After Morton Grove Trustee Tony Kalogerakos stepped down from that post in September to move out of the village, Mayor Dan DiMaria appointed Janine Witko, who has been volunteering in civic life.
We asked Janine a little about her background.
Patch: How long have you lived in Morton Grove? When did you move here, and was it for any particular reason?
Witko: My family moved to Morton Grove in 1990. After my husband and I were married, we lived for a time in a far West suburb that was full of large homes, but lacked the community infrastructure, park district activities, and especially our beautiful Morton Grove trees. When we started our family, schools became a priority. My father was planning to move into a condominium and sell his house. Being part of Morton Grove for so many years, we jumped at the chance to come back, and bought my father’s house in 2004 just before my second child was born.
What is your career and educational background?
I stopped working outside of my home when my first child was born almost 12 years ago. Prior to that, I managed Accounting departments for such companies as Veolia Water and Playboy Industries, Inc. My first full-time job was right here in MG at ITT Bell & Gossett (now Xylem).
I am currently attending DePaul University where I expect to receive my Bachelor’s degree in Business with a focus in Human Resource Management in December, 2014.
What interests do you pursue?
I am a mom first, so I enjoy watching my girls play their favorite sports, which include: volleyball, dance, and softball.
My husband and I play softball on a co-ed 14” softball league through our park district. Also, we are part of the Weekend Warriors bowling league, which bowls at Classic Bowl monthly. Our softball team and bowling league consist of MG residents who have become very good friends; our community is one of the best things about MG.
Tell us about your family. Do you have kids? What are their ages? Do you have a husband, and if so, please tell us a little about him, such as where he is from, his career, and anything else you would like to add.
My husband, Peter, and I have been married for 12 years. Peter is an IT Infrastructure Manager with Chopper Trading, LLC and works in the Board of Trade building. We have 2 girls; Sheridan is 11 and Delaney is 9 (as of Oct 12th).
Can you describe your civic service in Morton Grove? I've heard you were on the Park View District 70 board, the Economic Development Commission and the Plan Commission. That's a lot, but were there any other activities?
I served on Park View’s PTO from May 2009-May 2012.
EDC from 6/2007 - 12/2012.
Plan Commission/Zoning Board of Appeals – 1/2012- 9/2013
I also hosted a “tv show” for MGTV called Morton Grove Means Business. I interviewed local business owners and highlighted their services and/or products.
What interests you about economic development?
I am proud of our village and I want my children to grow up here and be proud of it as well. I want to see property values increase and hold the line on taxes. This is tied to economic development. Morton Grove is positioned for progress and we are at the cusp of realizing our potential. Our location, park district, library, schools and diverse caring residents make Morton Grove a premier location to live. With the right vision and proper planning, we can be a premier place to eat and shop, as well. Mayor DiMaria has the vision and I’m excited to be the Trustee liaison to the newly created Strategic Planning Committee. I believe hiring Houseal Lavigne to assist the village in creating our strategic plan was the right step, a vital step.
What are your ideas for economic development in Morton Grove?
Having come from the Economic Development Commission, I learned that it is not as easy as saying we want something in town to get it. We are at the mercy of retailers and developers, especially in the recent economy. We can control how attractive, accessible, and business-friendly we are to potential businesses. Mayor DiMaria is working hard on these aspects of economic development and Houseal Lavigne, along with the newly formed Strategic Planning Committee and resident’s input, will give us further guidance.
Looking at the village as a whole right now, what do you see as the most pressing issues?
We have aging infrastructure throughout the Village. Our police station and village hall was originally built over 100 years ago as a school, and needs to be replaced or substantially remodeled and modernized. We must look carefully at the flooding issues in the village, and determine if infrastructure improvements can ease the devastating effects that these floods and backups have on our homes. And we have to look for new revenue sources so we do not have to increase the already heavy property tax burden on homeowners and businesses.
What are your thoughts about a new police station? How would the village fund it? Should the General Bandage location be used?
I am too new to this position to have formed an opinion at this time.
Anything else you would like to add?
I want to thank Mayor DiMaria for giving me this honor and responsibility. I am excited to be part of a team of elected officials, volunteers, residents and staff to move Morton Grove forward.