Four Evergreen Park businesses get licenses

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

Four business regulation certificates were approved at the Evergreen Park Village Board meeting on Monday night, but only after an extensive discussion on the hours of operation and availability of parking spaces at the locations of two of the applicants.

Questioned at length was Karen Bradley-Brown, the owner of the Overflow Salon, also known as Salon Overflow at 3142 W. 92nd St., who stated her hours of operation would be 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday; and 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The salon will be closed on Sunday.

Mayor James Sexton expressed concern about the hours because the salon, which is zoned for commercial use but is basically in a residential area, just east of Kedzie.

“I am not sure who gets their hair done at 6 a.m.,” said Seton, with a laugh.

Bradley-Brown responded that the business is by appointment only and there are only two chairs in the salon, so parking would not be a problem.

Trustee James McQuillan also questioned the hours and availability of parking at the site. Bradley-Brown explained there was ample parking for only two customers at a time. She added that she lived close enough to the site to walk, and would leave her own car at her home.

The business certificate was approved in a 4-1 vote, with McQuillan casting the “no” vote.

Also questioned about parking was the Empire Property Management Solutions, a condominium and property management group seeking approval for the business in office spaces 1 and 2 at 9500 S. Avers Ave. A spokesperson for the group assured the board that there would only be two to three employees located at the site and there would be no foot traffic. Approval was granted with a unanimous vote.

Approval was also granted to IL & IN Restaurant Realty for an IHOP restaurant to be located at 9150 S. Western Ave., and to Magaly Del Valle, a mental health counselor, for office space at 3830 W. 95th St., Suite 103.

On other matters, Sexton recognized Fire Chief Ronald Kleinhaus, who has been named as recipient of the Illinois Fire Inspectors Association Chiefs (IFICA) Award. The award will be presented at the Fire Prevention Week Banquet on Oct. 28 at the Medina Banquet Hall in Addison.

Board action also approved a request for the Public Works Department to issue a request for proposals for construction of a parking lot at 9138 S. Kedzie Ave. The lot will provide additional parking spaces for the fine dining Asian restaurant Thi-Thi’s at 91st and Kedzie.

Sexton also proclaimed the month of October 2016 as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” and Nov. 16 as “School Board Members Day.”

Trustee Mary Keane was absent with notice.

Oak Lawn crime down, but officials urge vigilance

  • Written by Joe Boyle

det. cronin photo 10-20

Photo by Joe Boyle

Oak Lawn Detective Tom Cronin speaks to residents at a public safety meeting last week at Salem United Church of Christ. He offered advice on how to prevent becoming a victim of crime.

Oak Lawn Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th) assured residents who attended his public safety meeting last week that crime in the village has fluctuated in recent years and has actually decreased since 2014.

“I think the village is just fine,” said Vorderer, before a crowd of about 75 people at Salem United Church of Christ in Oak Lawn. “I know with social media that reports sometimes just get magnified. But crime is no greater than it was five years ago.”

Vorderer, who is completing his first term as trustee and is a former Oak Lawn police officer, said that violent crime was down last year from 2014. Oak Lawn Police Chief Michael Murray told the audience that there were 70 violent crimes in Oak Lawn in 2015, as opposed to 90 in 2014.

Murray said crime figures were higher in 2014 due to a series of incidents involving three perpetrators – an adult and two minors -- who were eventually arrested. But he added the figures were lower in previous years.

“I will let the numbers speak for themselves,” said Murray. “In 2001, we had 187 burglaries. As of this afternoon (Oct. 13), we had 79 this year so far.”

Murray reiterated what Vorderer mentioned earlier that with additional electronic media sources available, the reporting of crimes is often overstated.

“It is a good thing but sometimes it can be overwhelming,” said Murray. “The good thing is the word is getting out.”

The police chief said that if he could offer advice to Oak Lawn residents on how to cut down on crime dramatically, it would be to do one thing.

“Lock your doors,” said Murray. “The vast amount of these crimes is committed because someone did not lock their front doors. And lock the doors of your car. Keep the doors locked and don’t leave valuables on your car seat.”

Murray also mentioned to residents to make sure their home address is clear. After calling 911 and the police arrive at what they believe is a residence, it would make better sense to have the address in an area that is visible. Precious moments are wasted looking for an address that is not visible from the street, Murray said.

“You guy are our eyes and ears,” said Murray. “If you see something that doesn’t look right, call us. Don’t pull out your cellphone and take a picture. Call 911 first if you think the police need to be there.”

Murray talked about home security and offered some suggestions to lessen the chances of becoming a crime victim. He mentioned making a list of what a family needs to do be safe, such as making sure the front door area is well lit.

“It may cost you a little more,” said Murray. “But criminals don’t like the light.”

Overgrown bushes in front of the home should be trimmed, according to Murray. He said a criminal could utilize the bushes as a means to hide and enter the home. Murray said residents should think like a burglar. If a door is locked, criminals will go to the next house, he said.

Murray said Oak Lawn has 109 police officers and added that they are as highly staffed as they have ever been.

Detective Tom Cronin told the crowd that they should be nosy neighbors. Residents who go on vacation should mention to neighbors to pick up the mail and newspapers. He mentioned that residents who are going to be away for some time can contact the police, who will also come by to monitor the home.

“These are common sense things,” said Cronin. “These are crimes of opportunities. We live in an extremely safe community. Don’t make it easy for them. We call it situational awareness. Just be aware. If it doesn’t look right, like someone you have never seen before sitting in a car, call the police.”

Cronin said a lot of crimes are committed in the daytime. If they don’t get a response at the front door, they will go to the back. Cronin said that dogs can be a deterrent.

Scams are more prevalent due to technological advances. Cronin warned residents about IRS scams in which a caller will state that they need to pay a certain fine or they will be arrested. Cronin assured residents that the IRS never makes such calls. He also suggests having caller ID on their phones. If the caller is anonymous, don’t answer it, said Cronin. It could be a scam or at the least, a telemarketer.

Cronin also warned of ruse burglaries, scam artists who posed as legitimate workers who will talk their way into the victims’ homes. Some are opportunists who just happen to spot an easy target, such as the elderly, or an open door or window.

The Oak Lawn detective also mentioned the “grandfather” or “grandmother” scam in which someone calls stating they are a nephew who got into serious trouble in Canada or some other foreign country and don’t want their parents to know. They plead for money to be sent to them and unfortunately the startled caller sometimes does just that. Caller ID would eliminate the annoying calls, Cronin said.

Murray added that anyone seeking donations from organizations should have a permit. The lone exceptions, he said, would be politicians or religious groups.

“Technology is making our job very difficult,” said Murray. Even caller ID is not enough because someone can use technology to insert a familiar phone number into your phone caller ID, he added.

Murray said that the Oak Lawn police force is sympathetic to victims of crime.

“This is the worst day in these people’s lives,” said Murray. “They are now on information overload.”

And that is why Murray continues to tell residents on how to reduce crime.

“The fastest way to get a hold of us is calling 911,” he added.

Construction underway for Hickory Hills park district projects

  • Written by Joe Boyle

splash pad photo 10-6

Photo by Joe Boyle

The splash pad at Kasey Meadow Park in Hickory Hills has been dug up and will be replaced by a new concrete surface after state grant restrictions were lifted following Gov. Rauner signing a bill this summer.


The stopgap budget that was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in July provides a reprieve for a variety of state institutions until January when legislators have to come up with an agreement to avert another shutdown.

However, Jennifer Fullerton, executive director of the Hickory Hills Park District, is concerned with the present. With the governor’s signature in July, funding for a series of projects that had been suspended for the Kasey Meadow Park District is being worked on again.

During the budget stalemate, Rauner had frozen grant money for park district projects in January 2015. Park district officials from across the state lobbied Springfield by writing, calling and visiting with elected officials to pressure them to reverse the governor’s decision.

Fullerton was one of those park district officials who wrote letters to the governor. Rauner signed into law a stopgap budget that would free up to $26 million in grant funding for 75 projects across the state. The money is part of the state’s Open Space Land and Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) program.

The Hickory Hills Park District director said that when the governor froze the grant funding, it prevented construction of playground equipment in March 2015. The Hickory Hills Park District playground and splash pad equipment that was supposed to be sent on three semi-trucks for construction of the Kasey Meadow Park OSLAD project had to be sent elsewhere. Before the governor signed the bill this summer, the equipment had to be stored on a farm in Central Illinois but was still in the elements and often facing bad weather.

But in the last week, the splash pad has been dug up to install new concrete for a complete upgrade. Dirt has already been dug up to install a walkway surrounding the baseball fields and softball fields. An area that will be set aside to allow the disabled or people who lack mobility an opportunity sit safely to watch ballgames.

An outdoor fitness station will also be constructed in a location near 91st Street and 82nd Avenue.

“We didn’t want to put in the outdoor fitness station along with the walking path because people have told us they didn’t want to stop while they are walking,” said Fullerton. “They wanted an area where they could have for just working out. So that’s why we set it up this way.”

But the fact that ground is being dug up for the walkway and outdoor fitness station pleases Fulllerton. An upgrade for the new splash pad was necessary because of the budget stalemate, said Fullerton.

In the letter she had addressed to the governor in October 2015, Fullerton told him that she worried every day what was going to happen to the equipment for Kasey Meadow Park if a state budget is not passed.

“There is $400,000 of equipment just sitting on this farm because that is the only type of storage that we could afford,” wrote Fullerton.

Fullerton received the good news after the bill was signed in a letter from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, stating that the restrictions on funding have been lifted. She said that the Hickory Hills Park District will be receiving $390,000 from the IDR for the overall $908,000 project.

“Without the funding it would have been really challenging,” said Fullerton. “We would have had to take out the money from our recreation department fund.”

Fullerton added that without the state grant, aging vehicles could not be replaced, along with upgrades to the playground equipment. She reminded the governor that the Hickory Hills Park District is a small park district with little funding for capital projects.

“This was the first grant the Hickory Hills Park District was awarded other than a very small joint project with the City of Hickory Hills 14 years ago,” wrote Fullerton. “We spent three years writing the grant, hosting many focus groups with the community and working with several groups of children to select the ideal playground.”

But Fullerton said the projects that have been discussed for several years will become a reality.

“We are moving right along,” she said. “It’s very exciting. We are hoping to be done by mid-November, if the weather holds up. If not, it will be completed in the spring.”

Sanguinetti tells League of Women Voters that less government is needed

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

sanguinetti speaks photo 9-29

Photo by Dermot Connolly

As President Barbara Pasquinelli looks on, Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti addresses the League of Women Voters of the Palos-Orland Area potluck breakfast on Saturday morning at Lake Katherine in Palos Heights.



Local government consolidation and unfunded mandates were on the menu, along with doughnuts and homemade pastries, when Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti came to the League of Women Voters of the Palos-Orland Area potluck breakfast on Saturday morning at Lake Katherine in Palos Heights.

Before addressing those topics with the group of about 50 people, Sanguinetti went to all the tables in the room, introducing herself and chatting for a few minutes.

“With this being Hispanic Heritage Month, I am happy to be here as the first elected Latina lieutenant governor, not just in Illinois, but in the country,” said the Wheaton resident.

She explained that soon after taking office with Gov. Bruce Rauner in January, 2015, she took on the role of chairman of the newly established Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Taskforce, aimed at streamlining local government through consolidation and eliminating unnecessary state mandates

“In Wheaton, where I was on the City Council, there were 16 units of government,” she said. “That is too many, especially when you consider that most of them are taxing bodies,” she said.

Sanguinetti said Illinois currently has the most units of local government in the country — nearly 7,000, which is 1,800 more than any other state.

She said the duplication of services contributes to why Illinois residents pay some of the highest local government taxes in the nation, where Illinois ranks 10th in sales tax and second-highest property taxes.

She said another key to saving money is eliminating unnecessary unfunded mandates, those statutes or regulations requiring local governments to do something without providing funding.

“I have a problem when big government tells little government what to do, but does not provide any money to do it,” she said, explaining her opposition to them.

She said she traveled the state with the taskforce, gathering opinions from people at numerous meetings before 27 recommendations were issued last December.

“It was a bipartisan group of elected officials and local leaders from throughout the state. We needed to dispel the concern that the taskforce would just be promoting the governor’s agenda,” she said. State Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-11th) was one of the local representatives on it.

“We had a lot of thoughtful conversations,” said Sanguinetti, acknowledging that eliminating the requirement for government bodies to pay the prevailing wage was one suggestion that did not win widespread approval.

Absorbing townships into county government and consolidating school districts was also considered. But she said decisions like that would be decided on a local level. She said many communities, especially in rural areas, feel their identity will be lost if school districts are combined.

“As they say, the hardest animal to kill is the school mascot,” said Sanguinetti.

“Getting rid of my position as lieutenant governor was being considered as a cost-saving measure, and I wasn’t offended by it.” She said she did close one of her offices and now shares staff with the governor to save money.

One woman said that at least some township governments should be retained.

“I live in Orland Township,. Every township may not work well, but I think ours is a good system. They are very transparent,” she said.

“Consolidation is very personal decision,” agreed Sanguinetti, reiterating that the no statewide mandates would be issued.

One woman said that while not every township government is good, the Orland Township works well.

“I live in Orland Township. While not everyone works well, I think it is a good system. They are very transparent,” she said.

“Can this extra money we save be used for things like mental health care and other social services?” another woman asked.

“That would be certainly be possible if money becomes available. I am a product of the social service safety net, so I understand the need,” she said, explaining that her mother was 15 years old when she was born, and her family needed food stamps and other programs.

Jim Byrne, of Palos Heights, one of the few men at the gathering, asked Sanguinetti what could be done to reduce the length of political campaigns.

“This presidential campaign has been going on for 20 months now. I think it is becoming corrosive to the country,” he said. “In most countries, campaigns are limited to three months.”

Sanguinetti said she agreed in principle with Byrne, but suggested she take it up with Cong. Bobby Rush (D-1st) because it is a national issue.

“Well, it was a great turnout and I think we learned more about the lieutenant governor’s job than any of us knew before. That is the point of having these events,” said Barbara Pasquinelli, president of the Palos-Orland chapter of the League of Women Voters.

New Carson’s in Evergreen Park attracts large crowd for grand opening

  • Written by Joe Boyle

carsons parking photo 9-22

Photo by Joe Boyle

The parking lot was filled to capacity for the grand opening on Sept. 14 of the new Carson’s at 9700 S. Western Ave. in Evergreen Park.


A slight drizzle did not deter a large crowd from showing up for the grand opening of the new Carson’s store at 9700 S. Western Ave. in Evergreen Park on the morning of Sept. 14.

In the eyes of Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton, who was on hand for the ribbon-cutting and grand opening, there were just clear skies. The Evergreen Park High School Band helped to usher in a new era of Carson’s by playing as the doors opened and the crowd began to file in.

“It was a nice day and it was very, very organized,” said Sexton. “We had a little rain but it didn’t stop anything. It was a nice turnout with very nice people on hand. We are very glad that the first phase is over.”

Sexton was referring to the fact with the opening of Carson’s this is the first step in the construction process for the Evergreen Marketplace. While the grand opening proceedings were taking place, construction crews were busy at work next door to the new Carson’s on additional retail stores and restaurants.

“They want to get the old Carson’s demolished as quickly as possible for additional parking (for the new Carson’s),” said Sexton, who said that it will be needed if the crowds that gathered on the first day at the new location are any indication.

“I was telling some of the officials that the love affair with Carson’s dates back to the ‘50s. People like Carson’s and will continue to shop there,” said Sexton.

According to Christine Hojnacki, vice president for public relations for The Bon Ton Stores, Inc., which operates Carson’s, 400 people were waiting in line to enter the new Carson’s on the first day despite the rain.

“The first customer was here at 3:30 a.m.,” said Hojnacki. “A lot of people brought lawn chairs.”

The old Carson’s was still operating until the new store opened and is less than a block away facing Western Avenue. Both stores shared the same parking lot.

The two-level 119,000 square foot Carson’s reflects a new store design, which is unique to any other store in the company, according to Carson’s officials. The exterior has large open windows to allow natural light to enter. The architecture is framed with a red band, Carson’s signature color.

Customers had another incentive to attend the grand opening. The first 250 shoppers received a free gift card valued between $10 and $500. Large crowds were seen at Carson’s throughout the day. Evergreen Park police directed traffic in and out of Carson’s parking lot during the grand opening.

Store representatives said new updated merchandise, new brands and the addition of a big and tall for men and young contemporary plus sizes for women departments will be featured at Carson’s. A newly designed cosmetics session is featured on the first floor. During the grand opening, a series of complimentary consultations were offered. Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing and the former social secretary for President Obama, provided make up lessons for Fashion Fair Cosmetics during the grand opening.

Carson’s was also celebrating its grand opening with the company’s Goodwill Sale. Customers can bring gently used apparel donations to the store through Saturday, Oct. 1 to support Goodwill’s mission of providing job services and training in the community. Customers will in turn receive coupons and discounts.

Fashion TV personality Giuliana Rancic will appear at Carson’s from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 in the celebrity fragrance department.

Hojnacki said that along with name brands, items that appeal at a local level will be on sale at Carson’s. She pointed to a display on the first floor that featured products with Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood written on them, and Cubs and White Sox memorabilia.

Sexton said he was not certain when the old Carson’s, which opened as a main anchor of The Plaza in 1963, will be leveled. But he did say construction target dates for other retails shops and restaurants are on schedule.

Next door to the new Carson’s will be a DSW, a Petco, Five Below, T.J. Max, Ulta, Rally House, 365 by Whole Foods Market, Carter Oshkosh and Dress Barn. A Dick’s Sporting Goods Store will round out these series of stores.

“The response was great,” said Sexton about Carson’s first day. “I went back a couple of times and the parking lot was filled each time.”

Pat King, a resident of Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, was pleased with what she saw of the new Carson’s.

“It’s wonderful,” said King. “We really needed this in the area. I definitely will be back.”

Ikie Jackson, of Chicago’s Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, was impressed with the new Carson’s after completing her shopping

“It’s a beautiful edifice. I really like the cosmetics session. They have large lettering that really helps us seniors,” said Jackson, 75.

And would Jackson make a return visit to Carson’s?

“Sure I will,” she said. “You can count on it.”