August Archived Articles 2022

Party At the Beach 2022 is a Labor of Love

Michael Pagano, Mayor of Pontoon Beach Illinois had the vision and the passion to bring an idea to fruition. The mayor has a lifelong history in the entertainment field. In his early beginnings of the 80’s long curly hair styles and leather pants, he was a member of several area local bands.

Now, decades later his talent hasn’t yet began to fade. He often has a calendar with a full schedule of performances booked around the metro east area.

The mayor surrounded himself with a dedicated team of council and committee members that set-in motion the planning of a summer music festival for the village of Pontoon Beach that would draw crowds from all surrounding areas.

The Party At the Beach not only has great musicians and bands lined up, but there will also be a carnival and several other attractions.

The Party At the Beach is held at Randall D. Dalton Veteran’s Park starting at 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5 and runs through Saturday, Aug. 6. On Friday, listen to special guest BUMP a rock show at 7 p.m., followed by a performance at 9 p.m. by Freebird USA (music of Lynyrd Skynyrd). Then on Saturday, tune in to special guest band The Outlaws at 7 p.m. and Randy Houser at 9 p.m.

A View From the Other Side

The Chain of Rocks Bridge has been a part of St. Louis history for nearly 100 years and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. As one might expect with such a designation, there’s a lot of history about this bridge, as well as the surrounding area.

There’s a lot we can talk about, so let’s dive right in!

History of the area. The Chain of Rocks Bridge is located 12 miles north of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. 
The bridge was named after a formation within the Mississippi River known as the ‘chain of rocks’. Just south of the bridge is a stretch of rocky rapids that made this segment of the river difficult to navigate. The rapids were formed during the last ice age, when the river changed course, flowing over a ledge of limestone that hadn’t eroded to the level of the rest of the river. 
The area is also marked by three islands: Chouteau Island, Gabaret Island, and Mosenthein Island which combined make up 5,500 acres.  Although Gabaret Island and Mosenthein are naturally occurring, Chouteau Island was created during the construction of the Chain of Rocks Canal.
Many people lived on Chouteau Island in the past, but some were forced off the island due to flooding in the 1970s. Those who remained had to abandon their homes after historic flooding in 1993. Nowadays, the land around the Chain of Rocks, and the entirety of the other two islands, provides wildlife habitat and flood storage and is managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. 

For more facinating details and history of the area around the Chain of Rocks Bridge and the Chain of Rocks Amusement Park, continue reading here….

US Steel Plans Family Day and Employees and the Local Union Says Not So Fast

Not soon after US Steel announced the devastating news that the future of the Steel Mill was in question and plans were in the works to close the doors of the long-standing business, the groundwork was being laid to move forward with what US Steel refers to as Family Day. Family Day is when the mill opens its doors for the employees and their families to enjoy food, drink and tours of the plant, along with a variety of activities.

Employees and their families are having a hard time being in a celebratory mood knowing that hard times may lie ahead. If the facility decides to close, 1000 plus jobs will be lost. Some area employees have said “ I’m not going. I can’t go to or support a family day of a company that just a couple days ago told 1000+ steelworkers that they are closing the mill.”

Another local resident stated, “Nice, let’s have family day then put the hurts to the same families.” and yet, another said “Last time they had family day they laid most (over 1000) workers off for Christmas. Yep, that was US Steel’s Christmas present to their workers (pink slips)!!”

The Local Union has since sent out a letter of invitation, inviting these same employees and their families to attend a “Family Day” of their own.

Madison County Recorder’s Office offers fraud prevention to assist property owners

“Property fraud is the fastest growing white-collar crime and the Madison County’s recorder’s office is offering a free program — Property Fraud Alert — notifying property owners when land documents are recorded in their name.”

“Property owners should always be on alert for potential recording fraud against their properties,” County Clerk/Recorder Debbie Ming Mendoza’s said. “Fraudulent activity by bad actors happens right here in Madison County. We’ve seen people impeded in the sale of their home due to unknown liens on their property. “We’ve also seen fraudulent quit claim deeds filed.” Most recordings are for legitimate reasons such as obtaining a mortgage, paying off a mortgage, refinancing, or filing a lien (an unpaid judgment) against a property owner, there are also fraudulent ones.

Scammers who focus on property fraud create paperwork, which “proves” their ownership of the property. The falsified documents allow them to sell the property, take out a mortgage or home repair loan, or use your property for other financial gain. Banks and counties have no way of knowing this activity is not authorized.

Ming-Mendoza said the Recorder’s Office is participating in the program to assist home and business owners. “Property owners in Madison County who participate in the program are notified by text and/or email when a document with their registered name is recorded,” Ming-Mendoza said. “A call
can then be made to our office to be researched. If the recording is not legitimate, it is then up to the property owner to contact their police department to begin resolution.”

Lisa’s Dairy Bar in Granite City Receive Gifts From Area Mayors

Granite City Mayor Mike Parkinson along with the Village of Pontoon Beach Mayor Michael Pagano recently replaced some items that came up missing from the Dairy Bar property. Lisa’s Dairy Bar on Nameoki Road recently changed hands after decades of the ice cream shop being ran by Lisa Thompson. Garner Perigo, the eldest grandchild of Lisa, purchased the business and shortly began giving the building and grounds a facelift. Garner painted the building in fresh fun colors and added an outdoor seating area. After some items from the outdoor area went missing, both Mayors, after learning the news, stepped up to replace the missing items. Granite City and the Village of Pontoon Beach residents are proud to have such civic minded leadership.

“We love this community and wanted to say thanks from the bottom of our hearts. This only motivates us to work harder to make our shop the best it can be for all of you.” Said Garner Perigo.

Lisa’s Dairy Bar, located at 2673 East 28th and Nameoki Road is open 7 days a week from noon to 9pm. The shop offers all the classic ice cream treats, as well as, a large variety of specialty treats. Don’t forget to bring the dog for a Pup Cup!

With just over nine days of voting left, you can cast a vote every day for Justus & the Experience on the Opening Act website before voting closes on the 21st.
Justus doesn’t confine his musical style into any one genre, but says it mostly sounds like American folk with elements of other musical styles in different songs.
“It’s going to have good lyrics, songwriting, good storytelling,” Justus said. “You won’t hear anything else out there like it. Nobody plays the style I do, nobody plays the uke like I do.”
You can listen to some of his music on YouTube, where he can be seen performing live in concert and playing the ukulele while riding a unicycle. Justus said his upcoming album is nearly complete and should be available on music streaming platforms including Spotify in the next couple of months.
The winner of the Opening Act competition will receive the grand prize of $10,000, and they will be the opening act at Audacy’s annual Hollywood Bowl Concert – while the lineup for this year’s concert has yet to be announced, last year’s winner opened for Coldplay, Black Eyed Peas, Doja Cat, Kid Laroi and Shawn Mendes. Read more…

With the Help of Local Volunteers and Donations, Twigs Impacts our Community in Several Ways

Twigs Was Founded in 2011 To Feed Hungry Children and currently provides free summer lunches in 30 communities and free bags of weekend meals in 12 school districts. In addition, Twigs distributes nearly 12,000 pounds of free food each month from a “pop-up”market the first Tuesday of every month. All who come receive food. No questions asked.

In addition to their pop-up markets and sack lunches and weekend meals, Twigs reaches further into the community by teaching gardening and encouraging families to be a part of growing their own food by inviting residents to their Tumbleweed Community Garden.

In many school districts, every student currently enrolled relies on meals they receive from the National School Lunch Program. At schools where Twigs provides weekend food, attendance is up and disciplinary problems are down.

Donations of time, money and talent are always needed. Volunteers interested in the summer lunch program must be 17 years or older, pay for and pass a background check and purchase a Twigs t-shirt to wear when distributing food. Younger lunch volunteers must be accompanied by an adult who has met these criteria. To learn more, to volunteer or to donate, go to: or email Contact Twigs and F.I.G.S. Founder and Chief Dreamer, Lisa Guilliams, at 618.973.1627

Mayor Parkinson and the Public Works Department Take Steps in Helping with the Clean Up Effort in Our Community

The Dixon’s Reinvesting in Their Community

Business owners Charlotte and Michael Dixon are the owners of Dixon Heating and Cooling. Now, they are the proud owners of a beautiful old home at 2055 Cleveland, giving Granite City a Bed & Breakfast. But not before they literally breathed new life into this forgotten old house. The plaque on the front of the building reads “Cleveland Place B&B 2055 Est. 1915” It is quite a story. This amazing couple have owned and remolded this building twice. That’s right twice!

The first time they bought the house, in 2012 it had been divided into numerous apartments. Mike and Charlotte took it back to its original purpose of being a gracious family home. Charlotte’s daughter JoAnn and her family enjoyed the home for years but when it became more space than they needed, it was sold. A local organization purchased the building but then left the building after only four months and it was then sold for the taxes.

When the Dixons found this out, they tried again to buy it but were not successful. It sat empty and unattended for long time and within that time the building was stripped of anything that could be sold and if it couldn’t be sold it was destroyed. Then in 2020 the Dixons tried once more to buy the home and this time they were successful. But they needed to start all over, again. And that is what they have done again. I toured this two story, four bedroom, stately old home with it’s stained glass widow in the dining room, full modern kitchen and what I liked best of all was the huge glassed front porch.

Mrs. Dixon has hosted numerous meetings in this gracious home, including a local Rotary meeting. And with the blessing of Mayor Parkinson they have set-up an organization, they call Restore & Renew, giving people interested in these beautiful old homes a sounding board and a support group.

The Dixons have put not only their money into this building (and a lot of it) but they are reinvesting in our community. It is the passion that people like Charlotte and Mike feel for their community, that makes them give of their time and love as they breathe new life back into something that would have been forgotten by most of us. Thank goodness there are people like the Dixons who care enough to take on this type of a huge undertaking, I watch a show on HGTV called “Hometown” where this couple will fix-up one home at a time in their hometown of Laurel Mississippi. Just for the love of bringing back their hometown. We just need a few more people like Charlotte and Mike Dixon. Thank you.

GCSD9 Selects First Student As New Transportation Partner

More families in Illinois will be relying on First Student to provide the best start and finish to the school day. Granite City Community Unit School District (USD) #9 has selected First Student to manage and operate all school transportation services beginning with the 2022-2023 school year.

“The school bus is an extension of the classroom, and we want to provide our students with the best possible experience as they travel to and from school,” said Granite City Community USD #9 Superintendent Stephanie M. Cann. “First Student is known for providing high-quality transportation services with its top safety standards and innovative technology. We believe the company will be able to deliver solutions that really make a difference for our families.”

New state-of-the-art school buses with air conditioning will provide thousands of students with a more comfortable and secure ride to and from school. First Student is replacing all 68 buses in the district’s fleet. The buses will be equipped with the latest technology, including DriverHub. The onboard tablet technology provides bus drivers with advanced views of bus routes, turn-by-turn directions and real-time traffic updates. Read more…
From the Riverbender

Granite City Alumnae Jessica Mefford-Miller New CEO Of Valley Metro Public Transportation Authority in Phoenix

Colin Feeney, Riverbender

Jessica Mefford-Miller, a 1998 graduate of Granite City High School, has always been an innovative and connected leader, working four years as Executive Director of the Metro Development Agency, the provider for public transportation in St. Louis.

Recently, Mefford-Miller was named the Chief Executive Officer of the Valley Metro Public Transportation Authority in Phoenix, Ariz., where she oversees the entire public transportation system in the city and suburbs of the Valley of the Sun.

It’s a big job overseeing the entire public transport system, especially in a fast-developing metro area such as Phoenix and it’s a job she’s tackling head on.

“I am loving my new role and it is, I think, a really natural progression for my career for me,” Mefford-Miller said in a recent video interview on the Granite City Community Unit District 9’s YouTube channel. “I have been working in transportation the last 20 years, since I finished my undergraduate degree from Southern Illinois University, where I went after graduating from GCHS in 1998. And I love working in transportation. I worked for the National Park Service early on in my career in Texas, I later moved to Ohio, where I pursued my Ph.D. at The Ohio State University (in Columbus), and I worked for the Department of Transportation there. But I really love working on complicated problems that involve the interaction between people and places, really. And the natural path my career took was working in public transit. Public transit is such a great connector; it’s an opportunity for people across the world and it’s so important for creating really thriving socially, environmentally and economic sustainable regions. Read on.

July Archives 2022