Thursday, July 7, 2016

Beneath the badge beats a caring heart

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Three years ago, I wrote about several Chicago Police officers who saw a family in need; and instead of playing it by the book, they chose to "play it by the heart."

I wrote that the officers' kindness and generosity shows that "behind a typical police officer's badge beats a strong and compassionate heart." (A link to that story is here.)

Today, I am privileged to share another example of a Chicago Police officer who has played it by the heart, this time for the kids at Hubbard High School, 62nd and Hamlin.

Officer John Catanzara has been a school officer at Hubbard since late 2013. He has built, mostly at his own expense, a 3,200-gallon koi pond in the small atrium space between wings of the school.

The pond was dedicated on Thursday, June 30—not coincidentally, the 15th anniversary of
Officer Brian T. Strouse
the death of Officer Brian T. Strouse, gunned down by a gang member in the Pilsen neighborhood. The pond was dedicated to honor the memory of Strouse.


Years before, Strouse and Catanzara had been classmates in the police academy.

“He was a good man, and a lot of us will never forget him,” Catanzara said. “At the academy, he was our class commander and an excellent leader. He had a very level approach to everything, and he built bridges between groups of people. He led, but he never dictated.”

The square pond currently is home to 11 koi, with another on the way. It includes a gently-sloping waterfall, an old Navy diver’s helmet as an accent, and more.

The atrium space serves as a place of relaxation and reflection for Hubbard seniors, although Catanzara said he hopes to work with the school to find a way to give underclassmen some access to the area.



Student interest in the new pond was evident at the dedication. While dozens of police officers and other invited guests stood in the atrium at the event, clusters of curious Hubbard students smiled and jostled each other for space at second-floor windows to get a glimpse of the unveiling.

The new pond replaces a smaller one that had been there for years. Catanzara took the lead on dismantling the old pond nearly two years ago. Construction began in earnest in March 2015, with completion this spring.





“It wasn’t an overnight thing,” Catanzara recalled. “There were times when we had doubters who’d look at it and ask, ‘What the hell’s that pit out there?’” Along the way, he spent several thousand dollars out of pocket to make it happen.





“This is important to me,” he said. “I wanted to do something for the kids here. Most them don’t have something like this at home. Hey, I don’t, either. I live in a condo. I tell the kids that this is my backyard.”

Catanzara’s efforts were praised at the dedication by a number of people, including Strouse’s sister, Kathy, CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson, and others.





“His dedication and effort to the students of Hubbard and the memory of his friend are admirable,” said CPD Sgt. Steven Martin, Catanzara's immediate supervisor. “In addition to this endeavor, he volunteered to be the girls’ cross-country coach when they had none. He also travelled with the ROTC to compete in the national drill competition in Nashville. He is a role model and an active participant in assisting the school, the students and the community.”

Hubbard Principal Nancy Wiley said the school is “fortunate to have two wonderful school officers in the building. They go out of their way to help the students, regularly.”

“I want my students to know how important our police officers are and that they do a dangerous job every day,” she said “With all the negativity about police officers in the news these days, I think this pond helps send a positive message to our kids that police officers are their friends.”

So there you have it. With no public acclaim, no press conference, nothing like that—Officer Catanzara has quietly built a beautiful koi pond so that students can have a peaceful place to relax, reflect and take a break from the stress of daily life.

And in an age when rich folks often use their charitable donations to stroke their own egos and name things after themselves, Officer Catanzara named the pond to honor someone else—a man who deserves to be honored and remembered by all, Officer Brian T. Strouse.

Catanzara's good deed would have gone unnoticed by most, but fortunately, another policeman--Sergeant Martin--tipped us off. Thank you, Sergeant.

Catanzara’s act is yet another example of how—when it comes to the vast majority of police officers—beneath the badge beats a strong and compassionate heart.

Well done, Officer. And thanks.


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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Chicago Glass Blocks: Privacy, Security, Style from a Local, Family-Owned Business

In a world where high-tech surveillance is on the rise and privacy seems increasingly difficult, people across the city and suburbs are turning to glass block windows as a simple solution to low-tech surveillance by burglars and plain-old snoops.

“My basement is the place where my wife does the laundry
Single-pane windows = lack of privacy
 and my daughters play with their friends,” says Clearing homeowner Dave Bauer, 36. “The last thing I want is people on the outside snooping in, for whatever reason and especially if I’m not home. So I had my four windows—the original, single-pane windows that came with the house in 1955—removed and replaced with glass blocks. I feel better, my wife feels more secure, and my kids—innocent that they are--don’t know the difference.”

Empty nester Ted Wesolowski of Garfield Ridge agrees. “My youngest son graduated from college last year and moved out into an apartment. So with plenty of space and no more tuition bills, I decided to remodel my basement at long last and make it into a ‘man cave’ or whatever we’re calling a den these days.”

“Well, I did it up right and added a home theater system, a wet bar and few other expensive upgrades,” he adds. “Then one night, I’m hosting a Monday Night Football party for a few buddies; and what do I see but some punk peeking in, like he’s casing my house for a burglary or something. We ran outside and chased him away, but that did it for me. Next day I started looking into glass blocks. In the end, it worked out well. No more uninvited guests.”

While glass block windows add an important measure of security and privacy to any home or business, they offer many other benefits.

“The right glass blocks can add a whole new dimension of beauty on the outside and soft natural light on the inside,” says Carol Basic, a Clearing resident and owner of Chicago Glass Blocks, headquartered at 6036 S. Central. “Plus they add value to your home, and they are generally maintenance free.”

Chicago Glass Blocks creates and installs custom-made
Brian and Mike Basic at a home window installation.
 windows using top-quality Pittsburgh Corning glass block, the only glass block manufactured in the U.S. The company is the only Pittsburgh Corning distributor in the Chicago area.

The company also is known for using superior mortar mixed to manufacturer's specs, a high-quality blend of Type I Portland cement and lime. This, Basic says, is unlike the big-box, discount home improvement stores, where the glass blocks are stuck together with merely a fraction of an inch of caulk.

Joe Leonard applies mortar, while Brian Basic checks inventory.
Celebrating its 28th anniversary this year, Chicago Glass Blocks is locally owned and managed by a family with decades of experience in masonry and masonry restoration for homes and businesses. Well known and highly respected in the Chicago-area construction industry, the Basic Family has a deep understanding of local construction methods and materials, enabling them to quickly and accurately assess your home or business needs. The highly trained technicians--mostly family members and all area residents--who will come to your home are fully insured and leave your home in better shape than they found it.

To learn more about Chicago Glass Blocks, go online to chicagoglassblocks.net or call (773) 581-5081 for a free energy consultation from a friendly, experienced expert.




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Monday, July 4, 2016

Elderly Woman Missing From West Lawn is Found Safe

Update from the Cook County Sheriff's Office:

Maria Nieves has been found and returned home safely.

The CCSO press release:

An 80-year-old woman with dementia missing since June 28 has been reunited with her caregiver, thanks to the work of two Cook County Sheriff Correctional officers.

On routine bike patrol around the Cook County Jail this week, Officers Edmundo Sanchez and Robert Kronon spotted the woman sitting on the steps of a Sheriff’s Office administrative building on the 3000 block of South California.

The officers worked with Chicago Police, who were able to figure out that a missing persons report had been filed about the woman on Tuesday.

The woman was unaware how she had gotten from her home
in the West Lawn neighborhood six miles away or what had transpired in the time she was missing. She was reunited with her caregiver, a friend she grew up with in Puerto Rico, where most of her family still lives.

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Orginal story from June 29:

At 9:29 a.m. Wednesday, June 29, CPD issued a "missing
Photo supplied by CPD
person" alert, asking people to be on the lookout for Maria Nieves, 80, missing from 69th and Hamlin since about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 28.


Police said she is a Hispanic woman who stands 5-foot-5 and weighs 120 pounds. She has brown eyes, gray hair and a light complexion.

When last seen, she was wearing a white blouse, blue jeans and black shoes.

Those who see her should call 911 immediately. Those with other useful information to share should call CPD Area Central Detectives at (312) 747-8380 and refer to case number HZ 327784.


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Friday, July 1, 2016

Patriots Day Parade Photo Highlights

The 2016 edition of the Patriot's Day Parade is in the books.



The event, which stepped off at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 30, was sponsored by Third District Congressman Dan Lipinski, 23rd Ward Alderman Michael R. Zalewski, the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch, the Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce and the Garfield Ridge Civic League. 

This was the fifth year that the Southwest Chicago Post was out there with a camera.

As we did last year, this year we paid at least as much attention to the children lining the parade route as we did to those in the parade itself. They are the face of Garfield Ridge, and their smiles reflect one of Chicago's very best neighborhoods.

Here are a bunch of photos--shot by SWCP photographer/videographer Mary Hadac--in no particular order, of parade units and spectators at the curb. Enjoy!

May your Independence Day be meaningful, joyful and safe.










































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