Longer school day at Stagg?

District 230 board member Kathy Quilty said the district might be putting the cart in front of the horse in adding a half hour to the school day for the 2013-14 school year. Photo by Jeff Vorva

By Jeff Vorva

  High School District 230 board member Kathy Quilty said it might have been a mistake to make the district’s plans to add a half hour to the school day public, given that there are more questions than answers.
  Board members Wednesday last week agreed that starting the day at 8 a.m. rather than 8:30 a.m. at Stagg, Sandburg and Andrew High Schools in order for students to spend more time with their teachers was a good idea.
  But whether it should start in August or in the 2014-15 school year was still up for debate.
  “I’m not against this but we put the cart in front of the horse,” Quilty told the board, meeting at Stagg High School. “We were told it’s going to happen in 2014-15. Things should have been eased into. I don’t think we should have brought this to the public until we had a presentation. I can’t go to Jewel without someone coming up to me complaining. My phone is ringing. I’m getting e-mail from parents who are upset and I’m not sure how to answer them.
  “We don’t have answers and we have, what, eight weeks of school left? And the teachers are coming back in August and told ‘this is what you’re expected to do.’ It’s not fair to the staff.”
  Superintendent James Gay urged the addition of the half hour to the board at its meeting Feb. 28.
  Even though District 230 administrators said solid curriculum plans were in place and that teachers were apprised of a possible change starting in August, board Vice President Rick Nogal wants more assurances.
  “We have our work cut out for us and I’m concerned about some chaos come August,” Nogal said. “The teachers are an important part of this process and I would like to hear what they say about this. I haven’t heard directly what they have to say. That is a big focal question in my mind so I am reserving judgment.”
  Outgoing board member Laura Murphy was in favor of getting the clock running on this change.
  “There was an advantage to putting it out to the public,” Murphy said. “Like Kathy, I heard from a lot of parents. But what I’ve heard is very positive. Speaking as a parent of a 14-year-old who will be an incoming freshman, I’m all for it. I don’t want to waste a year.”
  Quilty argued that an earlier start time to the day would mean kids would have to get up earlier and some parents with students involved in extracurricular activities told her they might not want such a long day. Quilty also expressed concern over the length of time between leaving home early and the lunch break.
  Board member Patrick O’Sul­livan said those issues could be ironed out.
  “The first year is going to be tough, no matter if it’s this year or next year,” O’Sullivan said. “And four years from now, it’s going to look a lot different than the first year.”
  Thus far, this has only reached the discussion and informational stage for the board. But come April or May, action will likely have to be taken.
  “Is this 30 minutes worthwhile?” outgoing Board President Frank Grabowski said. “We have two choices. You put all 30 at the beginning. You put all 30 at the end. Or it’s a math problem. You put 15 in the front or you put 15 in the back. Is it worthwhile to allow that contact time for our students to be with our staff at the start of next year? That’s what we have to decide. The feedback that we’re receiving is ‘yes we need to do this and we need to do it sooner rather than later.’”

What do you say?

Cade Koehler, Palos Park   

Drew Heilman, Oak Forest   

Elise Ward, Orland Park   

Owen Heilman, Oak Forest   

Ryan Ward, Orland Park   

What do you say?

What is your
favorite type
of jellybean?

(Asked Saturday at the Orland Park Easter Egg Hunt)

Sewer line that broke in Palos Hills needs additional repairs

By Kelly White

A sewer line break unlike any Palos Hills Mayor Jerry Bennett claims to have ever seen prompted the city to call in a contractor to perform the repairs.

The collapse of a 15-inch sanitary sewer main occurred the afternoon of March 8 18 feet beneath 103rd Street at the southeast corner of the road’s intersection with Roberts Road, temporarily interrupting service to more than 400 homes north of 103rd and east of Roberts Road, according to Palos Hills public works director Dave Weakley. A contractor began repairs the morning of March 14 and finished later that day.

Palos Hills had to hire a contractor to do the work because the city does not have the equipment necessary to repair the sewer line, Weakley said. Public Works set up by-pass pumps to provide uninterrupted sanitary sewer service while a plan was developed to repair the main; however, a camera inspection of the pipe determined the city did not have the proper equipment, he explained. Public Works provided by-pass pumping and sewer jetting, and hauled debris from the site, he added.

“I have never witnessed a water main break quite like this one that has taken place within the city before during my time as mayor,” Bennett said at the City Council’s meeting March 14.

During their initial attempt to repair the break, public works employees dealt with uncontrollable running sand and rain, Weakley said. An inspection of the sewer main indicated it is in poor condition and needs additional repairs, he added. Weakley has contacted a contractor and is waiting on an inspection and quote for the cost of the work. 

Evergreen mayor thinks proposed new Plaza will put village 'back on the map'

By Kevin M. Coyne

A real estate development company has proposed razing parts of The Plaza in Evergreen Park and redeveloping the mall property at a cost of $111 million.

DeBartolo Development is expected to finalize the acquisition of the site in July and begin demolishing most of The Plaza immediately afterward, DeBartolo Development representative Jay Adams told the Evergreen Park Village Board on Monday.

“Tentatively speaking, demolition and construction will take 20 to 25 months,” Adams said. “We will be hiring a general contractor from this area. We are looking for local contractors and want their expertise, and when they live here they know the area.”

Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton expressed his excitement about the potential redevelopment plans.

“This is a very special time for Evergreen Park and a great opportunity,” Sexton said. “I will tell you, and I won’t spill the beans, some of the players that were mentioned will help put the Evergreen Plaza back on the map. The new Plaza will be as special as it was in the 1950s when it was built.”

One member of the community questioned the developer’s intentions to hire area residents. Robert “Israel” Baker, an Evergreen Park resident, asked if DeBartolo is planning to hire a “diversity consultant.”

“The other developers they just developed two pieces of propertiy and the developers chose to not involve the community and they caused a major march,” said Baker, referring to the development that includes a Meijer and Menards at 91st Street and Western Avenue in Evergreen Park. “I run a nonprofit in Englewood and we have a lot of union workers in the area. I want to make sure that local union workers are hired for the construction of The Plaza.”

A municipal government cannot force a developer to hire union workers or residents who live in the area, nor is a developer obligated to hire workers based on union affiliation, or their race or where they live.

Rack 'em in Worth

Tavern's walls will be festooned with 'deer horns'

By Laura Bollin

A tavern that will have its walls covered in deer antlers will open in the space formerly occupied by Big Guy’s Pizzeria in Worth.

Rack’s Tap, 10533 Southwest Highway, was one of four businesses granted business licenses by the Worth Village Board on Tuesday. The tavern will feature single pool table and owner Robert Barge’s collection of deer antlers.

"I collect deer horns, and I have boxes and boxes of them," Berge told the board. "I am 52 years old, and my wife and I figured it was time for the dream, and time to clean out the basement."

Trustees also voted to approve licenses for Dippity Kids, a children’s clothing store at 11425 Harlem Ave.; Strictly Business Motors, 6657 W. 111th St.; and Jana Marie Skin Care, also at 6657 W. 111th St.

Dippity Kids owner Susan Stazuck said her target opening date is May 1.

"I've been in retail for 30 years, and I thought it was time to go off on my own," Stazuck said. "We'll have clothing from preemie to size 16, and a play area for the kids. I'm looking forward to opening up."

Strictly Business Motors will occupy the old VIP Barber storefront. Owner Mike Casiano said his business will be an Internet wholesaler that will purchase vehicles through online auctions. Five parking spaces behind the store may be used to store vehicles for one- or two-week periods.

Worth Mayor Randy Keller also announced the shuttered Citgo gas station at 115th Street and Harlem Avenue, which has been vacant for four years, will re-open this summer; and that Family Dollar, 6602 W. 111th St. in Fairplay Plaza, will construct an 8,300-square-foot building at 6710 W. 111th St., just west of O'Reilly Auto Parts. The Family Dollar owners want to move into a different space so they can increase their food sales, Keller said.

In other Worth news, Water's Edge Golf Course general manager Jim Tourloukis stepped down from his post last Saturday to accept the general manager’s job at Billy Kasper Golf, which manages the Water's Edge. Tourloukis in his new role will oversee 15 golf courses. The village-owned Water’s Edge’s new general manager is Brian Dober, who has 10 years of experience with Billy Kasper and previously managed George Dunne Golf Course in Oak Forest.