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May 26, 2010

Rollover on Illinois Route 59 in Naperville injures one

Rollover on Illinois Route 59 in Naperville injures one

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yellow arrow indicates traffic going southbound on Route 59 and turning onto the ramp to enter Interstate 88. Green arrow indicates traffic going northbound on Route 59. Red dot indicates the probable site of the collision.
Image: Benny the mascot.

A motorist was injured during a collision that resulted in a rollover in the city of Naperville, Illinois, United States. The accident occurred at about 8:15 am (13:15 UTC) on the interchange of Illinois Route 59 and Interstate 88.

Naperville police reported that Pavitra Durgam, a 26-year-old from Chicago, was traveling southbound on Route 59 and tried to turn left onto the ramp to Interstate 88. In doing so, she cut in front of a car heading north on Route 59. The other, currently unidentified driver swerved to avoid her, hit a curb, and collided with her car anyway. 

Northbound traffic on Route 59 north of Diehl Road, including the entrance into eastbound Interstate 88, was blocked as crews cleaned up the area of the collision. The unidentified motorist complained of back pain and was thus sent to nearby Edward Hospital. Durgam received a citation for failing to yield to oncoming traffic as she turned. 



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April 7, 2010

Naperville, Illinois welcomes home Olympic silver medalist Molly Schaus

Naperville, Illinois welcomes home Olympic silver medalist Molly Schaus

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Illinois
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US goaltender Molly Schaus in a game against the Eastern College Athletic Conference All-Stars on January 3, 2010.
Image: Sara Melikian.

US Olympic ice hockey silver medalist Molly Schaus returned to her hometown of , Illinois last weekend. Her travels culminated in a visit on Monday to Spring Brook Elementary School, where as a fourth-grader she set the goal of some day being an Olympian. Schaus’s dream was fulfilled this year during the , when she played for the US women’s ice hockey team and won a silver medal. 

As she addressed and answered questions from students and teachers at the grade school, Schaus explained the large amount of work she had to invest to achieve her goals. The Chicago Daily Herald reports that “she has been practicing for three to four hours a day nearly every day for the past year.” She told the students to “make a dream and follow it because you never know what can happen and just have fun with it.”

The nostalgic visit to her elementary school followed a weekend of other appearances in Naperville, including a celebration last Saturday at Rosebud’s Italian Specialties and Pizzeria. Saturday had been declared Molly Schaus Day by Naperville Mayor A. George Pradel, who also gave Schaus a key to the city. 

Schaus has not been the only Olympic alumnus to return to the school; figure skater and gold medalist Evan Lysacek returned to his Naperville hometown and spoke to the students at Spring Brook on March 26. “It’s amazing we had two Olympians come to our school. It’s like 1 million to one that they both get medals,” remarked fourth-grader Alexandra Van Cleave.

Schaus lived in Naperville until moving to Massachusetts during her sophomore year in high school, having attended Gregory Middle School for junior high and Benet Academy during her freshman year of high school. After speaking at Spring Brook on Monday, she visited Gregory later that day and then went home to Massachusetts. She is expected to visit the White House with the rest of her team later this year. She will also start preparing for her final season at Boston College.



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March 28, 2010

Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek gets hero\’s welcome in hometown

Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek gets hero’s welcome in hometown

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Illinois
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Evan Lysacek holds his gold medal during the men’s medals ceremony at the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships.
Image: David W. Carmichael.

Residents of the Chicago suburb of Naperville, Illinois celebrated Evan Lysacek Day last Friday. Held in honor of the gold medalist in figure skating at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the day started with a rally at the former Naperville resident’s high school, Neuqua Valley High School. 

Neuqua awarded Lysacek its first-ever Distinguished Alumni Award. He was the first American since 1988 to win the gold in men’s figure skating, having started the sport since he was eight. Despite being busy with other engagements and starring in the TV show Dancing with the Stars, Lysacek was excited about the opportunity to visit his hometown. 

He also took the opportunity to thank his former teachers, who he said worked hard to keep him caught up in his studies amidst his hectic skating career. “I’ve been waiting to get back home and celebrate with the community that’s backed me and been so instrumental in my development as a person, as an athlete and take this opportunity to say thank you, not just to the community but more so to the faculty here,” he told the crowd at Neuqua. 

The skater’s achievements have inspired the residents of his hometown. “I was inspired by what he showed me. He showed that I can do anything I want to do,” said Neuqua student Gbenja Okubaja. At a Chamber of Commerce lunch held later that day, Naperville Mayor A. George Pradel awarded Lysacek the key to the city, saying “I don’t know what it opens, but I’ve been told its already opened the hearts of everyone here in Naperville.” In response Lysacek joked, “I hear it opens all the banks here in Naperville.”

Afterwards, Lysacek attended a fundraiser held in honor of skater and long-time friend Stephanie Joseph, who died of cancer at the age of 21. 



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March 15, 2010

Four arrested in three Naperville, Illinois prostitution stings

Four arrested in three Naperville, Illinois prostitution stings

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Illinois
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An undercover investigation by Naperville, Illinois law enforcement has led to the arrest last Thursday of four people allegedly involved in prostitution. The stings came after police received tips that people were using websites like Craigslist and Backpage.com to sell sexual performances in Naperville hotels. 

Patricia H. Scoleri of Naperville was arrested after an unidentified neighbor observed consistently suspicious activity at Scoleri’s home. Traffic was unusually heavy and consisted mostly of luxury cars in an otherwise quiet, middle-class neighborhood. Also, the visitors were mainly middle-aged men, and an odd string of lavender-colored lights were hung on the front window.

Police say Scoleri worked alone. She was arrested at 2 p.m. local time (2000 UTC) and is charged with violation of anti-prostitution laws, anti-cannabis laws, and the Massage Licensing Act. She apparently has four children, but the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has neither contacted her nor received a police report on her.

The second sting occurred at 5:30 p.m the same day (2330 UTC) and resulted in the arrest of Chicago resident Tonya M. Adams. She is charged with prostitution and driving without a license. Another sting about an hour later resulted in the arrests of Jessica M. Walley, a Skokie resident, and Mark A. Williams, a self-admitted Schaumburg gang member. “Walley was charged with prostitution and unlawful possession of cannabis. Williams was charged with pimping, obstructing a peace officer, driving with a suspended license and driving without insurance,” reports WBBM News Radio 780.

All four suspects are free, having paid the required ten percent of their $1,000 bail. They may face additional charges related to crack cocaine discovered during the police investigation. Arraignment is scheduled for next month at the DuPage County Circuit Courthouse in Wheaton.



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Glenbard East defeated by Benet Academy in Illinois basketball sectional

Glenbard East defeated by Benet Academy in Illinois basketball sectional

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Benet Academy Redwings 68 54 Glenbard East Rams
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Benet Academy Redwings logo
Image: Benet Academy.

Top-seeded Glenbard East High School was expected to win the Class 4A Neuqua Valley High School Sectional championship on Friday night. Yet with a lot of determination and a strong defense, the Benet Academy varsity boys basketball team defeated the Rams 68–54. 

The game marks Benet’s sixteenth straight victory this season, giving the Redwings a 26–3 overall record. It is also their first sectional championship since the 1982–1983 season, which was the last time Benet advanced to the Class AA state tournament; there they lost to Thornton Township High School in the quarterfinals.

The Redwings’ aggressive man-to-man defense certainly kept the Rams out of their comfort zone amidst the crowds in the sold-out Neuqua gym. As Benet forward Mike Runger said, “We made them play to their weaknesses instead of letting them get comfortable doing what they want to do.”

Benet scored 71 percent of its shots in the first half, while Glenbard East scored only 27. While the Rams led twice in the first few minutes (3–0 and 7–5), the Redwings led 12–7 after the first quarter. A three-point shot made by Dave Sobolewski two seconds before the buzzer gave Benet a 27–16 lead at the end of the first half. 

Glenbard East desperately attempted a comeback in the second half, but Benet maintained a lead ranging from 10 to 18 points. Rams guard made four three-pointers in the fourth quarter, but to no avail. As Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said, “…we knew they were going to come at us and give us a ton of pressure. We were a long, long way from being comfortable at halftime.”

Benet will play Simeon Career Academy from Chicago in the supersectionals at Hinsdale Central High School on Tuesday night. 



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March 13, 2010

Illinois House lessens penalty for sexting

Illinois House lessens penalty for sexting

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

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The Illinois House of Representatives voted this Thursday to lift some penalties for teenagers who engage in sexting. While minors are still prohibited from sending nude photos of other minors taken on cell phones, they will no longer be required to register as sex offenders. Instead, they could be punished with court-ordered supervision or community service. 

The bill, which was sponsored by State Representative Darlene Senger from Naperville, passed with a 114–1 majority and will be considered by the Illinois Senate. The lone dissenter, State Representative Careen Gordon from Morris, declined to comment on her vote. 

Senger says that sexting has become a problem because when teens send nude pictures of themselves to their boyfriends or girlfriends, they don’t realize that what they are doing is illegal or that their pictures can be distributed to other people. A national survey has revealed that 48 percent of teenagers have received sexual text messages or emails, while 39 percent have sent or posted sexual photos online.

Criminal charges are more serious if the content is posted online. As Connie Burch told Illinois homepage.net, however, “the threat of having to register as a sex offender goes too far.” The main purpose of the legislation is to create awareness among parents about what has become a prevalent issue for teenagers. As Senger told the Chicago Sun-Times, “We still have the ability to prosecute those whose intent is to create child pornography even if they’re under 18. However, if you’re just doing something because you think it’s a prank, we can explain why this isn’t funny.”



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February 14, 2010

Chicago Metra considers selling naming rights for train lines, stations

Chicago Metra considers selling naming rights for train lines, stations

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

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  • 26 September 2014: Chicago air traffic facility evacuated for basement fire
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Ogilvie Transportation Center was previously named North Western Station, but no money exchanged hands during the renaming.
Image: DaveofCali.

Chicago’s Metra is currently considering the possibility of selling the naming rights to its train stations, rail lines, and even bridges to generate more revenue. 

The regional rail system for Chicago and its surrounding suburbs has been experiencing revenue shortfalls, along with other public transportation agencies such as the Chicago Transit Authority and Pace. They all rely on sales taxes and fares to fund their services, but the recent recession has reduced sales tax revenues, and unemployment has caused ridership to fall. Compared to 86.8 million trips in 2008, Metra reported that only 82.3 million trips were provided in 2009. As spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said, “We’re looking at any opportunity to increase non-fare revenue.”

A law approved by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich in 2008 granted free rides to all seniors regardless of income, adding to the decreasing fare revenues as well. State lawmakers are trying to restrict the free rides to low-income seniors; Metra has not yet commented on the issue, however. 

New designs put on the agency’s website last September has attracted more traffic, and Metra is considering selling advertising space online. In addition, advertising space could be sold on the outside of train cars as well. As for the naming rights to stations and routes, Metra plans to hire a consultant that would figure out the details of such a proposal. Spokesperson Meg Reihle did not know how much money Metra could gain from the sale or which organizations would be interested in buying. 

According to Ms. Reihle, public transit agencies in other cities have sold naming rights as well, such as the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority in Cleveland and Long Island Rail Road in Long Island. TECO Energy sponsors a rail line in Tampa’s Hillsborough Area Regional Transit for US$1 million over ten years. 

Mars Station is named after Mars Incorporated, but Metra receives no money from the candy maker.
Image: Zol87.

Throughout its 26-year history, Metra has named several of its locomotives and renamed two stations: Ogilvie Transportation Center, which was previously named North Western Station, and Millennium Terminal, which was previously called Randolph Street. No transactions were made in renaming those two stations, however. There is also a Station named after the candy maker Mars, but that station was named before Metra took it over, and the company doesn’t pay Metra for any naming rights. 

Cquote1.svg I think the business community recognizes that transit is positive for their advertising benefit Cquote2.svg

—Executive Director Phil Pagano

Execuive Director Phil Pagano sees the proposal as a way for businesses to advertise themselves. “I think the business community recognizes that transit is positive for their advertising benefit,” said Mr. Pagano at a board meeting. In addition to businesses, hospitals located near the train stations could purchase naming rights as well. However, Mr. Pagano has also stated that “the agency would be selective about the type of businesses it partners with.”

Metra has said that it will be sensitive to the wishes of the communities near the stops, and town names will not be removed from station names. Rather, both the municipality and the sponsoring organization would share the naming rights, such as in renaming Naperville Station to “Naperville Boeing Station”. “I’m not sure whether [the old name] is first or second, but definitely it’s going to have to be there,” said Mr. Pagano.



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February 12, 2010

Wheaton Academy, Illinois boys basketball team plays Benet Academy, suffers first in-state loss

Wheaton Academy, Illinois boys basketball team plays Benet Academy, suffers first in-state loss

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Benet Academy Redwings 64 55 Wheaton Academy Warriors
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Logo of the Benet Academy Redwings
Image: Benet Academy.

The Benet Academy varsity boys basketball team defeated the Wheaton Academy Warriors 64–55 in a non-conference game Tuesday night, handing the host West Chicago, Illinois, United States school its first loss to a team from Illinois and second loss overall this season.

The gym was filled to standing-room-only capacity and Warriors fans donned white t-shirts specifically made for this event, saying “BEAT BENET” and claiming “There is only one Academy.” Sixteen Wheaton Academy fans wore their school uniforms during the game. Such a show of support ultimately did not lead the Warriors to victory, however, even with 6-foot, 9-inch The College of William & Mary-recruit Tim Rusthoven on their side.

Rusthoven was the focus of Benet’s defensive strategy. As the Redwings point guard Dave Sobolewski said, “We knew that we wouldn’t be able to take him out of the game with just a single guy. We had to take him out with our entire team, and we did a great job doing that.”

Wheaton Academy had a 19–15 lead at the end of the first quarter. Benet would never trail again for the rest of the game, however, with Sobolewski scoring ten points in the second quarter to give the Redwings a 37–32 lead at halftime. Benet eventually led by a huge margin of 56–41 with four minutes and 31 seconds left in the game. The Warriors managed to narrow that lead to 58–53 with 44.2 seconds left, but the Redwings successfully made eight of 12 free throws in the final one minute and five seconds.

Wheaton Academy coach Paul Ferguson commented, “They were very physical. They killed us on offensive rebounds…Benet played a real good game, they shot ball well and rebounded well.” Rusthoven had 21 points and seven rebounds, while Sobolewski also had 21 points but only five rebounds.

The Warriors, now with a record of 20–2, had won seven straight games before this one. “We knew it was a big game from their standpoint. They were 20–1 and hadn’t won by less than 12 points. We came in and took care of business,” said Sobolewski. Benet, with a record of 18–3, now has an eight-game winning streak as well.

The Redwings, still undefeated in conference, are now in contention for their first East Suburban Catholic Conference championship since the 1994–1995 season. Eddie Burns of the Naperville Sun attributes Benet’s success to its defensive strategy, which he says is “making life miserable for the opposition”. As of February 5, the Redwings had let their opponents score an average of 41 points. As forward Mike Runger said, “I think everyone on this team really values defense. Players on this team know that defense is what can get wins.”


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February 8, 2010

Illinois man charged in Facebook harassment case

Illinois man charged in Facebook harassment case

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Monday, February 8, 2010

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A man from the Naperville, Illinois, United States area has been accused of allegedly threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend via messages posted on her Facebook account. 

Nineteen-year-old Christopher J. Bensfield was arrested Jan. 28 at his home in unincorporated DuPage County near the far west-central part of Naperville. He is being held on a $12,500 bond at the DuPage County Jail in Wheaton. He is scheduled to appear at the DuPage County Circuit Court on a felony charge of harassment via electronic communication. Police Sergeant Gregg Bell said the ex-girlfriend, a Naperville-resident, asked Bensfield to stop sending the messages many times before she submitted printed copies of the threatening messages to Naperville police.

Court records indicate Bensfield is already on probation after pleading guilty last September to possession of a controlled substance. He was arrested in August 2008 after disobeying a stop sign in Naperville. Police searched his car and found marijuana and drug paraphernalia. This was the third time Benfield had been arrested for having marijuana since April 2007, when drugs were found in his possession at Naperville Central High School. Last October, a judge issued a fine and required him to join the DuPage County Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program. He has also received five tickets within three months in 2008 for driving violations, including speeding, driving without insurance, transportation of an open alcohol container, and driving too fast for conditions.

Bensfield’s mother also has an order of protection against him. Ms. Bensfield stated that he asked her for money in late December; he then broke into her home in Naperville’s far southeast-side, punching holes in the walls and breaking various items before leaving. Christopher was arrested Dec. 29 and faced a misdemeanor charge of criminal damage to property. He “suffers from bipolar disorder and has not been taking his medication,” according to information the Naperville Daily Herald has received from Ms. Bensfield.



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January 18, 2010

Historic gym the site of Benet Academy, Illinois victory over Oswego

Historic gym the site of Benet Academy, Illinois victory over Oswego

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Benet Academy Redwings 40 34 Oswego Panthers
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Benet Academy Redwings

The Benet Academy Redwings boys basketball team defeated the Oswego High School Panthers 40–34 Saturday night at Benet’s historic Alumni Gym. 

Located at Lisle, Illinois, United States, the gymnasium is home to Benet’s winning streak of 102 consecutive home games. The statewide record lasted from November 26, 1975 until January 24, 1987, when Naperville North High School defeated the Redwings 47–46. Benet also achieved 96 consecutive victories in the Western Suburban Catholic Conference at that time. 

The school continued to use the facility, colloquially referred to as the “Old Gym” or the “Small Gym”, until the end of the 1994 season, when a newer athletic center was built on campus. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s when then-coach Marty Gaughan decided to play one game per year in the Alumni Gym to remind the school of its history. “There is just an electricity, and you feel it when you are in there,” said Gaughan, who coached the team from the 1989–1990 season to the 2007–2008 season. 

This tradition continued until the 2006–2007 season, when the Redwings played against long-time rival St. Francis High School. Renovations prevented the gym from being used for athletic events over the past two seasons. This game was Benet coach Gene Heidkamp’s first opportunity to coach in the older gym. “So much history and winning has taken place there, which makes it so special. It is something the entire school community is excited about,” said Heidkamp. 

Saturday’s game was played at the Alumni Gym at the request of Oswego assistant coach Jim Bagley. He wanted his son, senior forward Chris Bagley, to experience the same atmosphere he had as he played for Benet in the 1978–1979 season. Greg Kwiatkowski was also Jim Bagley’s teammate in Benet, and his son, Joe Kwiatkowski, was in the Panthers’ starting lineup as well. “Two of us who played at Benet together and now our son’s play on [Oswego] together and for them to have a chance to play where we played is going to be a great night and great experience,” said the senior Bagley. 

Alumni Gym apparently still had its charm in the second half for the Redwings, whose 15–17 score at halftime worsened into an 11-point deficit in the third quarter. Benet fell behind with a score of 21–29 at the start of the fourth quarter. From that point, the Redwings’ defense began to kick in. Oswego could make only 2 of its 13 field goals in the third quarter. Benet’s offense also gained momentum as center Frank Kaminsky scored all of his 9 points in the fourth quarter. A shot by senior Mike Runger brought the score to 31–31, and two consecutive driving layups by David Sobolewski gave Benet the lead that would last for the rest of the game. 

“We hit a dry spell there, but let’s give credit where credit is due. Defense wins games and they are the best defensive team we’ve faced all year,” said Oswego coach Kevin Schnable.

Benet’s Matt Parisi led his team with 15 points, and Sobolewski scored 12. Oswego’s Andrew Ziemnik also scored 12. 



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