District 230 supt. proposes earlier start to school day

By Jeff Vorva

  High School District 230 Superintendent James Gay was amped up when he was proposing adding an extra half hour to the school day at Stagg, Sandburg and Andrew high schools.
  During a 20-plus minute discussion at last Thursday’s board of education meeting, the usually low-key and composed Gay spoke swiftly and jumped from thought-to-thought. At one time, he slowed down, stopped and said, “I don’t know. Maybe I said too much. But I’m passionate about this. I am passionate about giving the kids the support they need while we have them in school.”
  Gay is hoping that starting in the 2013-14 school year, the three institutions in the district will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. rather than the current 8:30 a.m.-to-3 p.m. format.
  He has various reasons why he wants to add the extra 30 minutes but one of his top concerns is allowing extra assistance for students who are struggling in a subject area of skill and to have additional access to teachers outside of class. He said that visiting teachers after school works for some students but not those who need to take busses home.
  “We can build time in the day,” Gay said. “I feel, and some of the student and parents committees also feel, that some of the time is misplaced. We need to shift that time in the day to give students help long-term. And we have students who can’t stay after school. They have to go home and maybe have to take care of siblings or have to work.”
  Gay is also mulling eliminating the hour-long lunch period for Sandburg juniors to a half-hour.
  “The reason they have an hour lunch was because of space,” Gay said. “We don’t have the space or staff problems any more. Junior year is a very tough year to have an hour lunch. I would love to have an hour lunch. But it would be better to give them instructional time for that half hour – especially those who have not mastered the curriculum.”
  The superintendent said he knows these moves won’t be popular with students but he said it would benefit them in the long run.
  Board member Kathy Quilty expressed concerns about starting these changes next year. She said originally talk was for this to start in 2014-15.
  “I feel like maybe we are rushing into this,” she said. “Maybe we need to set guidelines and talk. I know that teachers’ contracts are coming up. Maybe this is something that has to be negotiated. I think there are too many ‘ifs’ about this. Maybe we should wait and take our time.”
  Gay said he is working on ironing out some of the details but said that it’s important to get this rolling as soon as possible.
  “Every time 2,000 kids graduate, we’re not meeting their needs,” Gay said. Whatever we do, however the plan comes out, it’s going to be amazingly more than what we have right now. When I started talking about this in August, I said we were looking for this a few years down the road. But when we started up the committees, we have been bombarded by everybody — including students — that where we are now, we are not meeting their needs.
  “Everyone is saying that.”
   In other news from the meeting, the board unanimously voted to change its policy on cell phone and electronics use. Previously those items were not allowed to be used from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the schools and needed to be out of sight.
  As of Monday, they are allowed to use the items in the hallways and at lunch time but not in classrooms.

District 230 board seeks next Sandburg High athletic director

Steve McInerney, laughing it up with a referee last Thursday during regional basketball competition, is Sandburg

By Jeff Vorva

  High School District 230 will conduct both and internal and external search for Sandburg’s new athletic director.
  Bruce Scheidegger was the Orland Park school’s AD until he died in a one-car accident in February. Physical Education Chairman Steve McInerney has taken on the role of interim athletic director and is working with Assistant Athletic Director Mike Polz during the end of the winter season and through the spring season.
  Board President Frank Gra­bowski said after last Thursday’s meeting that he didn’t have specifics but that there will be a search from within the district as well as externally. It could take a while.
  “I don’t see this coming up at the [March] board meeting,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re deliberate and we want to make sure to take an adequate amount of time. Many of the people we have in place understand what needs to be done, so, as in many cases people step up when there is a need and people have stepped up at this point in time.”
  McInerney, a Brother Rice graduate, was an athletic director for six years at Oswego High School before coming to Sandburg in the fall. The St. Charles resident said he gave up being an athletic director so he could watch his son play sports and likely won’t pursue the Sandburg AD job.
  “I came here to allow me to spend more time with my family,” he said. “It was a tragedy — Bruce was a very dear and close friend. It’s just something that [Principal Julia Wheaton] asked for someone to step up and help out and I said ‘absolutely’ because it’s in the best interest of our kids.
  “You don’t want anyone to go through something like this. We have a lot great kids here and great support. Bruce was phenomenal. I told his wife he was irreplaceable. But we have to move on and carry his spirit with us.”
  The school board unanimously approved to allow a commemorative marker to be placed on the Sandburg baseball scoreboard that says “In Memory of our Friend and Mentor Bruce Scheidegger.”
  The usual district policy is to wait three years after the passing of an individual from the district before either installing a marker or plaque or naming a facility after that person. But the board waived that policy last Thursday.
  “With the passing of Bruce Scheidegger, the booster club very compassionately wanted to design a memory of him,” District 230 Superintendent James Gay said. “We wanted to resolve this relatively quickly so that it can be on site for the season.”


By Laura Bollin

  Mariano’s Fresh Market, which just last week named as the anchor to a commercial development in Oak Lawn, plans to open a second location in the southwest suburbs.
  Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton at the Village Board’s meeting Monday said the grocery store will move into a new building on the site last occupied by Webb Ford, 2601 W. 95th St., which closed nearly five years ago. Mariano’s is expected to open in 201, Sexton said.
  The Mariano’s in Evergreen Park will be the 11th store in the Chicago area. The 70,000-square-foot store will feature produce, seafood, a sushi and oyster bar, flowers, salads, a coffee shop, wood-fired pizza oven, homemade salsas, a bakery, a deli, fresh meat, a cheese counter and prepared foods.
  “There are a lot of exciting things happening here,” Sexton said.
  Mariano’s CEO Bob Mariano and village officials have been working on bringing the store to Evergreen Park for three years. The store is expected to bring in $1 million in combined sales tax and property tax revenues, Sexton said.
  Sexton does not know when construction will begin, but said the village is working on a detention pond to be located behind the store, and will install a traffic signal at 95th Street at what will be the entrance to the store’s parking lot.
  Mariano’s is run by parent company Roundy’s Supermarkets, based in Milwaukee. Roundy’s director of public affairs Vivian King said the Evergreen Park store will employ about 450 people, which is typical for Mariano’s.
  The Oak Lawn store will anchor a retail development in the village’s 111th and Cicero tax increment financing district. The 70,000-square-foot store is expected to yield $1.5 million in sales and property tax dollars, and create 400 jobs.
  Mariano’s Fresh Market first opened in the Chicago area in July 2010 in Arlington Heights. Since then, the company has opened stores in Chicago, Frankfort, Hoffman Estates, Palatine and Vernon Hills.

The Transporter

Evergreen Park resident Ray Welcome has been named MetroSouth Medical Center

Evergreen Park man named
hospital’s employee of year

By Laura Bollin

  Ray Welcome has been rolling patients around what is now MetroSouth Medical Center, in Blue Island since 1983.
  In those nearly 30 years, the 62-year-old Evergreen Park resident who thought he was lucky to land the gig has not missed a day of work. Welcome, who transports patients around the complex formerly known as St. Francis Hospital, has been chosen from among 1,000 MetroSouth employees as the medical center’s 2012 employee of the year. For his efforts, he and his wife will spend this weekend at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville and attend an awards ceremony.
  “It was a real proud feeling, knowing I won, and it was a surprise just to be nominated,” Welcome said. “I realized what coworkers and the management here think of me, and it really says a lot.”
  Welcome has transported hundreds of thousands of patients since he started at the hospital in 1983, and has done it all with only one arm. He lost his right arm below the elbow in a forging press accident in 1978.
  “[The forging company] planned to give me a lifetime job, but they went out of business five years later,” Welcome said. “I walked out of there, walked into [St. Francis], and applied for a job. I met with Miss ?!?!?!?! Corsa in human resources, and told her I’d give her 100 percent if she’d give me a chance. I thought it would be really hard to get a job, but I got lucky.”
  Welcome chalks up his perfect attendance over the past 29 years to good health, a strong work ethic and love for his job.
  “I’m fortunate to be in good health, but the real secret is that my wife, Cheryl, won’t let me stay home,” he joked. “[His father] always told me to go and do good work.”
  As a patient transporter, Welcome brings patients to and from testing or surgeries, and to be discharged.
  “What do I like about my job? Everything,” he said. “I get to meet hundreds of thousands of patients, and help a lot of people. I used to keep track of how many patients I helped, but I stopped counting after 120,000. There are so many patients I see that come here so many times, and so many that remember me.”
  Welcome’s job has taught him how far one small act of kindness will go to make a difference in someone’s life, he said.
  “It’s all about the little things. The biggest thing for me is getting a patient to have one little smile, when they might not have smiled in three or four days. They are going through so much, so it’s good to be able to help them smile. It’s a good feeling.”
  Welcome is supposed to work from 2 to 10:30 p.m. three days a week, then have an day off, then work three consecutive days before getting a three-day break; however, he rarely sticks to his schedule.
  “I’m always here, working overtime,” he said. “Without a doubt, if I would have known this was such a nice job, I would have been here 45 years ago.”
  When he’s not working he is engaging in his favorite hobby — woodworking. He spent three months building a doll-house for his 9-year-old-granddaughter, Halie, and plans to build one for his daughter, Krystle, who is going to have a baby girl in June. He also built a wooden train for his family this Christmas.
  “If someone wants me to do something, I’ll try and find a way to get it done,” Welcome said. “The bigger the challenge, the better I like it.”
  Welcome said he’s been having some fun with the attention he has received as employee of the year.

  “My picture is up on posters all over the hospital,” Welcome said. “My coworkers have been teasing me, bowing down and calling me ‘The King,’ when I walk into work. I tell them don’t be a hater.”

A good century

A good century

  Frances Dluzen Watson of Worth gathered with her family Sunday to celebrate her 100th birthday, which is today, March 7. Watson lived at the St. Hedwig orphanage in Niles until she was 17, then worked at the Hump Hairpin company. In the summer of 1943 she met Alexander Watson, who she married later that year. The couple raised three children — Alexander, Margaret and Mary — in Evergreen Park. Watson lives an active religious life, is a fan of the Chicago Cubs and good politics, and clips a recipe each week from the local paper.

Supplied Photo