Category: Township News

Community Groups Raise More Than $16K For D209 Scholarships

Monday, July 2, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 5:05 p.m.

Featured image: More than 100 people gather on a rooftop in Forest Park on June 28 for a fundraiser that helped raise money for District 209 students. | Alexa Rogals 

During their third annual scholarship fundraiser, held June 28 on the rooftop at Urban Pioneer Group in Forest Park, the community and civic groups 209 Together and Kiwanis Club of Forest Park raised more than $16,000 to benefit students at Proviso East, Proviso West and Proviso Math and Science.

Continue reading “Community Groups Raise More Than $16K For D209 Scholarships”

Chris Kennedy Brings Campaign to Proviso Township

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 || Tom Holmes/Forest Park Review || @maywoodnews

Feature photo: Illinois gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy greets people at Old School Tavern in Forest Park. | Alexa Rogals/Wednesday Journal 

Friday evening it was standing room only as about a hundred people squeezed into the Old School Tavern to hear Christopher Kennedy explain why they should support him in his run to become the next governor of Illinois.

Continue reading “Chris Kennedy Brings Campaign to Proviso Township”

Hillside Church to Host Funeral of Prominent Chicago Politician

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Services for Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele, who died on June 19, will take place at Freedom Baptist Church in Hillside. | Courtesy Cook County Board of Commissioners

Monday, June 26, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Funeral services for prominent Cook County Commissioner Robert B. Steele, who died on June 19 at the age of 55, will take place at Freedom Baptist Church, 4541 Harrison St. in Hillside on Saturday, July 1.

Steele, a lifelong resident of Chicago, became commissioner of the 2nd District, which covers Chicago’s Loop and a significant portion of the West Side, in 2006 — the year Steele’s mother, Bobbie Steele, served a stint as Cook County board president. When Bobbie retired that year, Robert was appointed to replace her and serve out her term, to which she had just been reelected. 

Before his tenure as a county commissioner, Steele had been a community outreach manager for the Chicago Park District and executive director of the Lawndale Business & Local Development Corporation.

During his time on the county board, Steele was president pro-tempore, heading up meetings when Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was absent. He was also chairman of the Environmental Control Committee and the Contract Compliance Committee, and vice chairman of the Heath and Hospitals Committee.

In a statement released last week, Preckwinkle praised her longtime board ally, whose life, she said, “was marked by his long career in public service.” 

“He was a tireless advocate for organ donation after receiving a kidney transplant from his sister [in 2010] and could always be counted on to explain why organ donation is so important,” Preckwinkle said. 

In addition to his board duties, Steele sat on the boards of numerous local and national organizations, including Mt. Sinai Hospital, the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network and Frazier Preparatory Academy.

Steele also sat on the boards of the National Association of Counties Officials (NACo) and the National Association of Black County Officials (NABCO), for which he served as president from 2008 until 2010, according to Preckwinkle’s statement. 

Shortly after Steele’s death was made public, elected officials and community leaders from across Chicago and the western suburbs took to social media to offer their condolences. 

In June 19 Twitter posts, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (2nd), whose district encompasses large swaths of the West Side, described Steele as “a committed and dedicated public servant” while Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (10th) said she “heartbroken” by the loss of a friend and a “tireless advocate for his community.” 

In a statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel described Steele as a “committed Chicagoan who dedicated his life to public service and strengthening communities.”

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. said in a statement that he had been “especially close to Steele and his entire family this year.” 

“Robert was co-chair of our first PUSH Tech Expo 2017 being held during this year’s annual PUSH convention,” Jackson said. “

City of Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers said that he “had the incredible privilege of working with Commissioner Steele” when he was Preckwinkle’s chief of staff. 

“I will forever be touched by his spirit,” Summer said. “My prayers are with former President Bobbie Steele and the rest of Robert’s family and many friends during this incredibly difficult time.” 

During an interview on Saturday, Congressman Danny K. Davis (7th) said that Steele was a “true son of the community.” 

“He spent his whole life in North Lawndale,” Davis said. “That’s the only place he’s ever been other than going away to college, to Morgan State. He was bright, articulate, always energetic although he was a juvenile diabetic. He’d been engaged all of his life. I did five minutes on him on the floor of the House the other day and I mentioned that my family and I moved into North Lawndale the year Bob was born.”

In a statement released last week, Steele’s family said that they called the late commissioner “Man of Steele,” partly because of his work ethic. 

“He loved working in the trenches among community organizations, churches, schools, at-risk youth, and senior citizens,” the statement read. 

Davis said that, more than his official position, Steele was defined by his commitment to his community. 

“Bob was not just a man with a title,” Davis said. “The title meant nothing to him. He was Robert Steele before he ever had a title and he was doing the same things without that title that he did with it. We’re going to miss him.” 

A visitation will be held on Friday, June 30, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Lawndale Community Church’s Agape Chapel, 3827 W. Ogden Ave.

The wake and celebration of life services will take place at Freedom Baptist Church, 4541 Harrison St. in Hillside, on Saturday, July 1, 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., with the funeral immediately following the wake.

In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the Greater Westside Community Coalition in memory of Cook County Commissioner Robert B. Steele, 3936 Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL 60624. VFP

To read the May print edition of Village Free Press online, click here. To support Village Free Press, click here

Briefly: Bellwood Man Murdered May 11 | Pace Bus Changes | Property Taxes to Increase | Broadview Library Suit Drags On

Broadview Library

A rendering of the proposed Broadview Public Library addition. | Photo courtesy of Broadview Public Library via Cook County Chronicle 

Tuesday, May 13, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

According to a June 12 Cook County Chronicle report:

“A multi-year dispute between the Broadview Public Library and the Village of Broadview took a detour May 31, when a Cook County Chancery Court judge dismissed the library’s request for sanctions against the village without prejudice, giving the library leave to re-plead.

“While law firms for both sides are supposedly negotiating a settlement, the library also asked the court to consider extra sanctions for the village, which it claims “has advanced bogus legal positions and filed frivolous pleadings to unnecessarily delay the resolution of this dispute.”

To read the full Chronicle report, click here.

Man murdered in Bellwood on May 11 

Frank Pate.pngOne man was murdered on the 1100 block of Linden Ave. in Bellwood on May 11, according to news reports.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed that Pate was pronounced dead at the scene at 9:44 p.m. According to medical examiner records, a head autopsy was conducted on Pate. His death was ruled a homicide.

After Pate’s murder, someone started a GoFundMe account on behalf of Brittany Valentine, who was described as Pate’s girlfriend in the campaign summary.

“Frank was an exceptional father and a great man to Brit, he was the breadwinner of their household, the love of her life and soulmate,” the summary notes. “He was a true family man. Brit is a great mother, she has a heart of gold and it hurts us deeply to see her go through this heartbreaking tragedy.”

According to the person who created the GoFundMe, Pate was killed on the day of the couple was supposed to celebrate their daughter’s first birthday.

Multiple attempts to contact Bellwood Police for comment were unsuccessful. No arrests in connection to Pate’s murder have been reported.

Pace Bus 317 to make ‘Posted Stops Only’

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The Regional Transportation Authority announced last week that Pace Route 317 Westchester will operate under a Posted Stops Only policy, beginning June 11.

“Buses on this route will stop to pick up and drop off passengers only at bus stop signs with the Pace logo and route number,” the statement reads. “This change is taking place for several reasons:

  • To improve passenger and motorist safety
  • To provide better information for riders
  • To improve the route’s on-time performance

“A handout listing all the designated bus stop locations for Route 317 will be
available on board buses, online at and by calling Pace Customer Relations at (847) 364-7223, option 3. Please sign up for e-mail and text alerts about Route 317 by visiting”

Property tax hike coming for suburban taxpayers

The Chicago Sun-Times reported on June 13 that, “Homeowners in north suburban Cook County will see their property taxes go up 6.5 percent, an average of $432. Their south suburban counterparts will see a 3.9 percent increase, about $192 on average, according to the Clerk’s Office.”

To read the full Sun-Times report, click here. To read a report on the coming tax hike in Crain’s Chicago Business, click here. To read the Chicago Tribune’s 3-part investigative report on the Cook County Assessor’s pattern of property valuation, click here.  To read Cook County Clerk David Orr’s 2016 tax report, released on June 13, click here.

Marshelle Sanders contributed to this local news briefing. 

Afriware Flyer II

Melrose Park Mayor Refuses to Let Trustees Answer Questions on Welcoming Proposal

ron_serpicoTuesday, March 14, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Supporters of a proposed welcoming ordinance that would “draw a firm line between police and [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement], disentangling the criminal and immigration system,” according to a flyer circulated by the nonprofit PASO — West Suburban Action Project, were back in force at a March 13 regular meeting of the Melrose Park Board of Trustees.

A crowd of at least 100 people left a Feb. 27 board meeting disappointed after Mayor Ronald Serpico refused to commit to the proposal. The mayor, however, said that he’ll “keep the lines of communication open.”

At Monday’s meeting, Serpico wasn’t quite as coy as some residents who spoke insisted that the board at least put the proposal, which wasn’t an item listed on that night’s agenda, to a vote. They also sought the input of individual trustees on the issue.

The last time a trustee spoke on the proposal was at a Jan. 23 regular meeting, where Trustee Arturo Mota said that Melrose Park “has been very supportive of being a welcoming community.” Mota didn’t directly comment on PASO’s proposed ordinance. Serpico was absent.

“Why can’t you come to a vote? Why can’t a decision be made? This has been brought up for a little over a month,” said Melrose Park resident Sandy Aguirre at the March 13 meeting. “Can I get an answer to my first question from each board member? Why can’t you say yes or no?”

“First of all, I don’t think that’s a proper question,” said Serpico. “Second of all, I set the agenda, so if you want to blame someone for it not being on the agenda, you can blame me.”

“This is not a blame game,” Aguirre responded. “I’m asking for a response from each of the board members.”

“No, I’m going to respond,” said Serpico. “So, if you don’t want my response …”

Throughout the meeting, Serpico said that he believes passing PASO’s ordinance would be promoting a “false sense of hope,” because the village has no real authority to stop the federal government from enforcing immigration-related measures in Melrose Park.

He also repeated arguments, made last month, that the village has already taken measures— such as a decision to stop a click-it-or-ticket campaign — designed to help assuage some residents’ fears of deportation.

PASO officials, however, have noted that President Donald Trump’s aggressive immigration directives are highly dependent on deputizing local law enforcement agencies to help carry out the whims of the federal government.

In this sense, a legally binding ordinance would be much more than symbolic, they’ve argued. It would be an additional mechanism safeguarding Melrose Park residents against Trump’s mass deportation plans by ensuring them that the federal government won’t deploy Melrose Park’s resources to carry out the president’s whims.

Serpico, however, said he doesn’t believe passing an ordinance would provide that much of additional protection.

“So we’re going to keep out the federal government if they decide to come in? There’s a false sense of expectations,” the mayor said. “I don’t understand [the argument that the ordinance would provide an additional layer of security].”

“Because you’re not an immigrant! You’re not in our shoes!” some people hollered from the audience.

According to one resident of Melrose Park, who said that she serves on a parental advisory committee for Washington Dual Language Academy in Maywood, the number of parents who have been involved in the committee’s activities has significantly diminished recently. She said that some children are afraid “when they see a police car driving by their school.”

Another person who spoke during public comments — a mental health professional who works in Melrose Park — said that he’s seeing more cases of depression, anxiety and bullying.

“It’s not about … the board,” said Melrose Park resident Bobby Hernandez. “It’s about the families. It’s about Melrose Parkers.”

Serpico said that he would place the proposed ordinance on the agenda for the next regular board meeting scheduled for March 27, 6 p.m., at 1 N. Broadway in Melrose Park. He didn’t say, however, whether or not the board would put the proposal to a vote — or whether any trustees would be allowed to comment on it. VFP

P A I D  A D V E R T I S E M E N T 

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Andre Harvey is Poised to Become Bellwood’s First Black Mayor

Andre Harvey.pngThursday, March 2, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Andre Harvey, Bellwood’s director of public safety, is poised to become the village’s first African-American mayor on April 4. Bellwood’s current mayor, Frank Pasquale, 79, is retiring after 16 years in the position. Harvey, who is running unopposed, is Pasquale’s handpicked successor.

During an interview on Wednesday, Harvey, 53, talked about his life in Bellwood, Pasquale’s mentorship and what his priorities will be once he assumes office.

On life in Bellwood

I moved to Bellwood 48 years ago in 1969. My parents are still living in Bellwood. I met my wife of 36 years in 6th grade at Roosevelt Elementary School. We have two kids and two granddaughters.

When we moved to Bellwood, my family was probably the first African-American family on the block on 22nd and Randolph. I’m a product of District 88 and District 209. I graduated from Roosevelt Elementary before going on to Roosevelt Junior High School, where I graduated in 1977. I graduated from Proviso West High School in 1981.

In 1982, I joined the military. I was in the army from 1982 until 1985. When I came back to Bellwood, I got a job at the U.S. Postal Service. I worked there until 1988, when I had the fortunate opportunity to become the first African-American firefighter in Bellwood.

From there, I became the first African-American fire chief in Bellwood in 1996. So, I was a firefighter for 26 years and fire chief for 20 years. As a firefighter, I became an arson investigator. In 2010, the mayor promoted me to director of public safety, which involved heading the police and fire departments, and emergency services. In 2010, I went back to the police academy to become a state certified police officer.

Why are you running for mayor? And why is Pasquale retiring?

I sat down with Mayor Pasquale, we discussed it and we thought it would be a great idea for me to run. I’ve been living here for over 48 years.

I’ve worked closely with Mayor Pasquale for over 20 years. He was a trustee for a number of years before he became mayor in 2001. From then until now, he’s mentored me; him as well as Village Clerk Lena M. Moreland have mentored me, groomed me, and taught me for 16 years on the ins and outs of politics and how to make sure our community is becoming a better community.

The mayor didn’t know if he wanted to run again or retire. He’s 79 years old and has been working for over 50 years. This past year, he made the decision to spend some time with his family. He has grandchildren he wants to see grow. So, we sat down and talked about me running.

Bellwood’s been moving forward for the last 16, 17, 18 years and I refuse to step back and not continue that upward movement for Bellwood. I care about the community. I’ve been there so long, my parents live there.

What are some things that you want to keep going?

One is economic development. We want to make sure Bellwood is moving forward. We just finished the 25th Avenue overpass, which is going to bring in about 55,000 cars down 25th Avenue now that there isn’t the delay that we had with those trains. I believe that 25th Ave. is primed for economic development. So, we want to bring in new businesses on that corridor, in addition to the Mannheim and St. Charles corridors.

What’s happening with the site of the former Walgreen’s at 25th and Washington?

Since the deep tunnel project that went from Bellwood all the way to Chicago we’ve had more flooding. In 2010 and 2013 we had serious floods. We’ve had the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District come into Bellwood and install a $127 million retention pond in that area that we hope will reduce the flood plain.

There are approximately 900 homes in that floodplain right now. When that retention pond is done, we estimate that 800 of those homes will come out of the flood zone. Right now, people are paying $2,500 to $5,000 a year on flood insurance. If we can get that retention pond done, those people will be able to save that money they’re currently spending on flood insurance.

Will the mini-mall be affected? And what are the village’s plans to get that development to capacity because right now it’s seriously underdeveloped

The mini-mall will stay there. Currently, a receiver is managing that location. They’re trying to get new businesses to come in there. Right now, there’s a Dollar General that moved into one of the spaces. There’s a proposal in the works for another sit-down, café style establishment to move in there. We project that, with more cars coming down 25th Avenue, more businesses will want to move into that development.

The McDonalds in that area will be expanding very soon. We’re proud to say that’s one of the busiest McDonald’s in the western suburbs. In the coming months, they’ll be doing work to make it bigger and more inviting to customers.

Bellwood has been building houses for some years. What are the plans for that program when you get in office?

Over the last 16 years, we’ve been redeveloping locations that haven’t been doing so well. About five years ago, we put in five new homes on Bellwood Avenue in the 100 block. Then we had a piece of land on the 500 block of Englewood that had been vacant for something like the last 30 years. We put in three new homes there.

So, going forward, on that land we have on the 3200 block of Randolph, right behind Memorial Park District, we’re putting in 12 new homes. The people in Bellwood have always said they’re looking for bigger homes. We have a nice stock of smaller homes, or starter homes to some people, but as families grow, they want bigger homes. All of those homes we built in the past have sold pretty quickly, so we’re projecting that these will sell pretty quickly as well.

I know the village doesn’t have much control over the school and library districts, but a lot of people are concerned about what’s happening in those taxing bodies. Will you endorse any candidates running for library and school board seats?

As a new mayor coming in, I won’t really be pushing any side. I am, however, vowing that once I become mayor, I will work very closely with the school board to try to make a great effort to turn the school system around. I plan on working with whoever is sitting in those board seats. VFP


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Check Out This Cool History of Melrose Park’s Kiddieland

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Kiddieland’s Little Dipper. | The Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal

Monday, January 30, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

The Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal recently posted a rather exhaustive history of that late, great icon of all things suburban nostalgia — Kiddieland in Melrose Park.

The park was the Depression-era creation of builder/contractor Arthur E. Fritz, who figured he would try his hand at family entertainment in order to make some money and, perhaps, reverse his misfortune.

“Fritz felt that in spite of hard times, parents still would try to save a few dimes for a little family entertainment,” the digital history notes. “His pony rides soon proved to be a popular attraction that allowed parents to forget their troubles temporarily while they watched their children smile and have a little fun.”

The rest, of course, would become local history. Read and see more by clicking here. The photos alone are worth your time. VFP

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