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Local News

Here First | Feb. 25

New business coming to former Office Max location. H-F wrestlers rule. Mask rules ease. Homewood Indoor Farmers Market returns Saturday.

A special Friday edition of our weekly Thursday newsletter. (Yes, I missed my own deadline.)

Quote of the week

“We are having civil discourse on this topic. That’s why we’ve gotten through the last two years. Our continued support of each other through this in despite our difference of opinion is really going to impact our students. We’re going to face the next phase of the challenge together.”

District 153 board member Jim Schmidt commenting on the interactions between the board and parents over the controversial issue of whether to continue a mask mandate in Homewood schools. The same issue has not gone as well in districts around the country. There have been reports elsewhere of shouting matches and threats when dealing with pandemic restrictions.

The future

We predict that …

  • Homewood Indoor Farmers Market will be open from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 26, in the Irwin Community Center, 18120 Highland Ave.
  • Flossmoor School District 161 Board of Education will hold a committee of the whole meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, at the district offices, 41 E Elmwood Drive, Chicago Heights. Check Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday new guidelines that ease mask recommendations for most of the country.
  • Native plant sale pre-order deadline looms. March 1 is the deadline to order native plants from Izaak Walton Nature Preserve, according to the organization’s February newsletter. The annual sale, co-sponsored with the Thorn Creek Audubon Society, will hold a plant pick-up and open ordering session from 9 to noon on May 21.
  • Homewood Planning and Zoning Commission will meet March 24. The meeting planned for last night was canceled because both issues on the agenda, a special use permit for a second parking garage at the Wind Creek Casino and a parking variance for a proposed event venue by Emerald City Services, were continued.
Thomas Furlan plays guitar while Angela Thomas, right, and young Elloren Thomas, floor, listen during the Jan. 25, 2020, indoor market, one of the last before the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to indoor markets. (Chronicle file photo)

Biz news

Burlington Coat Factory has leased the space formerly occupied by Office Max at 17825 Halsted St. in Homewood. Office Max closed its store in late 2020. A request for a sign variance will be considered March 3 by the Homewood Appearance Commission. The company is requesting signage totally 479 square feet, which is 169 square feet more area than allowed by ordinance.

The former Office Max store will soon be the home of Burlington Coat Factory. The company will present a request next week for a sign variance to the Homewood Appearance Commission. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Stories of the week

You were there because we were there …

Wrestlers rule. David P. Funk reported on the Homewood-Flossmoor High School wrestlers success at the state tournament, the best performance in school history.

Three of H-F’s star wrestlers, Jaydon Robinson, Vincent Robinson and Deion Johnson, pause for a photo at the state wrestling tournament. (Provided photo)

Celebrating DEI. Quinton R. Arthur interviewed former H-F High School staff member Donna Brumfield to learn more about her two decades of work on local diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. She was involved in the founding of Diversity Dinners, a south suburban tradition designed to promote understanding and healing among people of different races.

What we’re watching

Not on TV. In the world. What are you watching? Let us know what we should keep an eye on.

Checking on hospital stress. Health officials say hospitalization and death rates are more reliable metrics for checking the severity of the pandemic, and the numbers there continue to improve. We checked in with the NPR hospital tracking tool to see how local facilities are doing. Progress has slowed, but numbers continue to improve.

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
Feb. 17 7% 81% 17% 84% 17
Feb. 25 6% 82% No data 71% 13
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
Feb. 25 6% 75% No data 60% 12

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

NPR uses Data from the Department of Health and Human Services and University of Minnesota COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project.

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