Happy Friday morning, Evanston.

Local journalists Maudlyne Ihejirika (above left) and Maureen O’Donnell celebrated their retirement from the Chicago Sun-Times at a party this week. Ihejirika, a member of the RoundTable Advisory Committee, plans to write a book expanding on her 2016 memoir Escape from Nigeria. O’Donnell hopes to travel. “I’ve written about too many people who died leaving their dreams unrealized,” she told our Richard Cahan.

Now, on to your final daily news wrap-up of the week.

With several downtown storefronts closing recently, including Clarke’s Off Campus diner (above), the city is rolling out a new Legacy Business Program to support longtime local small businesses. At a virtual First Ward meeting, city Economic Development Manager Paul Zalmezak also pointed to signs of hope, with a slew of incoming businesses – Big Wig Taco, Devil Dawgs, Egg Harbor Cafe – set to open. “I don’t want to sound like a pitchman, but I do want to stress that I think we’re OK.”

Author Emily Maloney grew up around the Chicago area, but “Evanston’s always held a particular pull for me,” she told the RoundTable. As a college student in Iowa, she survived a suicide attempt only to be saddled with huge debt from her hospital stay, a situation that led to her debut book, Cost of Living, in 2022. After grad school she settled here with her husband and has found a tight-knit community. Read about the flaws she’s experienced and observed in the health care system.

RoundTable weekend roundup

Fran Randall Concert: Listen to Piotr Nowak on piano and Trevor Stewart on classical guitar at 1:30 p.m. today at the Levy Senior Center.

Matilda The Musical: Northwestern’s 80th annual Dolphin Show, the largest student-run musical in the country, plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Cahn Auditorium.

Light the Night: For one night only, starting at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, light installations created by local artists will illuminate Tallmadge Park. Swing by for a hot chocolate and a walk through the park.

Lunar New Year: Join the Main-Dempster Mile and other community groups from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the 500 block of Dempster Street to celebrate the new year with lantern making, hot tea and a lion dance.

More RoundTable reads

Meet Evanston’s nationally honored librarian: Elacsha Madison, interim innovation and digital learning manager at EPL, was one of 10 people in the U.S. to receive the coveted “I Love My Librarian” award.

Why cardiologists care about obesity, and why you should too. In a free mini-course at the library, two Northwestern doctors talked about the importance of a healthy diet in preventing high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. “Your fate is not in your genes,” said Dr. Stephen Devries.

Two actors with Evanston connections, Lucy Godinez and Heidi Kettenring, star in a stage adaptation of the novel Big Fish at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire from Jan. 25 through March 19.

Weekly Covid update: Despite a slight increase in hospitalizations this week, Evanston remained in the “low” risk category for community spread.

July in January: The Evanston 4th of July Association is seeking volunteers for the annual Independence Day celebration and parade.

Join our team: The Evanston RoundTable is growing! Check out our jobs page for feature writing opportunities in editorial.

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Around the web

Rampant bike theft poses issue for Evanston residents, Northwestern students. There were 209 reported bike theft incidents in 2022, up from 176 in 2021, though EPD said those numbers are likely underreported.

Everybody’s late and everything smells like weed: What nearly 2,000 CTA riders told us. In a “wholly unscientific survey,” WBEZ heard from hundreds of transit riders about eroding safety, service and reliability since the pandemic hit.

State lawmakers approve sending $20 million to Chicago for care, housing of immigrants. Texas has bused more than 5,000 migrants to Chicago, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot had requested $53.5 million in state aid.

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Duncan Agnew

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...