Worth mayor hitting a rough patch in first year

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Page-1-2-col-wernerWorth Mayor Mary Werner studies comments allegedly tweeted by her relative that insulted Brittany Wawrzniak’s family during Tuesday’s board meeting. Photo by Jeff Vorva.One year ago, life was pretty good for Worth’s Mary Werner.


She experienced the elation of winning an election over an incumbent for mayor on April 9 and made history for being voted in as the first female mayor in the village. She was experiencing the excitement and anticipation of officially taking over and being sworn in on May 6.
Fun times.
Fast forward to today.
Not-so-fun times.
Werner is in the middle of a red-hot controversy regarding last November’s death of teenager Brittany Wawrzyniak. On Tuesday Wawrzyniak’s family and friends verbally attacked her for the second village board meeting in a row.
Last year at this time, Werner was getting ready to raise her right hand and take an oath to be sworn in as mayor. On Tuesday night, Rebecca Tully, Wawryzniak’s mother, was reading the oath back to Werner and calling the mayor out for what Tully thinks is not living up to that oath. And there has been some swearing from Brittany supporters toward the mayor the past two meetings.
At question is the way the police and village have handled the situation since the day the teenager died after either jumping or being pushed out of a car. Wawryzniak’s family and friends maintain they were lied to and not treated with respect. They also want answers. Village and police officials said they would not share details of the case until the investigation is complete and that could be for another eight to 10 months, Werner said.

Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: Although I wish we didn’t need it, Crisis Center turns 35

jeff column

There’s something about Mary’s story that brought
out some emotions on Friday night – including those of Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar.
The Crisis Center of South Suburbia celebrated its 35th anniversary with a bash at Parmesans Station in Tinley Park and among those on the guest list were Tokar and worth Mayor Mary Werner.
During a presentation, a video was shown about a woman they called Mary (last names are not used at the CC) who was abused and how her life was turned around for the good thanks to the Crisis Center.
“Something like that can reduce you to tears,” Tokar said. PAGE-3-3-col-with-jvcolThere was a lot of yelling going on at the last Worth board meeting regarding the police and village’s handling of Brittany Wawrzyniak’s death. Whether people supporting Brittany’s family will show up to Tuesday’s meeting is unknown. Photo by Jeff Vorva.
The video was only about five minutes long but it was powerful and inspiring. When it was over, Mary was presented with flowers and more eyeballs moistened. Tokar was moved to walk over and meet Mary and tell her of his admiration for her bravery.
The Crisis Center’s beginnings came about in this area. It started in Palos Park by Dianne Masters and spent some time being housed at a farm at Moraine Valley in Palos Hills before moving to its current digs in 1991.
Officials say they have helped more than 55,000 people over the years and currently have a staff of 40 people and 250 volunteers. One of those volunteers is Palos Park’s Barbara Najib, who has been with the organization 34 out of the 35 years.
“I saw a little squib in the paper about volunteering and I thought it was be a good way to give back to the community,” said Najib, a former court reporter in Chicago. “They started in the Community Center in Palos Park for a few years and then moved to Moraine.

Dynia is a Dynamo

  • Written by Claudia Parker


PAGE-1-4-col-heartsSarah Dynia is buried in some of her hand-sewn hearts that she makes and shares to kids and adults who can use a little comfort. Photo by Jeff Vorva.Stuffing, sewing and stitching add up to changing lives for Oak Lawn teen
 A little stuffing, sewing and stitchingPage-1-2-col-heartSarah Dynia poses with one of her hearts under a couple of photos of former White Sox reliever Matt Thornton, whom she met before a game when she was honored for her charity work. Photo by Jeff Vorva. has gone a long way to helping many people.

  Sarah Dynia of Oak Lawn, has the carefree spirit of a typical, 17-year-old junior who walks the halls at Mother McAuley High School.
  But when the bell rings to signify school is out, Dynia’s work in the community begins.
  For that enduring effort, she recently received the President’s Volunteer Service Award with a letter signed by President Barack Obama.
  She’s barely of the legal of 18 and already she can boast she is the founder and president of her own company — Stuffed Love.
  “Stuffed Love is dedicated to caring for others,” Dynia said. “We do this by making hand-stitched stuffed pillows in various shapes and sizes which we distribute to organizations and people. The scope of Stuffed Love is not limited; we help veterans, seniors, the developmentally disabled, homeless and sick children in hospitals.”
  The idea hatched from acts of kindness from her father, Mark.
  “When my dad would travel for work, he’d always send me a stuffed animal,” Dynia said. “As I clutched them, I felt loved. I wanted others to feel that. But I make it personal by hand-stitching them.”

Brittany’s family ready for calmer round 2 at Tuesday’s board meeting

  • Written by Bob Rakow


Family and supporters of Brittany Wawrzyniak will PAGE-3-2-col-TullyRebecca Tully and members of her family will return to Tuesday’s Worth Village Board meeting with more concerns about the death of her daughter. Photo by Jeff Vorva.gather once again Tuesday night at the Worth Village Board meeting to raise additional concerns regarding the 18-year-old girl’s death.
“We’re going. Whoever wants to go can go,” said Wawrzyniak’s mother, Rebecca Tully. “I’ve already had people texting me.”
This meeting could be calmer than the explosive first meeting between Brittany supporters and the board.
At the April 1 village board meeting, which moved to a larger venue, members of an angry crowd of approximately 200 people unleashed accusations and name calling on Worth Mayor Mary Werner, who repeatedly said she could not talk about the investigation.
Tully and other supporters repeatedly have said they understand that the details of the case cannot be discussed publically. Instead, they want Werner to signal that she’s confident in the police department’s handling of the investigation.

ComEd reps juice up their improvement plans in Oak Lawn

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Oak Lawn officials have unplugged a proposal to file a formal complaint against ComEd with Illinois Commerce Commission.
Village trustees discussed the possibility at Tuesday’s committee-of-whole meeting, but put the issue to rest after ComEd representatives outlined improvements made in 2013 and planned for the next two years.
“We do invest in Oak Lawn,” Katie Maier, ComEd’s manager of external affairs, told trustees.
Maier added that improvements include the area in the village’s 2nd District that has experienced several outages over the past several years, including one in mid March.
“That area is on our radar,” Maier said.
ComEd plans to bury an additional 8,700 feet of power lines in 2014 and inspect utility poles throughout the village the following year, Maier said.
Additionally, the company plans to continue tree trimming throughout the village and install several distribution automation devices, officials said.
“It seems to me you’re being more proactive,” said Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd), a long-time critic of ComEd.
Olejniczak, who asked the board to consider the ICC complaint, recapped on Tuesday several of the problems the village has experienced with ComEd, including a lack of preventive maintenance and inspections.
Trustee Mike Carberry (5th), who expressed support for ComEd at the March 25 village board meeting, criticized Olejniczak for his lengthy presentation.
“How long is this going to go on?” Carberry asked.
He added that he envisioned the new committee-of-the-whole meetings to be effective workshop sessions.
“I guess I want something productive,” Carberry said. “It’s not productive. It’s not making anything better.”

Olejniczak said he did not understand how resolving problems with ComEd was not productive.
“I didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘I’ve got an issue with Commonwealth Edison,’” Olejniczak said.
At a previous board meeting, Carberry rejected Olejniczak’s position that ComEd’s service is below average. He added that the utility has followed up when he’s filed complaints.

In 2015, Carberry added, ComEd plans to inspect each of the 6,900 utility poles in the village.