Residents turn to village board in opposition to hotel

By Jane Charmelo
Lombard residents continue to express their opposition over the proposal for construction of a Hilton Tru Hotel on 22nd Street, but this time they turned their attention to the Lombard Village Board of Trustees.
At the Thursday, July 19, board meeting, many residents were in attendance while a handful of residents spoke before the board, saying their concerns span a number of issues, from noise and light pollution to property values and “transients” entering their neighborhoods.
Prior to the board voting on first reading whether or not to approve the proposal—after a recommendation from the Plan Commission to do so—Community Development Director Bill Heniff gave a presentation on what in 2016 was originally planned to be the construction of townhomes on the 2.16-acre property.
The new proposal, which includes a request to rezone the property from residential to office use, calls for a four-story, 96-room hotel of just under 45,000 square feet, Heniff outlined.
However, Heniff emphasized, because of the zoning, “You cannot build a hotel as a matter of right. It needs to go through a public hearing process.”
He said that in 1998, a Comprehensive Plan viewed the property as being suited for “community commercial,” and that an updated plan in 2014 wanted it classified as “office.”
Heniff indicated that concerns over such factors as lighting, landscaping, trash removal and traffic are being addressed by the developer, and as for stormwater issues, “We have to follow the county stormwater ordinance.”
Finance Director Tim Sexton also stated that the village anticipates the Hilton Tru to generate over $2.3 million in revenue over 10 years, adding that he has received no objection from Westin hotel and Yorktown mall management over the proposed Hilton Tru.
Heniff said the hotel would serve “a different market niche,” that of the business traveler.
A number of residents addressed the board, including George Bedard, who said, “I’m totally against the project,” adding that he is concerned that the village is not looking out for residents.
Additionally, he said, if the hotel is built, “I will never see a sunset.”
“I’d like you to think a little bit more about this project,” he added.
Suzan Kramer also said she and 55 homeowners are in “vehement opposition” to the project, adding that she views it as “an overly intense and intrusive use” of the property, based on “the 24-hour nature of the business.”
Also citing concerns over lighting and noise, “That will not be mitigated by an 8-foot fence,” she commented.
Brian O’Connor stated he is worried about safety in the neighborhood—and after residents spoke before the Plan Commission and the recommendation to allow the hotel to be built passed anyway, he asked, “Is it the money or is it the rule of law? Did the Plan Commission follow its procedures?”
“I hope you get the opinion of counsel as to whether the Plan Commission did its duty,” he added.
“This is something that shouldn’t be in this neighborhood … it is the wrong thing in the wrong place,” O’Connor said.
Alluding to the project seemingly being a “done deal,” he also expressed his belief that the village is in favor of the project, saying, “I know that staff has been very strongly supportive of it. I know that the president has been very supportive of this.”
Village President Keith Giagnorio objected to that characterization, responding, “When you make a comment like that, I consider that a pretty flippant comment,” adding that he (Giagnorio) has not made any public comment as to whether or not he supports the hotel project.
“I stand by my comments,” O’Connor told the president, who replied, “I stand by mine, too.”
O’Connor mentioned that a GoFundMe page is being organized to help “fight this in court.”
The board voted in favor of the project on first reading, with Trustee Reid Foltyniewicz casting the lone “no” vote.
It is expected that the board will cast its second reading vote at the Thursday, Aug. 16, meeting.

In other business:
The village held a public hearing on the proposal to sell up to $3.9 million in bonds to fund sewer repairs.
Public Works Director Carl Goldsmith outlined the project that would see $2.9 in repairs to the Central Station Reservoir, located on St. Charles Road.
He said the facility was built in 1935 and is “the oldest facility the village operates,” and the existing 600,000 gallon reservoir and pump station will be demolished and replaced with a new 68-foot by 60-foot building.
In the process, there will be room for 18 parking spaces for commuters and downtown shoppers.
Watermain projects estimated to cost $700,000 will be undertaken on Elizabeth Street, Lynne Lane and Grace Street, Goldsmith said.
No contracts have been submitted yet, and Sexton said if the board approves the sale of bonds, there will be a five-year payback period.
He also noted that funds used for repayment will come from the water and sewer capital reserve fund and may also come from non-home-rule sales tax and property taxes.
It is expected the board will vote on consideration for the sale of bonds at the Aug. 27 meeting.

Fire Department responds to structure fire

At approximately 12:30 a.m. Sunday, the Lombard Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire at 25 Briar St., located within the Glenbard Fire Protection District.
Arriving crews discovered a fire in the apartment leasing office, a free-standing structure approximately the size of a garage. The fire caused a significant impact to the interior of the office space, with more than $75,000 of estimated damages.
The building was unoccupied at the time of the incident. There were no injuries to any civilians and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
One Lombard firefighter sustained minor injuries, was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital and released. Neighboring departments assisting in the efforts include York Center, Oak Brook, Villa Park, Oakbrook Terrace, and Downers Grove.

Pink T-shirts making annual comeback

Lombard firefighters will once again wear pink shirts throughout the month of October, in an effort to raise awareness during breast cancer awareness month. Shirts are also available for public purchase, Aug.1-30, in order to raise funds for local residents in treatment.
“Each year we get more and more requests from people in the community who want to participate and it reminds us all of why we love this town so much,” said Lombard Firefighter/Paramedic Bob Hopper. “Lombard is a town that cares and we’re happy to provide people a chance to give back to their neighbors in need.”
Lombard Fire Chief Rick Sander approved the option for on-duty fire department personnel to wear the pink shirts throughout the month of October.
A community photo involving the pink shirts will be taken at 7 p.m., during the Fire Department open house, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 6-8 p.m. at Fire Station 45, 50 E. St. Charles Road. The open house is in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week, Oct.7–13.
Shirts will be available for purchase for $15 throughout August. All orders must be made by Aug. 31. All proceeds will go to the Bhorade Cancer Center at Good Samaritan Hospital. To place orders, email Hopper at or call 708-769-6102.
Contact Communications Coordinator Avis Meade at with any questions.

Downers Grove man pleads guilty to attacking mother with hatchet

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin announced recently that a Downers Grove man charged with attacking his 80-year-old mother with a hatchet has entered a blind plea of guilty to one count of aggravated domestic battery, a Class 2 felony.
John Flick, 58, appeared in court where he entered his plea in front of Judge Liam Brennan.
On May 19, 2017, Flick appeared in Bond Court where his bond was set at $500,000 with 10 percent to apply. He has remained in custody at the DuPage County Jail since that time.
On May 14, 2017, the victim’s daughter went to visit her mother for Mother’s Day. Upon arriving at the home, the daughter noticed lacerations about her mother’s face and head.
The two women then went to the hospital to seek treatment for the victim’s injuries. Upon seeing the woman’s injuries, hospital authorities alerted the Downers Grove Police Department.
An investigation conducted by the Downers Grove Police Department led to Flick as the person responsible for the injuries to his mother.
The investigation revealed that on the evening of May 13, 2017, Flick returned to the home he shared with his mother and that at some point in time he repeatedly hit his mother about the head and face with a hatchet.
“This case is a very disturbing example of how domestic violence is not confined to spousal abuse,” Berlin said. “The very idea that an individual would attack another with a hatchet, let alone their own mother, is outrageous. Thankfully, the injuries Mr. Flick inflicted upon his mother were not life threatening. I would like to thank the Downers Grove Police Department for their work on this case. I would also like to thank Assistant State’s Attorney Lee Roupas for his efforts in preparing an extremely strong case against Mr. Flick.”
Flick’s next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 21, for return of the Pre-sentence Report.
Because the victim in the case is a senior, Flick is extended term eligible and faces between three and 14 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

DuPage County Health Department proactive in food-borne illness investigation

The DuPage County Health Department is working with local, state, and federal public health officials to investigate an increase in the number of Cyclospora illnesses in several Illinois counties.
A new outbreak of cyclosporiasis linked to a private event in Skokie was identified this week
Since mid-May, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has received confirmation of 266 cases of cyclosporiasis, an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic Cyclospora parasite. Of those, 110 reported eating salads produced for McDonald’s restaurants days before becoming ill. The Iowa Department of Health has noted a similar increase in cases.
“Over 30 cases of cyclosporiasis have been reported in DuPage County since May of this year, which is more than four times the number of cases reported in 2017,” said Karen Ayala, health department executive director. “Although travelers to tropical countries may be at increased risk, this infection can be acquired in the United States as well.”
Communicable illnesses are reported to health departments based on the affected person’s residence, not where someone may have been affected.
How the infection is spread
People can become infected by consuming food or water contaminated with feces (stool) that contains the parasite. Cyclospora is spread by a person putting something in his or her mouth that is contaminated with infected stool. Cyclospora is not spread directly from one person to another.
The Cyclospora infection can be treated with specific antibiotics. If not treated, the illness may last for a few days to a month or longer. If you think you might be infected with Cyclospora, you should see your doctor.
Symptoms begin about a week to up to two-weeks after exposure, but some people who are infected may not have any symptoms at all.
Symptoms may include frequent bouts of watery diarrhea (the most common symptom); loss of appetite and weight; cramping, bloating, and/or increased gas; nausea (vomiting is less common); fatigue; and, a low-grade fever.
Recent Cyclospora cases have been linked to fresh produce including raspberries, basil, snow peas, and lettuce.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following safe fruit and vegetable handling guidelines:
Wash: Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or preparing fruits and vegetables. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood products and the preparation of fruits and vegetables that will not be cooked.
Prepare: Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking. Scrub firm fruits and vegetables, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating.

‘Vinyl’ exhibit to open at Carriage House

The Lombard Historical Society (LHS) presents “Vinyl Warning: Living Life at 33 1/3 RPM,” a Carriage House Exhibit that will give visitors a fresh look at music on vinyl. Zack Warning, a recent Willowbrook High School grad, collects music on vinyl, old and new, and shares his thoughts and feelings about the music on his Instagram account; 1,504 followers and counting.
Warning embodies a rebirth of the enthusiasm that teenagers of the 70s experienced when a new record came out that they wanted to share with all their friends, usually in the “basement,” the kind of basement that millennials know from “That Seventies Show,” Only in this case, the basement is virtual, and his “friends” number 1,504. This exhibit runs from Wednesday, Aug. 1, through Friday, Oct, 19, and is free and open to the public. Museum hours: Wednesday and Friday, 1-4 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The name of the exhibit, “Vinyl Warning: Living Life at 33 1/3 RPM,” is the name of the Instagram account that Zack started in 2017, where he posts artfully arranged pictures of albums and incredibly beautiful vinyl selected from his collection of hundreds. Album covers, vividly colored vinyl, posters and inserts from several of his choice albums will be on display, as well as a listening station, where visitors can spin one of his many records. Also on display will be several of his Instagram postings and a mystery closet with a very unique musical exhibit.
People old enough to regret tossing their vinyl collections and turntables, as well as people young enough to think of vinyl as cheap car interiors, will all love this fun, nostalgic for some, visually stimulating exhibit.
The Vinyl Warning Exhibit Opening is 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 2, in the Carriage House. Light refreshments will be served.
For more information on the Lombard Historical Society, or this event, visit or call 630-629-1885.

Nybo sponsors new gun safety bill

In an initiative to prevent future mass shootings and attacks, a new gun safety law sponsored by State Sen. Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) allows the public to identify and stop potentially dangerous individuals from endangering others or themselves with a firearm.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the measure into law in Chicago on July 16.
“House Bill 2354 establishes the Lethal Violence Order of Protection Act, creating an official process and outlet for anyone to speak up, identify and prevent a troubled individual from committing a horrifying act,” said Nybo. “It’s my hope we can begin to stop future tragedies be-fore they start and set a pro-active example in Illinois that shows we take our residents’ safety seriously.”
The Lethal Violence Order of Protection Act allows family members, acquaintances or law enforcement to petition the court to identify and issue an ex parte order for an individual who poses an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to one’s self or another with a firearm. The Act will establish a number of factors and types of evidence that the court must consider before issuing a lethal violence order of protection.
The legislation aims to help identify individuals who display signs of dangerous behavior and remove their FOID card and any firearms in their possession prior to a possible shooting. It also outlines suspicious behavior that may not be covered under traditional protective orders.
“With help from the public in identifying dangerous individuals, this initiative allows for law enforcement to temporarily remove the individual’s FOID card and firearms until the court determines they are no longer a present danger to others,” said Nybo. “It’s a preventative measure that could save lives in Illinois, and I appreciate the Governor’s support and swift enactment.”
The measure takes effect immediately.

Speak Out-July 26

It is just getting embarrassing to be an American. Our “president” continues to offend our allies and befriend our enemies, dictators who treat their citizens terribly and kill those who disagree with them. What will it take for this man to be removed so we can actually have a chance to “make America great again”?

* * *

Good morning Lombard. I’m calling in response to the July 12 SPEAK OUT about women having the right to determine their eggs’ fate and the right to choose what happens to their bodies. First of all, it’s not just an egg. If the egg has united with a sperm that is the beginning of a human being with all the necessary DNA and chromosomes. The first founders said life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Notice the word “life” is first, for without life, the others are of no consequence. Pray for an end to abortion so that all have a chance at liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

* * *

I urge everyone to take a drive down Ardmore Avenue south of St. Charles Road and you will drive by the Villa Park Library that is under construction. It’s hard to believe that my tax dollars for almost two years have been going to Lombard and you cannot tell that anything is happening. It is terrible that they allowed us to even vote on this and have our tax dollars increased. We supported you and you have so totally messed this up. This is all about leadership and there apparently is no leadership in that library. The director has to be fired and the board needs to be replaced. It is an absolute embarrassment and it feels like a crime that you have done this with our public money. Shame on you library director and board.

* * *

Villa Park calling. I’m calling to wonder why Roosevelt Road red lights through the Village of Villa Park have no left turn on green other than waiting for a red arrow, green arrow. I travel Roosevelt Road several times a day and it is the only town that has that all the up and down Roosevelt Road all the way out to Wheaton. Can’t figure out why you can’t make a left turn during the day or early evening or late at night when traffic is light. Doesn’t make sense. Thank you.

* * *

Illegal immigration is not about a little girl crying because she was torn from her mother’s arms? Well, what else would it be? We’ve had immigration problems for years and we have never, ever in the 60-70 years we’ve had it, had done what this heartless president and heartless Congress and Senate have done. Kindness and compassion, that’s what the United States of America stands for. Democrats don’t want open borders and we never had an issue with this until you got Trump in office, who wants no brown people in the United States of America. He wants no Hispanics, he wants no Muslims. So for you to say that ripping away a child is not part of it, ripping the children away from their parents is the whole problem.

* * *

Villa Park, I’m curious as to how much it has cost the taxpayers in the village to repair a water leak in the 100 block of Jackson Street. They have been working there for six months and I can’t imagine the man hours that have gone into those repairs. Thank you very much.

* * *

I’m calling to support the Prairie Food Co-op in downtown Lombard. We need it. The only store we have is Jewel and this whole side of the town has nothing, so I’m all for the Prairie Co-op. Thank you.

* * *

Hey, Lombard. Here’s something to think about: Do you notice that Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken and Kevin Spacey all lost their jobs on allegations of sexual misconduct, yet “The Cosby Show” is still on a cable TV channel?

* * *

To the person who doesn’t want any “zealot of any creed” trying to control the fate of her eggs, I’d like to point out that there are a number of pro-life organizations that are secular, not religious. Being pro-life is not solely based on faith, but is a humanitarian position. Check out, and the Facebook page of Atheists Against Abortion. Also, once an egg is fertilized it becomes a zygote or embryo, with its own unique DNA. It is no longer an egg but a growing organism with all the genetic material of a person. Curious that you label those passionate about protecting the unborn as zealots, yet those who are equally passionate about protecting the right to abortion are not labeled zealots. Is being pro-life a more “rigid belief system” than being pro-choice? Based on the tone of your call, it certainly doesn’t seem that way.

* * *

President Lincoln told us “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” This is so true, and Trump is dividing this country, more every day. He needs to be impeached, the sooner the better.

* * *

I noticed in the paper that District 88 requires residency verification for all incoming freshmen and transfer students. I assume other school districts have a similar policy. You have to prove your residency in the district in order to attend a school in the district. That seems reasonable. But I assume Democrats will stage demonstrations at District 88. Democrats must regard simple residency verification as racist and discriminatory. That’s what they say about simple voter identification laws and proposals. If they are consistent, Democrats will feel the same way about residency verification for schools. I assume Democrats regard schools’ residency verification as a return to segregation and a harbinger of Nazi tactics.

* * *

To the callers who say the immigration issue is about being compassionate and humanitarian, I don’t disagree, but at the same time, what about compassion for those of us working hard to make a living, and who are having to pay for the support of criminals—illegal aliens—who arrive here? Some are getting health care free, schooling, etc. that we work hard to provide for our own families; many in that gray area are making too much for food stamps or Medicaid but not enough to afford insurance, etc. And to the person who said anyone who listens to Fox News or voted for Trump is stupid, I guess if we don’t think like you do, we’re stupid by default. That just goes to show how the radical liberals can’t have a debate or disagree without name-calling or putting others down in an attempt to make themselves sound morally superior.

* * *

Is there a stoplight being installed at Villa and Roosevelt? There has been a rumor about this for years, and now the road construction in that area. The Village says it is not in their control. How do we get an answer? This will increase traffic on Villa very much.

* * *

Can anyone prove that Russian meddling affected a single vote in the 2016 presidential election? I didn’t think so. Speaking of meddling, do you know who without a doubt tried to meddle in that election? The media! For months, up until and including the day of the election, multiple media outlets repeatedly stated this would be over early on election night, Hillary has this locked up, there’s no way Trump can win, Hillary’s going to win by a landslide, this or that poll shows her with significant leads in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc., there’s no path for Trump to win enough states, and so on. If that’s not meddling, or trying to suppress voter turnout, I don’t know what is.

* * *

I would like to thank the recent caller for the reminder that although Congressional Rep. Peter Roskam proclaims through his mailings, not being a pawn of the National Rifle Association, actually according to the public record Roskam voted in January 2017 to pass a bill that removed the restriction on the documented mentally ill so they can purchase guns. That pro-NRA law is still in effect today and Roskam does accept NRA money. The recent frequent mailings from Roskam that I have received tout his efforts to clean up the waterways of the area, however at the same time his party’s Environment Protection Agency is dismantling the restrictions on industry to allow more pollution! What is he doing about that? Also please note Roskam has refused many requests to hold a town hall meeting for the last two years. How do you represent people and not want to hear from them in person? November is just three months away; let’s remember well!

* * *

Good morning. To the caller who called me, a Fox viewer, stupid, your attempt to hurt me with your verbal rhetoric did not work. What does hurt me is looking at two beautifully folded American flags which represent both my father and husband, who fought so valiantly and gave their lives for our country and your freedom to call me names. Your scare tactic regarding the Supreme Court nominee is unfounded since that branch of government is there to uphold the Constitution as written by our founding fathers. What does scare me is a party leaning toward socialism, which is the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism. If this is your pleasure, I and many proud veterans, as well as those currently defending your freedoms, will gladly pay for your one-way ticket to Venezuela. Unfortunately you will no longer enjoy the freedom to speak out. Thank you.

* * *

Does anyone know where I can get “Save Lufkin Pool” signs for my lawn? I’ve never had one, I’m always asking people and they don’t know where to get them. It’ll serve another purpose for everyone who has one up that next time Villa Park has an election for trustees, village manager—write in “Save Lufkin Pool” and don’t put a check by their name to vote for them. Just write Lufkin Pool, OK? Maybe someone could find out where to get those signs and put it in SPEAK OUT. Thank you.

* * *

To the caller who said it’s not all one world, I agree. Americans and legal immigrants had to work hard to make America what it is. There’s no free ride. When the caller said share your bank account, I think we already are. Who do you think’s paying for their shelter, their clothes, their food, their medicine, their children’s school and college? Do the dream kids have the same bills when they get out of college like our kids, who owe $100,000 and more?

Out & About  by Jane Charmelo

Resident reflects on family’s life challenges

Faith always present—but with seemingly mysterious undertones

Dennis McNicholas has finished writing the book he began thinking about at least 10 years ago, and although there were self-professed bumps along the way, the final product is autobiographical in its base, but interwoven with anecdotes he believes demonstrate serendipity—in large part due to meeting one man in particular.
McNicholas is the author of a book titled “God Called from Cleveland,” but he is not a total stranger to writing. In 2014 he was featured in “Out and About” after writing a story about taking risks—learning to swim and starting voice lessons—that was featured in the Huffington Post’s “50 Over 50: The Risk Takers” special.
At the time, he was learning new skills while his then-toddler grandson, Jack, was involved in his own risk—undergoing a liver transplant.
Jack’s dad had donated 20 percent of his liver to his son, and McNicholas figured if his young grandson could go through all of that, he could face challenges, too.
The proud grandpa says his grandson, who will be 9 soon, is now an “active, healthy, happy young child.”
His story was also featured in the September 2017 issue of Guideposts.
“God Called” takes readers through some of McNicholas’s childhood in Oak Park and his Irish heritage, and lets them in on some family dinner-table conversations. He describes various incidents of adversity throughout his life thus far, including his grandson’s illness, while interweaving the relevance of his faith into the story.
The Lombard resident and Notre Dame Law School graduate, recounts some of his moral dilemmas in the book, such as how his going into the seminary was a family tradition, yet he left to pursue another career; weighing his religious and patriotic philosophies upon getting drafted during the Vietnam War; and how he met Pat Murphy—whose paths would cross again later, when he was taking bar review classes, and found his former Army bunkmate to be homeless.
It took 10 years to write the book, and he even took some online courses in how to write a memoir, later asking the teacher for help in honing the material.
McNicholas chuckled that when he sent her 285 pages, he got 140 back, saying that for him, it was “like learning a foreign language,” because he was used to writing legal briefs, not about memories and life experiences.
He said that as a busy attorney, “It was hard to find time to write,” adding, “I just dabbled with it over time,” and also mentioning that his son prodded him over the last few years to finish the book—a version for the public and another still in the works for his family that will include more stories.
The title is related to his friend Murphy, whom he met in the Army, McNicholas related, but emphasized, “We only knew each other for eight weeks.”
They went their separate ways and McNicholas knew nothing more about his former bunkmate’s life until January 1974, when he heard his name being called.
There, on the steps of a Chicago church, was Murphy, disheveled and homeless, someone McNicholas hadn’t seen in three years. It would turn out to be the start of a strange friendship of sorts, with McNicholas helping Murphy and Murphy keeping in touch with the McNicholas family—in an uncanny sort of way.
“Him seeing me, it started this 25-year friendship,” the author recalled, and being in the same place at the same time, he believes, was more than a coincidence—perhaps the beginning of the serendipitous journey the reunited friends would find themselves experiencing.
Murphy had a habit of calling at all odd hours and only collect because he didn’t have a phone. McNicholas, therefore, couldn’t reach out to him, and would wait for his friend to call, and also would invite him to Lombard every year.
His wife and children “became the family he never had,” he continued, saying that Murphy lived in Cleveland—hence the name of the book.
Murphy’s odd calls seemed to come when there was a crisis about to happen or had just happened, McNicholas outlines in the book, saying, “Many of them [calls] also lined up precisely with the most trying events of my family’s life.”
That is, until 2002, when Murphy did not show up for a visit to the family’s Lombard home, and it was discovered that he had died of a massive heart attack at age 62—with a clean shirt and ticket to Chicago all ready to go.
McNicholas writes that he often longed to hear his friend’s voice, and reflected that one goal in writing the book is to say that not only don’t people listen enough, but, “We tend to judge people and not hear the message.”
“We get entrenched like armed, psychological camps,” he added.
Murphy had grappled with mental health issues, yet McNicholas—and his family—came to see Murphy in a different light, despite his quirks.
“We need to walk around like we do [with] sculptures … the whole sculpture, to take it all in,” said the author.
But the bottom line is that the author viewed his friend as “a messenger in disguise from God,” pointing to “… the coincidence of his contacts.”
He remembers thinking over the years, “If I stopped taking the calls, I might lose contact with him forever.”
“God’s message doesn’t always come wrapped in a nice package,” McNicholas said, and thinking of how his friendship with Murphy can be applied in life, “There still could be that diamond in the rough.”
“God Called Collect from Cleveland” can be purchased through


Walk. Climb. Move!


Look around; they’re everywhere. Not smartphones, but they frequently work in partnership, like Fred and Wilma but in a less caveperson style. People wear them on the wrist like people used to wear watches, which they are, but that’s just the tip of the flintstone, dear friend.
They’re known by a variety of names: activity trackers, fitness trackers, smartwatches – but they all do most of the same things. They keep track of, well, you.
The little gizmo measures your activity. It counts the number of stairs you climb each day. It keeps track of a variety of workouts, your ability to recover after a work out and tallies how many steps you take. It even sets up goals for you and congratulates you when you meet them. GOAL MET!
This is only the beginning. A tracker can monitor your heart rate, stress level, calories burned as well as quantity and quality of sleep – giving totals for light, deep and REM sleep. It also gives the number of minutes I am awake when I am awake each night. I was surprised it’s usually about three minutes and not the three hours I’d always thought.
It pairs with your smartphone to tell you the temperature outside, access your playlist and alert you to text messages and phone calls.
As a bonus, it even tells time. Like a watch used to do.
It’s also a bit bossy, telling me to “Move!” after periods of inactivity.
Plus while hopefully lessening the girth of my hips it makes me appear hip. Look at me! I am so serious about fitness I have to track my activities and workouts. (Or lack thereof, but you didn’t hear that from me.)
It was fun and novel, wearing the tracker and knowing my heart rate and number of steps I’d taken before noon. I found it impacting my behavior, which I guess is probably the point.
After supper each night, I’d check my progress and if I was low on my steps or stair climbing, I’d find myself filling the evening with either of the above. My husband was curious about my newfound evening activities, “What are you doing?”
“Got to get my steps in,” I told him.
Then last weekend, we were at the lake – floating on the boat, as calm and lazy as could be. The next day, when I checked my tracker, it showed I’d been highly-stressed the previous day.
“I guess I was stressed yesterday,” I told my husband. “Maybe I better relax.”
“How do you know you were stressed?”
“My activity tracker told me.”
He shook his head. “I think you’re relying too much on that tracker.”
He had a point. So I took it off. For a whole day. Cold turkey.
For a full 24 hours I had no idea how many steps I took or how much REM sleep I’d gotten. I didn’t know whether I was stressed or over-tired or if my heart had reached its peak rate at all that day. I was back to the dark ages, like a caveperson, with no technology to tell me to “Move!” I was free.
Still, I missed the feedback. Information is power. All those features in one little doohickey are pretty amazing. As long as you don’t let them get the best of you.
Which I don’t think I did, or at least I like to think I didn’t – at least not that much.
I could go on and on, but I better stop now. My tracker just directed me to “Move!” It’s time to get some steps in. And maybe a couple flights of stairs while I’m at it.
Don’t tell my husband. Wink.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.


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