Rocketing into NHS

Shepard High School in Palos Heights has inducted a new group of students into its chapter of National Honor Society. The inductees are Haya Alalfi, Briona Allen, Christopher Bailey, Dania Ballout, Lindsie Bliss, Stephanie Brand, Rebecca Bruesch, Ashley Buksa, Lajaniece Burnett, Tristan Busch, Sabina Choragwicki, Patricia Clohessy, Collin Crowl, Bridget Curry, Desiree Davis, Alondra Delfin, Madeline Dziedzic, Jacqueline Evans, Dan Ewers, Jenifer Fitzgerald, Corey Galvin, Krystal Goldschmidt, Nicholas Heidinger, Samuel Hermanas, Brendan Hermann, Gladys Herrera, Alexandra Joiner, David Jones, Melissa Kelly, Kimberly Kosman, Amy Lagerstrom, Jordan Loman, Kaley Lorch, Ivan Maga

Gym coming to Hickory to offer cheer and martial arts

By Jessie Molloy

A gym that offers cheerleading, gymnastics and martial arts classes plans to open next April in Hickory Hills.

The Hickory Hills City Council on Dec. 13 voted unanimously to approve a business license for Flying High Sports and Rec Center. The gym, which has a location in Countryside, will opening at 9911 S. 78th Ave. Flying High has outgrown its Countryside location and will be using the new facility to house an expanded competitive cheerleading program as well as youth birthday parties, owner Laura Meyer told the council.

The center offers gymnastics, cheerleading, dance and martial arts lessons, and hosts children's birthday parties. Meyer said the Hickory location is perfect for the facility's unusual space requirements.

Aldermen also voted unanimously to approve an ordinance creating the appointed position of city plan review officer, which will work with the city council's building committee.

Hickory Hills Mayor Mike Howley explained that the new officer will be a specialist who will review more technical and complex building plans for the city on a regular basis. The creation of the position is intended to save the city time and money by eliminating the need to hire private firms to review such plans.

Father William dies at 83

St. Germaine priest led efforts to build gym & remodel church

(From Sept. 27, 2012

A priest who spent more than half his years in the clergy at St. Germaine Church in Oak Lawn is being remembered for, among other things, founding a program for unwed pregnant women and his love of traveling.

The Rev. William O. Goedert, beloved pastor emeritus at St. Germaine, died Sept. 21 at the parish rectory. He was 83.

Father William was a priest for 57 years, more than half of which was at St. Germaine, said St. Germaine Pastor Father Mike Furlan, a close friend of Father William's. He served as pastor for 18 years before moving to St. Walter Parish in Chicago in 1995, then returned St. Germaine in 1999 when he retired.

"He constantly gave me advice, and I loved it," Furlan said. "He gave me insider information on the parish and how things worked, and gave me background on the parishioners, which helped me understand more about them."

Furlan came to St. Germaine's in 2002 and developed a close friendship with Father William. The two priests had known each other for 37 years but had never become close friends.

"When I first moved here, I lived right across the hall from him," Furlan said. "He was a gentle, friendly person. Everyone here said he was wonderful."

Father William spearheaded efforts to remodel the church, and by reconfiguring the congregation seating area brought people closer to the altar, Furlan said. He also led the construction of the St. Germaine School gymnasium and started several programs including the courage program for unwed pregnant women and religious education for children with special needs.

Despite his devotion to the church, Father William made time for other interests including traveling, oceanic cruises, golfing, skiing and sailing, Furlan said.

"He cruised around South America, in the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic Ocean, to the Panama Canal, through the Caribbean - everywhere except the Far East," Furlan said. "He loved the Holy Land, and traveled there a few times."

Father William attended Quigley Seminary in Chicago and began his career at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. He eventually worked his way up to the position of superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago. He taught at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, where he served as spiritual director of students, and in 1971 became the president of Niles College of Loyola University, which is now St. Joseph College Seminary in Chicago. He also taught at Saint Xavier University in Chicago.

Visitation for Father William was held Sept. 24 at St. Germaine Church in Oak Lawn. A funeral Mass was held Sept. 25 at the church. Interment was private.

Father William is survived by his nephews, Daniel and William; his nieces, Elizabeth Duffy, Paula Szakacs, Patricia Rogers, Jacqueline Konaszewski, Katherine Rotondi and Monica Sheerin; six great-nieces; six great-nephews; one grandniece and one grandnephew.

Father William was born in Iowa. He was a past president of the Presbyteral Senate and a board member of the Priests' Retirement Board and Knight Commander of the Holy Sepulchre.

Removal of ash trees nears finish in Hills

40 specimens found infested by ash borer

By Kelly White

A tree-removal project that began last month in Palos Hills should be completed within a week, according to a city alderman.

The Palos Hills Public Works Department has since December been removing ash trees in an effort to combat the spread of the tree-killing emerald ash borer. The city had determined 40 trees were infested with the invasive beetle, which is native to Asia and has spread to several states since first being reported in Michigan in 2002.

"Within the next week or two, tree removal work will be completed for this season and work efforts will shift to parkway tree trimming," Palos Hills Alderman Frank Williams (5th Ward) said at the City Council's committee meeting Jan. 17.

The Public Works Department will also remove buckthorn, a thorny shrub or small tree that bears dark blue berries. Buckthorn is so-named because of a woody spine on the end of each twig in many species. Buckthorn, weeds, cattails and scrub trees have been removed from along Horseman's Horse Trail between 90th Avenue to Kean Avenue, Maple Crest Retention Pond, and the east end of Pleasure Lake, among other areas in town.

Donations to Standard Bank offer 'Holiday Hope' for Park Lawn

From Standard Bank

Working together, the employees and customers of seven Standard Bank branches made the holiday season a little brighter for Southland non-profit Park Lawn and the people it serves.

Their donation of over $5,300 will go to the agency's "Angel Fund," which provides assistance with everyday living expenses as well as specialized equipment for individuals with a wide range of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Donations to the bank's "Holiday Hope for Park Lawn" program were made by purchasing ornaments to decorate the holiday trees located in each of the seven participating branches.

Founded in 1955, Park Lawn offers a variety of programs and services such as vocational and developmental training, residential facilities and supported employment. The agency's Angel Fund was created to meet the needs that Social Security and other programs don't cover, and to ensure that all residents and clients feel unique, loved and valued. For more information visit

Park Lawn is just one of many community organizations that has benefited from Standard Bank's tradition of service. With 42 branches in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, the bank's efforts have supported schools, veterans organizations, food pantries and other organizations in every neighborhood they serve.

"Standard Bank continuously strives to demonstrate their commitment to the communities they serve through various partnerships and volunteering efforts. Partnering with Park Lawn here in Oak Lawn has been relationship we truly value and are proud to be a long time supporter, said branch manager Vicki Scanlon. Through our seasonal Holiday Hope for Park Lawn fundraising efforts we were able to help "our neighbors" help others