Michael’s Pancake House damaged by fire

  • Written by Bob Rakow


A fire that destroyed a Worthpage-2-2-col-fireA close up of some of the damage inside of Michael’s Pancake House. Photos by Jeff Vorva. pancake house Monday night is under investigation by the North Palos Fire Protection District.
  The blaze was contained to the kitchen of Michael’s Pancake House, 6753 W. 111th St., but the entire eatery suffered significant smoke damage, Battalion Chief Rocky Carlson said.
  “The inside is heavily damaged,” Carlson said.
  A neighboring realty office also experienced smoke damage, he said.
  The fire department received a call from a passerby at 5:29 p.m., Carlson said. The blaze was extinguished in about 30 minutes, he said. The restaurant was closed at the time of the fire.
  The masonry building does not have a sprinkler system or smoke detectors, Carlson said.
  A fire fighter cut his hand while fighting the blaze but was treated at the scene.

Disorder on the courts

  • Written by Bob Rakow


Hoops art To hoop, or not to hoop? Two of the six area communities have eliminated public outdoor basketball courts and some Oak Lawn residents are clamoring that their village do the same. Photo by Jeff Vorva        Removing basketball hoops from Little Wolfe Park in Oak Lawn hasn’t garnered significant support from park district officials, but it’s a move other area communities have made to combat unsavory behavior.

  Oak Lawn Trustee Carol Quinlan has called on the Oak Lawn Park Board to remove the basketball hoops at the park, 107th Street and Laramie Avenue, following an Aug. 14 fight that led to two arrests.
  She said the fight was not an isolated incident. Instead, it’s not uncommon for large groups of older teens and adults to use the court and park their cars along both sides of Laramie Avenue. The activity has deterred area residents from using the park, which also features a playground, she said.
  Basketball courts were removed several years ago in Evergreen Park and Palos Hills. The Chicago Ridge Park District, meanwhile, is considering moving courts out of Freedom Park—the home of a splash pad—and relocating them in another park in the community, said director Kevin King.
  The Chicago Ridge Park District has received occasional complaints regarding conduct at the Freedom Park basketball courts, but nothing too serious, King said. Plans call for hoops to be added to Menard Park where an existing court is frequently used, he said.
  The Freedom Park courts are in bad shape and repairing them is not a worthwhile move, King said.
  Basketball courts were removed 20 years ago from all Evergreen Park parks after residents cried foul over the behavior of those using the courts, Mayor Jim Sexton said. Parks in Evergreen Park are located close to residential areas, and homeowners complained about the foul language, littering and public urination that occurred near the courts, Sexton said.
  The courts were transformed into sand volleyball courts, the mayor said.
  Basketball courts were removed in Palos Hills several years ago as well after some residents complained about after-hours use and the conduct of some players, said Palos Hills Ald. Pauline Stratton. The courts, which were located on 103rd Street, were the only ones in the city.
  “I did want them to stay. I was definitely in the minority,” Stratton said. “I’m of the opinion, let the kids be occupied.”
  Basketball courts still can be found in Worth and Hickory Hills parks.
  The Worth Park District has a scaled-down basketball court at Penny Park, Home and Normandy avenues, and has experienced only minor problems, Director Carlo Capalbo said.
  “We don’t see too many problems with it,” Capalbo said. “We get heavy usage. At the same time, the park is respected.”
  Quinlan was one of approximately 30 residents who live near the Little Wolfe Park to attend last week’s park board meeting to request the removal of the basketball court. Her comments that many of the players are from outside the community have led some to brand her a racist, she said. Several of her neighbors, however, support the move, Quinlan said.
  Quinlan is directing anyone who contacts her about the issue to call the park district.
  That’s what residents should have done when they first recognized a problem at Little Wolfe, Oak Lawn Park Board President Sue Murphy said.
  The district was unaware of problems at the park other than the Aug. 14 fight until Quinlan raised the issue at the park board meeting, Murphy said.
  “This is the first time we’ve heard of incidents over there,” Murphy said.
  There have not been additional incidents at the park since the Aug. 14 fight. Police have significantly stepped up patrols at the park since the melee, Police Chief Mike Murray said.
  Murphy added that the district cannot prevent people from using its facilities.
  “Parks are not private property,” she said. “This is not a gated community. People can play where they want in public places.”
  Murphy reiterated that safety is the district’s primary goal.
  “We do need to monitor the situation,” she said.
  Murphy said the park board will consider the request to remove the hoops at Little Wolfe.
  “We’re open to it. It’s not fallen on deaf ears,” she said.
  She added that she expects residents to address the issue at the board’s Oct. 21 meeting. She said residents should present a petition to the park board calling for the removal of the basketball court.
  The Aug. 14 fight took place near a foot bridge that connects Little Wolfe Park with walking trails that stretch to the rear of Richards High School. Stephen Hyde, 18, of Oak Lawn, and Hexadore Randall, 19, of Chicago, were arrested and charged with battery after they were picked out of a lineup by teenagers injured in the melee, police said.
  The duo said the fight was racially motivated and broke out after a group of white teens used racial slurs, according to police. They said they were walking the trails adjacent to the park when they encountered the white teens, who shouted racial slurs before hitting them, police said.
  The white teens offered a different version of events. Two teens told police they were punched in the face while another said he was jumped, according to reports.


Ice cream-like soil not sweet to Shepard HS construction

  • Written by Jessie Molloy

  The slow progress of the Alan B. Shepard science wing construction was an issue of concern at the Community High School District 218 board meeting Monday. 

  The project, originally planned for completion in early fall, hit a major delay this summer and may not be complete until spring due to poor soil conditions which were discovered when digging began for the new foundation. Superintendent John Byrne said initial soil samples indicated that the ground would have problems and funds were allotted for it in the budget but the extent of the problem was not foreseen.
  “It looks like chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream,” Byrne said. “There is a silty, clay-like material that runs through the good soil on the property. We weren’t sure how much of it there was and we happened to hit a giant swirl of it when we started digging.”
  Board members described the material as spongy clay, which absorbed and held the ground water, making the area difficult to build on. This situation caused a six-week delay in construction. Sump pumps and the sun were used to dewater and dry out the clay-filled soil
  Byrne said he was happy that in the last two weeks the progress was “multiples better” than in previous weeks.
  The main entrance and office reconstruction on the building’s first floor were not subject to as many delays and are still scheduled to be completed sometime in October.

Code of conduct tabled
  The board voted to table the approval of the district’s new athletic code of conduct after receiving parental complaints that the document was not representative enough of the students it applies to.
  The proposed code was penned this summer by the athletic directors from Shepard, Richards, and Eisenhower and lays out specific punishments to be given to athletes who fail to keep grades up or who are caught breaking the law or school rules. Some parents however, felt the writers of the policy did not have enough appreciation for the situations of some of the student athletes, particularly those of Hispanic and African American backgrounds, and requested the policy be reviewed and possibly amended with parental input.
  This suggestion was supported by board member Johnny Holmes, who said “It’s common sense that people making rules for a diverse group should have to represent all the people they are serving.”
  In addition to a select group of parents contributing to a revised document, Holmes suggested that one of the board members should be on the committee so the board would have more of a say than just voting to approve someone else’s ideas.
  Among the other issues Holmes had with the proposed code was the possibility of students being subjected to “double jeopardy” because certain legal and behavioral offenses would fall under guidelines for punishment in both the student code of conduct and the athletic code of conduct.
  Hypothetically, Holmes offered the example of a student caught stealing. Like all students he or she would receive a week-long suspension which would include the inability to participate in any school activities in that time, including athletic competitions.
  However, if the student was an athlete, the athletic code of conduct might also require a three-game suspension for the same offense in which case both punishments would be carried out and the student would be forced to miss the week of school and three games (though would be required to attend practice once they returned to class). This, Holmes argued was putting more weight on athletes than other students and could be seen as unfair.
  Other perceived problems of the proposed code were the ambiguity on if students would be held to it year round or only during their athletic season and the issue of coach accountability. Since a student could be punished for an ejection or unsportsmanlike conduct during a competition under the new code, it was suggested that some form of punishment also be laid out for coaches who are removed from a game since they are supposed to be role models for their athletes.

Gavin honored

  The board approved a request from Richards high school to place a plaque by the tennis courts in memory of Matthew Gavin. Gavin, who taught social studies and coached tennis and scholastic bowl for Richards, died in of cancer in the spring at the age of 32.

Parking woes don’t cross up plans for new Chicago Ridge restaurant

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  Plans for a new restaurant and bar in Chicago Ridge gained momentum Tuesday night when the village board approved business and liquor licenses for the establishment.

  Trustees approved licenses for the Crossing Bar and Grill, 102nd Street and Ridgeland Avenue, which was previously Bearhawks Sports Bar and Grill.
  But trustees continued to voice concerns about a lack of sufficient parking at the restaurant, which is located in a small strip mall.
  Bar owners told the board they were willing add 16 parking spaces to a location behind the bar, which is adjacent to Gen Hoe Chinese Restaurant.
  There are a limited number of parking spaces in front on the strip mall, but not nearly enough to accommodate a busy restaurant and bar, officials said.
  Owners said they have been unsuccessful contacting the owner of Penny Lane School, which owns a parking lot adjacent to the strip mall. Mayor Chuck Tokar suggested contacting the school’s owner about leasing parking spaces to the new establishment.
  Trustees two weeks ago delayed granting a business license for the restaurant until the owners could determine if Penny Lane would agree to lease some of its parking spaces.
  Trustees are concerned that bar patrons will park in the residential neighborhood adjacent to the tavern if sufficient parking is not provided.
  “That’s going to be a problem — like I told you before — if you’re successful,” Trustee John Lind said.
  Lind said he wants the bar to succeed but not at residents’ expense. He said Tuesday that he would talk to the owner of Penny Lane on the restaurant’s behalf.
  Tokar said he also would favor additional parking behind the bar or in the Penny Lane lot.
  “Either of the (parking) options would certainly help,” the mayor said.
  Employees of the restaurant will park in a mechanic’s lot across Ridgeland Avenue.

Two charged in OL prostitution sting

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  An Oak Lawn woman was charged with prostitution Sept. 5 during a sting at the Oak Lawn Hilton, police said.

  Alexis S. Stademeyer, 20, was arrested at 11 p.m. by an Oak Lawn police detective posing as a potential client, according to reports.
  Police made an appointment to meet Stademeyer after seeing an ad for her services on a web site.
  After arriving at the Hilton, 9333 S. Cicero Ave., the detective received a telephone call from the same number he used to set up the appointment. The detective was told what Stademeyer was wearing and that she would be in the hotel lobby shortly, according to reports.
  Moments later, a woman wearing a black jacket appeared and had a conversation with the undercover officer. She asked what he wanted and he told her, “What we agreed on the phone.” She said her services cost “$100 for 20 to 30 minutes,” according to police.
  The detective offered her cash, but Stademeyer asked to be paid in the hotel elevator. She was arrested moments later in the hotel lobby, police said.
  Apollo D. Brandl, 27, of Chicago, was charged with promoting prostitution and possession of marijuana, police said.
  Police met Brandl in a Cadillac parked in the hotel lot. His cell phone had pictures of Stademeyer, which were the same ones posted on the website. Another woman in the car admitted to being a prostitute and was released, police said.
  Brandl told police he received $50 a day for gas and driving Stademeyer to appointments. He said she was a call girl and it was the second day he had worked for her.