Gin Blossoms head Staggapalooza

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Stagg High School is throwing an all-day Staggapalooza bash Saturday to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
  The day will start at 8 a.m. with a craft fair and 5K run and end with a concert headlined by the Gin Blossoms followed by an 8:30 p.m. fireworks show at the athletic stadium.
  In late 1980s, Gin Blossoms started to grow a following in Phoenix and its jangle-pop sound was evolving during radio’s diverse mix of hair bands and grunge music superstars like Nirvana. After the Phoenix New Times chose it as the citys best rock band, it qualified to play at the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin Texas in 1989. That same year, College Music Journal dubbed it as the “Best Unsigned Band in America” and added an invitation to perform on MTV’s New Music Awards in New York City.
  Taking its name from a caption on a W.C. Fields photo, Gin Blossoms signed a record deal with A&M and recorded its first EP “Up And Crumbling” in 1991. But, it was not until its breakout record “New Miserable Experience” in 1992 that its rise to fame began.
  “New Miserable Experience” kept the band on the charts for almost three years with singles “Hey Jealousy,” “Allison Road,” “Until I Fall Away,” “Mrs. Rita,” and “Found Out About You.”
  The schedule of events for the day:
  8 a.m. —5K Race Registration
  9 a.m. —5K race begins
  8 a.m.-5 p.m. — Craft fair on south side of campus
  9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. — Pancake Breakfast in Commons
  9 a.m. to noon — Vendor Fair in Charger Gym
  11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Main stage performances in stadium
  11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. — Food vendors
  5:00 to 8:30 p.m. — Gin Blossom Concert in Stadium
  8:30 to 8:45 p.m. — Fireworks
  There are various price ranges for the event including a $3 half-day pass and a $10 mega all-day pass.

Chafee a big wheel in basketball circles

  • Written by Claudia Parker

PAGE-1-color-ella1Even though she is holding a WNBA ball signed by the Chicago Sky, Ella Chafeew of Oak Lawn is a new member of the NWBA Hall of Fame. Photo by Jeff Vorva.
When the National Wheelchair Basketball 
Association announced its Class of 2014 into the NWBA Hall of Fame, Ella Chafee of Oak Lawn rolled her eyes in surprise and her wheelchair up the platform to accept. 

Chafee graced the ballroom stage at Louisville, Kentucky’s Crowne Plaza April 5 for the official ceremony of induction. The NWBA Hall Of Fame began in 1973.
“I’m one of only 11 women to receive this honor over 41 years.” she said
Chafee is known by her peers as a pioneer in the development of the Women’s Division of the NWBA. Her affiliation and longevity in wheelchair basketball is considered legendary by many.
“Back in 1980, the NWBA didn’t have a women’s team,” she said. “I wanted to play, so I started my own.”
The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago became the team’s official sponsor. Today that team is known as RIC Sky.
“When we first started, we had six players, just enough to have a sub. Let me tell ya, I played a lot of minutes,” she said.
Chafee said she has been a lifelong lover of sports.
At the age of six she contracted an acute viral infection known as polio, causing asymmetric paralysis. Only her legs were affected. Polio, however, couldn’t stop her.
“I’m a natural born tomboy. As a child, my first love was playing baseball,” she said. “I had a runner but I did my own hitting.”
She’s also pretty good in the water, too.
Chafee held national records in the 50-yard backstroke, winning two world records in swimming.
She also broke records in 800- and 1500-meter track events. She was selected for eight major international competitions, the Stoke Mandeville Games, Pan American Wheelchair Games, and three Paralympics over the span of three decades.
She also was one of the initial female marathoners and participated in the Boston Marathon in 1979, was the founder of the Chicagoland Area Women’s Wheelchair Sports Association, and is a USA hall of fame recipient for Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports.
Robert Syzman, of Morgan Park, is an associate professor of health, physical education and recreation, at Chicago State University and an inductee of the NWBA Hall of Fame. He served as a coach to Chafee and countless others and introduced Chafee during the hall of fame ceremony.
“The hall of fame committee found Ella suitable after a forensic search of the Chicago Charmers, RIC Express, and RIC Sky rosters yielded numerous names of young women whose wheelchair basketball careers began at her insistence,” he said “I believe Ella’s path to achievement was accelerated while she was an undergraduate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, working with her proclaimed mentor, Tim Nugent and her coach, Stan Labanowich.”
 The U of I has one of the best divisions for disability resources and educational services in the nation. Syzman said,
“Ella was surrounded by some of the finest wheelchair athletes of the day. It made her a versatile athlete.”
Due to her success, the University of Illinois Delta Sigma Omicron, Alpha Chapter presented Chafee with the prestigious Harold Scharper Lifetime Achievement Award.
 If you ask Chafee, she’s modest about her accomplishments and her induction speech was concise. She joked, “I would’ve said more but Bob stole my thunder.”

Hickory Hills - Facelift could keep cops away

  • Written by Kelly White

The city of Hickory Hills is hoping to benefit from some apartment makeovers beginning this summer. The apartments, located on 87th Street from Roberts Road to 85th Court have been the homes to previously neglectful residents, resulting in the area being more heavily patrolled by marked police cars on a daily basis, city officials said. 

In May, 2013, Police Chief Alan Vodicka gave an update on the increase in request for police services and escalated acts of violence in the vicinity of those multi-family dwellings.
Associated Real Estate Group representatives were on hand at last Thursday’s meeting and said they are ready to solve the problem. The group plans to renovate 48 apartment units, refinishing them with new kitchens, new bathrooms, front porches and even new a new parking lot.
There are 10 residents still residing in the 87th Street apartments, claiming ten of the 48 units to be renovated. The Associated Real Estate Group is hoping for the building to become vacant before beginning renovations.
“We are excited to be here and to work with the city,” said Bane Simic on behalf of the group. Simic said the group has 122 units in its portfolio that it manages.
“We are a very young and energetic company and we are willing to work hard for the best result.” Simic said.
Hickory’s building commissioner John Moirano said he is excited to be working with The Associated Real Estate Group and spoke highly of them. Mayor Mike Howley said he is looking forward to the apartment renovations. “It will be a nice improvement here in the city,” he said.

Not an e-waste of time

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Spartan athletes collect large electronics from seniors

A group of Oak Lawn CommunityOL-E-WasteOak Lawn Community High School Athletic Director Kevin McKeown poses with the students who participated Saturday in the village’s first e-waste pickup. Students removed e-waste such as televisions from the homes of several seniors who otherwise would have trouble disposing of the items. Another e-waste pickup is scheduled for October. Submitted photo. High School student-athletes spent Saturday morning taking large electronics off the hands of seniors in the community.
The first e-waste pickup was the brainchild of Jack Lopez, a veteran member of the village’s public works department who also oversees the e-waste program and its collection site at the public works garage, 5550 W. 98th St.
Lopez collaborated with Mayor Sandy Bury and Mike Riordan, principal and superintendent of Oak Lawn Community High School, to recruit members of the Spartan Athletic Leadership Team for the collection, which removed large electronics from the homes of several seniors who otherwise have difficulty arranging disposal.
“It’s for the right reasons,” said Lopez, who’s been involved with the e-waste collection site since in opened in 2009.
But the program had others benefits, he said, including exposing well-meaning adolescents to the community, Lopez said. He said that too often teenagers get a bad rap due to the actions of a few.
“I have always maintained, ‘You don’t know the kids that I know,’ ” he said.
Students traveled from one house to the next on a school bus driven by high school athletic director Kevin McKeown, who also was instrumental in organizing the event. The e-waste was loaded onto a village truck and transported to the collection site.
Another benefit of the program was exposing students to the importance of recycling, Lopez said.
“The environment wins, the school wins, the kids win and the village looks good,” Lopez said.
The e-waste site is open from 2-4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m.-noon on the second Saturday of the month. Volunteers are welcome and students can gain service hours working at the site.
The site has been a success since it opened more than four years ago, Lopez said. In 2009, 45 tons of e-waste was collected compared to more than 150 tons in 2013, he said.
Those interested in volunteering can contact Lopez via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Half-court issue trapped for time being

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  The Oak Lawn Park Board Monday called another time out in the extended basketball hoops saga at Little Wolfe Park.

  Park commissioners were expected to vote on a proposal to remove on of the hoops from the court, thereby eliminating full-court games. But the issue was not on the agenda, nor was it addressed during the meeting.
  Doing away with full-court games wouldthwart the competitiveness that brought on inappropriate conduct, including foul language, which raised the ire of neighbors of the park, 107th Street and Laramie Avenue.
  The proposal was not included on the board’s April agenda because one of the five park commissioners was unable to make the meeting, said Park Director Maddie Kelly.
  The decision to again put off the vote angered Oak Lawn Trustee Carol Quinlan, who has lobbied since last summer for a solution to the problems she believes are a result of full-court games.
  “They couldn’t even bother calling me,” said Quinlan, who attended Monday’s meeting expecting a vote on what she described as “the perfect compromise.”
  Commissioner Sue Murphy said the decision was delayed so the district could conduct “more research.”
  “The weather was not good and we need more information,” said Murphy, who completed her term as park board president following Monday’s meeting. Commissioner Donna McCauley is the new board president.
  The park district has not received any complaints about conduct at the basketball court since the weather broke, said Murphy, who added that removing the hoop remains an option.
  But, according to Quinlan, Murphy expressed reservations about removing a hoop so soon after Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, made racist remarks that got him banned from the league.
  Murphy could not be reached Tuesday for further comment.
  Residents have called for the removal of the hoops following an Aug. 14 fight involving two groups of teens, which led to two arrests.
  Quinlan has maintained that the fight was not an isolated incident. Instead, she said, troublemakers from outside the village used the court throughout the summer. Their poor conduct led other patrons, such as parents with young children, to avoid the park, she said.
  Comments from Quinlan and others that many of the basketball players were from outside the community led some to brand her a racist, an accusation she vehemently denies.
  “This isn’t about race. “It never has been,” said Quinlan, who added that many of the players at the court are not black.
  Quinlan said, however, that residents who live near Little Wolfe, will be upset to learn that the park district has delayed action on the matter.
  But Commissioner Gary Callahan said park board must be careful not make a major decision to appease one neighborhood.
  “Recreation is not about residents, it about recreation,” said Callahan, who opposes removing one of the hoops. “This is about politics, raw politics. Politics of the neighborhood. Where does it stop?”
  Callahan, however, expressed confidence that McCauley will bring commissioners together to forge a solution to the problem. McCauley and Commissioner Mary Margaret Wallace have expressed support for removing one of the hoops.
  Quinlan, who addressed the issue at Tuesday’s village board meeting, expressed reservations about the park board ever taking action.
  “I don’t know what to do,” she said.