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State investigation of local cop continues

State police have not yet turned over the findings of their investigation into an alleged rape involving a Forest Park police officer. According to Master Sgt. Luis Gutierrez, the inquiry will continue for as long as needed to sort out the facts.

“It’s still ongoing,” Gutierrez said Friday.

A Forest Park woman accused an off-duty officer of raping her at her apartment on Madison Street either late Aug. 11 or early Aug. 12. No charges have been filed in the case and village officials said the officer has been placed on paid administrative leave, pending both the state’s investigation and an internal review.

A police report generated by the Forest Park Police Department reveals the officer and his accuser were familiar with one another and met the evening of the alleged assault. It is unclear from the heavily redacted report released by the village the nature of their relationship. Because the incident is alleged to have occurred in Forest Park, the local agency handled the initial response before handing the case off to the state.

Any decision to press charges in the case will be made by the Assistant State’s Attorney’s office once the investigation is complete.

Work resumes under new timeline

The anticipated completion date for a $2.1 million expansion and renovation project at the Park District on Harrison Street has been pushed back again, according to Executive Director Larry Piekarz, but it appears the cause for all the delays has been dealt with.

An underground oil storage tank was discovered just east of the building and soil tests confirmed that a leak in the container polluted the area. Construction crews were delayed more than a month while the contaminated soil was removed. In July, Piekarz projected the discovery would set the project’s completion date back to November, but late last month he said the work will likely be finished in January 2008.

The Park District is having its administrative building expanded and renovated. Work started up again in earnest on that effort in late August, Piekarz said, and district employees moved their offices to the second floor of the building to accommodate construction.

Barbecue ribs contest

Organizers of last year’s first annual Rib Fest are hoping for an even bigger event this year with more contestants, larger cash prizes and bigger crowds.

The second annual Rib Fest will be held Sept. 15 at the Picnic Grove, 7824 Madison St. from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Last year’s event drew some 2,000 people, according Community Center Director Beverly Thompson. Organizers are hoping to double that figure this year.

In addition to sampling various barbecue ribs, contest-goers will be treated to musical performances at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. by The Moods and Spoken Four. An aerial circus troupe, face painting, sand art and psychic entertainer will also be on hand. Other food vendors will also be at the Rib Fest.

The field is open to 25 contestants who will have their ribs judged by Charlie Robinson of Robinson’s Ribs, Robin Jenkins, a Chicago Tribune food reporter and Mike Sturino, the village administrator of Forest Park. Contestants can sign up at the Community Center, 7640 Jackson Boulevard, or online at www.forestpark.net.