Author Archives: Katherine Kulpa

CIACO members gather in Berwyn to provide local families with Thanksgiving dinners

Young and old lend helping hands to the assembly line.

Buona Beef’s catering warehouse was a sea of volunteers in red and green shirts, on Sunday, Nov. 21st in Berwyn, IL, all surrounded by piles and boxes full of $16,500 worth of food.

The crowd of more than 150 people slowly formed into an assembly line, ready to put together “Baskets of Love.” Each participant had a certain role. Children were packing canned goods, adults were carrying potatoes bags, and teens were taping and carrying loaded boxes to delivery cars.

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Berwyn’s youth is thinking “green”

Ask Berwyn’s eighth-grade students what they would do if they were mayor for a day, and you might be surprised by their answer. The majority of students in the running for the Best of Berwyn Program answered that they would push for recycling in their city.

And that is why the youth is keeping recycling in Berwyn alive, according to Joe Vallez.

Vallez, director of North Berwyn’s Park District also heads the Think Green Campaign. That program was created to increase proper recycling practices all throughout Berwyn.

“Think Green,” now in its fourth year, has a strong presence in Berwyn. The park district sends about 21,000 booklets to Berwyn homes, with detailed instructions both in English and Spanish, on how to recycle. The program also runs volunteer projects such as community clean-ups. The biggest clean-up events take place on Earth Day, which last year had a turnout of more than 400 volunteers, Vallez said.

According to Vallez, the bulk of these volunteers included teens and younger children.

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Joseph Kestian’s bond set at $2.5 million, while facing first-degree murder charge

During an Oct. 28 bond hearing at the Fourth Municipal District Courthouse at 1500 S. Maybrook Dr. in Maywood, Joseph Kestian’s bond was set at a staggering $2.5 million, said James T. Sassetti, Berwyn Police Unit Commander.

According to a Berwyn Police Department press release, approved by James Ritz, Chief of Police, Kestian was charged Wednesday, Oct. 27 with one count of first-degree murder, approved by the Cook County State Attorney’s office. Kestian, a 58-year-old man, of 3321 Clarence Ave. in Berwyn, IL, is facing allegations of murdering his 90-year-old mother, Josephine Kestian.

58-year-old Joseph Kestian, of Berwyn, IL, is facing one charge of first-degree murder.

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Fenwick’s Spanish Club helps Berwyn Police learn basic Spanish skills

Berwyn police need to communicate with the city’s growing Spanish-speaking population, so they reached out to Fenwick High School’s Spanish Club for help.

The club was contacted by Berwyn Police Sgt. Joseph Fitzgerald this past summer, according to Michelle Villegas, student president of the Spanish Club (HOLA) at Fenwick. He offered supplies such as white boards, and a promise of future donations, in exchange for creating lessons to teach the officers. The department worked with fluent Spanish-speakers of the club to come up with an agreement for the program.

Villegas said that the first step was to create five-minute-long PowerPoint lessons, each with a theme. They taught basic Spanish words and phrases that would come up in certain police scenarios, such as traffic stops.

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Berwyn Police seeks the public’s help in armed robbery case

The Berwyn Police Department is asking the public for help in identifying two men who have committed three different armed robberies in the city of Berwyn. According to Deputy Chief Joseph Drury, since July 21, 2010, the men have committed armed robberies at La Rosita Grocery Store, a Cricket phone store and The Candy Store, all in Berwyn.

The Police Department’s official description of the offenders:

Offender #1:  Male Hispanic, 6’00” tall, heavy build, 30-40 years of age, usually wearing a baseball cap and dark sunglasses.

Offender #2:  Male Hispanic, 5’06’-5”08” tall, stocky build, 30-40 years of age, usually wearing a baseball cap and dark sunglasses.

In each robbery, offenders displayed a handgun before announcing their intent to rob the location. In all three robberies, money was stolen from the vendors.

“Anyone with information regarding the depicted offenders or the listed Armed Robbery’s are asked to contact the Berwyn Police Department Detective Bureau at 708-795-5600,” said the official press release, authorized by Deputy Chief Joseph Drury.

 

Offenders at the Cricket phone store in Berwyn

 

 

Close-up of offenders

 

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Berwyn’s Houby Fest shows off the city’s cultural diversity

By: Kate Kulpa & Stacy Portilla

Berwyn’s Houby Festival is meant to be a celebration of the Czech heritage that has been a big part of the city in the past. But the traditional Czech food, including the namesake Houby (mushroom in Czech) was in short supply during last weekend’s fest.

Out of the dozens of food stands at Houby Fest, only one stand seemed to offer traditional Czech food. This was the stand for the restaurant “Czech Kitchens,” a Czech restaurant which offered bread dumplings, pierogis, and potato pancakes to fest-goers.  The menu included a wide variety of other Czech and Slavic foods, including dumplings. Robert Curek, an employee at Czech Kitchens, said that this year was the busiest the stand has ever been. Curek also said that the restaurant’s owner was inspired by his Polish wife’s heritage to cook Slavic foods. It seems as though the stand’s popularity could be because the food was great or because it seemed to be the only Czech stand around.

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Berwyn officials have high hopes for redevelopment of Harlem and Cermak

 

 

Artistic sketch of the planned architectural set-up for the new plaza.

Berwyn city council members have high hopes that a planned redevelopment of the northeast corner of Harlem and Cermak will help revitalize the city’s economy.

The council unanimously approved the plan on Sept. 14 and the agreement with the developer on Sept. 28, to turn the area into an eating and shopping center.

The chief planner, Timothy Hague, of Keystone Ventures, believes that renovations will bring tax revenue, higher real estate values, and new employment to Berwyn.

According to Hague, Keystone Ventures, partnering with Bern Realty and J&P Properties, will most likely be working on the project for the next year. The originator of the project was the Berwyn Development Corporation, said Drew B. Krisco of Bern Realty, LLC.

Berwyn’s 7th Ward Alderman, Rafael Avila, has high hopes for the area, and said that it should bring in new residents to Berwyn.

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Berwyn redevelopment of Harlem and Cermak gets the green light

 
Berwyn’s Committee of the Whole Meeting, which took place on Tuesday, September 14th, 2010, ended with the council voting on many proposals affecting the community.
One major decision was the unanimous vote to approve redevelopment plans on the northeast corner of Harlem and Cermak. Timothy Hague of Keystone Ventures said that the next step is to introduce the redevelopment plans to the community, once redeveloping agreements are made, outlining responsibilities for developers. According to Hague, Keystone Ventures, partnering with Bern Realty and J& P Properties, will most likely be working on the project for the next year.

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Young and old mix at the Route 66 car show

A veteran watches as two boys show off their own cars on Route 66.

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