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Park Forest Library Announces September Events

The Park Forest Public Library is Open
The Park Forest Public Library is Open. (Photo: John Hudzik)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Park Forest Public Library has announced its line-up for September which features events of interest to patrons of all ages. 

For the younger crowd, there will be a Back-to-School Giveaway on Friday, September 3 at 11 AM with the first 20 kids getting a backpack full of useful school supplies.  There will be additional items available for those who do not receive the backpack.  No registration is required.

For teens 12-17, there is a DIY Pop Socket project at 11 AM on Friday, September 17.  Participants can customize their phone or make a gift for a friend.  All materials are provided.  Registration is required and begins at 9 AM on September 13.

For adults 18 and over interested in crafts, the library is offering wooden chalk board tray kits to create menus, trinket trays or wall hangings.  All materials are provided, but supplies are limited.  Registration opens on August 16 with pick-up on September 3 at 12 PM.

September’s Community Read book is “The Personal Librarian” by Marie Benedict. This story of J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, who was forced to hide her true identity as a Black American woman, is also a Good Morning America book selection.  Participants can pick up a free copy of the book to read at their leisure.  Registration to reserve a copy opens at 9 AM on August 30.

Patrons can pick up a free copy of Amanda Gorman’s new children’s book, “Change Sings!” on Thursday, September 30 at noon.  The picture book tells how we can make a difference when we join our voices together. Gorman recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration.  There are a limited number of copies available and registration for this offer opens on September 6.

There are also three virtual events offered in September.  The first is a September 11 remembrance from historical presenter Jim Gibbons.  The event is at 6:30 PM on Thursday, September 16.  Registered participants will receive an email the day prior to the event containing the Zoom link.

The second and third virtual events are Tasty Tuesdays with Chef Michael Niksic.  On September 7, the program will focus on the best banana bread recipes.  On September 21, the chef will discuss fresh baked challah.  Both events start at noon and will be available on the library’s YouTube Channel.

More information on all these events can be found on the library’s monthly water bill insert (shown here).

September-2021-Water-Bill-WC

The Park Forest Public Library is open for all services from 10 AM to 7 PM Monday through Thursday, and 10 AM to 5 PM on Friday and Saturday.

COVID-19 Pfizer Vaccine in Park Forest Saturday: Please Share

Park Forest Village Hall
Park Forest Village Hall. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

eNews Park Forest Strongly Encourages All to Get Vaccinated ASAP Against COVID-19

Please share this story widely and strongly encourage your friends and loved ones to get vaccinated.

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The COVID-1 Pfizer vaccine will be offered this Saturday, July 10, 2021, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Park Forest Village Hall. The first 100 participants who complete the vaccination series in full will receive a FREE Six Flags Trip with transportation AND a day pass to the Park Forest Aqua Center.

Anyone 12 or older is eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

The second dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine will be administered on Saturday, July 31, 2021, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Park Forest Village Hall.

Registration is simple.

QR code for COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine clinic in Park Forest
Scan the QR code above to register to receive the COVID-19Pfizer vaccine in Park Forest. (VOPF)

Scan the QR code above or CLICK HERE to view available slots and register.

The QR code takes you to a website4md cover page. THIS LINK takes you directly to the first part of the booking page for vaccinations.

Once on the booking page, select Existing Patient or New Patient.

Then, select Park Forest Village Hall.

Select Saturday’s date, July 10, 2021, to view available slots.

Fill out your information and enter the pass code Forest1234! to complete your registration in Park Forest.

The pass code again is Forest1234! — the code includes the exclamation point (!).

On the day of your vaccination, please arrive 10 minutes early to complete the consent form.

Anyone 12 or Older May Receive the COVID-19 Pfizer Vaccine

All those age 12 to 17 will need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

For more information, please contact Margaret Lewis at Village of Park Forest Recreation, Parks & Community Health, at [email protected] or 708-748-2005 ext. 5663.

eNews Park Forest strongly encourages everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. This virus is real and deadly serious. Protect yourself and your loved ones today.

The Pfizer vaccine is also available at CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens in Park Forest.

This event is organized through the Village of Park Forest and the Cook County Department of Public Health.

Richton Park Launches Support for Richton Square Fire Victims

December 4 extra alarm fire in Richton Park
The twisted aftermath of a December 4 extra alarm fire in Richton Park. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

This article is published for free, no subscription required.

Richton Park, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Twenty-six families have been displaced from their homes at Richton Square following a fire on December 4. In response, the Village of Richton Park launched an effort to support those without homes as the holidays approach and COVID-19 continues its post-Thanksgiving spike.

You may support that effort here.

Started by a gentleman frying chicken, the resulting blaze left the building where it struck a hollow shell with porches twisted and nearby vehicles baked from the scorching heat.

scorched car Richton Park fire
A scorched car with one salvageable tire in the parking lot near the building destroyed by fire in Richton Park. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

There were four alarms and two specials for the fire in the 3800 block of Canterbury Court in Richton Park, according to Box Alarm Photography on Facebook. That group published 36 photos of crews working to douse the inferno.

“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here today,” a woman told CBS Chicago, referring to those who knocked on her door and helped her leave her home of 30 years.

Her home now gone.

The Red Cross and the Village of Richton Park are assisting the families. Richton Park is organizing a drive for these 26 families who lost everything.

“The Village of Richton Park is providing resources and aid for the recovery of impacted Richton Square residents and their families. ANY donation is greatly encouraged and appreciated!” a flyer produced by the village says.

There is a drop-off box in Richton Park’s Village Hall. People may place a check/gift card in the drop-box. Checks must be made out to Richton Park with “Fire Victims” in the Memo.

Checks and/or gifts may also be mailed to:

Village of Richton Park
4455 Sauk Trail
Richton Park, IL 60471
Attn: Fire Victims

There is a clothing donation drop-off box as well.

Finally, people may donate online here: https://bit.ly/2VGEnbd.

Questions should be directed to Kenneth Jones, Community Relations Coordinator of the Village of Richton Park at [email protected], 708-821-2725.

Photographs from the scene taken Dec. 6, 2020:

Erratum: In an earlier version of this story, Mr. Kenneth Jones was erroneously identified as the Community Relations Coordinator of Park Forest instead of Richton Park. Thanks to a reader for pointing out the error.

Gary Man Convicted of Firearms Offense

Hammond, IN-(ENEWSPF)- Milton L. Harvey, Jr, age 42, of Gary, Indiana, was found guilty of a firearm offense following a 2-day jury trial in front of United States District Court Judge Philip P. Simon, announced United States Attorney Clifford D. Johnson.

Harvey was found guilty by the jury of being a felon in possession of a firearm in August of 2016.

Harvey’s sentencing will be set for a later date.  Any specific sentence to be imposed will be determined by the District Court Judge after consideration of federal statutes and the United States Sentencing Guidelines. 

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives with the assistance of the Gary Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nick Padilla and Kevin Wolff.

This is from a release from the United States Department of Justice.

Federal Judge Sentences Chicago Sex Trafficker to 30 Years in Prison

guilty mgn
(MGN)

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- A federal judge has sentenced a Chicago man to 30 years in federal prison for forcing women and children to engage in commercial sex acts in the city and suburbs.

From 2012 to 2014, CHARLES FEARS and a co-defendant, SAMUEL NICHOLS, operated a sex trafficking business through which they used force, fraud, and coercion to cause multiple women and children to engage in commercial sex acts and turn over the proceeds to Fears and Nichols.  The men supplied the victims, some of whom were as young as 13 years old, with drugs and alcohol while coercing them to participate in the commercial sex acts.  Fears and Nichols often hit, slapped, and punched the victims who worked for them, including incidents in which Fears put a victim’s head into a toilet after she broke his rules.  The pair openly flaunted their roles as traffickers, flashing money in social media posts and using the trafficking proceeds to fund a Chicago-area rap group that posted music videos online.

Fears, 28, of Chicago, pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal conspiracy and sex trafficking charges.  U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Kendall on Friday imposed the 30-year prison term for Fears and ordered that it be followed by court supervision for life.  Judge Kendall also ordered Fears to pay more than $1.6 million in restitution to the victims.

Nichols, 37, of Chicago, was sentenced in 2019 by Judge Kendall to life in prison.

Fears’s sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI.  Valuable assistance was provided by the Carol Stream, Ill., Police Department, Downers Grove, Ill., Police Department, and DuPage County Sheriff’s Office.

“Fears and Nichols controlled their victims physically and psychologically,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Streicker, Michelle Petersen, and Elizabeth Pozolo argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum.  “It is nearly impossible to comprehend the trauma Fears inflicted on his victims.”

If you believe you are a victim of sexual exploitation, you are encouraged to contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by logging on to www.missingkids.com/home or by calling 1-800-843-5678.  The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This is from a release from the United States Department of Justice.

Chicago Heights Man Sentenced to More Than Three Years in Federal Prison for Threatening Violence at 2021 Presidential Inauguration

Louis Capriotti
Louis Capriotti in a 2016 booking photo.

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- A Chicago Heights man was sentenced Tuesday to more than three years in federal prison for sending a series of threatening phone calls to various members of the United States Congress and threatening to commit violence at the 2021 presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C.

U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman sentenced LOUIS CAPRIOTTI, 47, of Chicago Heights, Ill., to 37 months in prison.  Capriotti pleaded guilty last fall to a federal charge of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce.  He has been in federal custody since his arrest on Jan. 12, 2021, and will receive credit for time already served.

The sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI.  The U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police participated in the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys James P. Durkin and William Dunne represented the government.

In a Dec. 29, 2020, voicemail for a U.S. House member, Capriotti stated that if certain individuals “think that Joe Biden is going to put his hand on the Bible and walk into that [expletive] White House on January 20th, they’re sadly [expletive] mistaken.”  Capriotti further stated in the voicemail, “We will surround the [expletive] White House and we will kill any [expletive] Democrat that steps on the [expletive] lawn.”

Capriotti in November and December 2020 left other threatening messages on the voicemail systems of other members of Congress, during which he falsely stated that he was an active U.S. Marine and referred to certain members of Congress as “terrorists.”

“Capriotti’s crime was a serious offense,” Assistant U.S. Attorney James P. Durkin argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum.  “Such threats must be taken seriously because they have real implications for the victims receiving them.”

This is from a release from the United States Department of Justice.

President Preckwinkle Announces Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot

Cook County Bureau of Economic Development announces Request for Proposal applications for organizations interested in program administration and outreach assistance for the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot

income inequality, guaranteed income
Income inequality is a scourge in our society. (Credit Credit: hyejin kang)

Cook County, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Today, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot. The pilot is the nation’s largest publicly funded guaranteed income initiative at $42 million, and Cook County is the first government to commit to a permanent program after the completion of the pilot.

The Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot will send monthly payments of $500 to 3,250 residents for two years. Applications to participate in the pilot will open this fall. 

The pilot will be funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars, part of the County’s $1 billion investment to help build a sustainable, affordable and equitable future for residents. These ARPA funds will have a transformative effect on the health, safety and quality of life for Cook County residents.

“Historically, both public and private institutions have been unwilling to directly invest in low-income people without significant restrictions attached. This red tape is in place not because any evidence shows that it is necessary, but rather because our society does not trust that people living in poverty have the character or ability to make good decisions for themselves,” President Preckwinkle said. “Cook County is reframing the way we think about government assistance and is proud to be leading the way in the American guaranteed income movement.”

County officials have committed to continuing the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot after its. This program will add to the research and literature on Guaranteed Income and shed light on poverty in the suburbs in ways never before seen.

“Direct cash policies are key to unlocking our neighbors’ potential. We are proud to partner with Cook County and President Preckwinkle in the launch of the nation’s largest guaranteed income pilot right here in our backyard. We are hopeful this effort will prove how a guaranteed income should be a permanent fixture for every policymaker working to help uplift communities both locally and across the country,” said Harish I. Patel, Director of Economic Security for Illinois.

Participants must be adults living in Cook County, be income-eligible (household income at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Guideline), and not be participants in other guaranteed income programs for the 24-month duration of the Cook County pilot. Unlike most of Cook County’s recovery initiatives and programming, participants from both the city and the suburbs will be able to apply and participate, however, the majority of the participant pool will be comprised of suburban residents. After the application window closes, participants will be selected through a lottery. 

“Research shows that low- and moderate-income people spend unrestricted money wisely” said Xochitl Flores, Chief of the Bureau of Economic Development. “Long-term, the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot will provide support which will lead to more financial stability as well as improved physical, emotional, and social outcomes for our residents.”

Today’s announcement included a call for proposals for a Payment Administration Partner and an Outreach and In-person Application Assistance Partner for the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot.

Informational webinars for both application opportunities will be held on Thursday, May 26. A session for interested Payment Administration Partners will take place from 11 am to 12 pm CT; a session for interested Outreach and In-Person Application Assistance Partners will take place from 3 pm to 4 pm CT. Please register by emailing [email protected]

All application questions must be received by 5 pm CT on Tuesday, May 31. Applications are due by 5 pm CT on Friday, June 10.

“With the establishment of a publicly-funded program at a large scale, Cook County is showing that guaranteed income is an idea whose time has come. Thousands of residents will soon be free of the worry that they cannot feed their children or pay their electricity bill — and can instead focus on building a life not of surviving, but thriving,” said Michael Tubbs, Founder of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income and former mayor of Stockton, CA. 

A major goal of the program is to learn how guaranteed income impacts residents and the local economy through an academic research partnership with the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab and the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice.

“We are thrilled to partner with Cook County on this important effort to expand economic opportunity for our community,” said Carmelo Barbaro, Executive Director of the Inclusive Economy Lab. “The Inclusive Economy Lab and the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice are committed to research partnerships, like this one, that leverage our faculty expertise and the talents and energy of our students to help policymakers tackle pressing issues.”

The University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice and Inclusive Economy Lab will serve as the research and evaluation partners for Cook County in support of its guaranteed income pilot and multiyear plan to tackle racial and economic inequities. This robust partnership leverages the University’s core strength in research and teaching, as well as its convening power and thought leadership, to accomplish three primary goals: 1) measure the impact of this pilot on outcomes of policy interest; 2) amplify the voices of the pilots’ participants, their families, and their communities; 3) and convene public conversations that lift up evidence-based recommendations for improving the design of future cash assistance programs.

To learn more about the Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot, and to sign up for updates, visit our website at www.engagecookcounty.com/promise

This is news from Cook County.

The following Ted Talk on Guaranteed Income was not sent with this story but serves to further explain the concept:

South Suburban College to Host Cook County Career Connect Free Hiring & Resource Fair on May 24

South Suburban College to host Cook County Career Connect Free Hiring & Resource Fair
South Suburban College South Holland Campus (Source: ssc.edu)

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- South Suburban College (SSC) will host the Cook County Career Connector Hiring & Resource Fair on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Kindig Performing Arts Center. This event marks the kickoff of the Cook County Career Connector program sponsored by Cook County and The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership) with support from Employment & Employer Services (E&ES) and the South Suburban American Job Center (AJC).

The Cook County Career Connector promotes a more inclusive and equitable economy as Cook County emerges from the pandemic by connecting County residents to quality jobs and connecting County employers to a skilled and diverse talent pool.

“The County is committed to utilizing American Rescue Plan Act dollars to provide opportunities to address the needs of both businesses and job seekers as we continue to recover from the upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Businesses today face historic challenges finding the talent they need and we also know that there are many people seeking new or better jobs. We launched the Career Connector program to make the critical connection between employer and job seeker.”

More than 20 ready-to-hire employers will be on hand in fields that include Manufacturing, Healthcare, Transportation, Distribution and Logistics (TDL), and other sectors. Employers include National Tube Supply, Symphony Care Network, Walgreens, Illinois Tollway Call Center, Amazon, PACE Suburban Bus, and more who will offer competitive wages and benefits.

Job seekers should bring at least 15 copies of their resume, dress appropriately, and be prepared to interview during the Career Connector Hiring & Resource Fair. Job seekers can register at ChiCookWorks.org/CCFair.

Masks and temperature checks are required for admittance to the college campus. The SSC Main Campus is located at 15800 S. State St. South Holland, IL 60473. The mission of South Suburban College is to Serve its Students and the Community through lifelong learning.

This is news from Cook County.

Kayla Newman of Park Forest Named to SNHU Dean’s List

Southern New Hampshire University, Kayla Newman
Southern New Hampshire University. (SNHU)

Manchester, NH-(ENEWSPF)- Kayla Newman of Park Forest has been named to Southern New Hampshire University‘s Winter 2022 Dean’s List.

Full-time undergraduate students who have earned a minimum grade-point average of 3.500 to 3.699 are named to the Dean’s List. Full-time status is achieved by earning 12 credits; undergraduate day students must earn 12 credits in the fall or spring semester, and online students must earn 12 credits over two consecutive terms (EW1 & EW2, EW3 & EW4, or EW5 & EW6).

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is a private, nonprofit institution with an 89-year history of educating traditional-aged students and working adults. Now serving more than 165,000 learners worldwide, SNHU offers approximately 200 accredited undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs, available online and on its 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH. Recognized as the “Most Innovative” regional university by U.S. News & World Report and one of the fastest-growing universities in the country, SNHU is committed to expanding access to high quality, affordable pathways that meet the needs of each learner. Learn more at www.snhu.edu.

Chicago Insurance Executive Sentenced to Four Years in Federal Prison

For Embezzling Nearly $6 Million From His Employer

jail bars, guilty, justice
(Credit: Mitchell Haindfield / CC BY 2.0)

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The former executive, controller of a Chicago-based insurance company, has been sentenced to four years in federal prison for embezzling nearly $6 million in company funds.

From October 2018 to June 2020, KEVIN J. MIX authorized approximately 42 wire transfers totaling more than $5.8 million from Insureon to his personal bank accounts and the accounts of shell companies that he created.  At the time, Mix was Insureon’s controller and was responsible for managing the company’s accounting operations.  Mix attempted to conceal the fraudulent transfers by making false entries in the company’s records, creating fake emails, and making false statements to company representatives and the company’s bank. 

Mix used the stolen money to purchase, among other things, several real estate parcels in the Chicago area and Ohio, Mercedes-Benz and Audi automobiles, multiple diamonds and gold bars, and membership for a private charter jet service. 

Mix, 43, of Chicago, pleaded guilty last year to a federal wire fraud charge.  In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow on Tuesday ordered Mix to pay $5,845,427 in restitution.

The sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI.  The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider.

This is a release from the United States Department of Justice.

Rep. Kelly Visits Kankakee County Farm with President Biden

President Biden & Secretary Vilsack announced new initiatives to reduce costs for farmers in the wake of Putin’s price hike

President Biden, Congresswoman Robin Kelly at the O'Connor Family Farms in Kankakee, Illinois
President Biden, Congresswoman Robin Kelly at the O’Connor Family Farms in Kankakee, Illinois. (Photo: White House)

Kankakee, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-02) visited O’Connor Family Farms in Kankakee, Illinois on May 11 with President Biden and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. President Biden announced actions his administration is taking to support American farmers, reduce food prices, and feed the world.

“I am thrilled to have welcomed President Biden to the Second Congressional District today, which is home to over 1,200 family-owned farms. President Biden and his administration are working to reduce costs for farmers and to mitigate supply chain issues facing consumers,” said Congresswoman Kelly. “I applaud President Biden for the measures he announced today – doubling funding for domestic fertilizer production, increasing assistance for soil nutrient management, and expanding double-cropping insurance – which will help farmers like Jeff and Gina O’Connor.

“It is an honor to work on behalf of Illinois’ farmers and I will continue working with President Biden to reduce costs for farmers and consumers and strengthen our supply chains.”

Putin’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine has cut off a critical source of wheat, corn, barley, oilseeds, and cooking oil. It has also disrupted global supply chains for fertilizer, which farmers depend on to maximize yields. These and other actions, combined with the ongoing pandemic-related disruptions to global supply chains, have put pressure on food prices, with global food prices increasing nearly 13 percent following Putin’s invasion.

America’s farmers are the breadbasket of democracy and are already playing a critical role in the fight against Putin’s Price Hike. During President Biden’s first year in office, American agricultural exports shattered all previous records, reaching a combined $177 billion, generating an estimated $378 billion in total economic output, and supporting 1.3 million jobs here in the United States.

Today, the President announced new actions to give farmers the tools and resources they need to boost production, lower food prices, and feed the world. As the world’s second-largest exporter of wheat and soybeans, these actions will help grow new markets for American-grown food, supporting jobs in rural communities across America. Specifically, the Biden-Harris Administration will:

  • Increase the number of counties eligible for double cropping insurance:
    • Double cropping allows farmers to plant a second crop on the same land in the same year, helping boost production without relying on farmers to substitute crops or cultivate new land. But it is not free from risk and some farmers who practice double-cropping cannot obtain crop insurance, including those in Kankakee County, Illinois.
    • The Biden-Harris Administration is seeking to expand insurance for double cropping to as many as 681 additional counties, bringing the total number of counties where this practice qualifies for crop insurance to as many as 1,935, so more American farmers have the financial security they need to start or expand double cropping.
  • Cut costs for farmers by increasing technical assistance for technology-driven “precision agriculture” and other nutrient management tools:
    • Precision agriculture is a farm management system that allows farmers to use technology to target the application of inputs to soil and plant needs, resulting in less fertilizer usage without reducing yields, saving farmers money over time, and extending the usefulness of critical products in short supply worldwide.
    • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has planning and cost-sharing assistance programs available to help American farmers with nutrient management. The Biden-Harris Administration is working to boost outreach to farmers, streamline the application process, and prioritize application approvals to expand access to these critical programs.
  • Double funding for domestic fertilizer production:
    • Fertilizer prices have more than doubled since last year, due in part to supply chain disruptions created and exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including rising energy costs.
    • President Biden is announcing that he is doubling his initial $250 million investment in domestic fertilizer production to $500 million to lower costs and boost availability for farmers, so they can obtain the inputs they need at prices they can afford to maximize yields.

This is news from Congresswoman Robin Kelly’s office.

For the First Time (Ever?) Non-Partisan Committee Raises Dues

Vote! Non-Partisan Committee to raise dues
Get involved and vote! (MGN)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Committee for Non-Partisan Local Government in Park Forest is a small group of dedicated, unpaid volunteers who facilitate communication between candidates running for local office and the residents in the community. For decades, membership dues to the Non-Partisan Committee have been locked at $3.

Why do we volunteer? Because volunteerism has always been strong in Park Forest, because this is a way to serve the community, and because life is about service. But the committee itself needs increased revenue to grow.

Park Forest began as an idea, a new suburb 40 miles south of Chicago, a planned community designed to provide housing for veterans returning from World War II. This self-governing community was built for the newly emerging middle class. The suburbs had previously been reserved for the upper class. Park Forest was a totally new idea, presented by village planners at the Palmer House in Chicago in October 1946, and making its debut as a village with residents in 1948.

From the beginning, Park Forest relied on its residents to participate in its governance. And residents were eager to participate in the new village. Non-Partisanship was the practice adopted from day one, and the Non-Partisan Committee was created seven years later, in 1955.

The Non-Partisan Committee facilitates communication between the candidates running for local office and the residents in the community and maintains a neutral stance on all the candidates throughout the election cycle. The NPC facilitates communication by hosting public forums held at Village Hall for candidates to meet the residents, and by distributing a candidate statement brochure.

The brochure features a headshot, or photo, of each candidate, and a written statement by each candidate telling the residents their ideas for leadership and why they should be elected.

The committee maintains a website, now under redesign, with time and labor donated.

Non-Partisanship is important because it asks each candidate to stand up as an individual and speak to the people about his or her ideas for leadership, without the crutch of leaning on or being endorsed by a political party, and without forming a slate with other candidates. Every candidate is an individual, and the residents get to know the ideas and motivation of each individual.

As the Non-Partisan Committee’s responsibilities haven’t changed since its inception 67 years ago, the membership dues haven’t changed much in that time either. So we are catching up with the times and updating our membership dues. With more, we can talk about doing more, and better reach the 21st century voter.

New Dues for the Non-Partisan Committee Follow

  • Individual – $20
  • Senior – $15
  • Family – $30
  • Contributing – $50
  • Organization – $100
  • Angel – $250

Membership Dues help the NPC pay for-the website domain, the organization’s post office box, voter registration contact information from the state which we give to each candidate, fees to maintain our standing as a non-profit organization with the state, photocopies of the candidate statement brochure-photocopies of the NPC membership brochure, snacks for forums or coffees when appropriate, and more.

As a paying member, one has the privilege of using his or her voice to ask prepared questions of the candidates out loud at the public forums.

The Non-Partisan Committee’s bank balance is low because we have not had the opportunity to have in-person forums due to the pandemic.

Today is the day to get involved in our local government, to support the free, volunteered services of the Non-Partisan Committee, and to do your part to serve the community as we maintain non-partisan elections in Park Forest.

Your support is greatly appreciated.

Learn more here: https://www.pfnpc.org/ or email the Non-Partisan Committee at [email protected]

Elissa Seeman serves as Secretary of the Committee for Non-Partisan Local Government in Park Forest.

Heartstopper and Why Your Queer Friends Are a Bit More Cheery These Days

Heartstopper
Heartstopper aired first on April 22, 2022, just three short weeks ago. (Netflix)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Do you have queer friends? You more than likely do, though they very well might have grown up trying to remain hidden, out of sight. That was the case for many of us who are part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Then came Heartstopper, only three weeks ago released on Netflix, and many of us felt joy, and cheer, and began to dream again, to hope, and heal.

Heartstopper is not a typical young adult romance by any means. As someone who has worked with LGBTQ+ youth for over three decades, I approached this show as something that might become part of my discussions with young people as they work to navigate a world that is still harshly homophobic and transphobic at times. But then the story of Charlie and Nick finding each other began to speak to me about hurts and tears I had forgotten. it further tapped into hope and joy I never imagined possible.

Perhaps my reflections can help others as this show has helped me.

Here’s a story with no drugs, no alcohol, no sex, no swearing, and no tantrums or arguments with parents.

The series, in eight short episodes, is based on webcomics that became graphic novels by Alice Oseman, “an award-winning author, illustrator, and screenwriter, and was born in 1994 in Kent, England.” The series has catapulted its young cast to quick fame, Joe Locke as Charlie Spring, Kit Connor as Nick Nelson, Yasmin Finney as Elle Argent, Sebastian Croft as Ben Hope, William Gao as Tao Xu, Corrina Brown as Tara Jones, Cormac Hyde-Corrin as Harry Greene, Kizzy Edgell as Darcy Olsson, Georgina Rich as Charlie’s sister Jane Spring, and Olivia Coleman as Sarah Nelson, Nick’s mother.

The plot of Heartstopper is simple as described by Alice Oseman on her website, “Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love.” There’s a breathy, heartstopping moment when Charlie and Nick meet. And the story moves on from there. Each becomes the heartstopper of the other.

That’s it. It’s that simple.

Kit Connor and Joe Locke in Heartstopper
Kit Connor and Joe Locke in Heartstopper. (Netflix)

So what does this show bring us that speaks so deeply not only to young people still in school but also to young adults, middle-aged adults, and those of us approaching our older years?

The story presents us with hope and healing. We’re not living vicariously through Nick and Charlie, but their love, their romance, speaks to us of what might have been, and what still can be.

“I wish I’d met you when I was younger,” Nick tells Charlie.

I’ve read reflections from former students, well into their adult lives, who find themselves strangely and delightfully moved by this story. Some have watched the series many times, seeing themselves as they were or as they could have been. One was nice enough to tell me that I was the art teacher, Mr. Ajayi, for him when he was in high school.

“Back in [high school], things weren’t where we’d all like them to be, but you will always stand out as this person at Marian for me and it’s who I strive to be for the kids at my school,” he told me, linking his comments to this article.

That moved me incredibly.

This former student, now well-established in his own teaching career, puts all of this very well, “The beauty of this show has exposed so many aches I didn’t know were still there, that I probably never dealt with. A lot of the sadness is in realizing how much fundamental growth so many of us never got to have as adolescents and how many delays that cascaded later.”

He comments further on the show:

“I’ve been watching it pretty much on a loop for a week. It’s the most positive, healthy portrayal of and for queer youth I’ve ever seen. It has optimism in the face of the rough patches. It models ideal behavior when faced with obstacles. And it’s happy.

“It’s at once reassuring and is deeply therapeutic. But it’s also a little hard for everyone who never had a show like this because it’s talking to and healing something that a lot of us didn’t realize was still broken.

“I definitely never saw my experience of the world represented when I was 15. I am deeply grateful that the kids I work with can not only see themselves but also see healthy modeling for coping with what they face.

“Every time Nick holds his breath, I remember holding mine. And a lot of us still hold it from time to time. So, I’m happy/sad watching it, but overjoyed it’s there for kids.

“I really do encourage everyone to watch it.”

There’s a lovely simplicity when Nick comes out to his Mum, played by Academy Award-winning actress Olivia Coleman. We’re told that Ms. Coleman was so taken with Kit Connor’s sincerity in this scene that she cried for real during a rehearsal and had to be reminded of her lines, which in turn caused Kit Connor to “step up his game,” as he said.

“We normally sort of, before every scene, we read it through 50 percent. We were just reading it through and then suddenly Olivia just started crying and at first, I was thinking ‘god she’s just really good I need to step up my game massively here.'” Connor said.

All of which led to one of the most touching scenes ever recorded for queer individuals, that moment when we hoped our parents would accept us as we are, without condition. Olivia Coleman’s response and embrace of her son are what we all longed for, perhaps. Some of us received it, many of us never did. But, at this moment, in this show, we all feel the love. We all feel the acceptance. And we all touch tears inside we had buried long ago as the child and adult inside heal just a bit more.

And then we watch the series again.

Kit Connor as Nick and Joe Locke as Charlie in Heartstopper. (Netflix)
Kit Connor as Nick and Joe Locke as Charlie in Heartstopper. (Netflix)

Alice Oseman’s story is thus cathartic and therapeutic and healing on so many levels.

This moment, too, is a heartstopper.

The show is full of so-called “Easter Eggs” that seem accidental at first watch. Later, we learn that they were cleverly inserted into each scene. Without giving away the secrets of the whole show, just notice the brief rainbow that appears when Charlie first sees Nick in his form room. When I saw the show the first time through, I dismissed the moment as glare, perhaps cinematography done quickly or without care. Nothing could be further from the truth. As we read more about this treasure-of-a-series, we learn that the lighting, the colors, all of them throughout the series, are intentional and well-planned. As Alice Osemen said as far back as December 2021:

“I love the Heartstopper show. Like the direction and lighting and colors and music and costume and set design and all that stuff. It’s so joyful and it makes me very happy. Just thought you ought to know.”

And that’s the remarkable truth of Heartstopper: the whole story is “joyful” and “happy”. Each episode, which does include typical challenges young gay, bisexual, lesbian, or trans teens might face, each episode brings us up a notch. We move up with the characters to a place of more joy, color, hope, and happiness. We travel with Nick and Charlie and Elle and Tao and Tara and Darcy — and even Ben and Harry — through their journeys of discovery and love, sadness, and joy. And we laugh. And we cry. And we heal.

And then we want to do it again.

Travel with them again.

And we return to our lives, our worlds, our jobs, schools, and homes, with more dreams, hope, healing, and cheer.