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Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx Announces Dismissal of Murder Cases Tied to Former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced today that her office will not oppose post-conviction petitions for eight individuals, clearing the way for their murder convictions to be vacated and the criminal cases to be dismissed as part of the office’s ongoing review of misconduct allegations involving former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.   

“Today the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office acted on our obligation as seekers of justice and took measured and necessary steps to right the wrongs of the past,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. “A comprehensive case-by-case review of these cases revealed police misconduct by Guevara that called the validity of these convictions into question, and we concluded that the totality of the evidence currently available is insufficient to support a retrial of these cases.  As we work to rebuild trust in our justice system, I’m grateful for the attorneys in this office who continue to seek justice, restore trust, and address the historic inequities of Cook County’s criminal justice system.” 

During multiple court hearings today, prosecutors declined to oppose specific post-conviction relief petitions presented to Cook County Circuit Court Judges at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building in Chicago.  After reviewing the individual petitions, the court granted relief for 7 cases, and prosecutors moved to vacate the convictions and dismiss the cases in the interest of justice, which was allowed by the court. One additional case was continued by the court for further proceedings. 

The seven cases dismissed involve murder convictions for cases that occurred between 1989 and 1994, where the individuals allege in court petitions that misconduct by Guevara led to their arrest and subsequent convictions.  Due to today’s court action, two individuals who remained in custody are expected to be released; five individuals completed their prison sentences and are no longer in custody; and one individual remains in custody pending further court proceedings. 

“When it became clear that the allegations of misconduct against Guevara had significant merit, we could no longer stand behind these convictions where individuals spent decades incarcerated, devastating families and communities in Chicago,” said Foxx. “The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is committed to fairness and equity and will continue to address and investigate claims of wrongful convictions based on the evidence and the law as we remain committed to the work of justice.”  

The office’s long-term investigation was initiated in 2019 and several additional cases involving Guevara’s alleged police misconduct are expected to be resolved with similar court action in the upcoming weeks.

Case Number

Case Name

Charges

Judge

IDOC/CCDOC Custody

94CR2146201

Carlos Andino

Murder

Walsh

Yes

91CR2375001

David Colon

Murder

Atcherson

No

90CR1000701

Johnny Flores

Murder

Hooks

No

90CR2178702

Alfredo Gonzalez

Murder x 2

Atcherson

Yes

93CR1824701

Nelson Gonzalez

Murder

Kenworthy

No

92CR1308802

Marilyn Mulero

Murder

Maldonado

No

89CR1652501

Jaime Rios

Murder

Atcherson

No

Locked Car Broken Into, Gear Shift Ripped Out

car break-ins, burglary
(Credit: Pete)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- A locked car parked on the south end of town was broken into late last week. In addition to a broken window to gain access, the vehicle’s ignition switch was punched out, and the gear shift was broken off the vehicle.

An officer responded to South Arbor Trail on July 29 at 930 one a.m. to investigate a report of criminal damage to a vehicle and burglary to a motor vehicle. The officer had already been by earlier that morning to take a report on another car that had been broken into.

The owner said he had parked his car in the lot south of his address around 7:30 PM. This morning, he came to his car at 4:35 AM and discovered that the rear passenger side window was broken, the ignition switch was punched out, and his phone charger was missing from the vehicle.

The man told police he did lock the doors to his vehicle and still had the keys, according to police.

The officer saw the damage to the rear passenger-side window and the ignition switch, which was broken out to the point that it was impossible to start the car. In addition to the broken rear passenger-side window, the officer saw that the gear shift was broken off the vehicle.

The officer took pictures of the damage and downloaded them at the Park Forest Police Department. Another responding officer collected the gear shift, and police swabbed that for DNA. The gear shift DNA swab was sent to the Illinois State Police Crime Lab for analysis and comparison.

Anti-Abortion Extremism Is Scaring Voters—Even the Conservative Ones

As conservative Kansas just showed, most voters simply don’t want politicians making personal medical decisions for them.

anti-choice, pro-life
(Credit: NowThis News / YouTube)
ENEWSPF – Curated Commentary
By MITCHELL ZIMMERMAN

Our country may be divided on the issue of abortion. But when it comes down to it, most Americans believe that it’s a pregnant person’s right to decide for themselves whether to continue a pregnancy.

That’s not only a blue-state attitude—it’s just as true in conservative states like Kansas.

By a margin of nearly 20 percentage points in an election with record turnout, Kansas voters just overwhelmingly rejected Republican efforts to cancel the state’s constitutional right to personal bodily autonomy, even after the U.S. Supreme Court deleted that right at the federal level.

Abortion rights loom front and center as a major political issue this fall. But anti-abortion forces are trying to deflect responsibility for the reversal of Roe v. Wade by claiming that Democrats are using “scare tactics” about abortion bans.

Scare tactics?

Yes, voters are scared—and they should be. Voters are scared about the horrific, real-world human consequences we’ve seen with our own eyes since states started banning abortion.

Forcing teenagers to drop out of college so they can care for a baby they don’t wish to have is scary. Forcing married women to bear a second child when they don’t have the resources to raise the child they already have is scary. Forcing children who are rape or incest victims to continue a pregnancy is scary.

Forcing women to continue a pregnancy they very much wanted after they learn that their fetus has a heartbeat—but a fatal brain ailment—is scary.

Endangering the lives of women by forcing doctors to delay treatment until serious pregnancy complications worsen and they’re approaching death is scary. Making doctors fear that they will be prosecuted for providing appropriate medical care during a miscarriage is scary.

Thanks to tireless organizers and plain old common sense, Kansas voters staved off these scary prospects for now. But no matter where you live, voters have our work cut out for us. Many states are rushing bans through, and Republican politicians have openly floated passing a federal abortion ban for the whole country if they take control of Congress.

Voters of both parties need to think hard about the possibility that they or someone they love might need medical care that will be seriously compromised if this happens.

Voters of both parties need to think hard about the possibility that they or someone they love might want to make their own decision about how their life will unfold—whether they go to college, whether they pursue a career, whether they have the child they want on their own time table. Few voters want extremist politicians or religious leaders they don’t follow to make these choices for them.

Republican leaders spent decades manipulating the selection of Supreme Court justices so extremist judges could strip Americans of a right they’ve had for half a century. So they can’t claim it’s a “scare tactic” to warn that other fundamental rights, like the right to use contraception or marry a partner of their choice, could fall. Especially not when far-right Justice Clarence Thomas has promised to attack those very rights, too.

Many of the political issues being debated in this election season may seem abstract to voters. But nothing can be less abstract than control over one’s own body. This fall’s election will be as personal as it gets.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Mitchell Zimmerman is an attorney, longtime social activist, and author of the anti-racism thriller “Mississippi Reckoning” (2019).

Park Forest Student Spends Summer Using Ultrafast Lasers to Study Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Julianna Cox in the Chemistry lab.
Julianna Cox in the Chemistry lab. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)
By Daniel Dassow
REU Science Writer

Knoxville, TN-(ENEWSPF)- Summer is an ideal time for college students to pick up new skills and hobbies, and one student from Park Forest acquired a new skill this summer that will make her stand out. Julianna Cox, a senior Chemistry and Biology major at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) and a graduate of Crete-Monee High School, can now handle some of the fastest lasers in the world.

Cox traveled to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she participated in Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), a highly selective program in the Chemistry Department funded by a National Science Foundation grant.

She was one of only ten students selected from universities nationwide to conduct cutting-edge chemistry research at UT Knoxville. The program matches students to professors whose work aligns with their interests and gives them a glimpse of life as a scientist.

Cox worked full-time in the lab of Professor Tessa Calhoun, where researchers shot ultrafast lasers at microscopic particles to study complex interactions at their surfaces.

Laser is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation,” and there are many different kinds. Continuous-wave lasers, like the red pointers used by teachers or by kids playing with pets, emit only one frequency of light and are less powerful than pulsed lasers, which emit an ultrafast beam.

To the naked eye, the red laser beams in Professor Calhoun’s lab may look similar to a commercial laser pointer. However, the pulsed lasers used in the lab are much more powerful and emit light so quickly that the time between each pulse is measured in femtoseconds or quadrillionths of a second.

The lab’s two lasers are also part of large systems that include hundreds of pieces of optical equipment, from mirrors to filters to prisms and lenses, which can be calibrated to amplify, split, compress, disperse, and reflect or filter the beam as needed for each experiment.

For her research, Cox grew living cultures of staphylococcus, the bacteria that causes life-threatening staph infections and can develop antibiotic resistance. The big picture goal of shooting live bacteria with ultrafast lasers is to better understand how the structure of a molecule impacts its behavior in a cell membrane.

To understand how the structure of molecules may affect their ability to permeate and kill bacteria, Cox added an orange-colored dye to the bacteria sample, which helps make the invisible visible when shot with a laser.

She then flowed her dyed sample through a small piece of almost perfectly clear quartz. When an ultrafast laser beam strikes dye molecules through the quartz, the molecules undergo a process called a second harmonic generation (SHG), the centerpiece of Cox’s research.

Julianna Cox of Park Forest is a graduate of Crete-Monee High School and a senior Chemistry and Biology major at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU)
Julianna Cox of Park Forest is a graduate of Crete-Monee High School and a senior Chemistry and Biology major at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

During SHG, two particles of light called photons with equal frequencies collide with a dye molecule and send it into a high-energy excited state. When the dye molecule exits the excited state and returns to its original ground state, it spits the energy from the two red photons back out in the form of one blue photon.

The intensity of this release of blue light tells researchers like Cox about the position of the dye molecules relative to the membranes of the staph bacteria.

By adjusting the structure of the dye molecules, say by adding or subtracting a few atoms of carbon, researchers hope to find which chemical ingredients an antibiotic needs to best stop bacterial pathogens in their tracks.

As a double Chemistry and Biology major at MVSU, a historically Black college, Cox has served as a resident assistant, an ambassador for the Office of International Programs and an active member of the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), a program that supports minority students as they conduct STEM research.

She is accustomed to the task of learning a completely new lab environment, having completed a different research internship nearly every summer since she was in high school in the Park Forest area. She said Professor Calhoun’s lab pushed her to the edge of what she thought was possible.

While she was at UT, Cox took time to meet leading professors in the Chemistry Department and the Biology Department. “I’m using this time to meet people, to network with professors, and build up a foundation before I apply to Ph.D. programs,” she said.

Thanks to a partnership between the REU program and the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center at UT, Cox could hone her public speaking and writing skills through a series of professional communication workshops culminating in a final research presentation. As she prepares to graduate this fall and apply to graduate school, Cox hopes to find a program where she can combine her passions for biology and chemistry to help solve complex environmental problems. With her history of interdisciplinary excellence at the edge of what’s possible, she is sure to be an asset wherever she lands.

Daniel Dassow is an REU (“Research Experience for Undergraduates”) Science Writer and Editor-in-Chief at The Daily Beacon at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Follow him on Twitter @danidassow.

Former Vice Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago Sentenced to More than Five Years in Federal Prison for Procurement Fraud

scales of justice, guilty
(MGN)

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- A former vice chancellor for City Colleges of Chicago has been sentenced to five and a half years in federal prison for devising and engaging in a procurement fraud scheme.

SHAROD GORDON was employed by City Colleges of Chicago in various leadership roles, most recently as the Vice Chancellor of Legislative and Community Affairs.  From 2013 to 2017, Gordon obtained kickbacks from vendor companies in exchange for steering them City Colleges contracts for community canvassing and flyer distribution services.  Some of the companies were formed by Gordon’s City Colleges colleagues and other friends for the sole purpose of applying for the contracts.  In some instances, the work was never performed – even though the companies submitted invoices that caused City Colleges to pay out nearly $350,000.  Upon receipt of the payments, Gordon directed representatives of the companies to give him a portion of the money.

Gordon, 47, of Oak Park, Ill., pleaded guilty last year to a federal wire fraud charge.  U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr., on Wednesday, imposed a 66-month prison sentence.

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 Office of Inspector General for the City Colleges of Chicago provided substantial assistance in the investigation. 

“Sharod Gordon abused the public trust for personal profit,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan DeMarco argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum.  “Defendant used his government position to deprive underserved college students of honest services in order to line his own pocket.”

Seven other defendants were charged with participating in the fraud scheme. These were:

  • ANGELIQUE ORR, 47, of Berwyn, is charged with five counts of wire fraud.  Orr was married to Gordon from 1998 to 2013, the indictment states.
  • KRYSTAL STOKES, 39, of North Bay Village, Fla., is charged with two counts of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement to the FBI.  Stokes previously worked at City Colleges as a community outreach worker.
  • MARVA SMITH, 37, of Chicago, is charged with two counts of wire fraud.  Smith worked at City Colleges as a liaison to governmental agencies.
  • TIFFANY MCQUEEN, 43, of Naperville, is charged with two counts of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement to the FBI.  McQueen was an alleged associate of Gordon.
  • NANCY VAZQUEZ, 48, of Chicago, is charged with two counts of wire fraud.  Vazquez was a lobbyist who operated a lobbying and consulting firm.
  • MARQUITA PAYNE, 38, of Frisco, Texas, is charged with two counts of wire fraud.  Payne was an alleged associate of Gordon and the registered agent of a consulting company.
  • TIFFANY CAPEL, 35, of Detroit, Mich., is charged with one count of wire fraud.  Capel was an alleged associate of Gordon who operated a marketing, branding, and apparel design company.

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while the maximum sentence for each false statement count is five years.  If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Hiroshima and Ukraine—an Existential Teachable Moment

By ROBERT DODGE – ENEWSPF – Curated Commentary

Nuclear weapons do not make us safe and have not prevented war but rather have brought us closer to realizing the catastrophic outcome of nuclear war either by intent, miscalculation, or accident.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Hiroshima, Japan, Photo Date: 2006
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Hiroshima, Japan, Photo Date: 2006. (Credit: Aiden / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 2.5)

77 years ago the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945 and three days later, Nagasaki, resulted in immediate deaths of approximately 120,000 majority civilians and by year’s end over 210,000. This legacy continues to this day in large part through the voices of the hibakusha, atomic blast survivors, and through having planted the seeds of the first man-made existential threat, nuclear war.

The global response to the end of World War II and the nuclear bombings was the formation of the United Nations in 1945. From the outset it’s mission was to work to maintain international peace and security, give humanitarian assistance to those in need, protect human rights, and uphold international law. In recent years, the UN has established sustainable development goals for 2030, noting the added and connected existential threat of climate change with its disproportionate burden on poor and island nations.

Simultaneously, the United States and Russia began the nuclear arms race, currently in its second iteration, with 12,700 nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the nine nuclear nations with the U.S. and Russia possessing 90%. These weapons threaten our very survival as a species, and indeed all living things every moment of every day.

This global threat to which the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists kept their Doomsday Clock setting at 100 seconds to midnight in January was heightened this year with the invasion of Ukraine on February 24 by nuclear-armed Russia in its war of aggression and acquisition. This conflict has brought us closer to nuclear war than at any point in the nuclear age. Hardly a day goes by without one side reminding us of their nuclear capabilities and the potential for nuclear war. Nuclear weapons do not make us safe and have not prevented war but rather have brought us closer to realizing the catastrophic outcome of nuclear war either by intent, miscalculation or accident. The fact that this has not happened to date boils down to pure luck and luck is not a security policy.

Incredulously, the nuclear states have continued their magical thinking of deterrence, modernizing, rebuilding and enlarging their nuclear arsenals. They remain oblivious to, or ignorant of, the prevailing scientific evidence demonstrating the catastrophic global effects of even a limited regional nuclear conflict, such as one that might occur between India and Pakistan using less than 1/2 of 1% of the global arsenals ultimate resulting in 2 billion deaths from the nuclear famine that would follow such a conflict. Upcoming reports will show that this risk too is actually even greater.

Currently the UN is convening the 10th Review Conference of the 1970 Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which has been considered to be the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament. Expectations for this review conference are not high as none of the original five nuclear states have shown any intention of meeting their legal obligations to “Negotiate in good faith the elimination of their arsenals” called for under Article Vi of the treaty. Rather, they are using their participation as cover and a charade to rebuild and enhance their arsenals.

Frustrated by the lack of serious intent and refusing to be bullied any longer the non-nuclear nations have come together since 2010 with the assistance of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons (ICAN) to develop and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which entered into force on January 22, 2021. This treaty declares nuclear weapons and the threat of their use illegal, just as each of the other weapons of mass destruction have been declared illegal. It sets forth the legal framework for nations to abolish their nuclear weapons in a verifiable, enforceable time-bound manner.

In the United States there is a rapidly growing coalition working to move back from the brink of nuclear war. This coalition, Back from the Brink, calls on the United States to change its nuclear policy and to take a leadership role in the work to eliminate nuclear weapons. Supporting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons with the immediate precautionary measures, the campaign calls for the U.S. to take a leadership role by:

  • Actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear- armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals,
  • Renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first
  • Ending the sole, unchecked authority of any U.S.  President to launch a nuclear attack
  • Taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair- trigger alert
  • Canceling the plan to replace the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons

This campaign has been endorsed by 329 local, state and nationally elected officials, 60 municipalities and 7 state legislative bodies along with 415 organizations including every major religious, health, environmental and peace organization. As an individual reading this now, you can be an endorser of this campaign. You can demand that your local, state and federal elected officials do so. You can encourage organizations you belong to that have not yet endorsed this campaign to do so. Taking action is within your power.

This moment in history is indeed a teachable moment. We know what devastation can occur. We know how to prevent it. The science is clear and so there is hope. The world we hope to leave to our children’s children demands that we take these actions now and learn from the past,  thus preventing us from being doomed to repeat it. Each of us can and must play a role in this effort for our future.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely. Republished from Commondreams.org.

Robert Dodge, a frequent Common Dreams contributor, writes as a family physician practicing in Ventura, California. He is the Co-Chair of the Security Committee of National Physicians for Social Responsibility and also serves as the President of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles.

Laptop Stolen from Locked Car Recovered, Window Shattered.

Burglar Leaves Cupcakes As Well

car burglaries, burglary, laptop stolen
(Credit: dumbonyc / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- A laptop was reported stolen from a locked car parked on the south end of town late last week. Someone shattered a window to grab the device.

An officer was dispatched to South Arbor Trail last Friday at 7:52 AM to investigate a burglary report to a motor vehicle. The officer spoke with the complainant, who said he had parked his car on the east end of the lot around 11:30 PM. He had locked the vehicle, according to the report. That morning, around 7:52 AM, he noticed that the rear passenger side window was broken out and the front passenger side window was damaged, according to the report.

The man saw that the ignition switch had been punched out and that his laptop, a gray Lenovo ThinkPad, was missing from the car.

According to the report, the officer looked over the broken rear passenger’s window, which was fully shattered. The front passenger side window was cracked, but it had not shattered, according to police.

The steering column was intact, but the ignition switch had been punched out, exposing the internal workings of the switch, according to police.

The officer surveyed the area and saw the stolen laptop to the north of the car in a grassy area, according to police. The laptop was in the grass, undamaged, with a bag of cupcakes the owner said were on top of the laptop in the vehicle’s back seat. The laptop was taken back to the Park Forest Police Department for processing and was released to the owner once processing was complete.

The responding officer took pictures of the damaged vehicle and downloaded them at the Park Forest Police Department.

Cook County to Observe Fourth Annual Racial Equity Week

Cook County’s 2022 Racial Equity Week to be held September 12 through September 16

Black and Brown Unity Mural, 18th Street, Pilsen (2020), Racial Equity Week
A section of the Black and Brown Unity Mural, 18th Street, Pilsen (2020)

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced upcoming dates for Cook County’s fourth annual Racial Equity Week. With virtual and in-person events scheduled from September 12 through September 16, this year’s theme “Many People, One Goal” reflects the breadth and depth of the County’s diverse inhabitants and the desire for a thriving, safe, and just county for all.

“Every year, we dedicate a week to celebrate Cook County’s commitment to advancing racial equity through policy and practice,” said President Preckwinkle. “I invite all Cook County residents to participate in this year’s engaging slate of Racial Equity Week events. We will have thought-provoking programming with diverse perspectives. I’m looking forward to particpating again this year and exploring new ways to infuse equity in government and beyond.”

Last year, to kick off the 2021 Racial Equity Week, President Preckwinkle announced the implementation of a Racial Equity Policy and Racial Equity Action Plan to ensure that equity is operationalized through Cook County Offices Under the President (OUP). This policy was implemented by Executive Order 2021-2. An update on the policy and plan will be provided throughout this year’s Racial Equity Week.

“While we are committed to lifting up issues of equity throughout the entire year, we pause for a week every September to invite Cook County residents to join us in our efforts to make the County a more equitable place for all,” added Denise Barreto, Director of Equity and Inclusion. “Since last year, we have gathered data on our own organizational journey and used it to inform the next phases of our Racial Equity Action Plan. We’re excited to share the details of that plan and highlight the work that’s still to come.”

Cook County Offices Under the President (OUP) will host a week of events encouraging the audience to step outside their comfort zone, learn about Cook County residents who represent different communities, and invite them to join the efforts to build a more equitable county.

Confirmed events include:

Racial Equity Week Kick-off Event in the Forest Preserves of Cook County

President Preckwinkle will join residents and County officials for a “Culture and Healing Connections in Nature” event. Jerry Attere, Forest Preserves of Cook County Naturalist at River Trail Nature Center, will lead a walk in Thatcher Woods and provide space to share cultural and healing connections to nature. Monday, September 12, 10:30 – 11:30 am –Thatcher Woods, River Forest, IL

A Candid Conversation with Cook County Native Americans Reflecting on the Urban Indian Relocations Program 60 Years Later

President Preckwinkle will join key leaders in the Cook County Indigenous community for a candid discussion of the Urban Indian Relocation Act of 1948, the subsequent Urban Indian Relocation Program, and the unintended consequences that continue to impact our region today. Tuesday, September 13, 5:00 – 6:15 pm – Virtual Panel Discussion

Storytelling with Renegade Ada Cheng

Ada Cheng, Ph.D., will co-lead a storytelling event with Cook County Director of Equity and Inclusion Denise Barreto, featuring five storytellers from various walks of life to share diverse perspectives and ideas to reach the goal of a more equitable Cook County and world. Friday, September 16 – 1:00 – 2:30 pm – Virtual Showcase

Additional events throughout the week will be scheduled. Updates and registration links for Racial Equity Week events will be posted at engagecookcounty.com/racialequity

Protect Threatened Mussel Populations, Volunteer Today

Something of interest for our readers advocating care for the environment.

Volunteers looking for mussel populations in a stream. Illinois RiverWatch File Photo.
Volunteers looking for mussels in a stream. (Illinois RiverWatch)

East Alton, IL-(ENEWSPF)- For over a decade, volunteers with the Illinois RiverWatch program, part of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRRECsm), have been monitoring mussel populations in the Upper Sangamon River. 

Last year, in collaboration with the Upper Sangamon River Conservancy, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, and the St. Louis Zoo, the Illinois RiverWatch program started a new 10-year project with funding from the Living Earth Collaborative. 

“This summer, volunteers are needed to help collect and identify mussel species,” said Danelle Haake, Illinois RiverWatch Director, and Stream Ecologist. “For this project to be successful, 20 to 50 volunteers are needed to help collect mussels during each of the sampling dates.”

Each mussel collected will be identified, weighed, measured, photographed, and released. Genetic sampling will also be done on two focal species in the river basin, the pistolgrip and round pig-toe mussel. The genetic testing will show general genetic variability and the current rate of gene flow in these two species between different river zones.

The dates and locations are:

  • Saturday, Aug. 6, at Heron View Forest Preserve, Champaign County, 25 volunteers
  • Saturday, Aug. 13, at Sangamon River Forest Preserve, Campaign County, 75 volunteers
  • Sunday, Aug. 14, at Shady Rest Park, Piatt County, 25 volunteers
  • Saturday, Aug. 20, at Lodge Park, Piatt County, 50 volunteers

Volunteers should arrive at 9 a.m. The day generally ends between 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

“This long-term study is important to establish a baseline and determine the health of native mussel populations because overall freshwater mussels are relatively rare and are considered one of the more threatened groups,” said Haake.

Currently, native mussel populations are in decline due to degraded stream habitat, poor water quality, and competition with invasive species. Zebra mussels, one such invasive species, can outcompete native mussels for food and are known to attach to native mussels, inhibiting their ability to move.

“Native mussels provide many important ecological services,” said Hannah Griffis, RiverWatch technician, and volunteer coordinator. “Mussels are filter feeders and are able to increase water clarity in streams and rivers. In addition, they are an important component of the food web and are used by researchers as an indicator of excellent water quality.”

Learn more about the mussel monitoring program at http://www.ngrrec.org.

Park Forest Library Announces September Events

Park Forest Public Library

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Park Forest Public Library is offering patrons a virtual evening with an Academy Award-winning actor, part two of a Medicare fraud presentation, and two book club meetings in September.

picture of actor Marlee Matlin
Marlee Matlin will discuss her career and advocacy for the deaf on September 14 (PFPL Image)

Marlee Matlin will be the featured speaker in this month’s Illinois Libraries Present session at 7 p.m. on Wednesday September 14 via Zoom. Matlin, who has been deaf since early childhood, is a leading advocate for the rights of deaf people in addition to her acting career. In celebration of Deaf Awareness Month, she will talk about her career in Hollywood as well her life as an activist. Online registration for this event is currently open.

Part two of the Senior Medicare Fraud workshop will be held at the library on Thursday, September 29, at 11 a.m. The workshop is presented by Jesus Enriquez, the Outreach and Information Specialist from the nonprofit organization Age Options. Registration is required and will open at 9 a.m. Monday, August 29. For more information, contact Katherine Goosby at [email protected] or 708-748-3731 ext.23.

image of woman sitting cross-legged among a pile of books
The Rooted in Truth Book Club will meet at the library on September 26. (PFPL Image)

The Rooted in Truth Book Club will meet on Monday, September 26 at 11 a.m. in the library’s Ringering Room. Virtual club sessions are no longer being offered. This month’s discussion will be “Hope and Glory” by Jendella Benson. The Rooted in Truth Book Club focuses on books written by authors of color (including, but not limited to, American, Caribbean, African and European authors). The book will be available for pick-up at noon on September 1. For more information contact Kaitlyn at [email protected].

Image of book cover with an Egyption pot
The Life Ripples Book Club will discuss “A Thief of Time” by Tony Hillerman on September 17. (PFPL Image)

The Life Ripples Book Club will be meeting at the library on Saturday, September 17, at 12:30 p.m. This month’s discussion will feature Tony Hillerman’s crime novel, “A Thief of Time.” For more information or to obtain a copy of the book, call 708-747-3731, extension 16.

Two craft projects are also available in September. The first is an adult craft kit featuring Paint by Numbers Moonscapes. Registration is required and opens on August 15 with pick-up at 11 a.m. September 2.

two paint by number moonscape pictures
A Paint by Numbers Moonscape project is available in September at the library. (PFPL Image)

The second project is a DIY wooden sunflower door hanger for those 50 and over. Participants will also receive a free pack of sunflower seeds for planting while supplies last. Registration is required and opens at 9 a.m. on August 29 with pick-up on September 8.

Additional details and registration links for all September events appear on the library’s monthly water bill insert (shown below) or at pfpl.org/calendar. Information on the remaining August events can be found here.

The library is located at 400 Lakewood Boulevard and is open for all services from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The library is closed on Monday, September 5, for Labor Day.

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