Water, sewer rates rise in Evergreen Park

By Laura Bollin

Evergreen Park residents, like those in most other area municipalities, will pay more for to bathe, wash dishes and hydrate themselves in 2013 as the village's water rate continues to climb.

Village trustees raised the water rate this year from $7 to $8.05 per 1,000 gallons. Households will pay a minimum of $40.25 every three months up to 5,000 gallons, at which point the new rate kicks in.

The 15-perent hike mirrors that implemented by Chicago, from where the village purchases its water. Chicago increased the rate it charges municipalities for water 25 percent in 2012, and will raise the price 15 percent in both 2014 and 2015. Area residents can expect their municipal governments to pass that increase along to them.

"The mayor [Jim Sexton] keeps saying this water is going to be like petroleum, it'll be like gold," Evergreen Park village Clerk Cathy Aparo said at the Village Board's meeting Feb 4.

Evergreen's sewer rates also increased 15 percent this year. The minimum sewer rate is $1.80 per 1,000 gallons, an increase from last year's rate of $1.70. Residents will pay a minimum of $27.07 every three months, compared to $25.50 in 2012.

"This is going to be difficult for people who are on a fixed income," said Evergreen Park village treasurer Sawyers said. "People are going to be paying a little bit more, and they will be paying more for the rest of their lives. Water is going to go up and up and up, and there's really nothing we can do about it. Water is a precious commodity."

Valentine on 67

Love endures for couple that met in 1945

By Laura Bollin

"Happiness is like jam. You can't spread it out without getting a little on yourself."

That saying is on a sticker outside the door of Mary Jane and Bill Porcelli's apartment at senior living community Smith Village in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood, and it sums up the couple's life philosophy.

The Porcelli's have been married for 65 years, but judging from the way they act around each other one might think they were newlyweds. Mary Jane is constantly complimenting Bill's "good looks" and intelligence, and Bill says Mary Jane is "quite the singer." As for the secret to what makes a marriage last 65 years, Mary Jane said it is simple.

"We promised," Mary Jane said. "Nowadays, people do renewals of vows, and that's stupid. Either you meant it or you didn't. We said, 'until death do us part,' and we meant it."

Bill jokes that it also helps to hide the sharp objects in one's home.

Bill grew up in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, and Mary Jane in Englewood. They met at a USO dance at Navy Pier in 1945, back when the pier was a naval training center and not a tourist attraction.

"It was magic when I saw him across the room, like a spark of light," Mary Jane joked. "He was so cute, guys look different with sailor suits on."

Mary was also impressed that Bill was getting a college education, as he was enrolled at Illinois Tech working toward an engineering degree.

"I told myself I wouldn't ever marry a man without a college education," Mary Jane said. As for Bill, what about Mary Jane caught his eye?

"She was a pretty blonde, and she brought cookies to the dance," he said.

On their first date, Bill asked Mary Jane if she wanted to go out for a malted milkshake, and the rest is history.

Bill was training to be a radio technician in the Navy and shipped out in September 1945, just a few months after he had met Mary Jane. He returned in May.

"We wrote each other all the time," Bill said.

The couple married on Oct. 4, 1947, and moved into an apartment in Hyde Park, next door to Bill's parents.

"Our rent was $60 a month, but we didn't have any money," Mary Jane said. "I was working as a secretary at Illinois Tech, making $20 a week."

Bill was finishing his engineering degree during the day and attending law school at Loyola University at night. He worked as a patent attorney.

The couple raised four children: Cathy, Debra, Tim, and Jim. They also have eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Their children share their sense of humor. Once, as a gift, Tim gave Mary Jane and Bill a picture of themselves made to look like the couple in Grant Wood's painting "American Gothic."

Bill paints as a hobby, and his artwork adorns the walls of the couple's apartment at Smith Village. One piece shows the couple's children on the beach at Lake Geneva, another depicts a rainy afternoon at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive in Chicago. One of Mary Jane's favorites is a portrait of her picking seashells off of the beach in Florida.

Along with painting, Bill also plays violin. He's a member of the Southwest Symphony Orchestra, and marketing materials for Smith Village show Bill serenading Mary Jane in the facility's dining room.

The couple has taken about a dozen cruises throughout the world to places including Italy, Ireland, Germany, the Greek Isles, France, Ireland, Belgium and the Caribbean. Bill says he now enjoys having all of his and Mary Jane's amenities at their fingertips.

"We don't travel as much anymore, but [at Smith Village] we play cards, and I still play the violin and paint," Bill said. "Mary Jane sings, and we both act in the Village Players - a drama group here at Smith Village."

With Valentine's Day around the corner, Mary Jane said Bill has done so many romantic things for her that she can't count them.

"There are just too many to choose from," she said.

As for a final piece of advice to keeping a relationship strong, Mary Jane said it is important to relax with each other.

"Don't sweat the small stuff, because in the end, what's the difference?" Mary Jane said. "We have always been happy as far as our lives. We like each other, and we like our life."

Oak Lawn close to announcing anchor for 111/Cicero TIF

Mayor says name will be revealed later this month

By Laura Bollin

Oak Lawn village officials are close to announcing one of the businesses that will anchor a shopping center to be built at 111th Street and Cicero Avenue.

The redevelopment of the 111th and Cicero tax increment financing district (TIF) was among the main talking points Tuesday during Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann's state of the village address. Heilmann spoke to a crowd of about 120 people at the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce's luncheon at the Hilton Oak Lawn Hilton.

Oak Lawn plans to announce Feb. 26 the name of the first anchor tenant for the TIF redevelopment project. The tenant, which village officials refused to name, will bring in an estimated $50 million in annual sales and create 400 jobs. Oak Lawn village manager Larry Deetjen said the anchor tenant was chosen based on feedback from residents.

"We are confident we will have an outstanding anchor," Deetjen said.

The village owns the following assets in the TIF district: Edgar Funeral Home, 10900 S. Cicero Ave.; the Kmart/Dominick's property; Mansard Court, 11004 S. Cicero Ave.; the space formerly occupied by Oak Lawn Harley Davidson, 11040 S. Cicero Ave.; and Interstate Muffler, 4800 W. 111th St. The Kmart and Harley Davidson properties have been demolished, and Edgar Funeral Home has been leased to Midwest Orthopedics. No date has been set for the demolition of the Interstate Muffler property, Heilmann said.

The village created the TIF district in 2005. The redeveloped site will have two water features and may have two restaurants, the mayor said.

Public safety, in particular as it relates to the police department, was another aspect of Heilmann's presentation. Neighborhood safety meetings with the mayor and Police Chief Bill Villanova were held at Kolb, Hannum, Covington, Harnew and Kolmar schools in 2012. The police department last year increased its number of full-time officers from 108, up from 102 in 2005. More than 250,000 calls were answered at Oak Lawn's Emergency Communications' 911 center in 2012, he added. Calls were answered within 10 seconds 98.7 percent of the time, which Heilmann called "outstanding."

"All of lives were touched by what happened in Newtown, Conn.," Heilmann said. "No one expects to drop their child off at school and never see them again."

Six months prior to the Newtown shootings, the Oak Lawn police led an initiative to install placards at 23 public and private schools identifying classrooms and important areas to aid first responders in case of an emergency.

"This way, they will know where everything is in the school and know within seconds how to get there," Heilmann said. "They were thinking ahead."

Heilmann hopes to create a comprehensive safety plan for the village, he said.

"We want to sit down with a group of residents, a group of people who care, and develop a safety plan," Heilmann said. "We want to look at a lot of different areas. Maybe someone wants to look at lighting, someone might want to look at what's going on in schools, seniors who live alone, identity theft - we have to study this. We are right next to one the largest cities in the country and we can't ignore that. We have to study the statistics and educate people."

Heilmann said everyone knows a neighborhood that used to be safe but is no longer safe.

"We all know a place where it used to be safe, and now you wouldn't live there," Heilmann said. "That can't happen in Oak Lawn. We need to take the lead on safety."

Heilmann also noted the Oak Lawn Park District has received $750,000 in grant money for renovations. Heilmann and several attendees remembered the long-removed "rocket ship" slide that was once the centerpiece at Memorial Park, 102nd Street and Major Avenue. The park will be renovated this summer, with upgrades including a new "rocket slide," improved playgrounds, restrooms, a fishing pier and a splash pad.

Centennial Park, 93rd Street and Nashville Avenue, will be renovated in the fall. The project will add a playground and a picnic pavilion, along with four indoor basketball courts and a children's splash pool.

"The rocket ship slide was great," Heilmann said. "I'll see you all there when the park is done, and we'll all go down the slide."

'Grease' at Oak View

Tickets are available for the Oak Lawn Park District Theatre production of "Grease," which will run at Oak View Center, 4625 W. 110th St., at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8 and 15 and Saturday, Feb. 9 and 16. Shows will also be at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10 and Feb. 17. Tickets are available at the Oak View Center for $15. For more information or to purchase tickets call the Oak Lawn Park District at 857-2200.

What's Going On

Flake Fest

Evergreen Park Flake Fest will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at Yukich Field, 89th Street and Kedzie Avenue. Event will feature children's activities the fire station from 1 to 4 p.m. and open skate from 4 to 6 p.m.

Candy Capital

"Chicago: Candy Capital of the World," will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17 at the Worth Historical Museum, 11500 Beloit Ave. in the Terrace Centre. For much of its history, Chicago produced about one-third of the nation's candy. Author Leslie Goddard will discuss her book, "Chicago's Sweet Candy History," during a free program. Registration not required.

Antique Market

The Evergreen Park High School Athletic Boosters' 2nd annual Indoor Garage Sale and Antique Market will be held Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Evergreen Park High School main gym, 99th Street and Kedzie Avenue.

State of Oak Lawn

The Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce will hold the 3rd annual "State of the Village" address Tuesday, Feb. 12 at the Hilton Oak Lawn, 9333 S. Cicero Ave. Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann will address issues such as infrastructure, taxes, and the village's short- and long-terms plans. Registration and networking begin at 11:30 a.m. Lunch is at noon followed by the State of the Village at 12:15 p.m. For reservation contact the Chamber at 424-8300 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Job Fair

Saint Xavier University's Office of Career Services will hold its 2013 Spring Job Fair from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 in the Shannon Center at the university's Chicago campus, 3700 W. 103rd St. Fair is free and open to the public.

A bout 20 employers are expected to attend the fair and recruit for full-time, part-time, and internship positions. Attendees are advised to dress professionally and bring plenty of copies of their resumes. Companies scheduled to attend include Chicago Education Project, Citizen Schools, Elim Christian Special Education School/Services, Enterprise Holdings, Echo Joint Agreement, Hoopise Financial Group, Indian Oaks Academy, Ingalls Memorial Hospital, Moraine Valley Community College, Northwestern Mutual, Palos Community Hospital, Prudential, Rush University Medical Group, Standard Bank and Trust Co., TCF Bank, The Menta Group, Tinley Park Police Department, and the U.S. Army Healthcare. A full list of employers is available at (keyword: job fair).

For more information call (773)298-3131.

Outdoor Hockey

Tickets for the Outdoor Hockey City Classic, to be held Sunday, Feb. 17 at Soldier Field, are $40 and available at the Evergreen Park Recreation Department office, in the Maher Community Center at 3450 W. 97th St. Games scheduled include Notre Dame vs. Miami (Ohio) at noon, and Minnesota vs. Wisconsin at 3: p.m.