Top Stories of 2012
Kelli O'Laughlin's childhood friend, Annie LeFevour, stands next to Kelli's parents, Brenda and John, and talks about her friendship with Kelli. | Photos by Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
Top 5 viewed stories on web
1. Divers resume search for Nazareth Academy teacher presumed drowned
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3. Woman killed when Metra train hits car in La Grange
4. Rare Nazi book found in LaGrange Park
5. State trooper faces murder charges in Westchester shooting
- Vandals target parks in LaGrange Park
- Man held in slaying
- Family, friends, remember Kelli O’Laughlin in Indian Head Park
- La Grange chicken owner must ditch hens before possible referendum
- Lease renewed for LaGrange Park post office branch
- Accused killer awaits trial
- Elm Park playground equipment replaced in La Grange
- La Grange playground could be replaced months ahead of schedule
- Sixteen-year-old boy arrested for knocking over village fountain
- Chicken fight may not be over in La Grange
- Backyard chicken proposal not pursued in La Grange
Updated: February 25, 2013 2:22AM
LA GRANGE — Crimes to people and property made the news in La Grange this year. But good news also made the headlines, as residents learned they would keep their post office.
1. Vandals cause damage, heartache in La Grange area
Local park district spent more than $100,000 to replace equipment destroyed by vandals this year.
Fire set by vandals destroyed about 85 percent of the Elm Park playground July 8, leaving melted plastic slides and walkways and a $75,000 bill to restore the park on Elm Avenue between Brainard and Stone avenues.
Through industry contacts, Park District of La Grange Executive Director Dean Bissias expedited an order for replacement equipment, and the playground reopened in September.
Fire officials listed the cause of the blaze as undetermined, and police haven’t released findings of an investigation. Park officials released a statement soon after the fire that two people were seen in the park the night of the fire. No arrests have been made.
Police arrested a 16-year-old La Grange boy for damaging the fountain next to the Village Hall, 53 S. La Grange Road, July 25. All three bowls of the fountain were destroyed, and the cost of a new structure is estimated at $28,000.
In LaGrange Park, vandals set off an explosive in a can of aqua paint that splattered across a footbridge over Salt Creek, southwest of 31st Street and Brainard Avenue, July. Paint removal was estimated at $43,000 to avoid contaminating the creek and air around neighboring homes.
2. LaGrange Park man charged with murder of his grandchild’s father
Carl M. Spoeri, 55, of 218 Kings Court, LaGrange Park, was charged with first-degree murder Aug. 23 after he allegedly struck and killed the father of his daughter’s 3-month-old child.
Spoeri was released on $250,000 bond and is awaiting trial for the murder of Bojan Zigic, 26, of the 4400 block of Prairie Avenue.
Police responded to Spoeri’s home, where they found Zigic unconscious outside. Witnesses said there had been an altercation while Zigic was moving out.
3. LaGrange Park Post Office remains open
LaGrange Park postal customers won a victory July 5, learning the U.S. Postal Service signed a five-year lease to continue operating the branch office at 700 E. 31st St.
The village’s branch office had been one of more than 3,700 branches targeted for closure to save money. The village conducted forums, conducted studies and submitted written and videotaped testimony against the closing.
4. Kelli O’Laughlin’s memory very much alive
Students from Lyons Township High School and surrounding schools continued to mourn the loss of freshman Kelli O’Laughlin and staged events throughout the year to raise funds in her memory.
Students organized a car wash, raffles, bracelet sale, flower bulb sale and sporting events. Indian Head Park dedicated a memorial plaque, tree and bench Oct. 27 in Sacajawea Park next to the O’Laughlin home, where the bubbly teen was killed by an intruder in 2011.
John Wilson, 39, of Chicago awaits trial on 31 counts of first-degree murder, home invasion, armed robbery, burglary and aggravated unlawful restraint. Wilson is being held in the Pontiac Correctional Center on a parole violation for robbery.
5. Resident seeks to let voters decide chicken question
Jeff Cogelja hopes to give La Grange residents the chance to weigh in at the polls in April on whether backyard chickens should be allowed.
Cogelja, who lives on the 200 block of South Ashland Avenue, attempted unsuccessfully to change the village’s ordinance banning poultry after raising four hens and building a coop in his back yard.
The chicken enthusiast hosted tours and is circulating a petition to put the matter on the ballot after he was forced to send his chickens to a friend’s home in Lisle on Thanksgiving.