Evanston RoundTable
Learning how to paint outside at Grosse Point Lighthouse are (from left): Julie Porter, Malik Turley, Liz Brent, Anne Dufresne, Carolyn Gatz, William Turley, instructor Don Yang, Denise Grossman, Joe Patterson, Linda Brown, Jeff Plewa and Deborah Paige Jackson. The class was part of Evanston’s first Plein Air Festival. Credit: Richard Cahan

Good Sunday morning, Evanston.

It’s been a busy week and if you’ve been outside, you might have noticed the 50 artists around town this weekend in front of their easels. Thanks to the city and Evanston Made, we were surrounded by art, but the weekend-long Plein Air Art Festival ends today. Come to Fountain Square this afternoon for the official judging of this juried invitational event and buy one of the pieces created this weekend. An outdoors event of outdoor art, painted outdoor – sounds like a breath of fresh air for all and we are hopeful any thunderstorms will hold off! Now, here is the week in review as well as a few new pieces to ponder.

Credit: Susy Schultz

The Evanston Police Department and the North Regional Major Crimes Task Force need your help. They are asking for any information about the person who shot and killed 29-year-old Servando Hamros in front of his 6-year-old daughter just across from the dedication of the Rotary Club of Evanston’s International Friendship Garden. EPD’s Detective Bureau asks you to contact them at 847-866-5040, or to Text-A-Tip to CRIMES (274637) in a message beginning with EPDTIP.

Elsewhere, Metra PD are still investigating what witnesses called the apparent suicide of a woman who was struck by a train just north of the Evanston Central Street station shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday.

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday morning to create several new district-wide jobs designed to improve safety and security in Evanston’s elementary and middle schools. RoundTable reporter Duncan Agnew attempted to gather details of the new positions and policies before the vote.

City News

Peter Braithwaite steps down after serving more than a decade as Second Ward Council member. Credit: Robert Seidenberg

City opens process to fill Second ward seat of outgoing Council member Peter Braithwaite, who officially retired on Friday after more than a decade on the City Council. Some of the RoundTable staff sat done with Braithwaite for an unofficial “exit” interview. Look for that story in Monday’s newsletter.

Lifeguard drill seemed real to visitor, who went to rescue mock victim. One of the more than half a dozen weekly mock drowning drills supervisors run to test lifeguards performances came across as a little too real for an out-of-town visitor. Thinking someone was drowning, LaFern Cusack, an actress and producer of Dr. Phil McGraw’s Phil in the Blanks podcast, advanced well out into the water before learning it was a drill. Evanston officials said they would look at ways to step up education to the public that the drills may take place, after the RoundTable shared the woman’s story.

Mayor says no permanent city manager cuts into work and morale. The Evanston RoundTable co-sponsored a town hall Tuesday night with the city moderated by RoundTable city hall reporter Bob Seidenberg, who asked Mayor Daniel Biss pre-submitted and live questions from the public regarding the city’s search for a new city manager.

Family Focus to receive $3 million in ARPA funds for historic building’s renovation. City Council on Monday approved the allocation, which will fund deferred maintenance projects such as “restroom ADA renovations, window repairs, roof repairs and maintenance to radiators, boilers and air units.” Council also approved another $1 million in ARPA funds for the Evanston One-Stop Shop Housing Retrofit program, which will focus on retrofitting “naturally affordable housing” to be more energy efficient and sustainable.

Simmons named Reparations Committee chair. The Wednesday meeting also resulted in a vote to release housing grants to the remaining 106 ancestors incrementally, and included a report from Assistant to the City Manager Tasheik Kerr that the monthly donation report for the city reparations fund had been overstating funds by more than $30,000 due to an accounting error. But the first order of business was to name Robin Rue Simmons, the former Fifth Ward Council member who initiated the reparations program, to chair the. committee.

Ranked-choice voting referendum to go on Nov. 8 ballot. City Council approved the referendum 7-0 on Monday after a heated discussion regarding community input. If approved by voters, the system will be used in the 2025 municipal election cycle.

Town hall speaker: City should not wait to draw a new redistricting map. The city’s Redistricting Committee held its first public town hall Wednesday evening, presenting to and fielding questions from about 30 attendees about the redrawing of Evanston’s ward boundaries. The committee has said it would wait until after the April special elections to fill two City Council vacancies, but local attorney and activist Jeff Smith argued the new map should be voted in before the elections.

After Highland Park shooting, Evanston discusses safety. Leaders of Evanston’s police and fire departments will spend the coming months assessing what are the lessons to be learned from the shooting and emergency response In Highland Park. EFD Division Chief Kim Kull recommends residents “educate yourself about your surroundings, develop a plan in case you need to escape, and be ready to act.”

City to seek feedback on changing plastic bag rules. Sustainability and Resilience Coordinator Cara Pratt told the city’s Environment Board on Thursday that two public meetings will be held in the coming weeks: one for the general public and another for Evanston’s business community.

Land Use commissioners nix overlay removal in Central Street Corridor. Commissioners voted down the city-initiated proposal 5-1, which would have supposedly eased logistical burdens for business owners within the overlay district looking to make various changes to their properties. The City Council’s Planning and Development Committee next hears the proposal, followed by the entire Council.

Letter to the community: City opens process to fill 2nd ward Council seat. Mayor Daniel Biss shares the intended process and timeline for filling the vacancy left by the retirement of former Second Ward Council member Peter Braithwaite. Applications will close Friday, Aug. 12, and a public meeting for candidates to speak to the public is tentatively planned for Wednesday, Aug. 31. The mayor’s selection will come before City Council for a confirmation vote on Monday, Sept. 12.

COVID-19 update as of July 14: Cook County drops to ‘medium’ community risk level, Evanston remains ‘medium’. The total number of new cases of COVID-19 in Evanston was 289 for the week ending July 13, compared to 223 for the week ending July 7. The number of new cases in the state increased by about 27%. Hospitalizations in the state increased by 10%.


Credit: Northwestern University

Northwestern president-elect will step down after cancer diagnosis. Rebecca M. Blank, previously the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the announcement letter to the Northwestern community was “among the most difficult and painful I have ever written.” Outgoing president Morton Schapiro will stay on in the meantime as the Board of Trustees completes a new search process.

Art & Life

Credit: Jamie Harris

Bereaved parents find support in dealing with tragedy. Jamie Lynn Harris founded the support group “Life Without My Child” in 2019, having experienced the traumatic loss of her own son Jaylyn in 2008. The group meets on the fourth Saturday of every month at the Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center and currently has 23 “angel moms” and one “angel dad” among its members.

Guest essay: Rock Steady Boxing brings out the best in Parkinson’s patients. Cissy Lacks shares the latest activity for support group “Movers and Shakers” in which trainer Tae Hwang helps them build balance, hand-eye coordination, endurance and conditioning skills as much as he teaches boxing skills.

How does your garden grow? Nancy McLaughlin shares sustainable gardening tips from green thumbs across Evanston, ranging from leaving the leaves to installing native plants.

Rare Verdi opera set for Cahn premiere. The Opera Festival of Chicago will perform Verdi’s Il Corsaro on July 22 and 24 at Northwestern’s Cahn Auditorium. OFC co-founder and Evanstonian Emanuele Andrizzi said he is excited and honored to conduct the “thrilling work” for his hometown.

Public Square

Credit: Neal Stamell

Letter to the editor: Trim the flora to give us back our beautiful lakefront. Neal Stamell calls for more active maintenance of plants and removal of wooden fences along Lake Michigan in order to open up more beautiful views of the lakefront.

Letter to the Editor: Open Illinois’ rivers and waterways. Sigrid Pilgrim writes on Illinois’ “antiquated” Water Access Law, which she says should be updated to open more of the state’s 87,000 miles of waterways to public recreation.

Letter to the editor: City close to crisis mode without city manager. The Executive Committee of the League of Women Voters of Evanston expressed urgency in the appointment of a new permanent city manager, writing that it “is the job of our elected officials,” not the wider public, to make the final decision.

Letter to the editor: The City Manager is not above the people. Countering the LWVE’s column, activists from the Citizens Network of Protection, the Community Alliance for Better Government and Reclaim Evanston stress the importance of community accountability and citizen input in the city manager’s selection.

Highland Park Mayor: ‘We need a federal assault weapon ban’. Mayor Nancy Rotering calls for stricter legislation in the wake of the mass shooting during the city’s Fourth of July parade, declaring, “Combat weapons have no place on our streets.” Note: this column is reprinted from Highland Park’s Enews note that came out Monday, July 11.


Credit: Rich Cahan Credit: Richard Cahan

Charity basketball game latest honor for the late Ryan Bost. The death of Ryan Bost, a lifelong Evanston resident who lost his life to gun violence in November of 2020, it left a hole in the hearts of his family, friends and community. Since then, people have tried to do what they can to honor the life and legacy of this young man killed too soon. In the almost two years since his death. Ryan’s life has been commemorated, celebrated and advocated for by the many people who love him. The latest was the charity Legends game in early July.

Spend July running for reparations. “Run for Repair,” organized by community activist Kemone Hendricks, asks residents to run 26.2 miles before the end of the month in as many segments as they want while raising funds for the Community Repair Fund. More than 30 participants have registered as of Tuesday, July 12.

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Alex Harrison reports on local government, public safety, developments, town-gown relations and more for the RoundTable. He graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in June...