This fall, Winter hopes to scare you in Hickory Hills

  • Written by Kelly White

The art of scaring people isn’t as easy as it used to be, but Hickory Hills resident Jason Winter is going to give it his best shot.

This fall, under Winter’s watch, Hickory Hills has a reason to be prepared for bad dreams because Nightmares Haunted House is set to open up on Oct. 10 in the Hickory Hills Shopping Center at 8720 W. 87th Street.
The slogan is: “We are what you fear”.
But what do people fear in 2014? That’s the trick that Winter hopes to figure out.
With 18 years of experience in the haunted house business, he is hoping he still has what it takes to scare the bejesus out of people.
“I love the creative challenge to creating an elaborate haunted house,” Winter said at last Thursday’s City Council meeting. “It starts with the layout, which will dictate the flow. No one wants the pay money for a six-minute walk-through which is common with a lot of our competitors.
“Next is to integrate the scares, which you will succeed 85 percent of the time. We’ve become so jaded in recent years because we are such a culture of violence and horror that we often look for more. So, I like to give a great hit along with a detailed set. I look at it as putting you in the middle of a horror movie.”

Birthday BASH

  • Written by Kelly White and Jeff Vorva

page-1-watermelonPalos Hills’ Tom Cameron broke cement slabs (photo below) and a watermelon (above) with his bare hands during his 60th birthday celebration on Aug. 30. Submitted photos.Palos Hills man breaks concrete, watermelon on 60th birthday

This guy can bash bricks and boards with his bare hands.PAGE-1-inset

He can chop a watermelon in half and he doesn’t even need a knife. His mitts will do quite well.
Palos Hills’ Tom Cameron has spent four decades in martial arts and aside from the discipline and life lessons that he learned, he likes to bust things.
You would figure that that a guy who is getting older would probably scale back on the destruction.
You would figure wrong.
Cameron celebrated his 60th birthday Aug. 30 by smashing 60 cement slabs at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Worth.
It would have been fitting is Cameron was able to demolish all 60 of the two-inch thick cement slabs in 60 seconds.
But the fact is, he was able to chop those blocks in less than 40 seconds.
He also entertained the crowd when he chopped a watermelon in half while it was resting the stomach of his adopted grandson, RJ.
For more than 20 years, Cameron has resided in Palos Hills, and has smashed other types of bricks as well, holding nearly 40 years of experience in martial arts, a 7th degree in taekwondo and a 4th degree in hapkido.
However, he had never attempted to demolish 60 cement slabs at one time.
“Age did play a factor in this and it was my first time attempting something so extensive,” Cameron said. “I wanted to push myself while entering a new age category. Just because you turn 60 doesn’t mean you should ever stop pursuing new goals. I never want to see myself become lazy. I want to keep pushing towards bigger achievements.”
The event was held at St. Mark during the church’s Family Fun Days. Cameron and his wife, Debborah, are active members of St. Mark and participate in local community events taking place at the parish.
“My wife and I actually met at St. Mark,” he said, “Since then, I have also been participating in their Family Fun Days event every year. However, this is the first time I have ever attempted this.”
Cameron’s grandchild, Lyric, age 7, and adopted grandchild, RJ, 15, assisted him during his live performance. Aside from smashing the cement slabs, Cameron also cut a whole watermelon in half off of RJ’s stomach while he laid flat, keeping the audience in awe and amazement during his performance.
“My grandchildren and I have a lot of fun working together during shows,” he said, “I like to have them be active participants.”
Receiving his 7th degree black belt is something Cameron said was a highlight of his career since reaching such an accomplishment requires patience.
“The title of Grandmaster is the highest title you can receive in martial arts and I was able to reach this goal just a couple of years ago,” he said.
Cameron is one of the world’s experts on dim mak, also known as the Chinese death touch or poison hand. Cameron, who works in industrial security and martial arts instruction, has been featured on numerous television programs, including “Ripley’s Believe it Or Not” where he was given the name of the “Human Stun Gun.” He also appeared on TLC and Steve Harvey’s “Big Time.”
Cameron’s most controversial demonstrations involve knocking down a subject without physical contact by, in his description, projecting energy known as chi, ki or prana, which is described as a bio-energy that overwhelms the target. He also specializes in demonstrations in which his hands are placed lightly on the subject’s body, usually the subject’s head, until the subject gradually loses footing, and seemingly consciousness, due to the energy Cameron says he is transmits to the person.
Some have expressed doubts about his “stun-gun’ abilities and one internet skeptic labelled his blog entry using a couple of vulgarities.
Believe his ability to stun someone without touching them or not, one has to admit that Cameron has become a tough guy, but it wasn’t always the case.
During a Fox News Chicago story that appeared approximately eight years ago, he said he grew up on Chicago’s South Side and said he had been attacked numerous times. He added he was knifed and once had a gun jammed up his nose. Luckily for Cameron, the gun jammed and he is still alive to talk about it.
But that moment changed his life.
“It was time I either learned something to protect myself or I was going to die,” he told Fox News.
Cameron is also a martial arts teacher who has taught for decades at numerous area park districts. He currently teaches group sessions of taekwondo at the Palos Park Recreation Department, as well as private lessons.
“We should always be constantly pushing towards bigger goals,” Cameron said. “Once you have achieved something, you should move on to the next bigger and better goal. Age is not a reason to hold you back.”

Worth’s top cop retires before 50th birthday

  • Written by Kelly White

Knolmayer seeks out more family time after 28 years on Worth force

With tearful eyes, some Village of Worth officials sadlypage-1-2-col-Knolmayer-and-wife-KarenMartin Knolmayer, posing with his wife Karen at Tuesday night’s village board meeting, is retiring at Worth Police Chief Oct. 3. Photo by Kelly White. celebrated the retirement of whom they consider a great man. 

Police Chief Martin Knolmayer announced his retirement at Tuesday’s board meeting, leaving the village after over 28 years of service and right before his 50th birthday. The retirement takes place Oct. 3. That’s when a little more family time is scheduled to kick in.
“My family has personally seen a few milestones this past year,” Knolmayer said, “My wife, Karen, and I celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary this month. My son, Zach, graduated with honors from DePaul University. My daughter, Ashley, turned 21 and is still doing well in college. Most importantly, I will be turning 50 years old next month.”
The village recently received a letter from the chief informing us that his decision was to retire where Knolmayer wrote: “I would like to thank my wife, Karen, for many years of unconditional support and understanding. I cannot recall a time when he received a call to return for work, a 2 a.m. phone call or miss dinner or family parties that Karen never said anything more than, ‘Okay. Just let me know when you will be home.’ ’’
Some village officials responded with tears to the news and lauded Knolmayer’s love and commitment, not only to the village, but to his family.
“We want to thank you for 28 years of outstanding service to the Village of Worth,” Mayor Mary Werner said, “Now you will be able to celebrate holidays and birthdays at home with your family, and spend more time with Karen, Zach and Ashley. You can do all of the things that you always wanted to do and never had the time to do.”
Trustee Pete Katz agreed, “I also want to thank his family for their dedication and the things that they missed out on with him because of his job. I know it has been tough, but I want to thank you as well.”
Knolmayer was hired onto the Worth Police Department in 1986 and assigned the position of patrol officer where he served for 10 years. He was then assigned an open investigation spot where he continued to work for the next 14 years.
While at that post, he also worked with the South Suburban Major Crimes Unit. From there, he was assigned to the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force and worked with them for 11 years to investigate homicides and kidnappings. While working with that organization, he served as an investigator, squad leader, team leader and case manager.
“It was truly an honor for me to work with so many outstanding investigators,” Knolmayer said on behalf of working with the talk force.
Knolmayer became a sergeant of the Worth Police Department in 2000 and earned the promotion to lieutenant in 2006. He served as a proactive chief in 2010 and was appointed to the Chief of Police in 2011.
“I want to personally thank the chief,” Katz added, “After knowing him very well for seven to eight years he has become a friend of mine and I sincerely think of him as my friend. I wish him nothing but the best on his next chapter in life; because, I know whatever he chooses to do, he will do it well, as he has always done for the Village of Worth.”
“It has been an honor for me to serve the residents of Worth and it has been a privilege to work with the men and women in the Worth Police Department,” Knolmayer said, “I had the opportunity to make many friendships in my career. I will always value the support and the loyalty.”


Guest Whatizit?

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Life is a beach for the WHATIZIT?WHATIZIT-9-11-2 wizards as many guessed last week’s photo of a sand dollar.
  For the record, this was found at Imperial Beach south of San Diego and north of Mexico.
  Don and Laura Heneghan of Oak Lawn were not a day late or a dollar short as they came in with the first correct guess but they were far from alone.
  Other superior sand dollar guessers were Oak Lawn’s Donna and Jim Perisin, Diane Dee, Robin Fullarton, Dolores Graziadei and Carolyn Morrissey, Hickory Hills’ Jack and Burke Faddis, Chicago Ridge’s Kathy Higgins, Dan Higgins, Jan Short, Dana Oswald and Patty Vandenberg and Evergreen Park’s Henrietta Mysliwiec, Jim Long andVince Vizza.
  Also getting it right were Worth’s Mary Kurdziel, E.J. Oahueke, Robert Solner, Russ Martin, Jerry and Carol Janicki, Carol Wozek, Theresa and George Rebersky, Sandy Joiner and Frank and Donna Hirsch, Alsip’s Carol DenBesten, Palos Hills’ Mike McKinney and the Friday Night Ladies Poker and Beach Club of Oak Lawn, Orland Park and Oak Park.
  There was one incorrect answer of a Chinese maple leaf.
  This week, we have a guest WHATIZIT photographer as Robin Fullarton of Oak Lawn provided this gem. The clue is that it’s not Rice Krispies, but they will snap, crackle and pop in your mouth.
  Send those guesses to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with WHATIZIT in the subject line by Monday night. Don’t forget your name and hometown.

Worth addresses Oak wilt problem

  • Written by Kelly White


Worth will declare a war on the wilt.
  The Oak wilt, a fungal disease that can wipe out oak trees, has been found in Worth and it’s causing financial hardship on residents.
  And there is nothing that village officials can currently do about it.
  Mayor Mary Werner, however, is suggesting that residents take it up with state officials.
  “We need to declare Oak wilt a nuisance,” Werner said at the village’s Sept. 2 board meeting.
  She suggests reaching out to Illinois State Representatives, Bill Cunningham or Kelly Burke for help declaring it a state nuisance, along with the Emerald Ash Borer.
  “If we reach out to state legislatures, we can have them add Oak wilt onto the hazardous tree list,” Werner said, “A lot of people do not know about Oak wilt or that it is extremely dangerous to trees once they are affected. I was honestly not even aware of Oak wilt or how dangerous it is to trees until just recently.”
  Oak Wilt has targeted an unknown number of trees in the community, particularly in the Worth Woods area.
  Worth Woods is a community of single family homes built in the 1950s located west of Harlem Avenue and south of Southwest Highway. One resident discovered six trees that were both dead and infected with Oak Wilt on her property.
  But Oak Wilt is not among one of the hazardous trees listed for removal according to Illinois state regulations, and the state will not allow for the village board to deem such trees disease stricken and have them removed by the city’s public works department.
  “The resident was quoted over $1,000 per tree for their removal and was unable to afford the expense,” Werner said.