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They are taking it public

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Brittany’s family to host rally Saturday and visit board meeting Tuesday
 The family of Brittany Wawrzyniak is continuing its push for perceived justice this week by staging a Saturday rally near the Worth boat launch and a visit to Tuesday’s village board meeting.

  The rally is set for 3 p.m. at the Christensen Terrace Centre, 115th Street and Beloit Avenue. Rebecca Tully, Wawrzyniak’s mother, plans to make a presentation that will summarize all the family knows about her daughter’s Nov. 8 death.
  “I’m pretty nervous,” Tully said.
  The rally was initially set for noon at a park in Oak Lawn, but the time and location were changed due to scheduling conflicts.
  The Worth Village Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. and has been moved from Village Hall to the Christensen Terrace in anticipation in a large crowd.
 Both the rally and the appearance at Tuesday’s board meeting are designed to bring more attention to the case, which the family believes is being neglected by Worth police, Tully said.
  Police have refused to comment on the case because it is an ongoing investigation.
  Efforts to contact Mayor Mary Werner Monday and Tuesday were unsuccessful.
  Tully and her family have tirelessly promoted the rally, passing out approximately 1,000 flyers throughout Worth. She said it’s difficult to gauge how many people will attend the event.
  “I have no idea,” Tully said. “I’m surprised how many people are following what’s going on.”
  Tully said she’s received several calls and emails from people she doesn’t know voicing concern about the case.
  “It’s amazing to me how much strangers care,” she said.

  Several hundred people attended a November vigil at the boat launch, 115th Street and Beloit Avenue, which was held days after Wawrzyniak died. Additionally, The RIP Brittany Facebook page, created shortly after her death, has nearly 8,000 followers.
  Tully said she met withWorth police last Friday to again ask them to “look at things more seriously.”
  Prosecutors say Wawrzyniak met Eric Steven Johnson at the boat launch, got into the back seat 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.

  The prescription drug is used to treat panic and seizure disorders, according to medical experts.
  The Worth police have confirmed that there were no drugs in Wawrzyniak’s system the night that she died, the family has said.

  Wawrzyniak’s family believes she faked a drug buy at the boat launch to arrange a fight between a friend and another girl.

Palos Hills seeks new energy supplier

  • Written by Kelly White

Palos Hills will be seeking energy bids again this summer. The city’s current two-year electrical aggregation contract with First Energy Solutions Corporation is set to expire in July.
At the February Palos Hills City Council Meeting, Public Works Commissioner Dave Weakley asked representative, Sharon Durling, from N.I.M.E.C. (Northern Illinois Electrical Collaborative) to address the city council regarding the expiration of their current aggregation of electric contract with First Energy this July.
Weakley indicated in order to continue their aggregation of electric program, an ordinance would need to be passed allowing N.I.M.E.C. to seek energy bids on the city’s behalf. The city unanimously passed the ordinance on the March 6th City Council Meeting, authorizing renewal of the aggregation program, allowing for N.I.M.E.C. to seek new electrical bids prior to the July expiration date.
In March 2012, voters in the city of Palos Hills approved a referendum allowing the community to contract with an energy supplier to reduce electricity costs for its residents. N.I.M.E.C. (Northern Illinois Electrical Collaborative) representative, Larry Shover, negotiated electric prices between energy suppliers and received bids from that he then submitted in to Mayor Jerry Bennett and the Palos Hills City Council, and upon agreement, the city of Palos Hills chose First Energy Solutions Corporation as their supplier of choice for their municipal aggregation program.
There were 6,858 Palos Hills residents who chose to opt in to the electrical aggregation program; whereas, 220 residents have decided to opt out and stay with ComEd. A total of 703 other accounts were not eligible because the resident is currently in contract with a different outside energy supplier and 68 opt-out forms were returned because they were undeliverable. There is currently no opt-out fee for residents wishing to remain with ComEd.
Palos Hills residents are receiving a rate of 4.74 cents per kilowatt hour, through First Energy, compared to ComEd’s 8.36 cents per kilowatt hour. The energy supplier changeover took place the first week of August 2012, and after taking on a two year contract, will continue through the July 2014 billing cycle.
Bennett also indicated that ComEd’s electricity rates will only continue to climb in the near future.
Questions regarding delivery services, power outages, metering or moving to a new address can be addressed to ComEd’s customer service line.
“Regardless of the supplier, it is important for residents to understand is that they will get the same bill and the same service,” Shover noted.

Quinn lauds MVCC for work with veterans

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne

  For Joann Jenkins, Moraine Valley Community College’s director of student services, helping veterans transition from combat to higher education is essential to veteran PAGE-5-2-col-MVCC 2Moraine Valley’s Joann Jenkins and General McArthur, III accept the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran Education. Senator Dick Durbin’s congratulatory letter was presented at the March 19 Board Meeting. Photo by Kevin Coyne.student success. Getting to know the veteran personally is equally as important.
  “Not all veterans are the same just because they identify with a certain group,” Jenkins said. “We have the resources and support from the college to get to know our veterans and we make sure we’re there to make the transition back to higher education as smooth as possible.”
  Moraine Valley is the third community college to win the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran Education since Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Higher Education Veterans Service Act in 2009. Usually the award is given to four-year colleges and universities but this year Moraine’s commitment to veteran services didn’t go unrecognized.
  Previous winners include Eastern Illinois University, College of DuPage, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Northern Illinois University, Western Illinois University and Southwestern Illinois College.
  “Our student veterans are a very tight knit community and veterans are coming here because of word-of-mouth,” Jenkins said at the March 19 board meeting. “We constantly get calls and emails from veterans in Afghanistan who tell us they’re about to finish their deployment and they’re ready to start college.”
  Not only has Gov. Quinn recognized the Palos Hill-based community college for their service to veterans, Senator Dick Durbin sent a congratulatory letter praising Moraine for “tireless commitment to the education of our nation’s veterans … you are helping to better the lives of those who risked their own for our country.”
  Last month, Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs director Erica Borggren presented the award to Moraine president Sylvia Jenkins. College faculty, staff, student veterans and community members attended the event, including Moraine trustee Tom Cunningham, who has two servicemen in his family.
  “Their military service is nothing to be taken for granted and it’s great to see that veterans are coming home and finally getting their due,” Cunningham said. “We’re able to do what we do because of what they do for us.”
  Both Jenkins and student success and veterans affairs coordinator General McArthur, III have worked to create an innovative veterans orientation program, veterans resource center, priority registration for veterans and veteran benefit workshops.
  Moraine has over 500 student veterans, some who travel over an hour to campus due to Moraine’s veteran services. Starting in April, Moraine will offer veterans a virtual veterans center designed to help veterans understand their benefits, course selections and other veteran-specific material.
  “There is a certain respect that service members carry themselves,” Jenkins said. “You have to respect when they put on that uniform they have such a reverence and respect for what they do. They served their country and we’re here to serve them by making their transition as smooth as possible.”

Second March4Meg run rolls on Saturday

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Meg Moonan lost her battle to melanoma two years ago, but the Evergreen Park resident’s life will be recalled Saturday during the second March4Meg 5K run.
  The run was conceived by Moonan’s mother, Nancy Donovan, who embarked on a personal mission to help find for a cure for the disease.
  The run will step off at 9 a.m. from Klein Park (known as Circle Park) at 97th Street and Homan Avenue in Evergreen Park. Registration is $30 or $65 for families.
  Organizers are looking forward to a significant turnout following the success of last year’s inaugural event, which drew approximately 1,600 participants and raised $30,000 for the Meg Moonan Endowment Center at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
  “We’ve been successful because of all our volunteers and participants and because people are realizing the serious nature of melanoma, whether it’s impacting them directly or a family member or friend,” Donovan said. “Meg would have wanted us to make this our responsibility to alert others.”
  Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton and his wife, Karen, are the honorary chairs of the event.
  “While the first event was spectacular because of the turnout, any follow-up event is a challenge because the originality is gone,” Sexton said. “However, the mission is not, and that’s why Karen and I are supporting this event and imploring everyone to as well.”
  Donovan and her family didn’t know what to expect when they organized the first March4Meg. The goal was simply to raise awareness of the deadly skin cancer and establish an endowment center in Meg’s name.
  Organizers anticipate more participants than last year and encourage people to arrive early to take advantage of free skin checks and entertainment. Race-day registration will be available from 7 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
  Moonan left behind her husband, Ken, and four young children. Her mother rallied the extended family to the emotional rescue of Ken and the children by filling in as baby sitters, housekeepers and shoppers, she said.
  “We were all under such cloud I knew we had to do something to get us out of this dark place,” Donovan said.
  In addition to establishing the event, Donovan has increased awareness with demonstrations at summer camps and schools, instructing children on the importance of sunscreen and wearing correct clothing when playing in the sun.

  Donovan also want to raise awareness for a disease that impacts those 15 to 29 years old more than does any other type of cancer.
  Race director Meredith McGuffage hopes others who have been victimized by melanoma will find solace in the event by participating individually or as a group.
  For example, the Barry and Dinneen families lost Lucy Dinneen Barry to melanoma earlier this year and have used the grieving period to establish Team Lucy, which will participate in the race. The Beverly native and Naperville resident died Feb. 1 after a four-month battle with melanoma.

IndyCar driver highlights Children’s Hospital’s Diabetes Fair

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

IndyCar racer Charlie Kimball won his firstPage-7-2-col-fairThere were plenty of people, booths and displays at the Advocate Children’s Hospital’s Diabetes Fair on Thursday. Photo by Jeff Vorva. race on that circuit on Aug. 4 when he won the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
He made a history with the victory. He became the first licensed driver with diabetes to win an IndyCar race.
Kimball is generous his time and getting his message out to the masses. A few weeks before starting up the 2015 with the Streets of St. Petersburg race on March 30, he was in Oak Lawn last Thursday as a special guest of the Advocate Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Diabetes Fair. He signed autographs and gave a talk in the hospital’s auditorium.
According to a hospital release, diabetes is a chronic disease that already affects more than 200,000 children in the United States. Physicians at Advocate Children’s Page-7-2-col-racer-and-friendsRacer Charle Kimball and members of his staff were on hand during the fair talking to fans and handing out autographs. Photo by Jeff Vorva.Hospital anticipate that by 2020 the diabetes rate among children under age 5 in certain populations will be double what it was in 2000.
“We treat a variety of endocrinological disorders, including growth, puberal, and thyroid disorders, but, by and large, 50 percent of our pediatric population has diabetes, and 80 percent of this group are being treated for pediatric type 1 diabetes,” said Vidhya Viswanathan, MD, pediatric endocrinologist, at Advocate Children’s Hospital – Oak Lawn. “For type 1 diabetes patients, the pancreas doesn’t make any insulin; for these children, insulin is a lifesaving medication.”
Diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels, resulting from defects in the body’s ability to produce or use insulin. The condition, if left untreated, can lead to other health complications, even death. However, once the disease is diagnosed, physicians specializing in pediatric endocrinology typically work with parents and children to develop a proper treatment plan.
The fair also offered free body-mass-index screenings; blood testing; the latest information on insulin pumps, blood glucose monitoring meters and diabetes camps, refreshments and giveaways.