Of One More @ Oak Hill & misguided folks

Rambling through central Illinois, getting angrier with raccoons every day.

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Food served in Oak Hill has been an on-and-off mainstay for generations. It’s on again.
Russ and Janice Nash of Elmwood now own the Oak Hill tavern that has fed many over the years. They reopened a month ago for a trial run and, with things now in order, the grand opening of One More @ Oak Hill is Saturday from noon until closing.

“We wanted to get everything going well before we had an official grand opening,” said Russ, who retired from Hein Construction five years ago. “So far, we haven’t had a single complaint about the food.”

That’s a very good start. It helps that the menu is simple: pizza and chickens wings (boneless or bone-in) and cold beer.

On a recent outing, we sampled the deluxe pizza and sweet BBQ wings. Cursed to be with two hungry boys, we barely had any leftovers to take home. Russ said the Gigi’s Pizza is popular. Maybe next time. Same with the Buffalo wings, which Dave Gorham says are good but “hot.”

One thing you won’t see on the table are the cheese crocks that gained fame when Ron Jenkins was packing them in at Oak Hill.

“The health department will not allow that any more,” Russ said.

But hey, if you need something cheesy, Russ has some of his famous catfish-catching Hoss’s Hawg Bait outside in his truck.

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Once upon a time here in Elmwood, a skulk of foxes moved into the cemetery and raised a family. Road-kill vanished in town and the population of rabbits and feral cats declined – all of which seemed like positive developments.

Though there was food aplenty for the foxes, some “well-meaning” folks started feeding them. And that’s when problems started. Foxes started approaching schoolkids at recess. Some even ventured onto the track, located just south of the cemetery.

The foxes lost their fear of people due to all the feeding and got too close to some kids. Powers that be deemed something had to be done, so the foxes were trapped.

It’s a common story. Feeding lets people see critters up close. But it also makes animals too comfortable with the humans they naturally avoid.What follows is often bad.

Often, the problems are encountered by neighbors of those feeding the wild animals, who suddenly discover raccoons or opossums in their garages or attics.

Concentrating critters is not a good idea, particularly at a time when raccoon numbers are already at a high and disease could be coming.

In the case of the foxes, they wound up getting “relocated.” The same often happens to raccoons that become nuisances.

So please think before you put out a pan of cat food – even if you intend the kibble for a feral cat it may wind up in the gullet of some other animal.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking, “Those critters are not here in town.” They are. Last Tuesday, the oldest boy called, which scared me, since phone calls are often accompanied by, “There’s something wrong with the car.” Not this one.

“Dad, a deer just ran down our street.”

Nate Graves of Elmwood later confirmed he saw a deer that same afternoon, several blocks away.

For me, deer are an enjoyable anomaly here in town. Not so raccoons. Or possums. Or coyotes. They belong in the wild. Don’t feed them. They will fare fine on their own.

Parting shot: Speaking of critters, baby animals don’t need your help, either. Don’t assume the fawn you find is abandoned. In fact, assume the opposite. The mother left the fawn on purpose and she will be back. Consider the case of the bison calf “rescued” last week in Yellowstone National Park. Park staff ended up shooting the newborn bison, which was shunned by its herd after being handled. Leave them be.

Contact Jeff Lampe at (309) 231-6040 or jeff@wklypost.com