Help for Haitians

Children in Haiti are swinging and sliding on the playground seen here thanks to a joint effort between the Oak Lawn Park District and Kids Around the World, an organization that refurbishes and reinstalls donated playground equipment in impoverished areas throughout the world.

Kids Around the World representatives visited the Wolfe Wildlife Refuge in Oak Lawn last June to remove the playground equipment on the site, and then traveled to Haiti to install it. A new tree play structure and a splash pad were installed at Wolfe Wildlife Refuge as part of a renovation project. The used equipment went to the Children of Hope organization in Haiti.

This week in THEREPORTER history

News and events from our archives

50 years ago
Jan. 31, 1963

A Palos Hills husband and wife nearly died of carbon monoxide poisoning in their home in the 9000 block of 111th Street Jan. 26. The couple was found by the woman's mother, and they were taken to Christ Hospital with severe carbon monoxide poisoning. Faulty adjustment of baffle plates in a gas space heater spread the fumes throughout the house, police said..


Readers of The Reporter were asked to come up with names for two new high schools being built for High School District 218.

One building was a freshman and sophomore school at 129th Street and Ridgeland Avenue, now Alan B. Shepard High School in Palos Heights.

The other building was a junior and senior school at 106th Street and Central Avenue, now Richards High School in Oak Lawn.

25 years ago
Feb. 4, 1988

Carl E. Richards, the father of Regional Publishing owner and publisher Charles Richards, died Jan. 30 in Houston. He was 81.

Richards founded the Regional News in Palos Heights in 1947, and was publisher from 1947 to 1970. The Regional News started as a monthly news booklet by Harwell West, and when he decided to stop publishing it, Carl went to "talk" to him and came home and told his wife, Virginia, that he had bought The Regional News. The first office was the couple's dining room.


Palos Hills started a recycling program for bottles and cans. Oak Lawn had a recycling program for six months at the time for bottles, cans and glass.

Chicago water rate hike trickles into Palos Hills

By Kelly White

Palos Hills' water rate rose 13 cents in 2012 and 23 cents this year, and residents can expect to pay 30 percent more by 2015.

The City Council last week announced the cost of water increased 15 percent this year, from $6.69 per thousand gallons to $6.92. Palos Hills raised the rate to compensate for an increase in the rate Oak Lawn charges the city for water. Oak Lawn has increased its rate because Chicago, from where the village gets its water, raised the cost 15 percent this year.

Oak Lawn provides water for several suburbs including Palos Hills, Chicago Ridge, Country Club Hills, Matteson, Mokena, New Lenox, Oak Forest, Olympia Fields, Orland Hills, Orland Park, Palos Hills, Palos Park and Tinley Park.

Palos Hills' rate hike will be used to fund water delivery, maintenance and operation of the city water system, said Alderman Frank J. Williams (5th Ward).

Palos Hills residents can expect 15-percent increases in 2014 and 2015.

"Unfortunately, the city of Chicago plans to raise our water rate about one hundred percent over a five year period, and right now, we are in the middle of that rate increase," Palos Hills Mayor Jerry Bennett said.

Oak Lawn has purchased Lake Michigan water from Chicago since 1948. The city's main water treatment plant is on the lake next to Navy Pier. Oak Lawn pumps water into its distribution system from two pumping stations, the Reich Pumping Station at Southwest Highway and Kilbourn Avenue and the Harker Pumping Station at 105th Street and Lockwood Avenue.

Chicago raised the rate it charges suburbs 25 percent in 2012 and 15 percent this year, and will do the same each of the following two years. The hike is intended to fund the replacement of aging pipes, sewers and pumping stations, and repaving of the streets above - work that is projected to cost $2.8 billion. Suburbs that receive water originating in Chicago are expected to benefit from the refurbished infrastructure and better water pressure, according to Chicago officials.

And that's no Kroc

Manager of Palos Hills McDonald's earns one of company's top awards

By Laura Bollin

When patrons visit the McDonald's near 111th Street and Southwest Highway in Palos Hills, they just might have their orders taken by a man recognized as one of the company's top managers in the country.

Doug Kwiatkowski of Crestwood is among 130 recipients of the 2012 Ray Kroc Award, which is given to the top 1 percent of McDonald's managers nationwide. Kwiatkowski was honored at a McDonald's rally held Tuesday in Woodridge.

The award is named after McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, and recognizes managers for hard work and dedication to the restaurant and customers. McDonald's owners, operators and regional staff nominate managers. A committee of employees from McDonald's operations, training and human resources selects the winners.

"I was shocked when I found out I won," Kwiatkowski said. "I was nominated by my supervisor and our business consultant. When they told me they nominated me, I thought, okay, if you think I'm worthy of it, I guess I am; but then I came out on top."

Kwiatkowski will receive an award plaque and has been invited to a banquet, to be held in April in Las Vegas, with the rest of last year's award winners and the president of the McDonald's corporation.

When Kwiatkowski's supervisors learned he had won a Kroc Award, they told him he had to come in to work right away - on his day off.

"They found out, and thought oh, we're going to surprise him, but I was like, I'm gonna kill you guys," Kwiatkowski said. "I thought I would find out at the rally meeting where they do awards and recognition."

Kwiatkowski's first job was at a McDonald's in Crestwood in 1987, and over the following 12 years worked his way up the fast-food giant's chain of command. He was transferred to the Palos Hills restaurant in 1993 and first served as second assistant manager, and has managed the store since 1999.

"I still remember my first day [in Crestwood]," Kwiatkowski said. "The first things I learned were how to toast the buns and how to empty the grease bucket."

The manager position holds a lot of responsibility, he said.

"I ensure the quality, cleanliness, and service of the restaurant," he explained. "I make sure my people take care of every customer that walks in the door, and that service is fast and friendly. I pride myself on our restaurant being one of the friendliest McDonald's around. I also want to help the managers that are beneath me become store managers themselves."

Kwiatkowski's favorite part of his job is interacting with his fellow staff and customers.

"There's a wonderful couple that comes in, at minimum, two times a day, but sometimes it's three times a day," he said. "They've been coming in for at least 15 years. They're an older couple, enjoying their retirement, and every time I see them, I smile. They are such a cute couple."

His favorite menu choices have changed over the years, he acknowledged.

"When I was a kid, it was the chicken nuggets," he said. "Now, my favorite is the sausage McMuffin with egg. I used to have one every morning, but I'm getting to that age where I can't eat anything I want anymore. I just have one once or twice a week."

Our Neighbors

Joseph Jacoub of Orland Hills has been named Caregiver of the Year by Zahra Humecki, the owner of Homewatch Caregivers Hickory Hills.