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Central Command confirms friendly fire

Nearly three months after an operation in Afghanistan resulted in the deaths of five U.S. soldiers — including Lincoln-Way East graduate and Mokena resident Pvt. Aaron Toppen — the United States Central Command released documents confirming it was a friendly fire accident.

Danielle Tabor

The members of the Lincoln-Way East varsity poms team displayed their sisterly bond in a Sunday, Dec. 14 competition, and it paid off for them winningly. 

The 3A division poms team, comprised of juniors and seniors, placed third in their division at the Illinois High School Association’s 2014 Bremen Invitational in Midlothian. The Griffins performed the routine that they intend to perform for the IHSA sectionals and, hopefully, state finals. 

Danny Ciamprone

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. 

A sports recreation business with roots in Tinley Park might open a facility in Mokena and obtain the space formerly considered for use by the Autobahn Indoor Speedway.

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

St. Mary’s Catholic School in Mokena recently welcomed its newly elected student council members.

The newly elected members were inducted after the school Mass on Wednesday, Oct. 1, in the church. 

The seven student leaders on the executive board for the 2014-2015 year are McKenna Bandyk of Mokena, executive assistant; Sarah Noone of Mokena, treasurer; Alexandria Perns of Mokena, vice president; Maura Murphy of Mokena, president; Emma Canniff of Mokena, secretary; Athan Bastas of Mokena and John Morrison of Mokena, bookstore managers. 

Rebecca Susmarski

On June 14, the 11 and younger Mokena Blast girls’ softball team made it to the championship game in the Naperville Father’s Day tournament.

The team took second place in the 12 and under bracket – one division up – with a final score of 2-1.

The team includes Kathryn Ponton, Ashlyn Agnich, Ashley Carter, Morgan Dapkus, Laila Summers, Abbie Caskey, Hayley Wlodarski, Megan Smith, Eliza Rex and Madelyn Del Cotto. 

The team is coached by Ed Wlodarski, with assistant coach Mike Dapkus and manager Mike Agnich.

Rebecca Susmarski

It’s called “With-A-Switch” because Chris Vroman and his brother Kevin can fix pretty much any electronic device out there. In fact, what Mario and Luigi are to the gaming world, the Vromans are just the same to the technology revolution.

There are some things though even the owners of one of the only electronic repair stores in Mokena can’t overcome, and why come Aug. 1, “With-A-Switch” will be relocated from Front Street.

But let’s back up to April 1, 2013 – April Fool’s Day – the same day the brothers acquired the store front. 

Rebecca Susmarski


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

Irene Mooney does not think much of her age, but when nearly 100 people came to celebrate her 100th birthday with her, she viewed it as “a miracle.” 

Mooney, a Frankfort resident who turned 100 on Friday, Dec. 19, enjoyed a semi-surprise birthday party Sunday, Dec. 21, at her daughter Patricia Hurley’s home in Tinley Park. Seventy people came to the event, including two singers from the Lincoln-Way North Madrigals, who didn’t even know Mooney until the day of the party. 

Rebecca Susmarski