If it's any consolation....

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Photo by Jamie Seed/NJCAA

Moraine Valley assistant coach Sean Mackey takes a selfie of the women's basketball team during nationals in Arkansas.


Moraine Valley Community College’s women’s basketball team’s quest for a national championship was dashed Tuesday, but the Cyclones can still bring some hardware back home.

Unlike some national tournaments, which are single elimination, the Cyclones will still be hanging around Harrison, Arkansas, for a few days as they compete in the consolation round of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Championships after dropping a 77-71 first-round decision to Kalamazoo Valley at Pioneer Pavilion.

The 10th-seeded Cyclones (16-18) are scheduled to play Lackawanna (Pa.) (19-11) at 9 a.m. today, Thursday in the first round of the consolation bracket. Lackawanna suffered a 72-44 defeat to No. 2 Johnson County.

Seventh-seeded Kalamazoo (29-3) raced out to a 25-12 lead after the first quarter and Moraine was able to close the gap to 51-48 after three quarters but could not pull it out.

As for most of the games in the past two seasons, the Cyclones were led by Mother McAuley graduate and Evergreen Park native Erin Drynan and Andrew graduate Michelle Borgen.

Drynan scored 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and notched two blocks and two steals. Borgen had 23 points and seven rebounds. Diamond Dortch and Krista Brill each had eight points.

The team stats were nearly identical in shooting percentage (Moraine was 39.7 percent to Kalamazoo’s 38.2), free throw shooting (Moraine had a 64.7-65.4 percent advantage) and rebounds (Kalamazoo had a 44-43 advantage). But the Cyclones were guilty of 26 turnovers, which led to 21 Kalamazoo points.

This was the first time the Cyclones qualified for nationals since 1989.

Even before the first basketball was bounced this season, coach Delwyn Jones had a good feeling about this team.

The dynamic duo of Drynan and Borgen and their ability to dominate inside, had the coach thinking big.

“I really feel that there’s no way we can’t go to nationals as long as we stay healthy,” Jones said dyring the preseason. “This team is just flat-out good.’’

On the court, they proved him right as the Cyclones won 31 of 33 games with their only losses coming to Triton (69-67) and Kankakee (83-74) and ran the table in the Skyway Conference.

But late in the season, the NJCAA ordered the forfeiture of 15 games for using ineligible players and the Cyclones were given a 4-8 mark in the conference and entered the nationals with a 16-17 record.

Jones called them “very minor infractions” and there was no intent to cheat.

He also said that the team was able to get through the disappointment of being stripped those victories and made it to the nationals.

“They have fought and have never given up,” Jones said. “We feel the world is against us and tried to take away some things we felt we earned legitimately.’’

The area has one other connection in the tournament.

Evergreen Park’s Megan Pfister, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, is playing for Kankakee Community College, which had a first-round game on Wednesday night. 


Kennedy vows to bring diversity to Illinois government

  • Written by Ray Hanania

chris kennedy photo 3-23

Photo by Steve Neuhaus

Christopher Kennedy, a Democratic candidate for governor, attended the Arab American Democratic Club event Sunday in Palos Hills.

Gubernatorial candidate Christopher Kennedy vowed Sunday at an annual Democratic candidate’s banquet to bring diversity back to the state of Illinois and include American Arabs if he is elected governor.

Kennedy was the keynote political speaker at the event hosted by the Arab American Democratic Club (AADC) that drew the attendance of more than 50 elected officials and officeholders in local municipal, county, state and federal government.

A theme of the evening was championing the rights of American Arabs and including American Arabs in local, county, state and federal government, as well as opposing national policies restricting the rights of immigrants.

“Immigrants are our neighbors, our friends. They are the architects of our famous buildings and they enrich our daily lives. Immigrants are the very fabric of our society, just as I am and just as all of you are. Immigrants are American. We shouldn’t stop them from becoming Americans,” Kennedy, the son of Robert Kennedy, told the more than 400 attendees at the Belvedere Chateau in Palos Hills.

“When we welcome new people into our lives and into our country we encourage new ideas and new ways of looking at old problems.”

Kennedy told Americans that the experience of his grandmother, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, taught her family the lessons of prejudice that Irish Catholics faced when she was a little girl.

“She described the signs hung above the back service doors of the restaurants that said N-I-N-A, ‘No Irish Need Apply’,” Kennedy recalled noting that though she was the mother of an American president, she was the daughter of Irish immigrants.

Attending the event were Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury and Worth Mayor Mary Werner. Some other mayors in attendance were Gerald Bennett, of Palos Hills, and Mike Howley (Hickory Hills), Dan McLaughlin (Orland Park), David Seaman (Tinley Park) and Steve Landek (Bridgeview), who is also the Democratic state senator from the 12th District.

The keynote speaker was Jim Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute based on Washington D.C. Zogby served on the platform committee for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), who urged Arabs to become involved in local politics, to vote and to be inclusive.

“As immigrants, we help America to be smarter, stronger and better,” said Zogby who reminded the audience that it wasn’t too long ago that American politicians who return money rather than accept donations from American Arabs to avoid be associated with a community engulfed in controversy.

“We bring a lot to this process,” Zogby said. “We are Americans. We have contributed to this society and continue to contribute to this country.”

Cong. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) also attended the event, along with Palos Committeeman Robert Maloney, Oak Lawn Trustee Bob Streit (3rd), who is a candidate for mayor; Paul Geller, candidate for alderman in Palos Hills; and Safaa Zarzour, candidate for Oak Lawn Community High School District 229 Board.

Samir Khalil, executive director of the AADC, said the group is proud that so many government officials attended the brunch.

“Arab Americans are actively engaged in our society and communities. We pay our taxes. We have served in the military to defend this country. We have our homes, families and businesses in these communities. It’s important that our elected officials recognize our needs along with the needs of others,” Khalil said.

Worth candidates address questions of residents

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

worth candidates photo 3-23

Photo by Sharon L. Filkins

The mayoral and trustee candidates forum in Worth drew a large crowd last week. Taking part in the forum were (from left) Randy Keller, candidate for mayor; Christopher Lesik, facilitator at the forum; Village Clerk Bonnie Price and Mayor Mary Werner.



Worth Mayor Mary Werner and her opponent, Randy Keller, talked about a variety of issues during a candidates forum held March 14 at the Worth Park District Terrace Centre.

Keller had served as mayor of Worth from 2009 to 2013. Werner defeated him in 2013.

Worth Village Clerk Bonnie Price was also present at the forum. She has been the clerk since 2001 and has served under three different mayors. She is a Certified Municipal Clerk and is running unopposed for a fifth term in the Tuesday, April 4 election.

Sponsored by the Chicago Ridge/Worth Chamber of Commerce, the event was designed for residents of Worth to have the opportunity to hear why the candidates were running and why they should be elected. A second goal of the program was also to provide residents with the opportunity to submit questions to the candidates. Over 100 people gathered for the event.

Up for re-election as trustees are incumbents Tedd Muersch, Jr., elected in 2013 and now seeking a second term, and Richard Dziedzic, who has served since 2009 and is seeking a third term.

Trustee Colleen McElory chose not to run in the April 4 election. Vying for the open position are candidates Brad Urban and Bahira Karim, both longtime Worth residents.

Chamber officials who were on hand for the forum were Bill Ritter, president; Christopher Lesik, the vice president who served as the facilitator of the forum; Ann Walsh, secretary; and directors Colleen Ritter, Kathy Jean and Jean Braun. They gathered written questions from the audience, and after reviewing them, selected 10 directed to all the candidates.

Several questions were directed only to Werner and Keller. The first question for the mayoral candidates was “What can you do better than your opponent?”

The question opened the door for Keller to hammer home his accusations that Werner was not communicating well with the people with her plans to eliminate a printed newsletter mailed to residents.

“I have heard from many residents that they miss the newsletter I had initiated, ‘It’s Worth Reading.’ It included stories about our residents and our businesses,” Keller said.

Werner countered that residents receive informational inserts with their water bills and that the village has updated and improved its website and Facebook pages to provide information to residents.

“Additionally, we have an open door policy at the Village Hall. Residents are encouraged to stop by and visit with me, or our Village Clerk Bonnie Price, to ask about anything they are concerned about,” Werner said.

Questions presented to all the candidates ranged from qualifications to serve and their opinion on term limits and Home Rule.

As for qualifications to serve, Dziedzic, who owns a retail store, said that a business sense is needed in order to deal with prospective businesses and what their needs are.

“I have that because I own my own business and I can apply that knowledge in my position as a trustee.”

Dziedzic oversees the Building, Licensing and Ordinances for the village.

“As for term limits, I don’t think they are necessary for our village. If residents don’t think we are doing our jobs they won’t vote for us again. It is pretty simple,” he said.

Muersch cited his experience in financial advising and family experience in running a restaurant as qualifications to serve. He oversees the Water’s Edge Golf Course, which has recently hired both a general manager and a food and beverage manager.

“We are doing exceedingly well in revitalizing the golf course and I look forward to seeing it become a valuable amenity in our village,” Muersch said.

Regarding term limits, Muersch said he agreed with Dziedzic.

“State-wide, they are needed, but I don’t think they are necessary in Worth. Residents decide if we are doing our job satisfactorily.”

Karim is a 27- year resident of Worth who has raised five children in the village and has been employed for 19 years at Worth School. She serves as a translator for the Worth Police Department and bases her qualifications to serve as trustee on her years of volunteer work for the village.

She has volunteered many years for Worth Days, worked on the Mosaic Project and helped plan the Centennial Celebration. She also worked on the Banner Program, encouraging businesses to purchase the banners to advertise their business.

Karim acknowledges that Worth is a diverse community and has seen many changes, but she is dedicated to encouraging people to become more involved with their community.

Her opponent, Urban, is a life-long resident of Worth who attended Worth schools. He has coached baseball, been a Scoutmaster, and is an officer at Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post, where he initiated the Thanksgiving and Christmas Days with Navy recruits from Great Lakes. He is a member of the Worth Lions Club, where he helps prepare and disperse gift baskets to the needy at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

He is retired after a 30-year career as an operating engineer and now wants to dedicate his time and energy to Worth. He said as a trustee, he would be available to meet with prospective businesses. Urban said he did not think term limits were necessary on a local level.

“If a trustee is not doing his job, residents will vote him out. We are your neighbors. What affects you, affects us,” Urban said.

At the end of the evening, several residents, who declined to give their names, complained that their questions had not been selected and that the questions had been slanted favoring one or more of the candidates.

In response, Bill Ritter explained that the staff had used three criterions in selecting the questions that would be asked.

“We eliminated duplicate questions, we did not use any that were personal attacks or were not pertinent to the election.”

Chicago Ridge candidates spar over issues

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

The six candidates running for three trustee seats in the April 4 election in Chicago Ridge batted a few accusations around while fielding questions from residents during a March 15 forum.

The Chicago Ridge-Worth Chamber of Commerce hosted the event in the Chicago Ridge Village Hall, with Vice President Christopher Lisek asking questions submitted by audience members. Much of the discussion focused on the importance of attracting new businesses, as well as contentious issues such as pension spikes, and outside campaign influences.

The three trustee candidates on the Results Now ticket led by mayoral candidate Fran Coglianese are incumbents Bruce Quintos and Amanda Cardin, and newcomer Scott Schaal, a retired Chicago Ridge police officer now handling security at Palos Hospital.

Quintos retired from the Cook County Sheriff’s Police as field operations commander in 2003, the day before he was elected to the village board. Cardin, running for her second and, she said, last term, works with children with special needs, and the Professional Development Advisory Council.

Facing off against them were current Village Treasurer Deb Pyznarski and Ed Kowalski, both running informally with incumbent Mayor Chuck Tokar on the Taxpayers First slate. Independent Lisel Kwartnik, a grant administrator with the Chicago Association for Research and Education in Science, is also running

Besides being village treasurer, Pyznarski is senior general manager of Lincoln Property Co., while Kowalski is business development manager of ServPro in Evergreen Park. Pyznarski’s husband, Rob, is the Chicago Ridge chief of police, and she said she would recuse herself from votes involving her husband’s job.

While all six candidates agreed that bringing new businesses and their tax revenue is important to the village, the Results Now team wants to focus on businesses without video gaming.

“Chicago Ridge is a great place to live and grow, but many people I have spoken to are concerned about the number of vacant storefronts and vacant lots,” said Kwartnik.

Pyznarski and Kowalski said the opposition to video gaming on the village board has resulted in lost revenue when several prospective businesses were turned away because they wanted gaming. She said that preventing it could pose a problem when trying to attract restaurants and entertainment to the vacant Yellow Freight property on Harlem.

“What I am against is the gambling cafes. The more we have, the more they change the look of the village,” said Cardin. “We also need to build public-private partnerships in order to turn some of the apartments in the village into senior housing.”

The Results Now slate support term limits, which perhaps could be decided by referendum.

Cardin said a second term would be her last, and Schaal said he isn’t thinking beyond the first term yet. Quintos, who is running in his fifth election, said this would be his last campaign. His first term was for two years, followed by three four-year terms.

“We already have term limits, called elections,” said Pyznarski. Kowalski said term limits are “a buzz word” used without putting thought into how it would work.

Kwartnik noted that term limits would have prevented the late Eugene Siegel from accomplishing as much as he did as mayor for 34 years.

Schaal said he was the whistleblower on the employee pension spikes, which came to a head in 2010 when Police Chief Tim Baldermann and Deputy Chief Dennis Kapelinski retired. Under a 2005 village ordinance that offered police administrators a buyout, they were given a 20 percent salary increase on their last day to boost their pensions. Pension spikes are no longer allowed and the pensions were recalculated following an Illinois Appellate Court ruling in 2015. But the issue was raised in the campaign, in part because Pyznarski was the treasurer at the time.

When she was asked at the forum why she signed village documents related to the police officials’ pensions, she said it was done “under duress.” She explained that she felt pressured by the police officials, since her husband was an officer at the time, and thought both their jobs may be on the line.

Quintos was the only current trustee in office at the time, and was criticized for his vote approving the spikes. He said he regrets that vote, but felt the pension board received bad advice from the law firm of Odelson and Sterk during that period.

The issue came to the forefront again when Tokar appointed Burt Odelson as village attorney, against the will of five trustees, including Quintos, Cardin and Coglianese. Although Odelson & Sterk settled a claim about the issue, Tokar pointed out that Illinois Department of Insurance has found the firm did nothing wrong. A ruling is thought to be imminent on a lawsuit filed by Tokar against the trustees to determine whether the mayor has the authority to appoint the attorney without board approval.

The alleged involvement of Cook County Commissioner Ed Moody in the Results Now campaign was also questioned at the forum. All the candidates were asked if Moody, who lives in Chicago Ridge, was contributing to their campaign.

Kowalski and Pyznarski asserted that Moody visited their neighbors, and pressured them to post Results Now signs rather than their own.

“This is a great place. It always has been. Chicago Ridge is not a ward of Chicago,” said Kowalski, referring to Moody’s ties to House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-22nd). Moody, who is stepping down as Worth Township Highway Commissioner, grew up in Madigan’s 13th Ward base in Chicago.

Kowalski described himself as “a common-sense person” without political ties or allegiance to anyone. “I don’t believe in pitting neighbor against neighbor.”

“He supports our campaign. I don’t see anything wrong with that,” said Schaal about Moody. “He is not affiliated with us but he does support us.”

Cardin said Moody is her neighbor, and having a Cook County commissioner in the village could helpful.

“I am friends with Ed. I haven’t taken any funds from Ed. He is a friend to all of us,” said Quintos.

Evergreen Park candidates stress commitment to community

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins


Voters in Evergreen Park will see familiar names on the ballot in the April 4 election as the mayor, village clerk and two trustees are running unopposed. A third trustee position is open with one candidate running.

Seeking re-election is Mayor James Sexton, Village Clerk Cathy Aparo and incumbent Trustees Carol Kyle and Mark Phelan. The one new name on the ballot is Norm Anderson, running to fill a trustee position that opened when Daniel McKeown stepping down.

Running unopposed seems to be the norm in Evergreen Park. Aparo, who was elected in 2001, attributes it to Sexton.

“It is a testament to the mayor because of all the good things he does for the village,” she said.

She cited the recent economic growth spurred by the re-development of the Plaza at 95th and Western Avenue, and added that there have been many improvements being made to make the village more attractive for businesses and residents.

Aparo has been with the village since 1984 when she started in the office of the public works department.

“I never dreamed that I would one day be the village clerk,” she said. She added that it is an honor and privilege to serve the people in our village. ”Every day it is a pleasure to be able to help our residents. It is a very special atmosphere. Many of us here at the village have lived here all of our lives, we grew up together, went to school and church together, and now are working together to serve our village.”

One of the longest serving trustees up for election is Carol Kyle. She has served in the position for 29 years. Her father, Robert Norris, was a trustee and when he died in 1988, she filled out the remainder of his term and has served ever since.

“I have chosen to run again because I believe my chapter in the history book about the village isn’t complete and I still have much to offer,” Kyle said.

She said the most satisfaction for her as a trustee is attending village functions or participating as a volunteer.

“The look on the children’s faces, the residents’ gratitude for the event and the enormous crowds that show up makes me realize that all the planning, meetings and discussions are worth it,” Kyle said.

She serves as chairman of the Recreation Youth and Citizen Services Department and one of her future goals as a trustee is to investigate the possibility of installing a splash pad in one of the village parks.

Incumbent Trustee Mark Phelan is also a veteran board member with 14 years of service.

“I enjoy being a trustee for the village and I am honored to be a public servant. As a trustee and chairman of the public works committee, I believe it is important to always strive to make our village a better place to live. I am proud of all the improvements in our village, the businesses that have joined our community, the great parks our residents enjoy and all the wonderful services available to our residents.”

His future plans for his term is to look for opportunities to make the parks and recreational services better equipped to serve the youth with additional programs for pre-kindergarten and teens. He said he would also like to explore the possibility of providing some form of senior housing in the village for elderly residents.

While Anderson’s name is new on the ballot, he is not new to Evergreen Park. He has been a resident for 50 years and has served as a fire and police commissioner for the last 17 years. He is currently chairman of the commission.

“I feel that I know the village extremely well and understand the needs of its residents,” Anderson said.

One of his goals as a trustee is to continue to support the Fire and Police Departments, to bring further awareness of their importance to the community and to ensure the safety of the residents.

Additionally, he would like to follow through with the final stages of the redevelopment of the Evergreen Plaza with fully-occupied stores.

“I will also work towards keeping our village viable and our property values strong by supporting our building and zoning ordinances,” Anderson added.