Greg O’Neil knows no stranger, and most often is clad with a big smile to go along with his positive attitude.
“I’m pretty good to people. I’m honest, and I treat everybody the same. Working for over 15 years as a cop taught me not to prejudge people per say, and the importance of honesty and conversation. If you can talk with someone, usually you’re on the right track,” O’Neil said.
O’Neil isn’t naive though. He is a practical thinker.
“You can’t please everybody,” said O’Neil who is the latest member to the Village of Shiloh Board of Trustees.
He loves his village, and the people in it.
“My policy is do my best for what’s best for the community as a whole,” O’Neil said.
O’Neil has lived in Shiloh for 18 years, and even served and protected as a Shiloh K-9 Police officer from for about nine years. Prior to that, he was canine police officer in Fairmont City for approximately six years.
Having a unique perspective as a former police officer, it is quite fitting for O’Neil to serve on the board as the Public Safety Chairman.
“I know how the department works and how the minds of the those who operate it think because I used to be in the organization.
“So, I really do have an advantage over the other board members in that regard, especially because I see where the shortfalls are and how the budget works and effects the officers and the equipment,” O’Neil said.
“I grew up in Fairview Heights, worked at Auffenberg for 30 years and lived in Shiloh for almost 20 years — I love it here,” O’Neil said.
O’Neil said he father has lived in old Shiloh for a long time too.
“This place used to be a one-horse town, now look at it,” O’Neil said as he pointed to the community park and red-white stripped water tower behind him.
When an opportunity came to fill a spot on the board as Dan Weidenbenner, who served as treasurer and then trustee for over 20 years, decided he was going to retire as a board member.
“I was excited to join the board last year, I ran for office because I’ve noticed some holes in our local commercial real estate opportunities, and some other things that I wanted to offer fresh eyes to,” O’Neil said.
“I want to be able to have a vote in the way the village’s future is shaped. Shiloh has already come far with it’s residential and commercial construction, but more lately I’m not likeing the direction we’re headed if things stay the same. (For example) look at the Three Springs property sitting vacant for almost 10 years off Green Mount Road and Frank Scott Parkway West — that could’ve and should’ve been developed a long time ago,” O’Neil said.
Hopefully that tide will turn soon, he said.
“We need to hire somebody who goes after commercial business, like a recruiter, and we don’t have one now, and I think that’s why we’ve lost a lot to O’Fallon,” O’Neil said.
One goal O’Neil said he has is to bring more commercial business to the area.
“Speeding up commercial development with the new Memorial Hospital East going operational now would be smart I think,” O’Neil said.
As a Shiloh homeowner, O’Neil said he worries about the rising taxes, and hopes that other residents don’t choose to leave town because of it.
“If that can help the school’s with funding, and take some of the burdening of taxes off the homeowners back, then I am even more in support of focusing more energy on growing Shiloh’s economy,” O’Neil added.
According to O’Neil, his family comes first, especially his wife, now that his kids have grown and gone to start their own life endeavors and families. A couple for 22 years, and married happily for 11 years, O’Neil said he spends a lot of time with his sweetheart Mary Jo O’Neil, who has been a long time field based accounts manager for the Shell Oil Company.
“She travels a lot for work, so we do what we can together like working out at the gym or watching the game or hanging out by our pool in the summer time,” O’Neil said.
Father of three, O’Neil said he is more than proud of his children. Chad, 28, is the assistant equipment manager for the St. Louis Blues Hockey team. Cody, 27, is a car salesman and Caly, 22, is a nurse.
“They’re are great kids and I wouldn’t trade them for the world,” O’Neil said with a chuckle.
Hunting deer and raising rabbits occupies O’Neil’s time too.
“Meat rabbits are easy to maintain, good for you and taste good,” O’Neil said. “I’ve been doing it for about 5 years and got started doing it because I used to hunt rabbits too.”
Member to the Shiloh Eagles Aerie 545, located at 100 Eagle Drive off of Lebanon Avenue, O’Neil recommends Shiloh residents to join.
“It’s a great place to hang out that is close to home with nice staff and tasty food,” O’Neil said. “Not to mention they have events (like Bingo) every week.”
Meet Greg O’Neil
Q: Do you have words to live by?
A: Don’t look back, you’re not going that way
Q: Whom do you most admire?
A: My wife Mary Jo
Q: If you could spend time with a famous person, past or present, whom would it be?
A: I would have liked to meet Chris Kyle. (Kyle was a United States Navy SEAL and sniper with the most kills in U.S. military history, with over 160 kills officially confirmed by the Department of Defense. Kyle served four tours in the Iraq War and was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat. He received two Silver Star Medals, five Bronze Star Medals, one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and numerous other unit and personal awards.)
Q: What do you do for fun & relaxation?
A: I hunt deer, attend Cardinals and Blues games, and lounge around my pool in the summertime.
Q: What is the usual state of your desktop?
Q: What did you want to do career wise when you were growing up?
A: Growing up, I always wanted to be an aircraft mechanic.
Q: What do you think is your most outstanding characteristic?
A: I’m nice to everyone. I’ve never met a stranger.
Q: What irritates you most?
A: What irriates me most are liars.
Q: What type of music do you listen to?
A: I liste to all types of music, depending on what I’m doing.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I like most about my job are the people I meet.
Q: If you were independently wealthy, what would you be doing?
A: If were independently weatlthy, I would be living in Maui with my wife.
Q: When they make a movie of your life, who would play you?
A: If he was alive, it would be Robin Williams.
Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you have with you?
A: My gun.