Month: January 2014

Dear Hope: My Family Has An Issue With My Weight, But I Like Myself As I Am

By Gwendolyn Young

Dear Hope:

I’m overweight, but I like my body as it is. My family has been telling me that I need to lose weight for health reasons, but it’s not like I eat a lot or have a bad diet. I feel that my weight is out of my control even though everyone else is saying that basically it’s my fault. What do I do? – Weight Bearer

Dear Weight Bearer:

Thank you for sending your question. I know that it takes courage to talk about your weight in a public forum.  First, I would like to share that we, as individuals, are responsible for the health and maintenance of our physical bodies.  The only exception to this would be certain diseases that we can’t prevent by taking necessary precautions.  With that said, weight is a factor that can be controlled by an individual. I would also like to share that weight is about being healthy and so your family has valid concerns.  What I would like to encourage you to do is visit with your primary care physician and ask for a complete physical.  This will allow you to begin the conversation about your weight from an objective perspective. Your physician should have the best interest of your health in mind.  The physical can also reveal if you are carrying too much BMI (Body Mass Index), which is how doctors can tell if a person is obese.  So there will be no more back and forth about your weight sweetie! Once you have the results from your physical, then you can begin the process of taking action on what to do for your health.

I hope everything works out for you and remember we are seeding for the greatness in you! VFP

This column is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical, legal or financial advice. Questions may be submitted anonymously or via pseudonym to, or Gwendolyn Young, M.A., C.P.C., is the Executive Director of Seed of Hope Foundation, a nonprofit girls mentoring organization based in Westchester, IL.


SOH Logo


Notification: Venue Changed For Free Monthly Youth Breakfast Hosted By Maywood Youth Mentoring

The monthly Free breakfast that’s hosted by Maywood Youth Mentoring will be held on Saturday, February 1st, at Canaan AME Church (801 S. 14th Avenue, Maywood IL), instead of at 200 S. 5th Avenue where it usually is due to water damage at the latter location.

The breakfast will begin at 9am and last until 11am (as usual). Attendees are encouraged to enter at the back parking lot entrance. The speaker will be Dr. Michael James, who will present on the topic, “Keep Your Eyes On The Prize–Black History Then and Now”. Mr. James is the author of numerous books, including Black Theology, Black Power & Black Love (2010). Voter registration will be available on site to those 17 and over. VFP

Village Adopts New Overnight Parking Arrangement

By Michael Romain 

Thursday, MAYWOOD — At a December 11, 2013, LLOC meeting, Trustee Antonette Dorris requested the opportunity to revisit a proposal for the purchase of new overnight parking technology that was originally presented by representatives from Accutron Systems at an August 14, 2013, LLOC meeting. Until Trustee Dorris reintroduced the measure, the proposal had been tabled due to insufficient funds.

At the time, the representatives reported that the Village had only two employees dedicated to answering calls from 9pm to 1:30am, the interval during which people may call in to notify the Village of their intent to park on the streets overnight–which is currently prohibited by Village ordinance.

“The [employees] get about 50 calls a night, about 1800 calls a month,” one of the representatives said.

The proposal stipulated for Accutron to transition from an in-house system to a cloud-based system (with data to be stored on a Microsoft server).


Screenshot 2014-01-27 at 9.37.44 PM

“This expands the options that citizens have,” the representative said. “In addition to calling in, citizens can go to the internet [via] their computers and smart phones and obtain references for overnight parking, enabling them to call 24 hours a day (really 23 hours and 50 minutes to account for the daily lag).”

The updated service would also make it easier for police, because they’d be able to access information about cars parked on the streets overnight by simply referring to their computers. According to the representatives, the Village’s adoption of the updated service would have cut the number of calls in half, eliminate unprofessional service, create a log of officer activities, decrease the amount of complaints and possibly cut down on the amount of time and energy required to monitor the overnight parking system by the Village’s personnel. At the time, the total cost of the software was estimated to be about $12,700, with $3,800 required for annual license fees. At the January 21, 2014, Board meeting, where the proposal was approved, the cost of the new software was said to be $12,000.

With the new system in place, citizens who want to park on the streets overnight will be able to go to the Village website, register for online parking one time, fill in vehicle and personal information and they’ll be provided with log-in information that they’ll need to subsequently access the system. Each vehicle would automatically be given five call-ins per month. As long as vehicles are under that limit, they can request a reference. If they aren’t, the system won’t allow them to request. To eliminate abuse by vehicle owners, the system tracks license plates and not addresses.

The only dissenting vote on the proposal was provided by Trustee Cheryl Ealey-Cross, who wasn’t on the Board in August, when the original proposal was presented.

“I have a problem with this proposal given that I don’t think there was adequate information provided to make a decision to spend these funds. I’ve used the call-in and have never had a problem,” she said, before also stating that a sufficient needs assessment and adequate background research of the proposal was not done before the Board took it to a vote. She also suggested that the Village deal with the underlying reason for why the Accutron measure was put in place, which is an ordinance that she believes to be unnecessary.

“Since we don’t clean the streets during the nigiht, why do we have an ordinance like this that exists on the books? It’s not being utilized.”

Police Chief Talley, however, who conducted his own departmental assessment of the program, said that he thought the new technology would be useful in the interim and “has long-term applications and growth.”

Citizens who experience any issues with the new system should contact Sgt. Fairley at (708) 450-4452. VFP

Quick News: Proposed Checkers Restaurant Progressing, New Police Truck Scales, Water and Garbage Rate Increases

Thursday, January 30, 2014 || Michael Romain 

Checkers Restaurant A Step Closer to Completion

At a January 21, regular Board meeting, the Village Board unanimously passed an ordinance “approving special uses for an electronic message board sign and for a drive-thru and additional variations related to a landscape buffer, fence height and signage in a C-3 General Commercial zoning district”–all related to the Checker’s Drive-In to be built at 1718 1st Avenue, the former site of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Trustee Michael Rogers, an architect by profession, had some concerns about reducing any instances of pest control on the site.

“Can we have the enclosure for the dumpster built out of mason materials? Can the gate we made out of washable material as opposed to wood which harbors bacteria and rots?” he said.

A representative with Vequity, LLC, the real estate investment and development firm that is responsible for the Checkers project, said he and his team would be willing to address those concerns, among others. To read a draft copy of the ordinance, click here.

New Police Truck Scales Anticipated to Bring In Thousands in Added Revenue

This year, the Village Board also approved the purchase of four truck weight scales for a total cost of $5,995. According to a January 15, 2014, Board item report, last year revenue from the police department’s Truck Enforcement unit netted zero dollars due to the fact that the truck scales currently in use were not functional.

“These scales were purchased between 2002-2003, and have been repaired numerous times, as well as calibrated. The cost of repairs for these scales would cost $300-$600 dollars per scale (4 total) depending on the repairs needed. I believe it in the best interest of the Village to purchase new scales. The proposed purchase is with A&A Scales, at the cost of $5,995. The truck enforcement program brings in several thousand dollars per month.”

Mayor Perkins said that the truck scales used to bring in $100,000 a year when they were functional.

“We have a lot of trucks hitting Washington Boulevard, which is really not a truck route. This is money well spent,” said Trustee Audrey Jaycox.

Village Free Press AD

“I’ve been seeing over-sized trucks coming down side streets,” said Trustee Cheryl Ealey-Cross.

Trustee Ron Rivers said that he’s seen trucks exiting the pallet company on 9th Avenue and St. Charles try to make right turns on 5th Avenue en route to the expressway. “They’ve come so close that they’ve bent the speed limit sign.”

The scales would be placed at four strategic locations throughout the Village. According to Police Chief Talley, the scales, which are portable, would be placed at points between First Avenue and Roosevelt Road.

Waste and Water Rate Increases 

Residents of Maywood should expect to see slight increases in their monthly payments for both water and garbage/waste. An “ordinance amending chapter 50 (Garbage and Waste) section 50.05 (Fees) of the Maywood Village Code relative to the schedule of fees for waste collection,” adopts a monthly rate of $23.06 per “family unit” to Allied Waste for the calendar year of 2014. Residents previously payed a rate of $21.53 a month. That amounts to an increase of $1.53 a month, or $18.36 a year.

Since January 1, 2014, Maywood residents have also experienced an increase in their water bills due to the City of Chicago implementing a 15% increase in the water rate they charge their customers. According to a November 19, 2013, Village Board agenda item report:

“The City of Chicago presently charges us $2.16 per 100 cubic feet. The 15% increase would raise the rate to $2.48 per 100 cubic feet, or an increase of $.32 per 100 cubic feet. Based on 1,270,000 – 100 c.f. units on an annual basis, the cost increase from the City of Chicago would increase Village expenses to operate the water fund by $406,400. It is proposed that the Village’s rate increase from $9.132 per 100 cubic feet to $9.452 per 100 cubic feet to cover the increase from the City of Chicago. This equates to an overall increase of 3.5%.” VFP

Board Begins Search For Barlow’s Replacement

By Michael Romain

Thursday, MAYWOOD — At a January 21, Legal License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, the Village Board unanimously moved to begin a national search to replace outgoing Village Manager William Barlow, who is retiring from municipal government effective January 31, 2014. Mr. Barlow has said that his decision was motivated primarily by health concerns. Attorney Michael Jurusik noted that the Village’s investment policy stipulates that the Board hire a new manager within 90 days of the position being vacated.

Mr. Barlow and Mr. Jurusik recommended that the Board emulate the search process that the Village implemented two-and-half years ago, which resulted in Mr. Barlow’s hiring.

According to Mr. Jurusik, the Board conducted a national search and he published job descriptions in the publications of leading trade organizations, such as the International City Managers Association and the National League of Cities.

“With those targeted areas, you really do pick up everybody in the village manager industry,” Mr. Jurusik said.

He also noted that during the last search process, the Board placed candidate resumes in three piles: one where they met the minimum professional and education requirements; one where they didn’t; and another where they fell somewhere in between (i.e., a candidate could have the requisite professional experience, but not the minimum educational background).


Screenshot 2014-01-27 at 9.37.44 PM

They then came up with a shortlist of about 10-12 candidates and rated the candidates by numbers. The Board conducted a first round of interviews of these shortlist candidates before they narrowed the list further and conducted another round. Finally, they narrowed the list to about 3-4 candidates and selected from that small group.

Based on his direct experience with the last search process, Mr. Barlow said that the current search process should last between 4-6 months. In the meantime, the Board was given a packet of several resumes of candidates who might be qualified to serve as interim village managers. Mr. Barlow assured the Board that all of the interim village manager candidates except one had prior village manager experience.

There was some consternation, however, about why the Village would go outside to look for an interim manager when it has an assistant village manager in Mr. David Myers, who one citizen thought would be the putative next-in-line in the event that the village manager position was vacated.

Although the possibility of appointing Mr. Myers, who was hired last year, as interim village manager, wasn’t ruled out, Mr. Barlow indicated that it might not be the optimum decision.

“We do have a capable assistant village manager,” Mr. Barlow said, “but he didn’t necessarily sign on to be village manager for an extended period of time. It’s important for the Board to have a dialogue with David and lay out some of the options I mentioned to him.”

The motion to engage in a national search for village manager, to implement a candidate ratings system, and to direct Mr. Jurusik and Mr. Barlow to begin to prepare position credentials, a timeline for moving through the hiring process, and a preliminary state of the village report (which would include draft reports from each of the village departments that mention both its present state and future needs) for discussion at the next LLOC was passed unanimously.

However, it wasn’t passed without some objections, namely that coming from Trustee Cheryl Ealey-Cross, who said that the Village Board didn’t appear to establish enough ownership over the process.

“There’s [some] delegation that’s being removed form the Board and [being given to others]. This Board is responsible for the national search….this Board has to identify what its vision is and share that with the candidate it chooses as manager….I hope we can start taking ownership….of what we’re charged to do.”

Trustee Michael Rogers responded by noting that the Board is fundamentally limited by how much it can do and how much it knows, which is why it has to trust the legal and municipal professionals to do their jobs in such a way that allows the Board to make the right decisions. VFP

From The Review: D209 Renews Superintendent Collins-Hart’s Contract, She’ll Stay On Until 2016

The Forest Park Review is Now Partnering with The Village Free Press

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 || By Jean Lotus, Editor, The Forest Park Review 

Nettie Collins-Hart will continue as superintendent of Proviso Township High School District 209 for another two years, after a joint meeting of the D209 Board of Education and the Financial Oversight Panel voted to renew her contract, Jan. 28.

Collins-Hart is the district’s longest-serving superintendent in decades. She is finishing her sixth year at the district’s helm. She earns $238,791.13 base salary after receiving a $5,000 raise in December. She also gets a $9,000 annuity and $48,888.60 in other benefits.

The vote was not unanimous. Board members Theresa Kelly and Kevin McDermott voted against the contract. The oversight panel voted unanimously to approve the contract.

McDermott had harsh words for Collins-Hart’s performance. He read a prepared statement before the board voted.

“I have lost faith, and lost my trust, in her ability to lead,” he said in the statement.

McDermott complained in the statement that Collins had presided over the “shocking dropoff in test scores” for Proviso Math and Science Academy. Prairie State Achievement Exam math scores fell at PMSA by 11 percent and science scores tumbled 20 percent in one year.

McDermott also said Collins-Hart ignored requests from the board to explain the test-score drop and “actively obstructed board initiatives.” McDermott summed up the superintendent’s six-year legacy as leading to “a few marginal improvements.”

“I believe she has been untruthful with me and with others on this Board,” he added.

Member of the oversight panel worked with board members in an ad hoc group to craft a contract for the extension.

This story has been updated to reflect that board member Kevin McDermott read a prepared statement during the D209 board meeting. 

Read more about the superintendent’s contract in the Feb. 5 Forest Park Review. VFP


Screenshot 2014-01-27 at 9.37.44 PM