Month: January 2016

How One Proviso East Grad Turned Eczema Into Her Own Homegrown Enterprise

Regina Thomas Dillard

Regina Dillard, who was inspired by her infant daughter’s skin condition to go into business for herself. Below, one of the many products sold under Dillard’s brand, Inner Sanctum Wellness. | Photos: Facebook

Sanctum product.jpgJanuary 29, 2016 || By Nicholas Samuel 

When Regina Dillard’s four-month-old daughter came down with a severe case of eczema, a chronic skin condition, 25 years ago, Dillard searched for alternative treatments that didn’t entail dousing her baby in chemicals.

Little Gabrielle Thomas’s skin had turned red, dry and scaly. She had dry patches on her face, shoulders, legs and arms.

“I thought what would treat eczema and dryness of the skin, but was gentle enough for babies?” Dillard recalled.

While researching her mom’s herbal book “Back to Eden,” Dillard, 48, began mixing a couple of formulas, leading her to create a healing cream that healed her daughter’s skin just within a few days.

“It was a drastic improvement. The skin began to heal itself,” said Dillard, a Proviso East High School alumna. “She’s a living witness that it works. She still uses my products to this day and treats her own children with my products.”

Since then, Dillard has expanded her self-made products into something of a cottage industry that includes other products like body butter, sea salt exfoliator, skin polish, body oils, bath and shower oils for men and women, milk baths, facial scrubs and beard oils.

She sells these as part of Inner Sanctum Wellness, her business that has been in operation for nearly a year.

“I feel honored to be the stepping stone for my mom creating her business down the line,” said the younger Thomas, who has since grown out of eczema but whose three-year-old daughter suffers from the condition.

“My mom has a really creative spirit and a go-getter personality. Whatever she sets her mind to, she does it really well and it flourishes into something more,” she said.

Customer’s favorite products include the skin polish, salt scrub, body oils, beard oils, the women’s fragrance line Ritual and the men’s fragrance line Bergamo.

Cynthia Jackson-Jones, a customer of Inner Sanctum Wellness, suffers from a herniated disc and began using Dillard’s facial scrub two years ago when the skin on her face started to become dry from taking prescription medicine to ease the pain of the herniated disc.

Jones said she had blotches of dry skin on her face and that dermatologists told her it was a side effect from the medicine.

Dillard made the facial scrub specifically for Jones, who applied the scrub to her face every night. By the fifth night, the dry patches were gone.

“I used her scrub as a preventative measure. Now, it’s part of my regimen once a week,” Jones said. “It’s the combination of oils that she puts together that helps.”

Dillard said the products will have customers smelling good, feeling good and will also give them health benefits, such as increased blood circulation.

Even though Thomas has grown out of eczema, she still suffers from dry skin. So, she’s a customer, too.

“The salt scrubs and body oils makes my skin feel soft and moisturized,” said the younger Thomas, who lives in Maywood.

Dillard creates all of her products in her production kitchen in Oak Park. Some of her secret ingredients include lavender, rosemary, frankincense and myrrh.

Lavender calms the skin, rosemary gives the skin medicinal benefits and includes antibacterial properties, and frankincense and myrrh gives the skin a youthful appearance, Dillard said.

She said that those seeking out skin treatment should never put essential oils directly on the skin, because it could irritate the skin.

“They’re always combined with a carrier oil to help soothe the skin,” Dillard said.

Dillard currently has one retail partner, Oak Park Visitors Center, 1010 Lake St. in Oak Park, where her products are being sold.

She wants to expand the business to include more retail partners and also create a wellness event where people can learn about the oils contained in the product, the benefits of using them and how they can make their own products at home.

“Without quality oil, it’s not a quality product,” Dillard said. “This will help people get on the path to help and wholeness.”

Dillard’s products sell from $10 up to $30. She also has special Valentine’s Day products selling from $15 up to $250, which include e-gift cards, the Bella-Box gift box for women and the Beau-Box gift box for men. VFP

For more information on the products, click here, or email Regina Dillard at

LETTERS: A Response To Chris Harris

Letter to the EditorFriday, January 29, 2016 || By Al Popowits

A  recent opinion article in Wednesday Journal was contributed by State Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch’s opponent in the 7th District’s March democratic primary. Voters can only sympathize with the gentleman’s litany of woes concerning Illinois’ dire financial situation which is responsible for many other problems such as underfunded public pensions, a host of social justice inequities, and the lack of economic development.

However, assembling a list of commonly known problems, and then proposing theoretical solutions is no great feat. It is also disingenuous to believe that a freshman representative could induce the state legislature to seriously consider anything he proposes. I know from speaking with state representatives and senators that it takes years to learn legislative procedures, and more importantly to make the contacts necessary to be effective. Essentially by electing Representative Welch’s opponent we would be starting again from page one; at least Welch has had two terms under his belt.

I also wish that the aspiring legislator would refrain from making broad and untrue generalizations. For example, It is not true that Illinois’ property and income taxes “…make living here more costly than most other places in the United States”. Those of us who have lived in cities on either coast know better.  The unpleasant truth is that there are three primary decision makers in our state, i.e., Governor Rauner, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, and Senate President John Cullerton. No solutions to Illinois’ financial morass will be forth coming until these majordomos compromise their differences. VFP

Al Popowits, a former educator, is a resident of River Forest, where he was named that town’s Villager of the Year by Wednesday Journal in 2013. 

New Round Of Alley, Village Parking Lot Improvements In The Works

Municipal parking lot

The municipal parking lot at 14 N. 5th Avenue, which may undergo significant improvements. | Google images

Friday, January 29, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

At a  Jan. 27 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees moved closer into an agreement with the Edwin Hancock Engineering Company on the proposed improvements of three alleys and a village-owned parking lot at 14 N. 5th Avenue.

The project will cost a total of $525,000 in construction costs, in addition to $86,000 in costs related to engineering services. The project ill be funded through escrow funds from the St. Charles TIF and has an anticipated completion date of Aug. 15, 2016.

The board voted unanimously to move the proposal to the next regular board meeting for final approval.

The three alleys run north-south and are located between 4th and 9th Avenues. Improvements would include “the removal of the existing alley pavement, the repair/installation of drainage structures and sewers as required, the installation of an 8-inch concrete pavement and restoration of adjoin pavement and aprons,” according to a village internal memo.

  • Alley 132: North-South Alley between 9th Avenue and 8th Avenue from Main Street to Lake Street (pictured below, bottom right).
  • Alley 135: North-South Alley between 6th Avenue and 5th Avenue from Main Street to Lake Street (pictured below,top right).
  • Alley 136: North-South Alley between 5th Avenue and 4th Avenue from Main Street to Lake Street (pictured below left).


Improvements to the municipal parking lot include the construction of 17 parking spaces, the installation of drainage structures and sewers, and the replacement of the curb and gutter on 5th avenue, among others.

At the Jan. 27 meeting, Trustee Michael Rogers emphasized that the improvements to the parking lot — which sits on, or near, the site of a proposed dance studio for Maywood Fine Arts — should be considered temporary stopgap measures that might make the space more attractive to prospective developers.

“We need to make sure we’re thinking of the development of this [parking lot] … as a stimulus for [the development] of that downtown,” he said. “Parking really needs to be put elsewhere, but [the improvements are] reasonable in the interim. Ultimately, we need to have those parcels [that encompass the parking lot] become [the site for] revenue-generating commercial properties.” VFP

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Fifth Avenue Train Station Moves Closer To Construction, But Fee Issue Presents Minor Hurdle

Metra Parking image

An aerial image of the parcel of land that would hold parking spaces adjacent the proposed 5th Avenue Metra train depot. Union Pacific Rail Road wants to lease the land to the village for $7,800 a year in addition to an automatic three percent increase each year. Village officials have announced plans to renegotiate the terms of the agreement, if not eliminate it altogether. Below, a rendering of the proposed station. | Union Pacific 

StationFriday, January 29, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

The Maywood Board of Trustees moved the needle a little closer on a proposed train depot to be built at the 5th Avenue Metra station. The proposed $2.3 million station has been in the works since at least 2011, when the village applied for a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant to secure funds for the station’s construction.

Last August, after provoking residents’ outrage over plans to move the station from 5th Avenue to 9th Avenue, Union Pacific Rail Road (UP) and Metra officials reverted to the original proposed 5th Avenue location.

Now, the village may be two lease agreements away from solidifying the station’s construction. One of those agreements, however, may need some massaging before village officials are comfortable with signing off on it.

According to village engineer Mark Lucas, the village needs to enter into a lease agreement with Metra to build a station on top of existing parking spaces at the 5th Avenue location. That, however, means the village must sign another lease agreement with the UP Railroad.

“We have to make sure that the parking spaces we’re [eliminating] are made whole by building those spaces at another location,” Lucas said at a Jan. 27 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting. “That would be on the UP Railroad’s property, which is basically from 4th Avenue going east towards 3rd Avenue.”

It’s a strip of land that’s approximately 500 feet long by 24 feet wide, Lucas noted, and the UP wants to lease it to the village for $7,800 a year plus a one-time $500 administrative fee. Moreover, that annual fee comes with an automatic “cumulatively and compounded” three percent increase each year.

That lease arrangement could end up costing the village “more money every single year,” said village attorney Michael Jurusik. And the fee doesn’t include other costs like the village’s responsibility for the land’s property taxes and for its regular maintenance.

Jurusik said he’s worked on parking arrangements between the UP and other communities in which the UP didn’t charge for commuter parking — particularly when that parking was adjacent a Metra train station, which has its own revenue-generating potential.

Jurusik said he doesn’t know what, if anything, the UP charges nearby suburbs like Forest Park and Oak Park for their parking arrangements, but said he’d look into it.

“I’d like to see them not charge us directly,” Jurusik said, before noting that the village could explore numerous revenue-sharing arrangements with the UP that would be a lot fairer to Maywood.

“I don’t want to commit the village to paying the dollar terms [in this initial lease agreement],” Jurisik said, before requesting for the board to allow him 30 days to try negotiating a fairer deal (the board eventually granted that request).

According to Lucas, however, the clock is ticking. He said bids for the station’s construction need to be put out this year — possibly before Oct 1, which is the start of the next federal fiscal — in order for the village to maintain its CMAP funding. VFP

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article listed the wrong dimensions of the parcel in question. It is 500 ft. long, not “one foot long,” by 24 feet wide. VFP regrets this error.

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LETTERS: Why I’m Running For State Representative

Letter to the Editor

Thursday, January 28, 2016 || By Chris Harris 

Over the next couple of months, your mailboxes will be filled with election info to the point of excess, so first I’d like to introduce myself: My name is Chris Harris and I am running for State Rep. in the 7th District. I was an elected official in Forest Park, serving on the village council as an independent voice fighting machine politics.  My desire to run for the 7th District State Rep. seat is fueled by:  The condition of the state of Illinois, the current leadership of our district and that leadership’s attention to the issues of our district.

I watched from the sidelines for years as I saw our state and area governments fail us. I saw a system devised that benefited a few and threw the common man aside. It irked me, and it still does. Most of the 7th District is in Proviso Township and with that, we have a failed school system that for decades has not put the students first. It would rather function as a contract warehouse offering paydays for all of the donors and city leaders that prop it up. It irked me more when the person who ran the 209 school board into the ground, to the point where the state had to step in and oversee its finances, got a ‘promotion’ to the state assembly. I think we can do better.

Illinois’ leadership is failing its citizenry in every way. Neglect and lack of long term planning has cost the state in jobs, growth and helped contribute to the monstrous pension crisis. Law makers set on advancing their careers and not looking out for who they represent fuels my desire to try and change a system on a path to self-destruct. We need to immediately address the pension crisis, and we first must realize and respect that in doing so we know that the people who have for years paid into the system expecting certain results are 100 percent entitled to those results. The future structure needs to be examined with fairness and concern for the worker.

Illinois also suffers from being a taxpayer’s nightmare. Out of control property taxes, sales taxes and income taxes make living here more costly than most other places in the United States. Add the business burden to that and that is why we have people and commerce fleeing this once strong state.

Illinois has been late to the game in social justice as well. Whether it’s equality issues, wage issues or crime issues, we have lacked any kind of leadership in this area. I strongly recommend that the way, and the rate, we imprison people be rethought. Nonviolent offenders clog up an overcrowded system, and small time drug crimes need to be dealt with via community service and by not derailing one’s life.

That last issue can be talked about locally, as well. We need local programs and outreach for first-time and nonviolent offenders. Working to keep people active and engaged in the community is a better process than removing them.

On a bigger scale, our district suffers from neglect by our rep and the state. I see empty storefronts and half-filled industrial parks blocks from my home in either direction. Economic development is not saying you will just do something; it is being out courting people and businesses to come to your district. You can look in every direction from Rep. Welch’s office in Westchester and see empty businesses.

Which leads me to our current leadership. Being propped up by local leaders, we have a shill for a State Rep. Just going by his resume` as the president of the 209 school board, he should have been fired long ago, not promoted to a state legislature job. He ran a school district into the ground without a care for the students. He used the board for his own personal gain and the financial gain for all of those that supported him throughout the years. He continues to do this in Springfield by passing legislation that benefits his donors and sells us down the river. The state of Illinois, at all levels of government, needs to gut the vampires who still see the state as a place where they can achieve personal and financial gain versus doing the work of, and for, the people of Illinois.

I look forward to the next couple of months and laying out my plan to return this office to the people. Please drop me a line if you’d like to chat more about it: VFP

Chris Harris, a former Forest Park commissioner, is running for state representative, 7th District.

Proviso East Replaces Equipment Lost In Summer Theft

Proviso East HighWednesday, January 27, 2016 || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || 1/26/16 || By Matthew Hendrickson

Band equipment and nearly 50 laptop computers, stolen from Proviso East High School over the summer, have been replaced, with the cost covered by insurance.

A total of 14 band instruments were stolen from a locked storage room two weeks before the theft was reported on July 13 to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. According to the theft report, the instruments were stolen between June 21 and 29.

The instruments, which included saxophones, trumpets and a clarinet, were listed as an estimated loss of $36,000 in the theft report. According to the report, the items were stored in a locked room at Proviso East at the time of the theft. No sign of forced entry was reported by an investigating sheriff’s police office. The report also said there was no alarm or surveillance monitoring systems for the room.

 A total of 48 Dell laptop computers were also reported stolen over the summer from the Proviso East library between July 9 and Aug. 11. According to a separate theft report compiled by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, two previously locked carts that held the laptops were found unsecured by school staff with all the computers missing. The locked carts were stored in an unlocked room in the library.

District 209 spokesman Rob Daniels said the items have since been replaced and the cost to replace them covered by insurance. Daniels said that, since the thefts, “any entries that were used or could have been used have been reinforced.” He said the school’s staff works hard to make sure all the school’s exterior doors are secured for the safety of students and staff.

Daniels added that if anyone in the community has information about the thefts, they should call Proviso East’s tip hotline at 708-202-1731. VFP

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