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Behind schedule, but moving forward

FEBRUARY’S EXTREME COLD TEMPERATURES not only broke longstanding records, but also slowed the progress on construction of the new pedestrian underpass at the Metra station in downtown Lombard. The extreme temperatures resulted in the frost line deepening this winter, making it necessary to move the expected completion date for the pedestrian tunnel from February to the beginning of May. Trying to make up for lost time, Metra extended the work hours which has construction crews working weekends. The pedestrian underpass at Lombard’s Metra station, at a cost of $8.1 million, is part of a federal project, which will spend $250 million nationwide to eliminate at-grade crossings. Metra, Union Pacific Railroad,  the Illinois Commerce Commission and the Village of Lombard joined forces to make the pedestrian tunnel a reality. Construction on the underpass project, which began in early August 2014, was expected to take 10 months to complete. According to a Metra update on the Village of Lombard Web site, upon substantial completion, the pedestrian tunnel will be opened and the at-grade crossing on the train platform will be closed to pedestrians. The platforms from Main Street to the old grade crossing will be restored and at this time the new daily fee pay stations will be installed. This will mean that commuters will need to access the Metra platform via the underpass or by using Main Street. Information on the Web site goes on to say that additional work by Union Pacific along the ends of the train platforms will complete the project. This final phase of construction should have limited inconvenience to the more than 1,280 Lombard commuters served by Metra on a daily basis. Information on the Metra project is available on the Village of Lombard’s Web site at www.villageoflombard.org/metraproject. To sign up for construction e-mail, enter your e-mail address at www.villageoflombard.org/metramail or e-mail communications@villageoflombard.org and “Please add me to Metra Listserv” in the subject line.

Lombard man sentenced to 10 years on weapons charge

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin announced last week that Markeith Williams, 21, of Lombard, had been sentenced to 10 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for firing a handgun at a Wheaton home and striking an occupant within.
On March 17, Williams entered a plea of guilty to one count of aggravated discharge of a firearm, a Class 1 felony, in front of Judge Daniel Guerin, who handed down the sentence.
On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, at approximately 7:30 p.m., Williams was driving through Wheaton when he rolled down his car window and fired one shot. The bullet struck a female occupant in a home in her shoulder. An investigation into the shooting by the Wheaton Police Department led authorities to Williams, who was arrested the next day and taken into custody without incident.
“Today Mr. Williams took responsibility for his incredibly reckless behavior that evening,” Berlin said. “Had the bullet fired by Mr. Williams been a few inches to the left, his victim may not be with us today and Mr. Williams would be facing murder charges. Thankfully she has made a full recovery from her injuries. Individuals have the right to feel safe in their homes and Mr. Williams’ actions that night violated the safety and security of not only his victim’s home but the entire community. I would like to thank the Wheaton Police Department for their assistance throughout this entire case.”
Williams, who has been in custody since his arrest, held on a $1 million bond, will be required to serve 85 percent of his sentence before being eligible for parole. He will receive credit for the time he has already served in custody.

Villa Park police investigate call for damage from multiple gunshots

While it appears “the whole neighborhood heard shots being fired” in Villa Park the night of March 15, it was not until damage to a home and vehicle were discovered on March 19 that police were called.
According to Villa Park Police Detective Sgt. Dan McCann, a resident in the 200 block of North Harvard notified police after finding a bullet hole in a south side window of his home and a vehicle parked in his driveway.
A responding officer located a bullet fragment on the driveway, as well as near a tree in the yard south of the driveway, according to police reports. A bullet-size indentation was also observed on a parkway sign.
McCann said after police were notified of the damage and found the projectiles, officers canvassed the area and learned that although “everybody heard” the gunshots, no one reported the gunshots or seeing anything happen.
After learning of the damage from the gunshots, McCann related that “Everybody said they wished they would have called police.”
“We urge the public to call 9-1-1 when they hear possible gunshots and let us investigate it,” McCann said, “and let us determine if it’s legitimate.”
Anyone with information on the gunshot incident, which occurred at about 3 a.m. on Sunday, March 15, is asked to contact Villa Park detectives at 630-834-7447.
–Bonnie MacKay

District 87 school board seeks committee members

Community members have a great opportunity to share their ideas and talents with Glenbard Township High School District 87. Glenbard District 87 invites the public to serve on a board of education committee.
Community members will be appointed to serve on each of the board’s four committees, which include: Student Performance and Achievement; Policy; Finance and Facility; and Communication, Legislation and Partnerships. Each committee includes board of education members, Glenbard District 87 administrators and community representatives.
Applications to serve on a committee are available by contacting board of education secretary Roberta Crowe at roberta_crowe@ glenbard.org or 630-942-7670. The deadline to submit an application is Monday, April 6.
Committee applicants will be interviewed during an evening session in mid-April.
The Finance & Facility Committee provides guidance and direction to the board of education regarding business operations of Glenbard District 87 specifically in the areas of finance and facilities. All proposals and bids go through the committee for review. All major expenses are discussed by this committee before going to the full board for approval. The committee meets prior to each board of education meeting.
The Student Performance and Achievement Committee reviews such issues as new course proposals, summer school, sectioning of courses and graduation requirements.  Student Performance and Achievement Committee members also discuss the four high schools’ athletics programs and special education services. They are updated on such issues as staff development, school improvement plans and the district improvement plan. Committee members are also advised of staffing needs. The committee meets regularly throughout the year.
The Policy Committee reviews and revises board policies as needed or recommended by the Illinois State Board of Education. The committee meets monthly.
The Communication, Legislation and Partnerships Committee has been active on legislative issues for many years. Committee members also discuss communication and partnership opportunities. The committee meets regularly throughout the year.

Breen passes first bills through committee

 After a contentious hearing, Rep. Peter Breen advanced his first two bills out of the House Judiciary-Civil Committee this week. Breen will seek to move at least one more bill next week, prior to the committee deadline for the spring session.
“These bills are part of my overall agenda to empower taxpayers and promote personal freedom, while curbing clearly abusive business practices,” said Breen. “I’m proud to work for bipartisan support to advance that agenda. While it’s not easy to advance bills when you’re in the minority party, working across the aisle is the only way to bring about the reforms that are vitally necessary to turn around Illinois.”
The first bill, HB2690, would change the law to allow consumers to purchase unpasteurized or “raw” milk directly from a dairy farmer. According to the federal government, up to 400,000 Illinoisans drink raw milk daily. Because current law provides for misdemeanor criminal charges for many of these sales, Illinois residents often have to purchase the milk in underground transactions. The bill will allow these individuals to purchase raw milk in the open.
Breen sees this as both pro-business and pro-freedom legislation: “While we don’t have any farms in the 48th District, we have plenty of folks who enjoy drinking raw milk, whether for the taste or for the health properties of this unpasteurized product. Our ancestors drank raw milk for thousands of years, and modern technology has greatly improved farmers' ability to safely produce this product. The hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who purchase and drink raw milk in Illinois should not be considered criminals.”
Breen presented three witnesses in support of the measure, including a farmer from Cook County who sells raw milk and other organic and natural products at his farm, a woman who drinks raw milk for her health, and Wes King, Executive Director of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a group supporting greater production and consumption of healthy, local food across the state.
The bill was heavily opposed by a number of public health administrators who believe that raw milk should be banned altogether. After debate, the bill passed the committee with a vote of 9-2 and now goes to the floor of the House for second reading. Breen has secured numerous cosponsors, both Democrats and Republicans, to help the bill move forward.
The second piece of legislation, HB 2691, was passed by the Judiciary Civil Committee after a brief hearing. This bill would prohibit the practice of “copyright trolling.” Breen has received numerous reports of out-of-state corporations threatening individuals and small nonprofits with lawsuits, merely for posting widely-available images on their Web sites.
These large out-of-state interests often demand thousand-dollar “settlements” to avoid legal action, while refusing to provide any objective proof that they hold copyrights to the images. In many cases, the images in question are worth five to $15 at most, not the thousands of dollars claimed by the “trolling” corporations. The bill passed out of committee unanimously and will go to the House Floor for second reading.
“This legislation is a common-sense protection for Illinois residents and small nonprofits against abusive business practices by foreign corporations,” said Breen “Folks shouldn’t have to fear financial ruin just for posting pictures on their Web sites or Facebook.”

Naperville man pleads guilty to stealing $500,000 from Islamic Foundation

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin announced Monday that Inam Rahim, 60, of Naperville entered a blind plea of guilty to one count of theft over $100,000 for stealing approximately $500,000 from his former employer, the Islamic Foundation, in Villa Park. Rahim entered his plea in front of Judge John Kinsella on March 23.
In 1999, Rahim began his employment with the Islamic Foundation, a religious organization comprised of a mosque, as well as a school.  As director of business and finance, Rahim oversaw the foundation’s payroll, as well as issuing checks for the foundation’s purchases.
Beginning in May 2009, Rahim began padding his own payroll checks and added his wife, who did not work at the foundation, to the payroll. He also issued checks to a company he owned, Right Enterprises, DBA Yoomna’s Gifts, in Naperville, for unspecified expenses.
The thefts occurred for a two-year period from May 2009, through June 2011. Rahim was terminated from his position with the foundation on July 13, 2011. Rahim’s scheme came to light when the foundation uncovered discrepancies after conducting a payroll review. On April 30, 2012, the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office filed felony theft charges against Rahim. He has been out on bond since that time.
“For more than two years, Inam Rahim used the bank accounts of the Islamic Foundation as his own personal piggy bank to the tune of more than half a million dollars,” Berlin said. “This afternoon, Mr. Rahim admitted his guilt. Because defendants in financial crimes are oftentimes very familiar with their victim’s financial situation and have earned their trust, these types of crimes can be very difficult to uncover. I would like to thank the Villa Park Police Department, particularly Officer Jeff Runge, for their fine work in unraveling Mr. Rahim’s scheme. I would also like to thank authorities at the Islamic Foundation for bringing this matter to our attention and for their full cooperation throughout the investigation. I would also like to thank assistant state’s attorneys Shantikumar Kulkarni and Diane Michalak for their work on this case and for their continued work in fighting white collar crime.”
Rahim’s next court appearance is scheduled for May 18 for return of the pre-sentence report. He faces a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Battle of the Mayors at Rock Bottom, Crazy Pour

So what would make Lombard Village President Keith Giagnorio challenge Villa Park President Deborah Bullwinkel to a Celebrity Bartender Competition?
The answer is simple—a chance to give back to the Tri-Town YMCA through a friendly competition. The proceeds gained from this border-town competition will benefit the Tri-Town YMCA, making the communities of both Lombard and Villa Park the ultimate winners.
Giagnorio and his wife Angela invite their fellow Lombardians to join them at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in Lombard on Thursday, April 9, from 6-9 p.m. Across the border, Bullwinkel and her husband Mike ask their Villa Park neighbors to join them at Crazy Pour in Villa Park, Sunday, April 12, from 4-7 p.m.
This friendly fundraising competition kicks-off the Y’s annual support campaign and features many different aspects for a great night.  Both events will feature a split-the- pot raffle as well as a chance to win a recliner, compliments of La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries.
Rock Bottom will be brewing the “Tri-Town Brown,” a medium bodied brown ale craft beer, created special for this event. At Villa Park’s Crazy Pour, guests will find special drinks such as “The Mayor,” a cream ale craft beer on tap. Combined with the great food available at both venues and time out to enjoy with neighbors, this has the makings of a memorable evening.
The Tri-Town YMCA has been a longtime anchor in both communities, benefiting families in many different ways. Working parents gain peace of mind knowing they have a reliable form of care that not only provides a safe place for their children away from home, but also teaches kids how to live a healthy, active and fulfilling lifestyle. Financial scholarships benefit those with the greatest need. 
The Tri-Town YMCA has many active partnerships with local schools as well, working in tandem to offer academic enrichment in the form of literacy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). New in the coming months is a partnership with Walmart, Northern Illinois Food Bank,  school districts 44 and 45, and New Hope Community Church of Villa Park to incorporate free meals in the programs Tri-Town Y offers in lower income areas.
If you’re interested in lending your support, but can’t attend the event, donations supporting the Y can be dropped off at Rock Bottom or Crazy Pour beginning on March 26, and will be counted as part of the competition. 
For more information on these events or to find out more about the Y in your community. contact the Y office at 630-629-9622 or by e-mail at info@tritownymca.org.