Breaking: Elmhurst Police Department Cancels Controversial ‘Boo-tiful Saturday’ Activities


Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Bowing to enormous pressure from the community and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, the Elmhurst Police Department this morning announced the cancellation of today’s activities for children that were to take place at the station as part of Elmhurst City Centre’s “Boo-tiful Saturday”.

After receiving negative feedback from Elmhurst residents with regard to the inappropriateness of a “meet and greet” with incarcerated individuals from the community and an overnight program for children 8 years and older called “The Scared Straight Adventure”, Elmhurst Police Chief Michael Ruth told reporters that being forced to cancel both activities is “unfortunate”.

“This would have been a great opportunity to teach kids that being a criminal is not cool,” said Ruth, who added that common pranks like “Ding Dong Ditch” and peeing in the Millennium Fountain outside of City Hall are “gateway crimes” that often lead to more serious offenses. “But we heard from a lot of parents this week who were worried about certain aspects of our planned activities.”

While some parents expressed concern over their children running into a friend of the family during the “meet and greet”, others pointed out that picking up their kids late Sunday morning from “The Scared Straight Adventure” would cause them to miss soccer practice. However, not everyone was pleased with the police department’s late announcement.

“My kids were really excited about participating,” said Elmhurst resident George Callahan, waiting in line outside the York Theatre with his three sons for a free 9:30 a.m. showing of The Exorcist. “Ace Hardware is letting people carve up scarecrows with a chain saw, so what’s the big deal?”

At press time, Ruth said the department will still be offering adults the opportunity to be shot by a Taser gun in the police department’s parking lot.

Advertisements

Elmhurst Residents Lay Siege Upon Kohl’s with Myriad of Amazon Returns


by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Osetra Russian caviar, hissing pet cockroaches, and a “Cat Dressed as Rambo Riding a Fire-Breathing Unicorn Mouse Pad” were among the unique and infinite number of items taken in during the first week at the new Amazon Returns Service desk located inside of Kohl’s as Elmhurst residents descended upon the department store with their unusual and unwanted online purchases.

Caught off guard by what has become an “endless” line of customers returning products they ordered from Amazon.com, employees from both Amazon and Kohl’s are scrambling to find solutions for making Amazon’s return service run smoother while ensuring that regular Kohl’s customers and shoplifters are not inconvenienced by an estimated increase of 500 customers in the store each day.

“There has been a constant line for returning things since the day we opened, and there are people walking all around the store with boxes of items they wish to return,” said Amazon service manager Mark Janikowski, who also oversees the “Amazon Boutique” adjacent to the returns desk where customers can purchase voice-activated personal assistants and government listening devices like Amazon Echo and Amazon Dot. “I can’t see how anyone could have imagined that combining Amazon and Kohl’s in Elmhurst would have this type of fallout.”

Introduced at the Elmhurst Crossing store last week and at a handful of other locations around Chicagoland and in Los Angeles, the service allows customers to return items purchased from Amazon.com free of charge. For many Elmhurst residents, the convenience of returning merchandise at a place where they frequently shop anyway is a “win-win”.

“I’m really excited about this new service because I’m here all of the time anyway,” said Elmhurst resident Meagan Cromwell, waiting in line to return two pairs of Christian Loubouton Crystal Platform boots after intentionally ordering sizes of 6, 6 1/2, and 7 from Amazon.com for the convenience of trying them all on at home. “I just wish they allowed Amazon Prime members like myself to move up to the front of the line.”

While the Amazon Returns Service has had to enforce their “no return” policy numerous times thus far on items such as wine, fresh flowers, and flammable liquids, customers have been allowed to return almost anything else they purchased from Amazon.com regardless of whether or not they still have the original packing materials.

“They’re certainly trying to make it easy for returning things,” said Elmhurst resident Blake Stone, waiting outside of Kohl’s in one of the designated parking spots for Amazon customers after deploying his 12-year-old son to run inside and see how long the line is before unstrapping the 394 gallon hot tub from atop his Range Rover. “But I just don’t like long lines. So if there’s more than four people waiting, then I’m probably just going to donate this to Goodwill.”

Officials from Amazon and Kohl’s have vowed to solve all of the issues involved with having a “store within a store” as quickly as possible.

Villa Park Announces New Ad Campaign Aimed at Attracting Elmhurst Spending Dollars


by Dave Noble, City News Editor

VILLA PARK – Capitalizing on the prestige of being ranked #28 for “Best Places to Live in the United States” by Money Magazine last month and eager to exploit a declining interest to “shop local” by their neighbors to the east, the Village Board of Villa Park approved a $50,000 budget last week for a new ad campaign titled “Villa Park is Money!” aimed in part at luring Elmhurst residents and their prolific spending habits across Route 83.

“We want to show Elmhurst that Villa Park has more to offer than Walmart and head shops,” said Village President Al Bulthuis, who rejected “Say ‘Yes’ to Villa Park” and “Park Your Ass in Villa Park” from the Economic Development Committee before selecting the new slogan that will be included in print and social media ads and on billboards near each portal separating the two towns. “If (Elmhurst residents) aren’t happy with their own options for local goods and services, then why not entice them to spend their money here in Villa Park?”

Acknowledging that radio advertising in out-of-state markets like St. Louis, Des Moines and Indianapolis has failed to garner a measurable number of visitors over the last few years, Bulthuis admitted that previous attempts to promote Villa Park as a destination spot by highlighting local businesses like The Dollar Tree and Brer Rabbitt Motel was “probably” a mistake.

“Not many people are going to travel more than 200 miles or so to visit Villa Park,” continued Bulthuis, who stated that the new ad campaign will instead feature local businesses that sell what Elmhurst residents are known to squander their money on. “They have a well-known love for food and alcohol, and we have plenty of options for them to choose from.”

One of the local businesses scheduled to be included on billboards is Mike’s Meat Market at 32 S. Villa Ave., a family-owned butcher shop praised for the quality of their gourmet meats, poultry, and fish. Long-time cashier Lindsay Weber said that targeting Elmhurst residents to increase business is a great idea, despite the distraction created by those who already shop there.

“We don’t get too many people from Elmhurst, but the ones who do shop here stand out like a sore thumb,” said Weber, who noted that people who ask numerous questions about the origin of products, display highly-visible defensive mannerisms, or have a look of disorientation if spoken to by another customer are usually from Elmhurst. “They have cash to burn though, so I’m pretty sure we’ll see more of them once Mike’s Meat Market is featured in the ads.”

In response to the new ad campaign, the City of Elmhurst has approved a 2% duty on all imports from Villa Park and will authorize border patrol agents along Route 83 to search vehicles and to document foreign purchases brought into the city.

Other Villa Park News Stories:

Comparison Study: Elmhurst Farmers Market vs. Villa Park French Market

Villa Park Head Shops ‘Fired Up’ for Black Friday Deals

Elmhurst Acquires Oakbrook Terrace Tower in Landmark Deal

Photo by Ron Raspatello

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Stating that the price was “too good to pass up”, City Manager Jim Grabowski told reporters oohing and aahing in the five-story lobby of the newly-relocated Oakbrook Terrace Tower Thursday morning that the City of Elmhurst has purchased the 418-foot skyscraper for $75 million. The building was delivered to its new home at the southwest corner of Second and Addison Streets overnight, replacing the Kovach Eye Institute that previously stood at the same location.

“This is a game-changer for Elmhurst,” said Grabowski, who noted that residents will see a slight increase in their property taxes over the next 20 years or so to help offset the cost of the 31-story building that is in violation of several municipal codes. “I think once people drive through downtown Elmhurst and notice it for the first time, they’re going to be pleasantly surprised at how well it fits in with its surroundings.”

In addition to an anticipated tax base increase that will come once all 773,000 square feet of office space is filled with tenants, Grabowski stated that the purchase of the octagonal building constructed of emerald green and silver reflective glass is also intended to force O’Hare International Airport to redirect overnight take-offs and landings to neighboring communities that merit the noise more than Elmhurst does.

“We’ll get several uses out of the tower,” continued Grawbowski, who boasted that lighting schemes will occasionally be implemented in the building at night to celebrate state championships and publicize local DUI roadside checks. “And think of the marketing opportunities, now that we have the largest building in Illinois outside the city limits of Chicago.” 

Built in 1987, the tower became available after Oakbrook Terrace voted to sell the building and resurrect Dispensa’s Kiddie Kingdom, which occupied the space from 1975-1984 and was notably pressured to close after a disastrous decision to change the price of rides in 1986 from “six for a dollar” to “five for a dollar”. 

Grabowski stated that he has already received numerous inquiries from businesses about leasing space in the tower.

“Bank of American, Chase, and Citibank have all expressed interest in putting offices in the building,” continued Grabowski, who added that Chipotle has already secured space on the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th floors. “Once we add a few levels to the Addison parking garage, other businesses will be kicking down our doors trying to get space in here.”

While the deal with Oakbrook Terrace to purchase the tower went relatively smooth, delivery and installation of the building caused some damage to homes, businesses and traffic signals along Butterfield Rd. and York St. and has resulted in the closing of the Robert T. Palmer Dr. underpass until further notice. In a separate press release, the city announced that the Kovach Eye Institute has been temporarily moved to an open area of Wilder Park until a permanent location for the building can be found.

Residents Enroll in Local Concealed Carry Classes to ‘Make Elmhurst Great Again’


by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – For some people, it’s about becoming a crime-stopper and rescuing fellow residents from would-be assailants who prey upon the community at events like “Neighborhood Roll Call” and “Touch A Truck”. For others, it’s because they fear that the nation’s volatile political climate will continue to cause civil unrest. But for every one of the Elmhurst citizens who have enrolled in upcoming Concealed Carry License classes at The Knights of Columbus, it’s about restoring the reputation of their once-great community.

With the help of Illinois Concealed Carry LLC, more Elmhurst residents will soon be packing heat. Classes scheduled next weekend and in October at The Knights of Columbus include instructional training in a classroom setting followed by target qualification tests on the sidewalk in front of the 537 N. York St. council location. The first 16-hour course scheduled for September 23rd and 24th sold out within an hour after registration opened, an indication that Elmhurst residents are fed up the local pawn shop hold-ups and muggings at The Elmhurst Farmer’s Market that they read about in the police blotter each week.

Many residents who already have a concealed carry license blame the city and the Elmhurst Park District for holding events that attract people from outside of Elmhurst.

“These kite fests and concerts draw people from all over the place,” said angry local resident and aspiring vigilante Harry Mitchell, who noted that he personally identified more than 200 people at City Centre’s recent Rock the Block party who were “obviously” not from Elmhurst. “I almost drew my weapon on Saturday night when some stranger holding a baby asked me where the public restrooms were located.”

While patriotic do-gooders like Mitchell are already pitching in to protect fellow civilians, others who have not yet obtained their Illinois CCL are looking forward to contributing as well.

“I’m tired of all the crime, and I want to do my share to stop it,” said local resident and F.O.I.D. card holder Frank Jacobsen, who has vowed to bring his revolver while riding the Explore Elmhurst Trolley every Friday and Saturday next summer to prevent any attempts at a hijacking. “We need to make Elmhurst great again.”

After months of continued city turmoil highlighted by the closing of two local pizza restaurants and a near-riot at Crestview Park during the “North Elmhurst Lives Matter” rally in June, Elmhurst has plummeted in the latest “Best Illinois Cities to Live In” rankings. Residents hope that arming themselves with a deadly weapon while going about their daily business will restore Elmhurst to its proper position in the rankings behind Hinsdale.

Transients Decimate Elmhurst Beverage Supply as New Cook County Tax Hike Takes Effect 


by Dave Noble, City News Editor 
ELMHURST – Comparing it to the mayhem during the much-publicized Hostess Twinkie production stoppage in 2012, south Elmhurst Jewel-Osco manager Tony Garza told reporters smoking cigarettes near the Redbox kiosk outside of the building’s front entrance on Thursday that Cook County residents continue to diminish the sweetened beverage supply in his store since a new tax hike took effect last month, resulting in a scarcity of sugary drinks that experts say are a dietary staple for most Elmhurst residents.

The penny-per-ounce tax – which went into effect in Cook County on August 1st – has brought hundreds of migrants from across the county border on a daily basis to save money on things like soda, ready-to-drink coffees, and energy drinks. The increase to the city’s tax revenue has left many local residents angry.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of grief from the customers about our low stock on sodas and other drinks,” said Garza, who stated that the typical complaints he receives from shoppers include expired food items on the shelves and the tendency of his grocery baggers to smile too little or too much at the customers. “It seems that every Elmhurst resident, butler, nanny and personal shopper in the store stops me to complain.”

While most residents reported an increase in anxiety due to the short supply of things like Sunny D, Gatorade, and alcohol mixers, other locals who deprive their families of sugar have been mostly unaffected by the increased number of foreigners seen throughout Elmhurst since the tax hike took effect.

“I do all my grocery shopping at Whole Foods because I love my children more than most people do,” said Garrett, waiting in line at the downtown Elmhurst Starbucks to order a Venti White Chocolate Mocha. “So as long as they just come to Jewels and leave again, I really don’t care.” 

The Elmhurst City Council will discuss issuing temporary visas to soda shoppers from Cook County during their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

Elmhurst Residents Come to Grips with Announced Closing of Kmart


by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Thirty years ago, Kmart was defined by high-fashion clothing and “Blue Light Specials”, the latter of which became generally recognized as the predecessor to the hysteria and bloodshed intertwined with Black Friday shopping. These days, the highly-respected retail giant is closing stores quicker than a downtown Elmhurst yogurt shop.

With the announcement last week that Sears Holdings will be closing the Elmhurst Kmart at 265 S. Illinois Route 83 – along with 27 other retail locations – Elmhurst residents were still struggling over the past few days with the realization that by mid-November, their only choice in town for one-stop shopping will no longer exist.

“I’m really going to miss this place,” said local resident Frank Lolich, rummaging through a collection of licensed Chicago Cubs graphic t-shirts and adjustable baseball caps equal in quality and appeal to similar items occasionally sold by gypsies on the corners of major roadways and outside of gas stations throughout town. “It’s the only place in Elmhurst where a single guy like me can buy underwear, a week’s worth of groceries and a kayak all in the same place.”

While experts predict that neighboring businesses like Kohl’s and Mattress Firm will absorb the daily retail theft from Kmart after it closes, other merchants in the Elmhurst Crossing shopping center were more concerned about the loss of an anchor tenant.

“Frankly, we wouldn’t have opened up in Elmhurst if it weren’t for Kmart already being here,” said Portillo’s Regional Manager Gene Sanderson, noting that his company’s market research indicates a direct correlation between consumers who use layaway and those who eat hot dogs. “We have some work cut out for us if we want to survive this.”

Many of the shoppers at Elmhurst Crossing were excited at what could replace Kmart, with the majority of those interviewed favoring a craft store with non-religious ownership, a high-end grocery store to compliment the existing high-end grocery store in the same shopping center, or any other type of business where local residents can squander their discretionary income.

“I would be elated if a craft store replaced Kmart,” said local resident Stephanie Kuntz, who claims that she could transform her basement into the “man cave” her husband has always dreamed about with a $75 budget and a large variety of metal wall hangings, artificial flowers and cotton fabrics to choose from. “But since I do a lot of my shopping on Sundays, I would prefer that it’s a Michaels rather than a Hobby Lobby.”

The city – working in conjunction with the management company of Elmhurst Crossing and Sears Holdings to identify a replacement tenant for the 110,000-square-foot site – has already initiated contact with officials from Zayre, Goldblatt’s, and Wieboldt’s to gauge their interest in coming to Elmhurst.

Elmhurst Social Media Manager Under Scrutiny for Timing of CodeRED Alert

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Carefully cropping a photo of Mayor Steve Morley’s head onto an image of King Kong swatting at low-flying airplanes from atop the Addison St. parking garage, City of Elmhurst Social Media Manager Kenny Grant told reporters squeezed into his cubicle at City Hall Wednesday morning that he believes his job is in jeopardy after he delayed posting a CodeRED Alert to residents about a local manhunt for an “armed and dangerous” suspect during the early hours of Tuesday morning.

“The shit hit the fan right away,” said Grant, referring to an onslaught of criticism from residents who wanted to know why they were not immediately notified about the capture of two robbery suspects and the pursuit and subsequent capture of a third suspect in Elmhurst following a single-car crash off of North Ave. around 1:30 a.m. “It was certainly a judgement call. But I figured everyone was sleeping at the time, and I didn’t want to cause panic.”

Visibly distraught while reviewing the disparaging social media comments regarding his decision to wait until 5:30 a.m. before utilizing the city’s CodeRED system intended for emergency situations and important community concerns like bio-terrorism alerts, boil water notices and the opening of a new yoga studio in town, Grant pointed out that #firekennygrant was currently trending on Twitter, and that a Facebook Page created under a similar name had already garnered 27 Likes.

“They didn’t tell me I’d have to make a big decision like this when I got the job,” continued Grant, a 2013 York High School graduate who noted that he was given “carte blanche” to issue a CodeRED Alert any time and the authority to use the city’s Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts for posting news, announcements and creative memes appropriate for all ages. “Up until now, the hardest part of my job was finding the appropriate emoji to accompany each CodeRED Alert.”

At press time, Grant was seen scurrying into City Manager Jim Grabowski’s office with doughnuts and an idea for a Facebook Event for residents who wish to attend Wednesday’s scheduled natural gas release by Nicor.

Local Mom Credits Pro-Life Demonstrators for Impromptu Family Discussion About Abortion


by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Expressing gratitude and relief, Elmhurst resident and mother of three Lucy Davenport told reporters that pro-life demonstrators helped her initiate an impromptu and “long overdue” discussion about abortion with her children, Logan (age 9), Teresa (age 7), and Samantha (age 5) after the four of them were treated to the sight of graphic images featuring aborted fetuses while driving through Elmhurst on Saturday afternoon.

“I’m a little embarrassed to say that, until today, I hadn’t discussed abortion with the kids,” said Davenport, who was taking her children out for lunch when they neared the decimated retail district of Elmhurst at St. Charles Rd. and Route 83 and encountered members of the Pro-Life Action League performing an unannounced public service with poster-sized pictures of unborn babies highlighted by undeveloped body and facial features. “Deep down, I knew I had waited too long to describe the process to my kids of how the cervix gets stretched open and the pregnancy tissue is sucked from her uterus. I’m just thankful that these good Samaritans from Pro-Life were here today to nudge me into having that conversation.”

Armed with the unique ability to hold up a sign and the deft touch required when approaching vehicles with a trifold brochure debunking the myth that victims of rape and incest need an abortion, the demonstrators were participating in the Pro-Life Action League’s “Face the Truth Tour”, which covers various parts of Chicago and its suburbs during the month of July, including Saturday’s stops in Westmont, Villa Park and Elmhurst.

“It just made sense to go ahead and talk about rape and incest with the kids as well after my son started reading the brochure,” continued Davenport, who conceded that the signs and literature made her children hysterical, which was compounded further after pulling into Smashburger down the street and learning that the quick-serve restaurant had closed for good. “They’ll stop crying in a few hours, I’m pretty sure. And within a few months, the nightmares over what they saw today will trickle off.”  

At press time, an inspired Davenport was en route to the Elmhurst Public Library with the hopes of borrowing Schindler’s List for her family to watch that night, followed by an in-depth conversation about the Holocaust.

Elmhurst Man Eager to ‘Light Up the Neighborhood’ on the Fourth of July

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Phantom Reloadable Mortars, Crackling Octopus Rockets and a grand finale featuring an assortment of experimental and homemade pyrotechnics will “light up the neighborhood” for more than three hours this Fourth of July when an Elmhurst man celebrates Independence Day with his own annual fireworks display, scheduled to begin at 11:00 p.m. Tuesday night in front of his home on the northeast side of town. 

Complimented by huge explosions, blinding smoke bombs and a Spotify playlist blaring heavy metal music, the man’s fireworks show is expected to be seen and heard throughout north Elmhurst and in parts of Bensenville, Schiller Park, Franklin Park and Northlake.

“I know that fireworks are illegal in Illinois,” said the man, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “But it’s the anniversary of when our founding fathers declared their independence from the Native Americans. So I’m going to celebrate it the way I want to celebrate it.”

Because his home is tucked deep into the subdivision east of York St. on the city’s north side, the man is not worried about the police showing up when he begins his show with a flurry of commercial-use pyrotechnics and military-grade explosives that are to be ignited on the flattest section of his gravel driveway.

“I haven’t been bothered by the cops in the past,” boasted the man, who sees his fireworks show as a community service. “But then again, I’ve never launched a dozen Silver Sonic Warheads from my garage roof in the past, either.”

Insisting that he always keeps spectators at least ten feet away from the discharge site of aerial spinners and canister smoke bombs and that he forbids children under the age of six from using his Roman candles to play tag, the man stressed that safety is one of his four or five greatest concerns when setting off fireworks, particularly those that the man has modified by adding a powder mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulfur that he learned how to make by watching a You Tube video.

“To be honest, there aren’t too many people around anymore when I put on my show,” said the man, who has noticed an increase over the years of neighbors on his block who either go out of town on the Fourth of July or elect to stay at a local hotel overnight. “We haven’t had a major incident in a couple years now, so why don’t they want to check out my kick-ass fireworks?”

The man has scheduled an event preview on July 3rd, when he will light a few 1600-count strips of Wolfpack Firecrackers around midnight and attempt to reignite some “duds” he saved from last year’s fireworks show.