Oak Lawn among first communities to apply for and get COVID-19 relief funds

Photo by Dermot Connolly
Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury addresses a press conference held in Oak Lawn on Tuesday at which  Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle discussed how the county government is distributing the federal CARES Act funding to local communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Behind her (from left) are Oak Lawn Village Clerk Jane Quinlan, Finance Director Brian Hanigan, EMA Director Captain Art Clark, 911 Communications Director Diana Tousignant, Trustee Bud Stalker (5th), Fire Chief Zackary Riddle, Preckwinkle, state Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th), and Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller (D-6th).
By Dermot Connolly
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle joined other state and local officials at a press conference in Oak Lawn on Tuesday to encourage local communities that haven’t done so already to apply for COVID-19 relief funds available through the federal CARES Act.
She said Oak Lawn has already received $680,000 in funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act because the village was among the first municipalities to apply for the money. ViIlage Manager Randy Palmer noted later that Oak Lawn was actually the first municipality to receive the funds, which arrived by check in early August.
Preckwinkle explained that the money came out of about $429 million that the county received in late April from the federal government. According to the CARES Act, government entities with more than 500,000 people are required to distribute the money to the smaller communities within its boundaries.
She stressed that there is a Sept. 30 deadline for municipalities to at least inform the county that they are applying for the funds. She added that if the paperwork is not completed by then, County officials will work with them to get it done before Dec. 30, which she said is the absolute deadline for distribution of the funds.
“ It is a use it or lose it proposition,” she said, explaining that any funds left over after Dec. 30 have to be returned to the federal government.
“ Oak Lawn is a shining example of how this can work. I am encouraging officials in local governments to fill out the paperwork quickly. We will help you,” said Preckwinkle.
Many local communities, such as Palos Hills, Palos Heights and Orland Park have at least applied for the funding, and some have received it. But Ammar Rizki, the Cook County chief financial officer, said that as of last Friday, just 41 of more than 130 municipalities outside Chicago have applied. “But the pace is picking up,” he said.
Orland Park has received just under $500,000 in CARE funds, which Mayor Keith Pekau and other members of the village board has said is less than the village deserves on a per capita basis.
Preckwinkle said on Tuesday that the county worked with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning “to create a consistent, thorough, equitable and legal distribution process.”
“ I am proud of the result,” she said, adding that the National Association of Counties has praised it as well.
Preckwinkle said the funding formula is based on one-third of the population, and two-thirds on the effect COVID-19 has had on the community, and socio-economic factors.
“ I urge anyone who is unhappy to come and talk to me,” she said.
“ Oak Lawn was hit with a double-whammy,” said Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury. “Like homeowners, we have lost revenue and increased expenses,” she said, resulting in layoffs.
“ Forty percent of it was already used before we got it on the preliminary expenses, such as extra cleaning and setting up technology to allow for working remotely,” she said.
Bury said the money can only be used on pandemic-related expenses, including personal protective equipment for first responders. But having it means the village does not have to take from other areas to pay for those necessities.
“ What it means we can maintain critical operations, It goes a long way to helping us,” she said. “We don’t know what is coming next so we have to be ready.”
Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller (D-6 th ) has had about 1,500 COVID-19 cases, which does not include those at Advocate Christ Medical Center in the village. Village Manager Randy Palmer, the retired police chief, said about 20 first-responders in the village were among that number who became ill.
“ None of us ever had to handle something like this,” said Palmer, thanking Preckwinkle for getting the funds distributed quickly.
“ Get your documents together. Go online. The county will work with you,” Palmer advised other communities.
State Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36 th ) thanked Oak Lawn for “leading by example,” and the county for “doing a timely job and really stepping up and helping the communities apply. Hopefully, all municipalities that qualify will follow suit.”
“ The 6th District ha been allocated over $13 million and we want to make sure it is distributed in an equitable fashion,” said Miller.

Local News

FBIlogo

New FBI report details scams against the elderly

From staff reports People over age 60 lost nearly $1 billion in online frauds and scams last year, according to a report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) released earlier…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

The garden is green and growing

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 At the risk of sounding like I’m bragging, I just had to share…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Vols turn traffic circles into treasures

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place •  (773) 504-9327 Greetings, neighbors! There were a lot of terrific activities going on in West Lawn this…



TROPHY – St. Laurence players gather around the third-place trophy Thursday after a 10-6 victory over Washington. It’s the fourth trophy the baseball team brought home in program history. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Quick Turnaround: St. Laurence rebounds after semifinal loss to take third in Class 3A

By Jeff Vorva Correspondent Normally, the IHSA state baseball format lasts two days. The semifinals are usually held on Friday, with the championship and third-place games on Saturday. Because of…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Sleepover leads to Gage Park adventures

By Karen Sala Your correspondent in Gage Park A few more days and we will be into the month of July already. Thank goodness I don’t live in Las Vegas…

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush.

Rush hails move to protect black farmers

Wants Ag Dept. transparency  From staff reports Legislation designed to “lift the veil of secrecy regarding the race and gender of farm subsidy recipients and help ensure an end to…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Good to see in-person graduations

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon We bid farewell to June, which is unbelievable the way it flew. There are only six more months until…

Residents at Grace Point Place, a live-in memory care facility located at 5701 W. 101st St. in Oak Lawn decorated kites to be flown by Southwest Chicago Christian School students on May 26. (Photos by Kelly White)

Kids, Grace Point Place residents fly kites

By Kelly White After months of sheltering at home, elementary students and residents at an Oak Lawn memory care community were able to spread their wings recently. Residents residing within…

With Dr. José Torres behind her, Mayor Lori Lightfoot calls her new interim CEO pick a dedicated educator committed to equity.
--Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Mary Hadac

Mayor unveils interim CPS chief

‘Thrilled beyond measure’ with Torres  By Tim Hadac Weeks after the top three Chicago Public Schools leaders announced, separately, they are leaving CPS, Mayor Lori Lightfoot staged a press conference…

CRRNH_UBAMGarden_062321

UBAM helps new community garden

Breaking ground near 63rd and Austin By Dermot Connolly The United Business Association of Midway has partnered with a grassroots group of residents planning to turn a vacant lot on…

Neighbors

FBIlogo

New FBI report details scams against the elderly

From staff reports People over age 60 lost nearly $1 billion in online frauds and scams last year, according to a report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) released earlier…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

The garden is green and growing

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 At the risk of sounding like I’m bragging, I just had to share…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Vols turn traffic circles into treasures

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place •  (773) 504-9327 Greetings, neighbors! There were a lot of terrific activities going on in West Lawn this…



TROPHY – St. Laurence players gather around the third-place trophy Thursday after a 10-6 victory over Washington. It’s the fourth trophy the baseball team brought home in program history. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Quick Turnaround: St. Laurence rebounds after semifinal loss to take third in Class 3A

By Jeff Vorva Correspondent Normally, the IHSA state baseball format lasts two days. The semifinals are usually held on Friday, with the championship and third-place games on Saturday. Because of…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Sleepover leads to Gage Park adventures

By Karen Sala Your correspondent in Gage Park A few more days and we will be into the month of July already. Thank goodness I don’t live in Las Vegas…

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush.

Rush hails move to protect black farmers

Wants Ag Dept. transparency  From staff reports Legislation designed to “lift the veil of secrecy regarding the race and gender of farm subsidy recipients and help ensure an end to…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Good to see in-person graduations

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon We bid farewell to June, which is unbelievable the way it flew. There are only six more months until…

Residents at Grace Point Place, a live-in memory care facility located at 5701 W. 101st St. in Oak Lawn decorated kites to be flown by Southwest Chicago Christian School students on May 26. (Photos by Kelly White)

Kids, Grace Point Place residents fly kites

By Kelly White After months of sheltering at home, elementary students and residents at an Oak Lawn memory care community were able to spread their wings recently. Residents residing within…

With Dr. José Torres behind her, Mayor Lori Lightfoot calls her new interim CEO pick a dedicated educator committed to equity.
--Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Mary Hadac

Mayor unveils interim CPS chief

‘Thrilled beyond measure’ with Torres  By Tim Hadac Weeks after the top three Chicago Public Schools leaders announced, separately, they are leaving CPS, Mayor Lori Lightfoot staged a press conference…

CRRNH_UBAMGarden_062321

UBAM helps new community garden

Breaking ground near 63rd and Austin By Dermot Connolly The United Business Association of Midway has partnered with a grassroots group of residents planning to turn a vacant lot on…