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.

Oak Lawn mayor's clerk candidate faces big challenge in race against incumbent

By Laura Bollin

A first-grade teacher from St. Germaine School is challenging the incumbent village clerk in Oak Lawn on next month’s election ballot.

Melissa Moran is running on Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann’s Independent Party ticket against village Clerk Jane Quinlan. The incumbent clerk was first elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009, both times as a member of Heilmann’s political party. Quinlan is running this year as an independent.

Jane Quinlan
Quinlan, 56, is a lifelong resident of Oak Lawn. She earned registered and municipal clerk certifications through the University of Illinois-Springfield., and has been working on earning a master municipal clerk certification since 2006. She is the vice president of the South and West Clerks Association, which includes 75 municipalities.

“I want to continue serving the people of Oak Lawn,” Quinlan said. “It is important for the village to have working relationships with other communities, which I do.”

Quinlan’s eight years as clerk have helped her create bonds with residents, she said.

“It takes years to build up the relationships that I have with residents, you just don’t walk in and know everybody,” Quinlan said. “People get to know you and they trust you.”

Quinlan believes she has made the right decision in running as an independent candidate. She ran in 2005 and 2009 with Heilmann and Trustee Alex Olejniczak. The officials have since gone their separate ways, with Heilmann siding with former adversary Trustee Bob Streit and Trustee Carol Quinlan, and Olejniczak aligned with Trustees Tom Phelan and Tom Duhig.

“I have been working with an adversarial board for years,” Quinlan said. “I can best serve the village as an independent candidate. You can work effectively with an adversarial board, the key is that I work for the full board.”

Quinlan is self-described as a “hands-on” clerk.

“If people have a problem with something, I will stop in on my way to work in the morning,” she said. “If someone calls and tells me there’s a big hole in their street, and they don’t know if it’s their responsibility or on the village property, I’ll take a ride by there. I know what department to call to help. People see me at night, on the weekends. I’m always driving around the village. You have to know your village.”

Melissa Moran
Moran, 38, earned a bachelor’s degree in history with an education concentration and a master’s degree in elementary education from Saint Xavier University. She has served on the St. Germaine Family Association Board, the St. Germaine Athletic Association Board, the parish transformation committee and the parish fundraising committee. She has lived in Oak Lawn for 14 years.

Moran said she wants to be part of a board that works together.

“I’m running because I think our government can do better than what it is doing right now,” she said. “We need officials that are working together, and when they are not working together, it hinders progress. We don’t get as much accomplished as we should.”

Moran said the organizational skills she has as a teacher will also help her if she is elected as village clerk. She also believes being clerk will be her way of giving back to Oak Lawn.

“I’m used to a changing pace,” Moran said. “I am used to multitasking and dealing with whatever comes my way.”

Safety and crime are some of the big issues in the village, Moran said.

“I am currently working with the mayor to be part of a safety committee to talk to residents to see what our safety issues are, and what we think can be done about them,” she said. 

Moran also wants to see more revenue brought into Oak Lawn.

“We are losing shoppers to other areas,” Moran said. “We don’t have enough retail in Oak Lawn. We need to talk about how to bring in clothing retailers and different types of restaurants in Oak Lawn.

“We are a wonderful community next to the city with Beverly to the east of us – how do we pull that traffic into Oak Lawn? Communities around us will turn to us as a place to stop and shop. Let’s attack the areas we are losing out on.”

Evergreen police chief says officer in fatal crash was doing his job

By Laura Bollin

The police chief in Evergreen Park maintains that a village police officer was doing his job when he pursued a speeder down 95th Street at 90 miles per hour, resulting in a collision that claimed the life of a teenaged motorist in 2010.

Brian DeWitt, of Chicago’s Morgan Park neighborhood, died in October 2010 after a speeding Evergreen Park squad car struck the vehicle the youth was driving at the intersection of 95th Street and Central Park Avenue. A Cook County judge has awarded DeWitt’s family $2.5 million in a wrongful death settlement against the Evergreen Park Police Department.

Evergreen Park Police Chief Michael Saunders stands by his officer’s decision to make an attempt to initiate a traffic stop. Many municipal police departments in the area have policies that prohibit officer from engaging in high-speed pursuits. The speed limit on 95th Street is 35 mph.

“This was not a police pursuit, this was a traffic violator and this was attempting to be a traffic stop,” Saunders said.

The officer involved in the crash was never disciplined or suspended, Saunders said. A Cook County Sheriff’s Police investigation found DeWitt had marijuana in his system, and ruled the youth responsible for the fatal crash.

“The investigation found nothing against [the officer],” Saunders said. We wanted to use an outside agency so everything was handled properly.”

DeWitt’s mother, Deborah, has sent a letter to police department asking that changes be made to the pursuit policy. The policy has changed, but not as a result of the accident, Saunders said. The revised policy asks officers to consider the safety of bystanders and motorists, and states that officers cannot exceed 80 mph without permission from a supervisor.