MVCC police question person of interest after online threats

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Police at the Moraine Valley Community College campus in Palos Hills have detained a person of interest they were questioning on Monday afternoon regarding an alleged online threat to students that was sent out through a Twitter account on Sunday night.

The Palos Hills Police Department was also involved in the investigation. The alleged threat was sent out on the Twitter account @MValleydies and included photos of an assault rifle and two ammunition clips. The account has since been deactivated. However, parents contacted the school Monday morning and many students did not arrive at class due to the online threats.

The person who sent the online threat had been complaining about being bullied. The Twitter message sent out read: “You and your friends bullied me!!! I can’t wait to kill all you tomorrow haha you will not laugh at me anymore!!! You took away my soul…I’m taking you guys lives! Me and my AR.”

Despite the threats, school was still in session on Monday and Tuesday. Traci Hlado, deputy chief for the Palos Hills police department, said the investigation was currently in the hands of the Moraine Valley police.

“We did add extra security on Monday at Moraine Valley,” Hlado said. “We did it for security reasons and to help them out, just in case.”

Officials from the Moraine Valley police said they continued to hold the person of interest in custody on Tuesday. While continuing to hold talks with the individual, the Moraine Valley police have not charged the person as of Tuesday afternoon. They did not indicate if the person in custody was a Moraine Valley student or if he is accused of sending the Twitter messages.

With the addition of the Palos Hills police, security was noticeably tighter Monday at Moraine Valley. As a precaution, security was also tightened at the Blue Island and Tinley Park campuses. Moraine Valley officials said no students would be penalized for missing classes on Monday.

A statement was released by officials at the Palos Hills campus that said “the college takes all threats against its students seriously and is following the guidance of law enforcement.”

Moraine Valley officials also stated in a tweet on Monday morning that there is no indication at this time that the threat was credible.


Richards students volunteer to crochet 'Little Red Hats' for newborns

  • Written by Kelly White


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Photo by Kelly White

Carrington Stewart, 17 of Oak Lawn, crochets newborn hats to be delivered to Advocate Children's Hospital in conjunction with the Little Red Hat campaign on Feb. 12 at Richards High School in Oak Lawn. 

Carrington Stewart has a heart made for helping others.

As a member of the Richards High School National Honors Society, Stewart likes to spend her free time volunteering. She aspires to one day become a rheumatologist.

I like helping others in any way I can,” said Stewart, 17, of Oak Lawn. “Being a rheumatologist will allow me the opportunity to help other people who are in pain. I will be able to work with those daily who are in need of my care.”

Stewart most recently spent her time volunteering after school, with other Richards NHS members, crocheting little red hats for newborn babies at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital at Christ Medical Center, 4440 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn.

The Little Red Hat campaign takes place nationwide. It ties in conjunction the American Heart Association and The Children's Heart Foundationto celebrate American Heart Month by crocheting red hats for babies born in February at participating hospitals. Supporters, like Stewart, are crocheting red hats to be given out to thousands of newborns during American Heart Month in order to empower moms to live heart healthy lives.

The little red hat is a simple reminder for parents to talk about the future health of their newborns and make sure that they and their loved ones are screened for cardiovascular diseases.

I chose to volunteer because I really like the underlying cause,” said Sam Popp, 17, of Oak Lawn.

Under the supervision of Dorothy Groff, the NHS moderator at Richards, the students met after school at Richards, 10601 S. Central Ave., Oak Lawn, to crochet as many hats as they could.

The students, who were responsible for bringing in their own yarn and crocheting hooks, also met in the month of January, and were also allotted time out of class to crochet.

What makes this project unique is that the students are crocheting the hats completely by themselves,” Groff said. “This is a project that anyone can do. We have both female and male students helping out.”

This is the first year Richards participated in the Little Red Hats campaign with only NHS students, made up of junior and seniors, including Marissa Collins.

When I first heard about this project, I thought it would not only be fun to learn how to crochet, but it’s also a way to help other people, so it’s a win-win for me,” said Collins, 17, of Chicago Ridge.

The majority of the students did not know how to crochet prior to participating in the project, according to Groff, who took time to demonstrate how to crochet and even worked with students on a one-on-one basis.

In the beginning, it was a little rough getting them started, but once they got the hang of it, they’ve really been amazing,” Groff said. “Students are coming to me in between classes to ask for help or for reminders on how to crochet, but they are really getting into it.”

I learned how to crochet here in class,” Collins said. “It’s a little harder than I expected it to be, but now that I have the hang of it, it’s a lot easier.”

Groff’s students made over 100 hats to be sent to Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital during the beginning of March to be used for babies born during the month of February in 2019. The hospital is already collecting hats for next year. All of the hats created will be washed by hospital staff prior to distribution.

Groff does plan on holding the project again next year.

I’ve received such positive feedback from students,” she said. “Next year, I would like to get started in December to have the hats delivered by February.”


Lipinski, Newman square off at Moraine Valley forum

  • Written by Steve Metsch

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Photo by Steve Metsch

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (3rd) and challenger Marie Newman shake hands after their political forum Wednesday night at Moraine Valley Community College. 

The two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination – and barring a miracle – the next two-year term in Congress representing the 3rd Congressional District, went toe-to-toe for about an hour Wednesday night.

A political forum, not a debate, hosted by the League of Women Voters was held in a large meeting room in Building M at Moraine Valley Community College. An overflow crowd estimated at about 500 heard from the incumbent, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, and challenger, Marie Newman.

Newman took the more aggressive role, taking shots at Lipinski’s record throughout the evening and talking about changes she’d bring to the job. Afterward, she said she thought the evening “did a really nice job of creating a clear contrast between Mr. Lipinski … our value systems and our moral systems.”

“I think a lot of people don’t understand his voting record and his dangerous views. He doesn’t seem to believe people deserve a livable wage, affordable child care, and paid leave and benefits for folks who work hard. When he says he’s for working families, I find that very hard to believe,” Newman said in the lobby.

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                                                                        Photo by Steve Metsch

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski answers a question during Wednesday night’s forum at Moraine Valley Community College.

Lipinski, who saved harder verbal jabs for his closing statement, said afterward that the format was difficult because he was unable to answer charges levied against him by Newman.

Neither candidate responded to frequent catcalls from the audience. One especially vocal Newman supporter left before he was asked to leave.

In his closing comments, Lipinski touted being endorsed by the Illinois AFL/CIO and 25 other unions, including the Fraternal Order of Police, and by the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times.

“I’ve fought for women in the workplace. I’ve fought for fair treatment of women and equal pay for equal work. That’s why I’m endorsed by 56 women who are elected officials in this district. I work with local elected officials to solve problems, transportation, flooding, railroad noise and other issues. That’s why I’ve been endorsed by 30 suburban mayors and seven Chicago aldermen in the 3rd District,” Lipinski said.

Each candidate took turns answering questions submitted by the audience and covering a wide range of issues. They were asked by Annie Logue, president of the League of Women Voters of Chicago. She ran a tight ship, often reminding audience members to not shout comments and refrain from applauding.

The first question, a timely one given the recent shootings in Florida, was about curbing gun violence.

Newman endorses extensive background checks, and urged reviving a ban on assault weapons or have a semiautomatic weapon ban.

“Responsible gun owners should have as many guns as they like, however, some – domestic abusers, criminals, terrorists, and those with mental illness – should not have guns. That’s just common sense,” Newman said.

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                                                                         Photo by Steve Metsch

Democratic challenger Marie Newman answers a question during Wednesday night’s 3rd Congressional District forum at Moraine Valley Community College.

Lipinski said he “received an ‘F’ from the NRA,” adding that he’s co-sponsored and voted for bills urging more background checks, and wants limits on the ammo capacity of guns. More, he said, should be done for mental health care as well. “There’s a lot we have to do.”

Reproductive rights, a hot button issue in the campaign, were also discussed.

Lipinski said he’s working on trying to help women “who have an unplanned pregnancy and are seeking help,” adding “there’s more we can do to help women so they don’t feel it necessary to seek an abortion.”

Newman said “I do trust women, and families to do what they need in accordance with their beliefs,” noting that “Mr. Lipinski has tried to defund Planned Parenthood seven times.”

The district’s diverse population, which includes many Muslim and Arab residents, needs attention, Newman said: “There is hate and divisiveness and we need to stop that. The way to do that is to get to know one another.”

Lipinski said he has reached out, visiting with Muslim and Arab groups.

“When Donald Trump put in his travel ban, which was a message of discrimination, I spoke against that. I went to the prayer center in Orland Park, and did the same at the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview,” he said.

Newman got several loud cheers when she took Lipinski to task over lesbian and gay issues.

Lipinski said “every individual should be treated with dignity.” He voted 10 years ago to add sexual orientation to federal hate crime laws and voted to end “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military, he said.

“That’s fascinating,” Newman said. “This is the gentleman who sat next to me at the Sun-Times editorial board meeting on Jan. 24 and indicated he does not believe in marriage equality and would not support it. I find it fascinating he’s interested in dignity. I will fight for everyone’s rights. Human rights are human rights.”

In a rare moment, both agreed that the gerrymandering of congressional districts must be looked at closely. But Newman called it “fascinating” since Lipinski “worked closely with (Illinois Speaker of the House) Mike Madigan and his groups to cut out whole parts of an existing congressional district because he didn’t seem to think he wanted them.”

Funding also was brought up as an issue.

After Newman said Lipinski had taken $1.7 million in what she termed “dark money” from a Republican PAC in North Carolina, he said he had “no idea what she is talking about,” adding that Newman has accepted funding from a Washington-based super PAC “pouring at least $1 million into her campaign.”

There was a clear division between them about legalization of marijuana.

Lipinski brushed it off, saying he would “allow the states to do what they are going to do,” adding he looked forward to answering questions about “bread-and-butter issues most people in the 3rd District are concerned about.”

Newman favors legalizing marijuana. She said she had three reasons, but only mentioned “it does help people in pain, and it does have other medicinal purposes.”

Lipinski touted his bringing $375 million in transportation funding to the district, but Newman said the Midway area needs reviving. She’d use empty space near the airport to provide training for trades.

Paying down the federal debt, increased by Trump’s “federal tax scheme,” is a problem, Lipinski said: “We need the courage to make the tough choices. Will there need to be cuts? Will we have to raise taxes?”

Newman suggested installing a “financial transaction tax that would not hurt anyone, it’s pennies, pennies,” but offered no details on how it would “bring the debt down dramatically.”

In the end, each side claimed victory. That will be determined by the voters at the March 20 primary. No other forums or debates are scheduled between the two.

In attendance was the Republican candidate Art Jones, who showed up even though he was not invited to take part.

Wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap, Jones said he was disappointed to have not been included.

“I think Lipinski has got a fight on his hands, which is too bad because she’s really out in left field,” said Jones, a Holocaust denier.


Maybe the Games can bring North and South Korea together

  • Written by Kevin Coyne

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                                                      Photo by Kevin Coyne

Korean fans have been enthusiastic during the Winter Olympics.


Editor’s Note: Southwest Regional Publishing correspondent Kevin Coyne, along with his family and friends -- Jake, Bailey, Kendall’s fiancé Michael Schofield and parents John and Ahlise -- traveled from Chicago to South Korea to watch Kendall Coyne compete for Team USA in ice hockey. She will be playing in the Gold Medal game tonight – Thursday. This is the second of Kevin’s three columns from Korea.

GANGNEUNG, South Korea – The 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics could go down in history as the starting point to mending the relationship between North Korea and South Korea. Over the past week, the family has witnessed serval milestones, world records and countless act of kindness.

We’ve spent hours watching the greatest athletes in the world compete on both ice and snow. We’ve seen ice hockey, figure skating, speed skating, skeleton, snowboarding, skiing, and the opening ceremonies. Our primary reason for the visit is women’s ice hockey, which we’ve witnessed a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the American’s first three games against Finland, Team Olympic Athletes from Russia, and Canada.

We dropped in to watch the Korean men’s game, which was one of the highlights of the Olympic experience. The Korean men’s ice hockey team attracted a sellout crowd of 12,000 spectators when it faced off against the Czech Republic, Feb. 15, at the Gangneung Ice Arena.

Besides the fact that the Koreans contained the more experienced team from the Czech Republic to a one-goal game, it was fascinating to see how the Korean people would jump in excitement every time the home team touched the puck.

You would think the Koreans won a gold medal after a hometown hero fired a shot into the opposing goaltender’s chest from above the top of the circle.

A group of nearly 200 North Koreans filled the entire section behind the south end of the rink. The group moved carefully in unison with the help of a conductor at the bottom of the stairs.

A young Korean-American man from Philadelphia translated what the North Korean group chanted in a song-like manner, “We must come together … We must unify … We must be one Korea.”


           Kevin Coyne

 Other than chants of unification, the Koreans are some of the most honorable and law-abiding people we have ever encountered. People leave their belongings unattended without any hesitation or fear of someone stealing them.

I spent one afternoon looking for souvenirs or gifts to bring back home. During my trip I encountered several locals who went out of their way to help me with the language barrier. One store owner gave me 1,000-won back as a discount and then offered me a commemorative key chain for Korean New Year.

We spoke with countless English-speaking Koreans who have provided us with fun facts or interesting tidbits of information. For instance, due to the outlandish parking violations, people usually leave their phone number on the dashboard so when someone needs to move their car they can call the person who parked them into a spot.

Transportation to and from the venues has been a bit of a challenge but after a week, we are starting to become familiar with the area surrounding our home in Gangneung.

We’ve done our best to be polite by learning some of the common phrases in Korean. Other than our limited Korean, we’ve been able to communicate by more creative means such as using business cards from nearby businesses to provide to a cab driver our address.

Other than communication and transportation issues, we’ve enjoyed a handful of traditional Korean restaurants. In typical American fashion, we had no idea how to eat with chop sticks, forgot to take our shoes off before walking into the dining area, and spent time trying to figure out the exact way to assemble our perfect meal with a mixture of sides and meat.

At the end of the day, we’ve enjoyed our time learning about a new culture while watching all the excitement of the Olympic Games. It’s been the trip of a lifetime and it’s amazing to share this time with family and plenty of new friends.

Evergreen Park mayor decries culture of crime

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

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                                                                    Photo by Dermot Connolly

First responders and civilians stood outside for hours to salute as the hearse carrying the body of slain Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer as it passed through the gates of Holy Sepulchre Cemetery on Saturday.


It was a case of “no holds barred” at the Evergreen Park Village Board meeting on Monday night as Mayor James Sexton spoke his mind about the shooting death last week of Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer.

“People may say that I am prejudiced about our police, but that is OK. I come from a long line of family members in law enforcement and so does my wife. So, yes, I am prejudiced about law officers who lay their lives on the line every day to protect our citizens,” Sexton said.

Sexton read from a newspaper clipping he had copied and presented to the board members regarding the lengthy police record held by the suspect, Shomari Legghette, charged in the murder of Bauer.

“This guy is nothing but a scumbag who is not worthy of being called by name and he should never have been back on the street.”

Reciting how many times the suspect had been arrested, sentenced to prison, and then released on probation, Sexton said, “We are going in the wrong direction with this. We have this liberal system that thinks a little marijuana is OK. Well, if a small bag of dope is OK, then a bigger bag will be OK and before we know it, people will be carrying 40 pounds of dope around in the car and it will be OK. Small things start to balloon and then it leads to bigger things.”

Sexton referred to a statement made by Bauer just weeks before he was killed in the line of duty.

“This is how I look at it, I want them off the street,” Sexton said.

The mayor added that the system is a complete mess and only getting worse.

“Our police arrest these criminals, they are charged with an offense, it goes to court and the judge sets the sentence and then they end up back on the streets,” Sexton said. “The system is a complete mess and only getting worse. It needs to be stopped.”

The mayor then turned his attention to the fire department.

“I have praised our police and I can’t overlook the excellent work of our fire department,” Sexton said.

He praised the 2017 annual report presented by Fire Chief Ron Kleinhaus, which reflected that the department responded to 758 fire incidents and 2,461 EMS incidents for a total of 3,219 calls for service in 2017.

“These numbers reflect an increase of 136 responses over our 2016 totals,” Kleinhaus. said.

“Once again, we are pleased to report another year without civilian injuries or death as a result of structure fires, an on-going testament to our fire prevention and public education efforts,” he said.

On a lighter note, the report also included the information that at the request of NBC Television, two fire department vehicles -- Truck Co. 75 and Engine Co. 118 -- reprised their roles as “extras” for the series finale of “Chicago Fire.”

In other business, an ordinance was approved for the reservation of Volume Cap in connection with private activity bond issues and related matters. The approval is done annually to allow the village to sell any surplus bonds in the amount of $10,000.

Also approved was an ordinance providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds, series 2018, and for the levy of a direct annual tax sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on the bonds. Sexton said the action was to help pay for the new community center.

Other approvals included a payout to architect Craig Podalak in the amount of $48,400 for architectural services, and a business certificate for Eyebrow Threading Place at 3342 W. 95th St.