There have some headaches at the Park Ridge Park District in recent days after a 5-year-old camper -- the son of a former spokesman for the state Department of Children and Family Services -- was left strapped in a seat in the back of a bus after the other children had gotten off.
Dave Clarkin of Park Ridge tells me he was appalled by the way the park district handled the July 18 matter. He says his son, who was buckled in by a staffer, was able to wriggle free from the seat belt and get the notice of a driver outside the bus window.
While park district spokeswoman Margaret Holler says the boy was on the bus by himself "for less than a minute," the Clarkins say they've been given several different time frames, ranging from 20 seconds to five minutes.
Leave, more training
Holler later sent me a prepared statement saying the park district takes full responsibility for the matter, has put the staff member responsible for checking the bus on unpaid leave and has put all drivers through additional training.
At Clarkin's urging, it was reported to DCFS.
The Clarkins continue to send their son to camp, but they're now getting daily text reports from staff noting he has gotten safely on and off the bus.
Archiving campground history
Growing up in Des Plaines, I was always fascinated by the Methodist Campgrounds, founded in 1860 as a getaway camp for protestant worshippers in the Chicago area. The camp, off Algonquin Road, received some famous visitors over the years, from evangelical preachers to singers Mahalia Jackson and Ella Fitzgerald. Thanks to the work of Oakton Community College sociology students, we'll soon be able to learn more about the site. Students spent the summer recovering, investigating and organizing campground records. One of the letters students found was from a woman to her granddaughter about a murder that supposedly took place on the site in the early 1980s that they're now investigating further, college officials say.
Hillary Clinton's childhood friend Betsy Ebeling capped off a week in the spotlight with an appearance on the video used to introduce the presidential candidate before her acceptance speech Thursday at the Democratic National Convention. Ebeling spoke in the video, which was narrated by Morgan Freeman, about how she watched Clinton respond to the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 as a senator from New York.
"Her mind just quickly grasped this was a much bigger issue than replacing these buildings," Ebeling, of Arlington Heights, said in the video. "This is replacing the American spirit."
You know, flip-flops
Sometimes, you just have to laugh. Tim Mapes, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan's longtime chief of staff, advised wearing casual attire to the state delegation's Democratic convention after-party: "shorts, T-shirts and thongs." He meant the ones worn on the feet, of course, but the advisory was enough to give delegates a chuckle.
The pillowcase you slept on a few months back might now be used to transport a python to the Brookfield Zoo. Really. The Hilton Chicago-Oak Brook Hills Resort and Conference Center has donated more than 500 used blankets, pillowcases, sheets and duvet covers to the zoo for the purpose of "providing comfortable bedding for endangered animals." The linens will be used for bedding at the zoo's hospital, nesting material for animals and transporting snakes, among other things.