Students' winning video earns makeover for school auto shop

Oak Lawn High is beneficiary of $25K in cash & prizes

(From Feb. 2, 2012)

Oak Lawn High School's auto shop will get more than $10,000 in tools and another 10 grand in cash after students took first place in a national contest.

The students in instructor Tim Krough's advanced automotive classes won the $25,000 grand prize for presenting the best argument in Universal Technical Institute Foundation's "Why My High School Auto Shop Needs a Make Over" video contest. In addition to $10,000 the auto shop will receive a Clip Car and $12,500 in Snap-On tools.

The awards are courtesy of Universal Technical Institute, Snap-On, and Bridgestone/Firestone.

"We have officially been given first place, however, we are still waiting to figure out some logistics on when we can receive the prizes," Krough said. "We're still uncertain how exactly the money will be spent; it will go to updating some equipment."

Krough worked with his automotive students to create a video depicting the reasons Oak Lawn High's auto shop needed a makeover. After receiving an email from the school's career facilitator the students had just two days to complete the requirements for the contest, Krough said.

"I was sitting in front of my computer, reading this email thinking this was impossible," he said. "Then decided, okay, let's do it and see what happens."

The students and Krough decided they had to create a funny video to make people want to watch it.

"You see these rims, you see these, they even got no car for it!" student Eric Furlong states in the video.

Krough worked on the video in class with his students, edited it from home, and sent it via Facebook by the deadline. After not hearing anything for about a month, he received a phone call the Friday before the start of the second semester indicating Oak Lawn High was one of eight finalists, and the only one from the Midwest.

"Then it became work," Krough said.

The videos were posted on Facebook and the winner was chosen through a popular vote. With the support of Oak Lawn High Assistant Principal Joe McCurdy and division chairman Dave Johnson, Krough and the students worked on getting the word out to the community. The village of Oak Lawn also ran the video on public access Channel 4 and spread word of the effort on Facebook and with fliers.

Once the information was out, Oak Lawn High School District 229 Superintendent/Principal Michael Riordan agreed to shut down the school's block of Facebook for one day so students could vote.

"That day they turned it off, I think we had 2,200 votes," Krough said. "There was tremendous support from the entire school, from the entire community."

The video earned a total of 3,320 votes on Facebook to win the contest, according to Universal Technical Institute Foundation Vice President/Executive Director Veronica Meury.

"We're thrilled to be able to help Oak Lawn's auto shop provide a quality education for its students by giving tools and technology that makes that possible," Meury said in a statement.

Arizona-based Universal Technical Institute Foundation is a nonprofit organization with the stated mission to raise funds to support and encourage the technical education for the automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle, marine, NASCAR, and other transportation industries through scholarship, grants, career development and other special programs.

The first-, second-, and third-place videos are posted on Facebook at https://apps. index2.php.

Fire destroys apt. of charity group founder

(From Feb. 2, 2012)

The founder of an area charity that sends footwear to people in impoverished parts of the world lost everything she owned after a fire Monday night destroyed her apartment in Worth.

The fire in the building in the 6900 block of 111th Place, just north of Worth Junior High School, started about 9 p.m. in one of the structure's four apartments, according to North Palos Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Chris Perry. It took firefighters about 20 minutes to extinguish the fire, Perry said. No one was injured, and the cause of the fire is believed to be a short in a lamp in the apartment of Share Your Soles founder Mona Purdy.

"My home burned to the ground this evening, and I am safe and alive," Purdy wrote on her Facebook page Monday night. "God must have a special place for me."

Purdy was watching television in her bedroom when she saw a bright light through the door and heard her fire alarm going off, she said Tuesday.

"It was the strangest thing," she said. "I came out of my room, and the wall was ablaze above my sofa. A cord on the wall was burnt.

"I was going to the neighbors and screaming, 'Fire, help!' and nobody could hear me. When I ran outside, the fire trucks came. It was unbelievable. They had to break down doors to get people out."

Purdy is staying with her children.

"Everything in my world was in this house

Mayor proposes expanding Green

(From March 1, 2012)

Oak Lawn may expand its Village Green by 40,000 square feet if trustees approve a proposal that would include relocating the Masonic Temple just east of the downtown park.

The Village Board on Tuesday discussed the temple's owner's plans to construct a new building that would replace the one at 9420 S. 52nd Ave. The owners agreed three years ago to build a new temple, and construction could begin this year just south of Village Hall on the site of the village's old family services building, according to Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann.

The village would acquire the old family services site and contribute $875,000 toward the construction of the new temple, Heilmann explained. The temple owners would in exchange cede their property to Oak Lawn. The mayor is hopeful the new temple can be completed by 2013.

The Village Green, a narrow strip of parkland east of Village Hall and north of the Oak Lawn Public Library between Raymond Avenue and the Masonic Temple parking lot, would be extended east to 52nd Avenue. The Green features a walking path, gazebo and playground, and is a venue for numerous events including Santa on the Green Fall on the Green, Pumpkin Fest, summer concerts, a farmers market and the village's annual Easter egg hunt.

"The Village Green is widely used, and this is one part of many discussions regarding potential improvements to the village green," Heilmann said. "We have a whole series of events there, especially in the warmer months. It has become very popular for residents and their families."

Trustee Alex Olejniczak made a motion to table the plan, which was scheduled to be voted on Tuesday, after residents had a chance to voice their concerns and ideas.

"I am concerned about how this will affect people in the neighborhood," Olejniczak said, noting residents in the area near the Green already have plenty of festivals and other events in the neighborhood, and may not want to deal with construction.

"The residents put up with fests and activities. This is not the right time to make a decision."

Heilmann called the plans to expand the Village Green a "great opportunity."

"In a 'land-locked' community like Oak Lawn, I think that when you have property contiguous to village property or green space, like the Masonic Temple is, and you have the ability to expand the green space use through an amicable agreement with people, you can enhance the property but also make the neighborhood nicer," Heilmann said. "Studies show investments in parks and making them destinations and popular centers for your community, you can really provide a terrific benefit to a neighborhood as well as the entire community."

Heilmann envisions the expanded park as even more of a gathering place for Oak Lawn residents and their families.

"There is an entire rendering that has been done with various possibilities," Heilmann said. "We could have a brand-new band shell, a new park facility or field house, even potentially an outdoor ice skating rink and a jet fountain area. We really want to make it a destination."

Worth baby is No. 1

Adrian Kois born just after midnight on New Year's Day

(From Jan. 12, 2012)

The newest addition to a Worth couple's family will forever carry the distinction of being one of the first babies born in Cook County in 2012.

Adrian Karol Kois came into the world one-tenth of a second after midnight Jan. 1 at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. Born to Celina and Slawomir Kois, Adrian weighed 9 pounds, 10 ounces and measured 22.5 inches long.

"I never expected him to be born on New Year's Day," Celina said.

Officially, Adrian was the second baby born in Cook County this year, entering the world mere tenths of a second after Lamaya West of Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood. Lamaya's official time of birth is listed as 1/100th of a second after midnight. She was born to parents Amanda Novoa and Lamar West at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, weighing in at 6 pounds, 6 ounces and measuring 19 inches.

"He was due on Dec. 27 or 28, so we thought he was going to be a Christmas baby," Kois said of Adrain. My first son, Sebastian, who is 5, was born on April 1, and he came two weeks early, so I expected Adrian to be here on Dec. 15.

"I got all my Christmas shopping done right after Thanksgiving, and I didn't even want to decorate the house for Christmas. I told everyone I wasn't going to be here, because I was going to be in the hospital giving birth on Christmas."

Kois said she had planned to enjoy New Year's Eve and didn't think she'd be in the hospital.

"On New Year's, you party, and you don't think about it, but everyone was here on Saturday, and I told them to hurry up, because I was having contractions," she said.

Kois was in labor for 18 hours with Sebastian, so she thought Adrian would be born later on New Year's Day.

"Now, I'm having a hard time getting a birth certificate, because he was born right after midnight," she said. "It's a big deal, even on the computer. They told me they don't know what to put on it, because they don't know if it was midnight or 12:01."

Kois said her "little one" is a happy baby who sleeps a lot, and that she is excited to share the story of his birth with him when he is older.

"I'm keeping all of the newspaper articles to show him," she said. "It's been really awesome, but it's been kind of overwhelming.

'Patriot Station' would honor vets and 9/11 victims

(From Feb. 23, 2012)

The commuter train station at 52nd Avenue and 95th Street in Oak Lawn will, if Metra agrees, be renamed Oak Lawn-Patriot Station in honor of the people who died in the 9/11 attacks and in the subsequent War on Terror.

Oak Lawn trustees on Feb. 14 voted 5-0, with Trustee Cynthia Trautsch abstaining, to approve the name change. Trustee Alex Olejniczak (District 2) said he does not think anyone could find harm in renaming the station, and Mayor Dave Heilmann said he supported the idea.

"I love the name, and I love the concept," Heilmann said. "People are coming together for a good reason."

Christina Finn, who runs the Patriotic Pillow Project - a group that sews patriotic pillows and sends them to soldiers overseas - said renaming the station would be a good way to honor civilians and members of the military.

"The Oak Lawn station has one of the most patriotic memorials in Illinois," Finn said in reference to the 9/11 first responders monument sculpted by artist Eric Blome and erected last year at the station. "It has a steel beam from Ground Zero, and is a place for people to pause, reflect, and remember those that gave their lives for our country. I think Patriot Station would be a most appropriate title, especially since Congress dedicated Sept. 11 as Patriot Day."

Jim Garrett, president of the Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau, also believes the station should be renamed.

"It is a memorial to thank the first responders and victims of 9/11," Garrett said. "It is a memorial for people who love, respect, and defend our country.