Archived Articles and Images for October, 2023

Historical Downtown Granite City, “The District” at Night

Once the sun goes down and the stars come out, the traffic all but comes to a stop in the downtown streets and the silence of the night settles over the city. Time slows down and it’s a great time to take in the surroundings with more attention than just a passing glance. To see more images click here.

I know public corruption when I see it. It’s bad ethics combined with money, and that’s what appears to be happening in Nameoki Township, with its Supervisor John “Eric” Foster.

I blew the whistle on former County Treasurer Fred Bathon, and he went to federal prison for bid-rigging. Documents recently obtained by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request point to possible bid-rigging involving two grants with Madison County, one when Foster was also a county board member, and Chairman of the grants committee.

Twice Foster submitted bids from his company, Honey-Do Home Repair, Inc., to the township, in early 2022 and 2023, for PEP (Park Enhancement Program) projects. One bid was dated February 12, 2022 for $21,870 dollars. The other bid was in the amount of $26,530 on January 17, 2023. Each time there was only one other bid, which was lower.

The PEP program allows for up to $15,000 of assistance per year according to the sub-recipient agreement with Madison County. The program is supported by federal funds from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, which has strict rules against conflicts of interest.

Foster’s actions violated the sub-recipient agreement with the county. As township supervisor, he should not have submitted a bid. Was he trying to create the appearance of multiple bids? The documents have been delivered to the State’s Attorney’s office.  Foster is advertised as a host of a fundraiser to be held later this month in Granite City for Madison County Treasurer, Chris Slusser.

Kurt Prenzler, CPA
Madison County Chairman
Nameoki Township Project Images

Relleke Pumpkin Patch is Ready for Visitors

When beginning the search for that perfect pumpkin there is no better place to begin than the Relleke Pumpkin Patch. Did you know that Relleke Farm is a family farm founded in the late 1800’s? There are several varieties of pumpkins in many sizes, colors and variations to choose from. If you want the real farmers experience, you have the option to walk out into the field and pick your very own pumpkin.

Fall Arrives Bringing Brilliant Colors and Timing Could Be
Crucial for Viewing This Year

It’s official, the season of swimsuits and shorts has come to an end as September 23, 2023 is the first day of the fall season. We now find ourselves amidst fall festivals, pumpkin patches and the ever so popular pumpkin spice lattes, ice cream and cakes. If you’re looking to take that scenic drive, there will be no shortage of colorful trees to see this year, but timing could make all the difference.

With the warmer than usual summer weather and the lack of rain in some areas may result in a slight decrease of vibrant colors with a shorter timeframe to view the autumn display. So, whether you drive the scenic route down the River Road to Grafton Illinois or decide to stay local and take in the sights strolling through Wilson Park in Granite City during the peak of the leaves changing, grab your pumpkin spiced something and take in the sights. The peak for viewing is expected to be mid-October, when maples, ashes, oaks and hickories turn. By mid-November, colors typically begin to fade, and leaves start to drop from the trees., 09/22/2023

The Long Journey Home

Hummingbirds typically arrive in the Metro East area April through May, and often nest and raise their young in a familiar area in which they were born. With shorter daylight hours and cooler temperatures, usually mid August through early October they are preparing for the long journey home. With flowers slowly disappearing and the population of tiny insects in rapid decline, this triggers the need to migrate.

It is recommended to keep Hummingbird feeders out until Thanksgiving. These incredible tiny birds can fly up to 60 miles per hour with their wings beating 200 times per second. The Hummingbirds will seek out places to feed during their long migration south to Mexico and Central America for the winter. 09/23/2023

State Rep. Amy Elik Visits Maryville 1-2 Education Center

Article and image courtesy of “The Riverbender”

Illinois State Representative Amy Elik served as “Principal for the Day” at Maryville 1-2 Education Center in Granite City on Sept. 22. Elik read to 1st and 2nd grade students and also visited with staff.
“I have loved my visit at Maryville Elementary. I don’t actually get to spend a lot of time in schools, so anytime I do, I absolutely love to see the kids,” Elik said. “The kids were polite, respectful, happy, excited and going about their day-to-day. Everyone should feel just so grateful for all the teachers here that spend their days teaching our kids. They do a wonderful job of it.”

Granite City Woman Crowned Miss Illinois Juneteenth 2023

Kyla uses her voice not only to entertain, but to educate, advocate and be a voice for children without a voice. She believes that musical therapy is the perfect way to give voice and to communicate with nonverbal children.
In addition to being the 2023 Miss Illinois Juneteenth, Kyla is Fox Teen Talent Finalist and a Silver winner for the National ACT-SO Competition, where she represented the East St. Louis Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
“I am really excited about the opportunity to represent the state as Miss Illinois Juneteenth. I look forward to bringing the National Title back to Illinois,” Kyla said.
Illinois Juneteenth Committee Chairperson Stephanie Taylor said she believes Illinois is equipped to bring home the National Title with Kyla Gerhardt.
“We know we have a winner, and we are asking businesses and organizations from across the state of Illinois to help sponsor our Miss Illinois Juneteenth Kyla Gerhardt as she sets out to bring the Title of National Miss Juneteenth back to Illinois,” Taylor said.
If you are interested in supporting or sponsoring Miss Illinois Juneteenth or would like to invite her to make an appearance at one of your events, please reach out to or call Stephanie Taylor at 618-514-3199 or Dr. Warletta Brookins at 312-533-9382.

GCSD9 Hosts the Science Behind Food and Flavor Workshop

Article and graphic courtesy Chris Mitchell of The Riverbender
Over 50 teachers from three counties (Madison, St. Clair & Macoupin) gathered Wednesday for a workshop targeting Culinary Arts and Science teachers at the GCSD9 Board Office.

The title was The Science Behind Food and Flavor.
Topics covered were: What is food science, What is Flavor, Food Industry Overview, Industry trends, Careers, and Roundtable discussions.
The event was sponsored by Madison County CTE System, St. Clair CTE, and Macoupin CTE.

A Rare Spotting in Illinois Over the Weekend

Have you ever looked up at the nighttime sky just in time to see a sight you have never seen before? Away from the city lights in the quiet late night hours we sat lakeside taking in the silence interrupted by only a gentle breeze blowing through the trees and the sounds of distant crickets and frogs across the lake.

Watching the silhouettes of the trees lit from the moon in the distance, to look up just in time to catch an occasional shooting star feels like a small gift from mother nature. This particular night what we first thought was a shooting star ended up being anything but.

Finding ourselves, both pointing at the sky while scrambling to capture the perfect image, we could only repeat the words “what is that”. We watched this perfect line of bright white lights, all in unison like a long flowing tail of a kite. One moment it was there and the next, light by light the string disappeared into the nighttime sky. There is usually an explanation far less great than the imagination for such sightings, and this time was no exception.

With a little detective work, we soon learned that this brilliant string of lights ended up being Starlink satellites, which were launched the Thursday before our sighting over the weekend. Perhaps not as grand of an explanation as our imaginations were creating in the moment, but in the long run we were still happy with the sighting and for the experience. I guess it’s the small things in life that count the most, the perfect weather and a night under the stars, and I must include, the biggest catch of the night, was mine! 09/17/2023

Running Back Ryan Brokaw Is Shining Star For Granite Football Team, Is Stillwater Senior Living Male Athlete Of The Month

Brokaw, who plays for head coach Kindle Lyons, knew he and his teammates gave their best effort throughout the game against the Kahoks and felt very good about their showings. “I feel great,” Brokaw said in a postgame interview. “It’s just a game of football, like I love, going to keep playing every week, never going to give up. It’s just the way we go, the way we play.”

Although the record isn’t what the Warriors want it to be, the players are typical Granite City – hard working kids who love to compete, who keep striving and keep going, no matter the circumstances. Brokaw agreed that the work ethic is a feather in the Warriors hat. “Oh yeah, oh yeah,” Brokaw said. “We’re going to play until the end of the scoreboard, until the game hits double zeros. I’m never going to give up, I’ve got all confidence in my guys; I think I can go out here, I think we can go out here and win every game on the field. It doesn’t matter the score, I mean, we’re just going to go out there and play.”

Brokaw was very confident in his teammate going into the game as well.
“I’ve got all confidence in my guys,’ Brokaw said emphatically. “I feel like we can win every game going into it. But we all play our hearts out, we gave everything we had on the rest of the field, I’m gonna go home and get a good night’s sleep.”

The Warriors’ next game will be their annual Senior Night game, this year against Carbondale and Brokaw is very much looking forward to the matchup against the Terriers.

“That’s a big night,” Brokaw said. “That’s one I’ve been looking forward to, circled that on the calendar for this game against Carbondale. It’s a big one and I’m looking forward to it.”

The Warriors, as well as the rest of the state, have four weeks remaining in the regular season, and it’s rest assured that Granite will be giving it all they have to get at least one win on the season. “Oh, yeah, of course,” Brokaw said. “You’ve always got to have confidence. I think we can get it. I think we can win all four of these last games. I think we can get them all,”

With Shorter Days and a Chill in the Morning Air, September Settles into the City

As area children gather for the school bus, we are beginning to notice a crispy chill in the morning air. In no time at all we will be trading the summer shorts and sandals for pants and warmer shoes. With Labor Day in the rearview mirror, the unofficial end of summer has arrived.

Since the summer solstice, June 21, we began to lose about one minute of daylight a week. By October the sun will be setting around 6:30 every evening. Sunday November 5th will end daylight savings time and the clocks will “fall back” giving us all an extra hour of sleep.

Although the summer season may be over in the city, there is much to look forward to that only Granite City can provide. Our community ushers in the fall like no other and the festivities continue on. Civic Park in the “District” (downtown Granite City) stays busy with the Melting Pot Market with the last market of the 2023 season being November 4th. The Music in the Park series continues every Wednesday through September 27.

October is an entire month of Magic and Mayhem that beckons goblins of all ages to participate. Every Saturday in October the celebrations of the season are in full swing starting with the Ghostly Glow Parade on the 7th. The following Saturday the 14th, will have the Creepy Crawl Scavenger Hunt and the Great Inflatable Race. Saturday the 21st is the Ghouls Night Out, Kiss tribute concert by Rocket Ride. Saturday the 28th wraps up the month of Magic and Mayhem with a Nightmare on Niedringhaus, a children’s costume parade with candy, fun and games.

In the month of November, you can easily find Chili Cook offs, indoor markets and several Fall Festival events around the area. December in Granite City you’ll feel the excitement in the air with the Santa Parade that ushers the jolly old soul into town, a decades old tradition.

Although the seasons are changing, and the leaves will begin to turn, the city stays alive with activities and celebrations and long-standing traditions that is a cherished reminder of what makes Granite City home. 09/07/2023

Mom and Pop Businesses Priorities Shift Through the Decades

It may be a sign of the times, or it could be a shift in attitude post the Covid 19 pandemic. Area patrons are learning to ignore the hours of operation advertised and that calling ahead is now a necessary part of making plans. Even during high inflation rates and shrinking profit margins, many small business owners made the choice to close up shop not only Labor Day but extended their closures from Friday through Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

Whether the way we do business is a result of abbreviated hours of operation during the mandatory closures from the pandemic, or an actual change in the way business owners value their time off with family, the shift is here and we have certainly witnessed the clocks being turned back decades.

Apparently, gone are the times of planning a holiday meal outside of the house unless you have an appetite for visiting a fast-food chain style restaurant. This new business model is not exclusive to the Labor Day Weekend holiday but is often happening in the area for most holidays now and in some cases these closures are the result of family functions and little league sports games.

Obviously, the area is suffering from a shortage of employees that is affecting all businesses and not just the fast-food industry and family-owned mom and pop style restaurants. Area pharmacies that were once open 24 hours have even cut back their hours of operation. It appears the luxury of being able to shop a department store or a grocery store past 10:00 or 11:00 in the evening will never return. It also appears that being able to sit down inside of an actual restaurant and order a meal late evening is just one more thing added to the list of things from the past. Fall is around the corner, and we will soon be ushering in 2024, when in all actuality it can feel more like 1970 on repeat. 09/03/2023

September Archives 2023