Spc. Benjamin Latham of North Riverside, attached to the 1244th Transportation Company in North Riverside, took the title of Soldier of the Year during the Illinois National Guard Soldier of the Year competition Sept. 15 to 18 at the Marseilles Training Center in Marseilles.

The competition tested participants’ physical fitness and endurance, warrior tasks and skills, rifle proficiency and knowledge of the Army and its history.

“Spc. Latham did an outstanding job in a close competition and he was able to do what was needed to stay on top,” said Command Sgt. Maj. John Burns, senior enlisted adviser for the 108th Sustainment Brigade in Chicago, in a press release. “To be recognized as the state Soldier of the Year, there are few things that can higher be for a soldier. This will only make him a better soldier overall.”

Latham defeated his top competitor, Spc. Brett Devlin of Machesney Park, with the 135th Chemical Company in Machesney Park, by five points.

“The other soldiers were [prepared] and they had a lot of good training before they got here,” said Latham. “It came down to the wire between me and Spc. Devlin. It was extremely close.”

Latham will compete in the regional level competition in the spring of 2012 against soldiers from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Winner advance to the National Guard Bureau Level competition.

Author, author!

North Riverside resident James Zak was a first-place winner in the AARP “What’s Your Story” contest this summer. The AARP received more than 100 entries for the contest, and Zak’s story, about an event in third grade that taught him the value of coming to the aid of someone in trouble, was chosen as a winning entry.

Zak received a $500 Visa gift card for his efforts.

Man with a plan

Ross Moon, a Riverside-Brookfield High School senior and a Riverside resident, has been selected to participate in the Future Leaders in Planning (FLIP) program, which is sponsored by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).

As a member of the program, Moon will be able to meet and interact with regional leaders who make key planning decisions in Cook, DuPage, Kane Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.

Helping with hoops

Bill Niesluchowski, community service officer for the Riverside Police Department, assisted at the 17th Annual Minuteman Classic basketball tournament held at Riverside-Brookfield High School. Funds raised during the tournament are donated to area D.A.R.E. programs in the communities served by the Minuteman Convenience Centers.


The Riverside Township Lions Club started its new club year in September by welcoming a new club member, Dawneen Suriano, who was sponsored by Melissa Kotrba.

Excellent Explorer

During the Illinois Law Enforcement Exploring Conference in August, Capt. Doug Robertson of the Riverside Police Explorer Post received an award at the closing ceremony for scoring highest on the written test competition. The test had 67 questions and mimics tests given by police departments to test candidates’ intelligence and logical ability.

Big winners

In August the North Riverside Public Library announced the winners of its 10 weekly drawings during the Adult Summer Reading program, “Novel Destinations.” Winning gift cards or tote bags were Nancy Lewandowski, Delores Clark, Marguerite Durkin, Anne-Marie Bogdan, Sherri Gabino, Jennifer Smith, Bridget Watson, Janet Kosik, Maria Zontos and Jean Schindler. Winning the grand prize of a $25 North Riverside Park Mall gift card was Alice Mickie.

A big thanks

At the Sept. 12 meeting of the Riverside Township Board of Trustees, the township’s supervisor, Rich Tuscher and the board of officers presented the Riverside Police Department with a certificate of appreciation for their public service and support to residents of the township.

Police Chief Thomas Weitzel was on hand to accept the award on behalf of the department. The township board also recognized the Riverside Fire Department.

On campus

Molly Ely, of Riverside, has enrolled this year at Centre College, a liberal arts college located in Danville, Ky. A graduate of Riverside-Brookfield High School, Ely is the daughter of Michael Ely and Annette Palumbo of Riverside.

Amanda Miller, of Riverside, is one of 45 Augustana College students studying contemporary and historic Britain and Europe by spending the fall term in London. Miller is a senior who is majoring in mathematics and art history. Five courses are offered during the fall term, including sociology, art history, British history, theater and contemporary politics.

Among those receiving degrees from Benedictine University in Lisle in May were Brookfield residents Michael L. Berry (B.A, physics, cum laude); Betsy J. Buckley (M.Ed., education); Lauren Hammond (B.S., biology); Kathryn L. Meyers (M.Ed., education); and Robert A. Nortier (B.A., management, magna cum laude).

Among those receiving bachelor’s degrees at DePaul University’s graduation ceremonies this summer were Brookfield residents Michelle Glazik (cum laude), Richard Houdek (cum laude) and James Mazurek (summa cum laude) and Riverside residents Ladd Kulhanek (cum laude) and Melissa Newman (magna cum laude).

Riverside resident Elliot Louthen was named an Annika Rodriguez Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis, one of 21 selected this year. Louthen is a freshman at the school.

The scholarship is awarded to incoming freshmen of exceptional academic merit who show commitment to community service and a demonstrated ability to bring diverse people together.

Brookfield resident Alan Bringman and Riverside resident Isaac Lauritsen, both members of the Augustana College Symphonic Band, performed with that orchestra in a disaster relief concert on Sept. 24 to benefit survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Donations totaling $1,550 will be distributed through the Red Cross for relief efforts in Japan.

Bringman is a sophomore majoring in music education. Lauritsen is a sophomore majoring in English and philosophy.