Police Report – December 24, 2007

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The Park Forest Police Station. (Photo: Wendy Heise)

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Editor’s Note: We continue our reporting on news from police reports. Besides covering the many stories from around Park Forest that otherwise might go unnoticed, we want to bring more complete coverage of police reports than is reported by other local media.

An arrest does not mean that a person is guilty. All those arrested are presumed innocent until proven guilty. It is the policy of eNews Park Forest to not remove items in the public record from publication. If your name is listed in the police reports, we will only add information relevant to the final disposition of the case at hand, e.g. "Mr. Smith was subsequently acquitted," or "All charges against Mr. Smith were subsequently dropped." We will do so upon receiving and verifying proof of such disposition.

We will always include some introductory comments before the first item. While everything that follows is a matter of public record, we do not believe it is necessary to have names on page one. 

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PSC Board Accepts Dr. McCarthy’s Resignation

Chicago Heights, IL–(ENEWSPF)– The Prairie State College Board of Trustees approved the resignation of College President Paul McCarthy Tuesday evening.

After several board members expressed regret for McCarthy leaving, the board unanimously approved the resignation.

“With deep regret, I move we accept your resignation from our school,” said board member Peg Donohue.

The motion, which was originally in the consent agenda, was pulled for discussion out of respect for McCarthy by some board members.

“I would like to say I’m extraordinarily proud of everything that we’ve accomplished at Prairie State College,” McCarthy said.

Park Forest Resident Joan Adams directed a question to Board Chair Mark Fazzini about the hiring process for McCarthy’s replacement.

“Many in our community are saddened by Dr. McCarthy’s resignation, and are worried about the future of the college. We would like to see another strong and independent administrator in this position who will continue in the manner of Dr. McCarthy and go the extra mile, such as applying for and receiving grants, and approving ratings of the college,” Adams said. “I would like to know what your criterion is for a new president, and do you think a one year contract will attract the most qualified candidate?”

Fazzini said the board is soliciting names for an interim president from the Association of Community College Trustees, the Illinois Community College Trustee Association and ACCT trustees from around the country that served on ACCT’s board, and asking board members if they know any potential candidates.

Trustee Mary Johnson, who serves as board liaison to the ACCT, said at the board meeting she asked ACCT Vice President for Research, Education and Board Leadership Services Dr. Narcissa Polonio about the resumes for candidates.  According to Johnson, Polonio said she sent the resumes to Board Chari Mark Fazzini, and that ACCT as a courtesy would send the resumes to all board members, “at their home or office, whichever would be more appropriate, and that [Board Chair Fazzini] denied that.” According to Johnson, Fazzini asked that resumes be sent directly to his home. 

“I intended to bring this to Executive Session, but am very grateful that the Chair has chosen to bring this to the community,” Johnson said. 

Fazzini disputed this account.  “You’re mixing your apples and oranges there.  I didn’t deny anything.  She said, ‘Where do you want them sent?  Do you want them sent to the college, do you want them sent to you?’  I just said, ‘Send them to me.’”

Trustee Kathleen Doyle expressed concern that the board had not received all resumes that have been sent to the school.

In a phone interview, Dr. Polonio declined comment on this matter, “The important thing is bringing everybody together.  It’s a good institution.”

“We have received names from those various sources, and from that we have a group of resumes for the board to review in executive session,” Fazzini said. “What the board will be expected to do, from discussions I have had with the board, is we will look at the resumes, and bring in some candidates for an interview.”

“I can see we’re starting this process with a lot of trust, but that’s okay,” Fazzini said.

“[Trust] has to be earned,” Doyle responded.

“I can see you’re earning it,” Fazzini replied.

The audio from this entire exchange at the board meeting can be heard here:
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Fazzini said the process started about 10 days prior to Tuesday night’s meeting, and ACCT gives about a six week time frame for the process which consists of negotiating a contract, working out details, soliciting resumes and bring the person in, with each piece taking about a week.

“Everyone would like to have someone in place before Dr. McCarthy leaves,” he said.

A tribute will be held for McCarthy Jan. 25, 2009 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Business and Community Education Center at Prairie State College.

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Park Forest Students Go ‘Batty’

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Learning to identify the various bat species in Illinois was made easier when the students played the "That’s My Bat" memory game. (Photo: ME4E)

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– This winter, all 5th graders from Mohawk Intermediate Center, Blackhawk Intermediate Center and the special education students from Forest Trail Middle School are helping the local flying mammals – bats. Each classroom had a field trip to the Aqua Center in Park Forest, while volunteers from the Thorn Creek Audubon Society and ME4E staff led four customized, educational stations.

Each station highlighted a different aspect of Illinois’s native bats. Comparing anatomy of humans and bats, playing a memory game identifying local species, writing a book in order to share their bat knowledge with 2nd graders in School District 163 and constructing a bat house were all part of the experience. ME4E, Multidisciplinary Education for the Environment, coordinated this unique opportunity with S.D. 163’s Science Depot, the Thorn Creek Audubon Society and the Parks and Recreation Department of Park Forest. “It turned out to be an absolute pleasure to watch,” stated Al Thomas, Vice President of the Thorn Creek Audubon Society. “The kids are lucky to have you.”

By mid-January all classrooms will have completed this stage of the program. The Parks and Recreation Department of Park Forest will then mount each bat house approximately 20 feet off the ground around the Central Park Wetlands. Students will return in April of 2008 and work with ME4E staff locating their specific classroom’s bat house while exploring the wetland habitat. The students will also take a GPS reading and a bat house map will be created for the public to utilize.

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These 5th graders in Mrs. Rose’s class at Mohawk Intermediate Center took at close look at an actual bat skeleton during the Buddies 4 Bats program. (Photo: ME4E)

In order for the students to expand their interest about bats, ME4E set up a blog to empower students to share their experience and ask additional questions about bats. This blog also allows other groups that ME4E has worked with to comment about their newly acquired knowledge.

ME4E offers unique, customized programs for all ages. They utilize your community’s natural areas for field trips while incorporating your educational goals and objectives. Various types of learning styles and topics are intergraded into each event. Pre and post visits/activities are encouraged to promote a better understanding of the program’s theme. To learn more about the services ME4E provides, visit www.ME4E.org.

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Marian Catholic Contemplates Drug Testing

Chicago Heights , IL—(ENEWSPF)— Why would a school consider mandatory drug testing when its drugs use, according to the University of Michigan ‘s "Monitoring the Future" research, is far less than the national and local averages?

Marian Catholic High School is giving strong consideration to drug testing for the entire student body at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year, pending further research and input. Testing will be intended to identify a need for counseling and results will remain confidential among the family, a guidance counselor and one administrator. Random and follow-up testing as needed will continue at intervals during the school year.

According to school officials, first indications from students, parents, and Advisory Board members are that the 98-99% of the Marian Catholic community who do not use illicit drugs care about those who do. "I have my own conflicted feelings about testing most of our kids who have made great choices, but when I know we could save lives, testing makes solid sense" notes MCHS President Sr. M. Paul McCaughey.

As a part of a total prevention program, the Marian Catholic administrative team felt that "the additional step of hair sampling supports a drug-free learning environment, empowers students to make positive choices, and supports families."  Supporting students’ healthy decisions dovetails into the school’s focus on leadership – a curricular initiative that includes instruction in communication, ethical action, and team building.

Students seem to echo this understanding of testing as a part of prevention.  After a positive response to polls conducted by MCHS Principal Sr. Kathleen Anne Tait, further meetings have been called to address questions raised about "chain of custody," confidentiality of results, and the priority of the role of the parent.  A full description of the program and all related policies will be published prior to registration for the coming school year.

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