Monken Balloon Fest Memories

Guest Blogger – Jan Monken

Monken Automotive and the Monken family  have been involved with the Centralia Balloon Fest since its inception over 25 years ago.

The Balloon Fest, held every year in August, has become a huge event since the first one that was held at Kaskaskia College.  Balloon Fest later moved to Foundation Park, east of Centralia, where it is still held today.  The Balloon Fest offers entertainment for all ages with the balloon glow and balloon races as the biggest events. Originally, the balloons only glowed Saturday evening, but now following the Friday night balloon race, the pilots will come back into the park and glow around the pond.

We have always sponsored a balloon, and as sponsors for the Balloon Fest, we get the opportunity to crew at each event.  Crewing a balloon can be hard work.  We recruit family, friends and employees to be our crew members/chase team.  Our crew members help set up the balloon for the race, chase the ballon, and help with the landing and packing it up.  Glowing is also hard work as the crew members hold on to ropes to help keep the balloon from going  up into the air.

Our first grandchildren to crew were Megan and Andrea, Kim( Monken) McMillan’s girls. I remember the first time they were old enough to fly with our pilot. The girls had so much fun the first time they rode in a hot air balloon, we could see their happy faces as they flew up over the fields and trees.

Then our grandchildren,  Katie Hartmann, Jalyn and Addison Monken became part of the Monken Chase Team.  They loved to get up at 5:00am to meet at the Bell Tower Inn for the pilot meeting. This is when the pilots are informed if the balloons will fly and where they will depart. The girls have all had the opportunity to fly up in a hot air balloon and loved every minute. This year, Megan and her family will be crewing. We are now starting the next generation to crew and fly!

In the past, Monken’s have also sponsored the pilot dinner.  One year Monken Automotive hosted the Friday evening dinner for all pilots, crew members, and sponsors.  Wearing his cowboy hat, Harold Monken, directed traffic on his horse. Some of the pilots remember that event well.

I also remember on one of the windiest evening while we were trying to hold onto the balloon during Balloon Glow, a large gust of wind came up.  We yelled for help and here came the “cowboy,” Harold, to help.  Well, Harold always thought ballooning was a piece of cake, but he found out real quick that it wasn’t as he was flipped on his back side real quick!
We have had the pleasure of having the balloonist, Bob Boswell, for many years. Bob was a paratrooper before he began ballooning. He has quit coming to our event, but he still has a balloon repair shop. Our next pilot Ken was a Fed Ex pilot, and flew balloons as a hobby.
For the past 4 years our pilot has been Jared Miller. Jared is a nurse anesthetist. We enjoy meeting and getting to know our pilots and their families.

Thanks to everyone that puts this event on every year. Happy ballooning to everyone!

The History of Monken Automotive

 

In the 1960’s

In the 60’s, W. Harold Monken was a partner with David Woolbright at the Standard Gas Station in Centralia. Harold was always the hot rodder spending much time improving his vehicles and racing them at night and weekends. His brother, Wayne Monken, and father, Walter Monken, helped build a small garage/dealership that opened as Car City on November 4th, 1967 on Shattuc Road west of Centralia.

In the 1970’s

In 1971, a Japanese gentleman from Datsun was canvassing the area to find a dealer partner to represent what is today known as Nissan. Harold was interested and the business later became Car City Nissan. The 70’s were a great time to own a dealership that offered inexpensive vehicles with great gas mileage. They sold the shiny Datsun vehicles as fast as they could get them.

In the 1980’s

In the 80’s, Harold recognized a dealership trend to become bigger in order to survive. He explored adding Chrysler when Booth Motors closed. In 1987, he flew to Chicago with his attorney, Bill Crain, to close the deal with Chrysler, but had a last minute change of heart. He ultimately sold Car City Nissan to his General Manager Mike Gansauer and Mike’s father in law, Bob Cleary. In 1988, Mike & Bob purchased Meier Chevrolet and moved from Shattuc road. The business was now Car City Chevrolet Nissan. Several prominent business partners, including the Geary Family and the Cooksey Family were investors.

In the 1990’s

In the early 90’s, Harold opened Car Country for a few years, and then worked for Jansen Chevrolet in Germantown. In 1996, Bruce Geary told Harold that they were ready to exit the auto business. Harold returned to Car City and asked Mike Jansen to be a business partner with him in order to purchase the dealership.

However, GM already had three dealerships in Centralia. They were Dobbs/Mahan Buick GMC, Car City Chevrolet and Seeburger Oldsmobile Cadillac. GM was strategically cutting dealers with a plan called Project 2000. GM only wanted two dealers in the Centralia market and wouldn’t approve the sale of Chevrolet. It took months to negotiate. Ultimately Chevrolet was sold to Seeburger, and Car City became Monken/Jansen Chrysler Plymouth Dodge Nissan on May 1,1997. Harold’s son, Wes Monken, joined a month later in June 1997 relocating from the Chicago area. Harold and Wes purchased out Mike Jansen in 1998 and dropped the name Jansen to become Monken Dodge Chrysler Plymouth Nissan. Later that year, Monken’s purchased the Jeep franchise from Dobbs/Mahan in Centralia.

2005 – Now

In 2005, discussions began about the Monken’s acquiring Dobbs/Mahan Buick GMC. The plan was to have Harold’s daughter, Kim Monken McMillan, run the dealership. In February of 2005, Harold was rushed to the emergency room. Our long term attorney, Marvin Miller, met us at the hospital to sign a Power of Attorney over to the family. This is how Kim learned that she was coming to work for the family! The purchase of Dobbs/Mahan Buick GMC was finalized in June of 2005. Harold had a significant leak on his mitral valve caused by an infection. He battled through three valve transplants, a stroke and ultimately passed away on July 22, 2006. With great patience and hard work, Wes and Kim found a way to make both stores thrive. In May 2014 Monken Buick GMC purchased Schmidt Chevrolet and relocated to their building across from Walmart to become Monken Chevrolet Buick GMC.

3 Tips About Your Credit Score

Monken Blogger – Lance Marcum

What is a credit score?
According to Credit Karma, “A good credit score is crucial for financial success. A credit score is a three digit number calculated from your data-rich credit report and is one factor used by lenders to determine your creditworthiness for a mortgage, loan or credit card. Your score can affect whether or not you are approved as well as what interest rate you are charged. A good credit score is generally considered to be 720 or higher. Lenders, however, can each have different standards for what they consider to be a good credit score, so it‘s important to keep building your score to receive the most favorable interest rates and highest rates of credit approval.”

unnamed
1. What does my credit score need to be to purchase a vehicle?
Generally speaking, if someone has a credit score under a certain level, they will need to have someone who is willing to co-sign with them. It’s difficult to assign a number as there are many variables that go into a credit score. A co-signer is someone that goes on the loan with the buyer. The person with the higher credit score helps the person with the lower score to get approved at a lower interest rate. Sometimes banks will require more money down from a buyer with a lower score in order to minimize the risk of both the buyer and the loan institution. As you can see from the chart above, 600 and above scores will generally get loans without the assistance of a cosigner. Banks also look at what is called “debt to income”. Ideally, they like to see that debt to income is below a certain percentage before approving the loan, regardless of credit score.

2. How do I find out my credit score?
If you have a credit card, they generally offer a free credit report when logging in to your account. Sites such as creditkarma.com also offer free credit reports that do not affect your score by showing up as an inquiry.

3. How can I improve my credit score?
A number of things will help to improve your credit score. Among them are making payments on time and getting rid of any collections that may be on file. In addition, opening a credit card and paying the bill in full each month helps to establish credit (for example, put all of your gas purchases on the card and paying it off at the end of the month). Discipline is the key to all of this. Spend less than you make and pay bills consistently and your credit score will generally improve.  It is important to remember that a great credit score isn’t necessarily an indicator of being in good financial standing, it could just mean that a person has lots of borrowed money that they pay consistently on.