Auditorium grant will enable renovations to begin

Time to read
3 minutes

Auditorium grant will enable renovations to begin

August 30, 2021 - 21:00
The commentary below represents the ideas, observations and opinions of the author.

As the Homewood Arts Council’s new lease for use of the village hall auditorium begins, village officials are looking ahead to the beginning of big improvements for the facility and the possibility that they will bolster the downtown economy.

State Rep. Thadeus Jones helped secure a $500,000 grant that will enable the village to begin redeveloping the auditorium on the east side of village hall. The 1939 facility needs significant updating in order to serve as an arts and entertainment center.

Jones stopped by Homewood village hall on Saturday, Aug. 14, and one question village officials had for him: When will the grant money arrive? No specific date has been set, but Village Manager Jim Marino said when the money is in hand, the village is ready to get to work.

He has a list of improvements that would be the first phase of what could be a long-term project. The village is consulting with Ron Onesti, president of Onesti Entertainment, whose company operates performing arts centers in St. Charles, Des Plaines and Evanston.

Marino said the village hopes eventually to develop something similar that will attract more people downtown.

“It’s bringing people here. We need foot traffic. We need density. People coming to attractions downtown will eat downtown,” he said.

The idea of developing a performing arts center is one village officials have discussed for years. The state grant will trigger the first big step in that direction.

Hula for happiness
Raiye Rosado of Rabid Brewing has a simple recipe for happiness (in addition to fine craft beers): Hula hooping.

She’s persuasive enough that she even got me to give it a try at the Homewood Farmers Market a few weeks ago. With her instruction, I was able to keep a hoop going for half a minute, which was about 28 seconds longer than I could have done on my own.

I admit it. It was fun.

“It’s instant happiness,” she said. “It is impossible to do it and not smile.”

My wife, Amy, hulas for exercise. So if health and happiness can be achieved with a simple plastic hoop, I guess I need to get with the program.

Ben, left, and Evelyn Pinto of Homewood enjoy some hula hooping at the Aug. 4 Homewood Farmers Market. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

The speeding problem
On my way home from work the other night, traveling the quiet backroad along Glenwood-Lansing Road, I was passed four times in a 25 mph zone.

Cars zipped around on the left, on the right, none going less than 40 mph.

I was going the speed limit — a practice I adopted out of a profound aversion for crashes and speeding fines — and obviously, I was keeping other drivers from getting to their destinations as much as two minutes sooner than if I was not slowly taking up space in front of them.

Village officials are quick to point out that it’s a problem nationwide. It is. There have been news stories all across the country about the increase in bad driving, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived.

But nobody seems to have a good solution. I have no brilliant ideas, either, although it looks to me like one of those big social problems that might take a generation of effort to steer us in a new direction, kind of like the long anti-smoking campaigns of the late 20th century.

I’m wondering what you think. How can we make our streets safer? Write to [email protected] if you have an idea you want to share. Put SPEEDING in the subject line.

New events in October
Liz Smith, owner of Serendipity Yoga Studio, recently announced that her studio, in partnership with the village of Homewood and Nexus Counseling Services will be organizing the first Homewood Wellness Festival.

The event, she said, will allow guests to “connect with a variety of vendors sharing services and products which help bring awareness of and balance to the body, mind and spirit.”

The event will take place in the village hall auditorium from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 23. For more information, visit

Homewood Events Manager Allisa Opyd said the village also will host Dia de los Muertos on Oct. 15 from 5 to 9 p.m.

The Day of the Dead traditionally is celebrated on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, and its origins, as with many holidays, are a matter of some disagreement. Its modern observance is linked to central and southern Mexico and is perhaps a mix of Indigenous practices and Catholic holy days brought to Mexico by the Spanish.

Opyd said Homewood’s festival was scheduled to improve the chances of good weather for an outdoor event.

2020 census: H-F grows a bit
Homewood and Flossmoor have grown slightly in the past 10 years. According to 2020 census data published by the Chicago Tribune, Flossmoor has added 240 residents, a 2.5% increase, since the 2010 census. Homewood's growth was smaller, 140 residents, a 0.7% increase. The 2020 census puts Flossmoor's population at 9,704 and Homewood's at 19,463. That puts the H-F community at 29,167 people.