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Girls celebrate ‘Wonder Woman Day’ at Evergreen Park Library

  • Written by Kelly White

sam giglio photo 6-8

Photo by Kelly White

Evergreen Park friends Sam Giglio (left), 12, and Colleen Malloy, 12, have fun at the first-ever Wonder Woman Day at the Evergreen Park Library on Saturday afternoon.

 

 

Girls of all ages dropped by the Evergreen Park Library on Saturday in a celebration of the power of females, just in time for last week’s movie release of “Wonder Woman.”

Growing up in Evergreen Park and the youngest of four children, Grace Dwyer, 15, decided to edge into the world of sports at a very young age, a world she considers mostly male-dominated.

“I began playing softball in kindergarten,” Dwyer said. “To me, when I think of sports, I think of them as mostly aimed at boys, especially in high school, but I never let that stop me. I fell in love with sports and enjoy playing them whenever I can.”

Attending Evergreen Park High School, Dwyer currently plays volleyball and softball and is hoping to try out for the swim team next school year, if the season does not conflict with her volleyball schedule.

Young girls, like Dwyer, are also looking towards female super heroes as icons.

“It’s important for girls to be strong in many different ways -- mentally, physically and emotionally,” said Sam Giglio, 12. “The world demands a lot from us, and we need strong women to look up to.”

The Evergreen Park Public Library stressed the importance of strong females during a “Wonder Woman Day” at the library on Saturday afternoon for youth and teenage girls in the local community.

Wonder Woman is a fictional super hero that originated in American comic books. The event also marked Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary of having the first-ever solo lead in a female comic book.

The character provides inspiration for young girls to be strong, according to Mary Black, the teen assistant at the Evergreen Park Library, 9400 S. Troy Ave.

“This event is a really great way to provide a social space to talk about inspiring women,” Black said. “Wonder Woman was the first female super hero. She is not just an extra, like a Batgirl or Super Girl; she is her very own super hero.”

“I like that Wonder Woman is a female,” Dwyer said. “She is a great role model for all girls.”

“Wonder Woman provides justice for all women,” said Louise Brady, 8, of Evergreen Park.

This was the first time the library offered this particular experience that gathered 10 youth and teenage girls at no cost to them. Black was responsible for organizing the event, along with librarian Rachael Baldwin, who presented a book talk to the youngsters, highlighting books from all genres that have strong female characters.

“Books provide an opportunity for girls to discuss topics that matter to them, such as body image, gender, racism, school, careers and relationships,” Black said.

A second talk was held on the topic of girl power, addressing issues of self-confidence, independence and navigating social media safely by Sargina Jerome, who has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Loyola, led the discussion.

“Young girls need to have strong female leaders to look up to,” Jerome said. “They need to focus on the qualities within themselves that makes them unique and powerful, not something like flying or teleporting, but aspects like being creative, helpful and smart.”

Jerome had the girls create a board stating all of their own internal superpowers and present their reasons why they chose these qualities to the class.

Each of the participants received a free Wonder Woman comic book and worked on a craft, making a book tote from an old T-shirt.

Persistence key to patient's recovery from rare cancer

  • Written by Joe Boyle

 

Donnell Hall was known as the foundation, the rock that his family could always look up to and lean on.

But when Hall, a resident of Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, began to suffer from a critical illness, he saw that leadership role begin to slip away.

Hall, 52, was suffering from a rare disease called malignant metastatic paraganglioma, or PGL. After a two-week stay at a hospital, Hall was in shock when providers at a medical center began to discuss hospice and palliative care options. Hall was informed that he may not have much time left.

“This was the most difficult conversation I ever had in my life,” Hall said. “I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I was not ready. As far as I was concerned, my fight had just begun and I was determined to fight for my life.”

Enter M. Bassel Atassi, M.D., the hematologist/oncologist and internal medicine physician at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park. He was willing and ready to lead Hall in his fight.

“I had never encountered this before, but I did hear of it in my studies,’ Atassi said. “Well, we were able to determine what it was after he had problems swallowing. This biopsy was unusual in that that the findings found that it was in its fourth stage. This is very, very rare. This disease is very rare. But I was not going to give up.”

That is what Hall needed to hear.

“Dr. Atassi wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Hall said. “He is my guardian angel and the reason I am here today.”

Hall is a former college basketball player and his athletic genes were passed down to his 15-year-old son, who plays baseball and football for a local high school. When he is not busy cheering his son at sporting events, Hall spent his time running a print shop and hosting family gatherings and holidays.

He had no family history of cancer or any other disease. When he was diagnosed with this rare cancer in 2016, Hall was in disbelief. In December 2015, Hall had been experiencing difficulty swallowing and catching his breath, At that point, he decided to make an appointment with his primary care provider. After a series of tests, Hall was referred to an academic medical center in Chicago where he was informed in February 2016 that he had cancer.

Hall was told about his rare cancer, which according to the National Institute of Health, PGLs are rare chromaffin cell tumors. In 2002, an estimated incidence of malignant paraganglioma in the U.S. was 93 cases per 400 million people, according to the NIH. In about 10 percent of patients, including Hall, metastases are already present at diagnosis of PGL. If left untreated, the prognosis is poor.

Atassi was pleased with Hall’s confidence in him, but added that he provides the best care possible of all his patients. Atassi was patient, providing treatments one appointment at a time. Over the course of a year, Hall had undergone local radiations to the man cancer mass. Two were targeted radiation liver-directed radioembolization treatments, and 12 chemotherapy treatments.

“After the chemotherapy, the metastasis began to shrink,” Hall recalls. “These treatments took over a year and half.”

Hall pointed out this was a team effort. He applauded the efforts of the health care team at Little Company, including Julie Choo, MD, radiation oncologist; Don Martinez, MD, interventional radiologist; and Hamid Nazeer, DO, interventional radiologist.

“I truly accredit our entire team for Donnell’s success story,” Atassi said. “None of us ever had encountered a patient with this type of cancer, but we all came together as collaborating physicians to create a customized treatment plan and ultimately save Donnell’s life.”

Hall is grateful to be alive. During his treatment, he made the decision to close his print shop, a difficult decision, but one that has helped him to slow down and enjoy life. This past April, Hall and his family celebrated his overcoming cancer by going on a cruise.

“Before this diagnosis, I was one busy man…constantly on the go and rushing through life,” Hall said. “Now, I just live life as I can. I take time to hear the birds.”

Atassi also learned something from Hall’s recovery.

“Well, I learned from this experience is that you need to be persistent,” Atassi said. “There are always good things that can come of out of this. Keep up the hope.”

To learn more about cancer care at Little Company of Mary Hospital, call (708) 229-6020, or visit www.lcmcancercare.org.

Local reps: State budget work can't stop

  • Written by Joe Boyle

The state budget stalemate now extends into June, but state Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th) said that if the Legislature has to work all summer to come to an agreement, then everyone should get back to Springfield and get the job done.

“Our work in Springfield is far from over and I am prepared to work over the summer with Gov. Rauner to pass a fair and responsible budget,” Burke said. “Illinois has gone 700 days without a budget, pushing our higher education system to the breaking point, jeopardizing life-preserving programs for our seniors, and leaving many of our schools without the funds they need to open their doors in the fall. The time for political games is over, it is time to set partisanship aside and work towards repairing our state.”

House Democrats had submitted a bill to provide more than $800 million in special funds to social service agencies and public universities. However, Rauner said on Facebook that he will oppose any ‘stopgap” measure without a permanent property tax freeze.

“We cannot accept a [House Speaker Michael] Madigan stopgap without a permanent property tax freeze to protect the hard-working taxpayers of Illinois,” said Rauner in the video.

The governor has said he opposed anymore stopgap budget proposals. He has blamed Democrats and Madigan for keeping “universities, community colleges and social service agencies on the verge of collapse with no permanent funding to keep their lines of credit intact.”

According to published reports, Rauner said that Madigan’s proposals are meant to force a tax hike. He said he would only support higher taxes if certain reforms, like term limits for lawmakers, an overhaul of state workers’ compensation, changes to collective bargaining, and a property tax freeze were approved.

However, it was Rauner who rejected a compromise bill that passed the Senate that included workers’ comprehensive reforms, tax caps and term limits he had been seeking. Madigan, when he saw the gubernatorial veto was imminent, chose not to call the Senate bill. He then passed a series of stopgap spending bills that Rauner had indicated he opposed.

Burke, who represents Evergreen Park and portions of Oak Lawn, said that she and other Democrats are willing to compromise with the governor.

“There are parts of the governor’s agenda I can support – and I have,” Burke said. “I voted over a dozen times to freeze property taxes, and I supported a plan this spring that would lower property taxes for every single homeowner in Illinois.”

Burke mentioned legislation that would save taxpayers money, including making it easier to consolidate local units of government and allowing the state to put the Thompson Center up for sale. However, Democrats opposed a recent proposal to sell the Thompson Center.

The state rep also said she supports economic reforms to cut taxes for small businesses, while cracking down on corporations who ship jobs overseas by outlawing future tax dollars for these companies.

“There are also parts of his agenda I know go too far and would hurt middle-class families simply to pad corporate profits,” Burke said. “The only way we’re going to work through these differences and ultimately pass the balanced budget is through compromise and negotiation.”

State Rep. Fran Hurley (D-35th), whose district includes portions of Worth and Worth Township, was also disappointed that a budget could not be reached at the end of May.

“The state of Illinois has now struggled 700 days without a full budget,” Hurley said. “Even through the World Wars and the Great Depression, lawmakers in Illinois were able to put aside their partisan differences and do what is best for the state.”

Hurley agrees with Burke that more work needs to be done. Hurley said she supports meaningful property tax relief, worker’s compensation reform and changes to the procurement process.

“I urge legislators and the governor to now find common ground on the budget,” Hurley added. “This summer we will be in continuous session, and I am willing to stay in Springfield as long as it takes to reach an agreement on a complete, balanced responsible budget. The stakes are high; our children are supposed to return to school in the fall, and without a budget our schools won’t have the resources they need to open. The time is now.”

Passing a budget by the end of the month will be more difficult because some Republican votes will be necessary to reach the three-fifths benchmark that will now be required.

“I’m prepared to make the compromises necessary to pass a budget that focuses on our strengths, which includes our higher education system,” Burke said. “I will continue fighting for the full funding of our education system, expanded financial assistance to ensure our best and brightest choose to attend school here in Illinois, and help all residents receive the education they need to compete in a 21st century economy.”

Palos Hills approves of checking company’s proposed move to city

  • Written by By Michael Gilbert

City officials gave their “blessing” last week to a checking company seeking a property tax incentive from Cook County in order to relocate into Palos Hills.

Members of city council voted 8-0 June 1 to approve a resolution that will be sent to the Cook County Board of Commissioners stating Palos Hills’ support of a request from Carousel Checks Inc. president Andrew Crim for a Class 6B property tax incentive for his business, which he plans to move from Bridgeview to the building currently occupied by Weller Truck Parts, 11152 Southwest Highway. Aldermen Ricky Moore (4th Ward) and Mary Ann Schultz (5th Ward) were absent.

Crim, a former Palos Hills resident, addressed the council during the committee-of-the-whole meeting held beforehand and explained his business’ relocation to Palos Hills is contingent on Cook County approving the tax incentive, which would lower his property taxes by 10 percent for a period of 10 years.

Founded in 2004, the company currently has 86 employees and with the potential move to Palos Hills would add another 15-20 employees, Crim said. Carousel Checks sells personal and business checks to the public and wholesale to more than 200 companies and 800 financial institutions.

“We pretty much sell any type of document a consumer would need as well as a financial institution,” Crim said.

Carousel Checks recorded sales “just shy of $14 million last year” and Crim expected revenue to grow by 15 percent this year to around $16 million.

“We sell into all 50 states,” Crim said, noting Illinois is his second largest market behind California. “Our Illinois sales this year will be around $500,000 to $550,000.”

Occupying around 33,000 square feet in Bridgeview, Crim said the move to Palos Hills would allow his company to expand and grow. He has an agreement to purchase the building from Weller Truck Parts, and then plans to spend roughly $1.6 million on improvements. Adding a shipping dock in the rear of the property and building offices and installing new windows in the front of the building are a few of the renovation plans, he said.

“As we are growing we are bringing in more financial institutions and we want to be a showplace,” Crim said. “With the plans we have we certainly think it is going to be beautiful.

 “We’ve got a lot of substantial plans and we are looking to move into this new facility and continue our growth.”

A meeting before the Plan Commission to discuss Carousel Checks potential move to Palos Hills and renovation plans for the building will be held on July 10. 

Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett made it clear last week he was in favor of Carousel Checks relocation to the city.

“I have multiple conversations with Andy and we’ve already tried to help him and guide him through the process,” Bennett said. “We are talking about an almost $1.6 million investment [to the building], which is substantial for the neighborhood.

“I think this is a great opportunity for us to lure a business from somewhere else and actually have a hometown guy come back to his home town.”

In other news, the council voted 8-0 to enter into a lease agreement with the Florida-based Parallel Infrastructure Towers giving them the authority to erect an approximately 100-foot tall monopole on city-owned property at Krasowski Park, 104th Place and Tod Drive.

As part of the agreement, PI Towers will allow the Palos Hills Police Department to place an antenna on the tower to enhance the communication devices used by officers, Bennett said.

PI Towers will give the city an initial payment of $5,000 for the right to erect the tower and then pay $24,000 annually to lease the land, Palos Hills City Attorney George Pappas said. If PI Towers wants to renew the agreement after five years there would be a 10 percent increase in the annual fee. The lease starts once PI Towers begins construction at the site, Pappas noted.

A provision in the contract would require PI Towers to pay for the removal of the monopole should it ever need to come down, Pappas said.

PI Towers could begin construction at the site as soon as August, Palos Hills Building Commissioner Nicholas Oeffling said.

Winning is in their blood: St. Laurence heads to state

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

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Photo by Jeff Vorva

St. Laurence's Tim Molloy got cut up during a celebration after his team beat Brother Rice, 2-1, Saturday in the sectional title game.

St. Laurence junior infielder Tim Molloy sported a gash not too far from his left temple.

His nose was bleeding and his hands were covered in blood.

Was he bloodied from a collision at home plate or on the base path? Was he hit by a pitch? Was he involved in a brawl?

None of the above.

After Saturday’s St. Laurence 2-1 victory over Brother Rice to win the Vikings’ own Class 4A Sectional in front of an estimated crowd of 1,100, the blood came from his pals – albeit accidentally – during the postgame celebration.

“It happened in the dogpile,” he said minutes after smiling with his team for photos even though he looked like he had just come from a Halloween party. “It was worth it.’’

Welcome to the 2017 Class 4A area baseball postseason, where there has been plenty of blood, sweat and tears recently.

After the smoke cleared on Monday night, St. Laurence was still alive after upending Neuqua Valley, 5-1 at the Crestwood Supersectional in front of 1,755 fans at Standard Bank Stadium. But Sandburg suffered an 11-3 loss to Edwardsville at the University of Illinois Supersectional in Champaign.

St. Laurence (35-5) faces Edwardsville (33-7) in the state semifinals at 5 p.m. Friday at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.

Sophomore Matt McCormick’s two-run triple in the sixth highlighted a four-run sixth inning and the Vikings are headed to the state finals for the first time since 1993, when coach Pete Lotus was a player.

“I can’t describe what this feels like,” said McCormick, who had two of the Vikings’ six hits. “I didn’t get much sleep (Sunday night and Monday morning) but this is great.’’

Pitcher Angel Sandoval faced a team that entered the game with a 35-1-1 mark and gave up one run on four hits and threw just 60 pitches in seven innings.

“I’ve never done that before,” he said. “I just found out a few minutes after the game that I only threw 60 pitches and couldn’t believe it.’’

Sandburg (23-8) owned a 3-2 lead after four innings but Edwardsville (33-7) scored seven straight the rest of the way to earn a berth into the final four.

In the process, Sandburg made some history before reaching the final eight as the Eagles knocked off three-time defending champion Providence, 12-10, on May 31 in the Homewood-Flossmoor. It stopped a state-record 23-game postseason winning streak for the Celtics.

Sandburg reached the super by beating Lincoln-Way Central, 7-3. Brian Hughes, who was hitting ninth, drove in three runs and Andrew Tenison homered for the Eagles, who won their eighth sectional title but first since 2009. There was no letdown after the emotional Providence win as Tenison belted a pair of two-run homers in that game and reliever Erik Herold got out of a huge seventh-inning jam by inducing a game-ending double play.

“I was nervous to be in that situation,” Herold said. “I was happy we could pull off the win.’’

“That was a huge win,” Tenison said. “This is a big rivalry even though we don’t get to play each other much. They have some players we think should be playing at Sandburg. But that’s a great team and it was great to play them.’’

The Vikings reached the super after beating Chicago Catholic League Blue rival Brother Rice on Saturday.

Brother Rice opened the season as the No. 1 team in the state according to Prep Baseball Report. As the weeks went by and things started to shake out, St. Laurence spent a little time at the top spot and when the seedings came out, grabbed the No. 1 seed at its own sectional. Since the seedings came out, St. Laurence won two of the three meetings between the two clubs.

On Saturday, the game that counted most in the rivalry, McCormick drove home Bryan Lyle in the bottom of the seventh to cause the huge celebration between first and second base. McCormick also drove in the Vikings other run in the bottom of the fifth, minutes after Brother Rice’s Jack Guzek drove home Timmy Mahay in the top of the inning to break the scoreless deadlock.

“I thought a curveball was coming (from Guzek),” said McCormick of his game-winning hit. “He hung it a little. It hit it hard (to left-center) and the wind was blowing out. I knew it was down. It was the biggest hit of my career – definitely.’’

It marked the fourth time in school history the Vikings won a sectional title and second year in a row. Prior to this two-year run, the Vikings won in 1987 and 1993.