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Casting light on a decades-old mystery in Joliet

TheSpectatorPodcast

Historical Museum, Library produce podcast about disappearance of journalist

JOLIET – A true-crime mystery about the disappearance and presumed murder of a corruption-fighting Joliet journalist seeks to introduce a local legend to a new and larger audience.

The first seven episodes of "The Spectator," a podcast about Molly Zelko, have been released and are available for listening online at thespectatorpodcast.com. Listeners can also find the series on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Pandora and other popular podcast apps.

The four-hour series is divided into eight 30-minute episodes and was produced by the Joliet Area Historical Museum and Joliet Public Library. Additional episodes will be released weekly until the full project is available.

"On the morning of Sept. 26,1957, a pair of petite women's shoes was found outside a stately Victorian home overlooking the bridges of the old canal in Joliet, Illinois," the podcast begins.

Zelko often told people that if she ever encountered harm, she would take off her shoes so people would know she was in trouble. Sound effects and music from the era complement the smooth narration of podcast producer Greg Peerbolte, executive director of the Joliet Area Historical Museum. Peerbolte said he spent more than 200 hours over two years working on the project.

"We hope to get the story out to a wider audience," Peerbolte said. "She's a household name in Joliet. We would like to introduce her to a new generation."

Amelia "Molly" Zelko was a single, 47-year-old bulldog of a reporter and editor when she went missing 62 years ago. Listeners of the podcast will learn about her personal and professional life through interviews with key figures.

Principal interview subjects are local historian Dennis Enrietta, community leader Lynne Lichtenauer, retired newspaperman Lonny Cain and Zelko's niece and nephew. Lichtenauer is president of the museum board and co-hosts a weekly radio show. Previously, she was alumni director for the Joliet Township High School District. About 60 years ago, Lichtenauer wrote a society column for The Spectator, a defunct weekly newspaper.

"I sat at Molly's desk and used her typewriter," she said.

Lichtenauer said she was fascinated with crime stories and liked to spend time in the newspaper's "morgue" reading old stories about unsolved cases. About 20 years after Zelko's disappearance, Lichtenauer lived in an apartment in New Lenox when a reporter named John Whiteside moved to town.

"Our apartments were right across the hall from each other," she said. "I told John about Molly Zelko."

Whiteside and Cain shared Lichtenauer's enthusiasm for the story and in 1978 they wrote a 12-part series of stories about Zelko's disappearance for The Herald-News in Joliet. As Cain recounted in the podcast, the series created buzz. In 1978, people feared retribution from the mob if they talked on the record about Zelko, Cain said.

"There was still a huge fear factor 21 years later," he recalled.

Whiteside spent the next 25 years trying to solve the mystery of Zelko's disappearance. He died of cancer in 2005 at age 61. Authorities exhausted leads trying to find answers to Zelko's disappearance before the newsman's passing. Following a flurry of attention about Zelko around the time of Whiteside's death, interest in the story again waned.

For the past 15 years, Cain has carried the torch of the Zelko legend. He has been compiling material for a book and has artifacts from the case, including her shoes. Joseph Trizna, the late former Joliet police chief and Will County sheriff, gave the shoes to Whiteside, Lichtenauer said. The day Whiteside got them, he brought them to Lichtenauer at a hospital where she was recovering from surgery, she said.

The search for Zelko involved psychics and seances and fruitless searches of woods and waterways. One popular theory – fueled by an eyewitness account of men getting out of a black sedan – was that her body was dumped in a trench along Stryker Avenue, where a public works project was underway at the time of her disappearance.

Cain said Peerbolte did great work on the podcast.

"It's a perfect venue for introducing the Molly mystery to a new generation," he said of the audio medium. "I think the reaction will be a lot like we got with the series in '78. It resulted in lots of calls and letters and desire to know more."

Listeners also will get a good sense of the historical context of the late 1950s and how organized crime operatives were connected to her disappearance. The podcast's musical theme is "Chances Are," a 1957 Johnny Mathis hit that was popular at the time of Zelko's disappearance.

In addition to newly recorded interviews with people familiar with the story, the production features historical audio files. Library Supervisor Keith Folk recorded interviews at the library's digital media studio, and library Director Megan Millen is thanked in the credits.

Recordings of Congressional testimony and previously unheard archival evidence add to the production's quality and historical value. For example, the podcast includes excerpts of conversations from when Zelko illegally wiretapped the phone of a Joliet contractor suspected of taking part in a bid-rigging scheme.

"We took that right off the reel and digitized it," Peerbolte said.

The true-crime podcast genre is like long-­form journalism. Peerbolte's extensive research and original storytelling with audio elevate the Zelko story to a new level.

The case itself is extraordinarily compelling, as many Joliet residents have known for years. Zelko's partner at The Spectator was Bill McCabe, a former Will County state's attorney who bought the paper to continue his fight against corruption. When Prohibition ended, the local mob ran a racket on coin-operated jukeboxes, pinball machines and gambling devices to replace revenue lost by the absence of bootlegging, Peerbolte said in the podcast.

In 1948, McCabe was nearly beaten to death. Zelko was determined to bring his attackers to justice. His beating was never solved, but like Zelko's disappearance, it was believed to be mob-connected.

Zelko's disappearance was national news when it occurred.

"It really captured everyone's imagination," Lichtenauer said.

When Robert F. Kennedy served as counsel for a Senate committee that was investigating links between organized crime and labor, he came to Joliet and searched for Zelko by digging holes near Stateville Correctional Center, because an inmate claimed to know where her body was buried.

The story of Zelko's disappearance has taken many twists and turns over the years. The complexity is part of what makes the tale so intriguing and compelling to readers and listeners.

"It was a challenge, concisely explaining all the developments," Peerbolte said. Numerous tips poured in over the years, but none definitively answered the pivotal questions of what happened to Zelko and who was responsible for her disappearance.

Cain, Lichtenauer and Zelko's relatives hope the podcast spreads the story far and wide. Cain said he hopes the project generates new leads to help solve the mystery.

"It's clear there's no one left around to arrest for her murder, but I haven't given up hope on finding her body," Cain said.

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Greystone Health Centers offering employment opportunities to displaced workers and retirees Edit

For Immediate Release – March 17, 2020

The spread of COVID-19 has greatly impacted all our lives, especially our vulnerable, elderly population and those in senior living communities across the United States. As we continue to take guidance from The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, The Center for Disease Control, The World Health Organization as well as the local Departments of Health to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents and employees,  our teams at all of our Greystone Health Centers continues to be dedicated to our residents and staff by remaining not only vigilant but compassionate.

It takes a village to provide loving care to our residents daily and now more than ever with the ever-changing situation with COVID-19 affecting so many people, we are looking for new employees to be a part of our village. As a skilled nursing facility, we are open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, caring for residents and keeping them safe.

We understand many people have been affected in various ways by the pandemic including businesses temporarily closing or shutting down altogether. We also know there are many people out there seeking to find ways where they can make a difference and help those in need. We encourage those that have been displaced or want to make a difference in the lives of our nation’s seniors to come join us.

We have a wide range of roles available such as certified nursing assistants, nurses, concierge, activities, dining staff, cooks and more to support our residents. We have full-time, part-time and PRN opportunities. A list of all of our openings is online at www.greystonehealthcareers.com or text CARE to 97211 to learn more about our facilities in Florida, Illinois & Missouri.

Greystone Health has great benefits and competitive wages but most of all we can offer the opportunity to WORK WHERE PEOPLE MATTER.

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Illinois Independent Pharmacies Launch
Their Own Medicare-D Plan This Fall

Newly Licensed Indy Health Insurance Company Aims to Restore Trust with Independent Pharmacy-Owned
Medicare Part D Plan
 

Press Release
Contact: Monique Whitney, Monique@TruthRx.org, m. (505) 480-4150
Immediate Release: March 16, 2020


SPRINGFIELD, IL (March 16, 2020) – Who better to design a patient-centered, pharmacy-friendly pharmacy benefit plan than a pharmacist?
 
That’s the premise behind a new Medicare-D plan making its debut this fall thanks to a group of independent pharmacies and pharmacy organizations who got sick of being pushed around by the largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), deciding instead to take matters into their own hands. 
 
The result is Indy Health Insurance Company, newly licensed and on track to roll out its first plan offering this October when Medicare open enrollment begins.
 
"Ours is a 100% independent pharmacy and independent pharmacy organization-owned plan built on a network of 22,000 pharmacies across the country," said Indy Health Chair Laura Atkinson. "We envision a more transparent, affordable, cost effective alternative for independent pharmacies and their patients."
 
Indy Health's Medicare-D plan will offer seniors an affordable prescription plan that pairs with their Medicare medical plan. Indy Health allows enrollees to receive their medications from their local community pharmacies in a preferred network that does not force the use of mail order or large retail chain pharmacies. “Participants may use their neighborhood pharmacy, and that pharmacy can provide mail service if needed, which is often restricted under other plans,” said Ms. Atkinson.
 
“It was important to us to protect patient choice,” said Todd Evers, Collinsville, Illinois-based pharmacist and board member, and managing partner for Indy Health.  “Community pharmacies are uniquely positioned to care for patients, meeting the same demands as the big-box retail pharmacies but with quality and attention to detail you’d expect from a community pharmacy.”
 
Under Indy Health, pharmacies will pay no direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees -- a type of “claw back” PBMs collect to offset Medicare plan member costs. In 2018 small pharmacies paid average DIR fees of $129,613 per store– an 87% increase from 2017 according to 2019 industry survey. DIR fees are a primary factor in the epidemic of community pharmacy closures. “The absence of DIR fees is a big win for independent pharmacies, who could move from surviving the current U.S. drug pricing crisis to thriving,” said Ms. Atkinson.
 
With approved licensure in Arkansas, Indy Health will expand to Georgia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Illinois, and has begun the application process with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS). Upon CMS approval, Indy Health will begin enrolling patients in October 2020.

The Indy Health Medicare-D plan is owned by investors in 34 states, including Illinois.
 
About Indy Health:
 
The Indy Health team has over 616 combined years of experience in Medicare-D plans, Health Insurance, Med D Actuarial Health Insurance Law, and Pharmacy. The Indy Health team’s mission is to create a transparent Medicare-D plan that provides fair reimbursements for independent pharmacies as well as transparent pricing and affordable medications for consumers.
 
Through Indy Health Insurance Company, Medicare-D plan independent pharmacies will be able to create their own formulary, medication therapy management services and to negotiate their own rebates through an independently owned sustainable entity that provides them with equitable representation within the prescription drug system.  To learn more about Indy Health, including information about investment opportunities, please visit IndyHealthInc.com.
 

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Press Release
Contact: Kim Schilling, Melting Pot Productions, 712-326-9964
Immediate Release: February 28, 2020

Antique Spectacular Vintage Market

March 6-8 inRock Island, IL

(Rock Island, IL) The annual Spring Antique Spectacular Vintage Market will be March 6th-8th at the QCCA Expo Center in Rock Island, Illinois. This anticipated event, will feature 70 exhibitors with antiques & vintage items galore at Antique Spectacular. The show, now in its 26th year, is located at the QCCA Expo Center, 2621 4th Avenue in Rock Island, Illinois! It is overflowing with a wonderful variety of fine antiques and vintage collectibles for sale. Featured will be select antique dealers with unique merchandise from around the world. Hunters of vintage will have an opportunity, all weekend, to shop the wide range of quality antiques.


With the Antique Spectacular, there is always something to interest every collector, whether they have a new interest in vintage & repurposed for decorating their home or have been collecting antiques for years. This includes great furniture, art pottery, country, stoneware, books, prints, primitives, jewelry, silver, antique glassware, American Indian items, china, postcards, coins, quilts, dolls, toys, advertising, marbles, rugs, vintage textiles and period pieces. The list of amazing vintage items is endless and all under one roof for the convenience to shop all weekend, for a timeless vintage treasure, that is new to you.


March 6th-8th, the Antique Spectacular show hours are Friday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking is FREE and Patrons can check out and register on the website: www.antiquespectacular.com to print a $1 off coupon.
Antique Spectacular Vintage Market Show Hours:
Friday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
$8 Weekend Pass
More information about the Antique Spectacular is available at www.antiquespectacular.com or by calling Kimberly Schilling at 712-324-9964. The Antique Spectacular is presented by Melting Pot Productions, Inc.

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