Hickory Hills - Facelift could keep cops away

  • Written by Kelly White

The city of Hickory Hills is hoping to benefit from some apartment makeovers beginning this summer. The apartments, located on 87th Street from Roberts Road to 85th Court have been the homes to previously neglectful residents, resulting in the area being more heavily patrolled by marked police cars on a daily basis, city officials said. 

In May, 2013, Police Chief Alan Vodicka gave an update on the increase in request for police services and escalated acts of violence in the vicinity of those multi-family dwellings.
Associated Real Estate Group representatives were on hand at last Thursday’s meeting and said they are ready to solve the problem. The group plans to renovate 48 apartment units, refinishing them with new kitchens, new bathrooms, front porches and even new a new parking lot.
There are 10 residents still residing in the 87th Street apartments, claiming ten of the 48 units to be renovated. The Associated Real Estate Group is hoping for the building to become vacant before beginning renovations.
“We are excited to be here and to work with the city,” said Bane Simic on behalf of the group. Simic said the group has 122 units in its portfolio that it manages.
“We are a very young and energetic company and we are willing to work hard for the best result.” Simic said.
Hickory’s building commissioner John Moirano said he is excited to be working with The Associated Real Estate Group and spoke highly of them. Mayor Mike Howley said he is looking forward to the apartment renovations. “It will be a nice improvement here in the city,” he said.

Not an e-waste of time

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Spartan athletes collect large electronics from seniors

A group of Oak Lawn CommunityOL-E-WasteOak Lawn Community High School Athletic Director Kevin McKeown poses with the students who participated Saturday in the village’s first e-waste pickup. Students removed e-waste such as televisions from the homes of several seniors who otherwise would have trouble disposing of the items. Another e-waste pickup is scheduled for October. Submitted photo. High School student-athletes spent Saturday morning taking large electronics off the hands of seniors in the community.
The first e-waste pickup was the brainchild of Jack Lopez, a veteran member of the village’s public works department who also oversees the e-waste program and its collection site at the public works garage, 5550 W. 98th St.
Lopez collaborated with Mayor Sandy Bury and Mike Riordan, principal and superintendent of Oak Lawn Community High School, to recruit members of the Spartan Athletic Leadership Team for the collection, which removed large electronics from the homes of several seniors who otherwise have difficulty arranging disposal.
“It’s for the right reasons,” said Lopez, who’s been involved with the e-waste collection site since in opened in 2009.
But the program had others benefits, he said, including exposing well-meaning adolescents to the community, Lopez said. He said that too often teenagers get a bad rap due to the actions of a few.
“I have always maintained, ‘You don’t know the kids that I know,’ ” he said.
Students traveled from one house to the next on a school bus driven by high school athletic director Kevin McKeown, who also was instrumental in organizing the event. The e-waste was loaded onto a village truck and transported to the collection site.
Another benefit of the program was exposing students to the importance of recycling, Lopez said.
“The environment wins, the school wins, the kids win and the village looks good,” Lopez said.
The e-waste site is open from 2-4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m.-noon on the second Saturday of the month. Volunteers are welcome and students can gain service hours working at the site.
The site has been a success since it opened more than four years ago, Lopez said. In 2009, 45 tons of e-waste was collected compared to more than 150 tons in 2013, he said.
Those interested in volunteering can contact Lopez via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Half-court issue trapped for time being

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  The Oak Lawn Park Board Monday called another time out in the extended basketball hoops saga at Little Wolfe Park.

  Park commissioners were expected to vote on a proposal to remove on of the hoops from the court, thereby eliminating full-court games. But the issue was not on the agenda, nor was it addressed during the meeting.
  Doing away with full-court games wouldthwart the competitiveness that brought on inappropriate conduct, including foul language, which raised the ire of neighbors of the park, 107th Street and Laramie Avenue.
  The proposal was not included on the board’s April agenda because one of the five park commissioners was unable to make the meeting, said Park Director Maddie Kelly.
  The decision to again put off the vote angered Oak Lawn Trustee Carol Quinlan, who has lobbied since last summer for a solution to the problems she believes are a result of full-court games.
  “They couldn’t even bother calling me,” said Quinlan, who attended Monday’s meeting expecting a vote on what she described as “the perfect compromise.”
  Commissioner Sue Murphy said the decision was delayed so the district could conduct “more research.”
  “The weather was not good and we need more information,” said Murphy, who completed her term as park board president following Monday’s meeting. Commissioner Donna McCauley is the new board president.
  The park district has not received any complaints about conduct at the basketball court since the weather broke, said Murphy, who added that removing the hoop remains an option.
  But, according to Quinlan, Murphy expressed reservations about removing a hoop so soon after Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, made racist remarks that got him banned from the league.
  Murphy could not be reached Tuesday for further comment.
  Residents have called for the removal of the hoops following an Aug. 14 fight involving two groups of teens, which led to two arrests.
  Quinlan has maintained that the fight was not an isolated incident. Instead, she said, troublemakers from outside the village used the court throughout the summer. Their poor conduct led other patrons, such as parents with young children, to avoid the park, she said.
  Comments from Quinlan and others that many of the basketball players were from outside the community led some to brand her a racist, an accusation she vehemently denies.
  “This isn’t about race. “It never has been,” said Quinlan, who added that many of the players at the court are not black.
  Quinlan said, however, that residents who live near Little Wolfe, will be upset to learn that the park district has delayed action on the matter.
  But Commissioner Gary Callahan said park board must be careful not make a major decision to appease one neighborhood.
  “Recreation is not about residents, it about recreation,” said Callahan, who opposes removing one of the hoops. “This is about politics, raw politics. Politics of the neighborhood. Where does it stop?”
  Callahan, however, expressed confidence that McCauley will bring commissioners together to forge a solution to the problem. McCauley and Commissioner Mary Margaret Wallace have expressed support for removing one of the hoops.
  Quinlan, who addressed the issue at Tuesday’s village board meeting, expressed reservations about the park board ever taking action.
  “I don’t know what to do,” she said.

Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: The half marathon featured some fun Monika-rs

jeff column

There were 1,023 runners who finished the seventh First Midwest Bank Half Marathon on Sunday.
There were some notable names and some noticeable names.
Among the noticeable, the race featured hope, pain and joy. And it featured Curtis Hope, Sherese and Samira Payne and Tracy Joy.
It featured Jacklyn Boekeloo and Monika Sestakauskaite, who probably could have loaned a vowel to help out the last name of Kenneth Yff.
It featured Genevieve Gravel, who ran on the asphalt,
Those who were thirsty could talk to Jordan Earlywine or Mark Boozell.
Finishing less than a second apart were Paul Sager and Jamie Seger and later on Kelly Ciger crossed the finish line.
When the sun came out, you would figure that Shady El-ZayatypAGE-3-2-COL-SMILE-withi-VORVA-colIt was hard pressed to find a bigger smile than Alsip’s Shanta Berry in the Walk, Run or Roll Race as fans cheered her on Sunday. Photo by Jeff Vorva. would keep his cool as he cruised to 239th place.
A few other names that caught my eye were Thomas Tomas, Josafat Javier Roman, Sky Legge, Thomas Fortune, Kristi Rude and Jeremy Boat.
And someone signed up as J. Race, whose name is almost as perfect as Lisa Chase or Kelly Ran, who also ran the race.
Among the notable names, state sen. Bill Cunningham, was one of the 1,023, finishing 195th. Congressman Dan Lipinski signed up but for the second time in five years had to scratch because of an injury. District 135 School Board President Joe La Margo finished 866th.

Something to cheer about

Since 1,023 finished the race, that means there were 1,023 pretty good stories to tell.
I wish I could have interviewed them all, but that’s impossible.
There was one story I heard that I got a kick out of.
Stagg cheerleader Brittany Klimas of Palos Hills, who said she had never run a race of this distance, finished 643rd with a time of 2 hours, 14 minutes and 21 seconds.
Kilimas crossed the finish line with her father, David.
“My goal was to just finish the race,” she said.
page-3-2-col-britt-WITH-jv-COLPalos Hills’ David and Brittany Klimas cross the half marathon finish line. Brittany had two knee surgeries in the past three years and her goal was to finish the race. Photo by Jeff Vorva.Mission accomplished.
What’s fun about this story is that Brittany is recovering from her second right knee surgery in three years. She messed it up in cheerleading and messed it up again playing tennis. She had to wear a leg brace during the race but still got through the 13.1 miles without reinjuring the knee.
Her twin sister, Danielle, decided not to stick around with her family and ran ahead to finish 335th.

Best part of the day

My favorite part of the half marathon festivities is the Walk, Run or Roll race, which is put on by the South West Special Recreation Association.

Adults and children with disabilities have a chance to participate in a half-mile race shortly after the 1,000-plus runners in the half marathon take off. That leaves plenty of fans sticking around and cheering on these athletes.

The smiles from these folks can’t get any bigger as evidenced by Alsip’s Shante Berry, whose photo appears above.

And you see things that you might not have seen before.
One young runner was wearing a jacket and about 200 or 300 yards before the finish line, he decided to stop and take his jacket off. Some of the fans were yelling and encouraging him to finish the race. When he realized how close he was to the line, he put the jacket back on and sped to the finish line with his arms raised and he and his friends had a good laugh as he picked up his medal.


All is calm

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 After two explosive meetings, Worth’s board back to normal

There was no yelling or swearing.Page-3-3-col-yellingAfter two meetings that included red-hot emotions, including an April 1 meeting featuring people yelling at board members in the above photo, the Worth village board meeting was calm on Tuesday night. Photo by Jeff Vorva.
There were no police patting down people who wanted to enter the meeting.
There were no TV cameras from Chicago.
It was just a normal meeting.
Worth trustees handled a variety of routine business matters Tuesday night during a brief board meeting that got everyone home in time to see the Blackhawks playoff game.
No one asked to address the board, a departure from the array of comments made during the past two meetings in April, mostly regarding the Brittney Wawrzyniak death investigation.
Those meetings sizzled with emotion and packed some fireworks but Tuesday night the board was able to go about with its routine business with little stress.
Wawrzyniak’s family members did not appear at the meeting despite a pledge from some that they would continue to attend. Worth police recently closed the case, ruling Wawrzyniak’s death accidental.
Last Friday, Eric S. Johnson of Midlothian was sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison for selling a prescription drug to Wawrzyniak on the night that she died.