It’s a race to the finish for new MVCC fitness center

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne

  The new Moraine Valley Community College Health Education and Wellness Center is expected to open in March but it might be a race to the finish to make that happen.
  In the 12 weeks leading up to the opening of the HEWC, college officials are still looking for a health care partner to occupy a portion of the facility. During the December board meeting Wednesday, the college’s board of trustees met privately to reevaluate the cost to lease college property.
  Although a health care partner has yet to be found, the college is expected to stick to the March deadline.
  “We are really pushing the job, and we’re about 84 percent done,” construction manager Rich Martinez said. “We should have the job completed in 12 weeks, and we have crews working around the clock to get the job finished on time.”
  Replacing Moraine Valley’s old health center has been on the to-do list since 1986. In October 2011, the college approved the building of a new $35 million health, education and fitness center.
  The contact for the new building was awarded to Power Construction.
  During the planning process, Moraine officials completed a market analysis to come up with a fair and competitive price based on the membership fees of similar facilities. The center is free for full-time students taking a minimum of 11 credit hours.
  “We want to market the new Health Education and Wellness Center to the community and especially the students,” said Mike Schneider, director of campus relations. “We completed a market analysis to come up with competitive pricing that is lower than that of competitive health centers in the area, and we will offer various discounts for part-time students, faculty and staff.”
  Monthly fees are $48 for part-time students, $26 for college employees, $34 for seniors or military and $49 for community members. The college has provided incentives for early enrollment and plans to offer aerobics and other fitness classes.
  In an effort to provide Moraine students with work experience, the college has hired and trained most of its 100 student staff members.
  “Since we believe in developing students for the professional world, we will have beyond 100 fully trained student employees who will be the face of the facility,” Schneider said.

Retro Reporter 12-26-13

  • Written by Compiled by Jeff Vorva

Retro Reporter Art

Reporter editorial writer in the Christmas spirit
50 years ago
From the Dec. 26, 1963 edition
  The story: Voters said no to a $750,000 bond issue for Ridgeland Elementary School District 122 for 21 new classroom was defeated for a sixth straight time — this time by just 11 votes.
  The quote: “Did you turn to this column for advice today? For righteous wrath and indignation? For the pleasure of seeing somebody else get scolded? You don’t get it. It’s Christmas and we’re all happy.” — the start of this edition’s editorial.
  Fun fact: Glen Burnett of Palos Hills turned 12 on Christmas. According to the investigative reporting of Rose Urquiza in her Palos Hills Personals column, Burnett got cake, two parties and extra presents under the tree.

Hoarder’s house catches fire while he’s in hospital
25 years ago
From the Dec. 29, 1988 edition
  The story: Oak Lawn police removed a 77-year-old man from his home after he was hiding under a pile of garbage. The house contained garbage, human excrement and 25 cats. Two days later, while the man was in a hospital, his house caught on fire and had to be demolished.
  The quote: “Even the Lionel Barrymore character [Mr. Potter] wouldn’t have been so vicious as to do that to us,’’ — Reporter columnist Michael M. Bates about the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” being shown 14 times on TV on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
  Fun fact: The Sabre Room of Hickory Hills offered a $37.50 New Year’s Eve dinner with a New York strip steak, three cocktails, hats, horns and favors, threes bands, two DJs, a “fabulous floor show” and sales tax.

Coach questions society after 0-8 start
10 years ago
From the Dec. 25, 2003 edition
  The story: A Hickory Hills mother was in serious condition after being burned severely in a fire at her home. Three of her four children were also treated for burns.
  The quote: “I said [to the team] that it’s not fair that society judges by wins and losses. It’s a shame because what we’ve gone through so far, the kids have gotten a lot of it.” — First-year Stagg boys basketball coach Jon Daniels on winning his first game after the team went 0-8.
  Fun fact: Jack & Pats in Chicago Ridge offered fancy boneless Mickleberry hams for $2.49 per pound just in time for Christmas.

Hundreds have a Hull of a time at Kenwood

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


FRONT-COLOR-3-col-HULL  Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull spent four hours at Kenwood Liquors in Oak Lawn Dec. 18 signing autographs, posing for photos and talking with fans. Proceeds from his appearance went to the Park Lawn Residential Center. Park Lawn’s Margaret Propoegil and Mudiwa Judalani pose with Hull.   A big group of Park Lawn representatives wanted their picture with Hull and he obliged but first wanted photos with the females in the group. “I like the girls better!” he bellowed with a hearty laugh as the photo was shot. Photo by Jeff Vorva.
 Those standing in the cold outside of Kenwood Liquors in Oak Lawn Dec. 18 for hours to meet Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull can blame Hull himself for prolonging things.

  Hull, who turns 75 on Jan. 3, didn’t just sign items and move on to the next fan. He talked with some at length. He posed for photos. He seemed to enjoy the fact that after all these years, people still love the man they call the Golden Jet.
  “I’m here to see the legend,’’ said Oak Lawn’s Bill Carey, who had Hull sign his Blackhawks hat. “I never met him before. I was a little kids when he played but I love hockey and it’s great to get to meet him.’’
  Hull’s NHL career spanned from 1954 through 1980. He played 15 years with the Blackhawks. He finished with 610 goals and 560 assists.
  Donations were accepted for his signature and proceeds went to the Park Lawn Residential Center.
  Hull was the third legendary Chicago sports figure Page-4-3-col-Blackhawk-babyNicole Malozzi of Tinley Park introduced her four-month-old daughter Madelyn to Bobby Hull as “the Blackhawks’ youngest fan.’’ Photo by Jeff appear in the area in recent weeks. Earlier in the month, former Bears tight end and coach Mike Ditka and Bears Hall of Famer Dan Hampton appeared during the grand opening week of Binny’s Beverage Depot in Evergreen Park.


‘The right thing to do’ is how this Worth scout views project to help poor children

  • Written by Bob Rakow

p1-color-1-col-and-p-3-2-colWorth’s David Riley poses with some of the donated presents in his living room. Submitted photo.  Christmas was a joyous time of year for more than 200 inner-city children thanks to Worth resident David Riley.
  Riley, 18, collected toys for children of all ages during the holiday season, a project he undertook to become an Eagle Scout. The Shepard High School senior has not achieved the rank of Eagle Scout—a Boy Scout review board has yet to make that determination—but the project was about more than earning the Scouts highest rank, he said.
  “It seemed like the right thing to do,” Riley said.
  Riley’s living room was packed with the toys that he along with friends, scout leaders and family collected over a two-week period. His sister, Emily, a Shepard freshman, created the poster to promote the toy drive and decorated the collection boxes.
  The boxes were placed in several Worth businesses, and residents did the rest by donating toys to children who otherwise would not receive a Christmas gift, Riley said. Worth Mayor Mary Werner helped get the ball rolling by donating 30 toys, he said.
  Riley, who collected twice as many toys as expected, and his family loaded up a van the weekend before Christmas and delivered the presents to Christ the King Lutheran Church in Chicago.
  Church volunteers wrapped and distributed the gifts to the children, who often are more concerned with where their filling their bellies than opening a present, Riley said.
  “The pastor was pretty excited,” said Riley, who wants to study aviation in college.
  Riley’s holiday mission made his mother beam.
  “I’m very proud of him,” said Tina Riley. “He did a lot of hard work.”
  She added that she’s proud of Worth residents, who responded to a good cause during the holiday season.
  Riley has submitted a project report to the Boy Scouts, who will let him know if was sufficient to earn Scouting’s top honor.
  “Now he just has to wait for them to call,” Tina Riley said. “We’re very excited.”
  Riley is no stranger to volunteer work as a long-time Scout.
  A graduate of Worth Elementary School and Worth Junior High School, Riley entered Scouts when he was 6 years old as a Tiger Cub. He designed three fishing derby patches, each which won the patch design contest at the Scout’s annual fishing derby at Tampier Lake. The patches were given to every Scout who entered the derby.
  Riley and Troop 668 have participated in the annual ton of food drive in Worth, Veterans’ ceremonies, visited the veterans’ home in Manteno, painted fire hydrants in Worth, marched in the annual Worth Days Parade and volunteered in the Lucas Berg Ditch cleanup. Riley also enjoys going to Owassippe in Michigan for the annual week long camping trip.
  Riley works as a bus boy at Worth the American Legion and as a merchandiser for a company that provides flowers to Home Depot stores. He currently works at McDonald’s in Oak Lawn.

Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: Ten people I had the pleasure of meeting in 2013

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


jeff column  One of the rewards of this racket we call journalism is the people we meet.
  I could never be able to accurately count how many people I’ve met through the job of being a writer, photographer and editor since I started in the business as a high school kid in 1977 in Joliet.
  If it’s not in the 10,000 range, it has to be darn close. It could be a lot more.
  I’ve met the famous — Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Walter Payton, Sammy Sosa, Shaq and Eddie Vedder to name a few — and I have met the infamous — Rod Blagojevich, Barry Bonds, Dennis Rodman and Joe Paterno to name a few.
  Jessie Jackson Sr. once slapped me on the back on a Father’s Day. The hated professional wrestler known as the Iron Sheik told me he helped coach United States Olympic wrestlers. This is the same guy whose gimmick was to spit on the American flag and sing the Iranian National Anthem and insult our country.
  I once had to give directions to hard-hitting TV journalist Walter Jacobsen where a washroom was located. If not for me, he might have wet his pants that night!
  I once cursed at then-WSCR reporter Mike Greenberg to pipe down when he was bellowing into the phone in the Packers press box in Green Bay. I guess my profane admonishment didn’t derail his career as he is one of the Mikes in the nationally syndicated “Mike and Mike in the Morning” radio show on ESPN and has written a couple of books, to boot. He’s a big success, but hopefully, he’s not yelling into phones anymore.
  The coolest celebrity I met was Mel Blanc — the voice of hundreds, including Bugs Bunny and the subject of last week’s WHATIZIT? photo.
  Although I didn’t formerly meet them, I’ve shared the same breathing space with George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Tiger Woods, Cyndi Lauper, Barbara Eden (Jeannie!), Jerry Mathers (the Beaver!) Rob Reiner (the Meathead!), Jesse Ventura, Jeff Gordon, A.J. Foyt, Bobby Knight, Kobe Bryant and Hector “Macho” Camacho.
  This is not name-dropping or bragging — it’s more of an appreciation for the wide range of people I’ve been able to get close to for even a few minutes. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the athletes, politicians, cops, firemen, teachers, students and just plain everyday folks with wonderful stories whom I’ve met on the local level.
  With that long preamble out of the way, I would like to say that next week, the Reporter will unveil its top 10 news stories of 2013 and the Reporter/Regional will run its top 10 sports stories of the year.
  For those who need their year-end list fix, I offer this one for ya. I submit the 10 people I’ve enjoyed meeting the most through my seven months as the Regional reporter and five as Reporter editor in 2013. In alphabetical order, they are:

Kent Carson
  This Oak Lawn resident lost his left arm and both of his legs after he was diagnosed with Legionnaires Disease in August, 2012. He lost some pretty important limbs but didn’t lose his optimism for life.
  “I came to the conclusion that this is not going to change so I need to make the most of what I’ve got,” he said.

Tim Cavanagh
  I’ve seen this comedian perform a few times over the years and heard his funny songs on the Dr. Demento radio show and enjoyed his work. I had no idea that he lived in Orland Park.
  But when I found out, I immediately set up an interview and spent some time laughing it up with Tim and his wife, Chris, one late afternoon in January. The former teacher at all-girls Maria High School started out writing serious songs but that changed.
  “My serious songs kind of sucked,” he said. “When I tried doing funny things, I was like ‘OK, that’s acceptable.’ Having people laugh at me — normally that’s something you don’t like but in my case, I do like it.’’

Mel Diab
  The Palos Heights running guru is a popular and likable guy who, along with former alderman Jeff Prestinario, has turned the area’s half marathon into a monster.
  Diab, who was running in the Boston Marathon and was miles away when explosions hit, killing and injuring athletes. He immediately went to work when he got back to town, hosting runs and selling shirts to benefit the victims.

DR-page-3-3-col-bikeWorth’s Courtney Jovorski triumphed over cancer and ran in an Ironman triathlon. Photo by Jeff Vorva.Courtney Javorski
  This Worth resident participated in the Ironman Triathlon in Louisville in late August.
  She did that not long after beating cancer that in the past five years forced her to go through 33 radiation treatments and six weeks of chemotherapy.
  She offers this great advice: “Don’t lie on the couch numbing your situation. Get moving. Keep going.”

Tom Mezyk
  I met this 60-year-old Orland Park resident a few minutes after he won the first Orland Township Senior American Idol competition in May. He had just brought the house down with his version of the Phillip Phillips hit “Home.’’
  He was genuinely touched by the reception he received from the 900-plus in attendance at Georgio’s Banquets.
  But in June, he and his wife, Pam, took a trip with a group to the Holy Land. On the final day of the trip, he was at the Western Wall, had a major heart attack and died. Apparently he had no major health issues.
  It was a shock for those who were close to him, and I’ll admit I was pretty stunned when I heard about it and knew him for all of about five minutes.

Alex Muller
  The four-year-old from Palos Heights suffered a stroke on the plane ride home from Disney World. He had to go through five weeks of rehab at Advocate Children’s Hospital and wasn’t always the ideal patient but he was pretty popular and likened the kid to a super hero.
  “Alex’s great determination allowed us as therapists to obtain goals,” his therapist, Diana Daniak said. “With Super Alex and his super suit and his cape, he literally soared and accomplished any tasks that were set before him. This hospital became and an adventure of his imagination every day.
  “Despite the hair-pulling, biting, kicking and punching, Alex was the highlight of our day and always had a smile on his face,” she said. “And he always put a smile on our face.”

Gerri Neylon
  Ten years ago, the Evergreen Park resident and nurse at Christ Hospital felt bad for a young woman who had cancer and called some friends and loaded up three vans of stuff for the family for Christmas.
  That morphed into the Christmas Without Cancer charity and it has grown to help many families not just during Christmas but during the whole year as well.
  “I’ve had many gifts from God,” she said about the ten-year tenure of the organization. “It has taken on a life of its own.”

Mike Recchia
  The never-say-die professional pitcher from Worth had theDR-Page-3-2-col-soup-naziLarry Thomas, known to many as the Soup Nazi from “Seinfeld,” was in Orland Park to promote a local independent film. Photo by Jeff Vorva. disappointment of being cut by the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles in the past couple of years he toiled for the independent Windy City Thunderbolts in between cuts and landed a spot in the White Sox organization and was 6-0 with a 2.68 ERA in Class A ball.

Jim Sexton
  The Evergreen Park Mayor survived the deadly West Nile virus and was presented with an award at Christ Medical Center for getting through it all.
  The virus took its toll on his body, especially his shoulders and neck area, and when I first met him after the ceremony in September, he had a sense of humor about it. He noticed my shoelace was untied.
  “I notice those things now because I see the floor a lot more now,” he joked.

Larry Thomas/The Soup Nazi
  When he came to Orland Park to promote the local independent film “You Don’t Say,’’ I was able to talk with him for a half hour or so on a snowy night in March about his career and it was a ton of fun.
  Not many have gained as much recognition for so little screen time as the Soup Nazi character from “Seinfeld” and his “No soup for you!” line.