Happy Friday morning, Evanston.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church choir sings carols Thursday night on Dempster Street east of Chicago Avenue. “We sing to help ourselves and everyone else get into the spirit of Christmas,” said Andrew Lewis, the church’s director of music.

There’s plenty going on in Evanston this weekend to help you get into the spirit of the winter holidays, including a tree lighting in the Fifth Ward, a Hanukkah book-reading, multiple arts and craft fairs, and concerts. So many concerts! But before you start your holiday humming, here’s a look at the news.

Credit: City of Evanston YouTube

Evanston’s 2023 budget is set to be voted on Monday, Dec. 12, but the city’s top financial advisers are questioning whether it’s in the city’s best financial interest to move ahead with aggressively funding police and fire pensions using excess reserves. No one is clear on how the payments would affect long-term finances, the Finance and Budget Committee chair and the city treasurer told the RoundTable.

Credit: Evan Girard

Want to message your doctor online? It may cost you. NorthShore University HealthSystem has begun charging for some online medical advice. There are mixed opinions about the new policy: One Evanston resident said it “makes perfect sense,” but a Highland Park health care consultant called it “a slap in the face.”

Analysis and viewpoint: Larry Gavin writes that District 65 has significantly lowered the bar to measure whether students are on track to college readiness in reading on the MAP test. A comparison of the new and former benchmark scores suggests that an eighth grader who just meets the new readiness benchmark will be reading at about the same level as a sixth grader who met the previous benchmark.

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The perfect holiday gift for any Evanstonian: Encountering Evanston History, a book benefiting the Evanston RoundTable Media not-for-profit, features 75 stories from 18 authors. Find out more at the book’s official website.

The RoundTable’s fall NewsMatch campaign is ongoing. Through Dec. 31, all donations to the RoundTable are being matched by generous national and local partners. Please join your fellow Evanstonians and give today!


Credit: Michael Kellams/thatphotodad.com

Evanston Township High School bowling teams saw mixed results Tuesday as the girls team beat Wheeling High School while the boys team fell to New Trier. The loss came after eight consecutive wins, a string that included a perfect 300 game for senior Clay Krasinski.

Credit: Michael Kellams/thatphotodad.com

Evanston’s boys basketball team suffered its first loss of the season Thursday. The Wildkits, playing Glenbrook North High School, managed to close within 60-54 with 2 minutes, 2 seconds left. But the Spartans thwarted the comeback attempt.

Elsewhere on the RoundTable website

Credit: City of Evanston

The city wants to hear your thoughts on the plans for the Fifth Ward school and the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center. An online questionnaire has been posted, days after many at a meeting voiced concerns about proposals that could involve tearing down and rebuilding the existing community center.

Credit: EJ Hersom, U.S. Senate official photo

Herschel Walker was an embarrassment to nearly all Black Americans,” writes the Rev. Michael Nabors. He compares the biographies of Walker and Sen. Raphael Warnock and their stances on the issues and concludes it “simply seemed shocking that Walker nearly won the Georgia Senate seat.”

Evanston and Cook County remain at a “medium” COVID-19 risk level because their new hospital admissions due to COVID-19 exceed 10 per 100,000 population. The Illinois Department of Public Health urges people to get an updated booster shot and a flu vaccine.

Credit: Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Columnist Simone Larson, a third-generation teacher, reflects on teaching a traumatized child. “The impacts of trauma,” she writes, “are not equally felt along color lines.” And she notes that kids of color “are not always extended the benefit of the doubt in our public school system.”

The Evanston Fire Department is notifying residents of a new state smoke alarm requirement that takes effect Jan. 1. Any new smoke alarm installed in a single or multi-family home is required to feature a 10-year sealed battery. Functioning older smoke alarms may remain in place until 10 years from their manufactured date.

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Around the web

Skokie mall plans to move beyond retail and ‘evolve … into a micro-cityscape’ WBBM-radio reports that the owner of Old Orchard shopping center has unveiled plans to turn the mall into a residential and retail space with restaurants and entertainment.

RTA warns of fiscal ‘cliff,’ hints at sales tax expansion and other changes. To combat a fiscal “cliff” forecast for public transit in 2026, the Regional Transportation Authority is recommending a menu of options that include increasing or expanding the sales tax.

Chicago police denied scores of undocumented crime victims a path to citizenship. For undocumented immigrants who are victims of crimes, a U visa grants temporary legal status, but an investigation found the department denied hundreds of applications.

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Manan Bhavnani

Prior to joining the RoundTable, Manan Bhavnani covered business and technology for the International Business Times, with a focus on mergers, earnings and governance. He is a double Medill graduate, with...