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Mayor votes to approve Oak Lawn budget after 3-3 split on the board

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Trustee Robert Streit actually sided with fellow trustees Tim Desmond and Alex Olejniczak.

 

Trustee Carol Quinlan, who recently called Mayor Sandra Bury "a piece of work" at a board meeting, actually agreed with the mayor on this one and was in the unfamiliar position in being in the same camp with Terry Vorderer and Mike Carberry.

 

It not not a usual night -- or vote -- when it take to Oak Lawn's village board meeting on Tuesday night. The usual Streit/Quinlan vs. rest of the board blueprint on important issues was shaken up.

 

A deadlock on Oak Lawn’s 2015 budget forced Bury to cast a rare tiebreaking vote to approve the spending plan Tuesday.

 

Streit, Desmond and Olejniczak—the latter two who are allies of Bury—voted against the budget following extended debate about the $54.3 million plan.

 

Vorderer, Quinlan and Carberry voted in favor.

 

Olejniczak first asked the board to delay a vote on the budget so village officials could revisit the document and find more cost savings for the village. His motion died for lack of support.

 

“I don’t know what the big rush is,” Olejniczak said.

 

Olejniczak and Desmond agreed that the village should approve the leanest budget possible in order the make further strides in funding its pension obligations.

 

Streit did not comment on the budget prior to the vote.

 

“The fact is, we owe our employees these pensions,” Olejniczak said.

 

The problem for Oak Lawn and many other municipalities is that the pension funds are seriously underfunded and the state is looking to resolve the problem.

 

The state has mandated that towns and cities start a payment plan to gradually improve their police and fire pensions to 90 percent of the funding they need.

If required pension contributions aren’t made, the state will automatically subtract the required contribution from the village’s share of sales and use taxes.

Olejniczak also disapproved of the village’s decision to sell property it owns to help balance the budget, calling the move poor long-term planning.

Village manager Larry Deetjen pointed out some positives of the spending plan, including no fee increases, $2.3 million dedicated to infrastructure improvements and an increase in pension funding over the previous year.

“We don’t have all the money to do what we want to do,” Deetjen said regarding infrastructure work, which includes road, alley and sewer work.

He added that mostly through attrition, the village’s work force is 25 percent smaller than it was 15 years ago.

Village Treasurer Pat O’Donnell said the village must focus on its finances over the next three years with an eye funding the pensions.

“We’ve stopped taking on debt, but we still have a ways to go,” O’Donnell said.

 

The village must submit its tax levy by Dec. 30, which would give the staff and the board nearly two weeks to fine tune the budget, said Olejniczak, who did not offer specific suggestions for further cost savings.

 

The budget is good, but we could do better,” he said. “All I’m asking is that we sharpen the pencil and take another look. Are there other things that are out there? We’re not being honest with the residents.”

 

Vorderer disagreed saying the budget process was lengthy and included several workshops in which trustees could voice concerns or propose cuts.

 

“The budget didn’t [just] get here tonight,” Vorderer said. “How much can you cut out of this budget. It’s realistic. We got this down to the bare bones.”

 

He added that he budget is not etched in stone and department heads car be asked to make additional spending cuts during the year if needed.

 

Shaken and speared

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

 

 

DR-FRONT-SXU-and-scoreboard 

 

Photo by Jeff Vorva

St. Xavier’s team huddled for a final meeting Saturday on Bruce Deaton Field under the backdrop of the scoreboard signaling the end of its season in the semifinals of the NAIA national championship series.

 

Folks around here learned two things about Ashland, Oregon, courtesy of veteran Southern Oregon football coach Craig Howard.

“It’s renowned for being the home of the Shakespearean Festival,” he said. “In addition to the Shakespearean Festival, we also have a pretty good football team.’’

 Those who watched his team play on Saturday afternoon in Chicago probably won’t protest that statement too much.

The Raiders and their record-setting quarterback, Austin Dodge, kept their high-powered offense rolling with a 62-37 victory over St. Xavier University Saturday in the NAIA national semifinals at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field.

It was the first time SXU hosted a semifinal game and when the Cougars owned a 17-10 lead after the first quarter, fans were dreaming of a return trip to the national title game. The Cougars won the national championship in 2011 when several of the Cougars’ seniors were freshmen.

But things quickly turned into a William Shakespeare-like dramatic tragedy when the Raiders scored 31-straight points and the Cougars could not catch up.

Dodge threw for 460 yards and five touchdowns. He completed passes to nine different teammates.

“He’s the best quarterback I’ve seen in 16 years,” SXU coach Mike Feminis said.

Dodge has thrown for more yards – 16,820 – than any other QB in the history of the NAIA.

Did SXU fans get a chance to watch a future NFL player on Saturday? Possibly.

Howard, who coached Tim Tebow in high school, said NFL scouts have stopped by Ashland to watch Dodge practice.

Dodge is not thinking about the NFL or his NAIA legacy. He is centered on Dec. 19 when his team plays Marian (Ind.) in the national title game at 2 p.m. in Daytona Beach, Fla.

“I’ll feel like I’ll cement my legacy if we win the national championship,” Dodge said. “And only if we win the national championship. I want to put a ring on every one of these guys’ fingers. I’m going to do my part to help lead this team.  It’s going to be a fun experience. It’s something that we haven’t done before and we’re going to get down to Florida and take care of business.’’

Cougars quarterback John Rhode threw for 308 yards including a 75-yard strike to Evergreen Park resident and Marist High School graduate Ryan Carroll for a score.

St. Xavier finished the season 10-3. The Cougars opened the season beating Marian 65-38 but the Indiana school was able to get past that huge setback and make it to the national championship game.

“There’s a lot of hurt,” Feminis said after the loss. “These seniors had the unbelievable feeling of winning a national championship when they were freshmen and they were a step away as sophomores. Last year, we had the season we had [not making the playoffs] and that doesn’t happen to us.

“This year’s team grew and matured as the season went on. I don’t want to say we maxed out but I don’t know if too many people thought we would get this far.’’

A huge chunk of players from the South Suburbs make up the Cougars’ roster.

Those from the Reporter/Regional area are Carroll (from Evergreen Park/Marist High School), Joe DeMarco (Chicago Ridge/Richards), Mike Sheehy (Chicago/Brother Rice), John Glover (Oak Lawn/Oak Lawn High School), Denzel Watts (Evergreen Park/Evergreen Park High School), Mohamad Ashkar (Alsip/Shepard), Ronald Luce (Oak Lawn/Oak Lawn High School), Kevin Lonergan (Oak Lawn/Oak Lawn High School), Greg Hayward (Oak Lawn/Oak Lawn High School), John Frederickson (Evergreen Park/Evergreen Park High School) and Kevin Berrigan (Oak Lawn/St. Rita).

 

 

of Hearts jackpot

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Pearl Harbor Day was a lucky one for an American Legion member who won the Ace of Hearts jackpot at the American Legion Marrs-Meyer Post 991 in Worth.

 

The unidentified member, who does not belong to the Marrs-Meyer post, hit it big Sunday afternoon and walked away with half of the more than $287,000 generated over the several weeks the jackpot was in play.

 

The Marrs-Meyer post keeps the other half of the winnings and will use the money for facility improvements and veterans’ causes, officials said.

 

Four hundred people packed the Legion, 11001 S. Depot Ave., for Sunday afternoon’s drawing, while another 3,500 people were gathered outside the facility, officials said. In fact, the Legion recently erected a tent to accommodate the overflow crowds.

 

“Outside it was just insane,” said Lisa Finnegan, manager of the Legion bar. “It was nuts. I’m just glad it’s over.

 

“Someone had to win. Too bad it wasn’t me,” Finnegan added.

 

When the eventual winner’s ticket was drawn, all he had to do was choose the ace of hearts from the remaining six cards in the deck. Had he guessed wrong, the jackpot would have continued another week and the Legion would have probably been even crazier.

 

Previous Ace of Hearts jackpots at Legion have not exceeded $8,800.

 

The raffle had been going on for weeks, and the jackpot continued to grow. It was $227,000 the Sunday before the winning card was chosen. Hefty ticket sales caused the jackpot to jump $60,000 in one week.

 

The game is simple and begins with a full deck of cards plus two jokers. Each week, players buy raffle tickets for a chance to pick the winning the card—the ace of hearts. If the card is not chosen, the game carries over to the following week causing the jackpot to grow.

 

Vet wins Ace of Hearts jackpot

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Pearl Harbor Day was a lucky one for an American Legion member who won the Ace of Hearts jackpot at the American Legion Marrs-Meyer Post 991 in Worth.

 

The unidentified member, who does not belong to the Marrs-Meyer post, hit it big Sunday afternoon and walked away with half of the more than $287,000 generated over the several weeks the jackpot was in play.

 

The Marrs-Meyer post keeps the other half of the winnings and will use the money for facility improvements and veterans’ causes, officials said.

 

Four hundred people packed the Legion, 11001 S. Depot Ave., for Sunday afternoon’s drawing, while another 3,500 people were gathered outside the facility, officials said. In fact, the Legion recently erected a tent to accommodate the overflow crowds.

 

“Outside it was just insane,” said Lisa Finnegan, manager of the Legion bar. “It was nuts. I’m just glad it’s over.

 

“Someone had to win. Too bad it wasn’t me,” Finnegan added.

 

When the eventual winner’s ticket was drawn, all he had to do was choose the ace of hearts from the remaining six cards in the deck. Had he guessed wrong, the jackpot would have continued another week and the Legion would have probably been even crazier.

 

Previous Ace of Hearts jackpots at Legion have not exceeded $8,800.

 

The raffle had been going on for weeks, and the jackpot continued to grow. It was $227,000 the Sunday before the winning card was chosen. Hefty ticket sales caused the jackpot to jump $60,000 in one week.

 

The game is simple and begins with a full deck of cards plus two jokers. Each week, players buy raffle tickets for a chance to pick the winning the card—the ace of hearts. If the card is not chosen, the game carries over to the following week causing the jackpot to grow.

 

Jeff Vorva's ImPRESSions -- Kicking around area football topics

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

 

Jeffs Col Impressions

 

This is the biggest college football game to ever be played in our back yard.

St. Xavier University will host Southern Oregon in the NAIA national semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field on the SXU campus in Chicago. The winner goes to the national championship in Daytona Beach. The loser goes home to either stay in freezing Chicago or snowy Ashland, Oregon,

The Cougars are not new to semifinal games. They have been there four times before, including 2011, when they won the national title.

But they are new to hosting a semifinal game. This will be a first on campus and the place should be rocking, especially after Saturday’s 30-17 victory over Lindsey Wilson in the quarterfinals.

Southern Oregon comes into the game knocking off the then-No. 1 team in the nation, Carroll College of Montana, 45-42, on a snowy field in Helena.

The other semifinal features Marian (Indiana)  against Morningside (Iowa).

In case you forgot, Marian is the team St. Xavier opened the season with and the Cougars won a road game in Indianapolis, 65-38, against the Knights on Sept. 6.

Morningside brings in a load of offense as the Mustangs beat Nebraska Wesleyan, 83-19, Dordt, 72-2, Midland, 68-28, Hastings, 76-14, and Briar Cliff, 63-0, during the regular season.

It should b e a wild couple of weeks.

A game I don’t want to see

Lindsey Wilson, based out of Kentucky, beat Belhaven (Mississippi), 91-14, on Oct. 25.

That’s not a misprint – 91 points! And the Blue Raiders didn’t even score in the final 10 minutes.

So, this Belhaven team must be the worst team in college football, right? Well, it opened the season with a 44-6 win over Texas College and a 32-15 victory over Mississippi College before losing nine straight.

Texas College finished the season 0-11 and was outscored 625-73.

So, if Texas College and St. Xavier decide to hook up for a football game anytime soon, I may have to skip that one.

 Foot note

Yes, I read the game notes. And it’s a good thing, because this is something most people might not notice. I wouldn’t have.

St. Xavier freshman kicker Abdul Mahdi kicks off with his left foot. But when he attempts field goals, extra points and squib kicks, he uses his right leg.

The Bogan High School graduate probably should have used his left foot during a first-half field goal attempt against Lindsey Wilson as the wind took his effort wide, wide left. I was thinking it had enough distance to hit the Shannon Center west of the stadium.

 Providence devine

 Staying with the football theme, the Reporter and Regional do not cover Providence Catholic on a regular basis but there are kids from the area who goes to the New Lenox school – especially from Orland Park – and it’s cool to see the Celtics clean house and not only win the IHSA Class 4A baseball title in June but also win the Class 7A football title on Saturday.

On a personal note, I’ve known a handful of some of their star players when they were little kids and I could have kicked every one of them around with ease.

Not now. They would eat me up and spit me out.

But seriously, it was fun to watch them beat Cary-Grove (an area I lived in a while ago) 31-27 and see friends of the family doing so well.

 Bad karma?

I can’t seem to pin down the exact date that Notre Dame decided to redshirt 2013 Reporter-Regional Player of the Year Nic Weishar but I heard about it the first week in November.

To redshirt someone is to keep them out of game action for a year and they will have the remaining years of eligibility left. Nic will have all four years of eligibility after they beef him up at the school.

Since I heard about the resdshirt, the Fighting Irish lost to Arizona State, Northwestern, Louisville and USC.

Coincidence?

Of course.

But the timing is interesting.

 Political football

Hickory Hills alderman Thomas McAvoy spent a part of his Thanksgiving wishing members of the Reporter a Happy Thanksgiving and ended his email with the following crack:

“I am going to do last-minute shopping and then brace myself as the as the Chicago Bears place their heads in the Detroit Lions’ mouths.’’