Metro-East News

Belleville gets a new hockey retail and repair shop; Honda gets a new owner

After six seasons of managing equipment for the St. Louis Blues, Chad O’Neil is sharing his passion for hockey by putting kids and their parents back on their blades.

The Belleville native puts his heart into repairs at his new skate sharpening and equipment repair shop on the east side of his hometown. The retail shop offers custom hockey gear, too.

Skatetech, located at 1432 E. Main St. in Belleville, recently opened and it has quickly become a destination for college players, local league members, and youth athletes.

“We just want to help people become better players,” O’Neil said. “We want them to be able to skate better, by offering a better quality of sharpening and a better quality of repairs and fitting.”

O’Neil says his customers benefit from the time he spent as an assistant equipment manager for the National Hockey League. He offers the same services and equipment brands the pros expect.

O’Neil played for the Southern Illinois Icehawks and Belleville East High School before starting his career as an equipment manager.

Images from his six seasons with the Blues are displayed in the store along with other memorable hockey moments he’s experienced through the years.

“It’s just a very close group of people,” O’Neil said. “And a lot of good people at that.”

In the future, O’Neil says he hopes the store will be able to expand into a bigger space. For more information and store hours, visit Skatetech’s Facebook page.

Meyer Honda gets a new owner

It’s the end of an era for the Meyer family and their automotive empire.

Serra Automotive, a Michigan-based company, recently purchased Meyer Honda at 1268 Central Park Drive in O’Fallon.

Serra Executive Manager Ben Brown said the deal was finalized Monday. All 73 employees will keep their jobs, Brown said, and Meyer’s customers will continue to receive service.

“It’s going to remain the same,” Brown said Wednesday. “We’re going to continue to focus on customer service.”

Former owner Charlie Meyer could not immediately be reached for comment late Wednesday afternoon. Brown said it’s his understanding that Meyer has retired. Meyer co-owned the dealership with his sister Carol Meyer.

The dealership Meyer built is now listed on Serra Automotive’s website and a new sign is out front. Serra Automotive, headquartered in Grand Blanc, Michigan, operates 42 dealerships and represents 54 automotive franchises.

The company was founded in 1973 by Albert M. Serra who began the business with a single Chevrolet store.

The original Meyer car dealership was founded by Meyer’s grandfather in 1918 to sell Pontiacs. The Honda line was added in 1972. Meyer Honda moved out of its longtime site on West Main Street in Belleville to its new facility in O’Fallon in 2000.

At the time, Meyer was the ninth dealership to leave Belleville. Since then, O’Fallon has become a destination for car-buyers in the St. Louis region.

High-tech day care opens

It didn’t take long for word to spread about a new, tech-savvy day care opening soon in Freeburg.

Located at 605 N. State St., Imagination Station Early Childhood Development Center will open Oct. 15 with dozens of children already in enrolled.

“We’re really excited,” co-owner Kyle Hawkins said in April. “We think it will be a good thing for the community. It’s been well received already.”

The new $1 million facility is equipped with Apple TV technology. This will make it easy for teachers to add interactive lessons to the curriculum, Hawkins said.

Imagination Station is the second day care Hawkins has developed. He built Five Star Learning Center in Troy, too.

The opening of Imagination Station will come nearly a year after Lighthouse Learning Center closed in Freeburg. After 11 years, the day care on South Alton Street closed, with its owner calling the building “a money pit.”

Owner Mary Kay Prader said the 175-year-old building on South Alton Street had about 50 children when it closed.

The new 7,050-square-foot day care in Freeburg will be able to accommodate about 100 children.

Looking for more information? Email the center at or call co-owner Angela Kimmle at 618-974-9541.

Do you have a tip? Send me an email at Of course, I’m available to chat on Twitter @CaraRAnthony, and if you really want to go old school, call me on my landline at 618-239-2471.