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Security denies public entrance; Freeman restricts public comment; Board approves Walk Of Hope spending

Drama continues at Thornton Township Board meeting

SOUTH HOLLAND, Ill. (August 18, 2023) – The Thornton Township Village Board of Trustees held its regular meeting at Township Headquarters in South Holland on Tuesday night in a pared-down meeting room with only a few seats available for members of the public.

Seating issues

Upon arrival prior to the scheduled start of the meeting, guests were told by security that they could not enter the room. Reasons for the prohibition were not clearly communicated.

A pair of Dolton residents who asked that their names not be shared said they arrived at the Township building one hour before the meeting to ensure they got seats.

A security guard sits in front of the door to the Thornton Township Board meeting room, denying entrance to the public meeting. (Photo provided)

“We know how she plays these games,” said one, referring to Township Supervisor Tiffany Henyard.

As the meeting started, most of the waiting group was directed downstairs to watch the meeting on a live stream. According to members of the public who watched the meeting downstairs, audio issues prevented the meeting from being streamed clearly.

“[The audio] came on for a hot minute and then cut off again,” said one of the Dolton residents who had arrived early.

Some members of the public sat immediately outside the meeting room door, which was blocked by a security guard.

Inside the room, only 10 chairs were set up for members of the public. Half of those were taken by township-involved individuals.

Thornton Township
Only 10 seats were set up in the Thornton Township Board Meeting room. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Public comment

The meeting started 26 minutes late. During public comment, Michael Smith of Riverdale said he “wanted to thank the administration for the wonderful work they’re doing,” citing scholarship giveaways and services for seniors.

Valerie Stubbs, a Dolton resident, was the only other public commenter. She noted that many Thornton Township events have been hosted in Dolton, where Supervisor Henyard also serves as mayor. Stubbs asked, “Because they’re two separate entities, does Thornton Township apply for a permit to host events in the Village of Dolton? And how can I get an answer to my question?”

Supervisor Henyard replied, “This is public comment, so make your comment.”

According to a video shared with The Lansing Journal, Thornton resident and Interim Dolton Park District Executive Director Stephanie Wiedeman had signed up to make a public comment during the meeting. Keith Freeman — senior advisor in Thornton Township and Village Manager in Dolton — told Wiedeman she had to send her comment via email to the Township Clerk, so Wiedeman was unable to make her comment in person. Wiedeman, former chief of staff to late Supervisor Frank Zuccarelli, has been an outspoken critic of Supervisor Tiffany Henyard.

Approval of bills

Bills for both the General Fund and the General Assistance Fund were approved by the board over Trustee Chris Gonzales’ dissenting vote.

“Having just received them, [I vote] no,” Gonzales said. He did later vote to approve the Road & Bridge Fund bills.

Thornton Township Trustee Chris Gonzales voted against approving bills for the General Fund and General Assistance Fund, saying he’d only just received them. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Henyard addressed Gonzales’ vote and said, “When you sit and here and be bitter, or whatever your reason for not voting for things for the people, people make sure you remember that, because there’s no reason why you should not take care of the business of the people.”

Walk of Hope participation

On Tuesday’s agenda was an approval of Thornton Township’s participation in the “Walk of Hope.” Henyard explained the walk will travel from Dolton to Springfield with the purpose of raising money and spreading hope for those with cancer.

“The goal of this walk is to get everybody on one band, one sound as it relates to moving and to encourage people and say, ‘It’s ok.’ … It’s more of an uplifting, motivational type of walk,” she explained.

Trustee Gonzalez asked if the walk expenses were included in a budget line item. Henyard directed him to contact Finance Director Robert Hunt, and added, “We doing it just like we did last year’s walk.”

Trustees unanimously passed the motion, as read by Henyard, to “Approve Thornton Township’s participation in the Walk of Hope and authorization of expense Township resources and furtherance of such support.”

Last year’s township walk to Springfield drew scrutiny from the Better Government Association and FOX 32 Chicago for its questionable timing and large expenditures.

Media criticism

Throughout the meeting, Henyard criticized media coverage of herself and Thornton Township events. At least 15 times during the 33-minute board meeting, she alluded to being unfairly written about, spending roughly four minutes on the topic.

“I would appreciate it if people stop writing negative stuff about the township and write all the good that we do here in the township,” she said. She later added, “Write the stuff that’s the truth, not the mess and gossip. That’s kids stuff.”

After citing a list of accomplishments, Henyard said, “God don’t make no mistakes. He put the right person that he knew was going to do the work, and take the lashes, and bear the strength to keep going, enduring it all. He put the right person there. Because go check my numbers and you’ll see what I’m really really doing despite what people write about that’s false.”

Thornton Township
Thornton Township Supervisor Tiffany Henyard. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Henyard also said, “[Media] didn’t even come to check and sit with me, [and say] ‘Hey Supervisor Henyard, what’s this? Show me this.'”

The Lansing Journal has not received a direct response from Henyard to any of our requests for information.

Past and upcoming events

Henyard reviewed and praised the recent events that Thornton Township has hosted, including bingo, a back-to-school “Slime Fest,” a comedy show, and a music event called “House Head Fest” — which drew criticism, and later a lawsuit, from the Dolton Park District.

Henyard and the Board gave special attention to an August 10 youth event during which 80 scholarships were awarded to local youth.

“We’re helping our youngsters with what they need as it relates to them going off to college, having some of the things to keep them on par with others. I think that’s a big thing,” Trustee Jerry Jones said in praise of the scholarship event. “The parents were so appreciative. The room was just lit up with people.”

Trustee Jerry Jones (right) praised the Township’s August 10 scholarship event. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Both Henyard and Jones rebuked the media for not covering the event. On Thursday morning, The Lansing Journal reached out via email to Henyard and Freeman for information about the event. As of this writing, The Journal has not received a reply.

Henyard highlighted the following upcoming events:

  • Gas Giveaways — rotating from community to community, dates to be determined.
  • August 24 — “Tech Savvy” class for seniors in the lower level.
  • August 26 — Taste of Thornton Township. No location was listed for this event, though it has historically been held at South Suburban College.
  • September 3 — Friends of Tiffany Henyard Picnic – Starting at noon, this event takes place at Just-Ice Rink, 14312 Greenwood Road, Dolton.
  • September 5 — First day of after school program, located at 14323 Halsted Avenue, Riverdale.
  • Walk of Hope to Springfield — Dates to be determined in September

The next Thornton Township Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 12 at 6 p.m. Thornton Township Headquarters is located at 333 E. 162nd Street in South Holland.


Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.


  1. Somebody has to et rid of Tiffaney or fire her , She has been norhing bu disruptive sice she started !

  2. Does the Township proper have a program set up to receive any funds raised with this SHAM WALK ? I have an idea 💡 instead of pulling TWP resources ( employees / vehicles ) that should be serving all 17 communities for that week JUST MAKE A $20,000 donation to THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY or ST JUDE CHILDRENS HOSPITAL ? Spending $100,000 to make $5000 is complete idiocy especially if you viewed the conduct of elected officials and govt employees last year ! AND WHO WILL BE RECEIVING THE DONATIONS ? IF ITS THE TIFFANY HENYARD CARES FOUNDATION ITS FLAT OUT ILLEGAL ! Last thought , will HENYARD BE CLAIMING TO BE “ A SUPERVISOR “ or a “ SUPA MAYA “ ? There isn’t an event she attends that she doesn’t ELECTIONEER and that too is ILLEGAL !

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