Month: September 2016

Spotlight: In Broadview, an Art Gallery Hides in Plain Sight


Robert Walker, the owner of Gold Elite Jewelers, inside of the small gallery space adjacent the jewelry store earlier this month. | Shanel Romain/Village Free Press 

robert-walker-iiFriday, September 30, 2016 || By COMMUNITY EDITOR || @maywoodnews

A west suburban artistic gem could be hiding in place sight, despite its affiliation with one of Broadview’s business staples — Gold Elite Jewelers, 2140 S. 17th Ave.

The jewelry store has been located on the corner of 17th Ave. and Roosevelt Rd. for nearly a decade. Owner Robert Walker runs a smooth ship.

“We’ve been in business for about 15 years and have been here for about nine years,” said Walker, who also serves as an associate pastor at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church, located just down the street from his business.

The spacious store is open and relaxed, with comfortable seating for customers to contemplate the store’s numerous offerings — from engagement and wedding rings to jewelry cleaning and small lending services.

But what’s perhaps less well known, however, is the gallery space adjacent the jewelry store, where the work of well-known Chicago area fine artist Rodney Wade (also known as The Idealist), among other talents, line the walls.

“My son is the one who really operates the gallery,” said Walker. “He and Rodney are really good friends. So, Rodney’s stuff is on display and so are other artists, who have their stuff up on consignment. We also host art shows and other events.”

Walker said the gallery space has been in existence for roughly a year and is more heavily used during holidays than at other times of the year.

Wade’s colorful, energetic abstractions are more than selling points. They create an ambience that make for great conversation and warm backdrops to live music.

“We don’t get much daily traffic,” Walker said, adding that a more intense marketing campaign might change that.

Marketing or no marketing, area art enthusiasts should learn about this museum-like nook on Roosevelt Road seemingly hidden from plain sight. Once inside, you’ll find a world that you may not want to leave. VFP

Bottom left, the work of Chicago artist Rodney Wade lines the walls of the gallery space adjacent Gold Elite Jewelers. The space also features the work of other artists. 


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After Years-long Wait, 13th Ave. Resurfacing to Begin


The portion of 13th Ave., between Bataan Dr. and Roosevelt Rd., is scheduled to be repaved sometime in October after a years-long waiting game. | Shanel Romain/Village Free Press

13th avenue road markers.JPG

Thursday, September 29, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Thirteenth Avenue has long been a source of consternation for residents and commuters in both Broadview and Maywood, but that could change now that the villages have both found the funding to resurface a portion of the street between Bataan Dr. and Roosevelt Rd., with officials from both villages anticipating construction to start soon.

The two villages will split the costs of the roughly $690,000 project, with Maywood paying $388,000 and Broadview paying $301,000. Broadview’s share is based on roughly 44 percent of the project area being located within that village’s corporate boundaries, while roughly 56 percent of the project area is located in Maywood, village officials said.

Broadview will take the lead on the project, which would entail preparing the design and construction engineering documents, and selecting the contractor, among other functions.

Broadview Mayor Sherman Jones said that the 13th Ave. project will be bundled into a much larger capital project his village is executing in nearby areas.

“By doing it that way, we [Broadview] probably saved $40,000 to $50,000, maybe more,” Jone said in a recent interview, adding that he anticipates construction to start within the next 45 days. The 13th Ave. project should be completed by the end of the year.

“Even though the [Broadview Board of Trustees] dragged its feet on this and held the project up, I’m glad it’s going forward now,” Jones said. “It’s a great thing.”

The construction marks a significant milestone in Maywood’s and Broadview’s years-long effort at trying to repave that stretch of road, which the towns share.

Broadview officials have noted that they’ve had their share of the funding, and had been trying to get the repairs done, since at least 2010. They said they were just waiting on Maywood to allocate its share, so that the cost burden could be shared equitably between the towns.

During budgets talks in May, Maywood Trustee Michael Rogers urged his colleagues on the board to pledge a portion of funds to the resurfacing project, which would signal to Broadview that Maywood was committed to the repairs.

“Every long journey starts with a first step,” Rogers said at the time. “It’s important to take the first step and put our money where our mouths are.”

The Maywood board eventually voted to set aside $200,000 in its working capital reserve fund to pay for a portion of its share of the project costs. Village officials have noted that the remaining balance of Maywood’s costs for the project will come from the Roosevelt Road Tax Increment Financing  (TIF) district funds. VFP

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Early Voting for Nov. 8 Election Starts Sept. 29, Last Day to Register Oct. 11


Wednesday, September 28, 2016 || By COMMUNITY EDITOR || @maywoodnews

Early voting for the Nov. 8 general election in Illinois starts Thursday, Sept. 29 and will last until Nov. 7. Anyone planning on casting a ballot this election cycle should register by Oct. 11, although there is a grace period for residents.

According to the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE), grace period registration is “an extension of the regular registration deadline.”

“Grace period registration authorizes each election authority to establish procedures for the registration of voters and for change of address during the period from the close of registration for an election through Election Day,” the ISBE notes.

“Although the traditional voter registration period closes 28 days prior to the election, grace period registration extends that deadline from the 27th day prior to an election through Election Day. Grace period registration is only available ‘in-person’ at designated sites.”

For more information on grace period voting, click here. In order to register online, click here. From more general voting information, click here. According to the ISBE, in order to vote:

  • You must be a United States Citizen.
  • You must be 17 years old on or before the date of the Primary Election and turn 18 on or before the date of the General Election.
  • You must live in your election precinct at least 30 days prior to Election Day.
  • Not be convicted and in jail.
  • Not claim the right to vote anywhere else.

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Maywood Poised to Implement Upgrades at Nearly 30 School Crossings, Pedestrian Crossings

students-crossing-street-with-a-traffic-guard_318-59135crosswalk signage.jpgWednesday, September 28, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

The Maywood Board of Trustees will likely approve a plan to implement enhanced pedestrian warning features at 28 school crossings, other pedestrian crossings and bike crossings across the village with the highest amount of pedestrian traffic.

At a Sept. 28 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted unanimously to move the plan to the next regular meeting on Oct. 4 for final approval.

Village officials said that, in addition to getting freshly painted pavement markers, many of the crosswalks will also get new signage indicating that motorists should be aware of, and should stop for, crossing pedestrians.

Maywood public works director John West said said that several crosswalks along 5th and 9th Avenues, including a crosswalk at 5th Ave. and Green St., where the Maywood Phoenix Homes facility is located, will get new signage.

West said the crossings at 5th Ave. and Lake St, and 5th Ave. and Washington weren’t listed to receive enhancements because those areas are well lit and already have a sufficient signal presence.

Mayor Edwenna Perkins, citing what she said was the prevalence of pedestrian signage on Madison St. in nearby Forest Park, requested that those 5th Ave. areas that were originally omitted be included in the plan.

The enhancements, which West said should be completed by the end of October if the board approves them, would come after a summer of unusually high traffic accidents that the village’s fire and police chiefs attributed to speed limit and traffic signal violators.

In an interview earlier this week, Maywood Fire Chief Craig Bronaugh said during the month of August, his department responded to an average of roughly one serious auto accident a day.

Brandon said that at a recent Maywood Alternative Policing Strategies (MAPS) meeting he attended, residents expressed concerns about speeding traffic on Maywood Drive. He said many students who attend Irving Middle School often walk the area going to, and coming from, school.

West said workers would install pedestrian upgrades such as painted stop bars and pavement markers in that area before the week is out.

“Community development precedes economic development,” said Brandon, “so in order for us to bring in economic development we must as a village work on how we appear to those who travel through our communities and to developers as well.” VFP

Below is a map showing possible locations that may receive enhanced pedestrian crossing warnings. This map is subject to revision by village officials. 

Proposed Pedestrian Warning Signs.png

Maywood LLOC Meeting Scheduled Tonight, Sept. 28, 7 PM

Maywood Flag

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 || By COMMUNITY EDITOR || @maywoodnews

A Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting is scheduled for tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m., at 125 S. 5th Ave. The Maywood Board of Trustees will discuss, among other items (for the full agenda packet, click here):

  • A Broker’s Representation Agreement and the disposal and sale of Certain Surplus Village-Owned Real Estate and the approval of Pearson Realty Group to act as Seller’s Agent in regard to the sale of Certain Surplus Village-Owned Real Estate, including the Broker’s parcels of surplus Village-Owned Real Estate (Pearson Realty Group).
  • An Ordinance amending Chapter 31.21 (Board of Fire and Police Commissioners) of the Maywood Village Code relative to Membership, Term and Administrative Duties.
  • The Fire Department Winter preparations and repairs involving the roof at Fire Station No. 2. Preparation  for inspection/repairs was completed by Raincoat Roof Maintenance, Inc. in the amount of $4,765.00.
  • The status of Crosswalk and Pedestrian Crossing in the Village of Maywood.


EDITORIAL: Putting ‘Toxic’ Water Into Proper Context


Monday, September 26, 2016 || By Michael Romain || EDITORIAL || @maywoodnews

Yes, there’s stuff in the water. No, local governments aren’t to blame. No, you aren’t in immediate danger 

The recent release of a report by the Environmental Working Group showing unsafe levels of the toxin hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, in the water supplies of more than 200 million Americans has caused quite the panic. And, it seems, too much of it.

Two days after we published the Sept. 24 story, “Cancer-causing Toxin Found in West Suburban Drinking Water,” I got a call from Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, who said that residents were frantically calling her office with worries that Maywood’s water is undrinkable and that village officials may be to blame for this catastrophe.

To be clear, you can still drink the water and no, your local village manager or elected officials or public works people aren’t to blame for a problem with national significance that affects more than 200 million people.

As the EWG report, and our story based on it, makes clear, chromium-6 has been found in the drinking water supply of most communities in metro Chicago and in many metro areas across the country. The blame lies with lax federal regulators, crooked, profit-hungry corporations who lobby against reasonable safety standards, and the inability of most states across the country (apparently all of them except California) to want to really grapple with this problem.

You should be calling your state and federal lawmakers and regulatory agencies, not the mayor’s office. To call the mayor’s office or village manager or local trustee about this issue would be like calling them about the arctic glaciers melting or because Illinois hasn’t passed a budget.

Secondly, chromium-6 does indeed appear to be cancerous, but it’s not the only, and probably far from the worst, cancerous substance that is all-too prevalent in our everyday lives. Moreover, finding correlation between certain carcinogens and actual, individual cases of cancer is often virtually impossible.

Consider that the public health goal set by California scientists is 0.02 parts per billion and the state’s legal limit for chromium-6 is 10 parts per billion. A limit of 0.02 parts per billion, as the EWG notes, is the amount that poses “no more than a one-in-a-million risk of cancer for people who drink [the water] daily for 70 years.”

The level at which chromium-6 was detected in samples across Cook County ranged from no detection at all to 1 part per billion. The average level county-wide was 0.188, which is closer to the level found in water supplies of west suburban communities like Maywood, Melrose Park, Bellwood, Oak Park, Forest Park and River Forest.

Even at this heightened level, an individual’s chances of getting cancer from chromium-6-infected drinking water is still around one-in-a-million over basically a lifetime. We don’t know how long chromium-6 has been an unsafe presence in the drinking water of millions of people (although the EWG detected it six years ago).

Still, over time, your chances of getting fatally struck by a car are probably significantly higher than your chances of developing cancer due to chromium-6 in the drinking water (around one in a million versus around one in 13,000).

The point is not to panic. This isn’t a Flint, Michigan situation, which involved the outright negligence and corruption of local, state and federal officials that led to an immediate public health crisis.

And unlike less than one part per-billion of chromium-6, the absurdly high amount of lead found in Flint’s drinking water means that not only is significant damage already done (consider the mothers who lost babies to lead poisoning), but the worst damage is yet to even reveal itself (because the effects of lead reveal themselves subtly and over a lifetime).

Thirdly, you can remove chromium-6 (and the thousands of other potentially cancerous and toxic substances) from your drinking water by purchasing a filter. The EWG even has a water filter purchasing guide to help you select the right one.

So, calm down, don’t panic. Your water hasn’t been rendered immediately undrinkable. And it’s unlikely that your or your relative’s case of cancer is directly related to chromium-6.

You can be fairly certain, though, that our environment has slowly, gradually become contaminated with all manner of cancer-causing substances. That’s, in part, because of the nature of our modern, industrial economy. But it’s also, in part, because of toxic politics that allow some of the country’s largest polluters to make a profit at the expense of our health.

For years, companies whose actions have led to this chromium-6 pollution schemed with public relations companies, lawyers, lobbyists and crank scientists to discredit the correlation between chromium-6 and cancer and/or to block attempts by lawmakers to pass laws and other measures designed to monitor, regulate and control the presence of chromium-6 in water supplies.

The best solution to this widespread problem is to educate ourselves about how this corruption works, to develop disciplined resolve over irrational fear and to get organized.

Call your U.S. congressperson or state lawmaker. Call the Illinois and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies. Demand to know what Illinois plans to do about monitoring and regulating chromium-6, and whether or not the state plans on setting a legally enforceable limit (as California did). Sign the EWG’s petition. But whatever you do, don’t panic. VFP


How to Get Chromium-6 Out of Your Tap Water

water.jpgSunday, September 24, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

A report published last week by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed that hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6 — the chemical made famous in the movie “Erin Brockovich” — could be in the drinking water of nearly 71 million Americans. 

Chromium-6, studies have shown, has been linked with numerous types of cancer, skin rashes and other health complications.

Among those millions of Americans who may be exposed to chromium-6 are residents of Maywood, Bellwood and Melrose Park, whose water systems, the EWG’s tests indicate, have levels of chromium-6 ranging between 600 percent and more than 1,000 percent higher than the level considered safe by California public health officials.

The bad news is that this stuff, tests indicate, is in the water and at levels that ought to give lawmakers, regulators and public health officials serious pause.

It’s up to us the voters to push them into action (the easiest way to do it is by calling your local congressman and/or state lawmaker and initiating a conversation about what steps the state and federal government are taking to mitigate this problem).

The good news is that there’s a more immediate way to get this toxic stuff out of the water that comes out of our faucets and shower heads.

The solution? A filter, as PBS reports:

“The most effective way to remove chromium-6 from drinking water is with an ion exchange water treatment unit, said Ian Webster, president of Project Navigator, an environmental engineering project management company, retained to represent the Hinkley community. PG&E is using this technique to treat the drinking water in Hinkley.

“The technology relies on tiny beads of Jello-like resin packed into columns. As the chromium-laced water travels through the treatment unit, chromium-6 ions cling to the resin beads, getting removed from the water in the process. This technology is also effective for removing arsenic and manganese, which are also present in Hinkley groundwater.

“A word of warning though: Over time, the metals build up in the filter, reducing its effectiveness. The unit must be actively monitored and maintained, and filters must be replaced regularly.”

The Environmental Working Group even features a nifty water filter buying guide on its website, which allows you customize your purchase based on a variety of preferences, including filter technology, which specific contaminants you’re seeking to remove and how much you want to spend.

Read the PBS article in full to see which filter specification you should be looking for when you visit EWG’s water filter buying guide web page (click the image below to access it). VFP

EWG water filter buying guide.png

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