Ain't that a Daisy

Little Company of Mary Hospital nurses Debbie Dandino-O'Neill and Gina Demas are the latest recipients of the DAISY Award for extraordinary nurses. They are seen here with Catie Schultz, Doug Shultz (holding Maggie Schultz), Jack Shultz and Susie Schultz.

The DAISY Award is an international program that rewards and celebrates the extraordinary clinical skill and compassionate care given by nurses every day. Little Company of Mary Hospital is a DAISY Award Partner, and recognizing nurses with this special honor every month. Each award recipient receives a DAISY Award signature lapel pin, a certificate of recognition and a hand-carved stone sculpture entitled, "A Healer's Touch." Nurses upon whom the honor is bestowed consistently demonstrate excellence through clinical expertise and compassionate care.

Church Corner

A new group that will aid persons who have experienced the loss of a loved one, job, home or marriage will meet from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sundays, Jan. 13 and 20, Feb. 3 and 17, and March 3 at Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ, 9411 S. 51st Ave. The group is for anyone who has experienced loss of a loved one, a job, a home or a marriage. Pastor Yvette Eber of Immanuel United Church of Christ in Evergreen Park will co-lead the group along with Pastor Peggy McClanahan of Pilgrim Faith. The public is invited, regardless of faith. For more information contact Mc- Clanahan at 422-4200 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

MWRD board of commissioners elects Meany as its president

Kathleen Therese Meany was unanimously elected by her eight fellow commissioners to serve as president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) Board of Commissioners during the first board meeting of the new year.

Vice President Barbara McGowan was reelected to her vice presidential post, while Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos was elected to serve as chairman of Finance. Committee assignments will be made at the next Board meeting to be held Jan. 17.

"This is a wonderful honor, and I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners, our staff, and the community as we improve upon the efficiencies in how the District manages wastewater and stormwater," President Meany said.

President Meany was first elected to the Board in 1990. She served as Vice President for 16 years and is currently Chairman of the Committee on Public Information and Education and the Committee on Ethics. President Meany also chaired the Committee on Federal Legislation for 18 years.

With a background in public policy, President Meany has made policy decisions during her tenure that strive to improve the water environment. One of her earliest achievements was to introduce a program to collect and properly dispose of household hazardous waste. This waste had previously been discharged indiscriminately into the sewer system and ultimately had a negative impact on water quality.

President Meany is a retired Assistant Professor of Political Science at Harold Washington College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Roosevelt University and a Master's Degree from Harvard GuyUniversity's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Vice President McGowan has served on the MWRD Board of Commissioners since 1998. As Chairman of the Affirmative Action Committee, Vice President McGowan has been active in ensuring that minority and women contractors have an opportunity to perform work on MWRD contracts and are treated fairly. She lead changes to the MWRD's Minority Business Enterprise/Women Business Enterprise Affirmative Action Ordinance to include penalties for contractors that violate the ordinance.

Commissioner Spyropoulos was appointed to the Board in 2009 and was re-elected in 2010. She earned her law degree from The John Marshall Law School and her master's in Business Administration from Loyola University Chicago. As an attorney, Commissioner Spyropoulos brings a unique legal and business perspective to the MWRD.

This is the first time in the MWRD's history that women have filled the top posts.

Chicago water rate hikes hit Orland

By Jeff Vorva

For the next three years, Orland Park residents will be soaked with three water rate increases and village officials are quick to point out that most of the increases are spiking because of the city of Chicago's 15 percent increase to provide Lake Michigan water to suburban towns.

"I want to make sure that our residents know that this is going to go on for a while as Chicago continues to take up its rates," village Trustee James Dodge said Monday night during a Finance Committee meeting. "We are at the mercy of the city of Chicago taking its rates up aggressively."

The new water rates, which will raise the average homeowner's bill to approximately $60 per year, will be voted on and likely be passed at the Jan. 21 Village Board meeting.

The raise in the rate also reflects a 435 percent increase from the village of Oak Lawn, which delivers the water to the area. For the past 15 years, Oak Lawn has charged Orland Park 4 cents per 1,000 gallons and is raising it to 21 cents per 1,000 gallons. The two villages are in negotiations to lock in a rate for the long-term future.

Orland Park will raise its rates 3 percent to keep up its infrastructure and maintenance.

The Village Board's Finance Committee discussed the outline of the rate hikes and a three-tier system that residents can take advantage of to try to save money. Most residents currently pay $4.06 per 1,000 gallons. Those who use 9,000 or less per year will be charged $4.65 per 1,000 gallons, whose who use 9,000-18,000 gallons will be charged $5.62 per 1,000 gallons and those who use more than 18,000 gallons will be charged $6.59 per 1,000 gallons.

"The more you use, the more you will pay," Dodge said. "So if people want to try to reduce their water bills they could try to conserve water to try to get to a different rate class. That's important."

Those numbers will be higher by $2 to $3 per 1,000 gallons in the unincorporated areas and Alpine Heights will have a flat rate of $4.48 per 1,000 gallons.

Despite the sticker shock of the proposed increases, officials researched what residents in other communities are paying and say they are on the lower end of the spectrum.

The village's survey showed that neighboring Homer Glen residents are paying $9.01 per 1,000 gallons. Tinley Park residents pay $4.85 if they use less than 20,000 gallons and $6.91 if they use more than 20 gallons. Orland Hills residents pay $6.78 and Oak Forest residents pay $6.65 if they use less than 25,000 gallons and $7.36 if they use 25,000 or more gallons. Mokena charges $5.86 and Chicago Heights charges $5.50.

"Our rates already reflect this proposed increase," Village Manager Paul Grimes said. "We're in the lower quartile. Our rates are still very attractive when you compare them with other south suburban communities. That provides some perspective to our residents. While it's never a pleasant thing to have to pass on a rate increase, our rates are very competitive compared to some of the other neighbors.

"Our proposed rates are about half of Homer Glen's – our neighbor to the west."

But the increase is likely going to make some residents angry. Village officials stress that it's out of their hands.

"We have to let them know that there will be another 15 percent increase next year and it will happen again in 2015 so that nobody will be shocked," Dodge said.

"It's coming again and we have absolutely no control," Trustee Pat Gira said. "Here is the heads- up. We have no control."

PADS turning people away as calls for help grow louder

By Dawn Thrasher
Community Resource Coordinator

As one of our PADS site managers recently said, "We are a community of people even though we do not see each other often, or ever."

Think about that – 4,000- plus individuals all pulling together to support one mission; to provide shelter, meals and supportive services to persons facing homelessness.

South Suburban PADS is the largest provider of shelter and supportive services for persons that are experiencing homelessness in the south and southwest suburbs of Chicago. PADS partners with local Faith Communities for the use of their building one night a week. Volunteers from these Faith Communities and the public at large provide the operational support that keeps these shelters open for the approximately 175 men, women and children served by PADS every night of the week.

The number of guests depending on the PADS shelter network this winter is the largest number ever in PADS 22 year history.

"This is the first year that PADS has had to turn guests away because we do not have enough capacity," commented Dawn Thrasher, community resource coordinator for PADS. "This breaks our hearts! We've also had several pregnant women this season, and many children."

PADS opened a 77-unit permanent supportive housing facility in Country Club Hills several months ago. Having 77 units of additional affordable housing in the Chicago Southland couldn't have come at a better time. Many PADS guests have been housed in this building in the last few months, leaving the shelter environment behind.

Even though PADS is blessed with thousands of volunteers, there are never enough to fill all the needs. Shelter volunteers are asked to work one four-five hour shift a month, and office volunteers are asked to work one 3 to 4- hour shift a week. Plus there are many other types of volunteer opportunities.

This winter season, PADS is operating 32 shelters each week, but 32 is not enough. We need more Faith Communities willing to open their doors one night each week to host a PADS shelter.

Since 1990 PADS has sheltered 12,724 men, women and children; has served 1,185,114 meals, and has been blessed with 13,873 men and women that serve as PADS volunteers, staffing the overnight shelters, and preparing and serving meals. To learn more about how you can help contact Dawn Thrasher, community resource coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or 754-4357, Ext. 107.