A Chicago man was charged with disorderly conduct Oct. 4 after falsely reporting an armed robbery to Oak Lawn police, according to reports.
Earl D. Chapman Jr., 24, flagged down a police officer on 95th Street near Kostner Avenue at 12:25 a.m. and said he was robbed at gun point by a man who took his cell phone and $75, police said. Chapman said he worked in Alsip and was given a ride by a co-worker to 95th Street and Kostner Avenue. As he walked east on 95th Street, he said he saw a black Honda four-door with three people inside drive past him on northbound Kostner Avenue. A moment later, Chapman said, he heard a man behind him ask, “What time is it?” He said he ignored the man and continued walking east on 95th Street. He said he then felt a tug on his jacket, turned around and saw a man holding a small, semi-auto handgun. He said the man searched his pockets and took the phone and cash before entering the Honda, which traveled east on 95th Street, Chapman told police. Police said Chapman did not seem shaken up. He refused a ride to the police station where he could arrange transportation home. Instead, he walked east on 95th Street. He subsequently called 911 three times to file a citizen complaint because he believed he was wronged by police, according to reports. He was detained by Evergreen Park police at 95th Street and Central Park Avenue. Oak Lawn police picked him up and asked how he called 911 if his phone was stolen. A search revealed that Chapman had two other cell phones. At the police station, Chapman insisted he was the victim of an armed robbery, but he was unable to provide a number for the stolen iPhone. He later recanted his story about the stolen phone, police said. Instead, he said, he saw a man smoking marijuana on 95th Street near Kostner Avenue and asked if he had more. Chapman gave the man money, but he got into the Honda and drove away. Chapman would not explain why he flagged down an officer to report an armed robbery that never occurred.
Palos Hills woman thrilled to have her house painted during Palos Park church’s SON Weekend
Inspiration lifted church members up from thePalos Hills’ Carlene O’Connor had her house painted, received a bucket of paint, a basket with a pumpkin inside and a t-shirt courtesy of the SON weekend in September. pews and into their community to practice what was being preached.
The Palos Park Presbyterian Community Church gathered more than 200 volunteers, and hit the households of 23 residents on to conduct home improvement projects. They likened the project to “Extreme Home Maker” with a splash of something off of Home and Garden TV. It’s called Serving Our Neighbors Weekend and it’s been happening annually, during the last weekend of September, for four years. They replaced everything from roofs to furnaces. They cleaned everything from gutters to carpets and trimmed everything outside from trees to grass. If that’s not enough, some of them painted, wall to wall, inside and out. This is the short list at zero cost to the homeowner. SON Weekend took place over three days. If the job couldn’t be finished within the weekend, a mop-up crew finished the work the following week. Carlene O’Connor, of Palos Hills is one person who is happy with having her place dressed up. “These are tremendous people,” she said. “They painted my entire condo in one day. It was amazing. They had a team of eight people. I’m a smoker, with thick nicotine on my walls. You can’t tell anymore. It’s beautiful in here.” She said she was given a quote by a professional painting company months prior and the asking price was $3,000. She spoke soft but rapid saying, “I could have never afforded that. The church didn’t ask me for anything. And, they gave me a gift basket, leftover paint, a t-shirt, and invited me to a free breakfast the next morning.” As a thank you to the group, she says she attended a worship service and gave a speech. O’Connor said she worked for the Palos Olympic Health Club for 16 years. She added she had zero reservations about accepting help. She said she “felt special.” SON Weekend was inspired by a disaster in New Orleans. The devastation of Hurricane Katrina caused an awakening for members of PPPCC. Bob Sneddon of Palos Heights has been with the church since 1972 and is the project coordinator for SON Weekend. “We all wanted to board a plane and go to New Orleans but it was too costly,” he said. “We shifted our focus to helping right here, in our own community.” James Tony, who has been the pastor of PPPCC since 1990 said knew this vision needed to be a collaborative effort and reached out to the Palos Township supervisor Colleen Schumann. “Pastor Tony needed us to locate residents willing to accept help. I told him he’d have our full support,” Schumann said. Schumann’s assistant, Bernadette Orr, of Palos Hills, became the liaison between the township and the church. Orr sent letters to current and past participants of their general assistance program, holiday basket drive and food pantry clients. Respondents’ specific needs were assessed and added to the site lists for service. Over the span of eight weeks, PPPCC recruited volunteers, matching skills with the site specifications. Entire families signed up. Anyone with a desire to help, was deemed fit. For example, the church grandmothers prepared and delivered lunch to each work site. Word began to spread throughout Palos Townships like a virus. Local businesses wanted in on the fun. John and Beata Vander Veen of Palos Hills-based Diamond Temperature heating and cooling business donated service to 19 of the 23 sites. They’re third year participants. They said it’s their way of giving back. Sneddon said, “The church funds the project but when businesses are willing to help, it allows us to do even more. [For example] Dan Harrison, Ace Hardware owner in Palos Heights, donated materials for cost, saving us thousands.” Orr has since retired from Palos Township but still volunteers for this project. “It was hard for people to let us help at first. When you haven’t served in an area you’re receiving, it makes some feel undeserving. Put pride aside. We’re just people, helping people. It’s the most rewarding and loving thing I’ve ever been a part of.”
Moraine Valley Community College trustees are considering banning all tobacco products and creating a policy that would divorce state law, which currently governs all tobacco-related citations. Moraine Valley currently has nine designated smoking areas on the main campus in Palos Hills. According to state law, anyone caught smoking outside the designated area or 15 feet from an entrance is subject to a $100 fine with $150 overdue fee. During an October board meeting last Wednesday, MVCC Wellness Coordinator Lisa Wright proposed banning tobacco outright and reducing the fine to $30 with a $5 overdue fee. Wright’s proposal was supported by 291 of 324 staff and faculty members who were surveyed. “When we surveyed the college we had a pretty good representation across all areas of the college,” Wright said. Moraine trustees questioned how students responded to the survey. Wright informed the trustees that the students were not included in the survey but were placed into small 10-person focus groups. “We sat down with the institutional research and planning group to create the focus group questions to limit it and make sure we are targeting the questions to get the feedback we needed to move forward.” she said. If approved, the ban would go into effect in the fall, 2014. Moraine Trustee Joseph Murphy questioned the motives behind banning tobacco on campus. “Is the motivation to get smokers to quit or to protect the non-smokers?” Murphy asked, after drawing a comparison between New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s failed attempt to ban soda, salt and other fatty foods. “We are talking about young adults that have the freedom of choice and I think it’s going to be impossible to enforce.” Trustees Murphy and Tom Cunningham questioned the healthcare cost of approving the proposed tobacco-free program, saying students who choose to smoke must deal with the risks and costs associated with smoking. “If you can’t enforce our current policy then why try to enforce it when it becomes more restricted?” Murphy asked. “I hate smoking, but I don’t want a kid to lose money for books because of a fine he got for smoking.”
Transparency was a central theme in Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury’s campaign, and while her supporters insist she’s already taken steps to honor that pledge, opponents contend the mayor has been less than forthcoming on issues of importance to the village.
The topic was broached at the Oct. 8 village board meeting when a proposal by Trustees Bob Streit and Carol Quinlan calling for trustees to have greater access to village records, including emails, was defeated. The proposal lost 4-3 with Bury casting the deciding vote, but not before extensive debate by trustees. Currently, only the mayor and Village Manager Larry Deetjan have access to the documents. “You guys are going to tell me you’re going to restrict what can and can’t see,” Quinlan said. “I would think transparency would include providing general records to anyone.” Village Attorney Paul O’Grady has ruled that the village is not required to share such emails with trustees. “There’s no law that says trustees have access to the emails of the manager and mayor,” Village Clerk Jane Quinlan said. Quinlan added that Deetjen and the mayor frequently are involved in negotiations and other sensitive matters and related emails cannot be made public. “Under Illinois law, a number of these emails deal with personnel matters, litigation, labor relations, real estate and highly sensitive matters that are permitted to be kept confidential,” Deetjen said. “Those who wish to obtain unlimited data for reasons that are not objective and in the village’s best interests certainly should understand this balancing act.” Trustees unanimously approved additions to the ethics ordinance at the Oct. 8 meeting. The ordinance prohibits village officials and employees from using their positions to influence board decisions that would result in financial gain. The measure also prohibits elected officials from participating in discussions or voting on issues in which they, their spouses or domestic partners have received or expect to receive income or compensation for a period of one year. Bury’s supporters believe the additions to the ethics ordinance are just one example of the mayor’s efforts to increase transparency. “I think [transparency] has improved, but it’s such a big topic to tackle,” Trustee Alex Olejniczak said. The veteran trustee pointed out that Bury has taken significant strides during her first six months in office to improve transparency, including establishing the legislative, license and ordinance committee during her first board meeting. Streit and Quinlan voted against the formation of the three-member committee. The committee currently is discussing term limits for elected officials, an issue that is expected to come before the full board before the end of the year. The board will determine whether to place the item as a referendum on the March ballot. The committee was formed in part to help Oak Lawn to reach a 100 percent transparency score on a checklist compiled by the Illinois Policy Institute. The checklist requires contact information for elected and administrative officials online, information about upcoming village meetings, copies of the minutes of meetings, information packets from previous meetings, publication of financial audits and budgets, salary and benefit information of public employees and access to public records through Illinois’ freedom of information law.
Orland Park was the first village to score 100 percent on under the institute’s guidelines. Despite Bury’s early efforts to improve transparency, her political foes are quick to criticize her for failing to keep the board in the loop.
Streit and Quinlan, for example, believe they have a legal right to examine all the documents that Bury and Deetjen can access. “It’s not up to the mayor, and it’s not up to the manager,” Quinlan said. The mayor’s opponents offered several other examples of a lack of transparency on Bury’s part. For example, they said, no resume or background information was provided when Pat O’Donnell was appointed village treasurer or when Bury made appointments to other committees.
Additionally, they said they did not receive an advanced copy of the pre-budget village finance presentation presented by O’Donnell, nor were they notified in advance of a proposals to outsource 911 dispatch services, transition senior services to the park district or reorganize the department of business operations.
“In my 22 years of service, I can’t remember another presentation, other than litigation matters, that did not include documentation prior to the board meeting,” Streit said of the pre-budget presentation.
Streit said Bury and her supporters did not want trustees to have time “to dispute the figures, ask questions or suggest proposals.” He said the board majority is more interested in getting a “quick vote” on Bury’s proposals. Streit also criticized the administration for reaching an agreement with Advocate Christ Medical Center for permit fees and a voluntary payment without notifying trustees, which stifled debate over other alternatives, he said. Olejniczak, a Bury supporter, said Streit has never before made such complaints or demanded greater access to village records. “Did this go on before? The answer is ‘no,’” Olejniczak said. “It’s [done] to create issues.”
“You are now the conspiracy trustee,” Olejniczak told Streit at the Oct. 8 board meeting. “You have your own version on the truth.”
Trustee Terry Vorderer said opening up village records to trustees creates a security concern. He also questioned Quinlan and Streit’s motives. “Is it a fishing expedition? It could be used for political purposes. Who knows,” Vorderer said. Village Clerk Jane Quinlan, one of the village’s eight FOIA officers, said nothing is being hidden from trustees.
She added that trustees can submit FOIA requests. Requests that are denied can be appealed to the Attorney General’s office, she said. The village must offer a reason for the FOIA requests it denies, such as personal information related to employees or village officials.
Karen Schnelle-Marrello remembers the look on her physician’s face as he reviewed her CAT scan results. “You know you’re in deep water when the doctor’s face falls when he’s looking at the CAT scan,” Schnelle-Marrello said. The lifelong Worth resident had the test after antibiotics and a steroids did nothing to relieve what she believed was a sinus infection. The CAT scan, however, revealed that Schnelle-Marrello was dealing with a condition far more serious that a sinus infection. Instead, the mother of six had a cancerous tumor behind her right eye. Her doctor told initially told her the growth might not be cancerous, but Schnelle-Marrello believed otherwise. “I knew in my gut we were dealing with theKaren Schnelle-Marrello, shown with her husband, Rory, will have a benefit in her honor in Worth Saturday night. Submitted photo. bad one,” she said. A biopsy revealed that Schnelle-Marrello had esthesioneuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer involving the nasal cavity, which can lead to loss of vision and taste. Schnelle-Marrello underwent a 14-hour surgery just days after the diagnosis. The surgery was a success, but the pain during recovery was intense, she recalled. Nine days later, she lapsed into a coma after he brain shifted to the rear of her skull. She awoke from the coma, but then faced four months of rigorous radiation and chemotherapy designed to destroy the small portion of the tumor not removed during surgery, she said. Four months later, Schnelle-Marrello is doing well and is anxious to complete her recovery. To help offset expenses, Schnelle-Marrello’s friends and family will hold a benefit, Kicking It With Karen, from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Chieftain Irish Bar, 6906 W. 111th St., Worth. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. The event will feature two bands, food, games and raffles. Monetary donations can be sent to Private Bank, 6825 W. 111th St., Worth, Ill., 60482. “The bills are astronomical,” said Colleen McElroy, a friend of Schnelle-Marrello and a Worth trustee. Schnelle-Marrello struggles with side effects, such as nausea and fatigue, and “my eyes no longer function together,” she said. “I’m holding out for a full recovery,” she said. Surgery, treatment and recovery have been costly. Insurance did not cover all of Schnelle-Marrello’s medical costs and she is unable to work during recovery. But the Worth community rallied behind her since her diagnosis by watching her children, preparing meals and running errands. “People missed her. The whole community banded together,” said McElroy, a member of the committee that planned the benefit. McElroy said is impressed with the way her friend handled the diagnosis and ensuing treatment. “She handled it like a champ,” she said. “Karen is a fighter. She handled it with such grace.” Schnelle-Marrello said she refused to let the condition defeat her. “My sense of humor is what got me through this,” she said. “Faith and humor—that’s what did it for me.” She added that she was not surprised but the support she received from her friends and neighbors. “It was more humbling than anything else,” she said.