Menu

Evergreen Park to honor memory of fallen firefighter by renaming ice rink

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

 

Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton said that an ice rink will be named in memory of a fallen firefighter who worked for the village.

Sexton also announced during the village board meeting on Monday night that the dedication service for naming the ice rink at 9000 S. Kedzie Ave. in honor of Daniel Capuano will take place at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20 at the park.

Capuano, 42, a Chicago firefighter for 15 years who had also served Evergreen Park part-time for 16 years, was killed in the line of duty on Dec.14, 2015, leaving a wife and three children. Board members said he was known as a devoted family man and was active in coaching his sons in hockey.

The mayor also informed residents at the meeting that they are in for a great culinary experience in April when a new restaurant, The Crazey Crab, opens at 9204 S. Western Ave., Evergreen Park.

Trustees voted unanimously at the Monday board meeting to approve a business certificate for the business, owned by Mike Lester and Mike Johnson and d/b/a Chicago Famous Seafood, LLLC.

Sexton described the planned menu items as down-home, Louisiana style goodness. The owner added that the restaurant is unique in the fact that most of its menu items are boiled instead of fried.

“All of the fish and vegetables, corn, broccoli, etc., are boiled, providing a unique, healthier flavor,” said Lester.

The owners will also be applying for a beer and wine liquor license. “We won’t have a sit-down bar, but patrons will be able to order drinks,” said Lester. The facility is expected to seat about 140.

Sexton urged him to get all his paper work in and to deliver all design plans and applications himself, in order to speed up the process.

“We want to get you in business, the sooner your cash registers start ringing, the sooner we get our share,” Sexton said, laughing.

The mayor also cautioned that the owners may want to reserve more space at the location. “I think the business is going to be a huge success.” The opening is tentatively planned for mid-April.

The trustees also approved an ordinance amendment to allow for an expansion at Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que, located at 2855 W. 95th St. The expansion will provide room for a sit-down bar in the restaurant.

Also approved was a resolution to provide village maintenance of streets and highways through Dec. 31 in the amount of $490,000. The resolution is approved annually.

In other action, approval was given to the purchase of a new ambulance at a cost of $138,933 to replace an ambulance purchased in 2001. Sexton said the purchase was a budgeted item.

Also, permission was granted to Public Works to go out for bids on the demolition of buildings located at 2942 and 2946 W. 95th St. The property will then provide additional parking for businesses in the area.

Oak Lawn approves three-year extension with Norcomm

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

The Oak Lawn Village Board has approved a three-year extension of the lease agreement with Norcomm Public Safety Communications Inc., the company hired in 2013 to staff the 911 center.

The 5-1 vote on the resolution at Tuesday’s village board meeting followed the usual pattern, with only Trustee Robert Streit (3rd) voting against the extension.

“(Outsourcing 911 services) was the worst decision we ever made. That is why I will be opposing it,” said Streit. He went on to cite incidents in which residents complained to him being kept on the line by 911 operators, repeatedly asking the same questions about location.

The 911 center, located at the village hall at 9446 S. Raymond Ave., also dispatches calls for Evergreen Park, Bridgeview and Burbank, and Streit said some of the operators argued with callers, saying the addresses they called from were not in Oak Lawn.

“You expect the 911 dispatchers to know the communities they serve, and not have to ask so many questions. It is wasting valuable time.”

However, Diana Tousignant, director of emergency communications, spoke in defense of her Norcomm staff.

“We follow a particular standard of care. We’re required to verbally verify addresses, so we will ask questions,” she said. She added that while one dispatcher is asking the follow-up questions, another is already sending help, so no time is wasted.

“We have mapping systems that show addresses,” she said.

Trustee Bud Stalker (5th) said the instances cited by Streit were “anecdotal.”

“I’ve received anecdotal evidence too. It appears that Norcomm has been doing a good job. There ae going to be mistakes in every organization but we have accurate records (showing response times),” he said.

Responding to a question from Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd), Tousignant said that aside from one call from Streit about an issue, no one has contacted her with complaints about service.

She said she is listed on the village website, and encouraged residents with concerns to contact her by email or phone with any questions.

Tousignant also suggested that residents look at the statistics on 911 calls that are also available on the website, under emergency communications. She pointed out that at least 90 percent of 911 calls must be answered within 10 seconds, and in 2015, more than 92 percent of calls were answered within that timeframe.

“Extending this contract was not an easy decision,” said Village Manager Larry Deetjen. He said he spoke personally with officials from Evergreen Park, Bridgeview and Burbank, and they all supported the decision.

“This company saved the village more than $1 million,” Deetjen said.

Oak Lawn approves 3-year extension with Nor

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

The Oak Lawn Village Board has approved a three-year extension of the lease agreement with Norcomm Public Safety Communications Inc., the company hired in 2013 to staff the 911 center.

The 5-1 vote on the resolution at Tuesday’s village board meeting followed the usual pattern, with only Trustee Robert Streit (3rd) voting against the extension.

“(Outsourcing 911 services) was the worst decision we ever made. That is why I will be opposing it,” said Streit. He went on to cite incidents in which residents complained to him being kept on the line by 911 operators, repeatedly asking the same questions about location.

The 911 center, located at the village hall at 9446 S. Raymond Ave., also dispatches calls for Evergreen Park, Bridgeview and Burbank, and Streit said some of the operators argued with callers, saying the addresses they called from were not in Oak Lawn.

“You expect the 911 dispatchers to know the communities they serve, and not have to ask so many questions. It is wasting valuable time.”

However, Diana Tousignant, director of emergency communications, spoke in defense of her Norcomm staff.

“We follow a particular standard of care. We’re required to verbally verify addresses, so we will ask questions,” she said. She added that while one dispatcher is asking the follow-up questions, another is already sending help, so no time is wasted.

“We have mapping systems that show addresses,” she said.

Trustee Bud Stalker (5th) said the instances cited by Streit were “anecdotal.”

“I’ve received anecdotal evidence too. It appears that Norcomm has been doing a good job. There ae going to be mistakes in every organization but we have accurate records (showing response times),” he said.

Responding to a question from Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd), Tousignant said that aside from one call from Streit about an issue, no one has contacted her with complaints about service.

She said she is listed on the village website, and encouraged residents with concerns to contact her by email or phone with any questions.

Tousignant also suggested that residents look at the statistics on 911 calls that are also available on the website, under emergency communications. She pointed out that at least 90 percent of 911 calls must be answered within 10 seconds, and in 2015, more than 92 percent of calls were answered within that timeframe.

“Extending this contract was not an easy decision,” said Village Manager Larry Deetjen. He said he spoke personally with officials from Evergreen Park, Bridgeview and Burbank, and they all supported the decision.

“This company saved the village more than $1 million,” Deetjen said.

Oak Lawn approves four-year contract with police union

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

               The Oak Lawn Village Board at its meeting on Tuesday approved a four-year collective bargaining agreement with the police union.

               Village Manager Larry Deetjen said the agreement with Metropolitan Alliance of Police, Oak Lawn Chapter 309 is worthy of celebration, and unanimous endorsement by the six trustees.

               The last contract ended in 2014, and Deetjen highlighted a couple of changes in the new one, which encompasses 2015-2018.

               “For the first time, any new hires to the department will have to live in Illinois, and within 50 miles of the village,” said the village manager, who said after the meeting that currently some members of both the police and fire departments live in Indiana.

               Deetjen also noted that the new contract also requires union members to beginning contributing a “slightly larger” amount of money toward their health insurance premiums. Currently, the village pays 90 percent of health insurance premiums for members of the police union, but Deetjen sad that over the life of the contract, the union members’ contribution will increase from 10 to 15 percent.

               The contract also includes a 1 percent pay raise for members retroactive for 2015, and 2.5 percent annual raises for each of the next three years.

               “This shows how things can get done with listening, cooperating and negotiating,” he said. “This was done between the village and the union, without any outside arbitrators,” he pointed out.

               While Deetjen said it deserved unanimous support from the trustees, the vote to approve it was 5-1, with Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) being the lone dissenter.

                “I, too, salute the Oak Lawn police officers and the fine work that they do…but I can’t in good conscience vote for this contract because there is a small part that would be detrimental to the village,” said Streit, pointing out that it allows police to report to work with a blood-alcohol level up to .04 percent.

               “Noting that the legal limit for driving is .08 percent, that level is often referred to as half-drunk or buzzed,” said Streit. “It’s a safety issue,” he continued. Referring to the Laquan McDonald case in Chicago, he said, “I do not want to imagine what would happen if there was a police-involved shooting, and it turned out the officer had alcohol in his or her system.”

               Streit asked that the language be reviewed and taken out of the contract, but other trustees dismissed his concerns and the vote went ahead.

               Deetjen said the point about alcohol levels was not even brought up in negotiations, and is standard in contracts that he has been involved in.

               “It has been in place for many years,” Trustee Alex Olejniczak said.

               Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th), who retired after more than 30 years on the Oak Lawn Police Department, agreed with Olejniczak’s point, “and I think (Streit) knows it too,” he said.

               Vorderer said the language is likely there because union members are subject to random tests for alcohol and drugs, and conceivably, a police officer could have had a couple of drinks the night before, and still have some alcohol remaining in the system the following day.

                However, he said that the wording of the contract also allows for action to be taken against any officer who reports to work and appears or acts like they are under the influence of alcohol. “In that case, they would be sent home, and they could face disciplinary action,” he said.

Palos Hills votes on limits for chickens per household

  • Written by Michael Gilbert

Palos Hills officials believe they have come up with a fair ordinance to address a fowl issue.

The city council last Thursday voted unanimously to draft an ordinance that limits residents from keeping more than four chickens on their property and prohibits anyone in town from owning a rooster.

City officials stated last week that Palos Hills’ animal ordinance was “pretty broad,” and not extremely detailed when it pertains to rules and regulations on chickens and other fowl. The current ordinance, which has been on the books for years, does not restrict the number of chickens or roosters per household.

Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett told the council he fielded a few calls this summer from residents complaining about a noisy rooster and chickens roaming free in the neighborhood. Bennett said another caller told him allowing chickens attracts coyotes and other predators.

“There’s really nothing to our ordinance,” Bennett told the council. “We can do three things: we can keep what’s on the books; make some modifications or ban them altogether.”

Several aldermen then spoke up in support of allowing residents to continue to own chickens. Ald. Mike Lebarre (3rd) noted since Palos Hills has been allowing chickens “probably since the beginning of time” that it “would be pretty difficult” to ban them now.

Palos Hills officials considered following neighboring Palos Park’s policy of restricting the number of chickens based on the size of a resident’s lot, but ultimately decided against it.

“I think figuring out how many we want to allow max is probably a better bet instead of dealing with (number of chickens) per acre and half acre,” said Ald. Joan Knox (1st), who serves as chairwoman of the city council’s legislation and ordinance committee.

Ald. Ricky Moore (4th) agreed with Knox’s suggestion.

“I feel we should keep it simple and nip it in the bud,” Moore said. “Let’s not make it something major.”

The council tossed around the idea of allowing five or six chickens per residency, but ultimately settled on the number four.

“I think most people have the chickens for the eggs and (four chickens) should provide enough eggs,” Knox said.

Palos Hills officials had little trouble agreeing that roosters should be prohibited in town.

“If the purpose (of allowing chickens) is for the eggs and roosters do not lay eggs then I would say we discount roosters (from the ordinance),” Knox said.

Ald. Pauline Stratton (2nd) added there have occasionally been roosters in town and she has received complaints from residents because of the amount of noise they produce, especially in the morning.

“I know I got phone calls that they were waking up babies,” she said.

The draft ordinance also states that all food for chickens must be kept in “rodent-proof containers,” the chickens must be kept in a coup, building or pen that “protects them from predators and trespassers” and is at least 25 feet away from the home. The enclosures must also be cleaned a minimum of once every seven days.

The council did not come to a decision on what to do with residents who already own more than four chickens. City officials discussed grandfathering in those people, but the issue is not addressed in the draft ordinance.

Ald. Marty Kleefisch (1st) was the lone official to state he was opposed to allowing chickens in town.

“I believe farm animals should be on agriculturally zoned properties, not residentially zoned properties,” Kleefisch told the council. “As cute as it sounds to have your own eggs in the backyard, I don’t think it’s appropriate for an urban setting.”

Although the city is on the verge of adopting the ordinance, Knox does not anticipate it will lead to an influx of chickens in town.

“I don’t think (the ordinance) is going to bring people in droves to get chickens,” Knox said. “I think people that really want chickens are the chicken people already. I think we’re just setting some perimeters.

“When we pass this ordinance, I’m not running out to get a chicken.”

Those found in violation of the chicken ordinance are subject to an $80 fine, Knox said.

In other news, Palos Hills officials voted 5-4 to table a vote on creating a new classification in the liquor ordinance for video gaming cafés.

Labarre asked for the vote to be postponed because the full council was not present with the absence of Ald. Joe Marrotta (4th).

It is expected the item will be removed from the table once all 10 aldermen are present.