Retro Reporter 11-28-13

  • Written by Compiled by Jeff Vorva

Mayor accused of adultery refuses to resign
50 years ago
From the Nov. 28 edition
  The story: Vandals broke into the Henry Ford II School in Chicago Ridge and did $5,000 worth of damage most coming after a fire extinguisher was sprayed about in the main corridor and boys washroom.
  The quote: “To resign would be an admission of guilt. I do not intend to resign.” Palos Hills Mayor John Jager, who has hinted a week before that he might resign because of political pressure after he was faced with an adultery charge.
  Fun fact: Oak Lawn’s band was set to perform on State Street in Chicago for the annual Christmas parade.

Big week for Bulldogs in football and hoops
25 years ago
From the Dec. 1 edition
  The story: Richards football team won the Class 4A state championship with a 40-6 win over Peoria Central. The win was the largest margin of victory in Class 4A history and the Bulldogs finished 14-0. Efrem Haymore hit Felix Richardson for a 64-yard pass, Rich Albon had a 68-yard punt return and John Newton had an 85-yard interception return for big-play scores.
  The quote: Yes I do [believe I’m an alcoholic]. I’ve probably known it for years. Maybe 10 years. I guess the trouble I’ve gotten myself into over the years [made me realize I’m an alcoholic],’’ police officer John Mansell, who was discharged by the Worth Police and Fire Commission after an incident in which he found guilty of being under the influence while on duty.
  Fun fact: While Richards’ football team was winning a state football title, the basketball team went 3-0 and won the Chicago Christian Holiday basketball tournament. Six players were missing because they were on the Bulldogs’ football team.

Hickory Hills murder case closed
10 years ago
From the Nov. 27 edition
  The story: Hickory Hills cops held a news conference to close a 1982 murder case of the slaying of a 25-year-old Hickory Hills woman. A dead man, John R. Meier of Burbank, was accused of the crime by Police Chief Al Vodicka after DNA testing and the chief called it “the most brutal murder that has ever taken place in our community.” Meier died of natural causes in 2000.
  The quote: “ ‘Bad Santa’ is a punch line that sticks in your gut,’ ’’ — Reporter film critic Josh Larson.
  Fun fact: Brother Rice’s football team reached the Class 8A semifinals but dropped a 21-14 game to Lockport to deny the Crusaders a shot at the state title. Brother Rice QB Dan Nicholson was named the Reporter’s Player of the Year and Steve Nye was named Coach of the Year.

Worth native Sargis making big impact in hockey

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


  Gehrett Sargis, who grew up in Worth, Page-4-3-col-SargisGehrett Sargis, a Worth native who attended Brother Rice, will play for the U.S. Hockey team at the World University Games in Italy. Submitted making a name for himself in college hockey circles.
  Not only is the senior a top scorer for the Robert Morris University hockey team, the rest of the nation has taken notice of him, too.
  Sargis was named to the United States National University team at the 2013 Winter World University Games Dec. 10-21 in Trentino, Italy.
  The U.S. team is comprised of players from collegiate ice hockey teams affiliated with the American Collegiate Hockey Association. “The core group of players has a lot of hockey experience and we’re expecting to have highly skilled players throughout the lineup.” U.S. team leader Ashley Bevan said. Ryan Bachman of Orland Park and Adrian College and John Olen from Hawthorn Woods and the University of Illinois, are other players from the state on the squad.
FRONT-COLOR-1-col-referer-railCover boy — Gehrett Sargis was on the cover of Robert Morris’s media guide last year. Photo by Jeff Vorva.  The USA squad takes on Sweden, Latvia and Italy in pool play. Sargis attended Worth Grammar School and Brother Rice High School. He’s played in Canada as well as with the NAHL Janesville Jets and Helena Big Horns.
  Sargis said he started playing street hockey when he lived in Florida and changed to the ice when he moved to Worth when he was 6.
  “I’ve been doing it my whole life,” he said. “It’s always nice to compete every day. There are a lot of factors to the sport. Guys on a team — it’s like a family. You are always trying to give it everything you have and trying to improve. It’s a fun sport. Every day is different. You go through your ups and downs. It’s like life — things are always changing.’’
  His college coach, Tom “Chico” Adrahtas, said Sargis deserves the national accolades.
  “He’s a prototypical power forward,” the coach said. “He can beat you a lot of different ways and I think that’s what the powers-that-be who picked the team recognized. He’s been scoring on a national level since his first year with us. He’s the type of kid who is very strong on his skates. He has a very hard shot but it’s also deceptive. He passes the puck extremely well. In four years, he’s worked hard to become an all-around player.
  “He’s not one dimensional. He can play in all three zones.’’
  Robert Morris had a 15-2-1 mark in its first 18 games and Sargis was a big part of it.
  His coach thinks Sargis can play after college.
  “The NHL is somewhere he is not going to get to,” Adrahtas said. “But there are a lot of lower-level professional leagues and I believe he can play in a lot of them. He could be capable of playing in Europe. If he continues to train as he has, I think he can play at the next level.
  “There are some people who want to get on with their professional lives after college. There are some who believe that if you are a viable athlete you should continue to play. Whatever Gehrett decides, we will support him and try to help him get to that next level if that’s something that he wants.’’


Union threatens to sue village after Oak Lawn takes 911 services private

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  A tearful Julie Miller stood outside the Oak Lawn Village Board chambers Tuesday night and talked about the critical role the village’s emergency telecommunicators play in the safety of her husband, an Oak Lawn police officer.
  “They’re part of our family,” said Miller, whose husband, Dan, is a 17-year veteran of the police department. “The 911 dispatchers…are his lifeline. I mean, when he leaves my house, his life is in their hands, literally, and they make sure he comes home to me at night safely.”
  The village board voted 4-2 to privatize 911 call center dispatch services, a move that could save the village $1 million over two years, Village Manager Larry Deetjen said.
  Norcomm Public Safety Communications will assume dispatching services for the village and the other communities it serves. Oak Lawn dispatchers will have the opportunity to apply for their old jobs.
  Ron Cicinelli, an attorney for the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the union the represents the dispatchers, said the union would sue the village if it replaces dispatchers with an outsourced firm.
  Miller said a private company will be unable to match the overall “professionalism and loyalty” exhibited over the years by the village’s dispatchers. She said Norcomm dispatchers will not be as familiar with the village or its police officers and firefighters.
  “When he gets a call from them, they get as much description as possible before he goes anywhere and for that I am forever grateful. They are wonderful at their jobs. It’s a shame. It is a shame,” Miller said.
  Trustees Bob Streit and Carol Quinlan voted against the proposal.
  “Oak Lawn has always been a place where residents could count on their public servants,” Streit said. “The system has been working for years. We don’t need to make a change.”
  Streit added that the initial savings the village will realize as a result of outsourcing will “evaporate over time.”
  Trustee Terry Vorderer, a former Oak Lawn police officer, said approving the outsourcing was “the toughest vote in his political career.”
  “I agonized over this vote,” said Vorderer, who added that he holds out hope for an agreement between the village and the dispatchers.
  Cicinelli asked Mayor Sandra Bury to delay the vote and form a board committee to meet with union in an attempt to avoid outsourcing.
  “I want all of you to understand that privatizing your public-sector services is not the answer,” Cicinelli said. “Once you vote to privatize, it’s very difficult to come back.”
  He said that as emergency communications technology advances, it would difficult for the village to resume emergency dispatch services at a later time.
  “Once you rely on the private corporation, you will become their hostage,” he said.
  Several dispatchers and their supporters packed the board room and asked the board to reconsider the move, saying that an outsourced company will not provide the same level service as the village dispatchers.
  The Metropolitan Alliance of Police approved a contract with the village in late 2012 after a lengthy negotiation, Cicinelli said. The contract is set to expire in December 2014. The union was hopeful it could extend the contract through at least 2016, he said.
  One month after the current contract was ratified, the village asked the union to consider cost-saving measures, including deferring the 2.5 percent wage increase included in the contract, regular pay for overtime hours, hiring part-time dispatchers and changing the wage scale for new employees, Cicinelli said.
  The union overwhelmingly opposed the cost-saving measures and filed an unfair labor practice grievance with the Illinois Labor Relations Board, which was rejected. The union appealed the decision, and the village has responded, Cicinelli said.
  Oak Lawn dispatchers handles fire, police and ambulance calls for Oak Lawn, Evergreen Park, Burbank and Bridgeview. They also handle fire department calls for Bedford Park and a portion of the Central Stickney Fire Protection District.
  Deetjen has said the dispatch center was facing mounting expenses, which could increase if some of its customers left. He added that if any of the towns the village serves choose another dispatch service, Oak Lawn would be forced to lay off dispatchers.

Sound the alarms – Oak Lawn changes tornado siren again

  • Written by Bob Rakow


  Oak Lawn residents will hear a new tornado siren on Tuesday when the system is tested.

  The siren replaces the voice emergency alerts, which were disabled Nov. 18, one day after a severe storm led to numerous complaints about the volume and the various languages in which the warning was broadcast.
  The previous system featured an alarm followed by an emergency warning in English, Spanish, Polish and Arabic.
  Residents complained that the siren was either too loud or too soft while others said the warning should not be broadcast in languages other than English.
  A sample of the new siren can be heard on Mayor Sandra Bury’s blog,
  Bury said at Tuesday’s village board meeting that residents cannot rely solely on emergency sirens to warn them of tornados and other disasters.
  “It is important that everyone realize that sirens are not the answer. You need to be prepared. Be aware of your environment,” Bury said.
  She encouraged residents to obtain a coupon at village hall that allows them to purchase a Midland NOAA radio at Walgreens at 95th and Cicero for $20. The radio costs $40 without the coupon.
  Coupons will be available at village hall from Dec. 2-6 and will be accepted at Walgreens from Dec. 7 to Dec. 31.
  Bury also encouraged residents to register for the Everbridge system, which sends emergency alerts via phone, email or text message. The majority of residents are not signed up for the system, she said.
  Trustee Bob Streit said promoting the weather radio is an admission on the village’s part that the sirens aren’t sufficient.
  “Many people believe that the village’s solution is to get a weather radio. I think what’s happened is that [the village] realizes that the system isn’t working so now we’re going to supplement with a weather radios,” Streit said.
  Streit also criticized the village for sending mixed messages about the siren system.
  “This was serious,” he said. “Our public safety is at risk if [residents] don’t hear the tornado sirens. Many people claim they can’t hear them.”
  Streit said the village should have held a public hearing to allow residents to weigh in on the issue.
  “Ever since these sirens were installed, people have been complaining and the village didn’t do anything about it,” Streit said. “I don’t think we know if the siren is loud enough to be heard in the homes. I don’t think that question has been answered. I think we’ve gotten inconsistent messages.”


Static on the airwaves

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne

Ridge mayor opposes live meeting coverage citing
Oak Lawn bickering and ‘campaign mode’ speeches

  Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar opposes allowing live streaming of village board meetings citing neighboring Oak Lawn’s behavior on cable television broadcasts.
  The mayor pointed out Oak Lawn trustees’ constant politicking, speeches and being on campaign mode during each meeting.
  Chicago Ridge Trustee Sally Durkin asked her fellow trustees at a Nov. 19 board meeting to approve a motion to stream board meetings via Internet and local cable television. After a 4-2 vote in favor of streaming a live feed online or on cable television, the motion was amended due to variable expenses and unknown logistics associated with recording board meetings. Trustees agreed to investigate pricing and expected costs prior to voting on streaming meetings on television and online. A final decision will be made at the Dec. 17 board meeting.
  “In terms of transparency I don’t have a problem with the meetings being on the air,” Tokar said. “But I think that the [trustees] in Oak Lawn think that since they are on television that they have to make speeches or have to read speeches into the record, and those things are done for political reason. It’s almost as if they are on campaign mode at every board meeting.”
  Trustees Amanda Cardin and John Lind both rejected the proposal. Cardin requested more information regarding the cost of streaming video while Lind agreed with Tokar’s statement regarding Oak Lawn’s meetings turning into a “political football” with a lot of “unseemly accusations flying back and forth.”
  In Lisle, board meetings are recorded by a expensive camera with a media crew that adds to the cost of streaming video. South of the canal, Palos Park and Palos Heights broadcast their meetings but Orland Park does not.
  “I don’t want to go Hollywood here, I would just like to make it easier for our public to have access to our meetings,” Durkin said. “It’s something to offer our citizens and I think it’s something we should do.”
  • In other news at the meeting, Rick Morrow, of Parkside Avenue, accused former Chicago Ridge school board member and current Chicago Ridge employee Robert Gushes of neglecting his duty as a village inspector during the summer months when Morrow’s apartment reached over 95-degrees, which caused his pet to overheat and die in August.
  Morrow said he reached out to numerous village employees to no avail. Due to the building’s broken attic fan, Morrow said he ran five portable fans to keep his 800-square-foot condo at livable temperature, which increased his air conditioning bills by $200 and a total of $600 in other bills.
  Morrow said he talked to the police and claimed that he saw Gushes sleeping on the job.
  One village inspector, Rich Sumner, came to Marrow’s aide upon his request and inspected the third floor condo. Sumner attested to the extreme heat and Morrow’s efforts to abate the heat by using multiple fans.
  “When I called [Tokar’s] secretary she said I was a problem and Gushes just hung up on me,” Morrow said. “It’s ridiculous but the animal didn’t have to suffer because of it. I did everything I could to save that animal, and I spent every dime I could.”
  Tokar said he sympathized with Marrow, saying that there are apparent legal issues outside the village’s control; however, the living conditions are an area of concern for the village.
  “This sounds like a legal problem between you as a condo owner and the condo association,” Tokar said. “It’s a different story if it’s unhealthy to live there.”
  Lind said the village will look into the issue of the code enforcement officer and make the health department available to Morrow to help determine if the condo association must be cited code violations.

  “Like Mayor Tokar said, a lot of these issues you have you’ll have to take up with the condo association, but I will make our health department available to you so you can sit down and have them hear your complaints,” Lind said. “I can’t say he can help you but at least he can hear your complaints and maybe cite them for any code violations.”