A look back at Naperville’s biggest news stories for 2012
By Susan Frick Carlman || email@example.com December 27, 2012 10:36PM
Bruce (right) and Jamie Wild, parents of Shaun Wild, receive hugs of condolences from students at North Central College during a memorial in Shaun's honor on Saturday evening on the campus. Shaun, an NCC graduate, died early Saturday morning following a stabbing at Frankie's Blue Room that left two others injured. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 29, 2013 6:18AM
New faces, major projects and a pair of shocking crimes dominated the headlines in Naperville during the year that will end at midnight Monday evening.
Here is a recap of 12 of the city’s biggest news stories for 2012.
The grisly stabbing murders of two young children on Oct. 30 in a northwest Naperville townhouse stunned the community. Authorities said Justin Plackowska, 7, and Olivia Dworakowski, 5, were each stabbed dozens of times after they were found jumping on a bed in defiance of instructions to be getting ready for bed. Elzbieta Plackowska, 40, who was Justin’s mother and Olivia’s babysitter, was charged with the crimes the following day.
Two dogs also were killed during the bloody rampage.
Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall, who has been in law enforcement for 30 years, described the crime scene as “the most gruesome and horrific” he has ever seen.
Plackowska’s arraignment on Nov. 21 was the first courthouse appearance in the Chicago region to be televised under a new Illinois Supreme Court policy designed to make court proceedings more accessible to the public. Plackowska’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Michael Mara, pleaded not guilty on her behalf to the 10 first-degree murder charges and two charges of aggravated animal cruelty. She is being held without bond in the DuPage County Jail and is due back in court Jan. 4 for a status hearing.
A late-night bar fight in downtown Naperville left a well-liked young school teacher dead and two others injured in early February.
Witnesses told police that Shaun Wild, 24, was stabbed when he tried to detain suspect Daniel Olaska, 27, after Olaska had stabbed Wild’s friend, William Hayes, 22, at Frankies Blue Room. Bouncer Rafael Castenada also was stabbed during the incident. He and Hayes both survived their injuries.
Wild had recently begun his teaching career in a second-grade classroom at Spring Brook Elementary School in southeast Naperville.
The crime drew hundreds to a memorial vigil late on the day Wild died at North Central College, where he had attended and was a formermember of the football team.
Olaska, a 2002 graduate of Naperville North High School, is due back in court Feb. 5, one year and one day after the stabbings occurred.
A series of fights at several downtown Naperville bars, along with some nighttime purse snatchings, brought out police and culminated in numerous arrests.
BlackFinn American Saloon had its late-night liquor permit temporarily revoked in November, after the establishment violated four code provisions, and the Police Department beefed up weekend patrols in the downtown area. Reports of serious offenses in the bar scene have decreased in the wake of the added security.
Water Street project
Initially embraced by city staff and most of the Naperville Planning and Zoning Commission when it was proposed last summer, the plan to erect a hotel, parking structure, apartments and commercial space on 2.4 acres south of the Riverwalk and east of the Municipal Center was sent back to the drawing board multiple times since then.
Subsequent revisions brought the building height down and increased the parking spaces, but the project continues to face ardent opposition from some city officials and the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation.
After sending the high-density plan back to the planning board earlier this month, a divided City Council reversed itself and is keeping the issue on its own front burner. The proposal’s latest revision will go before the council at its Jan. 15 meeting.
City Council members in mid-September carved Naperville into five electoral districts, carrying out the wishes of voters who approved a 2010 advisory referendum on the idea by a two-to-one margin.
Opposed by Councilmen Joe McElroy and Doug Krause, the map defines areas that each will elect a council member beginning in 2015. An additional three at-large representatives will round out the council.
District 1 is bounded by the north and west city limits, 75th Street on the south and Rickert Drive, Naperville-Plainfield Road and the DuPage River on the east.
District 2 is bounded by 75th Street on the south between Rickert Drive and Washington Street, and on the north by the city limits. Naperville-Plainfield Road and the DuPage River form the western boundary, and Washington Street the east.
The northern edge of District 3 consists of segments of Chicago Avenue, Prairie Avenue and Hillside Road. Its western boundary runs primarily along Washington Street, while the eastern and southern boundaries align with the city limits.
District 4 is bounded by Washington Street to the east and Route 59 to the west. The southern boundary generally follows 95th Street to the city limits, and the northern border is 75th Street.
District 5 includes the southernmost areas of Naperville and runs from south of 95th Street between the DuPage River and the western city limits.
A group has been working to put a referendum on the spring ballot to overturn the move to districts.
Fertility clinic OK’d
Emotions ran high as Naperville City Council in early April approved a plan for a fertility clinic on the corner of Benton Avenue and Washington Street downtown.
By a 7 to 2 vote, with Councilmen Paul Hinterlong and Bob Fieseler dissenting, the City Council settled an issue that had divided the city over a number of weeks.
New boss for 203
Superintendent Mark Mitrovich surprised many in the Naperville School District 203 community when he abruptly announced March 19 that he would step down when his three-year contract expired. Mitrovich, who was drawing a compensation package worth $264,858 when he departed, drew the ire of many district parents a year ago, when he backed a set of controversial attendance zone shift proposals that at one point triggered an online petition campaign calling for his ouster.
Dan Bridges, then assistant superintendent for secondary education, was named interim superintendent a few weeks after Mitrovich went public with his plans. The school board hired Bridges as permanent district chief in mid-August.
Bridges drew fire in his first week on the job for his handling of allegations that former West Aurora High School band director Steve Orland had been sexually abusing a female student during Bridges’ tenure as principal at the school. A lawsuit filed by one of Orland’s victims in September sought damages from Bridges for his failure to report what he had heard.
Marshall named top cop
Bob Marshall came back to the Naperville Police Department in May, replacing 22-year Chief David Dial, who retired.
A 27-year veteran of the force, Marshall stepped down from his captain rank in the department in 2005 when he was offered the position of assistant city manager.
Dial, now director of the criminal justice department at Aurora University, spent nearly half of his 45-year law enforcement career as Naperville’s chief of police.
Naperville Democrat Bill Foster took nearly 60 percent of the votes for the newly-reconfigured 11th Congressional District in the Nov. 6 polling and handed longtime U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Hinsdale, her first state or federal election defeat.
A scientist and entrepreneur, Foster had been expected to win in Aurora and Kane and Will counties, but he did surprisingly well in traditionally Republican counties such as Kendall and DuPage.
As a result of last year’s redrawing of electoral boundaries, Naperville now spans three U.S. House districts, the 11th District to be represented by Foster, the 14th to be represented by Randy Hulgren and the 6th to be represented by Peter Roskam.
Evans in at Chamber
In something of a surprise, the Naperville Chamber of Commerce Board in May released Chamber President and CEO John Schmitt from his duties.
Tami Andrew served as interim Chamber leader until November when the Chamber announced the selection of Mike Evans as president and CEO. The board’s vote occurred after an extensive search and selection process, and deliberations among directors, Chamber leaders said.
Evans came to Naperville from Bolingbrook, where he was president and CEO of the Bolingbrook Area Chamber of Commerce, a position he held since 2007.
‘Hal’ heading out
After more than two decades as president of North Central College, Harold “Hal” Wilde will make his retirement official on Monday.
A search committee spent much of the year reviewing applicants for the position before selecting scholar, entrepreneur and businessman Troy D. Hammond to replace Wilde.
Hammond, a Naperville resident and native of Kokomo, Ind., is the 10th president in the college’s 150-year history. He was chosen from a field of 10 finalists for the position.
Come on inn
Transformation of the former Holiday Inn Select at Diehl and Naperville roads was completed early in the year, but the Chicago Marriott Naperville held its official opening at the start of April. The $30 million hotel features 424 rooms and 25,000 square feet of meeting space.
Among the unusual aspects of the new inn is a rooftop apiary, where bee colonies are tended and honey is harvested, then incorporated into the menu offerings of the hotel kitchen.