Construction on Western Avenue is expected to cause delays through the end of the year. (Photo: VOPF)
Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— The long-awaited improvements to Western Avenue will likely cause delays. Traffic will be slowed by the work of construction crews scheduled to widen and resurface the roadway. Workers from Nicor and ComEd will begin utility relocation next month, ushering in the first of many delays expected to continue through the end of the year from Illinois Street to Sauk Trail.
Signs will be posted in March to alert motorist of lane reductions beginning April 1st that will decrease the number of lanes available from four to two, with one in each direction.
The two outer lanes of Western Avenue will be the first to close for repair with the inner lanes scheduled for later closing. Motorists may be inconvenienced at times by temporary parking lot and street closings during underground sewer and water-main installation.
The Village will soon begin to notify area cooperatives affected by the project of the expected work and manner in which the contractor will proceed. Once construction is underway, contractors will continue to troubleshoot problematic traffic areas.
The widening and resurfacing of Western Avenue comes after several years of discussion of Board Members and requests from residents seeking a smoother ride and better traffic flow on the well traveled road.
In addition to road resurfacing, additional work is scheduled to be completed on the railroad tracks north of Norwood Plaza that have taken their toll on crossing automobiles. The tracks are scheduled to be closed to traffic for six days beginning in May. A pedestrian crossing for the tracks is also planned.
A capacity crowd in the Board Room listens to Dr. Wilkins speak. (Photo: ENEWSPF)
Over One Hundred Take The Pledge Saturday
Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Park Forest is getting lighter. More than 100 people took the first step to better health Saturday by signing up for the 10 Ton Challenge. The kick-off event started at 1:00 p.m. and included motivational talks, group cheers, joint recitation of the pledge, and a weigh-in. Participants received an official 10 Ton Challenge t-shirt, a pedometer, a buddy and, most importantly, the resolve to lose at least 20 pounds by December 31, 2008. Beyond the personal commitment to better health, everyone also pledged to donate 20 pounds of food to the Rich Township Food Pantry every month.
"I’m so impressed with the Village of Park Forest," said Director of Health Chris Blue. "We asked for a show of hands, and it was mostly Park Foresters who were here. It was great."
Blue sees this year as only the beginning of a leaner, healthier Park Forest, "The 10 Ton Challenge is just the beginning."
Dr. Sheila Wilkins was the featured speaker Saturday, "I was a cookie bandit," Wilkins admitted. She stressed the importance of changing patterns, body, mind and spirit, “I change the way that I used to eat. I don’t eat the fried foods anymore.”
Robbie Roberson (left) poses with her mother Julia for a "before" shot at the 10 Ton Challenge Kick Off Saturday. (Photo: ENEWSPF)
Wilkins addressed the fact that sometimes we eat because we don’t want to hurt somebody’s feelings. She suggested leveling with friends who may not understand that we’re not eating the same foods anymore, "Just tell them, "Hey, my Body-Temple is all that I got.”
“It’s not about a diet. It’s about a lifestyle change for the rest of your life.”
While waiting in for her official weigh-in, resident Phyllis Bacon shared her thoughts on starting the Challenge, “Can we get control here? Thus far I’ve never been able to, but I’m not a defeatist. I think that it’s a wonderful, wonderful program, and it’s so fun to meet my neighbors and to participate in a community goal. I think I can do it. My goal is 20 pounds."
Another resident, Joan, preferred to not share her last name, but discussed her reasons for joining, “I turned 50 this year, and I was not at the weight I wanted to be. My goal was to be at my perfect weight and 50. After having my daughter 20 years ago and never losing the weight, I moved to Park Forest, I thought, ‘What a great opportunity. Somebody’s going to help me along here.’ So here I am. I hope to lose between 35 and 50 pounds."
"I hope to lose half of myself," said resident Dave Ranlett. Ranlett weighed in at 426 lbs., and looks forward to gaining some friendships and meeting new people.
"I’m carrying around an evil twin and it’s time for him to go. I like the idea of taking this into the community. Hopefully we’ll achieve critical mass and accomplish things other than just personal goals."
The overall goals for the Challenge are as follows:
20,000 pounds by December 31, 2008
Become the "Healthiest Community in Illinois"
Participate in the Walk for Hunger in June 2008
Participate in the Park Forest Labor Day 5K Run in September 2008
Identify a partner for accountability during the challenge
Donate 20 pounds of food to the Rich Township Food Pantry every month
Set realistic physical, spiritual and mental goals
Take a FREE life coaching class
Attend one seminar and screening monthly
And here is the 10 Ton Challenge Pledge:
I hereby pledge to make a sustained effort to reach my ideal weight, increase exercise and decrease unhealthy food intake. I will set personal physical, mental and spiritual goals that will help me to be a better me. Over the course of the year, I will not only nourish myself better, I will donate food to the Rich Township Food Pantry, to feed the hungry. I will find a buddy who will keep me accountable for my goals. I will dedicate my efforts to elevating and caring for myself to the best of my ability. I am worth this endeavor.
Those interested in taking the Pledge and improving their health can still sign up for the 10-Ton Challenge every Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting at 10:30 a.m. at the Health Department in Village Hall. On Mondays participants can also sign up from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Editor’s Note: We continue our reporting on news from police reports. Besides covering the many stories from around Park Forest that otherwise might go unnoticed, we want to bring more complete coverage of police reports than is reported by other local media.
An arrest does not mean that a person is guilty. All those arrested are presumed innocent until proven guilty. It is the policy of eNews Park Forest to not remove items in the public record from publication. If your name is listed in the police reports, we will only add information relevant to the final disposition of the case at hand, e.g. "Mr. Smith was subsequently acquitted," or "All charges against Mr. Smith were subsequently dropped." We will do so upon receiving and verifying proof of such disposition.
We will always include some introductory comments before the first item. While everything that follows is a matter of public record, we do not believe it is necessary to have names on page one.
Updated January 31, 2008 with link to Dr. Paul McCarthy’s farewell reception photo gallery
Chicago Heights, IL–(ENEWSPF)– It is anticipated the Prairie State College (PSC) board of trustees will unanimously approve David A. Brownell as interim president at the January 29 board meeting. The board selected Brownell from several candidates to fill the interim president position. His selection comes after an extensive interview process and contract negotiations. The reference check was conducted by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT).
Brownell’s past experience includes serving as chancellor of the Coast Community College District in Costa Mesa, Calif. One of the highlights during his tenure as chancellor was working diligently to heal deep divisions which had developed among staff, administrators, and the board. Prior to serving as chancellor, he served as the dean of administrative services for Coast Community College. Brownell has a B.A. in Education from University of La Verne, La Verne, Calif.; and a M.A. in Administration from California State University, Los Angeles.
Most recently Brownell has served as a consultant to educators and other clients. He also served as acting dean of advanced technology, Irvine Valley College, Irving, Calif. Brownell also was retained to review, revise, and codify board policies and administrative procedures for South Orange Community College District, Mission Viejo, Calif.
Prior to his appointment, Brownell will have the opportunity to spend some time with current PSC president, Paul J. McCarthy. McCarthy has accepted a position as president of El Centro College in Dallas, Texas.
“We are sorry to see Dr. McCarthy go but are pleased we have been able to find such a qualified leader to serve as interim president of PSC,” PSC Board Chair Mark Fazzini said.
BAQUBA, Jan 21 (IPS) – New military operations in Diyala province north of Baghdad have exacerbated a growing conflict between U.S.-backed Sunni fighters on the one hand and Iraqi army and police forces on the other.
The U.S. military commenced a large military operation Jan. 8 in the volatile Diyala province. Seven U.S. battalions led an offensive to push out fighters affiliated with ‘Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia’ from the area.
In the current operation, U.S., Iraqi, and local fighters have faced no serious resistance. U.S. military commanders admitted shortly after operations began that anti-occupation fighters were likely tipped off, and fled the area. But the operation has thrown up conflicts within the ranks.
"The military forces comprise the coalition forces, Iraqi police and army, and the popular forces (commonly called Kataib)," political analyst Akram Sabri told IPS in Baquba, capital of Diyala province. "It was found that the local forces are more truculent fighters who can always be relied on. This has made the coalition forces increasingly reliant upon these fighters to the extent that they will one day likely be joined to Iraqi police and army."
The Kataib Sabri speaks of are what the U.S. military calls "concerned local citizens". Most are former resistance fighters, now being paid 300 dollars a month to stop attacking occupation forces and to back them instead.
The groups, which the U.S. military claims are 82 percent Sunni, are viewed as a threat by the government in Baghdad led by U.S.-backed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The PM has said these groups will never become part of the government security forces. But while seen with suspicion at many places, these forces are also being welcomed in some.
Residents of Baquba, 40 km northeast of Baghdad, say the Kataib have brought a decrease in violence, and now enjoy a respect that the Iraqi army and police never have.
"The new prestige that Kataib enjoy has enraged the Iraqi police and army," an officer in the directorate-general of police, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. "In one operation in a village near Khalis city 15 km west of Baquba, the directorate-general of police contributed just 20 men, while the Kataib fighters numbered 450. This shows how the Americans now rely more on the Kataib than on us."
Adding to the growing rift between the U.S.-backed fighters and government security forces is the increasing disgust with the mostly Shia-backed government in Baghdad.
"The coalition forces have to correct what they have done in bringing in such a sectarian government," a Baquba resident said. "The existence of militants is the result of the bad performance of the government and the ruling council of Diyala in particular. Enemies are created by injustice and unfairness.
"Everything has been affected by the lack of security, and the only reason behind that is the occupation and its feeble government," the resident said.
Residents remain leery of travelling outside of Baquba. Armed groups, often with unknown allegiance, control the roads.
Hded district, 10 km south of Baquba, is situated on the road to Baghdad. "The violence here has prevented people freely using the highway," 43-year-old bus driver Muhsin Muhamed Kareem told IPS. Government forces have failed to provide security, he said.
Muqdadiya area, about 30 km north of Baquba, has become a danger spot on the road to Sulaimaniya province in the Kurdish north. Many want to go there for business because Kurdish areas have better security, but militiamen from the Shia Mehdi Army often target Sunni travellers around Muqdadiya.
"The military operations which started two months ago cleared out the militants but did not control the militia because they are the police and army," a Muqdadiya resident said.
"A policeman at an official checkpoint in Muqdadiya asked a person, who was sitting beside me in my van, what his sect was," a frequent traveller on the route said. "Passengers know that the police behaviour is sectarian."
A resident of Aswad village, eight kilometres west of Baquba, told IPS that people have reason to support the U.S.-backed Sunni fighters rather than the government forces.
"The Iraqi army is hard-hearted with the people because they think that all the villagers are terrorists. People feel safer with the other forces."
(*Ahmed, our correspondent in Iraq’s Diyala province, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who has reported extensively from Iraq and the Middle East)
Commentary Barack Obama‘s speech at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s church in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday morning. This article includes video of the speech at the end.
The Scripture tells us that when Joshua and the Israelites arrived at the gates of Jericho, they could not enter. The walls of the city were too steep for any one person to climb; too strong to be taken down with brute force. And so they sat for days, unable to pass on through.
But God had a plan for his people. He told them to stand together and march together around the city, and on the seventh day he told them that when they heard the sound of the ram’s horn, they should speak with one voice. And at the chosen hour, when the horn sounded and a chorus of voices cried out together, the mighty walls of Jericho came tumbling down.
There are many lessons to take from this passage, just as there are many lessons to take from this day, just as there are many memories that fill the space of this church. As I was thinking about which ones we need to remember at this hour, my mind went back to the very beginning of the modern Civil Rights Era.
Because before Memphis and the mountaintop; before the bridge in Selma and the march on Washington; before Birmingham and the beatings; the fire hoses and the loss of those four little girls; before there was King the icon and his magnificent dream, there was King the young preacher and a people who found themselves suffering under the yoke of oppression.
And on the eve of the bus boycotts in Montgomery, at a time when many were still doubtful about the possibilities of change, a time when those in the black community mistrusted themselves, and at times mistrusted each other, King inspired with words not of anger, but of an urgency that still speaks to us today:
"Unity is the great need of the hour" is what King said. Unity is how we shall overcome.
What Dr. King understood is that if just one person chose to walk instead of ride the bus, those walls of oppression would not be moved. But maybe if a few more walked, the foundation might start to shake. If a few more women were willing to do what Rosa Parks had done, maybe the cracks would start to show. If teenagers took freedom rides from North to South, maybe a few bricks would come loose. Maybe if white folks marched because they had come to understand that their freedom too was at stake in the impending battle, the wall would begin to sway. And if enough Americans were awakened to the injustice; if they joined together, North and South, rich and poor, Christian and Jew, then perhaps that wall would come tumbling down, and justice would flow like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Unity is the great need of the hour – the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it’s the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country.
I’m not talking about a budget deficit. I’m not talking about a trade deficit. I’m not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans.
I’m talking about a moral deficit. I’m talking about an empathy deficit. I’m taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother’s keeper; we are our sister’s keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny.
We have an empathy deficit when we’re still sending our children down corridors of shame – schools in the forgotten corners of America where the color of your skin still affects the content of your education.
We have a deficit when CEOs are making more in ten minutes than some workers make in ten months; when families lose their homes so that lenders make a profit; when mothers can’t afford a doctor when their children get sick.
We have a deficit in this country when there is Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others; when our children see nooses hanging from a schoolyard tree today, in the present, in the twenty-first century.
We have a deficit when homeless veterans sleep on the streets of our cities; when innocents are slaughtered in the deserts of Darfur; when young Americans serve tour after tour of duty in a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged.
And we have a deficit when it takes a breach in our levees to reveal a breach in our compassion; when it takes a terrible storm to reveal the hungry that God calls on us to feed; the sick He calls on us to care for; the least of these He commands that we treat as our own.
So we have a deficit to close. We have walls – barriers to justice and equality – that must come down. And to do this, we know that unity is the great need of this hour.
Unfortunately, all too often when we talk about unity in this country, we’ve come to believe that it can be purchased on the cheap. We’ve come to believe that racial reconciliation can come easily – that it’s just a matter of a few ignorant people trapped in the prejudices of the past, and that if the demagogues and those who exploit our racial divisions will simply go away, then all our problems would be solved.
All too often, we seek to ignore the profound institutional barriers that stand in the way of ensuring opportunity for all children, or decent jobs for all people, or health care for those who are sick. We long for unity, but are unwilling to pay the price.
But of course, true unity cannot be so easily won. It starts with a change in attitudes – a broadening of our minds, and a broadening of our hearts.
It’s not easy to stand in somebody else’s shoes. It’s not easy to see past our differences. We’ve all encountered this in our own lives. But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart – that puts up walls between us.
We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don’t think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen is taking our tax money. The immigrant is taking our jobs. The believer condemns the non-believer as immoral, and the non-believer chides the believer as intolerant.
For most of this country’s history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man’s inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays – on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system.
And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community.
We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.
Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.
So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others – all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face – war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.
Because if Dr. King could love his jailor; if he could call on the faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in our time, and bind up our wounds, and erase the empathy deficit that exists in our hearts.
But if changing our hearts and minds is the first critical step, we cannot stop there. It is not enough to bemoan the plight of poor children in this country and remain unwilling to push our elected officials to provide the resources to fix our schools. It is not enough to decry the disparities of health care and yet allow the insurance companies and the drug companies to block much-needed reforms. It is not enough for us to abhor the costs of a misguided war, and yet allow ourselves to be driven by a politics of fear that sees the threat of attack as way to scare up votes instead of a call to come together around a common effort.
The Scripture tells us that we are judged not just by word, but by deed. And if we are to truly bring about the unity that is so crucial in this time, we must find it within ourselves to act on what we know; to understand that living up to this country’s ideals and its possibilities will require great effort and resources; sacrifice and stamina.
And that is what is at stake in the great political debate we are having today. The changes that are needed are not just a matter of tinkering at the edges, and they will not come if politicians simply tell us what we want to hear. All of us will be called upon to make some sacrifice. None of us will be exempt from responsibility. We will have to fight to fix our schools, but we will also have to challenge ourselves to be better parents. We will have to confront the biases in our criminal justice system, but we will also have to acknowledge the deep-seated violence that still resides in our own communities and marshal the will to break its grip.
That is how we will bring about the change we seek. That is how Dr. King led this country through the wilderness. He did it with words – words that he spoke not just to the children of slaves, but the children of slave owners. Words that inspired not just black but also white; not just the Christian but the Jew; not just the Southerner but also the Northerner.
He led with words, but he also led with deeds. He also led by example. He led by marching and going to jail and suffering threats and being away from his family. He led by taking a stand against a war, knowing full well that it would diminish his popularity. He led by challenging our economic structures, understanding that it would cause discomfort. Dr. King understood that unity cannot be won on the cheap; that we would have to earn it through great effort and determination.
That is the unity – the hard-earned unity – that we need right now. It is that effort, and that determination, that can transform blind optimism into hope – the hope to imagine, and work for, and fight for what seemed impossible before.
The stories that give me such hope don’t happen in the spotlight. They don’t happen on the presidential stage. They happen in the quiet corners of our lives. They happen in the moments we least expect. Let me give you an example of one of those stories.
There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organizes for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She’s been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and the other day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.
And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.
She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.
She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.
So Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."
By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.
But it is where we begin. It is why the walls in that room began to crack and shake.
And if they can shake in that room, they can shake in Atlanta.
And if they can shake in Atlanta, they can shake in Georgia.
And if they can shake in Georgia, they can shake all across America. And if enough of our voices join together; we can bring those walls tumbling down. The walls of Jericho can finally come tumbling down. That is our hope – but only if we pray together, and work together, and march together.
Brothers and sisters, we cannot walk alone.
In the struggle for peace and justice, we cannot walk alone.
In the struggle for opportunity and equality, we cannot walk alone
In the struggle to heal this nation and repair this world, we cannot walk alone.
So I ask you to walk with me, and march with me, and join your voice with mine, and together we will sing the song that tears down the walls that divide us, and lift up an America that is truly indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all. May God bless the memory of the great pastor of this church, and may God bless the United States of America.