Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Town names Erika Rosas as new Chief Animal Welfare Warden

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Town names Erika Rosas as new Chief Animal Welfare Warden
The Town of Cicero News Wire

(Cicero News Wire/Tuesday Dec. 8, 2009) – Erika Rosas says that when she is not concentrating on her public service career she spends her time worrying about the well-being of animals.

Rosas, who joined the Wagon Trails Animal Shelter Board in June 2009, will be able to now take her concern for animals one more step as the Town of Cicero’s newly appointed Chief Animal Welfare Warden.

“I love animals and I know how important the care of animals are and also how important this is to the well-being of our community,” Rosas, 36, said after her appointment was approved by the Town of Cicero Board on Tuesday Dec. 8, 2009.

“I am going to make the care and well-being of animals in our community my number one priority. I want to make the shelter a better place and I want to network our shelter with other shelters in neighboring communities and in the region.”

Rosas is the former chief of staff to State Rep. Lisa Hernandez who is the “Ambassador” to the Animal Shelter.

“We’re very proud to have Erika Rosas head up this agency. The proper care of animals is important showing compassion to our pets and also to protect our community,” said Town President Larry Dominick.

“Representative Hernandez and Ms. Rosas are both dedicated public servants who have made service to the Town of Cicero a priority.”

Rosas said that she plans to work towards certification as an animal welfare specialist.

“I have two dogs, a Neapolitan Mastiff and an English Bull Dog. Those are my babies. I love animals,’ Rosas said.

Rosas has been a Cicero resident for the past eight years and she grew up in neighboring Berwyn. She is a 1991 graduated of Nortom West High school. Before joining Representative Hernandez’s staff, Rosas worked as a business agent and organizer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

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Four firefighter recruits join the Cicero Fire Department

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Four firefighter recruits join the Cicero Fire Department
The Town of Cicero News Wire

(Town of Cicero News Wire/Tuesday Dec. 8, 2009) -- The Town of Cicero Tuesday announced the hiring of four firefighters who scored at the top of the firefighter’s eligibility list.

The four new firemen are Jake Kolin, Edward Ross, Michael Stahl and Matthew Hill. They will begin immediately on “probationary” status, which is a routine manner in which new hires are brought into the department, officials said.

“We have a commitment to provide the best fire protection to the people of Cicero and this will enable the Fire Department to maintain the best service possible,” said Town President Larry Dominick.

“Before being assigned to a shift, the probationary firefighters will spend 10 to 12 weeks in the Cicero Fire Academy for training,” said Deputy Fire Chief Mike Piekarski.

“In addition to basic firefighting, the Academy offers specialized awareness level training in rescue courses such as trench rescue, structural collapse, confined space rescue and high-rise rescue.”

The Cicero Fire Academy has its own classroom and drill site located in the south side of the Town next to our fire station. The drill site includes a multi-story drill tower where practice fires can be extinguished. The new recruits will also have the opportunity to practice ventilation and forcible entry techniques as well as operations relating the Engine Companies, Truck Companies and Tower Ladder Companies. The road to becoming a firefighter is very demanding.  Each day the new recruits are given training in a different subject area.

“The training is extensive and involves classroom and hands on training,” Piekarski said.

All firefighters must become proficient in the areas of: Ventilation, Organization, Forcible Entry, Salvage, Fire Streams, Fire Behavior, Ropes & Knots, Apparatus, Fire Hose, Water Supply, Rescue, Overhaul, Fire Control, Ladders, Tools & Equipment, Building Construction, Personal Safety, Fire Prevention, Confined Space & Trench Rescue Awareness, Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus, Emergency Medical - Advanced First Aid -  CPR - AED Training - Ambulance Operations Training, Automobile Extrication, Hazardous Materials, Sprinkler Systems, Fire Extinguishers, Communications, Structural and Collapse Rescue.

After completion of these courses, the new recruits are required to pass the Firefighter II state written and practical examination meeting the requirements of the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal - Division of Personnel Standards and Education.

New Recruits must also pass additional state examinations in the following subject matter as required by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

1. Hazardous Materials Awareness
2. Hazardous Materials Operations
3. Technical Rescue Awareness
4. Fire Apparatus Engineer

The new hires were saluted at the Dec. 8, 2009 board meeting by trustees and fire and police officials. Each received a certificate of achievement.

“They are joining the best fire department in the world,” said Trustee Dennis Raleigh. “It’s a great and honored profession and you will wear the badge and uniform to the highest degree of achievement, to what it is supposed to be.”

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Pearl Harbor Story picked up in Chicago Sun-Times and the Naperville Sun Newspapers

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The Town of Cicero celebrates by remembering those soldiers who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 with a ceremony today (Monday Dec. 7, 2009) at the Cicero Veteran's Memorial.

Here is a link to the story of one Cicero resident who died there and the feelings of his surviving relatives who will join Town President Larry Dominick and the members of the Town of Cicero Board at a commemoration ceremony at 11 am.

CLICK HERE to read the Naperville Sun Newspaper story?

CLCIK HERE to read the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper story on ceremonies to be held this morning.

The Cicero News Wire Stories can be reprinted by regional newspapers and news sites with attribution and with appropriate news edit relating to length of story. Please contact the Town of Cicero for information by clicking here:

Contact Town of Cicero Communicaions Department by CLICKING HERE.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Cicero Pearl Harbor hero’s sacrifice to be honored at Ceremonies Dec. 7

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Pearl Harbor still hits home for suburban family

Cicero Pearl Harbor hero’s sacrifice to be honored at Ceremonies Dec. 7
By The Town of Cicero News Wire

A few days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 1941, Anna and Joseph Steffan received the tragic news that their 32 year old son, Joseph, had perished on the U.S.S. Arizona.

The Arizona was docked at Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii when the Japanese bombers swarmed out of the early morning sunrise. During the attack, one of the planes dropped a 1,760-pound bomb that hit the ship’s forward ammunition magazines which exploded and sent the ship to the bottom of the harbor at 8:06 am that morning killing 1,177 crew members.

One of those who died was 32 year old Joseph Philip Steffan, who lived in the Town of Cicero at 1916 S. 60th Court with his parents before enlisting in the U.S. Navy.

“The Navy contacted my grandparents to notify them of the death,” remembers Karen Toner, 59. about her uncle.

“But a few days later, my grandparents received a letter from Joseph who wrote that everything was fine, that he was happy and telling them about how much he missed them both. My grandparents were excited and thought maybe he had survived. But it turns out the letter was mailed before the attack. It’s late arrival only made the tragedy that much worse for them.”

The family did receive an official letter from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which read:

“In grateful memory of Joseph Philip Steffan who died in the service of his country at Pearl Harbor assigned to the USS Arizona Dec. 7, 1941. He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die so that freedom might live and grow and increase its blessings. Freedom lives and through it he lives -- in a way that humbles the undertaking of most men.”

The letter, Karen Toner said, is not dated and has what looks like the President’s stamp.

“My mom, Ann, did not talk about her brother Joseph that much because the family had been beset with tragedy. Two of his brothers had died at an young ages before and when Joseph died the whole family went in to shock,” Karen Toner remembers. There were three brothers and three sisters, she said.

Toner said her uncle was very handsome, reminding many from the remaining photographs of actor Ray Liotta, who starred in many Hollywood films including Good Fellas and Casino. But she said that he kept a large memory album that included photographs and cards and other items from his years serving in the Navy.

Karen Toner said she has many of his photographs, noting “He was also the boxing champ of the fleet at the time. He was a hunk besides being a cutie. I always wondered what might have become of him had he lived.”

Sadly, though, Karen Toner recalls, “My grandmother nor my mother really talked about him because of the tragedies with Joseph’s other brothers. It was very difficult as it was.”

It wasn’t until 1978 when Karen and her husband Edward traveled to Oahu, Hawaii and were able to visit the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor that they began to look more deeply into his life.

“I really didn’t know much at all about him growing up other than that he died at Pearl Harbor. But we went to Oahu Hawaii in 1978 and visited the Pearl Harbor Memorial and that is the first time I started to learn and realize about my uncle’s life,” Karen Toner said.

Toner said they found his name inscribed on the memorial which, back in 1978, was open only to relatives of the lost sailors and other active duty military servicemen and women. That changed years later and tours are now conducted at the site for the public. But Karen Toner said she had to receive permission to visit the memorial when they went.

“It’s very strange for most people and even more for people who had relatives who died at Pearl Harbor,” Karen Toner says.

“When we went there, oil was still seeping up from the ship below and you would see these oil slicks are still coming up from the water where the Arizona sunk that day so many years ago. It gives you goose bumps because it is almost like they are still alive and haven’t gone to peace yet. This oil keeps oozing out of the top of the water.”

Karen Toner said that over the years she learned much about her uncle, today considered an American war hero for his service and sacrifice that morning that FDR in his speech to the nation declared as a “day that will live in infamy.”

“What I did learn about him was that he was a career sailor. He traveled to Thailand, the Philippines, all over. He traveled with the Navy in all these stops. He had a wonderful, wonderful life. My grandparents and the family were very poor at the time. They didn’t travel at all. My grandmother was a seamstress and my grandfather was tailor. He would write to them about all the places he visited and he wished they could see what he saw. They all sat around as they read his letters describing where he had been,” Karen Toner remembers her mother telling her.

“It was interesting the way he wrote, like wishing his mother could be there and he missed her and his family. It was very sentimental for me to read these letters. It’s wasn’t like the macho things you might think a soldier might write. It was very personal like he really missed his family.”

Karen Toner and her husband Edward today live in Naperville. They said the names of the deceased soldiers were inscribed with the names of their towns and cities.

“My uncle lived in Cicero at 1916 S. 60th Court,” Karen Toner said. “We lived in the house for years before moving out to Naperville.”

Sometime around 1995, Town of Cicero resident Walter Luksta traveled to Pearl Harbor and discovered that one of the Town’s resident were among the Pearl Harbor soldiers who had died.

On Dec. 7, 1996, Luksta, former Assessor John Kociolko and a former neighbor of Steffans’ george Kostakas, worked with the Town of Cicero to erect a memorial to honor Joseph Philip Steffan’s service and the sacrifice he made that morning that changed America. The memorial is placed next to the Veteran’s Memorial Courtyard south of the Town Hall.

“We have many veterans from Cicero that we honor with our veteran’s Memorial,” noted Town of Cicero President Larry Dominick. “I think the story of Joseph Philip Steffan hits home in a very personal way because of the significance of that very first attack on our nation during World War II. We’re honored to be able to share in his memorial to the fallen and to recognize the service of all of our veterans here in the Town of Cicero and throughout the country.”

On Monday, Dec. 7, 2009 at 11 am, Dominick said, the Town of Cicero and area veterans will gather at the Town of Cicero Veteran’s Memorial, 4949 W. Cermak Road to remember Pearl Harbor and the sacrifices made by men like Chief Petty Officer (BMC) Joseph Philip Steffan. The ceremony is open to the public. Kociolko will serve as the event emcee.


NOTE TO EDITORS: Karen Toner can be reached by contacting the Town of Cicero:

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” — Franklin Delano Roosevelt