Evanston RoundTable
Elise Malary (Photo via Facebook)

Good Sunday morning, Evanston.

Missing 31-year-old transgender-rights and anti-racism activist Elise Malary has been identified as the body found on March 17 at the 500 block of Sheridan Square.

The Evanston Fire Department recovered the body from the lake on Thursday, and it was positively identified as Malary, who has been reported missing since March 11.

Malary worked as an administrative clerk in the Illinois attorney general’s office, was a board member of the Chicago Therapy collective and was one of several people who was set to receive a Transgender Visibility Award at the upcoming Chicago Trans Visibility Pageant.

The Margarita Inn, at 1566 Oak Ave. (Photo by Adina Keeling) Credit: Adina Keeling

Evanston-based nonprofit Connections for the Homeless began housing homeless people at the Margarita Inn two years ago while under a pandemic-induced declaration of emergency.

Now, the organization is pursuing a special use permit necessary to keep operating it as a shelter. The “rooming house” special use permit approved for the building in 1974 expired, according to the city’s zoning department.

In case you’ve missed any of the most important news, here’s a roundup of the top stories from the RoundTable this past week.

City News

City’s updated ARPA plans seek to outline the road ahead toward community-wide recovery. City Council members now have a comprehensive plan to guide their decision-making on requests for the $43.1 million in federal American Plan Recovery Act (ARPA) money.

COVID-19 update as of March 17: seven-day average of new cases in Evanston is 9.0, compared to 9.6 one week ago. New COVID-19 cases in Evanston, suburban Cook County, Chicago and the state dropped slightly in the last week.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, 2325 Sheridan Rd. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

‘It was horrifying’: Months later, no update on alleged druggings at two Northwestern fraternities. Even as several fraternity chapters at Northwestern University have disbanded in recent years, 40% of undergraduate students are members of Greek life.

Varsity Theater (Photo courtesy Campbell Coyle Real Estate) Credit: Photo courtesy Campbell Coyle Real Estate

Projects move forward on sites that once housed Varsity Theater, Burger King. Evanston City Council members took steps at a recent meeting to approve developers’ requests for properties that once housed businesses embedded in the city’s history.

Screenshot of City of Evanston Preservation Commission packet

Neighbors try to prevent businessman overhauling a Hinman Avenue house for his daughter while she attends college. The scope of the Evanston Preservation Commission’s purview came into question during recent discussion of modifications to a Hinman Avenue home sought by a man who had bought the house for his daughter to live in while she attends college.

Developer Mitch Goltz (Photo by Richard Cahan)

Will movie theater’s reopening revive downtown Evanston? The grand opening of AMC Theatres in the location of the previous Century Theater complex may be the summer blessing downtown Evanston needs.

Water Production Chief Darrell King. (Photo by Bob Seidenberg)

With water shutoffs set to resume, officials look at alternatives. With the City of Evanston preparing to resume water shutoffs after a nearly two-and-a-half-year break, members of a city committee are pressing officials for alternatives to cutting off service.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, March 13 (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Emotional meeting about homeless housing at Margarita Inn draws hundreds. More than 200 people crowded into St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Sunday to engage in an intense and, at times, emotional discussion about plans involving an Evanston hotel that has been housing people during the pandemic.


Kingsley Elementary School students. (Photo by Judy Chiss)

Foundation 65 seeks to bridge gaps in schools and classrooms. Foundation 65, an independent grant-making organization, has been supporting and strengthening programs and projects in District 65 schools since 2008, but it has stepped up its efforts during the pandemic.

Learning Bridge Early Education Center. (Photo by Duncan Agnew) Credit: Duncan Agnew

Some Evanston parents push for mask-optional preschools, day care facilities. The child care facilities still requiring kids and staff to wear masks mostly attribute their policies to the fact that children under five years old are not yet eligible for any of the approved COVID-19 vaccines. 

March 14 board meeting. (Screenshot via ETHS YouTube)

Pandemic stress hit ETHS students hard, but signs of recovery surfacing. Young people are experiencing mental illness and suicidal thoughts at increasing rates during the pandemic, but there is evidence that ETHS student well-being has improved this year.

District 65 plans to cut 22 homeroom teaching positions to balance budget for FY’23. In the last three years, the District’s total student enrollment has declined by 1,142 students. In the same period, staff have increased by 58 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions. 

School Board meeting March 14. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Plans for Fifth Ward school approved in historic 7-0 vote. Plans to build a K-8 school in the Fifth Ward were approved by a 7-0 vote at the District 65 School Board meeting March 14.

Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center. (Photo by Debbie-Marie Brown)

District 65 officials tell Fifth Ward residents: School plan will pass. Representatives from District 65 met with Fifth Ward residents March 12 for a last conversation before Monday night’s scheduled board vote on building a Fifth Ward school.

Art & Life

Patten Home, 1426 Ridge Ave. 

Eye on Evanston: Thoughts on Design | George Washington Maher. Have you ever wondered about the exquisite wrought iron fence, gate and stone steps at the corner of Ridge and Lake streets?

The balloon display for Stella’s 20th anniversary. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Stella Boutique: Cheers to 20 years. “Hi you guys, it’s me, I miss you,” said Rachel Hershinow in her first Instagram and Facebook Live video on April 6, 2020. Two years later, she’s celebrating her 20th anniversary at Stella Boutique.

Local Rotary chapter to launch research-driven website to empower girls. The Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Club will finish Women’s History month by launching a multimedia website with messages to “empower girls.”

Rank and File | Platnick leads ETHS with perfect record at state tournament. Although every player on the team contributed to Evanston Township High School’s third place finish at last month’s IHSA State Chess Finals, junior Elie Platnick was clearly the team’s leader.

The Carlson Greenhouse. Photo by Sam Stroozas.

Evanston parks named after pioneering women. Among the almost 100 parks in Evanston, there are 10 that stand out – those named after women – and you don’t have to search all over town to find them.

“Special Delivery” by Joan McLane. (Photo by George Galland)

Art Review: Gorgeous abstract paintings by Joan McLane. McLane’s paintings, which represent more than 10 years of work, are gorgeous abstract paintings – suggestive, slippery, but far from amorphous. 

The 1400 block of Emerson. (RoundTable photo)

The Lighthouse Keeper sees… that several extremely large trees were cut down in the 1400 block of Emerson last week. The entire area is now surrounded by a large fence and many of the stumps have been reduced to wood chips.

Anchorfast, 1742 Judson Ave. 

Evanston Dimensions | A look at some change-making women in Evanston. Cornelia Gray Lunt called her house at 1742 Judson Ave. “Anchorfast.” Lunt was part of a social circle in – and beyond – Evanston. Lunt often entertained at her home. 

Cabbage roll soup. (Photo provided)

Prairie Moon donates 100% of Ukrainian-inspired soup sales to Doctors without Borders. Like many Americans, Rob Strom wanted to support Ukraine, but he couldn’t settle on what to donate. So he created his own movement through soup.

The Wine Goddess owner Diana Hamann (Photo by Wendi Kromash)

The Wine Goddess Debuts ‘Uncorked: A Story Series.’ The topic was “Bodily Fluids” and the storytelling event, originally set for January, finally took place March 13 in the cozy confines of The Wine Goddess store on Main Street.

Slice from Hoosier Mama. (Photo by Debbie-Marie Brown)

The week in photos: March 8-14. March 14 was Pi Day and our racial justice fellow Debbie-Marie Brown celebrated at Hoosier Mama.

Trattoria Demi. (Photo provided)

Trattoria Demi, woman-owned for almost 30 years. While COVID-19 closed the doors of many businesses in Evanston, one place in Evanston has remained constant: Trattoria Demi.

Fulfillment versus a big paycheck. Dear Gabby,  I’ve been working at the same nonprofit organization for the past few years, and it’s starting to feel kind of stagnant. I’m ready for a change.

Evanston natives Ron Whitmore and Laurice Bell. Credit: Doug Whitmore Credit: Doug Whitmore

Evanston Rules podcast joins forces with the RoundTable. Evanston’s leading podcast focused on education, economic opportunity, culture and improving the community is joining forces with the RoundTable.

Bernie Foster: The Ninth of Nine. Evanston Rule’s fourth episode features Bernie Foster. Bernie is a native son. An Evanstonian. The youngest of 9 siblings. A family man.

The Miller Family: From Generation to Generation. Listen as Evanston Rules learns about how two prominent Evanston families, the Millers and the Spencers, merged to bring humanity and humility to Evanston.

Public Square

Larry and Mary Gavin: Some comments about the proposed new Fifth Ward school. A little over 10 years ago, the Evanston RoundTable published a lengthy editorial supporting a referendum to establish a new school in the Fifth Ward. We wrote that editorial.

Peggy Tarr: Eyes on the Irish. Although my mother never claimed to have any Irish blood in her (an African American by phenotype), I remember her being very annoyed by signs against the Irish.

Credit: Pixabay

Bookends & Beginnings’ Top 10 February Bestsellers. Topping the list is “Sourdough Culture: A History of Bread Making from Ancient to Modern Bakers” by Eric Pallant, which highlights the significance of the bread for humanity from its discovery 6,000 years ago to its celebration under quarantine.

Evanston resident Ken Krimstein (Photo: Richard Shay)

Questions for Ken Krimstein. Krimstein’s newest book, “When I Grow Up – The Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teenagers,” is a stunning graphic narrative of newly discovered stories from Jewish teens on the cusp of WWII.

Letter to the editor: How do you justify new school as enrollment drops? District 65 continues to see a drop in student enrollment. The January 2022 Opening of Schools Report shows 6,393 K-8 students enrolled in the 2021-22 school year, down 536 students from 6,929 in 2020-21.

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Adina Keeling

Adina Keeling is a photojournalist and reporter, covering city news, sustainability, schools, and art. She also investigates mental health systems and environmental injustices in Evanston, and puts together...