Chuck E. Cheese could lose license

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

Oak Lawn trustees discussed the possibility of revoking the business license of a local restaurant because the village has received a plethora of police calls. The topic was brought up at the village board meeting Tuesday night.

This was the second consecutive meeting that public safety issues at the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant at 4031 W. 95th Street was brought up. Indicating the severity of the situation, at the Sept. 13 board meeting Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th) revealed that Chuck E. Cheese President Roger Cardinale and other company officials had come from Irving, Tex., on Sept. 10, to discuss the matter with him, Mayor Sandra Bury, Village Manager Larry Deetjen and legal counsel. The company officials said then that they would hire a security consultant to come up with solutions, and issue a report of the findings before Tuesday’s meeting.

“The report did arrive at 3:30 p.m. I haven’t had time to digest it all, but I will be providing copies (to other board members) and I would appreciate getting your input,” he said. Chuck E. Cheese officials have been invited to speak at the Oct. 25 Village Board meeting. They were originally going to come to the Oct. 11 meeting, but Vorderer said they asked to postpone the meeting because of a religious holiday.

Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) pointed out that Oak Lawn’s 911 service received more than 40 calls related to the restaurant last year, and at least 40 this year already. He said he agreed with recent comments made by Bury on television news that this might be the right time to address the business license. “I have to agree with the safety of children and families are the main issue. I also believe that the management has tried very hard to be good neighbors.” Vorderer took issue with him when Streit said the village needs to be “proactive,” and criticized “the lack of leadership over the past four years in resolving this.”

“I have been working on this issue since I was elected three years ago,” said Vorderer. He noted that local owners of the Chuck E. Cheese establishment have already taken several steps to address problems. These include hiring off-duty Oak Lawn police officers as security guards, as well as removing seating to reduce occupancy from 611 to 482 people. The owners of the shopping plaza where the restaurant is located have also been supplying outdoor private security patrols.

“My main concern is the safety of the children who go there,” said Vorderer. “I go there myself sometimes with my grandchildren. It is nice and clean inside, with families enjoying themselves. But these problems often seem to be domestic, with fights breaking out and they quickly get out of control.”

Trustee Tim Desmond (1st) wondered if the village could get into legal trouble if the license is revoked now. “There was a gang-related shooting outside there (in 2012) and I don’t think they even lost their liquor license then.” He asked if the village would be looking at a lawsuit if the license was revoked, but Village Attorney Paul O’Grady said the village would not be in any legal trouble.

Vorderer noted that most of the trustees weren’t on the board in 2012, and Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd) pointed out that the restaurant management voluntarily gave up its liquor license. He agreed with Desmond that the owners need to be given “due process” when it comes to revoking business licenses.

“We want to give the owners due process,” said Bury. “We won’t do anything until we hear what they have to say at the Oct. 25 meeting. But after everything that has already been done, the next step would have to be board action. Revoking the license is a possibility.”

Businessman wants to improve Worth corner

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

The Worth Village Board meeting on Tuesday night veered from its usual agenda by opening with a presentation from businessman Sal Tadros regarding his plans for the property located at 7030 W. 111th St., directly across the street from the Village Hall.

Tadros told the board he wanted to make the exterior building design “pop.” “This corner is the gateway to the business corridor of Worth and hopefully our efforts will encourage other businesses along 111th Street to upgrade the appearance of their businesses,” he said.

His presentation included a request for a liquor license. He hopes to add a wine club, catering to corporate events and also to offer craft beers along with upscale cigar sales.

“My plan is to be a premium cigar dealer, bringing a different demographic clientele to Worth. We will be pioneers in the industry, offering online sales in addition to on-site sales,” said Tadros. “We feel we have a niche and we believe we can service our customers with our mixed client base.”

Trustee Rich Dziedzic said he liked the idea for improving the existing building.

“But how many liquor stores do we want?,” he asked.

“That is what competition is all about,” responded Trustee Pete Kats. “It is a free market.”

“I feel like this is an opportunity for the village to see an improvement in our business community,” said Trustee Tedd Muersch Jr. “If he is willing to make a capital investment in this property, which will greatly improve the appearance of this corner, I think we should support it.”

“We will have to discuss this further,” said Mayor Mary Werner. “If we approve this proposal, we will have to increase the number of liquor licenses and draft ordinances governing the tobacco sales.”

In board action, a business license and special use permit was approved for Euphoria Hair Salon and Barber Shop to operate at 6657 W. 111th St.

Also approved was a business license and special use permit for Worth BP Inc., to operate a gas station, packaged goods store and car wash at 10631 Southwest Highway.

An ordinance approving an intergovernmental agreement between the Village of Worth and Cook County for the provision of environmental health inspectional services was also approved. The agreement is approved annually.

Trustee Colleen McElroy was not present at the meeting.

Hickory Hills man recovers from illness and is selected as ‘Patient of the Year’

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

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Submitted photo

Hickory Hills resident Nicolaos Papoutsis looks at the award Friday he received as “Patient of the Year 2016 “ at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. He is joined by his daughter Stacy Atkinson, who is speaking about his recovery. Also on hand was Leigh Shea (left), his head rehab therapist, and his wife, Irini Papoutsis (right).



Long-time Hickory Hills resident Nicolaos Papoutsis was one of six patients named “Patient of the Year 2016” during the 34th Annual Rehabilitation Achievement Awards Ceremony conducted Friday at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

The event is an observance of National Rehabilitation Week.

Papoutsis was nominated by Annie Krueger, physical therapist assistant II, and Leigh Shea, speech-language pathologist II. They worked with Papoutsis during his six-week stay at the adult Inpatient treatment center. He was described as an unbelievably hard working, steadfast, and amazing man.

Papoutsis, who owns a body shop in Oak Lawn, was at work when he suffered a stroke last year at the age of 79. His co-worker called 911 and he was brought to the Advocate Christ Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with a series of serious issues. He had an acute Left frontopareital stroke, a high-grade stenosis of the right internal carotid artery and diabetes, as well as a history of old strokes that went undiagnosed and untreated.

According to Krueger, when he entered the rehab unit on Aug. 6, 2015, he was impaired, weak and distracted. He had moderate impairments in voice, attention, executive function, short-term memory, and auditory processing. He needed total assistance for all mobility.

“He fought through the weakness and countless sessions and progressed from needing total assists to then a minimal assist level for ambulation and stair negotiation. He never quit and he never said no,” said Krueger. “He was open to new treatment ideas and activities in order to prepare himself for being able to access his own home on his own terms with minimal assist provided from his wife. Nick is an amazing man who fought the fight and won in the end. He is a winner to me.”

Echoing those sentiments was Shea, his speech/language pathologist.

“Every day Nick would say, ‘Make it harder. Let’s do more today than yesterday.’ He challenged me to work harder to come up with more challenging therapy tasks,” she said. She added that after he left in-patient rehab, he decided he wanted to continue with speech therapy at day rehab. “That is the kind of patient he is.”

Both Krueger and Shea credited Nick’s family; his wife, Irini; his daughter, Stacy Atkinson; and his two grandchildren for their dedicated support each day which helped him focus and progress from day to day.

“Someone was with him every day,” said Atkinson. “My mom was there all of the time, and the rest of us were in and out.” She said her father has returned to work, although he no longer manages the shop. “But he goes in each day for a little while. He is an amazing man. We are very proud of him and so happy he received such wonderful care here at the hospital.”

Fourth of July Parade winners presentation draws crowd to Evergreen Park Board meeting

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

parade winners photo 9-22

Submitted photo

Mayor James Sexton joins the Fourth of July Parade Trophy winners who were honored at the Evergreen Park Village Board meeting on Monday night.


The Village of Evergreen Park board meeting opened to a full house Monday night as the room was packed in anticipation of the annual Fourth of July Parade Trophy Presentations.

Parade chairman Laura Shallow, who is with Standard Bank, presented trophies to the winners in 15 categories. Each group was recognized for their efforts and were congratulated by Mayor James Sexton.

Shallow presented an Appreciation Award to the Village Recreation Department for their work with the parade. Dennis Duffy, the recreation director, accepted the trophy on behalf of the department.

On business matters, the board approved an ordinance dissolving the Emergency Telephone System Board and amending the Evergreen Park Municipal Code regarding Boards and Commissions.

Sexton explained the change was made because the village is now a member of the Southwest Central Dispatch, out of Oak Lawn. “We are members with voting rights,” he said.

A request from residents on Avers Avenue for four-way stop signs was approved. The signs will only be placed on the intersection of 96th and Avers Avenue.

A bid in the amount of $11,600 was approved for Environmental Cleansing Corporation (ECC) for the demolition of a vacant house at 9138 S. Kedzie Ave. The village recently purchased the property in order to provide an additional parking for Thithi’s, a fine dining Asian restaurant adjacent to the property.

In other action, Sexton announced a proclamation declaring Nov.7 as Color the World Orange Day to help raise awareness of a poorly understood pain disorder called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

Stating that he had not previously been aware of the disorder, he called on Michelle West, a resident of Hometown, whose 13-year old daughter suffers from the disease, to explain it.

“It is a relatively unknown disorder affecting the nervous system and anyone, from infants to the elderly can suffer from it,” said West. “It is very difficult to diagnose. My daughter, Mary, has had it for two years and underwent many, many tests before it was diagnosed.”

Her daughter, Mary, said later that the pain is like fire and ice in her body. “When the pain comes, my skin is cold on the outside but inside, it is a searing, burning pain on the inside. That’s why the organization is named Color the World Orange and the logo depicts fire and ice,” she said.

Touched by the presentation, Sexton said “I am happy to make this proclamation and I promise you it will be on our calendar every year.”

Local legislators address term limits, redistricting

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Term limits and redistricting were on the minds of constituents who attended one in a series of casual roundtable discussions with state Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-18th) and state Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th).

A couple of residents voiced their approval of term limits during the discussion held Sept. 14 at the Green Hills Library. One man referred to himself as an Independent but backed the efforts of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who he said has been prevented from making changes by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-22nd) and Democrats in general. He called for term limits and the approval of Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda.”

“People like the idea of term limits,” said Cunningham. “They are very popular.”

But Cunningham said that term limits exist now and can be exercised by voting. The senator said that in the last five years, 71 members in the House are now longer in office.

“My point being is that you already have term limits and it’s called elections,” said Cunningham.

The man calling for term limits was unconvinced. “I say we need to get rid of more of them.”

Another man who attended the meeting had another take on the situation, blaming the current legislative maps that he said favors the Democrats.

“You don’t have contested elections and it pushes parties to the extreme,” he said. The man pointed to the fact that the majority of Democrats are uncontested in the Nov. 8 election due to maps drawn up that favors their party. He pointed to the fact that both Burke and Cunningham are unopposed in the upcoming election.

A variety of business, political and community leaders supported an Illinois Fair Map Amendment referendum be put on the November ballot. However, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected the referendum because while changes can be made to the Legislative Branch through a vote, it cannot be done for the Executive Branch.

The referendum calls for changes in the Executive Branch and the court ruled that is unconstitutional. The two men calling for sweeping changes on term limits and redistricting were upset about the court ruling. One of the men said the referendum was opposed because the judges are Democrats.

Burke and Cunningham discussed Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda that is divided into about 14 demands. One of those demands is to make Illinois a “Right to Work” state that the local legislators said would actually minimize job opportunities and salaries. The same objections have been raised over the governor’s demands for changes in worker’s compensation, collective bargaining and union authority.

The legislators said that a main stumbling block in why a 2015 budget was delayed for a year is that the governor wants all these points to be applied in a new budget. Democratic legislators have resisted because they believe it would actually reduce jobs and salaries.

“The governor could get some things passed if we would not continue to link other ideas, like collective bargaining,” said Burke.

Burke said that party leaders broke off into small groups this spring in an effort to come up with an agreement. Senate Majority Leader John Cullerton (D-6th) said in an off-hand way to agree on a six-month budget that Rauner initially rejected, said Burke. However, as talks went down to the wire, Rauner essentially adopted Cullerton’s idea and made it his own. A six-month budget agreement was passed that allows legislators up for election time to work out a deal in January.

“That is not the way to do a budget,” said Burke. “It sets up a showdown in January.”

Cunningham said the six-month budget includes the five percent tax increase. Cunningham pointed out that there are 118 members in the House with 71 Democrats and 47 Republicans. Of the 59 members of the Senate, 39 are Democrats and 20 are Republicans.

One man said that Madigan has too much power and is concerned about making money for himself. He views the House Speaker as the main obstacle in getting a budget agreement, not Rauner.

“Some people oppose (Madigan) because he believes in strong collective bargaining rights,” said Cunningham. “Another reason they don’t like him is because he has been the Speaker for so long.”

Both legislators have said that the pension crisis had been brewing for years.

“You have some legislators who don’t want to raise taxes, and you have others who don’t want to get rid of programs,” said Cunningham. Unfortunately, when other financial concerns have risen, the Legislature has agreed to delay pension payments for a year to take on other projects. The problem is those payments continued to be delayed, the legislators said.

Burke said that even the six-month stopgap budget has not made up for the year-long budget stalemate. A backlog of bills is piling up and many private companies have gone out of business, she said.

Both Burke and Cunningham commented on a variety of issues, including the rising crime rate in Chicago. Cunningham told the audience that although he is a supporter of President Obama, he believes the federal government could have done more for Chicago.

“The (federal government) has done very little to stop funneling guns into the city,” said Cunningham.