Ken Norman house demo 2022-01-12 085
Local News

Here First | Thursday, Jan. 13

The future

We know prognosticating is risky. We predicted the District 161 board would meet this week and the meeting was canceled. Still, we soldier on and predict that …

  • Flossmoor trustees will meet at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18, in village hall, 2800 Flossmoor Road.
  • Homewood Public Library trustees will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 19, in the library’s large meeting room or the second floor Makery or multipurpose room, 19719 Dixie Highway.

The past

You were there because we were there …

The Ken Norman house is gone. The once unique mansion developed by NBA player Ken Norman sat abandoned for at least a decade, slowly crumbling. The landmark building was demolished on Wednesday, Jan. 12.

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The Chronicle was there livestreaming the demolition on Facebook. We posted photos and video on our website and Carole Sharwarko reported on how the project came about and what’s next for the site.

We will continue reporting on the project as the property owner seeks to be annexed by Flossmoor and plans to launch a crowdsourced financing effort later this month.

COVID-19 update, starring Omicron

When “milder” is not the same as “better” …

The Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, appears to be even more dangerous than early predictions suggested.

Omicron infections appear to cause milder symptoms than previous versions of the virus, affecting mostly the upper respiratory tract rather than the lungs. However, it still makes people sick, and it can make unvaccinated/boosted people very sick.

The big problem is its “… extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility,” according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as quoted in today’s edition of “Covering COVID-19.”

Omicron is fueling unprecedented exponential rises in cases and is threatening to overwhelm the nation’s hospitals.

CNN published a story on Tuesday that attempted to dissuade anyone who is tempted to think milder COVID-19 might be a reason to dispense with pandemic precautions and just let the virus run.

  1. It’s not a ‘bad cold.’
  2. You could get long COVID.
  3. You’re spreading the disease to children.
  4. You’ll stress the health care system.
  5. Don’t mess with Mother Nature.

An analogy that might help: Getting shot in the head is catastrophic. Getting shot in the leg is “milder.” But it’s much, much, much better not to get shot at all.

Today’s “Covering COVID-19” also includes a section on masks. Public health officials have been urging people to switch from cloth masks to K95 or KN95 masks, which offer more effective protection against the virus. The CDC has not issued new guidance, so for now, “any mask is better than no mask” is still the rule.

That might change, though, and the newsletter offers a graphic published by the San Francisco Chronicle that shows how to tell a legitimate N95 mask from a counterfeit.

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.

Making the trains run on time. Homewood and Flossmoor were born of the railroad and our economics remain tied to the rails. (Maybe that’s not the best image to use!) H-F residents have a stake in how well the railroads work, so it might be worth checking out the virtual public hearing being held on Jan. 21 as part of an assessment of the rail system and how to improve it.

“The information gathered will be used in the development of a statewide rail plan. It also will serve to inform IDOT’s ongoing Illinois Long-Range Transportation Plan, providing strategic direction for the development of the state’s transportation system,” according to the news release.

Villages seek properties for redevelopment. Homewood and Flossmoor are among dozens of municipalities seeking to acquire tax delinquent properties through the county’s No Cash Bid program. The Cook County Board of Commissioners will consider four requests from Homewood and one from Flossmoor at its meeting Thursday. We’ll follow up with the results of the board’s action and will check in with the villages periodically to see if any redevelopment projects take shape on any of these properties.

Homewood’s requests:

  • 3006 W. 183rd St., a nine-unit strip mall currently occupied by four tenants, including Great American Bagel restaurant. The village notes that the property is chronically underutilized and that it “intends to accommodate existing tenants wherever possible while rehabilitating and redeveloping the property.”
  • 3055 183rd St., which includes Big Lots and the former Brunswick Zone bowling alley, which left in 2015. The village notes: “Big Lots has announced its intention to relocate within the next year. The building has significant code violations. The Village intends to demolish the existing building and redevelop the property.”
  • 1221 W. 175th St., which the village describes as an an unoccupied three-story office building that has been vacant for 12 years.
  • 17701 Bretz Drive, vacant land the village hopes to offer for redevelopment.

Flossmoor’s requests:

  • Twenty-two vacant or unoccupied improved parcels, including property at 18708 Dixie Highway; 1615 Vollmer Road; 832 Sterling Ave.; 18762 and 18764 Springfield Ave.; 18833, 18835, 18837, 18839, 18841, 18843 and 18845 Crawford Ave.; 3211, 3213 and 3215 Flossmoor Road; 3648 198th St.; 19725 Governors Highway; and 1640 and 1648 Western Ave.

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