Sexton tries to shed light on vacant building

  • Written by Claudia Parker

Let there be light?
It’s not welcome in some circles in Evergreen Park.
Neighbors of the former Walgreen’s located at 3541 W. 95th street stopped by Monday’s village board meeting to raise concerns about the prospective plans for the building.
When Walgreen’s was open, it posed an inconvenience to some residents.
“We don’t want to see a restaurant in that building.” said one resident at the meeting. “I don’t want to deal with headlights shining through my house like I did with Walgreen’s drive-thru.”
Mayor James Sexton said the building was acquired by the village at a great bargain. “As of right now, we don’t have plans for the building,” said Sexton.
Another male resident stood up and said: “I’ve spoken to several residents in the area. None of us want a restaurant in there because of the rodents they bring.’’
Sexton responded, “I won’t commit to what will or won’t go into that space. However, let me assure you, when the time comes, we will consider the interests of the entire community.”
The mayor hoped to ease concerns when he added, “We’ve brought in several businesses and we’ve only heard positive responses for our community. We haven’t had any reports of pests from Pete’s Produce or Tavern on The Green. Again, we intend to keep everyone in mind.”

Trees make great neighbors…
 Area students in kindergarten through eighth grade participated in an Arbor Day creativity contest. The theme was Trees Make Great Neighbors. The categories included writing a song or essay, making a poster or creating a video. And the top three place winners were displayed during the board meeting.
Public Works Deputy Director and village certified arborist Gavin Yeaman said the environmental benefits of planting trees are endless. “Not to mention they’re aesthetically very pleasing,” he added.
Pleased was also the look on the parent’s faces as their children posed with Yeaman and Sexton.
Essay winners were: 1st place, Savannah Lesauskis, Southwest (Grade 6) 2nd place, Grace Murphy, Northwest (5) 3rd place, Heidi Burke, Northwest (6).
Song winners were : 1st place Mateo Vela, Northwest (4).
Video winners were: 1st place, Noah Flores, Northwest (4) 2nd place, Tess Lee, Southwest (1) 3rd place, Siobhan Power, Northwest (5).
Poster winners were: 1st place, Alyssa Rossi, Northwest (4), 2nd place, Alexander Peralta, Northeast (6) 3rd place, Peyton Schwarz, Northwest (2).
The tree planting ceremony – the village’s fifth -- will take place Friday.

…but stalled trains don’t
Sexton has been critical of CSX’s railroad trains halting and stalling traffic in his village in past meetings, but he called the company out again Monday night for a recent incident that happened on one of EP’s main roads.
“Our fire department was blocked by a train for 13 minutes trying to get to a pregnant woman who had been in a car accident.” said Sexton. “I don’t want to see my prediction come true but if CXS doesn’t fix their issues, someone is going to get hurt!”

Man with many titles riding a fast TRAIN

  • Written by Kelly White

There are 24 hours in a day and one South Side man isDR-Page-7-Mike-JacobsonRichards High School Associate PrincipalMichael Jacobson

using as many of them as he can for the good of the community.
Michael Jacobson is a man with three titles -- a father, a pastor and an associate principal.
He has taken on the role of the Youth Pastor at Incarnation Church, 5705 West 127th Street in Palos Heights for the church’s teen group, TRAIN (Teens Reaching out Addressing Incarnation Needs) in November and is also working as the Associate Principal at Harold L. Richards High School, a role he also began this past autumn at the start of the school year.
“It is very difficult managing all three responsibilities because all of these things take a commitment of both time and energy,” he said, “My wife is super supportive of all of my commitments so that really helps.”
Jacobson and his wife, Erin, live in Crestwood with their three daughters: Veronica, 16; Gwen, 13; and Fiona, 9. He has been a volunteer in the religious education program for the past ten years, working in a lay-person service program at Incarnation, reciting readings during mass; however, a career in the church never crossed Jacobson’s mind until he was offered a position.
“I never thought about working in the church until our pastor, Fr. Arek [Falana], called me in and asked me if I would like to become youth minister,” he said, “After I thought about it for a few days, I accepted.”
Jacobson said his love for the church grew even more as he organizes social, service and religious activities for the teens each month. The Youth Ministry Group has made lunches for people serviced by Lincoln Park Community Shelter, made care packages for homeless people in the city, made food for the Ronald McDonald House that services Loyola and helped families within the parish. They also ran a pray-a-thon, performed a passion play and helped with the Triduum services.
“I just really like working with the kids in the parish,” Jacobson said, “They are great. These young people are really on fire with the concept of service.”
It’s not all hard work though, as the group has held laser tag, volleyball and softball team outings, along with a mission trip planned for this summer from July 19 through July 25.
The group will drive to Harlan, Kentucky for a faith-based experience centered on rehabbing houses in the area for local residents in need. As gratitude for the group’s service and dedication, the Knights of Columbus is donating $150 toward the trip.
“The best thing about our program is how the kids are constantly looking for ways to get their peers involved,” Jacobson said, “The idea is to always have a place where kids can come to be involved in something that is social and positive. We don’t want any kid to feel like they are isolated and have no peer group. All are always welcome.”

She still has that drive

  • Written by Claudia Parker



They rolled out the red carpet for Palos Hills’ Anita Sherry and a few other elite United Parcel Service drivers.

For those who think a formal gown is the only attire suitable for women on a red carpet, think again.

Sherry sported her UPS uniform to the party and worked a full shift afterward.

             The occasion was that she was named to the company’s coveted Circle of Honor after 25 years of safe driving in February at a ceremony at the company’s facility in Northbrook.

There were seven drivers inducted from Sherry’s facility.

“They laid out a red carpet and let us invite our families. It was a big deal,” Sherry said. “We also got a plaque, jacket and patch for our uniform’s that say, ‘Circle of Honor 25 Years Safe Driving.’ ”

A quarter of a century…

“I can’t believe that much time has already passed,” Sherry said.

            This honor is rare enough, but consider this -- from 102,000 UPS drivers worldwide, Sherry’s now rolling with 7,877 honorees who’ve hauled packages a quarter-century, accident free. And only 166 of them are women.

            UPS Public Relations representative Dan McMackin said UPS has over 500 methods for delivering packages.

“A typical driver makes 150-200 stops per day. Anyone can learn this job, but it takes a certain caliber of person to do it well,” McMackin said. “Anita and the other inductees are an example of employees willing to serve our customers with excellence. To do that, safety comes first.” 

            UPS noted in a recent press release that of 1,445 drivers inducted into the Circle of Honor this year, 41 are women.

“Attracting women for this position isn’t easy. But, like I said, anyone can learn this job, the rules of the road are the same for everyone,” McMackin said. “Contrary to perception, female drivers don’t lose their femininity. We remain conscious of that by tailoring their uniforms differently.”

            McMackin said the weight of the packages don’t pose a problem to female drivers either due to the supports in place. He also said the job pays a decent wage.

“The average driver makes $60,000-80,000. Most have a college degree but it’s not required.” McMackin said. 

            Sherry shared her perspective saying, “Male or female, it takes a lot to do this job. You have to be willing to be busy all the time. You don’t clock out a 5 p.m. Your day isn’t done until the last package is delivered. I love what I do and I believe in this company.”  

            Not only does Sherry drive for work, she has quite a commute getting there. It’s 37 miles one way from Palos Hills to Northbrook where she picks up her truck.

She reduced the implication of any inconvenience stating, “I’ve only been driving to Northbrook 23 of 27 years working here.”

            Some would argue one reason Sherry is so love-struck for UPS may have to do with Fred, her husband of 23 years. He’s also employed by UPS as a driver. Sherry said he will be inducted into the Circle of Honor soon.

“Getting inducted isn’t a competition though,” she said. “It’s about the number of years we've contributed to being safe on the road.”

            Two other packages Sherry delivered over the years are 10-year old twins, Jake and Emma.

            Overall, it’s been a fruitful – and safe – 25 years.

“I’m very thankful to UPS,” she said. “They’ve provided me with more than a career. I’ve gained good friends, a solid work ethic, and a wonderful family.” 

Jeff Vorva's Im-PRESS-ions: Double-Duty Dermot is Reporter's new reporter

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Jeffs Col Impressions


Many years ago, a newspaper reporter by the name of Dermot Connolly gave a tour of the Marquette Park area to an up-and-coming politician.

Connelly drove his car and did a lot of the talking. The guy in the passenger’s seat who did a lot of listening was Pat Quinn.

“We were on a first-name basis,” Connolly said.

Well, Quinn went on to bigger and better things. He ended up being the Governor of Illinois.

In a recent encounter, Quinn saw Connolly and gave him a warm greeting and called him “Shamus.”

“We’re still on a first-name basis,” Connolly said. “But he had the wrong name.”

We won’t be calling him Shamus around here. But we may be calling him Double-Duty Dermot.

Connolly takes over as the new reporter for the Reporter, replacing Bob Rakow, who left our little circus on election night and is now working as a content provider for trade publications in Chicago.

When Bob left, we were hoping to steal Dermot away from the Southwest News Herald. We would have gotten away with it, too except for two things. First, The News Herald didn’t want to give him up and second, we are all owned by the same corporation and we just couldn’t pluck him away.


Not to get biblical here, but I was willing to chop him in half, as long as we got the half that was able to write stories.

The big bosses saw it different. They decided to Wisdom-of-Solomon it up a little bit and give us Dermot for half a work week and them for half a work week. His work will appear in our paper as well as the Regional.

 I sat with News Herald Editor Joe Boyle for an hour or so and we were able to come up with a game plan that in theory seemed to work.

It’s not the ideal situation but half a Dermot is better than nothing.

So starting this week, we will have some shifting around. Some new faces will be covering some beats. Some familiar faces will be covering some other beats.

Aside from taking Pat Quinn around town in his car, Connolly has interviewed a young politician named Barack Obama, a Mayor named Richie Daley and has photographed Rahm Emmanuel, George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich.

Before joining our little circus, Connolly took a tour of a North American Warehousing Co. in Bedford Park with Gov. Bruce Rauner. His story can be found on page 5.

One of the most dramatic photos to ever appear in the Reporter under my watch was Connolly’s photo of the horrific traffic accident in Oak Lawn that claimed the lives of two nuns last year. He happened to be bowling on that Sunday afternoon not far from the crash and captured a very powerful and dramatic shot.

The Oak Lawn resident, who attended St. Laurence and Western Illinois University, has spent a huge chunk of his 23-year career on the South Side of Chicago and the south suburbs but had a stint in New York for a little while.

So, if you see Dermot, or Shamus or whatever you want to call him at a meeting or assignment, give him a big hello.

We are glad to have him on board.

Oak Lawn board approves 'stale bids'

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

In an effort to live up to its “Shop Oak Lawn” motto, village trustees at the April 14 board meeting unanimously agreed to waive competitive bidding requirements and split a contract for streetlight bulbs and electrical supplies between the winning bidder and a local company, but not without their usual spirited discussion.

Gerald Chickerillo, the street division manager, told the board that the original bids for streetlight bulbs and electrical supplies were opened on Dec. 1, and Helsel-Jepperson Electrical Inc. of Chicago Heights had the lowest bid of $82,814.48. However, at the following board meeting on Dec. 9, trustees discussed the possibility of awarding the bid to a local company.

Chickerillo said that after consulting with village Attorney Patrick Connelly, the bid contract could be split in two, with the contract for streetlights bulbs going to another bidder, C&L Electrical Supply, 9637 Southwest Highway.

Village Manager Larry Deetjen said that C&L bid $1,000 less for the bulbs than Helsel-Jepperson, so the village is saving money overall.

“We asked Helsen-Jepperson if they would be so kind as to allow us to break up the bid, and they understood and agreed,” said Deetjen.

“But did this board give you direction to break it up?” asked Trustee Alex Olejniczak. “It turned out in our favor here, but we can’t pick and choose how to follow the rules.”

Olejniczak also questioned why the matter is being brought to the board in April, when the bids were opened four months ago. “If the bidders knew that they could bid on one part of the contract or another [the results might have been different]. We are basically looking at stale bids.”

Trustee Tim Desmond said he was satisfied when Deetjen assured him that the C&L bid was the original one, and had not been altered since the bids were opened on Dec. 1

“We listened and you basically told us to go and talk to the vendors, and we did,” said Deetjen.

Deetjen and Mayor Sandra Bury both said that the board has agreed to waive the competitive bidding rules in the past, mainly to allow municipal vehicles to be purchased from local dealerships at the state’s discounted rate.

“It is customary to do this. It is not out of the realm of what is done,” said Bury.

Finance director Brian Hanigan added that dividing contracts is commonly done with landscaping contracts as well.

But Olejniczak asserted that in those cases, the board made the decision to waive the bidding rules rather than village administrators.

Connelly said that as long as the board had a two-thirds majority, or four votes for the split contract, the waiving of competitive bidding rules was not a problem. The vote ended up being unanimous. “This whole process has clarified the issue,” said Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th), thanking Olejniczak for asking the necessary questions.

“I would suggest that in future, with these types of bids that we break it out. Let’s just have it above-board,” said Trustee Carol Quinlan (5th), who did not run for re-election and is stepping down from the board in May.  

Although in the end Olejniczak voted for the agreement, he was not completely satisfied that the rules were followed. “I think we should have rebid the contract,” said Olejniczak.

SUBHEAD – Railroad crossing closing

In other business, Deetjen said that Metra plans to close the railroad crossing at Cicero Avenue and 93rd Street between April 29 and May 7 to install a new, sturdier “preformed, precast material” at the crossing that will not need to be repaired as often.  

Because the tracks are located in the heavily trafficked section of Cicero between 87th and 95th Street that the village was told would be resurfaced, Deetjen said he asked IDOT officials to coordinate the road repaving with the railroad crossing repairs but did not get a satisfactory answer.

“My concern is that with the fiscal state of Illinois, and some of the actions taken by the governor [to cut the budget], I don’t feel Oak Lawn is getting the priority it should,” said Deetjen, urging board members bring up the issue when they visit Springfield for a legislative reception and conference with lawmakers on April 28 and 29.