No hostages, no vandalism found in Oak Lawn incidents

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


There were no hostages.Page-1-2-col-screwsOak Lawn police officials do not think vandalism was the cause of screws and nails to protrude from the rocket slide at Memorial Park. Photo by Emily Smas.
There was no vandalism to hurt kids.
The Oak Lawn police department issued statements last week defusing two potentially dangerous situations in its village.
Last Thursday, police said they received a call from a subject claiming to hold three people hostage at a home in the 5700 block of 90th Place and made ransom demands.
It turned out to be a hoax.
“Oak Lawn Police responded and set up a perimeter around the home and sent out an Everbridge message to residents in the immediate area,” Division Chief Roger Pawlowski said in a statement. “Police were able to obtain information about the family that reside in the home in question and were able to make contact with family members who were not at home.  They advised Police that their teenage son should be home alone.  Police were able to make contact with the son who was directed out of the house.  The home was then searched by police and the incident was determined to be a hoax.’’
Pawlowski added that Oak Lawn detectives are following up on information regarding the teen son’s contacts through the internet and on-line gaming sites.
One day earlier, police announced that screws and nails found protruding through a slide at Memorial Park in June and again on July 21 were not a result of vandalism, rather, it was the result of a manufacturing flaw.
When the story was red-hot in June, there was speculation by some citizens that it was vandalism done to intentionally hurt children. Internet and social media speculation took it even further with some suggesting it was a hate crime. But the police called it a “design flaw or an installation error.’’
Police said in a statement they don’t believe anyone “placed nails into the playground equipment for the purpose of injuring park goers.’’


Bad end to historic season

  • Written by Bob Rakow

HBSA president reports $20,000 worth of equipment swiped

The historic first season had just ended for the Hills Baseball and Softball Association, but the league experienced a bigger loss than in any game played this summer.
Four pieces of field maintenance equipment valued at approximately $20,000 were reported stolen Monday from a storage locker at the league’s complex, 9900 S. 76th Ave., Hickory Hills.
League President George Czarnik suspects someone who was familiar with the league stole the equipment.
“During the season, you get a lot of people there,” he said.
Still, he could not come up with a motive for the theft other than money.
“Why are you picking on us? Did we get somebody mad at us?” he said.
Czarnik also suspects that thieves loaded the four pieces of equipment onto a trailer before making their getaway. There were no tire tracks near the storage unit, and thieves likely would be spotted driving the slow-moving equipment down the street, he said.
Czarnik said he’s not surprised that thieves stole equipment needed to run a youth sports league.
“This doesn’t bother them. They don’t care who it’s from. They’re just taking it,” he said.
The loss of equipment would be more harmful if the season was ongoing, but “we still have to cut the grass,” Czarnik said. “You’re talking about a huge area of grass that we do.”
The stolen property put a damper on what was a season of history as organizations from Palos Hills and Hickory Hills merged to make a stronger organization with 200-plus athletes.

The stolen equipment includes a John Deere utility vehicle valued at $5,000, a riding mower valued at $6,000, a golf cart and field mower valued at $3,000 to $4,000 Czarnik said.
Czarnik discovered the alleged burglary Monday morning when he stopped by the complex, he said. He noticed the chain securing the gate was missing, but thought ComEd, which owns the property, had been on the site to do work.
No one from the league was at the storage lockers between late Friday night and Monday morning when Czarnik arrived, he said.
The storage locker lock was intact, but the latch was cut, allowing thieves to open the unit, Czarnik said.
“It almost looked like they used some sort of power tool,” he said.
Additionally, the security lighting located above the trailers was smashed, he said. Czarnik suspects the thieves climbed atop the storage units to smash the lights.
The adjoining two trailers, which are used to store player uniforms and gear, game equipment and handheld field maintenance tools were untouched, he said.
He filed a police a police report, but does not expect the equipment to be found. Instead, he said, a fundraiser likely will be held, to replace the equipment.
Anyone interested in helping the league replace the equipment can call Czarnik at 312- 919-0295.

Lipinski to host Town Hall Meeting in OL

  In the coming weeks, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting in Oak Lawn, Senior Fairs in Chicago and Lockport, and a Veterans Fair in Bridgeview.
  At the Town Hall Meeting, Third District residents will be able to hear from Lipinski about his work on their behalf at home and in Washington, as well as ask questions and voice their opinions on federal issues. Staff from the Congressman’s office will be available beginning one hour prior to the start of the meeting to provide assistance with Medicare, Social Security, veterans’ benefits, and other federal matters.
  The Senior Fairs will give area residents an opportunity to get assistance with a variety of issues from the Congressman’s expert staff, as well as local organizations, agencies, and businesses that provide services to seniors. During the Veterans Fair, Lipinski’s staff will be joined by other organizations to assist veterans with questions regarding military personnel and medical records, veterans’ claims and benefits, medals earned but not received, and other VA related issues.
  “I want to personally extend an invitation to the residents of the Third Congressional District to my upcoming Town Hall Meeting, Senior Fairs and Veterans Fair,” said Lipinski. “As your representative in Washington and someone who strives to improve the quality of life in the communities I serve, it is critical that I hear from you. In addition, these events will be great opportunities for you to get assistance with federal issues and learn about the wide array of constituent services my office provides. I especially look forward to meeting with the area men and woman that have bravely served our nation. It is my privilege to serve you.”
  The dates, times, and locations for the upcoming events are:

Town Hall Meeting
Thursday, July 31
7:00 — 9:00 p.m.
Oak Lawn Community High School Gymnasium
9400 Southwest Hwy
Oak Lawn, IL 60453

Congressional staff will be available starting at 6:00 p.m. for assistance with federal agencies.

Senior Fairs
Monday, July 28
10:00 a.m. — noon
Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church
653 West 37th Street
Chicago, IL 60609

Monday, August 4
10:00 a.m. — noon
John Olson American Legion Post #18
15052 Archer Avenue
Lockport, IL 60441

Veterans Fair
Friday, August 1
10:00 a.m. — noon
John C. Oremus Community Center
7902 South Oketo Avenue
Bridgeview, IL 60455

  For more information, call 312-886-0481 or visit

— Submitted by Congressman Dan Lipinski’s office

Panel of experts

Ed McElroy, host of “The Ed McElroy Show”,page-7-mcrleoy-cut recently interviewed Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State; Sandra Bury, Mayor of Oak Lawn and Dan Johnson, VFW Commander.

  That show will air at 8 p.m. on Tuesday on Comcast Channel 19.
  McElroy is Past National Commander of Catholic War Veterans, U.S.A.
  Pictured left to right are Bury, McElroy and White. Standing is Johnson.

Evergreen Mariano’s moves opening date to early 2015

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Evergreen Park residents won’t be able to shop at Mariano’s during the 2014 holiday season, but the upscale grocery store is set to open early the following year.
“They’re a couple of months behind,” Mayor Jim Sexton said Monday.
The rough winter and some minor issues with ComEd have caused the store to push its projected opening date to January 2015, Sexton said.
“That’s the target date,” he said.
The Evergreen Park Village Board Monday amended the village’s economic development agreement with Mariano’s to reflect the change in the anticipated opening date.
“We’re just pushing the date back,” Sexton said.
Mariano’s will be located at 95th Street and Washtenaw Avenue on the site of the former Webb Chevrolet dealership, which closed more than five years ago.
A traffic signal will be installed at 95th Street and Washtenaw Avenue to accommodate the traffic generated by the store.
The 70,000-square-foot store will feature produce, seafood, a sushi and oyster bar, flowers, salads, a coffee shop, wood-fired pizza oven, homemade salsas, a bakery, a deli, fresh meat, a cheese counter and prepared foods.
In Oak Lawn, Mariano’s is making steady progress on a store that will be anchor Stony Creek Promenade at 111th Street and Cicero Avenue. That store is scheduled to open in September and is currently hiring staff, said Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen.
Sexton said the presence of Mariano’s in a neighboring community might help promote the Evergreen Park location.
“I think it’s good. Maybe it will help,” the mayor said.
The store’s decision to locate in Evergreen Park was announced in June 2013 and is the result of three years of work negotiations between Mariano’s CEO Bob Mariano and village officials.
Mariano’s has locations in Chicago, the northwest suburbs and Frankfort. It is owned by Milwaukee-based Roundy’s Supermarkets, which operates four other supermarket chains in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Park Presentation
The village will showcase for residents the 50-Acre Park, 91st Street and Rockwell Avenue, from 5-7 p.m. July 31.
Residents are invited to tryout the park’s golf range at no charge, visit the dog park and get instruction on how to play disc golf. A disc jockey will entertain and Meijer’s will provide hot dogs and beverages, Sexton said.