‘A direct slam to the family’

  • Written by Bob Rakow


Two months after death, family of Brittany lashes out at local police


Brittany WawrzyniakBrittany Wawrzyniak Two months after Brittany Wawrzyniak’s death, the family of the 18-year-old girl have broken their silence and are strongly criticizing the Worth police department for failing to keep them apprised of the investigation.

“We’ve got a dead 18-year-old girl with no information on how she died other than they state she was jumping out of a moving car on a drug buy. That’s ludicrous,” Wawrzyniak’s step-grandfather, Earl Lane, said Tuesday.

Wawrzyniak’s mother, Rebecca Tully, is equally dismayed over the police department’s failure to inform the family of the investigation’s progress, but did meet briefly with Police Chief Martin Knolmayer on Monday afternoon.

“The [Worth police] chief basically told her she ought to go out in [her] car, climb in the back seat and jump out and see how it’s done”

— Earl Lane

“I feel like they were more polite with me because Brittany’s dad called (Worth Mayor Mary Werner),” Tully said on Tuesday.

Tully said she had no intention of returning to the police department following a Dec. 2 meeting with the chief.

Tully’s mother, Rebecca Lane and Earl Lane sat down on Tuesday with The Reporter to talk about the police department’s handling of the case.

“It seems like a direct slam to the family,” Earl Lane said of the police department’s refusal to share information about the case.

Knolmayer has refused to publically comment on the case, saying only that his department is the midst of an ongoing investigation.

“She wanted to know what was going. What was happening, who they interviewed,” Earl Lane said of the December meeting.

“They weren’t returning her phone calls. She finally got to make an appointment,” Rebecca Lane added. “She figured if she went in in person she might be able to get some answers.”

Tully brought a close friend to the meeting, who was escorted out at the chief’s request when she began to ask questions about the witnesses police had interviewed, Tully said.

Tully asked the chief how her daughter could have fallen out the car. The chief’s response shocked her.

Thinking of packing heat?

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne

New Chicago Ridge site offers classes on new concealed carry law

  Before Ron Pohrebny was able toPAGE-1-COLOR-4-col-gunsCarry Chicago, 10349 Southwest Highway in Chicago Ridge, will begin teaching the state-mandated 16-hour concealed carry course on Jan. 10.. Photo by Kevin M. Coyne legally drive a car, the now 53-year-old has enjoyed shooting and teaching others the awesome responsibility associated with owning a firearm.

  For the past 25-years, Pohrebny has worked as a firearms instructor. He is certified by the National Rifle Association and the Illinois State Police to teach concealed carry.
  Pohrebny is the new owner of the former Chicago Ridge Gun Shop and Range, which is now the site for his concealed carry company, Carry Chicago, 10349 Southwest Highway. Starting Jan. 10, Pohrebny will start preparing Illinois residents for the new concealed carry laws.
  “The course is a lot of basic information on firing, handling, unloading and using a firearm safely,” Pohrebny said. “It’s geared towards people’s ability and knowledge and most people getting concealed carry have been gun enthusiasts for a while.”
  Starting Sunday, the state of Illinois will begin taking applications for concealed carry. Despite immense pushback from anti-gun groups, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois is now the last state to lift the ban on concealed carry.
  For Chicago-area resident who plan on packing heat, a 16-hour training course is required. Training is broken into separate eight-hour courses. The first part of the training program focuses solely on teaching students to safely shoot, transport and stores a firearm. The second part of training deals with gun laws, specifically Illinois gun laws.
  “The advantage of having my own storefront facility is the ability to work with the student’s schedule,” he said. “It’s a 16-hour course and people work so it’s hard to do 8-hours a day or the entire 16-hours in one weekend.”
  The course will cost $275. In other states concealed carry courses can run as high as $300. During the Dec. 17 Chicago Ridge board meeting, Pohrebny’s license to open the storefront facility was approved.
  At this point, the shooting portion of the course is done at the Harvey Police shooting range. In the future, Pohrebny is hoping to repair and reopen the range in his facility.
  “I want to reopen the shooting range at the facility and open it up for my current and former students to practice drawing from a holster,” he said. “People should practice 100 times a day because if you ever do need to draw your gun you don’t want to be tugging at your holster.”
  Illinois residents who have been convicted of a felony, including domestic violence, or have a criminal record are subject to denial of a FOID card and concealed carry permit. State and local law enforcement must also approve the concealed carry permit, regardless of the individual’s reason for applying. Law enforcement officials may deny a request for concealed carry is the individual has certain psychological issues or a history tied gang-related crimes.
  “Are we that stupid in Chicago to not know that it’s the bad people with guns who are committing these violent crimes?” Pohrebny said. “Good people feel the need to arm themselves as long as there continues to be bad people illegally obtaining firearms.”
  For more information on Carry Chicago, visit or call 708-357-6241.

Dist. 230 VP concerned about ‘test overload’

  • Written by Tim Hadac

  In a time of growing criticism about the amount of standardized tests that children take in school, District 230 officials last Thursday discussed the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests set for implementation in the 2014-15 academic year.
  “Boy, it just seems like we do a lot of testing,” said board Vice President Patrick O’Sullivan, in reaction to a presentation made by Dr. Kim Dryier, the district’s assistant superintendent for instruction. “I think a lot of that is not our doing, it’s kind of forced on us. But boy, you take these PARCC tests, these pre- and post-assessment tests, your ACT, your ACT prep, and it’s almost like you’re being tested as much as you’re learning. It’s like there’s a kind of test overload.”
  The discussion took place at Sandburg High School, before an audience of fewer than 10 people.
  The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), as described on its website, “is a consortium of 18 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math anchored in what it takes to be ready for college and careers. These new K-12 assessments will build a pathway to college and career readiness by the end of high school, mark students’ progress toward this goal from 3rd grade up, and provide teachers with timely information to inform instruction and provide student support.”
  PARCC plans to “create high-quality assessments that measure the full range of the Common Core State Standards, support educators in the classroom, make better use of technology in assessments, and advance accountability at all levels.”
  Exactly what that will mean at the classroom level is something that school administrators and faculty, both locally and elsewhere, have grappled with for the last year, as the effort takes shape slowly.
  “This seems to be extremely confusing. I’d hate to be a kid right now,” said board member Tony Serratore, who wondered aloud if the coming PARCC method of student assessment will differ significantly from the well known ACT test, and if that difference will affect students’ ability to get into the college of their choice.
  Echoing what many have said in districts across the U.S., Dryier acknowledged that there are still “uncertainties and variables” associated with PARCC implementation and described aspects of the process as “frustrating” and “trying” for administrators and faculty alike.
  She encouraged board members to take a longer view, saying that the district’s goal remains to “prepare kids the best way that we can. We truly believe that good instruction, good critical thinking skills will help kids solve problems, regardless of what [those problems] look like,” she said.
  “The good news is, we do good instruction here,” she added. “We have good school improvement plans. We are focused on student achievement, regardless of what the [type of] test is. We fully believe that our students will be well prepared for any assessment that may show up on our doorstep next year.”
  Dryier added that basic information about PARCC and what it will mean for students in the district will be posted soon at, but she, and that information may change over time.
  A big-picture view of PARCC is available at
  In other matters, board members congratulated and thanked district staff for their handling the Dec. 4 evacuation of Stagg High School, 8015 W. 111th St., Palos Hills.
  “We tested before school, during school, after school, outside, inside, in spaces near the boiler,” stated district Superintendent James M. Gay. “We had an outside contractor — White Environmental — come in to help.”
  Gay said there is no evidence to suggest any kind of environmental health concern at the school, but that steps have been taken to prevent a re-occurrence of the strange odor that led to the evacuation and to about a dozen students and teachers transported to local hospitals as a precaution.
  School officials have said they believe that unusual weather conditions to a high amount of vehicle exhaust to be pulled into the building’s fresh-air intake vents.
  The new, preventive steps will be announced at the next board meeting, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30 at Sandburg, 13300 S. La Grange Road. The public is encouraged to attend.

The final countdown: Three vie for Dist. 127.5 top job

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  It’s down to three.

  Chicago Ridge School District 127.5 has entered the next phase of its search for a new superintendent.
  The three finalists for the position will meet Tuesday afternoon with members of the community as well as teachers and district staff members for “open discourse,” said Supt. Joyce Kleinaitis. The forum is not open to the public.
  The feedback from the conversations will help the school board choose a new superintendent, who likely will be selected in February, Kleinaitis said. The school board plans to conduct final interviews Jan. 18.

  The 26 community members who will meet with the candidates represent a cross-section of the community, including parents, school board members and library officials.
  The finalists will meet separately with the community members, teachers and district staff, Kleinaitis said.
  Group members are encouraged to ask a wide range of questions dealing with the candidates’ backgrounds, educational philosophy, approach to the community, among other queries, she said.
  Kleinaitis is retiring at the end of the school year after eight years in the position to teach graduate education classes. Specifically, she will teach school law, which prepares teachers to become administrators, she said. Her base salary for 2013-14 is $161,902.
  She would not offer any background on the finalists, who were chosen from a group of seven who interviewed with the school board. Twenty five individuals applied for the position. School board president Greg Hillman has said all of the candidates are from Illinois.

  Kleinaitis is 43-year veteran of education, having worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent before coming to District 127.5.
  She said she has not had time to think about her departure from the district.
  “We’ve been so busy pulling things together. I really haven’t had time to reflect,” she said.
  District 127.5 serves approximately 1,500 students in Chicago Ridge and a small portion of Oak Lawn. Students attend Finley Junior High and Ridge Central and Ridge Lawn elementary schools.

Two Worth fires produce no injuries

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  Fire officials are investigating thepage-2-3-col-fire2Paradise Fashions in Worth had “a significant” loss when a fire gutted the building Friday but there were no injuries. Photo by Jeff Vorva. cause of Friday afternoon fire at a Worth clothing store.
  The North Palos Fire Protection District also is looking into the cause of a Sunday morning fire that destroyed a detached garage near 114th Street and Nina Avenue, officials said.
  The fire at Paradise Fashions, 11142 S. Harlem Ave., was reported at about 12:15 p.m. and extinguished in about 25 minutes, Battalion Chief Paul Mackin said.
  “There was significant loss,” Mackin said.
  No one was injured in the blaze, which did not spread to the other businesses in the strip mall, he said. The store was closed and unoccupied at the time of the fire.
  Firefighters from Chicago Ridge as well the Palos Heights the Roberts Park fire protection districts helped battle the fire, Mackin said.
  No one was injured in the 5:13 a.m. garage fire, which damaged two cars that were parked outside, fire officials said. The blaze was extinguished in about 20 minutes.