Happy Friday morning, Evanston.

The official 12 days of Christmas ended yesterday, and this tree on the 1400 block of Judson Avenue went out on a tight schedule. (City crews will pick up old trees through Jan. 27.)

Now, right on schedule, on to more news.

The Big Payback, a documentary that follows former City Council Member Robin Rue Simmons as she pushes for Evanston’s reparations program, will be nationally televised on PBS at 10 p.m. Chicago time Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Evanston AMC 12 theater also will present a free screening, followed by a conversation with the directors. Our story has ticket details.

Credit: Gina Castro

Fifth Ward residents on Thursday heard updates on a proposed 44-unit affordable housing complex and new church facility at the corner of Church Street and Darrow Avenue. Some in the audience were enthusiastic, others questioned just how affordable the units would be.

In case you missed it

Downtown Evanston saw a wave of business closures as 2022 came to an end. Among the lost: Clarke’s Off Campus diner, Smylie Brothers, Flat Top Grill and beauty salon Deka Lash. And supporters of 73-year-old Al’s Deli have started a GoFundMe to help the sandwich shop, which is facing overdue rent payments.

Local business leaders and economic development officials hope the planned move of two UL divisions and the movie theater’s reopening will give downtown a business boost.

RoundTable Roundup

Hiking Club: Trying to beat winter blues? Sign up for an hourlong hike at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning at the Heller Nature Center in Highland Park.

First Saturday: Join Evanston Made on Saturday at galleries and businesses across town for new art showcases, exhibits and gatherings, including the opening reception for an Evanston Made group show at 1100 Florence Gallery.

Lincoln by Julie Cowan: The local artist is launching her next exhibit, inspired by the 16th president, with an opening reception from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Perspectives Gallery on Chicago Ave.

Sports Samplers: Drop in the McGaw YMCA from noon to 3:30 p.m. Sunday to try out activities like basketball, karate and tumbling before winter programs begin Jan. 16.

Square Dancing: Learn square dancing for free in an introductory class at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center.

Elsewhere on the RoundTable website

Shrinking packages (and other mini grievances): Nancy E. Anderson shares the little things that drive her crazy – it’s a short column, but you’ll see why we don’t dare call it a three-minute read!

Credit: Connie Noyes

Chicago artist Connie Noyes held a fall exhibit at the Evanston Art Center that was a meditation on grief and mourning, uncomfortable topics that the artist hopes can be the subject of a national conversation.

Evanston and Cook County remain in the “medium” risk category for local Covid-19 transmission, though hospitalizations are up in recent days.

Credit: Submitted

Laura Newhall Nelson, 1962-2023: Nelson, a Glenview resident who lived in Evanston as a young woman, died Jan. 3 after a battle with colon cancer.

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Around the web

Cook County poised for record number of opioid deaths; researchers warn hundreds more go uncounted. The medical examiner’s office said the tally of opioid-related deaths in 2022 will likely surpass 2,000 once autopsies are complete.

Faith leaders urge passage of Illinois assault weapons ban ahead of vote. Five-day “lame-duck” session expected to include vote on a bill that would ban assault weapons and add other restrictions on gun sales.

Cash bail is sticking around for now as attorney general takes SAFE-T Act fight to state Supreme Court. Gov. JB Pritzker said he expects the Illinois Supreme Court to make a decision on the matter “in the next few months.”

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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...