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Quinn lauds MVCC for work with veterans

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne

  For Joann Jenkins, Moraine Valley Community College’s director of student services, helping veterans transition from combat to higher education is essential to veteran PAGE-5-2-col-MVCC 2Moraine Valley’s Joann Jenkins and General McArthur, III accept the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran Education. Senator Dick Durbin’s congratulatory letter was presented at the March 19 Board Meeting. Photo by Kevin Coyne.student success. Getting to know the veteran personally is equally as important.
  “Not all veterans are the same just because they identify with a certain group,” Jenkins said. “We have the resources and support from the college to get to know our veterans and we make sure we’re there to make the transition back to higher education as smooth as possible.”
  Moraine Valley is the third community college to win the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran Education since Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Higher Education Veterans Service Act in 2009. Usually the award is given to four-year colleges and universities but this year Moraine’s commitment to veteran services didn’t go unrecognized.
  Previous winners include Eastern Illinois University, College of DuPage, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Northern Illinois University, Western Illinois University and Southwestern Illinois College.
  “Our student veterans are a very tight knit community and veterans are coming here because of word-of-mouth,” Jenkins said at the March 19 board meeting. “We constantly get calls and emails from veterans in Afghanistan who tell us they’re about to finish their deployment and they’re ready to start college.”
  Not only has Gov. Quinn recognized the Palos Hill-based community college for their service to veterans, Senator Dick Durbin sent a congratulatory letter praising Moraine for “tireless commitment to the education of our nation’s veterans … you are helping to better the lives of those who risked their own for our country.”
  Last month, Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs director Erica Borggren presented the award to Moraine president Sylvia Jenkins. College faculty, staff, student veterans and community members attended the event, including Moraine trustee Tom Cunningham, who has two servicemen in his family.
  “Their military service is nothing to be taken for granted and it’s great to see that veterans are coming home and finally getting their due,” Cunningham said. “We’re able to do what we do because of what they do for us.”
  Both Jenkins and student success and veterans affairs coordinator General McArthur, III have worked to create an innovative veterans orientation program, veterans resource center, priority registration for veterans and veteran benefit workshops.
  Moraine has over 500 student veterans, some who travel over an hour to campus due to Moraine’s veteran services. Starting in April, Moraine will offer veterans a virtual veterans center designed to help veterans understand their benefits, course selections and other veteran-specific material.
  “There is a certain respect that service members carry themselves,” Jenkins said. “You have to respect when they put on that uniform they have such a reverence and respect for what they do. They served their country and we’re here to serve them by making their transition as smooth as possible.”

Second March4Meg run rolls on Saturday

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Meg Moonan lost her battle to melanoma two years ago, but the Evergreen Park resident’s life will be recalled Saturday during the second March4Meg 5K run.
  The run was conceived by Moonan’s mother, Nancy Donovan, who embarked on a personal mission to help find for a cure for the disease.
  The run will step off at 9 a.m. from Klein Park (known as Circle Park) at 97th Street and Homan Avenue in Evergreen Park. Registration is $30 or $65 for families.
  Organizers are looking forward to a significant turnout following the success of last year’s inaugural event, which drew approximately 1,600 participants and raised $30,000 for the Meg Moonan Endowment Center at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
  “We’ve been successful because of all our volunteers and participants and because people are realizing the serious nature of melanoma, whether it’s impacting them directly or a family member or friend,” Donovan said. “Meg would have wanted us to make this our responsibility to alert others.”
  Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton and his wife, Karen, are the honorary chairs of the event.
  “While the first event was spectacular because of the turnout, any follow-up event is a challenge because the originality is gone,” Sexton said. “However, the mission is not, and that’s why Karen and I are supporting this event and imploring everyone to as well.”
  Donovan and her family didn’t know what to expect when they organized the first March4Meg. The goal was simply to raise awareness of the deadly skin cancer and establish an endowment center in Meg’s name.
  Organizers anticipate more participants than last year and encourage people to arrive early to take advantage of free skin checks and entertainment. Race-day registration will be available from 7 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
  Moonan left behind her husband, Ken, and four young children. Her mother rallied the extended family to the emotional rescue of Ken and the children by filling in as baby sitters, housekeepers and shoppers, she said.
  “We were all under such cloud I knew we had to do something to get us out of this dark place,” Donovan said.
  In addition to establishing the event, Donovan has increased awareness with demonstrations at summer camps and schools, instructing children on the importance of sunscreen and wearing correct clothing when playing in the sun.

  Donovan also want to raise awareness for a disease that impacts those 15 to 29 years old more than does any other type of cancer.
  Race director Meredith McGuffage hopes others who have been victimized by melanoma will find solace in the event by participating individually or as a group.
  For example, the Barry and Dinneen families lost Lucy Dinneen Barry to melanoma earlier this year and have used the grieving period to establish Team Lucy, which will participate in the race. The Beverly native and Naperville resident died Feb. 1 after a four-month battle with melanoma.

IndyCar driver highlights Children’s Hospital’s Diabetes Fair

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

IndyCar racer Charlie Kimball won his firstPage-7-2-col-fairThere were plenty of people, booths and displays at the Advocate Children’s Hospital’s Diabetes Fair on Thursday. Photo by Jeff Vorva. race on that circuit on Aug. 4 when he won the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
He made a history with the victory. He became the first licensed driver with diabetes to win an IndyCar race.
Kimball is generous his time and getting his message out to the masses. A few weeks before starting up the 2015 with the Streets of St. Petersburg race on March 30, he was in Oak Lawn last Thursday as a special guest of the Advocate Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Diabetes Fair. He signed autographs and gave a talk in the hospital’s auditorium.
According to a hospital release, diabetes is a chronic disease that already affects more than 200,000 children in the United States. Physicians at Advocate Children’s Page-7-2-col-racer-and-friendsRacer Charle Kimball and members of his staff were on hand during the fair talking to fans and handing out autographs. Photo by Jeff Vorva.Hospital anticipate that by 2020 the diabetes rate among children under age 5 in certain populations will be double what it was in 2000.
“We treat a variety of endocrinological disorders, including growth, puberal, and thyroid disorders, but, by and large, 50 percent of our pediatric population has diabetes, and 80 percent of this group are being treated for pediatric type 1 diabetes,” said Vidhya Viswanathan, MD, pediatric endocrinologist, at Advocate Children’s Hospital – Oak Lawn. “For type 1 diabetes patients, the pancreas doesn’t make any insulin; for these children, insulin is a lifesaving medication.”
Diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels, resulting from defects in the body’s ability to produce or use insulin. The condition, if left untreated, can lead to other health complications, even death. However, once the disease is diagnosed, physicians specializing in pediatric endocrinology typically work with parents and children to develop a proper treatment plan.
The fair also offered free body-mass-index screenings; blood testing; the latest information on insulin pumps, blood glucose monitoring meters and diabetes camps, refreshments and giveaways.

Breakfast, lunch and beyond:New CoCo’s open for dinner

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 The New CoCo’s Restaurant is open and the PAGE-10-2-col-ownersKenny, Lu and Imo Asani have reopened CoCo’s Restaurant in Hickory Hills. Photo by Jeff Vorva.owners say they’re ready to offer family dining at reasonable prices in an area lacking that feature.
  The Hickory Hills restaurant, 9505 S. Roberts Road, reopened on March 5, nearly one year after the previous owners closed the doors.
  Kenny and Lu Asani, the restaurant’s new owners, believe they’ve made the necessary changes to make the restaurant a huge success.
  The duo is not short on experience.
  “I grew up in the restaurant business with my dad,” Lu Asani said.
  Kenny also came up in kitchen, working with family in all aspects of the food business since arriving from Macedonia.
  Kenny’s brother, Imo, and brother-in-law, Jimmy, also are involved in the day-to-day operation of the restaurant.
  The new owners did little to alter the appearance of the eatery other than to make some small changes to the entrance. A new pie case was added to display the restaurant’s wide variety of desserts.
  “We get a lot of compliments,” Lu Asani said.
  So far, the restaurant’s greatest challenge is to spread the word that it’s open for dinner until 10 p.m. The original CoCo’s Restaurant closed at 4 p.m.
  “It’s slowly progressing,” Lu Asani said. “I still get a lot of feedback from people who say, ‘I didn’t even you know you were open for dinner.’”
  The dinner menu is varied, featuring a wide selection of Greek cuisine, seafood, stir fry, steaks and chops and Italian dishes.
  Dinner selections come with homemade soup or salad, potato and rolls and dessert. Many dishes are less than $10, as the owners strive to offer affordable dining to community.
  Numerous club and croissant sandwiches, wraps, salads, burgers and hot sandwiches also are available for lunch and dinner.
  CoCo’s also serves an extensive breakfast menu for every appetite.
  Pancakes, toast or biscuits and gravy are served with every egg dish.
  The breakfast menu also features Belgian waffles, crepes and numerous varieties of French toast, including red velvet, banana nut and cherry kijafa. Eggs benedict, omelets and skillet dishes round out the breakfast menu, which is served all day.
  The owners are hoping that the unique menu selections coupled with affordable prices will set them apart from the competition.
  “We have some dishes that are not offered at other restaurants around here,” Lu Asani said.
  CoCo’s is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, and carry-out is available. The restaurant seats 220 people in three dining areas, which can easily accommodate large parties. For information, call 708- 634-2051.

Your next governor?

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Wealthy Rauner takes aim at Quinn after primary win

This man is so rich, he not only DR-Page-1-COLOR-4-col-BRUUUCERepublican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner told a crowd in Hickory Hills Monday night that Pat Quinn was the “worst governor in America’’ during his rally. Photo by Jeff Vorva.has money to burn, he has money to buy fire departments.

Opponents have called him a “bazillionaire’’ although he says he is not even a billionaire.
But he has some cash.
Bruce Rauner spent a reported $6 million of his own dough on the campaign that wrapped up Tuesday night and that was only a primary. But he needed every penny in what turned out to be a close race.
Even before he dispatched Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard and Dan Rutherford in the Republican Primary, the Winnetka venture capitalist took aim at seated governor Pat Quinn – his November opponent.
“We’re going to sweep Pat Quinn into the dustbin of history,” Rauner told a crowd estimated of 500 at the Lexington House in Hickory Hills on Monday night during his final rally before the election.
His speech was less than five minutes but it was full of Quinn bashing without a syllable directed to his primary foes. It was almost as if they didn’t exist. But Dillard made Rauner sweat a little Tuesday night after watching a double-digit percentage lead shrink to two percent at about 9:30 p.m.
During that time, Quinn was already running television commercials bashing Rauner so the mud started slinging at Rauner’s face before he could wipe the sweat off his brow.
But the man who wants to make big noise from Winnetka claimed victory an hour later as he had the unofficial two-DR-Page-1-color-1-col-signA gentleman dressed in a period costume was a part of the festivities at Lexington House in Hickory Hills Monday night. Photo by Jeff Vorva.percent lead with 97 percent of the precincts reporting.
It was closer win than expected. Dillard received crossover votes – Democrats voting on the Republican ballot -- in Democratic-heavy Chicago.
“There are some thoughtful Democrats out there,” Dillard told reporters at what he was hoping would be a victory party while he was inching closer to Rauner. “I welcome them.’’
But the night ultimately belonged to Rauner, who is vowing that he will be the next governor.
Republican Governors Association Chairman Chris Christie threw his weight and Hosannas Rauner’s way late Tuesday night in a statement.
“It’s time to leave behind the days of high unemployment and job losses, skyrocketing taxes, unaccountable spending and failing schools that have blighted the last five years in Illinois under Pat Quinn,” Christie wrote. “Illinois is ready for a real leader: someone who can’t be bought or intimidated. Illinois is ready for a governor who is willing to solve the toughest of problems, not avoid them; for a governor who works to foster economic growth, not stifle it; for a governor who can balance a budget without saddling the taxpayers time and time again; for a governor who refuses to endure the persistent failure of government that has racked Illinois for years.”
Rauner took to the stage Monday night in Hickory Hills with the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” blaring on the PA system and well-dressed adults acting like kids at a rock concert yelling “Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!” 
“This is our year,” Rauner said. “This is our election. We’re going to sweep Pat Quinn into the dustbin of Illinois history. We’re going to turn our state around just like Indiana did and Wisconsin is being turned around and Michigan is being turned around. We are going to shake up Springfield and transform our state.’’
He was just getting warmed up.
“Pat Quinn is the worst governor in America,” Rauner said. “He has buried the people of Illinois. He is driving up our taxes. He is driving our employers out of the state. He’s driving our unemployment through the roof. He had defunded our schools.
“He is a failure. We are going to get him gone.’’
After the Quinn-essential bashing of the governor, Rauner got around to what he wants to accomplish if he gets the votes in November.
“We want to go to work for you,’’ Rauner said. “We want to do four things. No. 1, we want more jobs and a pro-business economy, No. 2, lower taxes and spending in Springfield, No. 3 great education and No. 4, term limits – eight years and out.’’
Not everyone was a Rauner fan that night.
Near the entrance of the Lexington House stood a handful of protesters who loudly booed any car that drove into the lot.
They had signs the said “Billionaire Bruce: I iz buying your state,” “Union yes, Rauner No’’ and “Rauner is a downer.’’
On the other side of the driveway, a guy wearing a period costume holding up a sign that said .01%ers for RAUNER! cheered as loud as he could as cars came while police kept an amused eye on the proceedings from a distance.
Quinn had an easier time with his opponent in the primary, beating Tio Hardiman by gobbling up 72 percent of the vote according to returns counted late Tuesday night.