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Lower levels

  • Written by Declan Harty

D218 bosses worried about fourth-grade

reading levels of more than 130 students

  Despite another successful year in the eyes of the school board, issues of reading levels still remain in District 218 high schools.
  More than 100 students in the district who participated in the Reading Plus programs at Richards, Shepard and Eisenhower High Schools were reading at a level of fourth grade or below, according to a Reading Plus report that was revealed at Monday night’s district board meeting at the Administration Center in Oak Lawn.
  The program, which has been used by the district in recent years, allows students to gain exposure to non-fiction novels and other pieces of literature at their appropriate grade level.
  According to the report, the data shows that while some students have progressed, there has been a dull in progress toward the appropriate grade reading level the students should be at.
  At Eisenhower high school, there were 59 students in the program at the beginning of the year with a reading level of fourth grade and below, however, in May there were 54 students.
  At Richards High School, the amount of students in the program with a reading level of fourth grade or below decreased by seven from 42 to 35. At Shepard High School, the number decreased by eight over the school year from 57 to 49 students.
  While the program yielded some results, some board members expressed hesitations and fears about the results that are displayed and what is impacted the students in the classroom.
  “There is a boredom factor,” said board member Johnny Holmes. “You have to engage in the program…These kids have missed the foundation that others have gotten and that foundation is a family-like atmosphere.”
  In addition to the reading levels, the board discussed various factors such as semester course failures, which decreased at all three schools.
  The meeting, which drew approximately 30 spectators, was used as a review of the just-completed school year, while keeping an eye looking toward the future.
  In other news from the district:
  • The board mulled the concept of a neuropsychology clinic opening at the beginning of the fall term in the administration center.
  The project, which reached some hesitation from some board members would create a clinic for students of district 218 to get what is being called the latest and greatest in neuropsychology. Along with other school districts, the clinic would hire several interns who are licensed school psychologists seeking licensure for neuropsychology who are willing to front the cost of their interns. The amount of interns would vary from year to year based on the amount of people seeking the licensure.
  Board President Marco Corsi expressed hesitation and fear of the unknowing information that had not been hammered out such as the costs of utilities, whether the other school districts are invested for the long haul and the financial burden.
  “You don’t know what these expenditures are,” he said.
  • Board members kicked around a revision to the weighted grade policy, which had four parts to it. The board approved the first part, which included the weight of honors and advanced placement courses. The board approved the motion to have AP and honors courses carry an additional 1.0 weight to the grade point average.
  The remaining three parts of the motion were tabled for a later date. Those proposed parts were an elimination of class ranks, dual credit being awarded for AP and honors level courses, and making core and foundation classes available toany student in need of modified curricula.

  • The board discussed various building and maintenance projects for the summer including lawn care at Eisenhower, mechanical repairs at the Delta Summit Learning Center, a new childcare classroom at Shepard and new lighting and roadwork at Richards.

Releaf medical marijuana shop seeks Palos Hills’ blessing

  • Written by Kelly White

 

Palos Hills may be considering a future medical marijuana dispensary. The city council was approached by Releaf LLC, a medical marijuana dispensary, during last Thursday’s meeting. The company is hoping to open up shop in Palos Hills.
Releaf LLC is a medical marijuana dispensary looking for the opportunity to open up locations in Illinois suburbs. During the course of phone conversations with municipalities, Releaf owner and Orland Park native Michael Perkowski reports positive feedback from Mokena and Palos Hills, with the possibility of adding Tinley Park to the mix. His own home town, Orland Park, shunned the idea of medical marijuana dispensaries, despite Illinois state regulations.
The city has never been approached by anyone looking to open up a medical marijuana dispensary before according to Mayor Jerry Bennett. “The council will take the request under consideration,” he said. The council has not yet discussed zoning regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries.
By law, Illinois is not allowed to have any more than 60 licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. Once the dispensaries are open, patients can buy up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks, with dispensaries taxed at 7 percent. Illinois was the 20th state to pass a medical marijuana law. The bill went into effect January 1, but is still taking several months for officials to give dispensaries the go-ahead.
“We would like to have our application in to open up our store tentatively by this August,” Perkowski said, “I know this is something the city will take very cautiously, not very lightly, when considering.”
Perkowski told the council of the positives his facilities can provide.
“I am a business owner, but I am also from this area, and I would like to have medical marijuana be available for those who need it,” Perkowski said. He explained how his mother died of stage four cancer, and medical marijuana helps aid patients in need with pain relief, appetite and the effects of underlying diseases.
“I got into this business to help the community and community members,” he said, “This dispensary will not be used for any recreational drug purposes.”
Releaf LLC also plans to use a 24-hour security system, which will include a door for employees to be buzzed in and out of while entering and exiting the building, video surveillance and live security guards on duty.
Beautification contest underway

Oak Lawn Senior Center could now be in the center of town

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 

The future of the Oak Lawn Senior Center may get a fresh start in the center of the village.
Mayor Sandra Bury is exploring the possibility of building a new senior center adjacent to the Johnson-Phelps VFW Post 5220, 9514 S. 52nd St., she said at Tuesday night’s village board meeting.
The mayor said she’s participated in initial conversations with VFW officials about the possibility of adding a 1,000 square-foot addition to the facility. The addition would have a separate entrance, but seniors also would use the existing VFW Hall for some of its activities, she said.
“It’s a good location. It’s worth exploring,” Bury said. “It seems to be a very good fit.”
She added that there is good synergy between village seniors and the VFW, which counts many seniors among its members.
Additionally, the VFW holds many of its activities on nights and weekends while the senior center is busy on weekdays. The village owns the “underutilized” parking lot where the addition would be located, Bury said.
“It solidifies (the seniors’) position in the center of our town,” Bury said.
She said the village has gone from “a very exciting vision of the continuation of senior services in Oak Lawn to the continuation of a senior club concept.”
Seniors are excited about the proposal, Bury said.
The senior center currently is located at the former McGugan Junior High School, 5220 West 105th St.
Talk of a senior center at the VFW Hall comes about one month after Bury said seniors were “getting screwed” as politics got in the way of a proposed series of land exchanges and purchases that would lead to the development of a new senior center.
The proposed land exchanges and purchases involved the village, park district, Mancari’s auto dealership, 4630 W. 95th St., and St. Paul Lutheran Church, 4660 W. 94th St.
Under the terms of the proposal, St. Paul would sell a 61,740 square-foot parcel located adjacent to the church to Mancari’s, who would deed the property to the village. The village, in turn, would deed the property to the park district.
Mancari’s would then negotiate with the park district to purchase a 41,862 square-foot parcel located between the dealership and the Oak Lawn Ice Arena. The village would then negotiate with the park district and Mancari’s to secure the funds needed to build the senior center.
The agreement would give the park district additional open space and provide Mancari’s room to expand its landlocked dealership, Bury said.

Cops’ 71-page report has Brittany’s family puzzled

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Members of Brittany Wawrzyniak’s family went to the Worth police department last week to pick up copies of the long-awaited report concerning her death.
But in the week that has followed, family members have come to realize that the 71-page report does not answer the critical question that they’ve been posing for seven months: Who is responsible for Wawrzyniak’s death?
That’s been the central question since Nov. 8, when Wawrzyniak died after being ejected from a moving SUV in the parking lot of the Worth boat launch.
It is not, however, the family’s only question.
They wonder, for example, why the Eric Johnson, the driver of the SUV from which Wawrzyniak was ejected, was never charged in connection with her death. Johnson was charged with conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance and is serving a 3 1/2 –year prison sentence.
Additionally, the family asks, why did the Worth police close the death investigation three weeks after they said a full investigation would require an additional eight to 10 months? And why did four months pass before police interviewed a couple that encountered Brittany’s bodies while walking their dogs near the boat launch?
The Worth police closed the case several weeks ago and determined her death to be accidental.
Family members admit that sifting through the details of the report has been both overwhelming and frustrating as they digest the myriad details looking for any information that will help determine who is responsible for Wawrzyniak’s death. They’ve spotted some inconsistencies in witness accounts, but little else so far, they say.
The final report includes the reports filed by the Worth police, the Cook County Medical Examiner, the Cook County Sheriff, the Cook County Circuit Court and Illinois State Police Forensic Lab.
It includes the police department’s incident report as well as summaries of the witness interviews, which were conducted in the days following Wawrzyniak’s death.
Based on those interviews, prosecutors determined that Wawrzyniak met Johnson at the boat launch, got into the back seat of his SUV and handed him $200 in exchange for 30 pills of Clonazepam.
She began counting the pills while still in the backseat. When someone tried to open the rear door of the SUV from the outside, Johnson sped away.
Wawrzyniak opened the door of the moving vehicle, was ejected and struck the pavement, prosecutors said. She was pronounced dead at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn less than one hour later.
The Cook County Medical Examiner ruled that Wawrzyniak died as result of multiple injuries sustained due to a fall from an SUV, including lacerations, abrasions and contusions to the head; skull fractures; dislocation of the neck and abrasions and contusions to the back and upper extremities.
Wawrzyniak allegedly met Johnson and his girlfriend, Courtney Hyzy at the boat launch for a drug buy that was arranged, according to witnesses, to set up to force a fight between Hyzy and Lily Arboleda, 18, of Chicago, a close friend of Wawrzyniak.
Arboleda later was charged with conspiracy to commit battery for her role in the incident.
Hyzy has not been interviewed by Worth police, a fact that remains puzzling to the Wawrzyniak’s family.
Wawrzyniak’s toxicology reports were clean, a fact her family heralded to indicate that she was not involved in drugs.
However, a Feb. 13 police interview with a Palos Heights woman who knew Wawrzyniak via her friendship with the woman’s son tells a different story.
The woman told police “Brittany was a good person but she did have her faults,” the report said. She told police Wawrzyniak admitted to smoking marijuana and taking Xanax and k-pills and drinking alcohol. She said Wawrzyniak ignored her advice about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, according to the report.
The woman also told police that she had tracked Hyzy to her sister’s residence in Evergreen Park and advised police to obtain a DNA sample from her. She said the DNA sample could be used to compare with any DNA evidence found on Wawrzyniak.

Jeff Vorva's imPRESSions: Crunchy cheese, a mystery car and a race against time

Jeffs Col ImpressionsHere is a cheesy story.
  Even though our correspondent, Claudia Parker, had some very interesting things happen to her since I’ve known her in the past 10 months or so, this Evergreen Park Christian, wife, mother, author and speaker (that’s how she signs her e-mails) had a pretty bizarre series of events happen to her last week.
  It all started when her 6-year-old daughter took a bite out of a slice of cheese and it crunched. Cheese isn’t supposed to be crunchy.
  At first, she feared the worst.
  “I swear when you look at it up close it looks like tiny pieces of glass,” she said. “It’s in the entire pack of cheese. What the heck....I’ve been feeding this to my kids!”
  After a few days of investigation, including having the cheese examined by Little Company of Mary Hospital and the Illinois Health Department, it was determined that it could be something as harmful as glass or hard plastic or it could be just crystallized salt.Page-3-3-col-car-with-jvcolA man from Florida is still looking for the make and model of this car, which spent some time in Oak Lawn in the 1960s. Submitted photo.
  “That sure beats glass,” she said.
  Parker said she has drawn some television interest in the story, pending the investigation. She said the cheese was voluntarily pulled from the store she bought it from.
  This latest incident comes on the heels of Parker dropping her cell phone in the toilet but that’s another story. That story, by the way, can be found in the debut of her column on page 12. Her columns will run every second and fourth weeks of the month.

He’s not giving up
  Phillip Topcik’s quest for a an answer to a near 50-year question of identifying the make and model of his car hit another dead end when no one from our area responded to a column I did in the May 22 editions of the Reporter and Regional.
  It is a rare car that was made in Germany for a movie star and it once belonged to John and Anne Greeneltch of Oak Lawn and sold to a Volkswagen dealership in Evergreen Park.
  Topcik, who lives in St. Augustine, Fla., bought the car in 1967 and has explored many different avenues trying to locate that information including contacting national and international car magazines and even reached out to Jay Leno. He was hoping we could help and that someone from the area might have remembered talking to John about the car and might remember him mentioning the make and model.
  When the story appeared in our papers, he was on a cruise in Alaska and did not have Internet access. But when he got off the ship he went to a library, logged into a computer and…
  “I double checked my e-mail six times,” he said. “Not a one. Maybe the people we’re looking for are all in the old-folks home somewhere.’’
  Topcik is offering $100 and a six pack of beer to anyone who can help him, and you can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We are running the photo of the car one more time.
  He is not giving up. He said a newspaper in Florida will try to help out and get him in contact with more magazines and he may seek advice at an East Coast car show.
  “So far it’s been dead end after dead end after dead end,” he said. “I know someone out there has to know what kind of car this is.’’

Finish line coming up soon
  None of us need to be reminded of how old we are getting and how time is flying by.
  But I picked up a double whammy on Saturday.
  First, I went to my nephew’s graduation party and the fact that he is graduating high school already put me in a where-did-the-time-go frame of mind.
  Then there was that stupid horse race.
  The whole weekend, the focus was on California Chrome, who was trying to become the first hoss to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.
  Oh, 1978 was the year I graduated high school, to Saturday pretty much affirmed my position in this race.