Odds and Ends

Mattress wars, Felony Franks and the State of the Union

Some stories of 2014 don’t necessarily fit nicely into a category, but they’re a little just too weird or interesting not to mention. Here are a few of the stories we enjoyed writing this year.

Who’s the rattiest of them all?

In October, national pest control company Orkin released an assessment of the “rattiest” cities in the United States, with Chicago topping the list of 20. It’s based on the numbers and types of treatments Orkin does in cities nationwide. 

Upon the list’s release, we decided to check back in with Oak Park and River Forest High School, which has had its own mouse problems over the years. According to spokesperson Karin Sullivan, following a check with Buildings and Grounds Director Robert Zummallen, OPRF no longer has a rodent problem like it used to. 

As we reported in October 2011, the high school cracked down on its mouse problem by implementing some rules and procedures against people eating and leaving food in undesignated areas.

Mattress wars

Finding a store to purchase a place to lay your weary head got a lot easier this year in downtown Oak Park, much to the chagrin of economic development groups. Sleepy’s mattress store opened at 1120 Lake St. earlier this year, and only a few months later American Mattress popped up just a few shops down at 1142 Lake St. 

“[Mattress stores are] not the kind of traffic builder we’d like to see, but business is business; we don’t get to choose,” John Hedges, executive director of the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation said in September. “That’s between the owner and the broker and the business coming in, but it wouldn’t be our first choice.”

Ex-cons and encased meats

After and a battle over its controversial marketing and a failed run in Chicago, Felony Franks announced in October plans to open a new location at 6427 North Ave. 

The hot dog restaurant that hires ex-offenders made headlines in Chicago in 2011 for its sign, picturing an incarcerated hot dog mascot and declaring the shop “Home of the Misdemeanor Weiner.”

Owner Deno Andrews said his store’s mission to help ex-felons drives the marketing. 

“Ex-offenders were sentenced and served time and paid their dues, but they are also served with an employment life sentence, and that’s just not fair,” Andrews said in October. 

Felony Franks is expected to open sometime in 2015. 


Oak Parkers will get a chance to participate in Chicago’s popular Divvy bike-sharing program in 2015, due to a $3 million grant from the state. The grant will fund the program in three suburban communities. 

“[Divvy users] will be able to take a bike here and go into the city and vice versa,” said Jill Velan, director of parking and mobility services for the village.

It’s still uncertain when the money will be distributed or where the bikes will be located, though.  

Oak Parker at State of the Union

Oak Park resident Misty DeMars sat between First Lady Michelle Obama and the wife of Vice President Joe Biden at January’s State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. 

She was featured as “the face of the unemployment crisis” in President Barack Obama’s call for CEOs to give more long-term unemployed workers “a fair shot at new jobs.”

“Misty is one of millions who is left with limited resources, difficult decisions and an uncertain future as she looks for work without the crucial economic lifeline of emergency unemployment insurance,” Obama said of the DeMars family.

Join the discussion on social media!

One reply on “2014 Odds and Ends: Mattress wars, Felony Franks and the State of the Union”