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Jeff Vorva's imPRESSions: Crunchy cheese, a mystery car and a race against time

Jeffs Col ImpressionsHere is a cheesy story.
  Even though our correspondent, Claudia Parker, had some very interesting things happen to her since I’ve known her in the past 10 months or so, this Evergreen Park Christian, wife, mother, author and speaker (that’s how she signs her e-mails) had a pretty bizarre series of events happen to her last week.
  It all started when her 6-year-old daughter took a bite out of a slice of cheese and it crunched. Cheese isn’t supposed to be crunchy.
  At first, she feared the worst.
  “I swear when you look at it up close it looks like tiny pieces of glass,” she said. “It’s in the entire pack of cheese. What the heck....I’ve been feeding this to my kids!”
  After a few days of investigation, including having the cheese examined by Little Company of Mary Hospital and the Illinois Health Department, it was determined that it could be something as harmful as glass or hard plastic or it could be just crystallized salt.Page-3-3-col-car-with-jvcolA man from Florida is still looking for the make and model of this car, which spent some time in Oak Lawn in the 1960s. Submitted photo.
  “That sure beats glass,” she said.
  Parker said she has drawn some television interest in the story, pending the investigation. She said the cheese was voluntarily pulled from the store she bought it from.
  This latest incident comes on the heels of Parker dropping her cell phone in the toilet but that’s another story. That story, by the way, can be found in the debut of her column on page 12. Her columns will run every second and fourth weeks of the month.

He’s not giving up
  Phillip Topcik’s quest for a an answer to a near 50-year question of identifying the make and model of his car hit another dead end when no one from our area responded to a column I did in the May 22 editions of the Reporter and Regional.
  It is a rare car that was made in Germany for a movie star and it once belonged to John and Anne Greeneltch of Oak Lawn and sold to a Volkswagen dealership in Evergreen Park.
  Topcik, who lives in St. Augustine, Fla., bought the car in 1967 and has explored many different avenues trying to locate that information including contacting national and international car magazines and even reached out to Jay Leno. He was hoping we could help and that someone from the area might have remembered talking to John about the car and might remember him mentioning the make and model.
  When the story appeared in our papers, he was on a cruise in Alaska and did not have Internet access. But when he got off the ship he went to a library, logged into a computer and…
  “I double checked my e-mail six times,” he said. “Not a one. Maybe the people we’re looking for are all in the old-folks home somewhere.’’
  Topcik is offering $100 and a six pack of beer to anyone who can help him, and you can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We are running the photo of the car one more time.
  He is not giving up. He said a newspaper in Florida will try to help out and get him in contact with more magazines and he may seek advice at an East Coast car show.
  “So far it’s been dead end after dead end after dead end,” he said. “I know someone out there has to know what kind of car this is.’’

Finish line coming up soon
  None of us need to be reminded of how old we are getting and how time is flying by.
  But I picked up a double whammy on Saturday.
  First, I went to my nephew’s graduation party and the fact that he is graduating high school already put me in a where-did-the-time-go frame of mind.
  Then there was that stupid horse race.
  The whole weekend, the focus was on California Chrome, who was trying to become the first hoss to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.
  Oh, 1978 was the year I graduated high school, to Saturday pretty much affirmed my position in this race.

Animal abuse is abundant

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 Torturing animals mostly goes unreported

Two recent cases of animal cruelty in Worth Township resultedChristopher-KrentkowskiChristopher Krentkowski in arrests, but far too often dogs and other animals are abused and the occurrences go unreported, animal advocates say.

 Animal abuse occurs routinely, but typically goes unreported because few people call the police.

“A lot of people don’t want to get involved,” said Linda Estrada, director and president of the Animal Welfare League in Chicago Ridge.
Estrada has worked at the Animal Welfare League for 18 years and has seen every kind of animal abuse imaginable, she said.
In fact, approximately 20 percent of dogs housed at the Animal Welfare League are victims of abuse, she said.
Since Jan. 1, 2013, Cook County Sheriff officers have made approximately 25 arrests for violations ranging from pet owners’ negligence to aggravated animal cruelty.
The Animal Welfare League has eight veterinarians and 14 technicians to treat the 1,400 dogs and cats housed at the facility.
Estrada has seen many dogs that were beaten, starved or left outside in extreme temperatures treated and brought back to health at the Animal Welfare League clinic.
That was not case for the two dogs that were abused in late May in separate incidents at a Worth Township trailer park.
The first incident occurred May 26 when Andrew Plecki,Page-2-or-3-1-col-Andrew-Plecki2Andrew Plecki 48, of the 11700 block of Ridgeland Avenue, allegedly shot his girlfriend’s 12-year-old chocolate Labrador in the head with an air rifle for unknown reasons, according to a Cook County Sheriff’s Police spokesman.
The dog, which was sick, was taken to Crestwood Animal Clinic, 5443 W. 135th St., where it was put down, according to the sheriff’s spokesman.
Plecki appeared in court the following day where bond was set at $40,000. He is expected to appear at Bridgeview Court on June 17.
Meanwhile, Christopher Krentkowski, 35, also of the 11700 block of Ridgeland Avenue, was charged with two counts of aggravated domestic battery and one count of aggravated animal cruelty after allegedly injuring his mother and killing her dog on May 31, sheriff’s police said.
Krentkowski allegedly dragged his mother’s 15-year-old dog out of a bedroom at 8:30 p.m. and began to kick it. When his 53-year-old mother told him to stop, he tried to strangle her and struck her head with a bookcase, injuring her, according to a sheriff’s investigation. Krentkowski continued to physically assault the dog, causing its death, police said.
Krentkowski received a $125,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 26 at the Bridgeview Courthouse.
The circumstances surrounding Krentkowski’s case are not isolated, Estrada said.
Individuals who abuse animals often do so to extract revenge on someone, such as a family member.
“People get back at people by abusing the animal,” she said, adding that breakups, divorces and custody cases can involve the mistreatment of pets.

Sliding into a new era

  • Written by Declan Harty

Hickory Hills and Palos Hills leagues get over

bumps to bring communities together

From uniforms to fields’ names, many elements around the baseball diamonds of Hickory Hills and Palos Hills have a different feel.
Though the daunting painting of Palos HillsPage-1-3-col-slide-2Chris Santoyo of the Nationals slides and beats the tag of the Indians Eric Kostiuk in a Pony League Friday in a Hills Baseball and Softball Association contest at the North Complex in Hickory Hills. Photo by Jeff Vorva. Baseball lies on the side of the South Complex concession stand still alluding to the days of two former leagues, these two long-established organizations merged and a new league has emerged as the 200-plus member Hills Baseball and Softball Association (HBSA).
Now halfway through its first season, the HBSA continues to provide the stability and foundations that were established for many years by the Hickory Hills Youth Baseball and Palos Hills Baseball Association.
“I would say considering everything, it was a very smooth transition,” said Peter Donahue, vice president of HBSA. “I think it has gone really well, we look forward to growing into the future and providing quality baseball and softball for kids so they can play at an affordable rate with their friends.”
Donahue, who is also a parent of two children currently playing in HBSA, said that despite a few minor difficulties the organizers faced in creating the new league, the transition went very well, especially with the support of the majority of the families.
Donahue and Mike Leach, a liaison between the executive boards of Palos Hills Youth Baseball and Hickory Hills Youth Baseball during the merger, said there were a few minor bumps in the road to creating a new league.
“As with any merger there were subtle differences, but it never affected baseball at all, it didn’t affect baseball or softball,” Leach said. “Most of the problems (are ones) we run into year after year in recreational baseball.”
Some of the bumps included different fees, fundraising methods and field care. Another complication that pag-4-2-coll-pitcherAlexis Baxter chose baseball over softball in the HBSA league and fires a pitch Friday in a Pony League game. Photo by Jeff Vorva.the trustees and board members of the HBSA needed to discuss was the facilities.
The HBSA now has two sets of fields. The former Hickory Hills Youth Baseball fields located along 76th Ave. in Hickory Hills have been renamed the North Complex and the Palos Hills Baseball Association fields, which were located at 78th Avenue and 103rd Street in Palos Hills, are now named the South Complex.
Both complexes have several fields and now the league must find volunteers on a regular basis for their two concession stands at each complex. Donahue also said the location of games rotates based on the number of games that

Upon further review…

  • Written by Ken Karrson

 

McAllister out, Mankowski in as EP football coach

Ray Mankowski, you’re up next.
Originally passed over in favor of Troy McAllister as Dan Hartman’s successor two weeks ago, Mankowski, who heads up Evergreen Park High School’s boys’ track program, figured his opportunity to also become the Mustangs’ varsity football coach was gone. However, an unexpected turn of events gave Mankowski a second chance.
He was notified last Friday that McAllister was out and he was in as the new gridiron boss.
“I felt I earned and deserved it [earlier], but I accepted the fact that they wanted to go in a different direction,” Mankowski said. “I don’t know what happened [with McAllister], but I’m happy to have it and I’m excited to bring the program into the future.”
School superintendent Beth Hart said McAllister’s sudden departure was not rooted in some heretofore unknown problem that was discovered. It was simply a matter of his particular teaching credentials not being what Evergreen required at the moment.
“He was only certified for 9th-grade PE — we don’t have enough sections for [just] that,” Hart said. “Our teaching job was for 9th through 12th grades. We’re a small school and it’s almost like everybody’s got to do everything.
“We could have hired him to be an aide and coach football, but that would have cut his salary substantially. He was a little irritated about what happened, and I can understand that, but [hirings] are not just about sports.
“He’s a great guy. He didn’t do anything wrong and we didn’t do anything wrong.”
In Mankowski, Evergreen has someone with seven years already invested at the school. Besides being the track coach since his arrival in the fall of 2007, Mankowski has been a member of the Mustangs’ football staff under three different head coaches.

Dogs gone

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Worth Township neighbors charged with killing dogs in separate incidents

Last week wasn’t very good for some dogs in Worth Township.
Two men from unincorporated Worth Township who live in the same blockPage-2-or-3-1-col-Andrew-Plecki2Andrew Plecki have been charged with aggravated animal cruelty after allegedly killing dogs in separate incidents, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Police.
Andrew Plecki, 48, of the 11700 block of Ridgeland Avenue, allegedly shot his girlfriend’s 12-year-old chocolate Labrador in the head with an air rifle on May 26 for unknown reasons, according to a sheriff’s spokesman.
The dog, which was sick, was taken to Crestwood Animal Clinic, 5443 W. 135th St., where it was put down, according to the sheriff’s spokesman.
Plecki appeared in court the following day where bond was set at $40,000. He remains in jail and is expected to appear at Bridgeview Court on June 17.
Meanwhile, Christopher Krentkowski, 35, also of the 11700 block of Ridgeland Avenue, was charged with two counts of aggravated domestic battery and Christopher-KrentkowskiChristopher Krentkowskione count of aggravated animal cruelty after allegedly injuring his mother and killing her dog,
Krentkowski allegedly dragged his mother’s 15-year-old dog out of a bedroom at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and began to kick it.
When his 53-year-old mother told him to stop, he tried to strangle her and struck her head with a bookcase, injuring her, according to the sheriff’s investigation. Krentkowski continued to physically assault the dog, causing its death, police said.
Krentkowski was arrested on Sunday and received a $125,000 bond during a court appearance on Monday at the Bridgeview Courthouse. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 26 at the Bridgeview Courthouse.