Friends and family to host benefit for injured firefighter

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  Michael “Sully” Sullivan has responded to many fires during a 17-year career with the North Palos Fire Protection District, but an Oct. 6 house fire in Palos Park left him with serious injuries that may threaten his future as a firefighter.
  At one point during the ordeal, he was trapped under approximately 5,300 pounds of the plaster and cement.
  Sullivan’s surgeries and medical treatment will place a financial strain on his family. To help relieve that stress, friends and family will hold a benefit, from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday at Krapil’s Steakhouse and Patio, 6600 W. 111th St. in Worth.
  The event will feature a buffet, beverages, entertainment, raffles, split the pot and silent auctions, including sports memorabilia. Tickets are $40 and $50 at the door.
  The situation on Oct. 6 was dire.
  Firefighters from several departments responded to a fully involved attic fire with reports of elderly residents still in the house. It was later learned that no one was in the house at the time of the fire.
  Sullivan, 44, and his colleagues entered the living room of the house and prepared to pull the ceiling to expose the fire. Minutes later, however, a large section of the ceiling, which was which was constructed of approximately two inches of plaster and cement, landed on top of the crew.
  Several firefighters were able to escape out the front door, while two others exited through a window in another room. Sullivan and another firefighter remained trapped. The other firefighter, who was unconscious, was pulled out the house by fellow firefighters. Sullivan, meanwhile, was trapped under approximately 5,300 pounds of the plaster and cement.
  Sullivan, an Evergreen Park resident, had to make the call that every firefighter dreads to hear much less having to make — a “mayday” call. He couldn’t move, and firefighters needed several minutes to extricate Sullivan and remove him from the building.

  Three firefighters were hospitalized as a result of the fire. Two returned to work a few weeks later after recovering from their injuries. Sullivan was not as fortunate. He suffered serious injuries to both knees and a shoulder injury, all which require surgery.

  Colleagues describe Sullivan as a great friend and coworker who’s always willing to help someone professionally and personally. Now Sullivan’s friends and coworkers want to return the favor.
  A laid-off union plumber, Sullivan was working as a part-time firefighter. He faces a long road to recovery. So far, he’s undergone a surgery on one of his knees and will have at least two more surgeries in the next few months, which will be followed by extensive rehabilitation. He doesn’t know if he’ll recover sufficiently to return to the job he loves.
  To donate a raffle or auction prize, contact Rick Cronin at 708-525-3890 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Monetary donations can be made to the Michael Sullivan Benefit at any Private Bank location or mailed to Supporting Sully, 10629 S. Roberts Road, Palos Hills, IL 60465.

New Oak Lawn bakery is Simply Sweet

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 What started as a home-based2-col-bakery-3Adriana Aranda stands next to a case featuring a wide selection of cupcakes at Simply Sweet Creations, 5712 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn. Photo by Bob Rakow. business is flourishing in Oak Lawn as a specialty bakery.
  Adriana Aranda recently opened Simply Sweet Creations, 5712 W. 95th St., after spending two years baking cakes, cupcakes and other delectable bakery items in the kitchen of her Hickory Hills home.
  Making the jump from working out of her home to operating a full-time business wasn’t easy but she said she has no regrets.
  “There’s never a right time to do it. “I’ve got this creative side and I’ve always wanted to unleash that,” said Aranda, who has a career in the financial industry.
  Aranda looked at several locations for her business, which opened in September, and she’s pleased with the 95th Street site
  “I underestimated the walk-in traffic on 95th Street,” she said. “Everybody loves cupcakes. It’s kind of gets people in the door.”
  The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, but Aranda plans to expand to full-time hours soon, she said.
  “Business has been great,” Aranda said.
  The bakery specializes in a wide variety of cupcakes, cake pops, cookies and cakes for all occasions, including birthday parties, religious events and weddings.
  But Aranda’s shop offers more than sweet treats. Bakery connoisseurs can take cake and cupcake decorating classes, which are designed for both and children and adults.
  Aranda is getting her business off the ground with the help of friends and family. Her sister, Claudia, and friend, Carmen, often can be found in the kitchen working on specialty cakes or other creations.
  “It’s kind of been a team effort,” she said. “No one has more passion than your family.”
  To place an order and inquire about classes, call 773-492-8151 or visit The bakery also has a Facebook page.

‘Believe’ it - New Oak Lawn Park District holiday play will be entertaining

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  “Believe In Your Elf,” a humorous andHEILMAN PICFrankie Zabilka plays Eddy The Elf In the Oak Lawn Park District Theatre’s production of “Believe In Your Elf” alongside Natalie Heilmann, daughter of Dave Heilmann, who wrote the play. Submitted photo. heartwarming Christmas musical performed by the Oak Lawn Park District Theatre, runs for six performances Dec. 12 through Dec. 15.
  The story, which was written by former Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann, is set in the hectic few days before Christmas. As the hysterical elves and tap- dancing reindeer rush to be ready for Santa’s Christmas Eve flight, the stories of three families who each have their struggles heading into Christmas are told.
  The stories feature a little girl whose father is off to war, and her only wish is to see her daddy on Christmas. Santa does his best but needs the magic of one little elf named Eddy, who leaves the shelf” and teaches us that there are no bounds to what we can give if we follow our hearts and just believe.
  Songs include a new version of “Jingle Bells,” “Eddy got run over by a Reindeer,” “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” “All I Want for Christmas is You,” “Sleigh Ride Together With You,” “Believe,” “Jingle Bell Rock” and the tearjerker “Bring Him Home Santa
  The large cast of adults, teens and children come together for a show for that will make audiences laugh, cry and walk out filled with Christmas spirit.
  “Believe in Your Elf” will run at the Oak View Center, 4625 W. 110th St., at 8 p.m. on Dec. 12, 13, 14 and 15. 8 p.m. Matinee performances will be held at 3 p.m. on Dec. 14 and Dec. 15. Tickets are $21 for adults and seniors and $17 for children, 12 and under. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 708-857-2200.

Retro Reporter 12-5-13

  • Written by Compiled by Jeff Vorva

Retro Reporter Art‘Death tree’ in Palos Hills suffers its own demise
50 years ago
From the Dec. 5, 1963 edition
  The story: A tree known to some Palos Hills residents as the “death tree” at 103rd Street and Kean Avenue was destroyed by a car in a fatal accident. Earlier in the year, two teenagers were killed in two separate accidents involving the same tree.
  The quote: “Oak Lawn is centrally located, has wonderful facilities and has a fine, clean atmosphere. I’m sure we can create a model court here.’’ — Judge Irving Eiserman on building a district court in Oak Lawn.
  Fun fact: Hawkinson Ford was offering a brand new Galaxie 300 with a heater for $1,950.

We will steal your stuff and stab your bed
25 years ago
From the Dec. 8, 1988 edition
  The story: Burglars stabbed a waterbed with a fork before leaving a Hickory Hills apartment with a CB radio, a cordless telephone and a Walkman radio, police said.
  The quote: “It’s Thursday night—time to kick off our heels, hang up your suits, throw your apron in the closet and put on your fanciest Rebocks and jeans.” — Writer Bonnie Jean Chereskin on a review of Maggie May’s restaurant in Orland Park.
  Fun fact: Marist’s Carl Cozen brought down 25 rebounds and scored 20 points in a 63-51 victory over Holy Cross in boys basketball. “You might think I’m kidding but this wasn’t Carl’s greatest game,” Marist coach Ken Styler said. “He wasn’t at his peak on offense.”

Oscar nominee returns to Bother Rice
10 years ago
From the Dec. 4, 2003 edition
  The story: Palos Books Ltd. in Palos Hills closed after 10 years, and owner Martin Singer took the business into cyberspace as he sold his books over the internet.
  The quote: “It’s an absolutely horrible looking business,”— Hickory Hills Mayor Michael Howley after his city shut down the Hickory Hills Auto Sales used car lot.
  Fun fact: Academy Award nominated actor John C. Reilly came back to visit his alma mater — Brother Rice High School. He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. He held a question and answer session at Mother McAuley High School.

Attorney General looks into former Oak Lawn mayor’s FOIA request

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  For the second time in less than a month, the Illinois Attorney General has agreed to review a partially denied request for information in Oak Lawn.
  The attorney general’s Public Access Bureau on Nov. 19 asked the village to respond to allegations made by former Mayor Dave Heilmann regarding a Freedom of Information Act request he submitted on Oct. 11.
  Heilmann’s FOIA request sought copies of contracts for landscape improvements performed on property on 95th Street west of the I-294 overpass as well as copies of checks paid to contractors and emails associated with the project.
  On Oct. 21, the village provided Heilmann with a copy of the invoice and a check but denied other information that he sought, specifically a proposal for the work.
  About a week later, Heilmann asked if the contractor had submitted a proposal to the village. The village responded that no proposal had been sent. Heilmann believes a proposal does exist.
  “We have determined that further inquiry is necessary,” the attorney general wrote in a letter to Carmie O’Leary, a village freedom of information officer. “Please respond to the allegations made in Mr. Heilmann’s request for review. Specifically, please clarify whether the village possesses any additional responsive records that have not already been provided to Mr. Heilmann pursuant to his FOIA request.”
  Heilmann said the village is “selectively enforcing” the Freedom of Information Act. He said that Chad Weiler, the village’s former director of business operations, whose position was eliminated earlier this year, saw the proposal.
  “The village said there was no proposal,” Heilmann said. “I don’t know why they are hiding that. Chad (Weiler) handed it to (Village Manager) Larry (Deetjen) and it’s on our email system.”
  “There’s a very dishonest thing that was done,” Heilmann added. “It’s dishonest to residents.”
  Weiler’s position was cut as a cost-saving measure, according to Deetjen. Heilmann contends that the village should not have spent approximately $19,000 on landscaping improvement at the western entrance to the village if other cost-cutting measures were needed to help balance the budget.
  The attorney general’s Public Access Bureau on Oct. 21 asked the village to provide unredacted copies of the emails requested by Trustee Carol Quinlan.
  Quinlan on Aug. 19 submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for all emails between Deetjen and village attorneys between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2012. The village partially denied her request, and provided Quinlan with a portion of the emails she requested.
  Quinlan initially requested all emails between Deetjen and the village attorney between Nov. 1, 2012, and June 1, 2013. The village denied the request claiming “that it was too burdensome because of the amount of emails that would have to be produced and reviewed and reviewed by attorneys,” Quinlan wrote.
  The village told Quinlan that there were 2,831 emails between Deetjen and attorneys during the seven-month period plus attachments. The village asked her to narrow the date range of her request.
  The Public Access Bureau grants most of the appeals it receives, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office said. It can decide to uphold the village’s partial denial or direct it to turn over the complete records sought by Heilmann or Quinlan.