Lester: Foster families get a treat from Illinois Tollway

Whether you've been a couple of nickels short or just in a hurry, odds are pretty good that you've thrown something other than legal tender into a tollway coin basket.

Among the items the Illinois Tollway has collected over the last 15 years are thousands of tokens used for games at Chuck E. Cheese family entertainment centers.

This year, I'm told exclusively, the tollway gave them to the Department of Children and Family Services to give foster families a treat.

Family passes

DCFS spokesman Andrew Flach says Chuck E. Cheese gave his agency 100 family passes in exchange for the tokens. Each pass, good through 2016, covers a large pizza, four sodas and 30 game tokens. They'll be distributed throughout the state.

“While a lot of kids go to Chuck E. Cheese, it may not be something kids who are in the care of the state may have had a chance to do,” Flach says. “Anything we can do to help these kids feel more normal ... we should do it.”

Special meeting - and table setting?

Along with proposing a special meeting on Jan. 7 to decide upon a new temporary chairperson and ratify spokesman Chris Robling's termination, College of DuPage Trustee Dianne McGuire this week also requested that the board's meeting table “be returned to the u-shaped pattern we have traditionally used to better facilitate communication and discussion.”

Lewis laid to rest

Ron Lewis, a longtime employee of the Des Plaines Park District, died Dec. 14 from complications from injuries suffered in a garage fire at his home on Nov. 4. Courtesy of Des Plaines Park District

Ron Lewis, a longtime Des Plaines Park District employee and teacher at St. Mary Catholic School in Buffalo Grove, was laid to rest Saturday. He died after suffering burns on more than 40 percent of his body in an accident in his garage last month. I knew Lewis from my days working as a lifeguard and teaching swimming lessons for the park district during high school and college. He founded two swim teams with Mike Tuntland, a young man who looked up to Lewis so much he followed in his footsteps at both the park district and St. Mary. Tuntland, a lifetime ago, was the first boy to ask me - a shy, nervous, awkward teen - out on a date.

Millner on the case ...

Former Elmhurst Police Chief and state Sen. John Millner Daily Herald File photo

In case you missed it, longtime Elmhurst Police Chief and former state Sen. John Millner appeared this week on an episode of Investigation Discovery's “On the Case with Paula Zahn” about serial killers, including some of the more noted murders in DuPage County. You can find the episode on

Today's snap

“If the suit fits,” cracked former state Sen.

"If the suit fits," cracked former state Sen. Dan Kotowski, now CEO of the nonprofit Childserv as he dressed as a pretty convincing Santa Claus. Here he poses with mom Jinx Kotowski. COURTESY OF DAN KOTOWSKI

Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge, now president and CEO of the nonprofit ChildServ, as he dressed as a pretty convincing Santa Claus. Here he poses with mom Jinx Kotowski.

Old roots for new biz

Doing some last-minute holiday shopping in downtown Arlington Heights, I learned the manager of the new Bottle & Bottega painting and wine class site is Amanda Lindsell, who is the granddaughter of the late Arlington Heights mayor John Woods. The village hall building bears his name.

Cupich returns to say Mass at Cook County jail

Archbishop Blase Cupich

Archbishop Blase Cupich dedicates a new altar at St. Stephen Protomartyr Church in Des Plaines. Daily Herald File Photo

will again spend Christmas Day saying Mass at Cook County jail. I attended the service last year and was impressed with the time the bishop took to speak individually with inmates before they went back to their cells. In another corner of the jail, the Rev. Jesse Jackson traditionally holds a service.

From me to you

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all of you. Thanks for your feedback and tips - and, please, keep them coming. I'm looking forward to 2016. I'll be spending Christmas at my parents' home in Des Plaines, where an aluminum Festivus pole has appeared in recent years along with their more traditional tree and beloved Polk Bros. Santa Claus.

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