Bedford Park Mayor David Brady (right) receives a handshake from Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau President/CEO Jim Garrett. Brady's community won the bureau's Municipal Leader of the Year award. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Bedford Park Mayor David Brady (right) receives a handshake from Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau President/CEO Jim Garrett. Brady's community won the bureau's Municipal Leader of the Year award. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Bedford Park named Municipal Leader of the Year 

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HOUSEKEEPNG

Izahi Abarca (middle) is flanked by Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau President Jim Garrett (left) and Deputy Director of Illinois Tourism Daniel Thomas after winning the Housekeeping Employee of the Year award.

By Jeff Vorva 

Bedford Park is having a huge year, and the Chicago Southland Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has taken notice.

During the organization’s awards ceremony on Oct. 4 at the DoubleTree Alsip, the Village of Bedford Park was named the Municipal Leader of the Year. There are more than 60 municipalities encompassing the bureau.

“The aggressive developments that the Village of Bedford Park has embarked on has enhanced a wonderful area of the Chicago Southland with incredible accessibility and accommodations for visitors looking for a safe and friendly place to stay near the Chicago city limits,” said Mary Patchin, the vice president of the bureau.

She added that the recent opening of the 116,000 square-foot Wintrust Sports Complex helped strengthen the community.

TOM BROWN

East Hazel Crest Mayor Thomas Brown, who is also the attorney for the Coty of Palos Heights, was the co-winner of the Senator Aldo DeAngelis Leadership Award at the Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau awards luncheon on Oct. 4 in Alsip.

“Although the complex is perfect for hosting large basketball and volleyball tournaments, they also offer unique sports like dodgeball and pickleball,” Patchin said. “With a restaurant, bar, arcade and e-sports gaming room, it’s impossible for any member of an entourage to get bored.”

She said there are plans for hotels, retail businesses and restaurants to be built near the facility, 5499 W. 65th St.

The existing businesses are also huge for the Southland, she said.

“The Midway Airport Hotel Center is still a hotspot for travelers and event planners alike with plenty of meeting space to accommodate events,” Patchin said. “And thanks to a partnership with the Village of Bedford Park, the Chicago Southland now offers over 5,600 hotel rooms.”

Village Mayor Dave Brady accepted the award.

There were 12 awards given out and the Southwest Regional Publishing area took a few home.

Izahi Abraca, the supervisor at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Bridgeview, won for 2023 Housekeeping Employee of the Year. The Manager of the Year is Samantha Sokolovic of the Midway Hotels, Weglarz Hotel Collection in Beford Park.

Palos Heights city attorney Thomas Brown, who is also the mayor of East Hazel Crest, joined Homewood boss Richard Hofeld as winners of the Senator Aldo DeAngelis Leadership Award for helping to bring the Wind Creek Chicago Southand casino to the area.

Close to the area, Stephanie Mateja of Georgios Banquet, Quality Inn and Suites in Orland Hills, won for Guest Services Employee of the Year.

The bureau’s Member of the Year was the Windy City Thunderbolts baseball organization from Crestwood.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was scheduled to be the speaker at the event but he missed it because he was attending a memorial service for a close friend but did address the crowd via a video.

“I want to express my sincere thanks to all of our hospitality workers in the Southland for their dedication and hard work,” Pritzker said. “And congratulations to all the nominees and winners.”

He boasted that the Southland contributed to the overall tourism picture in Illinois, which has been booming in recent years and setting records.

He said the hotel usage in the state generated $308 million last year and Illinois hosted 111 million visitors who spent $44 billion.

“More tourism is creating more jobs and is supporting small businesses and local economies along the way,” he said. “No question about it, all of those successes are the result of the efforts of all the people in this room.”

He also talked about two future projects that should help the area, including the casino in Brown’s community.

“I’m looking forward to the opening of the Wind Creek Southland Casino and Hotel, which will being value to the Chicago Southland as a major destination and entertainment venue,” Pritzker said. “And I’ve signed legislation that opened door to development of the proposed south suburban airport, which will generate thousands of jobs.”

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CRR_NH

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound June 12, 2024

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