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Bella the ball: Party to help EP fourth grader buy new service dog

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 

  There’s a party in Evergreen Park on Sunday FRONT-COLOR-1-col-BELLAAn Evergreen Park family is hoping to raise money so their son can work with Bella, a service dog. Submitted photo.and if it’s a success, Liam McNamara will soon have his service dog.

  McNamara, 9, a 4th grader at Southwest School and Evergreen Park resident, has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, along with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, bipolar personality and anxiety.
  He had a service dog, Bub, but the golden retriever died two years ago, causing his family to raise the funds needed to purchase another one.
  The new dog, Bella, a one-year-old German Shepard, will cost the family about $20,000, and insurance does not cover the expense.
  Bella is being provided through Dog Wish, a California-based organization that trains service dogs to assist people with disabilities.
  “The dog is being trained right now,” said Liam’s mother, Dawn.
  The fundraising event, Liam’s Paws for a Cause, will be held from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Circle Park, 97th Street and Homan Avenue.
  The event will cost $50 for families or $15 for an individual and will include games, a disc jockey, band, raffles, silent auction, bean bag tournament, three bouncy houses and food.
  “It’s a fun day in the park,” McNamara said.
  The McNamara’s raised a $500 down payment for the dog in June after holding a garage sale at the First United Methodist Church in Evergreen Park.
  The dog’s $20,000 price day may seem high, but it covers the cost of extensive training as well transportation from California, McNamara said.
  A service dog is critical to Liam’s well-being, his mother said.
  Bella would not allow Liam to leave the house without permission or nudge the boy to remind him to look both ways before crossing the street.
  The dog also is trained to relieve Liam’s anxiety by cuddling with him. Liam often gets anxious when he meets new people. He cannot articulate his feelings or express his emotions. As a result, he can become violent, scream or hit people, McNamara said.
  The dog also is trained to track in case Liam ever disappears. Additionally, she’s trained to respond to cues. For example, she will stand in between Liam and a new person, prevent the boy from entering a car with a stranger or leave the house alone, McNamara said.
  For information or to make a donation, visit www.liamspawsforacause.weebly.com.

 

Community Briefs

Oak Lawn

Children’s Museum celebrates Literacy Month

  The Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn is celebrating National Literacy Month. Simply show your library card at the admission’s desk and you will get $1 off your admission price throughout the month of September.
  “Reading and writing is the foundation of today’s learning,” said Adam Woodworth, the museum’s Executive Director. “Yes, you can turn on the Discovery Channel and the History Channel and get a lot of good, useful information. But, what if you want to learn more about something that you’ve seen? You are probably going to go to the library or look it up on the internet. That’s where reading comes in and where fluency and comprehension in reading becomes that much more important.”
  “Some kids are good at science, some kids are good at math, but without being able to read,” added Woodworth, “Those subjects become that much more difficult.”
  While you are at the museum, you might find a way to celebrate National Literacy Month with your child. For instance, you might:
  • Participate in our 11 a.m. story time experience from Tuesdays through Friday.
  • Find a book in one of the exhibits and read with your child.
  • Make a story with your child about your visit to the museum.
  • Find words throughout the museum and have your child read them to you.

Artsy Good program highlighted

  Also at the Cnhildren’s Center over the summer, several young artists participated in the Artsy Good program at the museum and they will be showing off their work at our first late night of the year at 6 p.m. Friday.
  To celebrate the first late night of the year, admission is just $5 per person between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Starting in Oct., the museum will be open until 8 p.m. on the second and fourth Friday of each month.

Little Company of Mary seeks volunteers

  Little Company of Mary is looking for energetic and friendly individuals to donate their time to greet and guide patients at their newest state-of-the-art medical facility in Oak Lawn. The Outpatient Center is a 51,000-sqaure-feet, the three-story-state-of-the-art medical center is located 6700 West 95th St.
  Volunteers enhance the effectiveness of the many departments which serve patients, visitors and employees. Volunteers play an intricate role that helps make the hospital function.
  If you would like to become a volunteer at Little Company of Mary, we ask for a minimum commitment of four hours a week for one year.
  For more information about volunteer opportunities, please call Volunteer Resources at 708-229-5280.

Salem UCC to serve at PADS site

  SALEM UCC, 9717 S. Kostner Avenue, Oak Lawn, will once again be a PADS site this fall and winter for women and children. This will be our third year that Salem has run the site. Every Sunday evening October through April, homeless woman and children are able to come to the church for a hot meal and a place to stay for the night.
  The site is run by volunteers and is in need of several volunteers again this year. There will be an information meeting at 7 p.m. at the church. Call Gerry Krakowsky at 708-259-3566 for more information.

Evergreen Park

Documents Disposal coming to EPCHS

  State Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park, is inviting constituents to take advantage of free and secure document disposal at her community shred day this month.
  Burke’s shred day will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Sept. 28 in the parking lot of the Evergreen Park Community High School, 9901 S. Kedzie Ave. in Evergreen Park. Residents are invited to bring old tax returns, pay stubs, bills, receipts and credit card applications for safe destruction. Documents will be shredded on site.
  “Shredding is not only the safest way to dispose of old bills, credit card statements and other documents that contain sensitive information, it’s also an environmentally friendly way of clearing clutter that’s taking up space in a home or business,” Burke said. “This shred day is a great opportunity to make our identities safer and our communities greener.”

  For more information about Burke’s shred day, please call her constituent service office at 708-425-0571 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Michael’s Pancake House damaged by fire

  • Written by Bob Rakow

page-1-color-3-col-fire-refer  

A fire that destroyed a Worthpage-2-2-col-fireA close up of some of the damage inside of Michael’s Pancake House. Photos by Jeff Vorva. pancake house Monday night is under investigation by the North Palos Fire Protection District.
  The blaze was contained to the kitchen of Michael’s Pancake House, 6753 W. 111th St., but the entire eatery suffered significant smoke damage, Battalion Chief Rocky Carlson said.
  “The inside is heavily damaged,” Carlson said.
  A neighboring realty office also experienced smoke damage, he said.
  The fire department received a call from a passerby at 5:29 p.m., Carlson said. The blaze was extinguished in about 30 minutes, he said. The restaurant was closed at the time of the fire.
  The masonry building does not have a sprinkler system or smoke detectors, Carlson said.
  A fire fighter cut his hand while fighting the blaze but was treated at the scene.

Disorder on the courts

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 

Hoops art To hoop, or not to hoop? Two of the six area communities have eliminated public outdoor basketball courts and some Oak Lawn residents are clamoring that their village do the same. Photo by Jeff Vorva        Removing basketball hoops from Little Wolfe Park in Oak Lawn hasn’t garnered significant support from park district officials, but it’s a move other area communities have made to combat unsavory behavior.

  Oak Lawn Trustee Carol Quinlan has called on the Oak Lawn Park Board to remove the basketball hoops at the park, 107th Street and Laramie Avenue, following an Aug. 14 fight that led to two arrests.
  She said the fight was not an isolated incident. Instead, it’s not uncommon for large groups of older teens and adults to use the court and park their cars along both sides of Laramie Avenue. The activity has deterred area residents from using the park, which also features a playground, she said.
  Basketball courts were removed several years ago in Evergreen Park and Palos Hills. The Chicago Ridge Park District, meanwhile, is considering moving courts out of Freedom Park—the home of a splash pad—and relocating them in another park in the community, said director Kevin King.
  The Chicago Ridge Park District has received occasional complaints regarding conduct at the Freedom Park basketball courts, but nothing too serious, King said. Plans call for hoops to be added to Menard Park where an existing court is frequently used, he said.
  The Freedom Park courts are in bad shape and repairing them is not a worthwhile move, King said.
  Basketball courts were removed 20 years ago from all Evergreen Park parks after residents cried foul over the behavior of those using the courts, Mayor Jim Sexton said. Parks in Evergreen Park are located close to residential areas, and homeowners complained about the foul language, littering and public urination that occurred near the courts, Sexton said.
  The courts were transformed into sand volleyball courts, the mayor said.
  Basketball courts were removed in Palos Hills several years ago as well after some residents complained about after-hours use and the conduct of some players, said Palos Hills Ald. Pauline Stratton. The courts, which were located on 103rd Street, were the only ones in the city.
  “I did want them to stay. I was definitely in the minority,” Stratton said. “I’m of the opinion, let the kids be occupied.”
  Basketball courts still can be found in Worth and Hickory Hills parks.
  The Worth Park District has a scaled-down basketball court at Penny Park, Home and Normandy avenues, and has experienced only minor problems, Director Carlo Capalbo said.
  “We don’t see too many problems with it,” Capalbo said. “We get heavy usage. At the same time, the park is respected.”
  Quinlan was one of approximately 30 residents who live near the Little Wolfe Park to attend last week’s park board meeting to request the removal of the basketball court. Her comments that many of the players are from outside the community have led some to brand her a racist, she said. Several of her neighbors, however, support the move, Quinlan said.
  Quinlan is directing anyone who contacts her about the issue to call the park district.
  That’s what residents should have done when they first recognized a problem at Little Wolfe, Oak Lawn Park Board President Sue Murphy said.
  The district was unaware of problems at the park other than the Aug. 14 fight until Quinlan raised the issue at the park board meeting, Murphy said.
  “This is the first time we’ve heard of incidents over there,” Murphy said.
  There have not been additional incidents at the park since the Aug. 14 fight. Police have significantly stepped up patrols at the park since the melee, Police Chief Mike Murray said.
  Murphy added that the district cannot prevent people from using its facilities.
  “Parks are not private property,” she said. “This is not a gated community. People can play where they want in public places.”
  Murphy reiterated that safety is the district’s primary goal.
  “We do need to monitor the situation,” she said.
  Murphy said the park board will consider the request to remove the hoops at Little Wolfe.
  “We’re open to it. It’s not fallen on deaf ears,” she said.
  She added that she expects residents to address the issue at the board’s Oct. 21 meeting. She said residents should present a petition to the park board calling for the removal of the basketball court.
  The Aug. 14 fight took place near a foot bridge that connects Little Wolfe Park with walking trails that stretch to the rear of Richards High School. Stephen Hyde, 18, of Oak Lawn, and Hexadore Randall, 19, of Chicago, were arrested and charged with battery after they were picked out of a lineup by teenagers injured in the melee, police said.
  The duo said the fight was racially motivated and broke out after a group of white teens used racial slurs, according to police. They said they were walking the trails adjacent to the park when they encountered the white teens, who shouted racial slurs before hitting them, police said.
  The white teens offered a different version of events. Two teens told police they were punched in the face while another said he was jumped, according to reports.

 

Ice cream-like soil not sweet to Shepard HS construction

  • Written by Jessie Molloy

  The slow progress of the Alan B. Shepard science wing construction was an issue of concern at the Community High School District 218 board meeting Monday. 

  The project, originally planned for completion in early fall, hit a major delay this summer and may not be complete until spring due to poor soil conditions which were discovered when digging began for the new foundation. Superintendent John Byrne said initial soil samples indicated that the ground would have problems and funds were allotted for it in the budget but the extent of the problem was not foreseen.
  “It looks like chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream,” Byrne said. “There is a silty, clay-like material that runs through the good soil on the property. We weren’t sure how much of it there was and we happened to hit a giant swirl of it when we started digging.”
  Board members described the material as spongy clay, which absorbed and held the ground water, making the area difficult to build on. This situation caused a six-week delay in construction. Sump pumps and the sun were used to dewater and dry out the clay-filled soil
  Byrne said he was happy that in the last two weeks the progress was “multiples better” than in previous weeks.
  The main entrance and office reconstruction on the building’s first floor were not subject to as many delays and are still scheduled to be completed sometime in October.

Code of conduct tabled
  The board voted to table the approval of the district’s new athletic code of conduct after receiving parental complaints that the document was not representative enough of the students it applies to.
  The proposed code was penned this summer by the athletic directors from Shepard, Richards, and Eisenhower and lays out specific punishments to be given to athletes who fail to keep grades up or who are caught breaking the law or school rules. Some parents however, felt the writers of the policy did not have enough appreciation for the situations of some of the student athletes, particularly those of Hispanic and African American backgrounds, and requested the policy be reviewed and possibly amended with parental input.
  This suggestion was supported by board member Johnny Holmes, who said “It’s common sense that people making rules for a diverse group should have to represent all the people they are serving.”
  In addition to a select group of parents contributing to a revised document, Holmes suggested that one of the board members should be on the committee so the board would have more of a say than just voting to approve someone else’s ideas.
  Among the other issues Holmes had with the proposed code was the possibility of students being subjected to “double jeopardy” because certain legal and behavioral offenses would fall under guidelines for punishment in both the student code of conduct and the athletic code of conduct.
  Hypothetically, Holmes offered the example of a student caught stealing. Like all students he or she would receive a week-long suspension which would include the inability to participate in any school activities in that time, including athletic competitions.
  However, if the student was an athlete, the athletic code of conduct might also require a three-game suspension for the same offense in which case both punishments would be carried out and the student would be forced to miss the week of school and three games (though would be required to attend practice once they returned to class). This, Holmes argued was putting more weight on athletes than other students and could be seen as unfair.
  Other perceived problems of the proposed code were the ambiguity on if students would be held to it year round or only during their athletic season and the issue of coach accountability. Since a student could be punished for an ejection or unsportsmanlike conduct during a competition under the new code, it was suggested that some form of punishment also be laid out for coaches who are removed from a game since they are supposed to be role models for their athletes.

Gavin honored

  The board approved a request from Richards high school to place a plaque by the tennis courts in memory of Matthew Gavin. Gavin, who taught social studies and coached tennis and scholastic bowl for Richards, died in of cancer in the spring at the age of 32.