O'Fallon Progress

Reasons to cheer! O’Fallon honors accomplishments

The O’Fallon Progress

The O'Fallon Progress serves readers in O'Fallon.
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The O'Fallon Progress serves readers in O'Fallon.

From the sounds of “Gloria” being played for the St. Louis Blues mascot’s arrival to two standing ovations for Horace Humphries, retiring chairman of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners after 20 years, a celebratory mood pervaded the O’Fallon council chambers Monday night.

Mayor Herb Roach acknowledged the historic Stanley Cup Finals run and victory for the St. Louis Blues hockey team, which occurred on his 50th wedding anniversary, with a proclamation. Louie, the team mascot, was on hand to accept — and gave out high-fives and paw-shakes to city officials and citizens.

“Sometimes, you’ve got to have fun,” Roach said. “We have always acknowledged our local regional, state, and national sports programs that have done well in competition. These things always demonstrate team work and dedication. I just thought it would be nice to recognize the Blues Stanley Cup win and to have a little fun with it.”

Humphries honored

Both the city and the police department recognized Humphries as a tireless advocate for police officers, with presentation of a proclamation, plaque and framed honors. A retired police officer in the U.S. Air Force, he spent 20 years as a commissioner in O’Fallon, the last six as chair.

The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners is the body that makes rules for the appointment and promotion of all full-time police and fire officers based on merit, with the exception of the police and fire chiefs. They are also tasked with the removal of officers, and investigate all charges of improper conduct, hold hearings and act in accordance with their findings and rules.

The board also submits an annual report of its activities to the council every May 1, making suggestions to improve greater efficiency in the fire and police departments.

“He wanted to select nothing but the best for the O’Fallon Police Department,” Roach said. “His tireless effort at recruiting reflected diversity. During his tenure, we have the best staff in our history. We have 50 police officers on the street and elsewhere. It’s all because of you and your leadership.”

Police Chief Eric Van Hook complimented Humphries on being a “loyal ambassador” for the city, recruiting everywhere he went.

When Humphries noted the chief was honored as the best in the state, Van Hook replied, “A large part of it is the people you surrounded me with.”

Humphries described the evening as a “very special occasion.”

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve O’Fallon,” he said, noting he was proud to “raise the bar” in finding talent for the city.

He thanked former Mayor Gary Graham, who hired him and tasked him with two things: “Find the best and brightest, and create diversity and inclusivity.”

“And we succeeded in doing that,” Humphries said.

He thanked the city council for its support.

“You have given us everything we asked for — facilities, people, whatever we needed. You’ve been great,” he said.

Roach recognizes Hutchison, chamber earns high ranking

The mayor also recognized the Parks and Recreation Department, declaring July as Parks and Recreation Month, and presented a proclamation to Mary Jeanne Hutchison, department director.

Roach noted how the parks and recreation activities add to the city’s quality of life.

Hutchison praised the staff and acknowledged the community support that helps them provide a multitude of offerings to citizens. She noted the opening of the O’Fallon Station, and how more will be planned.

As a thank you, a free swim will be offered to O’Fallon and Shiloh residents from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, July 18, at the O’Fallon Pool to celebrate.

Another reason to cheer was regarding the progress of the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce. The mayor asked Debbie Arell-Martinez, director, and Sid LeGrand, president of the executive board, to stand and then announced the chamber was ranked No. 18 a year ago, and is now No. 11.

Fireworks Over O’Fallon

For Fireworks Over O’Fallon, the city’s first fireworks display in many years, the council issued a special event permit for this Sunday, and it will take place around dusk (roughly 8:30-9:30 p.m.) at the Family Sports Park. They are expecting anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 people, the mayor said.

Fireworks will be shot from an area near the park entrance and Venita Drive, which will close five minutes before the display begins and will be closed during it, reopening immediately afterword. The police will stop traffic just west of the Simmons Road roundabout and just north of the Frontage Road. Parking on Taylor Road will be prohibited.

All parking lots are expected to be open for the event, but the soccer fields will not be open to the public, and at Hesse Park. However, park restroom facilities will be available.

The concession stands will not be open, but there might be vendors who have applied to sell goods. There will not be any food trucks.

“Spectators are asked to view the show from safe and legal parking areas. It should be visible from many areas in O’Fallon,” Roach said.

In other action, the council OK’d the O’Fallon Booster Club’s request to reschedule a previously approved roadblock May 11, which was rained out, from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 20, at the intersection of State Street and Lincoln Avenue. Alderman Dan Witt, who is on the booster club’s board of directors, abstained from voting.

Council seeks feedback on cannabis

A Town Hall meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. July 10 at City Hall. The mayor encouraged all citizens to attend, stating he would like to hear from residents on recent laws the state legislature passed.

“I would love to get feedback,” Roach said, noting the sale of cannabis and new gambling laws.

“We’ve done a great deal of study on the sale of cannabis,” he said.

Roach said Van Hook, City Administrator Walter Denton and Assistant City Administrator Grant Litteken have researched the topic.

“We’d like to know what you think and what O’Fallon might be doing with it,” he said.

The council’s Committee of the Whole meeting is set for 6 p.m. Monday, July 29.