Menu

Oak Lawn trustee: "No significant rise in crime'

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

In response to two armed robberies that occurred in his district last month, Oak Lawn Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th) will be holding a community meeting to discuss public safety issues at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at Salem United Church of Christ, 9717 S. Kostner Ave.

Vorderer said representatives of the Oak Lawn Police Department and the business community will be there to answer questions.

The incidents of most concern locally are two armed robberies, which police believe were committed by the same man, that occurred during the afternoon on Sept. 13. In both cases, the man robbed people at gunpoint in garages in the 4100 block of West 93rd Street and the 9600 block of South Kildare Avenue. Both locations are in Vorderer’s district.

When the trustee announced that he would be having the session at the Sept. 27 Village Board meeting, he cautioned residents that there is no reason to think that “crime is rampant” in the village.

A retired Oak Lawn police officer and chief of patrol, Vorderer claimed that Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) “takes liberties with the statistics,” on his online blog, in an effort to scare residents about crime levels.

In an overhead display of local crime statistics between 2010 and 2015 that he showed during the meeting, Vorderer pointed out that “there is no significant rise in crime over the last few years.”

He said that 2016 statistics are not available, and there was a spike in several areas in 2014. But crime has actually dropped this year in most areas, including burglaries, which are down from 121 to 110 this year, and robberies, down from 34 to 21.

“Variances can occur every year. One offender can cause a lot of trouble. But nothing indicates there is a large increase in crime.”

Vorderer and several other trustees argued that Streit is finding fault with the police department unnecessarily.

Streit did not challenge Vorderer during the meeting, except to ask, “Has anyone been caught for those burglaries?”

No one has been, but the same offender is now suspected of committing a similar robbery in north suburban Harwood Heights on Sept. 14. Jewelry was stolen in all three cases, and in Harwood Heights, he went into a home and took a ring from a man. A red Buick Enclave SUV was reportedly seen in Oak Lawn and in Harwood Heights.

The suspect in all three cases was described as a man in his 20s or 30s, black, and thin. He was described as wearing a black jacket and black floppy hat in Harwood Heights, and in Oak Lawn, witnesses said he wore a baseball cap and black writing.

Pilgrim Faith Church members greet friends at annual Fall Fest

  • Written by Kelly White

lucy whitney photo 10-6

Photo by Kelly White

Lucy Whitney, 5, of Oak Lawn, enjoys games at the second annual Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ's Fall Fest on Saturday evening in Oak Lawn.

 

The leaves are beginning to fall, pumpkins are starting to make an appearance and Halloween is just around the corner.

To celebrate the autumn season, Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ held its second annual Fall Fest on Saturday at the church, 9411 S 51st Ave, Oak Lawn.

The fest was planned to take place on the outdoor playground and fire pit area just behind the church building. However, due to the constant rain on Saturday, it was held inside the church basement instead. The event featured homemade chili, hot dogs, s’mores, hot chocolate, apple cider and plenty of interactive games for adults and children alike – all provided by Pilgrim Faith Church members.

“I absolutely love this church,” said Oak Lawn resident Erin Sheehan, who attended with her daughter, Maggie, 9. “The church does so much for the community and is constantly finding ways to get members involved.”

“It was an evening of fun for all ages,” Pilgrim Faith Church Rev. Peggy McClanahan said. “It was a shame the weather did not cooperate to hold the event outdoors. However, we still had a very nice turnout. We had some great comfort food, but mostly it was a relaxed environment that offered time to hang out with old and new friends. The goal of the event was for everyone to just come out and have a good time.”

McClanahan was responsible for organizing the event with the help of Pilgrim Faith Church members, Libby Whitney and Lori Harris.

The fest was free, only asking for a freewill donation. They gathered more than 50 local residents of all ages, including Luke Weierman, 9, of Hometown, and his mother, Mary.

“This is great because Luke gets the opportunity to get out of the house and play with other kids,” said Mary Weierman. “He is extremely social and loves events like this.”

Lucy Whitney, 5, of Oak Lawn, was also having fun with her family and other children at the fest.

“I love the games and being with my friends,” she aid.

The fest was not strictly limited to Pilgrim Faith members, as all community members were welcomed and encouraged to attend, according to McClanahan.

“We have always been a church that is very involved in the community,” McClanahan said. “We do this for the community, as well. We were asking for freewill donations – at no set amount - to cover the costs but everyone was welcome to attend regardless of the person’s ability to pay. No one was turned away.”

Attendees said the fest stood out from other neighborhood fall festivals because of its size, keeping it small.

“Our fest is on a much smaller scale,” McClanahan said. “There aren’t booths or some of the big attractions like the Children’s Museum does. It was simply more a chance for people to hang out together for low-key fun and food. There was also opportunity for people to get to know other people within the community that they might not have previously known. It was also designed for all ages, not just for the parents of the community. We welcomed children and senior citizens as well to come out and mingle with each other.”

The event was part of a year-long celebration of the church’s 125th-year anniversary. The church was founded in Oak Lawn on Oct. 31, 1891 in Simpson’s farmhouse, at the corner of what is now Southwest Highway and Central Avenue. The original church building is now the Homestead Barr, 9306 Central Ave., Oak Lawn.

The church will conclude its 125th anniversary year with an Anniversary Celebration Worship at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, followed by a luncheon. Former members, pastors and staff and others who have been involved with Pilgrim Faith are invited to attend. Reservations for the lunch must be made by Oct. 24 to the church office at (708) 422-4200.

“It is a great time to remember all the ministry we have done in Oak Lawn around the world over those 125 years,” McClanahan said. “We have been lifting up many of the ministries and missions that have met the ever-changing needs of people in our community and surrounding area. It has been a time to celebrate how God has made all that possible and enabled us to bring hope to so many people.”

 

m Faith Unite members greet friends at ‘low-key’ Fall Fest

By Kelly White

The leaves are beginning to fall, pumpkins are starting to make an appearance and Halloween is just around the corner.

To celebrate the autumn season, Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ held its second annual Fall Fest on Saturday at the church, 9411 S 51st Ave, Oak Lawn.

The fest was planned to take place on the outdoor playground and fire pit area just behind the church building. However, due to the constant rain on Saturday, it was held inside the church basement instead. The event featured homemade chili, hot dogs, s’mores, hot chocolate, apple cider and plenty of interactive games for adults and children alike – all provided by Pilgrim Faith Church members.

“I absolutely love this church,” said Oak Lawn resident Erin Sheehan, who attended with her daughter, Maggie, 9. “The church does so much for the community and is constantly finding ways to get members involved.”

“It was an evening of fun for all ages,” Pilgrim Faith Church Rev. Peggy McClanahan said. “It was a shame the weather did not cooperate to hold the event outdoors. However, we still had a very nice turnout. We had some great comfort food, but mostly it was a relaxed environment that offered time to hang out with old and new friends. The goal of the event was for everyone to just come out and have a good time.”

McClanahan was responsible for organizing the event with the help of Pilgrim Faith Church members, Libby Whitney and Lori Harris.

The fest was free, only asking for a freewill donation. They gathered more than 50 local residents of all ages, including Luke Weierman, 9, of Hometown, and his mother, Mary.

“This is great because Luke gets the opportunity to get out of the house and play with other kids,” said Mary Weierman. “He is extremely social and loves events like this.”

Lucy Whitney, 5, of Oak Lawn, was also having fun with her family and other children at the fest.

“I love the games and being with my friends,” she aid.

The fest was not strictly limited to Pilgrim Faith members, as all community members were welcomed and encouraged to attend, according to McClanahan.

“We have always been a church that is very involved in the community,” McClanahan said. “We do this for the community, as well. We were asking for freewill donations – at no set amount - to cover the costs but everyone was welcome to attend regardless of the person’s ability to pay. No one was turned away.”

Attendees said the fest stood out from other neighborhood fall festivals because of its size, keeping it small.

“Our fest is on a much smaller scale,” McClanahan said. “There aren’t booths or some of the big attractions like the Children’s Museum does. It was simply more a chance for people to hang out together for low-key fun and food. There was also opportunity for people to get to know other people within the community that they might not have previously known. It was also designed for all ages, not just for the parents of the community. We welcomed children and senior citizens as well to come out and mingle with each other.”

The event was part of a year-long celebration of the church’s 125th-year anniversary. The church was founded in Oak Lawn on Oct. 31, 1891 in Simpson’s farmhouse, at the corner of what is now Southwest Highway and Central Avenue. The original church building is now the Homestead Barr, 9306 Central Ave., Oak Lawn.

The church will conclude its 125th anniversary year with an Anniversary Celebration Worship at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, followed by a luncheon. Former members, pastors and staff and others who have been involved with Pilgrim Faith are invited to attend. Reservations for the lunch must be made by Oct. 24 to the church office at (708) 422-4200.

“It is a great time to remember all the ministry we have done in Oak Lawn around the world over those 125 years,” McClanahan said. “We have been lifting up many of the ministries and missions that have met the ever-changing needs of people in our community and surrounding area. It has been a time to celebrate how God has made all that possible and enabled us to bring hope to so many people.”

District 230 had balanced budget for 14th straight year

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

As expected, the District 230 School Board unanimously approved the 2017 budget last Thursday, marking the 14th consecutive year that a balanced budget was approved.

The vote was taken following a brief public hearing on the $130 million operating budget. Tony Serratore was the only board member absent. Although the meeting was packed with parents and students, they were there for the main meeting that followed the hearing. No one spoke when the floor was opened to public comment.

“Considering that almost two-thirds of school districts in the state are operating with deficit budgets, it makes us very fortunate to be able to keep having balanced budgets,” said Joihn Lavelle, assistant superintendent of business services.

“It is a credit to the board and all the committees that work so closely with us on the budget, and still provide excellent educational opportunities for our students,” said Lavelle.

He noted that there is a slight surplus of $86,007 this year.

“It is true that 85 percent of the budget comes from local property taxes. Ten percent comes from the state and the remainder from federal programs. It is unfortunate that that is the case, but it is the nature of the current spending formula,” he said.

“Our spending per pupil is below average,” added board member Patrick O’Sullivan.

Being able to present another balanced budget “is huge,” said Superintendent Dr. James Gay, considering that 67 percent of the 852 school districts in Illinois are unable to do so.

“We haven’t raised fees in more over eight years, and haven’t raised the tax levy in four years. We’re respecting students by offering things like the 1-to-1 technology program (in which students are getting Chromebooks), and our teachers too,” he said, referring to the recently approved three-year contract.

“These are milestones that go unnoticed. But we know it, and it doesn’t come by happenstance,” Gay added.

“I think we have tried to strike the best balance we can, between our students, staff and taxpayers. It is a team effort,” said Board President Rick Nogal.

“We keep our facilities in top-notch condition, too. We look around and keep on top of everything,” added board member Susan Dalton.

Also at the meeting, board members discussed the fact that District 230 students will no longer have to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC ) after the Illinois State Board of Education decided in July to stop using it as an assessment exam. It was only administered in Illinois for two years, and was never popular in Illinois or nationwide, in part because colleges do not use it for admissions and it was considered a waste of time. Gay said that the district had written a letter asking for its use to be discontinued at the high school level. It will still be used in elementary school districts.

In its place, Illinois will be using the SAT as an assessment. Kim Dryier, assistant superintendent for instruction, explained that the SAT, which is commonly used as a college entrance exam, will be administered to juniors in the district at a date to be decided later. She said the ACT, another college admissions test, will no longer be offered during school hours. But Dryier said students will still be able to take the ACT when it is offered at other locations in the area.

Chicago Ridge Board puts a lid on more video gaming machines

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

The belief held by a majority of Chicago Ridge trustees that the village already has enough video gaming machines have put an end to efforts by a local liquor store to bring in five more.

During a presentation at the village board meeting on Tuesday, the owners of Tony’s Liquor & Tobacco, 10610 S. Ridgeland Ave., which already sells packaged liquor, said they would like to get a license to serve beer and wine onsite. This would also allow them to get a video gaming license.

Mayor Chuck Tokar noted that the business has been in town for eight years, without any problems, and Oak Lawn and other communities have started allowing liquor stores to get video gaming.

They owners said they would make the changes needed to serve beer and wine, including setting up a bar and sink, and building two ADA-compatible bathrooms. The Illinois Gaming Board requires food to be served in businesses with gaming licenses, and several trustees questioned whether plans for only packaged snacks would meet the requirement.

When Trustee Bruce Quintos asked the owners to provide more complete diagrams of their plans before any decision is made, Trustee Jack Lind suggested polling the board to see if the expense would be worth it to the owners.

Trustee Frances Coglianese pointed out that the village already has 19 video gaming establishments, which she said was enough.

“If a business can make a little more money, it is fine with me. I don’t want to penalize anyone because someone else got it first,” said Lind, who said he would allow one more license. Trustee Bill McFarland agreed, but the other four trustees said they would vote no, so the plans likely won’t progress any further.

“I am not in favor of bringing more video gaming machines to town,” said Quintos.

When the floor was opened to public comment, resident Mary Callan thanked the board for putting a stop to the video gaming proposal. “It is not about the money. It is about keeping Chicago Ridge a family-friendly community,” said Callan.

Issues about the board’s newly enacted ordinances aimed at solving a problem with rats were also brought up during public comment, and the mayor and trustees agreed that changes may have to be made. The issue was raised by the owner of a three-flat apartment building who questioned why she is now required to show that she has a contract with a waste removal company as well as an exterminator. She also asked if an inspection by an exterminator done in October would meet the requirements to get her business license renewed in January. The board agreed that having exterminator inspections in winter would be pointless.

The woman said she pays for waste removal month-to-month without a contract, and questioned why businesses and apartments have to show proof of exterminator inspections, but not single-family homes.

“It is because you are running a business,” said the mayor. However, he suggested making changes to allow multi-unit properties up to three-flats to simply provide letters from waste removal companies and exterminators as proof that the work is being done.

“This is the first time we are dealing with this. We’re spending a lot of taxpayer money to solve this (rat problem). Our new inspectors have probably written 200 tickets in the past month, but we might have to fine-tune this,” said Tokar.

At Lind’s request, the board agreed to have a workshop to discuss changing the new ordinances, as well as another one requiring property owners to replace trees removed from parkways. Several residents also raised concerns about that on Tuesday.

Worth approves three ordinances

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

Three ordinances were approved at the Worth Village Board meeting on Tuesday, with two of them prompting lengthy discussion regarding driveways, culverts and drainage ditches.

An ordinance calling for the amending of Title 7 of the Worth Municipal Code to establish regulations for culverts was questioned by Public Works Superintendent Wayne Demonbreun. He requested that the wording be changed in the description of material to be used in construction of a culvert. He asked that the required material be corrugated metal pipe, instead of reinforced concrete.

After much discussion, the trustees voted unanimously to change the wording of the ordinance.

Also sparking discussion was an ordinance to amend the municipal code to declare failure to maintain the parkway as a nuisance.

“This has been an ongoing problem in Worth for at least the last 50 years,” said Trustee Pete Kats. “Residents fill in the ditches in the parkway in front of their house to provide extra parking space, which then creates flooding problems further down the street.

Following a lengthy discussion on the matter, the ordinance was approved unanimously.      

A third ordinance, calling for the rezoning of property located at the Southwest corner of 111th Street and Oketo Avenue, commonly known as the Lucas Berg Property, was approved unanimously with no discussion. The property was changed from R3, general residence zoning district, to B1, restricted retail business zoning district.

Also approved was an ordinance amendment increasing the number of package liquor licenses in Worth, from 9 to 10, in order to accommodate a license for the Worth BP, Inc.

Mayor Mary Werner also announced five appointments to terms expiring May 1 2017. They are Mark Micetich, chief of police; Charles Kulisek, deputy chief; Wayne Demonbreun, superintendent of public works; and Bruce Zartler, building commissioner.