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Oak Lawn officials eye watch program

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Think about a neighborhood watch program and you’re likely to conjure images of crime prevention.
That’s not what two Oak Lawn officials have in mind for a neighborhood surrounding Christ Medical Center.
“It’s more than just crime. It’s community awareness,” said Trustee Terry Vorderer, who partnered with Trustee Alex Olejniczak to kick off the program.
“This is a pilot program, said Vorderer, who along with Olejniczak, will hold a kickoff meeting for residents at 7:30 p.m. March 20 at the Oak Lawn Park District administrative building, 9400 S. Kenton Ave.
“We’re very excited about it,” Olejniczak said, adding that program is designed to bring about synergies in the community.
The two trustees hope to eventually expand the program throughout their districts and ultimately village wide, they said.
Rather than focus solely on criminal activities, the watch program will concentrate on increasing communication between neighbors and keeping an eye on elderly residents, especially those who live alone, said Olezniczak, the village board’s fire department liaison.
The program would involve block reps—ideally two on each block—who communicate with Vorderer and Olejniczak and talk to residents about various village programs or initiatives, Olejniczak said.

Vorderer, a retired Oak Lawn police officer, said the village has not experienced an increase in serious crimes, although rashes of other crimes, such as car or home burglaries, have occurred recently. However, “people’s perception is reality,” he said. Hopefully, the program will be able to change perceptions that crime is on the rise, he said.

Vorderer, the village board’s police department liaison, said he sent letters to about 40 residents in his district, inviting them to participate in the program.
“Anyone is welcome to show up” at the meeting, he said.
The area chosen for the pilot program was selected because it includes the hospital, businesses on 95th Street and Cicero Avenue as well as single- and multi-family residences and the mobile home park.

Four hurt and Oak Lawn house smashed after a pair of crashes

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

PAGE-1-COLOR-3-col-houseThis is a scene of the house on New England Avenue and 76th Street in Oak Lawn on Wednesday morning a day after an SUV plowed into it late Tuesday afternoon, continuing a string of major incidents in that town since the start of 2014. Photo by Jeff Vorva.

Four people were injured and taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center after a driver of an SUV plowed into an Oak Lawn home late Tuesday afternoon after allegedly causing two accidents.
According to Burbank police, the SUV collided with a pair of other vehicles in two separate accidents before smashing into the front of a house on 87th Street and New England Avenue. An unidentified woman driving the SUV and her baby are in stable condition according to a CLTV report. Drivers of two other cars were also taken to a hospital but two people inside the Oak Lawn home were not hurt, according to CLTV.
Charges are pending against the driver, according to the station.
The house is located at the Oak Lawn side of the border of Oak Lawn and Burbank but the vehicle crashes happened in Burbank.
Burbank Police Division Chief Mike Dudlo said in a news release that at 4:45 p.m. witnesses saw the white BMW SUV get into an accident and fled the scene. A Burbank police officer chased the vehicle, which ran a stop sign at 87th and New England and collided with another vehicle before skidding out of control and crashing into the house.
Burbank’s Bruno Danko, said he heard the crash less than half a block away while he was in his house.
“It sounded like metal on metal, just a big bang,” Danko said told Sun-Times Media.

Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: St. Xavier University loses its voice

 

jeff columnWe probably haven’t heard the last from Robert Maszak.
  A few minutes before he called his last St. Xavier University contest as the school’s official public address announcer for football and basketball, he was already saying that he was willing to sub next year if needed. He will miss this gig.

  Maszak, 69, has been announcing at various schools and sporting events for 52 years including more than a decade of service at the Chicago campus, where he was also a supervisor of student teachers.
  The Homewood resident called his last game — an 84-61 men’s basketball victory over the University of St. Francis last Wednesday in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference quarterfinals. Both the men and women’s teams are nationally ranked in the top 10 and will begin play in their respective NAIA national tournaments Wednesday. His final season was historic with the success of the two squads and men’s basketball star Brad Karp breaking the all-time scoring record at the school.
  He has loved what he has done but said he needs to step away.
  “Driving at night was getting to me,” the Homewood resident said. “I can still do it but it’s starting to get tough. I don’t want to endanger anybody. So that’s enough.’’
  He said he has announced for more than a half decade at Joliet Junior College, Illinois State University and Bloom High School as well as various little leaguePage-3-2-col-announcer-for-jv-colRobert Maszak, top photo, calls out the starting lineup for St. Xavier University’s men’s basketball team for the final time as the school’s official announcer last Wednesday. In the right photo, Mark Anzilotti, left, and Lance Barrows of Regional Publishing check out copies of a newspaper Monday minutes after the company’s press was repaired. Photos by Jeff Vorva.Page-3-3-col-press-with-jvcol baseball organizations in the south suburbs.
  “I really like doing the little leagues because the kids love to hear their names,” he said.
  Maszak said that a 2010 Gatorade Replay Game between Bloom and Brother Rice’s boys basketball team 10 years after the two teams battled in a controversial supersectional finish to a battle in Aurora as one of his favorites. This time the game was played at SXU and Brother Rice avenged the loss.
  “That game was just fantastic,” Maszak said. “We were right there and Dwyane Wade [an honorary coach] and his body guard with a gun were standing right next to me. I also did a Harlem Globetrotters game at Bloom. I got hit with a bucket of water. They told me I wasn’t going to be but I stepped away from the mic and they got me.’’
  Now he’s stepping away from the mic again — but likely not for good.

Pressing issue
  There is nothing like hearing the humming of the press when you work for a newspaper and it’s an even sweeter sound when the press has been broken for a few days.
  The press was rolling again Monday morning after last week’s nightmarish breakdown that caused the Reporter and Regional to come out a day later than usual. The company publishes several other newspapers and magazines in the Chicago area and a lot of that had to be outsourced. It was a bad, bad week for boss Pat Beedie and his crew.
  Nothing much good comes out of something like this but it was good to hear from our readers who got in touch with us last week.
  We received a flood of phone calls on Thursday and Friday morning with people wondering what the heck happened. We also had a few people stop by the office to visit. Most of them were great about it and talked about how this is the first time the paper didn’t get to their homes on time.
  It’s nice to hear from that we’re still a part of their lives and routines. That’s what community journalism is about and it’s touching that they missed us for 24 hours.

Chickens are clucking
  A great source of comedy comes from the Oak Lawn Cowardly Blog.
  The chickens are madder than wet hens because they found out about “three disturbing mass e-mails sent by apparently fictitious senders that were apparently designed to attack the business relationship the [Cowardly Blog] enjoys with its readers have been labeled ‘libelous’ and direct violations of the Illinois Electronic Mail Act.’’
  Apparently, this other group of anonymous cowards is providing fake headlines that credit “actual newspapers’’ including your favorite newspaper, the Reporter. The cowards are thinking of getting a lawsuit together against the other cowards.
  The good news to come out of this is that the Cowardly Blog said that its lawyer is Dennis Brennan, so now we have an actual name associated with the Cowardly Blog.
  So we wish Mr. Brennan all the luck in the world in exposing those anonymous bad guys that…well…kind of do what the blog that he represents does.

 

Expert witness for prosecution testifies that Kustok shot his wife

  • Written by Tim Hadac

If Allan Kustok didn’t shoot his wife on the morning of Sept. 29, 2010, the killer was someone standing over her while wearing his T-shirt, shorts and glasses, an expert witness testified Tuesday at Kustok’s murder trial.
In perhaps the most damning testimony yet as the trial began its third week, crime scene reconstruction analyst Rod Englert said that the pattern of blood stains in the Kustoks’ Orland Park bedroom made it clear—at least from his analysis—that Anita “Jeanie” Kustok could not have shot herself, deliberately or accidentally, as Allan Kustok has claimed for more than three years.
Englert was on the stand for several hours and was the only person to testify Tuesday at the trial in the Bridgeview courtroom, according to published reports.
Prosecutors showed a photograph of a crime scene re-creation in which Orland Park police posed on a bed to show how they believe the shooting occurred.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez was in attendance for the first time, sitting in the front-row along with Jeanie Kustok’s relatives.
After the prosecution rests its case this week, Kustok’s defense team is expected to call its own crime scene analysis experts to counter Englert’s claims.
Defense attorneys had sought unsuccessfully two weeks ago to stop Englert from testifying, according to published reports.
What is not disputed by either side is that shortly after Anita Kustok’s death, Allan Kustok told police his wife shot herself with a .357 caliber revolver he allegedly had given her for their 34th wedding anniversary, because he said she feared for her safety while he was away on business trips.
After the shooting, Kustok did not call any authorities and drove his wife’s body—reportedly wrapped in bloody bed linens--to Palos Community Hospital nearly 90 minutes after the gun was fired, police said.
Anita Kustok, 58, was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital with a gunshot wound to the left cheek. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office declared the death a homicide from a gun fired inches from her face; the gunshot wound was not self-inflicted accidentally or otherwise, according to what Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy said in 2010.
The victim was reportedly right handed, which would not be consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the left cheek, police said.
The Kustoks’ children are former standout area athletes Zak and Sarah Kustok, who starred in several sports at Sandburg High School. Zak Kustok played quarterback at Northwestern University for three years while Sarah played basketball at DePaul University, was an anchor for Comcast SportsNet Chicago and currently works for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.
Neither Zak nor Sarah has testified thus far. Zak appeared at the courthouse last week and made it clear to a newspaper columnist that he was only there to support his wife, Nicole, who testified about whether or not Jeanie feared for her own safety and wanted a gun for protection, as Allan Kustok has claimed.
Sarah appeared at the trial last month during jury selection and sat in the gallery, behind her father.
Mrs. Kustok was a longtime elementary school teacher who, at the time of her death, was teaching in a gifted program at Central Elementary School in Riverside.

Palos Park man fatally shot in apparent robbery Chicago

  • Written by Tim Hadac

A 66-year-old Palos Park man was shot in the chest and killed at about 2 p.m. last Saturday, in an apparent robbery on Chicago’s Southwest Side.
Herbert Goode was the owner of Silver Cloud Galleries, 20 W. Ohio St., Chicago, a high-end, custom framing and fine art services firm. He was shot near 57th and Claremont, where his company maintains a production facility.
Goode was shot several times and pronounced dead on Saturday afternoon at Mount Sinai Hospital.
A Chicago police spokesman told The Regional News on Tuesday afternoon that no one has been charged in the killing and that the case remains under investigation.
Goode is survived by his wife, Karen, son, Alex, and other family and friends, according to published reports.
Goode was an animal lover and donor to animal welfare groups, his son said, and had volunteered his time over the years to a number of community organizations.
To honor Goode’s memory, donations are being accepted at gofundme.com. As of Tuesday afternoon, nearly $2,000 has been raised and will be donated to the Animal Welfare League, 10305 S. Southwest Highway, Chicago Ridge.
Family friend Lisa Conn, who launched the GoFundMe page, wrote that the lives of many people “have been touched by Herb, Karen, and Alex in some way.
“You know the kind of people they’ve always been: the warmest, funniest, most vibrantly intelligent individuals in any room,” she continued. “You know that as a unit, they are the kindest, most thoughtful, and generously loving family anyone could ever have the good fortune to encounter. You know that no one in their orbit has ever been allowed to drift alone because they welcomed everyone with open hearts.”
In a Facebook post on Monday, Alex Goode thanked everyone for the outpouring of sympathy and support.
“We very much appreciate your texts and emails...but please forgive us if we do not answer your phone calls at this time,” he wrote. “No memorial arrangements have been made yet, and if you’ve read the articles or seen it on the news, you know just as much about what happened as we do.”