IVCH Oglesby Medical Clinic
520 W. Walnut St., Oglesby
It wasn’t long ago that folks in Oglesby needed to travel across the river to receive care through Illinois Valley Community Hospital.
But in 2007, IVCH brought the care to them in the form of Oglesby Medical Clinic.
“The hospital saw a need for a primary care office in Oglesby and so made the decision to put up a medical office building there,” says Gene Vogelgesang, public relations director at IVCH. “We saw a need in the community and we decided to fill it.”
Now, instead of driving even the 10 minutes to Peru to see a provider there, patients can get top care right in town, echoes office manager Kaitlyn Yepsen.
“But,” she adds, “this isn’t your typical family practice.”
Indeed, the office has seen only growth since its start and has recently added physicians assistant Patricia Orozco to the already strong staff of family practice physicians Kelly DeBoer and David O’Donnel.
With that kind of depth and breadth of expertise, drawing as well from the resources across the river, Yepsen says the Oglesby Medical Clinic is able to offer services other practices do not.
Dr. O’Donnell specializes in both osteopathic manipulations and dermatology; in fact, many biopsies can be performed right in the Oglesby office. O’Donnell also partners with the Center for Physical Rehabilitation and Aquatics (at the YMCA in Peru) to offer care to concussion patients, helping area athletes to return to the game after concussion injuries. Of course, the Oglesby Medical Clinic tends, too, to the general care of its patients, from babies to seniors.
“IVCH’s place in the community, I think, is demonstrated by our name,” says Vogelgesang.
“We’re Illinois Valley Community Hospital. And we’re here to help the local people.”
And help they have, even outside the clinic walls. The hospital, Vogelgesang says, helps with every fundraiser Holy Family and Oglesby Public Schools have. The IVCH foundation also donated a defibrillator to the public schools. Meanwhile, IVCH has perennially been the biggest supporter of Kids Party in the Park, a much-beloved part of Oglesby’s ever-growing Summer Fun Fest.
(Photos by James Krancic, Vermillion River Photography.)
Illini Investment Services
Beer is currently serving as the chairperson for
the newly formed Oglesby Business Association.
Neal Beer sees his work in investment services as weaved into the fabric of the community.
“Any way that the residents of Oglesby are stronger financially, the stronger the town is going to be,” Beer says. “That’s what our goal is. We’re trying to create the next generation of savers and people who are going to be able to retire and have options. “That’s going to benefit the town.”
Beer is the financial advisor for Illini Investment Services, a division of Illini State Bank that assists its clients in retirement planning, college savings, life and disability insurance, business retirement plans and much more.
Since it operates under the bank, Illini Investment Services is the most local business of its kind, Beer explains, and serves anyone from pre-retirees to young families to business owners and beyond.
While Beer does have a specialty in the senior community — as he hosts quarterly seminars at Liberty Village of Peru and hopes to soon put on additional workshops here in town — his work, he says, is holistic and far-reaching.
“I want to look at the whole financial picture,” he says, “not just focus on one thing. I have a broad background. Because of my affiliation with Liberty Village, I know that perspective. And I’m living the young family life, so that comes very naturally to me, too.” While his clients don’t have to hold accounts at Illini State Bank, many have found the unique connection beneficial.
“It’s a unique set-up,” he says. “Not only do my clients have access to everything in the investment realm, but they have banking services right there. It has been really beneficial to bounce back and forth from banking and investments so easily.
(Photos by James Krancic, Vermillion River Photography.)
ADDRESS: 253 E. Walnut St., Oglesby
The tavern may bear her name, but owner Claudette Magnoni thinks her Walnut Street watering hole holds it’s own place in history.
“I see Claudette’s as an old landmark that people come to, an icon,” Magnoni says. “It’s an old established place that’s been here for years, built just after prohibition.
“It’s not a normal bar; it’s different. It’s always been known for its cleanliness, homeliness, the party atmosphere. It’s not a rowdy place.”
In fact, Claudette’s is a gathering place of sorts, as it boasts a unique party room adjacent to the bar, lovingly dubbed The Cubby Hole, a home for both Cubs and Bears fans–and anyone looking for an affordable rental.
In 2002, Magnoni merged two bars into one and created the side room, which seats 50 comfortably and holds all sorts of aesthetic charm, from the double-seated wooden bar to the old detailed metal ceilings. There’s a stage, freedom to bring in outside food and drinks supplied through Claudette’s, making it–Magnoni says–a great option for parties.
Otherwise, Claudette’s is “mainly a weekend place” with hours that vary daily. Though it’s open only evenings Monday, Tuesday and Thursday (beginning around 6 p.m.), there are extended hours on Friday and Saturday (3 p.m. to close) and an especially long day Sunday (noon to close).
(Photos by James Krancic, Vermillion River Photography.)
When dentist Brian Billard and his wife Sandi returned to the Illinois Valley in the early 80s, they came back with a purpose.
“Our goal was to bring something here locally that is top-notch,” Billard said.
They’ve done just that.
In December of 2011, the Billards, along with Dr. Manny Valerin, opened shop in a new building located along West Walnut Street. The Alliance Dental Group facilities boast state-of-the-art equipment, 12 in-house labs, and high-tech sterilization area. The dentists’ and staff’s expertise spans preventative, general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry, with an ever-expanding reach and focus.
Of course, things weren’t always this way.
While the Billards did come back with a purpose in those early years, it wasn’t an easy time to begin a practice. The economy was weak and the advice was against setting up on your own.
“But,” Billard says, “we took a chance.”
“I grew up here and it was always the thought that we’d come back,” he said, noting that Sandi grew up in nearby La Salle. “We’ve always loved the Illinois Valley, so it was easy to come back.”
They began in a small downtown Oglesby rental.
“We had two operatories,” Billard says. “Well, one and a half really. One of them was new; the second was just sort of pieced together.”
While Brian looked to the patients’ smiles, Sandi kept them smiling with her people skills.
“She complements me tremendously,” he says. “She has the people skills. She has all the things I don’t have.”
Years passed. The husband-and-wife team built their own building and asked another general dentist–Valerin–to join the staff. It wasn’t long before the group grew out of the new building and set their eyes on something bigger–what eventually became the new facility.
Here, Dr. Billard and Dr. Valerin both serve as general dentists, while Billard specializes in orthodontics.
For more than 30 years, Billard has cared for the teeth of local families.
“It’s been long enough that I have grandkids coming to me now,” he says. “I’ve taken care of the mother, then the daughter, and now the grandkids.
“I’m that old,” he chuckles.
In many ways, the new building represents the realization of the Billard’s original goal. But, along the journey to the present, new dreams for the future were set in motion.
Through the years, Billard has nurtured his strong interest in orthodontics, considering himself committed to life-long education in the field. His passion has led him to teach his specialty all over the world. For more than a decade, he traveled to clinics and seminars throughout the United States and Canada, as well as places as far-reaching as Australia and the Philippines. The right encouragement from the right people helped him overcome his very shy demeanor and speak to crowds as big as 400 people.
And now, he wants to continue that focus on teaching and learning here at home.
“We thought we could use this facility also as a teaching center,” he says.
Through the many contacts he made afar, Billard is organizing small-scale, specialty seminars on new technology and continuing education. Their first offering in March 2013 garnered an even greater response than they’d expected, and plans for another, longer seminar are underway for March 2014.
Billard says his facilities, coupled with the area, are a draw for dental professionals.
“There are so many things they can see here–Starved Rock, all those little things that kind of make this a destination learning area,” Billard explains.
And while Billard Healthcare Center’s spacious conference room is a great place to sit under teaching, the facility is also a great place to give things a try.
“Our teaching can be very hands-on because we have a dental facility attached,” Billard says, noting the building houses 10 operatories.
The company may eventually evolve in still other ways, with Billard eying an expanded approach to dental and overall health that includes the joint, in-house work of chiropractors, physical therapists and the like–an idea that grew, too, with his knowledge and interest in orthodontics.
“We really went from trying to straighten teeth to this big, big, kind of all-encompassing thing,” he says.
To Magdaleno Hermosillo, it’s all about the salsa.
Whether it’s salsa roja “mole” on enchiladas or salsa fresca with chips, the salsa takes center stage.
And so, after working all his life in mexican restaurants and deciding to open and name his own, Hermosillo gave salsa the attention it deserves.
Mr. Salsa’s, as Hermosillo called it, has been a fixture of Oglesby’s downtown for nearly 15 years and features many salsa-laden dishes alongside other traditional mexican fare. (For those less inclined to the tastes of our neighbors to the south, Mr. Salsa’s also offers a handful of tradition American offerings.)
Hermosillo says his style of cooking is somewhat unique for the area, as it is largely influenced by recipes he learned in California, where he started his career. Two of the locals’ favorites are fajitas and carne asada a la tampiquena, a dish particularly known for its quality cut of meat, a skirt steak.
“People come for that one,” Hermosillo says, noting other restaurants replace the outside skirt with a cheaper cut. “I can’t switch the meat; people will notice right away. They want the same meat, the same quality.”
Mr. Salsa’s has been serving up quality dishes since 1999. Its cozy interior hosts a full bar along with a separate regular dining room. Another large seating area is available for large parties or planned events up to 60 people.
Meals are available for dine-in or carry-out. Weekly specials include $1.25 dine-in tacos on Tuesday, fried chicken on Wednesday, $3 margaritas on Thursday and a 10 ounce cod dinner with potato and salad for $10.95 on Fridays.
Delaney’s Family Restaurant has been open since 1992.
But it began in the mind of a small boy well before that.
“I always had the ambition of having my own business, even as a youngster,” Tim Delaney, who owns the restaurant with his wife and operates it alongside his younger brother Marc, explains.
“When I was only 6- and 7-years-old, my grandmother worked as a waitress at a tavern in Dalzell. My grandfather would take me there.”
It was in that old tavern that Tim decided he wanted to have his own restaurant someday.
“It was just a fun atmosphere,” Tim says. “And that’s what I first began to enjoy about it, the atmosphere. People came in and were having fun and there was a lot of excitement.
“I knew I wanted to have a restaurant.
“And all that came to be.”
What came to be was a cool, quick place for summer state park goers to refuel after a long day of hiking.
A cozy, warm place for winter travelers fresh off the interstate.
And a meeting place for local friends and family year round.
In short, Tim’s emphasis on atmosphere continues.
“I think it says it all in the name–we’re a family restaurant,” he says. “This is kid-friendly, casual dining.”
“I’ve always viewed it as entertaining people. When you go out to eat, it’s a form of entertainment. This is a place for people to come in, relax, unwind and forget about their day. We want to make them feel comfortable.”
The atmosphere at Delaney’s gives a nod to the past in more ways than one.
Oldies singers croon from the speakers. A long counter with swivel stools welcomes tired folks for a coffee or a beer. Friendly waitresses tend to tables with fast service.
And most of all, customers enjoy hearty, flavorful food.
Delaney’s boasts the area’s only buffet. It steams with hot food seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Special summer nights bring a seafood buffet, complete with crab legs. Be sure to save room for homemade pies and other desserts!
On weekends and holidays, a breakfast buffet is stocked with all the basic breakfast fixins–eggs, bacon, sausage, cinnamon French toast, hash brown, sausage gravy and biscuits, fresh fruits, bakery items, you name it!–as well as made-to-order pancakes and fruit-filled waffles topped with real whipped cream.
The large menu offers breakfast all day and a wide selection of other delicious dishes, from roast beef and burgers to shrimp platters and spinach salads. Among its most popular dishes is Delaney’s fried chicken–made from an old recipe from the tavern at which Tim’s grandmother worked, where it all began.
In fact, in many ways, Delaney’s is a mosaic of Tim’s past.
“Everything that I’ve done in my life is probably incorporated somehow into the restaurant.”
(Photos by James Krancic, Vermillion River Photography.)
Sam Leone’s personality and prices can give the first-timer quite a start.
“When we first moved here five years ago, I called to order a pizza,” Mary Tillman shared. “He said come in 20 minutes and bring $17,000. I told my husband, ‘I think we’re buying a pizza place.’ “
He’s a bit quirky, you see.
“Sam’s Pizza! What’d ya want?!” he’ll holler though his thick accent and into his old handset, taking your order. He never writes anything down, quotes you prices in the thousands and always has something clever to say when you walk though his door.
On busy nights, you might as well forget calling. All the locals know a busy signal means ol’ Sammy has put the handset of its cradle and you’ve got to do your ordering face-to-face.
His pizza joint isn’t much to look at–just a little building in the middle of a big slab of parking lot, looking a bit lonely on Columbia Ave. Inside, you’ll find a handful of tables, faded wallpaper, a listing of prices and toppings on an old-fashioned sign… and Sam.
Clad in the same uniform he’s been wearing for decades–white t-shirt on his chest, white apron around his waist, small gold chain around his neck and flour-topped shoes on his feet–Sam is beloved by local folks. Many a Oglesby resident will tell you tales of sitting on Sam’s counter or peeking around it as a youngster, watching Sam toss dough circles and accepting bits of mozzarella cheese from his mother, who worked alongside him for years.
In fact, it seems memories of Sam’s Pizza are much like the pizzas themselves–good and warm, ready for the sharing.
Kathy Casstevens says she fondly remembers the buzz of the lights in Sam’s pizza parlor and the taste of hot pizza late on a summer night.
What junior high basketball player, cheerleader and fan hasn’t packed into the tables, enjoying a post-game dinner?
“He has fed four generations of my family,” Nick Ebner said.
“My husband and I went to Sam’s on our first date!” writes Sally Sobin. “We have been married for 25 years.”
“When I was a kid, I don’t know what made me happier, that we were getting pizza for dinner or my grandma holding out the phone so I could hear Sam yell, ‘Sams a peets!’ into the phone before she ordered,” says Amy Raygoza.
If he doesn’t win you with his antics, Sam will undoubtedly win you with his pies. Hand tossed and made fresh, loaded with toppings and remarkably affordable, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better pizza in the area.
Sam’s Pizza is open Tuesday through Sunday evenings and is just a couple turns away from Oglesby hotels, on Columbia Avenue.
(Photos courtesy of James Krancic, Vermillion River Photography.)
When Jackie Mente describes the kind of fare she and her husband Mike offer at MJ’s Pub and Grill, her description may at first seem strange.
How can fine dining be casual?
But a visit to the Mente’s downtown Oglesby restaurant may lead you to embrace the happy paradox of terms.
True to its name, MJ’s is a pub. There are the traditional flat screen TVs and sports paraphernalia, the neon signs and beer on tap. High bar stools line the counter; bottles of alcohol line the wall. There’s nothing stuffy about its clean, uncrowded interior, and you’ll find not a wisp of smoke. Nonetheless, it’s a pub.
But perhaps where the name MJ’s Pub and Grill sells itself short is the kitchen.
MJ’s is so much more than a grill.
Sure, there are the traditional pub and Illinois Valley offerings–burgers, tenderloins and fried chicken. But these are hand-pattied burgers on bakery bread, house-pounded tender loins and made-to-order chicken with homemade breading, all served along side hand-cut french fries.
That’s really where Jackie and Mike left the “grill” behind, however.
MJ’s menu boasts such finer foods as filet mignon, broiled cod, smelt and even Minnesota turtle, served seasonally on Friday nights. The kitchen serves up its own pasta made with homemade sauces, from simple spaghetti to baked tortellini to chicken parmesan.
And while the food is good, Jackie says attention to detail is what really puts MJ’s above the chain restaurants.
“Presentation sets us apart,” she says. “We’re very, very picky about how our food looks because you eat with the eyes first. Those guys in the back work very, very hard to make sure that food is cooked and served on the plate the way it’s supposed to be. We take a lot of care.
“It’s important to us to see the smile on the persons face when they’re eating it and to hear what they have to say about it when they’re done.”
The front of the house serves up cocktails to compliment the food, and the services brings it all together.
“We make everything from martinis to MJ’s specialty drinks,” Jackie says. “Our bartenders do a phenomenal job along with our servers.”
The Mentes have been serving up fine and fine-looking food at MJ’s since 2010. All the while, the restaurant has been gathering community. Jackie credits their friendly base of local customers with making MJ’s a welcome spot for travelers.
“If a stranger walks through that door,” she says, “they won’t feel like a stranger long.”
Oglesby folk and visitors alike can find something to enjoy at MJ’s.
The Mentes focus on putting homemade meals on the table during the week and some kind of great pasta special on Saturdays. Meanwhile, they often schedule local bands for live entertainment and offer a large outdoor patio with seating for up to 50 people. Bookings for special events are available, as well as in-home catering.
(Photos by James Kransic, Vermillion River Photography.)
Oglesby is the place where friends and rivers meet.
But, lately, it’s really become a place where the rubber meets the road, as developers are taking notice of the city’s focus on encouraging business and investing in this gateway to Starved Rock.
Interested? From million-dollar projects to drawing off a destination, here’s what’s happening in Oglesby.
Infrastructure Upgrade: Fall 2013
The city is putting the finishing touches on a $6 million infrastructure upgrade that included a new water tower, storm sewer separation and waste water treatment plant upgrade. All of these projects increase the city’s capacity for growth and have already worked to that end.
Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores: January 2014
Located at the southwest corner of the Interstate 39 interchange, the new Love’s represents a $10 million dollar investment by the Oklahoma-based company. Sprawled on 16 acres, it will hold 90-100 truck parking spaces–nearly double its I-80 counterpart in Utica–and house a 6,500-square-foot tire repair center, along with a Hardee’s Restaurant.
Eventually lured by nearby Advantage Logistics and city investments in a new traffic signal and water-sewer service, Love’s expects $3 million in yearly sales and $200,000 in sales tax. Additionally, the travel stop and stores will create 60 new jobs–including five salaried, full-time management positions to be filled locally.
County Market: Breaking Ground late Spring 2014
The answer to many residents’ call for a grocery store in town and a development that’s long topped Mayor Don Finley’s list, County Market is due to open sometime in early 2015. The Quincy-based company recently closed on a 5-acre piece of land northwest of the Walnut Street and Columbia Avenue intersection and the old Geno’s Car Wash by the Rootbeer Stand. The $6 million supermarket will span up to 28,000 square feet and create up to 70 jobs. Conveniently located close to both IVCH’s Oglesby Medical Clinic, Alliance Dental Group and Stough Group senior housing, it will also house a pharmacy.
Company president and CEO Richard Niemann Jr. noted they would develop at least one out-lot to attract additional retail development if the demand materializes, setting up an opportunity for even more growth in Oglesby.
Stough Group: Fall 2012
This 50-unit senior housing group represents a $9 million investment in the city and has a waiting list for openings. (Please put your name on the list if you are considering the housing for the future.)
iFiber, a county-wide effort to bring affordable broadband to the area, is expected to go online at the end of 2013. This technological upgrade will set the stage for attracting developers the likes of call centers and off-site data storage companies.
McPhedran Park: May 2013
Oglesby’s newest park boasts a playground, jogging path and exercise stations. The local carpenters union donated labor to construct a lovely fishing pier, and fishermen can look forward to the opening of McPhedran’s stocked pond in the summer of 2014.
These amenities are likely just the spring board to a bigger, more developed complex with the potential to draw in more people and business. A committee is forming with the aim of locating investors who would further develop the land, possibly adding such things as a community center and football and soccer fields.
Investment from within
Several of our own businesses have recently increased their investment in Oglesby. Most recently, local licensed plumber John Senica Jr. opened John Jr.’s True Value hardware store in the downtown. In previous years, Illinois Valley Community Hospital, which has long served the area, set up a brick-and-mortar presence in the Oglesby Medical Clinic. The clinic is staffed with two doctors and a nurse practitioner. Likewise, dentists Dr. Brian Billard and Dr. Manny Valerin expanded Alliance Dental Group, a cosmetic dentistry practice with the latest technologies, in 2009, setting up shop in a new building along Walnut St.
Poised for Progress
For developers, Oglesby represents a growing market and ready-tilled soil. Most, if not all, of the land available for development already has water, sewer and electric services nearby. Additionally, most of the city’s developable land lies in TIF districts and the enterprise zone; these incentives offered by the City of Oglesby help new developers recover some of their cost for bringing in a new business.
Drawing off a Destination
One thing Mayor Finley and economic development and tourism coordinator Becky Clinard have focused on in recent years is bringing folks into Oglesby.
“You have to look at what you have in and around Oglesby and work with what you have,” Finley says. “With three state parks nearby, we’re obviously a destination.
“What we need to do is find ways to bring people here.”
Finley has done that, in ways big and small.
The city revived its summer celebration five years ago, with Summer Fun Fest quickly setting itself apart from other local celebrations. Featuring a fabulous carnival and midway, a race, car show, bags tournament, free kids’ programs unmatched in the area and much more, the city packs a summer’s worth of activities into one week.
The celebration’s budget is $80,000 in the black in the four year’s it has been expanded to a full-blown festival. Those proceeds fuel the general fund, getting un-earmarked money into the city for a little of everything. Smaller events such as weekly farmers markets and an ever-growing Harvest Fest are further building into our small town’s community.
Finley also wrangled in the Central States Tournament, one of nine regional tournaments around the world that feed into the Senior League World Series. Teams from 13 different states are invited to take part in this weeklong event. Family from these states spend time eating, shopping and enjoying what our city has to offer.
Finley has also applied for a canoe access grant for the newly restored river area behind Lehigh Park, by Ed Hand bridge. A boat launch there could mean more exposure for Oglesby.
“We get really positive comments about the things we’re doing,” Finley says of the economic upside of hosting events. “Obviously, the hotels and restaurants are happy. But we also hear from people you might not expect–like John’s Sales and Service, the laundromat, the gas stations, the bars.”
Meanwhile, Finley is always searching for more.
“Mayor Finley is always looking,” Clinard says. “He’s always got an email out or a phone call in to somebody about something.”
The Oglesby Parks and Recreation Department has rolled out the ice skating rink, just in time for the season to roll out some wintry weather.
Use of the rink is dependent on the weather. When it is open, hours are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Skaters will know the rink is open when the orange fence is open and the green ice rink sign reads “open.” If the fence is closed, the red “closed” sign will be up. Please refrain from using the rink at those times, as doing so will risk damaging the liner–and ruining the rink for everyone.
Hockey hours are from 3 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday and from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday. In the interest of safety for other skaters, hockey is not allowed at any other time.
Skates are preferred and are not available to rent at this time. The City is accepting donations at City Hall of new or used skates. If you know of a person or organization that would be willing to help out, please pass the information along and ask them to contact City Hall.
The ice rink is located in the empty lot downtown–on the north side of East Walnut Street, across from the city parking lot.