Duty, Honor, Country

  Army PFC James M. Bilder of Palos Heights has graduated from basic training and advanced infantry training at Fort Benning, Ga. Bilder’s family held a homecoming party in his honor on Feb. 3, when more than 50 friends and relatives gathered at the home of his parents, Jim and Bernie Bilder.
  Bilder, a junior at Lewis University in Romeoville, joined the Illinois National Guard in May 2012 and reported to the Joliet Armory on Sept. 12. He is assigned to the 178th Infantry Regiment, which is part of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The 33rd Brigade served in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009. The outfit is the same one in which Bilder’s great-grandfather, Leonard F. Fairfield, served as a forward observer with the artillery in France during World War I.

Circle of excellence

  Richards High School student Gabriel Frausto receives a Circle 10 Award of Excellence as fellow award-winner Rama Al-Ali shakes hands with retired Navy Cmdr. Douglas Groters, a senior naval science instructor at Richards, during an inspection by Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Kerley.
  The annual inspection includes a review of Bulldog Company’s uniform appearance, platoon alignment, marching precision, and hundreds of other bits of minutia. Kerley and Lt. James Wightman graded the Richards program with an overall mark of “Outstanding” for the third straight time.
  As a Naval officer who regularly reviews JROTC programs, Kerley meets some of the nation’s finest and most motivated high school students; so his words this week at the close of the inspection hung heavy in the air.
  “I’ve had the chance to visit a lot of Navy JROTC programs for evaluations,” Kerley said. “To all the parents and school officials gathered here tonight, I want to tell you how much pride you should feel in these young people. This is the best day that I’ve ever had at a JROTC program.”
  Inspection featured a review of our administrative, supply, financial, and operational programs. The visiting officers also conducted a personnel inspection of more than 100 cadets. Randy Flaherty and Kylla Pate, the two highest-ranking students in Bulldog Company, delivered a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the unit’s goals, achievements and future plans.
  Students who earned the Circle 10 medal of excellence included Emily Bargouthi, Donald Jones, Cameron Smentek, Thaddeus Sprynal, Qwamarria Covington, Alex Villafuerte, Craig Buckner, Oleksandr Gorobets, Rama Al-Ali, Gabriel Frausto, Margaret Kowalski, Randy Flaherty and Kylla Pate.

Park Dist. seeks input on Kasey Meadow

The Hickory Hills Park District is seeking a $700,000 grant that would fund work at Kasey Meadow Park, 8047 W. 91st Place. A public meeting on the matter will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, March 11.

Public meeting next Monday at Cynthia Neal Center

By Laura Bollin

The Hickory Hills Park District will apply for a $700,000 grant, the funds from which would be used to renovate Kasey Meadow Park.

The district, in anticipation of being approve for the grant, is putting together a renovation plan for the park, 8047 W. 91st Place, and is seeking residents’ input about what they would like to see. A public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, March 11 at the Cynthia Neal Center at Kasey Meadow. Residents will have the opportunity to tell the district what they envision for the park, and hear about upgrades already planned.

Renovations may include new equipment at the park’s two playgrounds, a new splash pad and the addition of a half-mile walking trail and a fitness station for adults. The district will be applying for an Open Space Land Acquisition and Development in July, and will learn if it have received the grant in January 2014.

“I’m excited that we’re looking at a grant, because without it, we would only be able to remove and replace our playground equipment,” said park district Director Jennifer Fullerton. “I’m excited about the walking trail and the fitness station. It is like an outdoor playground geared toward adults. We might have rings, exercise bikes and places to do pull-ups. We haven’t picked out the pieces yet, and are gathering input from residents.”

If the fitness center is installed, it will in at the northwest corner of the park.

The park’s two playgrounds — one for children 2 to 5 years old, and the other for children 5 to 12 years old, were due to be replaced in 2014. The splash pad was scheduled to be replaced in 2017. The playgrounds were renovated in 1999, and the splash pad was installed that year. Without the grant, it will cost the park district $180,000 to remove the current equipment and replace it with new slides, swing sets and tunnels; and bring in new mulch for the playground surface.

“The playgrounds have some pieces that are older, and some sets of stairs have rubber that is coming off,” Fullerton said.

Fullerton hopes the grant will bring more to the park than just new playground equipment.

“We could just replace the two playgrounds, but we wanted to give the community more,” Fullerton said. “We are excited to put in the walking trail, and a possible toddler slide at the splash pad. We will have the opportunity to do a lot more than just replace the playgrounds if we receive the grant.”

If the grant is not received, the park district will renovate the two playgrounds in 2014 and the splash pad in 2017, at a cost of $170,000.

Kasey Meadow Park was originally a 15-acre farm purchased from the Kasey family in 1965. Today it has two playgrounds, a splash pad, two baseball diamonds, a basketball court, two tennis courts, a skate park and a sledding hill.

Yankee pacers will help First Midwest racers

By Jeff Vorva

On the surface, this sounds like a lousy gig.

Anyone who wants the role of a pacer in a marathon or half marathon needs to do what the regular competitors do. They have to train. They have to get up early on race day. They have to run the course. They have the pain and the sweat of a regular competitor.

But they get no glory.

No trophies, medals or other competitive awards go to the pacers.

A bad deal?

Not for those who choose to do it.

The sixth running of the First Midwest Half Marathon will take place May 5 in Palos Heights and for the first time, the race will feature pace runners. A pace runner basically sets a pace for groups of runners who want to achieve certain times. The pace runner shouts encouragement, advice or even tells a few jokes while trying to keep the runners geared toward the times they desire.

Race founder Mel Diab said that having pacers give the race a big-time feel.

“All the major marathons have pacers,” he said. “It elevates the race.”

The south suburban-based Yankee Runners organization will provide the pacers, including first grade Palos East teacher Karen Ancevicius, who has competed in various marathons across the country including the Boston Marathon. The Oak Lawn native who is living in Homer Glen, said it’s rewarding to be a pacer.

“I’ve paced at the Chicago Marathon in 2004 and 2005 and I’ve enjoyed it,” she said. “I help people reach their goals. I feel like I can give back to running in the form of helping others. It’s enjoyable to line up at the starting line. There is a lot of enthusiasm. And when the race starts, you can help them through the tougher times.

“This being a half marathon, it’s not as long. In a regular marathon, there is that wall you hit at mile 20 and you have to help people brave through that. They don’t have that in a half marathon but for some people, it will be their first experience and they don’t know what to expect. So I want to help as many people as I can.”

Joe Werner, who runs the Yankee Runners organization, has 14 pacers lineup up including Brian Greinke of Orland Park and Don Potter of Palos Heights.

“I get more out of pacing than I do competing,” Werner said. “I like to laugh and joke and keep them motivated.”

“You are being a mentor to a lot of runners,” Diab added. “It’s very good for the runners and very good for the pacers because they can help someone get a personal–best.”

As of last Friday, 1,171 racers signed up, Diab said. There were 130 from Chicago, 115 from Orland Park and 108 from Tinley Park. There were 61 from out of state and a runner from Holland and another from Mexico.

Race director Jeff Prestinario said ABC 7 News reporter John Garcia will run the race and confirmed that U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski and former state Sen. Ed Maloney are confirmed as the race’s co-marshals.

Per First Midwest Bank’s request, the color of the race’s shirts this year will be purple again. The marathon’s committee originally planned on green shirts.

Park Clips

Evergreen Park

A Girls Night Out for girls in second through fifth grades will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 16 at the Community Center, 97th Street and Homan Avenue. Cost is $15. Event will feature cupcake decorating, freeze dance, scavenger hunt and more. To register call 229-3373


Step & Strength Training is from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday and Wednesday, 7 to 8 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. at the Community Center, 3450 W. 97th St.

Palos Hills

The Palos Hills Community Resource & Recreation Department will hold its 2013 Health and Wellness Expo from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, March 14 at the Palos Hills Community Center, 8455 W. 103rd St. Health screenings include ultrasounds of the heart and arteries (appointment required, call (855) 861-8378), blood pressure, dental and back, as well as chair massages. The secretary of state's office will offer driver's license/state ID renewal. A free raffle ticket will be given to everyone that attends.


A trip to "Anderson Japanese Gardens" in Rockford will be Thursday, May 16. Cost is $30 per person, advanced registration is required. For more information call 430-4500 or visit


The Resource & Recreation Department will offer programs at the Activity Center, 8455 W. 103rd St.

Parent and Tot classes for children 2 to 3 years old and a parent are from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Cost is $30 for Palos Hills residents, $35 for non-residents.

Cooking/Craft classes for children 7 to 10 years old are Tuesdays, 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. Cost is $12 per student.

Green & Lucky St. Patrick's Day will be March 5, Hopping Into Spring will be March 26.

Disney Dance Class for children 6 to 10 years old will be Saturdays from 1 to 2 p.m. Cost is $25 per session.

Oak Lawn

The Three Men in Kilts will be at the Stony Creek Clubhouse, 5850 W. 103rd St., from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 2. The band will perform Irish music including traditional ballads, and pub and rebel songs like "Great Big Sea," "Gaelic Storm" and "Saw Dogs." A cash bar will be available. Admission is $6.


Jazz Favorites starring Vince Clark & Friends will be at the Oak Lawn Park District's Stony Creek Clubhouse, 5850 W. 103rd St., from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 9. The band will perform jazz tunes from greats such as Glen Miller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Stan. A cash bar will be available. Admission is $6.


The park district offers duplicate bridge every Monday at 11:30 a.m. at Oak View Center, 4625 W. 110th St. Cost is $7 per person and includes a light lunch. All ages are welcome. For more information call 857-2200.


Registration is underway for before- and after-school FLASH (Fun & Learning After School Hours). The park district has partnered with Ridgeland School District 122 and Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 and is in all of those districts' elementary schools - Columbus Manor, Harnew, Kolb and Lieb in District 122, and Covington, Hannum, Hometown, Kolmar and Sward in District 123. For more information call the FLASH director or the FLASH assistant director at 857-2420.


An antique appraisal with professional appraiser Rex Newell of Rex's Antiques will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 20 at the Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave. Appraisals are available for the first 40 patrons for $5 an item. Only one "hand-held" item permitted. Call 448-7080 to register. Deadline is March 6.


Little Club offers benefits such as free indoor playground usage. Fee is $10 resident, $15 non-resident. For more information call the park district.


Jazzercise for persons age 16 years and older will be from 9:20 to 10:20 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. Saturday; and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday at the Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave. Fee is $37 monthly for an Easy Fit Ticket and a registration fee of $25. For more information call 448-7080 or visit


The Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave., has an indoor playground featuring slides, a climbing wall, tree house and more for children who can walk through 4 years old. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Fee is $1 for residents, $2 for non-residents. For more information call 448-7080 or visit


The Worth Park District Historical Society meets at 7 p.m. every fourth Wednesday of the month at the Worth Historical Museum, in the Terrace Centre at 11500 Beloit Ave. Meetings are open to the public. Membership is free but is not required to attend.

Volunteers are welcome to come to the museum from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays to assist with projects. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Curator hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday. For group visits call 448-7080, Ext. 107.