Sauk Village, Illinois
|Sauk Village, Illinois|
|Area||3.87 sq mi (10 km2)|
|- land||3.84 sq mi (10 km2)|
|- water||0.04 sq mi (0 km2)|
|Density||2,735.9 / sq mi (1,056 / km2)|
|- summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|Wikimedia Commons: Sauk Village, Illinois|
Sauk Village is located at (41.488535, -87.565658).
According to the 2010 census, the village has a total area of 3.87 square miles (10.0 km2), of which 3.84 square miles (9.9 km2) (or 99.22%) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) (or 1.03%) is water.
Neighboring towns include the Illinois communities of Lynwood to the northeast, Ford Heights to the north, Chicago Heights to the northwest, South Chicago Heights to the west, Steger to the southwest, and Crete to the south. The town of Dyer, Indiana, is the nearest community to the east.
As of the census of 2010, there were 10,506 people (10,559 based on census data July, 2012), 3,685 households, 2,525 families residing in the village. The population density was 2,737.2 people per square mile (1,057.8/km²). There were 3,685 housing units, 3,226 occupied, at an average density of 924.1 per square mile (357.1/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 28.80% White, 62.79% African American, 1.00% Native American, 0.50% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 5.90% from other races. Additionally, Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.10% of the population.
There were 3,226 households out of which 40.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.4% were married couples living together, 29.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.7% were non-families. 17.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.24 and the average family size was 3.66.
In the village the population was spread out with 34.5% under the age of 18, 57.5% from 18 to 64, and 8.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29.9 years. For every 100 females there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.9 males.
The median income for a household in the village was $53,058, and the median income for a family was $53,474. The per capita income for the village was $17,721. About 16.3% of families and 19.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.0% of those under age 18 and 10.9% of those age 65 or over.
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The area that is now known as Sauk Village has been a center of activity for hundreds of years. Originally, several Native American tribes inhabited this land, which is a part of an area of high ground surrounding Lake Michigan known as the Valparaiso Moraine. The Native Americans used this high ground for transporting herd animals and trade items. Though the Potawatomi and Illinois Confederation tribes were native to the area, the Sauk people, from Michigan, became the namesake of the Sauk Trail. As the westward expansion increased during the 19th century, the Sauk tribes were forced to move westward. Annually, they would travel the Sauk Trail to collect treaty money from Canada and the United States.
This area was originally opened up to American settlers in 1838. Though the original settlers of Sauk Village moved here from the East Coast, their roots were in Western Europe, especially France and Germany. The first immigrants to the area were Hiram Wood, Henry Ayen, and Rowley. After these original settlers, a second wave of families moved to the Sauk Village area, including such familiar names such as Kavelage, Reichert, Sauter, Rickenberger, Kloss, Barnes, Jung, Schaller, Schmidt, Kline, and Peters. Postmaster Charles Sauter named the settlement Strassburg, after Strasbourg, France, home of many of the original settlers. Back when the area was originally being settled by Americans, land sold for a mere $1.25 an acre.
In 1847, St. Jakob's Church was built. Father Francis Fischer was the first priest of the church, which had twenty parishioners. In 1871, this original church was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. The church was promptly rebuilt, only to be struck again in 1873. After this second lightning strike, the church was moved to what became the corner of Sauk Trail and the Calumet Expressway, where it would stand until its razing in 2004. The name of the church was changed from the German St. Jakob to St. James in 1917 as a result of anti-German attitudes due to World War I. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, St. James Church experienced a shortage in revenues. Area residents helped by hand-digging the basement of the church in order to create a hall that could be rented out. On November 11, 1940, a tornado touched down in the area, causing extensive damage to the roof of St. James Church. Area residents may have known the Old St. James Church as the Old Community Center. The graveyard directly behind where the Old St. James Church stood is the St. James Cemetery at Strassburg. It is the final resting place for many of Sauk Village's original settlers. While the church was being readied for demolition in 2004, former Trustee Richard Derosier, while cleaning the attic of the old church, stumbled over an old relic cross that once hung in the old St. James Church. The old relic cross now hangs as you enter St. James Church some 150 years later. The original bell, cast in the 19th century, stands outside St. James Church today as a testament to the history and sacrifices of so many families of Sauk Village.
When the Calumet Expressway was built in the late 1950s, the Strassburg area was seen as a prime real estate development. The AMBO I Construction firm moved into the area in 1956, building homes in what is now known as the Garden Section, near the Calumet Expressway and just south of Sauk Trail. The community was incorporated on March 12, 1957, as Sauk Village, since there was a town in southern Illinois that already had the name Strasburg. Thomas J. Nichols served as Sauk Village's first president.
Since its incorporation in 1957, Sauk Village has undergone considerable change and expansion. By 1961, a special census showed that Sauk Village had 1,258 homes and 5,774 residents. Strassburg and Cynthia Street (now known as Wagoner) Schools were built during this time to accommodate the needs of residents' children. Though construction came to a virtual halt during the mid-1960s, by the early 1970s development was beginning again. In 1970, Rickover Junior High School opened its doors, and additions were made to the existing schools. Throughout the 1970s, developments such as the Amber Manor Apartments (now known as the Crossroads), Surreybrook Plaza, and St. James Estates were booming. Under the direction of Mayor Theisen and the Village Board, the Village Hall and Police Station moved out of a renovated residential duplex to the now Old Village Hall in 1977 on Torrence Avenue. The building at the time would cost about $250,000, considerably less than the $5 million the new Village Hall would cost in 2008.
The area continued to expand through the early 1980s with the addition of more homes to the St. James Estates area and new subdivisions such as the Carlisle Estates and Southbrook. The Community Center behind the old Village Hall first opened its doors in 1982, coinciding with the village's 25th anniversary. In the late 1980s, construction began on the Sauk Pointe Industrial Park on Sauk Trail west of the Calumet Expressway. Pacesetter Steel became the first company to move into the park in 1988. During the same year, Sauk Plaza underwent a 1.1 million dollar renovation project, which brought several new businesses into the community.
The 1990s promised to be yet another decade of expansion for Sauk Village. In 1990, Carolina Freight opened for business, bringing numerous jobs to the area. Building began in 1993 on the Carolina Subdivision, south of Sauk Trail and east of the Calumet Expressway. This subdivision would be the first residential development in nearly a decade. The 1990 census showed Sauk Village as having a population of 9,704. The 2000 census data showed the population at about 10,411.
2005 saw an investigation into the finances of School District 168 and what was described by the Cook County State's Attorney as the "worst case of financial fraud by a public official." Superintendent of Schools Thomas Ryan, School Board President Louise Morales, and Building and Grounds supervisor Edward Bernacki were all charged with felonies for stealing funds from the school district. Ryan was the only one who was sentenced to a prison term of 8 years. Ryan was released in 2008 after serving more than two years and repaying some $400,000 in restitution to District 168.
In 2007, bold plans were being made for the construction of a new Village Hall and Senior Citizen Center. Groundbreaking began in August 2007 on the new Sauk Village Municipal Center and Senior Citizen Center. The groundbreaking coincided with the village's 50th anniversary celebrations. On November 1, 2008, the new Village Hall was dedicated at a ceremony attended by Mayor Roger Peckham and the Board of Trustees, by former mayors Paesel and Collins, former village trustees Joseph Wiszowaty, Mary Seery, V. Zeke Luther, Rita Kueny, Patricia Hasse, former village clerks Marjorie Tuley and Elizabeth Selvey, and several other local mayors and many other distinguished guests. The New Municipal Center is an open concept contemporary design occupying about 18,500 square feet (1,720 m2) and costing $5 million. Construction took 14 months and was paid for not with property tax dollars but from impact fees resulting from the influx of industrial development in the village, according to Village Manager Dieterich. The current Village Hall will be taken over by the Police Department after extensive remodeling.
McConathy Public Library
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A group of avid readers began a volunteer library which was housed in the basement of Katz Corner School once located on Burnham Avenue. In June 1973 a referendum was passed and the Sauk Village Library District was formed in 1974. Jack Hurwitz was the first Library Director. He was assisted by Mary Frances Pena, who later would become Head Librarian.
The library outgrew the basement at Katz Corner School and moved to a single-story house at 1909 Sauk Trail, and Linda Gapsewitz became the new director. In 1984 the library moved to a storefront in Surreybrook Plaza. In 1986 the Sauk Village Library District Board of Trustees changed the district's name to the Nancy L. McConathy Public Library District in order to honor library district trustee and Village Clerk Nancy L. McConathy, who had died suddenly.
In 2006, under the direction of the Library Board and Library Director Nanette Wargo, the library finally realized the vision of all of those volunteers and moved into their very own library building. The building was originally envisioned for land once owned on 223rd Street near Torrence Avenue, but was built at 21737 Jeffery Avenue. The building was designed by ARC Architects out of Frankfort, Illinois.
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The village's first mayor, then referred to as Village President, was Thomas J. Nichols, who was elected in 1957, when the village was incorporated. Nichols served two terms from 1957 to 1965. He was succeeded by Roger F. Theisen in 1965. During the Theisen administration, the village saw the largest expansion of its geographical boundaries and the largest growth in housing as a result of the baby-boomers moving from the larger urban centers to the more rural Sauk Village. Theisen continued the "bedroom community" character of the community. Theisen had the Village Board change the title of Village President to Mayor but continuing the Village Board system of government. Theisen appointed Theodore "Ted" Theodore as his Executive Assistant, effectively what is now the Village Manager's position. Theodore would serve in that capacity through the next administration.
The village's third mayor, Edward W. Paesel, was elected in April 1977, beating out long-time incumbent Roger Theisen. Paesel was a school teacher at the time of his election. During Paesel's time in office the village experienced some growth but still experienced the difficulties of the economic downturn as many blue collar jobs left the area. It wasn't until the late 1980s that some of the largest developments came about. DSI on Torrence Avenue, the expansion of Roadway Express and Carolina Freight, two very successful Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, and Pacesetter Steel were all attributed to the vision of Edward Paesel. An ambitious project spearheaded by Paesel which did not come about was the GM-Saturn automobile plant, proposed for the northwest corner of the Calumet Expressway and Sauk Trail. Saturn officials opted for an alternate location. Since leaving office Paesel has served on the Third Regional Airport Clearinghouse and now serves as Executive Director of the South Suburban Mayor and Managers Association and served a brief period in 2006 as District 168 Board Member. Paesel has remained one of the staunchest advocates for Sauk Village since he was first elected to the Village Board in 1973.
Mark Collins, an iron worker, who was Mayor Paesel's "preferred candidate", won election as a part-time mayor after beating out his one-time ally and colleague trustee Richard Derosier and a crowded field of candidates in April 1989. Collins was sworn in on May 9, 1989, as the village's fourth mayor. During Collins' term, new housing construction began again after a many-year hiatus. Many of the day-to-day activities that were handled by the mayor were now being handled by the village manager. Collins survived his re-election bid in April 1993, beating out trustee Joseph Wiszowaty and another candidate, again with the same core of supporters that brought him to office in 1989. In September 1994 the administration was under intense scrutiny over the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Allegations included contractors doing shoddy work and allowing massive cost overruns on projects, and the village's hiring of unbonded and unlicensed contractors. In December 1994, citing "serious questions" relating to the village's handling of a program to refurbish single-family homes, Cook County suspended the release of grant money to the village for new projects. Shortly afterward, the Cook County State's Attorney began an investigation into the mishandling of the CDBG program and several other blunders by the Collins administration. This would cause supporters of Collins to look for an alternative candidate in 1997.
On April 1, 1997, Collins was defeated by Roger Peckham, his own appointee to the Village Board. Peckham during the 1997 election accused the administration, when it came to dealing with new developments, of jumping at opportunities rather than considering serious planning. Peckham, who was serving as Village Trustee, said that the mayor would not communicate with the Board of Trustees on important matters. Peckham had two very close challenges in the 2001 and in 2005 elections. 2005 saw one of the closest mayoral elections in the village's history, in which Peckham survived with only a 43 vote victory against trustee David Hanks.
Peckham announced in 2008 that he would not seek a fourth term, stating, "The community has moved along during my term." But Peckham also said he had hoped for more economic, retail and housing development in the village. Lewis Tower would win election as Sauk Village's sixth mayor by a 2 to 1 majority over Village Trustee Derrick Burgess in April 2009 and has become the first African-American to serve as mayor.
The village hired a Village Manager in 1988. At the time outgoing mayor Edward Paesel said that there was nobody at Village Hall with the experience necessary to run the administrative functions, and the village's mayor's position had been made part-time. Richard Dieterich was hired and continues today as Village Manager. Dieterich relocated to Sauk Village from Nebraska. To date, Dieterich has served under three mayors and numerous trustees, and has provided 20 years of leadership and continuity to Sauk Village to date.
On April 4, 1989, many Chicago media outlets descended on Sauk Village to cover the election of Joseph Wiszowaty, a high school student who was elected to the Village Board of Trustees, and became the youngest man elected in the state of Illinois. Wiszowaty ran on a "change" platform and would in fact bring that change to the Village Board. Wiszowaty would find himself voting against the administration on many issues during his term in office. Wiszowaty made a presentation to the owners of the Chicago Bears to build a new stadium on the property that was proposed for the GM-Saturn plant, after securing economic commitment to expand the Enterprise Zone from the administration of Chicago Heights. The Bears declined the proposal and opted to stay in Chicago with commitments for a newer more modern stadium. Wiszowaty served his term from 1989 to 1993, when he challenged incumbent mayor Mark Collins but lost in a three-way race. Wiszowaty was born and raised in Sauk Village and would have been the youngest mayor Sauk Village ever elected had he succeeded. A petition to have Wiszowaty run again for the village board was circulated in 1995 by supporters, which likely would have led to another run for mayor in 1997, but Wiszowaty chose not to seek election to his old seat on the board.
A changing of the guard was said to have taken place in April 1985 when incumbent Village Clerk Agnes Theodore was beaten out at the polls after many years as Village Clerk by Nancy L. McConathy. Theodore, whose husband was the Executive Assistant to the mayor, refused to leave her position, and McConathy filed suit against the mayor, Village Board of Trustees and Agnes Theodore to force Theodore to leave her elected position. Theodore claimed she was not only an elected official but also an employee of the village and the administration did nothing to support McConathy's contention. On April 5, 1986, McConathy collapsed at the village's annual Appreciation Dinner and died just short of serving a full year in office. McConathy's lawsuit brought prior to her death was settled by McConathy's estate some time later, without the village admitting any liability. Prior to her election as Village Clerk, Nancy L. McConathy served as a library trustee. The Sauk Village Library District changed the name of the library's district to the Nancy L. McConathy Public Library District in her honor.
It was "All in the Family" from 1981 until 1983 when Raymond Gavin, who would actually go on to serve as one of the longest serving village trustees (elected to five terms but would resign before the end), and his son David Gavin served on the Village Board together. This has been the only time that a father and son has served on the Village Board together. A father and daughter have served on the Village Board, but not together. Mary Seery (née Slawnikowski) 1993-2005 did not seek re-election to the Village Board in 2005, and that made way for her father James Slawnikowski, who went on to serve one term.
Raymond Gavin (1967–1986) served the longest consecutive time in office as Village Trustee (19 years), and Robert Werner (1971–1987) and Matthew M. Murphy (1957–1973) served as Village Trustees for 16 years in office, all three longer than any mayor of the village. The three men served on the board together from 1971 to 1973. However, the longest serving elected official in Sauk Village history is Agnes Theodore, who served 25 years as Village Clerk from 1960 to 1985. Honors were given to Robert Werner as the baseball park on the north end of the Village were dedicated to his name. Mathew Murphy received a street named in his honor on the east side of town. However, no honors have yet been given to Raymond Gavin, the longest serving Village Trustee.
Harriet Kaminski (née Wiszowaty) made history in 1965, becoming the first woman to become a Village Trustee. She was followed by Alberta Goe (1965-1966), Catherine Moretti (1967-1968), and several other women. Sauk Village currently has two women serving as Village Trustees.
In 2009, Sauk Village elected its first African-American mayor, Lewis Towers, whose slate of candidates under the party banner Citizens for Progress would take office on May 12. After taking office, Towers and the new Village Board found that Sauk Village was facing its worst economic crisis in history with a $2 million budget deficit to plug and no funds in the coffers left over by the previous administration. The new administration saw some shake-ups as well with previous administrative appointees Police Chief Thomas Lachetta and Fire Chief Christopher Sewell retiring and resigning respectively.
Further shakeups in 2010 included Mayor Towers' appointee as Chief of Police Frank Martin, who had the shortest tenure as Police Chief in village history (five months). The Village Board voted 4 to 2 to fire Martin following claims of racial discrimination. Martin, at age 75, the first African-American appointed Police Chief, was accused by several white police officers of mismanagement and holding officers to a higher standard than himself. Also allegedly fired because of the shakeup was the Mayor's Chief of Staff Burnetta Hill-Corely. The Chief of Staff position replaced the Village Manager when Towers was sworn in during 2009.
Mayor Towers sees that times ahead will still be challenging but are "looking up". While the economic recession has hit Sauk Village hard in 2009, the village has managed to work through the challenges.
Between 1990 and 2010 the demographic makeup of Sauk Village has changed from a predominantly white blue collar middle class community to a more racially integrated community. Numerous industrial construction projects which had hoped to bring jobs to the area had been halted in 2008 as one of the worst economic recessions began.
Recent election facts
On April 7, 2009, Sauk Village voters went to the polls to elect its first African-American mayor in its 52 year history. Voters elected Lewis Towers over current Village Board Trustee Derrick Burgess, who was also an African-American, by 62% to 37% respectively. Towers went on to become Sauk Village's 6th mayor, and the first to have won running on a party affiliation. Up to this election all mayors had run as independent candidates.
On April 5, 2011, the voters of Sauk Village went to the polls and came out in numbers greater than in 2009, to return Village Trustee David Hanks to a historic fourth term as Village Trustee. Only two other Village Trustees have been re-elected to a consecutive four terms, those being Matthew Murphy and Raymond Gavin. Hanks and his running mates of the People's Voice Party, incumbent Trustee Derrick Burgess, and the first Hispanic/Latino Village Trustee ever elected, Robert Chavez, won with about a 3 to 1 margin over the candidates supported by Mayor Towers. The new Village Board took office on May 10, 2011.
November 7, 2012, residents of Sauk Village were stunned to hear via email that embattled Mayor Lewis Towers resigned. Towers is the first and only mayor to have resigned the office of Mayor. Towers had been at political odds with the Village Board as the village was stuck in "gridlock". On November 8, 2012, the Village Board of Trustees selected David Hanks as acting mayor to serve out the remainder of Lewis Towers' unexpired term until May 2013. Hanks announced he would not seek election as mayor and that he would return to his seat on the Village Board of Trustees as soon as the new mayor takes the oath of office.
Development and growth
The largest growth of the village came in the early 1990s when the village annexed nearly 1 square mile (2.6 km2) as a result of a major land grab with neighbors Steger and Ford Heights. The size of the annexation was only rivaled by the growth in the early 1960s when the village just began and housing growth was at an all-time high. The largest parcel annexed came in 1991 when 500 acres (2.0 km2) at the northwest corner of Sauk Trail and the Calumet Expressway was finally added to the village. The 500-acre (2.0 km2) parcel was previously proposed for the GM-Saturn plant by Mayor Paesel and the new Chicago Bears Stadium by Trustee Wiszowaty. Development would finally take off in 2004 when Sauk Village marketed the property to national developers and selected DP Partners out of Reno, Nevada. In November 2004 the company entered into a development agreement with the village. In January 2005, DP Partners closed on the first 100 acres (0.40 km2) and began development two months later. In its master plan, the company plans to spend $150 million to develop 5,000,000 square feet (460,000 m2) of warehouse and manufacturing space. LogistiCenter Business Park currently occupies 325 acres (1.315 km2) and has a 496,260-square-foot (46,104 m2) distribution facility (expandable up to 1.2 million square feet).
Sauk Village is governed by an elected six-member Board of Trustees, Mayor and Village Clerk. The Village Board of Trustees hires the Village Manager/Administrator (according to ordinance re-establishing the position in 2011 and rescinded in 2012 not since re-established), Treasurer, Police Chief, Fire Chief, Public Works Superintendent, other Village Department Heads and members of Committees and Commissions with the "advice and consent" of the Village Board of Trustees.
- Mayor/Village President: David Hanks (appointed by Village Board November 8, 2012, term expires 2017)
- Village Clerk: Debra "Debbie" Williams (elected 2009, term expires 2017)
- Village Treasurer: James Griegel(2013–present) by appointment, not elected
Board of Trustees:
- Derrick Burgess (appointed 2006, first African American man elected; reelected 2007 & 2011 term expires 2015)
- Rosie Williams (first elected 2005, first African-American woman elected,re-elected 2009 & 2013 term expires 2017)
- Edward Myers (first elected 2009 to present; term expires 2017)
- Lynda Washington (first elected 2013 to present; term expires 2017)
- Jeffrey Morden (first elected 2013-unexpired term; term expires 2015)
- John Poskin (appointed 2013 to present; term expires 2015)
Village Trustees are part-time positions, and they currently earn $125 per meeting that they attend.
- Village Administrator/Manager Sede Vacante- there is currently no position by ordinance
- Police Chief Timothy Holevis - appointed since 2013
- Fire Chief Al Stoffregen - appointed Since 2010
- ESDA Coordinator Arthur Johnson - appointed
- Director of Public Works Kevin Weller - appointed
- Village Engineer Robinson Engineering - appointed
- Director of Finance Mohan Rao- appointed
- Director of Admin. Services Ms. Jasinski- appointed
In 1988, after choosing not to seek re-election for mayor, Edward Paesel and the Village Board of Trustees approved an ordinance establishing a position of Village Manager. Richard "Dick" Dieterich served as the village's only Village Manager from 1988 to 2009. The Village Manager handled the administrative function of the village according to the ordinance passed in 1988. The ordinance was changed when incoming Mayor Towers designated a Chief of Staff position to replace the Village Manager position, and was repealed by the Village Board in May 2010. The Village Board of Trustees re-instated the Village Manager's position in June 2011 and hired Dieterich as interim Village Manager until a permanent replacement was hired. Henrietta Turner had taken over as the manager or administrator of the village. Due to political and financial reasons, the Village Board terminated Turner November 1, 2012. While the mayor's position is currently part-time, he retains executive powers and those granted by Illinois statute. The mayor currently does not serve as the village's Liquor Control Commissioner he appointed Sherry Jasinski to that position citing "personal" reasons. Sauk Village is a Village Board of Trustees form of government, not a strong mayor form of government.
Sauk Village is also serviced by the Bloom Township Board of Trustees, Nancy L. McConathy Library District and Consolidated School District 168, High School District 206 and Prairie State College Board of Trustees. All of these bodies have elective offices.
- "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Sauk Village village, Illinois". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files for Places – Illinois". United States Census. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
- Sauk Village official website
- Community Consolidated Schools District 168
- Nancy L. McConathy Public Library