Snowflake spotters 2021-12-04 004_web
Local News

Here First | Thursday, Dec. 9

Editor’s note: This is the first edition of what we envision will be a weekly newsletter. Let us know what you think about the format and content. Write to [email protected]

Predicting the future

Prognostication is a pasttime fraught with peril. Nevertheless, we’re going to go out on a limb and confidently predict that …

Homewood Board of Trustees will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14. The agenda will be posted Friday afternoon on the village website.

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It’s time to spot the odd snowflake. The snowflake decorations are up in Homewood, and as always, Mayor Rich Hofeld invites sharp-eyed residents to find the one snowflake decoration that is different from the others. Anyone who does can stop by village hall from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays throughout December and claim a prize. The mayor has a choice of coupons from Krispy Kreme and Twisted Q to give to everyone who correctly identifies the location of the odd snowflake.

We know where the special snowflake is, but not by spotting it. We consulted the observant Jonah Maldonado and his brother, Caleb, who came to village hall last Saturday to claim a coupon. Our lips are sealed.

Caleb Maldonado, left, and his brother, Jonah, receive coupons from Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld on Saturday, Dec. 4, after correctly identifying the location of the unique snowflake among Homewood’s downtown holiday decorations. The boys visited village hall with their mother, Jennifer Maldonado of Homewood.

Gatherings

Saturday, Dec. 11:

  • Miracle on Martin. From 3 to 6 p.m., on Martin Square in downtown Homewood there will be caroling, carriage rides, an ice sculpture walk and, of course, making s’mores by the bonfire. The event is much smaller than the big, bright, busy Holiday Lights festival, which occurred Dec. 3, but it’s got a small-town charm that fills a holiday niche.
  • Holiday storytelling at Flossmoor Public Library. Emma L. Anderson, Homewood-Floossmoor High School grad and Chicago-based actress, will be telling stories at 1 and 2:30 p.m.
  • Windows on Sterling. Performances in the window of Gypsy Fix at 1056 Sterling Avenue will include the HF Suzuki Strings at 6 p.m., Marian Catholic High School Gospel Choir at 7 p.m. and Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra musicians at 8 p.m.

Postdicting the past

It’s a made-up word, yes. But you were there because we were there so we don’t care …

Casino (almost surely) coming. We broke the news within minutes of the Illinois Gaming Board’s vote to eliminate the Matteson site from contention for the south suburban casino license. The board found Wind Creek Illinois to be preliminarily suitable to receive the license.

The final decision is expected early in the new year, but it’s very likely the East Hazel Crest/Homewood site will be home to the new casino and hotel. Later that day we posted more details. The casino project is expected to generate about 800 new jobs for the South Suburbs but has some Homewood residents concerned about its impact on the village. More on that issue to follow.

Flossmoor’s gingerbread virtuoso. Janet Gustafson hosted tours of her elaborate gingerbread village, as she has done annually for years. Carrie Steinweg tells about this year’s display here. She also wrote a great story in 2017 about how the display is constructed.

No U-turn signs should get hazard pay. Homewood trustees recently voted to add “No U-turn” signs at the intersection of 183rd Street and Center Avenue. The village added pylons last year to prevent left turns at the intersection, an early move to improve safety after a fatal crash there in 2020. But motorists routinely make left turns anyway by doing U-ies around the pylons, which might be even more dangerous than a regular left turn. Judging by reaction to the story online, residents are skeptical the signs will make any difference. To the village, the signs are a small short-term step while more effective measures are studied.

Homewood Public Works Director John Schaefer confirmed the signs were installed Tuesday, Dec. 7. Both were knocked over soon after. The village plans to install new signs on the parkways and is considering painted signs on the pavement.

Flossmoor observes Hanukkah. Andrew Burke-Stevenson got the story and photos for the Chronicle as Flossmoor residents gathered at Park Place to light the first two candles of the menorah on Sunday, Nov. 28.

What we’re watching

Not on TV. These are things we’re paying attention to in the H-F community. Let us know what you’re watching. We’ll watch, too. link to email.

FLossmoor TIF. Flossmoor’s recent move to start a new downtown TIF district could mark a shift in strategy for the village, which has used the tool for financing economic development projects only sparingly in the past.

Homewood, on the other hand, always has a number of TIF districts going and added two more recently, the Dixie Highway/Miller Court district, intended to finance development on the site of the former Bogart’s Charhouse, and the Kedzie Gateway district, intended to boost develop in the area of 183rd Street and Kedzie Avenue.

We’ll be interested to see if Flossmoor’s move indicates a shift in economic development strategy generally for the village.

Updates

Sometimes things are happening but progress is not all that visible.

Hartford Building. A construction company representative stopped by Homewood village hall Thursday, Dec. 9, to pick up the permit to begin excavation prior to building the foundation. Work could start sometime next week, and the village is planning a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday afternoon.

The four-story building will replace the old Triumph Building, which was razed in August. The Hartford will have three floors of apartments and a restaurant, Stoney Point Grille, on the first floor.

The village hall auditorium. Village officials hope to renovate the old auditorium so it can serve as a performing arts center. They received word earlier this year that the state had allocated money to begin the project. According to Village Manager Jim Marino, the money still has not arrived, but the village is ready to get to work as soon as it does.

New Reporter Supporter Club membership system.As we reported recently, we are in the process of moving to a new system for readers to support the Chronicle’s work. The process is moving along but might take until mid- to late-January to complete. Our current vendor, LaterPay, is helping transfer subscriber information, so when the new system goes live, readers will receive notice when their subscriptions expire. The new system will require setting a password and providing payment information. We’ll have more details soon.

Reader support helps. This year was the first time we asked readers to provide significant support for the costs of producing daily news for our community. The costs of reporters, photographers and videographers so far this year was $25,500. With the $18,177 in additional revenue from subscriptions so far, we published 1,175 stories in the first 11 months of 2021, up from 1,034 the year before. We hope to continue to grow our coverage. We know there are more stories out there.

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