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Teachers, staff honored for service

During a June 8 annual luncheon held at the end of the school year, District 91 faculty and staff were recognized for their longevity. Retiring Superintendent Randolph Tinder applauded 20 different employees who had a combined 335 years of service to the district between them.

A custodian at Grant White Elementary, Robert Villasenor, was honored for 40 years of service. Five employees were recognized for 25 years with district.

In addition to the superintendent, who’s retiring after seven years with District 91, two teachers will also retire at the end of the school year. They are Ann Mertz, a challenge teacher who started in Forest Park in 1996, and Jon Scheiwe, a fourth-grade teacher at Betsy Ross who started with the district in 1973.

Judge denies request for dismissal

A pair of motions filed by the mayor and his secretary to dismiss portions of a civil complaint against them was denied earlier this month in U.S. District Court. In a ruling handed down on June 5, Judge James Moran said the specific harm alleged by former police sergeant Dan Harder in his federal suit are not the same issues that were hashed out by the municipal committee that voted to terminate Harder on Feb. 1.

Specifically, Harder is alleging his First Amendment Rights were violated by Mayor Anthony Calderone and his administrative assistant, Sally Cody. According to court records, Calderone is accused of orchestrating several retaliatory acts against Harder because the former officer participated in a sexual harassment suit against the village and supported a political opponent of the mayor’s. Cody is accused of coercing another police officer to testify against Harder during his municipal termination hearing, also because of Harder’s support for an opponent of the mayor.

Police department buys Segway with grant money

Using money from a $50,000 grant to curb bullying, the Forest Park Police Department purchased a Segway Human Transporter last week for patrols in the parks, schools and public library. Officers have already received training on the device, Chief James Ryan said, and the futuristic scooter will likely be incorporated into parking enforcement and special event patrols. Because the $6,200 purchase was an unbudgeted expense, Ryan said there are no plans to purchase additional Segways, and that the department will first need to evaluate the effectiveness of the device. The department’s Segway is equipped with off-road tires, travels at a top speed of about 12 mph and can be used for roughly eight hours without recharging.

Locals aid search for missing woman

The push to find Oak Park AmeriCorps volunteer Kathleen Garrigan, missing in Alaska now since Memorial Day weekend, is getting a boost from Forest Park. Many people in the village know Garrigan or members of her extended family, and have offered a hand in fundraising efforts to support the ongoing search.

Molly Malone’s, where Garrigan worked as a server and cook over three summers, was a generous contributor to a major fundraiser last week.

On Friday and Saturday night during Summerfest, Doc Ryan’s charged a $1 cover charge at the bar to help with the search effort.

“We took in nearly $1,700,” Deidre Byrne, a Doc Ryan’s employee said. The motivation, she said, was simple.

“A lot of our regulars and people who work here know the family,” Byrne said.

Garrigan and two other people went missing over the holiday weekend while canoeing on Harding Lake in Alaska.

Numbers surge with enrollment push

A late push to enroll failing students in summer school at District 209 paid off with hundreds of new registrants, but compared to years past participation in the 2007 program is below average.

Classes starting on June 11 will draw more than 950 students, according to enrollment figures provided by the district earlier this month. That figure is a vast improvement over the 47 students that were enrolled in mid May, but falls short of the 1,200 students the program typically attracts. According to district officials, more than 2,100 students at Proviso East and West high schools received a failing grade during the 2006-07 school year.

Summer classes will be held through July 13.

Compiled by Josh Adams