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Oak Lawn Bans Cell Phone Use On School Days

With a 4-3 majority, the Oak Lawn School Board voted to ban cell phone use during the academic school day.

As it stood, cell phones and other communication devices were prohibited in locker rooms, dressing rooms and bathrooms, and had to be turned off and put away during academic times.

However, students were allowed to use their phones during passing periods.

Last week’s ruling requires students to turn off and store their phones in lockers, purses or backpacks for the entire school day.

The decision essentially rejected the Discipline Committee’s recommendation to keep the more lenient policy. The committee, which is made up of union members, administrators, teachers, parents and students, saw no need to change the policy because even a majority of teachers were comfortable with the rules.

Cyndee Hughes, head of the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), was first to speak during the public comment portion and argued in favor of allowing students to have limited access to their phones during the school day.

Technology is moving at a fast level and to not acknowledge that kids are using cell phones is wrong, she explained.

Warning tracks will be added to Kolb Field, along with new benches for the dugouts and improvements for the scoreboards.

A kids park will also be created with a swing set for younger children adjacent to Kolb Field, Davis said. Davis added that Home Depot will also replace kitchens for the Oak Lawn Fire Department.

Deetjen and board members were pleased when Davis said the area behind Home Depot, 4060 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn, will be maintained better.

The village had received a series of complaints in the past about the fence line behind Home Depot that had overgrown grass and debris.

ÒWe are cleaning that up,” said Davis. ÒWe want to be good neighbors.”

Deetjen also said that Fairplay will replace the now vacant Dominick’s at 87th and Cicero Avenue.

ÒIt shows that Oak Lawn is a place where business wants to come to,” said Deetjen.

Fairplay should be open for business in September, said Deetjen.

Olejniczak said the snow removal program was successful this past winter. Noting that it was a mild winter, there were still 234 requests for snow removal.

Jim Pacetti, a sergeant with the Oak Lawn Police Department who helps direct the program with Olejniczak, said that there were 87 volunteers.

ÒWe are getting calls for next year,” said Pacetti. ÒWe would like to double that. Some kids volunteered who didn’t even have service hours.”

Olejniczak thanked Pacetti for his efforts with the snow removal program, noting that he is the one who gets all the phone calls.

ÒWe see many kids coming back,” said Olejniczak in regards to the snow removal program. ÒThe kids felt good that they could help someone, especially seniors, who, as they get older, have trouble shoveling snow.”

Olejniczak then brought up that, due to the mild winter, the money that was set aside for snow removal could go to street repairs in the village. Olejniczak estimated the funds could be near $300,000.

During a previous board meeting, Trustee Carol Quinlan (5th) had asked if funding for street repairs could be divided more evenly among the districts. Quinlan said that her district has areas that need repairs.

Olejniczak said that he drove through her district and agreed with Quinlan that there are areas that need upgrades.

Deetjen said the matter could be brought up to the finance committee. Olejniczak asked if a committee can be set up to upgrade the streets.

ÒI think we need to assess this as quickly as possible,” said Olejniczak.

Olejniczak also asked if there were any plans for affordable housing for seniors.

ÒThe seniors that I talk to, they love Oak Lawn, but they are just unable to live in their homes anymore,” said Olejniczak. ÒBut they don’t want to move from Oak Lawn.”

Deetjen said that one developer is looking into Oak Lawn and is reviewing certain parcels for seniors.

Quinlan said that she has been asked by residents why there was no referendum during the past primary regarding energy alternatives to ComEd. Other villages had that question posted in a referendum on March 20.

She wondered if that question could be posed in a referendum in November.

ÒI was just wondering if the board could look into it,” said Quinlan.

Trustee Bob Streit (3rd), who has some experience with energy companies said that Òit’s a great idea.” Streit said that he would get back to the board with more information.

The board approved motions between the village and the PLOWS Council on community development block grant funds for the Shared Housing Assistance Program, the village and Southwest Suburban PADS on community development block grant funds for the Emergency Shelter Assistance Program, and agreement between the village and IDOT pertaining to the improvement of traffic signals along 95th Street.

One item that was tabled was regarding distributing water to other villages through DDM Smith, Inc.

Oak Lawn, which distributes water from Chicago to several south suburbs, will not subsidize the communities for water, said Deetjen. Future meetings are scheduled, and Deetjen is confident an agreement can be reached.

Trustee Tom Phelan (6th) was not in attendance.

In another matter, the Oak Lawn Police Department will face the Oak Lawn Fire Department in the eighth annual charity hockey game Sunday, April 1 at the Oak Lawn Ice Arena, 9320 S. Kenton Ave.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Easter Seals Autism Therapeutic School in Tinley Park and the Make A Wish Foundation of Illinois. Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for students. Tickets will be sold at the door. Raffle prizes, a split the pot raffle and a silent auction is included.

A Town Hall Meeting is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 3 at Advocate Christ Medical Center, 4440 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn. Free parking is available across the street.

A walk to raise funds in the fight against muscular dystrophy will take place Sunday, May 6. The walk will begin at Richards High School, 10601 S. Central Ave., Oak Lawn, and continue along the paths at Wolfe Wildlife Refuge Center and back. Last year, $39,000 was raised, $9,000 more than in 2010.

Residents may obtain more information at www.walkms.org.

Mayor Dave Heilmann awarded the 2011 Fire and Public Safety Coloring Contest winners.

Placing first in the Fire Safety Coloring Contest was Shannon Parks, a second-grader at St. Germaine School. Placing second was Abigail Perry, a third-grader at St. Gerald. Claire Murphy, a student at St, Catherine of Alexandria, placed third.

In the Public Safety Coloring Contest, Erin Gilmartin, a fourth-grader at St. Linus, placed first. Ashley Drag, also a fourth-grader at St. Linus, came in second. Danna Awawdeh, a second-grade student at Columbus Manor, placed third.

The students all received $25 gift certificates.

Heilmann said he is beginning to sound like a Òbroken record” as he congratulated the Oak Lawn Community High School theater students for winning the state championship in Springfield on Saturday.

Oak Lawn won the contest play for their performance in ÒPicnic.” Oak Lawn Community has won several state titles the past several years in theater and speech.

Jacqueline McNaughton, Taylor Lindemann, Emily Harris and Isabella Sanchez won individual state awards for ÒPicnic.”

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