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Arrest of three subjects helps clear 10-12 suburban burglaries
by Bonnie MacKay                                     
When a number of area police departments pooled their resources, they solved close to a dozen tobacco/cigarette business burglaries in the area.
According to Lombard Police Detective Jim Kohl, Lombard investigators were able to develop suspect information from two recent burglaries that occurred at the Mobil gas station, located at Main Street and North Avenue.
Police reports show that the front door of the business was shattered and cigarettes and cash were taken on Dec. 28, 2015. On Jan. 8, once again the reports show the front door was damaged and cigarettes were taken from the business.
Additionally, Villa Park police were investigating a burglary at Tobacco Plus, 345 E. North Ave., which occurred on Dec. 15, according to Villa Park Police Detective Dennis Campos.
“Information from that case assisted Lombard in developing suspect information,” Campos said, adding that subjects broke the front window of the business and stole multiple cartons of cigarettes.
Campos related that investigators were able to use a video surveillance to develop the suspect information.
On Monday night, Jan. 25, a burglary occurred in Bensenville, according to Lombard Police Detective Lt. Cyndy Velazquez.
“Just after the burglary in Bensenville, Elmhurst police pulled them over on a traffic stop,” Kohl said.
Because the three subjects stopped by Elmhurst police were suspects in the Lombard burglaries, they were brought into the Lombard police station for interviews, Kohl related.
The detective explained that Lombard investigators were able to develop information and obtained a search warrant for the vehicle, where proceeds from the tobacco store burglary in Bensenville were located.
Bensenville police charged James K. Brunt, 55; Lisa L. Armstrong, 47; and Lynn L. Griffith, 48, all of Chicago, with burglary. They were transported to the DuPage County Jail in Wheaton, where as of press time, Brunt was being held in lieu of $150,000 bond, Armstrong was being held in lieu of $100,000 bond and Griffith was being held in lieu of $200,000 bond.
“I am grateful for the hard work, commitment and tenacity of the detectives, especially Lombard police detectives Kohl, Mike Harris and Jason Chudzinski, and all the other detectives for their assistance, and to Lombard Police Sgt. John Malatia for coordinating the investigation,” said Velazquez.
Charges in both Lombard burglaries and the Villa Park burglary are pending.

Lombard jewelry store burglarized by four men; police arrest one
by Bonnie MacKay                                     
Shortly before closing time on Friday, Jan. 29, four male subjects walked into a Lombard jewelry store and left with thousands of dollars in high-end jewelry.
According to Lombard Police Detective Sgt. Mike Chudzinski, the four subjects entered Jared Jewelry, 2370 Fountain Square, reportedly armed with hammers.
Chudzinski said one of the men reportedly stood near the door, while the other three allegedly used hammers “to smash out the jewelry cases and take the jewelry.
“They were in and out real quick,” Chudzinski said, adding that the four subjects took off on foot and scattered in four different directions.
The incident was reported at about 8:39 p.m. and a flash dispatch was immediately sent out to officers.
When a witness reported subjects running in a condo parking lot in the 800 block of East 22nd Street, Chudzinski said officers already were converging on the area.
A Detroit, Mich., man was taken into custody without incident. Donovan Williams, 26, was charged with burglary and possession of burglary tools. He was transported to DuPage County Jail in Wheaton, where as of press time, he was being held in lieu of $40,000 bond.
Lombard police called for assistance of the Felony Investigative Assistance Team’s (FIAT) K-9 Unit, according to Chudzinski, who said officers were searching for the subjects in nearby neighborhoods.
The other three subjects were not apprehended Friday night. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Lombard investigators at 630-873-4400.

‘The Three Sisters’ provides a look at small town Russian life in 1900
by  Suzanne Bolur                              
The audience will be transported to 1900s Russia as Glenbard East High School Theatre presents its winter play, “The Three Sisters.”
Written in 1900 by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov and first performed in 1901, the play focuses on three sisters: Olga, Masha and Irina. The sisters find their small town lives dull and hopeless, and dream of returning to Moscow.
Things are turned upside down when their brother marries a local woman they don’t approve of. The sisters start to lose power in the household as their sister-in-law takes over and they feel trapped.
The play is special to director and speech arts teacher Justin Mayo.
“This is my favorite play that has ever been written,” he said, adding that he fell in love with the play in college. “The characters are so incredibly beautiful and I personally connect to it. Each character has something in them that is so human. We connect to them.  They go through struggles similar to what we go through.”
Mayo said the play takes on themes such as what love is, what it means to love someone and what it means to say “I love you.”
Auditions were held the first week of December and 45 students tried out. For the audition, each student had to prepare a two-minute monologue. According to Mayo, it had to be memorized from a realistic piece and dramatic in nature. Monologues were  performed individually.
Usually Glenbard East’s auditions involve improv, but this one did not.  Mayo explained that he did this to give students more experience in different types of auditions. For callbacks, the students did cold readings from the script. Mayo said 28 students were called back.
“It was one of the more brutal callbacks I’ve had,” said Mayo, adding that he was looking for “actors who could deliver complicated lines in a realistic way.”
“It’s a realistic show and the characters have to be realistic,” he explained, adding that the show is driven by the characters rather than the plot. “It gives actors the opportunity to delve into creating a character that is three-dimensional.”
The play is set in the 1900s in backwoods Russia and Mayo said the cast is using an Irish translation of the Russian play. He said the play is challenging, but “that’s why it’s so worthwhile.”
The theater department likes to choose a variety of plays each year to give students an opportunity to learn new things. This applies to not just the actors, but the crews as well, as they are using a different type of set than the spring play will use. Instead of a box set with lots of walls, they have experimented with platforms and a more abstract design.
The cast consists of 14 students, and Mayo said there’s a lot of chemistry and closeness with the cast, especially the sisters.
Senior Maggie Joyce plays Olga, the oldest sister. Joyce described her character as maternal, constant and mature.
She has been involved in theater since her freshman year, appearing in numerous plays including “Mousetrap,” “Spamalot” and “Our Town.”
Joyce said she went into the auditions knowing she wanted to play Olga.
“This role challenges me as an actor to expand beyond the comedic side of things,” she said.
She explained that it is important to play the character as real as possible.
Joyce said her favorite part of being in the play is being one of the three sisters. She said they are very close and have good stage chemistry.
Amanda O’Brien, a junior, plays the middle sister, Masha. She described her character as unhappy and depressed, and still upset over the loss of her parents.
O’Brien was in “Our Town,” “Macbeth” and “Spamalot.” This is her first big role.
“This character is so different from who I am as an actual person, so it’s been really interesting playing the character,” O’Brien explained. “There’s been several times when Mr. Mayo said, ‘I need you to be really mean here’ and everyone who knows me is laughing on the side because I’m not a mean person at all. But it’s definitely been fun. It’s like bringing out another side of me.”
O’Brien said her favorite part of being involved in the play is how close the cast is, especially the sisters.
“We click really well,” she added.
Senior Maya Ogolini plays Irina, the youngest sister. She described Irina as optimistic and naive, with an unrealistic outlook on life. As the show goes on, she gets a taste of what the real world is like and becomes disillusioned.
Ogolini has been involved in theater since her freshman year, and was in “The Crucible,” “Spamalot,” and “Our Town.” She said this play is different from the others because it’s realism.
“It’s more of a play about real life,” she said. “I think this play can kind of be misinterpreted as a sad play, but I think in the end it depends on the way you look at it.”
Ogolini admitted that she was nervous before the audition and has found the play challenging but fun. She said the cast dynamic has been the best part of working on the show.
“Mr. Mayo did a really good job of casting,” she said. “It absolutely feels like we’re sisters.”
Junior Cassie Piper plays Natasha, the sister-in-law. Natasha is not well liked by the sisters, and becomes controlling and manipulative.
Piper was in “Spamalot,” “Macbeth” and a few student-directed one-act shows. This is her first major role.
“It’s really exciting,” she said, describing her character as multi-faceted. “It’s fun to get to play different aspects of her personality.”
Piper admitted the audition process was “pretty scary” and said that when she first read the script, it was a bit confusing. However, she said it’s now become second nature. She’s enjoyed digging deeper to find her character, and working with the close-knit cast.
“We’re all really good friends, which is nice,” she added.
Joe Ruppenthal, a senior, plays Col. Vershinin. Ruppenthal described his character as a lovesick man who travels a lot, often flirts and has affairs. He has two children and his wife has tried to commit suicide.
Ruppenthal became involved in theater during his junior year. He said he had taken an intro to theater class during his sophomore year and Mr. Kaetzer encouraged him to audition for a play.  He played the lead role in “Macbeth,” which he said was his favorite show. He also played the detective in “The Mousetrap.”
“I’ve enjoyed playing a character that’s out of the norm for me,” he said. His other roles were dark and crazy, but this role is romantic and real. His character is also older, which has given him the opportunity to learn how to apply old-age makeup.
Ruppenthal said he’s had to juggle advanced placement classes and a job in addition to the show, but he’s enjoyed being a part of it.
“It’s a compliment and honor to perform it,” he said.
Freshman Will Wightkin plays Fedotik, a sub-lieutenant in the army who is stationed in the town where the sisters live. He has a crush on Irina and gives her gifts to show his affection.
Wightkin played the father in the school’s fall dance play, “Wii Dance Through the Night.”
He said he was nervous about auditioning for the play, but said everyone has been extremely welcoming and he looks forward to trying out for future productions.
“The Three Sisters” runs tonight through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7. For more information, call 630-424-6640.

Lombard police warn residents of IRS telephone scam
With the recent report of IRS phone scam calls in Lombard, Lombard police are reminding residents to never give out personal information or wire money over the phone.
Scammers claiming to work for the IRS are calling residents and demanding payment for alleged money owed, according to a statement from the attorney general’s office. Callers often instruct their victims to add money to a prepaid debit card and to tell them the number of the card over the phone. The calls often display a (202) Washington D.C. area code and may seem legitimate.
It is important for residents to remember that the Internal Revenue Service will never call you to demand immediate payment, demand you to make a payment without question or an appeal, require a specific form of payment, or threaten to involve police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying. For more information, visit their Web site at www.irs.gov.
Residents are reminded to never send any amount of money, to hang up and immediately dial 9-1-1 after being contacted the first time. After reporting the call to 9-1-1, then call the IRS directly to confirm your financial security. Any money that is given to scammers is rarely recovered. Lombard police are asking residents to advise seniors of the phone scams and remind them to never give out personal information or send money over the phone.
For more information, contact Lombard police at 630-873-4400.

Former substitute teacher at District 45 arrested in Cook County
A substitute teacher who worked in School District 45 as recently as 2009 was charged last week with criminal sexual assault of a child in Cook County.
Joseph Gurzejk of Westchester, was taken into custody on Jan. 26 by Cook County Sheriff’s Police. Gurzejk was reportedly working as a substitute teacher at La Grange Highlands Elementary School on Jan. 25. According to a statement from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, authorities responded to a report that Gurzejk inappropriately touched a female student that day after class.
Gurzejk, 56, was charged with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and aggravated criminal sexual abuse on Jan. 27. He appeared in bond court on Thursday at the Cook County Courthouse in Bridgeview. Judge Peter Felice set bond at $750,000. Gurzejk’s next court date is Feb. 24.
A statement issued by the Cook County State’s Attorney related that Gurzejk was teaching the victim’s class when he reportedly hugged the child and asked her to stay after class. After the other students left the room, Gurzejk allegedly hugged the child again and began fondling the victim under her clothing

The victim reportedly went to lunch and disclosed what had happened to a fellow student. After school, the victim reported the incident to school officials.
Gurzejk reportedly worked as a substitute teacher at La Grange Highlands Elementary School since 2004. He was a substitute teacher in District 45 schools from the 2004-05 school year until the 2008-09 school year. According to Jean Hockensmith, District 45’s director of communications, Gurzejk went through both federal and state background checks as part of the hiring process.
Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart asks anyone with additional information to call 708-865-4896.

LFD outlines safety tips for burn and scald precautions
In conjunction with Burn Awareness Week, Feb. 1-7, the American Burn Association and the Lombard Fire Department Bureau of Fire Prevention, are providing information relating to scald injury prevention and some helpful precautions.
Scald injuries are painful and require prolonged treatment. They may result in lifelong scarring and even death. Prevention of scalds is always preferable to treatment and can be accomplished through simple changes in behavior and the home environment.
“Although anyone can sustain a scald burn, certain people are more likely to be scalded– infants, young children, older adults and people with disabilities. These high risk groups are also more likely to require hospitalization, suffer complications, and experience a difficult recovery,” said Lombard Fire Marshal Chuck Riforgiate. “Most burn injuries occur in the person’s own home and the vast majority of these injuries could have easily been prevented.”
Tap water scalds are often more severe than cooking-related scalds. The American Burn Association recommends the following simple safety tips to decrease the risk to yourself and those you love from tap water scalds:
•Set home water heater thermostats to deliver water at a temperature no higher than 120 degrees F. An easy method to test this is to allow hot water to run for three to five minutes, and then test with a candy, meat or water thermometer. Adjust the water heater and wait a day to let the temperature drop. Re-test and re-adjust as necessary.
•Provide constant adult supervision of young children or anyone who may experience difficulty removing themselves from hot water on their own. Gather all necessary supplies before placing a child in the tub and keep them within easy reach.
•Fill tub to desired level before getting in. Run cold water first, then add hot. Turn off the hot water first. This can prevent scalding in case someone should fall while the tub is filling. Mix the water thoroughly and check the temperature by moving your elbow, wrist or hand with spread fingers through the water before allowing someone to get in.
•Install grab bars, shower seats or non-slip flooring in tubs or showers if the person is unsteady or weak.
•Avoid flushing toilets, running water or using the dish- or clothes washer while anyone is showering.
•Install anti-scald or tempering devices. These heat sensitive instruments stop or interrupt the flow of water when the temperature reaches a pre-determined level and prevent hot water that is too hot from coming out of the tap.
Cooking-related scalds are also easy to prevent. Some things you can do to make your home safer from cooking-related burns include:
•Establish a “kid zone” out of the traffic path between the stove and sink where children can safely play and still be supervised. Keep young children in high chairs or play yards, a safe distance from counter or stovetops, hot liquids, hot surfaces or other cooking hazards.
•Cook on back burners when young children are present. Keep all pot handles turned back, away from the stove edge. All appliance cords should be coiled and away from the counter edge.
•During mealtime, place hot items in the center of the table, at least 10 inches from the table edge. Use non-slip placemats instead of tablecloths if toddlers are present. Never drink or carry hot liquids while carrying or holding a child. Quick motions may cause spilling of the liquid onto the child.
For more information about preventing scald injuries, contact the American Burn Association at 312-642-9260 or visit www.ameriburn.org.

No formal proposals on events, says committee
The Lombard Village Board recently approved the final report and recommendations of the Lombard Pride Committee in regard to future community events and festivals within the village. The committee recommendations accepted by the village board include the continuation of the Fourth of July fireworks display in 2016, continued financial support for year-round special events and continued acceptance of proposals for special events and community festivals from local not-for-profit organizations.
The Lombard Pride Committee was created by the village in June 2015 to support the village board in evaluating the potential for future community events and festivals within the village. The eight-member resident group was tasked with identifying preferences for future special events and community festivals within the community and evaluating any proposals for new events.
The pride committee issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) in the fall of 2015, seeking a qualified not-for-profit group or groups to plan and operate a future village-wide summer community event or festival. While the committee identified some preliminary interest through its outreach efforts, no formal event proposals were received.
On Jan. 21, the village board approved and accepted the committee’s final report and recommendations. Pursuant to the recommendation, the village will continue to host a Fourth of July fireworks display for 2016 as well as continue its ongoing support of other special events throughout the year. Special-event funding and support from the village are currently granted to events including the Cruise Nights and the downtown summer concerts, the Lilac Time Parade, the Lilac Time Arts & Craft Fair, Spooktacular, Jingle Bell Jubilee, the Civil War reenactment, downtown sports viewing events and the Lombard Ale Fest.
Additionally, the Village of Lombard will continue to accept proposals from local non-profit organizations for additional or new special events or community festivals year round. Village President Keith Giagnorio, who served as chairman to the Lombard Pride Committee, stated, “While no formal responses were received as part of the RFP, the work of the committee set the stage for future community festivals and celebrations moving forward. We’re leaving the door open for local organizations to bring forward their concepts and proposals for new events as they develop into the future.”
The village will continue with ongoing communication efforts to encourage qualified organizations to submit their concepts and proposals to host a future community events or festivals within the village. Groups interested in submitting a special event proposal are encouraged to contact Assistant Village Manager Nicole Aranas at 630-620-3085. For additional information on the Lombard Pride Committee final report and recommendations, as well as the event RFP, visit www.villageoflombard.org/ pridecommittee.

Village of Lombard posts campaign sign restrictions
With the primary election on March 15 approaching, the Village of Lombard offers the following regulations pertaining to political campaign signs located within the village.
• Political campaign signs can only be located on private property and cannot be located within the parkways or on public rights-of-way.
• For most residential properties, the overall sign size may not exceed 9 square feet in area. There is no restriction to the number of signs allowed.
• For commercial properties and residential properties exceeding 1 acre, signs cannot exceed 32 square feet in area; however, if a sign is greater than 16 square feet in area on those properties, a no-fee permit is required from the village. The required permit, which will be issued over the counter, will ensure that the signs are properly located and are not within a clear line of sight area. While there are no restrictions as to the number of political campaign signs 16 square feet or less in area on these properties, only one political campaign sign of greater than 16 square feet is permitted, per street frontage.
• Political campaign signs exceeding 2 feet in height above grade shall not be located within the clear line of sight areas at driveways or street intersections.
• Political campaign signage placed on private property should have the consent of the property owner.
• To help keep Lombard looking its best, the village encourages the removal of signs after the election. Political campaign signs displayed on commercial properties must be removed by March 25.
For additional information regarding code provisions, contact the community development department at 630-620-5757.

Delay in ‘Early Voting’ program
Although Feb. 4, 2016 is the statutory start of "Early Voting" for the March 15, 2016, primary ballots will not be available on that date due to several pending petition objections at the state and local levels.
The Election Commission anticipates that ballots will be available on or about Feb. 17, by which time challenges to a candidate's placement on the ballot should be determined and the official ballot and voting equipment prepared.
Should ballots be available prior to Feb. 17, the commission will update its Web site for more information at dupageco.org/election. In the interim, any voters who arrive at the Election Commission office will be provided with an application to vote by mail.
When early voting and grace period registration does commence, it will be offered only at the office of the DuPage County Election Commission, 421 N. County Farm Road, Wheaton, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Feb. 27.
Starting Feb. 29, the Early Voting program will expand to 11 sites throughout the county.
Visit https://www.dupageco.org/ Election/Voting/earlyvoting/ for a complete list of early voting sites and schedules.