Ridge man robbed by a couple of posers

  • Written by Bob Rakow

   A man was robbed Sept. 4 in Oak Lawn by two men posing as undercover police officers, police said.

  The Chicago Ridge man told police he was driving south in the 9500 block of Parkside Avenue at 8:50 p.m. when a dark-colored Chevrolet Tahoe cut him off, causing him to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision, according to reports.
  Two men got out of the SUV and walked toward the car, police said. They both were wearing dark polo shirts with shield or badges attached, leading the man to believe they were police officers, reports said.
  The men appeared to have bullet-proof vests under their shirts and wore belts with various gadgets attached. The victim did not recall if either man had a gun, police said.
  One of the men approached the driver’s side window and asked the driver for his driver’s license and registration, police said. The driver removed the items from his wallet, and the offender grabbed the wallet from his hand, according to police.
  Both men met at the front of the victim’s car for several seconds and then one of them returned to the car, returned the wallet, and told the driver, “You’re good to go.” The victim later realized that $47 was missing from his wallet.

Just call her Iron Woman

  • Written by Claudia Parker


DOUBLE-RUN-COLOR-4-COL-IRONCourtney Javorski of Worth has triumphed over cancer and finished the Ironman competition in Louisville in August. She sports her medal which she won for finishing in the competition. Photo by Jeff Vorva   

Worth athlete survives cancer and grueling Ironman race

When a diagnosis threatened the life of this active mom, she made a run for it.

  Nearly five years ago, during a routine obstetrics appointment, Courtney Javorski of Worth discovered she had cervical cancer.
  So a half decade later, what was she doing on Aug. 25?
  And biking.
  And swimming.
  Long, long distances.
  Javorski, who has been cancer-free for two years, competed in the Ironman event in Louisville Kentucky. This elite competition consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run. The rigor of a race like this is taxing for a healthy competitor let alone someone who is injured or sick.
  The former Chicago Ridge redident said she finished the raced in 14 hours, 20 minutes and 19 seconds. She was happy she could finish the race but it was not an easy competition.
  “I was surprisingly calm,” she said. “The swim occurs in the Ohio River and my goal was to finish in 120 minutes. But there was a current pushing me in the opposite direction and water kept getting in my goggles. I must have swam harder than I realized because I finished the swim in 108 minutes.
  “When I got on the bike, I felt great. I smiled so much my face hurt. I was just happy to be there.”
  Happiness soon turned to pain as she ran the marathon-distance third leg of the competition.
  “The run was the most difficult and visually terrifying,” she said. “It was hot — 90 degrees. My feet throbbed every step. I saw people passing out from a full standing position, face first. Some vomited. Some cramped and screamed out in agony. I saw a few people who appeared delirious from fatigue. It was scary.’’
  But she finished to the cheering of more than 20 friends and family members.
  Five years ago, she received the news about her cancer but it did not progress during the pregnancy and her daughter, Eva, was born healthy.
  Six weeks following Eva’s birth, Javorski, underwent a full hysterectomy. She was in remission for two years but it returned necessitating 33 radiation treatments and six weeks of chemotherapy. Javorski felt the best way for her to get through her fight was to continue on with life.
  She did so by not telling anyone of her disease except her husband Todd, his parents and her parents.
  “Life needed to move forward,” she said. “When I was fatigued from chemotherapy, I took a nap.”
  She didn’t want her son, Shane, who was 15 at the time, to be concerned about her illness.
  “He should be worried about his football season, not me,” she said.
  Her efforts to keep things under wraps went undetected initially. She continued to work as a fitness instructor at X Sport Fitness, as an Esthetician promoting healthy skin and as a massage therapist.
  As a lover of all things fitness, she kept competing in multiple triathlons and other races.
  However, after running First Midwest Bank’s Half Marathon in Palos Heights in 2011, she finally opened up about her plight.
  “I finished that race slower than normal. A friend I was running with probed and I lost it. I told her everything.”
  Javorski may have felt weak but her therapy team at Accelerated Rehabilitation in Orland Park saw strength.
  Team members volunteered to sponsor her for the pinnacle of endurance sports, The Ironman.
  Javorski also suffers from Lymphedema, a condition that causes localized fluid retention and tissue swelling. It’s frequently seen in patients who had radiation treatment. For Javorski, the swelling and severe pain is localized to the right leg. Another source of her discomfort is Plantar Fasciitis, it’s the connective tissue or ligament on the bottom surface of the foot.
  Most people complain it causes stabbing pain with every step. Javorski realized competing in The Ironman would defy all odds but she wasn’t going to allow anything to hold her back. With the help of trainer, Jennifer Harrison, Javorski trained four times a week for eight months. When she wasn’t running, swimming or biking, she was spinning or doing yoga. She remained under a doctor’s supervision the entire time. She was provided with a custom compression sleeve for her leg and custom orthotics’ to lessen the pain in her feet.
  A race of this magnitude also requires hydration and nutrition. Javorski drank an estimate of two-gallons of water and 60 ounces of electrolytes. She ate 2,100 calories, snacking on waffles and peanut butter bars during the bike portion of the race. When she started the run, she took in another eight ounces of water per mile.
  Javorski recalled visualizing herself finishing and imagined running alongside other cancer survivors. She wanted to feel as though she had support from people who could relate to her experience.
  She said she is not a role model but she does have a message to anyone who thinks they can’t accomplish big things because they are sick.
  “If you don’t feel, you’re not living. Don’t lie on the couch, numbing your situation. Get moving. Keep going.”


OL Park District stalls citizens’ full court press for hoop removal

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  An Oak Lawn trustee’s proposal to remove basketball hoops from all village parks was not well-received Monday by park district commissioners.

  “I didn’t get a good vibe from the board,” Trustee Carol Quinlan said after Monday’s park board meeting. “I’m not very optimistic.”
  Quinlan was one of approximately 30 residents who live near Little Wolf Park to attend the meeting. She asked commissioners to consider removing the hoops following an Aug. 14 fight at the park that led to two arrests.
  The fight took place at about 9:20 p.m. near a foot bridge that connects Little Wolfe Park with walking trails that stretch to the rear of Richards High School.
  Stephen Hyde, 18, of Oak Lawn, and Hexadore Randall, 19, of Chicago, were arrested and charged with battery after they were picked out of a lineup by teenagers injured in the melee, police said.
  The duo said the fight was racially motivated and broke out after a group of white teens used racial slurs, according to police. They said they were walking the trails adjacent to the park when they encountered the white teens, who shouted racial slurs before hitting them, police said.
  The white teens offered a different version of events. Two teens told police they were punched in the face while another said he was jumped, according to reports.
  Quinlan said problems have been ongoing throughout the summer and residents are concerned about the potential for more fights or mayhem.
  “It was not an isolated case,” Quinlan said. “I am not exaggerating at all.”
  She added that the park no longer attracts families or younger children. Instead, older teens and adults from outside Oak Lawn play basketball at the park, 109th Street and Laramie Avenue.
  “Mothers are not coming with their children. I think that we’re bringing in an element that’s from outside Oak Lawn,” said Quinlan, who lives near the park.
  She said she receives complaints routinely from residents who do not feel comfortable at the park. Those who use the basketball courts park on both sides of Laramie Avenue, shout profanities and litter in the park, Quinlan said.
  Police Chief Mike Murray met with Park Director Maddie Kelly recently to discuss park security, he said at Monday’s meeting. Murray and Kelly discussed increased lighting at Little Wolfe Park and the possibility of clearing dense brush and foliage that has grown along the paths.
  Murray added that there have been more than 300 police patrols at park since the Aug. 14 incident. No other confrontations have occurred at the park in the past month, Murray said.
  Park commissioners said they would consider Quinlan’s proposal at a future meeting when a full board was on hand. Commissioner Mary Margaret Wallace did not attend Monday’s meeting.
  Park Commissioner Donna McAuley said “safety is a concern for all of us,” but was hesitant to remove recreational opportunities from the parks. She added that recreational equipment is added to parks after the district receives feedback from residents.
  Kelly also was tentative about taking down the basketball hoops.
  “We hate to take out any recreational amenity in any park,” she said.
  Commissioner Gary Callahan said inappropriate conduct in the parks is not solely associated with basketball. He said the district’s skateboard park, near 89th Street and Ridgeland Avenue, has drawn inappropriate behavior from some teens who use the facility.
  Quinlan asked commissioners to consider removing the nets for a six-month trial period. If they are removed permanently, the courts could be replaced by sand volleyball courts, she said.
  Some residents who attended the meeting were unhappy with the park board’s failure to make a decision on the issue.
  Dennis Zator said park commissioners are ignoring a safety issue.
  “They’re doing it their way,” he said.
  Jim Durkin, who also lives near the park, said removing the basketball hoops was a “simple fix.”

ComEd attempting to restore ‘good faith’ to OL residents

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  ComEd will take steps to remedy the causes of power outages that have plagued the village, according to a reliability report issued to the village.

  Trustee Alex Olejniczak said the report is a step in the right direction but never would have been published if village officials had not pressured ComEd to act.
  “(ComEd’s) first line of defense is to tell you they did nothing wrong,” said Olejniczak, whose 2nd District has experienced many of the recent outages.

  Olejniczak and other village officials have been in regular contact with ComEd in past months, especially after a March power outage and surge in the northeast section of the village.
  The outage and subsequent surge caused approximately $25,000 worth of damage to appliances and electrical equipment in a neighborhood roughly bounded by 49th and 52nd avenues between 87th and 93rd streets, Olejniczak said.
  A down power line near 91st Street and Cicero Avenue and raccoon that got into a transformer located behind Freshline Foods, 5355 W. 95th St., were the cause of the outage, ComEd officials said.
  Three months later, thousands of residents were without power for two days after a storm swept through the village.
  ComEd denied the 59 claims submitted following the March surge, Olejniczak said, but recently agreed to pay $500 to those who submitted claims.
  “All we have asked is that they do what’s right for the residents,” Olejniczak said.

  Liz Keating, ComEd communications manager, said the utility sent the $500 to residents as a “good faith gesture.” The company does not pay for surge damage when wildlife is the cause, Keating said.
  Some residents have accepted the money, while others plan to reject the payment and instead file a claim with the Illinois Commerce Commission, Olejniczak said.
  Village Manager Larry Deetjen said pressure on ComEd led to the reliability report and the agreement to take steps to remedy the problem.
  “There is no question we would not have been where we are,” Deetjen said at Tuesday’s village board meeting.
  Olejniczak said much of the reliability reports contains “the same information I was talking about for years.”
  For example, ComEd will begin a vegetation management plan in the 9300 block of 50th and Sproat avenues, the report said. The area was hard hit during the June outage.
  “Now they’ve got an actionable plan,” Olejniczak said.
  The plan calls for work to be done through the end of year, he said.
  Keating said ComEd also has agreed to assess its entire system in Oak Lawn and asked village officials to identify troublesome areas.
  She disagreed with Olejniczak’s claim that village’s reliability is among the worst on ComEd’s grid.
  “The reliability is actually better that the reliability in some of the southwest suburbs,” she said.

Richards students study pollutants

The students could have guessed that motor oil, SCHOOL-PAGE-RICHARDS-hlrES15studentsB1Richards High School freshman Lucas Sekulski measures the amount of motor oil his lab group will place in soil to test its effect on radishes. Submitted photo.insect repellent, and rubbing alcohol would adversely affect plant life. But scientists don’t guess.
So the freshmen from Richards High School meticulously recorded how each pollutant affected their radish plants.
They monitored the effects by inputting and analyzing data with Microsoft Excel. They took photos to visually track the deterioration of the radishes.
And finally they wrote a lab report with their findings and a sequence of photos that illustrated how the pollutants damaged the plants.
“This lab follows the next generation science standards because it is student-generated. They told me what they wanted to test and did the lab themselves,” said teacher Sheri Caine.
Parents volunteered more than 600 freshmen – a record – to participate in Early Start this summer in District 218. The three-week program helps students adapt to high school with classes in English, math, and science.
Many Early Start teachers incorporate activities, such as the radish experiment, that the time constraints of the regular school year don’t allow.
“Early Start is a great program for multiple reasons. First, kids learn skills that they’ll use during the year. For science, they’re getting a head start in experimental design, some concepts in biology, using microscopes, and Microsoft Excel and Word,” said Caine.
Early Start also provides an orientation to high school life.
“They’re learning about Richards by touring the school, meeting staff, making friends, and learning the expectations of high school-level work. They’re also learning interpersonal skills during their homeroom such as active listening and body language,” she added.
The science portion of Early Start included a biodiversity survey.
“We started off with a nature walk down by the creek behind Richards. They got a tour while learning to critically examine an area,” Caine said.
Students looked for signs of animals along Wolfe Wildlife Refuge.
“This led to the discussion on why biodiversity is necessary for life. The pollutant lab is their final project where they are demonstrating everything they’ve learned in the past few weeks,” she said.
--District 218