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To heck with tech

  • Written by Kelly White

New Little Free Library set to bring ‘humanity back into community’

In an era of technology, Hickory Hills is takingpage-1-2-col-Little-Free-LibraryThe Little Free Library in Hickory Hills opened up last Thursday in front of City Hall. Photo by Kelly White. a step back and opening up its first Little Free Library. 

The Little Free Library, displayed outside of the Hickory Hills City Hall at 8652 W 95th Street, debuted at last Thursday’s city council meeting. The little blue schoolhouse-shaped box, decorated with watermelon decals, stands at the doors of city hall building and is filled with books for anyone to enjoy.
It’s a take-a-book-return-a-book gathering place where neighbors can share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book or two and bring back another book of their own to share with the community. They are also referred to as community book exchanges, book trading posts and pop-up libraries.
Described by Annette Armstrong, director of the Green Hills Library, as a do-it-yourself project, the Little Free Library is a tough competitor alongside the digital age.
“It really brings a sense of humanity back into the community,” she said at the city council meeting.
The Little Free Library belongs to everyone and you do not need a library card to have access to the books. Neighbors, friends and even people just passing by may use the library that offers a way to share physical books.
Residents are encouraged to take books, share books and give books. If a resident sees something they would like to read, they may simply take it from the Little Free Library. When finished with the book, the reader is encouraged to leave a special note inside of the paperback book so future readers can see who previously read the same book and what they thought of it.
Sharing books is also encouraged. Donating books to the library is another way local community members can contribute. Any books in your home, including books a reader would like to recommend to other readers, childhood favorites and books that teach and intrigue, can be dropped off daily at the Little Free Library.
This is the first Little Free Library in Hickory Hills, however, Mayor Mike Howley would like to open up more.
“I’ve seen the Little Free Libraries in the Oak Park community after Annette had spoken to me about the concept and I realized it is a really good idea,” he said, “People passing by them were gathering and stopping to take books.”
The Little Free Library idea was popularized in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009 when Todd Bol mounted a wooden container designed to look like a school house on a post on his lawn as a tribute to his mother, who was a book lover and school teacher.
“These Little Free Libraries promote the love of reading and build a sense of community,” Armstrong said, “We would like to eventually add other informative pieces of information into the Little Library, as well, including newsletters and other local community information that will be beneficial to residents.”
Armstrong and members of the Green Hills Library will be visiting the Little Library outside of city hall monthly to drop off new books.
Palos Heights currently has two Little Free Libraries in their municipality, one stationed at 123rd and Harlem and one at Lake Katherine, 7402 Lake Katherine Drive.

She’s van-tastic

  • Written by Declan Harty

 

‘Local hero’ from Oak Lawn wins wheelchair-accessible van

For Linda Stearns, the feeling of needing a Page-1-four-col-vanLinda Stearns poses with the door on her van that nearly knocked her over after it fell off when she went for a mammogram over the winter. The Oak Lawn resident, who is a tireless volunteer, won a new van for being a local hero in a National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association contest. Photo by Jeff Vorva.new van has been one that has been in her mind for quite a few years.

But it was when the door fell off her current Dodge Ram Braun Rampvan as she pulled up to a breast cancer mammogram on a snowy day this past winter, she knew she really was in need of one. She said the darn door nearly knocked her over.
In June, the 67-year old Oak Lawn resident’s wishes were finally granted.
Stearns won a brand new Chrysler wheelchair accessible van through the National Mobility Equipment Dealer’s Association’s (NMEDA) Local Heroes Award, which is awarded each year during National Mobility Awareness month.
The van, which is equipped with hand-controls and valued at approximately $70,000, will allow Stearns to not only get around town on her own, but also to have her first ever brand new car.
But despite this, Stearns only views it as an opportunity to help others despite living with Multiple Sclerosis, which has limited Stearns to a motorized scooter, and being a breast cancer survivor.
“I was struck with multiple sclerosis when my daughter was three, and I have had to live with that,” Stearns said. “I am in a motorized scooter, a very expensive and annoying disease (MS) I might add. Then after being struck with MS, if that isn’t bad enough, I was struck with breast cancer, but you have to throw all of those to the side because there are worse people out there than me.”
But it wasn’t her diseases that made Stearns want to give back to the community—she has always done in some fashion or another.
Stearns’ daughter, Gail Ann Stearns-Hussein, wrote an essay on her mother that helped win her the new van.
Stearns-Hussein said that Linda, at the age of 17 was working at Misericordia Chicago and she met Charlie, a baby who was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, and was not expected to live past two years old.
But that didn’t stop Stearns.
At the age of 21, Stearns brought Charlie home with her. And in November, Charlie will turn 50 years old, as he currently still resides with Stearns and her family.
Additionally, according to Stearns, she became the unofficial provider of two sets of quadruplets, at the same time, for mothers who needed to work at the time.
For Stearns, the van provides an opportunity to continue to help out Charlie and the hundreds of others she has impacted.
From joining Charlie at Garden Center for the Handicapped located at 8333 Austin Ave. in Burbank to donating her time at her church, Mt. Zion Lutheran Church and Galilee Baptist Church, located at 10957 S. Michigan Ave. in Chicago, Stearns has manage to balance a life full of hundreds of other people in addition with her own family.
“She bakes for PADS, which serves the homeless, attends Honor Flight Chicago to support veterans and rearranges flowers from local funeral homes, which she delivers to patients in hospitals and nursing homes,” Stearns’ daughter wrote in the essay.

Plans for multi-town drainage plan underway

  • Written by Kelly White

  Palos Hills is joining forces with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), Cook County and two nearby communities to develop a master storm water drainage plan for a five-mile stretch of Roberts Road.

  The city joined the MWRD and representatives from Bridgeview, Hickory Hills, Justice and Cook County Highway Department last Thursday at a kick-off meeting in Palos Hills to discuss a proposed drainage plan for Roberts Road from 71st Street to 111th Street.
  But Palos Hills and Hickory Hills residents shouldn’t get too excited just yet. It could be a decade before a Roberts Road storm water system is installed, thereby resolving many of the flooding issues that affect both towns,
said Larry Boettcher, Hickory Hills’ director of public works.
  But Boettcher and Hickory Hills Mayor Mike Howley lauded the MWRD for employing a regional approach to solve the Roberts Road flooding problems, which also plague Justice and Bridgeview.
  “They’re looking at the bigger picture,” Howley said.
  Previously, individual communities examined ways to solve flooding issues, but such an approach could have a negative impact on neighboring towns, Boettcher said.
  “Engineering studies have shown the main drain under Roberts Road is undersized and drainage improvements are necessary,” Palos Hills Public Works Commissioner Dave Weakley said at last Thursday’s city council meeting.
  The MWRD and the Cook County Highway Department are addressing all concerns and working to develop a comprehensive plan that addresses the storm water drainage needs of the communities residing along Roberts Road, Weakley said.
  Meanwhile, the Palos Hills Public Works Department recently completed two water main replacement projects, Weakley said. Fifty feet of deteriorated water main was replaced at Winter Park and Sun Valley drives and another 50 feet was replaced at Cottonwood and Chestnut drives.
  “The maintenance work was in response to numerous water main failures at both locations,” Ald. Martin Kleefisch (1st Ward) said.
  Two leaks were located on 74th Avenue—one 104 Street and the other at 105th Street—were rather large and finding their way into the sanitary sewer system. The other two leaks were the result of fire hydrants that were not fully closed, Weakley said.
  Weakley reported at previous city council meetings that there was a hidden water leak in the city’s system, and a water leak detection company was brought in to survey the system and locate the leaks. Four water leaks were detected and repaired, he said.
  Weakley said his department also has responded to concerns about poor storm water drainage at 102nd Street and 78th Avenue by clearing overgrown vegetation and debris from the east ditch line along 78th Avenue from 101st Street to 102nd Street, he said.
  “After completing an elevation survey of the area, it was determined that clearing the ditch was the best approach to improving storm water conveyance throughout the area,” he said.
  During the clearing process, public works crews discovered a beaver dam in Lucas Ditch Extension, east of 78th Avenue and north of 103rd Street, which also contributed to poor storm water drainage in the area. The MWRD was contacted and trapping of the beavers was been requested.
— Bob Rakow contributed to this report

Wow, it’s already been a year since taking over The Reporter

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

 

Jeffs Col ImpressionsWhat was that? What just whizzed by?
Was that a year? Where did it go so quickly?
Yes, dear readers, it’s been a little more than a year since I became the alleged “new sheriff’’ in town and took over this fine newspaper as editor.
That year just flew by.
My hope was to take an already strong Page-3-2-col-with-JV-col-2It’s been a wild year since Jeff Vorva took over as Reporter editor including Bobby Hull coming to Oak Lawn (top photo, by Jeff Vorva) and Evergreen Park’s Henry Hynes playing on stage with Bruce Springsteen (bottom photo, submitted) in Nashville in April.Page-3-2-col-with-jv-colnewspaper and make it even more compelling and fun. We’re running bigger photos, bigger headlines and putting a picture of Fred Flintstone on the normally conservative and reserved opinion page shows we like to have fun.
We told fun stories of your friends and neighbors accomplishing fantastic things.
In the past 12 months, cancer survivors ran in triathlons, a kid sang on stage with Bruce Springsteen, a hockey player won a silver medal in the Olympics and a Hooters waitress compete in an international competition. We wrote about local comedians, the health of Cardinal George, a wheelchair basketball pioneer, a teenager who was praised by the governor and president for her volunteer business of making stuffed hearts to comfort people, heroic cops and firemen, a high school volleyball team that finished first in the state and a high school football team that finished second.
And that’s just the tip of the ice burg.
Also in the past dozen months, we have been keeping our readers up to date on the 100th anniversaries of Chicago Ridge and Worth. We’ve followed stories about basketball courts in Oak Lawn, the ups and downs of the merged baseball and softball leagues in Palos Hills and Hickory Hills and some of the business developments and the great high school football season in Evergreen Park.
We wrote about the weather.
It was cold.
And we wrote about a couple of storms that passed the area that could have been a lot worse. We even wrote a story about an advertisement from a man’s mail in downstate Washington that reached Moraine Valley in Palos Hills during a tornado. We wrote about school closings – no, not because of the weather. We wrote about the permanent closing of Mt. Assisi High School in Lemont and St. Bernadette in Evergreen Park.
Celebrities came to town.
Governor hopeful Bruce Rauner campaigned in Hickory Hills. Olympic hero Bonnie Blair was at Stagg to speak in the winter and the Gin Blossoms played music there in the spring. Bobby Hull and Mike Ditka gave some flavor to a couple of area liquor store events. Former Cub David DeJesus and current Cubs players Edwin Jackson and Chris Coghlan stopped by Advocate Children’s Hospital to brighten kids’ days. And Dick Biondi, a legendary DJ who is all of 83 years old, climbed a 60-foot fire department ladder during an event at Standard Bank Park in Crestwood.
Yes, there were also the controversial stories as well as the sad stories that we hate to write but as long as we had to, we were going to do them as thoroughly as we could even if it meant ticking some people off. That’s a part of the job that won’t go away.
We made some friends. We made some enemies. We hope we made more friends than enemies.
The inner circle of the Reporter is small. Joining me is reporter Bob Rakow and designer Kari Nelson. They are the heart and soul of the newspaper. We have some outstanding freelance writers helping the cause and this summer we were blessed with some young, talented interns who also graced the paper with their work.

Kortz in session — so is high school football

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Richards assistant football coachPAGE-1-COLOR-2-col Jeff Kortz tries to slow down running back Romeo Johnson with a towel during the first day of football practice on Monday in Oak Lawn.

  Once they hit the field, there may be no slowing down the Bulldogs in their quest to win a Class 6A state championship. Last year, the Bulldogs finished second and return some talented skill players including Johnson, who had seven carries for 97 yards in a 34-14 loss to Batavia in the state championship game in 2013.
  Jeff Vorva’s story looking at some of the early-season storylines for the 2014 campaign, which begins Friday, Aug. 29 and photos from Richards and Chicago Christian’s first-day practices can be found in sports. Photo by Jeff Vorva.