Small Illinois town has fund to help stranded travelers

OKAWVILLE, Ill. (KSDK) - In Illinois, IDOT has 165 trucks working to clear the roads Tuesday night into Wednesday, but one town has a plan to help you if you find yourself stuck in the snow.

The Washington County Sheriff's office says they've had more than a dozen accidents due to the snow the road conditions Tuesday evening.

If you get stranded around the Okawville, Ill. area you may be in luck. You will get a police escort to a historic hotel and if you can't pay for a room for the night, the town will put you up and give you a hot meal.

"Welcome to small town America, it's not Mayberry, but it is small," Okawville Police Chief Stephen Millikin said.

The town of Okawville has a tradition for people like Frances Ganzekaufer.

"It's complete white-out conditions coming in, I have a four wheel drive, but I still didn't feel safe when a truck came really close to me," says Ganzekaufer.

For the night she and her daughter are off the snow packed roads and safe inside a small town hotel.

Four rooms at Okawville's "The Original Springs" hotel are taken Tuesday night due to the storm.

Some came on their own like the Ganzekaufers, others were brought in by the police chief.

"When they are off the road out there and there is a no-tow policy you have to bring them somewhere, I will not let them stay with their car, I just refuse that," the Chief said.

He says there's a tradition in town of bringing stranded motorists to this historic hotel and if need be using what they call the "transient fund."

"It's donations from the people of town and if somebody needs a hand we put them up here at the hotel and it comes out of our pocket and not theirs," he said.

"I think its cool, I think more people should just get off the roads and have the sensibility because it wasn't fun out there," Ganzekaufer said.

A spokesperson for IDOT says the Wednesday morning commute may be a little rough, but they will have crews out throughout the night working on the road conditions.

Just remember to give yourselves plenty of time to get to your destination and leave the road crews plenty of space to do their jobs.


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