We welcome some chills and thrills as Halloween approaches

  • Written by Joe Boyle

With Halloween just four days away, I admit that I like hearing a good ghost story. I suppose it’s the unknown or the unexplained that intrigues me.

The movie “The Amityville Horror” was based on alleged paranormal activity that took place in this town in New York state. But I have also read accounts that much of what appeared in the book and film did not happen. Most of so-called paranormal activity can be explained.

I guess I’m like anyone else. A little bit of mystery can be exciting. For instance, I enjoyed watching the 2013 movie “The Conjuring” about malicious spirits who haunted a family and their home in Rhode Island in the early 1970s. I suppose some of these events can be explained. On the other hand, there is a part of me that would like to believe that there are events that happen that defy explanation.

We know old homes make noises. Floors sometimes creak and a wind can create strange sounds from the attic. Doors sometimes can open or close in an old home because the foundation underneath pitches at certain times of the year. An explanation can be provided for most strange occurrences.

But this is time of the year when things go bump in the night. Soon witches and assorted goblins will be walking door-to-door with their bags out looking for a treat. That’s when these tales have their most appeal. Feature stories will appear in newspapers or a piece can be viewed on TV in the next coming days.

That includes our newspaper. Earlier this month, I attended a program that featured author and parapsychologist Ursula Bielski, who has written several books on the supernatural. Her local appeal comes from the fact that the authors hails from Chicago’s North Side. Her latest book focuses on Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, the ancient burial grounds in the southwest suburbs.

Bielski believes that there are unnatural forces present at the cemetery and recalled an evening when she toured the area with a friend who had connections to allow her to come along. The author admits that the two should not have been touring the cemetery at night because the land is owned by the Cook County Forest Preserves. The cemetery is closed during the evening, but she admits the two were adventurous and their curiosity took over.

According to Bielski, the two traveled along paths and would occasionally see bright lights that seemed to follow them. When they would get closer, the lights would disappear, according to Bielski. But what frightened the author was that they were unable for hours to find their way out of the cemetery. The fact they were lost was unnerving because her guide knew his way through the cemetery. He had walked the path numerous times with no difficulties, according to Bielski. But that evening they reportedly saw these bright lights and became disoriented and lost.

BIelski told an audience over 90 people at the Green Hills Library in Palos Hills that she has heard other accounts from people who have seen these bright lights that suddenly disappear when they grew closer. They also told her that they also were lost for hours. Bielski said she was terrified and believes that the bright lights were the result of a malicious spirit that haunts the cemetery.

My impression is that some of these sightings could be explained. It could have been someone playing a hoax on these cemetery travelers. On the other hand, you always wonder. While these tales were interesting, I knew why so many people were at the library that evening. They wanted to hear about one ghost in particular – none other than Resurrection Mary.

The legends and stories about Resurrection Mary are popular because of its local origins. Several girls and women have been called Resurrection Mary. One popular account is that of Marija “Anna” Norkus, 12, who lived in Chicago’s Garfield Ridge neighborhood. She died about six weeks before her 13th birthday. She reportedly loved to dance and begged her father to take along dancing to O Henry’s Ballroom (now the Willowbrook Ballroom). Her father relented and brought her daughter and some other people along.

Reportedly, several people had too much to drink and on the way home, the impaired driver collided with another car and Anna fell out and was crushed by one of the vehicles. She died on July 20, 1927. Reportedly, people have seen the blonde-haired girl along Archer Avenue after her death. Mary Bregory, from Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood, also reportedly died in a car crash after a night of dancing and has been referred to as Resurrection Mary.

A photo of Anna Norkus was featured at Bielski’s library presentation, along with the gates at Resurrection Cemetery. The cemetery gates in the photo along Archer shows a blackened section which Bielski said was burned and fingerprints, allegedly from Resurrection Mary, could be seen.

I’ve heard this story often that included a segment on “That’s Incredible” on ABC-TV in which a truck driver saw a girl grabbing the cemetery gates. He stopped and walked up to the gates and the girl disappeared. According to the TV program, the truck driver went to the Justice police. An officer and the truck driver returned and they saw the burned portion of the gates with the fingerprints, according to the show.

That’s why Resurrection Mary continues to be discussed to this day. A story on Anna Norkus, for instance, appears in papers at the time of her death.

I guess we all want to believe in something mystical and scary at this time of the year. That’s why the legend of Resurrection Mary continues to live on.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Hickory Hills Zoning Board approves development on old Sabre Room property

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

mike pryal photo 10-20

Photo by Dermot Connolly

Mike Pryal (at right) was among the Hickory Hills residents who got a chance to peruse development plans for the Sabre Room property at a community meeting on Oct. 12.

Following a public hearing on Monday night, the Hickory Hills Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals voted to approve a zoning variance requested for a proposed mixed-use development on the site of the Sabre Room property at 8900 W. 95th St.

The final decision on the development, called Sabre Woods, is up to the City Council, which will consider it at its Nov. 10 meeting.

Hickory Hills residents had a chance to meet the property owners and development team, and ask questions about their plans, at two community meetings held Oct. 12at St. Patricia Parish Center.

“We’re very excited about this. We’re going to miss the Sabre Room, but we’re looking forward to something new. The name will live on as Sabre Woods” said developer Chip Cornelius.

“There is a tremendous amount of heritage there. Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli, Johnny Carson, Bill Cosby were among the people who performed at the Sabre Room. But, the economy, the health of the family took its toll and the decision was made to close,” said Jim Koziarz, representing the family of Arthur and Marie Muzzarelli, who founded the Sabre Room in 1949.

“We’re here to look forward. We made a decision to develop the 30-acre site in a comprehensive way, rather than hodgepodge. We developed this master plan with three primary components,” said developer Jim Louthen, president of Re-Town.

The senior living component, referred to Sabre Woods Senior Village, would include 20 single-family ranch homes, as many as 84 senior apartments and 120 assisted living units.

Louthen described it as “sophisticated senior housing.”

“We know there is a need for assisted living and going along with that is memory care,” he said.

Pricing for the senior residences will be market-driven, Louthen said.

The retail component, being called the “Shops of Sabre Woods,” will be facing 95th Street. No decisions have been made about exactly which businesses would be going in there.

“It is still early but we’ve set the bar very high as far as the standard of retail that we’re looking for,” Louthen said. “A very modern big-box store could fit right.”

The third, “civic component” of the property includes the possibility of donating a piece of the property for a civic building in the wooded, northwest corner of the property.

“We really believe in community,” said Louthen. He described it as a public-private partnership, but Mayor Mike Howley said afterward that the city has not been asked to come up with any money for the project yet.

Howley also pointed out that the property is currently zoned for residential, so if this proposal had not come along, a residential developer would have needed no variance to build a big subdivision that could result in overcrowded schools.

When flooding concerns were raised by area residents, Louthen said, “We know there were issues with flooding in the past. That will all be taken care of. This new plan accommodates drainage; we wouldn’t get a permit without it. We have to calculate the amount of rain that will fall and provide space for that,” noting that the site plans include several retention ponds. “We think that it is economically feasible, will generate jobs and is marketable and fits into the fabric and goals of Hickory Hills.”

“It’s a big piece of property, I think the development will be good for the community,” said Mike Pryal, after looking over the plans. Residents were invited to submit suggestions about the project. Pryal said his only concern was attracting the right businesses that will do well.

“We need some nice restaurants. We have three main retail strips in Hickory Hills, and there are already a lot of vacancies,” he said.

Chicago Ridge is making progress in its war against rats

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

Chicago Ridge officials are seeing some signs of success with their efforts over the past month to deal with a burgeoning rat population.

The first indication that the situation is improving was the announcement made at a rather uneventful Village Board meeting on Tuesday that Royal Palace banquet hall was cleared to reopen, after cleaning up a rat problem inside the building. The banquet hall at 6254 W. 111th St had been closed since early September, when an inspection found rat problems in the basement.

But on Tuesday, newly hired health inspector Peter Gianakas told the board that the facility passed the latest inspection with a 98 percent score.

“We want them to reopen as soon as possible and start making money again,” said Mayor Chuck Tokar.

The rat problem “is abating” village-wide, said Tokar afterward. In addition to the baiting done by Guardian Pest Control, he said the new policy begun in September of placing dry ice in rodent burrows is working. As an example, he pointed to the Shell gas station property at 6358 W. 111th St., where 30 burrows were found in September. But over the weeks since the dry ice has been applied, the number of burrows has dropped steadily, with only three being found this week.

Trustees Bruce Quintos and Fran Coglianese agreed that there has been improvement with the rat problem. Quintos pointed out that Coglianese came up with the idea for the dry ice, after discovering that it was being done elsewhere. She also found a local supplier for the ice, which releases carbon dioxide into the burrows, causing asphyxiation.

“I feel like the ice woman,” said Coglianese with a grin.

When the meeting was opened to public comment, a resident of the 10800 block of Oxford Avenue told the board that she was still dealing with a rat problem on her property. The woman said she has found evidence of a new burrow close to her siding, and wants to get it baited.

“I’m very scared,” she said, expressing fear that rats will get into her house.

Another resident of Marshall Avenue praised Public Works Director Stan Barwock for working with railroad officials to remove rotted railroad ties that were providing shelter for rats. She also said dog-walkers seem to be paying attention to recently installed signs warning them to pick up dog waste or face fines.

Tokar agreed that the signage is working, and approved the purchase of 25 more signs that will include details of the possible assessment of $100 fines.

Also at the meeting, the board discussed the possibility of enacting an ordinance limiting the number of video gaming cafés in the village. Oak Lawn recently enacted an ordinance capping the number at the two cafés already open. Tinley Park and New Lenox also have passed similar limiting ordinances, and village attorneys have been asked to draw up an ordinance modeled after them.

“It might be ready to be voted on at the next meeting, or possibly the one after that,” said Tokar.

'Coffee with the Mayor' program starting in Worthcoffee

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

Worth Mayor Mary Werner would like to share a cup of coffee with residents.

During the Worth Village Board meeting on Tuesday, Werner said a new initiative has been introduced called “Coffee with the Mayor,” which she plans to hold on the first Saturday of each month. The first session is scheduled from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Village Hall.

“I feel like this will give me a chance to interact more directly with our residents. It is much easier to talk in person with an individual to answer their questions or address their concerns than it is to try to answer questions through emails,” she said.

Werner believes that residents will feel free to stop by the Village Hall to have a cup of coffee with her and share their thoughts about the progress of the village.

“I am really looking forward to it,” she said.

The mayor also announced the appointment of Mike Maddox to the position of building inspector with a term to expire on May 1, 2017. He replaces Ken Koester, who held the position of building inspector for many years. He and his wife, Lynne, relocated out of state in August.

In other action, the board approved an ordinance to increase the number of Class B liquor licenses in the village from nine to 10. The increase will allow the Worth BP Station to sell packaged liquor.

Also approved was an ordinance amending the Village of Worth Municipal Code to adopt the 2014 Chicago Electrical Code to promote the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Worth by establishing clear, uniform electrical guidelines enforceable throughout the village.

Village Clerk Bonnie Price announced that trick-or- treat hours for the village are from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31.

The board adjourned into executive session to discuss personnel and real estate issues. According to Village Attorney Greg Jones, no formal board action was anticipated.

Trustee Colleen McElroy was absent from the board meeting.

Hickory Hills approves plan for electronic recycling

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

Residents in Hickory Hills can soon look forward to the availability of an electronic recycling program as early as December, following a discussion by the city council at the Oct. 13 meeting.

Ald. Brian Fonte (3rd Ward), chair of the Health and Environmental Control/Recycling commission, reported to the council that after reviewing several proposed recycling programs over the last several months, he recommended that the city move forward with At Your Door Recycling with Waste Management.

In June, the council heard a presentation from Mike Morley, municipal marketing manager with Waste Management, in which he outlined the details of the At Your Door Recycling program. He reported that it was a simple program in which a resident wishing to dispose of electronics, paint, cleaning chemicals, oil or gardening or pool chemicals, could call At-the-Door Recycling and set a date for pick-up.

Fonte stated that the program could be tried for a year to see if it was effective and then the city would have the option to either continue with it, or discontinue it, if it was not satisfactory.

Council members agreed to move forward with it and to establish a timeline as soon as possible. Fonte reported later that it is tentatively scheduled to begin in December. Residents will be notified of the actual start date.

The service costs $1.25 per month, or $15 per year, for existing Waste Management recycling customers. The billing will be done through the city, using the water bills mailed to residents. A customer can call and schedule pick-ups as many times during the year as needed.

In other business, Mayor Mike Howley proclaimed Nov. 7 as Color the World Orange Day to raise awareness of a rare nerve disorder named Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

“Our city is joining a number of other communities, including Evergreen Park and Hometown, in this effort,” he said.

He also announced Halloween trick-or-treating hours will be from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31.

Purchase of a 4x4 pick-up truck with a snow plow, was approved for the Public Works Department at a cost of $28,600.

Also approved was the hiring of Julio Ayahla for a full-time position in Public Works.

A business license was approved for Chicago Group CA, LTD, an import, export and general merchandise facility at 7667 W. 95th St.