Tag: Gordon Hanson

Maywood Library Club Produces 13-Year-Old Chess Champion

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Gordon Hanson, center, with Rickover tournament participants (left to right): Kaitlyn Franco, Jocelyn Gutierrez, Roslyn Gutierrez, Dimitri Stubblefield, Jalen Jones, Yanni Smith and Carter Dawson. | Submitted photo

Thursday, February 16, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 2 p.m.

The Maywood Library Chess Club meets every week at the Maywood Public Library under the direction of former library trustee Gordon Hanson, the club’s founder, and coach. They are old and young, but mostly young — one as young as seven.

The meetings, Hanson noted in a recent interview, are often marked by pizza and some laughs. But don’t let the levity fool you. These kids are serious, Hanson says.

“They’re really passionate about the game of chess,” he said. “They don’t give me an ounce of trouble.”

That discipline is starting to pay dividends. Hanson said that Irving Middle School 7th-grader Jalen Jones, 13, took first place at a recent chess tournament co-sponsored by the Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago and held at Hyman Rickover Naval Academy High School in Chicago on Feb. 11.

“Jalen is a very smart kid, and so are the other members,” Hanson said. “I have seven kids, including three girls, and they all did very well at the tournament.”

Hanson said that his kids shined in a competition that featured nearly 400 participants who came from all over the Chicago area — from as far away as Aurora and Schaumburg.

Since its founding last April, Hanson said, the Maywood Chess Club has produced three tournament champions. In addition to Jones, Carter Dawson and Miguel Moreno have also won tournaments in their respective categories.

Hanson said that he hopes that the club can become financially sustainable. He’s received funding from Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley in the past, he said, but for the most part, he’s been supporting the organization with his own funds.

The club meets on Wednesdays, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Maywood Public Library, 121 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood. The chess club is designed for all skill levels — from the beginners to the strategically advanced.

“Chess is not only enjoyable but helps develop numerous skills in thinking and strategy formation,” the club’s website notes.

For more information, or to make a tax-deductible donation to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit club, contact Hanson at (773) 600-2187 or hgordonhanson@cs.com. You can also visit the club’s web page here. VFP

CORRECTION: This post has been revised to reflect Jones’ correct age. He is 13 years old and in 7th grade, not 12 years old and in the 6th grade. VFP regrets the error.

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A Sculpture Made in Maywood is Headed for Grant Park

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Tashi Norbu in front of his wooden sculpture “Urban Buddha,” which sits on the grounds of ReUse Depot in Maywood. On Tuesday, it will be installed in Chicago’s Grant Park. | Michael Romain/VFP

norbu-paintingMonday, October 17, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 10/17/16

A giant sculpture made of reclaimed Brazilian wood on the grounds of Re-Use Depot, 50 Madison St., in Maywood will be headed to Grant Park in downtown Chicago on Wednesday.

The sculpture, called “Urban Buddha,” was created by Tibetan-born contemporary artist Tashi Norbu, who splits his time between the United States and the Netherlands.

Norbu said he created the work of art as a social statement on numerous global crises, such as deforestation and global warming.

“Deforestation from palm oil production is unbelievable nowadays,” Norbu said during an interview last Sunday. “The Chinese are doing the same thing everywhere in the world.”

“The message is for us to be the flower, not the bee,” Norbu said. “We have to be like the flower that grows beautifully by itself and you don’t have to look for something that the bee does.

“If you’re a good flower, the bee comes. If you’re a flower, you don’t have to go anywhere to look for happiness. You are yourself happy. You build yourself within.”

Norbu said that on Tuesday, the gigantic artwork will be transported to Grant Park by truck. It will require maintenance every six months, he said.

During his time in Maywood, the artist has left his mark on more than the physical landscape. He’s also left quite the impression on Gordon Hanson’s chess club, which meets weekly at the Maywood Public Library.

“He’s teaching us Buddhist chess,” Hanson said. “The purpose of the game of chess is to put the king in checkmate. The young kids want to kill all the other pieces — the pawns, knights, rooks, the bishop and the queen.

“Not that you shouldn’t do that, but [Norbu] says you should go the more peaceful path of checkmate and if it means taking the queen or pawn, fine, but it shouldn’t be about the American mental attitude of killing all the pieces.” VFP

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Maywood Chess Club Teaches Youths That ‘Life Is About Making the Right Move’

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Gordon Hanson, founder of the Maywood Chess Club, teaches students moves on the ches board. Carter Dawson, far left, is among the club’s most accomplished players. | Courtesy Maywood Public Library 

Thursday, July 21, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || @village_free

Once a week, each Wednesday afternoon, around 15 kids descend on the Maywood Public Library for at least two hours and play a game that longtime Maywood resident Gordon Hanson, their coach, says teaches them about life.

“We learn that life is about making the right move,” Hanson said in a recent interview. “If you make a good move, you have a good consequence. The thing is, you have to know how to strategize and think several moves ahead in order to get the outcome you want.”

Hanson, a former library trustee, started the weekly Maywood Chess Club this year at the urging of library executive director Stan Huntington. It’s a move that Hanson now celebrates, noting that around 15 participants a week attend the club.

Carter Dawson, 11, is one of the club’s most accomplished players, having placed 18th in a statewide tournament that included 175 kids, according to Dawson’s count.

“Gordon always tells me chess can help you in the game of life,” said the young Maywood resident. “It’s a great exercise for school purposes, too.”

Hanson said the participants come from Maywood and the surrounding suburbs, such as Melrose Park. One kid, he said, is from North Dakota. He’s here visiting relatives for the summer, Hanson noted.

“We are fully cross-pollinated with other kids from other places,” Hanson said, adding that, in addition to attracting youth from other areas, he’s hoping to make alliances with chess clubs in the city like one started recently by the DuSable Museum of African American History.

“The museum’s community director and I have been talking and we’ll do a collaborative event in the future,” Hanson said. “In the meantime, we’ve invited them to come and play with us.” VFP

The chess club meets each Wednesday, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. through Aug. 31. For more info, contact Gordon Hanson at (773) 600-2187 or hgordonhanson@cs.com. You can also click here.

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A Plan For The Former Maywood Market? Bring In The Chinese, Says Local Realtor

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The site of the now-defunct Maywood Market grocery store, which has attracted renewed interest from developers. Below, Judd Lofchie and Gordon Hanson, right, pitch their proposal for marketing the property at a Jan. 13 board meeting. | Google Maps; Michael Romain

hansonTuesday, January 19, 2016 || By Michael Romain

The vacant property at 615 S. 5th Ave., formerly home to Maywood Market — the grocery store that closed its doors in 2011 — might be on the verge of getting a second lease on life.

At a Jan. 13 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, local realtor Gordon Hanson and his partner Judd Lofchie, both of Lofchie & Associates, LLC., made an enthusiastic development pitch for the property.

“Marketing is the key,” Lofchie said. “This property is not right on the highway, it’s not super, super visible, so exposure is key; getting the property in front of people.”

The Aurora-based firm is looking to entice real estate brokers, retailers and office users to the site through what they called an “extensive” marketing campaign that would include putting out email blasts, making phone calls, advertising the property through databases of several hundred potential developers, pitching the site at big time trade gatherings and hosting local informational meetings.

“We’ve got this great building that’s been vacant for a long time. I’ve looked at it and gotten a lot of ideas out of it,” said Lofchie, at attorney, realtor and founder of StreetWise Magazine. “We would be looking to hopefully take this on and bring in a developer or we might do it ourselves.”

Lofchie said he’s talked with Northbrook-based commercial real estate firm Cloverleaf, whose portfolio includes numerous suburban shopping plazas and a residential high rise in Chicago, among other projects throughout the Midwest.

Lofchie said he’s been in contact with a laser tag group looking for at least 15,000 square feet of space. He also mentioned the possibility of utilizing the building for co-working and business incubation space in the order of WeWork — the New York-based co-working startup that has spread throughout the country and around the world.

Lofchie also mentioned restaurants, a community center, clothing stores and furniture stores as other possibilities, before adding that his firm would “want to work with Maywood economic development and the city and if you’ve got any ideas, we would love to hear them.”

Hanson said their ideas for developing the property would be consistent with the village’s current comprehensive plan, before adding that he’s in the process of pitching the development to Chinese investors.

“I just came back from New York, where I met with the WeWork people,” said Hanson, a Maywood resident and former Maywood Liquor commissioner. “We’re going to explore that model. I also have Chinese brokers and investments I’m working with. I’ve even printed some of my ads in Chinese. I love Maywood and we’re creative about letting the world know that Maywood is a diamond that has to be polished better.”

Lofchie, who noted that his firm would work on commission, has listed on his firm’s website numerous shopping centers in Aurora.

“Hopefully, we can bring in one or two tenants and create a fair amount of jobs,” Lofchie said.

The 5th Avenue property, which has been vacant since Maywood Market closed, costs the village thousands of dollars a year to maintain and secure — as one resident, board meeting staple Lucille Redmond, has consistently pointed out.

Redmond has pushed for the village to convert the property into a police station, an idea that’s gotten tacit support from residents and even some board members, but hasn’t garnered real traction.

“This is another opportunity to market the property at no risk, so to speak, as far as village investment is concerned,” said Trustee Henderson Yarbrough, who was instrumental in landing Maywood Market when he was mayor.

“Personally, if you can really try to target a grocery store — we’re in dire need of a grocery store,” said Trustee Ron Rivers. “I’m open to other developments, but I’d really like to see [a grocery store].”

Hanson said that it might be more feasible for the property to have more than one occupant, before noting that he would pitch the approach to his Chinese contacts.

“I will broadcast that to my Chinese investors,” he said. “The Chinese market is very bad. They want to put their money here in America and I say Maywood. Why not Maywood?” VFP

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LETTERS: A Response to Gordon Hanson’s Resignation — Mayor Edwenna Perkins

Letter to the EditorMonday, August 17, 2015 || By Mayor Edwenna Perkins 

I would like to take this time to respond to the letter written by former Commissioner Gordon Hanson. Mr. Hanson approached me at the beginning of my term as mayor back in 2013 asking for a new appointment to the village’s liquor commission. He explained to me that he had resigned under former mayor Henderson Yarbrough and gave his reasons for leaving the commission. Since his appointment, I have continued an open door policy for dialogue; so it really surprises and confuses me to learn that I haven’t connected the dots. I have never met Mr. Hanson with any resistance.

Mr. Hanson wanted to receive approval from the commission to have an ad hoc committee appointed, which was placed on a meeting agenda. During the meeting at which the item was to be discussed, Mr. Hanson arrived late and the item requested had already been discussed and needed to be rescheduled.  The process to reschedule the meeting was not successful. During that period, in February, my husband became sick. He passed away in June. I’m not aware of any neglect to the commission and why on earth would I not take advantage of any gifts for our community?

Mr. Hanson emphasized a repeated failure to better educate our liquor commissioners to allow them to be an actual and reliable advisory commission and he also stated that we as a village pay an exorbitant price for neglect. I agree that this is true. But my question is at what point was this neglect placed on me and at what point did Mr. Hanson meet with resistance from me? As mayor, I made appointments to the commission whenever I was allowed to; but appointments are made with the consensus of the village board.

Mr. Hanson has come to me on several occasions in regards to things and when I could help I did. There was a program developed to reward the community for cleaning up liquor bottles in the park. Not only did I donate to the program, but I worked with the village staff to create a budget for this. I agree that the commission needs to be proactive as opposed to being reactive to issues. So, I thank Mr. Hanson for his service to the Village of Maywood in the capacity of liquor commissioner and applaud his efforts to bring forth change to the commission.

As mayor, I urge the citizens, along with former commissioner Hanson, to take pride in working in their community! VFP

Edwenna Perkins was elected mayor of Maywood in 2013.

LETTERS: Why I Resigned As A Maywood Liquor Commissioner

Letter to the EditorMonday, August 3, 2015 || By Gordon Hanson || Updated: 8/4/15

The late Mayor Ralph Connor appointed me to the Maywood Liquor Commission approximately 13 years ago. Now I find that I must resign. Mayor Perkins has been unresponsive to the new ideas that can bring critical transformation to this commission and ineffective in applying existing resources.

Our Mayor has a sincere, deep love of our town, yet does not connect all the dots. My efforts have been met with massive indifference by this mayor and her confidantes.

The supreme irony is that there exists an avalanche of help available to Maywood — gratis. A few examples:  Lee Roupas of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission; Virginia Cassin of Oak Park’s Liquor Commission; Ted Penesis, a liquor industry education manager; Nancy A. Bright, a Naperville liquor commissioner; and Mayor Ron Serpico of Melrose Park.

Some of these very talented, articulate professionals have been scheduled to address our Maywood commission only to have their speaking engagements cancelled. This has happened repeatedly.

Efforts to have an ad hoc liquor session to hear these free sources have been thwarted since Perkins’s administration, which commenced in 2013. The ideas have died from neglect. My exhortations to our mayor are recorded in her e-mail archive dating back to 2013. By what logic would our Mayor Perkins choose to not take advantage of this gift?

We pay an exorbitant price for this neglect. Just a few examples: families are denied use of public parks by the very routine presence of habitual drunks who act with impunity; massive liquor debris clutter the parks; broken glass litter our sidewalks and parks; liquor is sold to minors; and there has been repeated failure to better educate our liquor commissioners to allow them to be an actual and reliable advisory commission to the Maywood Board of Trustees. The list is expansive.

My great concern is the new Class-M liquor license — video gaming! The commission’s failure to analyze this issue can lead to pernicious social problems.

Maywood has a liquor commission in name only. It is only reactive and not at all proactive. As part of my exit message, I urge that proactive Maywoodians step up to bring this important commission into the significance it deserves. A more conscious commission is absolutely necessary if this community is going to be the desirable place for those who seek quality homes and upscale locations for businesses. What future does our liquor commission consciously seek to create? VFP

Gordon Hanson is a former member of Maywood’s liquor commission. He submitted his letter of resignation last week.

This article has been updated to reflect the correct date of the author’s appointment to the liquor commission. The previous date, 1983, was the author’s oversight. 

Maywood Police Show Students That Cops Are People, Too

Gordon HansonTuesday, May 12, 2015 || By Michael Romain

MAYWOOD || “I used to think the police were pretty much out to get us just so they can get their money,” said Justin Young, 14. That’s before he met Maywood police officers David Gude and Detective Lawrence Connor through an afterschool tutoring and mentoring program held weekdays at Irving Middle School, 805 S. 17th Avenue.

The program, which is funded by a Department of Justice Juvenile Assistance Grant (JAG for short), services about 45 to 50 students, ages 10 to 16, said Officer Gude.

“We’ve been doing this since January,” said Gude, who along with Connor facilitates the program. “We’re basically mentoring and tutoring the kids. We help them with their homework and talk to them about our lifetime experiences.”

Students are assisted in areas such as English and math by a coterie of certified teachers and substitute teachers from throughout District 89 and nearby school districts. There are two counselors on standby to work out any emotional issues. And a small group of community volunteers, such as Gordon Hanson, an area chess enthusiast, have shared their passions with the children.

On a recent weekday in May, Gordon Hanson, a Maywood real estate professional, was teaching a roomful of kids like Darian Mobley, 10, chess notation (“It’s A through H and 1 through 8…”).

“This girl’s got guts!” Gordon said enthusiastically about Mobley, who had forced his King into a compromising position.

Hanson’s small band of chess players traveled to a competition last weekend in Chicago, where two students, Carter Dawson and Miguel Maurino, were ranked competitively. But chess isn’t the only extracurricular that the JAG program provides both students and adults.

“We’ve got dandelions popping up outside,” Adrian Harris, Irving’s principal, was saying to Gude while the two were in Harris’s office. “I figured this Saturday or next Saturday we can get out.”

Harris said the police officers, especially Gude, have become his go-to resources for any number of problems — even weeds.Irving JAG program

“If it looks bad on the community, then it looks bad on the school,” Harris said. “So, we’re all working together. I don’t ever hesitate to go to them. Having that resource is huge.”

Harris said having a police presence that’s engaged in more than strict, conventional policing has worked to improve relations between officers and his students. For one, he said, it works to counteract the barrage of media reports of scenarios throughout the country in which the relationship between the police and residents have turned tragic.

“Prior to this year, my students were very apprehensive towards police, especially with some things going on in the media,” Harris said. “[Having the officers on site] really helps with that personal touch. All of our kids see them here on a regular basis. I had eight or nine boys that were really struggling, all basketball players, and Officer Gude was the first person I went to. And because he’s there to assist them, they look at him as a person who just happens to be in a police uniform who is there to help them.”

Detective Connor, who did the legwork for the department to acquire the JAG grant, said that this year’s program has been much more intensive than years past. Whereas before, hundreds of students were engaged in athletics and games for much of the program; this year, a much smaller group of students is receiving support for both the body and the brain. Connor said the holistic approach serves a purpose.

“We want to get these kids engaged in academics while they’re young and while we still have a chance to make an impact,” he said, adding that the method makes the job of policing much easier. It’s a way of taking the man or woman off of the streets while he or she is still a child.

For the tutors who work with the kids, that means confronting head-on some uncomfortable realities and dealing with them.

“The running theme I’m encountering is that the kids learn, but they don’t know why they’re learning,” said Kelauni Cook, 24, a certified substitute teacher with District 209. “I feel like they do it just because they know they should, so they give up easily when they don’t know it.”

Despite the challenges, however, the intensive, intimate approach seemed to be working for students like Young. The Irving student said that before he began receiving the individualized assistance, he was a ‘D’ student. Now, he said, he’s getting ‘C’s’ and ‘B’s.’

“It really seems like they care about us here,” said Young. “It’s helped me make a lot of friends, too.” VFP

Photographs: Gordon Hanson, standing, assists Darian Mobley with a chess move. Below, embedded, students take a lunch break. 

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