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Runners heat up 5K courses for good causes

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Page-4-4-col-startRunners bolt at the start of the second Freedom Isn’t Free race. Oak Lawn’s Dan Regaldo (center wearing No. 133) won the race. Submitted photo.        More than 600 runners hit area streets to compete in a pair of worthwhile 5K running events over the chilly weekend.
  The action started Saturday at the Hickory Hills’FRONT-COLOR-1-col-and-page-4-3-colChicago’s Mircea Bogdan won the fourth Hickory Hills Lions Club 5K run on Saturday. Photo by Jeff Vorva. Lions Club’s Fourth Roar and Run for Fun 5K. There were 103 who finished the race, which was won by Chicago’s Mircea Bogdan in 17 minutes, 16.1 seconds.
  “I do a lot of races in the Chicago area and I just found out about it online,” the 31-year-old Bogdan said. “I was looking for a good race and this was fun. I might come back next year.”
  Palos Heights’ Jan Mydra finished in second place and Hickory Hills’ Jakub Zajac was third. Tinley Park’s Maureen Spinler-Kracik was sixth overall and the top female finisher.
  Money and food donations for this run will go to are families who need help in the community.
  The following day, the second Freedom Isn’t Free run kicked off at Brother Rice High School and ran through the streets of Evergreen Park.
Page-4-3-col-man-and-dogKazimierz Fryowicz, 65, of Hickory Hills and his dog, Kia, get ready to cross the finish line in Hickory Hills on Saturday, finishing 18th in the race. He said he has run in all four of the Lions’ Club’s races. Photo by Jeff Vorva.  There were 399 athletes who finished the race and Race Director Shawn Hughes said there were more than 100 more military personnel running in uniform who were not timed.
  “To have 500 people participating in this event was just awesome,” Hughes said.
  Dan Regalado, a 26-year-old runner from Oak Lawn, won the even with a time of 17:57. Oak Lawn’s Manny Cavez finished second and Orland Park’s Michael McNicholas was third. The top female finisher was Jackie Ott of Island Lake and she finished eighth overall.
  The event honored Marine Corps Cpl. Conner Lowry, a Brother Rice graduate who died in action in March, 2012, in Afghanistan.
  All proceeds from the Freedom Isn’t Free 5K event will go to the Cpl. Conner Lowry Memorial Scholarship Fund at Brother Rice.

The heat is on — Hickory Hills chief warns residents about pending weapons law

  • Written by Kelly White

  Illinois residents planning to pack heat when the state’sPage-5-1-col-gun-story new Concealed Carry Law goes into effect in January need to become more familiar with the law and how it works.
  Hickory Hills Police Chief, Alan Vodicka, addressed residents and the city council last Thursday on this issue, with concerns including requirements to obtain a conceal and carry license, gun control and which businesses will be affected.
  “We are anticipating somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 people in the state of Illinois to apply for a Concealed Carry License,” Vodicka said. “Obtaining a license is still a work in progress with two options for background checks, fingerprinting or running one’s background without fingerprinting.
  “The difference is the turnover rate in which one would receive his or her license,” Vodicka added, “If they do the fingerprint background check, there will be a 60-day turnover, and if they run their background without fingerprints, there will be a 180 day-turnover.”
  Fingerprinting will be offered at local police stations for a fee to be determined throughout the state of Illinois.
  If an order of protection is placed on an individual living within the state of Illinois, his or her Concealed Carry License will automatically be revoked. Anyone who has been issued a medical marijuana card cannot have a Concealed Carry License.
  If an Illinois resident already has a Firearm Owners Identification card to legally possess or purchase firearms or ammunition, they still must obtain a conceal and carry license. “They are definitely two separate things,” Vodicka said.
  Illinois State Police Officers will continue to enforce the law in effect by arresting any person carrying a firearm without a Concealed Carry License. Anyone living within the state of Illinois is eligible to apply for a Concealed Carry License who wants to carry a concealed firearm, except current peace officers and retired police officers eligible under a federally approved retired officer concealed carry program, such as the Illinois Retired Officer Concealed Carry (IROCC) Program. Retired officers may be eligible to carry under either the IROCC Program or the Firearm Concealed Carry Act.
  “Current police officers are except from the Concealed Carry Law and are allowed in prohibited buildings with their concealed firearm, as they always have been,” Vodicka added.
  Residents obtaining a Concealed Carry License will not be able to carry their firearms openly. A handgun carried on a person must be concealed from view of the public. If the firearm is not concealed, that individual is subject to arrest.
  Vodicka said a concealed firearm is described as a handgun. A handgun means any device which is designed to expel a projectile or projectiles by the action of an explosion, expansion of gas or escape of gas that is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand. A handgun does not include a stun gun or taser, a machine gun, a short-barreled rifle or shotgun, any pneumatic gun, spring gun or paintball gun.
  There are also locations within the state which will prohibit any concealed firearms. “These places only apply to the patrons visiting them,” Vodicka said. “This does not apply to the owner of a property, and again, police officers are except from this.”
  Prohibited locations include: schools/child care facilities, colleges/universities, courthouses, libraries, government buildings, public playgrounds, public parks, public transportation, public gatherings, parades, museums, stadiums, zoos and bars and restaurants that have over 50 percent of total sales from alcohol.
  Signage is required to be posted at every public entrance accessible in these buildings to inform the general public concealed firearms are prohibited within the facility. The signage is required to display an image approved by Illinois legislation.
  Any non-residential building or business may prohibit firearms by choice but must also have signage at every accessible entrance in order for it to be enforced.
  “Businesses have the option to decide whether or not they want to prohibit concealed firearms,” Vodicka said. “I actually asked a couple businesses throughout town and they surprisingly said they were fine allowing concealed firearms within their place of business.”
  Signage will begin to be posted throughout Hickory Hills and the state of Illinois after first of this year. “The signs are very important,” Vodicka said. “There are a few different signs to choose from prohibiting firearms, but regardless, whichever is chosen, it needs to be posted at every entrance on a building prohibiting firearms.”
  He also said there will be a parking lot exemption for concealed firearm holders. A licensee may carry a concealed firearm in the immediate area surrounding his or her vehicle within a prohibited parking lot area only for the limited purpose of storing or retrieving a firearm from within the vehicles truck, provided the licensee ensures the concealed firearm is unloaded prior to exiting the vehicle.
  “Their gun must be unloaded and broken down inside of their vehicle, before exiting the vehicle and placing it into their truck and entering the building,” he said.

Regional’s ‘Miracles’ story takes first at NINA Awards

  The Regional News ran away with one award at the Northern Illinois Newspaper Awards dinner last Thursday at the University Suite at the Holmes Student Center in DeKalb.

  Former Regional News reporter Jeff Vorva won first place in the Best Sports Story, Nondaily category for a feature titled “Miracles can happen.”
  The story was about former Sandburg High School athlete Lukas Verzbicas’s return to competitive running just a few months after he suffered life-threatening injuries after a bike accident in Colorado and doctors told him he might never walk again.
  The judges said: “Writer Jeff Vorva captures the essence of an ultimate human interest story — from elite high school runner to life-threatening accident to reincarnation. Pertinent quotes from others sources, research and details all enhance this.”
  Vorva was named editor of the Reporter in August.
  “Lukas had the horrific and tough job of creating the story,” Vorva said. “I had the easy job of writing about it.”
  Earlier in the year, the story took second place in the B Division of the Illinois Press Association contest.
  Regional and Reporter Sports editor Ken Karrson also brought home hardware in the IPA for second place in Division B headline writing for “Kamp fire doesn’t warm Knights” for a story about Chicago Christian basketball player’s 33 points in a losing effort against Aurora Central Catholic.
  Former Reporter Editor Jason Maholy took third place in the same category with his news headline “Oak Lawn gives bigger teeth to dog ordinance.” The judges said it was “very clever.”
  Maholy also won an honorable mention for Division B Spot News Photo for his image of “Random Hearts in the Snow.”
  The judges said: “Not sure this is exactly spot news but the judges had to look at it more than once, which makes a compelling photo.”
  Vorva was also a finalist for the Chicago Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor Award for a news feature on Palos Park shooting victim Brian Reed’s decision to live after suffering horrific injuries that have left him paralyzed.

Illinois Attorney General looks into denied FOIA requests in OL

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  The Illinois Attorney General will review an Oak Lawn trustee’s partially denied request for email communications between the village manager and attorney.
  The attorney general’s Public Access Bureau on Oct. 21 asked the village to provide unredacted copies of the emails requested by Trustee Carol Quinlan.
  “We have determined that further review is warranted,” the attorney general said in a letter to the village.
  The Public Access Bureau grants most of the appeals it receives, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office said. It can decide to uphold the village’s partial denial or direct it to turn over the complete records sought by Quinlan.
  Quinlan and Trustee Robert Streit both have criticized Village Manager Larry Deetjen and Mayor Sandra Bury for not making the information available to trustees, especially because the communications are stored on village computer servers, they said.
  The Illinois Municipal Code states that the mayor has the right to inspect all records, but does not mention trustees.
  Deetjen has said that many of his emails between village legal staff and others are confidential as they regard “highly sensitive matters.”
  “Our legal counsel in concert with our village clerk’s office, police and fire departments, the building department and the finance department respond professionally to every FOIA request but do so in a manner that protects the village to the fullest extent provided by the law but also by design they answer to be responsive and transparent. Those who wish to obtain unlimited data for reasons that are not objective and in the village’s best interests certainly should understand this balancing act,” Deetjen said.
  Quinlan on Aug. 19 submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for all emails between Deetjen and village attorneys between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2012. The village partially denied her request, and provided Quinlan with a portion of the emails she requested.
  Quinlan initially requested all emails between Deetjen and the village attorney between Nov. 1, 2012, and June 1, 2013. The village denied the request claiming “that it was too burdensome because of the amount of emails that would have to be produced and reviewed by attorneys,” Quinlan wrote.
  The village told Quinlan that her request included 2,831 emails during the seven-month period plus attachments. The village asked her to narrow the date range of her request.
  Quinlan disagreed with the village’s contention. “There is nothing burdensome about producing emails,” she wrote.
  “(The village) is refusing to turn over all records, most recently stating that certain records are exempt from disclosure under attorney-client privilege,” Quinlan wrote in her request for review. “I believe that the (village) clerk has violated the Freedom of Information Act by not turning over these records.”
  Quinlan believes village’s trustees have a right to review village records without submitting FOIA requests, but not everyone shares that view.
  The village board on Oct. 8 voted against a measure proposed by Quinlan and Streit that would grant trustees unrestricted access to emails and other records.
  Trustee Terry Vorderer said that opening email records to trustees is a potential security risk. He also questioned whether requests for records are politically motivated.
  Quinlan said security should not be a concern.
  “I’m not sharing this information,” said Quinlan, who offered to review the records at village hall.
  “Something is fishy,” Quinlan said. “It bothers me that I am denied access to records. “(Village Clerk) Jane Quinlan can see it, our attorney can see it, the mayor can see it and I can’t?”
  The debate over who has the right to inspect village records began in May when former Mayor Dave Heilmann, after his defeat to Bury, asked for specific email records between Deetjen and the village attorneys because he had received multiple complaints that Deetjen improperly interfered with a million dollar contract an Oak Lawn business had with a prospective tenant, Heilmann said.
  A village employee told Heilmann that Deetjen and O’Grady instructed him not to turn over the records to Heilmann, the former mayor said.
  “I guess they felt they could get away with not following that law because I had lost the election. I did tell the attorney and manager that they were breaking the law and violating our code and made a second request, but that was ignored,” Heilmann wrote in an opinion piece to The Reporter.

Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: Taking a Paige out of Cal Ripken’s book

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

COLOR - Jeff  In December, 2008, Paige Stulginskis woke up one day feeling lousy.
  Like thousands of students throughout the country, she planned on staying home. She had her mother, Elizabeth, call Conrady Junior High School to tell the attendance office that she would not be coming to school that day.
  “I was crying because I didn’t want to miss school,” Paige said.
  So she took some “DayQuil or something” and started to feel better.
  When her father, Glen, woke up, Paige made a demand.
  “I said, ‘Dad! Take me to school!’ ’’ she said.
  So she went to school even though her mom was not crazy about the idea.
  So why all these years later is this a big deal?
  Stulginskis is now a senior at Stagg High School. She has not missed a day of school — ever.
  Not as a kindergartner or first-grader at Dorn Primary Center. Not as a second-, third-, fourth-grader at Glen Oaks Grade School.
  Not as a sixth-, seventh- or eighth-grader at Conrady.
  And not through three-plus years at Stagg.
  Stulginskis has been the student’s equivalent of baseball player Cal Ripken Jr., who played 2,131 straight games. She probably would take that as a compliment except she said last week that she never heard of the guy.
  She is proud of her streak but has not been seeking out attention for it.
  “Unless people ask me about it, people don’t really know about it,” Stulginskis said. “My friends and some of my teachers know. Other than that, nobody knows. It’s been in the newspaper before, but that was a long time ago.”
  Aside from that dreadful December day, she had no other close calls with being absent.
  “It seems like I get sick during Thanksgiving breakFRONT-COLOR-1-col-Page-3-2-col-with-JVCOLStagg’s Paige Stulginskis has never had an occasion to visit the attendance office during her career as a student. Photo by Jeff Vorva. and all of the breaks that we have,” Stulginskis said. “I never got sick during school.”
  Stulginskis has a twin sister, Tori, who has missed some time. A few years ago, North Palos School District public relations guru Jim Hook wrote a press release on the streak and quoted Tori as joking “She stole all my nutrients while we were in the womb.”
  Also in Hook’s mirth-filled release, Elizabeth had her own take on why the streak lasted so long.
  “It’s also probably because I don’t clean the house everyday so she perhaps built up an immunity to germs,” Elizabeth joked.
  Paige admits that she doesn’t like school a lot but doesn’t hate it either and has never been late. She wants to keep the streak alive even beyond her high school days. She is planning on going to Western Illinois University and study crime scene investigation.
  Usually colleges don’t keep attendance so it’s a goal that only she will be aware of.
  “I don’t want to miss any classes,” she said. “But it’s a long way away, so who knows?”

Jack-O pizza?
  My favorite excerpt from a press release this week comes from Papa Murphy’s pizza with a claim that Halloween is the “third busiest pizza night of the year — runner up only to Super Bowl Sunday and New Year’s Eve. Frightening but true, the week of Halloween is the busiest week of the entire year for local pizza chain, Papa Murphy’s!”
  The national chain offers something called a “Jack-O pizza” and during Halloween week, they use 5.3 million pounds of pizza dough made from scratch, 45 tons of red sauce, 86 tons of mozzarella cheese, 18 tons of cheddar & provolone topping cheese, 9.3 million pepperonis and more than half-a-million slices of olives.

A Flick of the tongue
  My second favorite excerpt from a press released this week comes from Hammond, Ind., where on Tuesday they unveiled a special statue:
  “The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority will be joined by Scott Schwartz, the actor who played Flick in the classic Christmas movie ‘A Christmas Story,’ for a press conference and the unveiling of the bronze Flick statue. The statue, developed in agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, will highlight the iconic ‘Triple Dog Dare’ scene in which Flick gets his tongue stuck to a flag pole. Additionally, information on the upcoming ‘A Christmas Story Comes Home’ exhibit will be discussed.’’
  I wouldn’t mind seeing a statue of that lamp that the old man won in a contest.

Numbers game
  Last year, the first Freedom Isn’t Free 5K run and Congressman Dan Lipinski finished 12th.
  On Sunday, he ran in the second Freedom Isn’t Free 5K race and finished 12th.