110 E. Walnut Street - Oglesby, Illinois 61348  ·  Phone: 815-883-3389

MJ’s: Casual, fine dining.

December 31, 2013 by City Clerk  
Filed under From the Mayor's Desk

7u0y1783

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.

7u0y1796“Casual fine,” after all, is an odd juxtaposition of words.

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.

mjs info box

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.

7u0y1801

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.

7u0y1816

“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.)

What’s happening in Oglesby?

December 21, 2013 by City Clerk  
Filed under From the Mayor's Desk

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.)

Broadband Internet
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.”

NOv. 18, 2013 meeting minutes

December 12, 2013 by bclinard  
Filed under Council Meeting Minutes

A MEETING OF THE OGLESBY CITY COUNCIL WAS HELD ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2013, AT CITY HALL. THE MEETING WAS CALLED TO ORDER AT 7:00 P.M.

PRESENT: COMMISSIONERS DANEKAS, PORTER, RIVARA, MAYOR FINLEY, ATTORNEY JIM ANDREONI AND CITY CLERK BECKY CLINARD.

ABSENT: COMMISSIONER YBORRA

A MOTION WAS MADE BY PORTER, SECONDED BY RIVARA to approve the regular meeting minutes from November 4, 2013. AYES: PORTER, DANEKAS, RIVARA, FINLEY. MOTION CARRIED.

A MOTION WAS MADE BY DANEKAS, SECONDED BY PORTER to approve the invoices submitted for payment: Vince Henneberry, $43.75; City of Oglesby (petty cash), $37.45; Illinois Municipal League, $292.00; Oglesby Municipal Band, $4,705.00; Robert Stone, $1,858.20; LaSalle State Bank/Police Pension, $7,000.00; City of Oglesby (petty cash), $96.95; A.S.K. Enterprises, $2,442.25; Ace Tire, $416.06; Advanced Asphalt, $28,583.28; AEA, Inc., $6,295.05; Affordable Waste Systems, $18,849.50; Airgas USA, $57.03; Ameren IP, $99.22; AT&T, $25.79; Batteries and Things, $6.00; Comcast, $361.12; Connecting Point, $14,874.80; DJ Sickley Construction, $151,219.55; Dever & Sons, $525.69; Double M Trucking, $180.00; Dresbach Distributing, $19.95; Cathie Edens, $138.55; Emergency Medical Products, $610.48; Feece Oil, $3,140.82; Fence Specialties, $500.00; Foster Coach Sales, $35.39; Robert Ghighi, $39.10;Hygienic Institute, $355.55; Illinois Department of Ag, $15.00; IMEA, $195,601.11; IL Valley Business Equipment, $53.00; Illini State Bank/VISA, $4,160.27; John Pohar & Sons, $57,888.89; John Senica Jr. Ace Hardware, $273.83; King Tire, $191.00; Koolmaster, $63.32; Kramarsic Law Offices, $150.00; LaSalle Office Supply, $121.41; Massie Jet-Vac Service, $1,050.00; Mautino Distributing, $30.00; McClure Engineering, $8,718.40; Menards, $663.83; Midwest Mailing, $110.39; Motorola, $233.05; Dollar General, $59.50; NewsTribune, $1,748.00; Oscar’s, $327.50; Perona, Peterlin & Andreoni, $1,848.00; Pool, Leigh & Kopko, $47.80; Ron Popurella, $131.54; Revere Electric, $139.31; Riverstone Group, $298.56; Springfield Electric, $185.33; St. Margaret’s Health, $163.00; Staples, $59.99; Stevens Service Center, $103.00; Studstill Media, $840.00; T & R Electric, $1,245.00; TEST, Inc., $80.00; Universal, $3,769.70; USA Bluebook, $823.79; Vickers Consulting, $50.00; Water Products Co., $717.89; Witmer Public Safety, $394.93; WLPO/WAJK, $210.00. Total $525,398.37 AYES: DANEKAS, PORTER, RIVARA, MAYOR FINLEY. MOTION CARRIED.

The Mayor asked for comment from the public on agenda items. There were no comments.

A MOTION WAS MADE BY RIVARA, SECONDED BY PORTER to place Ordinance No. 846-112113, which authorizes borrowing from Illini State Bank to finance a truck for the Street Department. AYES: DANEKAS, PORTER, RIVARA, MAYOR FINLEY. MOTION CARRIED.

A MOTION WAS MADE BY RIVARA, SECONDED BY PORTER to refer the Vallero Annexation request to the Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals. Attorney Andreoni said that a joint meeting had been set for December 17, 2013, at 6 p.m. This parcel of land sits at the intersection of County Highway 23 and Orlando Smith Road. The parcel is needed to enable the electric department to purchase a line from Ameren that services this property and a city lift station. Commissioner Rivara said that this deal had been in the works for more than a year. In return for the annexation, the city will waive an $1,100.00 unpaid water bill, rebate back the city portion of taxes on the tax bill, and rezone the property from residential to business. All property annexed into the city comes in as residential. Rivara called the deal “good business sense.” AYES: DANEKAS, PORTER, RIVARA, MAYOR FINLEY. MOTION CARRIED.

Mayor Finley then asked the council for permission to advertise for the position of Economic Development Coordinator. This position has been vacant since the previous EDC became city clerk in May, 2011. The Mayor said that a person was needed to prepare marketing material for the city, aggressively seek out potential developers, and write grants, among other duties. Commissioner Porter said he “liked the idea,” but needed more information about the position, such as hours and pay rate. Finley said that the wage would be dependent upon the person’s qualifications and that those decisions would come before the council before anyone was hired. Commissioner Rivara asked if the hiring meant that there would be money for raises for the other city employees. Finley reminded him that the salary of an economic development coordinator could be paid from TIF and hotel/motel tax monies. A MOTION WAS MADE BY DANEKAS, SECONDED BY PORTER to advertise for the position of economic development coordinator. AYES: DANEKAS, PORTER, RIVARA, MAYOR FINLEY. MOTION CARRIED.

A MOTION WAS MADE BY DANEKAS, SECONDED BY PORTER to donate $2,500 to Central States Baseball Tournament. AYES: DANEKAS, PORTER, RIVARA, MAYOR FINLEY. MOTION CARRIED.

A MOTION WAS MADE BY PORTER, SECONDED BY RIVARA to name Tod Misener to the Oglesby Ambulance Board. AYES: DANEKAS, PORTER, RIVARA, MAYOR FINLEY. MOTION CARRIED.

A MOTION WAS MADE BY PORTER, SECONDED BY DANEKAS to go into executive session for the purpose of discussing collective bargaining and salary schedules for one of more classes of employees at 7:09 p.m. AYES: DANEKAS, PORTER, RIVARA, MAYOR FINLEY. MOTION CARRIED.

A MOTION WAS MADE BY PORTER, SECONDED BY RIVARA to resume the regular city council meeting at 8:10 p.m. AYES: DANEKAS, PORTER, RIVARA, MAYOR FINLEY. MOTION CARRIED.

Mayor and Commissioners’ Reports:

Danekas told the council that he had done some checking since the last meeting in response to Commissioner Porter’s question about part time employees in the clerk’s office. Danekas said that part time employees have logged more than 800 less hours less than last year. Porter said that it was his understanding that during layoff discussions earlier in the year it was said that there would not be any part time employees in the clerk’s office.

Mayor Finley told the council that Santa would be at the Dickinson House on Sunday, December 15.

A MOTION WAS MADE BY DANEKAS, SECONDED BY PORTER to adjourn at 8:35 p.m. AYES: DANEKAS, PORTER, RIVARA, MAYOR FINLEY. MOTION CARRIED.

_____________________________
Becky Clinard, City Clerk

Agenda for December 16, 2013

December 12, 2013 by bclinard  
Filed under Council Meeting Agendas

CITY OF OGLESBY, ILLINOIS
CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING
MONDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2013 @ 7 P.M.

TO BE CONDUCTED AT: THE CITY ADMINISTRATIVE BUILDING
110 E WALNUT STREET, OGLESBY, ILLINOIS 61348

1. Opening of Meeting
2. Roll Call
3. Pledge of Allegiance
4. Approval of Regular Meeting Minutes from December 2, 2013
5. Approval of Bills to be Paid
6. Public Comment on Agenda Items
7. Ordinance No. 847-121613, FY 2013-14 Tax Levy
8. Ordinance No. 848-121613, Abates taxes for 2013 Mallick Substation bond
9. Ordinance No. 849-121613, Abates taxes for the 2010B GO bonds
10. Ordinance No. 850-121613, Abates taxes for the 2010A GO bonds
11. Ordinance No. 851-121613, Renews the line of credit with Illini State Bank
12. Resolution to join the Illinois Municipal Insurance Cooperative
13. Public Comment on Any Item
14. Mayor and Commissioners’ Reports
15. Adjournment

Posted this 13th day of December, 2013

Becky Clinard, City Clerk
City of Oglesby

Ice Skating Rink

December 9, 2013 by City Clerk  
Filed under From the Mayor's Desk


ice rink hockey

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.

Oriental Kitchen

December 3, 2013 by City Clerk  
Filed under From the Mayor's Desk, Uncategorized

Yawei Liang and his father man the kitchen at Oriental Kitchen in Oglesby. Liang, equipped with years of experience in Chinese restaurant kitchens, went out on his own in 2003 when he and his wife Tracy opened their downtown storefront.

Yawei Liang and his father man the kitchen at Oriental Kitchen in Oglesby. Liang, equipped with years of experience in Chinese restaurant kitchens, went out on his own in 2003 when he and his wife Tracy opened their downtown storefront. (Photo by James Krancic, Vermillion River Photography)

Yawei and Tracy Liang are no strangers to the Chinese restaurant business.

Both worked in family restaurants before meeting at a restaurant in Ottawa at which they were both employed. They were eventually married and, in January of 2003, decided to start a restaurant of their own, Oriental Kitchen in downtown Oglesby.

Yawei and Tracy Liang started Oriental Kitchen in January of 2003.

Yawei and Tracy Liang started Oriental Kitchen in January of 2003. (Photo by James Krancic, Vermillion River Photography)

screen-shot-2013-12-03-at-61238-pm

“My husband decided to go off on his own,” Tracy says of the venture.

The Liangs were attracted to Oglesby, she said, for a few reasons. The Walnut Street location appealed to her husband because he wanted a downtown storefront. And the small-town location appealed to Tracy because she, a native of nearby Serena, didn’t want to be too far from home.

The move has served them well, as they recently celebrated 10 years in business and now call Oglesby home.

While most of its business is take-out, Oriental Kitchen has a modest dining room for dine-in customers. Among its most popular dishes are mongolian beef, orange chicken, General Tao’s chicken. They accept both Visa and MasterCard.

(Photos courtesy of James Krancic, Vermillion River Photography.)