Kenneth Arron
Kenneth Arron addresses the Park Forest Village Board as “Kenny Yochelson.” (Photo: ENEWSPF)

First, the sad news from ENEWSPF:

In the 1957 musical The Music Man, Professor Harold Hill arrives by train in River City Iowa and begins to work his a scam convincing parents he can teach their children music. At the end of the comedy when Hill’s fraud is exposed, parents and the town forgive Hill when they hear their children attempt to play Beethoven’s Minuet in G.

Officials in Park Forest are not laughing, however, at the fraud allegedly committed by Kenneth Arron, who represented himself to the community as Kenny Yochelson.

According to a press release from the Village of Park Forest, criminal charges were filed today against the operator of Holiday Star Theater in Park Forest.

Kenny Arron, who had presented himself as Kenny Yochelson since first approaching Park Forest officials in January about taking over the then?Eagle Theater, was arrested Monday, the release said.

Park Forest is a town that has struggled to regain a local business foothold for years. At one time the “Centre” of businesses in the south suburbs, Park Forest watched as businesses left for Matteson, IL, and then migrated north of Interstate 80. Many businesses have returned to Matteson, due, in no small part to the work of Park Forest’s current Director of Economic Development and Planning Hildy Kingma, who Park Forest wooed from Matteson where she worked in a similar capacity. Kingma was largely responsible for populating the plaza at the northwest corner of Cicero and Rt. 30 (Panera Bread, Borders, etc.).

However, current Matteson Village officials deserves credit too. Mayor Ashmore has worked hard to move Matteson from the red, and it looks like he will succeed. Matteson suffered much during the Great Bush Recession, drastically understimating the impact the Great Recession would have on its sales tax revenue.

All of that having been said, back to our topic.

Village Officials in Park Forest were “had” by a professional con-man. Kenneth Arron, a.k.a. “Kenny Yochelson,” represented himself as the answer to all of Park Forest’s woes. Declaring that Park Forest Village officials had their “heads up their ass,” Yochelson was actually contemplating a run for Village Trustee in Park Forest, according to a group on Facebook.

The problem?

Kenny Yochelson‘ does not exist.

His real name is Kenny Arron, and he is no Harold Hill.

Professor Harold Hill eventually discovered his conscience.

Kenneth Arron never did.

How sad for this man. According to the press release from Park Forest, he has spent 18 years, most of his adult life, behind bars.

How sad.

Park Forest deserves better.

I hope the Holiday Star Theater survives.

Park Forest deserves better.