Metra riders will have park vehicles in commuter lot in Worth

  • Written by By Sharon L. Filkins

Two parking issues were resolved in Worth at the village board meeting on Tuesday night with the approval of ordinances affecting 107th Street and 111th Place and Crandall Avenue.

Approval of the first ordinance called for the modification of the village’s municipal code to eliminate parking of large recreational or commercial vehicles at any time on 107th Street. Previously, commercial vehicles were allowed to park on the street for a period of two hours. The approved modification will no longer allow that.

The second ordinance approval prevents the parking of vehicles on 111th Place and Crandall Avenue between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., with an exception provided for residents. The purpose of this modification to the municipal code is to prevent Metra commuters from parking on the street instead of using the Metra parking lot.

In other actions, the board authorized the sale of two 2009 Ford Crown Victoria vehicles previously used by the village’s police department.

Worth Mayor Mary Werner presented a proclamation recognizing May 1- May 7 as Municipal Clerks Week. She recognized Village Clerk Bonnie Price for the “vital services she performs and her exemplary dedication to the community.”

Price thanked the mayor and the board for the proclamation.

“It makes your job easier when you enjoy what you are doing and when you have the privilege of working with a great group of people,” she said.

Hickory Hills Council reviews request for second liquor license

  • Written by By Sharon L. Filkins

The Hickory Hills City Council debated the merits of a second liquor license request and opted not to take any action during last Thursday’s meeting.

A business license had been approved for Sonny Slots and Café, 8841 W. 87th St., on Jan. 14, followed by approval of an ordinance on Jan. 28 allowing the addition of a Class E Liquor License. The approved ordinance increased the number of Class E licenses in the city from nine to 10 and would have allowed Sonny’s to serve beer and wine.

However, at the March 10 council meeting, an ordinance was approved to reduce the number of Class E Licenses, bringing the total number again to nine, because the café had notified the city that the business was no longer planning to open.

Consequently, faced with a second request for the license, Mayor Mike Howley suggested the council delay taking action on the request.

“We have a number of code issues at the 87th Street shopping center, which need to be resolved. I see no problem with delaying this request until the Center completes the work required,” he said.

In other matters, Howley proclaimed May 1- 7 as Municipal Clerks Week and recognized City Clerk D’Lorah (Dee) Catizone for her 17 years of outstanding work with the city.

“In 2014, she was designated a Master Municipal Clerk and is one of only 43 clerks in Illinois to achieve the designation. The requirements include many hours of seminars, classes and meetings. She certainly meets all the standards and much more,” he said.

Catizone, who has been a resident of Hickory Hills for 54 years, became a Registered Clerk as a Deputy in 2008, was elected city clerk in 2011, became a Certified Clerk in 2013, and reached the level of Master Municipal Clerk in October 2014.

She also holds office in the Municipal Clerks of Illinois as a district director and is vice president of the Southwest Municipal Clerks Association.

Also honored at the April 28 meeting was John Ruffolo, who retired as a public works employee after serving the city for 35years. Howley presented him with a proclamation highlighting his years of dedicated service. The council honored Ruffolo and his family members with a cake and coffee reception.

The council adjourned into an executive session to discuss a police contract update, a public works contract update and non-union employees increase. No action was announced.

Ald. Tom McAvoy (3rd Ward) was absent from the meeting due to illness.

St. Laurence's Murphy ending an "absolutely unbelieveable" career

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


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Photo by Jeff Vorva

Decades ago, St. Laurence officials wanted Terry Murphy to be the track and field coach after he helped turn the cross country team into a local power.

He came into the job in 1983 with about as much confidence as a sumo wrestler ready to run the high hurdles.

“It was very difficult and it was very confusing,” Murphy said. “I never coached track before and they asked me to be the track coach and I had no idea what a track coach did. After a couple of years of doing it, I learned on the job. The kids were so great, that I learned along with them.

“It’s wasn’t like baseball or basketball where there were a lot of egos out there. They were kids who were having fun and interested in the sport and they basically got me interested in it because of the way they approached the sport.’’

After 40 years of coaching five sports at the Burbank school – mostly track and cross country – the 65-year-old Murphy is stepping down. He still has a few weeks to go in his final track season but he coached his final home meet on April 26 and a reception was held for him after the meet.

Athletic director Tim Chandler announced that the school was going to erect a new record board in the gym in Murphy’s honor.

“We’ll get all of those records updated on a more modern board that fits better in that gym,’’ Chandler said. “When you look at it, spending 40 years at the same school is something you are not going to see in high school athletics any more, sadly. But think about that. Look at how much of his life he has dedicated to St. Laurence.

“That’s absolutely unbelievable.’’

Senior Antonio Elizondo presented the coach with a baton autographed by the athlete on Murphy’s final team.

“I don’t think we could express just how grateful we are to have you as our coach,’’ Elizondo said. “It’s a great honor to be a part of your final year. I can’t really think of a better motivator and a better coach or a better man. We all take to heart everything that you say and everything that you do.

“This year is all for you. We will strive so hard to make this your best year. We just want to thank you very much from the bottom of our hearts.’’

Murphy’s teams have had moderate success over the years – mostly sending individuals to state in the running sports. In cross country, the team won seven Chicago Catholic League titles. In track, the Vikings finished 17th  in the Illinois High School Association Class 2A state meet in 2013.

“One of the things that kept me coming back year after year was the type of kids who participated,” Murphy said. “They are wonderful kids. There was never any ‘me,’ it was all ‘us.’ They have a great attitude toward sports. They know what’s important and what life is all about.’’

Murphy grew up in the Wrightwood neighborhood in Chicago and graduated from St. Thomas More in 1964 and St. Laurence in 1968. He is in the Vikings’ Hall of Fame and plans to work at least one more year at the school as a history teacher. 


Budget stalemate continues but legislators approve funding for state colleges

  • Written by By Joe Boyle

State lawmakers settled their differences to agree on providing $600 million on Friday for colleges and universities that will allow them to keep their doors open through the summer.

Legislators were feeling the heat from constituents and college and university officials to get something done. Gov. Rauner was expected to sign the bill to provide for the funding. However, State Comptroller Leslie Munger said she will not even wait for the governor’s signature to provide funding to institutions, especially for students from low-income families who applied for Monetary Award Programs, or MAP grants.

The state budget crisis is in its 10th month and local college and university officials were becoming increasingly concerned. Officials at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, St. Xavier University in Chicago and Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills have managed to get through this year by budgeting the funds they have carefully.

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-22nd) was pleased that funding is being provided for state colleges, even if it is only through the summer. However, he said more should be done to assist human service programs that he said the governor refuses to address.

“Gov. Rauner has said that crisis creates opportunity and leverage, and that government may have to be shut down for a while. Now, he has forced a situation where some universities are on the verge of closing,” said Madigan. “The plan the House passed delivers emergency relief for the state’s colleges, universities and students as we continue pushing for a more comprehensive budget and full fiscal year funding.

“While the governor approved this small portion of funding for higher education, it’s unfortunate he was unwilling to approve any further funding for human services,” added Madigan “If he continues his unwillingness to assist our human service providers, he will be successful in destroying the safety net for those most in need and for critical state services, including services for women who need breast cancer screenings, victims of child abuse and victims of sexual assault.”

The Senate did pass a measure that would provide $450 million in temporary aid for human service programs. The bill was sent to the House, which has adjourned until Tuesday, May 3.

During a Southwest Conference of Mayors meeting on April 20 at the Alsip Village Hall, local officials admitted they were frustrated on the length of the budget stalemate and Rauner in general.

Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett, who also serves as president of the Southwest Conference of Mayors, is frustrated with Rauner’s demands and logic surrounding his Turnaround Agenda that calls for restrictions on collective bargaining and unions.

“I see other states that believe that by cutting taxes will create business growth,” said Bennett. “It just isn’t going to work. The economics aren’t there. This governor is working under that theory and it’s just wrong.”

The aid for colleges and universities almost fell apart last Thursday as some Democratic lawmakers opposed the proposal because there was no funding being provided for social service programs. However, these Democrats came on board the next day to assure that funding would continue through the summer for college students.

State Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-18th) had been attempting to come up with a bill acceptable to the governor to provide MAP grants funding to college students. State Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th) had previously come up with two proposals to provide funding for college students only to have the governor veto her bill twice.

Both Cunningham and Burke have spent time visiting local restaurants for morning coffee with constituents to discuss legislation and listen to their concerns. Most of those concerns were about the budget crisis and the MAP grants.

Cunningham joined many of his colleagues in supporting Senate Bill 2059 to send needed money to state universities and colleges.

The legislation would help schools like Chicago State University and Eastern Illinois University in ensuring they can continue to operate, said Cunningham. It would also fund the first semester of MAP grants that many schools, including St. Xavier University and Moraine Valley Community College, floated to students without any guarantee of the money coming through.

“Today, we took a vote to ensure that schools can continue to function and educate our students,” Cunningham said. “This is not enough, but it opens the door to continue to work in a bipartisan manner.”

Chicago Ridge officials suggest ways to put lid on rats

  • Written by By Dermot Connolly

As the weather improves, Chicago Ridge officials are tackling the problem of rats, a frequent topic of discussion and complaints in the village.

Trustee William McFarland said he was taking the lead on the issue, because he has a strong aversion to the rodents.

“I’ll admit it. I hate them and I’m scared of them. I just don’t want to see them around,” he said at the April 19 village board meeting.

Several months ago, the village sent brochures to residences listing various ways that residents could do to lessen the chances of rats taking up residence in the village. But several residents took issue with the wording, complaining at a village board meeting that the village seemed to be making residents responsible for solving the problem.

But village trustees and Mayor Chuck Tokar said that while the village is responsible for baiting, there are ways residents can keep the problem to a minimum.

McFarland said he would be recommending at the May 3 meeting that the board approve an agreement with Guardian Pest Control, which is the same service used by Oak Lawn.

“We’re currently baiting 45 locations, and Guardian will bait the 45 traps twice a week, for $1,600 per month,” he said.

He said the village has been paying $9,000 for a less intensive baiting program.

“Baiting only takes care of 25 percent of the problem,” said McFarland, stressing the importance of removing food sources by cleaning up dog waste and keeping garbage bins covered.

Mayor Charles Tokar said that he has spoken to residents in his own block when he has seen their garbage containers open, and code enforcement officers have issued warnings.

“I’ve put their garbage bags in my container when I see them sitting outside the containers,” he said.

“We know that sometimes the wind blows the lids off, but just cover them when you see that,” said McFarland, adding that uncovered or overflowing dumpsters outside commercial or multi-unit buildings are a big issue.

“I’m going to be recommending increasing fees for dumpster violations,” he said.

“It is not about the money. We would rather that the problem be fixed and no one was fined,” McFarland said, suggesting that hikes are needed because some companies currently see fines as the cost of doing business.

McFarland said that to limit the problem of rats leaving disturbed construction sites and moving into residential areas, developers must follow EPA requirements mandating that bait boxes be placed around the perimeter of such sites.

“Otherwise, it is an EPA violation,” he said.