Jeff Vorva's Im-PRESS-ions: Glennon geared up for Marist-to-Marist ride

  • Written by Jeff Vorva



Jeffs Col Impressions

Last week, I wrote about my kid in my column.

This week, I am keeping in the family.

My cousin-by-marriage is a guy by the name of Owen Glennon.

There are three things I know well about the man.

1—He has a dry sense of humor and a wit so sharp, when you talk to him you need to have bandages and a gallon of Mercurochrome nearby.

2—He teaches high-level math at Marist High School and has done it since 1976.

But I have one math problem I can stump him with. It’s a simple addition problem but he’ll never solve it. Heck, John Nash from the film “A Beautiful Mind” won’t be able to get this one.

Add up all of the income of every student Glennon has helped with their calculus and integers skills in close to 40 years of teaching. That would be an astronomical number. Heck, add up the number of students he has helped put hypotenuses to good uses and I’ll bet that number is staggering, too.

3—He loves cycling.

Long-distance cycling.

You could probably never add up all the miles his skinny legs have pumped over the decades. A couple of years ago, the man rode 3,200 miles from Anacortes, Wash., to Brunswick, Maine.

Glennon, who hails from Orland Park, has ridden across the state of Iowa a dozen times. Why anyone would want to ride across Iowa even once is beyond me, but he did it 12 times in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, which is also known at RAGBRAI, not to be confused the Ames Brothers hit “Rag Mop.”

This summer, Glennon is going to use his cycling prowess to be true to his school.

He is going to take what, for him, will be a jaunt around the block starting this weekend.

Glennon will take off Sunday from upstate New York back to Sweet Home Chicago and figures to ride 1,004 miles to raise money for the Financial Aid Endowment, which helps smart kids whose parents don’t have enough scratch to attend his school.

 “Owen’s commitment to his students both in and out of the classroom is well known, but this trek takes it to another dimension,” Marist President Brother Hank Hammer said in a news release. “Owen is well aware of the financial challenges that many of our students’ families face, and he has made a commitment to help them through this remarkable effort.”

By the way, in bike terms, ‘hammer’’ means to ride strongly in big gears. But I digress…

This event should also be called a Marist-to-Marist trip.
The journey starts in Esopus, New York which is the home of the Marist Brothers Retreat and plans on being back July 12 at the Mt. Greenwood campus.

Glennon won’t be taking the superhighways, though.

It will take him a couple of weeks as he will go through some of the heart – and armpits – of America and he has an itinerary planned with a lot back roads and rural towns of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.

Another challenging math problem: How many items of laundry on clotheslines and old tires on the ground will Glennon see during his back road trek?

His to-do list will also include stops at 15 Catholic churches and shrines, including Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel at Marist College, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame, and the Shrine of Christ’s Passion in St. John, Ind.

He will stay overnight at several parishes along the route, as well.

The longtime mentor talked about “Marist moments” driving him to this ride. 

“The best of those moments have shaped what we do and who we are,” Glennon said. “We, the Marist family, become ever more blessed if, in our own ways, we look out for the youngest members of Marist…so that they, too, will have those special Marist moments that help to shape what they will do with their lives and who they will become.”

As if he’s not going to be busy enough, he will be overseeing a blog. Anyone who wants to throw a little cash his way for the cause can visit

So good luck, Owen. May you have no chain sucks or crash rash on this ride.



Rauner makes a point – actually five points – about battling budget

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

When Gov. Bruce Rauner gave a speech at Gaelic Park in Oak Forest on June 15, he was met with protests outside from workers and officials from services who fear their state funds will be slashed.

But inside, the mood was friendlier as he talked about his five-point ‘turnaround plan’ that he wants the state legislature to implement before he considers tax increases to close the $4 billion gap in the budget that was just passed for the coming year.

“We are battling for the future of Illinois,” he told the business leaders and local officials.

“Are we going to stay on the path we are on, a long slow decline, or are we going to make changes? This is not about Democrat or Republican. It is about good government vs. (entrenched) insiders.”

The new state boss made a reference to some of the protesters outside the building.

“Change isn’t easy,” he said. “If you’re not upsetting somebody, you’re not making changes.”

Rauner also talked about the potential of the state and this area.

“We should be kicking tails in Illinois,” he said. “Business should be booming. Here in the Southland is the best location, we’re at the crossroads of America, with easy access to Chicago and Lake Michigan.’’

Rauner listed his five-point plan of workers comp reform; tort reform; a property tax freeze unless agreed by referendum; term limits for state government; and redistricting reform.

He said that Illinois, with New Jersey, has the highest property taxes in the country, and business owners leaving the state consistently point to the taxes and workers comp regulations as the reasons why.

“Are we going to protect the political class or the middle class?” he asked.

He said that despite what his detractors say, all five points on his plan are “directly linked to the budget.”

The event was sponsored by area chamber of commerce officials and Rauner suggested the chamber members to contact their state representatives and senators to urge them to pass the bills.

“Five new bills isn’t much,” he said, considering that 500 bills were already passed this year.

“This is all about the budget and fiscal responsibility,” said Rauner, adding that he would be open to a wide range of revenue increases, and getting an infrastructure bill passed quickly, if they were passed.         


OL mayor attends hearing of alleged indecency offender

  • Written by Dermot Connolly


File photo by Jeff Vorva

Mayor Sandra Bury was in court Tuesday hoping that Daniel M. Vorberg, who was arrested a second time for public indecency near a school, would stay in jail.


An Oak Lawn man who was arrested and charged with public indecency for a second time brought out some heavy hitters to his hearing Tuesday.

Daniel M. Vorberg, 32, was on parole for a previous public indecency conviction when Oak Lawn police arrested him for the same offense last Thursday and Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury joined concerned residents and Chicago Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) at Vorberg’s Tuesday appearance in Bridgeview Courthouse with the hope that he stays in jail.

“You have an alleged repeat offender that is directly affecting the safety of Oak Lawn children, and children everywhere,” said Bury, explaining why she wanted to attend the hearing. O’Shea was there because the incident that led to Vorberg’s conviction occurred in his ward, on April 30, 2013, outside an elementary school in Chicago’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood.

In that case, he was sentenced to three years in prison after being caught masturbating near the school. He fled when a parent saw him, but his license plate was traced to his home in Oak Lawn. After being convicted in May, 2014, he was paroled last October.

His next hearing is July 16, and Bury said it appeared likely that he would be held in Cook County Jail until then, unable to make bail. 

But she said that at the hearing, the judge put restrictions on his bond, so if he does get out, he will be required to wear a GPS ankle monitor.

“He was warned to stay away from children, and not set foot near a school. Justice needs to be served. I don’t want to see him getting out on parole so quickly again,” said Bury, noting that Vorberg has a “pretty long history, and none of it is good.”

Oak Lawn Police Department Division Chief Randy Palmer said in a press release that a detective knew Vorberg, who lives in the 5000 block of West 101st Street in Oak Lawn, had been convicted of public indecency when he saw him parking his car about 2:30 p.m. near 95th Street and 53rd Court, close to a children’s center last Thursday. Children and adults were gathered in the playground area, behind the center.

A surveillance team was then set up and a short time later, and Vorberg was arrested after he was seen performing a “lewd act” while watching the playground area, police said. Observers said he appeared to be masturbating, but he reportedly said he was applying medicated lotion to a work injury.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office approved the charges of one felony count of public indecency within 500 feet of a school while children are present, and one felony count of parole violation. He was ordered held on $150,000 bond.

Although the 2013 case was his first conviction, he has been charged with similar crimes before. According to published reports, he was charged with three felony counts of attempted child abduction, two counts of disorderly conduct, and one of public indecency in 2009. He was later acquitted of the charges, which involved allegedly offering three 11-year-old Oak Lawn girls a ride to school, an interaction with 12-year-old girls, and exposing himself to a 19-year-old woman.

Bury said she was pleased to see O’Shea and the residents at the hearing, and said she intends to be at the July 16 hearing as well, if her schedule permits.

“As long as I am able to, that is my goal. It has got to stop,” said the mayor, who praised the Oak Lawn police for the work that led to the arrest.”

“It was great police work, and they are a source of great pride. They are highly professional and at the top of their game,” she said.

RidgeFest’s dropping of national acts has mixed reaction

  • Written by Dermot Connolly


Ted - X cropped

No Terrible Ted.


No Joan Jett.

No Eddie Money.

Speaking of money, admission prices have been slashed in half for Ridge Fest 2015, the Chicago Ridge summer festival now in its 26th year, but the lack of big-name musicians is getting decidedly mixed reviews from regular fest-goers.

 “We were trying to bring down the price of admission,” said Chicago Ridge Mayor Charles Tokar recently, when asked about the event being held Thursday, July 23, through Sunday, July 26, at Freedom Park, 6252 Birmingham Ave. “These bands  we’re having may not be nationally known, but they are very good bands.”

The price of admission is $5 this year, and Chicago Ridge residents with IDs will be admitted free on Sunday, which is billed as Super Sunday Family Fun Day. In past years, admission cost $10 or $12, depending on the day, but performers such as Ted Nugent, Eddie Money, Peter Frampton, Bret Michaels and REO Speedwagon have headlined the festival traditionally held the last week of July.

Nugent has performed three times in recent years—2007, 2011 and 2013. But he won’t be there this time around. And that omission rankled some of the people posting on the Ridge Fest Facebook page.

Among the disgruntled commenters was a poster identified as Ronald George, who wrote, No Ted = no me. (And no 5,000 other people).”

Another poster identified as Judy Lachky said, “I look forward to the bigger names. Last year was a bust, and this year seems the same. I don’t mind paying a little extra to walk a block and see people like the Nuge, Bret Michaels, etc.”

But the page also had people happy about the changes.

“About time. The price was a turnoff the last few years and kept people away,” wrote one woman identified as Tiffany Ann.

 “Much better prices,” said a poster identified as  Dawn Laurenkus, while someone under the name  Wrayanne Simon Kolarik added it was  “a step in the right direction.”

 Even last year, Warrant was the only big-name band on stage at the fest, and some people said that was why the fest didn’t draw crowds as big as past years. Others said chilly weather was to blame.

This year, the Thursday night performers include Headbangers Ball and Infinity, both popular local cover bands that play regularly throughout the southwest suburbs. Hairbangers Ball is an ‘80s hair-rock tribute band, while Infinity is known for playing music made famous by Journey, REO Speedwagon and other well-known bands from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

Two bands known for playing dance music, Recycle the Day and Wedding Banned, featuring hits from the Motown era up to today, will be featured on Friday night.

Tokar said that on July 25, usually the night the top headliners play, two New Jersey-based cover bands will take the stage. Slippery When Wet describes itself as the “ultimate Bon Jovi tribute band,” while The B-Street Band is the "original Bruce Springsteen tribute band.”

“They might not be well-known here, but they are really good bands,” the mayor said.

Ryan Pelton, who plays Elvis music, and American English, one of the most accomplished Beatles acts, will be on stage Sunday. In addition to the usual fireworks show to close the event on Sunday, new this year is a laser-light show on Saturday night.

For those who do went to catch national acts at a local event, Warrant and Eddie Money will play at the third WeishFest July 18 at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood.


'Really incredible'

  • Written by Kelly White


Photo by Kelly White

             “Move out of the way, we have a hero coming through!”

                This announcement rang through the halls of Advocate  Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn last month, from Patient Care Assistant, Susan Schnoor, as 15-year-old Bobby Sianis visited his father. The Palos Hills resident and freshman at Stagg High School had learned CPR only one week prior to saving his father’s life on May 6.

                “He’s a hero,” Schnoor said, “You don’t hear cardiopulmonary resuscitation success stories every day and especially because he is so young, it is really incredible.”

                Bobby was paying his respects to his grandmother at Lack & Sons Funeral Home in Hickory Hills when his father, George Sianis collapsed and stopped breathing. As Bobby administered compressions on his dad's chest, he coached his mom on how to tilt George's head back and blow air into his lungs. Upon arrival, paramedics from Christ praised Bobby's courage and resourcefulness.

                “I didn’t even know that he knew CPR,” George said, “I am very proud that he took charge. Usually Bobby is shy, but that day he really stood up and took action.”

                Bobby received the Citizen Hero Award from the Roberts Park Fire Department last  Tuesday night from Fire Chief Jeff Ketchen who thanked Bobby for his calm and collective actions. Bobby also received a plaque from the American Red Cross for extraordinary personal action.

                “We want to recognize Bobby for the astonishing actions he took that were necessary to save his father,” Theresa Rees, territory aquatics specialist for American Red Cross said.

                George has diabetes but until that day, he did not know he had heart issues. The Sianis’ youngest son, Demetri, 11, was born with a heart condition and has already undergone open-heart surgery.

                “It’s a very scary thing,” George said, “However, even with everything that has happened to our family, I couldn’t have asked for better kids.”

                His kids were on his mind when he awoke from cardiac arrest in Christ Hospital, according to one of the nurses caring for George, Heidi Hall.

                “When he woke up the first thing he did was ask for his son,” Hall said, “He was repeating ‘Where’s my son? Where’s my son?’.”

                When Hall first heard of George’s story prior to taking on treatment, she assumed Bobby was an adult.

                “When I realized Bobby was just a 15-year-old boy, I was absolutely floored,” she said.

                Bobby’s grandmother, Mary Athanasiou, of Burbank, describes the event as a miracle.

                “Everything happens for a reason and if this would have happened any other day and Bobby not had been there, he wouldn’t be with us today,” she said.

                George also suffered a broken ankle during the incident and at the hospital; a defibrillator was implanted to monitor his heart. Often patients who survive such an ordeal experience subsequent breathing issues or brain damage; however, because of Bobby's CPR, George was saved from those side effects as well, Bobby’s mother, Bessie, said.

                “I am just so proud of Bobby,” Bessie said. “As it happened, I just kept thinking, please don’t die like this. Don’t leave us.”

                Thanks to Bobby, his father is still here and reportedly doing much better.

                “Bobby has been helping me a lot around the house,” George said. “Since he’s out of school for the summer now, he has even been cooking for me. Anything I need, he’s always there. He’s my son and I couldn’t be prouder.”

                Bobby is hoping to take his compassionate nature to a whole new level and aspires to become a paramedic.

                “Even if it isn’t on the South Side, I know now that I want to become a paramedic and help save lives,” he said.

                Being called a hero from nurses at Christ Hospital may have made the timid teenager blush, but he admits it was "really kind of cool."