The Italian Cultural Center will honor Riverside resident Larry Wert, president and general manager of NBC5 Chicago, with its Man of the Year Award at 6 p.m., March 1 at Alta Villa Banquets in Addison.

“Larry Wert is a modern Italian American who supports Casa Italia and vigorously celebrates his ethnic background,” says Lisa Turano Solano, event chairperson. “He creates opportunities to highlight Italian American life in Chicago including the history of his family, his heritage and the traditions associated with Casa Italia.”

Recently Wert was instrumental in procuring a prime time slot for the airing of the Modio Media film, “And They Came to Chicago: The Italian American Legacy.”

“This film documents 150 years of the Italian American experience in Chicago,” Solano says. “Without his help and support, this film might have ended up on an obscure cable station without the type of exposure it received on NBC and WTTW. Our community is touched, invigorated and renewed by the spirit of the film–and the following that the airing has generated.”

It was Wert’s paternal grandfather, Lorenzo Damore who emigrated from Bari after his discharge from the Italian army. He first lived on Taylor Street where he met his future wife, Theresa, the eldest of 20 children born to Michelangelo and Rose Latoria.

The eldest of three children, Wert, 51, was born in Berwyn and reared in Riverside–the community where Damore moved his family in the 1950s. To this day Wert, his wife Julie, their four children, and much of Wert’s extended family continue to reside in the suburb.

Earlier in his life, before launching a career in broadcasting, Wert worked for Damore Cement Construction Company, a business owned by his grandfather Lorenzo Damore and located in Riverside.

A veteran of more than 30 years in the broadcasting industry, Wert earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 1978 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He began his career at Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago in 1978. He left there in 1979 and subsequently spent ten years with ABC-TV in national TV sales in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. In 1989 he took a job with WLS-TV as local sales manager.

That same year Wert was named president and general manager of Evergreen Media’s The Loop and AM 1000. In 1996 he became president of Evergreen Media Corporation when it merged with Chancellor Broadcasting. He soon advanced to senior vice-president, overseeing Chancellor’s 13 radio properties in Chicago and Detroit.

In 1998 Wert moved to NBC5 where he currently leads the NBC5/Telemundo Chicago duopoly.

“We are pleased and honored to recognize Larry Wert as our Man of the Year Award recipient,” Solano says. “He is an exemplary member of the Italian American community and we’re proud of his personal and professional accomplishments.”

Alta Villa is located at 430 N. Addison Road in Addison. The cost is $75 per person and advance reservations plus payment are required. For more information and to purchase tickets, please contact Darrell Marchioretto at 345-5933.

Speaking out

Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel will be the featured speaker at the graduation of the Basic Law Enforcement Academy Class on Jan. 17 at the University of Illinois Police Training Institute in Urbana-Champaign.

Riverside has two officers that will be graduating from the institute on that date.

Eye for detail

The votes are in and the winners of the 2007 Village of Brookfield’s Holiday Window Decorating Contest are:

First Place: Dream City Realty, 3732 Grand Blvd., owner Stanka Daker

Second Place: Betty’s Flowers, 9138 Broadway Ave., owner Betty LeClere

Third Place: Le Grand Décor, 3748 Grand Blvd.; owner Patricia Weber

Welcome aboard

The Riverside Junior Woman’s Charity announced last month that Kathy Dudek, Jane Archer, Lisa Muldowney, Meaghan Mathews, Mary McKinney and Wanying Wilkins were installed as new members of the club.


Lifelong Riverside resident Raquel Falk, 17, was promoted to chief petty officer in the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps. The Sea Cadets is a youth program funded by the Navy League of the United States for boys and girls ages 13 to 17 who have an interest in the military, primarily the maritime services.

Falk received the highest rank awarded to Sea Cadets after nearly five years in the program. She is a junior at Fenwick High School in Oak Park and hopes to receive an appointment to the United States Naval Academy.

Delivering the goods

For one Brookfield family, the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons mean delivering food to needy families. As a member of the Cicero-Berwyn Elks Lodge #1510, Bob Rolewicz initiated a holiday grocery basket delivery campaign for needy families in the area back in 1979.

Still chairman, Rolewicz enlists the help of family, friends and Elks to aid in the cause. Among the family members assisting in the food drive this year were his children, Jeremy and Heather Rolewicz, and his wife Vicki.

On Campus

Brookfield resident Dalia Sobyra, a senior at Illinois College, served as a student ambassador last fall in the school’s admissions office. Student ambassadors contribute to the recruitment efforts of the college by providing service to prospective students and family members during visits to the campus of the liberal arts college, which is located in downstate Jacksonville.

She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Sobyra of Brookfield.

North Central College in Naperville announced last month that North Riverside resident Yevgeniy Kalinin and Riverside resident Allison Block, both sophomores, were named to the dean’s list of scholars for the 2007 fall term.

To be eligible for the dean’s list, undergraduate students must maintain a grade-point average of 3.6 on a 4.0 scale.

Kalinin is the son of Igor and Ludmilla Kalinin; Block is the daughter of Joanna and Carl Block.

Trinity High School in River Forest has announced that senior Emily Sitton of North Riverside and sophomore Andreja Siliunas of Riverside achieved First Honors (3.75 GPA and above) during the first block of the 2007-08 school year.

Meanwhile, Riverside residents Elizabeth Nelson (senior), Alissa Hartnett (junior) and Abigail Splitt (junior) achieved Second Honors (3.3-3.74 GPA)