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The Mokena Messenger sat down in an exclusive interview April 26 with Superintendent R. Scott Tingley and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Tim Reilly to talk about the district’s past, present and future in regards to finances, the closure of Lincoln-Way North and the transition process, and the district's transparency and reputation.

The following is a Q&A transcript of the interview.

At what stage is the transition process?

Amanda Jarzynski

With Frisbees floating lazily around Mokena’s Main Park Friday, July 4, the 60-member, red-shirted Encore Concert Band tuned its instruments.

“This is the part of our Fourth of July celebration that I have come to like best,” said Bea Johannsen, a Mokena resident, as she set down her wooden picnic basket and spread a checkered, red-and-white blanket on the grass. “When my kids were young, the parade was always the highlight. But now that I’m up in age, I like things a little more relaxed, like this concert.”

Rebecca Susmarski
It is difficult to stay positive in the face of overwhelming adversity. After a while, most people feel like calling it quits and giving up the big fight. For Mokena resident, Jim Giglio, there is no such thing as giving up when it comes to his three-year fight against Stage 4 lung cancer and brain tumors. He said he finds his strength through being a father to his two sons, Chris and Kyle.
Amanda Jarzynski

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

Since last summer, Mokena has mourned the loss of its hometown hero, Pvt. Aaron Toppen, but with a plethora of community support, fundraisers and special events, his spirit will remain strong in a community that still wears blue with pride, and admires the yellow ribbons tied along Townline Road, later named Aaron Toppen Memorial Drive, in his honor.

Danny Ciamprone

A residential structure fire the morning of Aug. 31 “significantly” damaged a two-story home in an unincorporated area near the northwest border of Mokena, according to a press release issued the same day by the New Lenox Fire Protection District.

Firefighters reportedly were dispatched at 2:16 a.m. Aug. 31 with a report of a structure fire in the 13000 block of W. 184th Place — a Mokena mailing area that falls under unincorporated New Lenox Township.

Danielle Tabor

It plays in one of the toughest conferences in the state, and it typically deals with a loaded Class 7A playoff field. But year after year, the Lincoln-Way East football team finds a way to contend for a SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue title and make the playoffs.

In fact, in school history the Griffins have never failed to advance to the postseason. It has a state title (2005) to its name and a runner-up trophy (2012).

Danny Ciamprone

Frankfort Fusion Gold finished their 2014 season in Overland Park, Kansas, at the USSSA Fastpitch World Series where they took fifth place. 

Their record was 7-2-0.  

Frankfort Fusion Gold started their new season in Mokena at the PGF Regional Qualifier hosted by Blue Wave where they were named the champions. The girls have been playing together for several years and continue to progress at each level.  

Rebecca Susmarski

When Joe Piersanti’s college baseball career ended, he needed something else to fulfill his competitive drive.

The Lincoln-Way East alumnus left the baseball diamond to find his new home at a CrossFit gym. And in just three years, Piersanti went from a newcomer training at CrossFit Mokena to now competing on sport’s biggest stage – the annual CrossFit Games.

Amanda Jarzynski

Omar A. Shahin, 19, of 19955 Everett Lane in Mokena, was charged July 13 with delivery/possession with intent to deliver and possession of drug equipment after police observed a suspicious vehicle in a parking lot in the 19000 block of La Grange Road in Mokena. Police attempted to approach Shahin in his car, but he allegedly tried to drive off at a high rate of speed to exit the parking lot.

Amanda Jarzynski