Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cicero moves to develop Comprehensive Development Plan

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_A0A7332The Town of Cicero held its second public meeting to invite members of the public to offer their ideas and comments on the development of a new comprehensive plan for the development of the Town of Cicero.

The Cicero Comprehensive Plan is a citywide effort to update the Town’s existing comprehensive plan and provide the vision, goals and objectives for guiding the future of the community.

The meeting was held at the Cicero Community Center on March 11. The proposed Comprehensive Plan would explore what should and should not be developed in different areas of the Town, based on community input and leadership suggestions. It would be the first plan of its kind developed for Cicero since 1974 said Cicero Project Manager Craig Pesek.

"A Comprehensive Plan gives the Town direction for the future," Pesek said.
"It highlights areas that need attention, assets of the community, opportunities and helps the Town to focus its resources in the right areas."

Pesek said one of the most important aspects of a successful Comprehensive Plan is "community buy-in."

"A plan is only as good as those who work to implement it and support it..I am very proud of how active the Cicero community has been in this process," Pesek said.

For more information, visit: cicerocomprehensiveplan.mindmixer.com

Project Manager Craig Pesek discusses how the Comprehensive Plan development program will work
Project Manager Craig Pesek discusses how the Comprehensive Plan development program will work
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The Comprehensive Plan seeks input from residents of Cicero and participants reviewed an discussed options they favor
The Comprehensive Plan seeks input from residents of Cicero and participants reviewed an discussed options they favor
The Comprehensive Plan seeks input from residents of Cicero and participants reviewed an discussed options they favor
The Comprehensive Plan seeks input from residents of Cicero and participants reviewed an discussed options they favor
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Difficult winter for many families

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Difficult winter for many families

By Larry Dominick

Despite the late snow coming in February, this has still been a very difficult winter for many.

The heavy snows we experienced earlier in the month made it challenging for both residents and municipal snow removal crews, not just in Cicero but in communities across the state. The snow falls set new records and this winter has been recorded as one of the top five worst we’ve experienced in a half century.

But Cicero’s public employees worked hard. I know because I participated in helping to remove snow from our streets. It was a job that required working long, hard and even overnight. In fact, we worked 24 hours a day for 8 straight days to remove snow from our streets.

One of our biggest challenges in plowing the neighborhood streets after clearing main streets was the failure of some homeowners to move their vehicles from posted street cleaning routes. Worse was the practice of some to shovel their snow off their properties and off of their cars into the streets.

I am proud of the performance of our employees. It was a difficult challenge and they did well. I also want to thank all of those residents who took the time not only to clear their sidewalks and properties of snow, but who also showed neighborly care and shoveled snow for neighbors in need.

With the arctic cold slamming our region in the aftermath of these record snow storms, I again remind everyone to take a moment and check on your neighbors, especially if they are elderly or have family members who are disabled.

When we all work together and show concern for our community and our neighbors, we can make our community a better place for all.

COUNTY TAX BILLS: Your First installment of your tax bills are due on March 3. The first installment notices from Cook County do not reflect exemptions such as those for homeowners and senior citizens. The first installment is just an estimate representing 55 percent of last year’s bills.

If you have any questions about your property taxes, you can find help right here in the Town of Cicero by contacting Town Assessor Emilio Cundari at ecundari@TheTownofCicero.com.

TOWN EVENTS: I know many people are interested in the programs we sponsor at the Town of Cicero including celebrations of our ethnic diversity from Columbus Day and President’s Day and Pulaski Day to the annual commemoration of the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King., Jr., and Mexican Independence Day.

To keep up on our events, I urge you to visit our Facebook Page at Facebook.com/TownofCicero.

FINALLY: I spend a lot of time driving through our Town. I want to know firsthand what is happening. The other day, while driving around, I was right behind a motorist who opened his window and threw out a bag of garbage right on the street. I pulled him over and demanded to know why he would do that. He lived right down the street.

We need to be proud of our community and our neighborhoods and it starts with each and every one of us.

I hope you have a safe and happy Winter as we all work together in anticipation of improved Spring weather.


(Larry Dominick is the President of the Town of Cicero. He was elected in 2005.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cicero high school students meet with Miss Illinois

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Cicero high school students meet with Miss Illinois

Marisa Buchhiett, this year’s miss Illinois, visited with students at Morton High School District 201 on Friday, January 30, 2015 to talk to the students about their futures, careers and safety. More than a thousand students attended. Ms. Señorita  Cicero 2015 Dafne Villaseor gave a warm welcome and provided the introduction for Ms. Buchhiett. 



Ms. Buchhiett's message for these young students was the dangers of distractive driving. 

"The  number one killer among teenagers in United States was texting while driving,” Ms. Buchhiett said. She also added that there were other types distractions such as "eating, drinking, arguing, loud music, and  putting on makeup. It takes less the 2 seconds to get into an accident that can be fatal when you are districted while you drive." 

"I am visiting many high schools throughout Illinois with this message because it is the right age when these teens start driving and I want to stress how danger it is to text and drive.” Ms. Buchhiett continued. 

Miss Illinois thanked Cicero Town President Larry Dominick, Morton High School District 201 President Jeff Pesek and Morton High School, The Cicero Mexican Cultural Committee, and Miss Cicero Dafne Villaseñor for sponsoring her visit and speech to the high school students. 

“We’re excited that Miss Illinois visited the Town of Cicero and also Morton High School District 201,” said District 201 School Board President Jeff Pesek. “Our students are among the best in the state. We’re not only proud of how hard they work and study but we are especially proud of their achievements in life when they leave here."



PHOTO: (From Left) Morton East High School Principle Jose Gamboa, Morton High School District 201 Board President Jeff Pesek, Miss Illinois 2014 Marisa Buchheitt,  Miss Cicero Dafne Villaseñor, School Board member Mark Kraft and Morton High School Student Board Member Niquan Dawson.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Court orders Ochoa to pay legal fees in politically motivated lawsuit

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Court orders Ochoa to pay legal fees in politically motivated lawsuit

A Cook County Circuit Court Judge today (Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015) ordered former Cicero mayoral candidate Juan Ochoa to reimburse Cicero and Town President Larry Dominick more than $30,000 spent to refute Ochoa’s claims that he was harassed in the 2013 election.

Ochoa filed the politically motivated lawsuit weeks prior to the Feb. 26, 2013 mayoral contest at a press conference in what observers said was clearly intended as a political move to generate publicity and slander Dominick.

Despite the false accusations, Dominick easily defeated Ochoa in a landslide election receiving more than 60 percent of the votes cast in the three-way contest that also included Joseph Pontarelli, an ally of disgraced former Cicero Mayor Betty Loren-Maltese.

Describing Ochoa’s accusations as “so devoid of factual allegations,” Cook County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Patrick J. Sherlock ordered Ochoa to pay $17,239.68 in legal fees to the Town of Cicero and its officials, and $12,946 in legal fees to attorneys representing the Cicero Voters Alliance (CVA).

 “I am happy that this purely political move to grab pre-election publicity back in 2012 has been exposed for the fraud that it is,” said President Dominick.

“The only people who were harassing voters were the street gang members identified in the Chicago Crime Commission Street Gang Handbook who worked on Ochoa’s campaign. The vast majority of voters saw through Ochoa’s phony campaign lies. And the voters and public stood by my administration’s proven record of delivering new jobs, new businesses, improving safety, fighting street gangs, and increasing services for everyone including Senior Citizens, youth and families.”

Ochoa’s lawsuit was filed on Dec. 11, 2012 by political activist and lawyer Frank Avila Jr., the son of controversial Water Reclamation District Trustee Frank Avila, Sr. The Ochoa/Avila lawsuit had been dismissed twice by the courts, first on Dec. 5, 2013 and again on July 21, 2014.

The elected officials named in the lawsuit included Dominick and his slate including Supervisor Joe Virruso, Assessor Emilio Cundari, Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias, Collector Fran Reitz, and Trustees Lorraine Walsh and Larry Banks.

(Court Document NO. 12 L 13824; Honorable Patrick J. Sherlock)


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cicero applauds conviction of first of two suspects in Valentine’s Day arson

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Cicero applauds conviction of first of two suspects in Valentine’s Day arson

Fire claimed life of seven victims, including a 3-day old baby

Cicero Town President Larry Dominick today applauded the hard work of the Cicero Police Department, the Cicero Fire Department, the Illinois State Fire Marshall and the Cook County State’s Attorneys office in securing convictions Monday against accused arson conspirator Lawrence Myers.

Myers was the owner of a three-story building at 3034 S. 48th Court in Cicero that had burned down in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2010.

Through an investigation led by the Cicero Fire and Cicero Police Departments, it was determined that Myers instructed his maintenance employee, Marion Comier, to set the building on fire in order to collection on a $250,000 insurance policy.

Myers was convicted by a jury in a two day trial that began Friday. A separate trial is set for Comier.

“President Dominick wanted to thank the jury for convicting Myers in the first of two cases involving the most heinous arson fires we’ve seen in many years,” said Town Spokesman Ray Hanania.

“This case would never have been solved but for the fast action of the Cicero Fire Department in responding to the fire, and also to the hard work of the team of detectives of the Cicero Police Department who obtained undercover audio tapes that were instrumental in the conviction.”

The victims were Byron Reed, 20; Sallie Gist, 19; and their sons Rayshawn Reed, 3, and Brian Reed, 3 days old. The fire also killed Sallie Gist's brother and sister, 16-year-old twins Elijah Gist and Elisha Gist; and family friend Tiera Davidson, 18.

“On Sunday Feb. 14, 2010 at approximately 6:30 am, Cicero police and Cicero fire departments responded to an emergency fire call at a three-story apartment building at 3034 S. 48th Court. As a result of that fire, seven people, ranging in ages from 3 days old to 20 years old, lost their lives,” said Cicero Police Superintendent Jerry Chlada Jr. Earlier this week, Chlada was named to succeed Police Supt. Bernard Harrison who retired but was in charge of the police investigation at the time of the fire.

“The homeowner and the maintenance man were charged with seven counts of first degree murder and several counts of aggravated arson. Today, a Cook County jury found the property owner, Lawrence Martin, guilty on all counts,”

Chlada said the investigation was spearheaded by the Cicero Police Department working in conjunction with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office and the Cicero Fire Department, along with the Illinois State Fire Marshall’s office.

Chlada introduced the detectives involved in the investigation, Detective Sgt. Nino Scimone, Commander Raul Perez and Detective Joseph Melone who was the lead investigator on the case.

“During the course of the investigation, we developed information that the homeowner and the maintenance man had conspired to burn down the building for the purposes of collecting insurance money,” Melone said.

“We located a cooperating witness who agreed to wear a wire and recorded many conversations that more than assisted in this investigation. That’s just a piece of the puzzle though. I want to thank the hard work of our team at the Cicero Police Department, the hard work of the Cicero Fire Marshall Ron Opalecky, the Illinois State Fire Marshall and the prosecutors in the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.”

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cicero celebrates 46th Annual Houby Day with Festival and Parade

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Cicero celebrates 46th Annual Houby Day with Festival and Parade

(Attached is photo of Houby Festival Queen Molly Zajac Clark)



The Town of Cicero will host four days of celebration for the HoubyFest beginning Thursday October 2, capping with the annual parade on Sunday that will feature more than 55 floats and displays.

This years’ Houby Day Queen is Molly Zajac Clark. Amber Morena is the 1st Runner Up Queen, and Isabel Evariz is Miss Congeniality. All three will greet parade attendees from the Queen’s Float.

This year’s Houby Festival is dedicated to the region’s children and the theme of the parade “Children First,” said Special Events Director Patti Dominick.

The HoubyFest Carnival will be held Thursday October 2 through Sunday October 5.

Entertainment includes live music beginning on Friday (October 3), Saturday (October 4) and Sunday (October 5). Bands include: Caliente and 16 Candles on Friday night; The Neverly Brothers, The New Invaders, The Personnel and Libido Funk Circus on Saturday beginning at 2 pm; and, Druha Rava, R-Gang, American English and 7th Heaven on Sunday beginning at 2 pm. The bands and carnival are located on Cermak Road between Lombard Avenue and Austin Blvd, on the L Strip.

The Houby Day Parade will kick-off Sunday at 11 am on Cermak Road at 56th Court in Cicero and continue west into Berwyn. Each year, the direction of the parade alternates beginning in Cicero at 56th Court and in Berwyn at East Avenue. The festival will feature a carnival, children’s stage, crafters, food vendors and entertainment throughout the weekend.

The festival is celebrated by all but honors the Czech and Slovak heritages of Cicero and Berwyn. Houby is the Czech word for Mushroom which is a symbol of the Czech harvest.

The HoubyFest represents four decades of rich cultural tradition in the Berwyn Cicero area. The weekend long festival draws local residents as well as people from all around to experience food booths, vendors, carnival, arts and crafts, music, sidewalk sale, Houby Queen Pageant and much more. There are a variety of events scheduled throughout the week leading up to the weekend celebration. The Parade steps off Sunday at 12 Noon on Cermak Rd. Last year, more than 25,000 people lined Cermak Road to cheer the four hour parade.


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Monday, September 15, 2014

Cicero’s Mexican Independence Day Parade attracts 15,000

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Cicero’s Mexican Independence Day Parade attracts 15,000

The Mexican Independence Day Parade and a weekend of celebrations that included El-Grito attracted more than 15,000 attendees, parade organizers said.

The events were hosted by the Cicero Mexican Cultural Committee and the Town of Cicero’s Special Events Department, and included a weekend of entertainment, food and family events.

Guests included Town President Larry Dominick, Mexican Consul General Carlos Jimenez Macias and his family, and Daphne Via Senior who was selected as the Parade Queen at a community pageant last week.

Also attending were officials of the Town of Cicero including Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias, Supervisor Joe Virruso, Collector Fran Reitz, Assessor Emilio Cundari, and trustees Dennis Raleigh, Larry Banks, Victor Garcia and Lorraine Walsh.



Committee spokesperson Maru Ayala said, “We awarded Mario Contreras, one of the best horsemen in the United States, a recognition from the Cicero Mexican Cultural Committee of his great achievements.”

The Cicero Mexican Cultural Committee members also include Gerardo Solis, Araceli Ramirez, Josephina Vega, and former State Rep. and Cicero community liaison Frank Aguilar.

“We are proud to celebrate the heritage of the Mexican American community,” said Town President Larry Dominick. “This is one of my favorite festivals of the year.”

The festival grand finale included fireworks and a confetti parade. Entertainment was provided by the Mariachi Group Los Viejos.

Assessor Emilio Cundari said this was one of the largest turnouts for a Mexican Independence Day celebration he has seen, and Trustee Victor Garcia said the weekend was a spectacular celebration of Mexican Culture.

The Mexican Independence Day weekend included the Morton High School District 201 Marching Band, which performed at El Grito, and School cheerleaders who participated in the parade.

District 201 Board President Jeffry Pesek said, “Morton High school is proud to participate in the parade. Our students are actively engaged in the community and are our future leaders. I am very proud of their participation and their great performance.”

State Rep. Lisa Hernandez praised the Town of Cicero and President Dominick for organizing the weekend event.
“It was one of the finest salutes to Mexican American heritage,” said Hernandez who sponsored a float in the parade. “The turnout was just fantastic.”


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