Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: Year in review and looking forward

It's New Year's Eve and at around this time we often take a look back at some of the stories we've covered during the past year. Many of our 2014 stories will have effects lasting into 2015 and beyond.

To start, it's time for the 2015 elections. We're covering wards 6, 9 and 21 for the 2015 elections and a number of candidates are running in those wards. We're also looking forward to the Mayoral race to see who might be able give Mayor Rahm Emanuel a run for his money.

Speaking of the mayoral race, Rahm would've faced a challenge in his CTU nemesis in Karen Lewis. The Greater Chatham Alliance Chat with Karen forum story in September garnered us at least 900 individual reads. Unfortunately it turned out that she's suffering an illness and was forced to drop from contention as a result.  We'll see who else would be favored instead of Rahm.

Also, back in the community, there was concern over debris left as the result of a fire near 75th/King Drive. While the debris was cleared from the southwest corner, the northeast corner also had a fire in November. The corner contained former Alderman Lyle's ward office and the closed Army & Lou's restaurant. A recent fire in late November now has the neighborhood wondering if there's an arsonist on the loose. Here's another story regarding the fire on the southeast corner of 75th/King Drive.

A major neighborhood financial institution in Seaway Bank & Trust Company has made some changes. This includes a change at CEO and on the bank's board of directors as a result of the bank taking a loss as a result of the acquisition of two failing banks. However, as a result of a restructuring team it turns out the bank actually made a profit. Also 2015 would mark the bank's 50th anniversary.

We're still talking about that Whole Foods Market coming to Englewood at 63rd/Halsted. Even going so far as looking for other retailers to join the Whole Foods there. We're still discussing the "dreaded G word" as Curbed Chicago discussed this development under the tag "gentrification watch".

The Chatham 14 Theaters after going through ownership changes starting in 2012 - from ICE Theaters to Michael Silver in early 2013 - has new owners in the emerging chain Studio Movie Grill. While renovations and a grand opening were scheduled for the past summer now it appears the expected grand opening is expected in winter 2015 according to the SMG website.

Also we talked about the alternative spring break. A group of Morehouse College students led by then graduating senior Corey Hardiman came to Chicago for a week of community service instead of going to much warmer climates for spring break. Hardiman announced his run for 9th ward Alderman but opted to withdraw from that race before circulating petitions.

Surprisingly, the most popular post of the year (and in fact, #4 in our 7 years of posts) was on Jim's Original closing down at 95th. That closing was precipitated by the reconstruction of CTA's 95th terminal. As of Dec. 1 , it garnered 4,411 views (not including those who saw it on a front page). If only our locally owned non-chains received such views ;) (Yes, that was commentary by JP Paulus)

St. Dorothy Elementary School a long standing institution is closing its doors after 50+ years. The school will be merged with St. Columbanus Elementary to form a new school Augustus Tolton, which will be housed in the former St. Columbanus. Augustus Tolton was the first African American bishop in the Catholic church. The move by the Chicago Archdiocese has not been received well by St. Dorothy members, school parents and some community leaders. The new archbishop, Blaise Cupich  has not addressed the group as they requested and has publicly stated the decision to merge is final. He has even gone to the extend to bless Augustus Tolton with Father Bob Miller and Father Matt O'Donnell. The question for 2015 will be,what is the future for St. Dorothy Church and school?

Also, the tragic incident from this summer, the shooting on 79th Evans that killed Chicago Public School teacher/Coordinator Betty Howard, PhD. A gang related dispute that had been brewing all summer spilled onto the streets and a street thug spraying bullets over the street attempting to hit a rival sent bullets through the real estate storefront at 79th Evans and hit Dr. Howard. There was a public outcry that brought a number of civic, business , and religious leaders into the community to discuss violence prevention. Who was not at the table were the community based organizations in the 6th ward. A number of commitments were made but as of yet have not been followed up on. In 2015 we will see if the commitments will be made and will they include local community based organizations. Along with how many community based organizations will survive 2015.

Have we missed anything? Feel free to let us know! Also let us know what you're looking forward to in 2015.

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