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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

Two slates and a total of six candidates – including three incumbents – are vying for three spots on the Mokena Village Board of Trustees.

The Mokena Messenger interviewed each candidate in advance of the April 7 Consolidated Election.

Candidate questionnaires were conducted by phone and appear in the order the names will appear on the April ballots, which is based on a lottery system in Will County.

 * Denotes incumbent

Name: Deborah Engler*

• Age: 57 

Danny Ciamprone

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

A suspicious circumstance reportedly lead to charges against two individuals after police located a suspect unconscious in a parking lot.

Ryan Testa, 20, of 19721 Glennell Ave., in Mokena, was charged with illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor, and Savannah Filkins, 18, of 19404 Cranfield Lane, in Tinley Park, was charged with obstructing justice July 23 at 10129 W. 191st St., in Mokena, after police responded to the report of a suspicious circumstance.

Danny Ciamprone

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

“More happiness.”

That was the term that Lincoln-Way North girls’ volleyball senior middle hitter Valen Manns used last week.

She had good reason too, as she helped lead the Phoenix to the championship of the summer league playoffs on Thursday, July 31, at Palos Courts in Palos Heights.  

Rebecca Susmarski

Abby Olivieri is a senior at Lincoln-Way East. She is a two-sport athlete on the swimming and water polo teams.

What are you doing sports wise in the summer?

I play with LAW, which is Lincoln-Way Area Water Polo. We practice 3-4 times per week and we [went] to Cincinnati [last] weekend. I think plying in the offseason is just as important as playing in the season, and it helps get you [college] exposure. 

What else do you like about playing club polo in the summer?

Danny Ciamprone

It has been three years since residents of the Village of Mokena have shopped at an Ace Hardware right in their backyards. 

After originally coming to Mokena in 1987, and after a series of franchisee ownership changes, Ace Hardware closed its doors in 2012 because of economic hardships from the recession. 

But now, a new set of owners have come forward and are proposing an Ace Hardware in the Francis Plaza location.

Danny Ciamprone

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 53-year-old Mokena man was charged with DUI June 29 at 11333 Hummingbird Lane, in Mokena, after police responded to reports of a vehicle parked in the driveway for two hours.

Timothy O’Loughlin, of 11333 Hummingbird Lane, in Mokena, was alleged found asleep behind the wheel by police with the vehicle still running. 

The suspect then allegedly refused to take the field sobriety tests and was charged with DUI, police said.

June 28

Danny Ciamprone