Saturday, December 28, 2019

Free Fitness Week Starts at Parks

A Chicago Park District Free Fitness Week starts on Monday,
December 30--an occasional event designed to spark interest in the district's 69 fitness centers across the city.

On the Southwest Side, Park District fitness centers are located at Scottsdale Park, 4637 W. 83rd Street; Valley Forge Park, 7001 W. 59th Street; West Lawn Park, 4233 W. 65th Street; Davis Square Park, 4430 S. Marshfield; Gage Park, 2411 W. 55th Street; and Hayes Park, 2936 W. 85th Street; 

New fees for all of the centers’ memberships are designed to make access to fitness facilities more affordable and achieving wellness goals reachable.

Free Fitness Week participants may visit any Park District fitness centers, try out the equipment and pay $5 for a single-day pass.

Upgrading to a Chicago Park District fitness center membership will also be more affordable, officials said in a statement. Fitness centers offer several membership options that cater to diverse needs and exercise and training preferences.

Reduced fees for single site, monthly, three month, and annual passes are also be available at all fitness centers. Patrons may set up an account before registering either online or in person. There are gold card membership options that allow people to explore and workout at any of the Chicago Park District’s fitness centers citywide.

The cost of monthly passes has been reduced in many parks and range from $10 to $22. Three-month passes vary by park from $30 to $60 and annual passes from $100 to $225. Accessibility is key to making fitness accessible to as many patrons as possible. There are more than 40 fitness centers that have accessible equipment for people with disabilities. Hours of operation can vary by location.

Park District fitness centers often have new and improved equipment that includes computerized treadmills, cross trainers, upright bikes, recumbent bikes, free weights and benches, cable cross-overs, multi-station weight machines and core focused equipment.

From yoga to bootcamp, there are more than 750 fitness classes in the district's spring session, which kicks off in early January. Online and in-person registration is open. Click the image below for details!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

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.

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Man shot himself in groin, cops say

A shooting initially reported to police as a drive-by was later determined to be self-inflicted, a CPD spokesman said. The victim, a 19-year-old man, initially told police he was walking down a sidewalk in the 7700 block of South Kenton at 5:55 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 15 when he was shot in the groin by a gunman in a passing vehicle. The victim was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where he was listed in stable condition. Police later said that further investigation showed that the wound was self-inflicted. They did not say how they arrived at that conclusion or whether the injury was intentional or not.

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Want to work directly with Chicago Police to prevent crime in your neighborhood? If you live in and/or own a business in Beat 834 (see map) make plans to attend your next CAPS meeting, set for 7:00 p.m. Thursday, January 2 at Bogan High School, 3939 West 79th Street. Hear updates on crime in your neighborhood and learn how you can work with neighbors and police to make the community safer and better for all.

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Traffic stop leads to drug charges

A 31-year-old West Lawn man was charged with cocaine possession and cannabis possession after he was arrested during a traffic stop in the 5700 block of South Austin at 8:10 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9.

Samuel J. Mustari, of the 6400 block of South Kolin, allegedly had possession of drugs that were found in a search of the vehicle.

He also was cited for running a stop sign, driving on a suspended license and driving without insurance.

Say man admitted firing gun

A 21-year-old Archer Heights man was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon
Padilla Gonzalez
and reckless discharge of a firearm after he was arrested in the 2600 block of West 40th Place at 7:24 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6.

Bryan Padilla Gonzalez, of the 4700 block of South Kilpatrick, allegedly fired a pistol and then ditched it in an alley.

Police responding to a ShotSpotter alert said they found a gun and that Padilla Gonzalez admitted firing it, but said he had not fired it at anyone.

Reputed gang member shot in the groin

A 28-year-old man was shot in the groin as he walked down a  sidewalk in the 5400 block of South Kildare at 2:10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9. The victim, said by a law enforcement source to be a gang member, was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where he was listed in stable condition. No one is in custody. The gunmen were said to be two boys or men who approached the victim on foot before running away.

Charge man with crime against girl
Esparza Diaz

A 38-year-old West Elsdon man was charged with domestic battery after he was arrested in the 6300 block of South Kostner at 9:40 a.m. Monday, Dec. 2.

Manuel Esparza Diaz, of the 3900 block of West 58th Place, allegedly committed a crime against a girl, a CPD spokesman said without elaborating.

He was apprehended by a fugitive task force, the spokesman added.

Arrest man again for domestic battery

A 38-year-old Archer Heights man was charged with domestic battery after he was arrested
at his home in the 4400 block of South Komensky at 8:19 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Krzysztof E. Pilch allegedly punched a 35-year-old woman in the head during an argument. 

According to public records, Pilch has been arrested four times by CPD since 2014—three times for domestic battery.

Say suburban man slapped woman

A 26-year-old man from suburban Lyons was charged with domestic battery after he was arrested in the 4000 block of West 59th Street at 2:40 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4.

Joel Ruiz, of the 4000 block of South Joliet Avenue, allegedly grabbed a 22-year-old woman by the neck and slapped her in the head during an argument.

According to public records, Ruiz has been arrested four times by CPD in the last year, on charges that included criminal damage to property and drinking alcohol on the public way.

Claim woman punched man in the mouth

A 35-year-old West Elsdon woman was charged with domestic battery after she was arrested at her home in the 4500 block of West 55th Street at 2:11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 1. 

Elizabeth Cuezzi allegedly punched a  36-year-old man in the mouth during an argument.

Charge woman with domestic battery
Del Cid

A 43-year-old Clearing woman was charged with domestic battery after she was arrested at her home in the 5900 block of South Menard at 4 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Nancy A. Del Cid allegedly used “a glass object” to hit a 46-year-old man during an argument, a CPD spokesman said., without elaborating.

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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Strong Family in Need of a Boost

Friends, family, neighbors rally 'round the Salzburgs

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

A Clearing family that has stood strong for so many over the years now finds itself in need of a little strength from others.

The Salzburg family—and specifically, Tom Salzburg—is battling a sudden diagnosis of a formidable disease, mounting financial bills, the indifference of insurance companies and an uncertain future.

Tom Salzburg (second from right) and his family (from left)
son-in-law Will Rivera, daughter Amber Rivera, daughter Ashley,
grandson William Rivera, wife Kelly and son Tommy Jr.

In response, other family members—as well as friends and neighbors—have organized Salzburg Strong, a growing campaign to raise funds and provide other forms of assistance.

A major fundraiser is planned for April at Bourbon Street, and all who want to help make the event a success are invited to attend a planning meeting—dubbed the Salzburg Strong Holiday Mingle and Jingle—set for 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 30 at the popular entertainment venue, 3359 W. 115th St., Merrionette Park.

People who want to donate in a more immediate sense are encouraged to visit the Salzburg Strong GoFundMe page online. Since it was started on Nov. 13, the GoFundMe campaign has raised $18,405 from 172 donors. The goal is $50,000.

“I want to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for your generous donations,” wrote campaign organizer Sue Schulz. “To say that Tom and Kelly are overwhelmed with the love and support shown is an understatement.”

For those who don’t want to make a donation online, checks made payable to Salzburg Strong may be set to BMO Harris Bank, 101 Burr Ridge Parkway, Burr Ridge, IL 60527, attention: Jason K. Refer to the account number ending in 5432.


On his 54th birthday last August, Tom Salzburg received confirmation that he is battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease).

The confirmation came about six months after Tom noticed his jaw felt tight, his speech was occasionally slurred and he was coughing while eating or drinking. At first, he brushed off the symptoms as perhaps a winter cold or simply sore muscles.

But after several months of medical tests, the diagnosis came.

Tom has Bulbar Onset ALS. Relatively uncommon, Bulbar Onset ALS affects the speech, swallowing and breathing functions first before spreading to the limbs. It is a progressive disease that causes the death of neurons that control voluntary muscles leading to paralysis of the entire body. There is currently no cure; and since his diagnosis, Tom has declined at a rapid pace, according to a profile posted online.

The diagnosis would be tough enough for the average person—but more so for Tom, a machinist and welder by day and an acclaimed rock drummer and singer by night.

In the 1980s, Tom earned his stripes with No Mercy and Tattoo. In recent years, he has been a key member of Bad Medicine and Motley II. He founded and fronted Cooper’s Dead Things, an Alice Cooper tribute band. Tom’s son, Tommy Jr., is the drummer in that band.

Tom no longer has the strength to wear his welder’s helmet,
Tom hasn't lost his dark, self-deprecating sense of humor.
and he can no longer play in the band he created. Things most folks take for granted are a chore for Tom. It can take him an hour just to eat a small meal, if only because chewing and swallowing are becoming impossible.

“I’ve learned a lot [from the ongoing ordeal],” said Kelly Salzburg, Tom’s high school sweetheart and wife of 25 years. “I’ve learned that insurance companies suck. They are a nightmare.

“But I’ve also learned some very good things,” she adds. “I’ve learned that there are many people out there willing to help—and they’re not just family and friends.”

“People have asked me, ‘What can I do?’ and sometimes I struggle to answer because I don’t always know what we need,” Kelly continued. “But as time goes on, I’m learning what that is.”

As an example, she mentioned a man who heard about Tom’s plight and called her out of the blue. His son and Tommy Jr. had played hockey years earlier at St. Laurence High School. The man, a carpenter by trade, offered to assess the Salzburg home and make modifications that Tom will need in the future—ramps, handrails, widened doors and so forth.

Accepting assistance is never easy for a proud family—even one like the Salzburgs, who for years have helped raise funds for St. Rene Goupil School and Parish, as well as other families. One such family is the Bragiels, who went through their own ordeal in recent years, when two or of their three children were diagnosed with cancer (and have since beaten the disease).

“[Accepting help] was the hard part for us, and Dwayne Bragiel was the first person to get in my face, in a good way, and say, ‘We need to have a fundraiser,’ and I’m like, “Oh no no. I don’t want my family and friends to go through—you know—just so much time and effort.' So I’m like, ‘We’re OK, we’re OK.’”

“At the time we were both still working. But then Dwayne says, ‘Remember that conversation we had in the parking lot at volleyball? Look, people want to help. You need to let people help you. It helps them to help you.' So I said, ‘Yeah, I guess so.’ I’m learning that there are a lot of good people out there in the neighborhood, even people we’ve never met, who will step forward and help—even without being asked. It’s heartwarming.”

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce Brings Christmas Cheer to Archer Ave.

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Thanks once again to everyone at the Garfield Ridge
Chamber of Commerce for bringing some Christmas cheer to Archer Avenue.

The Chamber's annual Snack with Santa and Mrs. Claus

event, held at Mayfield Banquets on Saturday, December 7, was its usual smashing success--with boys and girls stopping by to whisper a few wishes to the Jolly Old Elf, receive a free toy from Santa's helpers, eat a few goodies and enjoy live musical entertainment and a puppet show.

Among those rolling up their sleeves to make the event a reality were Chamber President Mary Ellen Brown and other GRCC officers and members.

Patrick Sterk,  Mary Ellen Brown, Tala Morales, Geno Randazzo and Ed Kozak.

Past President Mary Ann Dybala, the driving force behind the cheerful event since it was founded more than 35 years ago, also was on hand to serve goodies and greet moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas. She noted that about a thousand children were expected to attend the popular celebration. Easy to understand, since the line wound through the Mayfield and even went out the door into the parking lot for at least the first hour.

Among other things, the annual event was a reminder that
Garfield Ridge is home to many public-spirited business owners who care about the well-being of the neighborhood.

Let's return the favor by shopping at Chamber members' stores and other businesses, using their professional services, and so forth. 

Visit for a list of Chamber members.

Shop local, shop smart!

Here are a few photos we took with local children and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Enjoy!

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