Hello…and welcome to the Friday Wrap for September 14th, 2018! Here’s the wrap-up of Burr Ridge news, events and progress which I really do prefer to get these done by end-of-day on Friday. But, that is not always possible, so I am writing this on Saturday in Starbucks.
Village Board Meeting:
The Regular Meeting of the Mayor and Board of Trustees was held on Monday and the Board Room was more crowded than usual. Attendees were still filing in when Barbara Popp, the village’s Executive Secretary for 25 years under Bud Coglianese, Jo Irmen, Gary Grasso, Bob Sodikoff and me, was recognized and thanked for her exemplary years of service. Next up was Capri’s request for expansion and a parking variance; Trustees worked together successfully on a great resolution which was approved unanimously.
The bulk of the Board Meeting was dedicated to hearing from a dozen concerned residents about information spread about potential health risks associated with Sterigenics in Willowbrook. I will address this topic in more detail below.
Retirement Party Held for Barbara Popp:
I have attended many retirement parties over the last 5+ years, but this one seemed extra special! In addition to many current Trustees, Administration and Staff, attending were many former employees, past Mayors/Village Presidents and Trustees and the entire Board of Fire & Police Commissioners. Doug Pollock even played a video from Steve Stricker, our former village administrator who filmed a personal message of thanks and appreciation to Barb Popp from his fly fishing trip. Attached are some great pictures and even an email that Police Commissioner Ron Damper asked that I share…enjoy! Barb, thank you for your exceptional work and commitment…we’ll miss you! (And thank you for training your very capable replacement, Julie Tejkowski, who also benefited from working with you for so many years!)
Sterigenics Update: I would like the residents to know that the Village takes this topic very seriously and is proceeding to research and explore the facts and rumors on this issue. We have dedicated many hours this week alone and been in contact with officials of local municipalities and I even spoke directly with Mark Johnson, PhD of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Statement about their “Letter Health Consultation”.
Among other things, Toxicologist Mark Johnson of ATSDR and the person who submitted the report that erupted all the concern to the public told me this about Sterigenics International:
A local official also told me that the report was “exaggerated” to be able to obtain more funding for research and that he asked members of the ATSDR and EPA, “Should I have any concern with opening my office windows right near the Sterigenics facility?” He was told, “It is absolutely safe to open up your windows and there is no health risk.”
The Friday Wrap is not an official village publication and contains my opinion may not be shared by all, but here are my observations based on the facts, research, reports and documents that I/we have conducted which I will be happy to collect and distribute separately at a later time. One of my first lessons as mayor were that I will not always agree with everyone, nor can I make everyone happy. I’m sorry, but as much as my try, that’s just not possible.
I can’t blame anyone for getting caught up in the hysteria of this situation, especially if you read some of the rumors and fears that have been posted on social media and even more if you attended Willowbrook’s Town Hall Meeting at Ashton Place with hundreds of people yelling and blaming many physical ailments on Ethylene Oxide. Which, by the way, according to one of their letters, “Ethylene oxide is a chemical used to sterilize medical equipment in hospitals and industrial settings. Ethylene oxide is also used to fumigate items that cannot be sterilized by steam such as spices, cosmetics, and plastic devices. Workers in facilities using ethylene oxide may be exposed to it during the sterilization process. The general public can be exposed to ethylene oxide in some consumer products such as tobacco, food, and spices that are often fumigated with ethylene oxide for sterilization. Ethylene oxide is also used in the production of synthetic fibers (e.g., upholstery, carpet), plastics, PVC pipe and cosmetics and therefore can be found in indoor air. It is even present in car exhaust.”
At this time, I/we have received NO INFORMATION THAT INDICATES ANY IMMEDIATE HEALTH SCARE BY STERIGENICS. It would have been easy decision to jump on the bandwagon calling for Sterigenics to cease operations immediately, but leadership is not about making easy or emotional decisions, it is about making the right decisions based on the FACTS. On top of that, I'm more skeptical of media and politics during an election year and I think it would have been careless to call for a closing, because Sterigenics sterilizes thousands of surgical kits, equipment and catheters DAILY for virtually of our local hospitals and such a closure could have been life-threatening for patients needing surgery.
So, please, let’s exercise calmness and prudence as the Village of Burr Ridge continues to work with the Village of Willowbrook as well as the EPA, CDC and ATSDR to obtain all the facts and further assess it to keep our citizenry safe. We will keep you informed every step of the way.
On a Personal Note . . .
In other news, Elvis performed at the County Wine Merchant last night! I also attached a picture of my wife and I with my brother, Joe Straub, at Capri last Saturday, a visit that doesn’t happen often enough. And, last Sunday Father Larry celebrated Mass at St. Isaac Jogues on the weekend of his 50thAnniversary as a Franciscan.
Have a calm week,
Mayor Mickey Straub