YMCA acquisition tops 2012 stories
Andy Pope of Vernon Hills works out at the Central Lake YMCA in Vernon Hills Friday. The Park Board buying the YMCA is the top story of 2012. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Top web stories
The five most-viewed stories in 2012 on the Vernon Hills Review website:
1. The Beer Market in Vernon Hills opens to rave reviews.
2. Famous Dave’s shuts its doors in Vernon Hills.
3. Libertyville and Vernon Hills to hold fireworks.
4. Possible drug overdose in Vernon Hills under investigation.
5. Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday; mall spot empty in Vernon Hills.
- YMCAs in Waukegan and Vernon Hills to close Oct. 31
- Vernon Hills boards consider buying YMCA
- Vernon Hills village, park boards expected to act on YMCA deal
- Park Board buys YMCA property, minor formalities remain
- Judge finds Deerfield man guilty, but mentally ill in Vernon Hills murder
- Baker denied new trial for Vernon Hills murder
- Hawthorn Mall lays out expansion plans to Vernon Hills
- Vernon Hills’ seniors enjoy new home
- Vernon Hills native is a hit on ‘The Voice’
Updated: February 25, 2013 2:21AM
VERNON HILLS — While everyone prepares for 2013 and a fresh start, Pioneer Press offers Vernon Hills Review readers the top five stories from 2012. From the YMCA a talented singer, here are the highlights.
1. Park Board buys YMCA property
After receiving a $2 million, interest-free loan from the village, the Vernon Hills Park Board unanimously approved a purchase agreement Nov. 15 with Lake Family YMCA.
A financially strapped YMCA originally announced an Oct. 31 closure caused by more than $6 million in debt from long-term operational expenses. Village and park officials immediately joined heads to preserve services.
The park district will have 10 years to repay the village-issued loan and can wait up to three years before making the first payment.
“The village knows we can’t just take this over and make money,” Park Board President David Doerhoefer said. “It’s been a declining operation for several years. We’re confident in our plans though.”
Park district management is expected take over the Central Lake YMCA facility Jan. 1. All members who did not leave the YMCA were given memberships with the park district at their current rate, if not less.
2. Baker found guilty, mentally ill
A Deerfield man who flew into a rage against his girlfriend’s mother and beat her to death with a baseball bat was found guilty but mentally ill Nov. 5.
Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes, however, did not find that Daniel Baker, 24, was legally insane when he bludgeoned Vernon Hills resident Marina Aksman on April 1, 2010.
Diagnoses from two psychiatrists included borderline personality disorder (or traits of the disorder), obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette’s Syndrome.
Baker faces 20 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 9.
Baker was dating Aksman’s developmentally disabled daughter, Kristina Aksman, for several months. On March 31, 2010, Marina Aksman left Baker a voice message in which she called him “bipolar” and forbade him from having further contact with her daughter.
Not long after listening to that message, in the early hours of April 1, 2010, Baker grabbed an aluminum baseball bat “for protection” and drove to Aksman’s home. He crashed his car into the front step of their house, smashed a window in the rear of the home and hit Marina with the baseball bat at least 10 times, according to court testimony.
3. Hawthorn mall proposes major expansion
Westfield Hawthorn officials have proposed a multimillion dollar expansion and renovation to its mall in Vernon Hills, which would include a new 12-screen cinema complex, new restaurant and retail spaces, new signage and updated entrances.
Officials presented a concept plan to the Vernon Hills Village Board on April 17. The project was expected to cost in the $40 million-$50 million range. The mall is requesting about $7.5 million in sales tax rebates from the village over 20 years to help pay for the improvements.
The project still has to go through a formal review process before the Vernon Hills Planning and Zoning Commission and village board.
Mall officials planned to break ground on the project this winter and have it completed by late 2013, but Westfield continues to struggle in acquiring tenants.
Village trustees have been waiting for nearly a decade for the mall to come up with a revitalization plan and were initially impressed by Westfield’s presentation.
4. Vernon Hills seniors enjoy new home
Village President Roger Byrne set out to find affordable senior housing and came back with the Victory Centre, which opened in late January and quickly filled up.
Vernon Hills had identified the need for as a top priority in its long-range master planning efforts in recent years. Pathway Senior Living, Victory’s owner, acquired the 3.5 acres of property near Phillip Road and Deerpath Drive from Vernon Hills in 2010.
The 231-unit Victory Centre features two attached buildings, one consisting of 111 senior apartment units and the other building with 120 supportive-living units for seniors that require a greater level of care.
The supportive-living building includes a commercial kitchen and dining room serving residents three-meals-a-day, on-site nursing and housekeeping staff to assist with resident care, a hair salon, exercise areas, meeting and activity rooms and other amenities. The apartment units are designed for seniors who are more independent and each unit is equipped with a kitchen, parking and specific design features for seniors.
5. Vernon Hills native is a hit on ‘The Voice’
Jamie Lono, a 22-year-old Vernon Hills resident, displayed his singing talents on the NBC TV show “The Voice” during an audition which aired in February. His vocal and acoustic guitar rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” impressed the judges and allowed him to advance into a battle phase of the competition, where he was later eliminated.
Jamie Lono – which is his stage name – is known by close friends and family as Jamie Thompson. He grew up in Vernon Hills and attended Hawthorn schools and Vernon Hills High School. He works at Potbelly Sandwich Shop in Vernon Hills and has his own band, “Jamie Lono and the Feel Good Nation,” which performs in the Chicago area.
Lono played in Vernon Hills’ annual Summer Celebration in late July.