Ice melting supplies were in short supply earlier this month when the Chicago area was hit by no less than three ice storms within a couple of weeks. The village’s Public Works Department even made free salt available in limited quantities on Dec. 10, the day after the second wave hit. That same day, the Chicago Tribune did a story mentioning that Oak Park’s Dressel’s Hardware still had ice melting products available. That led to Chuck Dressel’s 15 minutes of fame that week as CLTV and WBBM descended on the store on Tuesday to film stories about the mystery of how a little hardware store still had supplies when the big box boys did not. Made for a pretty harried day, with long lines at the registers as people discovered the unexpected motherlode. That evening, CBS Evening News led off with a story on the Midwest ice storm, and Katie Couric told the nation that Dressel’s had supplies when all others ran out.

How did they manage it? Dressel’s knows a distributor on the Near West Side of Chicago (Division and Cherry) who had plenty of product, but doesn’t deliver. You have to go to them. Dressel was more than happy to make the 25-minute drive to pick it up-a dozen truckloads worth.

“We sold 75,000 pounds,” Dressel said. For awhile, they were selling it right out of the truck. Dressel’s has a storage space across the street from their Chicago Avenue store, so they were able to stockpile it.

“I hate to say it, but we’re loving it,” Dressel said.

They did run out briefly last Tuesday, just before closing, but they’re stocked again, ready for the next ice storm.

Last Oak Park Kettlestrings dies

David Kettlestrings, the last local descendent of Oak Park’s founding father, Joseph Kettlestrings, has died. David, who still lived in Oak Park until he took a bad fall earlier this year, was in his 90s. He had remained active and interested in local issues, most recently serving as grand marshall of the Homecoming Parade during Oak Park’s centennial year (2001). He was the husband of the late Anne (nee Jones); father of Donald (Elizabeth) Kettlestrings, Jill (William) Amadon, and the late Robert D. Kettlestrings; grandfather of Laura (Dan) Dreyfus, John (Patty) Kettlestrings, Amy (Tom) Pokrandt, and Melanie (Brett) Betchey; great-grandfather of Bryan Dreyfus, Paul and Sean Kettlestrings, Sidney Pokrandt, and Spencer and Sara Betchey; and brother of the late Joseph Kettlestrings and Florence Kettlestrings Hall.

Visitation is scheduled for 10 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 20, at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home, 203 S. Marion St., followed by the funeral service at 11 a.m. Interment will take place at Elmwood Cemetery in River Grove. Memorials may be sent to Fairhaven Senior Services, 435 W. Starin Road, Whitewater, Wis. 53190.

OPRF gets silver from U.S News

According to U.S. News & World Report, Oak Park and River Forest High School ranks in the top 3 percent nationwide. The magazine recently published its “Best High Schools” edition, awarding 100 schools across the country a gold medal (based on specific criteria), 405 schools a silver medal, and 1,086 schools a bronze medal. OPRF earned a silver medal ranking, one of 30 from Illinois. The rankings were created by School Evaluation Services, a K-12 education data research business. They analyzed data from 18,790 high schools in 40 states for the 2005-06 school year, considering three categories: whether students performed better than the statistical average for that state, whether the school’s least advantaged students performed better than the average for similar students across the state, and a “college readiness index,” based on data from advanced placement classes.

All of the gold medal winners in Illinois were magnet or charter schools, with the exception of Stevenson High in Lincolnsire. Joining OPRF in the silver medal category were Lane Tech and Von Steuben in Chicago, Hinsdale, Lyons Township, Naperville Central, New Trier and Wheaton North, among others.

More information can be found at  

Special, and final, meeting?

It isn’t often that one gets to witness the death of a governmental entity, but one was scheduled for last night. Oak Parker Bill Sullivan, president of the Cicero Township Trustees of Schools board, sent us the agenda for the meeting, which was held last night at District 97 administrative headquarters, 970 Madison St. The technical name of this obsolete body of government, whose termination is long overdue, is Trustees of Schools of Township 39 North, Range 13, Cook County, Illinois. That’s a mouthful and should never have to be uttered again if item #13 (lucky number) went through as planned: “Discussion and Approval of Resolution authorizing transfer of legal title to school buildings and school sites to the Boards of Education of School Districts 97, 98, 99, 100, 200, 201.

After reviewing and approving the minutes of this same meeting, the board was scheduled to adjourn finally and forever.

Then again, where Cicero is involved, one never knows.


In last week’s article about the West Cook YMCA’s request for qualifications, we failed to mention that the organization’s president and CEO, Scott Gaalaas, had not yet examined the four responses for the Y’s properties. Wednesday Journal asked for detailed information on each, but Gaalaas wasn’t able to provide it by our deadline.

We included information about Mercy Housing and its proposal only because we were invited to take a tour of the non-profit’s supportive housing facility. Gaalaas did not inform us about Mercy’s proposal or any others.

Look for a more detailed story on the responses to the Y’s request in the coming weeks.

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