Friday, August 7, 2020

Garage Burglars Hitting Garfield Ridge

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

A burglary crew is hitting the south end of Garfield
Ridge, according to an alert issued today by CPD.

Police said the cluster of three crimes involved garages.

Crime scenes (and when the crime occurred and/or was discovered) included:

• 5900 block of South Mulligan at about 11:30 a.m. Sunday, July 19.

• 5800 block of South Rutherford at about 7 a.m. Tuesday, August 4.

• 5800 block of South Oak Park at about 11:15 p.m. Thursday, August 6.

There was no description of the criminals.

Those with useful information to share about any or all the crimes are encouraged to call CPD Area One detectives at (312) 747-8380 and refer to crime pattern P20-1-213.

In the wake of the crimes, police advise:

• Keep the perimeter of your property well lit.
• Report suspicious activity immediately.
• Keep doors and windows secured.
• Immediately repair any broken windows, doors or locks.
• If video surveillance is available, save and make a copy of the incident for investigating detectives.
• Make an agreement with your neighbors to watch each other's homes for suspicious activity.
• If you are a victim, do not touch anything; call police immediately.
• If approached by a witness to the incident, request contact information.

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Crime News Update

Editor's note: The crime news reported by the Southwest Chicago Post---taken directly from Chicago Police Department incident reports---is not by any means an exhaustive catalogue of all crime reported in the Chicago Lawn (8th) District. For example, it typically does not include news of crimes committed in the eastern sectors of the district---because the Southwest Chicago Post's coverage area is primarily the neighborhoods that border Midway Airport and secondarily because including the relatively large volume of crime news from elsewhere in the district would be a logistical challenge. We make this note to offer a little helpful perspective and remind everyone that while crime is definitely a concern in all parts of the district (as it always has been), crime remains relatively low overall in the western section of the district. May all of us work together diligently to keep it that way. May all of us also remember that a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

* * *

Charge man with murder

A 45-year-old Garfield Ridge man was charged with murder, aggravated battery and robbery
Daniel Coughlin
after he was arrested at a CTA bus stop at 5141 S. Cicero at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 22. 

Daniel B. Coughlin, of the 5400 block of South Archer, was apprehended by a police task force that had been searching for him.

A CPD spokesman said that a man allegedly beaten by Coughlin had died in a hospital, leading to the charges—although the spokesman declined to say where or when the alleged attack occurred, or offer any information about the victim.

Bond was denied, and Coughlin was placed in custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections. His next court date is scheduled for August 19.

According to public records, Coughlin has been arrested four times by CPD in the past nine months—most recently for criminal damage to property when he allegedly kicked in a door at the Skylark Motel, 5435 S. Archer.

Man allegedly molested girls
Edwert Equivel

A 47-year-old Ashburn man was charged with two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a minor after he was arrested at his home in the 7700 block of South Springfield at 12:10 p.m. Thursday, July 16.

Edwert Equivel allegedly molested a 13-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl in the weeks prior to his arrest, a CPD spokesman said without elaborating.

Bond was set at $200,000, and Equivel is currently in custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections. His next scheduled court date is Aug. 6.

Hit Pilsen man with weapons rap
Ruben Balderas

A 25-year-old Pilsen man was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, as well as driving on a revoked license, after he was arrested during a traffic stop in the 5900 block of West 60th Street at 4:22 a.m. Sunday, July 12.

Ruben Balderas, of the 1900 block of West Cullerton, was arrested by police combing the area in response to a ShotSpotter alert.

According to public records, Balderas has been arrested nine times by CPD since 2014 on charges that included violating probation, failure to appear in court and drinking alcohol on the public way.

Charge Hometown teen with reckless conduct
Andrew Elam

An 18-year-old man from suburban Hometown was charged with reckless conduct and possession of alcohol by a minor after he was arrested at 80th and Komensky at 5:27 p.m. Thursday, July 9.

Andrew J. Elam, of the 8700 block of South Duffy, was apprehended without incident.

Nineteen days later, Elam was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in the July 26 death of a 39-year-man at a Burbank gas station.

According to published reports, Elam fired a gun and killed Joshua Mena at or near the Gulf station at 8458 S. Cicero. Mena was hit multiple times and later died at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Bond was set at $50,000, and Elam is due in court on August 27 in Bridgeview.

Reputed gang member arrested again in Scottsdale
Abdelrahma Ramadan

A 27-year-old man from suburban Cicero was charged with reckless driving and driving on an expired license after the vehicle he was driving was curbed by police in front of 8210 S. Pulaski at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 16.

Abdelrahma A. Ramadan, 5300 block of West 22nd Place, was reportedly spotted running three stop signs by police on patrol.

According to public records, Ramadan—a reputed gang member—has been arrested eight times by CPD since 2014 on such charges as unlawful possession of a firearm by a streetgang member in a vehicle.

Arrested in the same incident was Scottsdale resident Richard Calderon, 21, of the 8100 block of South Karlov, a passenger in the vehicle who allegedly had a handgun on him. 

According to public records, Calderon was arrested at his home in March 2018 and charged with possession of a gun with a defaced serial number.

Kicked me in the leg, woman says
David Lichaj

A 31-year-old Clearing man was charged with domestic battery after he was arrested at his home in the 5700 block of West 63rd Street at 11:14 p.m. Wednesday, July 22.

David M. Lichaj allegedly kicked a 32-year-old woman in the leg during an argument.

Pushed me against a wall, woman says
Jonathan Marques

A 29-year-old Scottsdale man was charged with domestic violence after he was arrested at his home in the 4100 block of West 77th Place at 8:50 p.m. Thursday, July 16.

Jonathan A. Marques allegedly pushed a 28-year-olf woman against a wall during an argument.

Man allegedly beat boy
Alfonso Magana

A 39-year-old Vittum Park man was charged with domestic battery after he was arrested at his home in the 5100 block of South Leclaire at 2:10 a.m. Wednesday, July 22.

Alfonso Magana allegedly used a cable to repeatedly hit a 12-year-old boy in the legs, causing welts, a CPD spokesman said.

According to public records, Magana was arrested by CPD in June 2016 near 35th and Morgan and charged with assault and driving without insurance.

Charged with spitting in trooper's coffee

A 25-year-old Garfield Ridge man was charged with disorderly conduct, reckless conduct
Vincent Sessler
and battery of a peace officer after he was arrested on July 31.

Vincent J. Sessler, of the 5100 block of South Parkside, allegedly spat in the coffee he sold to an Illinois State trooper at about 10:20 p.m. Thursday, July 30 at the Dunkin' Donuts at 6738 W. Archer, where Sessler worked.

An ISP statement said, "Due to the coffee being extremely hot, the Trooper removed the lid from the top of the cup of coffee in order to cool it down. The Trooper observed a large, thick piece of mucus which was later confirmed to be saliva, floating inside it. ISP District Chicago Troopers immediately initiated an investigation that culminated in [Sessler's arrest].

“This is outrageous and disgusting. The men and women of the Illinois State Police put their heart and soul into protecting the lives and rights of all people in this state every day,” stated ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly. “They deserve better than this insulting and dangerous treatment. For their safety, ISP officers and employees will be prohibited from patronizing this location."

Sessler remains in custody at the Chicago Lawn (8th) District Station, the ISP added.

A Southwest Chicago Post request from Dunkin' Donuts corporate headquarters drew this response: "We are aware of the matter that took place at the Dunkin' restaurant located at 6738 W. Archer, Chicago, IL. Dunkin' and all of our franchisees share the goal of creating a welcoming environment in all Dunkin’ restaurants and treating all guests with dignity and respect. The type of behavior reported to us is inconsistent with the brand’s values. The franchise owner who independently owns and operates this restaurant, informs us that he took immediate action to investigate the matter and terminated the individual responsible for this reprehensible behavior. Dunkin’ has a deep appreciation for police officers who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe, and the franchise owner has reached out directly to the officer to apologize for the experience.”

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Serving Sweetness, One Glass at a Time

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

A little girl serving a sour drink is spreading sweetness
throughout Clearing and Garfield Ridge.

Nine-year-old Margaret Huitron’s lemonade stand in front of her home, across the street from the west edge of Wentworth Park, is typically open just two hours a day, four days a week.

But she’s pouring with a purpose.

After hearing that children will be required to wear masks while at school in the fall, Margaret—entering fourth grade at Kinzie Elementary School--decided she wanted to buy fun masks for all the students at school.

She told her mom, Theresa, that she thought some kids would be afraid to wear masks, especially the younger ones. So Margaret decided that colorful, fun masks would make wearing them less fearful for those students.

Theresa said she thought it was a wonderful idea, but asked Margaret how she would pay for the masks.

Margaret had the answer: a lemonade stand.

Mom’s response: “Let’s do it.”

Theresa and her husband, Fabian, invested in Margaret’s lemonade stand by buying her the supplies she needed. 
Margaret’s goal of 750 masks from the Crayola corporation would cost $3,900 before taxes.

Yet, she’s technically not selling lemonade (there is no “price” for a glass). She gives her stand’s visitors the option of donating what they can afford. Margaret said they could donate dollars or cents. All donations are welcome.

“She doesn’t keep any of it--but there was a gentleman who gave her a $10 donation for the masks,” Theresa says. “He also gave her $5 for herself, saying, ‘This is for you. You should set out a tip jar just for you.’ But Margaret hasn’t done it. She said she feels selfish doing it.”

With guidance from her mom and dad, Margaret operates a
stand that is a model of cleanliness and safety. She wears a mask and gloves, serves lemonade (yellow and pink) in disposable cups with straws and lids—and she has even chalked the sidewalk at six-feet intervals to encourage social distancing.

It’s working.

In a pandemic-weary world in which folks are longing for a little human contact, a little bit of life the way it used to be—Margaret is quenching people’s thirst, literally and figuratively. She has raised well over a thousand dollars, and her Facebook group went from zero to 300 members in the blink of an eye.

Margaret’s venture has also attracted the attention of some businessmen and women in the area. 

While Margaret’s first lemonade stand was cute and colorful, its cardboard design made it vulnerable to wind and rain.

So Theresa reached out to Geno Randazzo of All Exterior Contractors, a local business owner known for his generosity when it comes to the community, especially children.

She knew of Geno through his uncle, the late George Randazzo. Theresa, who is of Italian descent, knew George through his organization, The National Italian Sports Hall of Fame, as well as her visits to the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii in Little Italy.

Margaret also participated in a tribute to George Randazzo with her Little Lady Sinatra persona singing My Way. She and another young contestant won the contest. 

“It’s a small world,” Theresa says.

Geno came through. He sent over John Sabbia--who built a new, durable stand within an hour--free of charge. Margaret kept her parents up late one night to paint the stand with magnetic and chalkboard paint so she could hang things up. Geno and John also gave Margaret a $100 donation for the cause.

Original stand (right). New, sturdy stand (left).

Hearing of All Exterior’s good deed, Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce President Mary Ellen Brown stepped up next. She said going forward, if Margaret needed more supplies, the chamber would pay for them. Mary Ellen also extended an invitation to Margaret to set up her stand every Wednesday at the GRCC’s farmers market at Mayfield Banquets.

Theresa says they are investing in a credit card app, so donations will be easier. They also opened a PayPal account so people could donate through that. “People aren’t cashed based,” Theresa says. “People want to donate, so we wanted to make it simple. We are learning along the way.”

No matter how many masks Margaret is able to buy, she will hand them over to Kinzie Elementary School Principal Dawn Caetta at the beginning of the school year.

In the meantime, Theresa--who has lived in Garfield Ridge since she was 17 and once worked at the old Blockbuster Video and then TCF Bank, continues with her job as a home healthcare worker. Fabian is studying for his EMT exam and hopes to complete his studies at the Fire Academy to become a Chicago firefighter. 

Margaret wants to continue her lemonade stand after school starts. When the weather turns cold, she wants to convert it to a hot chocolate stand. 

“It’s gotten bigger than I thought,” Theresa adds with a chuckle.

Margaret’s Lemonade Stand is usually open noon to 2 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in front of her home—and now 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays at the GRCC farmers market at Archer and Monitor.

See you there?

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Friday, July 10, 2020

Teens Launch Pony Ride Business

Popular with kids, available for rentals

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Motorists in Garfield Ridge have recently been heard saying things like “What the…?” and “Did I just see…?”

Cellphone photos of what they saw have been popping up on local Facebook pages.

The photos are of a miniature pony pulling a cart down a side street, and they represent the marketing-on-a-shoestring savvy of two high school entrepreneurs.

Matthew Orta and Armani Diaz are heading into their seniors years—Orta at St. Rita and Diaz at De La Salle. Both are 2017 graduates of St. Daniel the Prophet School.

“We plan to study business in college and become entrepreneurs,” Orta said. “We started by cutting lawns. We saved our money and then we saw that this kind of business—pony rides--had potential.”

Their path was made easier by Diaz’s grandfather, an immigrant farmer with a spread in Frankfort that includes trained ponies and other livestock.

Their unique business—simply named Garfield Ridge Pony Rentals—launched last week and offers rentals of two 2-year-old miniature ponies and three baby Nigerian dwarf goats.

Different deals and combinations are offered. The full package includes both ponies and the goats for two hours, at a rental price of $300.

The carts the ponies pull can carry several children at a time. The baby goats are presented petting zoo-style, in a small pen.

Orta and Diaz also clean up any mess the animals may make while they are at an event.

The teenagers see the venture as perfect for children’s parties and other festive occasions.

The animals are cared for humanely, Orta said. He and Diaz are at the farm daily, ensuring that the ponies and goats are well fed and have fresh water, and that they have access to veterinary care.

Should the venture succeed, Orta said he and Diaz envision expanding and even hiring their younger brothers to help run the business.

Those interested in more information on rental packages are advised to visit the pony rental service on Facebook.