Evanston RoundTable
City-owned parking lot at 504-14 South Blvd. (Photo by Evan Girard) Credit: Evan Girard

Good Sunday morning, Evanston.

A mixed-income housing project planned for what is now a city-owned parking lot at 504-14 South Blvd. is moving forward, with the council member who represents the ward responding sharply to a suggestion that affected residents have been left out of the project.

Evanston City Council members voted 7-1 at their Feb. 28 meeting to authorize city officials to proceed with Cleveland-based PIRHL Developers.

At This Time: Saturday at 3:15 p.m. Afternoon in Mason Park. The first day that temperatures reached 70 degrees this year. But don’t get used to it, snow is expected Monday. (Photo by Richard Cahan)

March 3 Reparations Committee Meeting (Photo by Debbie-Marie Brown)

The City of Evanston has begun meeting with the 16 beneficiaries of restorative housing grants, but so far three of those selected are renters who do not own homes and many of the other beneficiaries have home improvement goals with a higher price tag than the $25,000 benefit.

Revelers enjoy Holi, the festival of colors. (Photo provided)

Bindu Reddy, who used to run The Berry Pike Café in Evanston, has hosted many activities in the past, but now she is realizing her dream to create a communitywide organization focused on Indian culture.


In case you missed any of the most important news last week, here’s a roundup of recent top stories from the RoundTable.

City News

Anastasia Simferovska (left) and Neonila Glukhodid. (Photo by Richard Cahan)

‘It just tears my heart’: Ukrainians at Northwestern reflect on their home amid Russian invasion. As a child growing up in Lviv in western Ukraine, Anastasia Simferovska lived in a small apartment with her family. Now she and her husband are in Evanston, but their family and friends remain in Ukraine, facing a bloody Russian war.

COVID-19 update as of March 3: Seven-day average of new cases in Evanston drops from peak of 127.7 to 8.4 a day. The seven-day average of COVID cases in the state dropped by 95% between Jan. 12 and March 3.

Narcan is a spray that treats opioid overdoses. (Photo by Duncan Agnew)

Drug overdoses and deaths surge in Evanston amid pandemic. In 2019, Evanston reported 12 overdoses and one death, Evanston Police Commander Ryan Glew said. In 2021, Evanston had 43 overdoses and 14 deaths, he said.

Audrey Thompson: “I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the Evanston community in this role and to lead the department through this transition.” (City of Evanston photo)

New interim parks chief vows to create safe work environment. Audrey Thompson has been named interim Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services. The former parks chief resigned amid the investigation into alleged sexual harassment and misconduct among lifeguards and lakefront workers.

Juan Geracaris (right) at Feb. 28 council meeting. (Photo by Bob Seidenberg)

Geracaris confirmed to fill 9th Ward council seat. By a 7-0 vote, Evanston City Council members approved Mayor Daniel Biss’s appointment of Juan Geracaris to fill the Ninth Ward City Council seat.

Northwestern now employs two Evanston City Council members. Longtime Second Ward City Council member Peter Braithwaite has taken a job as Director of Procurement, Diversity and Community Engagement at Northwestern.

Coffee Lab employee Conor Metz. (Photo by Sam Stroozas) Credit: Photo by Sam Stroozas

Schools, businesses transition seamlessly to mask-optional. Despite the more relaxed guidelines, many Evanston shoppers and diners continued to wear masks, as did many ETHS students. 

Like mask and vaccine mandates, restaurant delivery fee cap also goes away. City Council members have removed limits on service fees, maintaining the measure was never meant to be permanent.


Evanston Public Library. (Photo by Bob Seidenberg.)

Members of library Black outreach group resign over denial of stipend. In July 2020, a new group was established at the Evanston Public Library to aid in the purchase of materials for the Black community. But almost all members of the original committee have resigned and the group’s work has stalled.

Water main, bridge work: City to begin two major capital improvement projects. The city will begin rehabilitation of its water transmission main on Colfax Street at Sherman Avenue and Church Street at Benson Avenue. And work on the Central Street bridge over the North Shore Channel is in the final stage.

New programs help with water expenses and support youth entrepreneurship. The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program offers a one-time bill payment of up to $1,500 per eligible household.


Schools

Proposed elementary school attendance boundaries.

District 65 unveils 5th Ward school plans, will seek to close Bessie Rhodes. On Feb. 27, the district went public with the two scenarios developed as part of the Student Assignment Project. Both scenarios would create a Fifth Ward school, close the Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies and result in less racially diverse schools.

District 65 plans to close Bessie Rhodes. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

District 65 hopes to prevent ‘ghost town’ at Bessie Rhodes before school closure. Despite its planned closure, Bessie Rhodes will remain open through the 2023-2024 school year. During this time, the district plans to support the school with a marketing campaign.

March 3 ETHS School Board meeting. (Screenshot via ETHS YouTube)

Firm hired in ETHS superintendent search calls for ‘visionary, socially conscious leader.’ During a special meeting of the District 202 board on Thursday night, the Alma Advisory Group talked about the ideal profile for the next superintendent, based on community feedback.

Lily Aaron (left) and Sari Oppenheimer. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

ETHS sophomores learn about civic engagement from community groups. Hundreds of ETHS sophomores attended the Civics Fair on Tuesday and Wednesday, informing students about civic engagement in the community. 

District 65 Climate Action Teams. (Photo via Facebook)

Getting serious about going green: District 65 to hire sustainability coordinator. For years, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 staff members have discussed establishing a sustainability coordinator for the district. Now the district is finally hiring for the part-time job.


Art & Life

Curt’s Cafe founder Susan Trieschmann, foreground. (Photo by Richard Cahan)

‘Fastest 10 years of my life’: Curt’s Cafe founder Susan Trieschmann prepares to depart. Susan Trieschmann founded Chicago catering company Food for Thought, which grew to $25 million in revenues. Curt’s Cafe has made nowhere near that much in sales, but it has given hundreds of youths, three-quarters of whom were once incarcerated, guidance and vital job experience.

The Aux receives $500,000 from NorthShore’s Community Investment Fund. The Aux announced it has received $500,000 to build a thriving commercial space for Black-owned businesses focused on community wellness.

Puppeteer Sam Lewis (left), assisted by his sons, performs with “James” on Feb. 26.

Puppeteer brings family history to life. Visitors to the Canal Shores Winter Wonderland on Feb. 26 enjoyed “James” – a puppet with a centuries-long history brought to life after years of research, discovery and family ties.

Rank and File | World chess community responds to Russian invasion of Ukraine. The International Chess Federation is removing the 2022 Chess Olympiad from Russia to condemn the invasion of Ukraine.

Two Evanstonians of Cherokee descent appointed to Mitchell Museum board. Local residents Rev. Stephanie Perdew and businessman George Stevenson are members of the Cherokee nation.

Jean-vil Joseph at the Radio La Différence Studio. (Photo provided)

Radio La Différence helps Haitian residents stay connected. Jean-vil Joseph, better known as Mr. Man, started out his regular Friday show on Radio La Différence like he always does, playing Haitian music.

The Lighthouse Keeper sees … the city is accepting bids for the creation of a large-scale outdoor art piece downtown that would honor Evanston’s Black roots and the experiences of Evanston’s Black residents.

Evanston celebrates Women’s History Month. Women’s History Month kicked off March 1 and Evanstonians are in luck as many events across the city are celebrating women of the past and present.

Grace Imathiu (left) and Robin Rue Simmons. (Photo by Wendi Kromash)

First United Methodist sets example for reparations with major gift. The check was presented on a gloriously sunny day, the final Sunday of Black History Month and the final Sunday before the Christian season of Lent begins.

The Lake Effect. (Photo by Agnes Voltz)

Depicting Lake Michigan, day by day. As a lifelong artist, Agnes Voltz said she realized early on that making art isn’t always about the fancy equipment, but knowing how to work with what you already have.

Ella Verly and Elsie Weidaw. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Art installations, sunsets and s’mores at Evanston Made’s Winter Wonderland. Decorated with ornaments and art installations, the trees on the Canal Shores Golf Course have never appeared more glamorous.

Good to Go located at 711 Howard St. (Photo provided)

Good to Go is here to stay, despite challenges. Husband and wife team Tony and Lenice Levy said the key to working together has been understanding one another’s strengths and weaknesses.

Site audiologists at the Evanston clinic. (Photo by Gabriel Lima)

NU hearing aid study seeking participants. In the United States, more than 30 million adults over the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss, but only 20% of them purchase and use hearing aids. Northwestern’s Auditory Research Laboratory is working on a joint patient-centered hearing aid trial and recruiting new qualified participants.

Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo credit: Mike Roche)

The week in photos: Feb. 21-28. Remembering the Ukrainians he met on a 2017 trip to Ukraine, Evanstonian Mike Roche submitted a photo he took at Independence Square in Kyiv.

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong.

Levy Lecture: Jennifer Armstrong discusses women who invented television. Journalist and author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is a self-described “professional TV nerd.” Her most recent book was the topic of the Levy Lecture.

Cheryl Judice

Carrying on with tradition at Hecky’s Barbeque. Cheryl Judice is a mom, grandma, author, widow to Hecky Powell, professor and owner of Hecky’s Barbeque. In the latest episode of “People You Should Know,” former Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl speaks with Judice about carrying on the business. 

When a gift falls short, can I be honest? Dear Gabby, My husband has cancer, and people are very kindly sending us meals. One friend in particular decided to try a new company that does home delivery of healthy meals. Unfortunately, we didn’t really enjoy the food, and some of what he sent already went to waste.


Public Square

Peggy Tarr: Women’s March. March is Women’s History Month, a month to honor women and their accomplishments and be made aware of their challenges.

Letter to the editor: Life care residents rally for voice. I am a senior citizen. An important bill is now before our state legislature, HB 4180, that is backed by the AARP and the National Continuing Care Residents Association. 

Outdoor lunchroom at Lincolnwood school. (Photo by Karen Larkin Young)

Guest essay: Bill aims to improve school lunches for those who need them most. The Better School Lunches Act, HB 4813, was approved by the House Elementary & Secondary Education Committee on Feb. 16.


Sports

Isaiah Moore goes up for a rebound. (Photo by George Pfoertner)

ETHS boys basketball: Kits can’t cope with Glenbrook South in season-ending defeat. Glenbrook South whipped ETHS for the third time this season Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Class 4A GBS Sectional tournament.

ETHS girls wrestling: Ramirez, Flores score wins at state finals. Ariana Flores and Alize Ramirez represented ETHS at the first Illinois High School Association state wrestling tournament for girls.

ETHS boys swimming: Diver earns 6th at IHSA state finals. Aryeh Lesch piled up 61 points on the final dive of his high school career and moved up from seventh to sixth place.

ETHS names new girls cross-country coach. Beth Arey has been named the new head girls cross-country coach at ETHS. She succeeds Rosette Ochoa, who resigned after the season last fall to pursue a college degree.


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Adina Keeling

Adina Keeling is a photojournalist and reporter, covering city news, sustainability, schools, and art. She also investigates mental health systems and environmental injustices in Evanston, and puts together...