It's the big building on the east side of Edwardsville Hortica is a nation-wide leader in the insurance industry By ANN NICCUM email@example.com
Hortica – the country’s leading insurer of the horticultural industry – remains a top employer in the area. The company provides insurance and employee benefits to garden centers, nurseries, retail florists, wholesale floral distributors, greenhouse growers, landscape contractors and interior plantscapers nation-wide, and employs more than 200 people right here in Edwardsville. Hortica has been in Edwardsville for more than 70 years. The company was founded in 1887 in New Jersey as Florists’ Hail Association of America and later moved its headquarters to Edwardsville in 1927 (reincorporation of the company was officially completed in 1940). President and CEO Mona Haberer said the company moved here to be more centrally located and Edwardsville was specifically chosen because the association’s incoming president at that time was from Edwardsville. The company has been a major business in the community ever since. And Haberer said she does not see the company leaving the area any time soon. Haberer said the central location has been beneficial for the company that serves businesses from the East Coast to the West Coast. “The St. Louis area is a good location for us,” Haberer said. Haberer said the company has seen numerous changes and a lot of growth over the years. It changed its name to Florists’ Mutual Insurance Company in 1955 and then began operating as Hortica in 2001. Its mission is “to guide and provide the green industry with superior, cost effective insurance solutions.” The company, which actually began as a means for greenhouse owners to insure their businesses from hail damage, now insures businesses industry-wide. Haberer said the company changed its name to Hortica to represent its new and expanded role in the industry. “Hortica shows representation of the whole industry,” Haberer said. Over time, Haberer said the company has broadened its scope from insuring florists to the entire horticultural industry. She said the company has also become a one-stop shop for
these businesses by not only insuring all their horticultural insurance needs, but everything from their property to employee benefits, workers compensation, commercial auto, etc. “We provide all insurance solutions that a business would require,” Haberer said. Along with these services, Haberer said the company is now also able to cover all insurance needs even for businesses and individuals not in the horticultural industry. The company does it all – business insurance, employee benefits and personal insurance. It is also a nation-wide operation. Haberer said Hortica is licensed in 49 states and the District of Columbia. “All but Wyoming,” Haberer said. “Just not enough business there.” Hortica also has an independent agency which sells homeowners', auto and health insurance locally and nationally and it works with other financial organizations to provide the best options for its clients. Haberer said the company currently employees more than 230 employees. She said approximately 200 of the employees work out of the company’s central office building located in the center of Edwardsville Corporate Centre (www. edwardsvillecorporatecentre.com), owned by Hortica and just off Route 143 on Horticultural Lane, and the other 30-plus employees are actively traveling and working with clients across the country. Haberer said a majority of the company’s employees live in Edwardsville and surrounding areas. She said the company, previously located in downtown Edwardsville, moved to its new building in 2001. The new location offers a variety of amenities to Hortica’s employees. Inside the newly designed and constructed building, employees enjoy a spacious and open floor plan complimented by a multitude of large windows that wrap the building and provide not only beautiful scenery for all to enjoy, but also natural light. Other office amenities include a large lunch room, cafeteria and plenty of meeting spaces. But Haberer said the most utilized and enjoyed part of the new building has to be the outside. The building is surrounded by 14-acres of landscaped grounds that include a lakeside terrace
area and a walking/jogging path around a three and a half acre lake with a 25-foot high water geyser. Haberer said the area has been wellreceived by employees and that many employees sit outside or walk/jog on the path daily during their breaks and lunch. Haberer succeeded Robert McClellen as president in April 2008. She had previously served as chief financial officer and has worked at the company for more than 20 years. Haberer is very proud of the company and what it has to offer its employees. “It is a fun place to work,” Haberer said. “We have many long-time employees.” Haberer said there are numerous benefits to working at Hortica. “We try to promote healthy living,” Haberer said. The company offers a healthy living program and incentives for all employees to participate. Employees earn points, such as for walking the path outside, and they can trade in those points for a longer lunch or a half day off work. Haberer said the company also provides healthy services, such as in-house exercise classes, chair massages and healthy food in the vending machines. In addition, Haberer said Hortica provides educational opportunities on-site and through tuition reimbursement. The company is also very involved in the community from collecting donations to participating in special events. Haberer said they help local organizations, such as the Glen-Ed Food Pantry and Relay for Life. “We support a lot of organizations,” Haberer said. “And the company matches contributions.” One of the company’s special service projects is at Christmas when employees deliver food baskets to those in need. Haberer said Hortica also works with the local schools such as SIUE and Lewis and Clark Community College through internship and scholarship programs. Though based in Edwardsville, Hortica has ties all across the country. The company still remains a mutual company owned by its policyholders and its Board of Directors is comprised of horticultural industry leaders throughout the United States. To learn more about Hortica, visit www.hortica-insurance.com.
Page – Thursday, February 11, 2010 - FORWARD
The business world of SIUE
Morris University Center a hub on campus By JULIA BIGGS firstname.lastname@example.org
While SIUE students may venture into Edwardsville occasionally to take advantage of all that the community offers, students really have a mini-city all their own within the SIUE campus. The Morris University Center (MUC) serves as a central hub of the campus and provides students with a wealth of dining, services and entertainment options. On any given day, the MUC is a flurry of activity. The main floor is home to the University’s Bookstore, Auntie Anne’s, Starbucks, Union Station, the Information Office and a branch of The Bank of Edwardsville. Starbucks is easily a student favorite. “I regularly go to Starbucks everyday and purchase a coffee that helps me get through the day,” Tad Tran, a junior from the Chicago area said. Alyssa Bussmann, an Edwardsville resident and senior, echoed Tran’s feelings about Starbucks saying, “A lot of the students often go to Starbucks because let’s face it, it’s good.” Many students, including Tran, take advantage of the banking services that TheBANK of Edwardsville’s MUC branch offers. Tran spoke highly about TheBANK of Edwardsville’s services saying, “I use the bank on campus since I can visit it after class and they have good benefits for a checking account. For instance, they don’t require a minimum balance and allow me
their BANK of Edwardsville account so that they can use it as an ATM card.” When a Cougar Card is tied to a BANK of Edwardsville account, the card also works as a debit card. “That makes their Cougar Card work off campus whenever they go to Wal-Mart or Target or wherever they go shopping at,” Yarbrough explained. Students simply swipe their Cougar Card, enter their pin and the money is deducted from their bank account. An ATM is also available on cam-
for the Madison County Transit. An Art Gallery displaying various exhibits throughout the year can be found on the second floor of the MUC as well as Print & Design Creative Services which provides students with creative workstations and self service photocopiers for printing and designing their own projects. Students can also pay a fee to have projects designed for them. Dining options are located in the lower level of the MUC. Students have numerous options
room, a table tennis area and a game room. Adjacent to the MUC is the new Student Success Center which houses several student services offices such as the academic advancement center, career development center, counseling services and health services. SIUE’s health services provides students with a clinic as well as a pharmacy where prescriptions can be filled. “The health services are readily available and is free to go to,” Tran said. “Since I have an HMO my doctor is located in Chicago and the health services allow me to see a health care professional for minor issues that I may have.” Although Bussmann has access to her local doctors, she has also found the on campus clinic to be
quite convenient. “I have been to the clinic, and they are really nice,” she said. “They are more than willing to help you in any situation. They are also a lot faster than going to your normal doctor’s office, and it’s basically built into your tuition so you don’t have to worry about fees.” While the SIUE campus has grown substantially over the years, it’s managed to expand its service offerings yet provide these key services within a short distance of classes and campus housing. Lauren McLain, a Cougar Village resident and sophomore, noted that services offered by SIUE are especially beneficial to those students without vehicles. “I enjoy that its services allow most of my friends that don’t have a car to never miss their car,”
McLain said. “Two of my roommates don’t have a car and both rarely have to leave the campus with their job, schooling and meal plan here. They can get everything they need within walking distance.” Tran completely agreed. “The services that are offered at SIUE are very convenient for me,” he said. “I appreciate that they have a good number of reliable services offered here.” Whether they were commuter students or students living on campus, students seemed to agree that SIUE was like a mini-city within Edwardsville. “SIUE practically has everything that you could possibly need on campus,” Bussmann said. “They do a great job to provide their students with any kind of resource possible.”
At top, SIUE's University Bookstore. Above, TheBANK of Edwardsville's branch inside the Morris University Center. to make five withdrawals a month from any ATM and not incur any service charge.” Becky Yarbrough, TheBANK of Edwardsville Center Manager at the campus location, explained that the students’ school ID card, Cougar Card, “works for a number of different functions.” It can be used to buy their meals and pay for laundry. “It’s really nice,” Yarbrough said. “They can also link it to
pus for students’ convenience. The SIUE Information Office located in the MUC provides information to the university community and guests regarding services, academics, and events on campus and in the MUC. It also serves as the university’s community switchboard. Ticket sales for many on and off-campus activities and events are managed by the Information Office as well as bus schedules and passes are available
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Thursday, February 11, 2010 - FORWARD – Page
Winds of change to blow at Four Flags Dealership will become discount tire and auto center By STEVE HORRELL email@example.com
Changes are coming this spring at Four Flags Motors Inc. The venerable Glen Carbon dealership, which boasts a sales staff that has three decades-plus of of experience, has long been known for selling SUVs such as the GMC Acadia, sports cars such as the Pontiac Solstice, and sedans like the Buick Lucerne. Four Flags offers a service center out back with a staff of GM-certified technicians who provide regular inspections and safety checks as well as service for tires, brakes, belts, steering systems and more. Now the dealership is reinventing itself. Starting March 1, Four Flags will make the transition from a GM dealership to a Four Flags discount tire and auto center. The center will partner with NAPA and also sell only pre-owned vehicles. “We’re trying to get rid of the dealership mentality,” said Rich Tallerico, Jr., general manager of Four Flags Motors, Inc. “With the problems GM is having, we’re going to figure out a way to go forward. I think we’re positioned to do that.” In a few weeks, Four Flags will be mailing out notices to each of the 9,000 people in its customer database, Tallerico said. “We’re going to be more of
Four Flags on Route 159 a combination,” he said. “The main thing is we’re going to be selling all makes and models of pre-owned, and servicing all makes and models.” In the coming weeks, Tallerico says he will be installing “NAPA” and “Four
Flags Auto Car Center” signs out front. Making the switch this spring has the advantage of relieving Four Flags of the burden of maintaing a large inventory on the property, he said.
The revamped service center also promises to be one of the largest in the Metro East. The dealership currently has three service technicians, each of them GM-trained mechanics. Tallerico recently placed an advertisement seeking
ASE certified auto mechanics and was overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of the applicants. “We have three now, and hopefully we’re going to be up to six, or maybe eight, by summer,” he said.
The expanded service center and the upcoming switch to pre-owned-only vehicles bodes well for Four Flags’ future. “It’s going to be a one-stop shopping center,” Tallerico said.
ConocoPhillips in midst of expansion project Approximately 2,500 construction workers currently on the job By JULIA BIGGS firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been a little over a year since ConocoPhillips began its refinery expansion construction project. The $3 billion project continues to make steady progress as it moves toward an anticipated mid-year 2011 completion and start-up. The region is sure to feel an impact through job opportunities once it’s completed but the Edwardsville area is already feeling the construction’s economic impact. According to ConocoPhillips spokesperson Melissa Erker, expanding the refinery will accomplish three major goals. “It enables us to process more crude oil, and it will enable us to make more finished product,” Erker said. The expansion allows for the refinery to produce more finished products that consumers are most concerned about like gasoline, jet fuel and diesel fuel. The third component of the project is that the new expansion will allow for ConocoPhillips to “run more Canadian crude” from North American sources. “Canada is an abundant resource of crude oil, and we are positioned via pipelines at a very good area to take that in,” Erker said. “So it enables us to run more of that Canadian crude that is just about 1,900 miles away versus crude oils that are half way around the world.” While the concept of the expansion project began in 2005, research, engineering and the process of obtaining local, state and federal permits had to be accomplished before construction could actually begin. Construction
began at the Wood River refinery in Roxana in the fall of 2008. When the refinery is complete, ConocoPhillips has estimated that it will add 100 full time positions. “Some of those will be ConocoPhillips positions and some of those will be contract positions that are here on a day-today basis that will result in this expansion,” Erker said. But the region is already feeling some impact from this project. A union-based company, ConocoPhillips has hired union contractors – locally, regionally and across the country to construct this project. Erker pointed out that they turn to local union workers first. “Basically we have all the local people that we can get in here and when we tap those out we get a traveling work force in here,” she said. The project provides peak times when construction employment is at all-time highs – one of which was in October when 4,000 construction workers were at the facility on top of the normal nearly 1,000 company and contractbased workers who are at the facility on a dayto-day basis. “We had a lot of people in here,” Erker said. On an average daily basis ConocoPhillips currently employs about 2,500 construction workers at its facility. Erker expected another peak in March. When these peaks occur and additional union workers are employed from outside the region, the local area feels their presence. “These people are coming into this area, they are staying here temporarily and using our businesses for their needs,” Erker said. “Whether its laundry, or eating, or grocery shopping or banking, all these different businesses are seeing kind of an influx of additional people who have come to the area who may normally not be spending money here.” Erker said that she knew that the Edwardsville hotels were experiencing an
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influx from the travelling work force. “Comfort Inn (on Route 157) has had a little contingent of people who were staying there for a couple of months at a time,” Erker said. A phone call to the Comfort Inn indeed verified that they’ve felt an impact in rooms being rented by ConocoPhillips travelling workforce. While it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how much of an impact the Edwardsville area has seen by the refinery construction, the River Bend Growth Association commissioned an economic impact study that was researched by three SIUE professors. In regards to economic impact of the area, the report states “During
construction, the impact of the traveling workers’ spending in the region is expected to total over $35 million.” No matter what the final tally ends up being, it’s apparent that the community has felt some economic impact from the construction and once the project is complete, the region will have more potential job opportunities and a strengthened regional employer. “Overall the expansion strengthens the refinery as we move forward,” Erker said. “Not only do we see additional jobs but hopefully it strengthens our position long term in the industry.”
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A throwback to a simpler time
Edwardsville Frozen Foods an old-time butcher shop By ANN NICCUM email@example.com
If you have not been inside the oldest and biggest butcher shop in town, you probably don’t know all they have to offer – fresh meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, side dishes, desserts and more. For more than 60 years, Edwardsville Frozen Foods has been serving the area. Simple descriptions as an “Old-Time Butcher Shop, Going Way Beyond Just Meat!” and a “Beef-Lovers Heaven Since 1947” say it all. The locally owned and operated retail and wholesale union shop is currently coowned by Ed Hall and Fred Schulte. Hall said the shop, started in 1947, has a deep history in the city. “It has had only three owners over the years,” Hall said. “And many of the same employees.” Hall said some employees there now have been there from 15 to 40 years. He said the shop employs about eight to 10 people and about five are there on a regular basis. This gives the regular customers a familiar face every time they step in the door. Many know Hall and Schulte and the rest of the staff by their first name and they know the customers' names too. Along with offering goods to the public, Hall said the store also works with restaurants throughout the area. “We supply some of the smaller restaurants,” Hall said. The shop is located in the heart of downtown Edwardsville at 246 North Main – right next door to the historic Wildey Theatre – making it easy to access. And you should not miss the sign. Appropriately, a large cow fixture is stationed above the shops sign/entrance facing
Above, Ed Hall, left, and Fred Schulte. Below, Herbie, the famous Main Street cow. Main Street. The cow even has a name – Herbie. Hall said the cow got the name after a contest hosted by the shop in the 1960s and it has stuck ever since. Along with its historic charm and small-town service feel, Edwardsville Frozen Foods has been providing the area with more than just fresh meat since it opened. It has everything one might need for special occasions, parties, summer barbecue or any meal at home. As it specializes in meats, the market does have just about everything a customer would want in that department from fresh beef, pork, turkey, chicken and a variety deli meats. They hang and age beef on premises, smoke and cure their own hams and bacon and have fresh turkeys for the holidays.
Hall said much of the meat is slaughtered locally and cut to order right inside the shop. Inside the market’s meat counter are pork chops, steaks, tenderloins, roasts, hams, chickens, cheese, deli meats and a variety of homemade meats and dishes, such as kabobs, pork sausages, bratwursts, pulled pork, ham and chicken salad, potato salad, cold slaw and things ready to take home and cook like oven ready meat loafs and homemade onion rings and french fries, items you can take home and bake or fry yourself. Hall said the market makes a lot of this homemade food and it seems to be popular with its customers. “We make a lot of bratwursts,” Hall said. “The homemade pulled pork is really good.” The store also has a variety of fresh seafood: lobster, king crab, swordfish, yellow fin tuna, halibut and more. And there is more. The store is also stocked with a large unit of fresh frozen fruits and vegetables, more seafood and desserts, such as pies, and many other unexpected things like pizzas, garlic bread, potatoes, seasonings, onions, potatoes, cheese, eggs, bread, chips, charcoal and even beer. Edwardsville Frozen Foods even has its own barbecue sauce, rub and marinade for sale. And don’t forget your best friend - the shop even has beef liver for pets. Hall said the store stays busy throughout the year. He said the busiest times are during holidays, deer season and barbecue season. The market does processing for farmers and hunters including deer (deer sausage and brats) and wild game. To learn more about Edwardsville Frozen Foods, visit them during business hours 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday or 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday (The store is closed on Sundays and Mondays) or give them a call at 618-6561477.
Liberty Village emphasizes state-of-the-art Retirement and care center will open this spring By STEVE HORRELL firstname.lastname@example.org
A new retirement and care center is coming to Maryville this spring, and administrator Dena Boss says it will be unlike anything in the Metro East. Known as Liberty Village of Maryville, the campus will open at 6955 Route 162, just down the road from Anderson Hospital. “It’s certainly going to be state-of-the-art, and you won’t see anything like it in the area,” Boss said during an interview recently at her office at Maryville Manor. Phase I of the campus will consist of a skilled nursing facility, called Manor Court, and will feature a full range of medical services, including long-and-short-term care and rehabilitation. Along with the skilled nursing facility, Phase I will also include a Bounce Back rehabilitation program. After residents go through the program they can enter the A.J. Fitness Center where they can swipe a Smart Card into any of the fitness equipment. The Smart Card is programmed to set up and saves a resident’s personalized workout. “This equipment is very expensive, very state-of-the-art,” Boss said. “It helps people to age in place and be able to stay in our wellness program. Eventually, our second phase will have enough independent living residents, and they will have access as well. Ground was broken for Phase I in August. The facility is likely to open in April or May. It will also contain an Alzheimer ’s unit known as Garden Court. The unit will mimic an outdoor setting with massive skylights and a walking path. “There’s a girl that will come from South Carolina
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just to paint the ceilings,” said Evelyn LaPointe, director of marketing and sales for Liberty Village of Maryville. Some Alzheimer ’s patients have a condition known as Sundowners Syndrome that sometimes flares up during transitions from daylight to darkness. As a result, the lights at Garden Court will get brighter as evening approaches, Boss says. Liberty Village also features occupational therapy rooms that help residents with activities such as laundry and other tasks of daily living. All rooms are also equipped with showers. “And the rooms are huge,” said LaPointe. “Really, two of an average nursing home’s rooms would fit into one of ours. And we have large, sunny windows.” Rooms are equipped with hot tubs that fill to capacity in about a minute, Boss says. “It fills with nice warm water that stays heated, so the resident doesn’t have time to get chilled.” When it comes to food, the new facility will offer all kinds of choices, including special orders. One of the favorite special orders, Boss says is grilled cheese and tomato soup, Boss says. The philosophy is that its best to allow people to enjoy the food they enjoyed when they lived at home. Sometimes that’s something as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “We have a gentleman here that actually has tomato soup, grilled cheese and a half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Boss says. “That’s what he likes.” Residents at the new facility will be nothing if not pampered. Snacks will be served at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. In addition to allowing them to eat as they did when they lived at home, workers will sign residents up for special snacks. “If you want a Fig Newton with a glass of milk at 8 o’clock, before you go to bed, that’s OK,” she says. “Whatever they want.” Future phases of the campus will include a retirement complex called Liberty Estates for persons 55 years of age and older. Liberty Village of Maryville is the latest in a series of Liberty Village facilities that have sprung up in Illinois, including those in LeRoy, Peru and Pekin. “Our owner is just fabulous,” Boss says.
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“He cares so much for geriatric patients, it’s just amazing. Each facility he builds just keeps getting better and better. I hear ours is going to be the Taj Mahal.” As an administrator, Boss says, her job is to make sure that the staff provides a level of care equal to the quality of the building. “I want to make sure the people we have here give the best quality of care and the best quality of life possible.”
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Funeral homes not immune to economy Weber & Rodney, Saksa Mateer are pillars of the community By STEVE RENSBERRY email@example.com
Like most every other business, the business of operating a funeral home has gone through a great deal of change over the years. While it’s easy to imagine that it would be immune to the topsy-turvy economy we’re seeing, such is not necessarily the case. “I think it has impacted the funeral homes real hard,” local funeral home owner Tom Saksa said. Saksa is the owner of Saksa Mateer Funeral Home in Edwardsville and the Thomas Saksa Funeral Home in Granite City. But neither Saksa nor Ed Rodney of Weber & Rodney Funeral Home in Edwardsville were too dire in their predictions. One thing they do agree on is the large rise in the number of cremations over the past two decades, both of whom pointed to a rise of between 2 percent to 25 percent or more. That’s one of the biggest changes, Rodney said. Up until about three years
time for loved ones to share and grieve following the death of a loved one. “We still find a lot of people realize the importance of having a visitation,” Rodney said. “We’re here to meet the family’s wishes, we’re here to provide the services, no matter what they are.” But like every other business, funeral homes have felt the pressure of rising costs. While the Baby Boomers are on the way, they haven't made a tremendous impact yet. Although the Edwardsville and Glen Carbon area has grown substantially over the past decade, Rodney said he thinks many of those move into the area are outside that demographic. It will take a number of years, Rodney said. Weber & Rodney Funeral Home traces hits history to 1901 when Philip F. Weber and J.E. Marks organized the Marks-Weber Funeral Home. The building itself is of historical interest. Purchased in 1926, it was originally built between 1865 and 1870 by pharmacist John S. Trares, then purchased in
Weber & Rodney Funeral Home, above, and Saksa Mateer Funeral Home at left. worked as a licensed funeral director and embalmer since 1978. In addition to a variety of traditional funeral and cremation services, the firm offers monument sales. Saksa, who owns both the Thomas Saksa Funeral Home in Granite City and the Saksa Mateer Funeral Home in Edwardsville, said while the business may look like it is recession proof it experiences many of the same pressures other businesses do and cannot just raise prices in order to keep revenues up. “In this business, we don’t have long range appointments,” Saksa said. They do however have a lot of people who make prearrangements, Saksa said. He estimated pre-arrangments to represent about 40 percent of their business — and growing. Pre-arrangements can make good financial sense, as money is generally the major topic when families are faced with the sudden need to make funeral arrangements. Taking care of the details ahead of time makes it less of an emotional decision, he said. ago, they also owned and operated the Pletcher Funeral home on St. Louis Street in Edwardsville, which they had operated for about two years before consolidating operations. Given the close proximity of the two homes, it just made good business sense to conduct everything out of the Main Street location, he said. As for cremation, Rodney called it “just another way of disposition” and said no matter what arrangement a family makes, the funeral home exists to provide a place and
1891 by local physician Dr. E. M. Fiegenbaum. The firm’s name was changed in 1952 to Weber Funeral Home Inc. and in 1964 the chapel underwent extensive remodeling. W. Edward Rodney joined the firm in 1969 as a licensed funeral director and embalmer, becoming vice president and a principle in the operation of the business in 1990. That same year, Michael D. Weber, the son of Philip H. Weber and the fourth generation to operate the business, became President of Weber Funeral Home. He had
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“I think it’s a good thing,” Saksa said. “They get what they want.” The Thomas Funeral Home has been in operation since 1900. It was bought by Saksa in 2000, a move he said gives the business more flexibility by serving a broader area. The Mateer Funeral Home in Edwardsville, located at 210 North Kansas, had its beginning in the mid-1930s under Lesley Marks as the Lesley Marks Funeral Home. It was purchased by Cleve “Mike” Mateer in 1966. The home was eventually bought by Saksa and the name changed to Saksa Mateer Funeral Home. Mateer, of Glen Carbon, died on Oct. 8, 2009. Saksa himself gained an interest in the business while working for the Mercer Mortuary in Granite City while he was still in high school. In terms of demographics, Saksa said he doesn’t think an aging population has brought an increase in the volume of business as much as in the number of homes. “There’s more funeral homes but not much increase for us,” Saksa said.
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Page – Thursday, February 11, 2010 - FORWARD
Fighting cancer tooth and nail Warren Billhartz Cancer Center on the cutting edge of technology By STEVE RENSBERRY firstname.lastname@example.org
The Warren Billhartz Cancer Center at Anderson Hospital in Maryville, through its affiliation with Mary Crowley Cancer Research Centers, may be one of the area’s most promising assets. For those who have ever needed treatment, it quite literally is a life saver. “If we’re going to extend life it needs to be a good life that we’re extending,” Research Nurse Wendy McIntyre said. Her statement underscores an approach to treatment at the center that puts respect for the quality of a patient’s life first and foremost. McIntyre has coordinated efforts at the facility since it’s opening in September of 2007 and said they are on the cutting edge of cancer treatment in using some of the very newest drugs available, either alone or in combination with chemotherapy. They’re exciting because of the absence of side effects,
McIntyre said. “Mary Crowley focuses on non-toxic treatments, including gene-targeted therapies, cellbased therapies and vaccines, all of which do not harm patients’ existing healthy tissue and systems,” McIntyre says in a statement released by the hospital late last fall about clinical trials. “We are excited to bring this unique program of personalized cancer therapies to cancer patients in our community and throughout the region.” Anderson Hospital Board member and local resident Linda Cassens and her husband Allen are among the center’s biggest supporters. The Cassens' daughter Allison — who died of cancer in 2004 at age 33 — had received treatment through Mary Crowley Centers during her ordeal. Among the additions to the Anderson facility is the Friends of Hope Breast Cancer Center, which is named after the organization founded by Cassens' daughter. Offered at the center is some of the latest technology such as digital mammography, ultrasoundguided breast biopsy and stereotactic breast biopsy. The Allison’s Friends of Hope Foundation has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of the Mary Crowley Cancer Research Centers. The latest benefit was conducted on Feb. 6.
In addition to Anderson, Mary Crowley centers exist in Dallas, Texas; Albany, N.Y.; and in Greenville, S.C. The $4.6 million Warren Billhartz Cancer Center was founded after a major fundraising effort and with a $1 million donation to Anderson Hospital from Marcia Billhartz following the death of her husband on Aug. 21, 2006. It was the largest gift the hospital had ever received. Warren Billhartz, who lived in Collinsville, was a former president and chairman of First National Bank of Collinsville. Although Allison Cassens was initially given only a very few months to live, her life was extended well beyond that through the type of treatment provided at Mary Crowley Cancer
Centers. “There’s no animosity anywhere. They want to make sure you get treated the best way,” Cassens said. One method of treatment involves taking a sample of the tumor to determine what is missing in a person’s body, then using it create a serum which is then introduced back into the body to fight the cancer. Cancer trials which were open at Mary Crowley Centers as of January included those for solid tumors, breast, endometrial, esophageal, gastrointestinal
(upper), head and neck, lung, melanoma, neuroendocrine, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate and sarcoma. In addition to the clinical trials and breast diagnostic center, the Anderson facility includes a Patient and Family Cancer Resource Center and Library. “We do have patients in clinical trials and they are all doing very well,” McIntyre said. Anderson Hospital Communication’s Director Natalie Head said much of the strength of the Billhartz Center lies in its ancillary services and the fact that so many specialists are now located in one central location. “What the center does is that it offers a number of services under one umbrella,” Head said. An earlier statement about the center indicates the cooperative nature of the effort and number of specialists involved. “None of these treatment would be possible without the teamwork of the Billhartz Centers medical resources. The center brings together the expertise of Illinois Oncology, Ltd. (Dr. William Popovic, Dr. Guillermo
Rodriguez, Jr., Dr. Samuel Burstein and Dr. John Visconti); Maryville Oncology, Ltd. (Dr. Mohamed Megahy and Dr. Dean Norton); Southern Illinois Surgical Consultants and Breast Center (Dr. Morris Kugler) as well as other medical specialists),” the statement says, “The availability of services at one site facilitate the coordination of care and make it possible for patients to stay close to home and family during treatment and follow-up.” Another one of the center’s promising treatments involves one called anti-angiogenesis. “Anti-angiogenisis is a form of targeted therapy that used drugs or other substances to stop tumors from making new blood vessels. Without a blood supply, tumors can’t grow,” McIntyre says in the statement. While the center has seen considerable growth, Cassens herself believes the hospital can and should reach for even great heights. “I’d like it to be known for a cancer treatment center as we are for OB (obstetrics and gynecology),” she said.
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