What's Going On

MWRD commissioner in Chicago Ridge

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Patrick Daley Thompson will address the Chicago Ridge Village Seniors at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 4 at 11:30 a.m. at Chicago Ridge Village Hall, 10455 Ridgeland Ave.Thompson will talk about the overview of the district.

Thompson was elected to the MWRD in November 2012. He chairs the Industrial Waste and Water Pollution, and the Monitoring and Research committees. He is vice chairman of the Information Technology and Judiciary Committee.

Thompson received his bachelor's degree from St. Mary's University of Minnesota and his law degree from John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Remembering Megan

Remembering Megan, a candlelight bowl to celebrate what would have been the 14th birthday of Oak Lawn resident Megan Hurckes, will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2 at Arena Bowl, 4700 W. 10rd St. in Oak Lawn. Tickets are $15 and includes bowling and shoes. There will be raffle drawings and a cash bar. Sponsor a lane for $150. Make checks payable to the Megan Hurckes Scholarship Fund, 7036 W. 96th St., Oak Lawn, IL 60453. For more information call 599-7302.

Park Clips

Evergreen Park

Step & Strength Training is from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday and Wednesday, 7 to 8 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. at the Community Center, 3450 W. 97th St.

Palos Hills

The Resource & Recreation Department will offer programs at the Activity Center, 8455 W. 103rd St.

Parent and Tot classes for children 2 to 3 years old and a parent are from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Cost is $30 for Palos Hills residents, $35 for non-residents.

Huggy Bear Twos is Thursday, Feb. 28 to April 4.

Pre- Engineering Fundamentals with LEGO for children in kindergarten through second grade is Wednesday, Feb. 6 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Cost is $20 per student.

Engineering Fundamentals with LEGO for third- through fifth-graders is Feb. 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Cost is $20 per student.

Cooking/Craft classes for children 7 to 10 years old are Tuesdays, 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. Cost is $12 per student.

Valentine's Day Sweet, Salty and Saucy will be Feb. 12.

Green & Lucky St. Patrick's Day will be March 5, Hopping Into Spring will be March 26.

Disney Dance Class for children 6 to 10 years old will be Saturdays from 1 to 2 p.m. Cost is $25 per session.

Oak Lawn

Registration is underway for before- and after-school FLASH (Fun & Learning After School Hours). The park district has partnered with Ridgeland School District 122 and Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 and is in all of those districts' elementary schools - Columbus Manor, Harnew, Kolb and Lieb in District 122, and Covington, Hannum, Hometown, Kolmar and Sward in District 123. For more information call the FLASH director or the FLASH assistant director at 857-2420.


Little Club offers benefits such as free indoor playground usage. Fee is $10 resident, $15 non-resident. For more information call the park district.


Little Hoopstars for boys and girls features lessons on the basics of basketball. Register by Feb. 1. Class will be Tuesdays from Feb. 5 to March 12 from 5 to 5:45 p.m. Fee is $29 resident, $44 non-resident. Location will be the Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave. For more information call the park district or visit


Little Kickers emphasizes the basics of soccer while stressing fun and teamwork. Register at the Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave., by Feb. 1. Class is Saturdays, Feb. 9 to March 16 from 11:15 a.m. to noon. Fee is $29 resident, $44 non-resident. Location will be the Terrace Centre.


Jazzercise for persons age 16 years and older will be from 9:20 to 10:20 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. Saturday; and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday at the Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave. Fee is $37 monthly for an Easy Fit Ticket and a registration fee of $25. For more information call 448-7080 or visit


The Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave., has an indoor playground featuring slides, a climbing wall, tree house and more for children who can walk through 4 years old. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Fee is $1 for residents, $2 for non-residents. For more information call 448-7080 or visit


The Worth Park District Historical Society meets at 7 p.m. every fourth Wednesday of the month at the Worth Historical Museum, in the Terrace Centre at 11500 Beloit Ave. Meetings are open to the public. Membership is free but is not required to attend.

Volunteers are welcome to come to the museum from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays to assist with projects. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Curator hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday. For group visits call 448-7080, Ext. 107.

Dancing to the top

The Oak Lawn Community High School dance team competed in the first-ever Illinois High School Association state finals for competitive dance last weekend in Bloomington. The 10 dancers competed against 30 other teams, but did not qualify as one of the top 10 teams. Seen here are dancers Anna Oswald (front, from left), Andrea Pacetti, Samantha Cholke, Amanda Leone; and coach Ryan Brandt (back, from left), Chelsy Zamora, Hannah Papaleo, Guadalupe Navarrete, choreographer Jeff Orluck, Rebecca Mackowiak, Patrycja Kucharska, Olivia Dankowski and coach Jessica Shekleton.

History of the World

By Mark Andrews

Dec. 13: ON THIS DATE in 1769, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, one of the eight Ivy League schools, received its charter. In 2003, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. troops.

Dec. 14: ON THIS DATE in 1799, George Washington, the first president of the United States, died at age 67. In 1962, the U.S. space probe Mariner II approached Venus, transmitting information about the planet back to Earth.

Dec. 15: ON THIS DATE in 1890, Sioux Chief Sitting Bull and 11 other tribe members were killed in Grand River, S.D., during a clash with tribal police. In 1939, the motion picture "Gone with the Wind" had its world premiere in Atlanta.

Dec. 16: ON THIS DATE in 1653, Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland. In 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place as American colonists dressed as Indians boarded a British ship and dumped more than 300 chests of tea overboard to protest tea taxes.

Dec. 17: ON THIS DATE in 1777, France formally recognized the United States. In 1903, brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful manned, powered airplane flight on a beach near Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Dec. 18: ON THIS DATE in 1892, Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite" premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1940, Adolf Hitler signed a secret directive ordering preparations for a Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Called Operation Barbarossa, it was launched in June 1941.

Travel Troubleshooter

By Christopher Elliott

Q: We recently booked a oneway ticket from Los Angeles to San Francisco on Virgin America to get us home after our trip from Tahiti. But about a month later, our travel agent informed us that our return flight from Tahiti to Los Angeles had been canceled.

I called Virgin America and was told that it would cost us $180 to change the flight to the next day, when our new flight was scheduled.

There are more than four months between now and then to resell those two seats. If those four seats were not rebooked in the next four months, I would be OK with getting charged or losing my money. Virgin's "guest services commitment" promises the airline is "constantly striving to give you the kind of Virgin America experience you came to us for in the first place." I can't believe that an airline is so steadfast in a policy that it can't work with a customer

Vacationing is supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable and sometimes plans change, which I understand. What I don't understand is that when things do change, why an organization like Virgin America has to make it stressful and inconvenient on their customer's pocketbook. - Bret Bickar, Alameda, Calif

A: You're right, there's something fundamentally unfair about airline change fees. If an airline can resell the ticket, why should you have to pay for the change?

But Virgin America is doing what other airlines also do, and have been doing for a long time, and I don't have the room for the argument in this column.

Here's what struck me about your case: You used a travel agent to make your booking, and if you did, then your itinerary should have been connected. That means Virgin America should have known about your change and would have put you on the next flight at no cost to you.

(Actually, that's one of the reasons you use a travel agent; they can ensure your itineraries are connected, preventing you from being stuck in an airport with no way to get home.)

Your travel agent should have told you that your Los Angeles to San Francisco flight was taken care of When you called Virgin America, the representative you spoke with should have also seen that you were flying in from Tahiti. But somehow, these flights were not connected.

This is a common problem with do-it-yourself travel agents. They buy several legs of a flight separately, assuming that they'll be taken care of when something goes wrong. But they aren't. You're considered no-shows when the flight is delayed or canceled and are forced to pay for a new one-way ticket to reach your destination.

I asked Virgin America to look into your itinerary. It refunded your change fee and allowed you to fly one day later at no extra cost.

(Christopher Elliott is the author of "Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals'" (Wiley). He's also the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the co-founder of the Consumer Travel Alliance, a nonprofit organization that advocates for travelers. Read more tips on his blog, elliottorg or e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Chnstopher Elliott receives a great deal of reader mail, and though he answers them as quickly as possible, your story may not be published for several months because of a backlog of cases.)