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Dispatchers willing to compromise

  • Written by Bob Rakow

By Bob Rakow
Staff Reporter

  Emergency telecommunicators in Oak Lawn are willing to return to the bargaining table to negotiate an agreement that potentially would deter a proposal to replace them with an outsourced firm.
  The village’s dispatchers on Monday voted to meet with village officials to discuss a contract extension and the cost-saving measures proposed by the village, said Ron Cicinelli, an attorney for the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the union the represents the dispatchers.
  “We’re going to see if we can come up with an agreement between the two parties,” Cicinelli said.
  The union in late 2012 approved a contract with the village after a lengthy negotiation, Cicinelli said. The contract is set to expire in December 2014. The union is hopeful it could extend the contract through at least 2016, he said.
  One month after the current contract was ratified, the village asked the union to consider cost-saving measures, including deferring the 2.5 percent wage increase included in the contract, regular pay for overtime hours, hiring part-time dispatchers and changing the wage scale for new employees, Cicinelli said.

  The union overwhelmingly opposed the proposal and filed an unfair labor practice grievance with the Illinois Labor Relations Board, which was rejected. The union appealed the decision, and the village has responded, Cicinelli said.
  Village Manager Larry Deetjen said the cost-saving measures previously proposed by the village are no longer on the table. He added that he had not been notified as of Tuesday afternoon of the union’s desire to negotiate.
  Deetjen said he has entered “earnest” discussions with an outside firm to assume the village’s dispatching services.
  Village trustees recently gave Deetjen the authority to negotiate with two national dispatching firms to operate the emergency dispatch center, which handles fire, police and ambulance calls for Oak Lawn, Evergreen Park, Burbank and Bridgeview.
  The center also handles fire department calls for Bedford Park and a portion of the Central Stickney Fire Protection District.
  “The action of the board was very, very clear,” Deetjen said. “We’re talking millions of dollars. Our partners want us to drive the costs down.”
  Cicinelli said the union would sue the village if it replaces dispatchers with an outsourced firm.
  Deetjen said the potential move is not a reflection on the performance of the current dispatchers.
  Rather, the dispatch center is facing mounting expenses, which could cause some of its customers to leave. He added that if any of the towns the village serves choose another dispatch service, Oak Lawn would be forced to lay off dispatchers.
  The dispatchers do not believe that Deetjen’s decision to explore outside firms is a bluff, Cicinelli said.
  “The whole atmosphere at (Monday’s meeting) was tense,” he said. “Obviously, this is a very serious decision. You cannot go on the assumption that anyone is bluffing here. It’s a serious concern.”
  Kathy Hansen, the village’s director of emergency communications, said the center is losing revenue as more people eliminate land phone lines in favor of cell phones. The village receives $1 per a month from customers with land lines. It only receives 58 cents a month from cell phone users, Hansen said.

South Suburbs ready to show their stuff at Toyota Park

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne

  Members of the Southwest Conference of Mayors will host 10 communities at the Business Developers Summit next month in hopes of enticing new businesses, better traffic flow and major improvements to each community.

  Most of the communities have property along the Harlem corridor, which extends from 63rd Street to Interstate Highway 80 through 10 communities from Bedford Park to Tinley Park. Communities that don’t have property along Harlem Avenue are still expected to market the best of their municipality.
  “We started with a key list of 100 developers and we are asking each individual community to reach out to a developer they may know personally,” Southwest Conference of Mayors Executive Director Vicki Smith said. “We want each community to market their town, if they have a piece of property on Southwest Highway they can market that too, it’s not just for communities with property along the Harlem Avenue corridor.”
  For the past several months members of the Southwest Conference of Mayors and community leaders have prepared to showcase the best of their community. Over 1,000 business developers are expected to be contacted and at least 18 have already agreed to attend the Sept. 18 summit at Toyota Park.
  “All 10 communities will be at the summit and have an opportunity to market their community to business developers,” said Smith. “We are really excited for the summit, this is something we’ve never tried before and we expect to fill up with 40 to 60 developers.”
  Many communities such as Palos Hills and Chicago Ridge have already reached out to marketing firms in Chicago to acquire brochures, posters and other materials that will help to showcase the best of their community.
  “This is the first time we are able bring developers into each town to see what each community has to offer a potential developer,” said Palos Hills Mayor and President of the Southwest Conference of Mayors Gerald Bennett. “The summit is an important stage of the planning process and potential projects along the Harlem corridor.”
  Since Palos Hills only has a small section of land located along Harlem Avenue city officials are planning on showcasing other areas of the village in hopes of sparking economic development in the community, Bennett said.
  The Southwest Conference of Mayors in conjunction with Pace Bus, CTA, IDOT, Metra and RTA conducted studies along the Harlem Avenue corridor to improve transportation and development throughout each of the 10 communities. The 10 communities include, Bedford Park, Bridgeview, Burbank, Chicago Ridge, Oak Lawn, Orland Park, Palos Heights, Palos Hills, Tinley Park and Worth.
  Oak Lawn is currently conducting a similar study after receiving a grant from Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Oak Lawn officials along with CMAP teamed up with Teska Associates Inc. to study 95th Street from Pulaski Road to Harlem Avenue.
  “We are hoping to reach out to over a 1,000 developers and this is an excellent opportunity for each community to meet with potential developers and hopefully improve development in their community,” Bennett said.

Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: Looking at Weishfest, HS football, nerd dating and tough guys

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

 

COLOR - Jeff  One of the coolest tributes I’ve ever seen came in January at Brother Rice.
  Andrew Weishar, a Brother Rice alum who died of cancer at age 21 the previous fall, was honored before a boys basketball battle against bitter rival Marist and a couple of mats covering the walls were unveiled in his honor because he was the type of kid who would slam into a wall to keep the ball inbounds.
  Nearly a year after his death, friends and family are all but running through a wall to raise money for some of Andrew’s favorite causes. The Andrew Weishar Foundation’s mission is to send money to groups such as Cancer for College, the St. Damian Educate a Child Fund and the Illinois Wesleyan School Fund. The foundation is also raising money to aid families battling cancer or other life-changing illnesses.
  One of the ways the foundation is trying to make big bucks for these organizations is the first ever Weishfest. And this bash isn’t a small endeavor.
  The event takes place from 2 p.m. to midnight Sunday at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood. For $20 admission, folks can watch entertainment from Trippin’ Billies, Infinity and Sean and Charlie.
  For $50, you get all the food and beer and pop you can eat and drink.
  There are signs all over the area for this event and last week I saw someone spelled out WEISHFEST using plastic cups trough the holes of a chain link fence on the overpass along 294 near the western suburbs.
  As a rule, I don’t tell people where to go and how to spend their money because there are so many great causes out there. But this sounds like a pretty special fundraiser that will benefit a lot of people and may be around for a long time.

Ready for some football
  The high school football season is starting Friday night and our area teams will compete in nine games Friday and Saturday.
  This is one of my favorite times of the year. And hopefully it will be even more fun this year as the Reporter and Regional will hold its footballCOLOR-4-col FB-Preview-sideline-hitExpect some high-flying action starting Friday when high school football opens up over the weekend. picks in the sports section.
  Five fine experts will battle it out for bragging rights to see who will become the champion picker.
  While we realize that some teams that we don’t pick will be mad at us and claim we don’t respect them and try to use this for motivation, we still want to keep it light and fun.
  Sports editor Ken Karrson, myself and Anthony Nasella have oh, about three quarters of a century of sports writing experience. Former Reporter Editor Jason Maholy said he wants to be in on the action. And reader Wally Findysz of Worth will also be picking.
  Wally said he is the vice president of K&S Precision Metals, teaches a marriage enrichment class for Oak Lawn Bible Church and played football and baseball for St. Rita High School and baseball at Bellarmine University in Louisville. He said he’s been watching and reading about Illinois high school football for 25 years, so he is going to give us a run for our money.
  Let the games begin…

Nerd dating
  There is an old news phrase “if it bleed, it leads.”
  With this column, the philosophy is that “if it makes me grin — it’s in.”
  After going through hundreds of emails a day, I enjoy those that make me chuckle and guffaw.
  One of them came the other day. It was labeled Speed Dating for Nerds.
  The literary genius who wrote this prose deserves a prize.
  “Be a star during quick connections with other smart singles at a celebrigeek themed mixer,” it says. “Strike a pose during one on one matches, then rotate seats to meet more single hot shots.
  “Grant exclusive interviews using a selection of optional, nerd inspired conversation prompts.
  “Share your 15 minutes of fame during a Shake it Like a Polaroid post round mingler where attendees show off their moments in the nerd spotlight.
  “Send and receive fan mail throughout the evening using a personal letterbox.
  “Get red carpet ready with prizes like paparazzi sunglasses, Super Mario bling and Star Trek money clips.
  “And, toast your success with drink specials like the Laureate (a prize worthy concoction of Goldschlager, Southern Comfort and Sprite), the Indie Rocker (a vintage cocktail with gin, champagne and a dark twist of bitters) and the Tech Titan (whiskey and lager disrupted with mint and sugar).”
  This affair will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8 at the Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace St. in Chicago.
  The phone number for more information is (855) 637-3568, which translates to (855) NERD-LOVE.

The ultimate WHAT?
  Continuing along with the giggle-worthy events, if you happen to in the Macomb area Friday, a dude by the name of Joe Decker, who the Guiness Book of World Records calls the “World’s Fittest Man” will put on quite a show.
  This guy will put on a show called “The Ultimate Suck” which already has my inner Beavis activated. This is a 36-hour race for the tough guys or a mere 12-hour mini-option for who I assume are the pantywaists of the group.
  “With The Suck, I want to bring awareness about this type of event to the Midwest, which traditionally does not offer anything like this,” Decker said in a news release. “Generally, fitness tests like The Suck are offered on the coasts or in the Rockies. The 12-hour race will start the same time as the 36-hour race, but will only be roughly one-third of the events.
  “My goal is to combine Midwestern farm chores with military boot camp, trail running, strongman training, basic survival skills and whatever else somewhat punishing, but enjoyable, activities I can come up with. I would strongly suggest competitors get proficient at all the military physical training tests and standards.”

 

Area responders put to the test

  • Written by Kelly White

 

  First responders from police andDOUBLER-RUN-3-col-fullscale-exerciseStudents and mannequins line the floor in the Oak Lawn High School gym Sunday for a full-scale exercise depicting a shooting at the school. fire departments on Chicago’s South Side and south suburbs were given a unique opportunity this weekend, as they ran through a stimulated high school shooting.

  The Village of Oak Lawn in conjunction with Oak Lawn Community High School and Advocate Christ Medical Center hosted a full scale exercise Sunday at Oak Lawn Community High School.
  Headed by Cmdr. Arthur L. Clark from the Oak Lawn Police Department, Coordinator for the Oak Lawn Emergency Management Agency, a total of more than 370 people from more than 35 agencies were involved in the drill.
  “This was the first full scale exercise at Oak Lawn High School,” Clark said. “We have held other full scale exercises in Oak Lawn, most recently in 2010. Oak Lawn High School was selected because of its size. It is considered a large venue, meaning the number of people and the size of the physical plant, and it was available on the date.”
  Police and fire officials were broken into teams to have a chance to experience a real-life stimulated high school shooting, with the help of Oak Lawn Community High School students, playing both live and injured or dead victims in the scenario. Police and fire officials were able to talk with the students, as they explained how and when the stimulated shooting took place, where the shooter ran to and indications on how to find him, using frightened tone of voices and screaming as if a real-life shooting had just occurred.
  The exercise began with a frightened student making a flustered stimulated 911 call to the Oak Lawn Police Department to announce a shooting had just occurred at the school gym. Within minutes, the hallways were flooded with police and fire department officials.
  Students played injured victims along with mannequins lined throughout the hallways and gymnasium. Shell casings from bullets lined the floors with “do not cross” taping to mark off dead bodies.
  The exercise was designed test response capabilities to a mass casualty/active shooter event. First Responders from more than 25 local Police and Fire Departments along with representatives from local hospitals, Cook County, State and Federal Agencies participated in this drill, including fire/EMS responders from Alsip, Bedford, Bridgeview, Burbank, Central Stickney, Chicago Ridge, Evergreen Park, Hometown, North Palos, Oak Forest, Oak Lawn, Orland Park, Palos Heights, Palos Park, Roberts Park and Summit, along with police responders from Alsip, Bridgeview, Burbank, Chicago Ridge, Evergreen Park and Oak Lawn, and hospital and other agency responders from Advocate Christ Medical Center, Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Loyola, Region VII Hospitals, Chicago Red Cross, Cook County Medical Examiner, Oak Lawn Community High School, Oak Lawn 911 Center, Training Command and Great Lakes Naval and Training Center.
  “This exercise allows First Responders an opportunity to work together in a realistic setting with all the equipment and vehicles that would be needed in a large-scale disaster.” Clark said.
  The exercise tested the capabilities of first responders to respond to the immediate and long term implications of a mass casualty/active shooter event and local hospitals’ ability to surge and treat mass trauma victims. This exercise is part the first responders’ ongoing commitment to community preparedness and school safety. This was one of the largest multi-agency events occurring in the state prior to the start of the new school season.
  Cmdr. Clark explained sometimes the most difficult thing to do in a mass shooting tragedy is finding or identifying the shooter. Police and fire teams were all given the opportunity to locate the attacker acting out the event.
  If a shooting were to take place at Oak Lawn High School, the school would remain on lockdown until all injured students, staff and faculty members were cared for and the shooter was taken into custody.
  Clark added the Oak Lawn Police Department works closely with all Oak Lawn Schools during the school year to promote school safety through a number of different programs.

 

Worth Park District commissioner resigns

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Cites ‘personal reasons’ for leaving shortly after Orland Park arrest

 

  A Worth Park District commissioner resigned shortly after being charged with indecent solicitation to meet a child, Orland Park police said.
  Anthony M. Martin, 46, was charged Aug. 21, one week after police received a complaint from the child’s mother.
  The charge against Martin, a felony, stems from text messages he allegedly sent over a 10-hour period Aug. 3 and 4 to a 14-year-old Orland Park girl, who he met at a party, according to 20-page police report.
  Martin was released on $100,000 bond the following day, said Orland Park Police Commander John Keating.
  Attempts to reach Martin for comment were unsuccessful.
  He submitted his resignation Aug. 21 and subsequently turned in his commissioner’s handbook and other materials, Worth Park District Director Carlo Capalbo said.
  Martin cited “personal reasons” for his resignation, said Capalbo, who was unaware of the criminal charge against the former commissioner.
  “I have no knowledge of that whatsoever,” he said.
  Martin became a park district commissioner in April following a successful write-in campaign for an open seat on the five-member board.

  Martin works with the boyfriend of the girl’s mother and the party was thrown by their boss, police said.
  Martin’s texts allegedly asked the girl if she drank, was interested in piercings and if he could sneak her out for an overnight visit so she could get her navel pierced.

  Martin allegedly called the girl a “sexy dork” and asked if she would like to “mess around with” him or consider getting to know him romantically, police said. He allegedly asked her to send him a picture of her belly, face, fully clothed or whatever she wanted to send him, reports said.
  Police said the girl also told them that Martin touched her inappropriately while at the party. She said she did not react to being touched and did not tell anyone while at the party, police said.
  According to police, the girl told her mother about the texts several days after the party. Her mother told her to delete the messages so she would not have to look at them any longer. She first took screen shots of the texts, which were forwarded to Orland Park police the report said.
  The Orland Park police said that he admitted to sending the messages while he was drinking and added that he probably should not have sent them, according to reports. He allegedly told police he did not recall the entire contents of the texts, but realized the following morning upon reviewing them that he should not have sent them.

  Martin said he asked the victim for her email address and added that he knew she was under 18 years old, police said.

  Capalbo said he will appoint a candidate to fill the remainder of Martin’s two-term on the park board. Anyone interested should call the park district at 448-7080 for information.