Tom Aftanas is officially Forest Park chief of police. The village council unanimously approved his appointment at the June 8 meeting. Aftanas’ friends, family, and colleagues packed the council chambers to witness his swearing-in, administered by Mayor Anthony Calderone. Aftanas’ predecessor, Jim Ryan, was also present. Aftanas called the show of support “overwhelming” and repeatedly thanked those in attendance.

“I appreciate it so much” he said, “especially when the Blackhawks are playing.”

Calderone, on behalf of all the village commissioners, said he was thrilled by the appointment. “I feel all of the utmost confidence that you are going to continue to lead this police department on the foundation that it was built on with the experience that you had serving as the deputy chief of police for the last nine years.”

Aftanas’ promotion was expected. At the May 26 council meeting, Calderone said he would move forward with plans to install Aftanas as chief at the subsequent meeting. At the time, Commissioner Dan Novak said he wanted time to assess Aftanas and his accomplishments. Sometime last week, Aftanas submitted a resume to the council and the commissioners deliberated in a closed executive session preceding the June 8 meeting.

Joe Byrnes, commissioner of Accounts and Finance, told the Review that Aftanas’ resume was “very impressive” and specifically emphasized his extensive educational record and participation in the FBI Leadership Academy as highlights.

The 47-year-old Aftanas is a 27-year veteran of the police department and served as deputy chief since 2006. He has served as acting chief since Ryan’s retirement on May 14.  

Although he originally intended to be an Illinois state trooper, a budget crisis caused Aftanas to begin working for Forest Park instead.

After two years in the community, Aftanas said he was offered the state trooper’s job, but he declined. 

“I have never regretted it for two reasons: because of the people I work with and the town itself,” he said. “I love working here.”

“I promise to do the best job I can in maintaining a truly professional organization,” Aftanas concluded. 

Rain barrels approved

Free rain barrels are now available to any Forest Park resident who wants one. The Forest Park Village Council unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement between the village and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago (MWRD) at Monday's council meeting. Forest Park is now the 17th enrollee out of 129 eligible communities in MWRD's service area to adopt the green program. 

Although orders are placed through the village, MWRD handles delivery and all costs associated with the initiative. Residents are allowed a maximum of four rain barrels and connection to the sewer system is not a participation requirement. Mayor Anthony Calderone said the village is working to create an online system for residents to request barrels. 

Efforts to establish the partnership were championed by former commissioner and mayoral candidate Chris Harris before the April municipal elections. Throughout campaign season, Harris repeatedly inquired about the program at council meetings and criticized Mayor Calderone's handling of the village's relationship with MWRD. 

According to their website, MWRD's barrels are repurposed food barrels, which makes the green infrastructure "doubly green." The 55-gallon containers capture rainwater from residential roofs. Although the MWRD discourages using the rain barrel contents for consumption or bathing, the agency promotes using the water for cleaning, lawn maintenance and gardening. The barrels also help to prevent overflows and flooding by capturing rainwater and keeping it out of the sewer system. 

Referring to the program's approval, Commissioner Tom Mannix said, "This is a happy day."

Thomas Vogel

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