O'Fallon Progress

Mayor praises O'Fallon emergency services

An ordinary Thursday night turned into a busy one for the O’Fallon public safety services when 911 dispatchers, police, fire and EMS departments responded to three major incidents in about six minutes.

O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach praised city personnel for their professionalism, and thanked neighboring departments for their assistance.

On April 12, emergency crews were needed at the site of a residential home’s deck collapse, where people were attending a family reunion. They also answered a call about an individual having a heart attack, and responded to a serious automobile accident on Interstate 64.

“These calls received an appropriate response and all got the proper aid to the people,” he said. “The calls were handled efficiently.”

He said O’Fallon asked for assistance, and received help from Abbott EMS and MedStar Ambulance, Mascoutah Police Department and EMS, and Shiloh Police Department.

“You might hear of our people helping others, and that’s why we have these joint operating agreements — to help when we’re overloaded like we were,” he said.

In other action, the council approved revisions to the Crime Free Rental Housing Program, most minor in nature, cleaning up old language and reducing the late fee payment.

The changes include removed 1.5 percent late fee. This percentage fee is an accounting and payment collection issue that doesn't result in anything other than issues.

They also reduced late fee from $50 to $45, which coincides with the current dollar amount for the license.

They reduced inspection checklist from six pages (two individual checklists, one for 1-2 family homes and one for multi-family) to two pages to accommodate both housing types. This will result in a much more practical guide for homeowners and managers to have information on what is review during the Crime Free inspection of the rental home.

The council moved forward on first reading an ordinance amending existing language to meet operational demand regarding residential licenses.

The majority of the changes are minor in nature, including cleaning up old language and mirroring the ordinance to office and field best practices.

Short-term rentals (AirBnB, HomeAway, VRBO) are prohibited under the city’s current code, because they are considered hotels and are not permitted in any residential zoned district. This is again stated in the revision.

Late fee payment penalty language was added, because currently there was nothing penalizing the applicant if they did not pay their fees. This will allow licenses to be suspended or revoked for no payment

Renewal notice process cleaned up to include emails, added training seminar, and clarified that penalty.

The $74 million budget, with a revision, the addition of a new HVAC system for the O’Fallon Public Library, at a cost of $62,000, was approved. No citizens spoke at the public hearing before the meeting.

Charla Morton and Carla Boswell were on hand to receive a proclamation declaring as National Service Recognition Day in O’Fallon.

“AmeriCorps and Senior Corps participants address some of the most pressing challenges facing our communities, from educating our students, to fighting the opioid epidemic, to responding to natural disasters, to supporting veterans and military families,” Mayor Herb Roach said. “AmeriCorps and Senior Corps have continued to offer their services for 44 years at no cost to the social well-being of those served!”

Boswell, who is the director of the Senior Companion Program through Southwestern Illinois College’s Programs and Services for Older Persons, said 109,000 hours were donated to help seniors, which could be the difference between them staying in town or moving.

During the citizens’ comments, Frank Morski, a former alderman and current trustee for the O’Fallon Township, asked for more volunteers, possible six to eight, to help with the annual After-Prom Party the township sponsors for high school students attending the O’Fallon Township High School Prom, which is on Saturday, April 28. The after-prom event will take place from midnight to 5 a.m. on Sunday, April 29.

The council approved the mayor’s appointment of Kevin “Kip” Atkins to the Fire and Police Pension Board, replacing Don Murdoch, who stepped down. Atkins is a senior vice-president at Bank of O’Fallon, former park board member and past president of the O’Fallon Jaycees.

Roach gave Parks Director Mary Jeanne Hutchison a proclamation for Arbor Day, which is April 28. She said it is the 20th anniversary of O’Fallon being named a Tree City USA, so they received a special flag. The parks and public works departments monitor and maintain about 4,000 trees in the city.

Roach announced that a Town Hall meeting would take place this Wednesday, April 18, at the library. Saturday hours will take place at the library on Saturday, April 28. A Committee of the Whole meeting is being planned for Monday, April 30.

The mayor announced more donations for the O’Fallon City Fest: Mike’s Pool and Spa and Edward Jones. The last day to give is May 1. To date, 55 individuals, organizations and companies have donated to the event, which is the return of a homecoming.