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Lipinski tries to stifle dumping site in Worth

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  Worth residents are encouraged by legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) that would prevent the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers from using the Lucas-Berg Confined Placement Facility as a dumping site for materials dredged from the Cal-Sag Channel.

  “Lipinski has been trying to help us all along,” said Adelle Benck, a longtime Worth resident and dumping site opponent.
  Residents have long worried that dumping materials dredged from the Cal-Sag into the ditch would lead to a variety of health and environmental concerns, Benck said.
  Those concerns include launching air-borne contaminants and polluting the water table with oil residue, mercury and industrial waste, Benck said. There is also the possibility that endangered species, such as eagles, inhabit the ditch, she said.
  “So far, we’ve been successful,” said Mary Ann Buckingham, a Worth resident opposed to the dumping. “We’re getting more nervous. My concern is schools and children.”
  Legislation that Lipinski helped pass includes a provision contained in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act.
  “Since I was first elected to Congress, one of my top local priorities has been to remove Lucas-Berg as the Army Corps’ designated site for dumping dredged materials from the Cal-Sag,” Lipinski said in a press release. “This is very good news for the village of Worth and local residents, but we still have work to do. I am working to make sure that this provision is in the final compromise that passes in the House and Senate and becomes law.”
  Lipinski added that he is working with the Army Corps to find a place for the dredging that is not in located the middle of a community.
  The Lucas-Berg site was acquired by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and, through a long-term lease, designated by the Army Corps in the 1970s as a potential spot to store silt and other materials dredged from the bottom of the Cal-Sag Channel.
  Since the agreement was reached, Worth and the neighboring communities have grown and expanded and a residential neighborhood abuts the ditch, which is located near 111th Street and Southwest Highway.
  Residents have long feared that using the ditch as disposal site would lower property values and harm the environment.
  The primary purpose of WRDDA is to authorize projects that maintain the country’s shipping infrastructure and set environmental policy for the Army Corps. The language in WRRDA regarding Lucas-Berg pit is part of a $12 billion worth of old projects and facilities that would be de-authorized.
  The Senate passed its version of WRRDA in May. With passage in the House, both bills now head to a conference committee to be reconciled before the final legislation can be signed by the president.

One test at a time

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Dist. 117 pleased with state test results but isn’t resting on its laurels

  Oak Ridge Elementary School in Palos Hills is jump-page-2-col-reichOak Ridge Principal Beth Reich was pleased with recent test results but is looking for bigger gains. Photo by Jeff Vorva.taking it one test at a time.

  Principal Beth Reich is pleased with her school’s results on the recently released Illinois Standards Achievement Test, but she’s focused on the progress her students will make this year.
  The Illinois Standards Achievement Test measures student achievement in reading and math in grades three through eight and science in grades four and seven.
  Nearly 79 percent of the 630 students at Oak Ridge met or exceeded the state’s expectations—a figure that was much in higher in previous years before that state raised expectations for the test.
  Students at Glen Oaks Elementary School in Hickory Hills also did well with 77.9 percent meeting or achieving state standards. At Conrady Middle School, 75 percent of student met or exceeded standards.
  The results are from tests given in March. Starting next year, students will be given a new standardized test which will determine whether they are meeting new expectations based on Common Core state standards.
  Many school districts throughout the southwest suburbs did not perform as well as in previous years, leaving some administrators disappointed.
  Reich, however, prefers to look forward and discuss the tools the school, 103rd Street and 88th Avenue, has at its disposal to help improve student performance.
  “We have programs in place for any child who needs them,” Reich said. “We feel that it’s important to the child.”
  Those programs include an after-school tutoring program that serves more than 100 students as well as four reading specialists on staff who work with small groups of children who require additional support, Reich said.
  But the school can’t intervene without knowing which students need help and that’s where data analysis comes into play.front-color-3-col-studentsThird graders in Christine Durco’s class raise their hands in joy as Oak Ridge Elementary School in Palos Hills scored well on a state achievement test.  Photo by Jeff Vorva.

 



  “We have a lot of data,” Reich said. “We believe that’s the foundation.”
  Reich, in her third year as principal at Glen Oaks, said students know what’s at stake and work with their teachers to set performance goals.
  “We have the kids in on this,” she said. “The kids are happy to achieve goals. It’s mostly their hard work.”
  Seventy-seven percent of the students in North Palos School District 117 met or exceeded state standards. That figure would have been in the 90th percentile under the previous testing standards, Reich said.
  However, the score is the highest of the seven elementary school districts in the The Reporter’s coverage area.
  District 117 Supt. Jeannie Stachowiak credited the significant amount of teamwork in the district for success on the test. She said the district’s three assistant superintendents are routinely in the schools “really listening to the teachers need.”
  “I think we’re going to see a lot of growth this year,” she said.
    “It’s just a new reality,” Reich said of the new state standards. “We’re always looking to be better.”

Out of the RED with Terrible Ted

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne

Nugent helps Ridge turn profit on event that lost money in ‘12

 Ted Nugent took the stage at RidgeFestPage-1-COLOR-2-col-NugeAfter RidgeFest lost $30,000 in 2012, Ted Nugent warmed the coffers a little despite chilly weather at the event in July. for the third time since 2007 in July.

  In between songs, he used profanities.
  He launched some tirades toward state and federal elected officials.
  He peppered the audience in Chicago Ridge with a few controversial right-wing rants.
  Oh, and he helped RidgeFest get out of the red and slightly into the black.
  The man known as the Motor City Madman and Terrible Ted helped offset some unseasonably cold weather and officials revealed at Tuesday night’s board meeting that the fest made what is so far a $3,659 profit for the village.
  Village officials are still waiting to receive a final bill from the Chicago Ridge Parks and Recreation Department. The profit may be even smaller once the village is invoiced.
  It’s still an improvement from last year’s loss of more than $30,000. RidgeFest 2012 titled “RidgeFest: Reloaded” featured former Poison front man Bret Michaels and American Idol contestant James Durbin.
  Last year, ticket prices were at an all-time high for Michaels and Durbin, costing as much as $25 for non-residents. This year village officials charged $15 for headliners Ted Nugent and the rock group Infinity. In addition to lowering prices, tickets were made available online and at a discounted price for Chicago Ridge residents.
  “We made a profit every year except for three years and RidgeFest is now going on 24 years,” said Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar. “We obviously did not make the profits we had expected but we did turn a small profit.”
  Village officials believe the chilly July 25-28 weekend hurt attendance and beer sales. In total the village had $204,721 in expenses and $208,380 in revenues.
  Despite Nugent making the same outlandish comments in 2011 and 2013 that Attorney General Eric Holder is running guns to Mexico and President Obama is a criminal, “Nugent did super the first and the second time he performed at RidgeFest,” Tokar said.
  “The reason that I think we had a problem this year with not bringing in the dollar we expected is because the temperature was 58 degrees on July 28, clearly to me that says it all,” Tokar said. “So you still have all those expenses you have to meet and people are not coming in or visiting the beer garden so you get killed on both of those items, attendance and beer sales.”
  Next year, the village will celebrate its 100th anniversary and plans to highlight local bands such as the Neverly Brothers while determining a fair amount to spend on a big name headliner.
  “Next year is going to be our centennial, which is a once in a lifetime event so we are going to determine how much we’re willing to spend for a headliner and still manage our special events fund,” Tokar said. “We want to highlight local artists from Chicago Ridge while still providing a headliner for our 100th anniversary.”

Runners heat up 5K courses for good causes

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Page-4-4-col-startRunners bolt at the start of the second Freedom Isn’t Free race. Oak Lawn’s Dan Regaldo (center wearing No. 133) won the race. Submitted photo.        More than 600 runners hit area streets to compete in a pair of worthwhile 5K running events over the chilly weekend.
  The action started Saturday at the Hickory Hills’FRONT-COLOR-1-col-and-page-4-3-colChicago’s Mircea Bogdan won the fourth Hickory Hills Lions Club 5K run on Saturday. Photo by Jeff Vorva. Lions Club’s Fourth Roar and Run for Fun 5K. There were 103 who finished the race, which was won by Chicago’s Mircea Bogdan in 17 minutes, 16.1 seconds.
  “I do a lot of races in the Chicago area and I just found out about it online,” the 31-year-old Bogdan said. “I was looking for a good race and this was fun. I might come back next year.”
  Palos Heights’ Jan Mydra finished in second place and Hickory Hills’ Jakub Zajac was third. Tinley Park’s Maureen Spinler-Kracik was sixth overall and the top female finisher.
  Money and food donations for this run will go to are families who need help in the community.
  The following day, the second Freedom Isn’t Free run kicked off at Brother Rice High School and ran through the streets of Evergreen Park.
Page-4-3-col-man-and-dogKazimierz Fryowicz, 65, of Hickory Hills and his dog, Kia, get ready to cross the finish line in Hickory Hills on Saturday, finishing 18th in the race. He said he has run in all four of the Lions’ Club’s races. Photo by Jeff Vorva.  There were 399 athletes who finished the race and Race Director Shawn Hughes said there were more than 100 more military personnel running in uniform who were not timed.
  “To have 500 people participating in this event was just awesome,” Hughes said.
  Dan Regalado, a 26-year-old runner from Oak Lawn, won the even with a time of 17:57. Oak Lawn’s Manny Cavez finished second and Orland Park’s Michael McNicholas was third. The top female finisher was Jackie Ott of Island Lake and she finished eighth overall.
  The event honored Marine Corps Cpl. Conner Lowry, a Brother Rice graduate who died in action in March, 2012, in Afghanistan.
  All proceeds from the Freedom Isn’t Free 5K event will go to the Cpl. Conner Lowry Memorial Scholarship Fund at Brother Rice.

The heat is on — Hickory Hills chief warns residents about pending weapons law

  • Written by Kelly White

  Illinois residents planning to pack heat when the state’sPage-5-1-col-gun-story new Concealed Carry Law goes into effect in January need to become more familiar with the law and how it works.
  Hickory Hills Police Chief, Alan Vodicka, addressed residents and the city council last Thursday on this issue, with concerns including requirements to obtain a conceal and carry license, gun control and which businesses will be affected.
  “We are anticipating somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 people in the state of Illinois to apply for a Concealed Carry License,” Vodicka said. “Obtaining a license is still a work in progress with two options for background checks, fingerprinting or running one’s background without fingerprinting.
  “The difference is the turnover rate in which one would receive his or her license,” Vodicka added, “If they do the fingerprint background check, there will be a 60-day turnover, and if they run their background without fingerprints, there will be a 180 day-turnover.”
  Fingerprinting will be offered at local police stations for a fee to be determined throughout the state of Illinois.
  If an order of protection is placed on an individual living within the state of Illinois, his or her Concealed Carry License will automatically be revoked. Anyone who has been issued a medical marijuana card cannot have a Concealed Carry License.
  If an Illinois resident already has a Firearm Owners Identification card to legally possess or purchase firearms or ammunition, they still must obtain a conceal and carry license. “They are definitely two separate things,” Vodicka said.
  Illinois State Police Officers will continue to enforce the law in effect by arresting any person carrying a firearm without a Concealed Carry License. Anyone living within the state of Illinois is eligible to apply for a Concealed Carry License who wants to carry a concealed firearm, except current peace officers and retired police officers eligible under a federally approved retired officer concealed carry program, such as the Illinois Retired Officer Concealed Carry (IROCC) Program. Retired officers may be eligible to carry under either the IROCC Program or the Firearm Concealed Carry Act.
  “Current police officers are except from the Concealed Carry Law and are allowed in prohibited buildings with their concealed firearm, as they always have been,” Vodicka added.
  Residents obtaining a Concealed Carry License will not be able to carry their firearms openly. A handgun carried on a person must be concealed from view of the public. If the firearm is not concealed, that individual is subject to arrest.
  Vodicka said a concealed firearm is described as a handgun. A handgun means any device which is designed to expel a projectile or projectiles by the action of an explosion, expansion of gas or escape of gas that is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand. A handgun does not include a stun gun or taser, a machine gun, a short-barreled rifle or shotgun, any pneumatic gun, spring gun or paintball gun.
  There are also locations within the state which will prohibit any concealed firearms. “These places only apply to the patrons visiting them,” Vodicka said. “This does not apply to the owner of a property, and again, police officers are except from this.”
  Prohibited locations include: schools/child care facilities, colleges/universities, courthouses, libraries, government buildings, public playgrounds, public parks, public transportation, public gatherings, parades, museums, stadiums, zoos and bars and restaurants that have over 50 percent of total sales from alcohol.
  Signage is required to be posted at every public entrance accessible in these buildings to inform the general public concealed firearms are prohibited within the facility. The signage is required to display an image approved by Illinois legislation.
  Any non-residential building or business may prohibit firearms by choice but must also have signage at every accessible entrance in order for it to be enforced.
  “Businesses have the option to decide whether or not they want to prohibit concealed firearms,” Vodicka said. “I actually asked a couple businesses throughout town and they surprisingly said they were fine allowing concealed firearms within their place of business.”
  Signage will begin to be posted throughout Hickory Hills and the state of Illinois after first of this year. “The signs are very important,” Vodicka said. “There are a few different signs to choose from prohibiting firearms, but regardless, whichever is chosen, it needs to be posted at every entrance on a building prohibiting firearms.”
  He also said there will be a parking lot exemption for concealed firearm holders. A licensee may carry a concealed firearm in the immediate area surrounding his or her vehicle within a prohibited parking lot area only for the limited purpose of storing or retrieving a firearm from within the vehicles truck, provided the licensee ensures the concealed firearm is unloaded prior to exiting the vehicle.
  “Their gun must be unloaded and broken down inside of their vehicle, before exiting the vehicle and placing it into their truck and entering the building,” he said.