History Of Odell – Part Six


Obviously, Stonecipher witnessed many changes over his 41 years in the business. Gasoline was 21.6 cents per gallon when he first started and he saw it eventually go as high as $1.40 per gallon. Stonecipher said that among the reasons he is retiring is “the EPA had forced me out of the gasoline business because of their new restrictions and I couldn’t afford putting in the new storage tanks to comply with them.”

Village trustees authorized Mayor Bill Wilkey on Oct. 17, 1989, to negotiate a price with the Odell G.S. board for the possible purchase of the former high school shop building. The building would be used to store village equipment. After much negotiations, the village purchased the shop building for $7,000 on Feb. 13, 1990.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs announced on Nov. 27, 1989, that the Village of Odell has received $250,000 in grant monies for water system improvements. The grant will be used to drill a new water well, replace the water aerator, and install a water main extension from the new well to the existing water plant. Odell has been served by one water well for many years. A & B Plumbing Co., Pontiac, had the low bid of $28,665 for construction of the aerator. Construction began in the fall of 1990. The well is 1,883 feet deep and the work was done by Wheeling Well Works. As part of the project, 17 new fire hydrants and several water mains were replaced.

Tucker Air Conditioning, Refrigeration & Heating, located at 105 W. Deer St., Odell, opened for business in December of 1989. Rick Tucker is owner of the business. Short Cut, located a 427 E. Hamilton St., Odell, opened for business in December of 1989. The business is owned and operated by Sharon Smith. Odell’s Village Board approved by a 4-2 vote a temporary five percent tax on all utilities at a meeting on Jan. 8, 1990. The utility tax was added to the gas, electric and telephone bills beginning in the spring. The temporary tax is expected to generate more than $37,000 and was earmarked specifically for paying the village’s share of a grant for the new water well project., and to fund the village’s share for installing a new radium removal system.

Hermie’s Place, located at 109 N. Front St., Odell, was opened for business in April of 1990. Owner Gene “Hermie” Fearman brings 10 years of lawn and garden business experience with him into his new venture.

Farmers Elevator Company, based in Ransom, reached an agreement to purchased Odell Grain and Coal, effective Aug. 1, 1990. Gordon “Hap” Dohleman, manager of Odell Grain and Coal, announced in June of 1990 that he would retire on Aug. 1. He began working a the business in 1962. Representatives of Farmers Elevator Company held a public meeting on June 14, 1990, to outline the operations. Creator’s Craft Corral, a new craft store in Odell, opened at 103 S. West St. in September of 1990. The store was operated by the Odell United Methodist Church with volunteers. Jean Mayo served as committee chairman to oversee the daily operations.

Home Variety in downtown Odell closed its doors on Monday, Dec. 31, 1990. The business was purchased by the Don Beck family from Lial Bockman in July of 1973. Pat Foley and Ruth Beck were employed at Home Variety since the change in ownership in 1973. Home Variety was a staple in the Odell business district for many years, providing customers with items ranging from stationery and cars to small appliances, knickknacks and crafts – a “Variety” of articles for the “Home.” Results of the 1990 census indicate that Odell has a population of 1,030. That compares to the 1980 census which showed Odell with a population of 1,083. Livingston County voters overwhelmingly supported the 9-1-1 emergency telecommunications proposal April 2, 1991, by a 5,034-1,518 margin. Demolition of Odell’s 40,000-gallon water tower, constructed in 1960, was completed on May 3, 1 1991.

Odell received a special award from the state as a result of hosting the Route 66 Motor Tour on Jan I8, 1991. The award, announced on July 8, 1991, was for volunteerism. The Route 66 Association of Illinois nominated Odell for the special Hometown Award.

Jason Wolf, 16, son of Dave and Cindy Wolf, rural Odell, won the state and national large plow contests in September of 1991, at the DuQuoin State Fair. He is the third generation of the family to accomplish such a feat, and set a record for being the youngest competitor to do so. Jason’s grandfather, Sonny, is a past national plowing champion, as is his aunt, Colleen, and uncle, Gary. Jason credited his grandfather for helping him prepare. The same four-bottom plow was used by the family members over the years. Jason competed in the world match in May of 1992, placing 47th among 56 competitors. He successfully defended his state and national titles in August of 1993 in competition at Chillicothe to qualify for the world match May 11-14, 1994, at New Zealand.

The sign on the front door states “The Best Pass Through This Door” and the proprietor is truly sincere in that belief. Therman Masters, owner of Masters’ Barber Shop, 107 S. Front St., retired in January of 1992 after about 40 years in the business. He had owned and operated the barber shop in Odell for the past 33 years. The Odell Village Board agreed Feb. 10, 1992, to enter into a lease agreement with Southern Pacific Railroad for Alton Park. The railroad officials stated to trustees they would be willing to lease Alton Park on the east side of the tracks in downtown Odell for an annual fee of $250. Naser and Maria Ahmedi purchased the Odell Wishing Well Cafe and completed extensive remodeling in 1992. John Stonecipher was inducted into the Route 66 Hall of Fame on June 13, 1992, at Dixie Truckers Home in McLean. Selection is based on the nominees’ historic ties to Route 66 and how well they illustrate the highway’s blend of character and community.

Katie’s Clothes opened June 25, 1992. The clothing store, operated by Katie Petreikis of Palos Heights, is located between Rentz’s Tap and Legner Insurance Agency. A wide range of clothes are in stock for men, women and children. The store also specializes in clothing for big and tall men. Ahrens Sundry Store, operated by Francis “Boom” Ahrens, on Waupansie St. closed in 1992. Ahrens started working at the store in 1934 after graduating from St. Paul High School. The store was operated by B.F. Johnson at the time. In 1954, Ahrens purchased the “dime store,” which sold everything from comic books, to candy bars, to cough syrup, to film, to newspapers. It also served as a local bus stop for over 50 years. Service discontinued in 1983.

The federal Community Development Assistance Program announced on Sept. 14, 1992, Odell will receive a $375,000 grant to replace undersized and deteriorating water mains over about 29 blocks in the village. The older mains have increased the number of disruptions in service. There have been 57 water main breaks in the village the past six years. U.S. Senator Paul Simon of Makanda heard a wide range of concerns from area residents at a town meeting in Odell on Dec. 16, 1992. More than 100 attended the open forum at the Odell KC Hall. Rentz’s Tap opened its new dining room addition in February of 1993. The room, located in the room which formerly housed the Sisters’ Shop and, more recently, Katie’s Clothes, seats up to 40 and is available for private parities.

A Certificate of Continuous Membership was presented to Lloyd Gutel on April 3, 1993, by repre-scotabves of Odd American Legion Post #666 Jim Erickson, Joe L. Verdun and Gerald Petersen. Gutel has been a member of the American Legion the past 70 years. The certificate was signed by national legion commander Roger A. Munson and national adjutant Robert W. Spanogle. Gutel served in World in 1918. He joined the American Legion upon his return to the states.

Pricilla’s Emporium opened for business in April of 1993. The business, operated by Lisa Blacker, is located in the former Beck’s Market building and carries antiques, collectables, greeting cards, books, crafts and other items. Poor Richard’s Tap & Dining now features a new room, opening in 1993. The room, situated on the east portion of the building, is available for various private and public functions, and is also used as a dining room to accommodate an overflow of customers. The room has a capacity of 78 people.

A request for development of a new subdivision along Second St. was approved by village trustees Nov. 9, 1993. The plan was submitted by Ralph Tissiere and included subdividing farm land on the north edge of the village into eight lots. Tim Grieff and Rich Grieff have each opened a new business in downtown Odell in 1993. Tim is owner of Grieff’s Exterior Services, and Rich is proprietor of Grieff’s Spot Free Car Wash. Both businesses are located at the comer of Hamilton and Waupansie streets, the former site of Uptown Sunoco.

Pontiac Township High School’s varsity football team whipped Waterloo 48-18 to win the state’s Class 3A championship on Nov. 26,1993, at Normal. Players on the team from the Odell area were Colin Stoeckel, Pat Vogt, Joe Cleary, Steve Gall, Jason Waldschmidt and Chad Welch. Mackinson Hardware closed in December of 1993. Raymond Mackinson had purchased the business from the W.C. Trecker Estate in August of 1942. The grand opening of Video Odell Plus was held Dec. 23, 1993. The new business is located in the building which once housed Home Variety. The store offers over 1,100 video taps for rental, as well as video games. Co-owners are Joe Ries and Mel Nielsen. Manager is Kathy Dunham.

A significant savings will result from a lease agreement approved May 9, 1994, between the village and the Odell American Legion. Village trustees voted to lease the Legion Baseball Field from Post #666 for $1 per year. The lease is for 10 years. There will be no charge for electricity at the field from Commonwealth Edison as a result of this lease, resulting in a savings by both the Legion and Odell Baseball Association. Jim Muir of rural Odell announced his retirement from the Livingston County board after 36 years of service. An open house in his honor was held Dec. 11, 1994, at Pour Richard’s. Fred, Jim’s father, served as Odell Township supervisor, which also included a county board seat, from 1930 to 1958 when he resigned due to his health. Jim assumed the post for the remaining two years of his father’s term. In 1961, Jim was elected to the post and held that county board seat ever since. A Cub Scout troop was formed in Odell in early January of 1995. Officers for Pack 11 are Tina Verdun, chairman; Chuck Hensen, cub master, Cathy Donner, achievement leader; Jeanne Cassady, public relations; Gail Allison, treasurer; Kathy Legner, den leader; Mary Becker, den leader; and Wayne Wilson, Tiger cub leader.

Part 7