Gridiron greatness: Area players pick their colleges

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


PAGE 1 BR 8Photo by Jeff Vorva

Brother Rice quarterback Cam Miller will continue his career at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan.


One area football player will be coached by Tom Sawyer.

One will be heading to Princeton.

A handful will be heading to downtown Chicago to play for Robert Morris University. A few will be staying even closer to home at St. Xavier University.

And this is only the beginning.

The Feb. 3 national signing day passed with several area players making their football decision official. While there was plenty of pomp and circumstance surrounding that date, there are still a load of players who will be making their decisions in the coming weeks and months.

Here is a look at the signees so far:


The RedHawks finished second in the state in Class 8A and offensive lineman Brent Holder is heading to Princeton and running back Darshon McCullough is going to Eastern Illinois University.

 “I am so proud of these guys,” Marist coach Pat Dunne said. “They have worked hard in the classroom and on the field, and it’s exciting to see them take it to the next level. I know they will both do well. They are great representatives of Marist football.”

One player who still has to make his decision is Reporter/Regional Player of the year Brendan Saklitzky, a quarterback who threw for 3,705 yards and ran for 1,088 more and accumulated 47 touchdowns. There are several opportunities for him to play quarterback at a smaller school but the door is open for him to join a bigger school as a preferred walk on and change positions.

Brother Rice

Quarterback Cam Miller and offensive lineman Jelani Edmond will continue to be teammates. The pair   will head to Saginaw Valley State in Michigan.

St. Laurence

Quarterback Alex Martinez is heading to St. Xavier University while receiver Willie Walton will continue his career at Division II Wayne State.

Offensive lineman Alex Negoski is heading to the University of Wisconsin Stout.


Linebacker Ian Chladek is heading to Robert Morris University.

Wide receiver Avery Verble committed to Winona State University, which is coached by a man named Tom Sawyer who said the converted quarterback “will fit in with some of the great receivers of the past.’’


Linebacker Tim Houlihan committed to Robert Morris University and defensive back Joe Doyle selected St. Xavier University.


The Astros will send receivers EJ Rueck and Alec Hufstedler to Robert Morris University.


Tight end Josh Sterling signed up with Robert Morris University.

Oak Lawn, Chicago Christian and Evergreen Park did not have any signees last week but could have some commit in the coming weeks.

At St. Xavier, 13 players committed to the NAIA power.

Aside from Martinez and Doyle, defensive back Tim Walsh, a transfer from Loras College and a graduate of Evergreen Park High School, will join the Cougars next season.

Other signees are offensive lineman Reid Adams (from Michigan), defensive back Trevon Anderson (Bolingbrook), wide receiver Harold Davis (Joliet Catholic Academy), linebacker Felix Imbanga (Urbana), linebacker Demetrius (DJ) Mack (Rockford Guilford), wide receiver Mike Markasovic (Providence Catholic), defensive lineman Dimitrije Milutinovic (Glenbrook North), offensive lineman Mike Ribando (South Elgin),  linebacker Danny Saracco (Plainfield South) and wide receiver Chris Simmons (Nazareth Academy).

“We’re not quite done yet, but I’m ecstatic with our class so far,” said SXU football coach Mike Feminis.  “This group is loaded with speed and athleticism on both sides of the ball.  It’s not a secret where our bread is buttered (Chicago area), because it’s been our philosophy for 18 years.  Even getting a kid from Michigan (Adams) only happened, because of his coach’s Chicago-area connection to our staff.”

He boasted about his new players.

“Markasovic, Davis and Simmons are the next wave of big-time playmakers for us and Alex Martinez is a tough, gritty, dual-threat QB, who really fits our system.  He’s a local kid and a winner,” said Feminis.  “Saracco was one of the top linebackers in the Joliet area for the last three years and Imbanga is similar to Omar Salazar (current SXU linebacker), not very big, but makes up for it with quickness and toughness.  Both of these guys also have a great nose for the ball and are physical tacklers.  Mack is an intriguing talent, who we think can play outside linebacker or rush end.

“Anderson is a shutdown corner we targeted early in the process and we’re expecting him to help us immediately,” Feminis added.  “Doyle is a solid addition too in the secondary and Walsh came home after playing a year at Loras College, so we're anxious to see what he can do.  On the O and D-lines you’re looking at three kids (Milutinovic, Ribando and Adams), who are physically ready to compete and play at the college level.  I wouldn’t be surprised if all of them made an impact as freshmen.”



Proposed street improvements planned for Worth

  • Written by By Sharon L. Filkins

The Illinois Department of Transportation held an open house last Thursday at the Worth Village Hall to inform residents about proposed plans for roadway improvements, which will also include Palos Hills.

The plans include widening and resurfacing, the addition of a center turn lane as well as pedestrian and bicycle accommodations, and intersection and drainage improvements.

On hand to explain the proposed project were representatives of IDOT and Hampton, Lenzini and Renwick, Inc., the engineering firm working with IDOT.

The presentation, defined as “public outreach,” is part of Phase I of a preliminary engineering and environmental study initiated by IDOT. It is the first outreach to the public, including businesses, residents and other stakeholders.

According to Kimberly K. Murphy, project manager with IDOT, the Improvement Project would complete improvements that had been made to 111th Street, east of Harlem Avenue, in the 1980s.

“Plans for these proposed improvements, west of Harlem, began being discussed approximately four or five years ago,” she said.

Murphy added that the proposal does not call for any demolishing of buildings. She explained that for the most part the right-of ways along 111th will be used for the improvements such as widening and the addition of a center turn lane from 76th Avenue to Octavia Avenue, and reconstruction of the pavement from Oketo Avenue to Octavia Avenue.

Other proposed work includes the addition of right turn lanes on the west, south and north legs at the intersection of 111th Street and Southwest Highway. Also, traffic signals and pedestrian signals will be replaced.

At Oketo Avenue and 111th Street, permanent traffic and pedestrian signals will be installed and left turn lanes added on the west and east legs.

Traffic and pedestrian signals will be replaced at 111th and Harlem, and the southbound left turn lane will be extended.

Murphy said that IDOT has been working with the Village of Worth to minimize any major negative impact of the proposed improvements. Mid-way through the open house, she commented that there seemed to be an interest in the project.

“We have not heard many objections to the proposals tonight, and this will definitely be an improvement to the area,” said Murphy.

However, resident Pamela Johnson, who lives in Hillcrest Manor, was not happy with the outlined plans.

“What is going to happen to the fence on our property? According to these plans, we are losing eight feet of our right-a-way,” said Johnson. “How much space will there be between the highway and the condos at 111th and Oketo Avenue?

“The proposed addition of a sidewalk will be where our fence is currently located and you are moving the lane closer to our house,” added Johnson. “There have been a lot of accidents there. What is to stop them from crashing into our living room?”

When an IDOT representative replied that the plans called for a curb to be placed there, Johnson asked what good would that do.

“A curb will not stop a truck from crashing through the fence,” she said angrily. “How would you feel if it were your home? Would you be happy about it? None of you care, because it is not your home.”

Village Engineer Mike Spolar responded with a suggestion that perhaps guard rails could be considered at that location. He then asked her to add her comments to the “Comment Box,” which was there to collect comments from the attendees.

“This is the purpose of this meeting tonight, to get input from all of you,” said Spolar. “Don’t hold back. Give them your thoughts and ideas. They want this information.”

Murphy said funding for the project for Phase I is not yet available. The majority of IDOT projects are funded with federal money with matching funds coming from the state.

Upon completion of Phase I, IDOT will initiate the preparation of contract plans and land acquisition (part of Phase II) once funding becomes available. Phase II typically lasts 18 to 24 months. Phase III (which is the construction phase) is also anticipated to take 18 to 24 months.

However, Phase II and Phase III are not currently included in IDOT’s FY 2016-21 Proposed Highway Improvement Program.

What this means is that while IDOT will review all the comments from the residents at last Thursday’s meeting and will integrate any changes into the Phase I plan, it could be many years before the proposed improvements are actually completed.

Murphy said there will not be another public meeting on Phase I but residents interested in viewing the completed plans and designs can visit the Proposed Highway Improvement Program on IDOT’s website.

Oak Lawn trustee questions village manager’s motives

  • Written by By Dermot Connolly

When the Oak Lawn Village Board was asked to approve a motion authorizing the village attorney to file paperwork necessary to recoup costs relating to a lawsuit filed by a former employee, Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) took issue with the public nature of it.

The incident involves the lawsuit filed by Chad Weiler against Village Manager Larry Deetjen and the village after his job as head of business operations was eliminated along with the department in 2013.

Streit and former 5th District Trustee Carole Quinlan had voted against the elimination, calling it political retribution because Weiler had supported former Mayor Dave Heilmann. In addition to citing political recrimination, Weiler had also accused Deetjen of firing him because he complained about racially charged remarks.

But on Jan. 14, 2015, the Illinois Department of Human Rights dismissed former Weiler's complaint against the village.

Attorney Patrick Connelly noted that the funds in question were not legal fees, but rather transcript and copying fees that he estimated could amount to between $6,000 and $7,500.

Streit, who has been a trustee since 1991, said he would not stand in the way of the village recouping money it was entitled to, but he questioned the practice of “planting routine legal matters on the agenda.”

The trustee accused Deetjen of doing it “for show.”

“In all my time serving on this bar, I do not recall one time that this board was ever asked to do this. This is a public show of vindictiveness against a former employee, a village resident,” said Streit.

“That was not what it was about,” said Trustee Mike Carberry (6th), urging Deetjen to address the issue.

“There is no intent to be vindictive. It is the taxpayers’ money,” said Deetjen. “The only show that was put on was done by a former employee.”

At the time Weiler’s job was eliminated, Deetjen said it was just a cost-cutting measure that saved the village $101,000 annually.

In other business, the board also approved a resolution authorizing a settlement agreement with Andrew Carroll, a former police officer who recently retired after being on desk duty due for some time.

The board also approved the hiring of a new police officer off the eligibility list to replace Carroll.

Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th) pointed out that the village will now have 109 officers on the force, up from 104 when he retired from the department in 2002.

“We’re making efforts to keep the community safe and the statistics show it is working,” he added.

Hickory Hills Council is in agreement on increased water rates

  • Written by By Sharon L. Filkins



The question of water rates was settled in Hickory Hills at the Jan. 28 council meeting with a unanimous approval of an ordinance affecting water rates, delinquent charges and turn-on fees.

Approval of the ordinance established a rate consisting of a basic user charge, water rate, minimum billing amount and a minimum charge for the use of water supplied by the City of Hickory Hills.

What this means to residents is that effective this past Monday, the basic user charge is $5.25 per month, increased from $4.80, regardless of whether any water is being used. The rate for water used shall be $7.80 per 1,000 gallons, increased from $7.26.

The ordinance also established a minimum charge for commercial users at $39 per monthly billing, and a $93.60 minimum per quarterly billing for residential users.

However, any single family residential user who qualifies as a senior citizen ages 65 years or older shall not be subject to the minimum billing amount and minimum charges.

Also outlined in the ordinance were new consequences for late pays on water bills. If a bill is not paid within 30 days, the city clerk will send a notice of delinquency by mail. The notice will state that if the delinquent bill is not paid within 10 days from the date of the notice, the water services will be turned off. The service will not resume until all water bills, including delinquencies, have been paid.

In order to restore services, there will be a $50 turn-on fee. If the city is required to restore water service more than one time in a 24-month period, the turn-on fee will be increased by $25. The fee will increase by $25 with each additional turn-on required.

Other action by the council resulted in good news for residents. The council voted unanimously to not add a $2.50 surcharge fee to the water rates that had been proposed by Treasurer Dan Schramm at the Jan. 14 council meeting. The surcharge proposal was to prepare for costs which would be imposed to satisfy mandates from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District regarding replacement of lateral lines to residential homes.

Public Works Director Larry Boettcher explained that he thought it was too early to try to plan for meeting these mandates of MWRD. “They have not yet been very clear on how a municipality is to accomplish these replacements. It is going to happen, but it is a long way down the road.

Aldermen Thomas McAvoy (3rd) and Mike McHugh (1st) agreed, saying there was not enough information yet on the mandates.

Schramm added that he was OK with waiting. “If we don’t have to do it this year, then I am fine with it,” he said.

In other business, the council approved an amendment to an ordinance changing the number of Class E liquor licenses from nine to 10, to include Sonny’s Slots & Café, located at 8841 W. 87th St. The vote to approve was 7-1, with Ald. Joe Stachnik (3rd) opposed.

In later comments, Stachnik said he voted against the ordinance as a protest to the name of the café.

“I would like the council to consider that a requirement be included in liquor licenses that the name of the business reflect a more residential atmosphere. We need to be conscious of the image we are projecting in the city,” he said.

Other approvals included the purchase of an Elgin Street Sweeper at a cost of $230,000 and final payments to a Gallagher Asphalt project, at $17,121, and $4,083 to AC Pavement Striping Company.

New Chicago Ridge ordinance enforces rental and property standards

  • Written by By Dermot Connolly



A new ordinance enforcing residential rental inspections and property maintenance in Chicago Ridge is aimed at ensuring that all residences being rented in the village meet health and safety standards.

The village board on Tuesday approved the ordinance, which had been under discussion for several months. The board agreed that the legislation was needed to address complaints of illegal conversions, and rental properties being poorly maintained, inside and out.

Now, anyone planning to rent a house, apartment or condo must allow the village to inspect their property annually.

“We really did need this,” said Trustee William McFarland afterward, explaining that in his role as a firefighter prior to being elected he saw a lot of properties that did not meet safety codes.

“We would see kitchens divided into separate rooms, that people were living in,” he said.

“It will also address the problem of parking,” McFarland said. “When you have several families living in a single-family house, and everyone has cars, it causes congestion. It’s really going to clean up the village.”

McFarland said that the inspection fee will be $200 for a single-family house, and $75 per apartment or condo.

If code violations are found, they must be fixed within 30 days. If things are still out of order when an inspector returns, fines for first offenses will be $100. Fines for repeat violations will go up to $300, and will keep adding up.

“We need to have an incentive for the property owners to take care of the problems,” said Trustee Jack Lind.

Mayor Chuck Tokar added that property owners continually in arrears on fines refuse to pay them may also have their rental licenses revoked, after a hearing.

Also at the meeting, the board voted to hire two part-time licensing officers to handle the inspections and licensing of rental properties. They will work 15-20 hours per week, at $13 an hour.

In other business, the trustees also approved the hiring of attorney Kevin Camden as legislative counsel, a newly created position. The vote was 5-1, with only Lind voting against it.

Trustee Fran Coglianese said that Camden’s role will be as a consultant, serving as a second opinion for trustees in cases where they disagree with the advice of village attorney Burt Odelson. So he will only be paid on a case by case basis, and won’t be at most village board meetings.

She said the decision was made to hire him after trustees interviewed about five candidates.

“He has experience as a legislative counsel, doing the type of work we need him for,” Coglianese said.

The board agreed to hire a legislative counsel last month, at the same meeting that four trustees voted against Tokar’s appointment of Odelson as village attorney.

Although the village attorney role is a mayoral appointment, Trustee Bruce Quintos maintained that the mayor should have sought the advice of trustees before officially appointing Odelson. He had been serving as acting village attorney since last spring, when George Witous retired.

Quintos said Camden’s hourly fee is $170, compared to $175 for Odelson.

But Lind said he voted against the legislative counsel, in part because of the added cost.

“Also, I’ve never worked under a system like this. I see no need for it,” he said.