Tag: Forest Park

Bargain Outlet Store to Open Inside Former Kmart in Forest Park Plaza

Tuesday, August 29, 2017 || By Thomas Vogel/Forest Park Review || @maywoodnews

Featured image: Work on the facade of HOBO in Forest Park. | Alexa Rogals/Wednesday Journal

Home Owners Bargain Outlet, also known as HOBO, is set to open Sept. 1 in Forest Park Plaza, 7630 W. Roosevelt Road.

Continue reading “Bargain Outlet Store to Open Inside Former Kmart in Forest Park Plaza”

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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”

Currie Motors Could Be Headed Back to Roosevelt in Nearby Forest Park

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 4.36.06 PMCurrie Motors.jpgFriday, May 26, 2017 || By Robert J. Lifka for Forest Park Review || @maywoodnews

After a seven-year absence, Currie Chevrolet might return to the corner of Roosevelt Road and Desplaines Avenue.

At Monday’s village council meeting, Mayor Anthony Calderone announced that Currie officials have requested financial incentives from the village if they move the Chevrolet dealership from its current location at 8401 W. Roosevelt. The village council voted 4-0 to hire Kane, McKenna and Associates Inc. of Chicago, the village’s financial advisor, to review the village’s options. Commissioner Dan Novak did not attend.

Incentives being considered include use of tax increment financing (TIF) funds, real estate tax revenue and sales tax revenue. Kane, McKenna will review and analyze any requests for public financial assistance, including what expenses Currie might incur that could be covered by TIF funds.

“This is a big deal,” Calderone said. “It can only be good.”

He added that he has been in negotiations with Currie officials for “a few months” and negotiations have progressed from “walking through the hypotheticals” to the point where both sides “begin the process to formalize the request.”

No cost estimate for Kane, McKenna’s work was announced but the company will bill monthly at rates ranging from $25 per hour to $200 per hour.

“We want to thoroughly examine the proposal,” Calderone explaned. “If it makes sense, we will bring it back to the council.”

Currie has been in Forest Park since 1981, beginning with a Chrysler dealership at 8401 Roosevelt. The company purchased the Gleason Chevrolet property at Roosevelt and Desplaines from Auto Nation in 2007. Jerry Gleason had owned Gleason Chevrolet for many years before selling to Auto Nation.

In 2009, after Currie lost its Chrysler franchise when Chrysler terminated franchise agreements with 789 dealers across the country, officials remodeled the facility at 8401 Roosevelt, which they own, and relocated the Chevrolet dealership from Roosevelt and Desplaines, which they were renting from a member of the Gleason family.

At that time, village officials provided financial incentives in the form of a sales tax rebate agreement, which is still in effect.

Currie Motors is owned by the Jaffey family who live in the United Kingdom. The family owns nine dealerships in the UK and six entities, including a bank, in the U.S. Their business is not publicly traded.

With the ongoing renovation of Roosevelt Road and the pending opening of Home Owners Bargain Outlet (HOBO) at 7630 W. Roosevelt, Calderone said the relocation of Currie Chevrolet to Roosevelt and Desplaines means “great things are in store.” VFP

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After Closing for Facelift, Ferrara Candy Store Reopens

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The new and improved interior of Ferrara Candy store in Forest Park. | William Camargo/Wednesday Journal 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 || By Tom Holmes for Forest Park Review || @maywoodnews

Sylvia Avila, who has worked at the Ferrara Candy Company’s outlet store at 7301 Harrison St. for 35 years, and Carmen Montano, who has been selling Lemonheads and Chewy Redhots at the location for 21 years, did the ribbon cutting at the grand reopening of the iconic little store that sells over 200,000 pounds of candy a year.

John Conversa, Ferrara’s director of manufacturing in the U.S., said the store had been closed for several weeks for remodeling.

“It hasn’t had much done to it since it opened in the late 1980s,” he said. “It’s really a charming store that we expanded and spruced up a bit with better lighting, new display cabinets, a larger floor plan and new displays for showcasing our products.”

Avila was happy that the murals on the walls, which depict a fanciful candy factory complete with elves helping the master candymaker, were preserved. She pointed to a place on the door frame where the artist, Charles Nitti, signed his name in 1989. The store is not only iconic but a source of nostalgia for generations of Forest Parkers.

“Now,” she said, “I’m having people I sold Atomic Fire Blasts to when they were children bringing their grandchildren in.”

Indeed, many prominent Forest Park residents have fond childhood memories connected to the little store. Mayor Calderone’s executive secretary and deputy village clerk, Sally Cody, remembers sweet aromas wafting through the open windows of her St. Bernardine School classroom and, when school let out, going through the parking lot to buy candy at the store which in “the old days” was located at the north end of the building near the Eisenhower Expressway.

Commissioner Rachell Entler remembered her St. Bernardine class being given a tour of the factory, which she said was “pretty neat,” and how Sal Ferrara often donated candy to the school.

Commissioner Joe Byrnes, who lives just three blocks from the candy factory and also enjoys the aromas, worked security for Ferrara way back in 1975. He has watched the company grow for over 45 years, and picked up on Entler’s comment regarding the company’s involvement in the community.

“They are always there when we need something,” he said, adding that when he and his wife go down to Florida, friends there ask them to bring Lemonheads along.

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At the ribbon cutting, Mike Goldwasser, Ferrara’s chief human resources officer, told the crowd, “We are using the proceeds from the store to help fund the new Ferrara Scholarship Program through which we are offering ten $5,000 college scholarships to the children of Ferrara employees. We are thrilled to get the store going again and to invest in the families of our employees.”

The expansion allows the company to display more of its major brands like Lemonheads, Chewy Redhots, Trolli Sour Bites, Chuckles, Now and Later, and Rain Blo, along with Brach brands including, Brach’s Doable Dipper, Milk Chocolate Stars, and a gigantic 10-ounce Gummy Bunny for Easter.

Along with Ferrara’s major brands, the store features special candies for each holiday. Right now customers are purchasing cases, literally cases, of jelly bean Easter eggs. Conversa said in December it’s Christmas rings, Brach’s Chocolate Covered Almonds, and Bob’s Candy Canes. Around Valentine’s Day the big seller is Brach’s Conversation Hearts.

Conversa said there has never been a “grand design” for the store “other than to be a local candy store where kids and adults could purchase a wide variety of our products for a fair price. In the summer months it’s very common to see bikes and strollers parked outside the door.”

In the crowd of dignitaries and well-wishers at the ribbon cutting was a class of fifth-graders from Churchill School in Glen Ellyn, who actually worked with Ferrara last year to create a new candy recipe that would appeal specifically to millennials. VFP

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D209 Community Town Hall Sparks Optimism

Proviso East High

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || By Thomas Vogel 

Dozens of Forest Parkers gathered Jan. 24 at Forest Park Village Hall to share ideas about improving Proviso District 209, to meet school leadership — including newly hired Superintendent Jesse Rodriguez — and to brainstorm solutions to several persistent issues, including student underachievement.

The town hall-style get-together is part of a series of meetings organized by District 209, with school officials and board of education members heading to each Proviso feeder community to hear from community members and parents. D209 hired Rodriguez in July 2016, a year after a new slate of reform-minded members, including two from Forest Park, joined the high school board and signaled a renewed effort to revive the troubled school district.

“We have competition. We have many schools in the area,” Rodriguez said. “But we love our public schools and we can compete. Our public schools need to serve our families.”

The town hall featured remarks by Supt. Rodriguez, Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone and several school principals. District 91 officials, including Supt. Louis Cavallo, and board of education members Mary Win Conner and Eric Conner, were also in attendance, indicating the importance of cross-district collaboration.

“This is encouraging. There’s a renewed energy,” Calderone told the Review. “It has to start with parents. They have to say ‘We are taking charge.'”

The meeting’s several dozen attendees broke into three smaller groups — each led by one of Proviso’s three principals — to talk through concerns, express frustrations and ask questions. The discussions produced a wide-range of issues, including building maintenance, lackluster graduation rates, and the less-than-stellar public perception of D209, particularly in Forest Park.

Several attendees mentioned the need to shift the negative narrative surrounding Proviso schools. In years past, D209 made headlines for student fights and a fire, which forced class cancellations. Several attendees said the public’s view of Proviso has discouraged Forest Parkers from enrolling their children in the district.

Indeed, according to data provided to the Review by D209, there are 168 Forest Park students in the district’s three high schools as of January 2017. The only other community with fewer children enrolled is Northlake with 113 students. Other communities, including Maywood and Melrose Park, send a much larger student population to D209.

Even accounting for differences in general population, Forest Park still sends a relatively smaller group of students. Hillside, for instance, has around about six thousand fewer residents than Forest Park but sends nearly double the number of students — 324.

Forest Park has a troubled history with D209, including efforts to leave the Proviso school system several years ago. For decades, many Forest Parkers have opted to send their children to private or parochial schools instead and, save for this latest election, community representation on the board of education has not been robust.

Attendees acknowledged this history but also steered the evening’s conversations toward what is working well in the district, including more extracurricular activities, the district’s new leadership, and the feeling of renewed optimism from parents and community members.

The event concluded with attendees gathering in a circle and sharing one word to describe the past few hours. A sense of optimism was palpable as attendees chose words such as “inspired,” “empowered,” and “proud.”

Positivity aside, challenges still exist.  The district’s 2016 four-year graduation rate was 73.5 percent, more than 10 percentage points below the state average, according to the Illinois Report Card, the state’s official source. Other metrics, including the rate of graduating seniors enrolling in two- or four-year colleges is also below state average. District performance on statewide tests, including the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) also leave plenty of room for improvement.

“It’s a work in progress,” Claudia Medina, one of two D209 board members from Forest Park, said. “We have to engage the community.”

A few attendees felt energized by the number of people at the meeting but mentioned the need to keep momentum moving forward.

“The turnout is good,” Forest Parker and Proviso East alum Jeremy Horn said. “It’s a stepping stone. Let’s support our high school district.”

Other expressed their approval for the new D209 administration.

“It’s a breath of fresh air,” Rodney Alexander said of Rodriguez’s leadership. “He’s engaged and has a pulse on the schools.”

Alexander said he’s already decided to send his young son, who is in fourth grade, to Proviso for high school. Alexander is running for a spot on the D209 Board of Education in the upcoming April 4 election.

“Change is possible when people get involved,” Alexander said. “We gotta roll up our sleeves.” VFP

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Maywood Man Charged With Hit-and-Run

watkinsTuesday, January 31, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

A Maywood resident was charged last week with aggravated reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident after leaving a pedestrian seriously injured during a Jan. 22 hit-and-run that happened at Roosevelt and Harlem in Forest Park, according to a Forest Park Review report.

Forest Park police arrested Xavier Watkins, 20, (pictured above) on Jan. 26. The following day, Watkins was charged and his bond set at $50,000, according to a Sun-Times report.

“Video footage from several red-light cameras near the accident showed a black sedan fleeing the scene and several witnesses gave possible partial license plate numbers,” the Review report notes.

The Sun-Times reports that the incident happened at around 10 p.m. The victim, the Sun-Times reports, was rushed to Loyola University Medical Center. Watkins is scheduled to appear in court in Maywood on Feb. 2. VFP

Photo courtesy Forest Park Police. 

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District 209 to Host Town Hall Meeting Jan. 24 | FREE GED Courses

ProvisoEast

Monday, January 23, 2017 || By Community Editor || @maywoodnews

[By Proviso Township High Schools District 209] The District 209 school board and Dr. Jesse J. Rodríguez, superintendent for District 209, will host a series of town hall meetings in each of the 10 villages that are within the district, continuing with Forest Park on Tuesday, January 24.

The town hall meetings, which will each take place between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., are an opportunity for parents and community members in each village to meet with Board members and Dr. Rodríguez, ask questions, and learn more about the direction of District 209.

“Our schools are your schools, and we value all input from members of the community,” Dr. Rodríguez said. “We welcome parents and other residents of our villages to dialogue with us on the direction our schools should go.”

One or more members of the Board of Education also will be in attendance. Mrs. Teresa D. McKelvy, president of the Board of Education, said that this is “a wonderful opportunity for our parents and community members to meet our new Superintendent and collaborate with the Board of Education.”

“We value your ideas, so come out and lend your voice to assist us in our efforts of being more inclusive,” she said.

Town hall meetings during the second semester of the 2016-2017 school year will take place on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, January 24 – Forest Park Village Hall (517 Des Plaines Avenue in Forest Park)
  • Thursday, February 9 – Northlake Public Library (231 North Wolf Street in Northlake)

All meetings will be in English and Spanish. In addition, more meetings in more villages are being planned.

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