Hartford 2022-02-16 082_web
Local News

Here First | Feb. 17

Black History Month pop-up shop on Saturday. Flossmoor Board of Trustees meeting on Monday has been canceled. More local government meetings. Story of the week. Loss of popular local businessman. COVID-19 stress levels at local hospitals.

The future

We predict that …

  • The problem of 183rd Street will be the cover feature for our March print edition. Reporter Carole Sharwarko offers a closer look at the traffic study commissioned by the village to discover possible solutions to problems on the main thoroughfare. She talked with village officials about the complexities involved in making the busy road safer. Homewood and Flossmoor residents should see copies in the mail by late next week.
  • Black History Month Pop-up Shop. You Matter 2 is hosting a pop-up shop from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19, at the Flossmoor Community House, 847 Hutchison Road in Flossmoor. There will be shopping, music and history. Masks and proof of vaccination required for entry.
  • Flossmoor Public Library will be closed Monday, Feb. 21, for Presidents Day.
  • [CANCELED] Flossmoor Board of Trustees will meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 21, in village hall, 2800 Flossmoor Road. Check here for the agenda. (The next board meeting will be Monday, March 7.)
  • Homewood Board of Trustees will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, in village hall, 2020 Chestnut Road. Check here for the agenda.

The past

You were there because we were there …

The power of play. The last line of Flossmoor resident and cultural critic Badia Ahad-Legardy’s book, “Afro-Nostalgia: Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture,” sums up the term: “Afro-nostalgia figures in Black lives as a desire to experience the past as a site of romantic reclamation and to build from it a future worth being nostalgic for.”

The 40+ Double Dutch Club is a local example. Black women who played jump rope and other simple games as children, in part because their options were limited, have reclaimed those games as adults, playing their way to mental and physical health and forming a growing community that includes thousands of members across the nation and in two other countries.

Their story was our cover feature in the Feb. 1 print edition. Read “The Power of Play” online.

H-F athletes sign with colleges. David P. Funk’s two stories on college signings provided a look at where some of Homewood-Flossmoor High Schools star athletes are headed next in their education and sports careers.

Designer Balloon Boutique. Reporter Nick Ulanowski interviewed April and Jon Steele last week to introduce their new business on Dixie Highway in Homewood.

What we’re watching

Not on TV. Interesting issues that have an impact on our community …

Ready to rise. The Hartford Building foundation was finished a few weeks ago. On Wednesday, Feb. 16, materials were positioned to begin the construction of the rest of the building. The four-story structure will dominate downtown Homewood, providing three floors of apartments and a first-floor restaurant, Stoney Point Grill.

The pieces are in place Wednesday, Feb. 16, for the construction of the Hartford Building to resume. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Checking on local hospital stress. State health officials have been turning away from case numbers as a reliable gauge of pandemic severity. The prevalence of at-home tests, the results of which are often not reported to public health authorities, means the case counts could be less accurate.

Hospital stress levels are considered a truer reading of pandemic impact. The picture those statistics provide shows that the downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases continues.

We checked NPR’s online tool for reporting hospital capacity rates. A ratio of COVID-19 hospitalizations to total beds that is higher than 10% is cause for concern. Higher than 20% and the facility is considered to be in “extreme stress.”

Two local hospitals in the report, Franciscan Health in Olympia Fields and UChicago-Ingalls Memorial in Harvey, were under significant stress in late January. Both have seen dramatic improvement since then.

In the charts below, the first number is the percentage of adult in-patient beds used for COVID-19 patients. The second number is the percentage of total adult in-patient beds used. The third number is the percentage of adult ICU beds used for COVID-19 patients. The fourth number is the percentage of total ICU beds used. The fifth number is the seven-day average of COVID-19 patients.

Franciscan Health Olympia Fields
Late January 34% 90% 51% 99% 77
Feb. 3 19% 83% 30% 98% 44
Feb. 17 7% 81% 17% 84% 17
Ingalls Memorial Hospital Harvey
Late January 35% 75% 46% 89% 75
Feb. 3 28% 77% 48% 100% 60
Feb. 17 7% 75% No data 85% 16

(Note: Advocate South Suburban in Hazel Crest is not represented in the results.)


The H-F community is mourning the loss of Dane Hartmann this week. The face of Pete’s Auto on Dixie Highway in Homewood died suddenly on Feb. 13. He was 64.

Mr. Hartmann was lauded for his energy, kindness and positive demeanor for everyone who came to the shop.

A. Rene Moore posted a message on the Facebook group Moms & Dads/Friends & Neighbors of Homewood-Flossmoor.

“Dane, the man many know as being the burst of energy to greet you at Pete’s Auto, passed away. His soul was so full of positive energy, I’m sure it will be felt forever. Strength and love to his family and friends. I know that I’ll miss our quick talks and his jokes dearly. May he rest peacefully,” she said. Her comment sparked an outpouring of similar tributes.

The Chronicle staff remembers him fondly as one of our first advertisers and supporters. There was a Pete’s Auto ad in the first two print editions back in late 2015, early 2016. His support helped us get the print edition up and running, and it’s still going.

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