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Plans for multi-town drainage plan underway

  • Written by Kelly White

  Palos Hills is joining forces with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), Cook County and two nearby communities to develop a master storm water drainage plan for a five-mile stretch of Roberts Road.

  The city joined the MWRD and representatives from Bridgeview, Hickory Hills, Justice and Cook County Highway Department last Thursday at a kick-off meeting in Palos Hills to discuss a proposed drainage plan for Roberts Road from 71st Street to 111th Street.
  But Palos Hills and Hickory Hills residents shouldn’t get too excited just yet. It could be a decade before a Roberts Road storm water system is installed, thereby resolving many of the flooding issues that affect both towns,
said Larry Boettcher, Hickory Hills’ director of public works.
  But Boettcher and Hickory Hills Mayor Mike Howley lauded the MWRD for employing a regional approach to solve the Roberts Road flooding problems, which also plague Justice and Bridgeview.
  “They’re looking at the bigger picture,” Howley said.
  Previously, individual communities examined ways to solve flooding issues, but such an approach could have a negative impact on neighboring towns, Boettcher said.
  “Engineering studies have shown the main drain under Roberts Road is undersized and drainage improvements are necessary,” Palos Hills Public Works Commissioner Dave Weakley said at last Thursday’s city council meeting.
  The MWRD and the Cook County Highway Department are addressing all concerns and working to develop a comprehensive plan that addresses the storm water drainage needs of the communities residing along Roberts Road, Weakley said.
  Meanwhile, the Palos Hills Public Works Department recently completed two water main replacement projects, Weakley said. Fifty feet of deteriorated water main was replaced at Winter Park and Sun Valley drives and another 50 feet was replaced at Cottonwood and Chestnut drives.
  “The maintenance work was in response to numerous water main failures at both locations,” Ald. Martin Kleefisch (1st Ward) said.
  Two leaks were located on 74th Avenue—one 104 Street and the other at 105th Street—were rather large and finding their way into the sanitary sewer system. The other two leaks were the result of fire hydrants that were not fully closed, Weakley said.
  Weakley reported at previous city council meetings that there was a hidden water leak in the city’s system, and a water leak detection company was brought in to survey the system and locate the leaks. Four water leaks were detected and repaired, he said.
  Weakley said his department also has responded to concerns about poor storm water drainage at 102nd Street and 78th Avenue by clearing overgrown vegetation and debris from the east ditch line along 78th Avenue from 101st Street to 102nd Street, he said.
  “After completing an elevation survey of the area, it was determined that clearing the ditch was the best approach to improving storm water conveyance throughout the area,” he said.
  During the clearing process, public works crews discovered a beaver dam in Lucas Ditch Extension, east of 78th Avenue and north of 103rd Street, which also contributed to poor storm water drainage in the area. The MWRD was contacted and trapping of the beavers was been requested.
— Bob Rakow contributed to this report

Kortz in session — so is high school football

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Richards assistant football coachPAGE-1-COLOR-2-col Jeff Kortz tries to slow down running back Romeo Johnson with a towel during the first day of football practice on Monday in Oak Lawn.

  Once they hit the field, there may be no slowing down the Bulldogs in their quest to win a Class 6A state championship. Last year, the Bulldogs finished second and return some talented skill players including Johnson, who had seven carries for 97 yards in a 34-14 loss to Batavia in the state championship game in 2013.
  Jeff Vorva’s story looking at some of the early-season storylines for the 2014 campaign, which begins Friday, Aug. 29 and photos from Richards and Chicago Christian’s first-day practices can be found in sports. Photo by Jeff Vorva.

The so-called ‘meanest man in pro football’ dies

  • Written by Tim Hadac

Former Bear and Chicago Ridge bowling

alley owner Ed Sprinkle passes at age 90

Ed Sprinkle, a longtime resident of Palos Park and recently of Palos Heights who once owned a bowling alley in Chicago Ridge and widely acclaimed as one of the greatest football players in Chicago Bears history, died July 28. He was 90.
Mr. Sprinkle played as a right defensive end for the Bears from 1944 to 1955, earning the nickname “The Claw” for his ability to use his strong left arm against blockers and quarterbacks. He was named all-pro seven times and played in four Pro Bowls — in 1951, 1952, 1953 and 1955.
In a hardscrabble era of NFL football, he was known as a tough guy among tough guys, even getting tagged with a “meanest man in football” nickname by some—a designation Mr. Sprinkle and others close to him disputed.
“I don’t know where it started. I hit guys. I never stood around. Sometimes they interpreted that as being mean instead of being tough,” Mr. Sprinkle said in a 2012 interview with The Regional News. “Halas tried to defend me. He said I wasn’t a dirty player. I was mean as everyone out there.”
“His name is legendary. I’ve heard all the stories of the Monsters of the Midway, but I knew him as such a nice guy, such a gentleman. Hard to equate the legend with the man I know,” said Brian McCaskey, senior director of business development of the Chicago Bears and son of owner Virginia McCaskey, in 2012
In that same Regional News article, Mr. Sprinkle admitted to some run-ins with other players, including future Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula.
“I came around and hit him pretty good,” he said. “He said something, so I said, ‘If you want to stand around and watch the game why don’t you buy a ticket and sit in the stands?’”
Outside of football, he was a local businessman who owned a tile business on Southwest Highway, as well as a small bowling alley in Chicago Ridge on 111th Street and Oxford Avenue.
He was active in local affairs. He was a member of the Palos Lions Club and coached youth football and baseball, according to his daughter, Susan Withers, a banking executive and past president of the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce.
“My dad was tough on the field, because he had to be,” she recalled. “Everywhere else, he was kind and understanding. He wouldn’t just give orders, he would talk to you, explain things.”
“He was far more than a wonderful father,” Withers added. “He was a good friend. He was good with kids.”

She's history

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 

Her broken down car leads to curator’s love of Worth history

Colleen McElroy had never heard of Pag1-1-3-col-Coleen-for-Aug-14Colleen McElroy, shown at an outdoor board meeting earlier this summer in which board members dressed up in period pieces, has been synonymous with Worth history for years. Photo by Jeff Vorva.Worth until her car broke down in the Friendly Village 14 years ago.

“My ‘check engine’ light’ went,” recalls McElroy, who was returning home to Chicago from Orland Park, where she and her husband, Mike, had visited relatives.
McElroy and her young family lived on the Southwest Side of Chicago at the time, but less than a year after her car broke down, they bought a home in Worth.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“Things happen for a reason,” said McElroy, a member of the village board and the curator of the Worth Park District Historical Museum.
McElroy immediately got involved in her new community by joining the library board. She volunteered at the Worth Park District, where she oversaw programming. She moved to the museum when the curator position opened up five years ago.
McElroy, the mother of four, has a degree in history from Northern Illinois University and a passion for small town history, she said.
Overseeing the Worth Historical Museum fits the bill.
“I am very proud of where the museum is at today,” said McElroy, who spends about 22 hours week at the facility, which is located inside the Terrace Centre, 11500 S. Beloit Ave.

Hashing it over

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 

Area towns listen to medical marijuana pitches

A medical marijuana clinic may never open its doors in Chicago Ridge or Oak Lawn, but officials in both communities are hashing out their thoughts on the possibility.

 

One week after Chicago Ridge officials heard a presentation from an attorney whose investment group wants to locate a marijuana dispensary in the village, Oak Lawn village board members on Tuesday discussed the issue at a committee meeting.
“We need to get some sense of direction on where we’re going with this,” Mayor Sandra Bury said. “Just about every district has one little pocket that would qualify.”
The dispensaries will be heavily regulated by the state. For example, they cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare center or located in a residential area. State law allows communities to enact reasonable zoning ordinances further regulating the location of dispensaries.
Chicago Ridge approved regulations that would prohibit a dispensary from locating within 1,000 feet of a park or a recreational facility.
Oak Lawn Village Attorney Pat Connelly said the village would be able to rely on its zoning regulations to restrict the location of dispensaries.
“There are numerous zoning tools at your disposal,” Connelly said.
Oak Lawn officials did not make any decisions regarding zoning, deciding instead to let the planning and development commission take up the decision at its Aug. 18 meeting.
Last week, Chicago Ridge officials heard a presentation from Steve Weisman, who heads an investment group interested in two potential locations in the village.
The locations—one on Southwest Highway, the other on Harlem Avenue—both meet state and village zoning restrictions. Weisman’s group must choose a location before submitting an application with the state, he said.
Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar pointed out that communities cannot prevent a dispensary from setting up shop, and trustees expressed few reservations about one locating in Chicago Ridge.
But Trustee Bruce Quintos on Tuesday said the village should not consider a dispensary without first gauging residents’ opinions on the proposal. He’s also is miffed that he was not informed of Weisman’s proposal before the board meeting.
Weisman told Chicago Ridge trustees that his group would not seek locations in towns “where we’re not wanted.”
Other communities in the area made it clear they were not interested in adding a medical marijuana dispensary to their business community, Weisman said.
Quintos, a former undercover narcotics officer, said he has other concerns about a dispensary clinic in the village including patients selling some their marijuana.
Oak Lawn Police Chief Mike Murray also expressed security concerns; especially because the dispensaries only accept cash and patients could be robbed.
“The amount they are allowing for sale is considerable,” Murray said.
“I think there’s going to be a problem with the clientele other than the sick people,” Oak Lawn Trustee Terry Vorderer said.
Weisman addressed some of the security concerns at last week’s meeting in Chicago Ridge.
He stressed that the clinics would be heavily regulated by the state, including implementation of a security plan and dispensing medical marijuana only to approved clients.
“The state’s requirements are incredibility rigorous,” he told trustees. “This is truly medicine. This is a business.”
The state’s medical cannabis act took effect on January 1. The law allows the used of marijuana by individuals who have a medical need and a permit. Qualifying patients must be diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition. A qualifying patient can obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.
Illinois is expected to begin taking applications for 60 medical marijuana businesses in September. Those who want to want to apply must have “an application pinned down,” said Weisman, an attorney for Kirkland and Ellis.
Weisman’s group plans to submit five applications. They decided to include Chicago Ridge as a potential location when they learned village officials were not opposed to the idea, he said.