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Evanston RoundTable

Good Sunday morning, Evanston!

The final two standing at the District 65 spelling bee were John Lindsay-Ryan and Grace Nester-Detweiler. John, a seventh-grader, won the trophy by spelling “gibbon” in the 13th round and gets a trip to Maryland for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May. A district spelling bee for Spanish words is set for Thursday.

Hope you’re getting a chance to rest a spell this weekend, before the Big Game. Meanwhile, in case you missed any of the news last week, here’s a roundup of the top stories people have been reading at the RoundTable, with a few new ones thrown in to keep you up to date.

Local author Mark Miller, a longtime financial journalist – and (full disclosure) vice president of the board of Evanston RoundTable Media NFP – has a new book, Retirement Reboot: Commonsense Financial Strategies for Getting Back on Track. He talks with Maria Carrig for a Q&A on retirement topics like Social Security, Medicare and whether Evanston is a good place to age.

The Margarita Inn homeless shelter won’t be on tomorrow’s city council agenda. A Cook County judge on Friday granted a temporary restraining order sought by real estate investor Cameel Halim, who owns the Halim Time & Glass Museum next door. Two days earlier, Connections for the Homeless CEO Betty Bogg and Mayor Daniel Biss signed a Good Neighbor Agreement for the shelter. Biss and Council Member Jonathan Nieuwsma issued public letters of support.

A fire broke out Thursday morning in an apartment building at 930 Judson Ave. Firefighters from Evanston and at least six suburbs responded to contain the blaze. No residents were injured, though two cats died and 13 people were displaced.

Chute Middle School students protest gun violence in schools last June. Credit: Richard Cahan

A 13-year-old Chute Middle School student brought a loaded gun into the building Monday morning. School officials recovered the weapon without incident. The RoundTable’s coverage was updated later in the week when police announced the gun had been stolen from a vehicle before it was brought to school. Police said the boy’s relatives were unlikely to be charged because there was no indication that parents or guardians knew he had the weapon.

Credit: Bob Seidenberg

A RoundTable exclusive: The Canal Shores Golf Course is preparing for a long-awaited revamp that will involve improvements to the greens, new holes and a putting lawn. The $5.9 million project will close the course for more than 10 months, suspending golfing as well as canceling football tailgating and fall bird walks.

ETHS history teacher Kamasi Hill discusses the new AP African American Studies course with the school board.

Long before the new Advanced Placement African American Studies course erupted into a national controversy, ETHS history teacher Kamasi Hill (above) was helping decide the course’s curriculum. Hill told the school board that changes won’t prohibit students from writing about “queer history, queer theory, intersectionality, Black Lives Matter, all the things that have been talked about as excluded.”

Three months after a group of Black City of Evanston employees released a scathing report alleging racial discrimination in the workplace, the city and the group seem to have agreed on a path forward, prioritizing three goals. “I think this is a marathon, not a sprint,” said one group member.

About 17 people – half from small businesses – met with city officials Thursday to discuss a proposal to prohibit cashless businesses in Evanston. Hewn Bakery co-owner Julie Matthei (above) and others said going cashless was safer and easier. On Monday, business owners also pushed back as the city council considered a Fair Workweek ordinance. “What is the tangible data that indicates it is needed for small businesses?” Matthei asked.

An amendment to allow cannabis smoking lounges in Evanston is going to the full city council, despite strong objections at Monday’s Human Services Committee meeting. Local health leaders said the change would undercut public health efforts.

The second and third of three community engagement meetings on the new Fifth Ward school’s design were held last week. The final Feb. 8 meeting drew 23 people, bringing total attendance at the three sessions to just under 70 people. District 65 Superintendent Devon Horton (above) said there’s a “95% chance” that the current site proposal is the final one. He vowed to move ahead.

Tag Bakery's new front of the house renovation
Credit: Wendi Kromash / Evanston RoundTable

Tag’s Bakery, 2010 Central St., reopened after renovations. Tag’s has been a mainstay on Central Street since 1937. Don and Jan Vetter bought the bakery from the Gorham family in 1968. Current owner Gretchen Vetter said the redo already got a key thumbs-up: Her 90-year-old mother loved the front room’s new look.

There was a lot of Evanston Police Department news last week. On Monday, more than 40 people gathered at Second Baptist Church to discuss police conduct in the wake of the Tyre Nichols case. A day later, Police Chief Schenita Stewart (above left, with the Rev. Michael Nabors) said her department will investigate why EPD’s Twitter account “liked” a xenophobic tweet by a right-wing commentator and conspiracy theorist. Finally, for the first time, the EPD’s community police academy class will be available in Spanish.

Standardized test scores in math for both Evanston eighth graders and juniors at Evanston Township High School have shown some concerning declines since the pandemic hit in 2020, according to a report presented Monday to the ETHS board. The trend will have “a long-term impact on math instruction at the high school,” said Assistant Superintendent Pete Bavis.

Love is all around us: Tricia Nameth-Rich and husband Matthew Rich (above left at prom in 1993 and at a 2017 event) celebrate Valentine’s Day with a dinner out. Check out the RoundTable’s ideas for the heart holiday, including local gift options.

Credit: Northwestern University rendering

Letter to the editor: “Most agree that Ryan Field needs an upgrade,” writes the Seventh Ward’s Ken Proskie, “but the magnitude and extravagance of the proposed project is inconsistent with the scale of other stadium projects across the country.”

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Susy Schultz

Susy Schultz is the editor of the Evanston Roundtable. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years, and is the former president of Public Narrative, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching journalists and...