Parking issue solved

  • Written by Michael Gilbert

Palos Hills residents will use Southwest
Central Dispatch again for overnight parking

Palos Hills is turning to a familiar source to solve its overnight parking issues.
  Mayor Gerald Bennett said at the city council meeting last Thursday that Southwest Central Dispatch has agreed to once again field calls from those Palos Hills residents who plan on parking their vehicle overnight on a city street.
  Southwest Central Dispatch had been taking those calls from residents for the better part of the last five years, but this past December they notified Palos Hills Police Chief Paul Madigan that the task had become too cumbersome and they would no longer be able to provide the service.
But Bennett and Madigan recently revisited the idea with Southwest Central Dispatch and the agency said it would take the job without any cost to the city.
“We showed them the call log sheet [of those who requested overnight parking] and there really wasn’t many people so they said they could help us,” Bennett said.
Previously, residents were asked to call the Palos Hills Police Department to request permission to park overnight. When the police department was closed residents were then allowed to call 911 and a Southwest Central Dispatch operator would answer the call and then relay the information to police officers.
Once Southwest Central Dispatch stopped taking the calls in December, residents had to contact the police department during its normal business hours of 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday or risk receiving an $80 ticket.
Residents are now asked to call 708-598-2151 whenever they are seeking permission for overnight parking. The police department or 911 should not be called regarding overnight parking requests, Bennett said.
Overnight parking is not allowed in Palos Hills between 2-6 a.m. any day of the week. The city does allow residents to park overnight for three consecutive days up to three times of year. Bennett said the city will be keeping track of how often a resident calls.
“This is only supposed to be for emergency situations,” he said. “We will monitor those who take advantage of it.”
Overnight parking has been a hotly debated topic of late with one alderman at the previous meeting even proposing a moratorium on tickets while a solution is reached. Other ideas from residents and city officials have ranged from setting up an answering machine for citizens to call to allowing homeowners to print out a one-time use parking pass from their computer.
After nearly four months of discussion, Bennett believes the best solution has been found.
“We looked at whether we could use a non-emergency phone [answering service], but with different officers on the street and shift changes it would be too hard to keep track,” Bennett said. “I think we’ve come up with the best idea.”
Alderman A.J. Pasek (3rd Ward) agreed this was the best option.
“This is easier than having the answering machine,” Pasek said. “It’s very similar to what we had [before Southwest Central Dispatch stopped taking calls], but we’ll just have to reeducate people on what number to call.”
To do that, Bennett said the new number will be posted on the city’s website and included in the upcoming water bill and newsletter.

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.