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Quinn aims for working man image during Oak Lawn visit

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Gov. Pat Quinn was flanked by several men wearing hard hats and bright yellow vests last week during a groundbreaking ceremony at an Oak Lawn water pumping station.
The backdrop wasn’t by accident. Quinn wants to cast himself as the working man’s governor while distinguishing himself from his Republican opponent, millionaire Bruce Rauner, who often is described as a billionaire.
In fact, tax returns Rauner released last year showed that he earned about $108 million from 2010 and 2012, according to Sun-Times Media. Quinn, meanwhile, reported $162,000 on his 2013 tax returns.
Still, the Quinn camp’s strategy is clear: portray Rauner as rich and out of touch with the working man as well as the need for good paying jobs.
“We understand how important it is for work, for labor,” Quinn said during his remarks last Wednesday at the Harker Pumping Station, 5300 W. 105th St., where he signed legislation expanding the state’s Clean Water Initiative.
“Today, we have all these workers right here. Men and women who know how to get the job done on time, on budget or even under budget on an important water project. This is labor intensive. It puts people to work on jobs you can support a family on.”
Quinn went on to thank the unions represented at the ceremony and all the men and women of labor. “You’re the ones who get the job done,” he said.
He added that significant project such as the one in Oak Lawn also provide meaningful work for veterans who recently have returned from active duty.
Quinn did not want to pass up a chance to make a stop in the southwest suburbs—an area targeted by Rauner, who recently opened a campaign office in Oak Lawn.
In addition to signing the legislation, Quinn joined Oak Lawn officials and other dignitaries in a ceremonial grounding breaking for the expansion of the Harker Pumping Station, which will undergo a $171 million, five-year project designed to improve the water distribution system.
The system provides Lake Michigan water to about 325,000 Southland residents in the village and 12 other suburbs. When completed, the project will increase Oak Lawn’s water supply capacity from 55 million gallons a day to 111 million gallons, village officials said.
The 12 towns served by Oak Lawn are: Chicago Ridge, Palos Hills, Palos Park, Tinley Park, Oak Forest, Orland Park, Orland Hills, Country Club Hills, Matteson, Olympia Field, Mokena and New Lenox.
The project will include installation of a permanent diesel-powered generator at the Harker station, construction of a switching station designed to control the amount of power needed to pump water and the replacement of one pump.
Meanwhile, the Reich pumping station also will undergo modernization and will have pumps designated to distribute water to the system’s customers rather than just Oak Lawn residents.
More than half of the project cost is dedicated to the installation of larger water mains and a looped system that will serve as a backup if a primary line breaks.
State Sen. Dan Katowski, of Park Ridge, who sponsored the Clean Water Initiative legislation, championed Quinn as a friend of labor.
“This bill alone is going to lead to the creation of 28,000 local jobs,” Katowski said. “That’s the type of partnership has Governor Quinn has always been committed to by working together with local government.”
The Clean Water Initiative is designed to deter flooding and protect Illinois’ drinking water by helping municipalities repair or replace infrastructure.
“We’ve committed $2 billion to invest with communities like Oak Lawn,” Quinn said. “It’s all about clean water. We’ve got to make sure that we protect our water. We have to understand. We have to take good care of water.’’

Flooding frustration

  • Written by Kelly White

Hickory Hills to reconsider 1999 plan

designed to alleviate storm water woes

The concerns of two Hickory Hills residents adversely affected by the immense summer storms have led Mayor Mike Howley to call for reconsideration of a 1999 plan designed to alleviate flooding.
The residents, who live on 89th Street between 85th Court an 85th Avenue, appeared at last Thursday’s Hickory Hills City Council and told aldermen that recent storms have led to significant flooding in their backyards.
“The last major storm we’ve had was like a river going through my backyard,” said Jerry Roberts, who lives in the 8900 block of 85th Avenue. “One of my neighbors finished basement has flooded twice already this summer.”
Ken Blackman, who also lives on 85th Avenue, said he has experienced flooding problems for decades and described it as a “major catastrophe.”
“This has been an ongoing issue for 30-plus years,” Blackman told aldermen. “We can’t even do any landscaping in our backyards because of the flooding that accumulates during major storms.”
Blackman said the problem began several years ago when St. Patricia’s Church, 9000 S. 86th Ave, installed an asphalt extension to its parking lot.
The residents who live in the city’s flood zone flood have experienced three backyard flooding incidents this summer, they said.
“During larger rain storms, sewer caps are blowing off and there are floods in my backyard resembling rapids with dirty white and gray water,” Blackman said.
The water that accumulates in backyards between 85th Court and 85th Avenue flows from south of 95th Street and empties through a concrete channel that runs through a side yard at the corner of 85th Court and 91st Street, city engineer Tom Lang said.
The 1999 proposal called for the installation of reinforced concrete storm sewers along 85th Avenue, but cost prevented the plan form proceeding, said city engineer Tom Lang.
“This issue goes back to 1999 with a project costing half a million dollars at the time, and it was never built, “ Lang said. “I don’t know what construction cost index since then. I would bet another fifty percent, but that’s just a guess.”
Howley recalled cost being a major factor when the plan was brought forth 15 years ago.
“There were big costs involved when we looked at this before,” Howley said. “I’m not sure of the exact reason, but I’m presuming we backed out because of the number of houses affected versus the cost.”
Howley said the city must examine both the cost of the plan and benefits to the community.
“We have to look at the bigger picture,” the mayor said. “How will it improve the neighborhood? However, if the cost-benefit analysis does not factor out, we may need to look at alternative means of improving the situation for our residents that are affected.”
There might be other options to help fund the project, Lang said, including Cook County Disaster Funding.
“I have no idea what the chances are to getting any of that money, but there are some options out there,” City Engineer Tom Lang said.

No hostages, no vandalism found in Oak Lawn incidents

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

 

There were no hostages.Page-1-2-col-screwsOak Lawn police officials do not think vandalism was the cause of screws and nails to protrude from the rocket slide at Memorial Park. Photo by Emily Smas.
There was no vandalism to hurt kids.
The Oak Lawn police department issued statements last week defusing two potentially dangerous situations in its village.
Last Thursday, police said they received a call from a subject claiming to hold three people hostage at a home in the 5700 block of 90th Place and made ransom demands.
It turned out to be a hoax.
“Oak Lawn Police responded and set up a perimeter around the home and sent out an Everbridge message to residents in the immediate area,” Division Chief Roger Pawlowski said in a statement. “Police were able to obtain information about the family that reside in the home in question and were able to make contact with family members who were not at home.  They advised Police that their teenage son should be home alone.  Police were able to make contact with the son who was directed out of the house.  The home was then searched by police and the incident was determined to be a hoax.’’
Pawlowski added that Oak Lawn detectives are following up on information regarding the teen son’s contacts through the internet and on-line gaming sites.
One day earlier, police announced that screws and nails found protruding through a slide at Memorial Park in June and again on July 21 were not a result of vandalism, rather, it was the result of a manufacturing flaw.
When the story was red-hot in June, there was speculation by some citizens that it was vandalism done to intentionally hurt children. Internet and social media speculation took it even further with some suggesting it was a hate crime. But the police called it a “design flaw or an installation error.’’
Police said in a statement they don’t believe anyone “placed nails into the playground equipment for the purpose of injuring park goers.’’

 

Joint venture

  • Written by Declan Harty

Oak Lawn couple rolling along pain free after surgeries

She doesn’t walk like Quasimodo anymore.PAGE-1-3-col-jointsTom and Kathleen Naughton, posing with their dog Grace, say they feel like new people after their surgeries at Advocate Christ Medical Center. Photo by Jeff Vorva.

He is able to ride thousands of miles on his bike.
For Tom and Kathleen Naughton, being artificial is real.
Kathleen, a 52 year-old registered nurse, and Tom, a 55-year-old stationary engineer, reside in Oak Lawn and continue to live an active lifestyle as any other middle age couple would, but that would not be possible without the help of three artificial joints between the two.
A few years ago, they were both in constant pain and appeared older and slower than their ages would indicate.
Not anymore.
“It is a life-changer once you have this done,” Tom said of the surgery. “Well we are both active, we are both very active in that aspect of working out and staying healthier.”

According to Luke…
With the help of Dr. Kevin Luke, an orthopedic surgeon, and the staff at Advocate Christ Medical Center, the Naughtons said they would not be able to continue either an active lifestyle or their careers as they do.
After years of pain for the Naughtons, they decided to pursue joint replacement surgeries. Kathy became a patient initially of Luke when she was 47 years old, which is when they prepared her for two hip replacements totaling a bilateral hip replacement. For Tom, his knee replacement surgery took place in February 2013.
Luke said that for both the Naughton’s he used Stryker-made hips and a knee for Tom in hopes of aiding the couple for the next few decades.
“The concern is any time you replace someone’s joint is the longevity and how long it is going to work and do well,” Luke said.
He expressed that while the Stryker joints will be able to assist in the durability of the joints, it is on the patients to make the most out of the surgery, something the Naughton’s succeeded at, according to Luke.
“They both have a very strong rehab, a very strong work ethic,” he said. “Placing a joint replacement in someone is something that we do, we put them in, but it is really the patient who has to rehab and do the work to make it work correctly and work well. Like anything in life, if you work hard on it, you will get better faster.”
Surgery for the Naughtons was something that had been needed for many years though it wasn’t initially recognized for either.

Knee deep in pain
When Tom was 18, he had his torn meniscus removed from his knee therefore causing a bone on bone grind, was able to manage for several years before something had to be done.
Since the surgery, Tom said he has found a comfort in his new knee that he has missed for years. He has the ability to do many more activities such as cycling, which has become an outlet to exercise his newfound mobility in his knee.
After speaking with Luke for the first time, Tom said he became aware of a possibly larger issue than his knee -- his health.
“Dr. Luke is a pretty straight forward guy, and he told me, if you lose weight and if you are in good shape before the surgery, it makes it that much easier to do,” he said. “I had at least a full year of exercising and before I felt like I needed my knee done.”
With his new knee, Tom has ridden over 1,000 miles on his bike since March.

Quasimodo no more
Kathleen’s issues arose nearly 20 years ago when what she thought was back problems continued to affect her day-to-day life.
After going to countless doctors appointments and even having back surgery, Kathleen’s doctors decided to give Kathleen a full body X-ray to verify that the problem was fixed, but it was then that doctors realized the real problem, her hips. According to Kathleen, both her hips were bone on bone, similar to the issues of her husband’s knee.
After the surgery though, the couple faced many hours of rehabbing and attempting to get back into a normal routine such as work.
As a nurse, Kathleen said her work was deeply damaged by her problems with her hips. She said she “couldn’t physically” work a full shift before the surgery.
“I walked like Quasimodo for years, but I mean that was how I could get from point A to point B fairly comfortably and I could never stand straight,” she said. “Now since my hips are replaced, I am standing straight and walking straight. I can walk fast like I used to. People think I have lost weight, which I haven’t. I am just standing up straight.”
As a nurse with two replacement hips, Kathleen is able to continue to not only work at a higher efficiency level, almost working full time now, but also comfort her patients.
“Well it (surgery) was kind of scary because I knew all of the potential consequences that could occur,” Kathleen said. “When I am taking care of patients that are getting replacements, whatever it is -- knee or hip replacement -- I am a big advocate, saying, ‘It will change your life’.”
As a stationary engineer, both Tom and Kathy expressed mobility vitality in Tom’s job. With his knee replacement, Tom has been provided with more than just the opportunity to continue to work.
“I often wondered if I was going to be able to make it to 65 with my knees just because of the pain,” he said. “Now with the new knee, I am not worried about that at all. Another nice thing is the financial concern that I will be able to work at 65, and make it through my career.”
Luckily for Tom, the surgery did not prohibit much into his work schedule. According to Kathleen, Tom was able to return to work in just six weeks after the surgery on his knee.
When asked of the limitations of the surgery or their new replacement joints, both Tom and Kathleen expressed the fact that the couple did not have any, either from Luke or themselves, but only gratitude for what the surgery has provided them with.
“I am aware of my age, I am 55. The knee didn’t make me 25 again, I am still 55,” Tom said. “It was amazing to realize that the pain I had, it became so normal to walk with it, and then you walk so far, or the amount of Advil I was taking, it just became a daily thing. It was a huge difference with the new knee, and just the distance I could go.”

Bad end to historic season

  • Written by Bob Rakow

HBSA president reports $20,000 worth of equipment swiped

The historic first season had just ended for the Hills Baseball and Softball Association, but the league experienced a bigger loss than in any game played this summer.
Four pieces of field maintenance equipment valued at approximately $20,000 were reported stolen Monday from a storage locker at the league’s complex, 9900 S. 76th Ave., Hickory Hills.
League President George Czarnik suspects someone who was familiar with the league stole the equipment.
“During the season, you get a lot of people there,” he said.
Still, he could not come up with a motive for the theft other than money.
“Why are you picking on us? Did we get somebody mad at us?” he said.
Czarnik also suspects that thieves loaded the four pieces of equipment onto a trailer before making their getaway. There were no tire tracks near the storage unit, and thieves likely would be spotted driving the slow-moving equipment down the street, he said.
Czarnik said he’s not surprised that thieves stole equipment needed to run a youth sports league.
“This doesn’t bother them. They don’t care who it’s from. They’re just taking it,” he said.
The loss of equipment would be more harmful if the season was ongoing, but “we still have to cut the grass,” Czarnik said. “You’re talking about a huge area of grass that we do.”
The stolen property put a damper on what was a season of history as organizations from Palos Hills and Hickory Hills merged to make a stronger organization with 200-plus athletes.

The stolen equipment includes a John Deere utility vehicle valued at $5,000, a riding mower valued at $6,000, a golf cart and field mower valued at $3,000 to $4,000 Czarnik said.
Czarnik discovered the alleged burglary Monday morning when he stopped by the complex, he said. He noticed the chain securing the gate was missing, but thought ComEd, which owns the property, had been on the site to do work.
No one from the league was at the storage lockers between late Friday night and Monday morning when Czarnik arrived, he said.
The storage locker lock was intact, but the latch was cut, allowing thieves to open the unit, Czarnik said.
“It almost looked like they used some sort of power tool,” he said.
Additionally, the security lighting located above the trailers was smashed, he said. Czarnik suspects the thieves climbed atop the storage units to smash the lights.
The adjoining two trailers, which are used to store player uniforms and gear, game equipment and handheld field maintenance tools were untouched, he said.
He filed a police a police report, but does not expect the equipment to be found. Instead, he said, a fundraiser likely will be held, to replace the equipment.
Anyone interested in helping the league replace the equipment can call Czarnik at 312- 919-0295.