Sunday, January 22, 2017

Megan Hurckes Bowling Birthday Bash to Raise Scholarship Funds for Kids

The Hurckes family, along with many friends and family, will once again this year continue to celebrate the birthday of their daughter Megan, who passed away in a tragic ATV accident in September of 2009, with their annual bowling fundraiser to support the Megan Hurckes Scholarship Fund. 

“Megan, who would have been 18 this February, loved
bowling and loved to have big parties, so this celebration for her birthday is our way of celebrating her life,” stated her father, Jerry.

The family was on a Labor Day weekend vacation when the accident occurred, and since then the Hurckes family has worked diligently to keep Megan’s memory alive by starting a scholarship fund for local students in grammar school and high school. The scholarship fund also helps families by funding scholarships for the Westside Baseball program as well as the Oak Lawn Children’s Museum.

The “Megan Hurckes Bowling Birthday Bash”, family bowling event is scheduled for Saturday, February 4 at Arena Lanes, 4701 West 103rd Street, Oak Lawn starting at 7:00 p.m.

The event is always looking for raffle prizes, sponsors, and bowlers. People interested in helping this worthy cause can call the scholarship committee at (708) 599-7302, reach the website at

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Teen earns college scholarship; credits St. Joe's, Argo with academic foundation

Summit resident Enrique Dominguez, a 2016 graduate of
Dominguez and SJS Asst. Principal Jason Porod.
Argo Community High School and a 2012 graduate of St. Joseph School, is a new recipient of the Secondino Scholarship, awarded by the University of Illinois Chicago and its sister campus, the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.

UIC and UIUC noted that there are less than 10 students who receive the scholarship, established by Margaret A. Secondino in 1991, during any school year. Only one or two new students are chosen each year.

He is in pre-nursing at UIC. He was inspired to enter the field during his freshman year at Argo.

"I had an appendectomy," Dominguez recalled, "and I was impressed by an anesthesiologist."

His plan is earn his degree at UIC and continue his studies to become a nurse anesthesiologist.

He not only excelled at Argo, but graduated 11th out of a class of 497 graduates, among the top five percent of his graduating class. Dominguez took as many honors and AP classes as he was eligible for in his junior and senior years, so many that he dropped lunch his junior and senior years. His AP classes included biology, psychology, Spanish, literature, composition, calculus, chemistry, physics and world history.

Dominguez earned a 30 on his ACT and was named an Illinois State Scholar.

Despite a heavy class load, Dominguez also found time to participate in extracurricular activities. During his time at Argo, Dominguez participated in cross-country, winter running, track and tennis at one time or another.

In his freshman year, Dominguez was on the chess team, something he may have picked up from St. Joseph School, where chess is a very popular after-school activity. He was also on the Scholastic Bowl for two years and a member of Mathletes for all four years.

A highlight in Dominguez’s sophomore year was becoming a member of the National Hispanic Society, and earning membership into the National Honor Society his junior and senior years.

Being a member of the National Honor Society requires community service. Dominguez tutored students at Graves Elementary School in Summit for two years. He participated in Boys State and the American Legion as well. Dominguez still volunteers at La Grange Memorial Hospital. In addition, he is a lector at St. Joseph Church.

Not all Dominguez’s activities revolve around school and volunteer work. He also earned a black belt in taekwondo and the equivalent of an orange belt in hapkido. He is also teaching himself how to play the piano.

In high school, he was awarded the Argo Higher Education Foundation Scholarship and the Nicholas & Vivian Janettas Scholarship.

Before Argo, he said, he received a strong academic foundation at St. Joseph School.

"St. Joseph School gave me an excellent foundation that prepared me well for the future," Dominguez said during a visit to his alma mater. "In sixth grade, for example, I was given these assignments that enabled me to stretch creatively. I improved my writing, I improved my ability to get up and talk in front of people, sharing what I had created. I also was given the opportunity to be a lector at Mass--which I still am years later."

As Catholic Schools Week approaches, St. Joseph School officials have announced that they will host an open house from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29. School Principal Lawrence Manetti, as well as faculty members and parents of current students, will be on hand to talk with parents of prospective students. For details, phone Manetti at (708) 458-2927.

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Standing Ovation for Police at Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch Meeting

Cops need support more than ever, policeman says

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

The standing ovation that Chicago Police Officer Chris Barajas received Monday night at a Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch meeting was by no means the first of his career, but the popular policeman was grateful nonetheless.

“Police need your support, now more than ever,” Barajas told an audience of about 50 people at the GRNW’s first meeting of the year, held at the firehouse at 56th and Narragansett. “We’re getting scrutinized more than ever, and we need you to back us. That’s important to us, more than you know. This organization is doing a good job of supporting us. Keep at it. Don’t slow down. We’re going to need it. We can’t do without it.”
Officer Barajas gets a hug of gratitude from GRNW supporter Mary Shilney.

Standing with the aid of a walker due to recent knee-replacement surgery, Barajas spoke briefly about what he called a new and adversarial environment, in part because of fallout from the just-released U.S. Department of Justice report critical of the Emanuel Administration’s law enforcement methods in the city.

“We’re just going to have to deal with it,” Barajas said as he mentioned tightening of restrictions in how police fight crime. “We always find a way to adapt, to adjust.”

Barajas asked that everyone consider giving their names when they call 911 and stepping forward as witnesses when they see or hear something that could prove useful in solving crimes.

“I know everyone’s conditioned to call 911 and remain anonymous,” he said. “But I’m telling you, give your name. You are a legit witness for us. The more people call in and give their names, the stronger our case is against the bad guys—and the more likely they’ll go elsewhere next time [they consider committing a crime].”

He also touched on what he described as an erosion of respect of police among some people—especially young people. As a number of audience members grew wide-eyed and shook their heads in disgust, Barajas described several recent arrests in which young suspects spat on him and other officers.

“That’s what we’ve come to, unfortunately,” Barajas said. “This is what we have to deal with now.”

“We know it, our group knows it, everybody in the community knows it—we love our police and our firefighters,” GRNW President Al Cacciottolo said as the audience stood and applauded Barajas. “Day in and day out, they do an awesome job, and we are grateful.”

Cacciottolo also thanked his firehouse hosts for their hospitality, which included serving genuine firehouse chili to everyone in attendance on a cold night.

Mayor Sergio Rodriguez (left) and GRNW President Al Cacciottolo.
The audience also applauded Summit Mayor Sergio Rodriguez, who spoke briefly and pledged his village’s ongoing cooperation with CPD and the GRNW in fighting crime on both sides of Harlem Avenue.

The GRNW’s next public meeting will be held in March. The group also is planning an interactive self-defense seminar in February. Details will be announced soon in the Southwest Chicago Post.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ronald Wallace Sr., Hero Police Officer; Saved Lives, Brought Joy to Many

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Ronald Wallace Sr., a former longtime Back of the Yards
Officer Wallace
resident and Chicago Police officer credited with saving lives and bringing joy to others, died on Jan. 5 at ManorCare Health Services in Palos Heights. He was 70 years old.

A Tinley Park resident for the last four years, Mr. Wallace and his family lived for many years near 48th and Damen, according to his daughter, Angela MacMillan.

He grew up in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood near 63rd and Troy, attending Marquette Elementary School and Harper High School. Several years after high school and after a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps, he became a police officer in 1967. He served in some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods and CHA developments, including Cabrini Green, Robert Taylor Homes, Stateway Gardens and others.

“My dad worked a beat, but he also worked in an undercover unit  against drug dealers,” his daughter recalled. “So you’d see him with a beard, looking tough like a biker. It was funny. He’d drive us to school and other kids would see this intimidating guy and ask, ‘That’s your dad?’ They didn’t know he looked that way because of his undercover work.”

The hard edge to his life was changed forever when, as a young husband, he experienced a spiritual awakening, his daughter added. He found a Bible in a trash can, which led to a conversion not only for him but his wife, Carmen.

The brighter side of his personality flourished, including a quick wit and a good sense of humor that he used to bring joy to others. He enjoyed playing the role of Officer Friendly with young children in the neighborhoods he served. He also played the harmonica and typically bought extras to give away and encourage others to discover the joy of music.

“My dad was a real double-edged sword,” his daughter recalled. “He was a good-hearted man, a fun man, a unique man; yet he was dead serious when it came to police work and protecting others.”

One woman touched by Mr. Wallace’s protective goodness was former Brighton Park resident Donna Marquez, who said that he saved her life and the lives of her children from her abusive ex-husband.

“He saved my life and the lives of my two children in 1989,” she recalled. “He was my angel, and he protected us from a horrific night of violence… there was a butcher knife to my throat. My babies were only 1 and 2 years young.

“Officer Ron's wife was my prayer partner at the time,” she continued. “We attended the same church, so the first one I thought of calling was Officer Ron. For six years I had kept the domestic violence a secret from my family. When my ex went into another room, I was able to make the call that would save me that night.

“There was no cell phone back then,” Marquez added, “but Officer Ron knew just what to do to help get me out of the house. I listened to every word he said. I ran for my life out of that apartment. Long story short, Officer Ron and his wife came immediately and got the babies and put us in hiding and safety. They will always be my heroes.”

Mr. Wallace retired from CPD in 2000.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by his son, Ronald Jr. (Cindy); grandchildren, Natasha and Tatiana Wallace, Teddy Golab and Connor MacMillan; and other relatives and friends.

A memorial service will be held in March.

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Anne Romagnoli: "First Lady of Accordions" Taught Music to Hundreds

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Anne Romagnoli (nee Piatanesi), a former Gage Park resident, music teacher, businesswoman and nationally acclaimed authority on accordion manufacture and repair, died Friday, Jan. 6 at age 90.

Mrs. Romagnoli was the longtime owner of the Italo-
A photo of Mrs. Romagnoli posted on the Italo-American Facebook page.
American Accordion Manufacturing Company, widely known as the Midwest’s premier new and used accordion company. Many considered her to be the Chicago area’s First Lady of Accordions.

The company has been located in Oak Lawn at 5510 W. 95th St. since 1996, when it moved from its longtime home in Gage Park, at 3137 W. 51st St. It was founded in the early 1900s in the city’s Little Italy neighborhood and purchased by Mrs. Romagnoli’s father and uncles in 1915.

Mrs. Romagnoli and her husband, Giuseppe “Joe” Romagnoli--known as the last man in America who could build an accordion from scratch—owned the business from the early 1950s until his death in 1994.

She also was owner of the Republic Music School of Chicago, which for years was headquarters at 59th and Kedzie in Chicago, across the street from the Colony Theatre. At the school, Mrs. Romagnoli taught accordion to hundreds of students, young and old.

In the 1950s, before guitar bands like the Beatles would later cause accordion music to plummet in popularity among the young, Italo-American employed as many as 100 people. Today, it has a few staffers.

The company no longer manufactures accordions, but imports new models from Castelfidardo, Italy, the world capital of accordion manufacturing, where the Romagnoli family has its roots.

The company repairs different types of accordions, concertinas and related instruments, mostly for musicians playing in Mexican, Italian, Polish and German-style bands.
A talented musician who played by ear, Mrs. Romagnoli was known to play the accordion at weddings and other family celebrations.

“She could play anything, and not just the Italian favorites. She could play any song you wanted,” said her daughter Rosanne. “My mother was a real character, no doubt. She loved life and definitely had her own way of doing things.”
Italo-American will remain open for business in Oak Lawn, Rosanne Romagnoli said.

In addition to her daughter, Rosanne, Mrs. Romagnoli is survived by her daughter, Joanne (Miguel) Hernandez; grandchildren, John (Deanna) Rolence, Jason (Marlene) Rolence, Nikki Hernandez and Joel Hernandez; and great-grandchildren, John, Kayleigh, Hayden and Meadow Rolence. She was the dear friend of many.

Hayden Rolence, 12, earned a bit of national fame in 2016 when he was the voice of Nemo in Pixar’s “Finding Dory” animated film.

Visitation and services are set for 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11 at Thompson & Kuenster Funeral Home, 5570 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn. Interment will be private.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

New Jobs in the New Year--Please Share!

Help Wanted

Cold Storage warehouse located in Bedford Park has immediate openings for experienced Shipping & Receiving clerks with excellent customer service skills.

Previous experience working in a warehouse office environment is required. Strong computer skills, attention to detail, accurate data entry and the ability to handle a fast paced and stressful environment is a must.

Persons who apply need to dependable, have a flexible schedule and could be asked to work day, swing or second shift depending upon the business needs with possibility of overtime. Experience with Accellos 3PL is a plus.

Competitive pay based on experience. Health insurance and retirement benefits are available after 90 days. Email resumes to with the word "Office" in the subject line.

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