‘We are adjourned, let’s party!’

  • Written by Kelly White

Worth officials partied like it was 1914. page-1-3-col-mayorWorth Mayor Mary Werner, decked out in garb from the 1914 era, presided over a quick board meeting and a party to help celebrate the village’s 100th anniversary. Photo by Jeff Vorva.

On the eve of marking the 100-day countdown to the village’s 100th birthday, Worth village board members brought back the sensation of the era by dressing in clothing from the 1900’s during a brief 15-minute outdoor meeting Tuesday night at Gale Moore Park in the Worth Historic District.
In lieu of a gavel, Worth Mayor Mary Werner banged the table with her hand and said “We are adjourned, let’s party!” and the close to a hundred people ate hot dogs and ice cream and watched a fireworks show.
Some stuck around for Worth’s edition of the game show “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?’’ hosted by trustee Colleen McElroy featuring fifth graders from Worth Junior High competing against longtime Worth residents, including Carol Phalm, who has lived in the city for 60 yrs. Although the residents were tough competitors, the fifth graders took the win with a final score of 5-4.
The festivities were rushed because of impending storms and most people cleared the area at 8 p.m. before heavy rains and wind hit the park.
Officials dressed for the occasion.
In the era of Queen Victoria, whose very name is synonymous with conservative manners, fashion was vastly more formal than modern standards. Men donned three-piece suits for nearly every occasion, and women wore dresses that reached down to their shoes. The board members did not disappoint, decked out in long dresses, bonnets, vests and top hats.
“As a financial advisor, I sometimes wear a suit to regular meetings, minus the top hat, of course,” Trustee Tedd JUMP-2-or3-colTrustee Tedd Meursch Jr., left, looks dapper in his top hat while trustee Warren Soldan’s cowboy-meets-Santa Claus ensemble was a hit at Tuesday’s board meeting, held at Gale Moore Park. Photo by Jeff Vorva.Muersch, Jr., joked. Muersch’s family has owns one of Worth’s historic landmark homes directly across from the park that his father purchased at the age of 18.
“What’s ironic is that the family that owned that house before my father had a son who was also on the Worth Village Board,” Muersch said, “Now, fast forward 100 years, and I am the son of my father, also on the Worth Village Board.”
Muersch was elected onto the board at the age of 29 and said he is the youngest board member ever elected.
The board members gathered onto Muersch’s porch after the meeting, to reenact a photograph of the original 1914 board members at the same location. Werner held a photo of the original board members at that site during Tuesday night’s photo shoot.
There was a positive, happy vibe to the night.
“One of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life was to move to the Village of Worth,” City Clerk Bonnie Price told the crowd. Price was elected onto the board in 2001 and said she is happy to be involved with the community. Price, along with the Centennial Committee, was responsible for organizing the 1914-themed event.
“I was really excited about the attire,” Centennial Committee Chairperson Bahira Karim said. “I think it’s a great idea to come out here and see how it was for the village board members back then.”
Karim and her family have lived in Worth for 24 years.
A teacher at District 127 and a Worth library board member, Karim added the village is an excellent place to raise your kids. “Worth is such a diverse community. Not a lot of communities are like that when you live there or are trying to raise a family there. I really like that a lot about this town,” she said.
Some residents also participated in the 1900s-style attire, contributing to the atmosphere of the era. The occasion was catered by Buddy’s Special Events of Deer Park, providing hotdogs, chips, soft drinks and ice cream.
The five-minute fireworks display, which started an hour earlier because of the pending rain, ended with a large, brightly lit 100-year sign in celebration of the centennial event.
This is just the beginning of a long celebration in the coming months.
“The entire village will be included in the celebration of Worth’s Centennial on Aug. 29,” Werner said. She said the village will be having birthday cakes for everyone to enjoy throughout the community, including, schools, park districts, the Worth Public Library and the Worth Village Hall.
“Hopefully, everyone can come out and enjoy a piece of cake with us that day in celebration of Worth’s 100th birthday.” she said.
The Village Hall will also display a countdown calendar on the marquee outside of the building, counting down the days until the big event. The countdown started at 100 days on Wednesday.

Jeff Vorva's ImPRESSions: The ultimate WHATIZIT?


Name this car and win money and beer

Jeffs-Col-ImpressionsHey gang, how would you like to earn a hundred bucks and a six pack of beer?
No, the Reporter is not holding a promotional contest or anything like that. But you might call this the ultimate WHATIZIT? contest. For those unfamiliar, we run a photo of something on page 12 and our fine readers try to guess what it is. The prize is getting your name in the paper for a job well done.
A man in St. Augustine, Fla., is seeking your help to solve a nearly half-decade old mystery and is willing to part with that big bounty in order to do it.
But I have to warn you – this one is the toughest of the toughies. Celebrities couldn’t come up with the answer. Experts couldn’t come up with the answer. But you just might have a shot at the beer. And the hundy. We’re giving you a lot of hints.
See, Phillip Topcik is looking for the name and make of a car that he bought years ago and said that it once belonged to John and Anne Greeneltch, who lived in the 9100 block of 50th Ave. in Oak Lawn. The car was in town in the early and midPAGE-1-COLOR-4-COL-CARPhillip Topcik has spent nearly 50 years tracking down the make and model of this rare car, which belonged to an Oak Lawn family in the 1960s. Submitted photo. 1960s and sold to a Volkswagen dealer in Evergreen Park. It was serviced at Evergreen Imports at 3401 W 95th St in Evergreen Park and eventually traded to them for a VW Bus. It was also serviced at Zander Shell Service at 95th & Ridgeland in 1965.
“I know a million things about this car,” Topcik said. “But I don’t know the make and model. No one knows who built it or what it was called. Anne Greeneltch told me her husband said it was made in Germany for a movie star and that it was made to look sleek and fast.’’
Since he bought the car that he calls “ugly” and features suicide doors in 1967, Topcik has been trying to figure this out. He has written letters. He has had stories written about it in four magazines – including one written in all German.

BREAKING NEWS: Community disservice: Ten percent of OLCHS seniors won't graduate

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Approximately 10 percent of Oak Lawn Community High School’s senior class is not expected to participate in graduation ceremonies Wednesday night because they allegedly falsified paperwork indicating that they completed mandatory service hours.

School district officials realized last week that 47 seniors submitted service hour forms that included the forged signature of Stony Creek Golf Course Superintendent Bill Krueger. A 48th student has been banned from graduation ceremonies because he forged Krueger's signature on 45 of the forms, Supt. Michael Riordan said.

The student charged his classmates between $10 and $20 for each signature, Riordan said, and has served a five-day suspension from school.

Approximately 400 seniors will participate in graduation ceremonies Wednesday night at the Shannon Center at St. Xavier University.

“The kids did not meet graduation requirements,”  Riordan said Monday. They will receive their diplomas when they complete the required service hours.

The students who submitted falsified documents indicated that they had completed their required service hours by volunteering at Stony Creek Golf Course, which is part of the Oak Lawn Park District.

Students were informed last week during individual meetings that they would not participate in graduation ceremonies, Riordan said. District administrators also talked to the students’ parents on the phone or at the meetings, he said.

Riordan said administrators did not become aware of the deception until last week when they compared Krueger’s signature on two forms submitted at the last minute with ones handed in earlier in the year.

“The signatures looked different,” Riordan said. “It was a fabricated signature.”

Further examination revealed that all of the forms that bore Krueger’s signature were bogus, Riordan said.

Until that point, school officials had no reason to doubt the validity of the Krueger’s signature, the superintendent said.

They had confirmed earlier in the year with the park district’s volunteer coordinator that Krueger was authorized to sign service hour sheets, but no one at the park district had seen the signature, Riordan said.

A small number of parents asked the school to consider a different consequence, but “this is our policy,” Riordan said.

“There’s no one on this building that’s taking any pleasure in doing this,” he said, adding that most of the students expressed remorse for their actions.

Not an e-waste of time

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Spartan athletes collect large electronics from seniors

A group of Oak Lawn CommunityOL-E-WasteOak Lawn Community High School Athletic Director Kevin McKeown poses with the students who participated Saturday in the village’s first e-waste pickup. Students removed e-waste such as televisions from the homes of several seniors who otherwise would have trouble disposing of the items. Another e-waste pickup is scheduled for October. Submitted photo. High School student-athletes spent Saturday morning taking large electronics off the hands of seniors in the community.
The first e-waste pickup was the brainchild of Jack Lopez, a veteran member of the village’s public works department who also oversees the e-waste program and its collection site at the public works garage, 5550 W. 98th St.
Lopez collaborated with Mayor Sandy Bury and Mike Riordan, principal and superintendent of Oak Lawn Community High School, to recruit members of the Spartan Athletic Leadership Team for the collection, which removed large electronics from the homes of several seniors who otherwise have difficulty arranging disposal.
“It’s for the right reasons,” said Lopez, who’s been involved with the e-waste collection site since in opened in 2009.
But the program had others benefits, he said, including exposing well-meaning adolescents to the community, Lopez said. He said that too often teenagers get a bad rap due to the actions of a few.
“I have always maintained, ‘You don’t know the kids that I know,’ ” he said.
Students traveled from one house to the next on a school bus driven by high school athletic director Kevin McKeown, who also was instrumental in organizing the event. The e-waste was loaded onto a village truck and transported to the collection site.
Another benefit of the program was exposing students to the importance of recycling, Lopez said.
“The environment wins, the school wins, the kids win and the village looks good,” Lopez said.
The e-waste site is open from 2-4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m.-noon on the second Saturday of the month. Volunteers are welcome and students can gain service hours working at the site.
The site has been a success since it opened more than four years ago, Lopez said. In 2009, 45 tons of e-waste was collected compared to more than 150 tons in 2013, he said.
Those interested in volunteering can contact Lopez via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

OL mayor says seniors are getting ‘screwed by politics’

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury said resident seniors are getting “screwed by politics” regarding a proposed series of land exchanges and purchases that would lead to the development of a new senior center.

“It’s just a shame the seniors get screwed by politics, and I don’t think that’s right,” Bury said at Tuesday’s village board committee meeting. “People chose to make this sensational, and seniors are the ones who are losing. This was a great idea.”
The 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.
Park district officials initially seemed open to the plan, but in a Jan. 23 memo to village manager Larry Deetjen, park district attorney Tom Farrell said the park board did not wish to have further discussions with the village concerning the senior center.