Evanston RoundTable

Good morning, Evanston.

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Now, on to last week’s top Evanston stories.

City News

COVID-19 Update on June 10: At Last, ­­­­­­­­­­­­Illinois Reopens With Move to Phase 5. Illinois moved to Phase 5, the final phase of the Restore Illinois Plan. The Governor’s Office said in a prepared statement, “On Friday [June 11], the State will eliminate all capacity limits on businesses, large-scale events, conventions, amusement parks, and all other venues. Mask requirements for vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals continue to align with CDC guidelines.”

City Announces that Police Chief Cook Resigns. Evanston Police Chief Demitrous Cook announced his retirement from the Evanston Police Department after four decades of police service. Chief Cook Forged Strong Links to the Community From His Earliest Patrol Days, and his nearly four-decade career came to an abrupt and awkward end.

Aretha Barnes Appointed Interim Police Chief. City Manager Erika Storlie announced the appointment of Deputy Chief Aretha Barnes as Interim Chief of the Evanston Police Department. 

Gretchen Brewster and Ivy, whom she calls “the best pet ever.” Ms. Brewster is asking the City to allow dogs to accompany their owners at outside cafés, (Submitted photo)

Evanston Pet Owners May Not Be Eating Alone If Council Approves Proposal for Dog-Friendly Dining Areas. Living as a single person like many Evanston residents during the pandemic, Gretchen Brewster  said she found her dog a major source of companionship. Ms. Brewster told a City Committee June 7 that she and her pet, Ivy, a 7-year-old miniature shiatsu, “have walked many miles together, shared morsels, and learned to communicate on a new level.”

Police, Fire Marshal Investigate Brown Avenue Explosion. An early morning fire apparently caused by an explosion that may have been intentional is reportedly under investigation by the Evanston Police Department and the State Fire Marshal. The explosion occurred just before midnight on June 9 in the 1400 block of Brown Avenue, just a few blocks from Evanston Township High School.


School District 65’s Draft Tentative Budget for FY’22 Proposes New Administrative Cuts of Almost $1 Million. At the June 7 meeting of District 65’s Finance Committee, Kathy Zalewski, Business Manager, presented a draft tentative budget for the 2021-2022 school year (FY’22), as well as a report projecting how the District will end its current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, 2021 (FY’21).

D65 Finance Committee Recommends Detroit Firm to Prepare Draft 5-Year Strategic Plan for the District. In a June 7 memo to the School Board, Superintendent Devon Horton said the administration was recommending that the School Board award the strategic planning contract to Resolute Educational Solutions.

Family members gather around a painting of Mr. B that will hang inside Orrington School. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Remembering Mr. B: ‘The Heart and Soul of Orrington Elementary School’ Orrington Elementary School sits in a cozy northeast Evanston neighborhood where children play on the streets and neighbors mingle over a glass of wine. Despite rising temperatures and the growing spirit of summer, the community collectively mourns a loss from the previous summer. Michelet Boursiquot, known by most as Mr. B, passed away last July and while his absence weighs heavily on the community, his memory is alive in the colorful “kindness rocks” that decorate the school gardens, in the stories that families tell, in the bricks dedicated to Mr. B, and in the hearts of every life he touched.

Business & Economy

Unmasked Dining Makes a Comeback in Evanston. After months of covering their faces, Evanston diners might want to watch out for spinach and chia seeds once again. On June 11, Illinois officially entered Phase 5 of the state’s COVID recovery plan. Local restaurants are now free to operate at full capacity, and many of them will also be dispensing with mask mandates, at least for fully vaccinated customers.

Full Recovery Means Different Things to Different Businesses. Kevin Taalman, an agent with Allstate Insurance whose office is down the street from the Firehouse Grill, slid into a booth Friday afternoon at the restaurant. He was joined by two business associates, Natalie Zajc and Raymond Lamantia, as well as his son, Sam. “I’m excited,” said Mr. Taalman, a frequent customer at the restaurant before COVID. “We’re back to business the old-fashioned way,” he said, explaining, “face-to-face as opposed to Zoom.”

Arts & Life

At the June 5 Maker’s Market (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Close to 70 Artists Sell Handmade Art at Maker’s Market. Evanston Made hosted another Maker’s Market on June 5 on the fifth floor of the Maple Avenue parking garage. Organizers said 67 artists showed up to sell handmade goods, including bags, knives, jewelry, candles, hot sauce, and more.

The Evanston Public Library’s Summer Calendar is Packed with Outdoor Events, Hosted in Parks Across Evanston. The Evanston Public Library takes its programming outside for the 2021 summer. The upcoming calendar boasts block parties, ward festivals, gatherings in parks, events for teens, programs in Spanish, and more. 

Food Forest Yields Edibles and Environmental Insights. The red-winged blackbirds are waging a furious battle to keep him away from the pear trees, and the squirrels are already plotting to make off with this year’s crop of hazelnuts, but Tim Sonder remains unruffled and determined to share the bounty of Evanston’s food forest with local food pantries as well as the resident wildlife.

Shut Up About Your Workout! Dear Gabby, So many people I know have used their pandemic stay-at-home time to get in better shape. Bully for them! Unfortunately for me, they seem to spend the rest of their down time talking about it. Personally, I’m really sick of hearing about their high-intensity interval training or their resting heart rate of 48. Especially since I have used the pandemic to catch up on a lot of anxiety, worry, and late-night refrigerator raids. How can I get them to shut up about their new-found buns of steel?

Tim Peterson, owner of Squeeze Box on Main Street, is expecting a fun but somewhat subdued Record Store Day, June 12. (Photo by Jeremy Damato)

Squeeze Box Still Going Strong, To Host Record Store Day on June 12. Coming up on three years at its location at 743 Main St., and 10 years since it began, Squeeze Box has become a fixture on the local record store scene in Evanston. The shop made it through the past year intact and is going strong.

File photo from Justin Wynn Leadership Academy

Justin Wynn Leadership Academy Excited to Host 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament After Tough Year. The Justin Wynn Leadership Academy’s 3-on-3 basketball tournament is back after a one-year hiatus. JWLA has an annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament where numerous elementary and middle school players participate.

A Musical Round of Vaccines. There is a sly contagion in “Vaccination Round,” an a cappela card of thanks to Anthony Fauci from singer-songwriter Kristin Lems and friends.

Social Justice

Hovland Court Block Party (Photo by Sarah Parisien) Credit: Sarah Parisien

Hovland Court Block Party Rejuvenates Neighborhood Spirit. Over the sound of speakers playing “Candy” by the band Cameo, community members and friends alike gathered on June 5 for a block party at Hovland Court that was full of jubilant music, laughter, and joy. In the wake of the violence that took place on that street in March, resulting in the deaths of two young people, members of the Hovland Court Block Club organized the event as a reminder of unity, safety, and positivity.

Public Square

Peggy Tarr: Remembering the Fatherly. I have fond memories of men in my life who were fatherly toward me. These were men who acted as fathers to children/teenagers in the neighborhood whether or not these young people had fathers. They took seriously their role to protect young people and (to) guide and inspire them to “get a good education” and become good citizens.

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