What do you say?

What is your new year's resolution, and how long do you plan to keep it?

(Asked at St. Alexander School in Palos Heights)

Clare Feldman, 6th grade,
Palos Park

"I want to maintain good grades."

Gina Musso, 6th grade,
Palos Heights

"I'll be recycling more and keeping it as long as I can."

John Mattes, 6th grade,
Palos Park

"I want to eat more protein and more fruits and veggies. I think I'll be able to keep it for a week and a half."

Julia Crowley, 6th grade,

"I want to be a good friend and talk to my friends more. I think I can keep it."

Liam Law, 6th grade,
Palos Heights

"I want to memorize where everything is in my new house, make new friends and be kinder to my sister. I think it'll be two or three months before I fight with her."

Racquetball club may be demolished

By Kelly White

The Palos Hills City Council is considering the possibility of tearing down the old racquetball club at 11050 S. Roberts Road.

The City Council in May decided to nix a proposal by building owner Hani Awadallah to open a Mediterranean- style family restaurant in the building. Several residents gathered during previous spring council meetings, while the proposal was being considered, expressing their concerns about a residential area being affected by traffic, noise, safety, smoke and lighting coming from the building. Since the proposal rejection, Awadallah has had no luck attempting to sell the previous 15,000 square-foot "special-use" building, and has expressed concern to the council on demolishing the structure.

Two of Mayor Jerry Bennett's major concerns are safeguarding the residents in the area while the building is being torn down, and loud noise from construction. Awadallah is hoping to crush the concrete on site.

"Oh, it will be noisy, especially for the surrounding residents," Alderman A.J. Pasek (4th Ward) said. Pasek has suggested setting limited hours for construction crews with a set start and finish time during the destruction of the property, to better prepare residents, by allowing them to know when to expect excess noise during demolition.

Alderman William Hanson (3rd Ward) said he is hesitant to approve demolition because of concerns about dust, adding that when concrete is crushed on site, with the use of a crusher or without, it will create dust.

Planning to proceed with construction during the winter was another issue brought to the council by Public Works Commissioner Dave Weakley.

"The water supply would be a concern that would be needed in order to crush the concrete and eliminate dust," he said. "Regardless, if they decide to use a crusher or not, they are still going to have to demolish the building and there is going to be water, with waste in it from the demolition, running into our storm sewer system."

Palos Hills Building Commissioner Gene Nelson is awaiting a permit from Cook County informing the council the building is free from asbestos. If any asbestos is in the building it must be removed before demolition begins.

Awadallah does not have a set time limit as to when the demolition of this property would begin.

Home for Christmas

By Laura Bollin

Three Oak Lawn families got a special Christmas present this year - their relatives, serving in the Armed Forces, have returned home from Afghanistan in time for Christmas.

The St. Linus Men's Club held a welcome home party for the men at St. Linus Parish on Dec. 15.

Army Capt. Dan Griffin, Army Lt. Col. Jim Kokaska and Marine Lance Cpl. Scott Smolik were honored at the party. U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski was in attendance, and gave each man a copy of the statement he made at the U.S. House of Representatives honoring each of them for their service.

"For the families of Capt. Griffin, Lt. Col. Kokaska and Lance Cpl. Smolik, there is no better Christmas present than to have them home safe and sound for the holidays," Lipinski said.

"They have served their country admirably and are well deserving of our respect and recognition I was honored to join St. Linus and the entire Oak Lawn community in welcoming them home."

Capt. Griffin is an attorney who completed one tour of Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division. Lt. Kokaska, who has been in the Army for 20 years, served one tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan with the 416th Engineer Command. Lance Cpl. Smolik is a St. Rita High School graduate who served with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines infantry battalion.

Two Oak Lawn trustees behind mayor's challenger

Tom Phelan won't run for re-election

By Laura Bollin

Two Oak Lawn trustees and two village trustee candidates have put their support behind a woman who will hope to unseat incumbent Mayor Dave Heilmann in next spring's election.

Sandra Bury, an optometrist and owner of Complete Vision Care, has been endorsed by incumbent trustees Alex Olejniczak (District 2) and Tom Duhig (District 4), who are running for reelection in April, as well as trustee candidates Tim Desmond and Mike Carberry.

The four trustee candidates are running independently Bury said.

Trustee Tom Phelan (District 6), a political ally of Olejniczak's and Duhig's, is not running for reelection. Phelan has put his support behind Carberry, a former 36th District state representative and the deputy director of facilities management for Cook County, according to Bury. Carberry will run in District 6.

In an email to Oak Lawn residents, Phelan thanked the community for supporting him in eight years of service to the village. He said he will not run again because he believed the people of Oak Lawn would benefit most from him devoting his time and energy to bringing a mayoral change to the village. Phelan has been at the center of political disputes with Heilmann and village Trustee Bob Streit.

Desmond, the founder and owner of Jack Desmond's Pub in Chicago Ridge and a stationary engineer with Local 399, is running in District 1 against Trustee Cynthia Trautsch, who is running on Heilmann's Mayor's Independence Party ticket. Trautsch was appointed to replace Jerry Hurckes when he resigned from his seat in October 2011. The election will be for a two-year term.

Olejniczak is running for reelection against Mayor's Independence Party candidate Julie Misner. Olejniczak is the vice president of operations for Dearborn Wholesalers.

Misner is the board secretary for Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 and an administrative assistant at an independent accounting firm.

Duhig is running for reelection against Mayor's Independence Party candidate Tim Reilly. Duhig works in the court services division of the Cook County Sheriff's Office.

Reilly is the owner of a steel supply company and a member of the Oak Lawn Planning and Development Commission.

Carberry is running against Mayor's Independence Party candidate Carol Sheahan. Sheahan is an Oak Lawn Green Team member and a member of the Kolmar Elementary School Parent Teacher Association.

Bury said she wants to work to put the residents of Oak Lawn first.

"I see a great and unrealized potential for Oak Lawn, but only if we find a way to work together and do what is best for the community, not for ourselves," Bury said. "It is time to put Oak Lawn first again."

Oak Lawn will hold vigil tonight for victims of Newtown massacre

By Laura Bollin

Oak Lawn residents and village officials will gather at 7 p.m. tonight, to honor the victims of the Newtown, Conn. school shooting and their families on the Village Green, 95th Street and Cook Avenue.

In honor of the victims, the Christmas lights on the Village Green will go dark for 27 minutes on Dec. 27, Mayor Dave Heilmann said, and families will come together and light candles in their memory.

"All over this country, people are in tears," Heilmann said. "You see the faces of those little children, you think about those teachers and how hard they fought to protect them, you think about these families, Christmas - the pain for them must be unbearable."

Heilmann, a father himself, said he cannot imagine losing a child.

"I have four children (ages) 10 and under," Heilmann said. "I cannot imagine dropping them off for school and one of them not coming home."

On Dec. 14, gunman Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and killed 20 students, six adults, and himself after killing his mother, Nancy, at her home in Newtown. Several funerals were held last week. People across the country have written signs and letters for the families, or held candlelight vigils in their towns. The 27 minutes of darkness is in honor of the shooter's mother and the students and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary School who were killed.

The candlelight vigil will serve as a reminder that people in Oak Lawn are thinking about the people in Newtown and what they are going through, Heilmann said.

"By turning off the decorations for 27 minutes we are saying that on Earth, this holiday season has a little less light," Heilmann said. "By lighting candles, we are saying that our families are thinking about yours and that is so much closer to the true meaning of Christmas."

People can bring cards or letters that they wish to have mailed to Newtown, Heilmann said, to provide comfort to the families in their time of need.

"Perhaps families across Illinois will join us for 27 minutes by having vigils in their communities or turning off lights at home for 27 minutes," Heilmann said. "Together, let's send up those prayers. These families need them."