Evanston RoundTable

Happy Friday morning, Evanston.

Urban forest expert Cherie LeBlanc Fisher (center) leads a group through the Ladd Arboretum. Instead of just identifying trees, she taught how to measure their diameter and estimate their monetary value using the online National Tree Benefit Calculator. “Trees have a lot of social and environmental and economic benefits” in addition to aesthetic value, Fisher said. It was the first of four fall stewardship classes sponsored by the Evanston Ecology Center. (Photo by Richard Cahan)

Few trees are starting to turn yet, but fall weather rolled into Evanston this week and the weekend looks like more of the same. Stay warm and catch up on the news.

Credit: Evanston Fire Department

The City’s staff and the City Council are looking into purchasing the fire-damaged property at Elmwood Avenue and Howard Street for mixed-income housing and business development. A fire at the building in July displaced multiple people and businesses, Council member Devon Reid (8th Ward) said at a virtual ward meeting Thursday, Sept. 29. The city has already had an appraiser visit and would combine the building with the other land it owns.

Has something resembling a community newspaper labeled “North Cook News” shown up in your mailbox recently? You’re not alone. The publication is one of several owned and operated by conservative radio host and Republican donor Dan Proft. Recent editions have articles attacking LGBTQ-friendly school curricula, high state taxes and the elimination of cash bail, among other things. But the papers don’t identify any owner and don’t have any masthead or contact information.

Credit: Bob Seidenberg

A new study commissioned by the city and conducted by consulting company WGI Parking Solutions recommends that officials consider raising their $2 per-hour off-street parking rate downtown and hike rates in other areas of Evanston too. The study found that peer cities charge higher rates for downtown parking, and that increasing parking costs could help fund infrastructure improvements.

COVID-19 update as of Sept. 29: Both Evanston and Cook County are in the ‘low’ community risk level. The state of Illinois announced Thursday that it is launching a pilot program to analyze school wastewater for COVID-19. The project will also test for influenza A and B.

Elsewhere on the RoundTable website

Credit: Pixabay stock image

Simone Larson: Making sense of the middle of the middle-schooler. “Have you ever approached an adult and asked them to recount a story from seventh grade? The look of horror and disdain that creeps across their face will send chills down your spine,” writes RoundTable columnist Simone Larson, a middle school teacher.

Need affordable rental housing? Get on a waiting list, agency urges. Community Partners for Affordable Housing led a workshop last week on how to find affordable units for rent. The organization develops its own affordable housing and also partners with the city to connect people to affordable units, but the wait list for those services is currently at 560 households.

Credit: Evan Girard

Letter to the editor: Supporting the Margarita Inn is a mistake. “Because of the Connections for the Homeless ‘hands off’ approach towards substance abuse, I oppose their purchase of the Margarita Inn as a permanent shelter. Shelter guests who are ‘using’ are a danger to themselves, their fellow guests, CFTH staff and the larger community,” writes Fourth Ward resident Gregory Morrow.

Letter to the editor: Is Evanston’s Climate Action Plan sustainable? “Well-intentioned half-measures, such as hiring a consultant, part-time employees, or interns will not be enough. The terrible impacts of climate change are already a regular part of our news, and we’re eager for Evanston to play its part in reducing these effects on our community,” writes Chuck Wasserburg of Citizens’ Greener Evanston.

ETHS boys golf: Wildkits advance behind regional champ Kieran Low. The freshman standout (center in photo above) became the first Evanston golfer in at least 60 years to capture an Illinois High School Association regional championship, earning medalist honors on a chilly and breezy day at Wilmette Golf Club with a 1-over-par score of 71.

Rank and File | ETHS Chess team aims for state championship. The competitive high school chess season kicks off this weekend, and with its top players returning and new talent coming on board, the ETHS team is setting lofty goals after finishing in third place at last February’s state finals.

Candidate forum for U.S. Congressional District 9 race to be held Oct. 3. The League of Women Voters of Evanston is cohosting a virtual candidate forum for the U.S. Congressional District 9 race on Monday, Oct. 3. Participating candidates are Max Rice (R) and Jan Schakowsky (D), and the public is invited to submit questions for the candidates by email to voterslwv@gmail.com no later than tomorrow.

Comcast RISE to award $1 million in grants to small businesses owned by women and people of color in Cook County. Comcast has announced it will give out $10,000 grants to 100 small businesses owned by women and people of color in Cook County through its Comcast RISE Investment Fund.

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Around the web

Students placed on ‘Do Not Disturb’ with new ETHS phone policy. The high school’s new cellphone policy specifies, “Cell phones and electronic devices, earbuds, and/or earphones must not be visible, must be turned off or muted during the entire class period.” Student journalists at The Evanstonian report on the reactions.

Edzo’s Burger Shop returns with a soft reopening, revitalized interior. The downtown Evanston burger joint closed in February because of pandemic restrictions and slow business in the winter, but it reopened this month. “It has been so gratifying and rewarding to come back,” said founder and owner Eddie Lakin.

Northwestern community honors Mahsa Amini, advocates for women’s rights in Iran. From 7,000 miles away, the Iranian diaspora and other supporters are joining the fight for Iranian women’s rights. The Iranian Student Association, a student group at Northwestern, hosted a vigil at the Rock.

The national wave of unfounded election-fraud accusations does not spare Illinois. Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden in Illinois by more than a million votes, but Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen are still relevant in the state. Some people have threatened lawsuits against the Illinois State Board of Elections.

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Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...