Local News, Opinion

Half Week | Feb. 28: Thornton Township meeting, Skate to the Polls, Aging Grace, election trust

Half Week is a test. Our weekly newsletter, The Weeks, can get very long sometimes. We thought maybe it would be better to split it in two parts 1) Meetings, events, activities and links to the previous week’s stories on Sunday and 2) News briefs and commentary on Wednesday. Let us know what you think. Email [email protected].

Skate to the Polls: If you’re 16, you can register to vote. Three local organizations are hosting a skating party from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at Tinley Park Roller Rink, 17658 Oak Park Ave. that will help teens 16 and older register to vote. To vote in the March 19 primary election, teens have to be 17 years old by Election Day and turn 18 on or before the general election on Nov. 5, but 16-year-olds can register, too. Their applications will be held until they turn 18. The event is sponsored by Jack and Jill of America, The League of Women Voters Homewood-Flossmoor and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Chicago Metropolitan Chapter. Register here.

Aging Grace: A Retreat for the Sandwich Generation(s) and The Folks That Raised Them. This workshop from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at Flossmoor Community Church, 2018 Hutchison Road, will be an opportunity “to learn, connect, and empower folks who are navigating the challenges and joys of planning, caregiving and aging together.” The keynote speaker will be Dr. Cheryl Woodson, a geriatrician, health science educator and award-winning author of “The Doctor Is In: Answering Your Questions about How to Survive Caregiving, and To Survive Caregiving.” The Chicago Playback Theater Ensemble will help bring the participants’ stories to life onstage through interactive improvisational theater, movement and music. There will also be vendors from organizations that providing practical resources in planning for aging. 


The free workshop is sponsored by The Flossmoor Community Church Diaconate Board and Pastoral Care Ministries. Registration is required. Click here to register.

Homewood wins conservation award. Homewood announced on its Facebook page that the village’s public works department was recognized by The Conservation Foundation for its responsible use of salt to combat winter driving conditions. Village officials said the award “recognized our forward-thinking approach to winter de-icing operations and commitment to collaboration and cooperation with neighboring communities. Standard salting practices overuse salt, spreading more salt than necessary to melt snow and ice, and this waste comes at the cost of clean water in local rivers, streams, and lakes.”

Pancake breakfast. Local Boy Scout Troop 342 and Cub Scout Pack 304 will be holding the annual pancake breakfast fundraiser on Saturday, April 13 at Abundant Grace United Church of Christ, 18200 Dixie Highway in Homewood. All proceeds go to Homewood scouting programs. Scouts are canvassing neighborhoods selling tickets door-to-door for $5 each. Tickets can also be purchased at the door for $7.

Native plant sale. The Thorn Creek Audubon Society’s annual native plant sale will take place at Izaak Walton Nature Preserve, 1100 Ridge Road in Homewood on May 18. “The plants are native to Illinois and are preferred by local birds, bees and butterflies. They are also very attractive, and they are perennials; so, they will be around for years to come,” according to Izaak Walton officials.

H-F Basketball Update. The Viking boys varsity team beat Joliet West 68-66 on Tuesday, Feb. 27. The girls varsity team fell to Nazareth Academy 48-32 on Monday, Feb. 26. The girls were IHSA Sectional Champions after beating Lincoln Way-East 47-36 last week.


Shout out to Mayor Nelson. The Chronicle’s Black History Month cover feature included stories about local musicians who made a mark on the world, Jarad Higgins, aka Juice WRLD, and brothers Kirkland and the late Reginald “Sonny” Burke. We got the idea from Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson’s June 2023 proclamation declaring Black Music Month in the village. At the June 19 board meeting, Nelson invited several musicians who are current or former Flossmoor residents to join her on the dais for the reading of the proclamation, including Dewayne and Nina Sutton of Dynamic Sound; Peter ‘2Saxy’ Jordan; Curtis Jones, aka Green Velvet, aka Cajmere. There is a lot of talent in H-F. Thanks to Nelson for providing a spotlight.


Thornton Township OMA shenanigans. The Lansing Journal reported that the public was not allowed into the room when the Thornton Township Board of Trustees met on Feb. 13. Reporters and residents were sent to the basement, where a difficult-to-hear audio feed was the only access to township business being conducted upstairs. A Journal reporter was also denied entry into a Black History Month event because she had not signed a non-disclosure agreement. 

The Journal has done the heavy lifting for years covering Thornton Township, but the township includes a sizable portion of Homewood, so I thought it was time the Chronicle try to help out some. I was able to attend the Feb. 27 meeting to see whether the township leadership would continue to defy the state’s Open Meetings Act by keeping the public segregated from the trustees.

They did, at first. When I arrived, Josh Bootsma of the Journal was talking with a security guard who was directing all media to the basement. I joined the conversation. While we were talking, two residents arrived. They, too, were directed to the basement.

I went downstairs to see what the setup was like. There was a large video screen showing the board room, and the sound appeared to be working better than it had for the previous meeting, as Bootsma confirmed. He, the two residents, a Fox32 camera operator and I waited, but by 6:15 p.m. the meeting (scheduled to start at 6 p.m.) had not started. Bootsma went upstairs to see if we could get into the board room and was told that a trustee had instructed the security guard to let us go upstairs.

Supervisor Tiffany Henyard was not present. Trustee Gerald Jones was elected chair pro tem to run the meeting, which lasted a little more than 10 minutes. The board approved the bills, and that was about it. I asked Jones why Henyard did not attend. He said it was a last-minute thing, and he wasn’t sure about the reason.

Can you trust the election process? Whether voters participate in elections depends on a number of factors, including whether they trust the process to be fair, impartial and secure. The Cook County Clerk’s Office has a website devoted to answering questions about how the system works and how trustworthy it is.

Some of the questions addressed on the site include:

  •  Why should I trust what the government tells me about voting when there are so many reports of election fraud?
  • How trustworthy are mail-in ballots?
  • What’s being done to protect the voting system from hackers?
  • What’s being done to protect the system from misinformation and artificial intelligence?

Referenda. There are three questions on the ballot for Homewood voters who live in Thornton Township (north of 183rd Street, east of Western Avenue). The Chronicle has tried to contact township officials to find out more details on each question, but we have not yet received responses. The questions are:

  • Should the township open a second food pantry in the Township to provide food assistance to the residents of Thornton Township?
  • Shall Thornton Township levy an annual tax not to exceed 0.15% for purposes of providing community mental health facilities and services, including facilities and services for the person with a developmental disability or substance use disorder, which levy will have a single additional tax of a maximum of 0.15% of the equalized assessed value of the taxable property therein extended for such purposes? 1)The total approximate amount of taxes extendable at the most recently extended limiting rate is currently $19,902,561.82, and if this proposition is approved, the total approximate amount of taxes extendable will be $22,773,123.62. 2) For the 2024 levy year, the approximate amount of the additional tax extendable against property containing a single-family residence and having a fair market value at the time of the referendum of $100,000 is estimated to be $21.93 semiannually.
  • Should the township charge a fee of two dollars ($2.00) per person, which shall increase annually by the cost of living, for access to the township’s soup and salad bar?

Some elected officials who represent Homewood’s township voters have expressed opposition to the mental health facilities and services levy, including Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld.

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