Evanston RoundTable

Good Thursday morning, Evanston.

The Evanston Police Department is down by 22 officers, but the city is recruiting police officers from other law enforcement agencies and offering current EPD officers referral bonuses to address the shortage.

“Staffing is a nationwide issue for law enforcement everywhere,” interim Police Chief Richard Eddington told the City Council’s Human Services Committee.

The department is budgeted for 154 officers at full strength, but 22 officers left EPD between January 2019 and February 2022.

Some residents choose to filter their drinking water. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

In Evanston, 78% of water service lines are made of lead, and the city reports higher than normal levels of lead in children’s blood, according to the Evanston Health and Human Services Department.

In the third part of our three-part series on lead pipes in Evanston, RoundTable Reporter Adina Keeling dives into the inequities of local water testing and the racial disparity of lead exposure. A 2020 study by the Metropolitan Planning Council found Black Illinoisans are up to twice as likely as white residents to live in areas with lead pipes.

The area outside ETHS where a water main break occurred. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Evanston Township High School will resume in-person classes today after the school closed Wednesday due to a water main break. Students were sent home at 9:15 a.m. because the building would’ve had no water or heat.

ETHS shifted to e-learning for the rest of Wednesday, but the city completed repairs in the evening, according to a school spokesperson.

COVID by the numbers: 31 cases were reported on Tuesday, Feb. 8, the last day the city updated case totals. The seven-day average is 39 cases per day.

Elsewhere on the RoundTable website

At this time: 3:35 p.m. Wednesday. “I’m hopeful that it’s time,” said Ross Martens, co-owner of the Alley Gallery, about Governor J.B. Pritzker’s announcement that Illinois will end its statewide indoor mask mandate. The frame shop, started in 1985 by beloved Chris Molloy, has thrived during the pandemic, Martens said. But he thinks the decision will be a boon to stores and restaurants. (Photo by Richard Cahan)

Be sure to check out the RoundTable’s new Business page, which spotlights our growing business and economic coverage.

Common Redpoll. (Creative Commons license)

Library’s birdwatching kits let you check out feathered friends. Is birdwatching for you? If you’re bird curious but reluctant to invest in binoculars to try the hobby, just borrow an Evanston Public Library kit.

Les Jacobson: Magic bus. Our columnist recounts the hilarious misadventures and delightful escapades he and his wife experienced on a magical week in Cornwall, England, a few years ago.

Seven female EPD officers selected to participate in police reform initiative. On Jan. 27, seven women on the Evanston Police Department joined other police professionals from across the country at a virtual kickoff for the New Blue Leadership Fellowship Program, an initiative focused on police reform from within.

Community garden lottery registration open until March 1. The City of Evanston offers residents approximately 220 plots for rent from mid-March through mid-November.

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Around the web

Illinois’ mask mandate is ending Feb. 28. Here are the new rules. Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that the statewide indoor mask mandate would end later this month, but masks will still be required in certain health care, public transit and school settings.

Black History Month: Abraham Galloway is the Black figure from the Civil War you should know about. Galloway escaped enslavement in North Carolina, became a Union spy and was one of the first Black representatives elected to the North Carolina senate.

New research shows wealth gaps in Chicago and Cook County. A recent study from the Urban Institute found that an average household in the richest part of Cook County has more than 200 times the wealth of a home in the poorest section of the county.

Study finds microplastic pollution lingers in rivers for years. “Microplastics can deposit and linger within riverbeds for as long as seven years before washing into the ocean,” reports Northwestern’s Institute for Sustainability and Energy.

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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...