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The Orland Park Prairie 041218

8 | April 12, 2018 | The

8 | April 12, 2018 | The orland park prairie News Orland Park Village Board Open Plan Commission chairmanship leads to strife Jon DePaolis Freelance Reporter Another meeting, another fight over commission appointments. This time, the Village of Orland Park Board of Trustees argued April 2 over who should serve as the next chairman of the Plan Commission. Mayor Keith Pekau put forward ex-Trustee Ed Schussler, who recently was appointed to the commission, as his nomination. But as soon as the item was motioned for and seconded by the current Village Board members, a discussion followed about potentially moving the chairmanship to a rotating basis. Ultimately, the Village Board members voted 6-1 against appointing Schussler as chairman of the Plan Commission, with Pekau casting the lone affirmative ballot. During the discussion, Trustee Kathleen Fenton pointed out that she thought the other members of the commission who had served on it longer should have been considered. “In relation to this appointment, I personally feel that there are five other members who have more seniority on the Plan Commission, who rightfully deserve to have that position versus someone who just joined the Plan Commission,” Fenton said. Trustee Michael Carroll said he shared the same concern as Fenton. “My understanding is that this member, [Schussler], has been on for three meetings,” Carroll said. “All of our commissions do a lot great, hard work for the Village. But I can’t think of any other commission currently that does more work in advance of their meetings, during their meetings and serves a pretty vital role in helping us parcel out what we want to do as a board. I think not having one of the members that has been a vice chair or been a long-serving member get an opportunity to serve [as chairman] — at least for a little while — wouldn’t be fair.” Trustee Patricia Gira, who said she served on the Featuring 20+ fun things to do in your town over the summer! Plan Commission for almost 10 years, put forward a different idea for how to handle the chairmanships of the commissions. “I can tell you that there are many people there that work very hard,” she said. “I think it would be disheartening to all of those who have been serving for so long to appoint a new person as chair. I think there should be a rotation established.” Trustee Carole Griffin Ruzich said the Plan Commission is one of the most important commissions in the Village, and she also is in favor of a rotating chairmanship. “I think everyone on that commission is qualified to serve as a chairman, including Ed Schussler,” Ruzich said. “He obviously served as a board member for many years. I think he would be qualified. “Now, having said that, I like the idea of a rotating chairmanship. I don’t know if that is something we have done ever in the past, before I was on the board, but I think for those who have served for a longer period of time, the opportunity to serve as a chairman should be considered to those.” Trustee James Dodge said when he was on Metra’s board, they did something similar with rotating chairmanship. He wondered out loud if something similar could be done for the Plan Commission, with a one- or two-year rotation. Trustee Dan Calandriello also voiced support for a rotating chairmanship. Pekau, however, said the Village Board just went through a “painstaking process” for nearly 10 months in reviewing the commissions. He said these concerns were never brought up. “In this case, we have someone who has resigned, so I am using my prerogative to appoint who I feel will make the best chairman,” Pekau said. “I don’t think there is anyone on this board who would question Ed Schussler’s qualifications to fill this role. I didn’t hear anyone question his qualifications. So, from that standpoint, that’s my position and that’s who I’m appointing.” Later, during final comments from the board, Carroll said he wanted to address something before the “spin.” “You saw this board approve six of the president’s nominees for commissions tonight,” Carroll said. “Prior to tonight, we approved a dozen more, maybe even dozens, of appointments through the advice and consent powers the board has. I do take exception to the comment that we have blocked an appointment. “First of all, we did approve Ed Schussler to go on the Plan Commission. We did not block the appointment. But, with advice and consent, commonly, previous mayors in this Village and in other Villages have discussed these things with the board members prior to the board meeting. “We have routinely granted our advice and consent, but all six of us expressed our concern that the chair- Please see Village, 9 Police to participate in April 28 National Drug Take-Back Day Publishes May 17, 2018 Space Reservation Deadline: May 2nd Ad Approval: May 8th 2018 Guide PLEASE CALL: 708.326.9170 TO RESERVE YOUR AD Submitted by Village of Orland Park The public is invited to turn in expired, unwanted or unused pharmaceutical drugs and over-the-counter medications to the Orland Park Police Department for the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28. The Orland Park Police Station is located at 15100 S. Ravinia Avenue. The confidential and anonymous service is free of charge. Syringes, sharps, needles, glass containers, any type of liquids or illegal drugs will not be accepted. In addition to the twiceyearly Drug Take-Back Days, OPPD offers a yearround collection from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Thursday at the station. Medications are not accepted at the police station on holidays. Liquid drugs, aerosol medications and hypodermic needles and syringes are not accepted. Instructions for how to safety dispose of sharps or syringes are available by calling Waste Management at (800) 796-9696. For more information about Orland Park’s collection, call (708) 349-4111. News The orland park prairie | April 12, 2018 | 9 Orland library a collection site for stuffed animals for nonprofit Eagle Scout from OP troop aims to accumulate 800 donations Thomas Czaja Contributing Editor Patrons visiting Homer Township Public Library may notice something new greeting them when they walk in this month: a stuffed bear. The bear is part of a display and collection bin for the Eagle Scout project of Homer Glen resident Alex Woracheck, 14, who is an eighth-grader at Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Catholic School in Orland Hills. Woracheck, who is part of Boy Scout Troop 318 out of Orland Park, decided he wanted to help hospitalized children for his project. He has set up drop boxes at a number of locations, including the local library, for visitors to donate new stuffed animals. The collection is to run throughout April, and Woracheck then is to help deliver them to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County in Chicago. He is doing the project for Comfort Fur Kids, a nonprofit founded in 2013 by Caley Trepac, who was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, syringomyelia and scoliosis, and had brain decompression surgery, according to the Comfort Fur Kids website. The website said she held onto her stuffed animal during severe headaches, blurred vision, fatigue, nausea, numbness in her hands and face, and weakness in her legs. She wanted other children to have a furry friend, as well, during the difficult moments while hospitalized. “The organization works with children having surgeries,” Woracheck explained. “It helps comfort them. My brother went through surgeries when he was really little, and getting a stuffed animal, he was comforted and excited, even when he went through a lot of pain.” The inspiration from his younger brother Justin and wanting to help other children going through a tough time made the choice for his project an easy one. In addition to having a collection site at the Homer library, 14320 W. 151st St. in Homer Glen, other drop-off sites are Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Catholic School, 9250 W. 167th St. in Orland Hills; the Orland Park Public Library, 14921 S. Ravinia Ave.; The Music Connection, 10751 165th St. in Orland Park and 9370 W. Laraway Road in Frankfort; St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 15050 Wolf Road in Orland Park; and BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy, 11411 W. 183rd St. in Orland Park and 600 N. Commons Drive, Suite 102, in Aurora. Woracheck’s initial goal was to collect 500 or more stuffed animals, but he decided to push that goal even higher. “My first estimate was 500, but then I raised it up to 800,” he said. “Anything lower or higher than that is good, but my final estimate Homer Glen resident and Boy Scout Troop 318 member Alex Woracheck is collecting stuffed animals throughout April for his Eagle Scout project for Comfort Fur Kids, a nonprofit that gives the toys to hospitalized children. Photo submitted right now is 800.” He said the collection is going well and anticipates it will pick up more as people hear about the different donation sites. His mother, Jennifer, said she is excited for him and thinks it is a great collection different from the typical Eagle Scout project and allows the community to give back to others in the community. “Alex knows it’s not easy for children to be in the hospital, and that they don’t completely understand what is going on with their bodies at the time,” she said. “We want to bring that comfort to the children.” She added that Comfort Fur Kids splits the stuffed animals into two different categories: one for infants and toddlers with stuffed animals that do not have anything that could potentially be a choking hazard, and then all other stuffed animals for older children. Jennifer noted Trepac was older when she had one of her surgeries, and she thinks all children and teens up to 18 years old — and others at any age — could find a simple joy and comfort provided by a stuffed animal. Sheree Kozel-La Ha, executive director of the Homer Township Public Library, said Alex reached out to her about the project. She invited him to stop by, and said she and the rest of library staff were excited and happy to support him toward his philanthropic goal. “I was impressed with him,” Kozel-La Ha said. “I think it is really a characterbuilding thing. I personally believe that any type of project that touches so many young lives is worthwhile. “It is worthwhile to get sick kids something that could bring them some type of comfort.” The chance to give back is likewise a great opportunity to those who frequent the library, the executive director said. She has seen families come in and teach their children to be part of something bigger than themselves. Consequently, a child will come in and donate a stuffed animal or two for another child in need. Seniors also love to give, according to Kozel-La Ha. They will mention they have several stuffed animals at home that they may have received as a present and are still in pristine condition. They bring them in to donate. Ultimately, any age can and does give with a sense of enjoyment and pride in the kind act. “For a community thing like this, an Eagle Scout project, everyone wants to help Alex achieve his goal,” Kozel-La Ha said. Alex and Troop 318 have been and will continue to come in every other day during the month in their Boy Scout uniforms in a collaborative effort to collect donations. They had a lot to collect recently, as Homer Township Vision Center owner and Orland Park resident Jeanine Reding stopped by with a few dozen stuffed animals to contribute to the cause. The certified optician said she is trying to downsize at home and gathered the stuffed animals when hearing about the project. “I’m a give-back person,” Reding said. “It always feels good when you change somebody’s day and help somebody out.” She also gave Alex credit and said she thinks he will be very successful in life. Alex, who spent his younger years in Cub Scout Pack 64 in Homer Glen/Lockport, is set to attend Lockport Township High School next school year. “I think it’s excellent,” Reding said of Alex’s project and his determination to give back. “You can never have too much to get people involved with.” Village From Page 8 man should be on a rotating basis. We are more than willing to work with the board president on who those people may be. But all six of us indicated we would prefer it be a rotating chairmanship. This could have been resolved prior to tonight with a simple discussion with each of us.” Pekau said, “it’s not spin.” “No one has mentioned rotating [chairmanships] on anything over the last nine months that we’ve had this drawn-out discussion on boards and commissions,” Pekau said. “Additionally, it has been made very clear to me regularly that if there were vacancies, there would be no issues; it was replacements that were a problem. “There’s a vacancy. It is the first chairperson that I have appointed. The very first and only. And the vote was 6-1 against. So, we will just continue to work, like we have for the last 10 or 11 months. And we’ll continue to move forward.”