By Nona Tepper
A couple days early and a few hours shy of midnight, the Community Center still managed a festive celebration of the arrival of 2018 for some 85 party-hearty members of its senior club.
Dancing and dinner were the order of the day on Dec. 29. Offering seniors the opportunity to gather, be active, and have some good fun was the purpose of the well-decorated, well-planned event.
The Community Center has been doing good work for so long and so smoothly, it can sometimes run under the radar. Whether it is daycare, after-school programs, senior services, the food pantry and holiday gift program, the summer Clubhouse, health fair, Ribfest. Well, the list is long and ever changing.
On to 2018 for one of Forest Park's gems.
Restocking police department
Forest Park has three new police officers. They were sworn in Dec. 18 by Mayor Anthony Calderone. The three recruits will be on the street after completing expansive training at the Chicago Police Academy. The hirings bring the department to its full complement of 38 sworn officers, at least, as Chief Tom Aftanas notes, on paper.
Right now, the department remains a bit short-handed with an officer recovering from injury, another overseas on military service and a third new hire a month away from completing police academy training.
Getting the department to full strength is, of course, a priority. We're happy to see new faces on this force and we look forward to a new generation of officers coming up under Aftanas' leadership.
This department often gets deserved credit from citizens for its prompt response and solid work. But, as we've noted over decades, this department also has a troubled cultural history of internal issues and overly aggressive tactics in some circumstances.
This still-new chief and his new, young officers are, we believe, poised to improve and steady the department in the years to come.
Banning nepotism in Proviso
If, a couple of years back, you created a reform checklist for the Proviso High Schools, somewhere in the middle of a Top Ten list would have been to block any future hires of anyone related to anyone on the school board.
No brothers hired to run custodial services. No husbands on the security team. No daughters teaching English. No cousins coaching a sport.
That daughter might be a fine English teacher. And if she is, she is almost guaranteed a job teaching English — in any other school district.
The mission and integrity of this long-under-siege school district has been undermined by legitimate questions about nepotism in its hiring. Last month by a 6-1 vote, the reform-minded school board put a strong check on any such hiring going forward. And the board went a step beyond banning hiring of relatives. Also prohibited is the hiring of anyone in a business relationship with a sitting board member.
Good work by this good board.
What's next on that checklist?