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A proposal to bring a Panda Express to the Mokena Marketplace was well received by the Mokena Village Board of Trustees Monday, Feb. 16, during a Village worksession.

Panda Express is seeking a special use permit for a proposed 3,000-square-foot fast casual restaurant with one drive-through lane at 11255 Lincoln Highway in Mokena. 

Alan Zordan, director of community and economic development for the Village of Mokena, said the board first took a look at the concept plan for Panda Express in April 2014, but the board did not feel the designs were well suited to the area. 

Rebecca Susmarski

Toppen 

PFC Aaron S. Toppen, 19, of Mokena, died June 9 while serving his country in Afghanistan. He is survived by his mother, Pamela (nee Winter) Toppen; two sisters, Amy Toppen and Amanda (Jerry) Gralewski; and niece, Taylor. He was the grandson of Betty Winter; boyfriend of Jacqueline Rozek; nephew of Jack Winter, Barb (Stephen) White and Jeff (Nina) Winter; and a dear cousin, neighbor and friend to many. Services were held at Parkview Christian Church. Interment St. John’s Cemetery. Funeral arrangements by the Vandenberg Funeral Home.

Rebecca Susmarski

When owners Steve and Jeanna Rotondi of Mokena founded the original Roma Sports Club in 2011, they never imagined they would grow out of the building and need something much larger so quickly.  

On Monday, Nov. 10, the Rotondi’s broke ground on the new, larger, state of the art facility Roma Sports Club at 9115 Mark Court in Frankfort.  

Rebecca Susmarski

Frank Fleischer takes a seat in EggCetera Cafe across from State Senator Michael Hastings (D-19), surrounded by Village officials.

It is early summer 2013, roughly one month after Fleischer is sworn is as mayor of the Village of Mokena.

It is a friendly chat in one of Mokena’s staple restaurants, but it is also one of the first discussions that would lead to Fleischer’s “signature project.”

Flash forward roughly one year later.

Rebecca Susmarski

Laura Quinlan’s dreams are about to become reality.

The New Lenox mother of four’s Simply Rose Boutique, located off 191st Street in Mokena, will host a grand opening on May 3-4, marking the culmination of a half-year’s worth of work Quinlan hopes will result in a sophisticated shopping experience customers of all ages will find worthy of revisiting time and time again.

“I am so excited,” a beaming Quinlan said during a recent interview. “This is a dream come true for me; a bucket list item, you know. 

Downtown Mokena could soon get the injection of life Village officials and business owners have long sought for the area.

A developer is considering constructing a 64-unit, mixed-use residential and commercial building near the intersection of Wolf Road and McGovney Street at the site where the Therafin Corporation, a manufacturer of wheelchair parts, had operated before shuttering its doors years ago, said Nancy Putman, a realty broker with Olivieri Real Estate, LLC and the property’s listing agent.

Will O'Brien

A social program that intermingles special needs students with junior high students has encouraged acceptance and kindness more than even the program’s creators anticipated. 

Rachel’s Buddies, which commenced this year at Mokena Junior High School, combines MJHS eighth-graders with a total of seven students from Lincoln-Way Area Special Education District 843. Every week, the 843 “buddies” come to the junior high to play games or sports, make crafts and participate in other activities with their MJHS friends. 

Danny Ciamprone

A 42-year-old Mokena man died Saturday, Aug. 9, after falling off his bike and hitting his head on a Will County Forest Preserve trail.

Vaidas Varpucanskis was riding his bike down a hill shortly before 11 a.m. on the Hickory Creek Junction Trail in Frankfort Township when he tried to swerve out of the way to avoid another bicyclist, said Lt. Tracy Chapman of the Will County Forest Preserve Police.

Chapman said the other bicyclist on the trail went to pass a jogger and said, “On your left,” as he went by.

Rebecca Susmarski

Hometown hero 

Photo by Jean Lachat/22nd Century Media

Yellow ribbons adorn trees in front of Ken and Danielle Newbauer’s home on Marjorie Parkway in Mokena. Ken, a former infantry member, said he wanted to show support for his neighbors, the family of Aaron Toppen, who was killed in Afghanistan while on active duty with the U.S. Army.

Mokena-gram producer Jean Lachat blogs at spiritofthesoulphotography.wordpress.com

Rebecca Susmarski

June 14, 2014 was Flag Day.  It was also the perfect day to hold a fundraiser to benefit vets.

On the heals of the tragedy that befell resident Pvt. Aaron Toppen, Mokena resident Nicki Serbin came up with the idea to hold a fundraiser at the Mokena VFW Post 725 to raise money for The Wounded Warrior Project and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (I.A.V.A.)  Titled “Serve Our Vets,” Serbin asked Americans to join the cause to support those vets.

Rebecca Susmarski

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