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Who knew the Russians love us?

  • Written by Kevin Coyne

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Reporter/Regional correspondent Kevin M. Coyne headed to the Olympics last week to watch his sister, Kendall, play a little hockey for the United States. The Palos Heights resident offers up some of his experiences in Sochi.

 SOCHI, Russia—I am at the world’s largest party.

Last week I arrived and in the first four hours of being in Russia I had a very attractive, elderly Russian rub the Team USA crest on my replica hockey jersey and said to me: “American.”  

She proceeded to speak Russian, gave me a hug and a kiss and asked for my American flag pin on my spectator pass—at least I’m assuming that’s what she wanted. After speaking more Russian she took a photo of a real life American.

That first experience really set the stage for what to expect from the Russians. Prior to the trip, I was told by numerous people to avoid wearing Team USA gear around Russia and if anyone asks where I’m from to say “Canada.”

 I’ve decided to disregard that advice and I’ve had not one issue with anti-American comments or being harassed. In fact, I’ve noticed the exact opposite. There are thousands of volunteers walking around Russia who are literally here to help spectators get to events.

One Team USA trainer told me about one Russian who served her breakfast and simply said “I love you, I am here to help. Do you want more pancakes?” She decided that she’s going to get pancakes every morning because this young Russian makes her morning complete.

So far I’ve met five time gold medalist U.S. speed skater Bonnie Blair, who was a guest of Stagg High School a few weeks ago.  I was able to get a quick photo with the beautiful, charming and talented Russian ice dancer Elena Llinykh, who won her first gold medal in Sochi.

Prior to the USA and Canada women’s hockey game, I spotted Detroit Red Wings head coach, Mike Babcock. As a Chicagoan and American I had to swallow my pride and get a photo with one of the winningest coaches in the NHL.

When I’m not meeting NHL coaches and gold medalists and taking photos with attractive Russian ladies, I’m taking photos of the beautiful scenery. It’s about 60 degrees here in Russia. It’s odd to see people sunbathing at the WINTER games.

SUBHEAD – Debunking some myths

Despite what you may hear about safety issues, Sochi is likely the safest place to be in the world. The thousands of very nice volunteers I mentioned early, yeah I was told they are all packing heat. You don’t see the stereotypical armed guards walking around with M4 weapons. In fact, I’ve yet to see a firearm in Russia.

The Russian police likely have a concealed firearm; however, the only weapon on their utility belt is an old school baton. The security is top-notch. Whenever a spectator bus leaves the station it’s inspected for bombs and when the bus is parked the driver wraps tape around the bus to prevent any tampering of the bus.

The next myth -- Russians are shooting stray dogs.

That’s false.

I will say, strays are all over the place—but most of them are sleeping. I was told the dogs are being tranquilized. Clearly, the Russians do not want thousands of dead dogs around the Olympic park.

The next topic people usually like to hear about is the food. Well, I can say that I’ve had hard-boiled eggs and French fries every morning for breakfast. I could however have hot dogs, cold cuts or what they call “chocolates balls,” aka Cocoa Puffs.

Other than the breakfast selection being strange to say the least, the food is delicious. The Russians have some really unique and tasty dishes.


Family says report shows Worth girl was drug free

  • Written by Bob Rakow

There were no drugs in Brittany Wawrzyniak’s system the night that she was killed, members of her family said Tuesday.

 

Family members said that on Monday, Worth police gave them a toxicology report on Wawrzyniak’s Nov. 8 death and that she was drug-free.

 

“Not one ounce. This is very big,” said Earl Lane, Wawrzyniak’s step-grandfather.

 

“It’s kind of nice to know it is black and white,” said Wawrzyniak’s mother, Rebecca Tully. “There’s a lot of people out there that don’t know. We’ve been saying all along that it [having drugs in her system] wasn’t the case.”

 

The family has not seen the rest of the autopsy report, Tully said. She does not know why it took more than three month for the information to become available.

 

News of the toxicology report was posted Tuesday afternoon on the RIP Brittany Wawrzyniak Facebook page.

 

Tully said the toxicology report substantiates her belief that her daughter did not take drugs.

 

“Finally the toxicology report has come back and there were no drugs in Brittany’s system, further securing the fact that she was there helping to arrange the meeting for the two girls,” the post said.

 

Wawrzyniak’s family believes the 18-year-old faked a drug buy at the Worth boat launch to arrange a fight between a friend and another girl.

 

Wawrzyniak died after she was ejected from the backseat of an alleged drug dealer’s car.

 

Cook County prosecutors allege that Wawrzyniak met Eric Steven Johnson at the boat launch near 115th Street and Beloit Avenue. She got into the backseat of his car and handed him $200 in exchange for 30 pills of Clonazepam.

 

Wawrzyniak began counting the pills while still in the backseat as Johnson drove away. She opened the door of the moving car, was ejected and struck the pavement, prosecutors said. She was pronounced dead at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn less than one hour later.

 

Wawrzyniak’s family wholeheartedly rejects the scenario, and believes there’s more to the story of Brittany’s death. Police have not commented further on the ongoing investigation.

 

Tully said the family’s next move is to meet with the Cook County State’s Attorney and learn more about the future of the case against Johnson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHATIZIT? 2-20-14

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

It was in the cards thatDR-COLOR-WHZ a healthy dose of WHATIZIT? wizards were back in form and guessed that last week’s photo was of a memory card for cameras.
Harrison Debre of Willow Springs was back in the saddle, ringing in first with the right answer after his three-week reign was broken last week.
Chicago Ridge’s Dana Oswald, Kelly Peterson and Patty Vandenberg, Evergreen Park’s Jan Merchantz, Henrietta Mysliwiec and Vince Vizza, Worth’s Mary Kurdziel, Sandy Joiner, Theresa and George Rebersky, E.J.Oahueke, Robert Solner and Celeste Cameron and Oak Lawn’s Steve Rosenbaum and Jane Foley were also right on.
And someone who not only forgot their hometown, but their name, too, got it right.
We had one wrong guess of a floppy disk.
This week clue: This hot button is on a “tower”-ing presence.
Send those guesses by Monday night to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and put WHATIZIT? in the subject line. Don’t forget your name and hometown.

Photo by Jeff Vorva.

Another close shave at Hannum

PAGE-8-3-col-shaveHannum School hosted its first ever St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser last year.  Nearly 50 students and adults shaved their heads, raising over $15,600. Submitted photo.Shave for a Cure is coming back to Hannum School this March. 
Hannum School hosted its first ever St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser last year.  Nearly 50 students and adults shaved their heads in solidarity with children who lose their hair due to chemotherapy.  The head shaving event raised more than $15,600 to help fund childhood cancer research.
This year’s event takes place at 6:30 p.m. March 14, in the school’s gym. This event is for students, teachers and their families. Shaving will take place at this event for those who register. 
Anyone can contribute by visiting our website at www.stbaldricks.org/events/mypage/9233/2014.
— Submitted by Hannum School

Palos hospital CEO departs after some 90 days in charge

  • Written by Tim Hadac

Palos Community Hospital’s new president and chief executive officer abruptly left his position last week, barely 90 days into his job.
While Edgardo Tenreiro has confirmed that he is no longer employed at the hospital, neither he nor hospital officials would indicate whether he resigned or was fired, or what the reason behind the sudden departure was.
Photographs of and references to Tenreiro have been stripped from the Palos Community Hospital website and Facebook page, including a photograph from earlier this month in which he helped accept a chamber of commerce award for the hospital, and a press release from last Oct. 9 that announced his selection as CEO.
In that press release, hospital Board Chairman Edward Mulcahy had said, “On behalf of the board of directors of Palos Community Hospital, I am very pleased that Edgardo has been selected to continue the proud tradition of service established by the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph. Mr. Tenreiro is highly qualified, and I am confident that our hospital and our community will benefit greatly from his leadership.”
Prior to his brief tenure at Palos Community Hospital, Tenreiro served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of General Health System in Baton Rouge, La.
At Palos Community Hospital, he succeeded Sister Margaret Wright, who had served at the hospital’s helm for more than three decades.
Last month, Tenreiro said in a Crain’s Chicago Business interview that the hospital has “been losing about $1 million to a couple million dollars a month. It is a challenge, no question about it. It’s a combination of our costs being too high and our revenue not being high enough. On the revenue side, we’re going to have to work much closer with our physicians to identify ideas for growth. Our labor productivity is not where we want it to be. You want to match your demand for the service with the labor that you have. In order to make that happen, you have to really focus on being lean and Six Sigma (a data-driven approach to measure quality), which are the tools that we’re going to be providing. You have to cut costs at the same time.”
A hospital official said Tuesday that it is too early to speculate on a timeline or details of a process to search for a new president and CEO.