Evanston RoundTable

Good Sunday morning, Evanston!

Above, the new hospitality center at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church gets checked out Thursday by Bobby Clark, who has been homeless in Evanston since 2005. “This is beautiful,” he said of the center, run by Interfaith Action of Evanston. Clark uses the center most weekday mornings and gets lunch and dinner at free kitchens around the city. “We are showing people dignity,” said Seth Himrod of St. Mark’s. (Photo by Richard Cahan)

From caring outreach to spooky art installations to late-blooming love, the RoundTable strives to cover all of Evanston. Here’s more of our latest coverage:

Credit: Artists Book House

The Evanston Arts Council recently made budgetary decisions affecting two Evanston landmarks. It awarded a $1,000 grant to Artists Book House, which is leasing the Harley Clarke mansion (shown decorated for Halloween in 2021). That grant will help fund a monthlong October art installation, “A House Haunted.” The council also raised the budget for a sculpture outside the Noyes Cultural Arts Center: at $37,200, the project now includes new design fees and consultation meetings.

Longtime friends Marianne Kaiser and Steve Clark both lost their spouses to illness; her husband died in 2008 and his wife passed in 2012. Sharing the sadness of their respective losses, they connected in a new way and began 10 years of dating. On Aug. 20 they were married at the Woman’s Club of Evanston. “We both feel liberated that we had another chance,” Steve said. “To find this growing friendship is wonderful. For us to find love at this age is beautiful.”

And now, in case you missed any of the most important stories from the past week, here’s the Sunday RoundTable roundup of the news:

City News

Land Use Commission votes against controversial Legacy development. On Wednesday, the commission voted 7-0 against the Legacy Evanston mixed-use plan for 1621-31 Chicago Ave. Commissioners said an 18-story building did not belong at that part of Chicago Avenue. The proposal now faces a final vote from City Council.

Orrington Burger King to be razed ‘any day’ and coming soon … the AMC theater. The former Burger King at Orrington Avenue and Clark Street will come down “in a matter of days” to make room for an office building, Downtown Evanston Executive Director Annie Coakley said Thursday at a virtual First Ward meeting. She also said the AMC movie theater at Church Street Plaza is “100% happening.”

Federal lawsuit claims 2019 firing was discriminatory, racial and retaliatory. Kevin Brown, the city’s former community services manager, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the City of Evanston. Brown, who was fired by the city in 2019, allegedly for letting his employees park in short-term city parking spots and failing to pay parking tickets, alleges the city terminated him on the basis of race and in retaliation for having called out a white supervisor on racial issues.

City to pay $508,000 for cleaning, maintenance to business areas. Evanston City Council members on Monday approved a contract to provide elevated cleaning and maintenance to the city’s downtown and other business areas using ARPA funding. The allocation of federal COVID-19 recovery funds will go to a Brooklyn, New York-based private firm, Streetplus Company.

Credit: Alex Harrison

City Council unanimously approves Harris to Second Ward seat. Evanston’s City Council is back to full strength as sitting council members voted unanimously Monday night to confirm Krissie Harris to fill the Second Ward seat. A number of her family members were in attendance to witness the vote and her swearing-in. Harris will serve until a special election is held in spring 2023.

Evanston’s federal COVID-19 recovery funds now down to $10 million. After starting with $43.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, Evanston now has about $10 million left after City Council made allocations to social service organizations and maintenance improvements. On Monday, council approved two more allocations: $2 million to replace privately owned portions of lead water-service lines, and $500,000 for a welcoming center for immigrants and other new residents.

‘Kits and Cats kick off the school year with community block party at ETHS. The sounds of marching bands, whistles, football drills and pom-pom swishes echoed through Lazier Field Thursday at the ‘Kits, Cats & Kids Block Party. Superintendents Marcus Campbell and Devon Horton and Mayor Daniel Biss all spoke at the pep rally before that night’s football game between ETHS and Barrington High School. (Sorry to report the Wildkits lost, see story in “Sports.”)

Library trustees mull which way to go on budget. Evanston Public Library’s board of trustees are weighing a possible tax hike to cover $800,000 in extra costs in the 2023 budget. Interim Library Director Heather Norburg said the rise in expenses comes after trimming costs where feasible, “without affecting the levels of engagement, programming and communication that we are currently providing.”

Mayor: Cost of removing lead pipes will increase water rate by 70%. At Thursday’s One Water Summit in Milwaukee, Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss announced the cost of removing lead pipes and service lines from the city would increase the water rate by 70% unless the federal or state government provides some kind of outside funding.

How can Evanstonians go solar? After a door-to-door salesman pitched him on installing solar panels on his roof, the RoundTable’s Matt Simonette wondered: How can Evanstonians go solar, while making sure they’re getting a good deal? He spoke with Jim Chilsen, communications director for the Citizens Utility Board, to find out.

Public Safety and Health

COVID-19 update as of Sept. 15, Cook County stays in ‘medium’ community risk level, Evanston in the ‘low’ risk level. The total number of new cases of COVID-19 in Evanston was 53 for the week ending Sept. 14, compared to 55 for the week ending Sept. 8, a decrease of 3.6%. The seven-day average of new cases in the state decreased 2.6%; hospitalizations decreased 2.9%.

$125,000 settlement approved in Snapchat lawsuit. In March 2020, former Evanston Police Department Chief Demitrous Cook posted police mugshots to his public Snapchat story, including one picture of a man with “HIV” and “pending” handwritten next to his picture. Court records state the man “has never been diagnosed with HIV and was tested for HIV on 2/22/2020 with a negative result.” He sued the city, and City Council approved $125,000 Monday to settle the lawsuit.


Credit: Ellen Galland

Evanston concrete company owners have cemented strong local ties. Next to Soul & Smoke, Double Clutch Brewing and Suds Car Wash is a frame two-flat on Ashland Avenue with a backyard full of trucks, backhoes and metal rebars. That building houses the Kelvin Co. concrete business run by longtime Evanstonians Paul and Kimberly Boynton.

Legacy Business Program to help long-time enterprises survive and succeed. A working group made up of City Council members, city officials and local businesses is pioneering a Legacy Business Program that will provide direct support to Evanston-based businesses and nonprofit organizations that have operated for at least 20 years.


District 65 cuts 25 classroom teaching positions, adds 46.3 other positions in FY’23 ‘Final Budget.’ At the Sept. 14 meeting of District 65’s Finance Committee, Business Manager Kathy Zalewski presented a final budget for the year ending June 30, 2023, that shows operating revenues of $157.2 million, operating expenses of $156.7 million, and a surplus of $574,886.

District 65 rolls out new security initiatives. After announcing plans to hire new safety and security staff members and to use new security software programs over the summer, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 gave an update on those efforts to the Personnel, Buildings & Grounds and Finance Committee.

District 65 hopefuls prioritize race, safety issues. The District 65 school board is expected to appoint a replacement for former board Vice President Marquise Weatherspoon on Monday, Sept. 19. The district received 13 applications from community members seeking to fill Weatherspoon’s seat. The RoundTable obtained the full text of all the applications through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Credit: ETHS District 202 YouTube

ETHS school board addresses gun violence, ‘devastating’ health inequities in Evanston. Members of the Evanston Township High School Board of Education urged each other and the wider community to work together against gun violence at their first meeting of the new school year. The board also heard from Evanston Community Health Specialist Kristin Meyer on disparities in health outcomes, which revealed a Fifth Ward census tract has the lowest life expectancy of any in the city.

10 Evanston students named as National Merit semifinalists. There are nine semifinalists from Evanston Township High School, and one semifinalist from Beacon Academy. The Evanston-based National Merit Scholarship Corp. will begin announcing its scholarship winners in April.

Art & Life

Edwin B. Jourdain Jr.: Laying the foundations for Black political power and a citizen-equal future in Evanston. The RoundTable is excited to share the first of a two-part series on Edwin B. Jourdain Jr., Evanston’s first Black alderman, written by his son Spencer Jourdain. The elder Jourdain was a journalist and community organizer who won his first election in 1931 to represent the city’s Fifth Ward, and he fought for Black equality throughout his long political career.

Credit: Parth Joshi

Four Evanstonians share how the pandemic changed their fitness routines. Well over two years into the pandemic, Evanston residents are figuring out their preferences between working out at home, going to the gym or doing outdoor activities like swimming and climbing.

Credit: Patrick McMahon

Girls find mysterious message in a bottle in Lake Michigan. Three girls swimming in Evanston discovered a bottle floating in Lake Michigan on a sunny July day. The clear bottle had a small medallion attached with twine, wound tightly around the bottle’s neck. The words on the medallion read, “Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.” And inside was a rolled-up note.

Credit: Leslie Shad

Week in photos: Sept. 7-14. Between a thunderstorm that dumped four inches of rain on the city last Sunday and the migration of monarch butterflies south to Mexico, the past week offered plenty of photo opportunities for Evanston residents.

Credit: Lia Neveu

The Art of Making Art: Kristen Neveu. Jean Cunningham explores the abstract, nature-inspired paintings and collages of Kristen Neveu. Working with acrylic paint, pencils and mixed media, Neveu starts each piece from the bottom without a specific goal before moving her way up the easel as the artwork takes shape.

Evanston Rules: Nancy Glick and the intersection of medicine and community. In the episode “The Intersection of Medicine and Community,” podcast hosts Ron Whitmore and Laurice Bell get to know Dr. Nancy Glick. They discuss her route from a humanities-focused student at ETHS to the director of the Sinai Infectious Disease Center at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Chicago, her insights on the brutal fight against infectious diseases and more.

Books: Local author Elisa A. Schmitz hopes to fire up readers. Schmitz grew up in Puerto Rico, Lebanon and Evanston, and her new book, Become the Fire: Transform Life’s Chaos into Business and Personal Success, shows how to transform obstacles that can block the progress of women and Black, Indigenous and people of color into the unstoppable fuel of fulfillment and success. 

Books: Local author’s ‘The Moment’ chronicles when, why and how changemakers sprang into action. “This has been the most satisfying and important project I’ve ever worked on,” says Evanston author Steve Fiffer of his latest book, The Moment: Changemakers on Why and How they Joined the Fight for Social Justice, slated for publication Nov. 15.

Credit: Northlight Theatre photo

Review: ‘The Garbologists’: Northlight’s delicacy of a play. Cissy Lacks reviews Northlight Theatre’s current show, a buddy comedy that pairs an old-school sanitation worker with an Ivy League-educated newbie in a New York City garbage truck. “This wisecracking show manages to be funny and poignant at the same time,” Lacks writes. “In unexpected ways, The Garbologists is a mystery.”

Dear Gabby: Divvy driving me dizzy This week’s column features advice on abandoned Divvy bikes, how to deal with a friend’s poor cooking and giving wedding gifts without tags or identifying information.

Public Square

Credit: Susy Schultz

Gina Castro: Meet the RoundTable’s new reporter. Gina will be covering reparations and racial justice through a one-year fellowship funded by Northwestern. “I learned the power of my pen while juggling classes at the University of West Florida and being a full-time reporter for a paper in Brewton, Alabama. I started out writing whatever assignments my editor told me to. I hadn’t thought much about what stories I wanted to pursue or even ones that hadn’t been told yet (or enough),” she writes in her introduction to the RoundTable family.

Evanston Eassys – John McClelland: A Time-Traveler’s Evanston. Our Evanston Essays series continues with McClelland taking us through time: “The city proposed licensing liquor sales in restaurants, controversial in the home of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Downtown retail was moving to malls. The saying about on-street parking was, and is, ‘Pull out of a spot, and it’s taken before it gets cold.'”

Peggy Tarr: Yo no hablo español. Columnist Peggy Tarr writes about the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, and how a rusty memory from a long-ago Spanish class led to a recent moment of positive communication (and perhaps a little confusion).

Credit: Chicago Public Library

Les Jacobson: We blew it. “We thought we were smart. We were clever and smug. Our generation, the baby boomers, had ended the Vietnam War, kicked Nixon out of office and helped advance the civil rights movement and the feminist agenda. We were cool, we were progressive, we would change the world,” writes columnist Les Jacobson. “Only it didn’t quite work out that way.”

Letter to the community: Support for the Margarita Inn. Melissa Appelt, Board President of Interfaith Action of Evanston, writes to voice the organization’s support for the establishment of a permanent homeless shelter in the Margarita Inn by Connections for the Homeless: “For the last two years, the Margarita has been a beacon of hope for people in Interfaith Action’s overnight and daytime shelters.”

Letter to the editor: City should end attempts to take public trust land for private gain. Jeff Smith, president of the Central Street Neighbors Association, writes in support of a City Council resolution objecting to a proposed road paving through the Canal Shores Golf Course to support a housing development. Council ultimately approved the resolution unanimously on Monday.


Credit: Saul Lieberman

ETHS football: Burzawa calls it a ‘disappointing loss’ for the ‘Kits against Barrington. The Barrington Broncos turned in a “special” performance at Lazier Field in Evanston on Thursday night, producing a pair of special team plays – a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a punt that prevented the Wildkits from mounting a fourth quarter comeback drive – to earn a 28-14 triumph. The Wildkits will face New Trier on the road Friday.

ETHS girls volleyball: Wildkits fall but have the talent to overcome this season. Evanston couldn’t quite pull off its first win since 2014 over its archrival, the New Trier Trevians, on Wednesday at Beardsley Gymnasium. And although this drops the ‘Kits to 8-7, they still have half a season left to get their act together.

North Shore Century Bike Ride will bring thousands to Evanston this Sunday. More than 2,000 brightly clad bicycle riders, friends and supporters are expected to descend upon Evanston today, when the Evanston Bicycle Club’s annual North Shore Century bicycle ride gets underway.

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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...