Jeff Vorva's ImPRESSions: As RIchards exits, new owners hope to make their Mark

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Jeffs Col Impressions

“Every issue of the paper, you have to give your readers at least one thing they can’t get anywhere else.’’

Those were the words of wisdom from Charles Richards.

The guy who used to own this newspaper.

The guy whose family owned this newspaper and the Regional for decades.

It’s no longer Charles in Charge around here.

On Friday, Richards signed the papers that sold the papers (and a building that includes everything from the press to the rusty paper clips in a drawer that probably hasn’t been open since the 1970s) to a group led by Mark Hornung and Steve Landek. Regional Publishing will be known as Southwest Regional Publishing Company – or SRPC.

One day, we hope that we will be as popular and well known as other folks who share those initials – the Secure Remote Payment Council, the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada, the Saudi Research and Publishing Company, the Stones River Pony Club, and, of course, the Stillwater Rifle and Pistol Club.

For now, we go through a transition. It’s both a scary and exciting time for us.

We think the new owners like what we’re doing here. We think that we’ve been making strides informing and entertaining our readers at these two papers. And we know darn well that it’s a lot more than once that we give our readers something they can’t get anywhere else.

Amy Richards will stay on as the publisher, which is good because we know her and she knows us and she knows the nine communities that the two papers serve. It’s not like some hotshot from parts unknown is going to come in here making a bunch of demands and suggestions even though he or she couldn’t find Harlem Avenue if you gave them a GPS.

So there will be a Richards still overseeing the ship.

Meanwhile, for Charles it will be a bittersweet first week away from a business that’s been in his blood for years.

A big part of him will miss it. A small part of him will be glad to be rid of all the headaches of running in a newspaper in these lousy economic times.

Hornung, on the other hand, appears to be an aggressive go-getter who will be dishing out the headaches rather than receiving them. The other papers he runs – including the nearby Southwest News Herald and Desplaines Valley News – have a heck of a lot of ads and the papers have a nice look to them.

The past couple of weeks have been historic, emotional and frankly, a little weird for us with the changes afoot. But we will soldier on and keep trying to give the readers a reason to look forward to Thursdays.

As for Charles? I’ve only known him for two years and while most of the people here have known him longer and have better stories to tell, I’ll leave you with this one:

In late July, he was in the middle of some important business and as he was about to go into an office for a power meeting, he said something loudly. Me being one of the human jukeboxes in the office, I sang whatever line it was that he said.

Well, that didn’t go over too well.

He shouted “Shut up!” to me and slammed the door. There were chuckles from the others in the office about that. Vorva was in trouble.

A few minutes later, he came out with a rolled up newspaper and I was thinking “Geez, I wonder if he’s going to hit me with that paper…” He said in a stern voice “Let me tell you something…”

I was all ready for a lecture about either office decorum or about how bad my singing voice is.

Instead he spent a few minutes complimenting me on how much he loved a previous issue of the paper.

You never know what you are going to get from Charles.

I do know this -- I received some interesting insight on the world of newspapers then and now from the man. I didn’t always agree with him, but I learned from him. And so did a lot of others in this building.

The Reporter and Regional will go on without him. But a part of him will stay with this place forever.

And in his honor, I will do my best to keep giving the readers something they can’t get anywhere else.


Palos Hills - Check next water bill to learn how to jam scams

  • Written by Michael Gilbert

The Palos Hills Police Department has a message it wants to get out to residents and is using the city’s water bill as the means to do so.
  Public Safety Committee Chairman Alderman Marty Kleefisch told the council last Thursday that all homeowners will receive a double-sided newsletter containing crime prevention tips inside the October water bill. The newsletter was completely funded by the police department, Kleefisch said.
  The heart of the newsletter is a section alerting senior citizens to the growing number of scams targeting the elderly. Kleefisch said the latest scam involves a youthful-sounding person calling a senior citizen claiming to be a family member who is having an emergency in a foreign country and needs to have money wired to them.
  “They are professional con artists,” Kleefisch said. “I’ve gotten calls like this too, but now I usually don’t answer them and that’s what I encourage our residents to do. If they leave a message call and report them to the police.”
  Palos Hills Police Chief Paul Madigan said telephone scams like this are being reported to the police department “on a daily basis.” He said one senior citizen from Palos Hills recently fell victim to this type of scam and sent $2,000 to the caller. It was only when the caller phoned again asking for an additional $1,000 did she become suspicious and notify police.
  “Thankfully she didn’t send the extra $1,000 but she was already out the $2,000 that she sent earlier,” Madigan said. “These calls all come from overseas so it’s almost impossible to track down the person making the calls.”
  Madigan said one way to ensure the caller is legitimately a family member is to call them back at a known number.
  “We’re telling people to never send any money until they can verify the story,” he said.
  Madigan also warned residents to be on the alert of email scams from the “stranded traveler” asking the recipient to send money.
  “Our advice is don’t open the email if you are unsure who the sender is,” he said.
  The newsletter also includes information on identity theft and winter traffic safety.

‘Couldn’t stop smiling’
  In other news, Mayor Gerald Bennett thanked residents for the outpouring of support they displayed in writing letters of appreciation to World War II veteran and former Public Works Commissioner George Lutz to read during the mail call portion of last month’s Honor Flight Chicago.
  Lutz, 94, has outlived most of his comrades and never joined an American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars post, according to his son, Charles. So when Charles learned the vets are presented with a bag of letters to read from family and friends on the return flight from Washington D.C., he feared his father would be embarrassed by receiving only a handful of letters while others received upwards of 500 letters.
  Charles sent an email to Bennett a few weeks before his father’s trip on Sept. 10 asking if city employees and others who knew his father wouldn’t mind writing a quick note. Bennett went one step further by not only asking city employees to write a letter but also reaching out to North Palos School District 117 to see if the students wouldn’t mind penning a note of thanks.
  The grassroots campaign resulted in George Lutz receiving an Honor Flight record of almost 2,000 letters for mail call, Bennett said Thursday.
  “It really turned out nice,” Bennett said. “[Charles Lutz] sent me an email of the events that day and he said George couldn’t stop smiling. He said his father plans on responding to all 2,000 letters and knowing George Lutz he probably will.”
  Lutz held the rank of major in the United States Army Air Corps. He was stationed in India for a majority of his service flying over the Himalaya Mountains into China to supply troops, fuel and other supplies to the Chinese and American troops fighting the Japanese.
  Honor Flight takes veterans on a one-day trip to the nation’s capital to view the memorials and monuments.
  “What a great honor to him,” Bennett said. “[George] is quite a humble guy, but also a remarkable man. At age 94 he’s got to be one of the last pilots that flew during that [World War II].
  “I thank our residents and everyone else who pitched in to make it such a special day.”


  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Zach Naselli of Manhattan poses page-1-3-col-santo-pickwith a photo of the late Ron Santo before Sunday’s JDRF Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills. Naselli was one of approximately 40,000 walker helping the causes at various locations in Illinois.
JDRF was hoping Sunday’s event could raise $4 million to go to research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.
Photo by Jeff Vorva.


  • Written by Bob Rakow

PAGE-1-car-crash-3An 11-car accident Sunday killed three people including Sisters Jean Stickney and Kab Kyoung Kim (photo below) in Oak Lawn. Top photo by Dermot Connelly.Three dead – including two nuns – after 11-vehicle crash


A lone bouquet of roses was taped early MondaySisters morning to a light pole on the south side of 95th Street near Cicero Avenue.

Meanwhile, a man stood in front of the strip mall near the intersection, using a leaf blower to remove the bits of glass and debris that remained from the tragic 11-car accident that occurred the previous afternoon. Two Little Company of Mary sisters were killed and third injured in the crash described by officials as “a horrific scene.”
The roses and the shards of metal and glass were the only signs that remained less than 24 hours after one of arguably the worst traffic accidents in the history of Oak Lawn.
The roses were attached to the pole by Oak Lawn resident Jenni Simpson, who thought of the idea after taking her daughter to school. She drove the accident site and affixed the roses the pole with the help of her son, Kurt, 7.
“I drove by there, and I was numb,” Simpson said. “It was so sad. It was devastating. It’s just such a tragedy. It could be any of us.”
Simpson doesn’t know any of three people killed in the crash, but didn’t believe that’s was important in order to honor the victims.
“It’s the right thing to do,” she said
Many people in the community, especially the Evergreen Park area, did know two of the victims.
“It was a horrific scene and, as (Police Chief Michael Murray) pointed out, trained investigators were shocked,” Oak Lawn Police Division Chief Randy Palmer said.
Sister Jean Stickney, 86, and Sister Kab Kyoung Kim, 48, died at the scene after the car they were driving was struck by a pick-up truck driven by Edward L. Carthans, 81, of Chicago.
Carthans also was killed in the crash, in which the pickup he was driving veered in to the opposite of lanes of 95th Street, ran a red light and slammed into cars waiting at for the light to change, police said.
The third person in the car, and the driver, Sister Sharon Ann Walsh, is currently in stable condition at Little Company of Mary Hospital, officials said.
Twenty-three people were treated at the scene and 11 were taken to area hospitals, officials said.
The accident remains under investigation and could take weeks to reconstruct, police said.
Six Oak Lawn police officers were dedicated Tuesday to accident reconstruction duties, Palmer said.
“I can’t get into specifics. It is an ongoing investigation,” Palmer said at a press conference Monday morning at village hall.
Witnesses told police they initially saw Carthans slumped over the wheel of the pickup truck at 95th Street and Western Avenue and asked if he needed assistance.
Carthans declined help and drove away, police said.
“He was stopped at the light and a person saw him slumped at the wheel and didn’t know if he was having a medical emergency or fell asleep,” Palmer said. “That person did volunteer to park the vehicle for him if he was in distress.”
Moments later, Carthans was involved in a four-car accident at 95th Street and Keeler Avenue near Target. None of the drivers in the crash were seriously injured or transported to the hospital, officials said.
Carthans then drove at a high rate of speed toward 95th Street and Cicero Avenue. As he approached the intersection, he crossed into the eastbound lanes, ran the red light and struck cars stopped at a traffic light on eastbound 95th Street, officials said.
Officials said it is too early to determine if alcohol was involved in the accident or if Carthans had health concerns that caused him to drive erratically.
Sister Stickney served as the vocation director for the Sister of the Little Company of Mary and was a member of Little Company of Mary’s board of directors.
“There is no doubt that our hospital suffered a tremendous loss last night,” said Dennis Reilly, president and CEO for Little Company of Mary Hospital. “On behalf of the board of directors, physicians, administration and employees, we send our deepest sympathies and condolences to Sister Jean and Sister Anna’s families. They were compassionate women who devoted their lives to caring for others. We continue to pray for all who were involved in yesterday’s accident.”
Sister Stickney was born in Nashua, N.H., and joined the Little Company of Mary Sister in 1951. She has served in Evergreen Park; Cambridge, Mass; Torrance, Calif; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Sister Kab Kyoung Kim, known as Sister Anna Kim to those who knew in the United States, was born in Seoul, Korea.
She was a member of the Little Company of Mary Sisters in the Korean Province and was visiting the American Province for the past two years to pursue her studies and gain an understanding of LCM ministries in the United States.
Sister Kim assisted with Little Company of Mary’s comprehensive bereavement services, more specifically the children’s support group, entitled “The Heart Connection.”


A new era begins

  • Written by Tim Hadac


New company buys Reporter and Regional News

A new chapter in Southwest Suburban journalism began this week, with the sale of The Reporter and The Regional News to a company dedicated to excellence and service.
The two weekly newspapers that had been owned by the Regional Publishing Corp., as well as the company’s printing press, Palos Heights headquarters and other assets, have been acquired by Southwest Community Publishing Co. The new entity will be called Southwest Regional Publishing Co.
Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.
The move closes the book on the Richards family’s ownership of the two newspapers. The Richards family has owned The Regional for 67 years. The Regional, founded in 1941 and currently the oldest business in Palos Heights, was purchased by the Richards family in 1947. Carl Richards worked during his high school years as the “printer’s devil” at a small weekly newspaper in the Ozarks when he decided someday he wanted to own and publish his own community newspaper. The family purchased The Reporter in 1986.
Former owner Charles Richards succeeded his father Carl Richards as publisher and served until his retirement in 2005. For more about the sale of The Reporter, see his “Let me say this about that” column on Page 6 of this week’s edition
The Southwest Regional Publishing Co. is affiliated with the Southwest Community Publishing Co.
It is an owner and operator of now five weekly newspapers in the Southwest Suburbs, including the Desplaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald and Clear-Ridge Reporter. With the addition of The Reporter and Regional News, their combined coverage territory spans from Countryside and McCook in the north through Orland Park in the south.
Founded in 2012, the company is chaired by Steve Landek and includes veteran newspaper operator Mark Hornung.
The new company announced that Amy Richards, publisher of The Regional News and The Reporter, will remain in her current post.
“We are honored that Amy Richards has chosen to lead our team in Palos Heights and Oak Lawn,” said Steve Landek, chairman of Southwest Community Publishing Co. “Our agenda is to continue this proud tradition of the Richards family of comprehensive news coverage while we modernize the commercial aspects of the business in a challenging environment.”

The Reporter serves Oak Lawn, Evergreen Park, Chicago Ridge, Worth, Hickory Hills, and Palos Hills.
The Regional News serves Palos Heights, Palos Park, and Orland Park.