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Palos Hills officers receive national awards for heroics at fire

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Photo by Joe Boyle

Palos Hill police officers (from left) Ahmad Sows and James Cha receive awards from Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett for their quick action in saving a man from a house fire this past spring.

By Joe Boyle

The Palos Hills Police Department honored two of their own for their actions at a raging home fire during an awards presentation at the city council meeting last Thursday night.

Police Chief Paul Madigan and Mayor Gerald Bennett had high praise for officers Ahmad Sows and James Cha, who both were honored for assisting the North Palos Fire Protection District by helping to pull out five people from a house fire in the 8800 block of 101st Street in the early morning hours of March 26.

Palos Hills police arrived at the scene of the large house fire at 2:02 a.m. Officers helped four people out of the home without incident. A fifth person was inside the basement and police officers pulled the individual to safety through a window well.

Two of the residents were transported to the hospital. One was treated for smoke inhalation and was released on March 26.

“According to the fire department, if it wasn’t for the action of these two police officers, one person they pulled out would have died if it wasn’t for their bravery,” Madigan said.

Bennett also appreciated the efforts of the two officers.

“Your selfless acts should be recognized,” the mayor said.

The American Police Hall of Fame and Museum, which is based in Florida, was contacted about the heroics of the officers and provided the awards to honor them.

The police department also received some additional positive news with the arrival of their brand new UTV (utility task vehicle). Board members were able to view the new vehicle that was parked outside City Hall.

The UTV is a four-wheel drive off-road vehicle that can carry as many as two to four passengers.

“This will allow us to travel through off roads to patrol certain areas, especially with the new park land that is being built,” Madigan said.

The mayor was also delighted with the addition of the new UTV vehicle, noting to Madigan that the vehicle should last another 20 years.

“The last vehicle we had lasted 23 years,” Madigan said.

The UTV was not the only new vehicle for the city. A new spacious van to transport seniors was recently purchased and was on display last Thursday night in the City Hall parking lot.

Bennett said that the new van was long overdue. He had previously mentioned that the old van was in major disrepair and was beyond the point of fixing.

“This will be great for the seniors and this van can be used for multiple purposes, even youth programs,” the mayor added.

Capital improvement funds that were passed last month will add additional dollars for projects for the city, Bennett said. The mayor said he is uncertain when these funds will be made available but believes money will be provided for specific projects during the next year.

Bennett said that the city is working with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to curb flooding issues near 99th and 103rd and Roberts Road. The heavy rainfall brought flooding to these streets this past spring from the nearby creeks.

“However, there is not much you can do when you get over two inches of rain in an hour,” Bennett added.

He said the capital improvement funds will be an asset for a major upgrade of the intersection at 111th and Roberts Road, including new turning lanes to help alleviate traffic. The mayor had previously noted that officials at Stagg High School were pleased to hear that the changes will help the flow of traffic in and out of the school parking lot. The mayor believes construction to modernize that corner could begin next spring.

Responding to a question from Ald. Martin Kleefisch (1st) about construction plans for the public works building for the city, Bennett said the project is moving right along.

“The project may start in late August or September,” Bennett said. “New fencing will be put up around the building.”

The mayor added that the $40 billion capital plan will provide additional funding for the Motor Fuel Tax, but he was not certain how much. The cannabis law is now legal in the state and council could opt out of adding a dispensary in the city, Bennett said. The mayor added there would be an additional three percent in revenue if a dispensary was added.

Bennett said he applied for a grant with Cook County and a firm called GIS for a smart city concept to bring Wi-Fi to the city. The mayor said a pilot project would take place along Roberts Road. He added that plans to renovate Pleasure Lake while adding more park land continues.

A request by Ald. A.J. Pasek (3rd) to add a stop sign at 98th Street and 90th Avenue was acted upon. The board approved unanimously.

The annual Friendship Fest will begin Thursday, July 11 and continue through Sunday, July 14 near Moraine Valley Community College, 107th Street and 88th Avenue, in Palos Hills. A fireworks display will take place at dusk on July 14.

Bennett reminded the board that the committee and council meetings will be held Tuesday, July 2. The committee meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. and the council session will start at 7 p.m

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