INGALLS ST MAM AD 728x90px 03 30 21
SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Fire chief will continue to wear hats in Chicago Ridge and Oak Lawn By Dermot Connolly George Sheets has been fire chief of both Oak Lawn and Chicago Ridge for nearly two years now, and the arrangement has worked out so well that all talk of giving up one

Fire chief will continue to wear hats in Chicago Ridge and Oak Lawn

By Dermot Connolly

George Sheets has been fire chief of both Oak Lawn and Chicago Ridge for nearly two years now, and the arrangement has worked out so well that all talk of giving up one of the positions has gone by the wayside.

“This was a concept that had never been done before is done now,” said Sheets, who became Oak Lawn fire chief in 2009, and added Chicago Ridge in July 2014, following discussions between Mayors Sandra Bury of Oak Lawn and Chuck Tokar in Chicago Ridge. His salary is shared by the villages, saving Chicago Ridge about $65,000 annually

“Some people doubted it would work. But it has been a success story,” said Sheets during a wide-ranging interview on Monday, when he discussed the improvements made to the Chicago Ridge department while cutting costs as well.

Last summer he considered going back to Oak Lawn full-time, after he oversaw the opening of the second Chicago Ridge fire station on Lombard Avenue, and the successful implementation of the part-time firefighter program. But now, he said, with the encouragement of Tokar and the village trustees, he has decided to there is no need to change what isn’t broken.

“We’ve been able to increase personnel by 50 percent, while saving the village $350,000 over the past year in the operating budget,” he said. He said the refurbished Lombard Street station is staffed 12 hours a day by both part-time and full-time firefighters, with everyone going through the same training,

“I’m pretty proud of what we’ve accomplished here,” said Sheets.

‘It has worked out better than people thought. We’ve got labor-management harmony too,” he said.

He said putting out monthly reports and keeping everyone informed has worked well too.

“We’re always looking at safety and how can we reduce our costs and be more efficient,” he said.

“I’m not a micromanager. I expect excellence, but I let them do their jobs, and my door is always open for suggestions,” said the chief. This style has led to improved morale, according to many in the department.

There are now 21 full-time firefighter/paramedics, including three lieutenants, and 13 part-timers on staff. The village also has about a dozen paid on-call firefighters.

“It has been a great learning experience. We all work together and all these guys have been very helpful,” said Alec Kowalczyk, a part-time firefighter from Palos Heights, who hopes to become full-time eventually.

The success of the fire department’s advancements actually earned the village of Chicago Ridge the James Baird Leadership Award for 2015 from the Illinois Public Employer Labor Relations Association.

“The central theme of 2015 was transformational change,” said Sheets. He said that with the opening of the new fire station, a second ambulance was put in service, reducing response times by nearly two minutes. By consolidating three outdated apparatus and buying the $650,000 five-unit quint apparatus last year, he said the village actually saved more than $2 million in replacement costs.

“Any time you implement change, there is going to be concerns, But (with Sheets) there is no personal agenda and no political agenda,” said firefighter/paramedic Victor Kiman, explaining the friendly relationship between management and labor.

“Years ago, it was contentious. It seems to be really improved. The communication channels back and forth are always open. That helped a lot,” said Lt. Bob Eggert.

Local News

Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart speaks about ghost guns. --Photo courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Dart, State Sen. Collins propose legislation to ban ‘ghost guns’

From staff reports Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart and Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Collins have proposed legislation to ban “ghost guns”–homemade, untraceable weapons that are increasingly being found by police fighting Chicago area violence. “The rapid proliferation of these weapons is alarming, and they are intentionally being used by individuals who want to thwart…

Chicago Police Department

Police reports

Two elderly men killed in Brighton Park Two elderly men were shot and killed in an apartment building in the 4400 block of South Campbell at about 1:40 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7. Police said Juan Alvarado, 80, was found in a hallway with gunshot wounds to his chest and head. He was transported to Mount…

Shortly after she met President Joe Biden on the tarmac at O’Hare International Airport, Mayor Lori Lightfoot posted this photo and wrote, “Vaccination requirements work. Thank you @POTUS for supporting required vaccinations. The vaccine saves lives and helps us move closer to the end of this pandemic.” --Supplied photo

Pushback against vax

Some city workers say ‘No’ to shots By Tim Hadac As the Lightfoot Administration announced that all City of Chicago employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by today—or face disciplinary measures—some workers pushed back. One of the most public was 23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares, who signed a letter of concern to the mayor–with…

An image of the Bicycle Bandit captured by a surveillance camera during a July 27 at Brighton Park Community Bank, 4334 S. Kedzie. --Photo courtesy of the FBI Chicago Office

FBI hunts ‘Bicycle Bandit’

Robbed banks in Bridgeport, Brighton Park, McKinley Park, Back of the Yards By Tim Hadac FBI agents continue to hunt for a serial criminal who has robbed four Southwest Side banks in recent months. Last week, the FBI’s Chicago Office reissued a community alert regarding a man they have dubbed the Bicycle Bandit because he…

Chicago Police Department

Police warn of armed robberies on Archer

By Tim Hadac Police issued a community alert last week regarding two armed robberies that occurred last month in Garfield Ridge, in the parking lot of the Chase Bank branch at 5687 S. Archer. One crime occurred at 3:37 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15. The other was at 9:50 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29. The bandits were described as black…

Chicago Police Department

Burglars hitting Chicago Lawn

From staff reports A cluster of burglaries in Chicago Lawn has prompted police to issue a community alert. Some of the places burglarized were businesses, while others were garages behind people’s homes. Crime scenes include: 6300 block of South Kedzie on Sept. 26. 5900 block of South Kedzie on Sept. 28. 6400 block of South…

New life was celebrated at an old building last week, as Monarca Insurance & Financial Services celebrated its grand opening. Agency owner Jeanette Arteaga (right) smiles as her daughter, Ruby, uses a pair of oversized scissors to cut a ribbon. At left is Arteaga's sister, Lilia Herrera. --Supplied photo

Making 63rd and Spaulding vibrant

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 On Saturday, Oct. 2, Jeanette Arteaga held the official grand opening for Monarca Financial Services. As I mentioned last time, we met here, Jeanette opened her business at the corner of 63rd and Spaulding last winter when we…

USA Liquidators will open Friday in Hickory Hills. (Staff photo)

Comings & Goings: USA Liquidators to open Friday in Hickory Hills

By Bob Bong USA Liquidators, a new store that features closeouts, overruns and stock from stores that went out of business, will open at noon on Friday at 8720 S. 88th Avenue in Hickory Hills. Owners Wally Aiyash and his brother Zeze have been in the real estate business for 30 years and have developed…

Mary Stanek

Whaddya know, Miami Joe?

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Thank you to “Miami Joe” for giving me a phone call this past week. Joe was a bartender at the old Miami Bowl. We enjoyed reminiscing about the good spots in the old neighborhood. One of them…

Karen Sala

COVID-19 vax available at St. Gall

By Karen Sala Your correspondent in Gage Park (773) 471-1429 • [email protected] Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. October is Fire Prevention Month. Make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. St. Gall School, 5515 S. Sawyer, is holding a COVID-19 vaccine clinic today and also on Nov. 15.…

Neighbors

CRR NH Airport Heating Cooling
House Ad Subscription2
Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart speaks about ghost guns. --Photo courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Dart, State Sen. Collins propose legislation to ban ‘ghost guns’

From staff reports Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart and Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Collins have proposed legislation to ban “ghost guns”–homemade, untraceable weapons that are increasingly being found by police fighting Chicago area violence. “The rapid proliferation of these weapons is alarming, and they are intentionally being used by individuals who want to thwart…

Chicago Police Department

Police reports

Two elderly men killed in Brighton Park Two elderly men were shot and killed in an apartment building in the 4400 block of South Campbell at about 1:40 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7. Police said Juan Alvarado, 80, was found in a hallway with gunshot wounds to his chest and head. He was transported to Mount…

Shortly after she met President Joe Biden on the tarmac at O’Hare International Airport, Mayor Lori Lightfoot posted this photo and wrote, “Vaccination requirements work. Thank you @POTUS for supporting required vaccinations. The vaccine saves lives and helps us move closer to the end of this pandemic.” --Supplied photo

Pushback against vax

Some city workers say ‘No’ to shots By Tim Hadac As the Lightfoot Administration announced that all City of Chicago employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by today—or face disciplinary measures—some workers pushed back. One of the most public was 23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares, who signed a letter of concern to the mayor–with…

An image of the Bicycle Bandit captured by a surveillance camera during a July 27 at Brighton Park Community Bank, 4334 S. Kedzie. --Photo courtesy of the FBI Chicago Office

FBI hunts ‘Bicycle Bandit’

Robbed banks in Bridgeport, Brighton Park, McKinley Park, Back of the Yards By Tim Hadac FBI agents continue to hunt for a serial criminal who has robbed four Southwest Side banks in recent months. Last week, the FBI’s Chicago Office reissued a community alert regarding a man they have dubbed the Bicycle Bandit because he…

Chicago Police Department

Police warn of armed robberies on Archer

By Tim Hadac Police issued a community alert last week regarding two armed robberies that occurred last month in Garfield Ridge, in the parking lot of the Chase Bank branch at 5687 S. Archer. One crime occurred at 3:37 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15. The other was at 9:50 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29. The bandits were described as black…

Chicago Police Department

Burglars hitting Chicago Lawn

From staff reports A cluster of burglaries in Chicago Lawn has prompted police to issue a community alert. Some of the places burglarized were businesses, while others were garages behind people’s homes. Crime scenes include: 6300 block of South Kedzie on Sept. 26. 5900 block of South Kedzie on Sept. 28. 6400 block of South…

New life was celebrated at an old building last week, as Monarca Insurance & Financial Services celebrated its grand opening. Agency owner Jeanette Arteaga (right) smiles as her daughter, Ruby, uses a pair of oversized scissors to cut a ribbon. At left is Arteaga's sister, Lilia Herrera. --Supplied photo

Making 63rd and Spaulding vibrant

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 On Saturday, Oct. 2, Jeanette Arteaga held the official grand opening for Monarca Financial Services. As I mentioned last time, we met here, Jeanette opened her business at the corner of 63rd and Spaulding last winter when we…

USA Liquidators will open Friday in Hickory Hills. (Staff photo)

Comings & Goings: USA Liquidators to open Friday in Hickory Hills

By Bob Bong USA Liquidators, a new store that features closeouts, overruns and stock from stores that went out of business, will open at noon on Friday at 8720 S. 88th Avenue in Hickory Hills. Owners Wally Aiyash and his brother Zeze have been in the real estate business for 30 years and have developed…

Mary Stanek

Whaddya know, Miami Joe?

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Thank you to “Miami Joe” for giving me a phone call this past week. Joe was a bartender at the old Miami Bowl. We enjoyed reminiscing about the good spots in the old neighborhood. One of them…

Karen Sala

COVID-19 vax available at St. Gall

By Karen Sala Your correspondent in Gage Park (773) 471-1429 • [email protected] Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. October is Fire Prevention Month. Make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. St. Gall School, 5515 S. Sawyer, is holding a COVID-19 vaccine clinic today and also on Nov. 15.…

House Ad Subscription1
CRR NH Rainbow Motel House Ad