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Evergreen Park street sign will honor Bosch

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Jerry Bosch’s legacy will continue with the assistance of members of the Evergreen Park Board of Trustees, who approved a commemorative street sign in his honor during the meeting held on June 4.

Bosch, 81, who died in April, was an Evergreen Park trustee for 28 years. Trustee Carol Kyle said that Bosch was involved in many organizations and helped to create several village programs.

“He helped to organize and get the Village Pantry going,” said Kyle, who is a volunteer at the Village Pantry. “Jerry did a lot for the village.”

While the vote was unanimous, the board did not want the commemorative street sign to be unveiled soon.

“Everybody felt it was best to wait until Aug. 1, which was his birthday,” said Mayor James Sexton.

Sexton knew Bosch from over the years during his years going back to when he was also a trustee. The mayor said that Bosch worked hard on various projects and the organizations he was affiliated with.

“He was a very hardworking, very involved individual,” Sexton said about Bosch. “He was involved with so many organizations like the Northwest Boosters, Evergreen Park Baseball and he helped to organize the Evergreen Park Historical Commission.”

The street dedication that is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 1 will take place at the corner of 93rdStreet and Central Park.

Bosch also taught in the Chicago Public Schools for over 30 years. He also taught at St. Rita High School and the former Luther South High School. He was also involved as a legislative liaison and an ADA commissioner. He was also affiliated with the Illinois Municipal League, Evergreen Park Boys Club, Most Holy Redeemer Holy Name Society and the St. Joseph’s College Alumni Board.

“The honor for him is very deserving.” Sexton said. “He was active in a lot of organizations and worked hard for the village.”

Sexton later commented on activities that will be taking place in Evergreen Park within the next month. The annual Independence Day Parade will take place along 95th Street beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. July 3. A fireworks show will follow at Duffy Park, 9100 S. Millard Ave.

“It’s just a good time of the year for everybody,” Sexton said. “It’s a busy, busy time of the year. It’s a good time for everyone to get together. People who are not even from here anymore come in for the parade and other events. It’s really special. 

Marijuana laws prompt debate at forum

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

                                                                                     

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                                                                                          Photo by Dermot Connolly

     State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-14th, at right) responds to audience questions following a presentation she gave on Monday during a town hall meeting at the Oak Lawn Library about her efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Illinois. The event was hosted by state Rep. Fran Hurley (D-35th), standing, from left, state Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th) and state Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-18th), who read the submitted questions.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-14th) believes marijuana use should be legalized in Illinois for adults ages 21 and over.

"Prohibition has not worked," Cassidy said during a town hall meeting held Monday evening before about 150 people at the Oak Lawn Library. “The difference between what you can get legally, and what you get in a plastic bag on the street is night and day. The goal is to undercut the cost of what is available on the street, so you can’t tax it too much.”

Cassidy, who is co-sponsoring a bill with state Sen. Heather Steans (D-7th), said SB316/HB2352 would tax and regulate marijuana similar to what is currently done for alcohol and tobacco.

The forum was sponsored by state Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-18th), state Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th) and state Rep. Fran Hurley (D-36th). Many residents who attended the session were open to the legalization of marijuana for adults.

However, there were many other residents in attendance who were wary of the long-term impact of marijuana use.

“We’re just here to learn. But we’re very skeptical about it,” said Oak Lawn resident Chris Kupscuk, who was there with her husband, Peter.

“I don’t understand its popularity. I tried it once in high school and I didn’t like it,” she added.

“We still have some questions. But it just seems like it is going to happen,” said Peter Kupscuk.

Hurley pointed out that in the non-binding Cook County referendum on legalizing marijuana that was on the March 20 primary elections, Orland Township was 54 percent in favor, 55.6 in Palos Township, and 62 percent in Worth Township. Her district also includes Chicago’s 19th Ward, where she lives, as well as the 18th and 21st wards. Hurley said 67 percent of 19th Ward voters approved legalizing marijuana, as did 66 percent in the other two wards.

“But everyone doesn’t vote. That just means that a majority of the voters were in favor of it,” Hurley said afterward, noting that voter turnout was about 29 percent.

Cassidy cited statistics showing that 750,000 Illinoisans have admitting being regular users, and 22 million nationwide. She said that in all the states that have legalized marijuana, street sales of the drug have dropped.

She added that the industry will also raise revenue through the creation of a variety of jobs related to the production of edible marijuana items, among other things.

Cassidy mentioned that the tax revenue could go toward education, healthcare related to drug abuse, as a well as even paying down the pension debt.

“How can we trust you that the revenue will go where you say it will?” asked one audience member, citing what happened to the lottery funds going into the general fund rather than education.

The wording of the legislation is still being worked on, Cassidy said, and the feedback from town halls and public hearings is valuable.

“Legalization is moving quickly across the country. It could be approved here as early as next spring, (after the gubernatorial election)” said Cassidy. “We probably have enough votes to pass it now, but the governor is against it and we don’t have enough votes to override a veto."

Cassidy said that legislative hearings will be held before any vote. She then answered questions submitted by audience members and read out by Cunningham, Kelly and Hurley.

Cunningham pointed out that while Colorado and many of the other states that have legalized marijuana in recent years did so through referendums, but in Illinois, laws must be changed through the legislative process.

Cassidy explained that under the bill, Illinois residents 21 and over would be allowed to purchase or possess 28 grams (1 ounce) of marijuana.

“That amount is per purchase. So, if you kept buying it, and kept it with you, you could still have a problem if you were stopped by police,” she said, responding to an audience question.

Public use of it would still be prohibited, she noted, under the legislation as it is written now.

The marijuana sold legally would largely come from grow houses, just as medicinal marijuana is now. But households could also grow as many as five marijuana plants for their own use.

“This is already an incredibly highly regulated industry,” said Cassidy, referring to the medicinal marijuana industry. It would be sold in dispensaries, like the ones for medical marijuana already in Worth, Justice, and on the Southwest Side of Chicago.

She said municipalities, employers and landlords would still be able to restrict or prohibit use or possession of marijuana.

“Municipalities can opt out of allowing marijuana possession entirely. But then they would also wouldn’t get any of the tax revenue it generates,” Cassidy said.

“I would challenge a lot of things that were said today,” said Dr. Ken Yerkes, of Oak Lawn, who is running as a Republican write-in candidate in the 3rd Congressional District in November.

Yerkes said that while he is in favor of decriminalizing marijuana, he questions a lot of the statistics cited during the presentation.

“There is a DARE program for children, teaching them to avoid drugs. Some of the tax revenue should go toward a DARE program for adults, too,” he said.

Cunningham said he is “leaning toward” supporting legalization but is waiting for the final wording of the proposed legislation.

“I think about Prohibition, and how that didn’t work. But a lot will depend on the final wording of the bill, whether or not I support the bill. We want to hear from you,” said Cunningham, urging audience members to contact the three offices and share their views on the subject.

When asked for a show of hands from audience members when asked if they supported legalization, most hands shot up.

Burke said she was pleased with the turnout.

“The event went well; the crowd was larger than I thought it would be and more of a mix of ages than I thought there would be. We don't usually get many young people at our town halls so I am glad we could present information on a topic that is of interest to many young people.

“I learned a lot from the presentation and I'd like to review the amended bill when it's filed before making a commitment,” Burke added.   

Cardinal Cupich honors clergy during Mass at St. Bernadette

  • Written by Joe Boyle

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                                             Photo by Joe Boyle

Cardinal Blase Cupich walks down the aisle of St. Bernadette Church in Evergreen Park at the conclusion of Mass after celebrating a service honoring priests and nuns for their years in religious life.

Sister Regina Jafzwinski said she has had a wonderful life as a member of the Sisters of Holy Family of Nazareth

“I’m glad to be here celebrating my years in the order,” said Sr. Regina, who attended the special Mass at St. Bernadette Church, 9343 S. Francisco Ave., Evergreen Park, on Saturday morning that was celebrated by Cardinal Blase Cupich. “It has not always been easy but it has been rewarding.”

Sr. Regina is celebrating her 70th year in the order. She now walks with the assistance of a walker but said she still has enthusiasm and has no regrets about the life she has chosen. She was among many priests and nuns who attended the Mass and who were marking anniversaries in the clergy.

St. Bernadette Church was chosen this year to host the Archdiocesan Jubilee Celebration for Religious annual Mass to honor priests and nuns who have dedicated themselves to a religious life. While many priests and nuns attended the Mass, parishioners also attended the service.

The Rev. Robert Tonelli, administrator at St. Bernadette Parish, gave the opening greeting at the Mass.

During his homily, Cupich referred to Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, who has garnered national media attention as team chaplain for the men’s Loyola Ramblers basketball team that made a surprising run by making it to the NCAA Final Four.

Cupich thought about Sr. Jean after she appeared in a front page story and photo in Saturday’s Chicago Tribune.

“What struck me is that she said she is still learning,” said Cupich about the 98-year-old nun. “As she grows older, she said she still has much to learn. She has so much to live for. She has the chance to meet so many people. It was funny that she told Charles Barkley, the former basketball player and now a broadcaster, that he is very good but that he should smile more.”

Cupich told the members of the clergy who attended the Mass that like Sr. Jean, their devotion and love of God is what sustains them.

“We measure our success not by wealth but by offering comfort,” added Cupich. “It is hard work when you are in the religious life. You have not fallen into that fantasy that by having more objects and wealth it makes us better.”

Cupich added that the members of the clergy should be proud of what they have accomplished.

“Like Sr. Jean said in the paper, we are all still learning,” the cardinal said. “And that is the message we all still have to follow. No matter what your anniversary, we still have to keep learning.”

Keeping memories alive

  • Written by Joe Boyle

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                                                                     Photo by Joe Boyle

Cong. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) addresses the crowd that gathered for the Memorial Day Recognition Ceremony at the Veterans Monument Monday in Oak Lawn.

 

A couple of veterans from World War II and the Korean War were joined by soldiers who served in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Members of Johnson-Phelps VFW Post 5220 held its annual Memorial Day Recognition Ceremony Monday morning at the Village Green and Veterans Memorial in Oak Lawn. Commander Roy Johnson mentioned the fact that the ceremony was represented by veterans that have crossed several generations.

“We must remember what these men and women have done and those who are not here,” Johnson said. “Especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Cong. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) echoed those sentiments as he reminded the large crowd that while they may be enjoying this day with friends and with barbecues, they should remember what Memorial Day is about.

“Today, Memorial Day, we remember those who have served our country,” Lipinski said. “This year alone, 14 servicemen have been killed in the line of duty. Another 75 have died in training. Some of our veterans have committed suicide. We have to care for them who have been out there and serving our nation. I also want to thank our first responders who put their lives on the line every day. We need to thank the servicemen and we should welcome them home when they come home.”

Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury said the origin of Memorial Day dates back to the Civil War when women from the South began decorating the graves of the dead soldiers. But they also began to decorate the graves of Yankee soldiers they encountered.

“We came together as a nation as women from the North said if women from the South can do this, we can recognize the veterans’ graves, too,” Bury said.

Many of the speakers and residents in attendance can elude to family members and friends they know who have served. Oak Lawn Village Clerk Jane Quinlan mentioned that she had 10 uncles who have served in the U.S. military.

Oak Lawn Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th), who also serves as the local commander of the Disabled American Veterans, reminded the crowd that this is the 150th anniversary of Memorial Day.

“It’s unfortunate, but to be expected, that men and women will still have to continue to serve in the future,” said Vorderer, a Vietnam Army veteran and a retired member of the Oak Lawn Police Department.

“No other nation has sacrificed more than ours,” Johnson said. “We are fortunate to live in a country worth dying for. Today, we pay tribute to these patriots who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. This Memorial Day we should remember them. We need to educate every era of the importance of Memorial Day. Veterans who come back deserve an opportunity of employment and a place to live.”

Peg McClanahan, the longtime pastor of Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ in Oak Lawn, said the opening and concluding prayers for the ceremony. McClanahan will be retiring this Sunday after serving Pilgrim Faith for over 23 years.

A brief ceremony was held following the Memorial Day event at the Blue Star Memorial Highway marker nearby at 95th and Cook Avenue. The plaque and flowers that were beginning to bloom were created by the Oak Lawn Garden Club, who also plant and care for the flowers that surround the Oak Lawn Library next door.

Julie Barker, who came up with idea of the Blue Star Highway marker, placed a wreath at the foot of the monument. Quinlan thanked the members of the Garden Club for their efforts to remember and honor the U.S. Armed Forces.

Vorderer said the nation may go through periods of adversity and unrest, but the role of veterans remains constant.

“You can be against the war, you can be against the president, but what the veterans do is something we can all agree on. We all can support what the veterans do for us,” Vorderer said.

Garden party plants seeds of generosity

  • Written by Joe Boyle

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                                                                    Photo by Joe Boyle

A group of students from Morgan Park Academy apply mulch along the fence near bushes and trees during the Park Lawn Garden Party held Friday at the Oak Lawn school.

 

A garden party drew volunteers Friday that were more than happy to make Park Lawn a center for plants and vegetation in preparation for the summer months.

Volunteers arrived early Friday morning to begin the process of mulching along the fence and working on plants on the property of Park Lawn, 10833 S. Laporte Ave., Oak Lawn. Members of the Morgan Park Academy Service Council worked all morning by mulching along trees and plants on the grounds to get ready for the summer.

“We look up organizations that we can help by looking at websites and then we contact them,” said Julianna Zigmar, a junior at Morgan Park Academy and a member of the council. “We work with national services and at the local level. We have members working at several locations today, like the Ronald McDonald House and Misericordia. We like to help out and have fun, too.”

Park Lawn provides services that promote independence, choice and access to community living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Staff members and volunteers at Park Lawn hold programs like the Garden Party to individuals who attend classes there to feel more involved.

Mark Dynia, the marketing director at Park Lawn, said the efforts of the Morgan Park Academy students was a great asset. He also applauded the efforts of the Acres Group, who donated the mulch that the students worked with.

“This has just been an awesome day,” Dynia said about the efforts of the students and volunteers. “And the kids are having fun. Some of the students said they are learning a lot. Some of the kids told me that this is the best day they ever had. The weather has been great, too.”

Dynia and other staff members at Park Lawn were pleased that the Morgan Park Academy students also interacted with individuals at Park Lawn. After a couple of hours of mulching and caring for the gardens and plants, the students took part in drawing activities with Park Lawn individuals and played a variety of games.

Participants also began working on the vegetable and flower gardens, Varieties of tomatoes, peppers and herbs were planted and will be sold at the Village of Oak Lawn Farmers Market this summer. The farmers market is held from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays at the Village Green.

Oak Lawn resident Cathy Faxel has volunteered at Park Lawn since the mid-1970s. She became involved with Park Lawn when her sister began going there. Her sister died in 2000 and Faxel had been away from Park Lawn for several years. She said she is glad to be back.

“It was great coming back here,” Faxel said while she was bringing out treats for the students and the individuals at Park Lawn. “It’s like a second family here. Everyone is so generous and care for each other. This place is really special.”

The activities that also took place on Friday were pot painting, water balloon toss, basketball and other summer games. With the weather near 90 degrees, the Morgan Park Academy students and individuals at Park Lawn were able to interact and play outside.

Park Lawn has been part of the Village of Oak Lawn’s Farmers Market for the past three years. Dynia said that this year Park Lawn will be implementing new and exciting changes for the participants.

“We have developed a program for interested parties to participate in an Entrepreneur Group,” Dynia said. “We thought this was a great opportunity to take advantage of another way to teach folks about employment and bolster vocational skills. This group of six individuals has to interview and sign a letter of commitment in order to participate.”

The group from Park Lawn will continue at the farmers market through Oct. 10. The Park Lawn group reassessed past items sold at the market, inventoried all products, and created new products to sell. The Park Lawn group will be at the farmers market each week from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The group has also designed Park Lawn T-shirts and tablecloths.

“This is a team effort and each participant plays an essential role, which includes crafting, money/inventory management, sales and marketing at the farmers market,” added Dynia.