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Putting themselves in ‘her shoes’

  • Written by By Janelle Frost

No one knows better than most women what it’s like to walk in high heel shoes. But several men got the opportunity to experience that last week for a serious cause.

About 20 male faculty, staff and students at St. Xavier University put on red, black, white or blue high heels and walked a mile around the university’s Chicago campus to raise awareness about sexual violence against women and to kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.

This is the university’s second year holding the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event, which took place March 30 at SXU’s Chicago campus, 3700 W. 103rd St.

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence” is a fun opportunity for men to literally walk one mile in women’s high heel shoes while raising awareness and getting the community to talk about the serious issue of sexual violence against women.

According to facts and figures on display during last the event at SXU, rape results in about 32,000 pregnancies each year; 38 percent of rapists are a friend or an acquaintance; and the presence of a bystander makes a completed rape 44 percent less likely.

Anna Goldman, head coordinator of SXU’s “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event, said a lot of men expressed following the success of last year’s occasion that they didn’t want it to be the end, so the walk was held again this year.

“Even though it’s a kind of fun, silly event, there’s nothing fun or silly about violence,” said Goldman, who walked alongside the men as they marched in heels and carried signs about violence against women. “It is to let people know how prevalent sexual violence is on campus.”

One in four college women will be a victim of rape during her academic career, and less than five percent of college victims file a police report, according to the facts and figures on display.

John Pelrine Jr., SXU’s vice president of student affairs and one of the men who participated in the walk, said students are educated as soon as they arrive to the university about sexual assault.

“We do a lot of education from the day they arrive here for the orientation program,” Pelrine said. “We try to bring the issue to the forefront. And there are strict policies in place where anyone is held accountable for their behavior.”

Pelrine said most of the men in the walk have experience with knowing someone with a background in violence. And that he thinks it’s important for people in the community to see prominent men be involved in such a cause.

Brandon Swanson, assistant director for alumni relations, who also participated in the walk, said he hoped people in the community would take away that sexual violence against women is happening.

“They’ll be able to see the statistics and know that really happens,” Swanson said. “It may be people you work with or who are in your family. Make sure you see the signs and are aware. If they reach out to you, be that support system.”

Motorists adjusting to end of license plate sticker renewal reminders

  • Written by By Joe Boyle

Illinois motorists apparently are still getting used to the decision by the secretary of state’s office to no longer send out reminders by mail to renew license plate stickers.

Secretary of State Jesse White decided last September to eliminate sending out reminders by mail to renew vehicle stickers to save on costs due to the ongoing budget impasse in Springfield. Residents who are unaware of the move have been receiving fines. A press release did appear in The Reporter last fall but several callers said they had missed it and were unaware of the new procedure.

Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett said that his office has received a few calls about the fines. He and his staff have since posted information about how to contact the secretary of state’s office on the city website, www.paloshills.org.

“The Secretary of State’s office has taken in a lot of money from the fines,” said Bennett. “This has been going on for about six months ago. That’s why we decided to post it on our website. We thought it was a good idea to have these reminders so people can see.”

The fine for a late renewal is $20. According to the Associated Press, Illinois motorists paid close to $2 million in fines for the month of March alone. The total fines from January to March of 2015 were $2.2 million. The total fines from January through March of this year are $4.9 million, according to the AP.

White’s office made the move because officials said that they would save about $450,000 a month in postage costs.

“The lack of a fiscal year 2016 budget is adversely impacting the secretary of state’s office and threatens to jeopardize the services we provide to the public,” White said in a statement. “Without a state budget in place, we are doing what we can to manage so that we may serve the people of Illinois for as long as possible. As a result, difficult decisions like suspending renewal reminder notice mailings are decisions we are being forced to make.”

About 800,000 renewal notices used to be sent out each month. The change meant that vehicle owners now have to remember when their license stickers are up for renewal.

Residents can still get notices by email if they register online. They need to do that through the secretary of state’s website, cyberdriveillinois.com. Those people will also have the information needed to renew their license stickers online.

Those who don’t have access to email or a computer will have to go to a drivers’ license facility in order to renew their stickers.

White’s office reported that 413,709 drivers renewed their registration in November. The renewal rate for November 2014 was 512,760, which is a reduction of just over 19 percent. The margin was even greater for March. According to the secretary of state’s office, 301,965 renewals occurred last month.

Compare that to March 2014 in which the renewals were 475,314. This is a reduction of just over 36 percent from a year ago. Vehicle owners could receive a 30-day grace period to renew their registration without fines or tickets under legislation that was introduced in the House.

The bill is somewhat redundant because Illinois drivers already have 30 days after their stickers expire to pay before they are charged a $20 fine. However, it would prevent law enforcement from sending out tickets in that same time period.

Residents can check their expiration dates and renew a tag before the deadline. Motorists can renew their license plate number information in person by dropping in at any secretary of state offices. Residents can provide the information verbally or have it written down when entering one of the facilities. Renewals can take place at any time during the year.

The Illinois Environmental Agency is also no longer sending out by mail emission test reminders. EPA officials said that the tests are scheduled every other year. More information can be obtained by calling the EPA emission testing at (847) 758-3400 or visit www.ilsos.gov/regstatus.

Chicago Ridge Board votes to limit tattoo shops and massage parlors

  • Written by By Dernot Connolly

Anyone wanting to open a tattoo shop or massage parlor in Chicago Ridge will have to look elsewhere, for a while anyway.

This is because the Village Board on Tuesday unanimously approved ordinances amending the village code to limit both types of businesses to the number already operating in town. There are only two tattoo shops in the village -- Big Al’s, at 10347 Southwest Highway, and Red Moon, at 5704 W. 111th St. -- and no more will be allowed to open.

Likewise, Trustee Sally Durkin said, “We’re limiting the number of massage licenses to one. The one in the mall,” referring to Relax Magic, already in operation in Chicago Ridge Mall. No more permits will be issued.

Trustee Fran Coglianese said that investigations into reports of prostitution occurring in massage establishments in the area had led to the decision to limit the businesses in Chicago Ridge.

For instance, In March 2015, three women were arrested at a massage parlor in the 7200 block of West 127th Street in Palos Heights. One was charged with prostitution and two others were charged with giving massages without a proper license.

In November 2014, an undercover police investigation led to a massage parlor in Orland Park being shut down. The investigation began after a man reported being inappropriately touched during a massage there, and the business was closed after an unlicensed masseuse allegedly offered to perform a sex act on an undercover officer for a price.

“We don’t want that happening here,” said Coglianese. “Only if (the massages) are for medicinal purposes,” she added.

One business that is getting a warm reception from the village officials is Miller’s Ale House, which is scheduled to open Monday, May 9, at 6401 W. 95th St., on the perimeter of Chicago Ridge Mall.

This will be just the third Miller’s Ale House to open in Illinois.

Hans Bengyel, the general manager of the new restaurant, came to the village board meeting to request business and liquor licenses, which were granted.

Mayor Chuck Tokar noted that Miller’s will be replacing the Tilted Kilt restaurant that had been on the site, and will take over that liquor license.

Village Clerk George Schleyer said that he has already made plans to host a gathering of municipal clerks at the newly built restaurant next month.

After the mayor noted that it was originally slated to open in April, Bengyel said “We slowed down due to the recent bad weather, but everything is caught up now.”

He said the hiring process, being conducted at a site inside the mall, is wrapping up.

“Seventy employees have already been hired, and are being trained at the existing restaurants,” he said.

“Everything is going smoothly,” said the general manager.

The fact that the business owner did not ask for a video gaming license, something most restaurants seem to want these days, went over well with the board.

“We’re not putting in video gambling,” he said. “We’re a family restaurant with a sports theme.”

Clean-up is scheduled for Lucas-Berg preservation sites in Worth

  • Written by By Sharon L. Filkins

Worth Mayor Mary Werner announced during the Worth Village Board meeting on Tuesday night that a spring clean-up day for the Lucas-Berg preservation sites will be scheduled from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday April 16.

She advised volunteers to dress for the weather.

“In April, the weather is always unpredictable” she said.

The gates to the site, located on 111th Street, just east of Southwest Highway, will open at 8:30 a.m. Werner said coffee, doughnuts and hot dogs will be provided for the volunteers.

In other matters, Werner also said that the board is anticipating the presentation of a plan for the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) project, focused on the Metra Station area, to be presented in early May.

The village began working with Chicago-based Farr Associates last year to develop a TOD plan for the area surrounding the Metra Station. A town meeting was held in February where residents were given the opportunity to express their desires for the type of development they would like to see on the site.

“We are looking forward to seeing the plan, which will be presented to the public, before a vote is taken,” said Werner.

In other business, the board approved a resolution to apply for Community Development Block Grants for Capital Improvement and Economic Development in 2016. The resolution did not specify any particular development or project.

Also approved was a resolution endorsing an agreement with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Greenest Region Compact 2, which calls for the village to join coordinated efforts toward enhanced quality of life for residents, protection and stewardship of the environment and sustainable economic vitality.

Other business included the approval of a business license for The Walk-In- Closet, located at 6955 W. 111th St., contingent upon having passed all inspections and being in compliance with all codes and ordinances.

The business is a resale, thrift shop for second-hand clothing, shoes and miscellaneous items.

The board adjourned into an executive session to discuss setting a price for sale or lease of property owned by the village.

Trustee Colleen McElroy was absent from the meeting.

Evergreen Park Board approves liquor license for seafood restaurant

  • Written by By Sharon L. Filkins

Clientele dining at Chicago Famous Seafood, LLC, d/b/a The Crazy Crab, at 9204 S. Western Ave., will now be able to order beer or wine with their dinner, thanks to approval of a Class E Liquor license by the Evergreen Park Village Board of Trustees at the Monday board meeting.

Mayor James Sexton, while encouraging residents to visit the new restaurant which specializes in a method of boiling sea food fresh from Louisiana, also stressed that the Class E License limits the consumption of alcohol to sit-down, on premises only.

It is only the fourth Class E License to be approved by the village. Other approved restaurants include Pappy’s, at 3301 W. 95th St.; Noodles & Company, 2442 W. 95th St. and Wing Top, 2831 W. 95th St.

Also approved was a request from Police Chief Michael Saunders to hire two patrol officers to replace two officers who recently retired. The new hires will be selected from the existing Probationary Patrol Office List.

A pro-active resolution was approved, calling for the village to support the ability of municipalities to share local sales tax information with outside professionals.

Sexton explained that the state is getting ready to pass a statute, limiting the amount of information municipalities can get regarding the amount of sales tax in their communities. “This is vital information our village needs so that our treasurer can track the revenue coming in from all of our businesses,” the mayor said.

He cited a case from past years, when the village learned that one of its businesses was paying sales tax revenue to the City of Chicago. “It was money that rightfully belonged to Evergreen Park. This Resolution is our effort to let the State know that municipalities have the right to this information.”

The board also approved a resolution to allow the closing of 95th Street on Friday, July 1, for the 47th annual Independence Day Parade. “While it may seem a little early for this, we have to send a request to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for permission to close the street,” Sexton said.

Sexton said that 95th Street will be closed from Pulaski Road to Richmond Avenue, where the parade turns north on Richmond and proceeds to 91st Street.