Remembering the reason for the day

by Dennis Sullivan
May 24, 2014


Image credit: Crete Village

What began as a move to place flowers on the graves of the Civil War dead, sing hymns and recite prayers in 1868 has expanded to encompass honoring the dead from all subsequent wars and “conflicts.”

EWC News thanks all who have served this country, including Revolutionary War veteran William Hewes, who died in Crete in 1855.

A native of Attlebury, Mass., in 1761, Hewes enlisted in June 1780, serving with the New Hampshire troops. 

As a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice, Eastern Will County News is listing area dead from the Vietnam War, with the location of their names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. 



  • Marine Corps Lance Corporal Charles Manley Gattis Jr., 20: Died July 05, 1967 from wounds sustained from mortar, rocket or artillery fire. Panel 23E, Row 011
  • Navy Petty Officer Second Class Terrence E. Kierznowski, 22: Killed in action dead Sept. 12, 1969 during mortar, rocket or artillery fire. Panel 18W, Row 07
  • Army Sergeant Glenn Allen Parks, 24: Drowned in a June 20, 1970 accident. Panel 09W, Row 074


  • Marine Corps First Lieutenant William Henry Gottschalk, 24, died May 12, 1967 in an accident. Panel 19, Row 95


  • Air Force Lt. Colonel James Alvin Branch, 31, declared dead Sept. 4, 1965/missing in action. Panel 02E Row 075 
  • Army Warrant Officer Rodney Owen Davie, 22, declared dead July 31, 1967/missing in action. Panel 24E Row 054
  • Army Specialist 4 Robert William Grant, 22, killed in action April 15, 1968 during small arms fire. Panel 50E, Row 005
  • Marine Corps Lance Corporal John Terrence King, 20, killed in action March 23, 1967 during small arms fire. Panel 17E Row 030
  • Army Sergeant John Arthur LaBundy, 23, killed in action June 17, 1968 during small arms fire.
  • Panel 56W Row 013 
  • Army Private First Class Gary Robert McHugh, 20, died in an Oct. 29, 1970 accident. Panel 06W Row 027
  • Army Corporal Joseph J. Passavanti III, 20, killed in action May 24, 1968 during small arms fire. Panel 68E Row 006


  • Army Sergeant Randall Frank Schwartz, 20, killed in action Feb. 23, 1969 during small arms fire. Panel 31W Row 021


  • Navy Hospital Corpsman Louis Lloyd Goers, 21, killed in action April 21, 1967. Panel 18E Row 058 
  • Army Corporal Lyle Wayne Hansen, 20, killed in action May 12, 1968 during small arms fire. Panel 59E Row 003
  • Army Sergeant First Class Medford S. Hensley Jr., 44, killed in action Aug. 27, 1967 during mortar, rocket or artillery fire. Panel 25E Row 050
  • Army Corporal Robert Michael Keene, 21, killed in action Aug. 25, 1968 during small arms fire. Panel 46W Row 016 
  • Army Corporal Harold Wayne Maddox, 24, killed in action Feb. 24, 1967 from grenade explosion. Panel 15E Row 085 
  • Army Private First Class Clarence Alvie Miller Jr., 26, declared dead Nov. 6, 1967/missing in action. Panel 29E Row 033 
  • Army Command Warrant Officer Clark Russell Pederson, 22, died from wounds Feb. 23, 1970. Panel 13W Row 049

Memorial Day Ceremonies

  • Crete: 11 a.m. memorial observance at Crete Park; noon parade, “A Time to Honor America’s Heroes” on Main Street from Crete Park to Burville Road. 
  • Steger: Annual Memorial Day Ceremony 10 a.m. at Veterans Memorial on 34th Street at Halsted Boulevard. Event sponsored by the American Legion.

Original material copyright 2014 Eastern Will County News; all rights reserved.

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Auditor: ‘You’re always going to control the debt’

Crete Trustee Dan Taylor questions Auditor Daniel Berg about the financial review process as Village Administrator Tom Durkin looks on. Photo credit: Dennis Sullivan

Crete Trustee Dan Taylor questions Auditor Daniel Berg about the financial review process as Village Administrator Tom Durkin looks on. Photo credit: Dennis Sullivan

by Dennis Sullivan
May 23, 2014

Crete Village’s auditor said Thursday elected officials can help keep finances in order by looking for trends and aberrations.

Responding to a question from Trustee Dean Gaffney, Sikich LLC Partner Daniel Berg said trustees should monitor monthly finances, look at the bills list to “make sure the village is spending the money it anticipated” and question staff about spending.

“You’re always going to control the debt the village issues,” he said, referring to another function.

Responding to Trustee Dan Taylor’s question about a financial “threshold” related to best polices, practices and procedures, Berg said government bodies need a “go-to person to be sure you’re doing it right at the time.”

While Sikich has that capability, Berg drew a laugh likening his role to someone who arrives on the battlefield after the fighting and shoots the wounded. “We come in after the war, point out the mistakes and help you fix them,” he said.

Berg said Sikich, entering its third year as Crete Village’s auditor, has a specialization in governmental audits. Of the 37 audits he does annually, Berg said “all but one” are of tax-supported groups.

He agreed with Mayor Mike Einhorn that it’s difficult, if not impossible to compare one municipality with another because there are different ways to account for finances.

Berg noted that some municipalities include such as parks & recreation and libraries, in their municipal budget, while others may not include services such as fire and ambulance protection.

EASTCOM antenna
In other business, trustees unanimously passed an ordinance authorizing the Eastern Will County Communications Center board to add a microwave dish to the top of the municipal water tower west-southwest of Crete-Monee High School during the “New Business” portion of the board meeting.

Village Administrator Tom Durkin said the top of the 110- to 120-foot-tall tower is currently home to other EASTCOM equipment.

The Crete water tower at Fire Station 2 hosts microwave antenna dishes for AT&T and Sprint cellular service. A freestanding tower in Crete Park serves microwave antenna dishes for U.S. Cellular and Verizon.

Lawn order
During his trustee’s report, Dan Taylor suggested the village develop “a registry of local lawn services” as part of a more aggressive approach to properties in need of mowing.

Einhorn said the village must approach occupied properties differently from unoccupied properties and stressed the importance of elected officials being “in sync” on the issue.

Responding to a question from Trustee Holly Milburn, Einhorn said the village could place liens on unoccupied properties for any work performed.

“People are buying these homes when they’re having those sales,” Einhorn said. “We shouldn’t be bashful about collecting those dollars” for work performed.

Original material copyright 2014 Eastern Will County News; all rights reserved.

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Telecommunications/dispatch center wants microwave antenna atop C-MHS water tower

EASTCOM hosted a Jordanian delegation in December. Photo credit: Dennis Sullivan

EASTCOM hosted a Jordanian delegation in December. Photo credit: Dennis Sullivan

by Dennis Sullivan
May 21, 2014

The Eastern Will County Communications Center board is asking Crete Village officials to allow a microwave dish to be placed atop the municipal water tower west-southwest of Crete-Monee High School.

EASTCOM says the newly located dish would expand the operation’s fire-equipment dispatching capabilities. That, in turn, would mean better service for the first responders previously dispatched by the now-defunct Steger Public Service Answering Point.

Steger and South Chicago Heights police and fire and the Steger Estates Fire District joined the Crete-based EASTCOM telecommunications/dispatch center this spring, increasing participating agencies from 11 to 16.

The microwave dish will be part of a network that “will be used as the backbone of the new fire radio system connecting the new three transmitter/receiver sites together,” according to the village board’s Thursday, May 22, meeting agenda.

EASTCOM’s request is scheduled for a first reading.

Operating out of the Crete Police Station, EASTCOM dispatches 24/7 for police and fire agencies, as well as Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) Division #27. MABAS Division #27 handles large scale fire / EMS incidents in the area. It is staffed by three 911 operators.

The combined EASTCOM dispatching operation was formed in October 1998 by five villages and four fire protection districts to centralize police and fire dispatching in Eastern Will County, while delivering cost-effective high-quality service. It was Will County’s fifth public service answering point.

EASTCOM has operated as a separate entity governed by an operating committee and a board of directors through intergovernmental agreements with the Villages of Beecher, Crete, Monee, Peotone and University Park, and the Beecher, Crete Township, Monee and Peotone fire districts.

Original material copyright 2014 Eastern Will County News; all rights reserved.

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Delays continue in hiring C-M SD201U supt

Nakia Hall

Nakia Hall

by Dennis Sullivan
May 21, 2014

The Crete-Monee school board hopes to have a new School District 201U superintendent in place before the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, according to Board of Education President Nakia Hall.

“We have selected a candidate,” Hall told Crete resident Carol Millsap, “and are working with the candidate’s attorney to make sure we have the best contract for the district.”

Hall’s assurance during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s school board meeting came 36 days after School Board Vice President Maurice Brown promised a Crete resident, “Sometime real soon, we’ll be sharing our superintendent with the district.”

Brown, responding to a question from Doris Harmon-Warren during the April 15 board meeting, said he was unsure of the exact date the superintendent would be announced, but said, “that should be happening real soon. We’re still working through some logistics.”

In the meantime, residents have voiced concerns about the lack of a primary administrator able to make binding decisions.

3 assistant superintendents leaving
Hall, responding Tuesday to Millsap’s concern about the coming departure of three assistant superintendents, suggested the board had anticipated the need for such a person when it appointed Anthony Edison to the newly established position of deputy superintendent in December.

Hall said the deputy superintendent would be able to appoint new assistant superintendents, in addition to overseeing the district’s day-to-day operations.

Supt. John Rodgers was last seen publicly at the November board of education meeting.

sanders, kimberly2

Kimberly Sanders

Sanders: Rodgers ‘didn’t quit’
At the December board meeting, Hall announced Rodgers would be on leave, retiring on July 1.

In keeping with her announced desire to hire a replacement before April, the board subsequently hired a consulting firm to first interview local stakeholders about expectations and to then lead the superintendent search.

On Tuesday Crete-area resident L’Tonia Anderson alluded to Rodgers’ disappearance, prompting a quick rebuttal from Board Secretary Kimberly Sanders.

“A superintendent did not quit; so that’s not true, Sanders said, carefully avoiding Rodgers’ name.

“People have the right to resign, to retire as in the case of one of our superintendents,” she said, adding, “This is a process, it’s not everybody leaving town.”


Editor’s note: Carol Millsap’s hometown has been changed from Monee to Crete. EWC News regrets the error. 

Original material copyright 2014 Eastern Will County News; all rights reserved.

Sheriff’s Dept honors Eastern Will’s Scott Glomb

by Dennis Sullivan
May 21, 2014

An Eastern Will County resident is among three Will County Sheriff’s Police scheduled to be formally recognized Thursday for their response to an Oct. 18 Frankfort-area hostage situation.

Deputy Scott Glomb was dispatched with deputies Brett Farmer and Michael Kane to a basement apartment on the 7900 block of West Lincoln Highway, where they encountered a barricaded man with two young female hostages screaming for help.

The man, later identified as Jesse L. Negrete, allegedly said he was armed, threatened to shoot the deputies, the two women and himself.

The deputies secured the apartment complex, gathered pertinent information for the tactical team, and negotiated with the offender to release one of the hostages, earning Glomb and Kane awards for meritorious service.

Farmer spoke with Negrete for several hours, according to Sheriff’s Department Spokesman Kathy Hoffmeyer, who said Farmer’s “extraordinary efforts” calmed Negrete and resulted in his giving himself up without incident. Farmer is being honored for distinguished service.

Negrete, now 51, is charged with two counts of armed violence, a Class X felony with a sentencing range of 6-30 years if convicted. Negrete is also charged with aggravated domestic battery/strangle and being a convicted criminal in possession of a firearm — both Class 2 felonies carrying a sentencing range of 3-7 years if convicted.

Awards banquet Thursday
Glomb, Kane and Farmer will be recognized at an awards banquet scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Thursday in New Lenox at VFW Post 9545, 323 Old Hickory Road. The banquet will include an opening and closing ceremony by the Sheriff’s Honor Guard, invocation by the Rev. Vytas Memenas and presentation of awards by the Will County Sheriff.

The Distinguished Service Award is granted to a member of the department for an act or achievement involving performance above and beyond the normal requirements of their assignment, which brings credit to the department. The Meritorious Service Award honors exceptional work ethic and dedication.

Also scheduled to be recognized at the annual awards banquet are:

  • Sergeant Nathaniel Freeman — Meritorious Service,
  • Deputy Craig Jett — Meritorious Service,
  • Deputy James Reilly — Meritorious Service and
  • Sergeant John Wieffenbach — Distinguished Service.

Original material copyright 2014 Eastern Will County News; all rights reserved.

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Crete-Monee leads area in homeless students

Tammy Burnham

Tammy Burnham

by Dennis Sullivan 
May 20, 2014

Crete-Monee 201U has the highest number of homeless students of nine area school districts, according to responses to a Crete resident’s Freedom of Information Act request.

With a whopping 130 homeless students, Crete-Monee has more than the combined number of homeless students at seven nearby districts. Only Rich Township SD227, with 106 homeless students, comes close.

On a percentile basis, Crete-Monee, with homeless students accounting for 2.71 percent of its student population, fell slightly behind Rich Township, which has a student population that encompasses 2.9 percent homeless.

Tammy Burnham, a regular at Crete-Monee school board meetings, said she sought out the information from the nine school districts because she was concerned about the $9,000 it costs to educate a student.

$1.17M to educate
With 130 students, that comes to 1.17 million — not including the $36,000 Crete-Monee typically spends each year to transport the homeless students, Burnham said.

The financially strapped state is supposed to reimburse 60 percent of the transportation expense, according to the school district.

“They’re not doing anything to protect my tax dollars,” said Burnham, who intends to address the board at today’s 6:30 p.m. meeting at Crete-Monee High School.

She acknowledged school districts are required by the McKinney Vento Homeless Education Act to educate children who have no permanent address. The Act allows the child to choose to attend either his or her original school or to attend any public school in his or her attendance area.

The Act also says the the school district may not require the child to present a birth certificate, health/medical records, previous academic records, proof of residence or proof of guardianship.

But Burnham says school districts can investigate a homeless claim, adding, “They can’t be harsh; they can’t be intrusive.”

Brenda Allred Messex

Brenda Allred Messex

Messex request unanswered

In a related request, Crete resident Brenda Allred Messex filed a FOIA request related to Crete-Monee buses transporting students between the district schools and the Metra station in University Park.

“These children are supposedly homeless,” she said. “Who’s paying for the trains? I don’t think we have that many homeless students from Crete that are coming in by train.”

Messex received no answer to that question from Asst. Supt. George Elrod, the district’s FOIA officer, in his heavily redacted reply.

Messex said she wasn’t surprised, but said she was “hoping it would be a nudge to them to use information with the Department of Human Services to verify someone is actually homeless.”

Burnham isn’t optimistic, saying Crete-Monee School District 201U’s failure to perform any kind of verification has made the district “an easy mark.

“Why would you get on the train and come to Crete when you can get off for Homewood-Flossmoor?” she asked rhetorically. “Because they (the H-F administration) investigate.”

Will County comparison

  • Crete-Monee 201U: 130 students; 2.71%;
  • Beecher 200U: 3 students; 0.28%
  • Frankfort SD157C: 4 students; 0.16%
  • Lincoln-Way SD210: 7 students; 0.10%
  • Peotone207U: 16; 0.95%

Cook County comparison

  • Crete-Monee 201U: 130 students; 2.71%;
  • Rich Township 227: 106; 2.9%;
  • H-F 223: 50; 1.77%
  • Bloom 206: 24; 0.73%
  • Orland 135: 7; 0.14%

Original material copyright 2014 Eastern Will County News; all rights reserved.

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Coroner mum on cause of Hilton death


Investigators discuss an 85-year-old Crete man’s murder Thursday standing between the house and pond [not pictured] that was searched for a weapon. Photo credit: Dennis Sullivan

by Dennis Sullivan
May 17, 2014

The Will County Coroner has officially ruled that an 85-year-old man found dead at his home on Bemes Wednesday was “the victim of foul play.” Chief Deputy Coroner Robert Brenczewski declined Friday to specify the actual cause of death, acknowledging to a freelance reporter for the Chicago Tribune that the Coroner’s Office usually provides a more specific cause.

He attributed the vagueness to a request by Will County Sheriff’s Police. The Will County Sheriff Chief Deputy, who also serves as the department spokesman, has said Alfred L. Hilton died of blunt-force trauma. Sources close to the investigation have indicated that may not be accurate.

Here is a link to Friday’s follow-up story in the Chicago Tribune


Original material copyright 2014 Eastern Will County News; all rights reserved.

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by Dennis Sullivan 
May 16, 2014


Investigators gather outside the ransacked home on Bemes Road less than one-half mile west of Stateline Road. Photo credit: Dennis Sullivan

Will County Sheriff’s Police have made no arrests in the brutal murder of an 85-year-old Crete-area man found unresponsive in his home Wednesday.

Responding to questions from a freelance reporter for the Chicago Tribune Thursday afternoon outside the home on the 3200 block of Bemes Road, Will County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Jungles confirmed that an investigation was under way.

Standing near the more than a dozen responding fire, rescue and diver vehicles — mostly from south Cook County municipalities, Jungles said there was no search-and-rescue of the large pond on the 7-acre property.

He referred all other questions to the Sheriff’s Dept spokesman.

Neighbors gathered Thursday afternoon within view of the Hilton property and its large pond said investigators had been at the home since Wednesday evening.

The Sheriff’s Dept spokesman said 85-year-old Alfred L. Hilton, who lived alone at the residence, was apparently the victim of blunt-force trauma.

The Will County Coroner’s Office, which reportedly removed the body Wednesday evening, had not yet issued a press communication this morning.

The Sheriff’s Dept spokesman said the home appeared to have been ransacked.

The Sheriff’s Dept spokesman said Hilton’s body was discovered by a member of his church Wednesday who was concerned the octogenarian hadn’t appeared at an outreach activity Tuesday.

The Sheriff’s Dept spokesman described Hilton as fit and healthy.

The Sheriff’s Dept spokesman said dive crews had been called as a precautionary measure.

The Sheriff’s Dept spokesman acknowledged around 4:30 p.m. Thursday that the Tribune was the only news outlet to have the story and asked the reporter to withhold publication while investigators looked for two persons of interest. Tribune editors agreed to honor the request.

The Sheriff’s Dept spokesman’s comments appeared in a story carried in the Joliet Herald-News two hours later.

The Sheriff’s Dept spokesman is running for Will County Sheriff.

Original material copyright 2014 Eastern Will County News; all rights reserved.

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