Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Businesses Step Up For Lopez Family

Family lost dad and mom to COVID-19

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

People across the Southwest Side are stepping up to help the
Mr. Guadalupe "Lupe" Lopez

family of 58-year-old Guadalupe “Lupe” Lopez, an Archer Heights man who last month lost his battle with COVID-19.

Among those stepping up are three local business owners who have volunteered to help sell raffle tickets designed to raise funds for the Lopez family as they struggle with the loss of the family patriarch—and at the same time grieve the very recent loss of their mother (and Lupe's wife), Maria, who also lost her battle with COVID-19.

Those business owners are Geno Randazzo of All Exterior Contractors, Mike Riordan of the Mike Riordan State Farm Agency, and Mary Ellen Brown of Midway Storage.

“By all accounts, Lupe Lopez was a good husband and father, a good co-worker, a good coach of youth athletic teams, a good neighbor and so much more,” Randazzo said. “Stepping up to help his family was an easy decision to make.”

Raffle tickets are priced at $10 each (or $20 for 3). First prize is an M4 rifle. Second prize is an autographed Gale Sayers jersey. Third prize is a set of Supreme Whiskey Stones custom glasses. Drawing will be held December 16.

Tickets will be sold until December 15 at:

All Exterior Contractors, 6206 W. 63rd St. (Unit B), from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday though Friday; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Mike Riordan State Farm, 6538 W. Archer, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (closed for lunch from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.); and

Midway Storage, 5660 W. 55th St., from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday (closed for lunch from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.), and 9:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday (closed for lunch from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.).

Shortly after Mr. Lopez’ death, his colleagues at the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications issued a statement that noted that they were “incredibly saddened to confirm that one of our 9-1-1 Dispatchers, Guadalupe “Lupe” Lopez, passed away. Lupe was not only a beloved employee of the OEMC family for over 33 years, but also a wonderful friend to many, including many at the Chicago Police Department. He was a kind-hearted man, a genuinely caring person, and a trusted confidant to those he worked with. His contributions to 9-1-1 and the City of Chicago will not be forgotten."

A statement from the Chicago Police Department said, “Officers in Chicago rely on their dispatchers while serving and protecting this city. For Chicago Police Officers working Zone 10, Guadalupe Lopez was that voice of security and reassurance. Today Guadalupe Lopez lost his battle with COVID-19. The Chicago Police Department mourns his loss. 

Lupe was a 33-year veteran of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications and he will never be forgotten!”

Friday, November 27, 2020

Guess Who's Coming to Town...

Pandemic can't keep Santa Claus away

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Santa Claus will indeed visit the Southwest Side this year, pandemic or not. And there will be a few common-sense changes necessary in this pandemic year--but not enough to keep the Jolly Old Elf from spreading Christmas cheer.

The Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce’s annual Snack With Santa, which draws as many as a thousand children, parents and grandparents to Mayfield Banquets, has been downsized and switched to an outdoor drive-through format.

It is set for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 5 in the parking lot of Crossroads Community Church, 5433 S. Austin. Enter via the parking lot's south entrance; exit via the north entrance.

There will be no snacks, no entertainment and no sitting in Santa’s lap. It remains to be seen if the GRCC will allow parents and children to get out of their vehicles for a quick photo with the Jolly Old Elf and Mrs. Claus. Each child will receive a modest goody bag.

The Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch’s annual Christmas tree lighting at Wentworth Park, which usually attracts more than a thousand people, has been cancelled.

Instead, the crime fighting group plans to hold a drive-through Christmas celebration in Kennedy High School’s west parking lot (just south of 56th and Narragansett) from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5.

To ensure smooth traffic flow, only northbound vehicles will be admitted to the lot.

Once in, all must remain in their vehicles. Visual attractions will include Santa Claus and elves, as well as other costumed characters and live animals from a petting zoo.

All children will be given a modest goody bag.

In the Scottsdale neighborhood, Santa Claus is expected to be the main attraction at a drive-through tree-lighting that starts at 5 p.m. Monday, December 7 at Scottsdale Park, 4637 West 83rd Street.

The event is hosted by the Scottsdale Neighborhood Watch, and the tree should be lit at 5:00.

The only Christmas event that will stay essentially the same as always is Santa’s ride through the neighborhoods on a vintage fire truck.

The Man in Red will ride through the streets of Scottsdale starting at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6. He will ride through central and western Garfield Ridge (west of Central Avenue) starting at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12. He will ride through the streets of central and western Clearing (west of Central Avenue) starting at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

All Exterior Contractors Stepping Up For Boys and Girls in Need This Christmas

Seeking Donations of New, Unwrapped Toys

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

A company familiar to many on the Southwest Side is stepping up for needy children this Christmas season.

All Exterior Contractors will be collecting unwrapped new toys from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6 in the parking lot of Parisi’s, 6216 West 63rd Street.

The toys will then be dropped off with officials from the Chicagoland Toys For Tots organization. They, in turn, distribute toys to boys and girls across the Chicago area via youth groups, shelters, hospitals and group homes, as well as the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.

Everyone at the event must wear a mask and abide by public health guidelines on social distancing.

All Exterior Contractors’ action comes just days after City
reportedly denied permits to the Chicagoland TFT, meaning that the group’s annual motorcycle parade up Western Avenue—said to be the largest motorcycle parade in the world—is cancelled for 2020. It had been scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5.

Fearing that cancellation of the parade would lead to a large shortfall of toys this year, Chicagoland TFT officials have sounded the alarm for assistance.

All Exterior Contractors is answering the call,” said AEC owner Geno Randazzo, who in recent years has successfully led several charitable events designed to serve a wide range of people—but especially children, senior citizens, active-duty military and military veterans, as well as police officers, firefighters and other first responders. “It's bad enough that kids basically lost their summer fun this year, due to the pandemic. I agree with the Toys For Tots slogan that says every child deserves a toy at Christmas. We’re not going to let City Hall cancel Christmas for boys and girls in need. If you have a toy to donate, now is the time."

Supporting All Exterior’s collection effort are a growing number of local businesses, including First Rate Realty, Mike Riordan State Farm Agency, Midway Storage, Amigo Pest Control and the Southwest Chicago Post.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Charge Clearing Man With Murder in Stabbing Death on Narragansett

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

A 31-year-old Clearing man has been charged with first-degree
Victor Smekal

murder after he was arrested on Tuesday, November 17 in Merrillville, Indiana.

Victor A. Smekal, of the 6400 block of South Narragansett, allegedly stabbed and killed 40-year-old Nicholas Alonzo two months ago.

Alonzo was stabbed in the chest and stomach during an argument just after 1:15 a.m. September 17 in a home the 6400 block of South Narragansett.

Alonzo was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Bond was denied. Smekal is in custody of the Cook County Department of Corrections. His next scheduled court date is Wednesday, December 9.

According to public records, Smekal has been arrested five times by CPD since 2014 on charges that included reckless conduct, unlawful use of a weapon, possession of a controlled substance and theft.


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Small Town in the Big City

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

If anyone wonders why Clearing and Garfield Ridge are big-city neighborhoods with a small-town heart, look no further than Liz Trench.

Here’s the big-city part:

On Friday, Oct. 30, a masked thug walked into Clean Clean dry cleaners, 6417 W. Archer, and robbed the place.

A lone bandit walked up to owner Paul Lee, pulled a handgun and used it to whack him on the back of the head. And while Mr. Lee was bleeding and reeling from what may have been a concussion, the robber pulled the cash drawer and made off with a haul estimated in the high hundreds of dollars.

He remains at large and may be the same bandit who has robbed small businesses elsewhere on the Southwest Side and suburbs.

As anyone who has ever owned a business knows, a robbery can be a traumatic thing. Even days later you can feel terrified, violated and all alone.

Such was the case with Mr. Lee and Clean Clean--a well-liked, family-owned and operated business in Garfield Ridge since about 1984.

Here’s the small-town heart part:

Upon learning of the robbery in a local Facebook group, Clearing resident Liz Trench opened her heart and sprang into action.

Like many, Liz is a customer and fan of Clean Clean. She told me she has always been touched by how kind Mr. Lee is to everyone.

"It broke my heart when I found out,” Liz said. “He is kind, sweet, patient and polite. He works so hard."

Liz described the robbery as an "invasion into his life, business, community and home."

If you’re nodding a nod of recognition right about now, you may know what it is to own and operate your own small business. It is indeed your life and your home.

Anyway, Liz went over to Clean Clean to offer a few words of comfort. What she saw was not a surprise.

"His eyes were so sad and empty,” Liz said. “He looked like he hadn't slept. He had been crying. It was so heartbreaking to see. The light in his eyes was gone.”

She then presented him with a card and flowers. Mr. Lee was so touched, he had to choke back tears.

But Mr. Lee had not seen the last of Liz.

Liz admits that she’s "not a person to sit back and do nothing. It's been a long time since I sat back." She decided she wanted to raise money to help out the man who had treated her so well. She started a football pool for an upcoming NFL game.

Within just 24 hours, Liz raised $2,000—half going to prize payouts and half going to—well, you can guess.

So on Tuesday, Nov. 10, Liz walked into Clean Clean and presented a cheerful, colorful board with 20 $50 bills attached.

This time, Mr. Lee could not choke back his tears. They flowed
freely, if only for a few moments.

What Liz did may not take away Mr. Lee's memory of the robbery, but it clearly let him know he is not alone—that he is respected, liked and yes, loved by many people in the small town known as Clearing-Garfield Ridge.

The video helps tell the tale:

If “Liz Trench” sounds like a familiar name, it should.
Liz is a lifelong Clearing resident who graduated from Hale School and then went on to Maria High School. These days, she works at Hale Park as a teacher and coach and has worked at Wentworth Park.

She loves what she does, and through her work over the years, she has made life better for hundreds of people (if not more).

She made headlines in late 2018 when she earned the Teacher of the Year Award from the Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce.

Still a Clearing resident, Liz is married to her wife, Amy, and is mom to two boys ages 15 and 12.

So thanks, Liz Trench. People like you make this “small town in the big city” the special place that it is.

And my thanks to Carrie Buglio for alerting me to this act of kindness. Could not have told the story without you, Carrie.