Blackhawks ante up for better health

Contribute $250K for fitness center at Moraine Valley

By Kelly White

Moraine Valley Community College held a groundbreaking ceremony last week at the site where the school's health and wellness center will be constructed, and as part of the festivities was presented by the Chicago Blackhawks a check for $250,000.

The donation will go toward costs associated with the fitness portion of the $34.5 million facility, which will feature a four-lane lap swimming pool, indoor walking track, three full-sized basketball courts, fitness center, athletic training room, group exercise studios, hydrotherapy tub, athletic offices, and field house with seating for up to 3,500 people.

The Blackhawks presented the check last Thursday. The college is negotiating with MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island for the naming rights to the 104,000-square-foot building, which will be constructed on what used to be soccer fields on the west side of the Moraine Valley campus in Palos Hills. In addition to sponsorships, financing for the center will be provided by two bond issues that Moraine officials have said will be paid back by fitness center memberships and student fees.

Physicians and nurses from MetroSouth Medical Center will be among the facility's staff, and will provide both physical and occupational therapy available to both Moraine students and residents of the college's district. Other medical services will include primary care services, sport medicine, specialized care and cardiac rehabilitation.

There will also be a childcare center for youths 6 to 12 years old, and a café that will partner with the school's culinary arts program. The center will offer internship opportunities for Moraine students.

In attendance at last week's groundbreaking ceremony was Palos Hills Mayor Jerry Bennett, who stated later that night at the Palos Hills City Council Meeting that he is looking forward to the benefits the center will provide to the college and the community. College officials anticipate construction will be completed in February 2014.

What do you say?

So, do you miss the snow?

(Asked at the Palos Heights Public Library)

Ben Welbourne,
Palos Park

"I do. It doesn't feel like winter without it. I bought my daughter a snow suit and we haven't had a chance to break it out."

John Duhig,
Palos Heights

"Absolutely not. I don't miss shoveling it. I don't miss getting stuck in it. I don't miss walking in it. I hope we don't see any more of it."

Sydney Welbourne,
Palos Park

"Noooooooooooooooooooooooo oooooo!"

Bridget Keating,
Mount Greenwood

"Yes. I like to make snowmen."

Danny Keating,

"No. I just don't like snow."

Oak Lawn man charged with burglary in Orland

A 53-year-old Oak Lawn man has been charged with two counts of residential burglary in connection with a burglary that took place last summer in Orland Park and fall in Burr Ridge.

Kenneth N. Jackson, of the 9800 block of South Keeler Avenue, was arrested near his home Wednesday last week and charged with two counts of residential burglary related to the residential burglary in Orland Park in the 14800 block of 108th Avenue, and a home burglary in Burr Ridge last October, police said.

Police believe Jackson is responsible for two other home burglaries in Orland Park, and numerous other attempts, Orland Park police Cmdr. John Keating said.

Jackson would almost always enter unlocked rear doors of homes in the early morning hours while residents of the home were asleep, Keating said.

Jackson was being held on $100,000 bond for each burglary and has a return court date of Feb. 2 in Bridgeview, Court Room 103 at 9 a.m., Keating said.

Cmdr. Keating said investigators were able to track where Jackson sold items taken in both burglaries before he was arrested near his home.

Last Aug. 22 at about 2 a.m., Orland Park Police responded to a residential burglary in the Crystal Tree neighborhood, in the 10500 block of Timberline Court. An offender had entered into an unlocked patio door while the homeowners were upstairs asleep, Keating said. The offender heard the homeowners awaken and left the residence without any valuables before police arrived, Keating said.

Then at about 3 a.m., an offender, later identified as Jackson, committed a burglary at 14800 108th Ave., Keating said. This burglary was caught on surveillance video and showed Jackson wearing camouflage clothing and covering his face, Keating said. Jackson allegedly gained entry to the residence through an unlocked rear patio door while the homeowners were upstairs sleeping. Stolen in that burglary was over $30,000 worth of cash and jewelry, police said. A police canvas showed that Jackson was filmed on security video allegedly attempting to find open doors at other residences in the area, Keating said.

Last Sept. 1, a person dressed in camouflaged clothing was seen in the area of the 10900 block of Crystal Meadows Court and 10900 block Green Manor Court, police said. Orland Park police responded and a foot chase ensued, but the subject eluded capture and disappeared into the darkness, police said.

The Orland Park Police Department identified Jackson as a person of interest and disseminated the information to surrounding communities.

Last Oct. 2, a similar burglary was caught on security video in Burr Ridge. Orland Park detectives notified Burr Ridge Police Department of Jackson being a person of interest in the Orland Park burglaries. Burr Ridge detectives set up surveillance on Jackson and followed him while he drove into the Burr Ridge area on Oct. 5, police said.

In that case, Jackson, again wearing camouflaged clothing, parked his vehicle and disappeared into a tree line. Approximately three hours later, Jackson returned to his vehicle and attempted to flee when approached by police, Keating said.

After being stopped, police found in his possession a men's wedding band, a Corum watch and four sets of silver flatware, police said. The owners of those items have not yet been identified.

A search warrant of Jackson's residence in Oak Lawn was executed by Burr Ridge, Orland Park, and Oak Lawn police on Oct. 5, Keating said. Detectives recovered items taken in a previous residential burglary in Burr Ridge in May of 2012. Jackson was later charged with residential burglary in that case by Burr Ridge police, Keating said.

Oak Lawn raises water rate

By Jessie Molloy

Oak Lawn residents will pay 12 percent more for water this year as the Village Board moved last week to defray the rising price it is paying Chicago for the world's most sought-after natural resource.

Trustees voted unanimously Jan. 8 to approve raising the village's residential water rate to $5.27 per 1,000 gallons up to 10,000 gallons, with a minimum charge of $52.74. Residents using between 10,001 and 30,000 gallons will pay $5.37 per 1,000 gallons, and residents using more than 30,001 gallons will pay $5.47. Oak Lawn residents are billed for water every three months.

The village's non-residential rate was increased to $17.58 per month for up to 4,000 gallons. Non-residential customers who use between 4,001 and 10,000 gallons a month will pay $5.37 per 1,000 gallons, while the rate for using more than 10,000 gallons a month will be $5.47 per 1,000 gallons.

The board also increased the price of water for the nine municipalities that buy it from the village. Monthly water rates will rise to between $3.10 and $3.42 per thousand gallons.

Oak Lawn finance director Brian Hannigan said the rates needed to be raised to "pass along the rising cost of water from the city of Chicago." Chicago last year raised by 25 percent the price it charged suburbs for water, and has scheduled increases of 15 percent per year through 2015.

Bonkers for Benny

Chicago Christian dropped a 58-53 boys' basketball game to rival Illiana Christian last Friday night in Palos Heights, but Knights fans still had fun. The gym was packed for its 5th annual Whiteout Game, and Chicago Bulls mascot Benny the Bull made a special appearance.

Benny hangs out with Chicago Christian students Mario Garza and Ryan Bielecki, who dressed up for the game, below.