.46 percent. 

Days On Market 

Days on market continued to decrease for some counties. Homes in Montgomery County sold 48.23 percent faster this October than last year. Other Counties who saw days on market decrease were Madison and Randolph Counties with decreases of 7.23 percent and 10.96 percent, respectively. 

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s UrgiCare now offers online appointment reservations, with Save My Spot

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital UrgiCare and Clockwise.MD have partnered to offer online appointment scheduling for the St. Elizabeth’s O’Fallon UrgiCare. The new Save My Spot option allows patients to decrease wait time through online reservation/appointment scheduling.  

The Clockwise.MD solution improves the overall patient experience by allowing patients to reserve a spot in line from any computer, smartphone or tablet, receive real-time status updates about wait times, and view their position in the queue. 

“HSHS St. Elizabeth’s is privileged to offer this added service to improve patient experience and transparency of wait times for our always-on-the-go patients and families,” said Sara Fishbein, BSN, RN, Assistant Manager of HSHS St. Elizabeth’s UrgiCare. “Additionally, walk-in patients without an appointment are also accepted.” 

St. Elizabeth’s UrgiCare clinic is located at 1512 N. Green Mount Road, O’Fallon, Illinois and provides convenient, high-quality care for non-emergent unexpected illnesses, minor accidents and work-related injuries. 

“While UrgiCare is an extension of St. Elizabeth’s Emergency Room, it is intended for those with minor medical problems, which allows for decreased wait times. Anyone with serious medical problems like chest pain or major trauma should always seek medical attention at the nearest emergency room, or dial 9-1-1,” Fishbein added. 

UrgiCare services are billed as Emergency Room services. Please review your benefit plan for Emergency services to understand your coverage. 

To reserve your spot in line at St. Elizabeth’s UrgiCare, visit our website at www.steliz.org/savemyspot. Patients may also access Save My Spot through HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital’s free smartphone app which is available for download. Simply text HEALTH to 618-205-9525, or search HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in the Apple or Google store today. For additional information and questions about Save My Spot, or St. Elizabeth’s UrgiCare services, call 618-624-3750. 

Pro Cryo Plus celebrates ribbon cutting with chamber

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce joined Pro Cryo Plus as they celebrated the opening of their brand new business at 1937 West Highway 50, Fairview Heights.  They celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony on October 30th.   

Pro Cryo Plus is proud to be the first and only facility in the area specializing in pain management, migraine relief and athletic performance recovery utilizing controlled cold exposure, also known as cryotherapy.  

Pro Cryo Plus offers whole body cryotherapy, localized cryotherapy and cryo toning facials, each of which offers a different benefit to their users.  Whole body cryotherapy involves the client standing inside of a cryosauna for up to 3 minutes while the entire body is exposed to cold air triggering the release of several beneficial hormones.

The benefits the hormones provide include but are not limited to, reduction in muscle and joint pain, lowered inflammation, improved range of motion in joints, increased vitality, improved mood, better sleep, faster recovery from exercise/sports and improved skin tone.  Whole body cryotherapy has proven to be effective in alleviating symptoms from rheumatoid arthritis as well as fibromyalgia.  

Localized cryotherapy involves the application of cold air to specific areas of the body to reduce pain and accelerate healing.  The cryo toning facial involves the application of cold air to the face, neck and head to help relieve migraine headaches as well as lessen symptoms from a variety of skin conditions including rosacea, eczema, acne and psoriasis. The cryo toning facial also helps to rebuild collagen in the face which helps firm and tighten the skin.   

Pro Cryo Plus provides a safe and incredibly effective alternative to potentially addictive prescription pain relievers and pain injections by simply using cold air.  

Pro Cryo Plus is located at 1937 West US 50 in Fairview Heights and can be reached at (618)726-7576.  

Council Committee advances food truck ordinance after lengthy discussion

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – After lengthy discussion with council members, residents and downtown business owners in attendance, the Community Development Committee voted to send the ordinance regulating mobile food truck vendors to council for its second reading without any changes. 

At last week’s city council meeting, a motion was approved for the ordinance to be sent back to the Community Development Committee. Ward 6 alderman Ned Drolet indicated the ordinance did not have a second reading in committee, and wanted to make sure that the community had the opportunity to speak or not regarding this ordinance before the final reading during Council. 

The initial discussion amongst the committee Monday night focused on clarification of the process the ordinance would now require for food trucks to operate within O’Fallon city limits. Currently there are no regulations on food trucks, so conversations began in September to establish an ordinance that would look to define food trucks, establish licensing fees and penalties. 

Upon approval of the ordinance, each food truck will be required to get an annual mobile food truck license through the city that will cost $125, as well as a $25 annual food license. The license will be issued by the City Clerk’s office and will require appropriate permits from the county health department before issuance. The license covers from May 1st – April 30th of each fiscal year. 

A special event permit will be required for a food truck to operate at any time in the city of O’Fallon. The permit will be issued through the Community Development Department, after approval by City Council. The council will review each event permit (for at least the first year) and will be able to put in place any specific restrictions (location, time, date etc.) necessary at that time and on a case-by-case basis. The special event permit may be requested by an individual food truck or the event organizer, this will include events organized by the O’Fallon Parks and Recreation Department. It was clarified that multiple events, at the same location by the same organizer, could be approved under one special event permit. 

Sweet Katie Bee’s owner voiced concern that they are currently unaware of what criteria the council will be using to determine special event approval and the impact to their business. Comments from several council members in attendance indicated they would take into consideration the types of food trucks being brought in for special events, and would look to approve events with trucks that would not negatively impact the brick and mortar businesses. 

It was not discussed whether the special event permit would require a list of specific food trucks being considered for the event. Recommendations were not made regarding how the council would obtain necessary information on each potentially-impacted business around the event location nor the criteria the business and council would use to determine the negative or positive impact of the presence of food trucks during an event. 

City staff reminded those in attendance the purpose of O’Fallon Station is to increase traffic to the downtown area for the benefit of those businesses, not to harm them. The owner of Hemingway’s indicated the Festival of Trees Extravaganza held at O’Fallon Station two weeks ago gave his business a bump, after a decline in sales during its construction because of parking limitations. Bike Surgeon’s owner told the committee the downtown businesses are excited about the possibilities with O’Fallon Station, but also nervous because there is no mechanism in place to let them know about events so they could communicate with the council before approval whether or not the event would negatively impact them. 

Ward 2 alderman Bob Kueker said his big concern was competition with brick and mortar, serving out of mobile food trucks to the public rather than just the people at a private events. “I would vote no (to a special event permit) probably if the sales were to the public.” 

Matt Gilreath, Ward 3 alderman, said “I have an obligation to represent the community as a whole, and the residents want the opportunities for food trucks.” He also indicated his desire to support activities at O’Fallon Station that would increase traffic to grow downtown businesses. 

Ray Holden made the motion to send the ordinance to council with no changes, and it was seconded by Mark Morton. After his second, Morton took an opportunity to reiterate comments he has made in previous meetings and Gilreath made earlier saying, “in addition to you guys (downtown business owners) investing a significant amount of money in renovating downtown, the city has also made a significant investment in building the pavilion (O’Fallon Station). To date, we haven’t seen a real issue with the food trucks. There’s no ordinance in place or no regulation today, so we went down this path simply because we want to make sure we do have the opportunity to regulate them if it becomes an issue.”

The committee voted 4-1 to approve the motion to send the ordinance to council. Jerry Albrecht voted no, and David Cozad was not in attendance. 

Tinsel around Town – A Downtown O’Fallon Shopping Event

O’FALLON-SHILOH – The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce is pleased to take part in Tinsel Around Town on Saturday, December 8th noon – 4 p.m. in downtown O’Fallon.  

Get wrapped up in the holiday ambiance as you shop local, enjoy strolling carolers and live music, and warm up by the fire pit. 

Plan on coming Downtown to enjoy many of these activities:

10am: Kissing Ball Holiday Décor class @ the new O’Fallon Station ($40 Register with Parks and Rec)

12-4pm: Tinsel Around Town, a downtown shopping event

1-3pm: Art with Mimi:  Cookies and Crafts at the New O’Fallon Station (Free)

12-8pm: Storytime with Mrs. Claus, enjoy stories on the half hour and photos with Mrs. Claus at Avenue Realty (203 E First St)

5-8pm: Holiday Horse & Carriage Rides on First Street (SOLD OUT)

5-7:30pm: An Evening with Santa @ O’Fallon Station ($20 Register with Parks and Rec)

In addition to shops and restaurants offering specials and goodies, music will fill the air as the O’Fallon Township High School Madrigals roam First Street from noon – 4 pm serenading shoppers and the OTHS Jazz Band performs from 12-1pm on E First Street across from Refinery Salon. 

The best way to keep up with Tinsel Around Town is to like the event on Facebook or visit our website www.tinselaroundtown.com.  

We hope to see you in Downtown O’Fallon this holiday season!

Staffing centers criticize schools for not addressing skills gap

A professional recruiting company says the nation’s public schools aren’t giving students the opportunity to learn skilled vocational trades.

As unemployment hits record lows and the nation’s pool of workers to be hired thins, Express Employment Professionals’ franchise owners say local high schools are graduating kids who lack many of the skills that employers are having the greatest difficulty finding – specifically, high-skilled jobs in trades.

Terri Greeno owns a number of Express franchises in northern Illinois. She says schools are so geared toward college enrollment that technically talented students often miss out.

“They don’t even have the chance to discover that and develop that and hone that,” she said.

A recent survey from the National Federation of Independent Business showed 90 percent of their small business members polled reported few, if any, qualified applicants applying for job openings.

Greeno thinks schools should work closer with local businesses like theirs who are willing to train students, often free of charge.

“This is really the free-market response,” she said. “No one’s compelling these companies to do it. It’s just smart business.”

Part of the problem, Express owners say, is the disconnect between what’s being taught in the classroom and what skills are needed from the workforce.

“We need better partnerships with schools and businesses,” said Birmingham, Alabama, franchise owner Daniel Morgan, adding that in-demand skills are “not taught because school has become all about test results.”

Grand Rapids, Michigan, franchise owner Janis Petrini said businesses should work to train the workforce they require.

“Students need to become exposed to actual career options that have potential earlier on,” she said.

Illinois has 24 career and vocational skill centers across the state that high school students can attend for credit, but Greeno says students would be better-served if they could attend their choice of specialized schools with public assistance.

“If there was more of a free-market education program where people could send their kids to schools that specialize in the subjects and studies that are appropriate for their children, it would be a great way to handle it,” she said.

The Illinois Career and Technical Education Innovative Curriculum Resources Project is run by Illinois State University and works with the state’s career centers in an effort to close the skills gap Greeno refers to.

Four Memorial Regional Healthcare Services Nurses named March of Dimes Nurse of the Year

Belleville, IL – Memorial Regional Health Services (MRHS) recently had five of its nurses honored at the March of Dimes 7th annual Nurse of Year Awards Celebration. Each year, the March of Dimes recognizes extraordinary nurses in efforts to help moms and babies across Missouri and the Metro East Illinois. 

Of the nearly 800 nominations, six nurses from MRHS were recognized as finalists and four received Nurse of the Year honors in their respective specialties.  Winners included:

  • Tammy Dauphin MSN, RN-BC, ACM, CNL of Millstadt (Memorial Hospital Belleville Care Management): Winner in the discipline of Case Management.  Tammy has worked at Memorial for 33 years.
  • Mona Legrand MSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM of O’Fallon (Memorial Hospital Belleville Family Care Birthing Center): Winner in the discipline of Clinical Informatics.  She has worked at Memorial for 33 years.
  • Janet Heck RN-BC of Trenton (Memorial Hospital East 4th Floor): Winner in the discipline General Medical/Adult Care.  Janet has been at Memorial for 22 years.
  • Cathleen Fenton MSN, RN, CNOR of Swansea (Memorial Hospital Belleville Operating Room): Winner in the discipline of Surgical Services.  She has worked at Memorial for 44 years.

Recognized as a March of Di2018 Champion of Nursing, Donna Stephens DNP, RNC-OB, of New Athens has been the Family Care Birthing Center Nursing Director at Memorial for 3 1/2 years. 

Memorial Regional Health Services (MRHS) is a non-profit organization which is part of BJC HealthCare.  It is the parent organization of Memorial Hospital Belleville, Memorial Hospital East, Memorial Care Center.  Mark J. Turner serves as president.

City Council approves tax levy, Capital Improvements Plan

Presentation to Chief Eric Van Hook from LtCol Yon Dugger for his service as the Honorary Commander to the 375th Security Squadron at Scott AFB. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

By Martha Stoffel

City Council approved on first reading the 2018 tax levy and the 2020-2024 Capital Improvements Plan Monday night. The proposed tax levy request is $6,688,900, a 0.86% increase from 2017. A tax levy request is based on a dollar amount, not a rate, so the city tax rate will be determined upon final calculation by the county of the City’s total Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) from property assessments. The levy will be voted on by council for a second reading at the December 3rd council meeting and submitted to the county after that, but the tax rate will not be set by the county until April 2019.

The preliminary estimates from the county regarding the EAV is an overall growth of 1.1% over last year. The city saw a 24% increase from the previous year in disabled veterans exemptions, which reduced the rate setting EAV by $45,838,113. The St. Clair County Board of Review has projected a reduction in EAV of $2.1 million from property tax appeals.  The city is expecting the county to apply a 1.02% multiplier for both O’Fallon and Caseyville Township, raising the EAV by approximately $6.9 million. 

Despite the 0.86% increase to the levy, staff is projecting the city’s tax rate to go down slightly from last year because of the 1.1% total increase to the rate setting EAV. 

Council received a presentation at the October 29th Committee of the Whole of the 5-year Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) and again at the November 12th Finance committee meeting. The presented CIP is for the period of May 1, 2019 through April 30, 2024, fiscal years 2020 – 2024. Each city department included projects and funding sources. Implementation of projects are based on available revenue when the budget is put in place each year and approved by council, so listed projects may or may not occur in the fiscal year presented.

The 2020-2024 Capital Improvements Plan totals $66,721,423 worth of projects, with $25,732,823 for FY2020. Almost eighty-eight percent of the CIP projects are for public infrastructure, with vehicles (6.6%) and equipment (5.7%) representing the next two largest project categories. The CIP will be a helpful tool when staff sets the upcoming budget. 

After a motion from Ward 6 alderman Ned Drolet, and approval by council 12-2, the ordinance adding a Mobile Food Vehicle Vendor License and Fee will be sent back to the Community Development Committee. Drolet indicated the ordinance did not have a second reading in committee, and wanted to make sure that the community had the opportunity to speak or not regarding this ordinance before the final reading during Council. The ordinance will appear at next Monday’s Community Development committee meeting. 

Serene Renewal Medical Spa & Women’s Wellness opens in O’Fallon

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce joined Serene Renewal Medical Spa & Women’s Wellness as they celebrated opening their office in O’Fallon at 787 Sunset Blvd, Ste 200. They celebrated with a ribbon cutting on October 18th.                    

Christina H. Dothager, MD brings a unique experience to your yearly check-up.  As a Board Certified OBGYN, she has started a Women’s Wellness practice that focuses on gynecological health and pairs it with a medical spa so that you can relax, take the day off, and focus on you.   

“Women are complex, and with careers, children, and marriages, often do not make time for themselves. We are here to take time with each patient, listen, and create the best care plan that suits you,” said Dr Dothager.  

Along with routine gynecological care including pap smears, endometrial ablations, and hysterectomies, Dr Dothager and her nurse practitioner, Samantha Rogers, focus on bioidentical hormone therapy and sexual health offering care not available by many other practices.  

“Our CO2re Intima is unique and provides a non-surgical option for the treatment of urinary incontinence, intimate wellness, and damage from childbirth,” says Dr Dothager.  

The medical spa offers RF Microneedling with Vivace, virtually painless laser hair removal, Velashape 3 for cellulite reduction and skin tightening after weight loss, along with her CO2re Intima.  Facials, massage, full body waxing, and lash extensions are also available.  

For more information, please visit www.serenerenewal.com or call (618) 726-2229.

Garden Club presents award to Namely Yours

(Photo submitted by Harriet Baker)

At the November O’Fallon Garden Club meeting, the club announced the best “Business Landscape Award” winner as Lisa Wendel of Namely Yours. The award was given to Lisa by Sara lambaria, Kim Atkins, and Carolyn Sitzes. 

Several business were considered but the committee felt strongly that businesses who install and maintain their garden should be given first consideration. The club looks forward to 2019 and seeing what everyone does to plan their landscape. 

O’Fallon Finance Committee hears report on savings resulting from refunded bonds

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – The Finance and Administration Committee received a presentation from Robert Vail, Director of Public Finance for Bernardi Securities, on the final savings the city will see from the refunding bonds. 

The city council approved in August the ordinance to refund the 2009 and 2009A bonds issues that were callable in January 2019. The bonds were issued in three series starting in September and ending mid-October. 

Bernardi Securities, with guidance from city staff, refunded the longer duration bonds first to minimize the negative effects of rising interest rates. Doing so allowed the city to recognize additional interest savings of $166,047. 

Prior to the refunding, the net interest for the bonds was 5.43 percent. The true interest after refunding ended up being 3.51 percent, for a savings of $3,098,297 for the city. Projections from Bernardi Securities in July anticipated savings of $2.3 million. Director of Finance Sandy Evans was able to negotiate lower underwriting costs with Bernardi as well. 

Vail also took time to highlight the city’s continued AA+ bond rating. He indicated that O’Fallon is the only city south of Peoria to have AA+ or higher bond rating, with only 22.36 percent of S&P-rated municipalities in Illinois falling in that category. The bond rating directly impacts the interest rates the city is able to receive, and the AA+ rating allowed the city to get more favorable rates for additional savings. 

The committee also approved to send to council the 2018 tax levy and the 2020-2024 Capital Improvements Plan. The proposed tax levy request is $6,688,900, a 0.86 percent increase from 2017. A tax levy request is based on a dollar amount, not a rate, so the city tax rate will be determined upon final calculation by the county of the City’s total EAV from property assessments. The levy will be voted on by council in November and submitted to the County in December, but the tax rate will not be set by the county until April 2019. 

Council received a presentation at the October 29th Committee of the Whole of the 5-year Capital Improvements Plan (CIP). The presented CIP is for the period of May 1, 2019 through April 30, 2024, fiscal years 2020 – 2024. Each city department included projects and funding sources. Implementation of projects are based on available revenue when the budget is put in place each year and approved by council, so listed projects may or may not occur in the fiscal year presented.

The 2020-2024 Capital Improvements Plan totals $66,721,423 worth of projects, with $25,732,823 for FY2020. Almost eighty-eight percent of the CIP projects are for public infrastructure, with vehicles (6.6 percent) and equipment (5.7 percent) representing the next two largest project categories. The CIP will be a helpful tool when staff sets the upcoming budget. 

Hospital celebrates first anniversary at new facility

One year ago this week, the newest chapter in HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital’s 143-year history was started. The hospital opened a brand new facility to serve the region. It could not have been completed and so successful without the many hands and hours of work from the hundreds of dedicated professionals who choose to work at St. Elizabeth’s and who coordinated a successful and safe transition of patients on November 4, 2017.

The hospital is also proud of the support of businesses, leaders and other community organizations provided through the move and during this past year. Groups not just in O’Fallon, but also throughout the entire region. 

St. Elizabeth’s Hospital’s continuous goal is to provide high-quality care to all.  Employees embrace the concept of selfless devotion to patients and visitors, and go the extra step to make true care connections. Patients are their top priority and everyone strives to fulfill the Mission of HSHS through advanced technologies, professional, skilled and compassionate caregivers and the highest level of quality service. 

“One of the ways we meet our patients’ needs is by providing the newest technology and practices available, and we proudly offer it in our new facility. Our new St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is the next step on our journey to offering you, our patients, the highest quality care in a healing setting,” notes Chief Executive Officer Patti Fischer, RN, MBA, FACHE.  “I thank the community for entrusting your care to St. Elizabeth’s and we will continue to serve you with Franciscan-driven care for decades to come.”

All of the 144 patient rooms at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital are private. There are off-stage elevators located behind the scenes, away from the public hustle and bustle areas, allowing for more privacy for patients during transportation throughout the hospital for procedures. The design of the hospital also moves away from nursing stations to return nurses back to the bedside for patient care. Instead of centralized desks where nurses would work, nurses complete their work within the patient room with the ability to closely observe at their workstation right outside the room.

The partnerships with highly skilled providers like Prairie Cardiovascular, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon, Saint Louis University, and of course our own HSHS Medical Group with family practice and specialists, also make St. Elizabeth’s a health care destination that is close to home.

HSHS Medical Group launched in 2009 and now has over 460 providers in 95 locations throughout Central and Southern Illinois.  Dedicated to bringing top quality providers in highly needed specialty areas, they cover specialties including orthopedics, urology, neurosciences, family medicine, general surgery, gastroenterology, endocrinology, pulmonology and more.  

Collectively, HSHS focuses their care integration strategy on bringing physicians and other clinicians, technology and patients together to improve the overall health of the community. The HSHS Medical Group Multispecialty Care clinic is conveniently located in the attached medical office building on the O’Fallon campus.  

During the past year, St. Elizabeth’s continued to grow services and has won awards for excellence along the way. In March, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois recognized HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital with a Blue Distinction® Center+ for Maternity Care designation as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program and the Joint Commission recognized the hospital as a 2017 Pioneers in QualityTM Data Contributor for its advancements to electronic clinical quality measure (eCQM) data for quality improvement in health care later that year. The hospital was also re-designated as an Emergent Stroke Ready Hospital by the Illinois Department of Public Health and named a Region 4 EMS Resource Hospital. 

MetroRecPlex welcomes new Ice Rink Manager & Coach

The McKendree MetroRecPlex is excited to announce the addition of Mike Tokaryk!  

Mike brings with him more than 30 years of experience in ice rink management, program development and coaching.  Mike is eager to hit the ground running and states, “I am excited to be here at the McKendree MetroRecPlex and look forward to working with all of our ice partners! This facility has an amazing potential to create and implement a wide variety of ice programs and nuture the development of current programs.”

For the past 24 years, Mike has been the Technical Director of the Burlington Skating Centre in Burlington Ontario Canada.  He has also been a National Skate Canada Club Consultant for 11 years.  Mike is a certified National Level Skating Coach (NCCP Level 3). Mike has helped develop and improve skating skills & technique of players at all levels including current NHL players Chris Philips (Ottawa Senators) and Danny Hodgson (Vancouver Canucks). 

While at the Burlington Skating Centre, Mike turned a medium sized skating club into one of the most established and well-rounded large skating centres in Canada. Mike helped influence the design of a new arena to accommodate an array of highly successful creative skating programs for the entire community. Today, this state of the art skating facility is home to national level figure skaters and world renowned synchronized skating teams who use this facility as their main training base.

Mike was one of the original 13 Skate Canada Club Consultants. As a Club Consultant, Mike has consulted in over 160 skating clubs from Western Canada to Eastern Canada.  

While Mike was most recently based in Burlington, ON Canada, he has coached in, and managed skating centres throughout Canada in both figure skating and power skating disciplines. He was a head figure skating coach, as well as power skating coach which included top level NHL hockey players in the Northern Alberta community of Ft. McMurray and at the Winnipeg Winter Club in Winnipeg Manitoba. 

Say Hi to Mike as you see him around the Plex!

The Weingarten celebrates change in ownership with ribbon cutting

BELLEVILLE – The Weingarten recently hosted a multi-chamber ribbon cutting ceremony as they celebrated new ownership. The new owners include Tyler, Grace and Clayton Vitale.  

The new owners are excited about the new business opportunity and look forward to providing guests memorable experiences for years to come. Tyler, Grace and Clay would like to thank all of the support received from local chambers: The Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce, O’Fallon/Shiloh Chamber of Commerce, Freeburg Chamber of Commerce and the Smithton Chamber of Commerce. The Weingarten looks forward to it’s continued involvement in chamber activities. Community involvement is a shared value among each owner and they are pleased to have hosted local businesses on-site for this event as well.

There are a number of improvements the owners will look to bring for an enhanced Weingarten experience in the near future, including an updated website, redesigned menus and new events throughout the year. 

The Weingarten is a wine bar and event venue located in a rustic, 20 acre setting. Serving lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday, they feature live music every weekend and ample indoor and outdoor seating. The Weingarten plays host for birthday parties, weddings, showers,  celebrations of life, reunions or any reason for a group to get together. From a relaxing Lakeside Lounge to a 200 guest celebration in the Garden Tent, The Weingarten can help make your next event a success. 

For more information, please visit www.theweingarten.com or call 618-257-9463 (WINE)