Pre-trial for Cicero murderer continues

By Elisa Juliano

Erick M. Maya. Photo courtesy of Will County's Sheriff Office.

Erick M. Maya. Photo courtesy of Will County’s Sheriff Office.

The pre-trial of Erick M. Maya of Cicero will continue on May 23 at 9:30 at the Will County Courthouse.

Maya’s, of the 5600 block of Park Avenue, pre-trial began on April 15. Maya is being represented by a public defender.

Maya was charged on March 18 with shooting a woman and her daughter outside of their home in Romeoville, Il.

The daughter Briana Valle, 15, was in a relationship with Maya prior to the shooting. The couple allegedly met in 2012 on Facebook.

Valle was pronounced dead on Feb. 17 at  Loyola University Medical Center. Valle died from sustained a gunshot injury to the head.

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‘Pinkolandia’ receives three stars

By Elisa Juliano

Maritza Cervantes as Beny and Hannah Gomez as Gaby in Pinkolandia. Photo Courtesy of Anthony Aicardi.

Maritza Cervantes as Beny and Hannah Gomez as Gaby in Pinkolandia. Photo Courtesy of Anthony Aicardi.

Chicago Tribune writer Kerry Reid gave the 16th Street Theater’s performance of “Pinkolandia” three stars in her review.

Reid said ” light and projections design, soundscape and a spare but retro set” allowed  audience members to easily transition between imaginary and real scenes.

Reid also stated under director Ann Filmer’s guidance adult actresses made for “believable kids.”

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Volunteers help to beautify South Berwyn

By Elisa Juliano

Photo Courtesy of South Berwyn Park District.

While some may be relaxing on Saturday, Apr. 26, volunteers will be working to cleanup South Berwyn.

Check-in for the “2014 South Berwyn Earth Day Kickoff” will begin at Hermitage Middle School at 8:15 am. The event will take place from 9-12 pm.

“It’s a chance for volunteers to get together and beautify South Berwyn,” said Hillary Fulara, a recreational programmer for Proska Park.

Fulara said volunteers will focus on cleaning up designated areas and preparing the community gardens at certain schools.

“It’s part of our strategic plan to institute or install environmental literacy among our residents,” said Fulara of the event.

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Committee receives new member

By Elisa Juliano

Architect Emilio Padilla was appointed to the Historic Preservation Committee at the city council meeting on March 25th.

“Emillo’s resume is quite impressive and he will do a fine job at his commission,” said Mayor of Berwyn Robert Lovero.

Padilla was sworn into office by city clerk Thomas Pavilk. Following being sworn in he posed for pictures with the mayor.

He currently works for BauerLatoza Studio. The company was founded in 1990 and has received over 30 design awards.

Padilla has worked on numerous projects including the restoration of the six iconic domes at the Museum of Science and Industry and the restoration of the DuSable Museum roundhouse.

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7th Annual Wellness Fair

By Elisa Juliano

Heritage Middle School’s gym was buzzing with many adults and children attending the 7th Annual Wellness Fair on March 13.

The fair had many exhibition booths and lots of free give aways. McNeal Hospital, the YMCA, the Berwyn Police Department, the Berwyn Fire Department and many other organizations participated in the fair.

In addition to visiting the many exhibits, attendees were also able to participate in numerous activities ranging from relaxing massages to adrenaline pumping exercises.

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District 100 to pilot PARCC test

Chicago Public Schools faced many issues during testing week with students opting out and parents and teachers boycotting the test. Berwyn schools however have heard no fuss about testing and are set to pilot a new standardized assessment.

Some Berwyn students will be taking the The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test instead of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test the week of March 10-21.

“The PARCC test is the test that all the students of Illinois will be taking next year,” said Jane Bagus, the assistant superintendent for the South Berwyn District 100.

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Special Spaces gives Berwyn teenager’s room a makeover

Special Spaces Chicagoland knows that for children with life threatening illnesses a room can be a place of comfort.

Julissa Alvarez, a thirteen year old Berwyn resident with a rare form of cardiac cancer, received a room makeover this Tuesday from Special Spaces.

“I like the colors and everything, its a girly girl room,” said Julissa.

Julissa with her parents and siblings pose for a family portrait in her newly decorated room.

Julissa with her parents and siblings pose for a family portrait in her newly decorated room. (Photos courtesy of Special Spaces Chicagoland)

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Comedian films at local lounge

By Elisa Juliano

While most of the crowd at Cigar and Stripes BBQwere enjoying beers, 12-year-old Trevor Burke was sipping chocolate milk waiting to perform.

On Feb. 5 comedian Trevor Burke filmed the pilot for his new reality TV show at the neighborhood restaurant and bar in Berwyn.With cameras, microphones, and directors on deck Cigar and Stripes BBQ looked more like a Hollywood movie set.

“I’m kind of transforming from a kid doing stand-up comedy and acting into something huge,” said Trevor.

The show will follow Trevor’s journey to perform comedy while often being rejected by clubs because of his age. Trevor, a St. Charles resident, is only 12-years-old, most clubs have a 21 and over age restriction.

Trevor said his humor appeals more to adults than children.

While most were drinking beer and cocktails Trevor Burke sipped on chocolate milk.

Trevor Burke taking a break and playing on his phone.

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Memorial expected to attract 50,000 to Berwyn

By Elisa Juliano

Photo courtesy of Berwyn Park District.

Photo courtesy of Berwyn Park District.

This summer the Berwyn Park District expects many will flock to Berwyn to see “The Moving Wall” on display at Proska Park.

“Through our marketing efforts the number that has been thrown around is 50,000 people,” said Hillary Fulara, a recreational programmer for Proska Park.

According to Fulara, Aurora hosted the wall in November and received over 150,000 visitors.

“The Moving Wall” has been touring the county for almost 30 years and is a half-size replica of the Veterans Vietnam Memorial located in Washington, D.C.

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Berwyn Annual Healthy Heart Fair makes a change

By Elisa Juliano

Berwyn’s annual Healthy Heart Fair will not include a blood drive this year.

“This will be the first Healthy Heart Fair where we don’t have a blood drive,” said Tina Kloess, the registered nurse of the Berwyn Public Health District.

Kloess explained that it was too difficult for participants to fast 12 hours before their appointments and then donate blood.

“To give blood you need to make sure you’ve had a nice meal and are well hydrated,” said Kloess.

Kloess said that a blood drive would be held in the future.

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Bubbles and magic in the air at local laundromat

By Elisa Juliano

The World’s Largest Laundromat had a few tricks up its sleeve, presenting customers with a magic show and free pizza this Wednesday.

James Sanden, a local Chicago magician, entertained the children of customers with card tricks, disappearing acts and balloon animals for about two hours. Customers also snacked on free cheese and sausage pizza delivered fresh every 20 minutes.

In the past the laundromat has hosted other magicians such as Mary Macaroni.

According to his website, Sanden has performed in Japan and Costa Rica, in both Japanese and Spanish.

The laundromat does pizza night every Wednesday and free coffee and donuts daily. Sanden is set to perform again at the laundromat on Feb. 16 at 4:00 p.m. and March 12 at 5:00 p.m . For more information visit www.worldslargestlaundry.com.

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by | February 2, 2014 · 7:07 pm

Identity thefts hit Berwyn

There have been seven reported identify thefts in Berwyn since Dec. 3. Sgt. Joe Santangelo said these cases are currently under investigation.

Santangelo gave tips on how to avoid being a victim of identity theft. Never throw away credit cards without first shredding them. Be careful about what information you save onto the internet; don’t save your social  security number or passwords on any web page.

“You can check your banking website regularly to watch your accounts,” Santangelo said. “There are also trusted websites that do a free credit check to monitor your accounts.”

Two of the seven identity thefts occurred on the 2200 block of S. Kenilworth. Two more occurred on S. Euclid. Other cases occurred on Harvey, Elmwood and Grove.

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Christmas spirit in the Depot District

Santa and his reindeer visited Berwyn’s Depot District last night for Berwyn Development Corp. “Deck the Depot” to get the city into the Christmas spirit.

Santa's car

Santa’s car

Visitors enjoyed free horse driven sleigh rides, trolley rides and a petting zoo. They even got to sit on Santa’s lap to tell him their wish list and get a free photograph.

Berwyn girl telling Santa what she wants for Christmas

Berwyn girl telling Santa what she wants for Christmas

The event also collected new unwrapped toys for the “Holiday Cheer Program” in Berwyn and canned goods and non-perishable food items for Berwyn Food Pantries at participating businesses with collection boxes.

Donated goods

Donated goods

Depot District merchants stayed open late offering some complimentary goodies. Also, there was a raffle worth more than $200 for adults 21 and older who spent $10 in the Depot District. Open Houses took place at Giovanni’s World’s Best Ribs Inc, Olive or Twist Martini Bar, BMO Harris Bank N.A., The James Joyce Irish Pub, Off the Traxx and Wishbone.

Sleigh riders say hello

Sleigh riders say hello

 

The 12th Annual Deck the Depot was presented by Santa Sponsor Suburban Life Media and Reindeer Sponsors The James Joyce Irish Pub, Off The Traxx and La Notte Café.

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An option for Illinois residents without health insurance

Get Covered Illinois is a new website, launched Oct. 1, that allows people to find the right health coverage.

“For the first time in U.S. history, quality health coverage is available to you regardless of your current health, income level or employment,” according to the website.

The website, set up by Gov. Pat Quinn, allows Illinois residents to review their health care and insurance options under the new Affordable Health Care Act as proposed by President Barack Obama, according to State Representative Lisa Hernandez.

Jose Espinoza is a state-certified Navigator for Get Covered Illinois who facilitates enrollments and assists those interested in coverage. He said Get Covered Illinois received money from a grant to serve cities out of Chicagoland suburbs. This enables Navigators like Espinoza to provide free assistance. 

“Community outreach and education is essential so our citizens know how this law works and what they need to do to get enrolled in they don’t have coverage,” said Espinoza. “Our goal is to reach as many people as possible and enroll those interested in doing so.”

Why is this so important now? People can only get coverage during special enrollment periods, according to Espinoza. Those who want coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014 need to enroll by Dec. 23, 2013. The final deadline for enrollment is March 31, 2014. Anyone who seeks coverage after this deadline must pay a $90 penalty. 

The first step in using this website is to go to getcoveredillinois.gov. The second step is to click “See your options.” This provide questions a user needs to answer that will decide if the user is qualified for Medicaid or for marketplace insurance.

For more information on how to get covered, visit Get Covered Illinois or contact Navigator Jose Espinoza at jespinoza@cbhonline.org or (312) 913-9449.

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Berwyn business is booming

Existing businesses are improving and new businesses are opening all across Berwyn. In August, Mayor Lovero said  business development would be something to keep an eye on in Berwyn, and he was right.

“There were approximately 50 businesses that opened in 2013,” said Business and Licensing Supervisor Anthony Perri. 

This success can be attributed to business assistance provided by Berwyn Development Corp. Total investment in TIF areas, including Roosevelt Road, Harlem and Cermak, Odgen Avenue and the Depot District, rose from $4,135,141.74 in 2007 to $8,330,957.23 in 2012, according to Development Executive Director Anthony Griffin.

“There is a comprehensive approach set by the city of Berwyn that allows business to start up and improve,” said Griffin.

Berwyn Development Corp. has a number of programs and services to help with improving commercial areas and stimulating business growth, including TIF financing, commercial loans, micoloans, site location assistance, and technical assistance. 

“There have been more restaurants opening, giving Berwyn a more diverse food culture,” said Berwyn resident Iridian Hernandez. “It’s also good that Berwyn has more places to shop, and hopefully that will attract more young people to the community.”

“We take great pride in helping existing business adapt to new trends and helping new businesses open,” said Griffin.

All of the projects completed in 2012 include Meijer, Big Guys Sausages, Wing Boss, The Vitamin Shoppe, Verizon, Play N Trade, Off the Traxx, Karasek Park, J.D. Byrider, Lou’s Pizza and Beef, Collision Centers of America, Start the Party, Capri Ristorante & Catering, Bounce Sportsplex, Reel Art, Riddles Comedy Club and Chipotle.

For updated information on current and completed projects, visit http://www.berwyn.net/economic-development.

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Berwyn boys receive recognition

Julian Garcia (left) and Nathan Rodriguez (right)

Julian Garcia (left) and Nathan Rodriguez (right)

Mayor Lovero presented honorable mentions to Julian Garcia and Nathan Rodriguez for taking action to save a woman’s life on Halloween.

On Halloween night, the two friends visited a house in the 3700 block of Harvey Avenue. They knocked, but only heard barking dogs. The back door was open, so they looked inside and saw the woman laying on her basement floor at the bottom of the stairs. They immediately ran to alert their parents who called the authorities.

The woman, in her late 60s, said she had fallen down the stairs three days before and hadn’t moved since, according to MySuburbanLife.com. She had a cervical fracture and was treated for hypothermia.

“I am very glad of myself,” Rodriguez said after receiving awards. Garcia quickly agreed, “Me, too!”

Garcia and Rodriguez  are third-graders at Pershing School.

“The community is our eyes and ears, and these guys did a great job. We thank them,” said Police Chief James Ritz. 

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Paisans Pizzeria & Bar food allergy friendly

Paisans Pizzeria & Bar 6226 W Ogden Ave., Berwyn

Paisans Pizzeria & Bar 6226 W Ogden Ave., Berwyn

Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, according to Food Allergy Research and Education. Every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency department. While some restaurants are too afraid to take this risk with their guests, Paisans Pizzeria & Bar is one restaurant that welcomes those with food allergies.

“My daughter has tree-nut allergies, so I understand how hard it can be to eat out,” said General Manager Stacey Scott.

Paisans has a policy of accommodating all reasonable needs of a guest with food allergies. The chefs must clean all surfaces and utensils to prepare for a special order. During orientation and training, servers are taught how to handle these special requests.

“It’s not the server’s job to guess,” said Scott. “We tell our servers to get all the details and get a manager involved, if needed.”

Scott estimates that 20 to 30 people come in a week with food allergies. Some of the items on the menu can be prepared gluten-free. Other allergens can also be accommodated for.

“Every time we tell them about our gluten allergy, our server or bartender is very accommodating,” said Janine J., a Berwyn reviewer on Yelp.com. 

Paisans’ executive chef, known as “Chef,” and two sous chefs, Sergio and Fransisco, are in charge of kitchen management. These three chefs rotate shifts to ensure that an experienced chef is on deck at all times during Paisans’ open hours. They oversee all special requests in the kitchen. 

“We do the best we can and are willing to go above and beyond to accommodate if its within our control,” said Scott. “We don’t want you to leave hungry.”

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Foreclosed homes selling every week on average

By Lauren Reiniger

Houses are being sold on an average of every week to a week and a half, according to Jim Healy, an attorney  in Berwyn’s community development department. 

Berwyn received a $4.6 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant from the state to buy and renovate 26 vacant and foreclosed buildings. To date, 18 out of those 26 homes are active on the sales end. Two houses have been sold, and 16 houses are currently under contract.

“Just this week, we closed on two houses. We are closing on two more next week, and probably three more the week after that,” said Healy.

Some applications have been denied because the buyers make too much money.

“One couple wanted to buy a home–they really liked the way we fixed it up–but they were over-qualified,” Healy said. “This is a federal program for those who have up to 120% of area-median income.”

This program isn’t about making money, according to Healy. The purpose is to get homes off the foreclosure list, fix them, sell them and generate property taxes, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“I expect that we will probably close every house that has been repaired by the end of January,” Healy said. Five remaining homes still need to be fixed throughout winter and spring.

For more information on Berwyn’s NSP program, visit http://www.berwyn-il.gov/Departments/CommunityDevelopment/NSP.aspx.

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Connie’s Restaurant new addition to “keep up with the times”

By Lauren Reiniger

Connie’s Restaurant in Berwyn now has a new party room and lounge. The party room seats up to 90 people, and the lounge includes a bar and modern electronic slot machines.

Connie’s Restaurant, 3271 S. Harlem Ave., hosted its grand opening of Connie’s Event and Party Room & Lounge Wednesday morning.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony

Ribbon-cutting ceremony

“If you don’t keep up with the times, you’ll always die with the dinosaur,” said Andy Sotiropoulos, one of the owners of this family-owned restaurant. 

Four years ago, the family couldn’t decide if they waned this part of the building to be a party room or a lounge. The space became both, after Sotiropoulos and his friend completed the construction in July.

The new addition is a business opportunity. Video-gaming is growing, especially in Illinois, and this expansion will be a “terrific addition,” according to Mayor Lovero.

Game room and lounge

Game room and lounge

Sotiropoulos was previously a product manager for Moterolla, but decided to commit to the family business.

“This place has survived 70 years, and I promised by dad I would see it to 100 years,” said Sotiropoulos.

His father, who was unavailable for comment, started working at Connie’s restaurant 38 years ago as a cook, according to Sotiropoulos. His parents became co-partners in the late 1970s and helped the success of Connie’s Restaurant.

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Wire to host award-winning album band

By Lauren Reiniger

Scott Lucas & the Married Men will be playing at Wire in Berwyn Friday, Nov. 22. The Chicago Tribune listed their album “Blood Half Moon” in the top 10 indie releases of 2012, according to Mango Media Manager Jill Mango.

Lucas describes the group’s evolving sound as “country-ish, alt-rock for people who like metal.” The band also incorporates violin, organ and accordion into their music.

Scott Lucas & the Married Men toured with Deer Tick last summer and played shows with James Iha, Kelly Hogan, Tristen, the Airborne Toxic Event and others in the past year.

Lucas, originally from Zion, Ill., is best known as the singer and guitarist for a two-man, Chicago rock band called Local H. For his solo records, he plays with the Married Men. Reviewers have compared this band to American Music Club, Wilco, the Waterboys and Nick Cave.

Wire is located at 6815 W. Roosevelt Rd. in Berwyn.
Find more information, music and videos for Scott Lucas & the Married Men at http://www.scottlucasandthemarriedmen.com 

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