Key Housing Market Statistics in the Metro-East Released

SHILOH, IL – According to the year-to-date data, home sales are up from 2017 in most of the Metro-East.

Home Sales

The number of homes sold in much of the Metro-East has increased compared to July 2017. Home sales in St. Clair increased by 5.52 percent, while Clinton and Monroe County saw a rise of 8.27 and 2.52 percent year to date 2018.  REALTORS® in Jersey County reported a 13.56 percent increase in homes this July.  

Compared to July last year, Clinton, Monroe, Randolph, and Montgomery counties all saw more homes being sold. Home sales in Clinton increased by 4.08 percent, Monroe increased by 13.04 percent, Randolph rose by 66.66 percent and Montgomery County reported a huge 70 percent increase. 

“If you’ve been thinking about selling your home, now is a great time to do it. With home prices going up and the average days on market going down, sellers should be taking advantage of this market. Plus, with so many qualified REALTORS® trained to help you sell your home, there’s no guess work or extra worry on the seller.” Says Angie Zahn, President of the REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois.

Home Prices

Upward trend for median prices continues with the statewide average rising 42.3 percent to $214,900 according to Illinois REALTORS®. Monroe County home prices rose 5.39 percent compared to July of 2017. Home prices in Jersey County increased by 29.85 percent, while Montgomery County reported a 52 percent increase for the second month in a row.

Days On Market

Days on market continued to decrease in the Metro-East. Homes in Clinton County sold 33.84 percent faster in July 2018 compared to July 2017. Montgomery County homes saw a 55.40 percent decrease in days homes were on the market.  St. Clair and Madison Counties also reported decreases of 1.68 percent and 1.65 percent in days on market, respectively.

New Home Start Permits

Even though the number of new homes being built in the Metro-east is down from 2017, there are still 148 new homes being built in St. Clair County, 33 new homes in Monroe County, and 108 new homes being built in Madison County. These numbers add to the amount of inventory for buyers to choose from.

The REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois (RASI) is the voice for real estate in Southwestern Illinois. Our mission is to empower members to succeed today and into the future. For more information on RASI and real estate careers, please visit www.618realtor.com or contact the office at (618) 277-1980 or Membership@myRASI.com.

Local nursery vandalized in broad daylight

By Annabelle Knef

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS – On Friday, Aug. 17, an individual vandalized the Creative Landscapes and Garden Center office building during regular business hours. 

“Somebody came in during our business hours while nobody was over there and created havoc,” owner of the business Josh Martie said.  

Martie said that “no one really broke in” because the building stays unlocked while the business is operating. 

The vandalism occurred between 9:15 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. while two of Martie’s employees were on staff.

“They didn’t steal anything. They tore up the house – knocked over shelves, spray painted computer monitors and dumped transmission fluid all over the floor,” he said. 

Martie said that he thinks it’s bizarre that the vandalism took place in the morning. 

Martie said that he notified Fairview Heights Police Department after his landscape manager discovered the vandalism. 

“There’s not much they could do for us because the person didn’t steal anything,” he said. “They said it would be impossible to take finger prints because there are so many people who touch stuff over there.”

Martie said that the odd thing is that the vandal came to the property two different times – the latter time to spray paint the computer monitors. He said the second time occurred sometime in the afternoon. 

“We are assuming it’s a disgruntled ex-employee,” he said. 

Martie said that what is most concerning is that the business has been having issues at night with an individual stealing plants out of the garden center. 

“Unfortunately, we’re pretty wide open because we cary most of our stock outside,” he said. 

Martie said that he doesn’t think the two crimes are connected.  

“I don’t think it’s the same person,” he said. “One is vandalism and one is theft. If it was related, I think they would have stolen something when they came in to vandalize the place.” 

Martie said the Creative Landscapes will adopt a new outdoor security system and cameras in the next couple of days “to oversee the property.” 

He also said that Fairview police is going to  “step up their patrols” and try to keep an eye out near his business. 

“It’s unfortunate because it seems like it’s a common problem on Old Collinsville Road,” he said. 

Busey Bank buys Bank of Edwardsville for $305 million

First Busey Corporation, the holding company for Busey Bank, and The Banc Ed Corp. , the holding company for TheBANK of Edwardsville, today jointly announced the signing of a definitive agreement pursuant to which Busey will combine Banc Ed through a merger transaction. The partnership will enhance Busey’s existing deposit, commercial banking and wealth management presence in the greater St. Louis MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).  Through this transaction, Busey’s deposit share ranking improves from #18 to #7 in this MSA.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Banc Ed stockholders will have the right to receive 8.2067 shares of common stock of First Busey and $111.53 in cash for each share of common stock of Banc Ed, with total consideration to consist of approximately 70% stock and 30% cash. Based upon Busey’s closing share price of $31.89 on August 21, 2018, the implied per share purchase price is $373.24 with an aggregate transaction value of approximately $304.9 million.  The transaction is expected to close in Q4 2018 or early Q1 2019, subject to customary closing conditions and required approvals.    

It is anticipated that TheBANK will be merged with and into Busey’s bank subsidiary, Busey Bank, at a date following the completion of the holding company merger. At the time of the bank merger, TheBANK banking centers will become branches of Busey Bank. The combined pro forma franchise would serve customers through 82 full-service locations, including 62 branches across Illinois, as well as 14 in Missouri, five in Florida and one in Indiana and will have combined assets of $9.6B, $6.4B in gross loans, $7.7B in deposits and over $8.6B in assets under management.  

Like Busey, TheBANK was founded in 1868 and operates as a privately held, locally owned and operated commercial bank headquartered in Edwardsville, Illinois. TheBANK currently employs over 360 associates and has 19 branch locations and one loan production office in the St. Louis MO-IL MSA: Alton, Belleville (2), Bethalto, Clayton, Collinsville, Edwardsville (3), Fairmont City, Glen Carbon (2), Granite City (2), Highland, O’Fallon, St. Charles (LPO), Swansea, Troy, and Wood River. The company is dedicated to its founding principles by being actively involved in the communities it serves and providing exceptional personal service delivered by experienced local professionals. 

Busey President and Chief Executive Officer Van A. Dukeman said, “Being a strong, local community bank for the communities we serve is important to both Busey and TheBANK.  Combining our like-minded, 150-year organizations together as one will allow us to build upon and further strengthen our shared beliefs, community focus and commitment to service excellence. Further, this business combination supports our strategic intention of increasing market share through partnerships with organizations whom have strong core deposit funding, solid commercial banking and credit practices, and a tradition of serving wealth management clients for generations.”  

Mark Shashek, Chairman of Banc Ed’s Board, and R.L. Plummer, Chairman of TheBANK’s Board on behalf of both Boards of Directors said, “The senior leadership of TheBANK and Busey have admired each other’s institutions for decades. Each of us have very talented associates for which we are very grateful. While Banc Ed was not actively seeking a partnership, when Busey CEO Van Dukeman approached us about a possible business combination we listened on behalf of our employees, customers, communities and shareholders. Our admiration of the Busey team and franchise has only grown as we learned more about them during this process; we are confident our fellow stakeholders will agree as they learn more about the many benefits of this partnership.” 

TheBANK President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Powers added, “Thanks to talented employees, both organizations have demonstrated success in providing premiere customer service; building and maintaining strong relationships; and providing countless hours of human, social and financial capital to meet the needs of the communities we serve. We are excited TheBANK customers will continue to experience service excellence through the same bankers they know and trust, while benefitting from expanded access points across Illinois, Missouri, Indiana and SW Florida.” 

Both companies support and value an engaged and empowered workforce, and are committed to building a premier, service-oriented, community brand experience.  Busey has been named among American Banker’s Best Banks to Work For since 2016; voted as one of the Best Places to Work in Illinois by associates since 2016; recognized as one of the 2018 Top Workplaces in St. Louis; among the Best Companies to Work For in Florida; as well as listed among the 2018 Best-In-State Banks for Illinois—a first ever recognition by Forbes—in addition to various wellness, training and development, philanthropic and other workplace awards. 

Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg LLP served as legal counsel and FIG Partners served as financial advisor to Busey. Howard & Howard served as legal counsel and Sandler O’Neill + Partners, L.P. served as financial advisor to Banc Ed. 

Corporate Profile
As of June 30, 2018, First Busey Corporation (NASDAQ: BUSE) was a $7.8 billion financial holding company headquartered in Champaign, Illinois. Busey Bank, the wholly-owned bank subsidiary, with total assets of $7.8 billion as of June 30, 2018, is headquartered in Champaign, Illinois and has forty-four banking centers serving Illinois, thirteen banking centers in the St. Louis, Missouri metropolitan area, five banking centers serving southwest Florida and a banking center in Indianapolis, Indiana. Trevett Capital Partners, a wealth management division of Busey Bank, provides asset management, investment and fiduciary services to high net worth clients in southwest Florida. The wealth management professionals of Trevett Capital Partners can be reached through trevettcapitalpartners.com

Busey Bank was named among Forbes’ 2018 Best-In-State Banks—one of five in Illinois and 124 from across the country, equaling 2.2% of all banks, recognized solely by customers. Best-In-State Banks are awarded for exceptional customer experiences as determined by a survey sample of 25,000+ people across the U.S. who rated banks on trust, terms and conditions, branch services, digital services and financial advice. 

Busey Bank owns a retail payment processing subsidiary, FirsTech, Inc., which processes approximately 28 million transactions per year using online bill payment, lockbox processing and walk-in payments at its 4,000 agent locations in 43 states. More information about FirsTech, Inc. can be found at firstechpayments.com.

Busey Wealth Management is a wholly-owned subsidiary of First Busey Corporation. Through Busey Trust Company, Busey Wealth Management provides asset management, investment and fiduciary services to individuals, businesses and foundations. As of June 30, 2018, Busey Wealth Management’s assets under care were approximately $7.0 billion.

For more information about us, visit busey.com.  

About The Banc Ed Corp. 
The Banc Ed Corp. is the holding company for TheBANK of Edwardsville, a privately held, locally owned and operated bank established January 1, 1968 – currently with over 360 associates, 19 branch locations and one loan production office in the St. Louis MO-IL MSA. TheBANK of Edwardsville is dedicated to building strong communities for generations by being actively involved in the 

A guide to appealing your property taxes

By Martha Stoffel

O’Fallon property owners received notice last week from the St. Clair County Assessor’s office of their 2018 assessment change based on the quadannual reassessments that were completed earlier this year. 

Property is assessed at a 33.33 percent median level of assessment, based on the fair cash value of the property. Taxpayers will find the new, fair market value on their notices. Taxes on the property are calculated based on one-third of that value, known as the equalized assessed value (EAV). The property’s prior year and current EAV are located in the lower left corner of the assessment change postcards. 

Property owners may file an objection to their assessment by submitting an appeal application to the Board of Review within 30 days of receiving the 2018 assessment cards. The filing deadline for properties within O’Fallon Township is September 14, 2018. The most common objections are an assessment higher than market value or an assessment that is not equitable to similar properties.

The Property Tax Assessment Complaint form, form PTAX-230, is available on the County’s website (www.co.st-clair.il.us) in the Board of Review Department forms. Applications must be post marked by the deadline to file, or property owners may file in person at the Board of Review office in the St. Clair County Courthouse located at #10 Public Square, Belleville, IL 62220.

When submitting the application, property owners may choose to receive the decision with or without an oral hearing with a Board of Review member. If a hearing is requested, it is not necessary to submit evidence with the complaint form. For property owners wishing to receive the decision without an oral hearing, duplicates of evidence supporting the appeal must be submitted with the complaint form. 

For an appeal, the property owner will need to provide evidence of an inaccurate assessment by the county. Types of evidence for consideration: your property and three comparable properties in your neighborhood, a recent appraisal, recent sales contract for qualified sale and pictures indicating condition issues. 

When considering comparable properties for an appeal, those properties should contain the same number of stories, similar square footage and finished basement square footage. This information is located on the Property Record Card with the county, which is accessible on the Real Estate Tax Inquiry website (http://www.co.st-clair.il.us/Pages/parcel.aspx). This website will also provide the assessment values of comparable homes needed for the appeal. Make sure to have the year 2018 selected when reviewing assessments. 

A full list of evidence needed to substantiate a claim of an unfair assessment is located on the appeal application. Some evidence may be obtained in person from the Assessor’s office or found on the St. Clair County website. Specific questions or assistance with an appeal should be directed to the St. Clair County Board of Review at (618) 277-6600. 

If a property owner is not satisfied with the decision of the St. Clair County Board of Review after an appeal, they may choose to appeal to the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board. Appeals made to the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board take significantly longer for resolution, and property taxes are required to be paid “in protest” to the county during the wait time. 

Property owners are also encouraged to review their tax bill and records with the county to make sure they are receiving all eligible exemptions. Exemptions reduce the taxable value, or EAV, of the property. The most common is the General Homestead Exemption. To be eligible for this exemption, the taxpayer must own and occupy the property as their principal dwelling. The assessment reduction amount is $6,000 and an annual renewal is not required after initial application. 

If you know of anyone who is fraudulently claiming a homestead exemption on a property, you may contact the Homestead Fraud Hotline at 618-825-2518 or file an anonymous, online report by visiting the Assessor’s website www.co.st-clair.il.us (choose Residents, Assessor’s Office). When someone is receiving an exemption to which they are not entitled, law-abiding property owners must make up the difference in lost tax revenue by paying higher taxes. 

Tiadaghton House’s 5th Anniversary Celebration

Lebanon – The Tiadaghton House will celebrate its fifth anniversary on Saturday, 25 August at 111 W. St Louis Street in the historic shopping district of Lebanon, IL.  Owner/manager Holly Lovell has turned a life-long passion for art and American craft into a thriving business on the main brick street in Lebanon.  The Tiadaghton House (pronounced “tie-a-dotten”) represents over 80 local artists and craftsmen showcasing the absolute finest in local artisan talent.  Current artists are from all over the Metro East – Lebanon, Breese, Trenton, Highland, Belleville, O’Fallon, and more.  Hand-crafted furniture, woven rugs and baskets, paintings, drawings, fiber art, pottery and more are showcased throughout the store.  An added bonus is all the local antiques, mission oak furniture, art pottery and antique hammered copper items featured throughout the store.

The day-long celebration will include food, door prizes and demonstrations by local potters, a wood carver, rug-hooking, painters, eco-printing, leather working and the two resident artists who all maintain active studios at the Tiadaghton House — working, teaching and selling their work on site.  In addition, donations will be accepted for Lebanon Kids, Inc – a wonderful local non-profit providing after school homework help and a summer camp for local kids.

The day-long celebration will run from 10:00 through 7:00 on Saturday, August 25th.

R.P. Lumber opens new showroom in Lebanon

Pictured is Gabel presenting company and store leaders from R.P. Lumber with a plant to celebrate the new space. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

By Annabelle Knef

LEBANON – The Lebanon Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for Lebanon’s new R.P. Lumber showroom on Tuesday, August 14. 

R.P. Lumber Company, Inc. is a full service retail home center and building materials supplier that will offer many products and services to the Lebanon community in its new showroom. 

While they have been open since earlier this summer, Chamber President Rebeca Gabel said that R.P. Lumber will have a grand opening on September 15 “to recognize their new retail space where the IGA used to be.” 

Real Estate Transactions

Real Estate transactions obtained weekly at the St. Clair County Recorder of Deeds office

O’FALLON

860 Allenbrook Avenue; From Jeremy and Courtney Sturrsma; To Clint Leonard; $251,400

1102 North Smiley Street; From Steven Young; To Graydon and Catherine Vandament; $235,000

612 West Madison Street; From HawkCO LLC; To Ricardo Quintero; $133,000

1871 Bethel Ridge Farms Blvd; From Bethel Ridge Farms LLC; To David and Christina Bereda; $661,693

745 Erika Street; From Christopher Deslonghchamp; To Shih Wang; $130,000

1904 Forest Edge Court; From Charles Palus and Cheryl Callis; To Douglas and Lori Rankin; $505,000

4210 SilChar Court; From Benjamin and Kathleen Brown; To Josiah and Allison Munton; $210,000

1428 Clifton Way Court; From Luke and Elizabeth Nicholson; To Danette Smith; $281,000

218 Shoreline Drive, Unit 4; From Jill and Denzile Doss; To Jeanine Holtgrave; $77,000

905 Jenna Lee Lane; From Daniel and Coleen Sago; To Martha Churchill; $154,900

1013 North Smiley Street; From Aaron and Marisa Byram; To Cory and Rebecca Davis; $207,000

309 East Adams Street; From David Showalter; To Jacob and Samantha Blaylock; $112,000

1237 Conrad Lane; From Jamie and Kimberly Preski; To Chelsea Thomas and Ashley Fleming; $263,000

SHILOH

41 Tribe Court; From Jason Ora and Brittany Sprinkle; To Dennis and Amanda Breeding; $208,000

3608 Chippewa Drive; From Shiloh BLDG Group LLC; To Kappert Constr CO INC; $47,500

3605 Chippewa Drive; From Shiloh BLDG Group LLC; To Kappert Constr CO INC; $47,500

Southview Plaza demolition still planned, facing some delay

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – Progress on the demolition of Southview Plaza is continuing, albeit slowly.

During a period for the public to ask questions, resident Charlie Pitts requested an update regarding the demolition of Southview Plaza. 

Community Development Director Ted Shekell indicated that they have received the demolition plan for the buildings, within the timeline laid out in TIF reimbursement plan. While a specific demolition date is not available, the demolition plans indicate the current plan is to begin tearing down the building located next to South Lincoln Avenue first, moving from south to north. 

City staff are still hopeful all of the structures can be demolished at one time, but the property owner is still working on a plan with Papa John’s, so the buildings may need to be demolished one at a time. 

“Papa John’s is kind of the cork in the bottle. Nothing to do with the city. Apparently Papa John’s has got an awfully good lease and they’re having to work out a deal to get them out so they can tear the building down,” Shekell said.

Schnucks announces new customer rewards program

For the O’Fallon Weekly

ST. LOUIS –  Schnuck Markets, Inc. has launched  “Schnucks Rewards,” a program that allows customers to earn points redeemable for dollars off future purchases.

“This is a modern way for us to say ‘thank you’ to customers for choosing Schnucks,” said Schnucks Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck. “Customers will be rewarded for something they’re already doing – buying groceries to feed their families – and Schnucks will be helping them to stretch their dollars even further.”

Customers who sign up for Schnucks Rewards will earn 10 reward points for every dollar spent on qualifying* purchases. After accruing 1,000 points (the equivalent of $100 in purchases), customers will earn $2 off a future purchase. They can choose to redeem dollars off as they are earned or allow them to accumulate (up to $500).

Customers can participate in the program by downloading the Schnucks Rewards app from their smartphone’s App Store or Google Play. Customers can then either create an account, or those with an existing Schnupons digital coupon account may use that log-in information. Customers who do not have a smartphone can still participate by visiting www.schnucks.com/rewards and using their phone number to register.

To earn points, customers will scan the Schnucks Rewards in-app barcode or enter their phone number at checkout. Schnucks will also occasionally offer promotions such as double points and free items available exclusively to Schnucks Rewards customers.

“Shoppers have many options to choose from when it comes to where to buy their groceries, and our hope is that Schnucks Rewards provides them with one more reason to choose us,” said Schnuck. “Along with our commitment to being best in fresh and offering quality, friendly service, this program is one more way for us to encourage those who may not currently be our customers, to give Schnucks another look.”

In addition to Schnucks Rewards, the new app also features enhanced item-location information, allowing shoppers to easily find the location of a specific item in any Schnucks store. Customers can also use the app to view the weekly sales ad, refill pharmacy prescriptions and access digital coupons.

*Points may not be earned on lottery, tobacco, third-party gift card purchases, Schnucks Delivers orders, wire transfers or any non-food purchases made at customer service. Points may be earned on pharmacy prescriptions and alcohol purchases, however, customers cannot redeem dollars on those purchases. 

Council receives economic development update

Members of the O’Fallon City Council received an economic development update at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, including a run down of events planned this winter at the new O’Fallon Station building. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Martha Stoffel)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – O’Fallon’s economic development was the focus of Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting. Council members were presented the new economic development website by St. Louis-based branding and marketing firm Atomic Dust, marketing analytics and updates on key economic development areas within the city.

In December, council approved a contract with Atomic Dust of $42,000 which included an audit of the current economic development website, marketing materials and strategies, instructions on marketing best practices, brand guidelines, and information/sell sheets. The contract was project-oriented and will not have an ongoing retainer fee or monthly costs. 

Atomic Dust has trained city staff to provide the ongoing maintenance to the website internally. The staff will also be responsible for all other implementation of the strategies developed by Atomic Dust. 

Mike Spakowski (Partner/Creative Director), Rich Heend (Senior Copywriter) and Erika Cruse (Senior Account Executive) from Atomic Dust spoke to the council about the creation of a “brand language,” the “power of the brand” and the need to differentiate O’Fallon from neighboring communities that have similar community statistics. 

The city’s new economic development branding of “Build it Here” translates in the website’s (www.ofallonillinois.org) theme of O’Fallon’s ability to help you build your business or build your life here. 

City staff also presented statistics they have received from the retail consulting, market research and development firm The Retail Coach. The firm partners cities with potential retail development opportunities. They have specifically provided data using cell phone locations services for the areas of Central Park Drive, St. Elizabeth’s and the O’Fallon Sports Park. The data collected is mapped to track where visitors of those areas return. This allows the city to see the regional impact of amenities within the city and the geographical location of those being served.

The retail services along Central Park Drive received visitors primarily from the Metro East, along the I-64/Highway 50 corridor. The hospital had a service area that extended relatively equally to both sides of the river. The Sports Park data was specific to soccer tournaments and had the farthest reach, extending throughout most of the Midwest.

Speaking to specific economic development areas within the city, staff provided information regarding the Sports Park, Downtown O’Fallon, Interstate Corridor and the Reider Road area. 

Since the construction of the turf fields at the Sports Park, area hotels have reported 2,368 new room nights with a projected 22 percent increase in hotel use for the first year. To date, there have been 85,805 participants in tournaments alone at the Sports Park since the new fields were finished. 

O’Fallon Station construction is ongoing, with staff anticipating winter events to be held there starting in November. With the new City Hall parking long and the upcoming transition of the Metro bus lane downtown, additional parking of 124 spots will have been added once O’Fallon Station is completed. 

The addition of St. Elizabeth’s hospital has brought 1,300 new employees and 250,000 new visitors to O’Fallon. Two new hotels are planned for that area, the Springhill Suites is currently under construction and the building permits have been approved for a Hampton Inn. 

The area between I-64 exits 19 and 21 is known as the Mid-America Commerce Center, and staff is hopeful new marketing strategies and analytics from Atomic Dust and The Retail Coach will result in the development of that area along Reider Road. The area presents challenges with lacking infrastructure and sewer. City staff is working on presenting council with suggestions and plans going forward to make the area more desirable to a variety of businesses.

Key Housing Market Statistics in the Metro-East Released

SHILOH, IL – Homes are selling for higher prices at a faster pace, according to the latest housing data released for June 2018 by the REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois.

Home Sales

The number of homes sold in much of the Metro-East has increased again this month. Home sales in St. Clair increased by 7.43 percent in June, while Clinton and Monroe County saw a rise of 9.6 and 9.2 percent year to date 2018.  REALTORS® in Jersey County reported a 16.5 percent increase in homes this June.  According to Illinois REALTORS®, while statewide home sales decreased 6.7 percent in June 2018, the Metro-East held steady with 920 homes.

As for a year-over-year comparison, the Metro-East continued its uptick in home sales in June 2018 compared to June 2017.  Home sales in St. Clair County increased by 5.5 percent, Clinton increased by 6.3 percent, and Monroe County reported a huge 55.9 percent increase.

During the first quarter of 2018, the share of first-time homebuyers purchasing loans rose to 46 percent compared to 42 percent a year ago, according to a new Freddie Mac analysis. Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater attributes the increase to Millennials getting married and starting families during current job growth.

It’s exciting to see the positive activity of both home sales and home prices in most of our communities. I think the location of the Metro-East may be a good indicator as to why we’re doing so well. With major universities, St. Louis, Scott Air Force Base, and many more great assets, this is a great place for everyone to live” says REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois President Angie Zahn.

Home Prices

Home prices have hit a 10-year high in Illinois this month. The upward trend for median prices continues with the statewide average rising 4.5 percent to $225,000 according to Illinois REALTORS®. St. Clair County home prices rose 2.2 percent compared to June of 2017. Home prices in Monroe County increased by 16.5 percent, while Randolph County reported a 52 percent increase.

Days On Market

Days on market continued to decrease in the Metro-East. Homes in Monroe County sold 80 percent faster in June 2018 compared to May 2018. Madison County homes saw a 28.9 percent decrease in days homes were on the market.  Clinton, Macoupin and Montgomery Counties also reported decreases of 24.8 percent, 15.5 percent, 2.8 percent in days on market, respectively.

The REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois (RASI) is the voice for real estate in Southwestern Illinois. Our mission is to empower members to succeed today and into the future. For more information on RASI and real estate careers, please visit www.618realtor.com or contact the office at (618) 277-1980 or Membership@myRASI.com.

Bost calls for review of NGA site selection

By Annabelle Knef

Congressman Mike Bost (IL-12) has given local leaders renewed hope for recapturing one of the biggest development projects the region has ever seen – the National Geosptial-Intelligece Agency (NGA) – that was lost to north St. Louis in a bidding war in 2016.

On July 9, Bost indicated he had raised concerns with NGA director Robert Cardillo regarding the integrity of the site selection for the new western headquarters “amid allegations that a key developer of the North St. Louis site engaged in tax credit fraud and other misdeeds in securing the property,” a press release from his office states.

According to the St. Louis Post-Disptatch, last month Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley sued developer Paul McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration LLC, accusing it of keeping $4.5 million in state tax credits “despite failing to complete the purchase of more than $5 million worth of properties in north St. Louis.”

In a letter to Cardillo, Bost asked that federal funding for the project be delayed until a better understanding on how the alleged fraud impacted St. Clair County’s ability to receive fair and equal consideration during the site selection process.

Bost, who has asked for a personal meeting with Cardillo, implied in his letter that legal action could be taken to prevent the $1.75 billion project from going any further in north St. Louis.

“I’ve never had a doubt that the land adjacent to Scott Air Force Base was a far superior site for NGA to achieve its mission,” said Bost.  “The decision to award the new campus to North St. Louis never passed the smell test, either in terms of cost or public safety.  It now appears our concerns were warranted.  The people of Southern Illinois deserve to know that a decision as important as this one was made fairly and with access to the full scope of information about both locations.  I don’t see how the agency has any choice but to delay construction, as well as reconsider its selection of North St. Louis, amid this cloud of doubt and legal uncertainty.  Simply put: St. Clair County should be back on the table for NGA.”

Later in the week, Bost issued another statement, continuing to ask for answers related to the NGA site selection.

“If you planned to build a house and realized it was on unstable ground, you wouldn’t keep building just because you had a blueprint and some two-by-fours. You’d stop construction, review your plans, and consider safer alternatives. That’s all I’m asking NGA to do. Are we throwing good money after bad because it’s too inconvenient to do the right thing? The short-term inconvenience of reevaluation is well-worth the long-term cost savings to our taxpayers and, most importantly, ensuring the strength of NGA-West as a national security asset,” Bost said in a statement.

Why You Need a Personal Fitness Assessment

If you’re considering a new workout program or feeling unsatisfied with your current regime, then getting a fitness assessment is a top priority that can change the way that you look at your physical health.  The fitness assessment by one of the personal trainers at the MetroRecPlex will allow you to evaluate your skill level while also providing an in-depth look at your current strengths while providing insight on how to defeat your weaknesses. Here are a few things that you will learn through your personal fitness assessment at the MetroRecPlex:

A Professional Personal Trainer Will Evaluate Your Health & Body: It’s easy to assume that you know what is going on with your body, but without the help of an experienced professional that has the knowledge and insight to evaluate your health and body to decide what you should focus on, whether that’s strength training or weight loss, it’s difficult to know where to begin. 

Your Assessment Will Allow You to Find the Workout Program That’s Right for You: Every body is different. No, that’s not a typo – every BODY is different and without gaining professional knowledge about how your body works, you’ll be running in circles without ever seeing results and left wondering if it’s worth it. An assessment will reveal which type of program is the best choice for your strength and fitness levels, giving you the opportunity to avoid the strains of over or underworking yourself.

Review Your Health History: If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, our trainers at the MetroRecPlex can provide tips for improvement—both in and outside of the gym. They’ll also ensure that you are participating in a workout program that helps you stay safe based on your health condition.

Nutrition Matters:  Whether you’re looking to bulk up, slim down, or tone up, nutrition is vital to your success and having an assessment that evaluates your nutritional needs is important. Changing your diet will change how you perform at the gym. 

Start a Personalized Training Program: A fitness assessment can allow you to learn if working with a personal trainer is right for you. At the Plex, our trainers will work with you in a way that will help your body type to transform into its best condition by creating a fitness program will be formulated just for you.

Interested in a fitness assessment? It might just be the first step to transforming your body—and your life. Visit the Service Desk at the MetroRecPlex or call to schedule your FREE assessment today! 618-589-3800

Local baker makes healthier dog treats

Lindy Organ’s dog, Roxy

By Joey Lojan

Locally owned Baker’s Bark is at the Belleville Farmers Market. Lindy Organ owns Baker’s Bark which makes dog treats. Organ’s dog, Roxy, is a six-year-old pit mix and has severe allergies. Her inspiration was to try to help Roxy be healthier. 

Organ wanted to make healthy dog treats for Roxy. She found recipes online and altered them to make the treats healthier. She started to sell them at the Belleville Farmers Market. A lot of dogs come for a sample. 

Organ has been in business for a year now. 

“I started the business because I wanted people to get good quality dog treats, that were affordable,” she said.  

While selling her treats, Organ says she has make a lot of new friends, especially four-legged ones.

Organ said the ingredients in her treats are very important. 

“I use all natural ingredients with some organic,” she said.

I think Baker’s Bark is a good business because they had two-legged and four-legged customers. While I was there, Organ knew some of the customers. The dogs came back for more treats. The owners trusted Baker’s Bark. I hope Baker’s Bark does well in the future.

O’Fallon City Council approves contracts for third phase of Presidential Streets project

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – City Council approved resolutions for the third phase of the Presidential Streets Stormwater Remediation project Monday night. 

An agreement with Baxmeyer Construction, Inc in the amount of $943,770.22 for installation of storm sewer pipe and inlets and reconstruction of the roadway with a concrete ribbon curb and new asphalt, and another with Rhutasel and Associates, Inc for construction staking, material testing and as needed construction inspection for the project in the amount not to exceed $48,000 were approved. 

Phase 3 is the area of East Jefferson Street, between North Smiley and North Penn Streets. 

West Adams Street resident Terry Lysakowski addressed the council during public comments regarding the work completed on a previous phase of the project. Mr. Lysakowski referenced the difficulty he has maintaining the ditch and the notices he has received from the city regarding the height of the weeds in the right of way. He asked the council to consider waiting to begin phase 3, instead addressing complaints he brought before the council regarding the ditch maintenance and parking difficulties along the road. There was no discussion amongst the council prior to the unanimous vote approving the resolutions (Aldermen Jerry Albrecht, Andrew Lopinot and Mark Morton were absent). During the Public Works committee report, committee chairman Alderman Richie Meile encouraged residents with concerns over the presidential street project to attend the next public works committee meeting on July 23 at 7 p.m. at the Public Safety building for further discussion.