Written by Bob Rakow
Photo by Jeff Vorva
Here is something you don't usually don't see from a mayor at a state-of-the-village address.
When it comes to talking about the residents of Worth, Mayor Mary Werner can't help it.
Werner choked up briefly during her state of the village address March 9 at Jenny’s Steakhouse as she talked about the folks who live the town she’s led for the past two years.
“We have a great community filled with caring residents,” Werner said during her speech, which was given at the Worth Chicago Ridge Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
The willingness of residents to support one another and their community is one of the first things Werner noticed after being elected, she said.
“As I speak about the residents of this village, it’s very emotional,” Werner said about her speech. “It was very difficult to talk about the residents of this community without getting emotional.”
Specifically, Werner has been impressed with the way residents respond to fundraisers and others efforts for neighbors who are in need. Additionally, she said, residents wholeheartedly supported the village’s yearlong centennial celebration.
“It’s just amazing,” she said.
Werner’s emotions impressed Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar, who also gave his state of the village address at the chamber luncheon.
“I loved your passion at the end,” Tokar told Werner.
Werner’s had plenty else to stay during her remarks, including the economic boost the village is likely to receive when a medical marijuana dispensary opens on Harlem Avenue.
The village board in September unanimously approved the Windy City Cannabis Club’s request for a special-use permit and location for a marijuana dispensary at 11425 S. Harlem Ave.
The WCCC in February was granted a medical marijuana dispensary license.
The Harlem Avenue location is one of only a few in Worth that meets the state’s zoning requirements that prohibits clinics from locating within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare center.
WCCC’s Worth clinic would be the sole dispensary for a region of the state that includes Worth, Calumet and Stickney townships.
“You would have hundreds or thousands of people who’ve never had to come to the village before,” Werner said. “Anything we can do to draw more people to the village has got to be a good thing.”
The clinic isn’t expected to open for several months, but WCCC is already paying rent on the Harlem Avenue property in order to secure the space, Werner said.
“It’s many months away,” Werner said.
The state’s medical cannabis act took effect on Jan. 1. The law allows the use of marijuana by individuals who have a medical need and a permit.
Qualifying patients must be diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition. A qualifying patient with a state card can purchase 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.
Steve Weisman, head of the WCCC ownership group, detailed the dispensary’s security plan, which will include 38 cameras and a two-door entry system. Cashiers will sit behind secure teller window and delivery of the medical marijuana and the transport of cash will be handled by an armored truck.
Werner described her state of the village address as “a chance to brag.”
She gave a recap of the centennial celebration and said the village is looking forward to the May 17 unveiling of the centennial memorial, a 4-by-8 foot mural created by local artist Mark Vancura that will be located at village hall.
Werner also touched on the village’s new website, which she described as “a better and more convenient way to communicate with residents.”
The past year featured the approval of a contract between the village the union representing the police officers. Additionally, the village named a a new police chief--Mark Micetich—following the retirement of Martin Knolmayer, who stepped down in October.
Finally, the village is working to extend its agreement with the North Palos Fire Protection District, spent $500,000 on streets and sidewalks, purchased two police squad cars and a bucket truck for the public works department, Werner said.