Month: February 2017

Obama Could Get an IL Holiday and a Roadway Named in His Honor

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Saturday, February 25, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (8th) has drafted legislation to name Interstate 55 the Barack Obama Expressway.

A portion of I-55, from Lakeshore Drive to the Tri-State Tollway, is named after former Illinois Governor and two-time Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson. The remaining 270-mile stretch of roadway from the Tri-State to East St. Louis would be named after Obama, Ford explained in a Feb. 22 statement.

“Barack Obama adopted Illinois as his home, becoming a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago and a professor of law at the University of Chicago,” Ford said.

“Twenty years ago, on January 8, 1997, Barack Obama was sworn in as an Illinois state senator, his first public office,” he said. “We can imagine that then state Senator Obama made many trips between Springfield and Chicago on Interstate 55, so it is very fitting that we rename Interstate 55 as the Barack Obama Expressway.”

If approved, the expressway naming would be just one of several significant roadways across the country that have been named after the 44th president.

Last December, state lawmakers in California and New Jersey introduced proposals to name portions of major roadways in those respective states after Obama. Some locales didn’t wait until the president left office.

In 2013, a city in Tanzania turned Ocean Road into Barack Obama Drive after the former president visited the country in 2013. Barack Obama Boulevard in West Park, Florida took effect in July 2009.

A separate proposal, introduced last month in the Illinois General Assembly by state Rep. Robert Martwick (19th) calls for designating all of I-294 along the Eisenhower Expressway as the President Barack Obama Tollway. That proposal currently sits in the House’s Tollway Oversight Committee.

Four other proposals were introduced in the General Assembly to make Aug. 4, Obama’s birthday, an official state holiday. Gov. Bruce Rauner, who expressed support for the holiday, explained that it “shouldn’t be a formal holiday with paid, forced time off,” according to a Chicago Tribune report.  VFP

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With $1.4M in Outstanding Insurance Claims, Maywood Looks to Improve Risk Controls

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A chart detailing Maywood’s paid, outstanding and total incurred expenses from insurance-related claims that date back to 2011. | Insurance Program Managers Group 

Saturday, February 25, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Going back to 2011, Maywood has incurred $3.7 million in expenses related to medical and professional liability insurance, with nearly 230 claims having been filed since then. So far, the village has paid $2.3 million, and owes $1.4 million, on those claims.

The majority of the village’s insurance-related expenses come from the police department. Since 2010, the department has incurred $2.2 million in insurance-related expenses, with $1.1 million still to be paid.

The department has dealt with 74 claims over seven years, roughly half of them related to professional liability, which is, by far, the most expensive type of claim. Professional liability claims amount to almost all of the department’s incurred losses.


The fire and public works departments generate the majority of the village’s remaining insurance-related expenses.

During a Feb. 15 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, Mark Walters, of CS Insurance Strategies, said that the 2015-16 policy period was a particularly active one for workmen’s compensation claims. During that year, the village incurred $1.4 million in losses on 41 claims. Roughly half of that amount was related to professional liability.

Walters said that the village is responsible for the first $650,000 of each claim, so “that’s coming dollar for dollar out your budget and it’s not really discretionary spending.” He added that the village should do “everything we can” to mitigate insurance-related expenses. 

Tom Collins, of Mesirow Insurance Services, said that his company will work with each village department to review safety policies and procedures, identify any shortcomings and suggest improvements.

Collins said that employees will also undergo ergonomics training and that proper lifting techniques will be reviewed in order to cut reduce the amount of back and neck injuries.

I’m glad to hear you focus on that and I do think we need as much mitigation as possible for those kinds of things,” said Trustee Michael Rogers, adding that board members often discuss liability issues in executive session and often wonder what measures can be implemented to reduce claims. VFP






Maywood Church Plans to Flood Violence-Ridden Areas with Prayer

Bishop Saffo Prayer III

Individuals praying during a prayer walk held in Maywood in 2014. | File

Friday, February 24, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 2 p.m.

Evangelist Darlene Barber said she’s tired of reading about crime in Maywood, so next month, she and the evangelism team of God’s Heritage Full Gospel Ministries, 1200 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood, plan to act in the best way they know how.

“We want to be part of making ourselves visible in the community and to let people know that there is another way,” Barber said. “And that prayer works.”

Barber said the evangelism team, which has the full blessings of the church’s pastor, Rev. James Williams, Sr., is seeking to partner with anyone who is willing to pray along with them.

“We want to engage other community leaders and churches to form a partnership prayer walk,” she said. “This is like a roll call for anyone who is interested in improving Maywood.”

Barber said the walks will take place on April 1, April 8 and April 15. Each one will last from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., and will take place in certain high-crime areas, including those near 5th Ave. and Washington Blvd and 5th Ave. and Madison.

“We’re going to be strategic in the areas we walk in,” she said. “We’re going to set up camp in those areas and pray.”

Barber said that anyone who wants to partner with her evangelist team should email her at or call her at (708) 543-7433. VFP

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One Man Dies Day After Feb. 20 Shooting in Maywood | Two Raids in Maywood on Feb. 23

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Thursday, February 23, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

One person is dead after a shooting that happened on the corner of 19th and Randolph, according to Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley.

Talley said that Reginald Hooks was shot multiple times during the shooting, which took placed on Feb. 20. The chief didn’t give a time when the shooting occurred but said that Hooks died the next day at around 8:30 a.m. from his wounds.

Talley said that this is the village’s fourth homicide so far this year, equalling the total amount of homicides that took place in all of 2016.

Two raids in a day 

Talley said that two raids took place on Thursday. He said the first raid, conducted by Maywood Police officers, took place at 100 Hugh Muir Lane at around 5 a.m. on Feb. 23.

Police arrested Robert Jackson, 37, during the raid. Jackson had just been released from prison, Talley said.

In addition to the arrest, police retrieved a 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun, 300 grams of cocaine, an undisclosed amount of cannabis and around $700.

Jackson is currently awaiting charges, Talley said.

At around noon on Thursday, officials with the Illinois Liquor Commission raided Maywood Food & Liquor, located on the 1800 block of St. Charles Rd.

Talley said that the commission had been notified that the store had inventory containing stolen beer. As of Thursday afternoon, that’s all of the information Talley had on the raid.

More as this story develops. VFP

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The Tragedy and Triumphs of Kerolos Sam

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Proviso East High School senior Kerolos Sam, who has been accepted into UIC. He plans to become a doctor — something he promised his mother, Nermeen (pictured below right), before she died. | Photo below left, Sam at Nermeen’s gravesite. || Kerolos Sam/Facebook

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

There is always more where crime stories and mugshots come from. This mugshot in particular, of a May 17, 2013 story in the Chicago Tribune headlined, “Man charged with killing wife fit for trial, judge rules,” holds a universe of meaning that might as well be a mystery to the reader.

The mugshot, of a 47-year-old man named Bahaa Sam, hangs just to the right of the article. Sam is gazing at something or someone. What exactly? One knows not. One may never know. He doesn’t quite appear to be present for the mugshot’s taking. His mind is off somewhere beyond the police station.

One day, perhaps soon, Sam’s oldest son Kerolos — an aspiring doctor and a student of forgiveness — may unlock the mystery of his father’s gaze and use the answer to save lives.

Kerolos is an 18-year-old senior at Proviso East High School. He has a 4.3 GPA and is a three-sport athlete, the president of his student class council and a member of the National Honors Society.

He was accepted into Harvard University, but chose the University of Illinois at Chicago instead; partly, Sam said, because UIC will pay for his medical school once he’s done with his undergraduate premedical studies. Another reason, he said, is to be near his three younger siblings.

Since Bahaa murdered his wife, Nermeen, four years ago, Kerolos has stepped into the role of protector and positive model. He has also become something of a proselytizer for the sanctity and the meaning of life, intimate as he is with life’s frailties.

“Everyone is put here for a reason,” Kerolos said. “God has a purpose and a plan for everyone and to take that away is horrible.”

Bahaa was arrested “just before midnight” on Dec. 19, after someone discovered his wife’s body near their Tinley Park home. Nermeen had suffered “multiple injuries due to assault.”


“The couple had a history of domestic disputes,” the article reads.

But when everyone, from relatives to close friends, gathered at the police station the day of Nermeen’s murder, no one imagined that the signs would lead here, Kerolos said.

He remembers the day vividly.

“When it happened, I was at school,” Kerolos recalls. “My mom was supposed to come and pick me up from school because I had a dentist appointment. I was paged down to the office, but my mom wasn’t there. A police officer was there. I was shocked.”

Kerolos said that the police brought him and his younger siblings to a local station, where they sat for several hours before he noticed his grandmother and other relatives crying.

“The police asked me to sit down,” Kerolos recalled. “They told me, ‘We’re sorry to tell you, but your father killed your mother. I burst out into tears. I wanted to throw a chair across the room.”

Kerolos said that he insisted on seeing his little brother, who police had offered a change of clothes earlier in the day.

“They had to change his clothes because there was blood all over them,” Kerolos said. “I just hugged him and sat there in that room with him for about an hour.”

After that harrowing day in December, Kerolos and his three younger siblings were separated and placed into foster homes. That’s how Kerolos ended up in the home of Lora Sutton, of Broadview.

“My foster mom is the best thing to happen to me since my mom passed away,” he said. “If it wasn’t for her pushing me, I wouldn’t have made it through high school. It takes someone holding you up and pushing you up, telling you that can keep going on. She knew I had all the right qualities and the potential and she brought them out of me.”

Before Nermeen died, Kerolos said, he promised his mother that he would become a doctor. He wants to become a cardiologist, empowered, ironically, to fix hearts. In some ways, albeit metaphorically, he has partially fulfilled his ambitions.

The first heart Kerolos Sam has fixed has been his own.

“I’m very big in church, where I’ve learned to forgive,” he said, adding that since the murder, he’s been in communication with Bahaa. “I haven’t forgotten, but I’ve forgiven him for his actions.”

Kerolos said that his siblings have, like him, thrived despite the circumstances. He said that they’ve all benefited from regular counseling and supportive foster parents.


“God took care of us in that way,” he said. “That’s one of the things I’m thankful for, regardless of what happened. God was always there for us.”

Kerolos has used his own tragedy to inform his thinking about the world, particularly about the outbreak of gun violence in the Chicago area.

“One big reason for the violence is hatred,” he said. “People have a lot of hate built up for other people. If we support people and forge bonds with each other, we can cut the violence. We have to start with young people, though. The kids are the future, so we need to start with them.”

Kerolos said that he would tell young people seeking to thrive in adversity to “never, ever give up on your dreams.”

“Don’t ever let someone tell you you can’t do something, no matter how hard the situation,” he said,” no matter how close you are from the ground. If you’re still above it, keep moving.” VFP

Kerolos was recently accepted to perform a medical internship in Los Angeles, California from June 28 to July 6. He’s trying to raise money for the trip and so has started a GoFundMe account. Click here to support him.

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Proviso East Legend Doc Rivers: ‘Without Bill Russell, I’m Not Coaching’

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Wednesday, February 22, 2016 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

Maywood native and Proviso East basketball legend Doc Rivers delivered a shout-out to Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell for an inspiring video produced by the NBA for Black History Month.

Most people think of Bill Russell as this great winner, and he was,” Rivers says. “I don’t think people realize all the things that he pioneered. He stood up in times when it was very hard to stand up.”

That’s not a surprising perspective coming from Rivers, who hasn’t hesitated to stand up himself on some critical contemporary issues, like that time he chimed on the Colin Kaepernick protests (the Orange County Register’s story — click here — on that stance is worth reading again).

See the NBA’s roughly minute-long clip hereVFP

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Registration Starts for Village-Wide Cleanup | Maywood Commission Seeking Members, Volunteers

Kyle FitzGerald Village Wide

Participants at last year’s Village Pride-Village Wide event. | File

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Organizers of the third annual Village Pride-Village Wide cleanup event, held each spring in Maywood, are looking for sponsors and volunteers ahead of this year’s event, which is set for April 22, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The event will kickoff at the Reuse Depot, 50 W. Madison St. in Maywood.

“We’re all hands on deck,” said Maywood Environmental and Beautification Commission member Loretta Brown during a Feb. 15 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting.

“We want everybody in the village to participate. The is an opportunity to bring pride to our village. That’s what the goal is,” she said.

Brown recalled one of the commission’s original motives for creating the event three years ago. Since then, it’s evolved into the largest mass cleanup of its kind that’s held in the village.

“We started out just wanting to spruce up the village because people were saying that it was dirty,” she said. “When we talked to people, they had no pride in the village. Our first-year goal was to pick up paper and trash and to spruce the village up a bit. Since then, we’ve [shifted to] wanting to do projects that last for more than just [a day]. We want to do a few long-term projects that last through the whole season.”

Last year, the event, which is sponsored by an array of entities, including Proviso Partners for Health, attracted over 300 participants and a range of sponsors.

“We’re hoping to get just as many, or more, sponsors this year because our goals are bigger and broader,” Brown said. “We’ll need as much support as we can get.”

Brown said that community members are welcome to organize volunteer teams from within their church congregations, workplaces, schools, homes and other vital institutions. Brown said she and her fellow organizers are looking for people to clean up trash, plant flowers, paint and do work on other community projects.

She also advocated for community stakeholders making long-term investments of time, money and resources into different areas of the community.

For instance, Brown said, Maywood’s Quinn Community Center will clean up a park across the street from Lexington Elementary School. But Quinn will do cleaning year-round as well since the community organization recently adopted the park.

“We’ve identified four parks in particular that will be spruced up that day, but we want people to adopt those parks beyond just that day so that the parks can stay clean,” she said.

The event organizers are also asking that participants pre-register for the event by filling out a one-minute survey here. Please respond by April 15th. 

For more info on Village Pride-Village Wide, contact Loretta Brown at or Mary D’Anza at

Maywood Environmental and Beautification Commission seeking volunteers, possible members

The Maywood Environmental and Beautification Commission — the voluntary body that is responsible for advising the Maywood Board of Trustees on matters related to the local environment and the village’s general physical appearance — is looking for community members with particular skill-sets who may be interested in either serving as commission members or volunteering on projects and/or committees.

During a Feb. 15 LLOC meeting, Laura Lange, the commissioner’s chairwoman, said that the 7-member commissioner currently has four active members. In order to have a quorum, all four of those active members must be present. This month, Lange said, the commission didn’t meet because two members were out sick.

“[The lack of active members] has really cost us in terms of momentum and energy with which to accomplish some of the goals we’re tasked with,” Lange said, adding that the commission is looking for people with knowledge and expertise in a variety of areas, such as marketing, building science, renewable energy and waste management.

Lange said that the commission is also seeking community members who may want to volunteer on committees or projects; rather than serve on the committee itself.

“Someone who joins a committee or helps support a project is thinking more along the lines of how are we going to do this particular task,” she said, adding that committee and project volunteers would be responsible for helping to implement certain individual projects or initiatives, such as the annual Village Pride-Village Wide cleanup event and planting community gardens. VFP

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