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The Mokena Blaze 13U baseball team won its first tournament of 2014 the weekend of April 12-13 at the Nations Select Championship in Joliet.

The team went undefeated in pool play, earning a No. 1 seed and proceeding to sweep the competition in the single-elimination bracket to claim the championship title with a 5-0 record.

Mike Jansto doesn’t mind the fact his dog outweighs him by more than 30 pounds.

He’s proud of it, and his “bigger the better” attitude paid off Sunday, May 18, when Kaash, Jansto’s 2-year-old, 162-pound Great Dane, was named Largest Pet during the Mokena Community Park District’s Woofstock event at Main Park.

“He’s a big dog, but will probably not get much bigger,” the Homer Glen resident said before elaborating on Kaash’s favorite meal — half a rotisserie chicken mixed with a bowlful of dry dog food.

Will O'Brien

New Lenox resident Robert Lawruk had a strategy for surviving cancer. 

“You have to keep your mind active,” said Lawruk, who was treated for both prostate and lung cancer in 2008. “I worked a regular job all the way through it. I think if I sat home and dwelled upon it, it might have affected me more. But I went to work and had other things to think about than cancer.” 

Rebecca Susmarski

It’s not every day a rabbit pals around with a lion, but that’s exactly what happened Saturday, April 12, at Main Park, much to the delight of several hundred local boys and girls.

The Easter Bunny and Rory, the mascot of Lions Clubs International, mixed it up with some good-natured pantomime and posed for photos with tots of all ages at the Lions Club of Mokena’s annual Easter egg hunt.

Will O'Brien

Down one game in the Illinois High School Association state title game and tied 24-24 in the second set Saturday, June 7, Lincoln-Way East senior outside hitter Nate Van Dellen was as confident as ever.

Van Dellen didn’t doubt his team would come back against Warren and win the school’s first boys volleyball state title.

“Not at all; not for a second,” he said. “At the time, we had won 40 games together. I didn’t doubt these guys for a second.”

Rebecca Susmarski

May 5

• At 2:23 a.m. in the 12400 block of Steamboat Springs Drive, Louis A. Manzella, 22, of the 700 block of Amber Road, New Lenox, was arrested on charges of possession of marijuana, possession of drug equipment and driving with expired registration. Police allegedly found 6.7 grams of marijuana inside Manzella’s vehicle along with a digital scale, grinder device, smoking pipe and $462 cash. He was released pending a June 11 court date.

May 3

Will O'Brien

The Mokena Planning Commission recommended that Live Fire Gun Shop & Club come to Mokena at an Aug. 14 meeting of the commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals. 

The eight commission members present — commissioner Mark Seliga was absent — unanimously agreed to recommend that the business receive a special use permit from the Mokena Village Board of Trustees. 

The Village Board will revisit the permit request at its Sept. 15 work session. 

Rebecca Susmarski

As I’ve said before, Mokena has a lot going for it.

Small-town charm, great parks, food, schools and more. These qualities, while obviously a plus for residents, also make my job of delivering local news quite a bit more fun, as well.

I’m pretty sure I’ve paid such compliments before, but repeating niceties never hurts.

Will O'Brien


Bernard N. Hoogstra, 94, of Mokena. He was the fiancé of Phyllis Knieze. He is survived by his children, Bernard (Teri) and Harriet Hoogstra; his grandchildren, Karen (Kristafer) Adelman, Jonathan, and Tracy; and two great-grandchildren. Bernard was a WWlI Army Air Corp veteran. Services were held at the Vandenberg Funeral Home. Interment Chapel Hill Gardens South. 


Welcome back.

Awhile back, I was contacted by a reader who suggested that I take a look at this week’s subject material. The fact that it’s a little “out there” made me somewhat curious to research it in detail. You can make your own decision about its newsworthiness. I’m going to lean on the old cliche that “I’m just the messenger.”

Kudos to all of you that have already guessed that the letters “U,” “F” and “O” are part of this tale. Ever see a UFO over Mokena? If your answer is yes, then apparently you’re not alone.

Rebecca Susmarski