Giagnorio delivers annual state of village address at Westin by Bonnie MacKay Despite recent issues on medical marijuana, the Lilac Princesses program, and video gambling, Lombard Village President Keith Giagnorio said the state of the village is strong during his annual state of the village address last week. The village president delivered the address during the Lombard Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s luncheon at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center on Feb. 18. “Two years ago, I entered office at a crossroads,” Giagnorio said. “Following the 2013 elections, half our board members were new and we were still recovering from the loss of our respected, longtime village president Bill Mueller. We were all Lombardians, but we were not yet a team.” He went on to say the board members not only needed to build trust, but needed to gain confidence and improve communication. “We found that common ground,” the village president said last week. “Today, we are a team. We are partners. We are united in working together to enhance our quality of life, safeguard our families and neighborhoods, and promote job creation and investment.” While not always agreeing on every issue, Giagnorio explained that healthy debates by the board has led the board to make the best possible choices for the residents.
Developing a vision and setting goals, the board agreed to work together for the betterment of the residents and businesses. “Our overreaching goal was to make our village the best possible partner and servant to our residents and businesses that it could be,” he said. “I am privileged to work with these fine public servants.” He acknowledged the trustees, noting there was a vacancy on the board due to former District 4 Trustee Peter Breen being elected as the first state representative from Lombard.
“While this may have been a loss on our board, Rep. Breen will be our advocate and partner in Springfield,” Giagnorio said. Moving on to some of the progress made, Giagnorio cited the Vista Pond Expansion Project that will provide much needed additional storm water storage, funded in part by a $500,000 state grant. Another project, the Hill Avenue Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program, will be made possible by a partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). “The bridge, built in 1955, has deteriorated to the point that we were forced to impose weight limits,” he said. Although IDOT will provide 80 percent of the estimated $2 million cost, the villages of Lombard and Glen Ellyn will split the remaining 20 percent of the cost.
Another partnership will provide increased safety by the upgrade of the crossing gates at Elizabeth Street with a quad gate system. Giagnorio outlined that the new pedestrian tunnel at the Metra station is expected to open around April 1. It will feature ADA compliant ramps, stairways, platform shelters and canopies over both platforms. The new underpass will increase access to downtown Lombard. “It brings our town together; linking the library, Maple Street Chapel, the Victorian Cottage and Carriage House and our crown jewel, Lilacia Park,” Giagnorio said. The village president said that one of the reasons the state of Lombard is sound is because the village’s finances are sound. This year’s General Fund budget reduces expenditures by approximately 3 percent. Despite a water rate increase imposed by the City of Chicago, the village’s utility rates remain below average among comparable communities in the area, he said.
“Lombard is open for business,” Giagnorio said, adding that last year 2,000 new permits were issued, making it the highest number of permits issued since 2007. He also added that there are 143 new businesses in the village. In an attempt to stay connected to residents, the village began an E-News program, which has nearly 3,000 subscribers. In addition, information is shared by the village on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Tumblr. “While I may not actually use all of these personally, many of you do, especially our younger residents and it is our goal to make everyone in our village connected and informed,” Giagnorio said.
The village president said that good schools, safe streets, keeping costs down and keeping services high makes the village strong. “Lombard is strong because each and every one of us loves Lombard,” he said. “We’re all in this together, working with each other for the best interests of this great community.” The text, a video of the address and cable broadcast schedules are available on the village’s Web site at villageoflombard.org.
Fitzpatrick steps down as village trustee, will work as district director for Nybo District 5 Trustee Laura Fitzpatrick announced at the Feb. 19 village board meeting that she will be stepping down from her position as trustee effective March 1. Fitzpatrick is currently serving her second term of office as District 5 trustee. She is not running for re-election and her term is set to conclude in May. “I want to sincerely thank the residents of District 5 and the people of Lombard for the privilege of serving them as trustee for the last eight years,” stated Fitzpatrick. As chair to Lombard’s Community Promotion and Tourism and Economic/Community Development committees, Fitzpatrick shared that prior to stepping down, “It was vital to me to complete all of my committee work on both of the committees I am privileged to serve on as chairman.” With the review of the 2015 Local Tourism grant program applications completed at the Feb. 19 village board meeting, Fitzpatrick noted that, “All of the agenda items my committees have been tasked are now finalized.” Lombard Village President Keith Giagnorio stated, “On behalf of the village board, the staff and the village, I wish to thank Trustee Fitzpatrick for her years of dedicated service to our community. As senior trustee, she has been a committed and staunch advocate for the people of District 5 and the people of Lombard.” “I truly do love working for the government and advocating for the good citizens of my district,” Fitzpatrick said. “I will continue in public service as district director to Sen. Nybo, working in the best village of them all, Lombard.” Constituents of District 5 may contact Giagnorio with their issues and concerns until such time as the District 5 trustee office has been filled. Contact information for residents seeking to reach the village president may do so at firstname.lastname@example.org and 630-620-5710.
Tip leads to arrest of Villa Park man on drug and gun charges by Bonnie MacKay Information obtained by Villa Park police led to the arrest of a 23-year-old Villa Park man on drug and gun charges. Villa Park officers received information about activity in the 200 block of East St. Charles Road, where it was reported that people were coming and going from a business which was believed to be vacant. On Feb. 20 at approximately 8 p.m., officers stopped and spoke to a male subject, identified as Brian Pittman, as he exited the building. Upon speaking with Pittman, officers found he reportedly was in possession of cannabis and $600 in cash. When officers checked the vacant business, they located an amount of cannabis, cocaine, heroin and 38 pills of Ecstasy from inside a bathroom in the common area of the multi-unit business building, according to a department press release. According to Villa Park police Detective Sgt. Dan McCann, officers then learned that Pittman reportedly was residing within one of the units inside the building. Subsequently, officers obtained a search warrant for the unit. Upon searching the unit officers recovered approximately 174 grams of cannabis and $10,000 in cash hidden inside a refrigerator, which McCann said was a small portable one. Officers also recovered a loaded 9 mm handgun. The detective said the unit did not have heat or water and was a vacant storefront in a strip mall. Brian Pittman was taken into custody without incident, according to McCann, who added that officers are unsure how long the Villa Park man has been residing in the building. Pittman was charged with two counts of possession of controlled substance, one count of felony possession of cannabis and misdemeanor charges for possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of firearm without a valid FOID (Firearm Owners Identification Card) and possession of firearm ammunition without a valid FOID. “The officer was very observant,” the sergeant said, “and took the extra steps necessary to find out what was going on [in the vacant storefront].” Pittman was transported to the DuPage County Jail, where as of press time, he was being held in lieu of $50,000 bond.
‘Clean Slate’ for C.O.D. candidates endorsed ON MONDAY, FEB. 23, Frank Napolitano, Charles Bernstein and Deanne Mazzochi announced they would be running as the “Clean Slate” candidates in the April 7 election for College of DuPage trustees and would seek to “claw back” COD president Robert Breuder’s $760,000 retirement bonus. The candidates were introduced by Clean Slate campaign chair Jim Nalepa at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center Monday morning. Kathy Hamilton , the only COD trustee to vote against Breuder’s retirement bonus, endorsed the Clean Slate candidates. “The current board’s failures are so obvious that the Chicago Tribune has called on all of the other board members to step down,” Hamilton said. “By endorsing these fine individuals, each with stellar qualifications to contribute to COD’s repair, I am giving our district a solution to the current problem. If you want the madness at COD to end, vote for Charles Bernstein, Frank Napolitano and Deanne Mazzochi.” The Clean Slate has already knocked on doors in York, Bloomingdale and Downers Grove townships. The group is committed to running a “doorstep campaign,” to reconnect with voters across the three counties and 825 precincts that make up College of DuPage’s district. For more information, visit www.CleanSlateforCOD.com.
Conroy wants audit of C.O.D.’s ‘rampant waste’ State Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, is co-sponsoring legislation to conduct an audit on all spending at the College of DuPage during fiscal years 2011 through 2014. “The rampant waste and breach of the public trust that has occurred at the College of DuPage is shameful,” Conroy said. “With the state looking at steep budget cuts to vital programs that many folks depend on, including funding for educational programs, the blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars that occurred at COD is absolutely unacceptable.“ Unlike previously filed legislation, House Resolution 162 requires an audit of all funds spent rather than just an audit of state funds. The resolution also requires investigation of any potential fiduciary responsibility violations committed by the board of trustees. Additionally, the legislation forces College of DuPage to cover the expenses of the audit. “Taxpayers should not have to pay to clean up the mess that has occurred at COD,” Conroy said. “To rebuild the public’s trust with COD we need to know exactly how the funds were spent, why these decisions were made, and hold the folks who made these decisions accountable.”
Giagnorio names Johnston as interim District 4 trustee At the Lombard Village Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 19, Lombard Village President Keith Giagnorio, with the unanimous approval of the village board of trustees, appointed Bill Johnston to fulfill the remaining term of trustee for District 4. Johnston will fill the vacancy created Jan. 1 of this year upon the resignation of Peter Breen, who stepped down to take office as state representative to the 48th District of Illinois. Pursuant to state statute, the village president has the authority to make an appointment to a trustee vacancy within 60 days following the vacancy, with the advice and consent of the board of trustees. Johnston received the unanimous consent of the village board of trustees and was sworn into office by Lombard Village Clerk Sharon Kuderna. Johnston is the sole candidate running for the District 4 trustee office in the upcoming April 7 general election. A Lombard resident for the past 31 years, Johnston is a retired vice president of sales for a printing company. Johnston served as president of the Sacred Heart Parish Council for 10 years and has volunteered as a soccer coach through the Lombard Park District for 14 years. “It is an honor and privilege to be given this opportunity,” Johnston said. “I am looking forward to working with the village president, the trustees of the village board and village staff to serve the people of District 4 and the Village of Lombard.”
Bond set for former C.O.D. employee accused of theft DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin announced that felony theft charges have been filed against a Wheaton man accused of stealing more than $200,000 from the College of DuPage (COD). John Valenta, 65, of 1757 Lucky Debonair Ct., appeared in bond court on Feb. 19, where Judge Robert Rohm ordered he be held on $400,000 bond with 10 percent to apply. Valenta has been charged with one count of theft in excess of $100,000, a Class 1 felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The charges are the result of a 13-month-long investigation conducted by the state’s attorney’s office and the College of DuPage.
Valenta was employed as a radio station engineer at the college’s radio station, WDCB, for approximately 30 years. In October 2013, an internal audit conducted at the radio station allegedly revealed an abnormally large number of costly invoices for radio station engineering services from a company named Broadcast Technologies, which Valenta owned. Many of the invoices were allegedly for repairs to the radio transmitter, which were the responsibility of Valenta. An investigation into the matter revealed that from June 2006, through December 2013, Valenta allegedly submitted Broadcast Technologies invoices to the College of DuPage for merchandise and labor for work purported to be done at WDCB. The investigation also revealed that the labor and merchandise listed on the invoices, totaling approximately $200,829.77, were never delivered to WDCB.
“The allegations in this case clearly illustrate the concept of simple greed,” Berlin said. “The defendant had a good job for more than two decades before he allegedly decided to illegally supplement his income at the expense of the College of DuPage. I would like to thank the authorities at the College of DuPage, particularly Daniel Bindert and Detective Kent Munsterman, for uncovering Mr. Valenta’s alleged scheme and for bringing this matter to our attention. I would also like to thank assistant state’s attorney Ken Tatarelis for his extended efforts in preparing a very strong case against Mr. Valenta.” A $400,000 arrest warrant was issued for Valenta by the College of DuPage Police Department on the morning of Feb. 19 and he was taken into custody without incident.
“We understand the state’s attorney’s ongoing investigation of alleged fraud at WDCB has resulted in the arrest of John Valenta,” said COD President Robert L. Breuder. “This administration uncovered the alleged fraud and worked closely with the state’s attorney’s office to provide them with the appropriate information. We thank the COD Police Department investigators and the state’s attorney’s office for their diligence in this matter.” Valenta’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 2 in front of Judge Brian Telander.