Local News, Opinion

The Weeks | Aug. 6: Juanita Mitchell dies, parking lot redevelopment questions, new merged church in Homewood, Homewood trustees thank residents for showing up

Loss: Juanita Mitchell

Flossmoor matriarch Juanita Mitchell died Friday, Aug. 4, at age 111, according to ABC7 News

Juanita Mitchell birthday IMG_2323_web
Juanita Mitchell, seen here at 108, died Friday at 111. (Provided photo)

She was known for her sense of style. She witnessed history, from Louisiana floods to troops mustering for service in World War I to the Red Summer Chicago race riots in 1919. 

For a story in the Chronicle on the occasion of her 105th birthday, she told reporter Carrie Steinweg the secret of her longevity: Pray. Believe in God. Take care of your children and demand respect from them. And always wear a hat to church on Sunday.


New video series: Conversations with the Chronicle

This week we plan to launch the first installment in an occasional series of video conversations with local leaders and newsmakers. The first two-part episode is an interview with Congresswoman Robin Kelly, state Rep. Debbie Meyers-Martin and Commissioner Donna Miller. We discuss their work on policing reform three years after they pledged to act in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing.

If you have suggestions for future interviews, let us know.

Local News Alliance members in the news

We are very proud of our colleagues in the Local News Alliance for getting some well-earned recognition in bigger media outlets.

Amethyst Davis, founder of Harvey World Herald, was featured July 28 in the Chicago Tribune, where she told how and why she started HWH: She wanted to fill a news void.

Melanie Jongsma and Josh Bootsma of the Lansing Journal were featured in an Editor & Publisher piece. They talked about the role the Journal plays in developing and nurturing a sense of community in the village.



Flossmoor District 161 Board of Education will meet in special session at 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7, in Normandy Villa, 41 E. Elmwood Drive, Chicago Heights. 

  • Find the agenda here.
  • Highlights: The board will consider three professional development program contracts, one for $77,100 with DeEtta Jones and Associates to provide diversity, equity and inclusion training; one for $65,400 with Capturing Kids’ Hearts for schoolwide relationship building; and one for $200,300 with the Marzano Group for guiding students to standards-based proficiency. 

Flossmoor Board of Trustees will meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7, in village hall, 2800 Flossmoor Road.

Homewood Board of Trustees will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8, in village hall, 2020 Chestnut Road. 

Homewood Planning and Zoning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10, in village hall, 2020 Chestnut Road. 

  • Find the agenda here.
  • Send comments to [email protected].
  • Attend virtually here or call 312-626-6799. Use ID 991 8481 1606 and passcode 573812. 
  • Highlights: The commission will consider a special use permit and zoning variance to allow a ground-mount solar energy collection system for INX at 1000 Maple Ave. and a special use permit for a crematorium at 17803 Bretz Drive.


Vollmer Road section closed
Vollmer Road between Kedzie and Western avenues will be closed 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 9, by the Cook County Department of Transportation & Highways to allow the Flossmoor Public Works Department to safely pick up litter and perform some minor maintenance work. Only local traffic will be allowed through the Vollmer Road and Western Avenue intersection during those hours. 

Stuff to do

Chronicle at the market
The Chronicle will have a table at the Homewood Farmers’ Market from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9. Editors will be there to listen to readers’ story ideas, concerns or suggestions. Stop by and let us know what you think.

Trail Mix concert to feature Phoebe Hunt
Singer and fiddle player Phoebe Hunt will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, at Izaak Walton Nature Preserve, 1100 Ridge Road in Homewood, part of the Trail Mix concert series. Tickets are available here

Clothing swap at Gaia’s Aug. 13
Gaia Market & Refillery will hold a clothing swap from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13. Anyone can bring gently used clothes, shoes and bags to 1948 Ridge Road in Homewood and swap for items with other participants. The store will serve tea and cocktail kit samples. Any leftover clothing items will be donated to Chicago Textile Recycling.

Chili cook-off entry forms available
The centerpiece of Homewood’s Fall Fest is the annual chili cook-off. Fill out an entry form and email it to Marla Youngblood at [email protected]. Fall Fest will be held on Sept. 23. Festival goers typically pay a small donation to get a chance to taste the chili entries, and the proceeds go to a local nonprofit organization. The village is also seeking food, craft and art vendors for the festival. Find the application form here.

Program on atrial fibrillation and anticoagulation
Homewood Public Library will host a meeting from 6 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 9, on atrial fibrillation and anticoagulation. The program for adults will be led by Dr. Abdul Ghani. Register here. For more information, contact Nathan Hare at 708-798-0121.

Program on immunity boosting foods

Flossmoor Public Library will host a program from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 10, on foods that boost immunity and help fight inflammation. The program for adults will be in the Helen Wilson Meeting Room. The presenter will be Christine Rosandich, nutrition educator with the Cancer Support Center. For more information, contact Janet DiCastro, 708-798-3600 ext. 112 or [email protected].

STEM Saturdays on Aug. 12: Birds
STEM Saturdays is a free weekly science program sponsored by the Homewood Science Center, 18022 Dixie Highway. On Saturday, Aug. 12, the Forest Preserves of Cook County will offer a presentation on birds.


This is how it’s supposed to work

Homewood residents filled the board room for the July 25 meeting, and 10 of them commented on agenda items, asking questions and challenging plans for the sale and redevelopment of the village hall parking lot.

Not since the Calumet Country Club controversy in 2021 have so many people shown up to talk about an issue.

Trustees thanked residents for taking the time to show and share their views. 

“I’m so glad to see these chairs full,” Trustee Anne Colton said. “This is exactly what an engaged community looks like. We need you guys to come and tell us what you think.”

“I haven’t been on the board for very long but I’ve never seen this many people here,” Trustee Julie Willis said. “A lot of the comments have given me a lot to think about, things that I wouldn’t have considered before. It’s always good to have people here to give their input.”

Trustee Jay Heiferman and Mayor Rich Hofeld reminded those present that they hold regular opportunities for conversation with residents. Heiferman is at the Starbucks on Harwood Avenue at 5 p.m. every first Monday of the month. Hofeld has office hours in the lobby of village hall, 2020 Chestnut Road, from 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday.

I like it when people show up to ask questions at meetings because that prompts more detailed explanations about the various factors involved in any given issue, which helps me write better stories. We’ve published two so far from the July 25 meeting and have at least two more in the works. 

State expands reasons for virtual attendance

Municipal Minute, a newsletter from Ancel Glink law firm that reports on legal matters affecting municipalities, reported recently that the state Open Meetings Act has been amended to expand the reasons a member of a public body can opt to attend meetings virtually.

P.A. 103-311 “authorizes a member of a public body to attend remotely if the absence is due to an “unexpected childcare obligation.”

“Prior to this amendment, a member could attend electronically (if approved by the public body) if he or she was absent due to (1) personal illness or disability; (2) employment purposes or the business of the public body; or (3) a family or other emergency.”


Flossmoor’s Gloria Lippert receives NJCW honor
Gloria Lippert became only the fifth woman in the 102-year history of the National Council of Jewish Women South Cook Section to receive the Hannah G. Solomon Award, named for the founder of the national organization. Lippert was honored at a banquet Aug. 1 at Idlewild Country Club. Congresswoman Robin Kelly delivered the keynote address.

St. Paul merges with Faith United to form new congregation
Editor Marilyn Thomas reported on the recently completed merger of St. Paul Community Church in Homewood and Faith United Protestant Church of Park Forest. The new congregation will be known as Abundant Grace Church of Christ in Homewood.

Residents question process used for parking lot redevelopment deal
Homewood and developer HCF Homewood II entered into a letter of intent July 25 to explore the possibility of building a five-story, 59-unit residential structure on the village hall parking lot.

Police, residents have fun at H-F National Night Out gatherings
Reporter Nick Ulanowski covered Homewood’s National Night Out event Aug. 1 in Irwin Park. As is customary, the event featured a visit from a University of Chicago Medicine helicopter and included games and opportunities for kids to explore police vehicles and learn about equipment officers use. Jalyn Edwards’ report from the Flossmoor National Night Out event should be posted tomorrow.

Community members play a hoola hoops game refereed by the DJ at National Night Out in Irwin Park. (Nick Ulanowski/H-F Chronicle)
Community members play a hoola hoops game refereed by the DJ at National Night Out in Irwin Park. (Nick Ulanowski/H-F Chronicle)

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