Photo by Joe Boyle
Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett displays a banner during the city council meeting last Thursday night asking residents to support local restaurants and eateries during the coronavirus pandemic.
By Joe Boyle
While rumors persist and the number of Illinois residents testing positive for the coronavirus rises, Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett is asking for calm.
"We are in unprecedented times," Bennett said during the Palos Hills City Council meeting last Thursday night. "We want the best for our residents. Try to stay home. They (state officials) are just asking us to refrain from contact with each other for a while."
Ald. Joe Marrotta (4th) added that his frustration level rose because he received numerous calls from residents about the National Guard coming in and calling for martial law and a lockdown on the state. Marrotta said he did not know where the information was coming from but it is simply not true.
"All they have to do is call us or look at our website," said Marrotta, who has been an alderman for 14 years. "Call the city or call the police department. We are not the enemy here. We are not trying to hide anything."
Gov. J.B. Pritzker referred to online posts that have stated that the National Guard or state militia were being called on to enforce martial law in light of the spread of coronavirus in the state. Pritzker addressed this issue during a press briefing on Friday in which he called for residents to stay at home as much as possible and only "essential" businesses to remain open until at least April 7.
The governor stated that 60 National Guard members were called upon last week to assist with the distribution of medical services. The governor said that the National Guard might take part in building temporary medical screening facilities, food distribution, medical staffing and other needs. They are not being called to enforce the law or use physical force, the governor said.
"There are lot of rumors out there and those are all false," Pritzker said on Friday.
Bennett again noted that they will continue to update residents on the city website.
"The city is going to do everything to retain services," Bennett said, who added that unfortunately a lot of information on Facebook and online often is not factual. "Our concern is for residents and our employees. The police and public works are also attempting to limit contact with the public."
Bennett said that he is concerned for local businesses and asked residents to purchase goods from them, especially as the numbers rise of individuals testing positive for the virus.
The mayor held out a banner that reminded residents to purchase food from local restaurants, which for now will be by take-out or deliveries.
"I want to thank our department heads for all their cooperation," Bennett said. "This is going to change every day. We want to keep the so-called curve down so that we don't see a spike in patients. That doesn't mean we can't go for a walk."
In the interim, Bennett said that future committee meetings are postponed indefinitely. The mayor said that they will post information on the website to keep residents informed.
"We are going to get through this," Bennett said. "We will keep you informed."
The board officially voted on approving locations in a specific limited area for cannabis dispensaries. The issue has been a tense one for the board. The vote was tied at 5-5 with Bennett providing the tiebreaking tally to approve the measure. Voting for the ordinance were Aldermen Mike Price (1st), Marrotta, Ricky Moore (4th), Dawn Nowak (5th) and Donna O'Connell (5th). Nowak and O'Connell were not at the meeting but participated by phone.
Opposing the ordinance were Aldermen Martin Kleefisch (1st), Pauline Stratton (2nd), Mark Brachman (2nd), Mike Lebarre (3rd) and A.J. Pasek (3rd). By approving the measure, a person or group that would not run a dispensary would still have to approved the board. The boundaries for any dispensaries would be roughly along Harlem Avenue, south of 103rd Street, and Southwest Highway adjacent to the Cal-Sag Channel.
In other news, O'Connell, who is the head of the economic development committee, said that On The Go Restaurant, or OTG, opened for business with a grand opening on Sunday, March 15 at 8803 W. 95th St., Unit B. The restaurant offers delivery, as well as phone-in and online ordering for carry-out. Business has been altered due to the coronavirus outbreak but carry-out is still available. The owner is Mohammed Raheel Rafiq.
The other business that has opened is Chicago Phone Wholesale, 10135 S. Roberts Road, Unit 203. Chicago Phones Wholesale is operating out of the PNC Bank building as a mobile phone wholesale company. They are scheduled to be open Monday through Friday for two hours per day.